Don’t Let Dental Your Dental Benefits Go To Waste

don't let your dental benefits go to wasteAs we approach the end of the year, we want to share a tip that can help your family take full advantage of your remaining dental insurance benefits before they expire.

Fall is one of the most fun and busiest times of the year. Most parents are still adjusting to “back to school” routines. There are tons of fun activities from fall sports to pumpkin picking and, of course, preparing for the holiday season. So, why schedule a visit to your children’s dentist, especially if you or you little ones aren’t experiencing any oral problems?

Did you know that if you don’t use your dental insurance benefits this year, you lose them? It’s true – dental insurance benefits don’t roll over to the following year. If you don’t use them, you lose them!

Call us now to schedule a dental appointment for a professional dental cleaning or any dental care you may have been putting off before your benefits expire. Because so many of our patients realize this last minute, November and December appointment slots fill up very quickly. We’ll be happy to discuss your remaining benefits and answer any questions you may have.

How To Be Prepared For A Dental Emergency

smiling toddler holding giant toothbrushEveryone hopes they will never find themselves in any sort of situation requiring emergency assistance, but knowing what to do is an important life and tooth saving tool.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has a few tips if you happen to find yourself in a dental emergency:

When a Baby Tooth is knocked out: Immediately contact your pediatric dentist.  Because of the potential for damage to permanent teeth, a baby tooth should never be replanted.

When a permanent tooth is knocked out. Find the tooth and gently rise it in cool water – never scrub or clean with soap, then replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth.

  • If you cannot replace the tooth in the socket, place the tooth in a container of cold milk, saliva, or water.
  • Contact your pediatric dentist immediately, and seek their services. The faster you act, the greater the likelihood of saving the tooth.

When a tooth is chipped. Contact your child’s dentist immediately, quick action can save the tooth, reduces the need for extensive treatment, and prevents infection.

  • Rise the mouth with water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling (if the lip was injured).
  • Place any tooth fragments into cold milk or water.

Dental injuries can be prevented by following these simple suggestions.  

  • Children participating in sports should always wear a mouth guard and other protective gear.
  • Always use seat belts and car seats.
  • Child-proof your home to reduce the risk of fall and electrical injuries.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your family dentist.

Back To School Tips To Keep Your Student Smiling

smiling child in dental chairBack to school season, for many, is an exciting time – a fresh start to a new school year. This is the perfect time to schedule your child’s dental check up. As you check off your shopping lists for school supplies and clothes, make sure to add a visit to your family dentist and also a time to review your dental hygiene routine at home with your child. This will not only help your child start his school year on a positive note, but can help ensure he stays on track all year long.

Benefit to Starting the School Year with a Dental Check-Up

  • Allows your children’s dentist to examine your child’s teeth for decay/cavities, ensure proper growth and provide helpful tips to maintain a healthy smile all year long.
  • Decreases risk for additional dental issues requiring additional treatment. The American Dental Association says, “prevention and early detection can help avoid pain, trouble eating, difficulty speaking and school absences”.
  • Gives your child confidence to start their school year with a healthy and bright smile.

How to Maintain a Healthy Smile Throughout the School Year

  • When shopping for new school supplies, include new dental hygiene supplies (let your child pick their favorite color or design)
  • Brush and floss at least two (2) times a day. (Make it fun by adding a favorite song or game to the routine)
  • Pack healthy snacks that help protect teeth against cavities (i.e. cheese, apples, carrots, celery)
  • Replace sugary drinks with good old fashion water
  • When participating in organized sports, make sure your child wears a properly fitting mouth guard
  • Schedule routine check-ups every six (6) months

Remember, in order to ensure your child has a happy and healthy school year, we all must work together. See you at your next visit.

Common Mistakes Parents Make With Their Childs Teeth

happy child at dentist office

A parent’s primary focus is to make sure their child is healthy and safe. When it comes to keeping their baby’s oral health, developing good hygiene habits at an early age is key. It’s no secret that brushing daily and visiting the dentist regularly is very important.  However, there are a few common mistakes parents may not be aware of that can be harmful to their child’s teeth.

