January 6, 2019
When your baby starts teething, it’s no fun for anyone. It’s easy to helpless as your child goes through the discomfort that comes along with new teeth breaking through, especially since your little one doesn’t understand why he’s in pain. However, there are actually many ways you can make the teething process a bit easier for your baby.
When Does Teething Generally Begin?
In most cases, babies begin to teeth when they’re around six months old, although teething can start a bit earlier or later in some children. Usually, it’s the two bottom front teeth that breakthrough first, following by the top two front teeth. Even before you first see a tooth peeking through, teething pain may occur because of the pressure of the tooth pushing against the gum as it prepares to erupt.
Signs Your Baby is Teething
How do you know when your baby is teething? Some of the most common symptoms of teething include:
Putting things in their mouth
Rubbing at their face
Decrease in appetite
Tender, sore gums
Crying more than normal
Tips for Easing Your Baby’s Discomfort While Teething
Once you know that your baby is teething, you can do several things to ease your baby’s discomfort. Helpful tips you can try to relieve the pain include:
Tip #1 – Massage the Gums – The swelling and pain that comes with teething can often be soothed by massaging the gums. Many babies start biting down on the sides of a crib or playpen when teething because they like the pressure. Use a clean finger to gently massage the gums to help reduce their pain.
Tip #2 – Hard Teething Toys – Many little ones love chewing on something hard because it adds pressure, and it can even speed up the teething process. Teething toys made of toxin-free plastic, rubber, or silicon are all great choices. Experiment a bit to see what your child likes the most, and make sure you keep teething toys clean.
Tip #3 – Use Something Cold – A cool washcloth or even a frozen washcloth can feel wonderful on your baby’s irritated gums. Plush teething toys that are chilled also make great options. You can dip them in a bit of breast milk and freeze them or put them in the refrigerator as well.
Tip #4 – Offer Chilled Food – Many babies don’t want to eat much while they’re teething, and since cold feels good on swollen gums, chilled food may help. Be sure to choose only healthy foods, such as soft frozen fruits if your baby is already eating solid food.
Tip #5 – Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers – Mayo Clinic recommends giving your baby over-the-counter pain relievers like Children’s Motrin or Children’s Tylenol if they are especially cranky and fussy while teething, although it’s a good idea to consult with your baby’s physician or dentist. However, it’s important to use these medications as directed.
Tip #6 – Skip Teething Medications with Lidocaine and Benzocaine – Some of the over-the-counter teething medications that contain lidocaine or benzocaine can actually prove harmful to your baby, and they’re not recommended. You’ll also want to avoid homeopathic teething tablets.
Don’t Forget That First Dental Visit
When your child begins teething, it’s time to start thinking about that first dental visit. It’s recommended that baby’s see a dentist by the age of one. As soon as your baby has teeth, there’s a risk of tooth decay. That first visit to the dentist is an excellent time for your child to get acquainted with the dentist and become familiar with the office. Your pediatric dentist can examine your child’s teeth and talk with you about how to begin properly caring for their teeth, how to prevent tooth decay, normal dental development, and some of the common habits like thumb sucking or sippy cups that can result in dental issues.
Although teething is normal, it can be difficult for you and your child. Try some of these tips to ease their discomfort and be ready to offer some extra snuggles to soothe them. Once your baby has teeth, give us a call, and we’ll get that first dental visit scheduled so you get a head start on keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy.
December 13, 2018
Stocking stuffers are one of those things parents rarely spend a lot of time thinking about. They tend to just grab whatever small items they can think of or that are easy to find, such as candy, gums, sweet treats, and tiny toys. Grabbing these types of items may be a quick and easy solution, but it isn’t always the best as it results in purchasing useless toys and unhealthy snacks.
Instead of stuffing your child’s stocking with a bunch of useless or unhealthy items why not choose stuff that will help improve the health of your child’s teeth and gums. In an effort to help you save time this holiday season, we have created a list of mouth-healthy stocking stuffers.
Can’t Go Wrong with a Toothbrush
It may seem practical, but really you can’t go wrong with adding one or two toothbrushes to your child’s stocking. After all, you should be switching out your child’s toothbrush every three to four months, so this will come in handy in the future.
