Helpful Ways to Prepare for Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Are you wondering whether your child should start going to the dentist regularly? You’re not alone! Many parents worry about when to plan that first dental visit, but the answer is far Your child's first dental visitmore simple than you’d expect. Dentists recommend scheduling an appointment within 6 months of the appearance of the first tooth and no later than a year after. If your child is older than this, don’t worry. It’s never too late to make your child’s first dental appointment.

That being said, planning your child’s first dental appointment can be stressful. Your child will have fears and feelings of nervousness, so putting them at ease should be a top priority. Before your child’s first dental appointment, consider taking the following proactive measures to prepare your child for the experience.

Remember: when you create healthy habits early on, you’re paving the road for your child to practice healthy dental habits for the rest of their life!

 

Schedule an Office Tour

Choose a top-rated dental office that you trust. Simply Beautiful Smiles works with 16 private offices, giving you access to a network of top-notch dentists. All our offices employ highly experienced staff members that are upbeat, caring, and compassionate. Whether you’re still deciding on an office, or have already picked one out, ask to schedule a tour before making your appointment. Bring your child along so they can experience the office and exam room firsthand. They’ll also have a chance to meet the staff as well as the dentist. This strategy will help develop your child’s expectations of what a trip to the dentist’s entails.

 

Dental-Themed Books & TV Shows

You know all those shows your child loves watching? Their favorite characters probably have a book or episode dedicated to visiting the dentist. If your child sees their favorite characters completing a trip to the dentist, they’re more likely to get excited about their first visit. We live in a world where media is always readily available, making it easy to expose your child to dental-related storylines that highlight the importance of a oral health as well as the fact that a trip to the dentist is never as terrifying as you might think. Here are a few books and shows that may help settle your child’s nerves:

Books

  • The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
  • Dora the Explorer: Show Me Your Smile by Christine Ricci
  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Television

  • Peppa Pig – “Peppa’s Pearly Whites”
  • Arthur – “Arthur’s Tooth”
  • Bubble Guppies – “A Tooth on the Looth”

 

Keep a Positive Attitude

Children mimic adult behaviors. They’re very sensitive and perceptive to the attitudes and energies of those around them. If you are nervous for your child, chances are they’ll be nervous too. Maintain a positive and relaxed exterior, no matter how anxious you may on the inside. Rather than using big words like ‘x-rays’ or ‘machines,’ focus on the positive aspects of the process. Use words like ‘strong,’ ‘healthy teeth,’ ‘fun chair,’ etc. If you are happy and confident, chances are, your child will be too.

 

Bring Along Comfort Items

Arrive early to avoid rushing around and compounding your stress. If your child has a favorite blanket, toy, or stuffed animal, bring it along. We all benefit from a familiar source of comfort, and this could make all the difference in the world.

 

Plan for a Simple Reward

Toddlers and kids love the simple life. Whether it’s ice cream, a new coloring book, or a trip to the playground. Before your child’s first dental visit, promise to reward a well-behaved, successful visit. They’re more likely to remain calm and focused if there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel.” It will also create a great mental distraction to make it through the visit if they’re having a difficult time.

 

Reinforcing Dental Hygiene with Simply Beautiful Smiles

Those adorable baby smiles don’t last forever! Your toddler’s new pearly whites deserve the best quality treatment, and Simply Beautiful Smiles is here to help you schedule your appointment. Remember to reinforce the importance of visiting the dentist and paint each visit as an adventure. Your child will be more relaxed with your guidance and support. With the right preparedness, your child’s first trip to the dentist can be a pleasant one.

5 Easy Ways to Treat and Prevent Sensitive Teeth

If you felt a tinge of pain in your mouth the last time you enjoyed a hot or cold beverage, youtreating sensitive teeth probably have sensitive teeth. This sensitivity occurs when there is a breakdown in your tooth enamel that exposes your tooth’s dentin. Caused by the build-up of plaque or poor dental hygiene habits, sensitive teeth can be a painful nuisance but are easily treated. Read on, to learn everything you need to know about preventing and treating sensitive teeth.

