Scary and Not-So-Scary Halloween Treats: A Dental Perspective

It’s that time of year again, where goblins and ghosts haunt your streets in search of a tasty morsel or two. It’s the time of year that children love and dentists despise due to the vast amounts of sugary Halloween treats. Most kids hurry home and, after a thorough checking of their candy by an adult, dive into their sugary treats with complete disregard for their dental hygiene. After all, who’s going to stop and think about brushing and flossing at a time like this? This is Halloween, for Pete’s sake! It only comes once a year!

We parents can work together to make Halloween fun and not so devastating to your kid’s dental health. By choosing dental-friendly Halloween treats to pass out, both kids and parents can look forward to some Halloween shenanigans. Here we go over some of the healthier snacks and treats to give to your trick-or-treaters.

Not-So-Scary Treats

Most dentists will agree that it’s best to stay away from sugary treats all-together, however, they do understand that kids will be kids, so they have some healthier options to offer kids. Chocolate treats that don’t have sticky fillings are a good option. Sugar-free gum or cookies that won’t stick to kid’s teeth are good as well. Look for cookies that are soft and not filled. You could also choose to give away pretzels or goldfish crackers that are nutritious and not loaded with sugar. Pencils, stickers, notepads, bouncy balls, or yo-yos are also fun options that won’t damage their pearly whites.

Super-Scary Treats

As a general rule, anything sticky is horrible for your teeth. This includes anything gummy, taffy, caramels, or sugary nuts or coconut. Hard candies like Jolly Ranchers or suckers fall into the super-scary treat category as well, especially the suckers with the bubble gum or tootsie roll fillings. These are especially bad because your child’s teeth are exposed to the sugar for a longer time period as the candy dissolves. What’s more, if your child bites down on hard candies they could quite possibly chip or crack a tooth.

Candies such as Sour Patch Kids or any other highly acidic candy should be avoided at all cost. This acid can damage the tooth enamel and also feeds damaging bacteria in your child’s mouth.

If your child wears braces, you need to be especially careful about the types of treats your orthodontist approves of. Foods like gum, popcorn or other soft candies can become trapped in your child’s braces and either damage their braces or their teeth, and in some cases both.

Best Options for Dental Health

As we mentioned earlier, you can bypass the candy option all together and choose to hand out treats that are still fun but not edible. Rubber spiders, tattoos, raisins, crayons and mini-coloring or puzzle books are all great options, especially for kids with braces. And the best part of these types of treats is you don’t have to check them for tampering. They are safe as is.

If you have any questions or concerns about your family’s dental care, give Dr. Mott a call. We can schedule a cleaning or checkup for you and answer any questions you may have.

Image courtesy of tifotter, flickr.com creative commons.

 

 

cavities

These 5 Factors Can Put You at a Higher Risk for Cavities

Cavities are areas of a tooth that have decayed because of the work of certain bacteria in the mouth. Although tooth decay is commonly associated with eating sugary foods, there are other conditions that can increase the possibility of tooth decay. Here are five important factors that can put you at a greater risk of having cavities.

1. Oral Bacteria

Generally, cavities occur when certain strains of bacteria accumulate on your tooth and feed on remnants of the sugar and carbohydrates that you eat. This process creates acids which react with the calcium-based enamel covering of the teeth and create porous areas which eventually become cavities. The volume of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth is one of most prominent factors that determines how fast you can develop cavities in your teeth.

2. Your Diet

The bacteria that cause cavities feed on sugar or carbohydrates to stay alive and multiply. Similarly, acidic foods and drinks can react with the calcium in the enamel and erode it. Increasing the level of acidity in the mouth can also make it more difficult for the saliva to restore the pH balance in the mouth. Reducing the consumption of sweets, chocolates and other sugary foods that leave residues on the teeth as well as acidic drinks can help to control the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.

3. The Level of Dental Hygiene

Brushing your teeth correctly early in the morning and just before going to bed would reduce the risk of having cavities. Brushing and flossing dislodges trapped food particles and the plaque developed by oral bacteria. When plaque is not removed by proper brushing it can form a much harder and thicker substance called tartar. Removing tartar usually requires the help of a dentist. In addition, it is important to change your toothbrush regularly and use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Dentists recommend that you change out your toothbrush at least once every three months.

4. Dryness in the Mouth

A dry mouth can make the mouth cavity more acidic and promote tooth decay. Dryness in the mouth is frequently caused by inadequate flow of saliva. It may also be due to the use of medications and chemotherapy. However, when the saliva in the mouth is adequate, the minerals in it can neutralize the effect of excess acidity and even help to rebuild the enamel. To reduce dryness in the mouth, you should drink more water or use a mouth rinse with enamel-fortifying ingredients.

