You take the time to brush and floss your teeth because you want a brighter smile. But how often do you think about ways to improve the health of your gums? Most people don’t realize that their gums play a vital role in the beauty of their smile.
If you don’t take care of your gums, several conditions could cause problems that will affect the look and feel of your entire mouth. Learn why gum health is so important and how to make your gums healthier in 5 minutes or less.
Why Do Gums Matter?
You’ve probably heard of gum disease, but do you really know what it is? This annoying infection can affect your teeth and all the surrounding tissues in your mouth. Because the disease doesn’t cause pain, many people don’t know they have it. So why does it matter? Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Gum disease occurs when plaque is not removed through proper brushing and flossing. You won’t feel any pain when you have gum disease so make sure you recognize the warning signs and get help if needed. The most common and well known form of gum disease is gingivitis. The condition involves the inflammation of the gingiva or gums surrounding the necks of the teeth, and is caused by plaque developing along the gumline. Symptoms include red and swollen gums, as well as gum bleeding, which can be seen on your toothbrush or at a dental exam.
The second-most common periodontal disease is “periodontitis.” Like gingivitis, it is caused by bacterial plaque, but it can cause loss of bone support within the teeth. It can be treated or prevented, but rarely can the damage be reversed. Periodontitis can occur if gingivitis is left untreated. Signs of periodontitis, like gingivitis, include red and swollen gums, and bleeding. The formation of gum pockets around the teeth may also occur, which is defined by an opening around the gum tissue of the teeth. This allows bacteria and the formation of tartar to get deeper under the gum line. This deepening of the pocket is associated with bone loss, and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
Talk to Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa Nepean dentist or one of our fantastic dental hygienists during you visit about the presence of:
- Bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums (gums that are pulling away from your teeth)
When gum disease becomes more advanced, it is called periodontitis. This condition can result in the development of periodontal pockets, swollen gum tissue, lose of bone that could lead to tooth loss.
Improve Gum Health
You can prevent gum disease with simple steps that take just a few minutes. Proper brushing and flossing techniques are essential. After you floss, follow these steps to brush both your teeth and your gums:
- Proper angle – Make sure you hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline.
- Short strokes – Move the brush back and forth in short gentle strokes brushing both the front and back of your teeth and gums.
- Use the tip – To get behind your front teeth, use the tip of the brush on the top and on the bottom teeth.
- Brush your tongue – Keep your mouth fresh by brushing your tongue.
And lastly, improve gum health and prevent tooth decay with regular visits to Dr. Jaleel!
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What’s the most common reason for bad breath?
Bad dental care is a major factor.
The condition stems from having a concentration of bacteria-producing malodorous chemicals coming from the lack of oral hygiene. The source of the odor is often particles of food stuck in between the teeth and an accumulation of bacteria in the back of the throat.
Several other factors can also contribute to bad breath, also known as halitosis:
- Certain foods, like garlic and onions, add to objectionable breath odor.
- Dry mouth, which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases, can cause bad breath. Saliva is needed to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause odor.
- Tobacco products cause bad breath, too. If you use tobacco, ask your dentist for help kicking the habit.
Bad breath may also signal a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or a liver or kidney ailment. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your family doctor or a specialist to determine the cause of bad breath.
If bad breath is a chronic condition, ask your dentist for help in identifying the cause and developing a treatment plan to get rid of it.
The best way to prevent bad breath is simple: maintain good oral health. See your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and checkup. If you think you have constant bad breath, keep track of the foods you eat and make a list of medications you take.
Brush twice a day to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your tongue, too. Once a day, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth.
5 Quick Fixes For Constant Bad Breath
Worried your coworkers will notice your bad breath at your next meeting? In an interview, will your bad breath make a poor first impression on your potential new boss? Could your bad breath alter the course of your career? Here are five quick fixes for your constant bad breath.
1. Pop a Sugar-Free Mint
Sugar-free mints can be used to quickly freshen your breath before important business meetings. They don’t cure your bad breath, but they will mask the odor and make your breath temporarily smell minty fresh. Plus, since mints are compact, it’s easy to fit them in your pocket.
You can use mints frequently as long as you choose a sugar-free variety. Mints that contain sugar can contribute to tooth decay and other dental problems.
2. Drink Water
Constant bad breath can be caused by dry mouth, which means that your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva. Your saliva washes away food particles that can make your breath smell, and without enough saliva, these particles will stay put and lead to bad breath.
Drinking water before a meeting or interview is a quick fix for this problem. For longer meetings, bring a water bottle with you so that can continue to sip water and keep your bad breath at bay.
3. Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Sugar-free gum is another easy, fast way to get rid of your bad breath. Chewing gum stimulates your salivary flow, and this can help to freshen your breath if the odor is caused by dry mouth. The scent of the gum will help to mask underlying odors, especially if you choose strong-smelling flavors like peppermint or cinnamon.
4. Use Breath Spray
Breath sprays are flavored products that can be sprayed into the mouth to quickly freshen breath. These sprays come in flavors like cinnamon and peppermint, and they’re a good choice for times when you’re in too much of a rush to chew gum or drink a glass of water. Choose a sugar-free breath spray to avoid putting yourself at risk of tooth decay.
5. Use Mouthwash
Mouthwash can help you quickly freshen your breath. This quick fix works by killing the microorganisms inside your mouth that contribute to bad breath. The minty aroma also helps to temporarily cover up any underlying odors, like tobacco.
It’s a good idea to keep a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash in your briefcase, purse or desk drawer to ensure that you’re ready for last-minute meetings at work. Simply swish your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash and enjoy fresher breath.
Keep these five tips in mind to maintain your fresh breath all day long. Whether you’re shaking hands with a client or chatting with your coworkers around the office, be memorable for your talents and not for your bad breath. However, gums, mints and other quick fixes are just temporary solutions. If you suffer from constant bad breath, make sure to see your dentist to find out what’s causing the problem. Your bad breath could be caused by poor oral hygiene, gum disease, dry mouth or other issues that require attention. Once the cause has been identified, your dentist can offer treatments that will get rid of your bad breath for good.
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We all wish kids came with a user manual; it would take out much of the improvisation that comes with parenting. But your kids are individuals, and as such, have their own needs. Luckily, when it comes to oral health, there are a few guidelines that simplify the process of teaching your little ones about tooth care. Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa-Nepean Dentist, has been practicing children dentistry for over 20 years. Through these years, she has learned a lot about helping children keep their teeth in the best condition.
You might wonder if your disciplinary methods are working, or how to instill common manners, but good oral hygiene can actually consist in this handy parent guide to children’s teeth:
BABIES AND TODDLERS
Most babies start teething around six months of age, which is when oral health should be a priority. Dr. Jaleel suggests parents should start brushing their children’s teeth as soon as those first pearly whites emerge. You can use a little toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush, but keep the amount to about the size of a grain of rice. Don’t forget that your child should have his first dentist appointment by his or first birthday.
“I can do it myself!” might as well be the motto for preschoolers everywhere. As your once-toddler grows into a curious preschooler, it’s the ideal time to encourage healthy oral habits. He or she may even look forward to brushing, so build on that enthusiasm: Let your child pick out a new toothbrush and a great-tasting toothpaste. Kids that take the lead are more likely to make daily brushing a personal habit.
Even though your preschooler might want to fly solo when it comes to brushing and flossing, you’ll still need to supervise his technique and help ensure that the teeth are cleaned at least twice daily.
Between catching the school bus, homework and soccer practice, your elementary-aged child might have a tight schedule. Two things can result in poor oral health during these crucial years: forgetting to brush and indulging in sugary treats. Help out by setting a timer or alarm to keep your child on top of these things.
Kids at this age also start losing their primary teeth – usually between the ages of five and seven. But just because these teeth are on their way out doesn’t mean kids can eat with impunity. Dr. Jaleel suggests making a habit of offering healthier options and limiting sugary sodas, juices and candy as well. A reusable water bottle can help remind kids to stay hydrated – encouraging saliva production – whereas treats like trail mix or sliced veggies make for a nice lunch side dish or after-school snack. The occasional sweet won’t hurt, but they should be balanced with healthy foods to ensure the adult teeth develop properly.
Slip a dollar under their pillow from the Tooth Fairy, but don’t forget to schedule regular checkups with your dentist to detect any complications during this process.
Smart, moody and fun, your teenager might raise an eyebrow to your oral health advocacy. Instead, approach it from a self-image angle: It’s important to brush and floss to look your best. Nonetheless, don’t be surprised if your teen sleeps in and then races out the door without even looking at his or her toothbrush. You can help, of course: Arranging for regular dental checkups can help remind your teen to keep brushing.
The teenage years are also a great time to discuss orthodontia for a straighter and more confident smile entering adulthood. From traditional brackets to plastic liners, an orthodontist can design a treatment plan that puts your teen on a path to aligned teeth by graduation. Ask your dentist for a recommendation.
Naturally, your kids’ needs depend on their personal health and age, but a parent guide to children’s teeth can keep you informed on what to expect over time.
