Girl at the dentist holding and x-ray and looking at the camera smiling

5 Big Reasons To Choose a Children’s Dentist

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a great time to focus on kids!

Getting kids off to a good start with their oral health is what pediatric dentistry is all about. “A child’s attitudes and habits about caring for their teeth are established very early,” says Dr. Kim Hansford, a board-certified pediatric dentist. “A good experience with the dentist when they’re young can influence the way they take care of their oral health throughout their lives. The dental care they receive while they’re young can also prevent problems down the road, and set them up for healthy smiles for life.”

5 Big Reasons To Choose a Children’s Dentist for Your Little Ones

1. In addition to completing dental school, pediatric dentists must complete an advanced residency program in their specialty. The program is usually two to three years in length, and provides an in-depth education in the unique dental needs of babies, children and adolescents.

2. Training in pediatric dentistry also covers child psychology, growth and development, and caring for special needs patients. Kids’ dentists are well prepared to help anxious or frightened children feel at ease, and to provide a positive experience for them.

3. Children’s dentists know the importance of providing a fun and welcoming atmosphere for kids. As Dr. Kim explained, “Toys and videos can keep children occupied before their appointments and take their minds off anything that might be worrying them. Being around other children can bring kids an additional level of comfort. And we always send them home with a little reward, such as a toy or stickers.”

4. A children’s dental office will usually feature smaller chairs and dental equipment sized to fit little mouths. That can make a big difference to a child’s comfort. In addition, “During a child’s treatment,” said Dr. Kim, “we explain what the different tools do in an age-appropriate way. It helps ward off fears they may have.”

5. With a strong focus on preventive care, a children’s dentist can help ensure a lifetime of good dental health for your child. You can count on the dentist to stay up to date on preventive treatments that are especially important to kids, such as fluoride treatments and sealants. And, a kids’ dentist is an excellent source of advice and answers to questions about your child’s dental needs.

woman with red lipstick smiles and reveals a heart sticker on her chest

3 Reasons to Love Your Smile

Unfortunately a lot of people are self-conscious about their smiles. From tutorials on how to smile better and what seems like every celebrity opting for veneers nowadays, there seems to be a lot of pressure on us to have perfect teeth! But just because your teeth aren’t perfectly straight or perfectly white does not mean they aren’t perfectly healthy and beautiful. Don’t believe us? Here are 3 reasons you should love your smile.

1. It’s uniquely yours.

Just like a fingerprint, no two people in the world have the same set of teeth. So if you feel self-conscious over crooked or discolored teeth – Don’t be! Each tooth has a particular size, a particular placement, and a certain distance from its neighbor, which makes the whole set unique. Even identical twins do not have exactly the same set of teeth, because a set of teeth is not only determined by genes, but also by clenching, grinding or thumb sucking.

Michael Strahan laughs and reveals his famous gap

Retired NFL Star & talk show host Michael Strahan—who has one of the most unique smiles we can think of—once considered closing his famous gap at one point. “I made the conscious effort to say, ‘This is who I am,'” he explains of why he didn’t and won’t close up his teeth. “I’m not perfect. I don’t want to try to be perfect.” We think you’re perfect exactly as you are, Michael, and we love your unique smile!

2. Less-than-perfect teeth are beautiful!

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says a well-known proverb, and we don’t disagree. Crooked teeth aren’t necessarily unhealthy or bad for any reason—despite some people’s obsession with straight teeth—so if you have a few crooked or discolored teeth, don’t stop loving your smile! Believe it or not, in Japan, crooked teeth are ideal. And they even have a specific word “yaeba” for their cute obsession with lengthier canines and less-than-straight smiles.

kate moss is smiling

Anna Paquin, Kate Moss and Kirsten Dunst are three stars who didn’t “fix” their teeth, but we think their smiles make them even more beautiful because they’re natural. If everyone had identical straight teeth, the world would be a boring place. Celebrate your uniqueness today and see your teeth in a new light.

3. It makes other people happy!

Ever seen a smile from a toddler or a happy puppy and had your day made? It turns out there is some science behind the happy feeling we get when we smile and see others smiling. Not only do our brains want to smile when we see someone else smile, research suggests that smiling leads to decrease in the stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health. One study even found that people who smile more lead happier and healthier lives than those who smile less.

