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Your Dental Care Playbook

June 21, 2016

On game day, most athletes have their own checklist or pregame ritual to get in the zone. Uniform? Check. Water? Check. Warmup? Check. Mouthguard? We hope so! No matter what sport or skill level, athletes should be taking care of their teeth on and off the field. Here are three ways athletes can improve their oral hygiene game to keep their teeth healthy and strong:

  1. Always wear a mouthguard: Make a mouthguard part of your uniform! Anyone who plays contact sports should wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth, gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue. Wearing a mouthguard can keep you safe from soft tissue damage and jaw injuries that could otherwise cause serious harm. While it doesn’t necessarily matter what kind of mouthguard you choose, make sure it fits comfortably.
  2. Skip the sugary sports drinks: Rather than reaching for a sugar-filled sports drink on the sidelines, choose water. The bacteria in your mouth takes the sugar from these drinks to produce acid that weakens the outer shell of your teeth and can increase your risk for cavities.
  3. Practice makes perfect: Just as with your sport, mastering your dental habits takes practice. An unhealthy tooth is more likely to be damaged in a sports injury. Keep your smile as strong as your game by brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily.  

As your Palm Harbor pediatric dentist, our team is here to help keep your kids’ teeth in tip-top shape. From orthodontics to fillings and cosmetic dentistry to restorations, our mission is to raise our children with a cavity-free, healthy smile they can wear proudly. We want your child to love the dentist and grow into a confident adult with a lifetime of healthy dental habits. To learn more about how to help improve your child’s dental hygiene game or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

How to Care for Your Toothbrush

June 7, 2016

Passing along proper oral hygiene habits to your kids is an important task. If kids start brushing and flossing at a young age, they’re more likely to carry on healthy habits throughout their life. Many people don’t think about caring for their toothbrush, but it can be just as essential as keeping up with your dental care. As you begin to teach your little ones how to brush, don’t forget to include the following tips for terrific toothbrush care:

  1. Keep your toothbrush in the open air: Frequently keeping moist toothbrushes in a closed or covered container increases the risk of microorganism growth.
  2. Don’t share toothbrushes: When you use someone else’s toothbrush, you expose yourself to their germs and increase your risk of illness. Anyone with a weak immune system or anyone who is sick should avoid using someone else’s toothbrush.
  3. Keep your toothbrush upright: If you store your toothbrush in the upright position it’s able to properly dry before the next time you use it. When you have multiple brushes in the same holder, make sure to keep them from touching to avoid any cross-contamination.
  4. Rinse out your toothbrush: After you brush, be sure to properly rinse out your toothbrush to remove any leftover debris and toothpaste so it’s clean for the next time you use it.
  5. Replace your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months: Kids toothbrushes usually need to be replaced more frequently than adult brushes. When your toothbrush is worn and frayed it’s not able to do its job as effectively.

Teaching your kids at a young age to properly care for their teeth will help ensure that their pearly whites are strong and healthy for years to come. From teaching frequent brushing to flossing, Dr. Maggie Davis is here to help keep your kids cavity-free and smiling. To learn more about how to help your kids care for their teeth or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

Make Dental Hygiene Fun: Part Two

May 26, 2016

Getting kids to brush their teeth can seem like a terribly difficult feat. Even if you can get them to brush, they might be fighting it the whole way…and who knows if they brushed for two minutes! While these tasks might seem impossible to achieve, there are simple ways to make oral care not only fun, but effective for kids. Check out the continuation of our last blog:


Books and Videos

Check out a children’s book from the library that encourages healthy oral care habits. You can also show your child a fun video about dental hygiene for kids. Stories and videos that are designed for children are great for teaching kids how to take care of their teeth and for making oral health something that they can relate to.

Special Toothpaste

Your child’s toothpaste can even be amusing! Your five year old may not run to the bathroom to use plain, minty toothpaste, but they can look forward to a good time cleaning his teeth with a strawberry or watermelon flavored toothpaste.

Gold Stars

To make brushing twice a day and flossing more enjoyable create your own gold star reward system. You and your child can decorate a poster with teeth, toothbrushes, healthy snacks, and other oral health themes to represent the days of the month. Give your child a sticker to put on the poster every time they brush their teeth.

Dentist Visit Surprise

Regular check ups are another important part of good dental hygiene for kids. Visits to the dentist every six months help keep your child’s smile sparkling and healthy. Surprise your child after the appointment with some fun family time. Head to the park or plan a picnic with healthy foods for healthy teeth.

So, there you have it. Who knew that encouraging great dental care in your children could be this simple? If it seems like they are reluctant, don’t give up! Your child’s teeth are very important, and making sure that they take care of them is something they will definitely thank you for it later.

