Diabetes pen nib pointing to the words in the dictionary, shot with very shallow depth of field,

Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes can cause serious tooth and gum problems. 

Diabetes affects 1 in 10 people in the United States and can lead to vision loss, kidney damage, high blood pressure and problems with feet and hands. People with diabetes are also far more at risk for periodontal disease than the general population, and experience almost 3 times the rate of tooth and gum problems. Research suggests that diabetes is the primary systemic risk factor for periodontal disease.

People with diabetes are often aware of the importance of podiatric (foot) and opthalmic (vision) screenings, but many do not realize the two-way relationship between oral health and diabetes. Tooth loss, for example, is up to two times more frequent in people with diabetes than non-diabetics. Periodontal disease can affect insulin sensitivity, lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels and damage the bone and gum that hold your teeth in place.

So if you have diabetes, paying special attention to your oral health can not only improve your quality of life and overall health, but it can also save you money. Statistics show that receiving dental care reduces average medical costs by about $2800 per year.

Dental Tips for People with Diabetes

The good news is that you can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By following our simple tips, you can help prevent some serious problems in your mouth.

  1. Take control of your blood glucose. Develop a healthy eating plan and get regular exercise if you’re able. Try to eat consistently. Focus your attention on carbs, portion control, and eating lots of fiber and non-starchy vegetables.
  2. Brush, floss, rinse and chew. We call these the Daily 4. Brush your teeth for two minutes two times daily. Floss your teeth before bed. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after meals. And chew gum to help your mouth produce helpful bacteria that attack plaque.
  3. Visit your dentist for routine checkups. Consider all the medical professionals in your life a kind of health management team. Start a conversation with your dentist about your diabetes and any symptoms you’re experiencing. Speak with your doctor about your oral health. Remember that health is holistic and there are many connections between your oral health and the rest of your body.
  4. Quit smoking. You can watch one of those ads here.If you’re still smoking, it’s time to stop. We know it’s difficult, but the evidence against smoking is inarguable. In fact, a federal court has ordered all major tobacco companies to begin running advertising over the next year that admits they made cigarettes more addictive and lied about the health risks associated with smoking.
  5. Talk with a diabetes educator. If you’re worried you’re not doing the best you can to manage your diabetes, you might want to consider meeting with a diabetes educator. As a member of your healthcare team, a diabetes educator makes managing your diabetes easier. They work with you to develop a plan to stay healthy, and give you the tools and ongoing support to make that plan a regular part of your life. You can find a diabetes educator near you at diabeteseducator.org.

Symptoms of Gum Disease, Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Since gum disease is often painless, you may not even know you have it until it becomes serious.

So if you have diabetes and want to monitor your oral health for the best results, watch out for the following symptoms. If you think you are experiencing any of these, schedule a conversation with your dentist to evaluate your gum health. Your problems may only be minor, but

  1. Swollen or tender gums
  2. Gums that easily bleed while brushing and flossing
  3. Receding gum line
  4. Difficulty chewing
  5. Chronic bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  6. A buildup of pus between teeth and gums
  7. Loose teeth or teeth that are drifting apart

 
Taking control of your oral health can help you manage or prevent diabetes. In addition to following our tips, regular conversations with your dentist about your overall health and symptoms can help them provide the best care for your future. If you’re diabetic or experiencing any of these symptoms, we’re always just a phone call away!

Halloween celebration concept with candy corn and jack o lantern cup on wooden table.

The Worst Halloween Candy For Your Teeth

Binge-eating a pillowcase full of peanut butter cups and candy corn while you’re dressed as Wonder Woman is kind of the point of Halloween, isn’t it? But we all know that candy isn’t the healthiest snack on the block – even if you promise to brush and floss when you finally finish stuffing your face.

Sadly, the only candy out there that doesn’t contribute to tooth decay and cavities is probably sugar-free gum. But you’re not knocking on your neighbors’ doors in search of chewing gum, are you? Learn more about the negative effects your favorite candy can have on your teeth or—if you’re impatient—scroll to the bottom of the page to find out the worst!

