Sparkly Smile

5 Tips For A Sparkly Smile

Like a lot of things in life, a sparkly smile requires work. You’re not just going to be able to ignore your teeth and wake up with a pearly white smile every day. With that said, if you know some tricks to help protect your teeth against bacteria and decay and you commit to a healthy oral hygiene plan, we’re confident you’ll have a healthy smile for decades.

How To Get A White Smile

There are several different things you can do to help give your teeth a healthy glow. Here are five of them.

1. Avoid liquids that stain your teeth

There are some liquids that both stain and break down the enamel of your teeth. The main culprit is coffee, but tea and wine can also stain your teeth. If you can do without these items, you’ll help to prevent staining or discoloration.

2. If you can’t ditch them, limit them

If it’s too hard to give up coffee, tea, or wine, then at least try to reduce your daily consumption. Go from two cups a day to one, and then go from a cup a day to one every other day. Instead of drinking these liquids, reach for water. Tap water is great because it contains fluoride, a compound that helps to strengthen your teeth. So not only doesn’t it stain your teeth, but it actively works to make them healthier!

3. Quit tobacco

Another habit you’ll want to kick if you’re serious about protecting your teeth is to quit tobacco products. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco have tar and other substances inside them which can get into openings in your enamel and damage and stain teeth. Professional teeth whitening can help to reverse the damage done by tobacco products, but going forward, eliminate the habit to help protect your teeth.

4. Practice proper brushing and flossing techniques

As we mentioned in the intro, if you want to have a sparkly smile, you have to put in some work. Work, in this sense, means daily brushing and flossing. You’ll want to brush your teeth at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes every time you brush and get in the habit of flossing before bed each night. Brushing and flossing will help to keep bacteria, acids from food and plaque from accumulating and breaking down your white tooth enamel.

5. Regular checkups

The final tip to keep in mind if you want to have a sparkly smile for years to come is to get semi-annual cleanings from your dental provider. Aside from cleaning your teeth and removing plaque, your dentist can also administer sealants or whitening products to help protect your smile and give it the glow you’re looking for. Aside from the two cleanings a year, be sure to visit your dentist if you’re experiencing any tooth, gum or jaw pain, as it may be a sign of a more significant issue that needs to be addressed.

Epilepsy Oral Health

How Epilepsy Can Affect Your Oral Health

Epilepsy is a condition in which nerve cell activity in the brain triggers seizures. Most epileptics have a routine for handling a seizure when they feel one coming on, but that doesn’t mean they can totally control their actions during a seizure, and one area that can often be affected by these uncontrolled movements is their mouth.

Epileptic seizures can cause a variety of dental issues, and oftentimes epileptics have to visit the dentist more frequently than an individual without these seizures. Some of the potential problems caused by uncontrolled movements during seizures include:

  • Bites to the tongue or creek from uncontrolled biting.
  • Chipped or cracked teeth.
  • Displaced teeth.
  • Jaw fractures or jaw dislocations.
  • Punctures to other surfaces, including the lips.

If you are prone to epileptic seizures, talk to your doctor and dentist about the best ways to limit and prevent damage that may be occuring to your mouth when a seizure hits. They’ll want to know more about the specifics of your seizures, but odds are they can help you minimize damage to your mouth during these unfortunate events.

Seizure Medications and Your Oral Health

The good news is that if you’re epileptic, modern medicine can likely help to reduce or even eliminate your seizures. The bad news is that a lot of the medications that can help with your seizures have potential side effects for your teeth.

For example, many seizure medications list potential side effects such as bleeding gums, overgrown gums, tongue swelling and mouth ulcers. They are common symptoms, but when they do develop they can cause a host of problems for your teeth. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about switching medications to see if you can experience seizure relief and avoid dental issues. If you can’t safely switch medications, or the oral side effects outweigh the fear of an unplanned seizure, just be sure you are doing what you can to protect your mouth throughout the day. Brush your teeth regularly, floss at least once a day, and make sure you are getting regular dental checkups throughout the year.

One last point based on that last sentence. If you are prone to seizures, make sure your dentist knows this and you try to schedule your dental appointment at times when you are low-risk for a seizure. Most dentists have equipment like eye covers, ear plugs or headphones which can help to keep a seizure at bay, so for your safety and for our safety, do what you can to help prevent a seizure at the dentist’s office. We know they aren’t 100 percent preventable, but if you take precautions and we’re on our toes, we can make sure your visit runs as smoothly as possible.