 

1. Switch to a Soft Brush

Yes, sensitive teeth are often the result of an irregular brushing routine, but tooth sensitivity can also be caused by over-brushing. You may be surprised to learn that your sensitive teeth could be the result of brushing too harshly. One of the reasons many dentists recommend a soft bristle brush is that both medium and hard bristles can scrape away the enamel on your teeth over time. Switch to a soft brush and brush gently (and consistently!) to help your enamel recover.

 

2. Cut Back on Acidic Foods and Beverages

If your diet has a high acidic content, you could be wreaking havoc on your mouth with every sip or bite. While there are obvious culprits to avoid such as soft drinks, there are also a few surprising foods you may want to limit. For instance, fruits (especially citrus) contain low pH levels, indicating high levels of acidity. The best way to ensure highly acidic foods do not damage your teeth is to brush immediately after consumption.

 

3. Chew Sugar-Free Gum

The idea of chewing something while your teeth are feeling sensitive might seem a bit counterproductive, but the truth is that your saliva will help you in this situation. Chew on a piece of sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production throughout your mouth. Saliva can help cleanse your teeth of irritants, and even harden your tooth enamel! Just be sure that the gum is completely sugar-free, or you might be doing more harm than good.

 

4. Avoid Over-the-Counter Whitening Solutions

Everyone likes the idea of a perfect smile, but if you regularly use over-the-counter whitening products, your sensitivity is very likely linked. The chemicals used in whitening products might be affecting the nerves in your mouth, causing the sensitive feeling. If you’re after that perfect smile, consider consulting your dentist for professional options that will whiten your teeth with little to no sensitivity.

 

5. Consult Your Dentist About Special Care Products

There are lots of over-the-counter options available if you’re in search of relief. However, finding the right product may require the expertise of your dentist. Ask your dentist to recommend rinses, mouthwashes, or toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth. Toothpaste for sensitivity usually contains potassium nitrate which can help calm the nerves in your mouth, while mouthwash designed for sensitivity is usually alcohol-free and contains fluoride.

Your teeth may also be sensitive if you grind them while you sleep. Though you have no control over this function while sleeping, your dentist should be able to supply you with a mouthguard to provide nighttime protection.

 

Sensitive teeth can ruin an otherwise wonderful beverage or meal. They can make you irritable and leave you in constant pain, even preventing you from falling asleep at night. If you are experiencing pain while eating or drinking, contact your dentist and take a closer look at your daily oral care routine. Simple changes can do wonders when treating sensitive teeth. Here’s the recap: Switch to a soft bristle brush and brush gently. Avoid foods high in acidic content and ask your dentist about the benefits of toothpaste with potassium nitrate. Do you have questions? Reach out to your local dentist or schedule an appointment with Simply Beautiful Smiles today!

Dental Insurance Q&A: What To Do If You Don’t have Insurance?

Simply Beautiful Smiles - New Year Offer pageWhat to Do When You Don’t Have Insurance

We all know that keeping our teeth and mouth healthy is important. But knowing what’s important and being able to pay for it are two entirely different things. In fact, about 40% of adults have no dental insurance coverage at all. Without this important financial protection, it can be difficult to make dental health a priority.

Luckily, there are options available to you to help make dental costs affordable, even if you don’t have insurance. Here are some alternative options for paying for dental care:

Try a Payment Plan

The dental profession is aware of how stressful it can be when you need dental work but you don’t have any help to pay for it. That’s why many dentists make no-interest or low-interest payment plans available. Most dentists offer more than one type of financing. For example, a standard loan for major expenses and a credit card type for more routine services. Today’s dental practices also accept major credit cards. In addition to financing plans, some dentists offer discounted care to those with limited resources.

Join a Membership Plan

Many dentists offer special membership plans, which give patients access to discounted services. Most membership plans require you to pay a monthly fee in order to participate. Membership plans are often set up as tiered plans with higher monthly fees for access to more services. Unlike insurance plans, services are only available through the dentist offering the plan. Despite this, they can offer a substantial savings.