Closeup of chocolate,peanut and caramel bar isolated on white with clipping path

Chocolate

Examples: Hershey Bar, 3 Musketeers, M&Ms & Peanut Butter Cups

If you’re a chocoholic, you’re in luck. As long as you’re eating a simple bar of chocolate without caramel or many other ingredients, you’re getting a snack that will wash off your teeth fairly easily. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, even has some health benefits! It’s an iron-packed source of antioxidants that may improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve brain function.

Chocolate is probably the best candy for your teeth. But remember, moderation is the goal here. Too much of anything is bad for you.

Sour candy isolated on a white background

Sour Candy

Examples: Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, SweeTarts & Pixie Stix

Sour candy has a higher acidic content than other types of candy. It’s probably no surprise to you, but eating something like Pixie Stix–which are nothing more than flavored sugar you don’t even have to chew–doesn’t provide any nutritional value and can lead to cavities in addition to blood sugar issues.

If you’re going to indulge with sour candies, try rinsing with a glass of water afterward to wash away the cavity-causing acidity contained in these mouth-puckering bites.

Lollipops in a variety of colors isolated on a white background

Hard Candy

Examples: Jolly Ranchers, Runts, Lemon Heads & Lifesavers

Hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers is just as bad for you as sour candy, and for many of the same reasons. Because we often suck on hard candy to get it to dissolve, it is in our mouths much longer than other Halloween candy. This just leaves more time for sugars to attack and break down tooth enamel.

If hard candy is a habit for you, we don’t have a lot of good news to share. Try switching to sugar-free gum when you get that urge. And of course remember to rinse after you’re finished with hard candy, even if it’s just tap water.

Gummy bears

Gummy and Chewy Candies

Examples: Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, Bit-O-Honey & Mary Janes

Like we mentioned above, about the only candy you really want to be chewing on is sugar-free gum. The mixture of sugar and gelatin in gummy bears and worms is very acidic and will wear down tooth enamel, which can lead to exposed nerves and sensitive teeth.

Hey. We love Haribo Gold Bears just as much as the next person, but let’s try and limit ourselves to one bag a week. We can live with that, right? Hopefully. Maybe. Let’s just say we’ll give it a shot.

Saltwater taffy on a white backgroundTaffy or Caramel

Examples: Caramel Chews, Saltwater Taffy & Riesen

The worst halloween candy for your teeth is a tie between taffy and caramel. These bite-sized, sticky morsels of pure sugar get trapped in the grooves of your teeth and are more difficult to rinse away with salvia or water than the average candy. When sugar like what’s inside taffy or caramel gets stuck to teeth, it creates excess bacteria in your mouth which allows acids to thrive and develop into tooth decay. Caramel also contains small amounts of saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease.

The worst part of very sticky Halloween candies is that they can pull out fillings, bridges or braces! If you’ve got an orthodontic appliance or fillings, it is best to just stay away entirely.

 

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Growing older often means facing new and unexpected health challenges. Knee pain, weight gain, vision and hearing problems – these are all normal side effects of aging. But there’s a misconception that tooth loss is in inevitable, and that’s just not true.

Depending on lifestyle and genetics, some people keep their natural teeth their whole lives. Others manage with only a few implants, crowns or a bridge. But if you take care of your teeth and gums throughout your life, you might be able to avoid complicated health issues down the road.

Why Oral Health Matters at Every Age

When people think of a healthy smile, they often think of straight or white teeth. But good oral health involves much more than a year in braces or the occasional teeth whitening.

Your mouth basically acts as a window to your overall health. Links have been found between cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. These diseases can manifest as gum inflammation, tooth loss or sores. Women especially should pay close attention to their gum health during pregnancy – as periodontitis has been linked with premature birth and low birth weight.

Teeth become less sensitive and more susceptible to tooth decay as you age. Following an oral care routine while improving other habits can not only improve your quality of life, but help you keep your teeth and gums healthy too. Healthy natural teeth will keep your healthcare costs down in the long run, because you’ll need fewer fillings, sealants, or more costly procedures like root canals and crowns.

