Lifetime Tooth Health

A Lifetime Guide To Tooth Health

Caring for your teeth is something you’ll do over the course of your entire life, and although you kind of get a practice round with your primary teeth, it’s good to understand how you should be caring for your teeth from birth to dentures. Below, we take a closer look at the many ways in which you can help to protect your teeth throughout different stages of your life.

  • Infants and Toddlers – Kids begin to sprout their first teeth around the age of six months, and their full set of primary teeth will take a few years. Kids should have their first dental visit around the age of one, and parents can help to keep their teeth protected by using a tiny amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, to brush their teeth. Kids over the age of three should be brushing using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, twice a day.
  • Kids – Kids can expect to begin losing their primary teeth between the ages of 4-7, until they are about 12. During this time, they should still be brushing twice a day and seeing the dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings. Parents should strive to instill good brushing habits during this key period in a child’s life. Make the process fun by incorporating music, dancing or by brushing your own teeth while your child brushes their teeth. Mouthguards should be worn during youth sports to protect teeth.
  • Teens – Adult teeth are usually in by the age of 13, and then wisdom teeth follow a few years later. Continue getting regular dental checkups to see how the wisdom teeth should be handled, as removal is common during this time period. Teens will be making some more diet choices on their own during this period, so try to offer tooth-friendly options and encourage water over sugary beverages when possible.
  • Adults Under 40 – Gum disease is common among adults under 40, affecting about half of the population. To prevent against this, continue good brushing habits of brushing twice a day, flossing and making smart dietary choices. Visit the dentist on a semi-annual basis, and avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits like heavy alcohol consumption or tobacco use.
  • Expecting Mothers – Hormones associated with pregnancy can put you at an increased risk for gingivitis, so good dental hygiene is very important. Continue to visit the dentist on a biannual basis, even when pregnant. Poor oral habits during pregnancy have been linked to premature birth and gestational diabetes, so do right by yourself and your baby during this time in your life.
  • Adults Over 40 – Follow a similar plan as the previous category, but make sure you are also seeing your dentist at the first sign of problems. Cavities, gum disease and cracked or chipped teeth can be more common during this period after your teeth have been used for decades, and it’s easier to stop a small problem than to treat a big one. If you’re taking medications, talk to your dentist about how these medications could affect your oral health.
  • Seniors – Dry mouth becomes more common as we get older, so consider chewing sugarless gum and drinking more water to help avoid problems associated with dry mouth. Keep getting semi-annual checkups, and reach out to your dentist if you notice changes with your teeth, sores develop, or you have sensitivity when chewing or swallowing.

For more tips, or if you have questions or concerns, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Caregiver Dental Care

A Caregiver’s Guide To Dental Care

There are more than 40 million adult caregivers in the United States today, and one of the many aspects they provide for older seniors is dental care. Basic needs like food, clothing and hygiene are often the main focuses of providing care for the elderly, but we can’t overlook dental health. Today, we’re going to share some tips for caregivers for ensuring the senior in their life gets the dental care they deserve.

Providing Dental Care For Seniors

Dental hygiene can go a long way in providing a sense of independence and self-esteem in senior citizens, and the opposite can be said of a poorly maintained mouth. Whether you’re brushing their teeth for them, making sure they brush their teeth or helping them with their denture care, what you’re doing is important and necessary to their dental and overall health. Here’s a look at some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when caring for someone who may not be able to provide themselves with the best dental care:

  • Regular brushing is still very important, so help ensure they brush in the morning and before bed.
  • Get them to floss. Once a day is fine, oftentimes after the last meal of the day. This will remove food particles that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Without regular denture cleanings, their mouth can be at an increased risk for irritation, inflammation and infection. Have them walk you through their denture cleaning protocol.
  • Alcohol-free mouthwashes are great cleaning options, especially if your senior is dealing with dry mouth.
  • Limit sugary snacks and sugars, as their teeth and gums are more prone to breakdown and degeneration as they get older.
  • Ensure they both make and keep dental appointments. If they no longer drive, help arrange transportation for them.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of a bigger problem, like mouth sores, bleeding or broken teeth. If you notice any issues, set up an appointment with their dentist as soon as possible.
  • When taking care of a senior patient’s dental needs an electric brush like a sonicare would help greatly.  Not only does it help when brushing their own teeth since many have dexterity issues and it is easier to hold, but it also helps caregivers as well and has a great timer as a reminder as to how long someone is brushing.

