How Can I Kick My “Sweet Tooth” This Holiday Season?

Chocolates, peppermints, pies, cakes, cookies, and endless plates of other homemade goodies are popular during the holiday season. With all of these options, eating sweets in moderation can be difficult, especially if you have a sweet tooth.  During this exciting time of the year, smart choices can help you maintain a healthy smile.

Holiday Sweets

What Are Some Healthy Alternatives to Sweets?

Avoiding sweets is easier when sugary treats are replaced by healthier foods. Instead of forcing yourself to say no to all the treats, consider foods that are better for your oral health.

A great place to start healthy options is at your own home. These options will save time, too.  You will have more time with your family and friends when you do not spend hours in the kitchen baking cookies.

Here are some great alternatives for holiday season munchies. Mixed nuts are packed with protein and fiber, and contain no sugar—place a bowl of these on the table for your relatives to enjoy. You can also prepare a trail mix out of nuts, unsweetened cereal, and pretzels. Cheese and cracker platters are a delicious and an excellent source of calcium. Trays of fresh, sliced fruits or vegetables are another nice addition to holiday parties at home or at your office.

While you are eliminating sweet snacks, you can also take a healthy approach to desserts. Your family and guests will be delighted to see healthy desserts on the dinner table. For example, baked apples are an easy and seasonal replacement for cakes and pies. Stuff the apples with slivered almonds and raisins, and add a dash of fresh cinnamon. This dessert takes little time to prepare, and everyone who joins you for holiday dinners will enjoy it.

How Do I Stop Being Addicted to Sugar?

Many of us have an unhealthy addiction to sugar, and eating a lot of sweets can cause cavities and other issues for your oral health.  The best way to eliminate a sugar addiction is to convince yourself sugary treats are unnecessary. While this is easier said than done, it helps to surround yourself with the support of others trying to do that same thing. It is also beneficially to have a ready supply of healthy and appetizing alternatives like the ones listed above.

You can also contribute healthy foods to office parties, and parties at your friends’ homes.  Your friends and coworkers will appreciate a healthier option, and it will give you something to eat instead of cookies and cakes. They may leave the sugary treats behind, and take a healthier approach to the holidays as well.

You may not think of the holiday season as the ideal time to kick a sugar addiction, but you can definitely benefit from avoiding sweets and learning healthier habits.

Nutritious food and oral health go hand-in-hand. When you make tooth-friendly foods a part of your holiday experience, these new habits can continue into the new year. If sweets are not the focal point of the holidays, you may realize you can have delicious meals and great parties without them.  You can move into the new year with smart choices, good nutrition, and great oral health.

It is equally important that you will be able to introduce your loved ones to new, healthy choices. Adults and children alike can learn to appreciate sugar-free snacks and desserts. While they might grumble about it at first, these lifestyle changes can help your friends and family break the sugar habit and live a healthier lifestyle!

Contact us to learn more about keeping your teeth healthy during the holidays, or to schedule an appointment.

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Why Is It Important to Receive Annual Dental X-Rays?

dental x-rayTo maximize your oral health, we recommend a yearly set of x-rays to accurately diagnose and treat problems that cannot be seen with the naked eye. When a problem is detected early, it will prevent more serious issues from occurring. Most commonly, dental x-rays reveal cavities that may be present in the teeth. Also, it is possible to view a picture of what is happening below the gum line.

Various Types of X-Rays

There are a few common forms of x-rays that may be taken during routine dental exams.

Bitewings:  These display the crowns of your teeth.  They are used to look for early signs of decay. During a routine exam, a dentist will usually take two to four bitewing x-rays.

Periapical:  This is used to view a tooth’s bone height or root tip, this type of x-ray is taken.

Panoramic: Unlike other dental x-rays, a panoramic is taken from the outside of the mouth. It offers a picture of the entire mouth.  The image shows all of the teeth, jaw bone, and sinus areas. It is most commonly used to identify bone problems, impacted teeth, or cysts.

How Often are X-Rays Taken?

Due to the negative stigma of radiation exposure, many people are fearful of x-rays. However, the American Dental Association explains that routine dental x-rays are safe. Your dentist will evaluate each patient’s case and recommend x-rays when necessary. Since the latest radiographs and machinery are made to minimize radiation exposure, they are not considered harmful. Patients will wear a lead apron for added protection as well.

Who Should Receive X-Rays?

