All posts by Area Dental Clinic

Ways to Make (and Keep) Your Teeth Strong

woman with strong teeth enamel smiling with toothbrushStrong teeth. They’re everyone’s goal—and not as hard to get as you might think (but it is really easy to weaken them!). Here’s how to make and keep your teeth strong easily.

Eat calcium-rich foods.

One of the easiest ways to strengthen your teeth is to make sure you have plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet. Dairy foods like yogurt, milk, and cheese can strengthen your enamel. If you need to avoid dairy, almonds, kale, and sardines can also contribute to making your enamel stronger.

Stay hydrated (but not with soda or sugary drinks).

Acid is the enemy of teeth enamel, which is why water is a key ingredient in strengthening your teeth. Water washes the acid away from your teeth (and, as a bonus, is calorie free!). On the flip side, avoid soda or other sugary drinks that can weaken the enamel. If you do enjoy a soda, drink water as soon as you can after you are done.

Be gentle when you brush.

Hard brushing may seem like the best way to get your mouth completely clean, but it can also damage your enamel. Brush gently on your teeth and gums to keep your teeth strong (more tips for good brushing here), and make sure you floss before or after.

Schedule regular dentist appointments.

Your dentist can have a large input in the strength of your teeth. In addition to regularly cleaning and keeping your teeth healthy, your dentist also can help you spot any enamel issues before they become a problem at dentist appointments—and give you ways to fix it.

Add fluoride in to your routine.

Flouridated toothpaste, water, mouthwashes, and other products can strengthen enamel and lessen the effects of acid in your mouth. To strengthen enamel, add a product with fluoride to your routine to make your teeth stronger and less susceptible to decay.

Treat the grind (and the acid reflux).

Teeth grinding, called bruxism, occurs when a person clenches their jaw and grinds their teeth (more information about teeth grinding here). A person with bruxism may not even know it, such as when it happens at night. Common symptoms of bruxism are a dull headache or soreness in the jaw. Bruxism can damage your teeth enamel, and it’s not the only culprit. Acid reflux can also damage your teeth enamel, so make sure you keep these conditions in check for the good of your teeth (especially your enamel!).

Braces-Friendly Halloween Candies To Enjoy (& To Avoid)

braces wearer wondering what candy to eat at HalloweenJust because you have braces doesn’t mean you can’t take part in Halloween fun—and we’re talking about the candy! That’s why we’ve compiled a list of Halloween tips that can help brace wearers choose the right candy (and avoid the bad!) and for trick-or-treating home owners to pass out candy that allows brace wearing trick-or-treaters to take part in the sweet fun.

What Halloween candy brace wearers CAN eat

There is hope (and candy)! Traditional brace wearers can eat sweets at Halloween, such as:

  • Hershey’s
  • 3 Musketeers
  • Kit Kats
  • Oreos
  • Hershey kisses
  • M&M’s
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Sixlets
  • Sweet Tarts
  • Andes mint candies
  • Crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • Soft cookies
  • Apples
  • Apple cider

Need to know if your favorite candy is brace-friendly? Ask us!

What Halloween candy brace wearers should avoid

To avoid damaging your brace hardware, avoid these foods:

  • Caramel
  • Taffy
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard cookies
  • Gum
  • Marshmallows

If you have any other questions, ask your dentist. Happy Halloween!

Your Teeth Whitening Questions Answered

Beautiful girl is showing her white teeth after teeth whiteningWhiter teeth is one of the hottest web (and pharmacy!) searches, but clicking on one of those articles can be a decision fraught with serious consequences for your teeth IF you don’t do it safely. Here’s the answer on how to whiten your teeth safely, as well as the answers to any of your other questions about teeth whitening.

Are teeth whitening products permanent?

Teeth whitening is not permanent. Teeth whitening temporarily removes stains, which is why you should look for a product that maintains the whitening. It is important to note that fillings, crowns, and other dental work does not whiten.

What teeth whitening products are safe?

