Teeth Habits

4 Daily Habits That Could Be Harming Your Teeth

Our teeth are powerful, but if they are to stay that way throughout our life, we need to protect them and avoid putting them in harm’s way. Certain traumatic events like a car accident or a wild elbow on the basketball court are unavoidable events that can damage our teeth, but what about more innocuous actions we do on a more regular basis that stress our teeth? Often people don’t realize the extent to which these actions are damaging their teeth. These four daily habits can damage or harm your teeth.

Daily Habits To Avoid

If you do any of these four activities, you’ll want to take a step back and reevaluate some of your daily choices, as they could be doing more damage to your teeth than you realize.

  1. Your Main Drink Isn’t Water – We’re not saying you only need to drink water throughout the day, but if you’re drinking more coffee, soda, or beer than water, you’re inevitably exposing your teeth to harm. Sodas leave sugar on your teeth, which can contribute to plaque development and enamel breakdown, coffee can stain teeth and damage enamel, and alcohol can irritate gums and lead to several oral issues. Drinking other beverages in moderation is fine, but make sure water is the liquid you consume most of every day.
  2. You Chew Things That Aren’t Food – Another way in which people can damage their teeth is by chewing on objects that aren’t food. Things like pens, pencils, fingernails, ice cubes, or using your teeth to open packages can harm your teeth. These objects can lead to broken fillings or cracked teeth, which will lead to a dental bill you don’t want to pay. If it’s not food, don’t bite or chew on it.
  3. Unaddressed Teeth Grinding – A lot of people grind their teeth when they are stressed or anxious, and while it can be easy to stop the behavior at the moment, a lot of people unknowingly grind their teeth in their sleep. As we explained in a previous blog about teeth grinding, there are several different treatment options to prevent teeth grinding and to protect your teeth. Reducing stress, improving your diet or sleeping with a night mouthguard can all help to limit damage from teeth grinding at night.
  4. Tobacco Use – Tobacco use is probably the most preventable type of damage people do to their teeth regularly. Aside from staining your teeth and contributing to bad breath, the tobacco makes you much more likely to develop periodontal disease or oral cancer. You should strongly consider giving up tobacco products for your oral and overall health.

To learn more about the ways we’re unknowingly or damaging our teeth, reach out to our team today.

Night Grinding

How To Prevent Teeth Grinding At Night

Do you wake up with a sore jaw some days? If you do, you may be like a lot of people who suffer from regular jaw clenching or teeth grinding while you sleep. The condition is known as bruxism, and although it’s not the easiest condition to treat, your dentist can likely help you find a solution to your night grinding.

Research shows that bruxism has its origins in the central nervous system, as neural responses cause you to tighten your jaw or clench your teeth while you’re fast asleep. The reason the condition develops is different for each person, but in most cases diet, stress, lifestyle choices and family history are determined to be an underlying cause of bruxism.

Signs of Teeth Grinding at Night

If you’re dealing with one or more of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you grind your teeth at night:

  • Grinding or clenching your jaw loud enough to wake your partner.
  • Flattened, chipped or loose teeth.
  • Worn down tooth enamel.
  • Increased tooth sensitivity.
  • Jaw soreness or facial pain in the morning.
  • Headaches or ear pain upon waking.
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles.
  • Clicking or popping of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) when chewing or talking.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your dentist. Unaddressed teeth grinding can lead to tooth problems and TMJ issues, all of which can be both painful and costly. The sooner you treat the problem, the quicker you can put this issue behind you.

Treating Teeth Grinding at Night

There are a number of different ways to treat the condition, and it helps to try and pinpoint what might be causing your issues. Here’s a look at some treatments based on the underlying cause.

  • Stress – If stress is contributing to teeth grinding, try to limit stressful activities at the end of the day, or find ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
  • Medication – Medication can also contribute to restfulness and teeth grinding at night. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication regimen.
  • Alcohol and Smoking – Certain lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking alcohol can lead to an increased likelihood of bruxism. Limit your tobacco and alcohol intake within a couple of hours before bed.
  • Family History – If genetics seem to play a role in teeth grinding, your dentist may recommend a night mouthguard to limit damage from grinding. This is also an option for other underlying causes of bruxism.

