Taking a ‘Peeps’ at Your Easter Basket

Easter is around the corner, which means that you’ll probably be tempted by some sweet snacks – it is Peeps season, after all! But it’s important to know that even though some popular Easter candies are delicious, they can wreak havoc on your teeth. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common Eastertime treats – which to avoid and which are OK to indulge in a little bit.

Good-for-You Treats

Fruits

Fruits like apples, strawberries and peaches are chock full of sugar, but indulging with some fruit won’t rot your teeth – as long as you remember to brush afterwards. If you have a loose tooth or are prone to chipping your teeth, slice your apple into bite-size pieces before you dive in. And as for the peaches, just remember that the meat of the fruit is nice and soft, but the pit will chip your front teeth if you accidentally bite into it!

Gum

Chewing gum is another common practice, and according to Colgate, it can actually be good for your teeth! As you chew on sugar-free gum, you’re helping to fight cavities. The gum works to remove food particles from the surface of your teeth and also causes your mouth to produce bacteria-killing saliva. So, this Easter, if you spot a pack of sugar-free gum in your basket, help yourself! But as always, don’t overdo it – gum that’s too hard or too sweet can have the opposite effect.

Nuts

If you happen to receive a gift basket or two at Easter time, chances are there will be some yummy nuts included. Nuts like almonds and cashews are full of fiber and vitamins, which can help keep your teeth strong and nourished. Just avoid the candied nuts – those can get stuck in your teeth and allow bacteria to grow and plaque to form!

Treats to Avoid

Sticky Candies

Sticky candies like Tootsie Rolls and Jolly Ranchers may be favorites, but they can wreak havoc on your teeth, so avoid them if you can. They can stick in the crevices of your teeth and allow cavities to form if you don’t clean your teeth properly after eating them. Skip the sticky sweets and keep your teeth in good shape.

Dry Fruits

Even though you’ll be munching on some nuts this Easter, stay away from the dried fruits that often come with them. Dried apricots, raisins and other fruits are tasty, but they are also sticky and sugary. Yep, you guessed it – that means they can also get stuck in your teeth. Noticing a pattern?

Lollipops

Lollipops, suckers and other hard candies should be avoided, too. The longer you suck or chew on something like a lollipop, the longer your teeth are exposed to harmful sugars. You’re basically allowing your mouth to serve as a sugar bathtub, creating the optimal environment for bacteria growth. If you must indulge, be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards and brush your teeth, as well.

This Easter, think about the Easter Bunny and his big, bright buck teeth. It’s not just the carrots that help him keep his teeth looking white and clean – it’s good dental habits! Make sure you and your family take care of your teeth and you’ll have a healthy and happy Easter season.

If you are interested in learning more or need to schedule a dental appointment, please call Norman Dental today at 336-282-2120.

Foods to Avoid at Your Valentine’s Day Dinner

Valentine's Day DinnerA date on Valentine’s Day, whether it’s with someone you’ve been with for a long time or a new love interest, can be a little awkward. There’s tons of pressure for the night to go perfectly, so probably the last thing on your mind is how your dinner choices could affect not only your teeth, but also your breath – all the more important on Valentine’s Day! Not to worry: at Norman Dental, we’ve put together a few recommendations to not only help your date go smoothly, but to protect your pearly whites at the same time!

Hard Candies and Cracked Teeth

One item that you should avoid eating before your date is Valentine’s Day candy. Not only are the sugars and food colors bad for our teeth, but they also tend to give us really bad breath as the sugar serves as fuel for bad-breath bacteria! Stay away from hard candies, especially. While those little candy hearts may be the candy that everyone associates with the holiday, the American Dental Association says to avoid them because the hard chalky treat could actually cause dental emergencies like cracked or broken teeth – not how you want to end your date!

