Smile Tips for All Parts of Life from a Mom, Wife, and Dentist

August 30, 2016

4 Toothbrushes That Can Make Your Child Smarter

It should come as no surprise that good oral health is connected to better school performance. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists dental decay as the most prevalent chronic disease among school age children. It can lead to severe pain, early tooth loss and even affects early child development. Toothaches prevent children from playing with peers and tooth loss contributes to poor nutrition, speech and self-esteem. According to the Children's Dental Health Project, children with poor oral health are nearly three times more likely to miss school. 
Don't let your child fall behind his peers. Visit your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene at home by brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals and before bedtime. Below are a few toothbrushes that can keep your child motivated to get back to school:

1. Doc McStuffins Oral-B Pro Health Stages Toothbrush. The Doc is in! Oral-B Stages grow with your child to lay the foundation for great oral care. 
2. Firefly Starwars Darth Vader Lightsaver Toothbrush. Give your child mystical energies of a Jedi to protect his teeth and the universe.
3. Philips Sonicare for Kids Bluetooth Electric Toothbrush. Keep your kids fully charged as they engage with this interactive toothbrush that connects with an educational app. 
4. Crayola Sunstar Gumbrand Neon Toothbrush. Cool colors, a suction cup, and angled bristles make this super fun brush an oral care must have.

Watch Now: Crayola Sunstar Gumbrand Neon Toothbrush Product Review

August 24, 2016

GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win an HONEST Baby Teether!

What's worse than a crying baby? The answer might just be...a teething baby! When my son was teething, it seemed like nothing could soothe him. I wish I'd known about the Honest Baby Teether.
Like most parents, I bought a whole truck load of teething toys to try to provide some relief. My son chewed on everything from gummy toys and wooden trinkets to random findings from his toy bins. He even nibbled on his own toes!
Baby teeth typically begin to erupt around six months of age and although it's a natural process, it can cause infants lots of distress including: crying, increased drooling, sleep difficulty, mild pain, and/or fever (Note: Children with high fevers should be evaluated by their pediatricians.)
There are tons of teething toys on the market. Some are too soft, some are too hard. Some are too big, some are too small. It's a challenge to find one that's just right. The Honest Baby Teether from the eco-friendly Honest Company is a perfect choice for teething babies because it's soothing and durable enough to sustain the biting and chewing that helps to ease teething pain.
The Honest Baby Teether is BPA free and its design is easy for babies to grip and also simple to clean. An added bonus is that it's dishwasher safe and you can chill the teether as desired. Teething can be a difficult time so get your little one the Honest Baby Teether.

As a bonus for our readers, we are offering a GIVEAWAY through August 31, 2016. Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Watch Now: The Honest Baby Teether Product Review

Many thanks to The Honest Company for sponsoring this Giveaway! All opinions are my own. #Honest #TheHonestCompany #HonestAmbassador 

August 21, 2016

Baby's First Tooth

Baby teeth start to erupt around six months. The lower central incisors arrive first and two teeth will follow every two months thereafter. Around the age of three, your child should have a complete set of twenty primary teeth. 

First Dental Visit. With the eruption of the first tooth or by their first birthday, babies should have regular dental check-ups every six months (find a Pediatric Dentist). A lap exam not only secures your child but allows adequate visibility for the dentist to examine the teeth and soft tissue. While a cleaning may not be done before the age of two, this visit allows parents to discuss any oral health concerns.

What To Expect. Like all other baby activities, dental appointments should be routine. It's natural for parents to be nervous about their baby's first dental visit. There will be fears and likely a few tears but this visit is a very important step in the initiation to good oral care. Try to avoid scheduling the appointment during nap or feeding times. The appointment will be short and sweet but it is an opportunity for parents to inquire about newly erupting teeth and how to best care for them.

Home Care. Baby teeth should be brushed after feedings and before naps, at least three times a day. A baby toothbrush is recommended because of its softness and size. You can brush with water alone or use a fluoride free toothpaste. (Read more about Baby Oral Care.)

Watch Now: Baby Oral Care Instructional Video

Download our Baby Oral Care Guide.