Other ways to try and limit teeth grinding at night is to cut back on caffeine, avoid chewing on objects like pens or fingernails during the day, and avoid chewing gum if you grind your teeth because that can make TMJ pain worse. For more tips on how to prevent and treat teeth grinding, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Saliva Production

What Causes Excessive Saliva Production & Drooling?

Excessive saliva production or drooling is a condition called sialorrhea, and interestingly, it’s usually not caused by saliva overproduction of the major salivary glands. So what types of issues could be contributing to your extra saliva production? We take a closer look in today’s blog.

Causes and Symptoms of Excessive Saliva Production

Drooling is fairly common in young children, especially ones who are getting their first teeth. However, after a child is three or four years old, saliva production associated with teething should have stopped. However, many teens and adults deal with excessive saliva production on a regular basis, so what’s causing their issue?

There could be a number of different issues contributing to your excessive saliva. Some of those causes include:

  • Inadequate Swallowing – There may not necessarily be an overproduction issue, instead you may not be removing enough saliva from your mouth on a regular basis, leading to an overabundance in your mouth. Facial irritation and skin breakdown near the mouth can inhibit swallowing.
  • Infections – Certain infections like strep throat or abscesses around the tonsils can both cause excessive saliva production and drooling.
  • Certain Health Conditions – Acid reflux, sinus pressure from obstructed nasal passages, or an enlarged tongue have all been associated with an increased risk of excessive drooling.
  • Medications – Potential side effects of medications like clozapine can lead to overproduction of saliva.
  • Motor and Neurological Diseases – Stroke victims, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients and those with down syndrome or cerebral palsy all may experience difficulties swallowing and in turn have excessive drooling.
  • Poor Mouth Hygiene – Poor mouth hygiene, including if food particles remain on tooth surfaces and trigger a salivary response, can lead to excessive saliva production.

Treating Saliva Overproduction

Treating the condition comes down to identifying the underlying cause and coming up with a solution. Those who can’t physically address a swallowing issue may have a harder time correcting the problem compared to someone who’s dealing with medication-induced saliva overproduction.

If you want to get to the bottom of your excessive drooling, reach out to your primary care physician or your family dentist. They’ll be able to take a closer look, diagnose the issue and set you up with a treatment plan. If you want to try your own treatments in the meantime, really focus on brushing your teeth regularly and having good dental hygiene, as this can help keep saliva production at the correct level.

Types of Teeth

The Types Of Teeth In Your Mouth

Your mouth is made up of four different types of teeth, each with their own purpose and design. But which teeth are which, and why are they designed in such a way? We take a closer look at the types of teeth you have in your mouth in today’s blog.


Your incisions are the eight teeth that make up the front of your mouth. They are your two front teeth on the top, the neighboring teeth to those, and then the four middle teeth on the bottom of your mouth. They help you bite and chew, but they also play an important role in helping you speak. Incisors also help provide support to other facial structures.


Canines are the next group of teeth, and they may be best described as your vampire teeth. They are the pointed teeth next to your outside incisors on the top and bottom of your mouth. A normal adult has four canines, two on the top and two on the bottom. The primary purpose of these teeth are to cut or sheer food, but they also provide stability for the lips.


Premolars, also referred to as bicuspids, are the group of teeth on the outside of your canines. They have a flattened top and are used to chew food. They also provide help maintain the height of your face. You should have eight premolars, with two on each side of the top of your mouth, and two on each side of the bottom of your mouth, beginning to the outside of the canine.


Finally, the final type of tooth we have in our mouth is molars. These are your biggest, widest and flattest teeth, and you have 12 of them in your mouth. Or, if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, you may only have 10 or eight molars remaining. They help to chew your food, but cleaning them can be a little difficult since they are at the back of your mouth. Make sure you’re hitting these teeth when you’re brushing.

Extra Teeth

Most people don’t have any extra teeth, also known as supernumerary teeth, but there’s a chance that you have an extra incisor or molar tooth in your mouth. Depending on when it is identified, it may be removed, especially if its presence could affect the healthy growth of your adult teeth. Also, about 1 in 2,500 babies are born with small natal teeth, but because their roots are weak or non-existent, they are usually removed so they aren’t accidentally inhaled.

No matter how many teeth you have, be sure you’re caring for them by brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly. For more information about your teeth, or to set up an appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.