Anyone experiencing a problem in their mouth should visit his or her dentist. Upon examination, a dental care provider will probably order a set of x-rays to assess the issue. Otherwise, dental x-rays are commonly taken once a year during routine check-ups. If you are pregnant, it is essential to discuss x-rays with your doctor before they are completed.

If you have questions about dental x-rays, feel free to contact our office. Our experienced staff will put your mind at ease and address all of your concerns. We are concerned with the oral health of our patients and work hard to deliver bright and beautiful smiles in a safe and effective manner.

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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Tooth Enamel

dana-walters-strengthen-tooth-enamelTooth decay and other damage can occur when the enamel has become weak. You can have healthier teeth when you take steps to strengthen tooth enamel.

Do You Know What To Eat?

Your diet affects your teeth. Emphasize a nutritious, balanced diet, but make sure to include plenty of calcium and protein. Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, and poultry are some examples. The magnesium in cereal and leafy green vegetables also builds strong tooth enamel. Limit the acidic foods in your diet, such as citrus fruits.

Do You Know What To Drink?

Dairy milk and soy milk are calcium-rich beverages. The fluoride in tea leaves makes tea another healthy drink. For the most benefits, do not add sugar to your tea. Limit acidic beverages, and do not drink soda.

Choose The Right Toothpaste

When you shop for toothpaste, read the labels. Choose enamel-hardening toothpaste that contains fluoride. Brush with this toothpaste twice each day.

Drink Fluoridated Water

When you drink fluoridated water, it immediately benefits the tooth surfaces. After fluoride is absorbed in your body, your saliva will contain the mineral. The fluoride will keep your tooth enamel strong and healthy.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum helps your mouth produce saliva. The minerals in saliva strengthen and remineralize tooth enamel. Whenever you want a treat between meals, have sugar-free gum instead of other snacks. Encourage your kids to develop this habit, too.
Strong tooth enamel can reduce your risk of cavities, decayed teeth, and other oral health problems. Even if your teeth are no longer in perfect condition, it is not too late to make changes.

If you are not sure how to put these changes into action or have more questions about your dental health, make an appointment us today. You can have a checkup and all the information you need to make healthy choices.

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Tooth-Friendly Foods for Thanksgiving

dana-walters-tooth-friendly-thanksgivingThanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays for families. When you think of Thanksgiving, not many sugary treats come to mind. However, there are some foods that can actually benefit your oral health.

Tooth-Friendly Healthy Food

If the main dish on your holiday table is turkey, it is an excellent start. Turkey is rich in protein. The phosphorous in turkey builds strong tooth enamel for healthy teeth.

Milk is not your only source of calcium. Green vegetables should be a part of your meal. In addition to dark green leafy vegetables, one-holiday favorite is the green bean casserole.

Your guests can have more calcium if you serve macaroni and cheese. Individuals of all ages love this dish.

Healthy gums need Vitamin C and Vitamin A. You can find both vitamins in yams. You do not need to coat your yams in a sweet syrup or bake them with marshmallows on top. Everyone will enjoy the delicious taste of natural yams. If you wish, you can add a bit of butter for flavor.

Thanksgiving dessert can be tooth-friendly, too. Instead of sweet pies, prepare a pumpkin pie. The pumpkin filling contains Vitamin A to protect your gums, and it can help build healthy enamel on your teeth.

As an alternative, serve fresh fruit with plain yogurt. Guests who do not like pumpkin will appreciate this option. For the healthiest teeth, choose crunchy fruits such as apples and pears.

Oral Health On Thanksgiving

Everyone present on Thanksgiving can enjoy a wonderful meal with tooth-friendly foods. After dinner, though, home oral care is important. Before everybody goes in to watch the football game, or outdoors for cool-weather activities, schedule time to brush and floss.

When you choose healthy food that is good for your teeth and emphasize oral care afterward, your family members and guests can all have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.

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How To Decide If Teeth Whitening is Right For You

how-to-decide-if-teeth-whitening-is-right-for-youIf you want a brighter smile, you may consider receiving a teeth whitening procedure at our office. This type of treatment may seem like the ideal solution when you have stained or yellowed teeth. With this procedure, your teeth are bleached for a brighter look. Before making the decision to whiten, here are a few things to consider.

Will Whitening Work for You?