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Gums are the hero of the mouth. they keep your teeth secure, protect your oral bones, and battle against bacteria on a daily basis. Dr. Jaleel and the Fairlawn dental team often see patients with inflamed gums that are prone to bleed. Even though many pay attention to going to the gym, we can often forget to take care of our gums. An easy way to make sure your gums are getting the healthy support they need is through your diet. Continue reading to discover the best gum-loving foods that you can easily incorporate into your meals to give them an extra daily boost.
Onions have been proven to be a fantastic food for healthy gums because they neutralize oral bacteria. They have microbial properties that target the most common types of bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. For great gums, try incorporating more onions into your meals as salad toppers, in sandwiches and burgers, in stir fries, and in soups, stews, and chilis.
Vegetables like kale and spinach are filled to the brim with mouth-healthy vitamins and minerals. Specifically, they hold vitamin C, which boosts the production of red blood cells and reduces inflammation. Both these benefits battle against irritation and gum disease. Leafy greens require more chewing, thanks to their high fibre content, which is good for gums because the chewing action creates more saliva. This helps to flush out food particles, bacteria, and plaque that may be sticking to your teeth near the gum line. Revamp your diet with power-packed greens by creating salads with them, adding them as a cooked side dish to main meals, and putting them in soups and sandwiches.
There is some research which shows that this antioxidant-rich tea can help stave off inflammation in the body. Green tea has specific antioxidants called catechins which help gums fight inflammation caused by the one of the types of oral bacteria responsible for gum disease. Try drinking a cup of green tea daily to give your gums a healthy boost.
Peppers and citrus fruits
Vitamin C is also high in vegetables like peppers of all colours and acidic fruits such as oranges, kiwis, pineapple, and strawberries. Add them into your diet to reap the benefits of this anti-inflammatory vitamin through smoothies, with yogurt, and in salads.
Lentinan is an antibacterial compound found in shiitake mushrooms and it fights against plaque-building bacteria in the mouth. This type of bacteria breeds in hard to reach places in the mouth such as in between teeth and along the gum line, and can cause irritation and possibly lead to gingivitis and gum disease. You can incorporate shiitake mushrooms into your meals in a variety of different ways. Try sautéing them as a side to a main course or chopping them up and adding them to whatever vegetable dish you prepare.
Celery, carrots, and apples
Foods that are very crunchy are excellent at scraping away stuck on food and plaque. The hard bits of foods like celery, carrots, and apples get in between teeth and into tooth crevices and can help keep your mouth fresh between brushings. Crunchy fruits and vegetables also happen to be high in fibre, which, again, means they take longer to chew and generate more saliva. Saliva is great for flushing the mouth of bacteria near the gum line. Simply add these foods to your daily diet as snacks to help get rid of food particles between meals.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese
Dairy products are great for teeth because they are high in calcium, a mineral that helps to strengthen bone, but they are also great for your gums. This is because of a protein called casein that is found in most dairy products which helps to neutralize oral acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth. These acids can be destructive to tooth enamel and gum tissue, leading to irritation or worse. Include a healthy amount of dairy in your diet by drinking a cup of milk daily or by eating snacks that include dairy such as cheese or yogurt.
Check out our other blog posts for additional advice!
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It’s almost the holiday season, which means lots of hot holiday drinks. If you avoid eating cold foods or drinking hot beverages because your teeth are sensitive, it may be time to get to the bottom of this painful condition. So what causes sensitive teeth? Any number of underlying dental problems, and a diagnosis starts with your dentist.
When it comes to your mouth, two of the main cogs in the engine are the gums and teeth. It’s easy to take the necessary functions they perform for granted – that is, until your mouth is in pain. Whether you have sensitive gums or sensitive teeth, either is a recipe for oral discomfort. Here are the differences between the two and some ways to alleviate the pain.
Gum sensitivity is exactly what it sounds like – some form of irritation originating from the gums. If you think your gums are sensitive, look for some very specific symptoms to be sure: Gum sensitivity can result from gingivitis, the initial stage of gum disease. Some of the signs of gingivitis are swollen and tender gums, those that easily bleed and elicit bad breath. As gingivitis progresses into advanced gum disease, receding gums is another condition to watch for.
Gum sensitivity resulting from gingivitis or periodontal disease is typically caused by poor oral hygiene. Plaque is the main culprit of this sensitivity as it builds up along the gumline and, if left untreated, can progress to advanced gum disease. Additional causes include diabetes, tobacco use, crooked teeth and even pregnancy.
