3 Times Fruit Is Bad For Your Kid’s Teeth

With all of the junk food available to kids and adults, it’s hard to imagine that something as seemingly healthy as fruit could ever be bad for your teeth. And certainly there are a lot of foods that are high in sugar that would be considered far worse for your overall oral health.  Still, there are times when fruit may not be the best choice.  Here are a few examples when you may want to skip the fruit:

1. When it’s dried.

Dried fruits have had most of their water removed and what’s left contains a much higher percentage of sugar than fresh fruits.  And because you tend to eat more dried fruit based on the volume, you will consume a much greater amount of sugar when compared to eating fresh fruit.  This doesn’t even take into account the added sugar that most packaged dried fruit contains.  Further, dried fruits like raisins and plums tend to be sticky and often stay stuck to teeth for a long time.  This provides bacteria plenty of what they need to grow.

2. When it’s canned with syrup.

Most canned fruits are packaged in a thick, high sugar syrup.  Even those labled “light syrup” contain large amounts of added sugar because that description can refer to the consistency of the syrup rather than sugar content.  When eating canned fruits, look for those that have no added sugar or those packed in 100% fruit juice.

3. When it’s juiced.

First, it’s important to understand that fruit juice can be very good for you when it’s part of a balanced diet.  However, juice can still harm teeth when too much is consumed too frquently.  This is because fruit that is juiced generally has much of the most nurtitious portions of the fruit removed.  When the pulp and fiber is taken away, what’s left is mostly water and sugar.  What’s more, fruit juices like orange juice is often highly acidic and can be tough on enamel over time.

As you can tell, fresh whole fruits are always the best option when eating fruit.  Whatever you eat, however, it’s important to remember that nearly all foods can be enjoyed in moderation.  And be sure to brush and floss regularly!

Your Kids Will Love These Tooth Friendly After-School Snacks

The time when your child’s school serves lunch to when your family eats dinner often means that little tummies need a snack to hold them over.  But snacking doesn’t have to be a health disaster.  In fact, it can be a great opportunity to provide much needed vitamins and minerals to fuel your child’s active schedule.  Below are a few quick ideas we’ve put together.  They’re adventurous and may be a little different from what your kids usually eat.  But these snack ideas are packed with vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and we guarantee that each one is delicious!

 

Healthy-After-School-Snacks-Peanut-Butter-Dip
Fruits, Veggies & Peanut Butter Dip

Snack sized fruits and veggies will disappear with this tasty and easy to make peanut butter dip.  We’ve added Greek yogurt which is a dental super food and cinnamon to give it a little added flavor.

¾ Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
½ Cup Natural Peanut Butter
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

Assorted Fruits and Veggies


Healhty-After-School-Snacks-Watermelon-Wraps

Watermelon Sandwich Wraps

These may require a small amount of prep, but getting your kids to help can be a terrific way to encourage them to try something they probably have never had. We got this recipe from theWatermelon.org website.  It may seem different, but trust us, it’s yummy!

Wraps – Whole wheat tortilla or pita bread.
Spread – Guacamole (for the more adventurous) or plain Greek yogurt
Meat (optional) – Any sandwich meats or slices.

And of course, watermelon, cut into ½ inch thick spears and as long as your wrap.


Healthy-After-School-Snacks-Baked-Zuccini

Baked Zucchini Slices with Parmesan Cheese

The tooth healthy parmesan cheese is what gives this healthy snack its zing.  Again, having kids help sprinkle on the cheese and lay out the slices will help choosier eaters try something new.

Simply slice zucchini in thin slices (no need to peel) and lay out on a cookie sheet.  Have your children sprinkle them with parmesan cheese on both sides.  Then, place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes on each side, or until brown.

Bleeding Gums When Brushing? The Problem May Be Worse Than You Think

Periodontal (gum) disease, affects as many as half of all Americans.  Gum disease can cause minor symptoms like inflamed or bleeding gums to an even more serious loss of soft tissue and bone.  If left untreated, gum disease may mean that teeth are lost or have to be removed.

What to look for.

If your gums or those of your child bleed from routine brushing and flossing you should understand that this is not normal.  Bleeding gums result from inflammation caused by bacteria hiding beneath the gum line.  Gums may appear red or swollen.  It’s important not to ignore these early signs of gum disease, called gingivitis.  Regular brushing and flossing is essential to avoiding or helping to correct the earliest signs of gum disease, but a scheduling a dental checkup is the best route to stop gum disease before it gets worse.

What is Periodontis?

