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Five Easy Ways To Improve Dental Health

Five Easy Ways To Improve Dental Health

How well you care for your teeth and gums tends to reflect back into how well you feel overall. There’s a link between your overall health and your dental health, and not taking great care of the latter can increase your risk for conditions such as heart disease, respiratory problems and even dementia.

Luckily, improving your bathroom routine doesn’t necessarily warrant major changes. A few easy tweaks to your daily mouth care can have a lasting impact on your body.

1. Invest in a Better Toothbrush

Barring any physical limitation, you don’t need the fanciest electric toothbrush on the shelf. If you’ve been brushing with a product that has particularly tough bristles, you might be hurting your dental health without even realizing it. The harder the bristles are, the easier it is to brush too hard, leading to enamel loss and even receding gums.

2. Remember to Floss

Although plenty of adults tell their dentists that they floss daily, most of them stretch the truth for immediate approval during their checkup. A national survey of over 2,000 adults actually found that more than one in four people lie to their dentists about how much they floss.

This small step may not be the most enjoyable, but it is the only way to remove food that gets stuck between your teeth, before it turns into plaque in a spot you can’t access. Conduct your flossing routine right before you go to bed to remove any food and plaque that has developed during the day. And remember to get in the habit of flossing at least once a day.

3. Consider an Antibacterial Mouthwash

If you feel you often have bacterial buildup that causes bad breath, incorporate a mouthrinse to further cleanse your teeth of these germs during the day. Antibacterials mouthwashes access crevices and clean germs off of soft tissue that you may not always brush, allowing you to prevent bacteria from ruining your breath and spreading to your teeth and gumline, where it can cause cavities and gingivitis.

4. Drink More Tap Water

There are plenty of benefits to drinking more water each day. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it can help you avoid overeating at meals. Tap water (which, in many areas, typically has fluoride added to it) is also beneficial to your teeth.

The American Dental Association (ADA) notes that fluoridating the community water supply reduces tooth decay by 25 percent in both kids and adults. Even though there are plenty of methods available today for curbing tooth decay, fluoride toothpaste and regular dental visits, specifically fluoridation, has a big impact. Given the choice, make sure you’re taking advantage of the sources of fluoride you have at home, whether it’s the tap or a particular brand of bottled water.

5. Eat a Nutritious Diet

Focus on eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, chicken and fish, as well as organic varieties of certain foods for protection against pesticides. And although cutting soda consumption completely can be an extreme change for some, limiting its presence in your diet is a simple way to reduce your risk for cavities and boost your oral health. If you’ve already made the switch from full-sugar sodas to diet, for example, it’s a good idea to cut out similar diet drinks, too. They may be “sugar-free,”  but they are very acidic and can still damage teeth over time.

What can you drink instead of soda? Plain tap water is a good choice. Try replacing one can of soda per day with a glass of water to start, then keep switching out your sodas with more water until you’ve finally said goodbye to this carbonated snack for good.

Making small changes to your day will improve your dental health greatly over time, but remember to keep up the habits you already embrace. Continue to brush twice a day and schedule twice-a-year appointments with Dr. Jaleel, and you’ll set yourself and your family up for a lifetime of smiles.


Fun Ways To Teach Kids About Mouth Anatomy

Fun Ways To Teach Kids About Mouth Anatomy

Although teeth usually start the oral health show in your home, it doesn’t do well to ignore the other parts of your child’s mouth when learning how to stay healthy. After all, oral health also depends on keeping a healthy body, choosing the right foods and even ensuring the gums stay healthy as well.

Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist, has decades of experience working with children and new parents. She is here to provide you some ideas how to teach your child mouth anatomy in a fun and engaging way.

Mouth anatomy is about more than just teeth, and the more your child learns about the role his or her entire mouth plays on body health, the easier it is to promote good oral hygiene. Here are a few activities you can do together when talking about whole mouth health.

Mouth Self Portrait

Help your child get to know each part of the mouth. A mouth self portrait is a great way to see just what makes a mouth work the way it does. Grab a mirror, some crayons, a sheet of paper and a well-lit area. Here, have your child open up his or her mouth and peek inside. Talk about some of the things he sees: Not only teeth, but also the gums, tongue, the roof and bottom of the mouth. You can then challenge your child to draw and label those parts, creating a mouth anatomy that all kids become familiar with growing up.

Proper Brushing

Of course, oral health starts with dental health. When a child’s teeth are properly cared for, the rest of the mouth is healthy as a result. But because kids don’t always know the proper way to brush, try this: Sketch the shape of a tooth on a dark-colored piece of construction paper. Then, offer your child an old toothbrush and some white paint, challenging him to cover the entire tooth with their hand-drawn “toothpaste.” You can then demonstrate different techniques, like brushing up, down, sideways and in a circular motion to ensure the entire tooth is as white as the paper you started with.