Caring for Childs Teeth

How To Care For Your Child’s First Teeth

The sprouting of your infant’s first teeth is a special moment for any parent, but with the first tooth comes a new responsibility – dental care. We’re not saying that you need to bust out the toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts (in fact, don’t do that), but there are some things you’ll want to know about your child’s primary teeth and how to best care for them. We share some of those tips in today’s blog.

The Growth of Primary Teeth

All children grow at their own pace, but most children get their first tooth between the ages of six and nine months. The lower middle incisors are usually the first to appear, followed by the upper central incisors. Most kids will have two middle teeth on both the upper and lower gum to begin, and then they will develop lateral incisors, which involves one more tooth to the outside of each of the first four teeth in their mouth, bringing their total to eight teeth.

Next to form and poke through the gumline are the first molars, followed by the canines. The final teeth to develop are your second molars, and by age three, most kids have their full 20-tooth set of primary teeth. They are typically whiter than adult teeth because they have a thinner layer of protective enamel on them, which is just another reason why dental hygiene for your primary teeth is so important.

The Importance Of Dental Hygiene For Baby Teeth

Don’t get us wrong, having good dental hygiene is important for your child’s primary teeth, but the greater benefit of good oral health in the beginning stages of tooth development may be that you’re instilling the importance of dental care in your child. You only get one set of adult teeth, so establishing good dental health with their primary teeth can go a long way in ensuring your child has healthy teeth for decades to come.

And just because your child’s first set of teeth are going to fall out, doesn’t mean that you can ignore healthy dental routines. The American Dental Association recommends that parents wipe their child’s teeth and gums with a wet washcloth after every meal, and then work towards establishing a good brushing routine as they grow.

This can begin with brushing teeth with a tiny amount of child’s toothpaste on your finger, transitioning to brushing without any toothpaste on the brush, to eventually brushing with toothpaste on a toothbrush. Check out more tips here to learn how to get your kids to brush your teeth.

Also, now is a good time to start thinking about setting up a dental visit for your child. Most dentists recommend that a child has their first visit around one year of age to ensure everything is developing as it should. Your dentist can also give you specific recommendations based on your child’s mouth and tooth development so that you know what to expect and how to care for their teeth between appointments. If you want to set up an appointment, or you’d like to learn more about your child’s primary teeth, please give Dr. Brooks’ office a call today.

Healthy Halloween Alternatives

Healthy Alternatives to Handing Out Candy This Halloween

When you picture a dentist on Halloween, you probably imagine them handing out apples or toothbrushes. The fact is that most dentists don’t hand out these things when kids come to their doors on Halloween, but at the same time, you’re not going to find us handing out jawbreakers or Sour Patch Kids, even if doing so could increase our caseload!

Instead, we try to toe the line between finding a mouth-healthy alternative to candy that won’t leave kids skipping our house as word of mouth spreads about what we’re handing out. If you want to keep kids’ mouths in mind when handing out candy this year, check out these five alternatives to candy.


Odds are you can find some fun holiday-themed straws at a grocery store or dollar store in your area. From crazy, twisty straws to colored options, there are plenty of cool straws you can give away that children will find interesting.


If you think giving away straws isn’t the best option for our planet, give away some spooky pens or pencils. If kids are going door to door, odds are they are in school and using a pen or pencil on a regular basis. You can buy a bulk package of Halloween-themed pens or pencils at a nearby dollar store or pharmacy.


Depending on your grocery or bulk-foods store, you may be able to find individually wrapped bags of snack-size pretzels. Pretzels or crackers are much better for your teeth than sugary options, so if you’re willing to spend a little more to protect the teeth of the neighbor kids, consider buying snack packs of pretzels or crackers.

Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos are cheap, fun and a cool alternative to another Snickers bar. You may have to look online to find a big enough pack of temporary tattoos, but if you plan enough in advance, you should be able to find some cool Halloween designs in time for the holiday.


Believe it or not, one of the bigger hits in our neighborhood last year were little plastic rings that had fake spiders on them. They were cheap, looked interesting and didn’t cause any problems for teeth. Fake Dracula teeth are another option, but they can be a choking hazard for some children, so only give those out to older Trick or Treaters.