5 Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Follow the Daily 4

Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew. It’s not a new concept, but it bears repeating. Brushing twice, flossing, using mouthwash and chewing sugar-free gum each day is a routine that keeps your mouth healthy. If you have trouble cleaning the spaces between your teeth near your gum line, we recommend Soft Picks from GUM®. If your gums or teeth are sensitive, talk to your dentist about toothpaste options and soft-bristle toothbrushes.

Don’t Smoke

Another one we’ve all heard time and time again. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. If you’re considering smoking alternatives like vaporizers, cloves or smokeless tobacco – don’t. None of these alternatives have been proven to be safe alternatives, and some could be even more harmful than cigarettes.

Rethink Your Drink

According to a major study, “the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.” And drinking sugar-sweetened beverages doesn’t just make you gain weight, it can also lead to diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart, tooth and gum disease. Sugary drinks eat away at the enamel of teeth, causing teeth to become weaker and thinner over time. This can lead to tooth decay, cavities and missing teeth.

You can add some flavor to your water with lemon, lime or cucumber slices. Or switch to sparkling water if you can’t live without a little carbonation in your life. 1% or skim milk is also a great choice because it includes calcium, which keeps your bones and teeth strong.

Replace Missing Teeth

If you are missing teeth, it is very important that talk with your dentist about replacing them. Your jaw is designed to operate with 28 teeth and as soon as one is out of the equation, the surrounding teeth start to drift into the empty space. This not only makes your good teeth more prone to decay and gum disease, but it can also change your appearance. The longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more bone volume you lose. And the more bone volume you lose, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to get teeth replaced.

If you’re interested in replacing one or more missing teeth, you have options! Talk with your dentist about dental implants, fixed partial dentures (fixed bridge) or dentures to replace your missing teeth.

Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is commonly associated with alcohol consumption and tobacco products. However, recent studies have found other causes for oral cancer as well such as HPV. An oral cancer screening uses technology to check for abnormal cells or lesion in the oral cavity. Any abnormality detected will indicate the need for more advanced screenings and tests.

Early detection saves lives. The sooner your dentist catches an abnormal lesion or cell, the better and more predictable the treatment will be – because it will be less invasive. So ask your dentist at your next checkup to screen your mouth for oral cancer symptoms.

group of women different ages and ethnicities, standing together smiling for camera

Women’s Oral Health at Every Life Stage

Studies show that not only are women more proactive about their oral health, but also have a better understanding about what good oral health entails along with a more positive attitude toward visiting the dentist. However, due mostly to hormonal fluctuations at different life stages, women generally have more oral health concerns to worry about. But what’s new, right?

If you’re curious about how puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause affect your oral health, we’ve prepared a quick summary of how to prepare for and how to maintain great oral health throughout every stage of your life.

Puberty

Puberty occurs in girls between ages 8 to 14. In addition to developmental changes, hormones such as estrogen progesterone increase blood flow to the gums and can cause them to become red and swollen. Along with hormonal fluctuations,  microbial changes in the mouth result in in “destructive” bacteria that can lead to more plaque, cavities, gingivitis and bad breath. If your daughter is going through puberty, it’s normal for her to experience light bleeding during brushing and flossing.

Encourage her to keep a good brushing and flossing routine, in order to cut down on plaque.

Menstruation

A woman’s menstrual cycle also impacts her oral health. Hormonal fluctuations can cause swollen gums and possible bleeding while you brush or floss, especially the week before your period. During their period, many women experience dry mouth and bad breath due to a loss of saliva. Finally, thanks to increases in the mucosal lining of your oral cavity, some women are susceptible to canker sores in the days leading up to their periods.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, try rinsing at least once a day with a nonalcoholic mouthwash.

The best time for women to schedule a dental cleaning is the week after your period. High estrogen levels before and during your period can cause gum inflammation, which can throw off the results when your dentist measures pocket depth — a measurement of gum health. Your cleaning could also be more painful around this time.

Wait to schedule your checkup for a more comfortable experience and better results.

