Should I go to the dentist when I’m sick?

Young sick woman sneezing in tissue sweating from flu fever deciding whether to go to dentistOn the day of your appointment, you have a headache. The stomach flu. A bad virus. You’ve caught the flu during a widespread flu outbreak. Or you panic when you see a dentist appointment coming up. What are you going to do about your epic cold? Or the fact that you can’t stop sneezing from allergies?

We’ve all been there. We’ve all asked the question at one time or another: should I still go to my dentist appointment? Unfortunately, this is one of those questions that doesn’t have a clear answer. You can come to a clear answer just by asking yourself these easy questions.

How sick am I?

Make an honest evaluation of your condition before you head out the door. How do you feel? Do you feel somewhat well? If you were able to work and get through the day okay, you can probably make it through the dentist appointment. Depending on the medication and procedure, you may still be able to be treated by the dentist if you have taken medicine for your illness or pain (if you have any questions about whether your medication could impact the success of your dentist appointment, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist). On the other hand, if you can barely make it out of bed to drive to the appointment, it may be time to call and reschedule the dentist appointment.

Am I going to make everyone else sick?

You can’t wear a mask when you’re in the dentist chair. If there’s a possibility you are contagious and could pass your illness to your dentist, staff members, or other patients, it might be best to stay home. Remember, just one sneeze in the waiting room can spread the illness to many different people. If there’s any chance you could have influenza (i.e. body aches, chills, congestion, headache, sneezing), head to the doctor to get tested and treated instead of the dentist to prevent the spread of the flu.

What is the appointment for?

In most cases, routine dental procedures can be done whether you are sick or not. If your procedure is for a more complicated procedure, such as a tooth extraction, contact the dentist office to see if you can still have the procedure done. If the appointment can still happen, give your dentist a list of all the medications you are taking to fight your illness (as well as regular prescriptions).

Can I sit through the dentist appointment?

All your questions boil down to whether or not you feel comfortable sitting through the appointment. If you are vomiting or have severe abdominal pain, a dentist appointment is going to feel excruciating. A migraine is going to deliver the same uncomfortable experience. Remember, dentist appointments should be pleasant, not a painful experience because you are so sick.

6 Ways to Keep Those Nasty Cold & Flu Bugs at Bay

dad with sick boy who has a feverStomach bugs. Bad colds. That nasty flu you hear about on the news. It’s hard to not feel surrounded by sickness—and that you and your family are going to be next ones collapsed on the couch or in bed for the duration. Don’t worry. There is hope in the battle to keep all those nasty illnesses out of your home (and your body!).

Don’t rush through hand washing.

No matter how busy you are, take the time to wash your hands properly every time you touch a door, shake hands, or before you eat. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds each time. Teach your kids to do the same, and use fun timers and songs (i.e. ABC’s or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) to make it fun. Take your kids to the bathroom before they eat and supervise the hand washing as closely as possible to make sure everyone washes the germs away.

Keep hand sanitizer with you.

When you can’t wash your hands, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Carry hand sanitizer in your jacket or purse at all times, and use it after you blow your nose, before you eat, and when you touch any common surfaces. Have your kids use the sanitizer as well, and try to keep their hands out of their mouth after using it.

Keep your doctor and dentist appointments.

Preventative care can be one of the most effective ways to ward off illness. Schedule an annual exam with your dentist and doctor to keep your body healthy and catch any issues that might arise in the future.

Exercise.

Working out is a great way to keep your body in top shape, but really challenging to do when Wisconsin temperatures hit sub zero. When you can’t get outside, find other ways to get your body moving. Ask friends and family to take on the challenge with you; it’s a lot easier to keep to a routine when you have a partner to exercise with.

Keep the germs to yourself.

If you do get sick, try to keep your illness to yourself by avoiding dinners, business meetings, and the workplace. Do the same for friends and families; as much as you want to bring them chicken soup, do both yourselves a favor and leave it outside their door (and wash your hands after!). Don’t share drinks, even when you’re healthy.

Keep your hands to yourself (but don’t bite them!)

Hands are a wonderful part of your body, but they are also a key transmitter of germs. Even when you wash your hands, avoid touching your face with your hands. Don’t bite your nails, which can also pass germs into your body. Find other ways to relieve your stress so you don’t end up with one of those nasty bugs that everyone is passing around.

I’ve got a toothache! Should I call a dentist?

man grimacing in pain from a broken tooth“Ouch” and “hurt” are not strong enough words to describe an excruciating toothache. When your tooth or jaw hurts, all you want to do is make the pain go away. Here’s how to know if you have a toothache, how to treat the pain at home, and when you should see a dentist so you can start to feel better and make that toothache (and the pain) a distant memory.

What are the symptoms of a toothache?

Pain is just one symptom of a toothache; there are other reasons why your teeth hurt. Toothaches can be caused by a variety of oral problems, such as an infection, decay, or tooth fracture. Depending on the source, other symptoms of a toothache may include a fever, swelling, or an odd taste in your mouth. The pain can be sharp or throbbing, and usually only occurs when pressure is applied to the tooth.

How can I make the toothache pain go away?

Because there could be a host of different issues causing your toothache, don’t try to diagnose the cause of the toothache. Instead, treat the pain with these tips that’ll make the pain subside.

  • Apply an ice pack to the cheek on the side of your toothache.
  • Because your toothache could be caused by an infection, do not use heat as it could make the problem worse.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything that makes the toothache more painful.
  • Avoid anything that can vibrate your teeth and make it feel worse.
  • Purchase and use over-the-counter medications that can treat the toothache, but make sure follow the directions on the label exactly.