August 20, 2016

3 Myths About Coffee Stains Debunked

Does Coffee Really Stain Teeth?
Known to boost the immune system, coffee has been said to offer plenty of health enriching properties. However, its teeth staining potential is controversialTo appreciate the staining ability of coffee, one must have an understanding of the structural design of enamel. In my discussion, I'll answer the common questions that my patients ask about coffee stains. 

1. Why does Coffee Stain Teeth? The hardest one of the body, enamel is a highly mineralized, translucent tissue mainly comprised of calcium and phosphate ions.  The crystal design of enamel is highly organized and under a microscope looks much like the design of a picket fenceIn between these rails or enamel rods, are permeable spaces called pores.  These pores allow for the transfer of fluids and inevitably the collection of stains.

2. Does Coffee Stain All Teeth Equally? Each tooth has varying levels of thickness, hardness, translucency and staining potential. For this reason, tooth stains can vary from one person to the next. For years, I've been drinking all grains of coffee from Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to my husband's traditionally unfiltered Turkish coffee and I can testify that filtered coffee stains are not quite as intense. (Read more about my life with Turkish coffee) 

3. Coffee vs. Tea. When it comes to choosing between coffee and tea, remember that coffee is brewed from roasted beans made of seeds whereas tea is boiled from leaves. Further, black teas are more oxidized and richer in flavor and color. In my opinion, teas generally stain teeth more aggressively than coffee. However, these stains are often superficial and can be easily removed during a professional tooth cleaning. 

To minimize staining, try using a straw when consuming beverages and refresh with water afterwards. As always, toothbrushing should be done after meals and before bedtime three times daily to maintain good oral health.  

August 16, 2016

Why Dentistry?

"What made you you want to become a dentist?" I get asked this question a lot, mostly by my patients. I often think it's because they are nervous about their appointments and are looking to break the ice. However, it's a tough question for me answer in one or two sentences because the truth is I became a dentist for so many reasons. Short answer: I wanted to help people with a small but important part of their health. My long answer is too long, so here are my FAQs:

1. Did you always want to be a dentist? As a child, I toyed with the idea of becoming a dentist. When I was ten years-old, my sisters and I attended elementary school in Japan and we had to brush our teeth everyday after lunch. We even kept toothbrushes and rinse mugs in our cubbies. Our teeth were checked by a school dentist and oral care was a huge part of our curriculum. Students were even given tooth certificates for progress. I credit my parents for showing me the value of good oral care from a young age. (Read more about my year in Japan). 
2. What did you study to become a dentist? This is where my road into dental medicine gets fun! As an undergrad at Princeton University, I majored in Public Policy and International affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. I really enjoyed studying domestic and foreign policy. I had a great time learning about the intricacies of healthcare systems, urban education reform and consolidating new democracies. I even wrote my senior thesis on music piracy on the cusp of a digital millennium and after college I landed a super cool job at MTV in New York City! 

Like most new college grads, I did a lot of soul searching during my first few years out of school. In 2001, I decided to change gears completely and pursue my interest in healthcare. I initially considered becoming a nutritionist and I found so many interesting articles on the connections between nutrition and oral health. I also found some devastating facts about rampant childhood decay and the need for more oral care providers.  
In a conversation with my oral surgeon about my own wisdom teeth, he encouraged me to apply to dental school. The next year, while completing my premedical studies, I worked along side head and neck specialists and researched the relationship between smell and taste functions and neurological diseases. It was quite a lot of new and fascinating information. 

Dental school is a four-year degree program consisting of curriculum in oral health sciences and clinical care. In addition to anatomy, physiology and other health sciences, dentists learn many technical skills. We are essentially like engineers in the mouth. 

