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October is Dental Hygiene Month: How to Take Care of Your Teeth

October 17th, 2016

There are only about 15 more days until Halloween. The stores have stocked their shelves with everyone’s favorite bit-sized candies, and put little yellow stickers nearby so that you get the best candy deal possible. Kids eyes light up because soon their bags will be filled with more candy then their little stomachs (and teeth) can handle.

October is candy month. But did you also know that October is National Dental Hygiene Month?

Properly taking care of your teeth on a daily basis by completing the “Daily 4” will not only help your oral health, but also your overall health as many diseases of the mouth of also been tied to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and obesity.

Problems such as tooth decay and gum disease are conditions we can control and even prevent by taking care of our teeth and gums throughout our lifetime.

So, what does the American Dental Association suggest we do? It’s pretty simple, really.

  1. Brush your teeth 2x a day for 2 minutes each time. We suggest brushing with a tartar control toothpaste once in the morning, after a healthy, balanced breakfast and once in the evening, after a healthy, balanced dinner full of vegetables and low-fat proteins. Proper brushing technique is more than just how much time you spend on your teeth, but brushing the bottom set and the top set in a circular motion with a soft-head toothbrush for one minute each will help ensure you get the surface of your teeth clean.

  2. Floss once daily. Flossing helps to remove the food particles that get stuck in between and your teeth and below your gum lines. When food is not removed, it will form into plaque, a sticky substance containing bacteria. Eventually, the plaque will turn into tartar, a substance that is permanent on your teeth, and will break down your gums until they become weak. Both plaque and tartar can cause gum disease or periodontal disease, which is a chronic inflammation of the gums, which leads to swelling, irritation, receding gums and even tooth loss.

The simple act of flossing once a day in the evening will help to reduce plaque and tartar on your teeth and gums.

3. Rinse with a mouthwash daily. We suggest using a mouthwash with fluoride to help reduce cavities, gum disease and periodontal disease, but any mouthwash will help reduce periodontal disease by reducing the quantity and quality of dental plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Plus, your breath will smell great!

4. Chew sugar free gum. Chewing sugar free (that’s the key) gum will help produce saliva, which is a natural bacteria-fighting substance that neutralizes plaque acids, remineralizes enamel and washes away food particles.

But, let’s face it: our dental hygiene habits are not always what they are supposed to be. That is why it is important to visit Dr. Kassem once every six months for a routine cleaning and check-up. We can help remove some of the unwanted plaque, and make sure there are not any developing problems that need to be managed.

Reduce the risk of serious injury with mouthguards

September 7th, 2016

Your child’s pearly whites didn’t just come overnight. From the time they were born, you waited for their first tooth to come in. You celebrated with your child when they lost their first tooth. And your eyes sparkled as their adult teeth came in. Together you’ve inspected and cleaned and cared for those teeth. You love their white smile.

But you should also love their orange, green, blue or purple smile because mouthguards are what will protect those pearly whites from harm as your child plays their favorite sport. Don’t think they need a mouthguard? Well, in a split second, your child could become one of 5 million teeth lost in unfortunate athletic collisions each year if they are not wearing one.

In 1999, Dr. Cynthia R. LaBella, a sports fellow at the University of North Carolina found that only 13% of of men’s basketball players from 50 Division I  programs wore mouthguards. After reviewing data of dental injuries and concussions throughout the season, researchers found that without a mouthguard, players were six times more likely to incur significant injuries.

(*Basketball has the highest incidence of oral facial injury of any sport.)

Because the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries reports that dental and orofacial injuries are the most common type athletes incur while playing sports, Dr Kassem suggests that all athletes wear a protective mouthguard while practicing or playing in games.

Today there are several types of mouthguards athletes can wear, but parents should keep in mind that not all mouthguards have the same effectiveness.

Stock mouthguards, which are the least expensive and can be found at sporting good stores, are the least preferred type of mouthguard because the piece will not fit the shape of the teeth correctly and can often become dislodged when your athlete is hit.

Boil and bite mouthguards are the most commonly used type because of their availability and cost. After the mouthguard is placed in boiling water to bring the plastic to the point of elasticity, they are placed in the athlete’s mouth to form a mold around his/her teeth and gums. But, like the stock mouthguards, boil and fit mouthguards do not provide the required thickness, mold or protection to the posterior teeth needed to label it effective.

Dr. Kassem recommends a custom-made mouthguard because it will give your athlete the protection he/she needs on the field. When a qualified dentist makes a mouthguard for an athlete, they are able to produce a guard that is adequate for the sport being played, to take into account the dental history of the athlete and if the athlete has had a concussion.

While there has not been conclusive evidence to whether or not custom-made mouthguards reduce the chance of a concussion, a 2014 issue of General Dentistry sites a study which concluded “high school football players wearing store-bought mouthguards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing properly fitted, custom mouthguards.

Dr. Kassem and the team at Mahomet Family Dentistry can fit your athlete with a custom mouthguard in under a week’s time. It even can be made with your child’s favorite color.