Pregnancy

By now, you’ve figured out that you are more at risk than men for gum disease. And we’re sorry to say it doesn’t get any better when you’re pregnant. Although women were once discouraged from seeing the dentist while pregnant, it is now suggested that women schedule a checkup between four to six months. This is because the first three months of pregnancy are thought to be of greatest importance in your child’s development. During the last trimester, stresses associated with dental visits can increase the incidence of prenatal complications. Pregnant women who already have gum problems need to be extra diligent about their oral hygiene as it can worsen and turn to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.

If you get a sweet tooth while pregnant, we encourage you to reach for cheese, fresh fruits or vegetables instead of soda or ice cream.

Menopause

In menopause, estrogen levels decline rapidly, which can lead to bone loss and periodontitis. Postmenopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis,  a disease that causes brittle bones and has a major impact on the jawbone supporting the teeth. Many women begin hormone therapy and taking supplements to combat estrogen, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies as a result of menopause, but you can still lose teeth even if you are doing everything right. If you’ve lost teeth as a result of osteoporosis or menopause, dental implants have been shown to improve quality of life more than dentures.

If you are experiencing any oral health concerns during menopause, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.

Women’s Oral Health Tips

So despite taking better care of your teeth and gums than men do, your hormones are working against you and steering you toward gum disease and bone loss. But you can still do something about it! If you believe you have gum disease, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your gum health and how you can improve your oral hygiene. Otherwise, be sure to follow these general tips for keeping your teeth and gums healthy:

  • Brush twice each day
  • Floss at least once per day
  • Rinse with a nonalcoholic mouthwash every day
  • Chew gum after meals
  • Change your toothbrush 3 or 4 times per year
  • Avoid artificially sweetened foods and drinks
  • If you play sports, wear a mouth guard
  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco

 

Outlay of multiracial faces printed

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

 

Oral cancer kills someone in the U.S. every hour.

 

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth or throat, sometimes connected to head and neck cancer. It is more prevalent in men than in women and can develop in lips, cheek lining, salivary glands, hard palate, soft palate, uvula, the area under your tongue, gums, tongue and tonsils. Despite being mostly preventable, an estimated 49,670 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and more than 9,700 will die of the disease.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

  1. Tobacco: The greatest risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco, accounting for about 60% of oral cancer diagnoses. Smokers are 3 times more likely to lose teeth than non-smokers and people who use chewing tobacco are still at risk for cancers of the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips. If you are using other smoking alternatives like vaporizers, be warned – no smoking alternative has been proven to be more healthy than cigarettes.
  2. Alcohol: Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers. When tobacco and alcohol use are combined, the risk of oral cancer increases 15 times more than non-users of tobacco and alcohol products.
  3. Diet: Refined sugars, oils and carbohydrates and dairy products have been shown to increase inflammation in the body as well as risk for oral cancer. The main culprits are bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, muffins, cakes, boxed cereals, frozen treats, pretzels, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages and candy.
  4. Age: 86% of the people diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 50, but lifestyle and environmental factors are generally the greatest risk factors.
  5. Excessive Exposure to Sunlight: Excessive and unprotected exposure to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet radiation (UV) like tanning beds is linked with cancer in the lip area. The skin on lips is actually much thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of the face. Men who work outside are 5 times more likely to develop oral cancer than those with jobs inside.
  6. Human Papilloma virus (HPV): Human papilloma virus is a common sexually transmitted infection. For many people, HPV causes no harm and goes away without treatment. Only a very small percentage of people with HPV develop mouth or oropharyngeal cancer, but the risks are very real – especially for current smokers and people who are frequently subjected to secondhand smoke.

