How to Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy and Enjoy Trick-or-Treating This Halloween

2021-10-14T12:40:47+00:00October 14th, 2021|Oral Health|

Healthy Teeth and Halloween Candy Monroe

We’re approaching the spookiest (and sweetest) time of year, and families across the country are making their plans for fun and excitement. Will you try a haunted maze in the area or go to a local pumpkin festival? Will you participate in a nearby trunk-or-treat or stick to trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood?

Whatever plans your family has for this Halloween, chances are they involve a lot of candy! And while we at Adam Brown, DDS don’t want to keep you from enjoying your sweets, we do want to provide some practical advice on how you can keep your family’s teeth healthy during the Halloween season and stay safe while trick-or-treating. But first, it will help to understand exactly how candy can impact your child’s teeth:

How Candy Affects Teeth

Though teeth are the strongest substance in the human body, plaque and tooth decay can do some serious damage to our teeth over time. Adults are susceptible to tooth decay and cavities, but children are the most vulnerable. So, it’s no surprise that the Halloween season is a time to take extra precautions. Dentists see cavities and tooth decay in kids all the time in the weeks following Halloween, with the culprit being sugary candy and other treats.

No one can deny the flavor of Halloween treats, but it’s essential to keep your child’s oral health in mind. Most tooth decay occurs when oral bacteria in our mouths produce acids by feeding off sugar. This acid begins to deteriorate tooth enamel, which is the tooth’s outer layer that protects it from decay. Tooth enamel cannot grow back once it wears off. Therefore, since children are more prone to tooth decay, be extra mindful of how much sugary food they eat.

When tooth decay progresses enough, cavities can form in your tooth, which can lead to severe discomfort and pain. And if cavities are allowed to keep growing, they can damage deeper layers of the tooth and eventually cause tooth loss. Halloween is a time for enjoying sweets, but your family must do it wisely and in moderation; otherwise, all of the candy, sweet treats, and sugary drinks can put each of you (especially your child) at risk for tooth decay and cavities, which are neither good for your oral health nor your wallet!

10 Tips for Healthy Teeth

Now that you have an idea of how sugary foods can impact your family’s teeth, let’s discuss some practical tips you can take to maintain your oral health in the weeks ahead:

1. Help your kids develop a healthy relationship with candy

The best way to ensure that your child keeps their teeth healthy is to help them understand the difference between moderation and overindulgence. They need to know that candy and other sweet treats should be limited and that eating too many of them can lead to serious consequences.

For a younger child, you will need to pay special attention to setting a good example. Since younger kids are more difficult to reason with, make sure you are modeling the behavior you are teaching them by consuming sugary foods in moderation yourself.

2. Pick the right candies

Eating any sugary candy or treats can negatively impact your teeth, but some are worse than others. For example, chocolate is generally less detrimental to teeth than sticky candy like Skittles and gummy bears. This is because it is quite easy to clean chocolate from your teeth, and fruity candies can get stuck onto and between teeth. Perhaps the best sweet treat of all is dark chocolate; not only does it carry health benefits, but it also easily washes off of your teeth.

3. Opt for sweet over sour

While sweet, sticky candies can be particularly damaging to teeth, sour candy is even worse. Most sour candies are sticky, which poses the same problem as other sticky candies. However, sour candy also contains a higher pH, which means more acid for your child’s teeth and gums! Limit the sour treats your child consumes so that you can keep their enamel healthy and strong.

4. Strategize when you eat candy

When candy abounds during the Halloween season, it is easy to graze and snack on sweets at random moments throughout the day. But if you plan out when your child is allowed to have their treats, you can help reduce the sugar’s impact on their teeth. Think of the times when your child will be brushing their teeth, and plan their snacks accordingly.

For instance, maybe they can have a sweet after they finish their lunch and then another one after dinner. That means that you will have more control of how much sugar sticks to their teeth on any given day. Plus, the saliva that kids produce during meals can help wash away food particles and bacteria, which means that eating candy immediately following meals can reduce the number of little pieces that cling to their teeth.

5. Set limits

Along with planning out what times of the day your child gets to eat sweets during the Halloween season, you will also want to limit how much they can have per sitting as the season phases out. For example, maybe a day or two after Halloween, give them a little less candy than they had the day before. Gradually give them fewer and fewer treats over the next several days until life is back to normal. In most cases, this is fairly easy and straightforward because kids have short attention spans! In no time, your child will likely forget about their Halloween sweets!

6. Prioritize regular oral hygiene

Helping your child maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine is always critical. And you want to make sure that they don’t take any shortcuts during the Halloween season when they are eating more candy than normal. Make sure your child brushes their teeth thoroughly before bed, in the morning, and after each snack. Rather than flossing once a day, consider helping them floss twice a day until they finish their Halloween treats.

