Teeth Nutrition

Creating A Nutritional Plan To Protect Your Teeth

Your diet is a crucial part of your dental care plan that often gets overlooked. In general, people do a good job about brushing their teeth on a regular basis, but if we can be more cognizant of how our diet affects our mouth, we can better care for our teeth between brushes. Below, we take a closer look at how certain foods can affect our teeth, and how to protect your teeth with a well-rounded nutritional plan.

Your Diet and Your Teeth

What we eat first has to pass our teeth and gums, and certain foods can do more damage than others. For example, sugary foods, even fruits with natural sugars like apples and oranges, can cause problems with your teeth and gums. Also, since these foods have higher acid concentrations, they can also wear down your tooth enamel.

Now, that’s not to say that you should avoid sweet fruits because Vitamin C is beneficial for healthy teeth, but you just have to be smart about eating these options. For example, if you’re going to eat fruit, consider eating it alongside other foods so that the sugar and acid gets worked off your teeth by these other foods. Also, regardless of whether you’re snacking on fruit or having it alongside a main course, drink plenty of water to wash away sugars that may have been left behind.

What other things should you consider when creating a nutritional plan that will protect your teeth? Here are some quick tips:

  • Avoid sugary sodas and juices. Instead, opt for water that has been fortified with fluoride.
  • Limit the amount of natural and added sugars you consume on a daily basis, as extra sugar can contribute to the onset of cavities.
  • Sticky options, like fruit snacks or raisins, should be avoided on their own, as they have a propensity to stick to your teeth, and stuck on sugars can wear down teeth even faster.
  • Get plenty of vegetables, fruits, and dairy in your diet, as these can all strengthen your dental health.
  • Even if you can’t feel food particles between your teeth, consider flossing at least once a day, although twice a day after eating is even better!
  • Set a good example for your kids. If you choose healthy dental options, they are more likely to follow suit, which will help their mouth stay healthy.
  • Brush your teeth before breakfast, and brush again after dinner for at least two minutes each time to help keep your teeth protected throughout the day and night.

Preventive Dental Care in MN

Having good oral health isn’t just about brushing, it also involves your daily diet. If you still have questions on how to make your dental health a priority when making nutritional choices, or if you want to run something by Dr. Brooks, don’t hesitate to reach out to his office for more information today!

Teeth Genetics

Are Bad Teeth Genetic?

Your parents may have played a role in your hair color or skin tone, but can you thank them or blame them for the health of your teeth? Yes and no. While genetics do play a role in some dental conditions, most times how we care for our mouth is a much bigger factor than genetics. We take a closer role at how some dental conditions can be brought on by unlucky genes, and how to best care for your mouth no matter what type of family dental history you have.

Dental Conditions Caused By Genetics

Here’s a look at a few dental conditions that can have hereditary causes:

  1. Gum Disease – Roughly 30 percent of the population may be genetically predisposed to gum disease. If you know that periodontal gum disease runs in your family, bring it up to your dentist.
  2. Tooth Decay – According to dental experts, certain variations of the gene beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) have been linked to a greater risk of developing cavities in your adult teeth. Again, it’s helpful to bring this to the attention of your dentist.
  3. Oral Cancer – If you have a family history of oral cancer, you may be at an increased risk for developing cancer as well. That being said, tobacco use is a much bigger risk factor for eventual cancer onset than family history.
  4. The Need For Braces – Finally, your need for braces may be caused by your ancestors. Genetics play a role in the size of your jaw, which in turn can lead to things like tooth crowding, overbites and underbites.

Protecting Your Teeth Is Key

No matter whether your family has never had a cavity or if they all had braces growing up, it is very important to practice good oral hygiene, have a healthy diet and avoid activities like smoking or excessive alcohol use that can contribute to oral issues. We’ve found that one thing that families can ensure they pass down to one another is a good dental hygiene routine. This means having your kids regularly brush their teeth at an early age, flossing daily and avoiding excessive amounts of sugary drinks that can contribute to tooth decay.

If you start your child with a good dental hygiene program early in life, they will be more likely to continue to care for their teeth on their own. Also, be sure to talk to them about the dangers of smoking and chewing tobacco, as these can stain teeth, contribute to gum disease and even lead to the onset of cancer.

You may not have won the genetic lottery, but when it comes to your teeth, that really doesn’t matter, because a good oral hygiene plan is much more important than your genetics. Be sure to care for your teeth every day and pass on good oral health habits to your kids so your family can have great teeth for generations to come! For more information about genetics and your teeth, reach out to Dr. Brooks today.