Make Dental Hygiene Fun: Part One

May 12, 2016

Help your kids have a healthy smile by making dental hygiene for kids fun. Making brushing, flossing and dental check-ups a positive experience can help to keep your child excited about good oral care. Your child will not only grow up with a beautiful smile, but also with healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Brush and Floss Together

One way to make your child interested in oral care is to brush and floss together. Kids like to mimic what their parents do, and most of the time they don’t even realize that they’re doing it! Show your son or daughter your excellent brushing technique, including your great tongue brushing skills! After brushing, floss your child’s teeth or help them to floss if they are old enough to do it on their own. To give routine brushing an air of excitement, make up a rhyme about keeping teeth clean or sing a fun song.

Special Brush

Another way to keep your child’s interest alive is with a new, fun toothbrush. When it is time to replace the old toothbrush with a new one, opt for a colorful, soft bristled brush, or one with your child’s favorite cartoon character.

Keep Track of Dental Hygiene Time

The American Dental Association advocates brushing for two minutes, twice per day. How do you know that your child is brushing for long enough? Use a two minute sand timer. Let your child flip over their brightly colored timer and then start brushing.

These tasks might seem simple enough, but there are plenty more where these came from! This is only half of our list. Check back in with us later this month for the second installment, and until then, use these great tips to make your child’s experience with dental care a good one. Trust us, they’ll thank you for it when they’re old enough to appreciate it!

Is Anesthesia Safe?

April 25, 2016

Several medications are available to help create more relaxed, comfortable dental visits. Some drugs control pain, some help you relax, and others put you into a deep sleep during dental treatment. You and your dentist can discuss a number of factors when deciding which to use for treatment.

Your dentist might recommend that your child be administered anesthesia or sedation to relax them in order to safely complete some dental procedures.

Local anesthesia is a type of anesthetic used to prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by locking the nerves that sense or transmit pain, which numbs mouth tissues. Your dentist may apply a topical anesthetic to numb an area in preparation for administering an injectable local anesthetic. Topical anesthetics also may be used to soothe painful mouth sores. Injectable anesthetics may be used in such procedures as filling cavities, preparing teeth for crowns, or treating gum disease.

For some dental visits, your dentist may use a sedative, which can induce moderate sedation. Sedatives can be administered before or during dental procedures. Sedation methods include inhalation (using nitrous oxide), oral (by taking a pill) and intravenous (by injection). More complex treatments may require drugs that can induce deep sedation, reducing consciousness in order to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion, general anesthesia can be used, in which drugs cause a temporary loss of consciousness. 
Dentists use the pain and anxiety control techniques mentioned above to treat millions of patients safely every year. Even so, taking any medication involves a certain amount of risk. That’s why the ADA urges you to take an active role in your oral health care. This means understanding the risks and benefits involved in dental treatment, so that you and your dentist can make the best decisions about the treatment that is right for you. Working together, you and your dentist can choose the appropriate steps to make your dental visit as safe and comfortable as possible, and to help you keep a healthy smile.

Why Baby Teeth Matter

April 11, 2016

A child’s primary teeth, sometimes called baby teeth, are as important as the permanent adult teeth. A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth and typically begin to appear when a baby is between 6 months and 1 year.

When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing to them. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physicians. Most children have a full set of twenty primary teeth by the time they are three.

So you might be wondering at this point why baby teeth matter. They fall out anyway and are replaced by permanent teeth, right? Not only do primary teeth help children chew and speak, they also hold space in the jaws for the permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.

The ADA recommends that a dentist examine a child within six months after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a “well baby checkup” for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb sucking.

Secrets to a Great Checkup: Part Two

March 21, 2016

A trip to the dentist should be easy and painless for you and your child, so why not continue our series and finish up these great tips to help make your next trip a dentist’s dream rather than a nightmare:

Leave Your Anxiety at the Door
If your heart races at the very thought of the dentist, your child can probably tell. Kids pick up on parents’ anxiety. The younger your kids are, the more you need to be aware of how you’re communicating with them. For example, if your child asks about getting a cavity filled, don’t say, “It will only hurt for a little bit.” Instead, encourage your child to ask the dentist.

Keep Cool If Your Child Won’t Cooperate
If your child gets upset during her visit, the worst thing you can do is swoop them out of the chair and leave, because the next visit is going to be harder. First, assess why your child is acting out. Are they truly afraid, or are they trying to test the situation? Once you’ve figured it out, work as a team with your dentist to keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the conversation. Jump in where you think it helps most, while still allowing the dentist and your child to build a good relationship.

