Dentist Second Opinion

How Dental Sealants can Benefit Children & Adults

Dental sealants are a fantastic way to prevent future dental issues such as cavities. They’re non-invasive and can help patients of all ages.

In this article, we’re going to explain how dental sealants can be a beneficial preventative measure for both children and adult patients.

Sealants for Children & Adults

We recommend sealants on children and adults. Children can benefit from sealants typically as soon as their molars come through – once the teeth are fully erupted.

Dental sealants are not just for children. Sealants can be beneficial for adults on teeth that have deep grooves that are stained. It’s a great preventative approach to keep your teeth decay free. Even better, when applying sealants, the tooth does not need to be prepped, and the patient does not need to receive any anesthetic.  

Dental Sealants in Bloomington, MN

Dental sealants are a great preventative measure for the long term health of your teeth. Do right by your mouth and your overall health and set up an appointment at Smiles for Life Dental in Bloomington, MN today. We have been providing family dental care to the surrounding Twin Cities area for decades. We’ve got the experience and the resources to address your dental needs.

Spring Break Teeth Tips

Spring Break Tips For Your Teeth

Many schools are letting out for spring break soon, and while a tropical getaway may be just what you need, if your diet also goes on a break, it can be harmful to your teeth. Just because you have some time off doesn’t mean you can also take a vacation from healthy dental practices.

Spring Break and Your Teeth

Whether you and your family are enjoying a tropical vacation, or just enjoying a staycation at home, keep these tips in mind so your teeth stay protected when you’re out of your regular daily routine.

  1. Water is Your Best Friend – It can be easy to slurp down orange juice for breakfast, a soda at lunch and a margarita with supper, but that exposes your teeth to excess sugar throughout the day. Try to drink more water at meals and throughout the day. If you’re going to indulge with juices or sugary concoctions, drink water at the same time to help wash sugars and acids from teeth surfaces.
  2. Stick To Your Brushing Schedule – It can be easy to want to get out of the hotel room early in the morning and skip brushing, and the same goes for when you finally get back to your room at night. However, if you don’t stick to your regular brushing routine, your teeth are going to be exposed to harmful bacteria during the day and night. Also, getting out of this routine may lead to worse brushing habits when you’re back in your routine. Even if you don’t want to, take two minutes each morning and night to get your brushing in.
  3. Pack Healthy Snacks – If you’re packing snacks for a long flight or car ride, have your teeth in mind when making a meal plan. Sugary snacks or those loaded with carbs can contribute to plaque buildup and tooth decay, so pack some healthier options. Fruits and veggies are great options to help provide nourishment and protect your teeth on spring break.
  4. Grab Some Gum – Similar to water; gum can be your best friend on a spring break trip. Not only does gum help to stimulate saliva, which actively helps to maintain a healthy amount of bacteria in your mouth, but it can also help to control cravings and limit potentially harmful snacking. Be sure you pack some sugar-free gum before you take off on your trip!
  5. Dental Visit – If you’re planning a staycation during your spring break, now is a perfect time to schedule a dentist appointment because kids won’t miss any school. Plan on setting up an appointment well in advance, but if you forgot, give your dentist a call and see if you can get on a cancellation list. Many offices create a list of people who are looking to get into the office as soon as possible, and when a last-minute cancellation occurs, they turn to this list to try and fill that appointment. Odds are you’ll be able to get in at some point during the week if you get on the list.

For more tips about how you can keep your teeth healthy over spring break, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to our team today.

Diet and Teeth

5 Good Foods & Drinks For Your Oral Health

Caring for your teeth is more than just getting regular checkups at the dentist’s office and brushing daily. Those are good starts, but we need to be doing more for our teeth and gums. One way in which we can improve our oral health is by eating certain foods and drinking certain liquids. These five foods and drinks are great for your teeth, gums, and jawbones.

