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4 Dental Do's For Expectant Mothers

April 5th, 2022

Free up some time in your calendars, moms-to-be! The OB-GYN visits may be coming fast and furious, but believe it or not, there's someone else you need to be seeing to protect your health and that of your baby: your dentist.

All the changes that come with your rapidly growing bump — and perhaps some common, yet misplaced fears — may tempt you to put a nine-month hold on your next dental checkup, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Take these proactive steps to protect your teeth, gums and child from pregnancy-related dental complications.

Keep Your Dentist in the Loop

The sooner you share the news of your pregnancy with your dentist, the better. Certain medications used in-office or prescribed for at-home use are not recommended for pregnant women, and your updated health status may alter your dentist's treatment plan and overall approach. If possible, let your dentist know about your intention to grow your family in advance. This way any oral problems and/or elective dental procedures (along with X-rays typically required) can be taken care of before pregnancy is even a factor to consider. If a situation does arise that requires dental work while you're pregnant, the second trimester is the most ideal time to have dental work done.

Be Diligent With Your Home Dental Routine

Additional calorie requirements, common pregnancy cravings and even morning sickness can put expectant mothers at an increased risk of tooth decay. You can help keep cavities at bay by making these simple changes to your routine:

  • Choose sugar-free gum or candy (in moderation) if you crave something sweet
  • Brush and floss more frequently, especially if you find yourself snacking more
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after a bout of vomiting
  • Try a blander type of toothpaste if your typical choice becomes nauseating

Self-exams also become more important during pregnancy. Check your teeth and gums regularly, and schedule an appointment if you detect any cavities or gum abnormalities.

Get Your Dentist's Help For Hormone-Related Dental Problems

While there are plenty of preventative actions you can take at home, some of the most common dental problems pregnant women face are hormonally driven and require the professional care of your dentist. "Pregnancy Gingivitis" is one such condition in which increased blood flow to the gums can result in tenderness, swelling, bleeding, or if left untreated, severe periodontal disease. Many moms-to-be may also discover mulberry-shaped growths along the gumline typically referred to as "pregnancy tumors" (though they are benign). While they usually go away after giving birth, removal by a dentist may sometimes be necessary.

Remain Vigilant About Your Oral Health After Giving Birth

Finally, keep a close eye on your teeth and gums even after pregnancy. With all the time and attention you need to give your newborn, this is often easier said than done, but maintaining your oral health at this stage can minimize the risk of transmitting harmful oral bacteria to your child.

For more information and guidance on proper dental care during pregnancy, schedule a consultation with your dentist. He or she can adjust your treatment plan to maintain your oral health while being sensitive to your needs and concerns.


Sources:

Dental Care and Pregnancy. (2014, June 4). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-care-pregnancy

Is Having Dental Work During Pregnancy Safe? (2014 January). Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/dental-work-and-pregnancy/

The Story on Soda: Your Soft Drink Questions Answered

April 5th, 2022

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reality is that no matter how refreshing that sweet, fizzy soda (or "pop") tastes, there's a chance it could be doing some damage to your teeth. But with so many products on the market, are they all really that bad for you?

Answers to some of your most pressing soft drink questions are about to be answered. Get to the bottom of various soda claims, and find out if there's a workaround that lets you keep your favorite carbonated beverages on tap without traumatizing your teeth.

Q. Is it better to choose clear-colored sodas over darker-colored ones?

Neither option is a healthy choice for your teeth, but upon regular consumption, caramel-hued soft drinks have been known to stain teeth more quickly. Cosmetic differences aside, the extremely high sugar content of any soda, regardless of color, causes lasting damage to tooth enamel, resulting in decay, cavities and/or tooth loss in extreme situations.

Q. Do diet sodas get a pass since they're sugar-free?

The appeal of diet sodas is understandable, especially when the packaging comes with alluring labels of "sugar free" or "calorie free". But the fact of the matter is, even with sugar substitutes, diet soda is still extremely acidic. This means diet soda will still have the same corrosive effect on the enamel, and should be avoided to prevent tooth damage.