When left unchecked, gingivitis can quickly become a more advanced gum disease known as “periodontis”.  When this occurs, small spaces begin to form around the tooth where plaque has hardened.  Not only can this mean a permanent loss of bone, but the toxins that eventually find their way into the rest of the body can have far reaching effects.  Recent studies have even highlighted the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

Preventing & Treating Gum Disease

If you believe that you or your children may have any stage of gum disease, it’s important to take action.  Aside from maintaining a regular schedule of oral care, be sure to stay active with dental checkups every six months or sooner if there is a potential problem.  You should be aware of other risk factors which may play a role in significantly increasing the likelihood of gum disease.  These include smoking, diabetes, medications causing dry mouth and hormonal changes in young girls and women.

Have more questions?

As always, please feel free to reach out to us if you have concerns about your family’s oral health.  Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

Is Thumbsucking Bad For Little Mouths?

Not all children suck their thumbs or fingers and for those that do, it’s not always problematic. For some children, however, the thumb sucking habit can be a hard one to break. This can have a negative impact on growing mouths and developing teeth, causing the front teeth to push forward over time. According the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, thumbsucking is generally not a concern until after the age of 4. By that time, most thumb and finger sucking habits have long since ceased.

If your child is a thumb or finger sucker past the age of 4, it’s important to understand why he/she is engaging in the behavior. The urge to root and suckle is an essential impulse for newborns, who depend on those instincts for food. As babies mature, some continue to find comfort through sucking behaviors and as they grow, that urge becomes more habitual than essential.

For some children, thumbsucking is an absent-minded habit not unlike fingernail biting, hair chewing or rolling a favorite blanket between the fingers. For those kids, giving gentle reminders when you observe the behavior can be enough to help them break the habit.

For others, the behavior can be an attempt to self-soothe when feeling anxious, scared or tired. For those children, the sucking behavior is more than simply a habit and changing the behavior should be handled carefully and conscientiously. It’s important to keep in mind that a child that is sucking on his/her fingers for comfort is not necessarily misbehaving, so be sure to offer encouragement and support instead of negative reinforcement.

If you think your child is sucking his/her fingers and thumb out of anxiety or when fearful, it’s important that you try to identify what is triggering that response. Once you know what those triggers are, you can move to reassure your child before, during and after those experiences. Perhaps offer small rewards or incentives that are aimed at stopping the behavior.

If you are concerned that your child’s prolonged thumb or finger sucking is causing dental issues that need attention, we encourage you to reach out for an evaluation. Be sure to ask for tips or advice on breaking or redirecting the thumb or finger sucking habit. Sometimes, a simple, friendly chat with the dentist is enough to convince an older child to break the habit completely.

Remember, we are your allies in keeping your child’s teeth healthy. Please reach out to us with any questions you might have!

7 Tips for Teething Babies

Teething can be an uncomfortable time for babies, with little gums experiencing tenderness and swelling as emerging teeth break through the surface.  In light of a recent FDA warning against using lidocaine for teething infants, we wanted to put together a few helpful tips for managing this sometimes-difficult time for your child.

Massage sore gums.

Gently rubbing your baby’s tender gums with a clean finger or soft cloth can help alleviate some teething pain.  Applying slight pressure to the gums offers temporary relief from soreness and is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make your child more comfortable.

Find a teething ring that your baby loves.

We recommend sticking to teething rings that are made of solid rubber because those filled with liquid can sometimes break.  Experiment with different types or sizes until your baby shows you which one he or she clearly prefers.

Stay cool, but not frozen.

While it’s fairly common to give babies cold washcloths or teething rings that have been in the freezer, it’s best to use one that is simply cold.  Your baby’s gums are very sensitive and contact with frozen objects could actually harm them.  If you do use a frozen teething ring, you might consider giving it a few minutes to warm up or unthaw.

Consider cold foods.

If your baby is beginning to eat solid foods, you may try offering large chunks of vegetables for gnawing.  It’s important to always carefully watch your baby and remember that choking can occur easily, with babies being able to bite off small pieces.  A good solution is mesh feeders that allow children to taste foods without the fear of choking.

Keep a clean cloth nearby.

Teething often causes excessive drooling which can irritate your baby’s chin and neck if consistently left to dry. Instead, have a soft cloth handy to gently dab away saliva regularly.

Remember that teething isn’t sickness.

Teething is normal and natural that shouldn’t be accompanied by symptoms of illness outside of an occasional mild or low-grade temperature (under 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3 degrees Celsius).  Your baby may be irritable or fussy during teething, but high fevers are caused by viral infections and not teething.  Contact your pediatrician if you sense your child may be getting ill.

Don’t forget to establish a Dental Home.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends establishing a dental home by age one or at the emergence of the first tooth, whichever comes first.  If your child is teething, and you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office!

Get Your Kids to Brush, Five of the Best Ideas

One the biggest challenges parents face during the nightly routine of bedtime is getting their kids to brush. Constantly needing to remind and cajole your child to take care of his or her own teeth can be frustrating for everyone involved.  We’ve got a few ideas to help weary parents and reluctant kids:

Use music or video to keep kids brushing longer.

