Monday, October 20, 2014

Tips from the Dentist for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy This Halloween

As a local dentist, we work to keep our patients’ teeth and gums in the best possible health.  This is important because by preventing cavities and gum disease, we can keep our patients feeling great and free from tooth pain.  Many parents ask us questions about Halloween candy and whether or not they should let their kids eat it.  The reality is that sugar is bad for your teeth and gums so if you do let them eat it, take precautionary measures as well. 

Here is what we recommend:
  • Brush teeth with a fluoride toothpaste.  If you brush your kid’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste, it will help to strengthen them and prevent cavities.  This makes them less likely to become infected due to an occasional candy bar.  Before going out on Halloween, brush their teeth so that they are not putting sugar onto already dirty teeth. 
  • Visit the dentist.  It is important to start with healthy teeth.  Don’t go into the holiday season with a mouth full of cavities.  Schedule an appointment for you and your kids to have your teeth cleaned and examined so that we can treat any cavities before they have a chance to cause tooth pain.
  • Eat a healthy dinner.  Before going trick-or-treating, eat a dinner that is healthy and full of veggies, lean protein, dairy products, and complex carbs.  This will help your kids to feel full so that they won’t overindulge on candy. 
  • Take water with you.  When your kids want a piece of candy, have them take a drink of water before and after.  It will help them to feel less hungry, and the water will wash away the sugar afterwards.
  • Bring healthy snacks.  You can pack healthy snacks to carry on Halloween.  If your child gets hungry, give them an apple instead of reaching into the candy bag.  
  • Limit how much they eat.  Talk to your kids before you start trick-or-treating about how much candy they are allowed to eat.  By setting a limit, you can avoid the annual sugar rush.  This is also a good way to teach them how to eat in moderation instead of overindulging.  
When you get home from trick-or-treating, ask your kids to trade their bag of candy for a toy or a gift card.  This is a good way to incentivize them to give up sugary treats in exchange for something that is just as fun, but not bad for their health. By getting them to trade, you are showing that Halloween can be fun without loading up on candy. This is one way to set healthy habits and show them that rewards don’t need to be tied to food. 

If they do eat candy on Halloween, make sure to brush their teeth afterwards.  As a dentist, we also recommend that you carry a travel size antiseptic mouthwash.  This way they can rinse their mouth and kill the bacteria without needing to be near a sink and toothbrush.  
Stay safe and have fun this Halloween!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tips for Taking Care of Sensitive Teeth from Your Redwood City Dentist

Redwood City Dentist
As a local Redwood City dentist, we treat a lot of patients with sensitive teeth. It is common for teeth to become more sensitive over time.  This can make it difficult to eat your favorite ice cream, brush your teeth, and even drink a glass of iced tea.  If you are struggling with sensitive or painful teeth, it is important to understand why teeth hurt in the first place.

Your Tooth Structure
Each one of your teeth has a layer of enamel that protects it from the elements – water, food, and air.  The area of your tooth and roots that is under your gums is protected by a layer of cementum.  These two materials are critical for protecting your teeth and preventing you from feeling pain. Underneath the enamel, your teeth are made of dentin.  There are small holes that run through the dentin to the roots of your teeth.  If you were to look at it under a microscope, it would look like someone took a pen and punched holes through a piece of paper.

Causes of Pain
When the enamel wears away, the dentin is exposed and so are the holes.  When air, food or water touch those holes, you can experience pain.  Enamel wears away through a process called demineralization so the older you are, the more likely you are to experience tooth sensitivity.  As a Redwood City dentist, we also look for signs of infection when determining what the cause of the sensitivity is.  Sometimes it can be due to a cavity or gum disease.  When this is the case, we can treat the condition so that your teeth can start to feel better.

Treatment Options
There are ways to decrease your tooth sensitivity at home.  You can start by using a desensitizing tooth paste.  This will help to reduce the pain by blocking sensations from being sent to the nerve.  Make sure that you use a soft toothbrush and brush your teeth gently.  You should rotate this with toothpaste that contains fluoride since fluoride is a mineral that will help to strengthen your teeth so that they won’t be as sensitive in the first place.  

You can also visit our Redwood City dentist office and request a fluoride treatment.  This will remineralize your teeth.  Some people also have their teeth bonded where a tooth colored material is applied to the surface of your teeth in order to seal in the dentin and prevent anything from touching it. Teeth that are infected need to be treated by having the cavity removed and a crown placed when necessary.  A crown surrounds the tooth like a cap, so this is an ideal option for highly sensitive teeth. 

If your sensitivity is caused by gum disease, you may need an in-depth cleaning or a gum graft in order to heal the area and cover the exposed area of the tooth and roots.  If you are suffering from tooth pain, schedule an appointment so that we can make sure there is no lingering and undiagnosed infection.