Q. Is corn syrup a more harmful soft drink sweetener than cane sugar?

Similar to the misconception about diet sodas, the threat of tooth decay, cavities and other oral health problems isn't based on the type of sweetener used. No matter the source of sugar, enamel erosion will happen with regular consumption of any sweetened soft drink.

Q. If I drink soda through a straw, will this protect my teeth?

Using a straw can limit contact of sugar and acid with the surface of your teeth, but only when positioned correctly. Ideally, the opening of the straw should be directed towards the back of the mouth, but the likelihood for accidental contact is still high if you become distracted or inadvertently swish the liquid in your mouth. Ultimately, the best way to prevent tooth decay due to soft drinks is to avoid drinking them altogether.

Q. What are teeth-friendly alternatives to soda?

If you find carbonated beverages especially refreshing, switch to a seltzer. You'll get the same fizz without the threat of tooth decay. For a flavorful spin, dress up seltzer or plain water with cut up fruit (instead of turning to juice, which can erode tooth enamel due to its fructose content). Milk is also another good choice due to the enamel-fortifying calcium it contains; however, it does contain natural sugar, lactose — so never have a glass before bed without brushing your teeth.

Q. What can I do to combat enamel erosion if I can't quit drinking soda?

For those unable to put aside their love of soft drinks, take these steps to minimize tooth decay and other soda-related oral problems:

  • Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth afterwards to clear away sugar and acid
  • Use fluoride-rich toothpaste and mouthwash to help strengthen tooth enamel
  • See your dentist regularly to get professional help in preventing tooth damage

Speak To Your Dentist

New drinks are always hitting the shelves, but many may not live up to their health claims. Before making something your beverage of choice, get your dentist's perspective to understand how it can impact the health of your teeth.


Sources:

Soda or Pop? It's Teeth Trouble by Any Name. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 3015 from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Oral-Hygiene-Basics/article/Soda-or-Pop-Its-Teeth-Trouble-by-Any-Name.cvsp

Melnick, M & Klein, S. (2013, March 13). Soda Myths: The Truth About Sugary Drinks, From Sodas To Sports Drinks. Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/soda-myths-facts-sugary-drinks_n_2863045.html

Your Child's Sippy Cup: Is it a Friend or Foe?

April 5th, 2022

Shaped like your child's favorite action heroes and in every vibrant color imaginable, sippy cups seem like an innocent way to prevent spills. But with increased cavities and speech issues abound, pediatric dentists have recent research suggesting that what was once a friend is now a foe.

Of course, sippy cups can play an integral role in your child's development. But in light of these recent developments, it's important to know how to properly use them and to be aware of potential problems that can occur due to misuse.

How are Sippy Cups Supposed to be Used?

Sippy cups are a parent's dream. After all, they allow children to take care of themselves and transition to adult cups easier than they would otherwise be able to. However, sippy cups weren't developed or intended for prolonged use, no matter the level of convenience they offer.

In fact, sippy cups should be used as a transitional tool to wean children off of bottles until they're able to use an adult cup. Most often, this means that sippy cup usage should stop between the ages of one and two, depending upon a child's motor development.

Common Health Concerns Associated With Sippy Cups

Many parents understand that sippy cups can be problematic when used improperly, but not as many recognize the primary health concerns that can surface due to improper use:

    • Tooth Decay – Sugary substances in your child's sippy cup will feed the oral bacteria in his/her mouth, thereby weakening the enamel and causing decay.
  • Speech Difficulties – Sippy cups can cause speech issues. This can happen when a child drinks from a cup as if it were a bottle, misplacing the tongue and pushing out the teeth, which can result in a lisp or other articulation complications.

Turning a Common Foe Back Into a Friend

A quick online search will turn up dozens of articles telling you that sippy cups are an absolute foe, but it isn't that simple. While it's true that sippy cups can cause problems, proper usage makes them a friend and asset as you transition your child into adult cups.

