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Prepare your Teeth for Travel

Vacations are one of the most fun parts of the summer. Whether you’re travelling locally to bask in the beauty of Mount St. Helen’s, or flying to a more tropical destination, your vacation should be a time filled with relaxation and memorable experiences. We all know it’s important to be organized before a big trip, but are your teeth prepared? After you pack your swimsuit and sunblock, read our traveling teeth checklist.

  • Visit your dentist! Has it been over 6 months since you visited your dentist for a check-up? If your answer is “Yes”, get an appointment before you hit the road. It’s a lot easier to take care of a small cavity or tooth sensitivity at home than on vacation.
  • Pack a dental travel kit. A toothbrush is essential, but there are other dental items that you should pack too. First, make sure you pack your toothbrush. Remember, not all destinations have a 24-hour store on every corner. Other important items include toothpaste, floss, lip balm and a dental first aid kit just in case a filling or crown comes out.
  • Eat ice with caution. While ice isn’t as harmful as candy, crunching on it can easily damage enamel or chip a tooth. Cut the crunching and enjoy ice in its liquid form.

Happy Vacation! Now you’re ready to relax without worry! What trips do you have planned for the rest of the summer?

Herpes

Relieve Cranky Cankers

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you’re not alone. In fact, more than half of the population regularly experiences these small, but painful ulcers. Less than one centimeter in diameter, canker sores often affect the soft areas of the mouth, including the tongue, cheek and lips.

Their specific cause is still unknown, but many experts believe bacteria and viral infections play a significant role. Feeling cranky about cankers? Good news! Here are 3 ways to relieve pain and hurry the healing.

  1. Avoid eating spicy or citrus-based foods; these will irritate the sores and cause increased discomfort.
  2. Apply over-the-counter ointments that contain phenol. There are several medicated ointments available at drug stores. Some medicines help numb the pain of the canker sore, while others protect the surface of the sore from irritation.
  3. If you haven’t already, switch to toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical found to cause and aggravate canker sores. Visit slsfree.net to see a list of SLS-free products.

Fortunately, canker sores aren’t contagious and typically heal on their own after one or two weeks. However, if you’re cursed with frequent canker sores, consult your dentist to discuss antibiotic options.

Dentist and assistant in exam room with man in chair smiling

Why You Need Dental Insurance

Looking for ways to keep your family healthy? Good food, exercise and regular doctor checkups are important. But, so is dental insurance. Regular dental visits keep both your teeth and body healthy.

Studies tell us that people with dental benefits are 50 percent more likely to go to the dentist and get the preventive care and treatment they need. But why is dental insurance important?

  •  You save money: By seeing your dentist regularly, you can prevent dental problems or treat them before they get serious – and expensive.
  • You save time: Treating problems before they become too painful or out of control will save hours of lost work and school time.
  • Your overall health improves: Dental infections can lead to more severe health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Your dentist can screen for oral health problems and other diseases, and can also refer you to a physician.
  • If you do need treatment, it will cost you less: Dentists who belong to dental carrier networks have agreed to discounted prices. So, not only will part of the cost be paid for by the dental insurance – any portion that’s not covered with cost you less than if you didn’t have dental insurance.

If you haven’t been to a dentist in a long time, don’t wait, especially if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Tooth pain or sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Gums that are red, puffy and bleed when you brush your teeth
  • A bad taste in your mouth and your breath consistently smells bad
  • Chewing and swallowing are difficult
  • Sores or spots in your mouth that won’t go away
  • A chronic medical condition such as diabetes, HIV or cardiovascular disease

Don’t be afraid to go to the dentist. Dental benefits will help you pay for preventive care and the treatments you need.

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Keeping your Child’s Smile Safe this Summer

The long days and short nights of summer create the perfect conditions for outdoor fun. And while warmer weather might tear your child away from that comfy living room chair, it’s also the time of year when accidents are most common.

Swimming Pool Safety

As you watch your little one scream with glee while doing a flip into the swimming pool, don’t forget to make sure his or her landing spot is deep enough. Many traumatic dental injuries are the result of an impact to the face from the side or floor of swimming pools. Make sure your child jumps into the pool from safe and approved areas, like diving boards or platforms. Encourage walking instead of running when around the pool.