One of the biggest challenges to adequate brushing is getting kids to brush their teeth for a full two minutes. The 2Min2X website is a great resource with several cartoons and music videos that last exactly two minutes. Fun tools like this make it easier for parents to motivate their children and help kids to get excited about caring for their teeth.

Take advantage of positive reinforcement.

Sticker boards and progress charts are tried and true methods to motivate kids. Choose a small prize that kids can work towards for reaching goals. Even simple praise can go a long way in making kids enthusiastic about caring for their own teeth.

Pick out a toothbrush they love.

Something as simple as having a new toothbrush is a great way to motivate kids to brush their teeth. Choose one with soft bristles that’s age appropriate. If your child is able to brush on their own, be sure to choose one that fits smaller hands and has a head that is made for a smaller mouth. Getting kids involved in choosing their own toothbrush will create even more excitement when it comes time to use them.

Choose toothpaste made for specifically for kids.

Toothpaste comes in a ton of new flavors these days. From bubblegum and fruity flavors to chocolate flavored toothpaste, there’s something for everyone. We’ve even seen bacon flavored toothpaste! Regular toothpaste is generally a version of mint, which children sometimes complain is too harsh or “spicy”. We recommend allowing your child to pick out a flavor. Of course, whatever flavor you choose, be sure to look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Stick to a routine.

Having a regular bed-time routine is a great way to reduce stress and make sure that everything “gets done” without having to ask, “Did you brush your teeth?” every night. At first, you may want to make a list of before-bed tasks. Before you know it, your new routine will become habit – hopefully one your children will keep for life.

Three Great Ideas for a Tooth-Happy July 4th

Holidays are often the stressful times for our health and especially our teeth.  We tend to feel free to temporarily forget the careful health guidelines and routines we’ve set up for our families.  And why not?  It’s OK to relax and take a break once in a while, especially on holidays like July 4th when we are already celebrating our freedom!

But you don’t have to totally abandon care for your teeth in order to have a good time.  Here are three great ideas to keep you smiling this July 4th weekend.

Eat this not that.

While it can be tempting to go for chips or candy to snack on, try choosing options that are both fun and healthy.  The patriotic parfait pictured is made with plain Greek yogurt which is a dental super food.  And the berries provide just the right amount of sweetness to tame the celebration sweet tooth.  Getting kids involved in making these treats is a sure-fire way to get them excited about eating healthy and can be a great activity to keep little hands busy.

Don’t forget the water (for more reasons than you think).

July 4th often means plenty of time spent outside, whether that’s watching fireworks or enjoying a family kickball game.  Choose water as your number one cooler choice.  It’s better for teeth than sodas and sports drinks and it helps keep you hydrated.  Even more, when you’re out on a picnic and a toothbrush isn’t available, a quick rinse with water after meals can be the next best thing.  Water helps rinse away food particles trapped in teeth and limits the growth of bacteria.

Travelling? Give everyone their own “tooth-care bag”.

Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean that you have to neglect your family’s brushing routine.  Be sure to pack everyone’s toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.  A great way to get small kids excited about brushing while on vacation is to create their very own “tooth-care bag”.  Purchase a fun new toothbrush along with travel-sized toothpaste and floss and use a zippered pencil pouch for each child.  Children also enjoy using craft supplies to decorate their own tooth kit.  You may be surprised when you find them excited and looking forward to brushing time.

Teenage Teeth? Seven Healthy Mouth Tips

As children become more independent, parents often have less direct influence over their child’s oral care. The transition to adolescence means that schedules become more crowded and teens are left with more responsibility in caring for their own teeth.  Too often, this results in first-time cavities and missed opportunities to catch dental issues when they are just beginning and are easiest to treat.  Here are 6 guidelines to make certain your child’s dental care remains a priority through their teenage years.

1. Stock up on dental care supplies.

Teens aren’t likely buying dental supplies yet.  Keep an eye on the supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss in the bathroom and make sure it’s well stocked.  Having the right tools goes a long way in making certain that adolescents keep brushing and flossing.  Plus, who doesn’t love a new toothbrush?

2. Keep your household purchases of sodas and sports drinks to a minimum.

You can’t always control what your teens purchase when they aren’t with you.  But you can make certain that your refrigerator and pantry aren’t well stocked with sugary drinks.  Keeping your own purchase of sodas to a minimum will mean that they are less available when your kids want to grab a quick drink.  And don’t assume that sports drinks are always the best alternative.  They often contain as much sugar as soda and water is generally a better choice.

