Happy Halloween!

Image result for halloween sugar teeth

Today is one of America’s favorite holidays and is the one chance per year we can go to work with a Woody-the-Woodpecker head on or dressed like a giraffe!

Along with this goes, or course, the day in which the children of America eat the most sugar in one 24 hour period of the entire year.

Childhood decay rates are on the rise and a lot of it is fueled by increased consumption of sugar in the form of candy and soda.

So what can you do to make sure your children’s teeth aren’t on “sugar high”?  Here are 3 simple steps to making sure your little goblins don’t end up in the dental chair needing a filling:


  1.  Limit the amount and timing of eating their candy.  Do they really need an entire pillowcase-full of candy?  Let them put it all out on the floor and have them choose 25-50 pieces as their “stash”.  Then, they are allowed to have a piece (or two) with dinner which limits the sugar-attack of eating it in between meals.

2. Brush and floss before bedtime!  Make it part of the “going to bed” ritual.  P.J.s,                      bathroom and help them brush and floss.  Children do not have the hand-dexterity                to effectively brush on their own until they are approximately 9 years old!  There are              many apps which have fun songs and timers for children to brush to.  Check it out!

3.  Make an appointment with the dentist for your child.  Research shows if children                  start seeing a dentist at age one, their decay rate dramatically decreases!  This is                      mainly because much of the time is spent counseling parents on how to take care of              their child’s teeth.  Getting to know their “dental home” helps alleviate fear of the                dentist and they happily jump into the chair for their checkups as they “grow-up”                in the office.

Watch this video of a child’s first dental appointment!




Women over 40, don’t ignore jaw pain!

40 is a milestone!  So many good things come from arriving at the age of 40, you have experience, energy, knowledge, confidence, and respect, but there are some changes women should not ignore and jaw pain is one of them.

When women over 40 experience jaw pain the most likely cause is a tooth or gum infection which can be treated.  It could also be TMJ or jaw-joint dysfunction which would require attention by a dentist for diagnosis.

However, in some cases, jaw pain can signal a heart attack, especially in women, says cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of NYU Langone’s Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health. In that case, there’s no time to waste.

Heart attack symptoms in women are not always as dramatic as men’s.  Women need to pay attention to their body and listen to the signals it is trying to give her.

Common heart attack symptoms include:chest pain or discomfort for both men and women, but women are more likely to have less typical symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, as well as back or jaw pain, according to the American Heart Association.

Also, many women report that symptoms can be fleeting, and sometimes occur over the course of days, even weeks, says Goldberg.



If you are experiencing jaw pain of any kind, call for an appointment so the source of the pain can be determined.  Sometimes it CAN be too late.


O.K., non-flossers, we know you’re out there!

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of nearly 10,000 American adults is out and the news isn’t good.  Just over 37% reported less than daily flossing, 32% reported never flossing at all and 30% say they floss daily.

The bacteria that live between your teeth are the kind that can do damage to your heart, brain, blood vessels, pancreas and other important organs.  They are small enough to get into the blood vessels that surround your teeth.

Flossing (when done properly) removes these bacteria and food particles before they have time to embed themselves into the blood stream.  Check out these links to learn the proper way to floss:




It’s best to floss before bed so that bacteria don’t have extra time to do any damage.  Most dentists agree it’s best to floss first, then brush.

Use teflon coated floss if you have tight contacts between your teeth, a common brand name is Glide, but there are others.

If you make it a goal to floss every day, your dental bills over your lifetime will be minimal and you will have your teeth to smile and chew for the rest of your life!

Happy flossing!






Warning: Put the glass of juice down!



Many of our patients, when educated about the amount of sugar and acid in the soda they’re consuming, have returned at their 6 month re-care appointment to proudly proclaim they have made the healthy switch from soda to fruit juice drinks.

We then have the unfortunate task of informing them that fruit juice is equally (and sometimes more so) packed with sugar and acid which damages teeth, causes cavities and can lead to weight gain.

Our patients often search for an alternative to water that won’t create decay, and in a short time realize that virtually any bottled drink, besides water, is damaging to teeth.  One patient recently told us she had switched to a sugar-free lemon drink, thinking that would be better for her teeth, but as we looked at the label together, realized there were four acids added to the mixture which will dissolve enamel, filling and crown edges, and create white spots on the teeth.

So together with the sugar, there’s the acid which is measured on the ph scale, that can damage teeth and dental work.  Reference this handy chart provided by the Minnesota Dental Association to see how your favorite drink stacks up on the ph scale (remember those little yellow papers in science class and watching the color turn after dipping it in a liquid?  That’s how we test ph).

Enjoy these two videos produced by the Wisconsin Dental Association trying to address the fact that juice is as “bad” as soda.  Water anyone?



World Oral Health Day March 20th

Sunday is WOHD and it’s time to celebrate?  What is WOHD you may ask?  