There are two ways to make sure that you are using a safe teeth whitening product, and both involve relying on the pros. If you are searching for an over-the-counter product (hopefully after scheduling a thorough exam with your dentist and getting their approval), look for the American Dental Association seal of approval. For a one-stop shop alternative, schedule an exam at your dentist’s office and discuss your options with your dentist. Your dentist may have a safe teeth whitening product you can purchase on-site (and use with their approval and under their care safely).

What are the negative side effects of teeth whitening?

At home remedies and over-the-counter teeth whitening products may seem like a good idea, but there is a buyer beware clause. Teeth whitening products can cause tooth sensitivity, penetrate tooth decay, and unevenly whiten.

Why should I contact a dentist before teeth whitening?

There are several reasons to schedule a dentist appointment before you start whitening your teeth. If you have any cavities, the cavities should be treated before tooth whitening. Your dentist can recommend a safe teeth whitening product that won’t damage your teeth and is ideal for your specific teeth.

How does teeth whitening work?

How your teeth whitening product works depends on what you use; make sure you look for the ADA seal of approval on the product.

We can tell you how the whitening trays we recommend work; after a full dentist exam, you receive custom-made whitening trays for upper and lower teeth and a two-week supply of whitening gel. At your next exam, you receive two tubes of touch-up whitening gel that maintains your white teeth. Have any other questions? Ask us.

What is the process for getting adult braces?

Close-up of man with big smile holding orthodontic braces tray in dental officeAdults wearing braces may be more common today (estimates say 1.5 million adults in the US and Canada), but it’s still normal for your pulse to pick up a little when you hear that you may need braces. That’s why we’ve put together a step by step list so you know what to expect from the process for getting your adult braces put on (and taken off!).

Choose your orthodontist.

The first step is to choose the professional you trust with your braces process. There are two options: an orthodontist who exclusively deals with orthodontics or a certified dentist. The bonus of the latter is that you only have to trust one individual with your mouth, and only have to make appointments at one office.

Schedule an appointment.

Every mouth is different, and every patient has different orthodontic needs. An initial exam, along with some diagnostic tests, gives your dentist or orthodontist the information they need to recommend the specific orthodontic treatment that can correct your problem.

Evaluate your options.

Get those pictures of obnoxious headgear out your mind. Today’s brace wearers have more options that can correct the issue—and many adult brace options are completely invisible to other people.

Invisible Braces (Invisalign)

This brace option is not technically braces; instead Invisalign corrects orthodontic problems with a series of removable clear trays. Invisible braces can still fix many orthodontic problems, though they are completely invisible and require less orthodontist visits. Invisible brace wearers do not have any food restrictions and can eat anything with invisible braces. This brace option does require some discipline because the tray must be in approximately 20 hours a day. Invisible braces work best for minor orthodontic corrections; the best way to determine if invisible braces work is to schedule a consultation.

Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are the stainless steel brackets and rubber bands that have been used for decades. These braces correct issues by applying pressure; this method makes these braces an efficient option that can correct the issues faster than invisible braces. Traditional braces have come a long way in terms of appearance; today’s traditional braces are thinner than older versions. Unfortunately, people with traditional braces do have to abstain from certain foods, such as popcorn and taffy.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces use the same method to correct orthodontic issues, but with a different material than the traditional stainless steel. These braces are made to blend in with your teeth and use white and clear bands. The cons of ceramic braces is that they may require more maintenance because they are not as durable and may discolor.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are installed on the back of teeth and are not a very common brace option. Lingual braces take longer to install and can be difficult to clean. People with lingual braces may need to practice speaking because of the hardware position in the mouth.

Get your new braces.

Once you and your certified dentist or orthodontist have decided on the braces option that’s right for you, it’s time to schedule an appointment to get braces on your teeth. Ask your dentist if you should expect any discomfort from the appointment, and their recommendations for ways to lessen the discomfort.

Schedule maintenance (and removal!).

No matter what kind of braces you choose, the braces are going to require some maintenance done in a periodic exam. Ask your dentist or orthodontist how often you need to come in, and what kind of care you need to give your braces at home.