4. Where did you go to Dental School? I received my doctorate in dental medicine from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA. One of the greatest things about studying at a large research institution like Penn is working with such a diverse patient pool and this is still one of the aspects that I really enjoy about clinical dentistry.  
5. What does a dentist do? Dentists diagnose, treat and prevent dental disease. In addition to cavities and root canals, dentists also have the ability to provide smile makeovers, which can be life changing.
6. What's my favorite thing about dental medicine? I really enjoy educating families about maintaining good oral health. A healthy smile is a small but important factor in quality of life and it's an area of health that you can actually manage easily with good habits like brushing, flossing, and rinsing.   
7. What's my least favorite thing? Most patients are fearful of the dentist or know someone who had a frightful experience. The association between the dentist and pain is a tough one to hurdle. However, that comes with the duty of treating a patient to free him from a painful dental infection. 

There are so many reasons that I chose dentistry and there are countless rewards that come from its practice. It is also a profession that remains in high demand because even with all the technological innovations in our modern world, dentists are still needed to solve mysteries of the mouth. In a time of economic uncertainty, the job market remains stable for this noble and family friendly profession. Have you considered a career in the field of dental medicine? 

August 13, 2016

Back to School Tips for a Healthy Smile

With the start of school, children are engaging in a detailed schedule of classes and other activities. Good oral hygiene habits should be implemented into this daily routine. As they become more independent, school age children should be informed about their choices in regards to diet and nutrition

Dental decay results from a dynamic process involving sugar found in the food we consume and the bacteria that live in our mouths. Cavity prevention involves brushing, flossing, and rinsing after meals to maintain a healthy environment inside the mouth. 

Here are some oral care tips for back to school:

1. Brush after breakfast. Many of us think to brush our teeth right after we wake up, mainly as a habit to tackle bad morning breath. However, brushing after breakfast helps keep cavity causing bacteria at bay for the start of the school day.

Tip: Remind the kids to brush before they rush out the door!

2. Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables. It's easy to find snacks loaded with refined carbohydrates but apples, bananas, coconuts and strawberries and many other natural products have been found to help keep your teeth healthy. 

Tip: Try this fun and healthy recipe for Healthy Ice Pop Smoothies from WeatherAnchorMama
3. Limit high sugar beverages. Carbonated drinks and fruit juices are often loaded with sugars that can cause many health issues including obesity and dental cavities. Drinking water is essential and fluoridated water can help to repair developing cavities. 

Tip: Dilute juices with water and offer your child filtered tap water.   

4. Brush after schoolCavities start developing immediately after we eat and most kids find it difficult to brush their teeth during the school day. So, be sure to make it top on the list once they return home from school. 

Tip: Offer kids sugarfree gum on the way to after school activities. Chewing Trident for twenty minutes after you eat has been proven to fight cavities. 
5. Brush before bedtime. Our saliva levels drop when we sleep. Before you go to bed, be sure to brush, floss, and rinse away all the food and bacteria that have been playing all day.

Tip: Making oral care a part of a healthy lifestyle sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health.

6. Make visits to the dentist routine. Dental visits every six months are recommended to prevent and treat dental problems. 

Tip: Be sure to consult with your dental office about your child's particular cavity risk and preventive measures that may need to be implemented.

August 11, 2016

Working Up To Your Due Date

I surely wasn't the first and definitely wasn't the last but in line with c-section and breastfeeding for a year, working full-time up until my due date is another notch on my maternity support belt. That contoured padded therapeutic holster provided much needed relief in my second trimester while I drilled on patients chairside for several hours a day---almost as much as my yoga mat in the third trimester and not for meditation but random five-minute intervals to lay down on my left side on the floor of the women's locker room when I felt windedAlso in my pregnancy survival kit, was my awesome band of friends and family, a super-organized and caring dental assistant who helped me manage everything from nausea while performing tough dental extractions to my baby registry and most significant to my baby journey was my loving husband who let me sleep all evening after I wobbled home from work!

I had totally envisioned pregnancy to be a stress free time of ease and subtle preparation for a new beginning. My mother was a public school teacher who was home after school and during summer breaks. So, I didn't fully appreciate the various kinds of leave women may or not be granted for their families. I also hadn't considered the effects that not working during pregnancy could have on my life professionally and financially. 