Dr. Chris A Mott

Dr. Chris A Mott

5. The Shape of Your Teeth

In many cases, tooth decay and cavities develop more in the large teeth at the back of the mouth. The premolars and molars are more prone to decay because of the tiny irregularities on their biting surface. These areas normally trap sugar, fiber and leftover food that serves as nutrition for bacteria. That is why it is very important to spend more time brushing the biting surface using a toothbrush with medium-hard bristles. However, the size of the fissures on these teeth differ based on genetics.

These are some of the most critical factors that increase the possibility of developing cavities and tooth decay. With proper dental care, you can reduce the impact of these risk factors and keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.

If you have any questions or concerns about your children’s teeth or are wondering whether or not you or your children may be more prone to cavities, give Dr. Mott a call. We can schedule a cleaning or checkup for you and answer any questions you may have.

Fun Foods That Are Great for Your Kid’s Teeth

Good nutrition is important to a child’s health, but that includes their teeth too! Kids are constantly growing and developing, and so are their teeth, which is why they require foods from each food group.

The question is, exactly what kinds of foods are best? Here are the foods that will help keep your child’s dental health in tip-top shape.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats

For optimum health, it is suggested that carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are included in every meal, but balance is key.

Normally, a child’s diet has a higher concentration of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain starches and sugars. Some are harmful, and some are essential. The complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and fruits are more beneficial, while the starchy carbohydrates in pasta and bread can be more problematic if consumed in large quantities.

Dairy

If your child is not lactose intolerant, try adding some yogurt, cheese, and milk to the menu. Foods rich in calcium are believed to help tooth strength and brightness. These foods are also great for promoting strong bones, which is super important, especially when it comes to growing children.

Lean proteins and nuts

The phosphorus found in certain protein-rich foods can prove helpful in restoring minerals to your kid’s teeth, which in turn protects the enamel. Protein is also the building block of muscle, and who doesn’t want to have strong muscles? Remember, the heart is a muscle too!

Fruits low in acid

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and that includes the dentist! The crunchiness of the fruit helps work your kid’s teeth as he or she chews, and the water content acts as a buffer that protects the teeth from acid. Chewing on fruits can also help work other food particles out from between teeth.

Water

Water is often overlooked, but it’s so important to your child’s health. No soda, energy drink, juice, or fortified water is better than plain old water. Most people do not get enough good, pure, wholesome water into their bodies to promote good health.

Water is a natural lubricant and cleanser. It is a necessary catalyst for the essential metabolism of the body, and it’s a cleansing agent that flushes waste and toxic materials from the cells in the body.

Water hydrates the body and is perhaps the best liquid to drink for maintaining a kid’s teeth. If your child enjoys soda, juice, or other drinks, try to limit their consumption and replace those sugary drinks with water instead.

There’s no substitute for regular brushing

All types of foods and snacks have the ability to cause dental cavities. Cookies, candy, pastries, and cake get the most attention when cavity-producing foods are discussed. Yet, fruits, milk, peanut butter, pretzels, chips, and juices can be equally detrimental. Regulating your child’s eating habits, along with promoting regular brushing habits, is the best way to support your child’s dental health.

Prevention is key

If no action is taken to maintain proper dental health, acid can attack the tooth enamel, allowing tooth decay to penetrate into the soft tissue inside the tooth. If the decay is not treated in its early stages, it will progress to the tooth pulp, a soft tissue containing nerves, arteries, veins, and lymph vessels. Eventually, an abscess will begin to form at the root, and without endodontic (root canal) treatment, the tooth will be lost. Proper nutrition can spare your child the pain and agony of premature tooth loss and dental disease. Prevention is key.

If you have any questions or concerns about your family’s dental health, give Dr. Mott a call. We can schedule a checkup for your child and answer any questions you may have about the best foods to feed your family for optimal dental health.

child getting a dental checkup

Dental Tool Is Helping Uncover Cavities Sooner Than Ever

For the sweet tooths, occasional snackers, and soda hounds alike, cavities are the most widespread and immediate consequence of those irresistible, sugar-caked vices. Even the most tempered can run into cavities occasionally. In accordance to the World Health Organization, a huge 60 – 90% estimated of worldwide school children have had cavities, and every single adult on the planet has had at least one as well. As a result, taking up preventive measures against cavities could save a lot of time and toothache for a lot of people. With up and coming technology developed by Toronto’s York University researchers, cavities can be detected far earlier than other conventional methods with infrared inspection, allowing for much quicker and smoother treatment.