It’s not easy to care for someone else’s mouth, but by following these tips, you’ll be ensuring the senior in your life has a good chance at having great dental health. For more information, or if you have questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Family Dental Tips

5 Dental Tips For The Whole Family

Good dental health is hard enough to achieve on your own, let alone to ensure that your whole family is keeping their teeth healthy. So how can you work to help keep everyone in your family’s teeth looking healthy and cavity free? We share five dental tips for the whole family in today’s blog.

Start Them Young

We go into more detail in this blog post, but it is incredibly important to instill good dental hygiene practices in your children at a young age. On that blog we provide some tips for getting your kids to buy into the toothbrushing process, but the earlier you get kids to willingly participate in their oral health, the better. They are going to have their permanent teeth for decades, so you want them to grow up and continue using good brushing habits.

Brush Twice A Day

Another good habit to get the whole family to buy into is to brush in the morning and at night. Brushing really only takes a couple minutes, so there’s no reason to skip it, even if you think you’re running late for school or work. Make it a requirement before leaving in the morning and before bed, and your teeth will have hours of protection throughout the day. Bonus tips for regular flossing!

Meal Planning

Good oral health also involves eating a healthy diet, consuming plenty of water, and avoiding sugary snacks and sodas that could wear down enamel. If you’re planning meals for your family, try to get a range of healthy vitamins and minerals from your diet, including plenty of calcium, as this will help support healthy teeth development. Sugary sodas and juices can really damage teeth if regularly consumed, so try to make water the drink that is most consumed in your household.

Mouthguards for Activities

If your kids live an active lifestyle, you’re going to want to protect their teeth when they are on the basketball court or the soccer field. Mouthguards significantly reduce the risk of losing a tooth during athletic activity, and spending a little money on a mouthguard can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars down the road. A mouthguard can also protect your teeth during other activities, like cycling or rollerblading. Never underestimate the importance of mouthguards when your kids are active.

Regular Dental Visits

One final thing you can do for your family to help teeth their teeth healthy is to schedule regular dental exams every six months. Dental exams not only help by providing a thorough cleaning, but they can also help to catch any little problems before they snowball into a bigger issue. Your dentist can provide a sealant or treat a weak spot in a tooth before more damage can be done, and they can also give recommendations for caring for your mouth on an individualized basis. Get in the habit of scheduling your next appointment before you leave the dentist’s office, and do so for all your family members.

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!

Teeth Over 60

Protecting Your Teeth After 60

Like a lot of things in life, protecting your teeth requires more work when you get older than it did in your 20s and 30s. As our teeth naturally wear down, we need to take a more proactive approach to strengthening and protecting them. There are a lot of ways we can do this, and we put those techniques in the spotlight in today’s blog.

Your Diet

Your diet plays a big role in the health of your teeth. Healthy food choices like vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins provide your mouth and your whole body with beneficial vitamins and minerals. You’ll also want to avoid sugary snacks, sodas and juices, because they can speed up tooth decay. If you want to have these products, limit your intake and have them with meals so that sugars are less likely to stay on the tooth surface. Finally, be wary of your alcohol intake, as alcohol can irritate sensitive gum and increase your risk for oral cancer.

Brushing and Flossing

Forming a good dental hygiene plan and sticking to it is especially important once we hit our 50s and 60s. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and make sure you’re flossing at least once a day. Look for dental hygiene products with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval, because you can trust those products to help protect your teeth.

Regular Checkups

Just like you need regular health screenings at the doctor, you also need to be diligent about having regular dental visits. Aside from helping keep your teeth clean, regular dental visits can help spot potential problems in their infancy. As with any health condition, the sooner an issue is identified, the sooner treatment can begin. Earlier treatment often leads to higher success rates. Don’t assume that your problem will go away if you grit your teeth and ignore your regular dental visits. Schedule your next appointment today.

Denture Health

Dentures are a reality for millions of Americans. Trauma, car accidents or tooth decay are reasons why young and old people need dentures, and while they can help you show off a nice smile, you need to clean and care for your dentures so as not to expose yourself to infection. Follow your dentist’s instructions for caring for your dentures, and inspect them regularly.

Natural Minerals and Vitamins

Finally, it’s important to try and get your vitamins, nutrients and minerals from natural sources. While supplements can help to provide us with nutrients that we can’t get enough of on our own, some of them can have unintended consequences. Calcium is important for teeth and bone health, but exclusively relying on calcium supplements for your calcium intake has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events. Strive to get things like calcium, Vitamin D and fluoride from your diet naturally, and talk to your dentist and doctor about safe supplements if you are lacking in some areas.