When shopping for a toothbrush to use as a stocking stuffer, consider finding a special one that your child will enjoy. Toothbrushes come in a variety of different colors and even feature characters from your children’s favorite movies and TV shows. Picking one of these types of toothbrushes will not only make the gift seem special, it could make it fun for your child to brush their teeth.
Want to Give Candy? Pick Sugar-free Options or Gum Sweetened with Xylitol
Avoid disappointing your child by only giving them a stocking filled with healthy practical items and make sure to add a few sugar-free candies or gum sweetened with xylitol. These items will allow your child to enjoy a sweet treat without completely damaging their teeth.
In fact, gum sweetened with xylitol has been proven to improve people’s oral health. It has been proven in various dental studies that chewing this type of gum increases saliva production which helps keep your mouth healthy by removing harmful bacteria and plaque.
Have an Athlete in the Family? Get a Mouth Guard
If you have a child who is an athlete you know how easy it is for mouth guards to go missing. Even if your child doesn’t misplace them or lose them, they still need to be replaced every couple of months as bacteria can build up in them. Luckily, mouth guards make great stocking stuffers.
Slip a brand new mouth guard into your child’s stocking this year and they will be fully prepared to engage in favorite sports activities without worrying about if their teeth will be damaged.
Flavored Toothpaste and Dental Floss
Children go through a lot of toothpaste and dental floss. Fill your child’s stocking with some flavored toothpaste and dental floss. It is practical and something they will use every day.
Why flavored toothpaste and dental floss? Children tend to find brushing and flossing to be a boring task. Using flavored toothpaste and dental floss will make the experience more fun. If your child is having fun, they are more likely to make sure they brush and floss at least twice a day.
Getting a stocking full of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss can be disappointing especially if you are a child who was looking forward to sweet treats. Help your child avoid being disappointed by adding some healthy snacks to their stocking.
Some options for healthy snacks include:
- Small bags of nuts
- Dark chocolate – just make sure to have your child eat this in moderation
- Granola or granola bars
If your child has a favorite snack that they don’t get a lot, consider splurging and purchasing it as a stocking stuff. Just make sure it isn’t something that is high in sugar or too sticky/crunchy.
While you are thinking and planning ahead for the holiday season, why not take the time to schedule a post-holiday dental exam and professional cleaning for your child with the wonderful staff at Dr. Maggie Davis’ pediatric dental office. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with us.
November 15, 2018
Children with special needs often have unique oral health issues that are a result of their health condition, oral sensitivity, diet, or difficulty eating. Certain developmental disabilities may also affect the skills needed for completing everyday tasks, such as routine dental hygiene. Children who have special needs often have a higher risk for dental problems as well, so learning how to maintain the oral health of your child despite the challenges is essential to their overall wellness and quality of life.
Common Dental Concerns and Challenges
If you have a child with special needs, their condition may affect saliva production, how oral structure and teeth grow, what your child is easy to eat, and more. Some of the most common dental concerns and challenges in children who have special needs include:
- Bruxism – Your child may grind their teeth during the day or while sleeping, and over time this can damage teeth.
- Dry Mouth – Medications or your child’s condition may lead to dry mouth. It can also affect their nutrition and result in dental problems like gum disease, mouth infections, and tooth decay.
- GERD – This can cause your child’s mouth to be more acidic, wearing down their teeth.
- Bad Breath – Diabetes, digestive problems, some medications, and chronic sinusitis may result in bad breath.
- Holding Food in the Mouth – Some children may hold food in their cheeks or mouth, an issue known as food pouching. This can result in the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
- Medications Affect Gums and Teeth – Certain medications may contain sugar, increasing the risk of cavities. Other medications may affect saliva production while certain seizure medications may result in enlarged gums.
- Delay in Tooth Eruption – Your child’s teeth may take extra time to erupt, something that’s very common in children who have Down syndrome.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Mouth
Since children with special needs have a higher risk for oral health problems like gum infections, bite problems, enamel irregularities, and cavities, it’s so important to work on maintaining a healthy mouth. Here’s a closer look at a few tips that can make caring for your child’s oral health a bit easier.
