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Western Dental Blog

How to choose the right Halloween candy
It’s October and time for Halloween! It's great fun for children, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, collecting candy, coming home to admire their haul, and sometimes stockpiling it for months. But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with Halloween, because they know the possible ramifications of eating candy: not only damage to the teeth and gums but also possibly to a child's overall health. You already know that having healthy teeth and gums has an impact that goes far beyond the mouth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, periodontal disease and infection, which can impact a patient's heart, lungs, and entire body. Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental & Orthodontics, has five tips on candy for patients of all ages: 1. Choose candy carefully. Avoid hard candy, such as lollipops, and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time. These candies increase the risk for tooth decay. 2. Avoid chewy candy. Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down. 3. Chocolate is preferable. Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. 4. Eat Halloween candy only after mealtime. Parents should avoid letting their kids snack on candy throughout the day. Saliva production increases during meals, helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles. 5. Take preventive steps. Drinking water intermittently helps to keep the sugar from resting in the grooves of their teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly before going to bed are crucial. By exercising good common sense, you’ll maintain a bright smile and healthy gums throughout the Halloween season and beyond. Happy Halloween!
How to get children to regularly brush their teeth
Let’s face facts: Kids hate to brush their teeth. And parents grow extremely weary of the daily battle to get them to do it. Brushing your teeth is crucial for everyone, especially kids who want to avoid bad habits at a young age that can lead to poor dental hygiene the rest of their life. Battling with a child who won’t regularly brush their teeth can become an unwanted bedtime nightmare. Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer for Western Dental, provides 5 tips for getting kids to brush regularly. • Pick a fun Toothbrush, Toothpaste: Buy a cool new toothbrush – dinosaurs, race cars, Disney characters, Barbie – that your child is excited to use and do the same with a child’s toothpaste. Make a fun time of taking your kid to the store to pick out toothbrush and toothpaste. • Play their favorite song: Brush DJ – an award-winning free app – plays two-minute songs. Kids can pick the songs. The app also sets reminders to brush twice a day, floss, use a mouthwash, and visit the dentist. • Reward good brushing behavior: Suggestions include extra half hour of TV; 30 straight days leads to a gift of their choice; award stickers each time they brush, and provide a reward (new toy, trip to the zoo) when the child reaches a certain number of stickers. • Brushing with your kids: Many young kids enjoy emulating their parents. Set aside a time each evening where you can brush your teeth together. Make it fun – perhaps create a dance while brushing. But also make it informative. Show them the proper technique for brushing. • Story time: Create a story, like “sugar bugs” are attacking your child’s mouth. The only way to defeat the sugar bugs is to defend your mouth with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Your child becomes a superhero, fighting the evil sugar bugs. Or maybe it’s monsters invading Smile Kingdom. The idea is to make brushing FUN!
Traditional Braces vs. “Aligners:” the Straight Facts
When considering braces, you may be weighing the pros and cons of traditional braces and the clear “aligners” available by mail order. At face value, clear Mail Order Aligners may sound like the less expensive way to go. But a closer look at your choices may get you thinking that getting the right orthodontic treatment, delivered by a qualified orthodontic professional, an Orthodontist, is what you really need to attain a beautiful, straight smile in the long run. The process of getting traditional braces starts with clearance by a general dentist, who checks for cavities and any gum issues, and then a consultation and evaluation by a trained orthodontist. The orthodontist will determine any teeth straightening challenges you may have, estimate the length of time you’ll need to reach your goal, and develop a treatment plan. They will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth to make a working model, which will serve as a guide for the placement of traditional braces. Orthodontists have two to three years of additional training in an Orthodontic residency program, which makes them the most qualified person to evaluate and deliver Orthodontic Care face to face with the patient. The fact is, traditional braces aren’t so traditional anymore. Besides the commonplace metal braces our parents may have worn, braces are now available in gold brackets and are much more compact than traditional braces. Clear brackets are another option; they appear to blend into the surrounding teeth, giving a very subtle appearance. All traditional braces are securely attached so that they will constantly guide your teeth into their proper alignment throughout your treatment. Any way you decide, traditional braces have a high probability of delivering the smile you want, treat a wide range of teeth straightening complications, and are under direct supervision of a trained orthodontist at every step of the process. The orthodontist checks progress during your visits on a regular basis (every 4-6 weeks) and makes any adjustments as needed. Mail Order Aligners, on the other hand, are very limited in the results they produce. They aren’t appropriate for everyone and can only a treat a few very basic cases. Patients must take their own impressions, allow them to harden, and then mail them to the aligner company. There are no in-office visits; in fact, there is very little, if any, supervision of your treatment by a Board-certified orthodontist. Contact is “virtual” on an as-needed basis by staff with varying degrees of experience. If aligners are lost, precious treatment time is interrupted while waiting for replacements, which can add additional costs and negatively affect the outcome of treatment. Before considering Mail Order Aligners, it’s important to meet with an expert first. Orthodontic consultations with a Board Certified or Board Eligible Orthodontist at Western Dental and Brident are free, so it doesn’t hurt to make an appointment to get all the facts. And, when you consider that every Western Dental and Brident office is a complete “dental home” that includes hygiene, periodontics, general dentistry and a comprehensive range of dental specialties, you just may decide that starting your teeth-straightening journey there will be the best investment you can make for a lifetime of smiles.