Water

Water is a fantastic substance that holds many benefits for your teeth. For starters, tap water is treated with fluoride, a substance that helps to strengthen our tooth enamel. Just by drinking glasses of water throughout the day, you are helping to protect your teeth against cavities. Water is also beneficial because it can wash away food particles and sugars that can serve to break down tooth enamel, and it doesn’t have high acidity or come packed with sugars like other common drinks often do.

Milk

Milk helps to build strong bones, and the calcium in milk will help to strengthen your teeth. Milk is also helpful in helping foster healthy bone growth, which will help keep your jaw in perfect shape. If you’re not the biggest milk fan, look for other dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, or low-fat sour cream.

Lean Proteins

Lean proteins like chicken, fish, and eggs are all packed with phosphorus and proteins essential for tooth development. These foods help to strengthen your teeth and provide them with the nutrients they need to remain healthy throughout your life. Lean proteins should be a focal point of your diet.

Leafy Greens

Leafy green foods like lettuce, kale, broccoli, and spinach are more great options for your teeth. They are often high in fiber, and studies have shown foods high in fiber can help ward off tooth decay and tooth loss. These foods can also help to stimulate saliva production, which helps to remove harmful bacteria and neutralize acids in your mouth.

Nuts

Go nuts for nuts if you’re interested in helping to protect your teeth and gums. Peanuts, almonds, and other nuts contain proteins and minerals essential for your gum health, and they aren’t loaded with carbs, which can contribute to cavities. Similar to leafy greens, nuts can help to stimulate saliva production, which again helps to stop tooth decay in its tracks.

If you consume these options regularly and continue to brush and floss, we’re confident you’ll have good oral health. For more tips or information, contact our team today.

Diet Dental Health

How Your Diet Affects Your Teeth

When we think of dental hygiene, a lot of people just think about how they protect their teeth with things like brushing, flossing and going to the dentist. However, a total dental hygiene plan is much more than that. There are a number of other ways to protect your teeth other than with dental products, and watching what you eat is a good start. Your diet has an enormous role in how healthy your teeth are, so you need to be cognizant of what you’re eating and drinking.

To give you a better idea of how your diet impacts your oral health, we decided to take a closer look at the ways in which your diet affects the health of your teeth.Y

Food Choices

Food choices are the main way in which you can help or hurt your teeth. Our teeth and jaw bones draw a lot of essential vitamins and minerals from our diet, so if we’re lacking in important nutrients, our teeth may not be as strong as they could be. On the flip side, if you eat too many sugars or carbohydrates, you’ll be creating a great environment in your mouth for cavity causing bacteria to thrive. It’s fine to indulge here or there, but don’t make sugar and carbs your primary food group.

Drink Choices

Along a similar vein, drink choices also can severely impact our oral health. Let’s start with the good. Tap water has been treated with flouride, which is a compound that actively helps to strengthen tooth enamel, which can help prevent against cavities. Aside from flouride, water also helps to remove acids, sugars and other substances off of a tooth’s surface, which helps limit bacteria growth and tooth decay.

If you’re not careful about what you’re drinking, your mouth can be much worse off. Sodas and juices are often packed with sugars that can lead to tooth decay, coffee is a very acidic option that can stain teeth and wear down tooth enamel, and excessive alcohol intake can damage your gums and put you at an elevated risk for some oral cancers. Again, indulging here or there should be fine, but make sure that water is your primary drink of choice each and every day.

Snacking

The final way in which your diet can impact your oral health is when you eat and when you snack. Snacking throughout the day can provide more sources for bacteria to build on and contribute to tooth decay, so try to limit sweet snacking options throughout the day. Another good idea is to keep a bottle of water handy, because aside from helping limit your cravings, it can help to wash sugars off the surface of your teeth, which is helpful for your oral health. Finally, try to avoid late night snacking, especially after you’ve brushed your teeth. If these substances stay on your teeth through the night, they are going to have hours to break down tooth surfaces and other oral tissues. Snack smart, and your teeth will thank you for it.