Tip #1 – Assist Your Child in Brushing Twice Daily
Brushing daily is one of the most essential tasks for a healthy mouth. If your child needs help or some adaptations, here are some tips that can help.
If your child needs help brushing:
- Be sure you’re able to see each tooth
- Use a small amount of toothpaste on a soft bristled brush. For children who are bothered by the toothpaste or those with difficulty swallowing, you can brush with fluoride mouthwash instead.
- Help your child rinse with some water after you brush. If they can’t, give them a drink of water.
If your child can brush on his own but needs a bit of help, here are some creative options:
- Add a strap to the toothbrush to make it easier to hold if your child uses a strap to hold other items.
- You can make the handle of the toothbrush bigger by using foam tubing or a bicycle grip to the handle. Another option is to cut a slit in a tennis ball, sliding it onto the toothbrush handle for easier grasping.
- Other toothbrush options, such as a water pic or electric toothbrush, may make brushing easier for your child.
Tip #2 – Get Professional Help with Sensitivity and Tolerance Issues
Many children with special needs have increased mouth sensitivity and may not tolerate brushing and flossing well. It’s often difficult to address this on your own, so take the time to get professional help for your child with these issues. Professional therapy may help your child overcome these problems so brushing, flossing, and dental care become easier.
Tip #3 – Don’t Forget Routine Dental Visits
Regular dental checkups and cleanings can ensure any potential problems are found before they cause your child discomfort and pain. It may take a little time to help your child feel comfortable at the dentist. Consider scheduling a visit to the office with no treatment. Let your child see the office, sit in the dental chair, meet the dentist, and get some oral hygiene tips.
It’s also a good idea to work with a dentist’s office that has experience with children with special needs so they’re prepared to help your child relax throughout dental checkups and treatment. Be sure to talk with the dentist and office staff about any concerns you have before treatment so you can all work together as a team to maintain your child’s oral health.
October 15, 2018
Halloween is one of those holidays that has a lot of prep work involved. There is the obvious prep work you need to do such as planning parties, purchasing candy, planning trick-or-treat routes, and picking out costumes, but there is one thing you should be doing that isn’t so obvious – removing choking hazards.
There are so many potential choking hazards that your child can encounter during the Halloween season that is an unpleasant topic that must be discussed.
Removing Choking Hazards from Halloween Costumes
Many parents pick out Halloween costumes based off of looks, but sometimes the cutest costumes are the most dangerous. When picking out a costume for your child keep the following things in mind so there are no choking hazards:
- Avoid costumes that have extremely small parts such as sequins, glitter, or beads. This is especially important if you have younger children who like to put things in their mouth. Even older children will sometimes suck on small parts out of habit.
- Think carefully about accessories. Parents are often so focused on picking out accessories for their child’s costume that they don’t think about the possibility of a choking hazard. Make sure any accessories you pick out (masks, headbands, wands or swords) don’t have small pieces that can fall off.
- Be mindful of wigs and other items that could shed or cause small pieces to fall off.
Avoiding Choking Hazards with Halloween Candy
Halloween candy is so tasty, but it is probably the biggest choking hazard that your child can encounter. Keep your child safe by doing the following:
- Inspect all Halloween candy and look for candy with small pieces. Remove any candy that may have small pieces so it doesn’t tempt your child.
- Be careful with hard candy. It may not be small, but sometimes children will instinctively swallow it and it will get lodged in their throat.
- Avoid candy that is too soft. Things such as marshmallows and taffy are soft but a child could swallow it and start choking.
- Avoid candy that has things such as peanuts or gum inside
- Be careful of candy that may have small toys inside them. Children won’t choke on the candy, but the toy could prove dangerous.
Other Ways to Keep Your Child Safe This Halloween
Reducing or removing choking hazards isn’t the only thing you can do to keep your child safe this Halloween season. Some other things you can do to keep your child safe include:
Verify that any cider or juice your child consumes is pasteurized. Harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, can grow in unpasteurized products. Prevent food-related illnesses by making sure you serve drinks that are safe and free of bacteria.
