While snacks contribute nutrients essential to good health, they can also contribute to tooth decay, if not well planned.
Tooth decay occurs when teeth, bacteria, and food – especially sweet, sticky types – are present in the mouth at the same time. Sweet, sticky foods (like raisins or candy) remain on the teeth for a long period of time. This acid destroys the protective enamel on teeth, resulting in tooth decay. It’s desirable to brush teeth after all meals and snacks, and floss daily. Sometimes brushing after a snack is not always possible; therefore, it’s important to choose tooth-healthy foods for snacks.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lots of fresh, cold milk
- Cubed or sliced cheese
- Whole grain crackers and breads (plain)
- Peanut Butter (without added sugar)
- Smoked or canned meats or fish
- Toasted seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc.)
- Dry roasted nuts
- Plain popcorn
- Hard-cooked eggs
- Unsweetened fruit juices
- Vegetable juices
- Cubed, cooked meats
- Ice cream
Children have small stomach capacities and require snacks in addition to regular meals to meet daily nutritional needs for energy and growth. Usually snacks are served at mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and before bedtime. Having wise snacks available for young children will help them to develop good eating habits.
Teenagers are in active, growing years, and need extra helpings of food to satisfy their appetites as well as their nutrients and energy needs. Snacks are an important part of a teenager’s social life so it makes good sense to make snacks count for more than just calories.
Active adults are frequently “grazers”, eating small meals and snacks throughout the day rather than large meals. Well-planned snacks are a nutritional asset.
Mature adults also benefit from snacks when problems with chewing and digestions interfere with regular eating habits. Snack foods that can be eaten anytime are ideal, allowing adults to decide their own mealtime schedule.
Brushing & Flossing
Brushing Your Teeth
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth
- Use the “toe” of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath
Flossing Your Teeth
- Break of about 18-inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a c-shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
- Repeat this method for the rest of your teeth.
- Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
Dentistry For Children
Primary Teeth (Baby Teeth)
Primary teeth eventually are lost. However, early loss of these teeth can cause serious dental problems later in life:
- The teeth on either side of a lost tooth drift into the empty space. When it is time for the permanent tooth to come in, there is not enough space and it erupts out of its proper position. This is one cause of malocclusion or “crooked” teeth. Once malocclusion has developed, correction may require a complicated and expensive orthodontic treatment.
- When teeth drift and become crooked, it is difficult to clean all tooth surfaces (inside, outside, and chewing). This can result in dental caries (tooth decay) and may contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. If a space maintainer is used, pay special attention to thoroughly cleaning teeth around the appliance.
- Tooth loss can affect a child’s appearance as well as speech. Many letters of the alphabet need assistance of teeth to form proper sounds. Teeth also help to shape the face.
You should give immediate attention to the loss of any tooth. The greatest amount of movement of teeth into the empty space occurs during the first six months after tooth loss. A space maintainer is particularly important if your child has lost the second primary molar. It is the key to the normal development of the permanent teeth. Approximately 60% of malocclusion due to lost space is caused by the loss of this tooth.
Baby bottle tooth decay is a condition that can destroy the teeth of a child or infant. The condition is caused when the child’s teeth are repeatedly exposed to sugary substances for long periods. The most frequently used are sweet liquids, including milk, formula, and fruit juices.
Other determining factors are how often and how long the teeth are exposed to decay causing acids. The more often the bottle is in the child’s mouth, the greater the chance of harm to the teeth. Especially harmful is to let the child fall asleep with sugary liquids in the bottle.
The key is to remember that as a parent you can prevent the unnecessary acid attacks on your child’s teeth. Children should be taught to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.
Another key to prevention is to clean the baby’s teeth after each feeding. This can be accomplished with a gauze pad, Q-tips, cotton swab or toothbrush.
Dental visits should begin by the child’s first birthday. The dentist can determine if the cleaning technique you are using is working and if there are problems with the child’s teeth as they grow. Fluoride is also beneficial to prevent tooth decay in baby teeth and the child’s developing permanent teeth.
Preventing tooth decay is much better than treatment for cavities. Sealants are a major help in preventing cavities on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. When a thin coat of clear plastic is applied to the decay-prone surfaces of the teeth, that surface is protected from bacteria that cause decay. Children most often receive sealants, but adults, too, can benefit from the application of sealant material over pit and fissure areas. This is a painless procedure that will pay for itself over and over as decay is prevented. Sealants last several years under the force of normal chewing.