So at the end of the day, be cognizant of the foods and liquids you are putting in your system, because they can have a profound effect on your health, and brushing and flossing won’t be able to cancel out bad dietary choices. Eating right and making other smart choices are all part of a total dental hygiene plan. For more tips, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about a tooth issue you’re having, reach out to his clinic today.

Dairy Free Foods for Teeth

5 Dairy Free, Calcium-Rich Foods That Are Great For Your Teeth

Calcium is a mineral crucial for helping you develop strong bones and teeth, and one of the easiest ways to get calcium into your system is by consuming dairy products. Unfortunately, not everyone can eat dairy products due to allergies or lactose intolerance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t easily get your daily recommended amount of calcium. You have to be smart about the foods you consume. So today, we’re going to share five calcium-rich, non-dairy foods you can eat to help strengthen your teeth and jawbones.

5 Calcium Packed Foods

Here are five foods packed with calcium that you won’t find in the dairy food group.

  1. Orange Juice – Although it’s not a great idea to consume a lot of orange juice because of its sugar content and the fact that it is an acidic drink, orange juice is typically packed with calcium. When you’re looking for a no pulp or high pulp option, odds are there is also a calcium added option. Just one glass of the calcium-enriched orange juice can provide you with your recommended daily amount of calcium!
  2. Tofu – You can do a lot with tofu, but it can also do a lot for your teeth and bones. Similar to orange juice, you can typically find tofu fortified with calcium. This calcium-rich option can be added to salads, stir-frys or even eaten on its own, and a half cup of enriched tofu can provide you with more than 80 percent of your recommended daily intake.
  3. Beans – Beans are another great source of calcium. Just one cup of soybeans can provide you with more than half your daily allotment of calcium, while white beans and kidney beans provide you with nearly the same amount. Beans are a great option because they don’t have a  very distinct taste, so they can be added to a lot of different dishes without really being noticed. Throw some beans in your next casserole or chili, and your teeth and jawbones with thank you for it.
  4. Almonds – Almonds are a healthier snacking option than chips or sweets, and they are also great for your teeth. At nearly 250 mg of calcium per cup, a cup of almonds can provide you with roughly 35 percent of your daily recommended calcium intake, as well as a healthy amount of other nutrients, like fiber, magnesium and Vitamin E.
  5. Leafy Greens – Finally, leafy green vegetables can give you a calcium boost when you’re in a pinch. Vegetables like kale, collard greens, and spinach all contain a sizeable amount of calcium along with other vitamins and minerals your teeth can benefit from. A leafy green salad with some tofu or soybeans will have you quickly reaching your daily calcium recommendation.

If you’re looking for some non-dairy options to help you get some more calcium in your diet, look no further than the foods above. And, if you want more help caring for your teeth, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Man snoring because of apnea lying in the bed

How Your Dentist Can Help With Your Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a health condition that involves the interruption of your normal breathing pattern while you’re sleeping. It is common for people who snore to have sleep apnea, but not every snorer also has sleep apnea. If you have the condition, you should have it examined by your doctor, because there are simple ways to help restore healthy breathing while you sleep. Below, we take a closer look at the condition and explain how your dentist can help with your sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and Your Dentist

Before we explain how your dentist and doctor can help with your sleep apnea, let’s take a closer look at the condition. There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two forms, and it is the result of blocked airflow during sleep. It typically occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your airway collapses while you sleep. It is often brought upon by certain health conditions, including obesity.
  • Central Sleep Apnea – This is a rarer form of the condition, and it is caused by an issue with how your brain signals your body to complete the breathing process. Your airway is not blocked, but instead, the brain fails to send a signal for the muscles to breathe. This is commonly caused by more serious health conditions, like heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections or a stroke.

Sleep apnea is more common among men, especially those who are over 40, overweight, those who have large tonsils, a small jaw, a large tongue or those with a history of sleep apnea or allergies. Left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to other health issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure and diabetes.