Electric Toothbrush

Does An Electric Toothbrush Work Better Than A Manual?

Electric toothbrushes have grown in popularity in recent years, but many people wonder if they actually do a better job cleaning their teeth than a standard hand-held toothbrush. So which one should you choose for your mouth? We answer that question and more in today’s blog.

Benefits and Drawbacks

An electric toothbrush does offer a couple distinct advantages over a manual toothbrush, but it also has some drawbacks. For starters, electric toothbrushes may be a good option for older adults who have trouble reaching all surfaces of their teeth, or who have a condition like arthritis that can make twisting and turning your wrist painful. Electric toothbrushes can also be beneficial for children, who may find the electric option a little more exciting than the standard toothbrush. If it encourages them to brush more frequently and more thoroughly, then it may be worth the investment.

On the flip side, electric toothbrushes also have some drawbacks. For starters, they need a power source in order to function, so if you’re going on a trip and your forget your charger or batteries, you may be reduced the a handheld option. Secondly, electric options are typically much more expensive than a standard toothbrush, easily running ten times the price of a regular toothbrush, and they are even more expensive in comparison if you get your toothbrush free from the dentist after a visit!

Electric Vs. Manual Toothbrush

But now to answer the question that’s the focus of the blog, do electric toothbrushes clean better than manual brushing options? The answer is no.

Standard toothbrushes clean just as well as electric options so long as the brusher takes two minutes to really clean every surface of their teeth. It’s is much more important to practice good brushing habits than to choose one type of toothbrush over the other. However, as we mentioned above, some people may find other benefits of one specific type of toothbrush, so either option works fine if you commit to a good dental hygiene plan.

For more information on the differences between an electrical and manual toothbrush option, or to lean more about developing a good dental hygiene plan, reach out to Dr. Brooks office today.

Teeth Friendly Snacks

4 Tips For Teeth-Friendly Snacking

Whether you’re trying to fix a snack for your children or for yourself, odds are you try to find something that’s at least somewhat healthy. Junk food and sugary sweets taste good, but they can also contribute to problems like diabetes and obesity. Aside from those health conditions, sugary snacks can also wreak havoc on your teeth. Below, we share four tips for making teeth-conscious decisions when it comes to snacking.

Limit Added Sugar

Some snack foods like milk, apples and oranges have natural sugars, and while keeping an eye on these natural sugars is crucial, the most important ingredient to watch is the added sugars. Examples of added sugar include sweeteners like corn syrup and white sugar, and the US Food and Drug Administration recommends that people over the age of three should have no more than 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s roughly the same amount of added sugar as in one can of soda. However, the World Health Organization only recommends 6 tsp. of added sugar for adults, and 3 tsp. for children. Added sugars can break down tooth enamel and contribute to cavities.

Regulate Juice and Soda

You probably know that sodas, even diet options, aren’t something you want to make a habit of drinking, but a lot of people have misconceptions about juice. Juice is high in both calories and sugar, so reach for the water and milk when possible. Children between the ages of 1-6 should only have 4-6 oz of juice a day, and regularly consuming juice puts your child at higher risk of tooth decay and cavity-causing bacteria.

Skip The Sticky Fruit Snacks

Just because the snack has fruit in the name, doesn’t mean it’s a great option for your child’s teeth. Fruit snacks and fruit roll ups are more candy than fruit, and because they can stick to your teeth, they can cause more damage than sugary drinks, which are easier to wash away. Even dried options like raisins can be problematic for their tendency to stick to teeth and cause damage for an extended period of time. Real fruit is preferred to artificial fruit products or sticky fruits.

Be A Good Example

Finally, getting your kids to snack on healthy options will be easier if they have a role model to look up to. If you’re chowing down Chex Mix or munching on M&M’s, your kids are going to want to do the same. Instead, see if they want to share an apple, or help them peel a clementine. Pair healthy snacking habits with a good dental care routine by showing your kids how you brush your teeth and floss on a daily basis!

Dental Insurance

Getting The Most Out Of Dental Benefits Plans

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a perfect understanding of your dental benefits or how to maximize your hard-earned dollars when it comes to paying for dental bills. Only 2.8 percent of individuals with preferred provider organization dental benefits reach or exceed their annual maximum, while others forget to take advantage of flex spending accounts. This means you may be leaving money on the table each year. Learn how you can maximize your dental benefits and ensure you take advantage of all your dental care options.