Thinking about your child’s dental care as they go back to school

July 29th, 2016

Whether parents and children or ready or not, it’s time to begin to think about all those things that need to be done before school starts. There are school supplies to buy, it’s time to make sure school clothes fit and of course, you actually have to register for school, too.

With everything that needs to be done, your child’s dental health routine may be the farthest thing from your mind, but the beginning of a new school year is an excellent time to review oral health routines, make sure all dental records are up-to-date with the requirements of the school your child attends and also an important time to make sure your child has all the supplies he/she needs to have the best opportunities for excellent oral health.

Buy a new toothbrush: While you’re out shopping for school supplies, pick up a new toothbrush, too. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months or sooner if your child has been sick. When bristles become frayed, they won’t clean teeth as thoroughly.

There are many different choices when it comes to buying a new toothbrush, but the basic choices come in manual or electric toothbrush. Both types are effective when used properly at least twice a day. Make sure that the toothbrush you choose has soft bristles, though.

Dr. Kassem highly recommends using a Sonicare toothbrush, if possible. While a Sonicare toothbrush costs a more than the standard toothbrush, Dr. Kassem has seen patients benefit from the technology used by Sonicare.

Standard electric toothbrushes vibrate between 2500 and 7000 strokes per minute, making it so that the person doesn’t have to move the brush around as much. Sonicare toothbrushes vibrate between 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute and clean areas a typical brush may not reach. When the Sonicare Toothbrush vibrates, it creates saliva and gets water and toothpaste below the gum line, which is often missed when brushing manually. Sonicare toothbrushes are available for purchase at Mahomet Family Dentistry.

Go back to the school routine now: When the first day of school rolls around, lazy mornings will soon become a pleasant memory. Even though your children may still wake up later now, make sure that they at least get into the routine of eating a healthy breakfast and brushing their teeth before they move on to the next activity.

Make a healthy breakfast, snack and lunch: Actually, most children are probably able to prepare their own food when it comes to breakfast, lunch and a snack, but you can provide the foods for them make the right choices. Foods like milk, cheese, fruits, berries, carrots, celery and leafy greens will give your children the vitamins they need to build strong teeth that’ll last a lifetime. Sugary foods such as fruit snacks, soda, sports drinks, chips and candies will wear down encourage the growth of bacteria that causes plaque and tartar, which lead to irreversible damage on any tooth.

Purchase an athletic mouthguard: Kids love to play. Here at Mahomet Family Dentistry, we love hearing stories about your child’s success both on and off the field. But sometimes we get calls about a loose, damaged or lost tooth (or sometimes teeth) as a result of a collision or fall on the field. These injuries are easily preventable with a mouth guard. At Mahomet Family Dentistry, we have boil and bite mouth guards (in a variety of colors!) available for your child.

Dr. Kassem can also make custom mouthguards for your child.* According to the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute, custom mouthguards can also reduce the risk of jaw injuries and even some sport-related concussions.

Remember in accordance with the Illinois State Law, children entering grades kindergarten, second and sixth grade are required to have an oral health examination.

*fee included for custom mouthguards

Flossing reduces chances of developing tartar

July 29th, 2016

For many Americans, a dental hygienist asking, “Do you floss?” can be the most uncomfortable question of a routine dental visit.

Maybe your gums are bleeding. Maybe you flossed once or twice after your last dental exam. Maybe you don’t even know where to find floss in the pharmacy. We all know that there is something to flossing; otherwise the dental hygienist wouldn’t ask.

But according to a National Survey by the American Academy of Periodontology released in June of 2015 revealed that nearly 27 percent of U.S. adults lie to their dentist about their flossing habits.

A similar survey conducted by the American Dental Association showed that only four out of 10 Americans floss at least once a day, and that 20 percent of American never floss.

While brushing teeth may be the preferred method of tooth care, flossing twice a day has benefits that go far beyond the surface cleaning of a toothbrush.

When you eat, food particles break down and get stuck in the crevices between your teeth and gums. Over time, the food will form plaque, which is a sticky substance containing bacteria. Plaque is bad for your teeth because it creates acids that damage tooth enamel or can lead to inflamed or infected gums.

When plaque collects below your gum line, it will eventually harden into tartar. Tartar can form both above and beneath the gumline, which holds your teeth into place. When the bacteria in the tartar attacks your gums, they become weak.

Both plaque and tartar can cause gum disease or periodontal disease, which is a chronic inflammation of the gums, which leads to swelling, irritation, receding gums and even tooth loss. But periodontal disease has led to more than just tooth loss. It has also been linked to many other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer.

According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of Americans, that’s 64.7 million Americans, aged 30 and older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. With periodontitis, the gums, which support teeth, pull away from the tooth, exposing the roots to further plaque and decay.

Of course brushing with a tartar control toothpaste at least twice a day is important. But flossing at night will help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. Once tartar has developed on a tooth, it can only be removed by a dental professional.

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