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

  1. Brush, Floss, Rinse & Chew Every Day: Are you doing your Daily 4? Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes, flossing once, rinsing and chewing gum after meals is recommended.
  2. Don’t Smoke or Chew Tobacco: Research has shown that ex-smokers reduce their risk of mouth cancer by more than a third.
  3. Drink Alcohol in Moderation: If you are going to drink, try to limit yourself to your one serving per day. For men on average, this means 24 ounces of beer or 10 ounces of wine. For women on average, this means only 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to many health problems, not just oral cancer.
  4. Eat More Cancer-Fighting Foods: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer, as well as a healthy intake of Vitamin C and calcium. Try incorporating as many “cancer-fighting” foods into your diet as you can – kale, broccoli, blueberries, sweet potatoes, turmeric, yogurt, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, mushrooms and green tea are pretty easy to find at your local grocery.
  5. Don’t Fry Foods. Bake, Boil or Steam Instead: Frying your food increases the formation of acrylamide, a cancer-causing chemical also found in cigarettes. It is most commonly found in fried potatoes. If you are eating frozen foods, it is very important to follow the cooking instructions – or replace your frozen veggies with fresh ingredients from the produce section!
  6. Use Lip Balm with SPF: If you work outside, protecting your lips should be a priority. This means you too, men! Invest in a fragrance-free lip balm with SPF 15 or higher and apply throughout the day. This also goes for people who like to spend their afternoons gardening, swimming, skiing or sunbathing – protecting your lips is one of the easiest ways to prevent oral cancer.
  7.  Practice Safe Sex: If you are sexually active, you know it’s important for you to be safe. Contraceptives do not provide 100% protection against HPV, which is why vaccines are recommended. If you have any symptoms of HPV or think you might’ve been exposed, be sure to talk with your doctor about your health.
  8. Check Your Mouth Regularly for Symptoms: Purchase a small mirror and take a look around your mouth. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make an appointment with your dentist or doctor soon.
  9. Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening: At your next regular checkup, remember to ask your dentist about oral cancer. If you feel you have symptoms of oral cancer, make an appointment with your regular dentist for an oral cancer screening.

Apples: Dental Hygiene Facts

We’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But apples may keep the dentist away too. Apples are a naturally sweet, low-calorie alternative to cavity-causing, sugary snacks like candy and fruit juice – plus they clean your teeth while you eat them!

Benefits of Apples

  • Apples make your gums healthier. Apples contain about 15% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which helps keep your gums healthy. Without this vitamin, your gums become more vulnerable to infection, bleeding and gum disease. If you have periodontal disease, a lack of vitamin C increases bleeding and swelling.
  • Apples are nature’s toothbrush.  Chewing the fibrous texture of the fruit and its skin can stimulate your gums, reduce cavity-causing bacteria and increase saliva flow. Like other crisp, raw vegetables and fruits, apples can also gently remove plaque trapped between teeth.
  • Apples strengthen your bones. Apples have potassium. Potassium improves bone mineral density. Your teeth are made from bone. ‘Nuff said.
  • Apples help weight loss. Loaded with soluble fiber, apples can help lower your cholesterol and improve your blood sugar regulation.
  • Apples fight heart disease. Although the research hasn’t proven it yet, there’s an apparent link between gum health and heart health. Periodontitis and heart disease share risk factors such as smoking, age and diabetes, and both contribute to inflammation in the body. Apples contain antioxidants that lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Is the acidity in apples bad for my teeth?

According to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry, apples may be even more acidic than soda. But the negative effects of acidity in any foods you eat, like processed meats and coffee, can easily be prevented if you follow these tips:

  • Eat your apple with another snack. Maybe you’d like a small serving of cheese, a glass of milk or crackers. Whatever you choose, other foods will help neutralize the acid in the apple – especially if they’re high in calcium.
  • Rinse with a glass of water. In general, it’s just a good idea to drink a glass of water or rinse after eating. Water helps rinse away acid and food particles that have collected between your teeth.
  • Wait to brush. Brushing immediately after eating any sugary food is not a good idea. The sugar will act like sandpaper and damage your tooth enamel. Wait at least 30 minutes after sugary snacks to brush.

 

 

Perfect woman smile before and after whitening. Dental care and periodic exam concept

Thinking about Whitening Your Teeth? This FAQ is For You.

We get a lot of questions from people who are interested in whitening their teeth. After all, your smile is often the first thing someone notices about you. But many things, including coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco, can stain them and cause them to darken. Here are answers to some of the questions we hear most often from people who want a brighter, whiter smile.