So, how can you turn this foe into a friend once again? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Choose the Right Sippy Cup – Not all sippy cups are created equal. Try to purchase ones that have a spout and two handles to promote motor development. As your child ages, you may even want to purchase a sippy cup with a straw rather than a spout. Also, if you're using a sippy cup for juice, it's beneficial to avoid "no-spill valves" as valves can concentrate sugary fluid on your child's teeth over a longer period of time.
    • Limit Time With the Sippy Cup – Some kids will run around all day with their cups if you let them! Instead, take the cup away when your child is finished.
    • Offer Juice Only at Mealtimes – If you want to offer juice to your child, do so at mealtimes only. Increased saliva production will help break down the sugars and rinse them away to prevent tooth decay.
  • Minimize Sugary Liquids – Instead of juice, opt for water during the day and at bedtime.

Friend or Foe: You Decide

A sippy cup can be your best friend or worst enemy: it all depends on how you use it.

By keeping the tips above in mind, your little one can enjoy his/her favorite sippy cups and you can rest assured that his/her teeth and development won't be derailed in the process.


Sources:

Davis, J. (2002, May 22). Sippy Cups Causing Too Many Cavities. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20020322/sippy-cups-causing-too-many-cavities

Mann, D. (2008, February 11). So Long Sippy Cups, Hello Straws. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20080212/so-long-sippy-cups-hello-straws

Dental Checkups: Why You Should Never Brush Them Off

March 1st, 2022

Your teeth look and feel just fine, so what harm can there be in skipping one checkup? Plenty... and it's not just a free toothbrush and dental samples you'll miss! A lot can happen in just a short period of time, and the ramifications of canceling your semi-annual dental checkup can go beyond your oral health.

If you've ever doubted the necessity of regular visits, these reasons will have you running for the dentist's chair at least every six months!

Developing Decay and Disease

Practicing perfect hygiene can be difficult, and occasional slip-ups can happen to the most diligent of dental patients. But forgetting to brush or floss here or there, or overindulging in sugary snacks one too many times is all it takes to put you on the path to tooth decay and gum disease.

Seeing your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and exam can help detect and remove hardened plaque buildup (otherwise known as "tartar") before it results in new cavities and gum disease. While timely preventative care should be of universal importance, frequent checkups are even more crucial to the oral health of children still learning about proper dental care, as well as to pregnant women who are at higher risk of gum disease.

Serious Non-Dental Health Issues

The state of your teeth and gums can tell far more about your overall wellbeing than you might think. In fact, the mere presence of periodontitis (severe gum disease) and/or tooth loss has been associated with other non-dental conditions.

Because dental exams also include an assessment of the head, face and neck, a checkup can detect larger concerns directly resulting from poor oral health. Facial muscle strain due to protruding teeth, or jaw disorders caused by bruxism (excessive tooth grinding) are just two examples of serious side effects that can progressively worsen over time if left unchecked. Oral cancer is another serious health threat that you might overlook without the experienced eyes of your dentist.

Significant Cost Savings in the Long Run

Not only does preventative care make sense from a health perspective, it makes a lot of financial sense as well. No one can deny that replacing a lost or cracked filling is much more cost-effective than a root canal or tooth replacement. Moreover, early detection of certain conditions — such as gum disease or weakened tooth enamel — makes it possible to reverse the problem in some situations, and avoid costly alternatives altogether.

Where regular dental checkups prove themselves to be even more invaluable is in detecting and treating larger diseases and health concerns. Safeguarding your body from the ravages of cancer and other aforementioned illnesses is worth the effort of going to a dental checkup every few months.

Making the Most of Each Checkup

Regular checkups every 6 months provide you with the opportunity for professional care and treatment specific to your dental situation. If you suffer from gum disease, you should aim to see your dentist for a professional cleaning every 3-4 months. From nutritional advice to cosmetic improvements and necessary surgical procedures, your dentist can help you navigate the more complex aspects of dental care to safeguard your oral health.


Sources:

Healthy smile, healthy you: The importance of oral health. (2011, May). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/dentalhealth.html

The Importance of Regular Dental Visits. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.oralb.com/topics/importance-of-regular-dental-visits.aspx

Why Are Regular Dental Visits Important? (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2-15 from http://www.dentalcare.com/en-US/dental-education/patient-education/regular-english.aspx