Well, according to the World Dental Federation (not another branch of Star Wars politics) but the international main representative body of over one million dentists, it’s as follows:

“It is an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene to looking after everyone old and young.

It is a day for people to have fun – that should be a day full of activities that make us laugh, sing and smile!

Why is WOHD important?

Because 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime and many of them can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes.”

So, in honor of WOHD, please enjoy this funny video on how NOT to brush!


Reasons we want our 16 year-old patients to have their wisdom teeth out

photo of a Neandertal and a modern human skull shown next to each other for comparison


If you look at the 2 skulls pictured above, and focus on the mandible (or the jaw bone), the skull on the left is of our early ancestor, Homo Erectus, and  the skull on the right is of us, Homo Sapiens.

Take a look at the bone available behind the teeth on the left versus the right, see any difference?  Homo Erectus never had trouble with enough room for his wisdom teeth (or 3rd molars).  In fact, Homo Erectus probably didn’t have much trouble with his/her teeth to begin with because they ate a plant/meat based diet which did not include soda, candy and other refined sugars.

If you rule out the occasional breakage of a tooth on a stone or fruit pit, they survived quite well without us dentists.  No need for fillings, extractions or orthodontics.

Fast-forward a couple hundred thousand years and we have quite a different story to tell.  We now cart out cases of soda from the grocery store, along with our Girl Scout cookies, donuts, Gatorade, cookies, cakes and candy.  These items stick and wash over our teeth destroying the enamel which then weakens it for chewing causing cracks and holes in our teeth.

Since we also have smaller jaw bones (mandibles) we do not have enough room for the 3rd molar to erupt at about the age of 16.  In fact, nature is trying to keep up with us by leaving out the 3rd molar tooth bud in a lot of adults.  We frequently see patients who have never developed most or all of their wisdom teeth, but for the vast majority of us, we need to get them out.

They come in only partially, leaving a “tunnel” into the jaw bone for bacteria with can cause abscesses (pericornitis).   They come in sideways, leaning on your good tooth in front of it and cause it to decay thereby having to have 2 molars extracted.  They don’t come in at all which can sometimes lead to cyst formation with the pressure moving the tooth into a different part of the jaw (no, you don’t feel this).

All-in-all, 3rd molars are trouble makers and I recommend they are extracted in almost all our teenage population.  We refer them to our excellent group of oral surgeons in town who often put the patient “to sleep” or take them out with laughing gas.

I have seen far too many older adult patients where their wisdom tooth causes problems, and unfortunately, at that age, we don’t heal like we did when we were 16.

So, if your son or daughter is in the 16-19 year-old age range, have a panoramic x-ray taken of their jaw to see if they have 3rd molars and where they are at.  It’s almost guaranteed they won’t have enough room.



skull picture courtesy of Dennis O’Neil anthro.palomar.edu

x-ray courtesy of http://www.childressdental.com




Are your babies sipping their teeth away?


Image result for sippy cups              Image result for sippy cups

(you can see the valves in the spout)

In continuing with February’s Children’s Dental Health Month theme, many parents are unaware of the harm caused by offering their children sippy cups.

In talking with parents during their child’s one-year-old new patient visit, I find parents pulling out their child’s sippy cup filled with milk or juice.  I would say close to 100% of the parents are unaware of the harm the sippy cup filled with milk/juice can cause.  During their child’s exam, we use a disclosing solution to show the parents where the plaque on their baby’s teeth is.  In almost every case (because brushing a one-year old’s teeth is difficult!) the child has plaque (sticky bacteria film) on the front of their “smile teeth”.   When a child sucks milk through the sippy cup spout, the sugars from the milk combine with the bacteria in the plaque to cause decay.

Believe it or not, as soon as teeth erupt, decay can occur.  One of the most common ways children’s teeth will decay is the frequent and prolonged exposure to milk, juice or formula, all which contain sugar.  So putting baby to bed with a bottle will dramatically increase their chances of “baby bottle mouth”, or decay on the baby teeth.

You should encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday.  If you use a sippy cup, be sure to remove the valve so that it is not a “baby bottle” in disguise.  The valves in the spout merely cause the child to suck the fluid over the teeth the same way a bottle does, and it also defeats the purpose of the child learning to sip.

Don’t let your child walk around with the sippy cup, as toddlers are often unsteady and could injure their mouth during a fall.

A training cup should be used temporarily.  Once your child has learned how to sip, the training cup has achieved its purpose.  It can and should be set aside when no longer needed.


For sipping success, carefully choose and use a training cup. As the first birthday approaches, encourage your child to drink from a cup. As this changeover from baby bottle to training cup takes place, be very careful:

– what kind of training cup you choose

– what goes into the cup

– how frequently your child sips from it

– that your child does not carry the cup around