Tooth sensitivity has a few common symptoms of its own. You may find yourself wincing when brushing or flossing certain teeth, tooth pain when eating or drinking something cold or even the same feeling when consuming something hot, acidic or sweet.
Tooth sensitivity has many smaller dental causes, some of which are similar to gum pain, as observed by the ADA: cavities and tooth fractures, receding gums, worn tooth enamel, exposed tooth dentin, loose fillings and, lastly, gum disease. Grinding your teeth, or brushing them with too much force, are two additional actions that create sensitivity in your teeth. The overuse of mouthwash or even a cracked tooth may also expose nerves that yield irritation.
Preliminary Dental Treatment
Having a conversation with your dentist is the first step in finding relief from your discomfort. Describe your symptoms, tell your dentist when the pain started and let him or her know if there’s anything that normally makes it feel better, such as warm compresses.
After your dentist determines the reason for your sensitivity, he or she will treat the underlying cause. Treatment may be as simple as fixing a cavity or replacing a worn filling. However, if your discomfort comes from gum loss exposing root surfaces, your dentist may suggest a gum graft that a periodontist would conduct to protect the root surface and support of the tooth.
Even in situations where there is no obvious cause for your pain, there are numerous treatments to help you manage the sensitivity. Your dentist can apply an in-office fluoride gel to strengthen the tooth enamel and reduce painful sensations, while over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes can block off the nerve endings in the exposed dentin. Toothpastes for sensitive teeth should be used on a regular basis, for best results that you can notice in as little as two weeks. Your dentist may also suggest that you rub some of the toothpaste directly on the affected areas after toothbrushing.
So if you’ve been suffering with painful sensitivity that keeps you from eating the foods you love, make an appointment with your dentist today – and you may be drinking hot chocolate tomorrow.
Whether you have little ghost and goblins around the house or not, the lure of Halloween candy and treats will be all around this month. If you do have young ones, there are a few tips we can offer before their inevitable increase of candy consumption.
- For Safety: Inspect any candy received during trick or treating adventures.
- For Health: Limit the amount of sweets they consume. Ensure they eat a large, healthy meal before they venture out (if they are not hungry, they will be less likely to sneak too many treats during their journey).
- For their teeth: Speak to us about dental sealants to offer increased protection for their teeth.
- Ensure they eat any treat during a short period of time (to reduce the exposure to their teeth). Encourage them to rinse with water immediately after they consume any sugary or starchy treat. Limit sticky and hard candies, especially for those with braces. Ensure they brush and floss at least twice daily.
- For you: Wait until a day or two before Halloween to purchase any candy. If it’s not in the house you won’t eat it.
- Stay away from the candies you bought for Trick or Treaters. If you need a treat, reward yourself with something responsible and more health conscious (a piece of imported dark chocolate often hits the spot).
Take any leftover candies to your office in the morning so they are not around your home to tempt you.
What Treats to Avoid:
It is almost impossible to completely avoid candy at Halloween. From school parties and trick-or-treating to gifts from relatives and candy exchanges among friends, Halloween activities revolve around sweet treats. So why not help your kids snack on candies that impact oral health the least?
You might think sticky, gooey candies would harm teeth the most, but they do not. Lollipops and hard candies lingering in your child’s mouth subject the teeth to the most dental damage. Unless you choose sugar-free hard candies, you are putting your child’s teeth at risk for prolonged acid attacks, which can lead to tooth decay.
If gourmet lollipops top the list of favorites at Halloween, try to take sips of water as you suck on the candy. Then follow up with a thorough tooth and tongue brushing, and rinse with a child-safe mouthwash to whisk away any lingering sugars.
From gummy worms to caramels, sticky candies are plentiful during Halloween. These soft candies tend to stick to the teeth and linger long after the treat has been enjoyed. To reduce dental damage, enjoy one piece at a time, and make sure your child chews it fully. It is a good idea to incorporate these treats into mealtime so that hard foods, such as carrot sticks or almonds, can help to dislodge the sticky treats from crevices in the teeth.
Surprisingly, one of the safest Halloween treats to enjoy is gum. Although it lingers in the mouth, gum stimulates extra saliva production, which naturally rinses the mouth and keeps plaque-causing bacteria at bay.
To keep your little one’s oral health on track, choose sugar-free, all-natural gum sweetened with fruit juices approved by the ADA. Always monitor your children when they chew gum to reduce risk of choking.
Your little ones can still enjoy sweet treats on Halloween, but take note of what these sugary snacks do to their oral health. Try to combine the sweets with food or water, follow up with a tooth brushing and choose sugar-free varieties as much as possible.
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.