Healthy Halloween

5 Tips For A Healthy Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner, and like many holidays, it can be tough on your health. While Thanksgiving or Christmas may wage a war with your waistline, halloween can damage your teeth and gums. In today’s blog, we share five tips for having a healthy Halloween for both your mouth and your whole body.

Limit Sweets

Kids are going to eat their Halloween candy, but try to limit how much they have each day. This may be easier said than done, but limiting candy intake will prevent excess sugars from building up on their teeth. Also, make sure they don’t have candy after they’ve brushed their teeth, because any candy before bed can stick to your teeth and cause problems all through the night.

Brushing is Essential

You want to make sure that your children are brushing their teeth at least twice a day, and more power to you if you can get them to floss regularly, but brushing is even more important if they are eating more sugary snacks than normal. Set rules that if they are going to have candy, that they brush their teeth before bed.

Candy With Meals

You don’t want children to substitute candy in place of healthy meals, but according to dentists, if they are going to eat candy, it may be in your best interest to have them eat it with a meal. Whether it’s chocolate, a jawbreaker or a gummy bear, these foods can leave sugars all over our teeth surfaces. If we are eating other foods or drinking water while we’re eating candy, these other substances can help clear the sugars off our teeth. If your kids are insisting on eating candy, let them have some with lunch or dinner.

Increase Water Intake

As we alluded to in the above point, water is a great way to wash away sugar that’s left on our teeth surfaces. If your kids are going to be eating candy, encourage them to drink water to help avoid sugar buildup on their teeth. Washing it down with sugary sodas or juices is only going to make the problem worse, so encourage them to drink water when possible.

Consider Candy Alternatives

As we discussed in a different blog post, you don’t have to hand out candy this Halloween. There are plenty of fun alternatives to candy that will be both cool and protective of a child’s teeth. Things like Halloween rings, pencils, pens and tattoos are all fun sugar-free alternatives. Check out that post for more tips, and have a safe and wonderful Halloween!

Halloween Candy Teeth

The Best & Worst Halloween Candy For Your Teeth

Halloween will be here before you know it, and while it’s not our favorite holiday, you won’t catch us handing out pennies or floss sticks if you come through our neighborhood. We know that your kids are going to eat candy on Halloween and early into November, but some of those sweet treats are worse than others when it comes to your dental health. To help sort through the best and worst sweet treats for your teeth, we decided to break it down in a blog post. Below, you’ll find out which are the best and worst Halloween candies for your teeth, and how to keep your teeth healthy throughout the holiday.

Oral Health and Halloween Candy

Obviously, things like apple slices or sugarless bubble gum would be preferred to more common sweet treats, but we’re not going to pretend that you’re a kid is going to come home with a pillowcase full of fruit and gum. Here’s a closer look at how the candy they’re most likely to bring home can affect their teeth.

  • Chocolate – Chocolate is actually one of the better options your kids will get in their Halloween basket. That’s because chocolate washes off the teeth easier than a lot of candies. Bonus points for dark chocolate, which has less sugar than milk or white chocolate. There’s worse candy in their bag than chocolate.
  • Hard Candies – Hard candies like jawbreakers aren’t very good for your teeth, because either way you eat it, it can be problematic for your teeth. If you try to bite it and chew it faster, you risk cracking a tooth or damaging previous dental work. If you suck on it until it dissolves, you’re exposing your teeth to sugar for an elongated period of time. Consider throwing these out if your child won’t miss them.
  • Gummy and Sticky Candy – Unlike chocolate, which washes off of our teeth quickly, gummies and sticky candy can be harder to remove from your teeth, which means sugar can build up and eat away at our enamel. The longer it stays on our teeth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria can do damage. This is another candy to limit or consider eating it with a meal, as other food particles can help remove the gummies from your child’s teeth.
  • Sour Candy – Sour candy can be quite acidic, and that acidity can damage your teeth enamel and make you more susceptible to cavities. This is another type of candy to get rid of if your child isn’t a big fan of sour treats.
  • Popcorn Balls – Do people still give these out? Not only are they sticky, but the kernels can oftentimes get stuck in our teeth. If your child wants one of these, make sure they have a glass of water alongside it and have the floss sticks handy.

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to police what your child is going to eat on Halloween, but as long as you limit isolated eating of sour and sticky candies, and you ensure that they are practicing other healthy habits like brushing twice a day and flossing, your child’s teeth should be fine. Stay tuned on our blog for more Halloween tips as the holiday approaches.

