Back-To-School Tips

It’s the start of a new school year, and your kids are set with new clothes and school supplies. But don’t forget about oral health! Add these dental health tips to your back-to-school checklist.

1. Take your kids to the dentist

Start the school year right with a dental cleaning and exam. Ask us about sealants and fluoride treatments to prevent decay. These treatments are easy ways to stop cavities before they start. And they can even improve your child’s performance at school. A third of children miss school because of oral health problems.

2. Pick the right snacks

Swap out lunchtime no-nos with healthy alternatives. Instead of chips or crackers, try nuts. Salty snacks may seem healthy because they don’t contain sugar, but simple starches can be just as bad. These snacks break down into a sticky goo, coating teeth and promoting decay. Avoid candies and granola bars, offering crunchy snacks like celery sticks, baby carrots and cubes of cheddar cheese.

3. Make brushing and flossing fun

To keep their mouths healthy, kids need to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. They should also floss every day. Try these tricks to make brushing and flossing more exciting:

  • Use a sticker calendar. Let your kids place stickers on each day to represent brushing and flossing.
  • Play music. Collect your kids’ favorite two-minute songs and make sure they brush the whole time.
  • Personalize. Help your child pick a themed toothbrush in his or her favorite color.
  • Provide a kid-friendly floss holder. These Y-shaped devices make flossing more comfortable.

As always, give us a call at Hannon & Sandler to schedule your back-to-school check up!  We look forward to seeing you and your children!

Bad Breath – What Can I Do?

Bad breath is a very common problem and there are many different causes. Persistent bad breath is usually caused by the smelly gases released by the bacteria that coat your teeth, gums and tongue. Also, bits of food that get caught between the teeth and on the tongue, will rot and can sometimes cause an unpleasant smell. Strong foods like garlic, coffee and onions can add to the problem. So, it is very important to brush your teeth correctly and regularly. This will help keep your breath smelling fresh.

The plaque – aka bacteria – on our teeth and gums also cause gum disease and tooth decay. One of the warning signs of gum disease is that you always have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth. If you are noticing these symptoms, come see us at Hannon & Sandler and let us know. The earlier the problems are found, the more effective the treatment will be.

Bad breath can also be caused by some medical problems.  Dry Mouth is a condition that means your mouth produces less saliva. This causes bacteria to build up in your mouth which leads to bad breath. Dry mouth may be caused by some medications, by salivary gland problems or by continually breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.  Older people may also produce less saliva, causing further problems.

If you suffer from dry mouth, the team at Hannon & Sandler may be able to recommend products or suggest other ways of dealing with the problem.  Such as chewing sugar-free gum.  It helps your mouth produce saliva and stops it drying out since a dry mouth is one of the leading causes to bad breath.

Other medical conditions that cause bad breath include infections in the throat, nose or lungs, sinusitis, bronchitis, diabetes, or liver or kidney problems. If your dentist finds that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your family doctor or a specialist to find out the cause of your bad breath.

Can I prevent bad breath?

To keep your breath fresh, you must get rid of any gum disease, and keep your mouth clean and fresh. If you do have bad breath, list any medicines you are taking. Take this list to your dentist, who may be able to suggest ways to solve the problem.

  • Brush your teeth and gums last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well, or use a tongue scraper. Cut down on how often you have sugary food and drinks.
  • Visit us at Hannon & Sandler regularly.
  • Clean in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss at least once a day – brushing alone only cleans up to about 60 percent of the surface of your teeth. There are other products you can buy to clean between your teeth.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouthwash – some contain antibacterial agents that could kill bacteria that make your breath smell unpleasant.

If you continue to suffer from bad breath visit us at Hannon & Sandler to make sure you are not covering up a more serious underlying problem.

Canker Sores – A Constant Irritation

Have you been plagued with canker sores and wondered what you can do to prevent them?

Canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, can be a constant issue that is difficult to prevent and tiresome. Typically, they appear when you’re tired, stressed, and malnourished. Large doses of sun and alcohol consumption can also be culprits. Within the last few years, there have been studies indicating that sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – found in many toothpastes – can predispose you to canker sores.

A commonly overlooked reason for canker sores is mechanical in nature.  A rough spot on night guard, denture, orthodontic retainer, or Invisalign aligner can be the catalyst for the formation of the sore. There are also instances where a sharp edge of a tooth will cause a canker sore in the exact same location of the tongue or cheek.  This, of course, is easy to identify and fixed by smoothing down the tooth.

If the canker sore appears in the same spot each time, come and see us at Hannon & Sandler, and have the doctor identify any sharp areas that are abrading the area and have him round or smooth the sharp spot on the tooth.

Here are some common canker sore fixes:

  • Sleep eight hours a night
  • Manage your stress
  • Eat well
  • Take vitamins (especially the B’s)
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Monitor your diet and cut back on spicy and acidic foods
  • Do not use products in your mouth that contain SLS

As always, if you have the constant irritation from canker sores, let us know during your next dental appointment.  We will review all the possible triggers and come up with a plan suited just for you!

Are E-Cigarettes Bad For My Teeth And Gums?