Keep party food safe. Make sure perishable foods have been properly chilled. Don’t allow food to sit out too long if it is perishable. Bacteria can grow on perishable food after two hours. Avoid potential food-related illnesses by making sure all perishable food is properly stored and only out for a minimum amount of time.
Pick costumes that will make your child visible when they are outside. Some parents encourage their children to have two costumes: one that is used for indoor parties and one that is used for outdoors. This allows the child to have a fancy costume while also having one that keeps them safe at night.
Plan for an After-Halloween Professional Teeth Cleaning Appointment
If you want to be completely prepared for Halloween, you will schedule an appointment to have your child’s teeth cleaned sometime in November. Children will do a lot of snacking on candy filled with lots of sugar. Even if they brush and floss regularly, the candy could still cause tooth decay to develop.
Scheduling an appointment for a professional cleaning will make sure your children’s teeth and gums are healthy after all that candy.
Prepare now for Halloween by calling our office. Call our office today to schedule an after-Halloween professional teeth cleaning appointment for your child.
September 15, 2018
Knowledge is power when it comes to keeping your child safe. In an effort to help parents learn everything they need to know about child safety, health care providers, dentists, and childcare providers have declared the month of September to be Baby Safety Month and Dr. Maggie Davis will be taking part.
What is Baby Safety Month?
Baby Safety Month was created by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) as a way to help raise awareness about safety issues that affect children. During the month of September product manufacturers, retailers, doctors, dentists, and caregivers are encouraged to spread the word about the importance of baby safety.
Participants who have made the commitment to take part in Baby Safety Month will so everything they can to educate parents on important child safety issues. Participants can take part by holding community classes that discuss specific safety issues, passing out information sheets that provide safety tips, holding giveaways, or just making a conscious effort to focus on safety when talking with parents.
Oral Care Safety Tips That Will Keep Your Child Safe
Dr. Maggie Davis is taking part in Baby Safety Month by providing parents with a list of oral care safety tips. These safety tips can help parents improve their child’s oral health and keep them safe.
The following are oral care safety tips that every parent should know:
- Clean your child’s gums after every feeding and before bed. Many parents believe that because their child doesn’t have teeth there is no need to brush. That is partly correct. You don’t need to brush, but you do need to wipe the gums down with a damp cloth or piece of gauze. This will remove any bacteria and food particles that have accumulated around your child’s gums.
- Schedule an appointment for a dental checkup around your child’s first birthday. This appointment will not only be used to assess your child’s oral health, but it provides you with valuable information you will need to keep your child healthy and happy.
- Make sure your child is using safe teething products. Don’t allow them to teeth on products that contain harmful chemicals or ones that have small pieces that could fall off.
- Use toothpaste that is child-friendly. Child-friendly toothpaste tends to be fluoride-free. It is important to use fluoride-free toothpaste as children may swallow the toothpaste and you don’t want them to ingest too much fluoride.
- Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. This will prevent any damage from occurring to your child’s teeth and gums.
- Don’t keep a bottle with your child while they sleep. This is not only a potential choking hazard, but it can cause bacteria to grow and develop in your child’s mouth which will lead to tooth decay.
- Avoid sharing things such as straws, cups, and utensils with your child. It is extremely easy to pass the bacteria in your mouth to your child when you share these items.
- Try to avoid overexposure to fluoride.
Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Maggie Davis to Learn More
There is so much you can learn about keeping your child safe that it is difficult to include it all into one article. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Maggie Davis to learn more safety tips that will keep your child safe for many years to come.
During your first appointment with Dr. Maggie Davis, the focus is on assessing your child’s oral health and providing you with valuable information you need to keep your child safe and healthy. The appointment will start with Dr. Davis examining your child’s gums and teeth and looking for any potential problems. After the examination is complete, Dr. Davis will provide you with any treatment recommendations.
In addition to conducting an examination, Dr. Davis will be focused on teaching you what you need to know to properly care for your child’s oral health. She will discuss your child’s tooth development, what you can do to prevent future dental problems, and teach you how to properly care for your child’s teeth and gums. A worksheet filled with all this information will be provided so you can keep it handy and reference it as needed.
Interested in scheduling an appointment? Call our office. We look forward to seeing you and your child.