For more information, or to schedule your next dentist appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.

Dry Mouth Sleeping

Tips For Preventing Dry Mouth When Sleeping

Our teeth are best protected when they are in a moist environment. That’s because saliva helps to keep bacteria in check and prevent tooth decay. But if you breathe through your mouth at night, that airway is going to naturally dry your mouth out and can create an environment that’s better suited for bacteria growth. So what can you do to prevent dry mouth when you’re sleeping? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.

Avoiding Dry Mouth While Sleeping

Aside from potential tooth decay, chronic dry mouth can actually affect your ability to produce saliva, and in turn it can affect your ability to taste, chew and swallow your food. So how can you avoid it while you sleep? It may sound simple to suggest that you should just keep your mouth closed and breathe through your nose, but we know it’s not always that simple.

If you’re going to breathe through your mouth while you sleep, you should take some steps during the day to help keep your mouth from drying out at night. Some of those steps include:

  • Drinking water and staying hydrated throughout the day.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum before bed (but not after brushing your teeth), as this helps with saliva production.
  • Using mouthwash or toothpaste that is designed to help treat dry mouth.
  • Use an artificial saliva product.
  • Limit your alcohol or caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon or evening.
  • Limit spicy foods, which can make dry mouth worse.
  • Give up smoking or tobacco products.
  • Change medications that may be causing dry mouth.
  • Use a humidifier when you sleep.
  • Talk to your doctor or dentist about breathing or snoring issues that may be causing you to breathe through your mouth.

And finally, always be sure to have good dental habits throughout the day. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and consider using mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and hydrated. This way your teeth will be protected throughout the day, and it can help to keep the side effects of dry mouth to a minimum.

So if you or someone you know has been dealing with dry mouth when they sleep, point them in the direction of this webpage or better yet, have them pick up the phone and contact Dr. Brooks for individualized recommendations for preventing dry mouth!

Before Getting Braces

What Should I Know Before Getting Braces?

Being told that you or your child need braces can leave you with a number of questions, but we’re here to provide you with some answers. Below, we take a closer look at what you can expect before and after you get braces!

For starters, bracing technology has come a long way in the past few decades. No longer are kids left with uncomfortable and highly visible metal in their mouth. While children can still choose colored options if they want, newer braces are often smaller and less noticeable than in years past, and we even have newer invisible models. These clear aligners help to adjust your teeth without making it as obvious that you have braces. They are often a little bit more expensive than standard braces, but they are becoming more popular, so talk with your kids about all their options if they aren’t all that receptive to getting corrective braces.

Braces Basics

Contrary to common belief, braces aren’t just used to correct the spacing in your teeth and smile. Braces also serve to fix bite issues, jaw alignment and improve your overall oral health. Before your braces are installed, your dentist will determine exactly how they’ll want to shape your teeth so your teeth are as healthy as possible by the time your braces are ready to be removed.

There’s also the possibility that you’ll need to have your wisdom teeth removed. Their development once your braces have been installed could complicate or compromise the function of the braces, so your wisdom teeth may need to be taken out prior to having braces administered.

After Braces

Braces may take a little while to get used to, but once the sensation becomes normal, you’ll realize that you only need to make a couple lifestyle adjustments to account for their presence. For starters, you’ll need to keep an eye on what types of food you eat. For example, gummy, sticky foods and candies are best avoided, as are foods like taffy or jerky. You may also want to avoid foods that you have to bite into, like an apple or corn on the cob. That’s not to say that you can’t have an apple or corn, but you’ll want to cut up the apple or remove the kernels from the cob to avoid causing problems for your braces.

Another change you’ll want to make is to become even more committed to a strong dental care routine. Make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and regularly check your braces for any food particles that may have gotten stuck in your teeth. Left in place, these food particles can cause bacteria growth and teeth degeneration.

Finally, if you’re an athlete, you’ll want to invest in a mouthguard. As we talked about in this blog post, there are a number of different mouthguards that can help to protect your teeth and braces. Find one that best suits your situation to help protect both your teeth and your braces.

You may not love the prospect of getting braces, especially if you need them during middle or high school, but oftentimes they can correct spacing or jaw issues well before you walk across that stage at graduation, which is a time where you’re definitely going to want that perfect smile. For more information about braces, or to talk to a dentist about your teeth, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

New Years Teeth

5 Bad Dental Habits To Break In 2019

The new year is right around the corner, and if you’re like most people, you probably have some resolutions you’re hoping will stick in 2019. If you’re looking for some resolutions that will help your teeth, resolve to break some of these common dental habits that can be detrimental to your oral health.