Oral Health

Why Your Oral Health Is Important For Your Whole Body

When you skip brushing your teeth or you ignore flossing you may think you’re just jeopardizing your oral health, but that’s simply not the case. Your mouth plays a big role in your overall health, so to neglect your oral health is to neglect your whole body. Below, we take a closer look at the link between your mouth and your total body health.

Oral Health And Your Body

There are a number of ways your mouth impacts your overall health. Here’s how:

  1. Your Heart – Poor dental hygiene has been linked to heart disease. The theory is that bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream, where they can land on existing artery plaques and contribute to clot formation. Larger clots can lead to cardiovascular diseases and other heart problems. Individuals with gum disease are also twice as likely to develop artery disease compared to people without gum disease.
  2. Diabetes – There is even more medical data to support poor oral hygiene and the onset of diabetes. Poor oral care can lead to gum disease, and gum disease can increase blood sugar levels in the body. Unregulated blood sugar levels can leave you at an increased risk for developing diabetes, or it can make the condition harder to manage if you already have it. Regardless of whether you have diabetes or you want to prevent it, you should take care of your teeth and gums.
  3. Inflammation – Gum disease can also lead to inflammation in other parts of your body. When joints are inflamed, you’re at an increased risk for developing infections which can make you sick or damage organs. We can’t stress how important it is to take care of your teeth and your gums.
  4. During Pregnancy – There have been some medical studies that have linked gum disease to certain pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia. There is also a link between oral health and premature birth. It is especially important to brush your teeth during pregnancy, because your hormonal fluctuations can make you more susceptible to gum disease, and in turn your body’s response to the condition. Be very careful to have good oral during pregnancy for both you and your child.
  5. Cancer Risk – Finally, gum disease may be linked to certain cancers of the head and neck. Other studies have linked tooth loss caused by gum disease to certain types of cancers, so again, make it a priority to care for your teeth. Your whole body will thank you for it!

Contact Dr. Tim Brooks at Smiles for life Dental for all your oral health needs!

Kid Brushing Teeth

How To Get Your Child To Brush Their Teeth

Most kids don’t exactly love brushing their teeth, but brushing is a very important aspect of overall dental health, so it’s crucial you instill this habit early in life. In fact, many dentists recommend that you start implementing brushing techniques as soon as your child gets their first teeth.

When your child is cutting their first teeth, you can start with parent-led gentle brushing without toothpaste or even gum brushing. This helps to establish a routine, even if your child is too young to really comprehend what’s going on. As they get a little older, let them hold the brush and try it on their own. Again, establishing a routine and getting your child to buy into brushing their teeth is more important than having great brushing coverage at this point.

If your child doesn’t like the toothpaste, let them brush without any toothpaste or put a very small amount on. Again, getting them to buy into the regular routine is what’s most important.

Positive Reinforcement

Far be it from us to tell you how to parent, but professionally speaking, it seems that parents have better luck getting their child to buy into the brushing routine by practicing positive reinforcement as opposed to a reward/punishment system. By saying “If you don’t brush, you won’t get your toy,” you’re making the activity a chore or a stepping stone instead of something that is just routine.

Other options some parents have found helpful include:

  • Reading stories about the importance of brushing teeth.
  • Singing songs or playing a brushing song or dancing while brushing your teeth.
  • Brushing your teeth while your child is brushing theirs.
  • Letting your child help brush your teeth before they brush their own.
  • Having them “brush the teeth” on their favorite toy before they brush their own.

Again, there’s no perfect playbook for getting your child to regularly brush their teeth, but taking something away or withholding something from them when they don’t comply can lead to dental phobia. This means they’ll continue to be reluctant to brush their teeth, floss, or open up for routine dental care when they’re in our chair. Try different strategies until you find what works best for you and your child.

Smiles for Life Dental

We’re not saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be worth it in the end if you can establish a healthy dental hygiene routine with your child. If you’re having issues, please don’t hesitate to call our office or look for other sources of information on the subject. Not only will it lead to a healthy smile for your child, but establishing a good dental health routine can save you money down the road by preventing cavities and other teeth problems. For more information or to schedule your child’s next appointment, reach out to Dr. Brooks at Smiles for Life Dental today.