August 9, 2018
With the new school year starting very soon, you’re probably doing everything possible to make sure your child is ready for a successful and happy year. While buying new clothes, choosing the right school supplies, and perusing school schedules are all important, so is your child’s oral health. To set your child up for success now and throughout their school year, this is the perfect time to do a little bit of smile prep. Here are three tips to help your child have a clean and healthy smile for the new year.
Arrange a Cleaning and Check-up
Dr. Davis recommends that her young patients come in for a cleaning and a check-up prior to the start of the school year. A routine cleaning allows your child to get rid of any plaque and tartar that may have accumulated, and it gives them a clean start on oral health for the new school year.
During the check-up, Dr. Davis can evaluate your child’s tooth and gum health. If there are any issues like cavities, they can be filled promptly to prevent the issue from worsening enough to require more complex treatment. If your child has signs of tooth decay or gum disease, Dr. Davis can recommend treatments like sealants or fluoride treatments. This type of treatment, when combined with careful dental care throughout the school year, can preserve health and prevent future problems.
Create Some Oral Health Care Goals For Your Child
During the school year, your child’s progress is measured by their teacher — and at home, you can create a progress chart to help them keep track of their oral health routine. Many children find it rewarding to have a progress chart that they can mark each time they brush. Aim to two checkmarks per day — one in the “morning” column and one in the “bedtime” column.
If your child can keep up a streak of a week, reward them with something they love. A new book, a small toy, or something else that keeps them motivated can work well — and many kids enjoy having a brushing chart just for the feeling of accomplishment that they derive from it.
Make Lunches and Snacks Healthy — But Still Fun
During the school year, your child can be particularly likely to binge on unhealthy foods because they’re away from your influence for longer. Fortunately, you can still have a hand in what your child eats even when you’re not there if you pack their lunch with healthy (but still interesting!) options.
Even when a food is healthy, kids are more likely to enjoy it if it’s packaged in a fun and unique way. Consider cut up veggies — but add an individual container of hummus dip for fun. Instead of a piece of fruit, make a mixed fruit salad or create mini fruit skewers. Instead of a plain old sandwich, make a “roll up” with a tortilla, meat, and cheese. You can make mini skewers of cheese cubes or pack the tiny pre-packaged cheese rounds for a fun and delicious treat. These ideas can also work as perfect after-school snacks — and they’re engaging enough to keep your child distracted from asking for potato chips, sugar, or other teeth-destroying options.
Looking For a Pediatric Dentist to Help Your Child Start the New School Year Out Right?
Dr. Maggie Davis is a Palm Harbor, Florida pediatric dentist who can help with all aspects of your child’s dental care. She’s here for back to school check-ups, dental emergencies, help with thumb or pacifier sucking, interceptive orthodontics, space maintenance, fillings, crowns, bonding, and much more. Dr. Davis delivers dental care with compassion and understanding, and she’s a favorite with kids of all ages. To ensure that your child is comfortable, Dr. Davis offers multiple sedation options for fillings or other dental work. Contact Dr. Davis to arrange your child’s back to school visit today!
July 18, 2018
Summer is the time that your child looks forward to all year long — and now you might deal with the “but it’s summer” answer whenever you tell them to do something. While there are plenty of times that you can relax the usual rules during the summer — late bedtime, for example — teeth brushing is not one of those. Many kids tend to fall into the summertime mentality when it comes to brushing their teeth, which can mean that it doesn’t get done nearly as well or as often as it does when school is in session. Because oral health is important at every time of year, you’ll need some clever ways to motivate your child to keep brushing all summer long. Here are three top tips that can help.
Get Some Cool New Brushing Gear
On the first day of official summer vacation, take your child to pick out some new brushing gear. Let them pick out a new brush, a new flavor of toothpaste, and a new bottle of mouthwash. Because this allows your child to put their own unique personality into it, they may be more likely to use the items. If the brush happens to be shocking orange or purple and the toothpaste is a crazy flavor that sounds just awful to you — well, that’s perfectly fine as long as your kid loves it. While you’re choosing new brushing gear, have your child pick out a toothbrush travel case if you plan any vacations this summer. This can be a subtle reminder that brushing can equal fun times.