Break These Five Brushing Habits In The New Year

Here are five brushing habits you should strive to break in the new year.

  1. Keeping that old, ratty brush – If you’re looking for an easy win, consider replacing that old toothbrush with a newer model. You don’t need to upgrade to an electric toothbrush if you don’t want, but get rid of that one with the frayed and broken bristles. Those old, frayed brushes aren’t going to be able to effectively clean your teeth. Ditch the old brush in the new year.
  2. Not brushing long enough – Most people brush their teeth, but a lot of them don’t brush for the appropriate duration. In order to effectively hit all the surfaces and crevices in your mouth, you’ll need to brush for about two minutes. Considering you’ll want to brush your teeth twice a day, that means you’ll need four minutes to effectively brush throughout the day. It’s such a small portion of your day, but most people don’t hit that four-minute mark on a regular basis. Make it a point to hit the mark in 2019.
  3. Brushing after eating – It might sound odd that we’re recommending that you don’t brush after eating, but it’s true. Brushing right after eating can actually help spread sugars or acids from foods if you don’t brush thoroughly enough. Instead, chew some sugarless gum or drink some water right after eating. It’s a good idea to wait at least a half hour after your meal to brush your teeth.
  4. Skipping your regular dental visits – We understand that very few people look forward to coming to the dentist, but you shouldn’t skip visits just because it’s not your favorite place to be. Aside from giving you a good, deep cleaning, your dentist can help spot the signs of potential problems, catching them before they turn into a huge issue. Let us do our thing for 20-30 minutes, two times a year, and we can help you have great oral health.
  5. Not flossing – Finally, another dental habit you should add to your routine in the new year is flossing. You don’t need to floss after every single meal, but flossing at least once a day will help dislodge any food particles that your brush couldn’t get. It will also help to strengthen your gums, even if they bleed a little the first couple times you floss. Get in the habit of flossing before bed, and you’ll greatly reduce your risk of cavities and other problems caused by tooth decay.

So if you’re looking for some resolutions to add to your list this year, consider adding some that will keep your teeth white and your smile perfect for years to come. And if you want to set up an appointment with Dr. Brooks, contact his office today.

Cannabis Oral Health

How Does Cannabis Affect Your Oral Health?

Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant, and we’re learning more ways to use the plant for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is also legalized for recreational use in some states, and while we’re still trying to understand how the compound affects our health, the substance also has implications for our oral health. Today, we take a closer look at how cannabis can impact your oral health.

Marijuana and Your Mouth

The research on how cannabis use affects our oral health is limited, but previous studies have found that smoking marijuana has been associated with decreased oral health. However, the reasons behind this finding are complex. For example, frequent cannabis users also tend to have higher uses of alcohol, other drug use, and tend to have poorer dental hygiene practices, including more infrequent visits to the dentist.

Other findings have suggested that because THC, a compound in marijuana, is an appetite stimulant, that frequent marijuana use may be associated with an increased likelihood to consume junk food or sweet foods, which can affect the health of our teeth. Studies have also shown that frequent cannabis users have a higher number of areas of dental decay, especially on easier to reach surfaces, than non-users.

Another finding associated with smoking cigarettes or cannabis is that it can lead to xerostomia, a condition more commonly known as dry mouth. Saliva helps to keep the appropriate levels of bacteria in our mouth, so if our mouths get dry and we have inhibited saliva production, bacteria that contributes to tooth decay can thrive.

Caring For Your Teeth As A Cannabis User

If you smoke cigarettes, cannabis or hookah, you need to be a little more proactive about your oral health. For starters, be sure to be diligent about your daily dental habits. Make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and also add flossing to the regular rotation. On a more long-term scale, make sure you are getting semi-annual dental checkups. Get in the habit of scheduling your next dental visit before you leave the dental office following a visit, and always set up an appointment if something doesn’t feel right in your mouth.

Other tips to consider include:

  • Drink water regularly throughout the day.
  • Chew sugarless gum after smoking to help increase saliva production.
  • Reach for healthy, nutritious snacks.
  • Consider adding mouthwash to your dental hygiene routine.
  • Limit other activities, like excessive alcohol consumption, that can negatively affect your oral health.

For more tips on how to care for your mouth if you’re a cannabis user, or if you just want to set up your next appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.