In addition to following pool safety rules, if your child is a competitive swimmer and at the pool more than 6 hours a week, talk to your dentist about the best ways to avoid “swimming calculus.” Swimming calculus is a fancy way of describing hard brown tartar that builds up after prolonged exposure to chemically treated water.

Take Care in Contact Sports

Whether your child is playing football or participating in gymnastic classes, dental trauma is always a concern. Luckily, there is a solution to help mitigate this risk: mouth guards. Even if the sport your child plays doesn’t require a mouth guard, it’s a smart purchase if you want to protect your child’s teeth and oral tissue. Beyond knocked out and damaged teeth, mouth guards also help to prevent oral lacerations, which can be one of the most painful injuries.

Mouth guards are available at your dentist’s office, and even at the local sports store. If your child wants a custom fit mouthpiece, it’s best to talk to your dentist about the options available.

Just because injuries increase during the summer doesn’t mean your child is destined for trouble. Take preventive measures and know the risks associated with certain activities.

Do you have any summer advice for parents? Leave it in the comments!

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Finding a Dentist

Moved Recently? Child just turned 18? New job with new benefits?
All of these could be reasons you’re searching for a dentist.
Well, you’re in luck. Delta Dental has the largest network of dentists in the United States, larger than any other dental carrier.

You can easily find an in-network dentist by clicking here. This tool helps you search for dentists by network, location and specialty.

After you’ve found an in-network dentist, you’ll want to be sure they’re a good fit. Here are some questions to ask when you call to make your appointment:

  • What are the office hours? Make sure they’re convenient for your schedule.
  • What is the dentist’s educational background and credentials?
  • What should you expect during the first exam? Generally, you will have a conversation with the dentist about your health history, any specific concerns, and medications you’re taking. You should receive an exam, a cleaning, and perhaps some x-rays.
  • What’s the dentist’s approach to preventive dentistry?
  • What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable during any necessary dental treatment?
  • What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.

Use your call as an opportunity to see how the office staff treats you. A friendly staff can help ease anxiety about a dental procedure and make your visit more enjoyable.

What are you waiting for? Find a dentist today!

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Is Oil Pulling a Safe Practice?

Oil pulling has been in the news and all over social media lately. Though oil pulling only recently came to note in American pop culture, it is an ancient folk remedy from India and southern Asian cultures.

To clean the mouth, you’re supposed to swish coconut oil in your mouth for 10 to 20 minutes. But, as is true with many folk remedies, oil pulling just doesn’t have scientific or peer-reviewed literature to back up its claims. Many of the studies that do exist on oil pulling have clear problems, including a small sample size or lack of blinding. We do know, however, that there are potential adverse affects of this practice, including upset stomach, diarrhea, aspiration of the oil and even some cases of lipoid pneumonia ¹.

So, while this practice might seem like an interesting remedy to try, we recommend sticking to the things that are proven to work– brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and visiting your dentist.

¹ Kim JY, Jung JW, Choi JC, et al. Recurrent lipoid pneumonia associated with oil pulling. Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2014 Feb;18(2):251-2

Taking chewing gum

Pucker Up for International Kissing Day!

July 6th is International Kissing Day! According to Guinness World Records, the longest kiss lasted 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds.

Would your significant other want to engage in a record-breaking ‘kissathon’? Maybe! But what exactly makes a kissable mouth? Follow our kissable tips and your sweetie may want to set the new record for locking lips.

First and foremost, banish bad breath. Do you really want your honey to cringe when you lean in for a kiss? The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Brushing your tongue and roof of your mouth also removes odor-causing bacteria. When you’ve finished brushing, don’t forget to floss at least once a day.

Sparkling white teeth are the perfect compliment to kissable lips. There are several at-home whitening kits that reveal whiter teeth in as little as two weeks. There are also toothpastes that have added whitening agents. Make sure to check with your dentist to see if you’re a candidate for bleaching. Click here for more information on whitening.

Toothbrushes aren’t just for teeth. Exfoliate your lips with a sugar scrub using a soft bristle toothbrush.

