Dentist Bel Air | 3 Steps to a Healthy Smile

Dentist Bel Air, MD

Did you know that tooth decay is the single largest cause of school absences? The longer decay goes untreated, the worse it gets. Not only can this mean costlier expenses for you, but it also jeopardizes your child’s oral health and education. You can help your child have a healthy, happy smile by taking a few steps to defend against tooth decay. Here are three steps you can take at home.

  1. Reduce Excessive Sugar

Sugary foods feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Limit your child’s sugary intake by keeping candy, soft drinks, juices, and other sweets to a minimum. If your child does indulge in a sugary snack or treat, make sure they brush their teeth afterwards.

  1. Follow a Consistent Brushing Routine

One of the best steps you can take for your child is to help them establish a daily brushing routine. They should brush for at least two minutes both morning and night. Try brushing at the same times each day so that it becomes a habit. We also strongly recommend that parents monitor their children to make sure they are brushing correctly and safely. It’s important that children avoid swallowing toothpaste or mouthwash.

  1. Strengthen Teeth with Dairy Products

Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, particularly cheese, yogurt, and milk. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. Increasing the amount of calcium in your child’s diet can help strengthen tooth enamel, one of the natural defenses against decay. If your child is lactose intolerant or cannot consume other dairy products, we suggest you talk to our team for additional solutions.

Healthy teeth start at home. Implement the three simple steps above with your child at home to ensure they have a happy, healthy smile. The single most important step you can take for your child is to bring them in to see our team. Regular oral health examinations for your child are essential to ensure that their teeth are healthy and growing properly.

Contact our team to schedule your child’s next examination today.

The Best Snacks for Healthy Teeth

The foods you eat have a big impact on your health and the health of your mouth. Foods that are high in sugar like candy and soda contribute to tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association, oral health is one of the first areas to decline in  with a poor diet. Here are a few foods that you can eat to improve your oral hygiene.

Cheese

There’s good news for the many people who love cheese. A 2013 study published in an issue of General Dentistry found that eating cheese raises the pH levels in the mouth and lowered the risk of tooth decay ( that mans the mouth becomes less acid). The chewing required to break up the cheese also slightly increased the saliva levels in the mouth, which help to rinse away bacteria and food particles. Cheese also contains calcium and protein which help refresh tooth enamel.

Apples

While apples and other fruits do have natural sugars, they’re also high in water and fiber. Eating an apple increases the production of saliva in the mouth and the fibrous texture can help stimulate the gums. Picking an apple as a snack after a lunchtime meal can help temporarily clean out your mouth before you have an opportunity to brush.

Yogurt

Yogurt, another dairy snack, is high in calcium and protein, which like cheese, makes it a good option to improve the strength and health of your teeth. Yogurt also contains probiotics, or good bacteria, that can benefit your gums by replacing the bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities. Try to opt for plain yogurt when you can to avoid added sugar that’s bad for your teeth.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach or kale are full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories, and can also promote oral health. Like other foods on this list, they’re high in calcium, and they also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that can helps limit  gum disease.

Almonds

Almonds are a good snack for your teeth because they’re low in sugar and high in protein and calcium. Adding them to a salad or a meal or simply enjoying them alone with lunch can be a good way to supplement your oral health-conscious diet.

Carrots

Carrots act like apples by being a fibrous snack that can help clean your mouth, but carrots have even less sugar than apples. They’re also a great source of vitamin A which can contribute to better gum health.

Celery

Celery has a high water and fiber content, acting similarly to carrots and apples to help scrape away food particles and bacteria from your teeth. It also contains vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that improve gum health.

Adding dairy, leafy greens, and fibrous fruits and vegetables to your diet can go a long way when trying to improve your dental health, especially if they replace unhealthy snacks. Also be sure to watch what you’re drinking; water is always the best option since it has no calories and sugar, compared to sugar-loaded juices and sodas, and teas that only have negative effects on your teeth.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Dentist in Bel Air | 6 Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Toothbrush

Dentist in Bel Air, MD

Do you ever think about your toothbrush? You use it twice a day, but how much do you know about it? We’ve compiled a list of interesting toothbrush facts. The next time you brush, consider these bits of trivia.

  1. Toothbrushes may be less common than mobile devices

It is believed that more people own and use a mobile device than those who own and use a toothbrush. With nearly 8 billion mobile devices, the world has more mobile phones, tablets, and other gear than people. However, only 3.5 billion people are estimated to use a toothbrush.

  1. Origin story

It is believed that the first modern toothbrush was invented by a prisoner in England. Sometime around 1780, William Addis created a toothbrush from bone and used swine bristle for the brush.

  1. A long history

Long before Mr. Addis invented what we know as the toothbrush, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese crafted tools for cleaning their teeth. The ancient Chinese used “chewing sticks” to freshen breath as early as 1600 BCE.