My job as a military contractor in Germany had many wonderful benefits in addition to easy travel around Europe and tax-free purchases on a pricey German economy. One of pregnancy significance was excellent health insurance. However, my maternity leave was permitted only within the terms of my short-term disability insurance window of twelve weeks, which actually couldn't begin until eight days after the birth of my child. While I was just hoping to be healthy enough to work until delivery, I had to strategically save enough leave for this postpartum week in addition to actual sickness and 
maternity check-ups---which in Germany are significantly more routinely frequent than here in the United States. Needless to say, I got a quick lesson in human resources with regards to work life balance. Here are my notes: 

1. Disability. Yes, pregnancy and childbirth are considered disabilities by insurance companies, and the kind of birth and possible complications can influence the type of leave for which you are approved. Ok, so I'm technically disabled but I still have to perform a full range of professional duties. Got it.

2. Paid Time Off. In the event of pregnancy or family planning, you may choose to use your vacation or sick leave. This is great but your employer may limit how much time you are allowed to be away from the office.  

3. Short-Term Disability Insurance. In many cases a portion of your salary is allotted to this fund, which pays a fraction of your salary say 2/3 for up to twelve weeks. This time is decided by your insurance company in regards to your delivery. 

4. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This federal law requires obligated companies to allow employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for up to one year following the birth of their child. 

In summary, I saved up eight days of vacation and received 60% of my salary for the twelve weeks that followed. I was fortunate to have a job and grateful for a healthy pregnancy and actual paid leave to spend home with my new bundle, unlike so many women who are not granted even a day of maternity leave. Somehow, all the technicalities surrounding being a pregnant employee gave me this weird feeling of guilt when I arrived late to or had to leave early from work for my maternity check-ups. Then of course there were the awkward glares from several male coworkers, who looked at me as if to say, "So, you're pregnant, but you're working. Ok, we'll just pretend your not pregnant." I also have to add that even some patients seemed almost uncomfortable that they had somehow burdened my pregnancy with their dental needs.

Working up to my due date was full of many awkward moments and loads of emotion including the expected fears and excitement of becoming a mother. These feelings combined with the stress of my quite rigid employment contract definitely took a toll and it didn't help that I had nausea with and without vomiting up until the day my son was born. I felt like wearing a sign on my belly that read, "Believe me, I'd rather be home...but I am only eligible for 12 weeks of partial paid leave and so unless medically necessary, I'm going to be here drilling and filling up until my delivery!"

Especially having been pregnant in a country like Germany, where women are encouraged to stop working by their second trimester, I can't help but feel disconcerted by our American social and economic perspective on maternity as a burden. In our tough job market across different industries, it's a shame that so many women are timid to even announce their pregnancies or discuss due dates for fear of being cast out of big deals and promotions. Pregnancy should be a celebrated time and a proper maternity leave should be given not as a bonus but a required enrichment for the sake of family. What's your working while pregnant story?  

August 8, 2016

How to Break a Bad Habit

A natural calming agent for babies, self-soothing has many benefits. However, after the age of two, the palate or roof of the mouth begins to expand laterally. When carried into the toddler years, thumb and finger sucking as well as pacifier use and other self-soothing behaviors may impact jaw growth and the position of the later erupting adult teeth. In some cases, these habits can even result in an open bite. 

What should you look for if your child has a digit habit?

1. Intensity. How much force is your child using? Is it a passive distraction when he's sleepy? Or is the habit so intense that you can hear him a distance from his crib?

2. Duration. Is the finger or thumb sucking just for a few minutes during periods of distress? Or is he sucking for long periods. For example, while watching cartoons or playing with other children.
3. Frequency. How often is he turning to the habit? Does he suck his fingers several times throughout the day and night? 

I totally felt like a rockstar when I curbed my son's pacifier use by four months but just a few weeks later he started to suck his thumb and I have to admit it was tough to wean him off the habit. Sucking his thumb helped him get to sleep and like most parents, my husband and I cherish naptime. We slowly started sneaking his thumb out of his mouth but it almost seemed to intensify the need. We made of routine of putting him to bed with his winter gloves on but that only worked for a few months. 