Dental Plans

Most people have a dental plan either through their employer, their spouse’s employer or through the insurance marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act. This involves paying a monthly premium for dental coverage, regardless of whether or not you see the dentist. Since you’re paying for it, you might as well take advantage of it. But how can you do this?

For starters, make sure you’re getting regular preventative dental care. Usually, these are recommended every six months, and since prevention is preferred to treatment, these visits are often fully or majorly covered by your insurance. If your dentist finds a cavity that needs work, you’ll have to schedule another appointment, but that preventative cleaning is usually fully covered by your insurance plan, so take advantage of it.

Next, know your dental plan and talk to your dentist about potential issues. Most plans have a waiting period before a percentage coverage amount kicks in. This is to prevent someone from putting off major dental work until January 1 when they can choose a different dental plan. In many cases, preventative care is covered right away, minor work like cavities and sealants are covered after a couple of months, and major work like a root canal needs at least six months of premium payments before the insurer will cover a larger percentage of the cost. Talk to your dentist to see if any problems may be developing down the road, so if you need a bigger surgery in a few months or years, you can select a plan to offset more of the cost.

Please keep in mind dental insurance is a benefit used as a supplement and not designed to take care of all potential dental needs. If you have any questions about insurance coverage or eligibility, give them a call using the phone number on the back of your dental insurance card.

Flex Spend Accounts

Another way to pay for dental visits is through what’s known as a flexible spending account, or FSA. These are typically offered through your employer, and during the enrollment period, you decide how much of your paycheck goes into this account. Sometimes your employer will match a percentage or contribute in another way to your FSA, but even if they don’t, you’ll want to take advantage of it because it is pre-tax money. This means the money is taken out of your paycheck before taxes are withdrawn, which ends up saving you roughly 33 percent.

For example, instead of having that extra $200 on your paystub, which is then taxed and cut to roughly $130 on your direct deposit, that full $200 goes into your FSA and your paycheck is taxed at $200 less than normal. Instead of having $130 to pay for dental bills out of your checking account, you have $200 to spend out of your FSA.

The caveat here is your FSA can only be spent on certain things, like medical or dental bills. But, if you need dental work, you’ll end up cutting your bill down by about ⅓ if you can pay it out of your FSA. Your FSA covers a lot of dental work, like cleanings, insurance co-pays, hardware like braces or dentures, etc.

Some FSA’s expire at the end of the year, so be sure to learn about your account, so that money you have stashed away doesn’t disappear at year’s end. Some companies allow you to use it into the next year, while others allow you to carry over a portion or set amount of money, so just make sure you don’t have $800 in your FSA if you can only carry over $500. Learn the rules, and make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table.

For more information about dental insurance or maximizing your payment options, contact our team today.

Kids Brush Teeth

Tips For Getting Your Kids To Brush Their Teeth

You’ve probably grown to appreciate the role brushing your teeth has in your dental care routine over the years, but as a kid, you probably weren’t head over heels for making time to brush 2-3 times a day. Most kids don’t want to stop playing with their toys or watching a movie to get in front of the mirror and brush their teeth, but it’s essential for keeping their teeth healthy long into their adult years.

Since it’s important that children regularly brush their teeth, but it’s an activity that most won’t do on their own, how can we make it so that brushing their teeth seems less like a chore? Below, we share some tips for making brushing their teeth a more enjoyable experience.

Add Some Music

Don’t just sit there and brush in silence for two minutes, spice up the bathroom routine with some music. Play one of your child’s favorite songs and sing and dance while you brush. There are also some apps for your phone that have videos or music that plays for two minutes, so you child knows exactly how long they need to brush for. Find what works best for your child.

Reward Good Brushers

Find a way to motivate your child to brush their teeth. Whether that’s letting them pick the bedtime story, putting a sticker on the chore chart or simply getting a big high five from mom and dad, reward them for good brushing habits. While candy and chocolate may be good rewards for other behaviors, we don’t recommend it for a well brushed mouth!

Favorite Characters

Odds are your child has a favorite cartoon or superhero, so consider adding them to the routine. Whether that’s a Buzz Lightyear toothbrush or by finding a story about brushing on Youtube featuring their favorite character (there’s more out there than you might imagine), find a way to incorporate their favorite character into their brushing routine.

A Family Affair

Even if you’re not ready for bed when your child is brushing their teeth, it’s a good habit to brush your teeth while they are brushing theirs. Not only does it set a good example, but kids often want to emulate mom and dad, so if they see you doing it, they’ll be more likely to have a good attitude about brushing. Bring the whole family in to brush their teeth if it helps!