Treating Sleep Apnea

Treating sleep apnea may involve just a few small lifestyle changes, or it more be a more involved process, but oftentimes it can be successfully treated. For some people, simply adjusting their sleeping position so they are not on their back can be all the change they need. For others, more hands-on treatment may be needed. Some of those treatment options include:

  • CPAP Machine – A continuous positive air pressure machine helps to improve your breathing while you sleep by providing air and air pressure through the nasal passages.
  • Oral Devices – Your dentist may be able to provide you with an oral device that can shift or support your jaw in such a way that your breathing patterns improve.
  • Surgery – Some patients find relief from sleep apnea with upper airway surgery when other methods fail to rectify the issue. In many cases, the operation to address the airway can be performed on a minimally invasive basis.

If you have sleep apnea, be sure to bring it up to your doctor or dentist at your next appointment to help learn about the best way to treat your individual case. For more information, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Root Canal

What To Expect From A Root Canal

You may have heard the phrase “It’s more pleasant than a root canal” and come to the conclusion that a root canal is a terribly unpleasant experience, but that’s simply not true. A root canal will likely leave you in much less pain than you had prior to the operation, and with advances in dental procedures, we’re able to do a much better job controlling discomfort during the operation than decades ago.

But why exactly would a person need a root canal, and what happens during the procedure? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.

What Happens During A Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that is designed to repair and save your teeth instead of removing it when treating moderate to severe dental conditions. For example, deep root canals can be used to treat damaged teeth, decaying treating, a fractured tooth, tooth infections or deep cavities. Left untreated, these conditions can lead to the onset of an infection of the tissues around the root of your tooth. When this happens, you’re at risk of losing your tooth and even suffering damage to the bones in your jaw.

So if you’re dealing with conditions that could lead to an infection, your dentist may recommend a root canal. Prior to the procedure, your dentist will take x-ray images of your teeth and surrounding bone to get a better understanding of what they’re working with. This may occur during your first dental visit when it’s uncovered that you need a root canal, or right before the procedure, depending on how the problem was detected.

Once x-rays are complete, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic so that you are comfortable and pain and discomfort is minimized. Once your mouth is numb, a thin sheet of latex is placed over your tooth to keep it dry and reduce the risk of infection. From there, your dentist will create an opening in the top of your tooth and remove the nerve from inside your tooth and in the root. They will then clean the inside of the tooth and treat it with bacteria-killing medication. The root canals are then filled with a sealant that protects it from future infections. Finally, the dentist will place a temporary filling on the hole they made and the procedure is complete, although you will need to return to the dentist at a later date to have the temporary filling removed and a permanent filling put in its place.

After the procedure, it’s likely that your tooth and the surrounding area will feel sensitive for a few days. Any discomfort during this time is usually best managed with over-the-counter pain medications, but for more moderate cases of pain, your dentist may be able to prescribe you a short script for pain medications. You will also typically be given antibiotics to protect against the possibility of an infection.

When performed correctly by a skilled dentist, your root canal should be a permanent fix to your tooth issue, but you’ll still want to practice good dental habits, which include brushing twice a day, flossing, eating a healthy diet and getting regular dental exams. For more information about root canals, or to talk to a dentist about a tooth issue you’re having, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Periodontal Care in Bloomington, Minnesota

Your teeth may get all the attention, but another area of your oral health that’s extremely important to keep healthy is your gums. Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions we see in our Bloomington office, and while we’re well-versed to treat it, prevention is preferred to treatment. Below, we share a little bit more about periodontal care and how we can help keep your teeth and gums protected.

Periodontal Disease Prevention in Bloomington

Dr. Brooks and the experienced team at Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington have a wealth of experience treating periodontal diseases and related conditions. We’ve helped patients from all over the Twin Cities metro area, and patients travel from near and far to get treatment for their gum disease. So whether you live in Bloomington or you’re willing to make the trek to our office, we’re confident that we can provide the best care for your gums.