SBS Dental Plan

For those who prefer an insurance-style arrangement, a Specialty Benefit Solutions (SBS) plan offers the security of a standard insurance policy along with discounted costs. SBS plans are often provided by employers as a supplement to medical insurance and other benefits. When you enroll you get access to a network of providers to offer their services at special rates for members.

Each of the above has its advantages and disadvantages. If you have an established relationship with a dental provider then financing with that dentist may be the way to go. For many people, however, a more flexible plan such as an SBS dental plan offers the best of both worlds. You get access to a network of providers and you pay a discounted cost, and it is a great alternative when dental insurance isn’t available to you.

Parents’ Guide to Baby’s Teeth

Everything New Parents Need to Know About Your Baby’s Teeth

As parents, we look forward to the many milestones our babies reach. Special “firsts” help us monitor our child’s development and reassure us that things are progressing as they should. One of these big milestones is the appearance of baby teeth.

How soon your baby’s teeth come in varies. For some, the first teeth may appear at five months, for others, it will be a little later. By three years old, all 20 of the baby teeth will have come in. You can expect the top four and bottom two center teeth to come in first.

There’s a lot to know about baby teeth, especially if you’re a first-time parent. We’ve broken it down for you, and are sharing the most important things you need to know.

The Purpose of Baby Teeth

You might not have taken a chance to think about WHY baby teeth are important. Well, there are several purposes for them!

  • First, and perhaps most obvious, they allow children to chew solid foods.
  • They act as placeholders so permanent teeth can come in correctly.
  • Baby teeth place a big role in speech development. The teeth actually help to guide the tongue to its proper position for speaking.

Teething

Even if this is your first baby, you’ve definitely heard teething stories from other parents. But how do you know if your baby is teething, or something else is going on? Teething symptoms include:

  • Drooling.
  • Swollen gums.
  • A slight fever.
  • Irritability.
  • Trying to bite, chew, and suck on things.

Teething is an uncomfortable time for babies, but there are some ways you can help.

  • Rub the gums with a cool cloth.
  • Get a teething ring.
  • Check with your pediatrician to see if an over the counter medication is safe.

Oral Hygiene

Did you know that you can start practicing oral hygiene before the teeth even come in? The earlier you get started, the better!

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, moist washcloth twice a day to clean away bacteria and plaque.
  • As the teeth come in, switch to a soft, small head toothbrush.
  • Use water to start and move to a small amount of fluoride toothpaste once most of the teeth are visible.

Starting early with good oral hygiene can help you avoid problems later on. It will also teach your child that taking care of their teeth is a daily job that should not be overlooked.

When your child is about a year old it’s time to start visiting the dentist. Your dentist can offer dental cleaning tips, spot signs of trouble before they develop into serious problems, and offer advice on things like thumb sucking, pacifier use, and cavity prevention.

It’s never too early to start practicing good oral health! Taking care of your child’s baby teeth, developing an oral hygiene routine, and starting early with regular dental checkups will provide your child with a lifetime of benefits, a beautiful smile, and a happy healthy mouth.

2018 Guide to Dental Insurance

What you need to know about Dental Insurance

A new year often means new dental benefits, and for most people means a fresh slate on your yearly coverage!  The truth is that dental insurance can feel confusing, which is why we want to be there to help!

What is your plan?

The very first place to start is to know if you have dental insurance and what it is.  It seems that every year there are changes to employee coverage and also in individual plans.  What you had last year may not be the same as what you have this year.  The best place to star tis to find out IF you have dental insurance and through which company.

What Does Your Coverage Mean?

Any type of insurance can feel confusing, especially if you don’t deal with the lingo and policies on a daily basis.  Odds are, you only think about it a few times a year.  Conversely, we think about insurance on an hourly basis in our practices.  If you’re confused about what your benefits mean and how they actually apply to services, know that we are here to help.  Give us a call and ask us your questions.  We can often explain basic coverage questions simply.  If something requires more research, we can also always be a resource because we know how to contact insurance companies directly.

What is Covered?

Most dental plans will cover your hygiene cleanings, but when you start looking into other procedures like sealants, x-rays, fillings, etc. it can get a little confusing.  More extensive procedures like crowns, bridges, or other cosmetic procedures can be even more confusing.  We speak the language of dental insurance here and we are happy to help translate your coverage!