What are E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes produce vapor while conventional cigarettes, cigars, and pipes produce smoke. The heating element in the unit heats up the liquid where nicotine and other vaping elements are stored. In the beginning, most people thought the vapor was smokeless and would be better than tobacco smoke. However, vaping is fairly new with no long-term studies conducted.

How does it affect my dental health?

Vaping is better for people who do not smoke as it does not produce secondhand smoke, but there are no benefits whatsoever for dental health. Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the blood flow will be drastically reduced. Nicotine restricts and decreases the flow of blood to the blood vessels, which in-turn restricts the blood flow to the gum tissue. Because a reduction in blood circulation reduces the mouths ability to fight infection and bacteria, decay rates and gum disease will accelerate. Over time, tooth loss and additional health problems could be an issue with e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes can also mask periodontal disease symptoms, which is why it’s important to let us know if you vape regularly.

What should I watch for if I vape?

If you vape you may not develop gingivitis or the more serious periodontal disease. However, the more you vape, the more likely you are to develop serious mouth and overall health problems.
You may want to note any issues with your teeth and gums including:
•Red or irritated gums
•Chronic bad breath
•Loose teeth
•Gum recession
•Bleeding gums

If you vape, it is important to schedule regular dental appointments with us at Hannon & Sandler. Keeping a close eye on your teeth and gums will help prevent any problems from occurring in the future.

Eating Disorders and Your Teeth

Some eating habits can wreak havoc on your body and your teeth. For example, snacking throughout the day can increase the risk of tooth decay. Sipping soda and frequent snacking on snack foods increase the rate of harmful acid attacks on tooth enamel. And repeated binge eating can do the same.

The eating disorder bulimia nervosa not only harms overall health but also is particularly destructive to teeth. It involves secret repeated binge eating followed by purging which is self-induced vomiting, fasting and use of laxatives or diet pills.

Binge eaters consume a large amount of food very quickly. Although this temporarily may ease hunger and other feelings, binge eating can create stomach pain and anxiety about weight gain.

The digestive system contains strong acids that break down food. When vomiting is used to purge food from the body, these acids attack tooth enamel. Repeated vomiting can erode tooth enamel severely. Over time, teeth exposed to stomach acids can become worn and translucent. The mouth, throat and salivary glands may become swollen and tender.

Anorexia nervosa is another serious eating disorder that is harmful to overall health and to teeth. It is characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, the desire to become thinner and an inability to maintain a minimally normal weight for height and age.

People who experience bulimia or anorexia do not receive adequate minerals, vitamins, proteins and other nutrients needed for good health. To keep your smile healthy, limit snacks and eat nutritious, well-balanced meals. As always, if you have any questions or concerns with your teeth, contact any of us at Hannon & Sandler. We will be more than happy to answer any of your questions!

Dental Hygiene As You Age

Good dental hygiene and oral care habits are important at any age. As you get older, it’s important to think about your dental routine and if it needs some tweaking – because certain life changes can cause changes in your mouth. Whether you have all of your original teeth, some of them, or a full set of dentures, caring for your mouth is just as important when you get older as it was when you were a kid.

FLUORIDE
Fluoride isn’t just for children. Even if you’re over 50, it’s still important to protect the surface of your teeth and prevent decay. It’s important to note that older individuals have an increased risk for cavities, making it especially important for you to make sure fluoride is a part of your daily routine. When brushing, twice a day, use a fluoride toothpaste. If you are particularly concerned about cavities or have had a few as you’ve aged, we encourage you to get an in-office fluoride varnish treatment for the added level of protection.

DRY MOUTH
As you get older you may start to notice your mouth becoming dryer. Certain features of aging, such as more regular medications or a chronic condition, can increase your risk for dry mouth which also correlates with an increase in cavities or decay. If you suffer from dry mouth, there are a few improvements you can make to your dental hygiene to reduce your symptoms. You can use a moisturizing mouthwash or spray (Biotene), or chew sugar-free gum or gum sweetened with Xylitol, which encourages the production of saliva. You can also consult your doctor if your dry mouth is caused by medication. Adjusting your dose or trying a new medicine can help alleviate certain symptoms.

GUM DISEASE
Whether or not you have all of your real teeth, gum disease remains a big concern among older individuals. A study published in the Journal of Dental Research found that nearly 64 percent of adults over age 65 had severe or moderate periodontitis in 2009 and 2010. Although it’s common, gum disease doesn’t have to be a cost of getting older. Maintaining good dental hygiene and seeing us at Hannon and Sandler regularly will help you prevent it or treat it quickly.

Your age does not have to show in your teeth! Be sure to see us regularly at Hannon and Sandler for all your check up needs, young and old!

What Parents Need To Know About Kids Losing Teeth

As a parent, every milestone our children go through is both exciting and educational. As a first-time parent, we learn everything we can, either deliberately or by experience. The same is true with baby teething and kids losing teeth. Here’s what you need to know about kids losing teeth.