Regular Routine

Our final tip involves setting a routine and sticking to it. It can be easy to get out of a normal bathroom routine if you’ve had long days or are on vacation, but make it a point to help your child brush in the morning and at night. Don’t let skipping the brushing routine become a habit. Do it every day, and it will become second nature in no time.

Sparkling Water Teeth

Sparkling Water and Your Teeth

Carbonated water is a little more popular over in Europe than it is in America, but more and more people are reaching for sparkling water in lieu of plain old tap water. You might think that water is water, and that they are all the same when it comes to your oral health, but is that true? We put that theory to the test by looking at the effects of sparkling water on your teeth in today’s blog.

Does Carbonated Water Affect Your Teeth?

Even though it’s water, any drink with carbonation has a higher acid concentration. Does this mean sparking water can wear down your protective tooth enamel? According to recent research, dental professionals seem to believe that the differences between sparkling water and regular water on your teeth are minimal.

For their study, researchers used teeth that were donated to science and compared their composition after having been exposed to regular water and sparkling water. They found that although sparkling water has a higher acid level, the effects on tooth enamel were essentially the same.

Things to Keep in Mind

With that said, you should still keep some things in mind when it comes to choosing beverage options like sparkling water.

  • Sparkling water is definitely better for your teeth than sugary sodas, but also make sure to get plenty of regular water as well. Regular water contains fluoride, which helps to prevent cavities and keep your mouth from becoming dry.
  • Avoid sparkling water that is overly citrusy. These drinks often have elevated acid levels which can impact your tooth enamel. They are fine on occasion or with meals, but try to avoid sipping on them throughout the workday or more than once a day.
  • Keep an eye on added sugar. Some companies tout their beverage as sparkling water, even though it has added sugars and is carbonated. Don’t be fooled by the name – these can be just as bad as regular sodas. Go for regular water, but if you’re craving a sparkling water, be sure that it has no added sugars.

At the end of the day, sparkling sodas are far from the worst beverage option for your teeth, but that doesn’t mean it should always replace regular water when you’re thirsty. If you’re going to have one, have it with a meal and don’t slowly sip on it throughout the day. And no matter what beverages you drink, always be sure to brush your teeth in the morning and at night.

For more information about sparkling water or any other beverages and your teeth, reach out to Dr. Brooks today.


Causes and Treatments of Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia is a dental condition categorized by the development of thick, white patches on your gums, cheeks and sometimes on a person’s tongue. They can’t just be scraped off, and professional treatment is recommended if you notice their onset. Below, we take a closer look at what causes the condition, and how a dentist or doctor can help you treat it.

Causes and Symptoms of Leukoplakia

Doctors and dentists don’t really know what causes leukoplakia, but they suspect that it is brought on by chronic irritation from tobacco products. Most cases of leukoplakia are noncancerous, although some can be cancerous and mouth cancer may form next to areas of leukoplakia. If you notice any odd formations, or white areas with red speckles, consult a medical professional.

Symptoms of leukoplakia include:

  • White or grayish patches on the gums, cheeks or tongue.
  • Thickened or hardened patches in your mouth.
  • Speckled red dots on the white patches.
  • Raised red lesions.
  • Persistent changes in tissues of your mouth.
  • Ear pain when swallowing.
  • Slow reduction in your ability to open your jaw.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Leukoplakia

Diagnosing the condition can be done by your dentist or doctor. They will look for the above symptoms, and they’ll ask about your tobacco use, family health history and rule out any other potential causes. If your dentist wants to ensure that the formation is non-cancerous, they may test the substance using a oral brush biopsy. This is a non-invasive procedure that collects cells from the source. A more invasive but more conclusive method involves removing some of the tissue and having it analyzed.

If the tests show that cancer is present, it will be surgically removed from your mouth. If the entire piece can be removed, the only additional treatment you may need is regular monitoring. If the development is non-cancerous, treatment involves removing part or all of the patches, stopping the source of irritation (giving up cigarettes or chewing tobacco) and getting regular check ups from your dentist. On rare occasions, the condition can be caused in part by a weakened immune system, which means the dentist or doctor will also provide a medications in addition to regular treatment.

Bloomington Dental Clinic

If you notice symptoms of leukoplakia, make an appointment with your dentist or family physician. The sooner it is treated, the better outcomes are. For more information, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about a mouth condition, reach out to his office today.

