New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthier Smile

shutterstock_73635604Each New Year we turn a page and discover new opportunities to increase our energy, our happiness and our health. While the typical New Year’s resolutions may include losing weight, getting more exercise, eating healthier and reducing stress, we wanted to recommend some positive dental-friendly resolutions that can play an important role in good oral health for 2014.

Below are our mouth-healthy resolutions for 2014:

Quit smoking or using tobacco products: Tobacco products are more than just harmful to your body, they cause bad breath, stained teeth, dulled sense of taste and smell, gum disease and even oral cancer. Quitting is the only way to reduce your risk of these or other related tobacco health issues. We recommend that putting a plan together and getting support through people you know will best help with this resolution. Those that have been successful in smoking or tobacco cessation have used methods like exercise, chewing gum and sometimes, medication. Talk with your dentist or doctor about medication available to help you in your plan to quit.

Start (or keep) brushing 2 times a day for 2 minutes: Always brush at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush for healthier teeth, great breath, less cavities, and to avoid painful dental problems. Not sure you’ve been brushing for two minutes? Try using a stop watch to time yourself.

Floss at least once daily: Flossing is also an important part of being mouth healthy. The most important thing about flossing is to do it at a time where you can devote a couple of extra minutes to your dental hygiene. Some people who get extra tired at night choose to floss their teeth in the morning or even after lunch. If you’ve just started to floss and it is uncomfortable, that is normal. Keep flossing each day and you will notice the discomfort will go away in about a week or two. Talk to a dentist if you find the pain persists.

Chew sugarless gum: Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. Look for chewing gum that carries the ADA Seal, your assurance that the sugar-free chewing gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness.

Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables: Many foods and beverages, especially those high in sugar, can cause an increase in cavities. Paying close attention to your eating habits will reduce your risk of developing cavities and other more progressive dental problems.

Drink fluoridated water: Fluoride helps prevent cavities by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities.

Rounding off our list of dental-friendly New Year’s resolutions is to ensure you visit a dentist every six months. Regular dental visits will help you stay mouth healthy for life. For more information or to schedule your next appointment, please visit us at www.myfortmyersdentist.com or call (239) 936-0597.

Dental “MythBusters”

Throughout my years as a dentist, I have seen and heard of some pretty outlandish home remedies to help with toothaches. Here is a list of the best and the worst home remedies I have come across:

Aspirin: “If I have a toothache, can I just place two aspirins on my tooth to make it feel better?” If you had a headache, would you just place two aspirins on your head? The same goes for your mouth. You can’t just put two aspirins on your tooth and expect the pain to go away.  Placing aspirin directly on the infected area can actually do harm to your mouth due to the acidity in the pill. It can burn and irritate your gums. My word of advice? Just swallow the aspirin.

Garlic Cloves: This actually works. Dating back to the age of my great-great-grandparents, a garlic clove actually has some medicinal value (in addition to warding off vampires and zombies). Rest a clove against the sore area until pain goes away. You can also use a drop or two of clove oil, but be careful, too much can be toxic. However, my best advice is to crush the garlic clove. When crushed or finely chopped, two chemicals in the garlic join to form Allicin, which is an organosulfur compound obtained from the clove. Allicin has been known to offer some relief. Be sure you get it right on the tooth, getting it on your gums can really irritate them. And no, you cannot use garlic powder as a substitute.

Bourbon/Whiskey: The old wives’ tale says that strong liquor applied to the gums, swished in the mouth or taken down straight can bring relief from toothaches. Yes, the alcohol may kill a small percentage of the bacteria in your mouth and it may provide you with momentary relief from the pain, but I assure you it is not a home remedy for a toothache.

Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne Pepper is a key ingredient in many Mexican, Cajun, Creole and Indian dishes, and some think that it is a home remedy for toothache relief. I am here to tell you, it’s not. The hotness of the pepper only masks the pain that your mouth is feeling, and as soon as the hotness from the pepper goes away, your mouth will begin feeling the pain. Cayenne Pepper is meant to be a seasoning for foods, not for medicinal relief.

My tip to you is that if you are having dental stress, take an aspirin (don’t lay it on your tooth) and then make an appointment at my office. Dental stress and toothaches, if untreated, will only get worse. The best advice that I can give to you is take proper care of your mouth, and see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.

For more information on good dental care and services, visit our website at www.MyFortMyersDentist.com.

Dads: Set a great example for your children’s dental health!

McDowell FamilyNothing in a man’s life should bring him more joy and reward than being a dad.  As a father, you need to be someone that they learn from and look up to everyday.

My wife and I have three young children and work hard to set a good example in everything we do for them. This includes demonstrating great dental care. What many people don’t realize is that unhealthy teeth can lead to more severe health problems. That’s why it is so important to get kids to start taking good care of their teeth when they are young.