When should I call the dentist about my toothache?

Don’t hesitate to contact a dentist if:

  • The pain persists for more than a day and does not get better with over-the-counter medications.
  • You had a tooth pulled in the past 24-72 hours. Your pain could come from a condition called dry socket which needs to be treated by a dentist.
  • There is discharge or excessive swelling.
  • Your toothache is accompanied by a fever. This symptom could be a sign of an infection or abscess which needs to be treated with antibiotics.
  • The pain is occurring because a permanent tooth has been knocked out (here are a few ways to tell if it is a baby or permanent tooth).
  • There is pain when swallowing or breathing.

When you need attention for a toothache, don’t e-mail your dentist. Call the dentist (even during off hours), explain your symptoms, and ask for an emergency appointment that can get you on the way to recovery.

Healthy Habits You Shouldn’t Let Slide Over the Holidays

people having fun at holiday partyThe holidays are a fun and busy time. Between parties, family get togethers, gift shopping, and decorating, it can be really easy to skip and ignore all the healthy habits you’ve kept up throughout the year.

Brushing

Holiday treats (sugar cookies and candies, we’re looking at you) can bathe your teeth in sugar. No matter how late you get home from holiday parties or how much in a hurry you are to get the kids to bed, make sure everyone brushes their teeth (teach your kids to brush well using these tips). Brushing removes small particles of food that can get lodged in your teeth and cause tooth decay. Don’t rush; you should brush for about two minutes. Use an alarm on your phone or timer to make sure you brush thoroughly (and use these tips for healthy brushing habits).

Healthy Eating

Office holiday parties and family gatherings are full of temptations. How do you resist all those holiday goodies? Do your best, and use holiday eating habits when you’re not facing trays full of treats. Stay hydrated during the day and at parties; drinking water after eating can wash away food particles and sugar that can cause tooth decay (just one of many benefits of drinking enough water). Avoid soda, which can cause cavities (if you do enjoy a soda, use a straw and drink water after). Eat healthy meals as much as possible. At gatherings, don’t just mindlessly eat; track what you eat and how much so you can avoid overeating this holiday season.

Flossing

Flossing may be the last thing on your mind this holiday season, but it’s truly the gift that keeps giving. It doesn’t matter if you floss before or after you brush; what matters is that you keep flossing.

Exercise

While you might not be able to keep up your regular exercise routine over the holidays, don’t abandon it either. Stick to your exercise routine as much as possible. If the cold weather is an interruption, head indoors to your treadmill or local gym so you can still reap the benefits of a strong exercise routine (and burn off some of those holiday treats).

Doctor & Dentist Appointments

As busy as your holiday schedule gets, keep your holidays merry (and bad news free) by making and keeping your doctor and dentist appointments. Schedule your doctor and dentist appointments well in advance to ensure you can get an appointment. After a busy holiday season, make an appointment to get an after-holiday teeth cleaning (if it is around your scheduled time). At the very least, you should schedule biannual teeth cleanings and an annual physical to make sure you keep your body and teeth healthy.

Bad Breath Be Gone: (At Home) Ways to Freshen Your Breath

A young man holds or pinches his nose shut because of bad breathBad breath can leave you feeling self-conscious and anxious. It’s also a condition tied to your oral care, which means the efforts to ward off bad breath can lead to a healthier mouth your dentist can appreciate at your next dentist appointment.

Brush, brush, brush.

One of the main causes of bad breath is bacteria, which can get caught in built-up plaque and food debris. If you want to get rid of the bacteria and the bad breath, brush at least twice a day (and avoid these mistakes when you brush your teeth). Bacteria can build up on your tongue in a coating, so make sure you include it in your daily brushing; if you can’t reach it with your brush, use a tongue scraper.

There is a note of caution: make sure you don’t overdo your brushing. Too much brushing or brushing too hard can wear down your teeth enamel.

Use a mouthwash.

A mouthwash with fluoride can strengthen your teeth AND can wash away bacteria that causes bad breath. Choose your mouthwash carefully; you want a mouthwash that removes the bacteria that causes bad breath, not just covers it up.

Avoid the causes of bad breath.

To keep your breath fresh, avoid foods that cause bad breath. You know the foods we’re talking about: tuna, garlic, onions, coffee, spicy foods, etc. If you do indulge in a treat that causes bad breath, brush as soon as possible and rinse out your mouth.

 Don’t let your mouth go dry.

You’re more likely to have bad breath if your mouth does not have enough saliva. Saliva naturally removes plaque and keeps bad breath at bay. If you have dry mouth, drink water and chew gum to stimulate saliva.

Stop smoking and chewing.

Tobacco not only stains your teeth and causes gum disease; it’s also one of the chief causes of bad breath. The simplest way to avoid the bad breath caused by tobacco is to quit. Use these tips to help you quit your tobacco habit, and get rid of smoker’s breath. If you’re not ready to quit, drink a glass of water after each cigarette and use brushing, mouthwash, and gum so people can’t smell the tobacco on your breath.

Curb your gum disease.

Bacteria from gum disease can cause bad breath, making this common dental condition the enemy. Take extra steps at home to care for your gums, and schedule a dentist appointment to develop a treatment plan that can address the disease. Between you and your dentist’s efforts, you can treat your gum disease and duck any of the negative reactions to your bad breath.

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