So what’s the biggest takeaway here? Smile more! You’ll be happier. The people around you will be happier. And even if you’re self-conscious about your smile, who knows? Someone watching might think it is the most absolutely perfect smile they’ve ever seen. Gaps, snaggleteeth, yaeba, braces, whatever – smile a little more today and see what happens.

African American girl having tootache.

What to Do if Your Child Has a Toothache

Toothaches are common for young children. But as parents, we worry anytime our child is in pain. A child’s toothache can have many causes—tooth decay, plaque buildup, incoming teeth, cavities, broken teeth or food trapped between teeth—and sometimes what feels like a toothache might be just pain caused by something else entirely! So what do you do when your child has a toothache? Follow our 6 easy steps to identify the problem, help ease your child’s pain and get them the treatment they need.

Ask Questions

The first thing you want to do is try to find the cause of your child’s toothache. If they are old enough, ask them to point at or describe the pain. If they are younger, look for swelling, redness of gums and cheek, tooth discoloration or broken teeth. If you find a tooth that is loose, discolored or broken, you’ve likely found the cause.

Help Your Child Floss

Next you want to help your child remove any food particles that may be trapped between their teeth. Remember to be gentle and careful while flossing, because your child’s gums might be sensitive. If your child struggles with flossing or has braces, consider purchasing a Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids to make it easier.

Rinse with Warm Salt Water

Mix about a teaspoon of table salt into a small cup of warm water. Have your child rinse with the solution for about 30 seconds and spit. This will kill bacteria in or around the affected area and encourage faster healing.

Use a Cold Compress

Apply a cold compress to your child’s outer cheek near the painful or swollen area. If you do not have a store-bought compress, you can make one by wrapping ice in a small towel or cloth. Try icing for 15 minutes and taking another 15 minutes off.

Use Pain Medication or Clove Oil

If pain continues, your child can take anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Remember to make sure that any medicine you give your children is safe for them: Read the Drug Facts label every time, look for the active ingredient and give the right amount.

Under no circumstance should you rub aspirin or any painkiller on your child’s gums – it is very acidic and can cause burns. If you need a topical treatment, a home remedy that others have suggested is clove oil – an antimicrobial, anti-fungal essential oil that was used as far back as Ancient Greece. Gently dab clove oil with a cotton swab to the affected area around the tooth for temporary pain relief.

Call Your Child’s Dentist

Flossing, rinsing, icing and medicating are of probably not permanent solutions to the problem. If your child’s toothache is caused by a cavity, they’ll need to see a dentist for a filling, root canal or possibly an extraction. If your child is experiencing extreme pain, fatigue or fever, you’ll want to call your pediatrician immediately.

Children are at a greater risk for dental infections than adults. If your child’s toothache is not going away—especially if the toothache persists for over 24 hours—you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Even if your child’s pain goes away, there is still a chance they have a cavity which can develop into a painful abscess. If you have any doubts, please call us or schedule an appointment online.

Family having traditional holiday dinner with stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables pumpkin and pecan pie.

The 3 Best Thanksgiving Dishes for Your Teeth

As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this year, you might think about how it’s affecting the scale or your belt buckle — but what about your dental health? We’ve talked a lot about the link between dental health and overall health on our blog, so it’s no surprise that some foods are better for your teeth than others. Find out what’s inside some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and the positive effects they have on your teeth and gums.

Roasted turkey served on plate with a variety of vegetables, ready for dinner on Thanksgiving

Turkey

What’s inside: Protein, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Potassium and B Vitamins

Effects on your teeth: The star of the whole meal is probably the best thing for you on the table. Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, which strengthens teeth and your immune system. The minerals found in turkey — iron and zinc — promote healthy mucosal tissues that act as a barrier between your gums and dangerous bacteria. Phosphorous is important to bone health because it maximizes the benefits of calcium. And B Vitamins not only give you a natural energy boost, but they can also help prevent periodontal disease and repair damaged gum tissue. In fact, one of the only downsides to turkey is that it gets caught in your teeth, so you might want to bring along a flossing pick to Grandma’s house this year.


Homemade Red Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

What’s inside: Antioxidants, Vitamin C & Fiber

Effects on your teeth: Cranberries — like blueberries, kale and oatmeal — are often called a superfood because of their many health benefits. They are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can find, and antioxidants load your cells to protect you from disease. Cranberries are also rich in dietary fiber, which has been shown to reduce tooth decay, and Vitamin C. which strengthens your immune system. Most people go with canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving and we don’t blame you for saving some time, but unfortunately canned recipes are packed with sugar. Excessive sugar can damage your teeth enamel and lead to tooth decay, among other dental health problems. When you make your own cranberry sauce at home, you decide how much sugar goes in. So if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to canned cranberry sauce, check out this great recipe from Cookie and Kate.