If your kids aren’t brushing long enough, try these creative ideas:
- Keep a three minute egg timer handy
- Have them brush for the length of a song on the radio
- Have a tooth brushing chart, with fun rewards, after a set number of times brushed
- Using a good electric toothbrush, such as a Sonicare, make brushing even more fun
- Change the toothbrush often, it adds interest
- Choose a good toothpaste with a fun flavor
- Brush your teeth while the child is brushing theirs
- Brush your child’s teeth for them
Top 10 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know!
1. If you don’t have a source of fluoride, you are 20-40% at higher risk of getting cavities.
Not only is fluoride natural and safe, but it helps in preventing tooth decay by making the tooth enamel layer more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. This prevents these acids from demineralizing the teeth, and allows them to speed the remineralization process.
2. The longer your toothpaste is in contact with your teeth, the more effective it is.
Don’t get us wrong, brushing properly is important, but keeping the toothpaste in contact with the teeth is also important. Toothpaste typically includes ingredients such as mild abrasives and other important chemicals to help strengthen tooth enamel and re-mineralize teeth, reduce a build-up of hardened plaque, reduce gingivitis (gum inflammation), whiten teeth, and even reduce bad breath. So next time you brush, don’t be in such a hurry to rinse!
3. No matter how insignificant or small a chip may be, it puts your tooth at greater risk for decay.
Tooth enamel plays a very important role because it is the hardest substance in your body. It acts as a hard, protective outer layer to your teeth’s inner layers. Having a chip allows decay to breach this outer protection much quicker than normal, so you should always have a chip looked at by your dentist as soon as possible and prevent more serious issues as a result.
4. Schedule regular oral cancer screenings.
While oral cancer is fairly uncommon – approximately 2% of people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, and men are twice as likely to contract it as women – it is easy to catch early and prevent it from spreading. Regular oral cancer screenings by your dentist are simple, non-invasive, quick, and painless. There are not a lot of other tests you can say that about! And as they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
5. There is a right and wrong way to floss, and you might be doing it incorrectly.
Do not floss with aggressive strokes or when you are in a hurry, you may damage the gums and cause bleeding. Also don’t reuse the same part of your floss string, because it is likely to already be covered with plaque.
Instead, you want to begin near the gum line and then gently bring the floss down, gently glide the floss between the teeth with a rubbing motion. Be sure to curve the floss along the gum line near the tooth’s root. You should also ask your dentist if they recommend using a water pick, dental rinses, or other tools in addition to flossing.
If you haven’t been flossing daily and you have a dentist appointment today, don’t start flossing that day. Most of the time you’re just hurting your gums more than helping them. Best plan – floss correctly, and do it daily.
6. Always refrain from getting an oral or mouth piercing.
Tongue or lip piercings may seem “cool”, but they come with many draw backs and can be quite unhealthy. They can make chewing and swallowing difficult as well as damage your tongue, gums, or fillings including chipping your teeth. Piercings also make it hard for your dentist to take an X-ray of your teeth, and may even lead to serious health problems like gum disease, uncontrolled bleeding, long-term infection, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Best advice – just don’t do it.
7. Change your toothbrush regularly.
You should plan to change your tooth brush every 3 months or when you notice the bristles have lost their structure and begin to curve. When your bristles are no longer standing up straight, they can’t properly scrape the plaque and tarter from your teeth, and no longer can reach between your teeth or below your gum line. Toothbrushes are inexpensive, so it’s not worth holding onto a bad one that is ineffective and risking your oral health.
8. Don’t let embarrassment keep you from calling us!
If you haven’t been to the dentist in years because you’re ashamed of your teeth, you’re not alone. An estimated 40% of people don’t visit the dentist regularly, and many of them would rather keep their smile out of sight. Rest assured that Dr. Godfrey and the Excellence in Dentistry staff have seen it all, and we’re here to help, not judge. Don’t get caught up in appearances and comparing yourself to movie stars or other celebrities. What’s really important is your overall oral health, something we can help you improve and manage.
9. Don’t let pain (or lack of it) be your guide for when to go to the dentist.
Even if your smile is beautiful, it’s important to see the dentist regularly. Gum disease can lurk where you don’t see it and cause your gums to recede. If that happens, your jaw bone can also recede, causing a host of problems. Simply judging your oral health on how your teeth feel can disguise dental problems, because most oral problems don’t cause pain unless it’s serious. By going to the dentist regularly, we can pick up on problems early, allowing us to treat or even reverse them before they become painful or severe.
10. Build a strong, healthy smile for your child at a young age.
Don’t wait until your little one is a toddler for that first appointment. Bacteria can start to grow early, so it’s important to bring your child to the dentist when their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. There are many things dentists can do to get your baby’s oral health off to a good start, and it also allows your child to get to know the doctor and the office, relieving anxiety from future appointments. Make sure you are passing on proper cleaning habits and leading by example.