Red Meat and Bad Breath

Men’s Health reports that one of the leading causes of bad breath is red meat. Eating that big, juicy steak is a treat for your palate, but it can also lead to bad bacteria building up in your teeth and gums. This Valentine’s Day, skip the steak entrée and choose something lighter or a vegetarian option instead. Foods like spinach, which is liable to get stuck in your teeth, is actually really good for you. Just make sure you swallow the whole bite before you start talking – your date will thank you later.

Alcohol Consumption and Saliva

The ADA also says on a regular day to avoid drinking too much alcohol, and that’s especially true while on your Valentine’s Day date. High levels of alcohol consumption over time can lead to decreased saliva, which can make your mouth a breeding ground for bad bacteria and could even cause infection. So keep it classy and only have a glass of wine or two – preferably a white. That way you won’t have to worry about stains from the dark red wine.

If you want to come in for a cleaning to make sure your teeth are in tip top shape before your Valentine’s Day date, call us at Norman Dental today at 336-282-2120 and schedule an appointment!

Happy New Year!!! Tips for Caregivers on excellent oral hygiene…

Caregivers are responsible for the oral and overall health of those they care for.  As a caregiver, many questions may come to mind regarding your responsibilities for one’s oral health:

 

How should I go about caring for someone’s mouth and teeth?  What type of dental hygiene routine is best for my loved-one, friend or patient?  What is the proper way to brush and floss teeth?  How often should my dependant see his/her Professional Dental Team?  What types of oral health products should I use that will allow me to provide the best oral care I can?  How do I clean false teeth?

 

Our goal is to help answer these questions and to provide information that you can use to improve your overall practices for excellent dental health, whether it be your own or someone else’s.

 

When the question of how to provide care for someone else’s oral health comes to mind, try to think of how you would care for your own mouth.  Brushing your teeth twice a day (morning/night) and flossing once a day, should come to mind…  When brushing, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride.  Fluoride helps strengthen the outer layer of the teeth to prevent cavities.  You shouldn’t use a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush because the rigid bristles can damage the gums and cause them to recede.  When the toothbrush bristles become ‘wilted or frayed’ in appearance, it’s time to change to a new one.  A good rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush every three months, or whenever you’ve been sick.  Changing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick is extremely important—the bristles can harbor bacteria and prolong your illness.  Always use a light, but firm pressure when brushing.  For instance, imagine that you are brushing a ripe tomato and don’t want to bruise it.  These use and maintenance tips also apply to those who use electric toothbrushes.

 

It can be more difficult flossing someone else’s then than flossing your own, but the principles are the same.  To properly floss, take a piece of floss approximately           18-inches long and wrap it around your middle fingers.  Use your index fingers and thumbs to guide the floss between the teeth.  Once the floss is in between two adjacent teeth, be sure to adapt the floss to each tooth, forming the floss into a ‘C’ shape.  Gently slide the floss below the gumline, adapt to the adjacent tooth and do the same.  There are several flossers or floss picks on the market that can help assist with this motion.  The concept remains the same…you must adapt the floss to each tooth!

proper-flossing-technique

 

Ideally, everyone should see their dentist every six months and in some cases, more frequently.  Your dentist and dental hygienist work together at these visits to assess the health of your gums and teeth.  The dental team will determine the proper visit interval to ensure that an excellent level of health is maintained in your mouth.  Aside from assessing the health of your mouth and having a professional cleaning, the doctor will also perform an oral cancer screening at your regular visit.  The members of your dental team are the only health care professionals that look into your mouth on a regular basis.  It is imperative for them to establish a baseline of what your mouth looks like and record the presence of any abnormalities.  Regular oral cancer screens ensure your mouth is examined for cancer on a consistent basis and the necessary precautions and/or treatments are performed in the event an abnormality is found.