Steer clear of cigarettes. No one wants to kiss an ashtray! Not only is smoking the leading cause of oral cancer, it can also leave brown tar stains on your teeth. And, over time, lip lines and wrinkles will form on the edges of your mouth.

Finish your smooch off by applying a hydrating lip balm. Reapply throughout the day to prevent flaky, chapped lips.

Before you pucker up, pop in a piece of sugarless gum. Gum can help promote saliva production, which rinses your mouth while freshening your breath. Look for gum that has the ADA seal and remember not to smack!

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Farmers Markets Make Healthy Smiles

One of the best parts about summer is a greater abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. What better place to get them than at your local farmer’s market?

We’re lucky to live in Washington, because there are wonderful farmer’s markets across the state, in communities large and small.

Here are some links to help you find a great market near you:

But, once you’re at the farmer’s market, what should you look for?

  • Calcium-rich foods are a great way to maintain strong and healthy teeth. Some great options you might find at the market are dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips and collard greens.
  • Foods high in fiber also contribute to a healthy mouth by keeping your saliva flowing. Saliva is the natural lubricant of the mouth and helps to decrease dry mouth that is both uncomfortable and damaging. Look for beans (lima, black, lentils, garbanzo, navy or kidney), berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries), whole grains, sweet peas, nuts, squash or more of those deep leafy greens.
  • Whole grain foods are also important because they are rich in B vitamins and iron. Whole grains help keep bones, teeth and gums healthy. Plus, foods that are whole grain are often high in fiber. So, add oats, whole pasta and barley to your farmer’s market list.

Food replenishes the nutrients we use everyday. If you eat healthy foods, your body and smile will show it.

So, make sure you take advantage of the beautiful crops coming into market this year by visiting your local farmer’s market.

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Cheers to the Toothbrush

Celebrate your smile with a new toothbrush!  It’s National Toothbrush Day.

Your toothbrush does wonders to keep your smile healthy.  It works very hard, hopefully at least twice a day, to help protect you from tooth decay, gum disease, and much more.

Before the modern toothbrush, people used twigs and bones with pig hairs to clean their teeth.  Today’s toothbrushes are much more appealing and effective.  There’s one for every smile.

Here’s some information to help you choose the right toothbrush:

Electric vs Manual:  Electric toothbrushes are great for people who need a little extra help keeping their smiles clean.  They’re great for people with braces or with impaired dexterity.  Manual toothbrushes require muscle and coordination to clean effectively.  Brush up on proper use here.

Plastic vs Recyclable:  For those concerned about the environment, there are manual toothbrushes made in recyclable materials.  They clean just as well as their plastic counterparts.

Soft vs Hard:  Hard bristles can damage your gums and enamel.  Most dentists recommend soft-bristled toothbrushes.  Brushing harder and less frequently with a hard-bristled toothbrush isn’t as effective as properly using a soft toothbrush.

Flat vs Multi-level:  Multi-level bristle surfaces are best.  They combine concave and convex surfaces.  They’re concave (top of the wave) areas effectively clean the outer surfaces, while the convex (bottom of the wave) areas effectively clean the inner surfaces.

Celebrate National Toothbrush Day by getting the right toothbrush for your smile.  Put it to work twice a day for a lifelong, healthy smile.

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Celebrate Your Smile

It’s National Smile Month.  Celebrate by sharing your smile as often as possible.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Spend time with family and friends.  Work is great, but people smile five times more frequently with family and friends than they do at work.

Exercise.  Exercise is great for your oral and overall health.  It releases endorphins, which reduce stress and make you feel better about yourself.

Get outdoors.  Take a break from electronics and walk down your street or hike in the woods.  Fresh air is a great mood lifter.

Spend time with your pet.  The best part about animals is the unconditional love and endless entertainment they provide.  Take your dog for a walk or give your cat some catnip.  Their reactions are sure to make you smile.

Try something new.  If there’s an art class, kayaking, or new restaurant you want to try, now’s the time to do it.  You’ll learn something new and have a great time in the process.

Whatever you do, remember to smile as often as possible.  Smiles are proven to reduce stress, improve moods of those around you, and make you more attractive.  They’re pretty amazing.

Remember, you can also celebrate your smile this month by remembering to brush for 2 minutes twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule your next dental visit.