Delaying Visits to the Dentist

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visiting the dentist within the first year. Baby teeth are very important in a child’s development as they are like spacers for their permanent teeth. Visiting the dentist even before their first tooth comes in will help identify any issues and allow your child to become comfortable visiting the dentist early on.  Regular visits are important at any age as it allows your family dentist to examine for any potential issues and also do a thorough cleaning to remove excess plaque that regular brushing can miss.

Prolonged Use of Sippy Cups and Baby Bottles

Sipping juice or even milk for long periods can lead to tooth decay because the gums and teeth are exposed to sugar and bacteria for long periods.  Bottles at bedtime are especially harmful as there is not enough saliva produced during sleep to wash away sugar and acid.  It is best to have your child finish their drink then brush and rinse before bedtime. For babies you can wipe their gums and teeth with a wash cloth.

Not Brushing With Their Child

Although toddlers love to exercise their independence, when it comes to brushing children’s dentist recommended parents supervise them until they can do it properly on their own. This is a great time to show them how to brush properly and also brush after them to make sure it’s done thoroughly.  It may take some creativity to get them to comply so try making it fun with music or by taking turns brushing each other’s teeth.

Maximize Your Dental Benefits Before December 31st

december 31 calendarDid you know unused dental coverage does not roll over into the New Year? Most insurance policies allow for a maximum dollar amount of coverage each year. If you do not use the entire amount allotted to you, you lose the unused portion.

There is still time to schedule an appointment with your family dentist to make sure you take advantage of any unused coverage for 2014. Whether you need an exam, cleaning or dental treatment, don’t let that coverage go to waste.

Other reasons to schedule an end of the year appointment with your dentist are:

  • Your deductible (out-of-pocket expense before health insurance starts to pay the bills) will reset at the start of the year. If you’ve already satisfied your deductible, now is the perfect time to get those last-minute treatments.
  • Funds in most Flexible Spending or Health Savings Accounts also forfeit at the end of the year. These are benefits you have paid for so make sure to use them!

Take care of any dental treatments now. Dental issues not only worsen but become more costly the longer they go untreated.

Let us help you maximize your insurance benefits and make sure you enter the New Year with a healthy smile. Call us now to schedule an appointment!

Why You Should Never Delay Dental Treatment

child laying in dental chairAccording to the American Dental Association, tooth decay is the most chronic disease in children today. The statistic is now up to 50 percent of children in the US. To ensure your child maintains good oral health, schedule regular exams and cleanings with your family dentist.  More importantly, make sure to follow through with further treatment recommended by your dentist. Here is why:

Poor oral health affects more than just your child’s teeth.  Besides pain and discomfort, studies have shown that poor oral health can also affect children’s development in the following areas:

  • Development of primary teeth
  • Proper chewing and nutrition
  • Development of speech
  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • Attendance and performance in school

Regular visits to your family dentist ensure that dental issues are detected and treated before becoming more severe. Prompt treatment is key in avoiding: 

  • Severe pain
  • Infections
  • Chronic tooth decay
  • Disfigurement
  • AND ultimately higher treatment costs

Over time, lack of proper oral care can affect other areas of the body. Studies have linked poor oral health in adults to diseases such as weakened immune system, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and even cancer. How does this happen? Poor oral hygiene allows bacteria to build up on teeth, which can make the gums prone to infection.  Infection, left untreated, makes the rest of the body susceptible to disease.