How does tooth whitening work?

Whitening products contain a peroxide-based bleach that breaks up both deep and surface stains in tooth enamel. The degree of whiteness that can be achieved will vary based on the condition of your teeth, how much staining you have, and the type of bleaching system you use.

Does whitening work on all teeth?

No. It’s important to talk with your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth because whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. Yellow teeth usually bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well, and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. In addition, whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. And it won’t be effective on tooth discoloration caused by medications or injury to the tooth. (American Dental Association)

What types of professional whitening systems are available?

  • Tray-based, at-home whitening. With this method, the dentist creates a mouthguard-type tray from an impression of your upper and lower teeth. A tray made by a dentist is customized to fit your teeth exactly. It allows for maximum contact between the whitening gel and the teeth, and also minimizes the gel’s contact with gum tissue. When it’s time to use the tray, you fill it with a prescription whitening gel and wear it for a specified period of time. That may range from a couple of hours a day to overnight for up to four weeks or longer, depending on how much discoloration you have and your desired level of whitening.
  • In-office whitening. This is the fastest way to whiten teeth. With this type of bleaching, the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth. It may be used in combination with heat, a special light, or a laser. Results can be seen in just one 30- to 60-minute treatment. For the most dramatic results, more than one appointment may be needed.

Can a person with very sensitive teeth have their teeth whitened?

In almost all cases, yes. A number of steps can be taken to address the issue of sensitivity:

  • The strength of the bleaching solution as well as the length of time teeth are exposed to it can be adjusted.
  • The length of time between treatments can be extended.
  • A high fluoride, remineralization gel or over-the-counter product such as Crest® Sensi-Stop™ Strips can be used to help stop sensitivity after treatment.

Be sure to discuss your sensitivity problem with your dentist.

There are also things you can do to lessen sensitivity. Take ibuprofen before your treatment and while teeth are sensitive. Avoid foods that are very hot or very cold. Use a prescribed gel or toothpaste made for sensitive teeth along with a soft-bristle toothbrush. And try to avoid foods citrus fruits and foods that are highly acidic.

How long does whitening last?

Teeth whitening isn’t permanent. If you expose your teeth to foods and beverages that cause staining, whitening may start to fade in a little as a month. However, if you avoid those things that stain, you may be able to wait as long as a year before another treatment or touch-up is necessary. (WebMD)

If you have any other questions as you consider whitening your teeth, be sure to call a Mortenson Family Dental office near you.

 

Young woman with red lipstick smiles as she reveals a heart sticker on her shirt

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.

Portrait of a young girl showing thumbs up while in the dentist chair

Keeping Your Family Safer with Dentapure

For over 35 years, Mortenson Family Dental’s priority has been the health of you and your family. So as soon as we heard reports of children getting sick from the water at dental offices, we began working on a solution. As of today, we are proud to announce that the Dental Unit Waterlines at every Mortenson Family Dental office in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio are being treated with DentaPure® Cartridges.

Why treat waterlines with DentaPure®?

Last year in Georgia, nine children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium abscessus infections after undergoing pulpotomies (root canals) at a common clinic. An investigation found that the outbreak was caused by contaminated water that introduced the bacterium during irrigation and drilling. We decided that it was in the best interest of our patients’ health to not only revisit our waterline cleaning procedures, but also seek a long-term solution. DentaPure is a safe, reliable and effective EPA-approved cartridge that attaches to dental waterlines to prevent biofilm buildup in Dental Unit Waterlines (DUWL’s). When untreated, or improperly maintained, the water flowing through these contaminated DUWL’s and out through the air/water syringe or high-speed handpieces can carry pieces of biofilm that have broken off the waterline wall — potentially harming your patients, your staff and your practice’s reputation. Learn more by watching the video below.

 

National Children’s Dental Health Month

What better way to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month than ensuring the health and safety of your children? If you have any additional questions about DentaPure or improving your child’s dental health, feel free to ask any of our team members at your next visit! For more children’s dental health tips and tricks, check out our #NCDHM blog post here.

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