Mouth New Years Resolutions

5 Mouth-Friendly Resolutions For The New Year

If you’re looking to add some resolutions to your list for the new year, consider taking some steps in the new year to brighten your smile and keep your teeth healthy. But what daily habits should you try to add to protect your mouth in the new year?

5 Tooth-Friendly Resolutions

If you make these five small changes to your daily routine, we’re confident your teeth and gums will be protected long into the new year.

  1. Brushing 2×2 – A lot of people only brush their teeth once a day, while others brush twice but only for 30-45 seconds. Make sure you hit the 2×2 mark every day in the new year. What we mean by this is, you’re always brushing at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each session. This will ensure you can hit all the necessary surfaces and keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  2. Start a Floss Routine – Most people don’t floss, and even if you do, you probably don’t do it regularly. Flossing is one of the best things we can do for our teeth and gums because it helps to reach the places your toothbrush can’t easily hit. When food particles stay trapped between your teeth, it creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which in turn leads to tooth decay. So this year, buy some flosser sticks, a water flosser, or the old fashioned floss pack and make it a point to floss before bed each night.
  3. Drink More Water – Water is excellent for your teeth for several reasons. For starters, it contains fluoride, which helps strengthen our enamel and keep our teeth healthy. It also doesn’t have sugars or acids in it like other beverages like soda or juices. These sugars and acids serve to break down tooth enamel. Water also helps to wash food particles off our teeth surfaces, preventing tooth decay. Strive to drink more water throughout the day and with meals in the new year.
  4. Limit Unhealthy Snacking – If you snack throughout your day, your teeth are going to be exposed to sugars and acids that can lead to teeth degeneration for longer durations. That’s not to say you can’t have a snack, but sticky raisins or sugary graham crackers probably aren’t your best options to eat as a stand-alone snack. If you’re going to snack, stick to low sugar and low acidic foods, and consider drinking water while you snack to keep these additives from settling on the surface of your teeth.
  5. Schedule That Dentist Appointment – You should be seeing your dentist twice a year, so if you’re not already on the schedule for your next appointment, pick up the phone and schedule your routine cleaning. Not only will the visit help to protect your teeth in the short-term, but your dentist can also spot signs of a potential issue to prevent more significant problems from arising. Make sure you and your family see the dentist for your regular cleanings this year.

For more mouth-friendly resolutions, or to schedule your next visit, contact our team today.

Stocking Stuffer

5 Stocking Stuffers That Won’t Damage Your Teeth

The holiday season is in full swing, and that means the stockings hung by the chimney will soon be filled with goodies from St. Nick. It’s easy to fill those stockings up with sweet treats, but those can do a lot of damage to your child’s teeth. These five alternatives to candy will also bring joy to your children this holiday season.

Mouth-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

Here are five stocking stuffers that won’t put your child’s healthy smile in jeopardy.

  1. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste – Now, we know your children aren’t going to be over the moon to be getting a toothbrush or toothpaste in their stocking, and while it may not be the best idea only to put dental items in their stocking, sneaking them in with other goodies will help them keep their smile protected. Consider finding items marked with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
  2. Sugar-Free Gum – Gum helps to prevent cravings for sweets and increases saliva production in the mouth, and saliva helps to keep the appropriate levels of bacteria in the mouth. Most gum packs are sugar-free, but double-check the packaging or, better yet, look for that ADA seal on the wrapper to know it will help protect your child’s teeth.
  3. Books – Now, books aren’t going to protect your child’s teeth actively, but they are a fun alternative to candy and sugary sweets that can lead to enamel breakdown. Find a couple of books featuring your child’s favorite characters and swap them into the stocking instead of candy. Short stories are great because you can read them to your child while they are brushing their teeth.
  4. Seeds – Follow our line of thinking on this one. Garden seeds, when planted and cared for appropriately, grow into a healthy and robust plant. That’s the same message you want to portray with your child’s teeth. If they take care of their teeth every day, they will grow healthy pearly white teeth. Watering the houseplant can be a daily task that can be done after your child brushes their teeth!
  5. Healthy Snacks – Instead of stuffing the stocking full of candies and sweets, put some healthier options in there. Peanuts, low salt pretzels, fruits, vegetables, unsweetened cereals, or other low-sugar options are great stocking stuffers.

For more stocking stuffer options, or to talk to a dentist about how to keep your teeth healthy throughout the holidays, reach out to our office today.