When my son's second birthday had passed, I became desperate to break the habit. I researched all over and talked to my pediatric dentist friends. I tried Super Nail Bite No More that I bought from a local pharmacy and I even ordered the Dr. Thumb device from Korea, which my son quickly figured out how to dismantle. My friend convinced me to try to deter him by applying fresh aloe vera. I found some at the local organic market, carefully extracted it from the plant but just before using it, I had an idea. What if Daddy's sock was the answer? To our surprise, with the sock pulled up all the way to his shoulder, it took only two days for my son to stop sucking his thumb.  

Thumb sucking is normal and common as explained by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. If you're having trouble trying to break the habit, be persistent and discuss concerns regarding self-soothing with your child's pediatrician and dentist. 

August 6, 2016

What the New Study about Flossing Doesn't Show

Earlier this week, media headlines pointed to new evidence that questions the need for flossing. Say, what? Like other diligent flossers, I find this news frustrating but as a dental professional, I am a bit miffed that a study deemed limited by patient participation and time rings louder than the widespread research that demonstrates the great benefits that flossing actually has on oral health. So, I am here to set the record straight about my beloved Mr. Floss!

Truth: Toothbrushing only reaches 65% of tooth surfaces.

Truth: Flossing alone does not prevent cavities or bone loss, also called periodontal disease. (Note: Periodontal means gums and bone or the tooth's support structure.) Flossing should be a part of a consistent oral care regimen that also includes toothbrushing and rinsing with mouthwash. Routine dental visits are also required for good oral health.  

Truth: When done correctly, flossing can reduce cavity risk because it removes impacted food and sweeps away the bacteria or plaque harboring at and below the gum line. This plaque is what causes gum inflammation or gingivitis and over time (say about 30 years) can lead to severe periodontal disease and tooth loss. 

Truth: String floss is not the only type of interdental cleaner. Others such as waterflossers and interproximal brushes have actually been found to be increasingly more effective than a poor flossing technique. So, if you still want to throw away your floss, replace it with a Waterpik.     

Bottom Line: Flossing helps to keep your teeth healthy, but it must be done properly. Consult with your dental provider to determine what oral care regimen is best for you. 
Here is the Step-By-Step Guide to Proper Flossing from the American Dental Association:

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.

Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.

Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums. 

When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.

Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth. 

Truth: Teaching kids how to to floss properly can lead to a lifetime of good oral health.
For young flossers, I recommend Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss. Oral-B floss is the most widely recommended floss by dentists and hygienists, and it's great for tight spaces and braces because it’s been proven to slide up to 50% more easily than other brands. Oral-B Glide Floss is also effective at removing plaque below the gum line which can potentially save your teeth.

August 2, 2016

Why We're "Happy" about Colgate Minions Mild Bubble Fruit Toothpaste

Just typing in the text "Happy" makes me smile:-) I've been a long time fan of Pharrell dating back to when I was fresh out of Princeton, working in New York City at MTV Networks and he was producing Hip-Hop tracks for Jay-Z as one half of The Neptunes duo. However, I honestly had no idea that the song was the theme of the second round Minions showcased movie: Despicable Me 2
It was my 3 year-old son who clued me in to the Minions. He is drawn to the fun lovable yellow characters and the adventures of the cast that make up their films. At the end of a playdate, when we found ourselves at Build-A-Bear, he wouldn't let us leave without one! So, it was easy oral care bate to get him to brush his teeth when I placed the Colgate Minions Mild Bubble Fruit Toothpaste on the bathroom counter.
Clinically proven to strengthen and protect developing teeth, the Colgate Minions Toothpaste is perfect for young brushers.  The tube stands upright with an easy open flip-top cap to make it easy and fun for kids to brush, and the bubble fruit flavor is a kiddo favorite! Designed for kids age 2 and older, the Colgate Fun Minions oral care collection will help keep your child’s smile bright. Always read labels and use as directed. 

Which Minion is your child's favorite? What's your favorite song on the movie soundtrack? Let us know in the comment section below. 

Watch Now: Colgate Minions Mild Bubble Fruit Mouthwash Product Review

I love comments! Let us know what you think!

Please leave a comment or question for me. I really appreciate your feedback and connecting with readers. You can also send me a message on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Back to Top