Make Brushing Rewarding
It can be hard to stay on track with regular routines during the summer, so most kids can benefit from a special incentive. Make a simple chart that keeps track of their toothbrushing progress each day. For each day of the week, have two slots to check off: Morning and night. If your child brushes properly for two full minutes in the morning, they get a checkmark and the same thing before bed. After a perfect streak of one week, give them an award. This can be anything they like and value — gift cards tend to be popular with most kids! If your child extends their perfect brushing streak to a full month, they can earn another award. This can be a bigger gift card, a special privilege like a summer concert, or anything else that your child wants very badly. Even if having healthy teeth doesn’t quite motivate your child like it should, rewards will definitely do the trick.
Put Your Child in Control
One way to increase your child’s interest and motivation in brushing is to help them feel like they’re in control of the brushing themselves. While you’ll be monitoring, you might be able to do so a bit more loosely if your child has something to keep them on track. Consider using a special brushing time app on your smartphone. These apps can sing songs about brushing, collect virtual monsters as awards, or customize a playlist of their favorite music — all for the recommended two-minute brushing intervals, of course. If you allow your child to launch the app and follow along on their own, they are more likely to feel engaged in the process — and this can help with motivation to keep doing this routine every day.
Summertime can be fun for kids but is often stressful for parents. If you use the toothbrushing tips above, you’ll have one less thing to worry about this summer. Need some help with the new summer brushing routine? Dr. Maggie Davis is here for you. Dr. Davis is a pediatric dentist who helps her young Palm Harbor, Florida patients achieve the best oral health every day. Dr. Davis offers check-ups, extractions, cavity fillings, orthodontics, root canals, cosmetic dentistry, emergency dentistry, and many other services. Contact Dr. Davis today for an appointment!
June 15, 2018
Many young children are apprehensive about losing their baby teeth — especially when it’s the first one. As a parent, you can ease that nervousness considerably if you just know the right things to say. Below, you’ll learn how to talk to your children about losing baby teeth, the right way.
Wait for the Right Time
It’s best not to overload your child with information about losing their teeth before they ask about it. Most kids will say something about it by the time they’re three or four years old — often, when they notice older kids with missing teeth they’ll be curious. Some kids might ask about losing teeth even earlier, sometimes as early as age two, especially if they have an older sibling that they’ve been watching closely.
When your child asks about losing teeth, always react in a positive way. Tell them that this is something that big boys and girls have to look forward to and that they’re becoming very grown up themselves. When they ask, they’re usually mature enough to have the conversation about losing their teeth.
Make it Magical
One great way to get your child fully on board — and even quite excited — about losing teeth is the tooth fairy. This tried and true tradition tends to capture the imagination of young children. If you want to really promote positivity in relation to losing teeth, consider buying a special tooth fairy pillow or bag to stow the lost teeth in. The “tooth fairy” can then leave a little gift (typically cash) in the pillow or bag — don’t forget to have some small denomination money on hand for these occasions!
Kids may enjoy the tooth fairy tradition so much that they actually look forward to losing their baby teeth — in fact, knowing that they get a reward for their teeth might make them more willing to help the teeth along by wiggling them or allowing them to be pulled out.
Ease Into the Idea of Pulling Teeth
When your child’s tooth is loose, don’t immediately suggest pulling it out — especially if it’s their first loose tooth. After all, even adults don’t enjoy tooth extractions, so they can seem really scary to young children who haven’t been through it before. Tell your child that when the tooth is loose that they can wiggle it back and forth (with freshly washed hands, of course.) If your child says it hurts to move their tooth, then tell them not to touch it any more right then. It will loosen further on its own until it’s ready to come out easily.
As your child grows older, they will likely grow more willing to have you pull the tooth out once it’s loose, but don’t push the issue because it might cause unnecessary stress. The teeth will come out sooner or later and there’s usually no need to hurry them along.
Prepare for Bleeding
While it’s unlikely that your child’s teeth will bleed dramatically after they fall out, a bit of blood is to be expected. Tell your child that they might notice a little bit of blood when the tooth comes out and that it’s completely normal and is nothing to be worried about.