  1. What are the bristles?

Originally, toothbrush bristles were primarily made from cow hairs or boar hair. Today, nylon is the material of choice, and has been since the 1930s.

  1. What color is your toothbrush?

Blue is the most common toothbrush color. The second most common color is red.

  1. A home for bacteria

More than 100 million bacteria call your toothbrush home. You don’t get sick regularly because, like your toothbrush, your mouth is home to hundreds of millions of bacteria. Your body is quite effective at fighting off these germs, but if you don’t change your toothbrush regularly or share with someone else, you might catch an illness.

Now that you are a toothbrush expert, spread the word about the importance of regular brushing. Be sure to brush for two minutes twice each day. The American Dental Association recommends that you change your toothbrush every three to four months. If you have a weakened immune system or have been sick recently, you should replace your toothbrush.

For more dental care tips, or to schedule your next visit to our office, please contact us.

Common Root Canal Myths

Being told you need a root canal can put fear into the mind of any dental patient. When getting hit with the news, you  try to search  for answers. The Internet can be full of inaccurate information that leads online researchers to false conclusions. However, root canals, while well-known, are highly misunderstood and are not as bad as all the horror stories. Here are a few common root canal myths that are  passed off as truths,  in reality, they do  not paint the most accurate picture.

Myth: Root canals are painful.

Ultimately, the purpose of a root canal is to eliminate infection  that results from progressive decay that has reached the nerve of a tooth and caused an disease. The pain typically associated with root canals is likely just the pain from the infection and abscesses that are a result of the decay. By using modern procedures and anesthetics or sedation, a root canal can be performed  completely painlessly . It is just like receiving a filling or a similar basic procedure.

Myth: You only need a root canal if you are suffering from tooth pain.

Sometimes the decay in a tooth will lead to the “death” of the tooth and it will no longer feel pain or sensation. When this occurs, a harmful infection can still occur without any pain to indicate the symptoms. It is still just as important to get it treated and prevent further damage.

Myth: The benefits of root canals are temporary.

Root canals are a long-term solution to infected roots. The pain is indefinitely relieved as the infected nerves are removed , and the tooth is preserved. The crown that serves as the final step in restoration is a key to the success of the root canal. A crown that fits properly combined with continued positive oral practices can ensure that your tooth lasts a lifetime.

Myth: Tooth extraction is a better alternative to root canals.

An extraction is a far more traumatic procedure that can actually cause the introduction of more bad bacteria into the bloodstream. A root canal is not only less costly than an extraction, but it allows you to keep your natural tooth. Any replacement for a natural tooth, such as bridges, implants, or other alternatives, requires more treatments, more time in the chair, and higher costs.

Myth: Root canals can cause illness.

While this myth can be found all over the Internet, many do not realize it is based on poorly designed research done nearly 100 years ago! A study performed by Dr. Weston Price in the 1920’s was done with the deceitful intent of promoting extractions, rather than providing true, scientific evidence against root canals. Root canals are a safe and effective approach that completely remove bacteria from infected roots of your teeth, improving oral and overall health.

Do you think you need a root canal and are looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Dentist Bel Air | Filling in the Gaps: Your Options for Missing Teeth

Bel Air, MD Dentist

Are you embarrassed to show your smile because of missing teeth? For many people, missing teeth can create a feeling of diminished self-confidence. Modern dentistry can not only replace the gaps in your smile, our team can also create long-term replacements that look and feel just like your natural teeth. You have options. Here are a few of the most common tooth replacement solutions.

Dentures

Dentures are a solution for those who have lost many or all their teeth. They create a realistic, aesthetically pleasing smile. They are ideal for patients that are missing multiple teeth on either the top or bottom. Our team will start by taking an impression of your mouth. We will then send the impression to a lab for a customized set of dentures to be created. Once your dentures are ready, we will ensure a proper fit and make any necessary adjustments. Dentures should be cleaned regularly with a non-abrasive cleanser. Our team will provide you with all the information you need to take care of your dentures.

Bridges

You may have heard of dental bridges referred to as partial dentures. Dental bridges are a replacement solution for one or more missing teeth. They help prevent your existing teeth from shifting into the empty gaps of your missing teeth. Bridges utilize your surrounding teeth as an anchor for your replacements. Our team can match the bridge to look like your natural teeth; no one will even notice the difference.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a long-lasting tooth replacement option. Unlike dentures, which may require replacement, dental implants can last a lifetime with proper care. Our team will ensure your gum tissue is healthy enough with adequate bone support to anchor the implant. For some patients, additional preparations may be necessary such as a bone graft to guarantee your implant has a strong, stable foundation.