 

dentist

The following are important points when caring for those with false teeth or dentures:  Make sure the dentures are taken out every night before sleeping.  Your gums need to breathe!  Keeping the dentures in place all day and night can cause the gum tissue to become red and irritated.  Irritated gum tissue can cause discomfort when wearing the dentures.  Constant wearing of dentures can also cause oral infections.  When cleaning dentures, be sure to brush them as you would your own teeth.  Use a denture brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush and denture cleaner—you may also use an antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing liquid.  When the dentures are out of the mouth, they can be soaked in a denture cleanser or water, to help avoid drying and potentially losing their form.  Before replacing the dentures in the mouth, gently brush the gums and tongue to stimulate circulation and remove any plaque debris that may be present.

acrylic_dentures_1

 

Remember that your Professional Dental Team is here to help you.  If you need any assistance or have any questions about caring for your loved ones, don’t hesitate to contact them.  As a caregiver, be sure to remember what is necessary to care for one’s oral health: brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, daily flossing, eating well-balanced meals, and visiting your Dentist regularly.

 

Having a Happy Holiday: Foods to Avoid this Festive Season

TeethThe holidays are a time for indulging a bit in delicious treats, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of your teeth! Here at Norman Dental, we believe that everything in moderation is OK, as long as you’re getting your regular cleanings and checkups at your dentist. But if you want to go the extra mile this season to protect your pearly whites, here are some foods to avoid this festive season.

Candy Canes

If you’re going to enjoy a candy cane, make sure not to bite into it. Hard candies like candy canes are full of bad-for-your-teeth sugar – and have been known to cause a lot of chipped teeth! Avoid these treats, if possible, but if you must indulge, try melting one into your tea or cocoa instead.

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is a nutritious side dish, but eating it can be a bit dangerous. People are likely to crack fillings or loosen sealants, and corn on the cob can cause serious damage to orthodontia. If you can, slice the corn off of the cob with a sharp knife, so you can enjoy the delicious treat without the dental risk.

Dried Fruit and Taffy

Dried fruits are a yummy holiday snack, but they can get stuck in your teeth. These kinds of foods can get lodged in the crevices of your teeth where they can allow bacteria to grow and thrive on sugars. In turn, this can increase your risk of developing cavities. We suggest sticking to peanuts instead!

Coffee and Soda

During the holiday season, it can be easy to overindulge in things like coffee, soda and even red wine. Just remember: these dark liquids can wreak havoc on your teeth, even causing them to appear stained or yellow. If you’re a coffee or soda lover, make sure to only have a cup in moderation. You should also brush your teeth afterwards, but wait at least 15 minutes after finishing your drink before you brush. Acidic drinks like sodas, energy drinks and coffee can actually weaken tooth enamel for a short period, which means that brushing could cause additional damage to your teeth.

For more tips to keep your pearly whites safe during the holidays, or to schedule an appointment for tooth whitening before heading off to see family, call Norman Dental today at 336-282-2120.

 

Holiday Reminders from Norman Dental!!

Just Some Reminders…

 

The year has flown by, and the holidays will be here before we know it!  With our schedules changing due to get-together’s, family coming into town, or work outings, we wanted to mention a few things that tend to get neglected this time of year!

 

Don’t forget to brush!  Sometimes with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to fall into bed before doing your oral hygiene regimen at night!  We get so exhausted, it’s easy to forget.  Try to continue your brushing and flossing habit throughout the holidays, even if you’re getting to bed later, have company at your house, or travelling more.

 

 

brushing

 

There have been speculations that cranberries have properties that help prevent tooth decay.  As it has been shown that the pigmentation in cranberries help prevent plaque formation on your teeth, which in turn helps prevent cavities, just keep in mind that cranberries are acidic and cranberry juice is typically full of sugar—both of which can tend to cause tooth decay!  So again, remember your brushing and flossing techniques after having cranberries, or juice.

 

cranberries

Keep your regular dental visits!  During the holidays, we tend to ignore our diets a bit—eat more desserts, have a nightcap with friends or family—so it’s crucial to remain on your routine dental visits.

 

With the holidays approaching, it’s always good to have reminders, even for the simple things!