Once you’ve practiced on paper, bring them to the sink to practice real-life brushing. Use a mildly flavored toothpaste to encourage a great experience your child will want to improve on again and again.

Supermarket Collage

So much of a healthy mouth is what you put into it: Foods that are sugary, sticky or highly acidic can result in plaque buildup and even canker sores, so test your child’s knowledge on foods that are good for the mouth versus foods that could cause these problems. Start by gathering a few supermarket fliers and another piece of paper, labeling it, “Good Foods” on one side and “Foods That Can Hurt My Mouth” on the other. Then, help your child to cut out different foods from the flier and glue them to the appropriate side of the page. Talk about each food and why it’s either a good choice or something to save as a once-in-a-while treat.


Taste Challenge

The real fun is in taste tests. Your child’s tongue is covered in taste buds that allow him to savor the sweet and recoil from the bitter, so put it to good use by assembling sweet, sour, bitter and salty items from your kitchen. Talk to your child about how taste buds send messages to the brain so people can identify their favorite foods and avoid the items they don’t like. Keep a tally as you decide which category of flavor his taste buds indicate each food belongs in. Given the results, you may need to ensure they realize that tastes can be decieving; just because something tastes good doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Cavity Spread

Adults know cavities can be damaging and painful, but children who’ve never experienced an early cavity might have a harder time understanding. Try this demonstration: Draw a tooth in permanent marker on a paper towel. Then, use a watercolor marker to place a dot on the tooth, explaining that a cavity is a small hole in the tooth. Drip a little water onto the “cavity,” showing the way it spreads when exposed to things like acid or sticky sweets.

With exercises like these, your child should quickly grasp how cavities and other dental conditions can infect the entire tooth if left unchecked.


How to Prevent Cavities while Enjoying Holiday Sweets

How to Prevent Cavities while Enjoying Holiday Sweets

When the holiday season comes around, there seems to be no shortage of candy and dessert around the house. Although it may be overwhelming and impossible to avoid all of these treats, there are plenty of safe and tasty snacks to satisfy young taste buds without interfering with your oral health. In fact, when preparing fun holiday treats with your child, you can include numerous healthy options that build strong teeth at the same time. Dr. Jaleel, your dentist in Ottawa is here to provide you with some tips and advice.

Treats to Avoid

When supermarket shelves are full of brightly packaged treats for the holidays, it’s hard not to fill your cart. But for the sake of your child’s braces, you still need to scoot past the hard, chewy and sticky foods. Children with braces should avoid caramel, licorice, lollipops, bubblegum, popcorn, taffy, jelly beans and hard pretzels. How come? Biting hard foods can bend or even break your child’s metal brackets.

Stick to Your Favorites

It’s hard to get away from sweet treats during the month of December. There’s the candy dish at the office, Aunt Mary’s triple-chocolate brownies, sugary hot beverages, tray upon tray of homemade cookies and even people handing out candy canes while you’re out running errands. Be picky when offered a goodie. Skip the items that are available throughout the year, such as store-bought cookies and M&Ms, and go for more special yummies guilt-free. Your teeth — and waistline — will thank you.

Brush Often

Clean your teeth after every sugary treat; perhaps consider a new toothbrush. This will help keep your mouth cleaner by reducing plaque buildup. Make it a household rule that candy, cookies, hot cocoa and other delicious foods are allowed only on condition that teeth be brushed immediately after the treats are eaten. Then make sure that everyone sticks to the rule, including Mom and Dad! This one step will go a long way toward teaching the whole family how to prevent cavities while keeping the season sweet.


Carry Oral Hygiene Tools with You

Lots of sweets are eaten outside of the home while shopping, visiting or attending parties. Pick up extra toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste for everyone in the family to carry with them. Trial sizes of mouthwash and dental floss complete the portable dental care package.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum produces saliva. This helps to wash away bacteria. It’s also easier to resist treats when you have a piece of gum in your mouth. There is a wide range of sugar-free flavors on the market, including mint chocolate chip, cinnamon roll and apple pie à la mode.

Make Less Sticky Choices

Problems occur when the sugary coating remains on the teeth. Plaque loves the acids in sugar and other carbs. Choosing goodies that don’t leave a sticky coating, especially when you are not able to brush right away, reduces the risk of tooth damage. Enjoy a fresh fruit salad instead of a muffin for breakfast or pound cake instead of chocolate fudge for dessert.