“The American Dental Association recommends that dental visits begin no later than a child’s first birthday to establish a “dental home.” Dentists can provide guidance to children and parents, deliver preventive oral health services, and diagnose and treat dental disease in its earliest stages. This ongoing dental care will help both children and adults maintain optimal oral health throughout their lifetimes.”  https://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/dentists-doctors-of-oral-health)

Teeth-Friendly Halloween Ideas

teeth-friendly halloween treat ideasThe Fall season is upon us and with that comes many favorites like cooler weather, colorful leaves, all things pumpkin and of course, Halloween! There’s no doubt that for most kids, collecting and eating as much candy as possible is the primary goal.  For parents it can be a challenge to let the kiddos enjoy the season while keeping them healthy, especially their teeth. The good news is that healthy and fun alternatives abound. Here are just a few:

The Trick Is Healthy Treats – Making healthy treats that look yummy and fun can help children make better snacking choices. Try decorating healthy snacks in fun Halloween themes and make sure they are visible and accessible for your child when it’s time for a treat.

Focus on Fall Fun – Fall activities are a great way to help kids take their focus off of sweets. Pumpkin patches, costume parties and arts & crafts are some popular options. This is also a great time to get some physical activity while enjoying nature. Try going on a hike, bike ride or a simple walk.

Make It About Giving Not Just Getting – This is the perfect time of year to remind children of the importance of giving to others in need. Find out what volunteer opportunities are available in your community and/or consider donating items, money or better yet, a generous portion of their Halloween candy.

Keep An Oral Health Routine – Dental professionals agree that teaching your children good oral hygiene habits early on will help them develop and maintain these habits as they get older. Take time this “sweet season” to teach your child about the effects of sugar on their teeth and the importance of fighting tooth decay with a daily oral hygiene routine.  Some easy dental tips to remember are:

  • Limit sugar intake (hide sweet treats)
  • Avoid sticky candy that clings to the teeth and also hard candy
  • Allow a treat after a meal
  • Make sure they drink plenty of water
  • Brush and floss twice daily and after sweet treats
  • Schedule your next visit with your family dentist

Sweets may not be 100% avoidable, especially during this season. However, combining healthy alternatives with a consistent oral health routine will certainly help keep your family’s smile happy and healthy. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!

Dental Sealants For Children’s Teeth

child receiving dental sealants

The Facts

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), dental sealants are effective for preventing dental carries in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the preventative measure for all school-age children, And according to the Surgeon General’s report on oral health, sealants reduce decay in children’s teeth by more than 70 percent.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that dentists apply to the back teeth. Made of clear or tinted plastic, they protect the grooved and pitted chewing surfaces where most cavities occur. Sealants keep food and germs from finding a “nesting” place in the grooves of children’s teeth.

How Do Sealants Work?

Even when children brush and floss carefully, it is hard to clean the tiny grooves on certain teeth. Bacteria and food particles build up in the crevices, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Dental sealants keep the food and germs out.

Permanent molars are the best candidates for dental sealants. Most children receive their first molars when they are 6 years old. Second molars appear around age 12. When a dental sealant is applied shortly after a tooth erupts, it can prevent problems from the start.

How Are Sealants Applied?

The application of a dental sealant is quick, easy and comfortable. It does not require drilling or removing any part of the tooth structure. A dentist or dental hygienist cleans the tooth and conditions it with a special gel. Then the tooth is washed off and dried.

This prepares the tooth to receive the sealant, which is painted on the tooth. After it flows into the grooves of the tooth, the sealant is allowed to harden. The dental professional may shine a light on the tooth to help the sealant harden.

It takes about a minute for the dental sealant to form a shield of protection. Whether they are clear, white or tinted, sealants are not usually visible when children talk or smile. They can only be seen close up.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Dental sealants can last for many years if children take proper care of them. According to the CDC, they can last as long as 5 to 10 years. They are designed to protect children’s teeth through the most cavity-prone years.

Dental sealants are an effective part of preventive dentistry for children. Along with fluoride, brushing and regular dental care, they can help prevent tooth decay, cavities and fillings. The treatment is affordable, and most dental insurance policies cover the cost.

Is Your Child Missing School Due to Dental Issues?

happy child in school smiling

It has become important for parents to ask themselves if dental issues are causing their children to be absent from classes or to fully participate in some of their academic or peer activities. Studies conducted on oral health and academic performance show that when kids have dental problems, they are not able to make the most of school.