Don’t Get Tricked: Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth

With autumn comes the increased consumption of sugary treats and drinks, as the stores fill their shelves with our favorite fall candies and flavors (pumpkin spice, anyone?). While enjoying caramel apple lollipops all day and eating candy corn by the spoonful like cereal sounds like a tasty idea, it’s a terrible idea for your health and especially your teeth!

Halloween brings us even more candy, especially with trick-or-treating and other fall festivals and activities. Of course you want to indulge in a bit of candy to celebrate the season, but how can you do so while protecting your teeth?

Don’t get tricked. Let’s take a look at the top three worst types of Halloween candies for your teeth and some better alternatives.

Sour CandiesSour Candies

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, sour candy is highly acidic and breaks down tooth enamel quickly. Enamel plays an important role for your teeth, protecting them during their day-to-day use like chewing, biting, crunching and grinding. Enamel also insulates teeth from potentially painful temperatures and chemicals. When enamel erodes, your teeth become more prone to cavities and tooth decay.

The AGD also mentions that saliva helps to restore the natural balance of acid in your mouth, but you need to wait at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth after consuming sour candies. If you don’t, brushing will only help spread the acid around your mouth, exposing more teeth to risk.

Sticky Candies

An article on Parenting magazine’s website lists taffy and candies filled with caramel, coconut or nuts as the worst kinds of candy for your teeth. These chewy, sticky candies stick in the grooves of your teeth, and the longer the sweet stays there, the longer bacteria feeds on it. This leads to the cavity-causing acids that adults and kids alike should avoid.

Avoid sticky, chewy candies this Halloween season, especially candies containing caramel, and your teeth (and dentist) will appreciate the gesture.

Hard Candies

Lollipops, jawbreakers and other hard candies rank among the worst candies for your teeth. Hard candies require you to suck on the sweet for an extended period of time while it dissolves, providing a steady flow of sugar for oral bacteria to feed and thrive. The bacteria then create acids that destroy tooth enamel, leading to cavities.

So, maybe instead of sucking on the candy, you choose to bite it – however, this also causes issues. Especially in the case of the rock-hard jawbreakers, biting on hard candies can crack or chip your teeth. The only way around it? Forgo the hard candies this fall.

So, What Sweets to Eat?

Avoiding sour, sticky and sugary hard candies will likely be a challenge, but there are other tooth-friendly candies available to help you enjoy your Halloween.

If you must have a lollipop or other hard candy, find something sugar-free. This can help to stimulate saliva, which helps you avoid dry mouth. Dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, increasing your risk for cavities, but sugar-free candies won’t help encourage bacteria growth. Another great option? Sugar-free gum. You can prevent cavities with this treat by dislodging food particles from your teeth and increasing saliva to neutralize your mouth acids.

If you need your chocolate fix, choose a solid chocolate with no sticky centers. Dark chocolate is an especially good option, as this kind is filled with antioxidants that are potentially good for the heart.

Keep your smile intact by choosing smart candies to indulge on this Halloween season! And don’t forget to trick-or-treat your teeth by scheduling your next appointment with Norman Dental today by calling 336-282-2120.

Flossing Unproven? We Disagree!

The dental industry was rocked recently when a story published by The Associated Press announced findings that flossing may not be as good for our teeth as we may have previously thought.

Pretty surprising, isn’t it? It surprised us, too.

In the piece, the AP reported that the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture failed to provide them with evidence that flossing has any significant benefits for our teeth, even though we have been told – and we have been telling you – for decades that daily flossing is essential to our dental health.

FlossingStill, even though there is little evidence that proves that daily flossing can save us from the most extreme of mouth diseases, many dentists, including those from the National Institutes of Health admit that flossing can still be beneficial to our health.

And their words remain fact.

Flossing may not be glamorous, but it does offer plenty of benefits. As a matter of fact, numerous other studies prove that regular flossing can assist in reducing gum inflammation and can also result in a significant decrease in gingival bleeding.