Deductibles

You’ll encounter deductibles within your dental plans and they can feel confusing sometimes.  A deductible is the amount of money you need to pay out of pocket before insurance will cover your expenses. If you have a low monthly premium, chances are that your deductible is higher and vice versa. If your premium is higher monthly, than it is likely the opposite with a lower deductible. A good thing to ask when you’re researching insurance info is what your deductible is and if it’s family or individual.

The beginning of the year is a great time to evaluate what your coverage is and how you might need to use it.  Insurance can be confusing, but know that we are here to help!

What if I don’t have dental insurance?

We believe that everyone deserves quality dental care, regardless of if you have insurance or not.  At Simply Beautiful Smiles, we’ve created the SBS Discount Dental Plan, which gives you 20%-65% savings off of most dental treatments and procedures.  To learn more about this cost-saving plan, click here to get all the details!

The Connection Between Oral Health and Heart Health 

February is the month set aside for tending to matters of the heart, and not just the frilly kind of hearts that we see on Valentine’s cards. The heart we are talking about is the one that keeps you alive. Yes, February is National Heart Health month.

Each year, the American Heart Association spends February raising awareness of heart health and what we can do to prevent heart disease. There are many things you can do to commemorate this important month. You can wear red, make a donation to a charity focused on heart health, or you can learn an important skill like CPR. All of those things can make a difference. But, believe it or not, one of the most important things you can do to make sure that your heart is healthy is to schedule a visit to your dentist.

Of course, there is no guarantee that if you keep your mouth healthy you will avoid heart disease. Studies have shown, however, that oral diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis can contribute to heart problems. The connection between oral health and heart health is believed to be bacteria. In particular, bacteria spread from your mouth to your bloodstream. It’s believed that these bacteria cause diseases such as endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart) and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

So what can you do to make sure that you don’t fall victim to heart disease due to the neglect of your oral health?

  • Get regular dental check-ups: Your dentist is your first line of defense when it comes to oral health. He or she can look for warning signs and help you design an oral hygiene regimen that will keep your smile healthy. Of course, it’s up to you to follow your dentist’s recommendations!
  • Eliminate poor lifestyle habits: If you smoke or use tobacco products, stop now! Not only is smoking bad for your overall health, it is terrible for your oral health.
  • Keep your mouth clean: You’ve heard it a million times but here is one more reminder—brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Starting and ending the day with a clean mouth will go a long way toward maintaining oral health.
  • Respond to warning signs: Pain, irritation, and bleeding gums can all be indications of gum disease. Don’t ignore them. Persistent bad breath and inflammation can also be a sign of a mouth condition that needs some attention.

So this February as you think about hearts and flowers, remember to think about your physical heart too. Make an appointment to see your dentist and talk about what you can do to keep your mouth in tip-top shape. By stepping up your oral care, you’re helping prevent oral-health-related heart disease.

Any time is a great time to give your heart a little love, but National Heart Month is the perfect time to go the extra mile. It’s a great time to make sure that you do everything you can to keep your mouth healthy.

 

What Moms Need to Know About Teeth During Pregnancy

Oral Health Care During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, it seems that everything in your world revolves around that tiny life growing inside of you. You think about how every single thing you do will impact your health, and ultimately the health of your child. It’s common to make changes to your diet and exercise routine. You’ll have lots of check-ups with your doctor. But have you factored your oral health into your prenatal plan?

Here are some things that pregnant women need to think about when it comes to oral health:

  • Get your teeth checked regularly—Even if you’ve already got tons of doctor’s appointments, don’t forget to get your teeth cleaned and checked during your pregnancy. Your oral health may seem removed from your child’s health, but that’s not the case. If you get an infection in your tooth, then that infection can spread into your bloodstream. This infection could eventually infect your baby, leading to serious health problems and pregnancy complications.
  • Beware of gingivitis—Some of the physiological changes to your body during pregnancy can lead to having sore and puffy gums. If your gums become so inflamed that they start to bleed, then you could wind up losing teeth. That’s why it is so important to maintain a routine of brushing and flossing regularly.
  • Be up front—It’s important to let your dentist know that you’re pregnant. Dental care can still take place during pregnancy, but modifications may need to be made. Your dentist needs to know about your pregnancy so they can make any necessary adjustments to your treatment. You should also be sure to share what medications and vitamins you’re taking.
  • Don’t let morning sickness get in the way—Many pregnant women talk about extreme tastes setting off morning sickness. If your toothpaste is making you nauseous, you might feel like avoiding it altogether. This isn’t the solution! Instead, find a brand of toothpaste that has a mild taste. If you find yourself with a serious case of morning sickness, try rinsing your mouth out with baking soda and water. This will help remove the acids in your mouth from vomiting.
  • Use mints—Best-case scenario, you have a toothbrush on hand to keep your teeth fresh. If that’s not a viable option, you can keep some chewing gum or mints in your bag. Make sure they have xylitol in them. This substance helps rid your mouth of bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
  • Eat properly—Diet is likely already a huge part of your prenatal care. Diet plays a huge part in your oral care, too! You should eat foods that are high in protein and vitamin-rich. Try to steer clear of sugary snacks and drinks, even when the pregnancy cravings kick in!

Pregnancy is an exciting time. It’s important to spend a little extra time taking care of yourself and paying attention to your overall health. Don’t forget to take care of your teeth and gums, too.

Mental Health and Oral Health: What’s the Connection?

What’s the connection between oral health and mental health?

There’s an old saying that goes “Smile and the world smiles with you; frown and you frown alone.” The idea is that smiles can be contagious, but loneliness and depression tend to be a solitary experience.

Did you know there’s actually a direct, cooperative relationship between your smile/oral health and your inner mental health?  Believe it or not, they can seriously impact each other. Let’s take a look at exactly how mental health and oral health are connected.

When we don’t take care of our teeth, it can lead to a series of complications. Discoloration, tooth loss and bad breath are all common side effects of poor oral hygiene. These side effects can affect your mental health, too.

  • People who smile more tend to feel more confident and successful.  So, if your teeth are in bad shape and you are hesitant to smile, then you can be losing out on a genuine self-esteem booster.
  • Losing your teeth can make you feel awkward about smiling, but also about speaking. People with dentures can sometimes be uncomfortable speaking because they might slur their words or are afraid of the dentures slipping. And when you stay bottled up and don’t talk to people, then your depression just festers.
  • Bad teeth and bad breath can make a person feel socially awkward. The idea of talking to other people makes them nervous and anxious, because they don’t want to be ridiculed.

When you struggle with mental health, everything else can feel more difficult. Your energy is spent battling your illness and working towards getting better. There are several ways mental health impacts our oral health.

  • Dealing with mental health issues can be all consuming. If your energy is spent trying to get better, it’s easy to make oral hygiene a lower priority.
  • A trip to the dentist can be nerve-wracking for some. For people with a mental illness like anxiety, the intense fear and anxiousness they feel are enough to keep them out of the dentist’s chair altogether.
  • For some people suffering from mental illness, turning to substances is a way for them to cope. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine all stain your teeth and can weaken their structure.
  • If a person’s mental illness manifests in eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, this can have a major effect on oral health. The acids from vomiting can cause serious tooth decay.
  • One of the side effects associated with some antidepressants is dry mouth. Certain medications inhibit the production of saliva, which can actually cause tooth decay. Saliva is the body’s natural way of flushing out bacteria.

It’s very clear that there is a connection between mental health and oral health. If you neglect either of these, it can affect the other. It’s important to take care of both your mental and oral health so you can feel your best.

Why Oral Health Is So Important: A Window to Your Overall Health!

Chances are, you’ve heard before that different systems of your body are interconnected.  If one of them goes out of whack, it can work like a domino and knock over one or more of your other systems.  So you might think you’re having a problem with one part of your body, but it could be originating from a completely different place.

Take your teeth for example.  Many people think that neglecting your oral health care is just going to leave you with bad teeth.  That’s bad enough, but it can also cause health problems in other areas.