How Dental Issues Affect Children

The study showed that children with toothaches were likely to have lower grade point averages than those who didn’t. They were also more likely to be absent from class, possibly missing lessons on vital concepts.

Apart from pain and discomfort, there are other things that children with dental issues suffer from. When tooth decay is severe, nourishment can be affected due to problems with chewing and this has implications on the physical growth of children.

Another possibly underestimated effect of dental issues on children is the way these can inhibit them from confidently relating to their peers. Poor oral health can become visible on teeth as well as lead to bad breath. As a whole, it would be no exaggeration to say that dental problems can compromise the academic and social development of children.

What Parents Can Do

Parents have a central role in making sure that children have the oral care they need so they can fulfill their potential to the fullest and spend happy days at school. One of the first things that parents have to do is start kids early on the path to dental health.

Many people believe that toddlers don’t need oral care. This is actually not true. Baby teeth need to be brushed and cleaned, and a good children’s dentist will gladly give you pointers on how this can be done. It will also help to take your toddler or your younger child on visits to the dentist before they have problems so that the dentist’s office will not be a traumatic place for them.

Keeping Dental Issues Away

Parents with children of school age need to make sure that their children have the care needed to prevent potential problems. This can be done by finding a good children’s dentist – one who understands that beyond the obligatory check-up, dental visits are the best way to orient children to a good lifelong habit of maintaining oral health.

Family dentists today use fluoride to toughen children’s teeth and sealants to prevent decay in the baby teeth. Along with other preventive measures, these can be done quickly in your dentist’s office.

A conscientious children’s dentist will give you good oral care advice on how to keep your children’s teeth healthy. This will include insights on foods to keep away from, how to protect your child’s teeth, and what preventive care routine your child should develop and use at home. Given the impact of dental issues on academic performance, these routines should be started as early as possible.

When Should You Wean Your Baby or Toddler From Pacifiers, Sippy-Cups and Thumb-Sucking?

toddler sucking on sippy cupParents often use pacifiers, bottles, and sippy cups for the comfort that it offers. However, children often become dependent on the items, making it difficult to separate from the child. It is important for parents to know when to discontinue the use and help the baby or toddler mature and develop.

Dental professionals recommend limiting use of the pacifier by the age of two, which will avoid dental issues that can develop by age four. Babies tend to rely on a pacifier as the sucking motion creates a soothing effect that is calming and comforting. Although it can be used initially with babies, pacifiers can cause an overbite, speech impediments, and even disrupt normal chewing patterns. According to the American Dental Association, pacifiers can also cause tooth decay due to bacteria that is transferred to the mouth.

Thumb-sucking is another habit that is commonly developed by toddlers, as it continues the sucking habit and often replaces pacifiers. Although it is a convenient way of keeping a child happy, it can cause the top teeth to be pushed forward while the bottom teeth are pushed back. The habit can also lead to a disorder called an open bite in which the top and bottom front teeth do not meet even when the mouth is closed. Most of time patience and positive reinforcement can be used to wean a child from thumb sucking successfully, but in difficult cases, there are additional methods that can help such as covering the hands with gloves or using a substance on the thumb that does not taste good (be sure to check with your family dentist or physician for a recommended product).

As toddlers develop, sippy cups are often considered a helpful product to encourage independence with drinking. However, there are many drawbacks to using the product, which can include tooth decay and inappropriate swallowing or use of the tongue. The AAP Pediatric Nutrition Manual suggests that the use of sippy cups is discontinued by age two or three to avoid long-term oral problems that will have to be treated by your child’s dentist. The teeth can still be shifted with sippy cups in the same way that thumb sucking and pacifiers do, and they are even known to cause lisps. The relationship with sippy cups should be temporary and a mere transition to regular cups that are used by the child as they learn to eat and consume liquids on their own.