If avoiding these undesirable situations isn’t enough, just think logically about how flossing can release all those morsels of food between your teeth. Without even discussing the benefits of removing those leftovers – which, if left in your mouth can help foster bacteria growth – just think about how much better you feel when you have clean, flossed teeth.

It is also important to remove the food between your teeth because this practice can help you to avoid problems like halitosis or bad breath. Plus, having gunk between your gumline and your teeth can result in many other periodontal diseases.

Long story short: don’t throw that dental floss out just yet. Despite these reports, most dentists – including us here at Norman Dental – still heavily recommend daily flossing as part of your regular oral hygiene routine. Flossing is an easy and inexpensive process, and even if it offers less significant benefits than previously thought, isn’t it worthwhile to do everything you can to keep your teeth and your mouth healthy?

At Norman Dental, we promote good dental health in all of its incarnations. If you are unsure what your specific dental issues may be, are in need of a routine cleaning and checkup, or you are just looking for advice, give our office a call at 336-282-2120 today.

Prophy vs. Periodontal Maintenance

Prophy vs Perio Maintenance

Dr. Matthew Norman and Michelle Phillips, RDH

One of the most common questions that we are asked by our patients is, “what’s the difference between a prophy and a periodontal maintenance”?  We want to address that question in this edition of our blog.

Gingivitis

When you have your comprehensive or new patient exam at Norman Dental, the doctor and your hygienist will perform a thorough evaluation of your gums to determine which type of cleaning best suits you.  The doctor or hygienist will measure a space between your gum and the tooth, which is known as a “pocket”.  A healthy pocket depth is 1-3 millimeters.  Areas that are observed to have pocket depths deeper than 3 millimeters may need to be cleaned more thoroughly than healthy areas.  Your dental team will also be looking for areas that bleed while taking these measurements, as a healthy pocket does not bleed.  Bleeding indicates the presence of inflammation, which is usually caused by bacteria located within the pocket.  Inflammation in the gum tissue can cause bone loss around the teeth.  This information is how your dental team determines whether a prophy or periodontal maintenance procedure best suits you.  We will discuss each procedure in more detail below.
A prophylaxis, or prophy, is a dental cleaning on a healthy mouth.  healthy tissueThe insurance code specifies this procedure to involve the scaling and polishing of all coronal surfaces (the crown of the tooth).  Therefore, no scaling or cleaning occurs below the gum tissue.  Scaling is followed up with polishing to remove the fine debris and stain from the teeth. A typical “prophy” patient comes every 6 months for their professional hygiene appointment.

 

A periodontal maintenance consists of a more involved “cleaning”.  The hygienist starts by using a Cavitron or ultrasonic scaler.  The ultrasonic scaler is designed to clean below the gums and to break away heavy calculus/tartar that accumulates on the root surface of the tooth.  Microscopic vibrations from the scaler loosen the hard deposits away from the tooth and the water flushes the debris away.  This process also forces oxygen into deeper pockets.  This is heunhealthy mouthlpful because much of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease is anaerobic, meaning it needs an environment without oxygen to survive and grow.  When the ultrasonic scaler introduces oxygen into the gum pockets, it kills the bacteria present.  Next, the teeth are hand scaled and polished to remove fine deposits below and above the gum line.  Finally, the hygienist will irrigate the deeper pockets with an antibiotic rinse to kill any residual bacteria present.  Typically, when you have been classified as a patient needing a periodontal maintenance procedure, your status usually never changes.  This is because bone loss around the teeth is irreversible, and the presence of bone loss causes the periodontal health to be compromised.  A typical “periodontal” patient comes every 3 or 4 months for their professional hygiene appointment.

 

periodontitis

Whether it is a standard prophy or a periodontal maintenance procedure that best suits your individual need, your Norman Dental team will work with you to endure your teeth and gums stay healthy for a long time to come!

Children’s Dental Health

Children’s Dental Health

Matthew Norman, DDS and Michelle Phillips, RDH

 

February is Children’s Dental Health Month.  It is important for both parents and children to value the care of the child’s teeth from the beginning.  Good oral home care begins very early on, even before the first tooth comes in.