My Perio Protect Journey, Part 3
I was at my Western Dental office again, this time to pick up my Perio Protect trays and get started on the road to perio health. My original anxiety was gone, replaced with anticipation about a new oral hygiene routine. I arrived a few minutes late, but the front desk greeted me with a smile and asked me to check in at the kiosk. A few minutes later, Ben the hygienist welcomed me back. Ben asked if I was glad to be picking up my trays. I suppose I was, but I could tell he was more excited, even though I was one of many Perio Protect patients that day. I guess if dental hygiene is your career, you’re going to be enthusiastic about any product that will improve the gum health of your patients. And any time a patient gets serious about oral hygiene, you’re going to give them your full support. While I sat in the chair, Ben opened the box containing my trays, a large tube of Perio Gel, a small brush – and a compact case to hold it all. There they were, the upper and lower trays, custom fit to my teeth. He handed them to me and asked me to place them on my teeth to check the fit. They were snug and comfortable (that was good), but they seemed to be a little rough in one area. Ben took them back to his station to gently smooth them out. After a couple of adjustments, they fit like a glove. I received instructions on proper daily use: After brushing and flossing, squeeze a small amount of Perio Gel along the inside of the tray, then use the small Perio Brush to spread the gel evenly. Use only a small amount (a little goes a long way). Firmly place the trays on your teeth, and if the gel seems to overflow from the trays, you’ve used too much. I’d get the hang of it after a couple of uses. Ben told me to keep the trays in for about 10-15 minutes, twice a day to start, then I could go to once a day. I was to come back to the office after about a month, to check my progress. . . . I’ve used Perio Protect for a couple of weeks now, and already notice a difference. In fact, each 15-minute Perio Protect treatment is like a trip to the hygienist! My teeth and gums feel squeaky clean, and the cool mint-flavored gel gives a pleasant tingling sensation. It’s a feeling that tells me I’m on my way to perfect gum health!
How to deal with dental problems while on vacation
Summer will soon come to a close, but there’s still time to slip away for some much-needed vacation time. Whether you’re loading up the kids for a road trip over a long weekend, taking a flight to an exotic destination, or simply enjoying a sunny day at the beach, an unexpected problem in your mouth can become a major dilemma. What happens if you break or chip a tooth, lose a filling, or begin to suffer from the pain of a never-ending toothache, and you have no immediate access to your regular dentist? There are a few things – temporary solutions – that you can do immediately to address the problem and help ease the pain, at least until you return home: • Toothache: Rinse mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If swelling appears, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek. Never put aspirin against the gums or on the sore tooth, because it may burn the gum tissue.• Chipped or broken tooth: Rinse mouth and any broken pieces with warm water. If bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek to reduce swelling and ease pain.• Lost filling: Stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement.• Lost crown: If in pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the tooth. Try to slip the crown back over the tooth. Before putting the crown back in place, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste or denture adhesive to help hold it in place. Never use super glue! • Broken braces wire: If a wire breaks or sticks out and is poking you, use the eraser end of a pencil to move the wire. If that is not working, use orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze to cover the wire tip. Don’t cut the wire, because you risk swallowing it. • Knocked-out tooth: Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth) and rinse with warm water. Using no force, try to replace the tooth facing the right way. If that’s not possible, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or a cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt). A tooth that has been knocked out has the highest chance of being saved when it is returned to the socket within one hour. These tips can help get you through an emergency, they’re no substitute for a visit to a professional. If you have dental problems while you’re away, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as you get home. That way, your dental emergency will become a distant memory.
August Is Dental Sealants Month at Western Dental
It may be Dental Sealants Month at every Western Dental office, but sealants will help reduce cavities all year long. If you’re a parent, you know that getting your child to brush after every meal can be a challenge. Even so, while brushing is key, it’s not always possible to reach every nook and cranny, especially back molars, where food particles and cavity-causing bacteria can hide. That’s why dental sealants, a clear, thin protective coating, can be a key treatment in reducing and preventing cavities. In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health since, according to a report issued by the Center for Disease Control, "school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants." (October 2016) Early intervention for children is key (although adults can benefit from sealants, too). First molars appear around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Applying sealants to new molars can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run. Applying sealants is an easy and painless process. Your dentist preps the surface of your tooth by applying a gel so that a strong bond will form between your tooth and the sealant. Sealant is then applied onto the grooves of your tooth and hardened under a special blue light. Sealants dry to a clear, invisible coating. Your dentist will insure the sealants are effectively protecting your teeth each time you come in for your appointment. Sealants will often last for several years. Your dentist can advise you if sealants are an option for you, and how often you might need to reapply them.