Do’s & Don’ts of Packing a Healthy School Lunch

student with healthy school lunchA healthy and delicious lunch can be synonymous (don’t tell your kids!). It’s also incredibly important; it is, after all, their school day fuel and approximately 20% of their total meals. Use these do’s and don’ts to make those meals healthy from their toe to their mouth (especially your teeth!)—and everything above the gum line (to keep that mouth healthy, teach your kids to brush well and schedule regular dental cleanings and appointments).

Do pack calcium- and vitamin-rich foods.

Foods rich in calcium, protein, Vitamin A and D keep kid’s bodies healthy as they develop and grow, especially the mouth and teeth. Think cheese sticks, tuna, yogurt, turkey, peanut butter, and chicken that are delicious and nutritious.

Don’t pack sugary drinks.

Sugar drinks come in all different kinds and types: flavored water and milk, soda, sports drinks, fruit juice. The truth is that all of these kinds of sugary drinks have more sugar than nutritious value. The truth is that water and white milk are still the best drinks that keep kids hydrated and healthy.

Do choose whole-wheat over white.

White bread breaks down into sugar; when left on your teeth, that sugar can join forces with the bacteria in your mouth to cause cavities and tooth decay. Other starchy carbs can do the same, so avoid packing snacks like pretzels, chips, and crackers.

Don’t avoid vegetables.

Not every kid is crazy about vegetables, but don’t automatically assume that your kids are one of them. Presentation can go a long way with kids, so try to create a fun rainbow effect that makes your kids want to eat their carrot sticks, peppers, or pea pods.

Do look for crunchy foods.

Crunchy foods (i.e. apples, pears, carrots, etc.) not only make funny sounds that bring out the giggles, but they also are a major factor in fending off tooth decay. Crunching and chewing can stir up saliva which can destroy harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Don’t pack sugary foods that can get stuck in teeth.

Fruit leathers and fruit snacks may make your kids salivate at the thought, but they also can get stuck in kids’ teeth and cause tooth decay. Avoid anything gummy, or use it only as a special treat.

Do choose from foods on this list.

Want some concrete healthy foods that meet all these do’s and don’ts? Use this list (and excellent brushing and a regularly scheduled dentist appointment) to keep your kids’ bodies—especially their mouths—happy and healthy all school year.

  • Carrots
  • Cheese sticks
  • Boiled eggs
  • Celery
  • Tuna
  • Celery
  • Pears
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Whole wheat wrap
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Peanut butter

Baby Teeth: Everything You Want to Know (Plus!)

cute little boy losing his first baby toothBaby teeth are a big deal; from the moment they poke through baby’s gums until the first (and last!) tooth fairy visit, baby teeth are something to celebrate—and keep healthy! Here’s why you should care for those baby teeth—and all your other questions about these key parts of your child’s health answered.

When do baby teeth come in?

Baby teeth can start to appear as early as 4 months, but every child is different (some kids don’t get teeth until after their first birthday!). It can take time for the first of 20 baby teeth to appear. Don’t worry if there is a gap between the teeth (after all, they lose 20 baby teeth and gain 32 permanent teeth); this is natural so there is room in the mouth for permanent teeth.

How do you care for baby teeth?

Schedule a dentist appointment for your child at about a year. For the first two years, use a fluoride toothpaste and soft toothbrush, cloth, or a store-bought silicone or rubber pad to clean their teeth. Use a tiny, tiny amount of toothpaste.

Once your child gets older, it’s time to start teaching them to brush their own teeth. Remember, it is possible for kids to get cavities in their baby teeth. In fact, the CDC estimates that 42% of all children between 2-11 years have a cavity in their teeth (here’s what to do if your child is one of them). Make sure you brush their teeth until they get the hang of it. Here are tips to instill proper teeth brushing habits at an early age:

  • Make brushing fun! Get toothbrushes (and toothpaste) your kids like. Let them pick out fun toothbrushes that make them want to brush their teeth.  To make sure they brush long enough, use these fun videos or download one of these cool apps to make brushing for two minutes fun.
  • Brush twice a day as often as possible. Life gets busy, but try to teach your kids a healthy morning and evening routine that includes brushing and flossing (even during summer!).
  • Don’t be the only one to stress good teeth brushing. Back up your efforts by asking babysitters, nannies, and relatives who care for your child to stress the importance of brushing and help your kids brush when you are away.
  • Brush your teeth. If you brush regularly, and take care to brush, your kids are more likely to follow your lead. Brush with your kids to show them that you do it—and how to do it correctly.
  • Talk to your kids about teeth brushing and the dentist. Make a point to talk to your kids about proper oral care and the importance of going to the dentist. Once you schedule a dentist appointment, read books and “practice” going to the dentist at home so your kids know what to expect. If you are afraid of the dentist, use these tips to overcome your fear for both you and your kids’ sake.

Why are baby teeth important?

Many parents think that baby teeth aren’t important; after all, why care for baby teeth if they fall out anyway? However, baby teeth are extremely important to your kids’ long-term oral health. If your child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, the decay can spread to the permanent tooth that is coming in. In addition, if a tooth falls out because of decay, other teeth can get out of alignment as they move and fill in the space left by the baby tooth.

When do kids lose their baby teeth?

Every child is different, but baby teeth usually come out between the ages of 6 and 13. If you want to know how many baby teeth your child has lost (or has to lose), schedule a dentist appointment and ask your dentist.

How can you tell the difference between baby and permanent teeth?

We’re not going to lie to you: it’s not easy to tell the difference between a baby and an adult tooth. In general, baby teeth are more white than permanent teeth. Baby teeth also have shorter roots and the layer of enamel and dentin are thinner. New permanent teeth can look more jagged, but the best way to tell the difference is to ask your dentist. They can tell you whether the tooth is a baby or adult tooth, and answer any other questions you might have about baby teeth.

Grinding Your Teeth: What, Why & How to Stop

patient talking to dentist about teeth grindingWe’ve all set clenched our teeth or set our jaw a time or two. When teeth grinding happens on a more regular basis, it’s time to get some questions answered before your teeth are seriously damaged.

What is teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding, called bruxism by medical pros, occurs when a person clenches their jaw and grinds their teeth. Often, a person with bruxism may not even know it, such as when it happens at night. Common symptoms are a dull headache or soreness in the jaw. If the teeth grinding occurs when sleeping, another person in the room may hear the grinding.

How can I find out if I am grinding my teeth?

Schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can examine your teeth and jaw and look for signs that your teeth are grinding and jaw are clenching.

Why do I grind my teeth?

There are many reasons that people grind their teeth, such as anxiety, stress, an over- or underbite, missing or crooked teeth, or sleep apnea.

Does teeth grinding do damage?

Yes. Regular teeth grinding can wear down teeth, weakening the teeth and causing a host of other oral problems. Patients that do not seek treatment for bruxism may need expensive treatments for fractured, cracked, and missing teeth.

What helps teeth grinding?

Schedule an appointment with your dentist. If your dentist finds any existing damage from teeth grinding, he or she can recommend treatment for any tooth damage. A mouth guard can prevent future damage. If stress may be the cause, alleviating the stress can help prevent more damage. Cutting down or avoiding alcohol and caffeine can also help with teeth grinding. A person with teeth grinding can also get some relief from learning to relax their jaw.

How long can I wait to get my cavity treated?

woman getting a dentist exam and teeth cleaningLife gets busy. And expensive. Which is why it can be tempting to let a cavity go without filling it. Or getting any treatment. But it’s a bad idea. Here’s why.

Cause of a cavity

A cavity is really the product of a perfect storm involving bacteria, food, saliva and the resulting acid. Bacteria in your mouth combine with food that sits on your teeth and creates plaque which includes acid. The acid in the plaque eats holes in your tooth (tooth decay) called cavities.  Patients can usually tell they have a cavity because of pain, sensitive teeth, or can feel a hole in their teeth.