7. Drink lots of water

Any dentist is likely to recommend that your child drinks as much water as they can each day. This is primarily because water is a much healthier alternative to sodas, juices, and other sugary beverages that tend to be terrible for little teeth. But there is another reason why you should make sure your child drinks a lot of water in the days surrounding Halloween— it can go a long way in keeping their mouth clean and washing the sugar and bacteria away, which means they will have lower risks of tooth decay and other problems.

8. Use sugarless gum

It might be ideal for your child to brush after every time they eat candies or other sweets. But this might not always be practical, especially when your family is enjoying Halloween activities together.

That’s where sugarless gum comes into play! Chewing sugarless gum for twenty minutes after meals and snacks can increase saliva production, which helps to neutralize the acid in your mouth and wash out the food and bacteria. In other words, it is yet another simple step you can take to prevent tooth decay and keep your mouths healthy.

9. Strike a balance

Eating more sweets means that you should be eating more healthy foods as well. For example, eating candy bars, sour worms, and Jolly Ranchers should be balanced out by milk and low-sugar dairy foods that give your teeth calcium and help them stay strong and healthy. Cheese, in particular, can lower the pH in the mouth, and any natural, crunchy foods (e.g. carrots, cucumbers, and apples) are great for cleaning teeth as you’re eating. To take it a step further, these types of foods can even loosen plaque from teeth and wash away bacteria.

10. Don’t brush right away

Lastly, consider waiting about one hour for your child to brush their teeth after consuming any candies or sweets that are highly acidic. Brushing too soon after eating such candies can increase the harmful effects of the acid in their mouth.

Which Candies Are OK for Braces?

If your child has braces, there are some special considerations you will want to make when Halloween arrives. Certain candies and treats will be harder than others to clean from braces, not to mention that some will also pose a higher risk of damaging the brackets and wires themselves.

For instance, be wary of any hard or sticky treats, such as Starbursts, Skittles, jawbreakers, caramel apples, and gummy bears. Also, steer clear of popcorn, popcorn balls, and any other foods that tend to get stuck in braces. Believe it or not, there are plenty of treats your child can enjoy that won’t pose any serious risks. Reese’s cups, regular M&Ms, cotton candy, brownies, cupcakes, Pixy Stix, and Mounds are some examples of sweets that shouldn’t impact their braces if eaten in moderation.

8 Tips for a Safe, Fun Trick-or-Treat

Okay, so we’ve discussed some steps you can take to keep your family’s teeth healthy during the candy-heavy Halloween season. Let’s get to some quick tips for how you can plan for an awesome and safe trick-or-treat experience.

1. Plan your path

Make sure the route you take on Halloween night is safe and not too long. If you have younger children, you probably shouldn’t expect to stay out for five hours, though you might be able to get away with a long night if you have teenagers. Consider doing a test run before you go trick-or-treating to figure out how long the route is and which paths you should take. Along with keeping everyone safe, this will help prevent arguments on Halloween night and ensure that no one gets lost if they are separated from the family.

2. Pay attention to the candies you get

Each time a piece of candy is dropped in your child’s bucket, you should inspect it before they put it into their mouth. Handmade treats are a kind gesture, but since you cannot be sure what the treats contain, you may not want to give them to your kids. If you see any candy wrappers tampered with, throw them out immediately.

3. Take a flashlight

Along with planning the route you take on Halloween night, bring along a flashlight to help reduce the likelihood that one of your children will wander off and get separated from the group. And while you should only go trick-or-treating on well-lit streets, you might want to bring some reflective tape to stick to your children’s costumes and coats, just to make sure they are clearly visible to drivers.

4. Wear comfortable shoes

Trick-or-treating requires a lot of walking, which means that each person in your family should wear a comfortable pair of tennis shoes. Even if some of your outfits call for high heels, sandals, or another type of uncomfortable footwear, wearing tennis shoes will help everyone enjoy their time and prevent injuries.

5. Stick with your group

One of the biggest fears for parents is that one of their children will get separated from the group on a dark Halloween night. Along with taking extra precautions to ensure that your younger children stay by your side, however, you should also be mindful of where your older kids are. Your older children should not be trick-or-treating without you unless they are with a group of friends who you know would adhere to all the safety rules.

6. Don’t go into a stranger’s home

Chances are you have spoken to your kids about stranger danger. And that philosophy is perhaps never more important than on Halloween night. When trick-or-treating, remind your kids about the rules regarding strangers, and never allow them to enter someone else’s home. To take it a step further, make sure they know not to approach a house for candy unless the lights are on.