3. Say “no” to oral piercings.

While not as common as they used to be, many teenagers still want tongue and lip piercings.  We strongly advise against allowing your child to have one, as piercings often cause chipped teeth and other oral issues. Further, your teen’s mouth is still growing and teeth are continuing to shift into place.  Having a foreign object constantly in your teen’s mouth is likely to complicate this natural process .

4. Say “yes” to mouthguards.

As your kids become more involved in sports, so does the chance that they might suffer a hit to the mouth.  More than 200,000 sports-related mouth and jaw injuries occur each year.  The “inconvenience” of wearing a mouthguard for protection can’t compare to the inconvenience (and cost ) of dealing with an accident.

5. Consider an orthodontic consultation.

If your child hasn’t already been a candidate for braces, now may be a good time to see if it’s necessary.  While kids (and adults) get braces at all ages, it’s certainly most common during the teenage years. We can guide you in the right direction and provide advice about your teen’s specific needs.  You may be surprised at the number of options that are now available.

6. Keep an eye on good dental habits.

While your teens are becoming independent, they may still need a reminder to brush and floss regularly. There’s usually no need to constantly remind them or push too hard.  A quick, “Did you brush your teeth?” is often all it takes to keep them on track especially if you started the habits of good oral hygiene when they were younger.

7. Don’t neglect regular checkups.

It can be easy to miss scheduled dental visits with the pace of raising a teenager.  Continue to make regular dental visits a priority and remember that even though adolescents have bigger bodies than they used to, they are still kids.  You’ll need to partner with them in making sure that dental appointments are kept.  Help your teens transition into adulthood knowing that dental care is a priority.

3 Foods that Can Harm Your Child’s Teeth & 3 Easy Alternatives

 

What your child eats affects their oral health.  The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage your children to make healthier food choices.  Here are a few common snacks that can be detrimental to the health of your child’s teeth and a smile-friendly alternative for each of them.

Sodas & Sugary Drinks

Sodas and sugary drinks can be tough to avoid, but they’re also one of the most common threats to your child’s dental health.  The sugar in these drinks combines with the bacteria in their mouths and forms acids that attack the enamel on your child’s teeth, leaving them susceptible to decay.  Limit sodas and try to establish them as more of an occasional treat while you establish a water habit for your child. Add a lemon, lime or cucumber to their water to give it a more flavorful twist.

Ice Cream

Similar to sodas, ice cream can easily become a problem for a child’s oral health.  The high sugar content and extreme cold temperature weaken enamel which can lead to serious problems down the road.  A great alternative to an ice cream sundae is yogurt (low in sugar) with fresh fruit.  The fruit will provide flavor they are craving; plus, the many oral health benefits of yogurt are well-documented.

Potato Chips & Starchy Snacks

You might not think of potato chips as a particularly risky food, since they have little sugar.  However, these foods can easily get wedged and hidden between your child’s teeth.  Potato’s starch converts into sugar as soon as you consume them.  Instead, try eating different types of nuts.  Peanuts, almonds and walnuts, provide vitamins that strengthen children’s teeth and minerals that stimulate saliva production.

Of course, regular (6 month) dental checkups and cleanings are essential in keeping healthy teeth.  Until then, establish good eating habits to help improve your child’s oral health.

Soda’s War On Your Child’s Teeth

Soda and Kids Teeth

Good news for teeth: Soda consumption in the U.S. is falling.  For the eighth-straight year soda consumption has decreased to its lowest level since 1987.  Many school districts have banned sugary carbonated beverages from their cafeterias.  Well-known politicians have attempted to limit access to large quantities of soda, and even the national “Let’s Move” campaign is urging kids to drink water instead of soda.

But there’s still a lot of soda being consumed, especially by kids.  Estimates have shown that one in five children consumes as many as four servings of soda every day.  Many teens drink as many as twelve soft drinks a day!

Soda is not only bad for your body, being a major contributor to obesity, but it’s incredibly damaging to your teeth because its war on them hits in two major fronts: acidity and sugar.  You may have seen the popular science experiment where an egg is placed in soda and left overnight.  Not only will the egg be permanently stained, but if left long enough the acid in the soda will completely dissolve the shell.  Just like in the experiment, every time you drink soda it bathes your teeth in acid that eats away the hard enamel protecting your teeth.

This is where the second attack occurs.  Soda is extremely high in sugar, containing more than 4 tablespoons in a 20 ounce bottle.  Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities.   Teeth that are already softened by a constant washing of highly acidic soda are further damaged by this increase in bacteria.

The good news is that it’s never too late to make healthier choices.  Replacing soda with water is not only better for your teeth, but also better for your overall health.  You can also help reduce the effects of the occasional soda by rinsing with water after consumption and using fluoride toothpaste.   Don’t forget to brush two minutes, two times each day and make sure that you are up to date on your dental appointments!