Cavity Free

4 Tips For Staying Cavity-Free During The Holidays

A lot of people are concerned about the potential for an expanding waistline during the holiday season. Still, another aspect of our health that can be affected by holiday eating habits are our teeth. From the Christmas cookies to the eggnog and everything in between, the holiday season can be rough on our teeth and gums. To help counter this, use these four tips for protecting your mouth and staying cavity-free throughout the holiday season.

Timing is Everything

Sugars and bacteria can do the most damage to our teeth when they are allowed to sit on the surface of our teeth undisturbed for hours on end. Meals and drinking water both help to remove sugars and food particles from our teeth surfaces, which is why sugary sweets are best eaten with a meal or while drinking water. Eating sticky, sugary foods on their own means they can stick on the surface of our teeth and breakdown our enamel uninterrupted. Try to eat sweets with a meal, drink plenty of water or brush your teeth after snacking in order to protect your teeth.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can damage your gums, but over-drinking can dehydrate our bodies, and dehydration can limit the amount of saliva we produce. Saliva has anti-bacterial and acid-neutralization properties, so if your mouth can’t produce the normal amount of saliva, bacteria will have an easier time breaking down your teeth. If you’re going to drink alcohol this holiday season, also be sure to drink plenty of water to help your body stay hydrated.

Beware Hard Candies

Hard candies are usually packed with sugars, so aside from adding plenty of cavity-causing sugars to enter your mouth, they can also lead to chipped teeth or cracked crowns if we try to bite into them. Consider swapping out the hard holiday candies for a softer, less sugar-packed alternative. If you’re going to indulge in hard candies, have some water handy and resist the urge to bite into them.

Daily Dental Habits

Now, we’re not going to sit here and say you need to avoid all the holiday candies, cookies, and chocolates, but if you are going to indulge, make it an extra point to practice good dental habits. You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once, as this will help keep the surfaces and space between your teeth clean. Indulging in holiday foods helps make the season more enjoyable, but you also need to commit to a dental care plan throughout the season.

If you’re due for a semi-annual checkup, try to schedule the appointment if you have some vacation days before the end of the year! Contact our team to get on the calendar.

Holiday Smile

5 Ways To Keep Your Smile Bright Throughout The Holidays

As we’ve mentioned before, the holidays can be tough on our teeth, but we can fight back against the tooth damaging bacteria with some simple steps. This holds true for parents and children, so today, we want to share some tips for parents to help keep their smiles and their child’s smile healthy and white throughout the holidays.

Mouth-Focused Stocking Stuffers

If you fill your child’s stocking or celebrate St. Nick’s Day, you may be giving your child some small stocking stuffers. Consider adding a new toothbrush to their stocking, or throw in some other mouth-focused products. They may not be the most exciting options, but adding a toothbrush or healthy chewing gum to the stocking alongside some sweet treats will help remind your child to take care of their teeth this winter.

Seasonal Brushing Songs

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, one of the best ways to get your child to buy into the tooth brushing process is to make it a fun experience. One tip we preach to make it more fun is to sing or dance while you brush your teeth with your kids. This holiday season, have your Alexa play some holiday favorites or fire up Youtube on your phone and see which Christmas carols are fun to sing while brushing your teeth.

Teeth Aren’t For Opening Gifts

When it’s time for presents, be sure you have scissors or multi-tool handy to help open anything packaged in plastic or difficult to open. A lot of times kids or parents will resort to using their teeth to open the package, and that can lead to broken or cracked teeth. Plan ahead so you don’t have to resort to using your teeth to open a tightly packaged toy.

Daily Dental Habits

You’re going to be talking with friends and family and posing for countless photos along the way, and if you’re like most people you’re going to want your teeth to be as white as possible for these occasions. Make sure you are brushing twice a day and flossing in order to help keep cavity-causing particles off your teeth. The holidays are often a busy time, but you’re never too busy to take a couple of minutes to brush and floss your teeth. Don’t let the holiday season lead you into poor brushing habits.

Whitening Safety

The holiday season is probably the most common time for a person to look into teeth whitening products. Whether they want to have their smile look the whitest on their Christmas card or they just want to have a confident smile at the office holiday party, now is a common time for people to invest in a whitening kit. These kits have gotten safer over the years, but make sure you follow the written directions on the back. For better results, make sure you’re only using whitening products that have been given the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, and consider talking to your dentist before beginning a whitening routine.