How a cavity is treated

A cavity can be treated several different ways; the extent of the damage and location of the damage dictates what treatment is used. Two of the most common cavity treatments are:

  • Filling. For cavities that haven’t affected the tooth root or pulp, a filling is usually the best option. During a filling, the dentist clears out the damage and decay and fills in the area.
  • Root canal. Root canals, another common cavity treatment, are commonly needed when the decay has spread to the pulp or tooth root. When a root canal is done, the infected tissue is cleaned out, the area disinfected, and the void is filled in. A temporary filling is applied temporarily until the permanent crown is ready. The last phase is placing the permanent crown on the tooth (for this reason, schedule two appointments for a root canal).

Why you need to treat a cavity ASAP

You don’t always feel a cavity, and often that can make it very tempting to wait to take care of it. Unfortunately, putting off taking care of a cavity can cause more problems in the long run.

  • Your one-tooth cavity can turn into bigger (and more expensive) problem. A cavity is decay, and decay continues until it is removed. Delaying treatment can lead to more cavities and more decay. If the decay spreads to the pulp or tooth root, a more extensive treatment may be required (think root canal versus filling), costing you more time and money for the procedure.  
  • A painless cavity can turn into an inconvenient dental emergency. There’s another compelling reason for preventative care: a cavity that doesn’t hurt now can cause significant pain later—and possibly at the worse time. To keep the pain away and avoid the inevitable emergency holiday or after hours dental appointment, schedule regular dental cleanings and exams.

6 Summer Treats that Damage Your Teeth

Family having a picnic at the beach with summer treats that can damage teethSummer comes with a list of fun: swimming, yard games, hiking…and enjoying a host of summer treats. While those treats may make your (and our!) mouths water, they can damage your teeth if you’re not careful. That’s why we’ve given you a list of summer treats that you should enjoy (with caution!) and tips that keep your teeth healthy until fall.

Soda

Summer and soda go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can find soda at every grill out, company picnic, brat fry, and get together. Unfortunately, those delicious sodas (and sugary drinks) come with a cost: cavities. The sugar in the soda combines with the bacteria in your mouth to create the perfect storm that can wear down enamel and cause cavities.

Iced coffee

Iced coffee may be a great (and cool!) way to start a hot summer day, but it comes with a double dose of caution. Iced coffee can stain your teeth and the added flavors are loaded with sugar. Sipping at an iced coffee throughout the morning continuously stains and delivers sugar to your mouth, damaging your teeth and putting your hopes of no bad news at your next dentist appointment at risk.

Ice cream

Ice cream is delicious, wonderfully cold on a hot day, full of calcium, and damaging to your teeth. Many ice creams are produced with a lot of sugar, putting your teeth at risk for cavities and gum disease. Ice cream is also one of the chief offenders for people with sensitive teeth, which is caused by an erosion of tooth enamel.

Pickles

Pickles are a delicious burger topping and simple side dish at every grill out; however, the vinegary acid that makes pickles so mouth-watering can also erode your enamel and cause sensitive teeth.

Lemonade

This delicious drink may be a summer staple, but it’s also an acidic drink. The acid in lemonade can wear down enamel over time. Flavored lemonade can have a secondary hazard: sugar. When you do enjoy a delicious glass, drink it down—don’t sip!

Potato Chips

Salty potato chips are mouth-watering; unfortunately they are also a mouth hazard. Potato chips have a pesky way of breaking into little pieces that can hide in your mouth and get stuck in between teeth. With a high starch content, potato chips can put your mouth at risk for cavities and a host of other dental problems.

Tips for keeping your mouth healthy this summer

What should I do if I lose a permanent tooth?

man grimacing in pain from a broken toothIt doesn’t matter if you lose a tooth or your child gets a tooth knocked out. There’s always a moment of panic and a million questions. What should I do with the tooth? Is there going to be permanent damage? How much is it going to cost to repair the damage? How soon should I see the dentist? What do I do now?

That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips and steps to use when you’re faced with a knocked out or broken tooth.

The “don’ts” of a knocked out or broken tooth

  • Don’t touch the root of the tooth, where the tooth touches the gum.
  • Don’t put the lost tooth in anything except cow’s milk or saltwater.
  • Don’t try to scrub or scrape the tooth (especially the root).
  • Don’t forget to plug the sink before you rinse the tooth (you don’t want to lose it down the drain!).

What to do