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January 2019 Dental Tip: Starting Over on Office Visits

It’s the start of a New Year!  Remember your routine cleanings, potential x-rays, and office visit allowances start over as of January 1.  Get your visits scheduled with your dental office and be sure your year starts off healthy!  One hundred million Americans fail to see a dentist each year, but regular dental visits can prevent many oral health problems or help identify them earlier when treatment may be simpler and more affordable.  A Preventive Care visit is usually at no cost.  Enjoy a clean, bright and hopefully pain-free smile for 2019!


December Dental Tip: 7 Dental Tips for Healthy Tips During the Holidays

7 Dental Tips for Healthy Teeth During the Holidays

The holidays are for family, friends, and fun. However, even when you are having a good time, it is important to still keep your dental health in mind.  This way, you can start the new year with healthy teeth and gums! Consider these dental tips during this holiday season:

1.  Make Home Dental Care a Priority

No matter how busy, tired, or excited you are, perform proper tooth brushing and flossing at least twice each day. Many people find it easiest to brush and floss in the morning and at bedtime. Be sure to get your children into this routine, too.

2.  Care for Your Teeth After Eating

It is a good idea to brush after eating, but that is not always possible. When you cannot brush after a meal or snack, use mouthwash. When you rinse thoroughly with mouthwash, it will remove food particles and bacteria. This will lead to clean and healthy teeth and fresher breath!

3.  Avoid Chewy Treats

Chewy products stick to the teeth and may harm tooth enamel. Gummy candies, caramel, and other chewy products also leave a residue that can lead to tooth decay. Consider choosing healthier products for holiday treats and your child’s Christmas stocking.

4.  Avoid Hard Candy

Candy canes and other flavored hard candies are popular, especially during the holiday season.  These treats also leave a sugary residue on the teeth, and it is possible to break a tooth on hard candy. Because of these reasons, it is easier to avoid hard candies altogether.

5.  Use A Nutcracker

Many people have developed the habit of cracking nuts with their teeth.  Perhaps you, or someone else in your family, have this habit. A simple way to avoid cracking a tooth, and needing an emergency visit to the dentist, is to always use appropriate nutcrackers. It helps that these are popular holiday decorations as well! Nuts are delicious and provide healthy protein, so they are a great choice when cracked open safely.

6.  Avoid Teeth-Staining Beverages & Habits

Sugary treats are not the only products that can harm your teeth. You should also avoid products that can stain your teeth. If you often drink red wine, coffee, soda, or tea, your teeth will start to lose their brightness. Instead, choose fresh juice, a cool glass of water, or calcium-rich milk.

If you smoke, the holiday season is a good time to stop.  There are many health benefits to quitting, and one example is your oral health. You will have healthy teeth and gums, and a brighter smile.

7.  Make an Appointment with Your Dentist

Healthy eating and home oral care can be a start to dental health. However, the holiday season and end of the year is a good time to visit the dentist. When you have regular professional hygiene visits, your teeth will look their best and stay in great condition. An exam will also let your dentist know if you need treatment for any underlying conditions.  During this season, everyone in your family is at home for the holidays. It is the ideal time to make dental appointments for your entire household. That way, everyone can start the new year with a perfect smile, and excellent oral health!

November Dental TIp: To Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check, Don't Forget to Brush and Floss

Struggling to bring your high blood pressure under control, even with the help of medications?  Open your mouth and say “aha!” if you see tooth decay or gums that are sore, bleeding or receding.  You may have found the culprit.

Researchers reported that in adults whose hypertension was being treated with medications, systolic blood pressure — which measures pressure in the vessels when the heart beats — got higher as the health of their teeth and gums declined.

Compared to hypertensive patients who had no signs of periodontal disease, those with inflamed gums were 20% less likely to have gotten their blood pressure within healthy limits.  All organs are affected by high blood pressure and it breaks new ground by detailing how poor dental health upends efforts to bring hypertension under control.

Patients with hypertension should make every effort to improve their oral health, and those with poor gum health should be vigilant for hypertension.  Brush and floss every day!