Aging Teeth

Caring For Your Teeth Through The Years

A good dental hygiene plan starts when we’re young and should continue when we’re old and gray. But what are the best ways to care for your teeth throughout the years? We share some tips for a lifelong dental care routine in today’s blog.

Caring For Your Teeth Starts Young

Creating a good dental plan begins with parents helping the child learn how to care for their teeth. For children under the age of three, get them a small toothbrush and help them brush their teeth in the morning and at night. You don’t need much toothpaste on the brush – only a dab the size of a grain of rice should suffice. For children between the ages of three and six, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride, as that will help to protect their teeth. For best results, choose a toothpaste that has the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval.

When your child gets their permanent teeth, talk to their dentist about dental sealant. Sealants are an invisible plastic material that are applied to the back teeth where decay most often occurs. This helps to delay teeth breakdown and helps keep them strong. Children should also begin flossing once a day in addition to brushing at least twice a day.

If your child needs dental work, ask the dentist about ways to keep them calm during the procedure, as the first couple times in the dental chair can be intimidating. Some parents find it helpful to schedule the appointment for a time after their child has taken their nap so they aren’t fussy. It’s also helpful to ensure your child isn’t hungry, as that can make them grouchy.

Mouth Health As Your Get Older

Once your child gets in a routine, they can take control of their daily dental duties. Make sure they get regular dental health screenings and cleanings every six months so any potential problems can be caught when they are small.

Caring for your teeth remains extremely important when you get older. However, it’s not just your teeth that are prone to changes. Many patients notice that their jaw feels sensitive or painful, and while this isn’t all that uncommon, it shouldn’t be ignored. A lot of patients can find jaw pain relief through conservative care methods, like physical therapy, stretching exercises and anti-inflammatory medications.

Finally, while it’s important to keep an eye on old fillings and crowns, you don’t need to have them replaced just because they are old. These fillings can last for years or even decades, so don’t just have them replaced, unless they crack or come loose. Your dentist can keep an eye on previous work and use dental X-rays to ensure everything remains as it should. Ask your dentist for more information on how to spot the signs of worn or broken dental work.

For more information on caring for your teeth throughout the years, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Teeth Whitening Wedding

Improving Your Smile Before Your Wedding Or Other Special Occasion

When it comes to your wedding day, everyone wants it to be perfect. Unfortunately, be it due to genetics, an affinity for coffee or for another reason, not everyone has the perfect smile. Because of this, many people want to try and improve their smile before their wedding day or another special occasion where pictures will be taken. Below, we explain how to ensure your teeth are picture perfect for your special occasion.

Teeth Whitening Before Your Wedding

A number of people look into teeth whitening options ahead of their wedding. White smiles contrast well with a black suit, while stained teeth can be more noticable if you’re in a white dress, so it should come as no surprise that happy couples look into teeth whitening options before the big day. As a dentist who has performed whitening procedures ahead of weddings or special occasions, here’s my advice.

  1. Have a dentist perform the whitening procedure – While this may seem a little self serving, it’s in your best interest to have a dental professional handle the whitening ahead of your big day. You’re probably not cutting your own hair before your wedding, so don’t whiten your own teeth. There’s just too much that can go wrong when you try to use an at-home kit, so trust it to a dentist.
  2. Immediate results – Another benefit of having a dentist perform your whitening operation is that you’ll be able to see the results right away. Unlike whitening strips that slowly whiten your teeth over the course of several weeks, a professional whitening will have your smile looking brighter as soon as you walk out of the office. This also makes it a great option for people who put off whitening their teeth until the last minute.
  3. Balanced Appearance – Another important reason to have your teeth professionally whitened is because it will ensure that all your teeth are whitened evenly and your smile is balanced. Whitening strips may not evenly hit every surface of your teeth, which can lead to discoloration in some spots. You don’t want a spotty or blotchy smile, and you won’t have one if you trust your whitening to a dentist.

Other Teeth Whitening Tips

If you plan ahead far enough in advance or want to try at-home whitening options, go for it, but keep these tips in mind. For starters, do it well enough in advance that if you don’t like the finished product you can have it adjusted or re-whitened by a dental professional. Next, make sure you only use products with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. The seal means that those products are trusted by the ADA and should protect your teeth as long as you follow the instructions.

Finally, it’s also a good idea to have regular dental cleanings and checkups leading up to your big day. This will help catch and treat any potential problems before they arise, and they’ll help keep your teeth nice and clean. When you’re not at the dentist, make sure you’re brushing at least twice a day and flossing between meals to keep your smile looking great!

For more information about dental whitening, or for other helpful smile tips, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.