Dry Mouth

Be aware of dry mouth due to medication Side effects. Having a dry mouth or not enough saliva can cause someone to become very prone to decay and gum disease. It would be important to look at salivary substitutes and to also be sure to discuss with the doctor and team about options. It is also critical that you reduce the sugar in your diet.

Dry Mouth Dental Care

Dry Mouth and Dental Care

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition that is caused by inadequate saliva production. Saliva is your mouth’s primary tool for maintaining healthy gums and preventing against tooth decay, so it’s easy to see how problems can develop if you have a chronically dry mouth.

That being said, there are a number of different ways you can treat dry mouth and prevent against tooth and gum problems. Here’s a look at why you should treat the condition, and how to best treat dry mouth.

Why Treat Dry Mouth?

You might think that dry mouth is just a mild annoyance that you have to live with, but it’s much more than that. Saliva is actually a mineral-rich solution that works to clean and protect your teeth. When saliva is in short supply, you are at an increased risk of plaque formation. This plaque can damage your gum line, lead to tooth decay or cause gingivitis.

Dry mouth can be caused by a number of different issues. For example, it can be a symptom of Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a chronic autoimmune disorder where your body mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. Other causes of dry mouth include smoking, complications with certain medications, or the after effects of radiation treatment, which can damage your salivary glands.

How To Treat Dry Mouth

Your dentist can help you pinpoint your cause of dry mouth as well as offer solutions to fix the problem. Knowing the causes of dry mouth, your dentist may ask about your smoking or medication habits. Medications for blood pressure regulation and chronic pain are among the many medications whose side effects include dry mouth, so if your dentist believes they may be contributing to plaque buildup, talk to your primary care doctor about the possibility of changing medications. Changing these preventable causes of dry mouth are the easiest fixes for the problem.

That being said, if you dry mouth is caused by Sjorgen’s syndrome or another condition that can’t be cured with simple adjustments, you have to focus on lifestyle changes that will help alleviate symptoms. For example, some treatment options to combat dry mouth include:

  • Increasing your Vitamin D intake.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Using a humidifier at night.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine.
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard citrus-flavored candy to increase saliva production.
  • Add mouthwash to your daily routine to fight against plaque buildup.
  • Talk to your dentist about other products or dry mouth mitigation techniques to incorporate into your daily life.

Minnesota Dental Office

Dry mouth is one of the most common conditions we see that leads to the need for dental work. Left untreated, severe mouth problems can develop, so if you’re experiencing dry mouth, do yourself a favor and bring it up to your dentist the next time you’re in their office. They’ll be more than happy to help you find some solutions so your mouth can produce the correct levels of saliva and protect your teeth and gums. For more information about dry mouth or your treatment options, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Cavity Treatment

What Exactly is a Cavity?

If you’ve been to the dentist before, you’ve no doubt heard of cavities. Perhaps you had one (or several) filled in the past. But many patients don’t know exactly what a cavity is. In this article, we are going to explain the ins and outs of perhaps the most common dental condition people experience – the cavity.

Cavities Explained

In short, a cavity is tooth decay that causes the destruction of the enamel (the outer layer of your tooth). Cavities are often caused by consuming sugary food and drinks. Over time the acidic nature of these types of food and drinks eats away at the enamel of your teeth. When the enamel is broken down enough, a small hole will form in the tooth. Patients with cavities will often experience pain (though not always).

Treating a Cavity

Treating cavities begins, first and foremost with a diagnosis. Your dentist will be able to tell if you have a cavity with a routine physical examination of your teeth. Treatment involves filling the cavity with a composite resin after the decay has been removed. These types of fillings have a more natural look and they match the tooth.

Preventing Cavities

There are several things you can do to prevent cavities. Here are a few:

  • Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
  • Brush and floss your teeth twice a day
  • Limit your intake of sugary beverages and foods

Sealants can also help prevent cavities. Sealants provide a thin plastic coating that adheres to the deeper groves of back teeth making them less likely to get decay.  Also using prescription fluoride toothpaste may help protect those more susceptible to cavities.

Bloomington MN Dental Office

Dr. Time Brooks and the team at Smiles for Life Dental have been effectively treating patients with cavities for many years. Our team will work with you to make sure you feel comfortable through every step of your treatment. Contact us today at one of our Minnesota dental offices to make your appointment. Our primary clinics are located in Bloomington, but we treat patients throughout the state of Minnesota!