Many people turn to professional teeth whitening. If you have good gum health, this may be an answer to your problems. If you have experienced staining from what you eat, from smoking, or from age, a professional whitening procedure may be able to deliver a brighter smile. However, if you have discoloration from a health condition, other options are available. Also, a professional whitening procedure is not the best idea for individuals with cosmetic work that has been done to front teeth or crowns and caps.

Other Alternatives to Professional Teeth Whitening

As long as you have healthy gums, your dentist should recommend a whitening treatment. However, if you have any signs of gum disease, you may be advised against this procedure. The chemicals may cause gum irritation or heightened tooth sensitivity. If you have minor staining, you may find it helpful to use OTC kits with trays and gels or a whitening toothpaste. These are not as strong as professional whiteners. If you have a lot of restorative work in the front of your mouth, you may wish to consider veneers as a way to improve your appearance.

Before making the decision to whiten, it is best to consult with your dentist. At our office, teeth whitening is a common procedure. We carefully discuss the treatment with our patients and always recommend the best course of action. For a consultation, schedule a visit today.

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Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common condition that affects many people. If you grind your teeth, you may experience a headache, toothache, or jaw pain. Since most people grind their teeth at night, many do not realize that they are doing it in the first place. However, a person may notice worn or damaged teeth. In severe cases, a person may suffer terrible pain in the joints that surround the mouth.

Why People Grind Their Teeth

The American Dental Association reveals that there is no one reason behind teeth grinding. There may be several factors that lead to this habit.

  1. Allergies/Ailments– When a child gets sick or suffers from bad allergies, the discomfort may lead him or her to grind his or her teeth.
  2. Stress– When a person is under a great deal of stress at home or work, he or she may begin to grind his or her teeth.
  3. Abnormal Bite– Is a person’s teeth are uneven, and he or she has an abnormal bite, he or she may begin this habit.
  4. Missing Teeth– When an individual has gaps in his or her mouth, teeth grinding may start.

Finding an Effective Bruxism Treatment

After you seek help for bruxism, your dentist will recommend the best treatment.

  1. Mouthguard– Wearing a mouth guard is one of the most popular solutions for teeth grinding. It is a device that is worn over over teeth at night and prevents the top and bottoms from coming in contact during sleep. In this manner, it relieves pressure from clenching as well.
  2. Relaxation methods– If stress is causing you to grind your teeth, it may be advised to practice certain relaxation techniques. Taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music may help to calm your nerves. Over the long term, you may consider yoga or similar meditation methods.
  3. Tooth Adjustments– If your abnormal bite is causing problems, your dentist may reshape or reconstruct your teeth.

If you find that you are grinding your teeth and want help, schedule an appointment with us today. We are dedicated to his patients’ oral health and will offer effective treatments for the problem.

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Be Aware of Halloween Candy & Cavities

You want your children to enjoy Halloween, but you are concerned about their oral health. Not all Halloween candy is alike. When you know which candies are more likely to cause cavities, your children can have healthy teeth after they trick-or-treat.

Candies to Watch Out for This Halloween:

Sticky Candies | Sticky candy clings to the teeth. It allows bacteria and sugar to break down the child’s tooth enamel. Gummy candies and caramels are two examples.
Sour Candies | Tooth enamel can be weakened if your child eats these acidic candies. Sour balls are a popular example.
Hard Candies | The acids and sugar in hard candy remain in your child’s mouth if he sucks on the candy. If he chews or bites it, it can break a tooth.
Powdered Candies | Powdered candies are not harmless, either. If your child pours it into his mouth, the sugar can encourage bacteria. The bacteria can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Chewy Candies | Chewy candies should be avoided, too. The ever-popular candy corn is one example. The sugar can remain in his mouth after he has swallowed the candy.

Is Any Halloween Candy Safe For Your Child?

While you should limit your youngster’s Halloween treats, one of the safest candies is a plain chocolate bar. It is quickly eaten and easily swallowed, leaving less sugar in his mouth. You can do your neighbors a favor by choosing chocolate bars to pass out to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door.

After your child has had fun on Halloween night, remind him to floss and brush his teeth before bedtime. This includes your older kids who attend Halloween parties, as well as the youngsters who trick-or-treat in the evenings. When you know which candies to avoid, all of your kids can have a good time on Halloween, and their teeth will stay healthy.

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Cavity & Tooth Decay Treatments

Poor oral health habits and certain beverages and foods can result in tooth decay. The bacteria from plaque destroys tooth enamel, causing cavities in the teeth. If you have developed a cavity, treatment is essential.