 

Your child’s first dental visit should occur by the time they have their first birthday.  The primary reason for a visit to the dentist at this young age is to assess the child’s mouth for possible abnormalities and to check for the presence of any erupted baby teeth.  Most importantly, this visit provides the parent with an opportunity to answer any questions they may have regarding caring for their child’s mouth and teeth.

 

While your child is an infant, you will want to wet a washcloth and rub it along the baby’s gums to keep their mouth clean. Your child’s first dental cleaning is typically around age 3.

 

Caring for your child’s teeth is no different than your caring for Fluorideyour own.  They should brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day.  Keep in mind that children do not have the manual dexterity to effectively clean their teeth on their own, and will need your help.  A child should not brush alone until the age of 7 and floss alone until the age of 9.  And when applying toothpaste, simply use a “pea” sized amount to ensure they are getting a healthy amount of fluoride.

 

After a child begins to get his/her teeth, be sure to use a fluoride-free toothpaste until they can effectively spit the toothpaste out, generally at age 3-4.  Once a child can successfully spit out toothpaste, it is important to provide them with one that does contain fluoride.   Fluoride is very beneficial to your child’s dental health.  There are two types of fluoride: systemic and topical.  The fluoride found in the toothpaste, or fluoride treatments at the dental office are considered topical – this only helps strengthen the teeth that are currently present in the mouth.  Systemic fluoride, such as that found in city water or fluoride tablets/drops, is ingested into the body and helps to strengthen the permanent teeth that are currently developing underneath the gums.  Both types of fluoride are very beneficial and needed for optimum dental health.

 

Around the age of 6, children begin erupting their permanent teeth.  The first teeth that typically erupt are the permanent first molars in the back of the jaw and the two middle front teeth. The permanent first molar teeth are typically referred to as the 6-Tooth-Sealantsyear molars, because of the age they commonly erupt.  Once these permanent molars fully erupt, we may discuss placing dental sealants.  A dental sealant is a completely non-invasive procedure that helps further protect these molars from developing cavities (see Example above).  Naturally, these permanent molars have deep pits and grooves and are a common place for tooth decay to occur.   The dental sealant liquid is placed into the grooves of the tooth and hardened it with a curing light.  After the sealant is hardened, it is bonded to the tooth and provides a smooth surface across the top of the tooth to help prevent cavities.

 

Below is a tooth eruption chart with the approximate age that babies with begin to get their primary teeth, as well as the estimated age in which they will lose the baby tooth and begin to erupt the permanent teeth.

eruption chart

If you have a child in need of a dentist, or have any dental-related questions about your child, feel free to call Norman Dental at 336-282-2120.

Red Wine. Healthy Heart, Healthy Teeth

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According to a new study appearing in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, red wine as well as grape seed extract could potentially help fight off cavities.

Cavities are a widespread problem that affects about 60-90 percent of the global population. As it affects the large majority of the global population, researchers and medical practitioners around the world are looking for any type of technique to help stop the growing problem. As the linkage between oral health and systematic health grows closer and closer, researchers believe we are moments away from a poor health outbreak in almost every country of the world. News that should shock a majority.

As health issues rise, researchers turned to an unlikely source for help. A study was conducted in which scientists dipped certain biofilms responsible for dental diseases in a couple of different liquids. Red wine with and without alcohol both being included in the study, the data suggested that red wines with or without the alcohol and liquids containing grape seed extract were the most effective in getting rid of that bacteria.

Red wine among other alcohols have raised concerns in the past pertaining to and individual’s health, however red wine has also been linked to raising a healthy heart. Oddly enough, this links to oral health, as those who have a healthier mouth have less risk of any type of cardiovascular disease.

Be sure to keep your teeth and gums healthy to avoid tooth decay, periodontal disease and heart issues. Make an appointment today for a check up with Norman Dental at 336-282-2120.