September Dental Tip: Advil + Tylenol Better than Opioids for Oral Pain

Advil + Tylenol Better Than Opioids for Oral Pain

Over-the-counter ibuprofen and acetaminophen provide better relief for dental pain than prescription opioids and are less likely to cause side effects, researchers say.  Discuss these options with your dentist.

In a review of more than 460 published studies found that a combination of 400 milligrams of ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) and 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen (Tylenol) was more effective than opioid medications (for example, Vicodin, Oxycontin) for adults.

Investigators also found that opioids or drug combinations that included opioids caused the greatest number of side effects — including drowsiness, respiratory problems, nausea/vomiting and constipation — in both children and adults.

The best available data suggest that the use of nonsteroidal medications [NSAIDs], with or without acetaminophen, offers the most favorable balance between benefits and harms, optimizing efficacy [effectiveness] while minimizing acute adverse events.  No patient should go home in pain. That means that opioids are sometimes the best option, but certainly should not be the first option.

August Dental Tip: New School Year Rules

1. Take your kids to the dentist

Start the school year right with a dental cleaning and exam. Ask your child’s dentist about sealants and fluoride treatments to prevent decay. These treatments are easy ways to stop cavities before they start. And they can even improve your child’s performance at school. A third of children miss school because of oral health problems, according to Delta Dental’s 2015 Children’s Oral Health Survey.

2. Pick the right snacks

Swap out lunchbox no-nos with healthy alternatives. Instead of chips or crackers, try nuts. Salty snacks may seem healthy because they don’t contain sugar, but simple starches can be just as bad. These snacks break down into a sticky goo, coating teeth and promoting decay. Avoid candies and granola bars, offering crunchy snacks like celery sticks, baby carrots and cubes of cheddar cheese.

3. Make brushing and flossing fun

To keep their mouths healthy, kids need to brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. They should also floss every day, preferably after dinner. Try these tricks to make oral hygiene more exciting:

Use a sticker calendar. Let your kids place stickers on each day to represent brushing and flossing.

Play music. Collect your kids’ favorite two-minute songs and make sure they brush the whole time. 

Personalize. Help your child pick a themed toothbrush in his or her favorite color.

Provide a kid-friendly floss holder. These Y-shaped devices make flossing more comfortable.

July Dental Tip: 8 Travel Tips for Your Teeth

1. If you can, schedule your next regular visit before your trip. Have a thorough exam so the dentist can spot any problems before they happen. You’ll have peace of mind, and your dentist will have the most up-to-date information on your teeth, including x-rays.

2.    Have your dentist’s contact info handy in your cell phone or keep a business card in your wallet. If you think you need to talk to somebody, you probably do.  In fact, more dental emergencies can be resolved over the phone than you might think (especially if you keep up regular visits).

3.    If you are out of the country and absolutely in need of a dentist, it is recommended to getting in touch with the local consulate or U.S. embassy.

4.    Oops, forgot your brush? If you find yourself temporarily without a toothbrush, you can rinse vigorously with water to wash away some of that cavity-causing bacteria. You could also put some toothpaste on a clean washcloth or your clean finger in a pinch. When you finally get to the nearest drugstore, look for a toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

5.    Letting your toothbrush air dry is how you keep your toothbrush clean at home, but that’s not always possible on vacation. What’s a traveling toothbrush to do? Perhaps use a resealable plastic bag.  Keeping your toothbrush clean and out of contact with other things is more important than making sure it’s dry on vacation. A bag keeps your toothbrush separate from everything else in your luggage. When you get there, pop it open and let your brush air dry.

6.   Chewing sugarless gum can help relieve ear pressure during a flight – and help keep cavities at bay on vacay. Research shows that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent cavities. That’s because it gets saliva flowing, which helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria. Sugarless gum with the ADA Seal is guaranteed to do the trick.

7.   If you are in a country where the water supply is compromised – or you’re on a wilderness adventure but aren’t sure how clean the stream is – always use bottled water to brush.