Present methods utilizing X-rays and visual inspections rely heavily on the advanced stages cavities create, scanning in particular for tell-tale grooves and marks. However, the infrared method can detect cavity-causing lesions eight days before any actual visual cues develop, saving the hassle of drilling out decay and filling in the cavity. To find the cavity so early, dentists use a simple laser system and a low-cost, low-intensity infrared camera to beam specific wavelengths of the infrared spectrum into the mouth of the patient. The absorption of these precise wavelengths are what allow dentists to find these lesions without relying on visual cues.
More importantly to consumers, the proposed implementation of this new technology will allow for not only faster detection at the dentist office, but also faster detection using iOS and Android mobile devices. Commercially available thermal detection imaging attachments can reveal cavities to in-home users, saving the hassle of showing up to a screening completely and allowing patients to receive treatment immediately.

Cavities themselves occur from periods of tooth decay, which is damage resulting from acid eating away at the enamel of the tooth. Tooth decay can dig further past the enamel into the layer called the dentin, and if the acid reaches a ways past the dentin toward the center of the tooth, or the pulp, chronic pain and permanent tooth damage is sure to result.
Until this new infrared technology is readily available to consumers, a trustworthy, experienced dentist is the most effective way to find and treat cavities before they become a problem. Dr. Mott brings more than twenty-five years of experience and expertise to the table, proving why he is the most recognized Shreveport Dentist. Flexible, efficient, and precise, his patients always know they are in good hands.

The last thing people should do with a cavity is wait. Contact Dr. Mott today!

What You Don’t Know About Gummy Vitamins Can Hurt You

With modern day parenting, it’s hard to ensure that your children get a healthy, nutritious meal. Parents are super busy with work, chores, errands and caring for the kids, making it almost impossible to have a home cooked meal most nights of the week. As a result, parents sometimes rely on prepackaged foods or fast food, which is not always a healthy option. The kids don’t seem to mind, but you know they could be eating better.

As a parent you are left wondering, how do I give my children the nutrients they need when I am unable to cook a healthy and nutritious meal for them? Many parents have opted to give their children supplements such as vitamins. Since most children do not like swallowing tablets, the most common children’s vitamins are gummy vitamins. Unfortunately, they have a number of drawbacks. These vitamins may give your children the nutrients they are lacking from their diet but they are not the best option for good oral health.

High Sugar Content

Gummy vitamins are packed with more sugar than chewable vitamins or even the multivitamin you swallow. Compared to standard multivitamins, gummy vitamins have 7 times more sugar. It’s no secret that the sweetness and flavoring are meant to make them palatable. If your goal is to have your kids eat sugar-free or low sugar foods, then this definitely not the best option for you.

Today’s children tend to lead more sedentary lives than previous generations. With the dawn of the internet and video games, kids just aren’t getting outside and exercising like they used to. With childhood obesity on the rise, parents need to be more mindful than ever about the amount of sugar and calories their child’s diet contains. Sugary gummy vitamins are some of the worst offenders.

The Sticky Truth

Though gummy vitamins have a higher sugar content compared to other vitamins, it’s not as high as most of the gummy snacks children normally eat. This might tempt some parents to dismiss the sugar content in gummy vitamins and keep buying them out of sheer convenience. Before you do that, here’s something else you need to know.

Gummy vitamins have a sticky consistency which makes them stick in teeth longer than standard chewable vitamins. It can stick for a whole day and could possibly cause cavities. The sugar sits between the child’s teeth till the child brushes their teeth. Even then, it’s impossible to know if your child has sufficiently removed all of the sticky matter from their teeth. If this happens for weeks or even months, it can lead to cavities.

Healthier, Better Alternatives

Although vitamins are a good supplement for children and adults, gummy vitamins are not the best choice. If you need chewable vitamins, choose powdery instead of sticky ones. Once your children are comfortable with swallowing pills, switch to supplements they can easily swallow and save yourself from the constant worry about them getting cavities. Your children may not like the less sugary chewable vitamin tablets, but you need to remember that it is a much healthier choice. A small amount of drinking water is enough to remove the powder left in your child’s mouth after chewing the pill. To create a routine, give the children the chewable vitamin at the same time every day.

Proper Tooth Care

Choosing the right vitamin is the first step towards proper dental care. You should also find a good dentist, like Dr. Mott,  and have your children get a check-up once in every 6 months. Ensure that your children floss and brush their teeth twice daily. They should brush their top teeth for a minute and the same should follow for the bottom.

If you absolutely can’t do away with gummies, then ensure that you give your children their vitamin just before they brush their teeth. Avoiding the negative side of these vitamins will go a long way in keeping your family’s smiles bright.

If you have any questions or concerns about your family’s dental care, give Dr. Mott a call. We can schedule a cleaning or checkup for you and answer any questions you may have.