7. Check your costumes

There are all kinds of creative Halloween costumes out there. While you want your kids to enjoy their costumes and make the most out of their experience, you also want to make sure they are safe. Inspect your child’s costume to ensure that it is the appropriate length so they don’t trip while trick-or-treating. And only allow them to carry accessories that are flexible and soft to prevent any unnecessary injuries.

8. Be careful around flames

Finally, even the smallest flame from a jack-o-lantern can catch a costume on fire. Be extra mindful as your family enjoys the festive decorations on your route, but make sure that you and your children steer clear of all candles, torches, and other items that contain a flame. And only wear flame-resistant costumes.

Conclusion

Halloween is meant to provoke excitement for children and adults alike. But to ensure that your family makes the most of the Halloween season, it is essential to prioritize oral health and take the appropriate safety measures when trick-or-treating. And of course, be sure to schedule check-ups at Adam Brown, DDS to keep your teeth and gums healthy!

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Cracked Teeth: What Should You Do?

2021-09-16T19:14:28+00:00September 15th, 2021|Cracked Teeth, Oral Health|

Cracked Teeth Help Charlotte NC

If you think you might have a cracked tooth, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s the most common culprit for tooth loss in developed countries. You can get a cracked tooth from grinding your teeth during sleep. You can get one from chewing hard foods like candy, ice, or nuts. You can also get one from:

  • A physically traumatic incident (e.g., a sports injury, a car accident, a fall, etc.).
  • Eating an extremely hot food and following it with an ice-cold beverage.  
  • Getting oversized fillings that weaken the tooth’s integrity. 
  • As a part of the natural aging process.

Here’s the point: Cracked teeth are common because there are many possible causes. And too many people wait too long to see a dentist after getting a cracked tooth, which can lead to a host of other problems. 

Don’t do that! Below, Adam Brown DDS has provided some essential information and advice about what to do when you get a cracked tooth (spoiler alert: it involves going to the dentist!). 

 

The Skinny on Cracked Teeth 

Cracked teeth can come in many forms. You can have a crack that extends to the gum line, a vertical root fracture, a fractured cusp, or craze lines, among others. Generally, a tooth’s crack starts at the chewing surface and eventually spreads down to the root. In some cases, the patient feels no discomfort, in which case it is still critical to seek dental care so that you can stop the damage in its tracks. 

The nature of the dental care you need will primarily depend on how far the crack has extended into the tooth. For example, if the crack hasn’t spread to the pulp, you can probably treat it with a crown. But if the crack has grown to the center of the tooth, you will likely need both a root canal and a crown. You’ll probably notice if the damage gets to that point because it usually results in significant pain.

A cracked tooth can get even more intense than that. If the crack extends through the center of the tooth and down below the gum line, the only option may be to extract the tooth. Sometimes a tooth crack can begin at the root and work its way up, which is known as a vertical root fracture. This requires extensive dental care and often goes unnoticed until the patient feels swelling around the tooth or gum, or if the area becomes infected. 

A cusp fracture occurs when only a portion of your tooth breaks off. In most cases, a cusp fracture can be treated with a new filling or a crown. And then there are craze lines, which are essentially thin lines that show through the surface of the teeth. These cracks are shallow and require no treatment. They are simply a result of the aging process and are only superficial.

You may not be able to tell if you have a cracked tooth just by looking in the mirror. But there are some symptoms to keep in mind that can indicate that you have a cracked tooth. For instance, if you have pain that comes and goes and is exacerbated when chewing food, or you experience discomfort when consuming hot or cold foods or beverages, you might have a cracked tooth. And if your tooth is extra sensitive when eating sticky, sweet, or sour foods, that too can be a sign. Furthermore, cracked teeth often reveal themselves when the edges of the teeth become sharp.

 

Why You Should Go to the Dentist 

Even if you notice symptoms of a cracked tooth, there’s really no way for you to know the extent of the damage. So, no matter the size of the crack or chip in your tooth, your first action should be to call your dentist to set up an appointment. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to slow the progress of the crack until you can get to the dentist, which we will discuss here later. 

Oftentimes, your mouth injury will not require you to get emergency treatment, which means that you should be OK until your dentist is able to see you during normal work hours. So, call yourself fortunate if you have a crack or a chip in your tooth that isn’t causing you to hunch over in pain! That said, remember that calling the dentist should be a top priority no matter the intensity of the damage. Let’s discuss why in more detail:

Preventing Decay and Infection

Failure to treat your cracked tooth promptly can result in decay and/or infection. The rough edges of a cracked tooth tend to collect more food and bacteria than normal while also leaving the area harder to clean. And if the crack or chip in your tooth is sizable, it can expose the dentin underneath your enamel, which increases the risk of decay even more. Thus, cavities and even infection can quickly ensue. 