Here are a few things that can happen because of poor oral health.

Endocarditis

So the big problem for many people in the oral health system is endocarditis.  It works like this:  If you don’t properly brush your teeth, you already know that it can cause plaque deposits to form.  It also causes gingivitis and these two together can be deadly.  The bacteria from the plaque can cause disease if it enters the blood stream.  But the gingivitis provides it with the entrance to the bloodstream.

When your gums bleed from gingivitis, it’s an open wound that will let the bacteria travel through your body.  If this happens, the bacteria can go after the valves of the heart and cause heart disease and failure.

Premature birth

This one is a little harder to explain.  It has been established that there is a link between periodontitis and premature birth.  But why?  Periodontitis is a weakening of the bone that holds your teeth in place.  If it gets too bad, your teeth will fall out.

What does this have to do with pregnancy?  Experts think that infection is caused by the disease weakening the mother’s immune system.  If the placenta comes in contact with this infection, then it has a natural defense—it gets inflamed.  But this defense can cause pre-term labor that can lead to serious health problems for the baby.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

For years, we’ve known that dental health decreases when a person develops dementia.  As people forget how to care for themselves, naturally dental care is affected and cavities and gum disease are common.  But what if it worked the other way, as well?  We’ve already seen that bacteria from gingivitis can get into the bloodstream.  One recent study suggests that this bacteria can also attack the brain, possibly causing Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The bottom line is that your dental health isn’t just some secondary issue that you don’t need to focus on.  Your total body health is important and oral healthcare is just one piece of that puzzle.  If you allow your teeth and gums to deteriorate and dental disease set in, then you are setting yourself up for a host of possible health problems down the line.

Tips For Eating When You’re Dealing With Mouth Conditions

Eating is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.  However, certain dental and mouth conditions can make eating not only a nuisance but also a painful task.  While not eating isn’t an option, choosing what you eat can lessen both issues and pain.

  • Braces.  Eating can be quite a challenge during the first few painful weeks in. Brackets are poking into your gums and cheeks, and you just can’t seem to chew properly.  How long will eating be a challenge? Most people find that they are more comfortable and can chew food more properly in 2 to 3 weeks after the braces go on.  In the meantime…
    • Slow down. Chew slowly and carefully, and cut your food into small pieces. Forget about taking big bites of anything, or wolfing down your food.
    • Stick to soft foods like over-steamed veggies, applesauce, and nutrient rich smoothies.
    • Stay away from nuts, seeds, and popcorn.  These will get stuck in the brackets and can be difficult to remove.
    • Treats should be cold to temporarily dull the pain of the braces – ice cream, popsicles, or frozen yogurt.
  • Dry mouth.  Certain treatments, medications, and other diseases can cause dry mouth.  Talk to your dentist or doctor if your dry mouth is not due to a known source.  There are some foods that can mitigate dry mouth issues.
    • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva flow.
    • Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
    • Sip water regularly to keep your mouth from getting too dry.
  • Dental Erosion.  Erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attack. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of the tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. When the enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed, which may lead to pain and sensitivity.
    • Acidic foods and drinks such as fruit and fruit juices – particularly citrus ones including lemon and orange – contain natural acids, which can be harmful to your teeth.
    • Fizzy drinks, sodas, pops and carbonated drinks can cause erosion. Even the ‘diet’ brands are harmful.
    • Chew sugar-free gum after eating. This will help produce more saliva to help cancel out the acids which form in your mouth after eating.
    • Try to finish a meal with cheese or milk as this will help cancel out the acid.
  • Sore mouth or throat.
    • Eat soft, bland, creamy foods high in calories and protein, such as cream-based soups, cheeses, yogurt, or pudding.
    • Chop your food. Chop up your meat, poultry, or fish into small pieces or put it through the blender. You can mix it with a sauce or low-fat gravy.
    • Avoid rough foods such as dry toast, pretzels, and granola.
    • Avoid tart, acidic, spicy, or salty foods. Stay away from citrus and tomato-based foods.

Eating is an activity that cannot be avoided – keeping your body strong by feeding it proper nutrients and vitamins will allow mouth issues to heal as well.

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