As working parents (we are both dentists) with three little kids and busy schedules, we know it’s not always easy. It takes dedication and we make it a priority because there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of our family. That’s why we are committed to practicing what we preach, teaching our children the proper ways to floss and brush their teeth, as well as the importance of routine dental check-ups.

This is the best way to get your kids in the habit of taking care of their teeth and overall health on a daily basis. As a dad, I feel it’s one of the best things we can for our children.

For more information on good dental care and services, visit our website at www.MyFortMyersDentist.com. Our office wishes a very Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, grandfathers and dads-to-be!

DIY is essential to your dental health

shutterstock_124477807We’re not suggesting you should attempt a filling or extract a tooth on your own, but between visits to our office, you make the difference in maintaining your dental health.

The most obvious method of cleaning your teeth, of course, is brushing. You are bombarded with advertising touting the benefits of one toothbrush or toothpaste above another, but the answer is simple. Keep it simple. A soft brush is best to avoid damaging tooth enamel, and in toothpaste flouride is the key ingredient. Beyond that, find a taste you can live with. In fact, the simpler your toothpaste the better as many that claim powerful ingredients can actually wear away enamel and cause problems for those with sensitive teeth over the long run.

Flossing is equally important though often neglected. Find a way to work it into your routine. Some people like to keep floss close at hand so they can clean their teeth soon after eating, when the discomfort of food debris motivates them to do so. Others find that doing the top in the morning and the bottom in the evening helps them get the job done. Still others floss their whole mouth in one session, and truth be told it doesn’t matter what time you do it, as long as you follow the recommended once-a-day minimum.

Mouth washes have always been considered optional, and for many people are not necessary. In fact, they can contain harsh chemicals and wear away enamel. If you can’t live without that minty fresh feeling, be an educated consumer and check the ingredients on the label to be sure you are totally comfortable with what you put in your mouth. Feel free to discuss your choices with us at your next visit.

Beyond brushing and flossing, there are other things you can do to keep your mouth clean and healthy on a daily basis. Choose healthy foods and drink plenty of water during and after meals. If you indulge in a sugary, starchy or acidic food, eat it during a meal or soon afterward when the saliva in your mouth is already stimulated. Saliva will help wash those unwanted sugars and acids away. Some research shows sugarless gum also promotes good dental health by stimulating saliva, so feel free to freshen your breath and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time.

Of course, regular professional cleanings, every six months, is very important, and make an appointment at the first sign of pain or discomfort. To make an appointment call 239-936-0597 or schedule online at http://www.myfortmyersdentist.com/appointment/

What your teeth want you to eat

shutterstock_136173053They do all the work, yet how often do you think about what you should eat for your teeth? We all know to avoid candy and other sticky sugary foods and to brush immediately after we indulge. Let’s go a step further and incorporate some of these teeth-healthy foods into the diet:

Fruits & Vegetables – Choose fruits with a high water volume, such as apples, cucumbers and watermelon. Eat high acid fruits such as oranges with meals and brush immediately after eating bananas and raisins, both of which tend to stick to the teeth.

Cheese – Cheese triggers saliva production, washing the teeth, and it also contains calcium, which fortifies teeth.

Meats, Nuts and Milk – The calcium and phosphorus in these foods re-mineralize teeth.

Sugarless Gum – Another way to get the saliva flowing, and some sugarless gums contain ingredients that have been shown to actually fight cavities.

Finally, when you do indulge in sweets and starches, eat them with your meal, when you mouth is primed to wash away bacteria because the saliva is already flowing.

With the right combination of diet, cleaning and regular visits to the dentist, your teeth will stay healthier. Call us today at 239-936-0597 to schedule your next check-up and professional cleaning or visit our website at http://www.myfortmyersdentist.com. 

Three Ways to Add Fluoride to Your Diet

girl drinking water flourideFluoride is an important component of dental health, protecting teeth from decay and keeping gums healthy. In most American cities, including those in Southwest Florida, this natural substance is added to tap water, providing a readily available source for all citizens. The average person consumes 2-3 milligrams of fluoride daily through tap water.

However, for a variety of reasons, many people prefer bottled water, which does not contain fluoride. Should you change from bottled water to tap water to protect your teeth? Not necessarily. Here are some other ways to incorporate fluoride into your diet:

Tea – Fluoride is naturally occurring in black tea. One cup of black tea could provide as much as nine milligrams of fluoride, according to one study, far more than tap water.

Meat – Fluoride is found in sea water so it can be found to some degree in most seafood, and particularly in mechanically processed canned fish and shellfish meat. The same is true for mechanically processed chicken, which is found in canned chicken and chicken nuggets because sodium sulfate in used in these processes.

Dentists – Prophylactic fluoride treatments are available through your dentist.

If you believe you are not getting enough fluoride in your diet and would like to discuss the advantages of such treatments, please make an appointment online at http://www.myfortmyersdentist.com/ or call 239-936-0597.