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Friday, July 22, 2011

Parent's Guide to Dental Safety

As a parent, you want to keep your child safe -- which is no small task! The good news is that there is a lot you can do to protect your child's mouth, teeth and gums from harm.
Infants and Toddlers
Little ones fall a lot as they learn to navigate their way in the world, putting them at risk for a broken tooth or a cut or bitten tongue, lip or cheek. To guard your child's dental safety:
- Child-proof your home. Do not let your child walk around carrying a bottle or sippy cup; unsteady walkers could injure their teeth or gums during a fall.
- Keep any mouthwash (and all other fluids) out of the reach of children. The alcohol content in most mouthwashes can be toxic to small children.
- Pick an age-appropriate toothbrush that is the right size for your child's mouth. Do not share your child's toothbrush with anyone else.
School Age Kids
Accidents from sports and outdoor activities such as skateboarding are common for this age group, as are cavities. To keep your child's dental safety in check:
- Make sure your child wears a mouthguard while playing sports.
- Consider dental sealants for added protection against dental cavities.
- Don't yank loose baby teeth. If a tooth is extremely loose, use a clean damp gauze pad to firmly tug on the tooth. If it doesn't come out right away, leave it alone.
Good nutrition and oral hygiene tend to fall by the wayside during the teen years To safeguard your teen's dental safety, talk to your child about the need to:
- Use caution with teeth whitening products. Before using any over-the-counter dental products, talk to your dentist to see if whiteners are appropriate for your teen.
- Cut back on soda. The sugar in soda can cause dental cavities and the phosphoric acid blocks the absorption of calcium, weakening teeth.
Remember, the most effective ways to protect your children’s dental health is to make sure they brush and floss regularly and see a dentist twice a year.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Enjoy Strawberries the Tooth-wise Way

Considered a "super-fruit," the strawberry is rich in antioxidants and extremely beneficial to heart health. Low in calories but high in vitamin C, potassium, fiber and folic acid, strawberries are a tasty part of a healthy diet -- but too much of a good thing can be bad for your teeth.
Unfortunately, strawberries, like many healthy foods, are highly acidic -- and consuming acidic foods and drinks on an ongoing basis can lead tooth erosion, a condition that wears down the protective coating of enamel on your teeth. Once tooth enamel is lost, it doesn't grow back. Enamel erosion can cause a wide range of dental problems, including sensitive teeth, discoloration, cracked teeth and even tooth loss.
That's not to say you have to cut back on the foods that are good for you. We have some tips on how you can protect your teeth and maximize the benefits of eating this delicious fruit:
1. Eat smart. Pair your strawberries with foods that have low acid and sugar content. Nuts, spinach, bananas, apples and many dairy products are excellent options.
2. Don't eat constantly throughout the day. Waiting a couple of hours between servings allows saliva to neutralize acid and repair tooth enamel.
3. Rinse after eating. Rinsing your mouth out with water also neutralizes acid.
4. Chew gum. Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes following a meal can activate saliva and help wash away debris.
5. Hold off on brushing your teeth. Yes, you read that right! The abrasives in toothpaste can further damage enamel that's weakened by acid. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after eating or drinking something acidic.
6. Floss. Strawberries contain an average of 200 seeds, which can get stuck in your teeth. Flossing at least once a day will help you prevent cavities from developing between teeth.
When it comes to the many health benefits of strawberries, your teeth are probably the last thing on your mind. But with a little forethought, you can fully enjoy your favorite fruit without worrying about your dental health.