Treatments For Tooth Decay And Cavities

If the decay is not extensive, a filling is the usual form of treatment. Amalgam fillings are not as common as they were in the past. Modern fillings are made of white composite materials. These fillings pose no health risks, keep the tooth healthier, and look completely natural.

Severe decay may require a dental crown. Crowns are larger than fillings. The crown covers the top portion of your natural tooth.

The difference depends on the condition of your tooth and the severity of the decay. Your dentist will recommend the approach that is best for your particular situation.

Tooth Decay, Cavities, And Future Prevention

Whether you have a filling or crown or want to avoid tooth decay in the future, you can take some easy steps to keep your teeth healthy.

Practice home oral care every day. Brush and floss at least twice each day, and use a good mouthwash. Use the products that are right for you, and replace your toothbrush every few months.

Make healthy choices for your diet. Avoid sweets, carbonated beverages, and sticky treats.

Make an appointment with your dentist every six months. When you have a professional cleaning and exam, you can ask about dental sealants and fluoride. Sealants and fluoride are not only for children. They can be useful for anyone who wants to avoid tooth decay.
Anyone, at any age, can develop tooth decay. If cavities already exist, do not hesitate to seek treatment. However, prevention is easier than treatment. If you follow these tips for cavity prevention, you may never experience tooth decay.

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How Can You Prevent Cavities & Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay occurs as enamel becomes destroyed. Bacteria naturally forms on teeth. After you eat sugary foods, this bacteria turns into acid that eats away at the outer layer of your teeth. The end result is cavities. To avoid these problems, it is important to learn ways to prevent cavities from forming.

Prevention Tips

The American Dental Association offers a few oral care tips that help to prevent tooth decay.

  1. Brush with a Fluoride Toothpaste: It is advised to brush after each time you eat or at least twice a day. Using a fluoride toothpaste will guard your teeth and strengthen enamel.
  2. Rinse. Rinsing with a mouthwash cleans your teeth of trapped food particles and may kill bacteria that sticks to enamel.
  3. Limit Sugary Snacks: Snacking throughout the day, especially with sugary foods and beverages, is a recipe for disaster. If you are hungry in between meals, it is better to stick with small treats like fresh vegetables and to rinse with water. It is wise to eat a well-balanced diet as well.
  4. Consider Sealants: Dental sealants are protective coatings that are applied to the grooves of your back teeth. They guard the areas where food and bacteria often collect. Since they last for up to ten years, they offer an extra sense of security as they help keep cavities to a minimum.
  5. Visit Your Dentist: It is essential to schedule regular dental visits. You will receive a professional cleaning and oral exam. This means that your dentist will detect problems before they become major. Also, your dentist may offer more tips that will help you keep tooth decay from occurring.

We strive to provide optimum oral care to all patients. To learn more ways that cavities can be prevented, schedule an appointment at our office.

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What is a Cavity?

What is a cavity? A cavity is actually decaying that occurs within a tooth’s structure. It begins in the outer enamel. When it is left to worsen, severe damage may occur. In this instance, a root canal may be necessary, or the entire tooth may need to be pulled.

Why Do You Get Cavities?

Tooth decay happens for a number of reasons. Teeth are covered in bacteria. As a person eats or drinks, this bacteria creates acid that may harm enamel. Also, when a person does not follow a consistent oral hygiene routine, plaque begins to collect on the gum line and chewing surfaces. Over time, this eats away at teeth, and cavities develop.

Symptoms of Cavities

The American Dental Association explains that early decay may be undetectable. However, advanced cavities may bring various symptoms.

  • Pain in the mouth
  • Difficulties biting or chewing
  • Heat sensitivity
  • Halitosis
  • Dark spots on teeth

How to Prevent Cavities

The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing and flossing on a regular basis, especially with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. After each meal, it is wise to drink water that helps to rinse away trapped food particles. Also, water that contains fluoride will strengthen enamel. It is wise to avoid sugary snacks and drinks as well.

Importance of Treatment

When tooth decay advances, it can be painful and dangerous. Bacteria may travel throughout the tooth and cause a severe infection beneath the gums. This can spread to other parts of the body. If it enters the bloodstream, it could be fatal.

If you suspect that you have a cavity or want more information that explains how to prevent tooth decay, call our office today! Dr. Walters will answer all of your questions, examine your mouth, and treat any problems that are detected.

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