Take a Card (or Three) on Your Way Out
Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number. Grab business cards for your wallet, your child’s backpack and your school’s files.

We hope that these tips help make your child’s early visits to the dentist easier, and allow for a wonderful experience that will reflect on how they view dental visits and procedures for the rest of their life.

Secrets to a Great Checkup: Part One

March 7, 2016

Prevention and early detection can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking, and school absences for your child. Here are some great tips to a successful dentist visit in the first of this month’s series:

Plan Ahead
There are certain times of the year that are extra busy for dentists, so it’s important to plan ahead. August is often a hectic time because school is starting, so planning a head is the best. Make it a habit to call when your child gets their spring report card each year.

Encourage Age-Appropriate Dental Habits at Home
For children ages six and under, your child might want to do all the brushing themselves, but they don’t have the fine motor skills to do a thorough job just yet. Let them start, and jump in as needed. From ages seven to twelve, your child knows what to do, but might not want to. Keep encouraging healthy brushing and flossing habits. From twelve to eighteen, this is a critical time for dental health, so don’t let your teen’s habits become out of sight, out of mind. Support and respect are important, because they’re not kids anymore.

Timing is Everything
The time of day can make or break your child’s appointment. Don’t schedule an appointment during regular naptime, and if your child is cranky after waking up, take that into consideration as well. Also, for older children, avoid cramming in a dentist appointment right after day camp or school. Not all kids have the energy to do that.

A Hungry Child Is Not a Happy Patient
Feed your child a light meal before the appointment. Hungry people are grouchy people. It’s also generally a good idea not to feed them in the waiting room before you see the dentist because there’s all that food in their mouth. Eating light is also better for a child with a healthy gag reflex. Bonus points if your child brushes before an appointment. It’s very polite!

Keep an eye out for the second blog in our series; you’ll be a visitation pro before your child can say “cheese!”

Breastfeeding and Your Baby’s Teeth: Part Two

February 24, 2016

Thought we were done discussing breastfeeding? Think again! We still have loads of information for you in our second and final installment in this series. Here are more facts to keep in mind if you’re considering breastfeeding your baby.

Breastfed babies can still get cavities.

Yet another common question asked by nursing mothers is: Can breastfeeding cause cavities? And the answer is yes, because natural breast milk, just like formula, contains sugar. Either way you swing with this decision, it’s important to put your baby’s teeth health first. A great tip is to start wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth every day, starting a few days after birth. As soon as that first tooth emerges, brush their teeth twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. It might seem small, but it’s enough for a tiny mouth! You’ll be doing everything in your power to prevent cavities.

Need dental work done, mom? Double check your medications.

If you need to have a dental procedure that requires medication while you’re nursing, check with your dentist, personal physician, and pediatrician to ensure that any medication you’ll be taking is safe for your little one. There are antibiotics available that won’t do any harm. As a matter of fact, it’s not only safe to go the dentist while you’re pregnant and nursing, it’s important to do so for the best health of your child. Keep in mind the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Drugs and Lactation Database to search for medications and get information about how it affects your supply and your baby.

And last but not least…take care of yourself, mom! It is often found that moms are not able to take care of themselves as well as they did before giving birth. Moms should be at least doing the basics: brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, seeing their dentist regularly, staying hydrated. Keep your health in mind when you’re thinking of the heath of your child.

Breastfeeding and Your Baby’s Teeth: Part One

February 10, 2016

Breastfeeding is one of the first (and most personal) decisions a mother can make for her baby. It can help your baby’s body fight infections, and reduce health risks like asthma, ear infections, SIDS, and obesity in children. Did you know that breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both baby and mom? Check out these first few facts in this month’s series on breastfeeding and your baby’s teeth.

Breastfeeding may help build a better bite.

A June 2015 study from Pediatrics found that babies that were exclusively breastfed for six months were seen to be less likely to develop open bites, cross bites, and overbites than those who either breastfed for less than six months, or not at all. This doesn’t mean your breastfed baby won’t need braces someday, as there are other factors that affect alignment; every child is different, after all! These other factors include genetics, pacifier use, and thumb sucking.

You don’t have to wean when your baby gets teeth!

Common among mothers who breastfeed is the question of whether or not they should stop breastfeeding when my child starts teething? The answer is not if you don’t want to. The mantra here is the same as it was above: every child is different. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of a baby’s life, while the World Health Organization encourages moms to go for two.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk for baby bottle tooth decay.

An additional breastfeeding benefit is reduced risk of baby bottle tooth decay, which is the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that have sure in them. This occurs most often when a baby is put to bed with a bottle, regardless of what’s in it (besides water).

These are just the first three health facts about breastfeeding and your (and your baby’s) health. Stay tuned for part two!

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