How to Treat Dry Mouth – At-Home Treatment
Treating dry mouth can reduce the likelihood of developing mouth sores, gum disease, oral thrush and tooth decay. Dr. Jaleel suggests the following general approaches to help treat dry mouth:
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy to stimulate salivary glands
- Drink water regularly throughout the day
- Use over-the-counter artificial saliva
- Run a humidifier in your bedroom at night
Stimulating the salivary glands with sugar-free gum or candy is a useful treatment, if your salivary glands or the nerves that serve them are not affected. Since some causes of dry mouth simply reduce salivary production, stimulation will help increase the overall moisture level in your mouth.
Some dry-mouth sufferers wake up in the middle of the night with a sticky or dry feeling in their mouths, or even a feeling like the back of their throat is too dry to breathe. If you experience these symptoms, it could be because you are breathing through your mouth as you sleep. To alleviate this unpleasant situation, keep a glass of water bedside and run a humidifier in your bedroom. This is particularly helpful if you live in an arid climate. Drinking plenty of water can also keep your oral tissues moist throughout the day, which is also very important in dry climates.
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Avoiding certain foods and habits can also help to alleviate dry mouth. Make the following changes in diet and lifestyle if you suffer from xerostomia:
- Stop smoking
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine
- Use only alcohol-free mouthwash
Regular hygiene is also important to keep your mouth healthy, control acid levels and reduce side effects of xerostomia, such as gingivitis and bad breath. At the end of the day, make sure you are following Dr. Jaleel and our dental hygienists’ advice on proper dental care.
Dry Mouth Treatment from Your Doctor
If these methods do not provide sufficient relief, your doctor might prescribe medication to help your salivary glands function more efficiently. Prescription medications are often used to treat patients with underlying medical conditions that reduce saliva flow. These conditions include Sjögren’s syndrome, systemic lupus, and rhematoid arthritis.
Numerous medications cause dry mouth as a side effect. If you’ve just started a new medication and are suddenly noticing dryness, consult your doctor. Never change your prescription medication dosage without consulting with your doctor first.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What holiday worries dentists everywhere? Halloween. Although it’s a time for shrieks, costumes and lots of candy, this haunted holiday can wreak havoc on your kids’ (and your) teeth. But it doesn’t have to. Avoid a filling appointment by following these Halloween tips from your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel, for better oral care.
Some candies and sweets are worse than others with respect to the health of your teeth. If you’re family is going to indulge this Halloween, take out the treats your kids bring back that are considered the worst for your mouth. Those that can do the most damage tend to linger – hard candies and sticky treats such as caramels and taffy.
When it comes to eating that Halloween candy, timing is important. Don’t nurse it throughout the day or let your child eat it subconsciously while watching a movie. Instead, snack during specific times: Right after a meal is usually best, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), as the saliva you produce in your mouth during your meal will help to rinse away the sugar and candy bits – reducing the risk of cavities.
Another way to set limits is to have your child pick out no more than a few favorites from his or her trick or treat bag. Let them have a sweet after dinner for a few days after Halloween, then donate the rest.
Pause for Brushing
Although hurrying to the bathroom to brush your teeth after popping a few treats might sound like a good idea, it’s actually better to wait a bit. Brushing right after eating acidic foods can actually damage your teeth. Why? Some foods soften your enamel, so if you brush right after eating them, you risk hurting your enamel further while it’s still sensitive.
For this reason, drink water to rinse away the sugar after eating, but wait at least 30 minutes before you brush. When it is time to brush your teeth, use a fluoride toothpaste to further protect your mouth from cavities and decay.
Be Cautious about Costuming
It’s not just candy that can damage your teeth at Halloween. You also want to be particularly careful with what you put on your teeth in terms of makeup. Use only cosmetics designed for use in your mouth when decorating your or your child’s teeth. Although you might come across video tutorials telling you to use eyeliner to fake a missing tooth, it’s best to look for tooth blackout wax instead. When you use this wax, be careful about eating or drinking. Wait until you’ve washed the wax off before you consume anything, in order to avoid accidentally swallowing it. Usually, the wax comes off easily with just water.
Think twice before using any goofy fake teeth or prosthetics this Halloween, too. They won’t cause cavities, but there have been cases of these products containing high levels of lead. In fact, in 2008, a brand of fake teeth was recalled for containing this hazardous element, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Talk to your dentist if you need any Halloween tips concerning prosthetics or using any kind of cosmetics on your teeth.
Cavities don’t have to be the scariest thing about Halloween. Limit your candy and sweets and take care to protect your teeth, and you’ll find that the ghosts, goblins and other holiday frights are much scarier than onset tooth decay.