8.    If you let brushing and flossing slide – or indulged in too many sweets while away – don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on your normal routine of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing when you get home.

June Dental Tip: 3 Tips for Healthy Summer Smiles

3 Tips for Healthy Summer Smiles

Summer sun brings summer fun. While warm months are perfect for spending time together, summer vacation can also throw off your usual dental routine. Here are three ways to prevent summertime tooth decay:  

[if !supportLists]1.    [endif]Stay on a routine 

Don’t forget about your smile over the summer.  It’s important for families to consistently brush and floss, which keeps kids on track for healthy back-to-school dental visits.  No matter how eventful the upcoming months become, supervise that they are brushing twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Simple things like brushing calendars can help everyone stay on track over the summer.  Brushing alongside your children for 2 minutes, twice a day for the three months of summer gives you 6 extra hours together, so make the most of them!  And don’t forget to clean between those teeth once a day by flossing between any two teeth that touch.  

2.    Say no to sugary drinks and snacks 

As the temperature rises, it’s common for families to sip and snack during sports tournaments, festivals or nearly any community event. Watch your family’s intake of lemonade, juice and soda.  Instead, offer water (even better if it has fluoride) to beat the heat, or milk to drink with meals. Taking a break from snacking is healthy for your teeth, as it allows time for saliva to bathe the teeth, wash away leftover food and get stronger.  

3.    Make your back-to-school dental visit early 

Some schools require back-to-school dental visits for certain grades, and these checkups can be a good way to be sure your child’s teeth stayed healthy. It is a good idea to make your child’s back-to-school appointment early in the summer to avoid the August rush and help ensure you get the appointment time that works best for you.

May Dental Tip: 8 Surprising Foods Your Dentist Doesn't Want You to Eat

You might rethink some of your regular snacks.

You know candy leads to cavities, and wine can stain your pearly whites. But it turns out there are a host of other (seemingly harmless) foods that can wreak havoc on your oral hygiene if you have them on the reg. Here are some surprising teeth-harming culprits they try to avoid:

Sunflower seeds

The seed itself is not bad for your choppers—it’s the hull that’s the problem. The fact that it has a hard outer shell, and you’re trying to bite through that shell, that can cause damage, with cracked teeth(!) from chewing on sunflower seeds. If you’re a fan of the protein-packed snack, opt for hulled seeds.

Ice cubes

Keep the cold stuff in your glass, dentists warn. Chewing on ice is a bad idea because tooth enamel and ice are both made up of crystals.  When you push two crystals against each other with enough force, one is going to break. Or put another way: If ice can damage highways, imagine what it can do to your teeth.

Flavored waters and seltzer

Even if the flavoring is sugar-free, that doesn’t mean it’s acid-free. Some flavored waters and seltzers contain citric acid, which is a common culprit of enamel erosion. Once your enamel gets worn away, it will never come back.   As the protective layer erodes, it leaves your teeth vulnerable to not only cavities and decay, but chips and sensitivity as well. 

Dried fruit

Yes, dried fruit is full of fiber and vitamins. But there are cons to dehydrating sweet produce: When you pull the water out, what’s left behind is concentrated sugar and acid, and the fruit itself becomes a lot stickier.  Raisins and dried cherries can stick in the grooves and crevices in your teeth; and all the while, bacteria in your mouth feast on that deposited sugar. Those bacteria produce acid, which then dissolves your enamel and causes cavities.

Gummy vitamins

Everyone thinks gummies are okay, but the sweet and sticky vitamins aren’t much better for your teeth than candy. Instead, chewable vitamins, or even liquid versions where you can take a few drops and add it to beverages or food.

Potato chips

Chips are sneaky according to the American Dental Association. Like dried fruit and gummies, they adhere to your teeth.  It’s something you don’t think about.  The starch in the potatoes turns to sugar, and the sugar gets metabolized into acid. If you enjoy a bag of chips now and again, make sure you wash them down with lots of water, and consider flossing afterward.  A suggestion is to always to make sure that when you’re done eating, you’re actually done; you’re not leaving anything behind.  Cleaning your teeth right after a sticky snack is the way to avoid decay.