Have fresh gauze on hand at all times. You can give your child squares of gauze to bite down on lightly to help control the bleeding if needed. This bleeding rarely lasts long at all, and with the distraction of the tooth fairy to look forward to your child is unlikely to dwell on the blood anyway.
Dr. Maggie Davis is a pediatric dentist who wants to help your kids grow up smiling. She offers dental exams, X-rays, fillings, restorations, bonding, sedation dentistry, and more. Dr. Davis treats young patients of all ages and is experienced in working with special needs patients as well. Contact Dr. Davis anytime to arrange a dental visit for your child.
March 16, 2017
You have probably heard your dentist say—on more than one occasion– that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day. However, you may not know why brushing two times daily is important. Here are a few reasons for this popular dental recommendation:
Plaque is continually produced.
When you eat, leftover bits of food mix with the bacteria inside your mouth to form plaque. The filmy, sticky substance coats your tooth enamel and gums. Although the development of plaque is a continual natural occurrence, the substance can cause a great bit of damage to your teeth.
Because plaque adheres to your teeth and gums, it places bacterial acid in direct contact with them. The bacteria within the plaque feast on the food particles in the mixture. As the microbes feed, they digest the food and release acid as a by-product. Since the acid is released adjacent to the tooth enamel, plaque can be highly damaging.
Just as acid is corrosive to most other substances, it also eats away at your enamel. This results in tooth decay. The longer the acid remains in place, the greater your chance of needing a dental appointment to fill a cavity. Twice-daily brushing removes the plaque before it can damage your pearly whites.
Brushing twice daily helps prevent tartar buildup.
Tartar is actually plaque that has calcified on the teeth. The hardening process that converts plaque into tartar takes about a day to complete. However, the conversion only takes place if plaque remains undisturbed. When you brush twice a day, plaque can be removed before it hardens into position.
While plaque is still soft, it can easily be brushed and flossed away. However, once it hardens, it remains in place until it is scraped away at your next dental cleaning. Why does this matter? Tartar not only makes your teeth look less attractive due to its yellow hue, but it also harbors additional plaque and oral bacteria to further compromise your oral health.
Although tartar may look completely solid, it is actually quite porous. It becomes a great hiding place for the substances that wreak havoc on your teeth.
Brushing twice a day helps prevent bad breath.
Bad breath that is not associated with the spicy taco or well-seasoned lasagna you had for dinner is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). Anaerobic bacteria that reside on your tongue release these compounds regularly, giving morning breath its characteristics stale, sulfur-y smell.
When you brush your teeth, your tongue should also get a thorough cleaning. As the oral microbes are removed, your breath becomes fresher. In addition, the sweet aroma of your toothpaste will further enhance your breath, making embarrassing moments during social encounters a little less likely.
Brushing twice daily helps ensure that the microbes that may be contributing to your bad breath are removed before they build up to the point of causing your breath to be offensive. It also removes particles of food that may be stuck between your teeth. As the food remains in place, it can rot or deteriorate in your mouth, further exacerbating halitosis.
Brushing twice a day can keep your teeth whiter.
As you eat and drink, pigments are absorbed into the pores of your tooth enamel and can build up over time. The accumulation of pigments can discolor your teeth, necessitating a teeth-bleaching session. When you brush twice a day, you can help remove some of the pigments that have not been fully absorbed by your teeth.
If you brush with a whitening toothpaste, you can give your teeth an even greater chance of avoiding discoloration. Whitening toothpaste often includes ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, to keep your teeth looking their best. Peroxide uses oxygenating power to help bleach away stains. Baking soda is alkaline and mildly abrasive, so it helps polish your teeth for a whitening boost.
Brushing twice daily also improves the health of your gums so that you can avoid gum disease. The acid that causes tooth decay irritates sensitive soft tissues in your mouth. The resulting inflammation can lead to gum disease.
If you are in the beginning stages of gum disease, you may only notice a bit of blood in the sink after you brush your teeth. However, periodontal issues can progress to the point of bone and tooth loss.
When you brush your teeth, you dilute the inflammatory acid and help rid your mouth of the bacteria that produce it.
For tips on proper brushing techniques or to learn ways to encourage your kids to brush twice daily, consult with our office.