Homemade Cooked Sweet Potato with Onions and Herbs

Yams or Sweet Potatoes

What’s inside: Vitamin C, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin A, Fiber & Potassium

Effects on your teeth: Yams and sweet potatoes are often interchangeable in recipes and can be prepared a lot of different ways on Thanksgiving — some of them more healthy than others. But at the heart of every yam or sweet potato dish is a vitamin-packed starch that is low in fat and high in nutritional value. Great at regulating blood sugar, their anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent periodontal disease. Healthy doses of Thiamine and Niacin in a balanced diet can decrease tooth decay. And Vitamin A promotes saliva production, which is crucial for cleaning away destructive bacteria and food particles from between teeth and gums. A lot of yam or sweet potato dishes are sweetened with sugar or marshmallows, but Thanksgiving is a time for a little rule-breaking — go ahead and splurge. Just remember to rinse your mouth with water any time you eat a sugary dish.


Happy Thanksgiving from our Family to yours!

Difference Between Night Guards and Mouth Guards

We’ve heard a few names for the plastic thing people wear to protect their teeth during physical activities or sleep. If you or your children are involved in contact sports, or if you ever feel jaw pain especially after sleep, we’ll clear up the differences between night guards and mouth guards for you. And we’ll help you decide which one you need.

What is a Night Guard?

An occlusal splint is commonly called a dental guard, night guard or bite guard. It is used to protect your teeth while you sleep. Most dentists recommend night guards to patients who grind their teeth, which is often as a result of stress or anxiety. When someone habitually grinds his or her teeth, it is called bruxism, a very common condition that affects 10% of people and as many as 15% of children. Grinding your teeth can ruin enamel, increase tooth sensitivity and chip your teeth. Too much grinding and clenching of the jaw can result in a condition of the jaw called TMJ, which can sometimes require surgery.

Close-up shot of doctors hands in gloves holding silicone mouth guard. Teeth care

Do you or your children ever wake up with jaw pain or think you might be grinding your teeth? Schedule a consultation with your dentist to discuss getting a custom-fit night guard. In just one visit, we can evaluate your grinding habits and take an impression of your smile. Some of our offices can even make your night guard in their own lab! In about 1-2 weeks, you’ll have your night guard and be sleeping easier.

What is a Mouth Guard?

A mouth guard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, lips and gums. The American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouth guard for many sports played in the fall and winter:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Field Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Ultimate Frisbee

Custom mouth guards are recommended over store-bought, and do more than just protect your teeth. According to one study, “high school football players wearing store-bought mouth guards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing properly fitted, custom mouth guards.” Ask your dentist to make a dental impression for you, which will be sent off to a lab that produces mouth guards or made in one of our office’s labs.

Photo sports mouth guard and medical capacitor on a white background

National Brush Day and Stonehaven Dental logos over photos of children celebrating Halloween and brushing their teeth

National Brush Day 2016

November 1 is more than just the day after Halloween. It’s also National Brush Day, when we remind ourselves to brush twice daily and help educate our children on the importance of dental hygiene. In addition to other healthy habits, brushing 2 times for 2 minutes every day helps reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Brush 2min2x

Teaching good dental hygiene to our children is especially important, so that they can make brushing twice part of their daily routine. According to Psychology Today, habits that develop early in life can be very difficult to change — so helping your children understand the importance of dental hygiene will transition into keeping healthy habits as an adult.

The Children’s Oral Health campaign encourages parents to reduce their children’s risk of oral disease by making sure they’re brushing for two minutes, twice a day. Their website, 2min2x.org, has plenty of educational and fun resources to help parents out, including these easy Tooth To-Dos:

  • Use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste for kids ages 3-6, and use slightly more when they’re older.
  • Teach them to spit out the toothpaste when they’re done so they don’t swallow it.
  • Help your kids place the toothbrush at an angle against their gums.
  • Make sure they move the brush back and forth, gently, in short strokes.
  • Help them brush the front, back, and top of teeth.
  • Teach them to brush their tongue to remove germs and freshen breath.

For more tips, be sure to read Colgate’s Teeth Brushing For Kids: Three Strategies For Proper Technique.

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