Sports drinks

Sure, they replenish electrolytes after a long workout, but don’t forget they’re loaded with sugar. It’s one thing to have a sports drink every once in a while, but if [it’s part of your] daily workout routine, read the ingredients—you’d be surprised at some of these drinks, how much sugar they have. Go with the safest thing, which is water. Water is all you really need.


Aside from the staining and the sugar, alcohol dries out your mouth, and that makes you more prone to cavities. There’s a reason why your mouth salivates, saliva washes your mouth, it keeps everything clean, and it neutralizes the mouth so it’s not acidic.  But that doesn’t mean you need to swear off booze altogether, moderation is the key.

April Dental TIp: Chewing Gum May Help Protect Teeth

Chewing gum has been around since ancient times. Originally made from natural products, today’s gums are combinations of synthetic materials.  Some chewing gums may help protect your teeth, the American Dental Association says.

The physical act of chewing increases the flow of saliva, which can neutralize and wash away harmful acids that are produced when food is chewed and broken down.

The ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and using dental floss once daily.  And while chewing gum should not replace brushing and flossing, the ADA cites clinical research showing that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal may also help prevent tooth decay.

March Dental Tip: Is an Electric Toothbrush Better than a Manual Toothbrush?

It’s possible to brush your teeth effectively with a manual toothbrush. However, an electric toothbrush can be a great alternative to a manual toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other conditions that make it difficult to brush well. An electric toothbrush’s bristle movement might even help you remove more plaque from your teeth and improve your gum health.

If you use an electric toothbrush, make sure it’s comfortable to hold and easy to use. Your dentist might suggest a model with a rotating-oscillating head or a head that uses ultrasonic pulses to move the bristles. Other features, such as adjustable power levels, timers and rechargeable batteries, are optional. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about when to replace the head to ensure the toothbrush continues working effectively.

Whether you choose an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush, remember that what’s most important is daily brushing and flossing!

February Dental Tip: Avoid Surprises with a Pre-Treatment Estimate

Unexpected bills aren’t fun for anyone. It’s much easier to budget for expenses you’re expecting. That’s why Delta Dental makes it easy for you to find out whether a proposed dental treatment is covered, what amount the plan will pay and the difference you will be responsible for.

Here’s how: When you are having extensive work done and want to know what your share of the cost will be, ask your dentist to submit the proposed treatment plan to us for a pre-treatment estimate. A pre-treatment estimate gives us a chance to review the proposed treatment in accordance with your dental coverage. We can then determine what portion of the treatment will be covered under the plan chosen by your employer, if you will exceed your maximum and what portion will be your financial responsibility.

We’ll send a pre-treatment estimate notice to you and your dentist. We encourage you to review this notice together and discuss treatment options before deciding on treatment.

With a pre-treatment estimate, you’ll know ahead of time how much of the bill you’ll be responsible for. A pre-treatment estimate gives you the opportunity to learn about your options—and it makes it easier for you to budget for your dental care.

NOTE: A pre-treatment estimate is NOT a guarantee of future dental benefits or payment. When the services are complete, Delta Dental will calculate its payment based on your current eligibility, remaining maximum and any deductible requirements.

January Dental Tip: What's the Point of Working that Piece of String Between Your Teeth?

Flossing, proponents say, helps to remove food particles and bacteria from between your teeth and along your gumline. When this bacteria builds up, it forms plaque, a sticky, colorless film that can threaten your oral health by contributing to tooth decay and gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, which can then evolve into periodontitis, the full-blown form of this health condition.  Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums around your teeth, which will progress to periodontitis, which is inflammation of the gums in combination with bone loss.  When left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.

A Dentist can quickly tell when a patient hasn’t touched floss in too long, by seeing bleeding gums, a high rate of cavities, bone loss, and bad breath in people who don’t make flossing a habit.  Be sure to floss after every meal!