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.

Dealing with Dental Anxiety: How Can Sedation Dentistry Help

If you long for a relaxing visit to your dentist that is free from anxiety, you are not alone. While a little anxiety is normal before your dental visit, it can become a big problem if it keeps you out of the chair altogether. It can put you in the situation where, after finally visiting the dentist after years of avoidance, you learn that tooth decay and gum disease has created damage that could be irreversible. Luckily, there is a solution for you!

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

In sedation dentistry, sedatives are administered to the patient that will help them remain calm and relaxed through a dental procedure. These can be administered in a variety of ways including tranquilizers, depressants, anti-anxiety medications or nitrous oxide.  Dentists are doctors who have training and experience administering medications like these.

Help with Minor Anxiety

Nitrous oxide is an excellent choice for most patients. Sometimes referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide can be regulated to provide you with the amount of sedation you need. When used before a local anesthetic, the injection will not be uncomfortable and you should not notice any pain during your procedure.

If you plan to use nitrous oxide, you can drive yourself to your appointment. In most cases, you will be fine to drive after your treatment because the sedation wears off quickly. Nitrous oxide can also be used along with other sedation techniques to produce a higher level of sedation.

Another option is oral sedatives, available in a liquid or pill form. If you experience moderate anxiety levels, you can be given a tablet to take before your appointment. This type of sedation is beneficial in relieving the anxiety that can build before your procedure. However, if you choose this method, you cannot drive yourself to your appointment.

Help with major dental anxiety

If you experience extreme levels of stress and anxiety about dental treatment, you may wish to discuss deep sedation or general anesthesia. With these techniques, you will be barely conscious or unconscious during your procedure. You will not feel discomfort or pain. Once you have experienced dentistry with a sedation technique, your anxiety level may decrease on its own.

Because the effects of sedation can significantly impair the patient’s senses, a patient undergoing sedation dentistry must be accompanied by someone as the patient will not be able to safely drive after the procedure, and someone should stay with the patient for 2 to 4 hours afterwards.

According to some experts, nearly 30 percent of adults in the United States experience fear and anxiety over dental services, and this fear keeps many people from voluntarily visiting the dentist. Regular dentist visits for cleanings and dental exams help prevent serious dental health issues. The avoidance of dental care is detrimental not only to dental health but also to overall health and wellness.

Receding Gums: How to prevent receding gums and what can be done about them

Receding gums are a condition where your gums pull back from the tooth surface, exposing the root surfaces of your teeth. Receding gums are most common in adults 40 and over. For this reason, it’s often misconceived as a normal sign of aging.

This is a serious consequence of poor oral health, which may lead to tooth loss. There are a variety of treatments available depending on the severity of tissue loss. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment of receding gums, the better the outcome.

Receding gums don’t automatically mean that you have gum disease, though. It’s true that gum disease is the leading cause of gum recession, but there are many other causes of gum recession including:

  • Overly aggressive brushing or flossing. It’s great to be enthusiastic about oral care, but according to an article in the Journal of Periodontology Online, you should make sure that you’re brushing, not scrubbing! Never use a toothbrush that isn’t labeled “soft.”  When you don’t use soft toothbrushes and brush too hard, the gum cells are scrubbed away and the teeth enamel is removed.
  • Genetics. Your gums’ characteristics are determined by your genetics, just as the rest of your body is. If one or both of your parents have gum recession, you’re at a higher risk for receding gums.
  • Abnormal tooth positioning. If your teeth are not in alignment to one another, gum recession can occur.
  • Grinding your teeth. Do you often wake up with a headache? Does your spouse or partner complain that you grind your teeth? This habit can be the cause of many dental issues other than gum recession, so let your dentist know right away if you think you are grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding can be treated easily and painlessly with a mouth guard and several other options.
  • Trauma to gum tissue. The gum tissue may recede when a traumatic injury has occurred on a tooth or teeth.
  • Poor oral health. If your oral health habits are questionable, gum recession may be a result of periodontitis.

Working with your dentist, you can determine the root cause of your gum recession and come up with a treatment plan.

If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, depending on the severity, you’ll likely be presented with a few different treatment options. Scaling and root planning is a careful deep cleaning below the gums, while gum surgery is a more serious option that is reserved for the most advanced cases of periodontitis.

If gum recession is serious, a procedure called gum grafting can restore lost gum tissue. This procedure involves taking gum tissue from somewhere else in the mouth and grafting or attaching it to the area that has lost gum tissue.

Gum recession can happen slowly, so it’s important to take a good look at your gums and teeth every day. If you notice receding gums and you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, make an appointment soon.

The Effects of Sugar On Your Teeth: Halloween Edition

As the ghosts and ghouls make their way through the Halloween festivities, there’s one thing to keep in mind: sugar can seriously damage those pearly fangs.

Your mouth is full of hundreds of bacteria. Most of them are necessary to your mouth’s health, but there are some that actually cause damage. This harmful bacteria is what causes cavities. It feeds on sugars you eat to create acids that destroy tooth enamel, that shiny outer layer of the tooth. This bacteria builds up in plaque and stays on your teeth until it’s removed by brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, or with the help of a dental hygienist.

Water Works

This is why it’s important to eat balanced meals, drink lots of water, and brush often. Did the water tip surprise you? Dehydration is detrimental to mouth health. Did you know that your saliva is a key player in repairing your teeth? It contains calcium and phosphates that strengthen and repair the acid damage. If you’re dehydrated, you can’t produce the saliva necessary to counter the acid. Here’s a great tip for you: swish with water first thing in the morning to get your saliva glands working so you can begin the day with a bad bacteria counterattack. Fluoride is also a vital mineral and is found in most toothpastes, mouthwashes, and some water. Keep in mind that your saliva and fluoride can only do so much. If you produce more acid than they can counter, your enamel will break down and allow cavities to form.

Sugar High

Too much sugar can also lead to gum disease, a condition that affects over 50% of the American population. It’s a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissues and the bones supporting the teeth. A recent study proved that advanced gum disease can also cause (and create complications for) heart disease and Type II Diabetes. It can also cause complications in respiratory diseases and increase the risk of stroke. You can have gum disease without having cavities and vice versa, but you should know that gum disease is harder to spot in the early stages.

Sans Sugar

Of course, if you’re the one handing out the Halloween treats, there are some great alternatives to sugar. You can offer up alternative treats like temporary tattoos, playful plastic jewelry, fun accessories like pirate patches, arts and crafts items, fun school supplies, games, and coloring kits. There are great food alternatives, as well. Sugarless gum is great since it has no sugar and also stimulates saliva. Mini boxes of raisins or bags of pretzels, string cheese, cereal bars, and more are great options.

If sugar must be consumed to keep the costumed kiddos happy, make sure they brush their teeth thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Sticky, hard, and chewy candies can keep causing damage long after they’ve been eaten, so try to stay away from those. Limit candy to the end of a meal or right before a tooth-brushing session.

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