Gum Disease Prevention in the Twin Cities

There are a number of different forms of gum disease, but the most common are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the less serious of the two, but left untreated, it can lead to destructive periodontitis, which involves the loss of gum and bone around the teeth. Both conditions should be treated as soon as they are identified.

At Smiles For Life Dental, we have a number of different ways to effectively treat gum disease depending on the severity and the individual patient. We can provide tooth and gum cleanings, and we can also provide scaling treatments which work to remove plaque and tartar below the gumline. These services help us stop the condition from forming, but for more serious cases, we can provide deep cleanings and even dental surgeries to prevent infections or other conditions that can help periodontal disease spread. We’re happy to provide an individual assessment and walk you through all your options. And if you want to prevent the potential onset of periodontal disease at home, make sure you’re brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, eating a healthy diet and getting regular checkups from Dr. Brooks or your local dentist.

Periodontal Disease Resources

For more information about gum care and periodontal disease prevention, check out some of these blogs Dr. Brooks and his team have written.

Set Up An Appointment Today

Protecting our gums is very important, and it’s something we need to do at every stage of life. We specialize in treating and helping prevent the onset of gum disease in children, adults and seniors, so we’re confident that we can provide the care you need no matter where you are in life. To learn more about what we offer, or to set up a dental appointment, reach out to our team by calling (952) 888-2300. We also have our physical address listed below.

Smiles For Life Dental
9801 Dupont Avenue South
Suite 400
Bloomington, MN 55431

Energy Drinks Teeth

Are Energy Drinks Bad For Your Teeth?

You’re probably aware that sodas and juices aren’t the best choice for your teeth, but you may be surprised at the number of people who think that subbing in energy drinks or sports drinks are a much better option. The truth is that energy drinks and sports drinks can also do plenty of damage to your teeth if you consume them regularly. Today, we take a closer look at why these drinks can lead to tooth decay, and how to protect your teeth through your drink choices.

Energy Drinks and Your Teeth

It should come as no surprise that both energy drinks and sports drinks are loaded with sugar or sugar substitutes, but that’s not the only reason why you want to limit your intake of these drinks. Sugar provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that contributes to tooth decay, so you want to limit your intake of sugar, but the other problem is the acidity.

A recent study out of Southern Illinois University found that when comparing 22 different energy and sports drinks, the energy drinks were often much more acidic.

“We found the acidity was two times higher in energy drinks than it was for sports drinks,” said Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, vice dean for clinical education, operation, and community partnerships at the A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health and lead researcher on the study. “The lower the pH, the greater potential for losing enamel from your teeth.”

Enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth, and it’s even harder than bone. However, even the hardest substance in your body can wear down if repeatedly exposed to highly acidic drinks, like energy drinks.

Preventing Enamel Loss

The American Beverage Association, which certainly would like to quiet the message that some of their products can contribute to tooth decay, released a statement saying that “No single food or beverage is a factor for enamel loss and tooth decay,” and that “individual susceptibility to dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene, lifestyle and total diet and genetic makeup.”

They are somewhat correct, but it’s also misleading. One energy drink isn’t going to erode your teeth like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, but if a person regularly makes energy drinks a part of their diet, they are certainly going to be at risk for tooth problems. Problems with energy drinks can also be exacerbated if we don’t have good dental hygiene or we make other poor dietary decisions, so we need to be cognizant of how we’re caring for our mouths.

At the end of the day, one energy drink won’t ruin your teeth, but energy drinks, sodas, coffee or sports drinks should not be your primary daily drink. Instead, you should be reaching for water, as the added fluoride actually works to strengthen enamel and protect your teeth. If you’re going to indulge in a sugary or acidic drink, try to do so alongside water or food, as this can help keep these sugars and acids from sticking to your teeth. And finally, be sure that you are practicing good dental hygiene, regardless of your beverage choices. Everybody should be brushing and flossing daily and being cognizant of their dietary choices if they want to keep their keep protected throughout their life.

For more beverage information, or to schedule your semi-annual checkup, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.