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Be Prepared for Summer Travel: 5 Dental Health Tips for Your Vacation

Summer is here and, for many of us, it’s time for family vacation. Whether you’re boarding a plane for an exotic locale, spending a few days at your favorite amusement park, or loading up the kids for a trip to Grandma’s, it may still be a challenge to make dental health a part of your itinerary. After you’ve packed the sunscreen, bug spray and first aid kit, here are a few tips to protect your teeth and avoid dental mishaps:

  1. Don’t neglect your dental hygiene just because you’re on vacation. While a break from the usual routine may be welcome, you’ll still want to maintain good oral health. Make teeth brushing and flossing prerequisite for you and your family before heading off to the beach or boarding the tour bus. Just because you’re roughing it on a camping trip doesn’t mean your dental hygiene needs to suffer.
  2. Keep healthy food on hand. Summer can mean cotton candy, s’mores and soda – fun as an occasional treat, but too many sugary foods can lead to cavities. When packing for a road trip, think fruit, nuts, low-sugar or sugar-free options. You’ll save money on snacks – and your teeth.
  3. Buy new gear. While you’re shopping for that new swimsuit or summer outfit, now is also the time to stock up on new toothbrushes to replace those old, worn out and frayed brushes. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your brush every three to four months. Toothbrush holders for travel and travel-sized toothpaste are also useful items when away from home.
  4. Know what to do in case of a dental emergency. Carry your dentist’s contact information with you, and know where the nearest dentist is located. When in doubt, call Western Dental. They have over 240 locations in the West, so if you’re traveling in California, Arizona, Texas or Nevada, you may just find one close by.
  5. Schedule a check-up for your family. Get a clean bill of dental health for the summer and avoid tooth problems while on vacation. That way, you’ll have your check-ups out of the way and the kids will be ready for classes in the Fall. To schedule an appointment at the nearest Western Dental office, click here.

Summer vacation is made for family time and outdoor activities. With a little preparation, you can minimize unforeseen dental problems and return from your trip renewed and ready to tackle your next challenge.

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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.
My Perio Protect Journey, Part 2
I arrived at the Western Dental office in Hawthorne, California for a dental check-up. Being a new patient and a member of the Western Dental Plan, my exam and x-rays were free of charge. The main purpose of my visit, though, was to begin the Perio Protect program. Dental appointments can give me a twinge of anxiety, but the staff at the office made me feel calm and welcome. The first step of the process was getting a thorough set of digital x-rays from a very friendly and efficient x-ray technician (I was done in about five minutes). They needed those to build my file and to make sure I didn’t have any hidden problems before starting Perio Protect. But all looked good. Next was a teeth cleaning. The hygienist went to work on my teeth, cleaning, polishing and checking the depth of the gum “pockets” around each tooth. Anything over 3 millimeters, she explained, indicated warning signs of possible periodontal disease, or at the least, gingivitis (a milder form of the disease). I checked out ok, except for a few “4’s” around the back molars. Her advice: give extra attention when brushing, and make sure to floss. And Perio Protect was definitely going to help. After a thorough exam by the dentist, a dental assistant prepped the trays used to take impressions of my upper and lower arches. (The impressions would be used to make the customized Perio Protect trays I would need for my home-care routine.) She filled the trays with impression material (kind of like soft Silly Putty), then placed the first tray over my upper teeth and held it in place for a few minutes while the material set. After repeating the process on my lower teeth and rinsing out remnants of the impression material, they had all they needed. My part was done, for now. The office would send the impressions to a lab to make my Perio Protect trays. I’ll be back in a few weeks to pick them up and get started with the program. Can’t wait to reap the benefits!