The gaps in your smile can be filled. Our team can help you decide on a tooth replacement solution based on your individual needs. It is important to fill the gaps of missing teeth to prevent deterioration to your gums and the shifting of teeth into these empty spaces. Additionally, tooth replacement solutions such as dentures, bridges, or implants can help improve your speech and comfort.

If you are missing teeth, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our team.

Ways to Make Brushing Your Teeth Fun for Kids

Getting your child to brush their teeth may not be the easiest task, but it is essential that you teach your kids the importance of proper oral hygiene at a young age. While some may think that baby teeth don’t matter  because they simply get replaced by adult teeth, poor oral hygiene at a young age can continue even when adult teeth emerge. Here are a few ways to make brushing your teeth fun for your child to help them develop good habits as early as possible.

Let Them Pick Out Their Own Toothbrush and Toothpaste

There are a whole variety of themed toothbrushes and toothpastes that can appeal to your kid’s interests. Take them to the store and let them look around and pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. They might be a lot more eager to get home and try it out.

Let Them Do the Whole Routine

Kids love to do everything themselves; they want to feel like a big kid who can do it all! For younger kids who are just starting out brushing their own teeth, let them explore their independence and have them go through the whole routine themselves, from putting the toothpaste on the brush to brushing to cleaning it off and putting everything away. Not only can this encourage them to regularly brush their teeth, but it develops motor skills, confidence, and independence.

Let Them Practice on Others

If you’re tired of fighting with your kids to get them to brush their own teeth, let them practice on your mouth, if you’re comfortable with it. They might find it fun to practice on mom or dad, and be sure to be a good actor and make brushing teeth seem like a whole lot of fun.

If you’d rather them not practice on you, you can have them practice on a doll or stuffed animal, with or without toothpaste depending on how messy you’re willing to get. Brushing teeth can seem way more fun if a toy is involved, and it can encourage your kids to follow suit!

Reward Them for Doing It Right

Make a “toothbrushing” calendar for you kids and use stickers to mark the days they properly brushed their teeth every morning and night. Get a variety of stickers and keep each new one a secret so your kid has an exciting surprise to look forward too. If your child successfully fills up a whole month straight (or a time period of your choice), reward them with an even bigger surprise, such as a “bonus” in allowance or a new toy they’ve been asking for.

Set a Good Example

Kids always look up to mom and dad and their routines, whether it’s a little boy watching as his dad shaves or a little girl watching her mom put on makeup in the morning. Kids tend to imitate what their parents do, so use this to your advantage and make sure they see you brushing your teeth regularly. They may be more inclined to be like mom or dad and keep their teeth just as clean.

Looking for a dentist you can rely on? Allegiance Dental Associates delivers the kind of gentle, trusting care you want for your family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Dentist Bel Air | To Floss or Not To Floss?

Dentist Bel Air, MD

dentist bel airBy now, you have likely seen news reports questioning whether flossing is necessary for your oral health.

We want to answer your question right away with an absolute YES. Cleaning between your teeth is an essential part of caring for your teeth and gums.

Whether you use traditional string dental floss, a water flosser, an interdental (between teeth) brush, or other form of interdental cleaning, it is important that you clean between your teeth correctly and on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, in the quest for catchy headlines, many news agencies have been providing a great deal of incomplete and inaccurate information.

Here’s the truth: Plaque and bacteria can be prevented from building up between teeth when flossing is done correctly on a daily basis.

Why does that matter? Build-up of plaque and bacteria between teeth is one of the leading causes of periodontal disease, a condition which not only affects your mouth, teeth, and gums, but has been linked to complications with diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other systemic health issues.

The next time you visit our office, ask your hygienist to show you the most effective way to clean between your teeth. For more information on flossing and interdental cleaning or to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Dentist in Bel Air, MD | Dry Mouth And Why It’s A Problem!

Dentist Bel Air

dentist in bel air mdDry mouth can be very uncomfortable for people. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can cause patients to have difficulty speaking, tasting, chewing and swallowing. It can also cause bad breath. What many people don’t know is that dry mouth can significantly contribute to a rise in cavities, demineralization of teeth, teeth sensitivity and oral infections.

What causes dry mouth? A reduction in salivary flow can be a result of an autoimmune disease, chemotherapy or radiation, or more commonly a side effect of a medication. Other causes may be uncontrolled diabetes or hormonal changes.  At night, salivary flow naturally decreases which is why the symptoms are exacerbated while you’re sleeping. Mouth breathing at night makes it even worse!

Why is saliva so important? We all can understand that saliva keeps your mouth moist and allows you to chew, swallow and digest your food.  What we may not realize is the importance of saliva in cleansing your mouth and maintaining a neutral pH. Dry mouth can create an acidic environment which allows for your enamel to demineralize and tooth decay to develop and grow.  Xerostomia can also allow for the development of fungal or bacterial infections.