WHEN SHOULD MY CHILD LOSE THEIR TEETH?
Teeth usually start getting loose because the adult (or permanent) teeth are pushing on them and are ready to come in. Kids tend to lose teeth in the same order the got them, most commonly the front teeth, followed by the canines and working back to the molars.
Baby teeth (also called primary teeth) begin to wiggle as early as age 4 and you will see kids losing teeth between the ages of 5-15.
Baby teeth can also be lost due to injuries or dental issues such as gum disease or cavities. Some parents think that baby teeth don’t require the same care as adult teeth since they will be lost, but this isn’t the case. In a “premature loss”, it is critical to see a dentist to prevent more significant future issues.
If your child hasn’t lost any teeth by age 8, or if adult teeth erupt before the baby teeth have fallen out, talk to your dentist to make sure there are no problems.

SHOULD I PULL A LOOSE TOOTH?
It is best to let baby teeth fall out naturally to prevent trauma to the gums around the tooth, which may already be sore. Your child will likely play with the tooth, wiggling it with their tongue or fingers – this is natural and encouraged. Make sure you talk to your child about what will happen when they lose the tooth, especially if they are going to school.

THE FUN STUFF
Many parents want to help celebrate this milestone using the tooth fairy tradition. There are loads of cute ideas floating around the internet – everything from notes to the tooth fairy, special pillows or boxes, cute picture ideas and more. A long-standing part of the tooth fairy tradition is the financial reward for the child! And while this amount varies widely by family, Delta Dental tracks the going rate on their Tooth Fairy Poll – currently $4.13 per tooth in the United States!

Have more questions about kids losing teeth? All of us here at Hannon & Sandler are here to help answer those questions and keep your entire family’s teeth healthy.

Pool Water and Your Teeth

Minnesota summers are hot and go by quickly, so it’s important to get some good swimming time in to cool off and have some fun! Swimming is a great way to enjoy the summer sun, but how do your teeth feel about it? Here are some of the effects that pool water can have on your smile.

Did you realize chlorinated pool water can be a threat to your teeth? Exposing teeth to improperly chlorinated pools (those with a pH level below seven) can erode enamel and cause tooth sensitivity. It can also lead to staining and a condition called swimmer’s calculus. When exposed to chlorine for more than six hours a week, teeth can turn yellow or brown and develop hard deposits as the plaque on your teeth reacts with chlorine. If you swim in chlorinated pools often, talk to us at Hannon & Sandler about preventing staining, swimmer’s calculus and enamel erosion. We will be able to provide treatment if you’ve already begun experiencing symptoms.

These are other important reminders when visiting your favorite swimming pool:

• If you wear a dental appliance, like a retainer, be sure to take it out before you take a dip! These items can be easily lost while swimming.
• Remember – Walk, don’t run!! The lifeguard telling you not to run at the pool may be saving you from the slip and fall that knocks a tooth out. Summer can be just as much of a hazard to your teeth as hockey season. So do your mouth a favor, and be careful!

What to Expect With Your Oral Health When You’re Expecting

May is Pregnancy Awareness Month. At first glance, it may not seem like oral health has much to do with pregnancy, but it’s actually a critical part of it. A mother’s oral health can be correlated with the baby’s overall health, so it’s important to pay close attention to your dental care and any changes that may arise while you’re pregnant.

It seems like everything about your health and body is different during pregnancy, and your mouth is no exception. An abundance of hormones like estrogen and progesterone are the culprits behind many of those changes, including sensitive gum tissue. Some women can be affected by pregnancy gingivitis, characterized by redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding. Fight plaque build-up by brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily, paying special attention to the gum line.

Some dental plans may provide enhanced benefits for pregnant women, like extra cleanings, which help prevent and treat conditions like pregnancy gingivitis. Check to see if your plan offers these types of benefits.

If you have other questions or concerns about dental care or treatment while you’re expecting, be sure to talk with us at your next appointment. It’s also a great time to ask any questions you may have about your baby’s oral health care. We look forward to taking care of you and your baby!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Did you know that Dr. Bob and Dr. Jerry, along with your hygienist, screen you for cancer at every dental visit? Oral cancers can be deadly diseases. Roughly 45,000 new cases of mouth and throat cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States. Treatment may be more successful when diagnosis is early, so this is one more reason to see your dentist regularly.

Below is a list of mouth and throat cancer signs and symptoms. Check your mouth in the mirror each day when you brush and floss. If there are any changes in your mouth or neck, or if you notice any of these signs or symptoms, please be sure to contact us as soon as you can.

  • A sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • A lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth
  • Lump or growth in the throat or neck area
  • Cough or sore throat that doesn’t go away
  • Earache
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
  • Anyone can get cancer. There are some factors that if controlled, can decrease your risk of developing oral cancer: smoking cigarettes/chewing tobacco, heavy or frequent consumption of alcohol, and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV).

    Amazingly, when you quit using tobacco, your risk of developing oral cancer immediately decreases. After staying tobacco free for ten years, your risk of developing oral cancer is approximately the same as someone who NEVER smoked or chewed.

    Remember: as the summer months approach, and we begin spending more time in the sun, wear sunscreen and lip balm with adequate SPF daily to decrease your risk of skin and lip cancers, and schedule your checkup with the team at Hannon & Sandler today!