 

Minimizing Bite Problems

Your mouth works through muscle memory, and your bite contacts must be precise for your chewing to be proper. Even the smallest chip can change how your teeth come together during a bite and, ultimately, how you chew. If left unaddressed, this can cause your teeth to wear unevenly and potentially lead to bruxism. 

 

Appearance

Some people are not bothered by a chip in their tooth, but it’s impossible to ignore. So, if you want a big, perfect smile, the chip in your tooth will keep that from happening because it interrupts the symmetry of your smile, or at the very least, it highlights the black space behind the cracked tooth.

 

Increased Sensitivity

Having a cracked tooth can get really uncomfortable, really fast. Essentially, a crack in your tooth will decrease the insulation between the sensitive nerve in the tooth and any food or drinks you consume. Oftentimes, you will begin feeling sensitivity around where your tooth is cracked, in which case it’s time to call the dentist. 

 

You Don’t Know How Bad It Is

Too many people notice a small crack or chip in their tooth and assume that it is the extent of the damage. While the crack or chip itself can spread and cause a whole host of problems, consider the force behind whatever caused your tooth damage in the first place. That force could have impacted the roots, which could lead to your tooth getting infected, falling out, or at the very least becoming discolored. Only a dental care professional can assess the full extent of the damage to your tooth. 

 

Stress Relief

Being aware of the plethora of potential risks that come with a cracked tooth, chances are you won’t be able to avoid worrying about how bad the injury is. Rather than torturing yourself and constantly trying to ignore your anxiety, get evaluated by your dentist to get a professional diagnosis.

 

Diagnosing Cracked Teeth 

One common way dentists examine for cracked teeth is to take an X-ray. But sometimes an X-ray won’t reveal a cracked tooth, not to mention every patient doesn’t exhibit the same symptoms. If you go to your dentist for a diagnosis, you can expect them to inquire about your dental history, conduct an in-depth visual examination, and feel for the crack with a dental explorer. 

In many cases, a dentist will apply dental dye to see if it highlights the tooth’s crack, as well as probe your gums to identify any inflammation present. Another practical step a dentist might take is to have you bite down on something, such as a band, which might make you feel pain once you release the bite. And of course, you may get an X-ray; even if it doesn’t show the crack in your tooth, it can reveal poor pulp health, which can be a sign of a crack. 

 

Until You Can Get to the Dentist  

So, you think you may have a cracked tooth and the pain has become excruciating. If your dentist doesn’t recommend emergency treatment, you may be able to minimize the progression of the damage and the pain by taking action at home. 

 

First Aid at Home 

Most of the time, if you feel pain from a cracked or broken tooth, it is because the tooth’s dentin layer has become exposed. If you’re not able to make it to the dentist (i.e., it’s in the middle of the night or your dentist doesn’t have any openings), bite down gently on a strip of gauze; this can help ease the pain and the bleeding if there is any. And be sure to look for any broken pieces of your tooth so that you can bring them to your dentist appointment. These pieces will not be able to be reattached, but your dentist can assess whether it was tooth enamel or an old filling.

There are also some things that you should not do in the event that you get a cracked tooth and must wait for dental care. You basically want to avoid anything that can exacerbate the damage or pain. Stay away from extremely hot or cold food or drinks. Try to avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks. And don’t eat any hard candy, nuts, or other hard foods. Once your tooth is treated, you can get back to your normal routine. 

 

Mitigating the Pain

If your tooth pain becomes significant while you are waiting to see the dentist, ask your dental care provider if you can take a pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil. Don’t take aspirin, however, because it can disrupt blood clotting, which won’t be a good thing if you end up requiring a root canal. 

Oil of cloves is something else you can take. As a natural anesthetic, dentists have used oil of cloves for more than 100 years. Simply soak a cotton ball in the oil and hold it on the cracked tooth for about ten seconds, taking care not to swallow. Or, you could go with an over-the-counter dental anesthetic such as Anbesol or Orajel. 

It’s also a good idea to floss after each meal, as this will remove bacteria that could aggravate the damage done to the area around your cracked tooth. Just use the floss gently around the painful tooth. Also, keep your head more elevated than you normally would when you sleep, as it can relieve some of the pressure from the painful inflammation of the exposed nerve in your cracked tooth. Moreover, swish warm salt water in your mouth three times a day to further protect the infected area from bacteria. 

 

Conclusion

Just because cracked teeth are common doesn’t mean that they should be taken lightly. If you notice potential symptoms of a cracked tooth, you should contact your dentist’s office as soon as possible and follow the steps above for mitigating the problem until you can see the dentist. And of course, keep up with your oral hygiene routine, and make an effort to prevent cracked teeth in the future!

Patients with cracked teeth come into our office all the time, and we would love to examine you and figure out the best way to fix the problem. Contact Adam Brown DDS today with any questions or concerns you may have! (704) 289-9519

 

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