What can you do about it? A thorough exam and medical history background can help identify the cause of the dry mouth. Next would be to discuss tips on relieving it. Below are a few:

-Drink plenty of water, including leaving a glass or bottle of water on your bedside table. Avoid alcohol and sugary soda and juice. Alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco are irritants. Use an alcohol free mouth rinse.

-Breathe through your nose! If you find this difficult to do at night, try using a nose strip to open your nasal passages.

-Chew sugar-free gum containing Xylitol or suck on sugar free candy.

-Frequent dental exams to help identify the cause and check for developing cavities and infections, as well as evaluate your gums.

-Fluoride, Fluoride, Fluoride! Using prescription strength fluoride toothpaste at home and fluoride treatments at your hygiene visits will help tremendously in the prevention of tooth decay.

-Use a humidifier at night.

If you are experiencing dry mouth we encourage you to schedule a visit and share your concerns with us. You can also share this information with a family member or friend who is complaining of dry mouth. Your oral and overall health is important to us!

Dentist in Bel Air | 7 Ways to Get Your Calcium Dairy-Free

Dentist in Bel Air, MD

dentist bel airCalcium is an important mineral for building strong, healthy teeth, but not everyone can tolerate the lactose found in dairy. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. About 65% of people have reduced ability to process lactose past infancy.

If you have difficulty with lactose but want to ensure you are getting the calcium you need, consider one of these non-dairy sources of natural calcium.

  1. Canned seafood, such as sardines and salmon, can be a good source of calcium. These inexpensive options actually contain more calcium than their fresh counterparts. Canned seafood contains small, soft, edible bones that are generally unnoticeable but can be a great way to add calcium to a salad or other dish.
  2. Calcium-fortified juices are available in both orange and cranberry varieties. These juices taste the same as non-fortified options, but contain a substantial amount of calcium. Check the label to ensure it is a calcium-fortified juice.
  3. Soy, rice, and almond milks offer added calcium and can be used as a milk substitute for many dishes. Experiment with different varieties to determine which flavor you like the most for each use. Try one of these milk alternatives on cereal or use in a cooked dish in place of regular milk. Soy, rice, and almond milks are available in a variety of flavors, including plain, sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla, and other options.
  4. Beans are a calcium-rich food. Black-eyed peas and baked beans are particularly high in calcium.
  5. Green vegetables are a good source of natural calcium. Collard, mustard, turnip, and dandelion greens, Chinese cabbage, spinach, kale, okra, and broccoli are all great choices for adding calcium to your diet.
  6. Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or Brazil nuts are strong sources of calcium. Flaxseeds and sunflower seeds are a great snack or salad additive with calcium. Almond butter, cashew butter, and pumpkin seed butter are a fun and calcium-rich alternative to peanut butter.
  7. Breakfast cereals are highly fortified with several vitamins and minerals, including calcium. Old-fashioned rolled oatmeal adds calcium to your breakfast as well.

Calcium is important for developing and maintaining strong teeth and bones. If you have trouble with dairy, don’t let that stop you from consuming your recommended amount of daily calcium.

For more information that can improve your oral health, contact our office.

Dentist in Bel Air | Should I Be Using a Tongue Scraper?

Bel Air, MD Dentist

dentist bel airIn addition to brushing your teeth twice each day and flossing at least once, it is also important to take good care of your tongue. Bacteria can build up on your tongue throughout the day. For some patients, using a tongue scraper can be the best solution for a cleaner, healthier tongue.

Should You Be Using One?

The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) found scraping your tongue results in a noticeable decrease in the sulfur compounds which can lead to bad breath. According to a study in the Journal of Periodontology, tongue scrapers reduced these compounds by 75%, while using a standard toothbrush only reduced 45% of sulfur compounds. Choose a method that works best for your mouth, but make sure you are taking care of your tongue.

What Do They Do?

While they may help alleviate bad breath, scraper’s main function is to clean off debris and bacteria from your tongue. Your toothbrush is designed to effectively clean teeth, but the surface of your tongue is very different from that of your teeth. A tongue scraper may provide a more thorough cleaning for your tongue.

How Do I Use One?

Start by washing out your mouth. When you are ready clean your tongue, place the scraper in the back of your mouth, and gently pull it forward. Make sure you are scraping all areas of your tongue, but do not push so far back that you gag. You will want to rinse your mouth after you are done. Be sure to clean the scraper when you are finished.

While you might not be used to cleaning your tongue, it can be an effective solution for bad breath and bacteria caused by food. At your next appointment, ask about other ways of keeping your tongue clean and your mouth healthy. Keeping up with your daily oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing is crucial to maintaining your oral health and preventing unhealthy bacteria.

For more tips on a healthy mouth or to schedule your next visit to our office, please contact us. We look forward to seeing you.