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Halloween is in a few days, so it won’t be long before ghosts, goblins, and ghouls will be in our midst. As adults, the holiday can be a whole lot of fun, but for parents, the real focus is toward their children.

There are numerous safety concerns that are tackled each year, from avoiding costumes with masks to wearing reflectors if kids are going to be walking up and down neighborhood streets. Being a dentistry website, though, what we’d like to take on is the aftermath of Halloween — the candy feast!

What can you do to ensure your children’s dental health while they scarf down their Halloween candy like there’s no tomorrow? We suggest that you try these simple tips:

Limit the Amount of Candy

There is absolutely no reason for your child to be given full access to dozens of pieces of candy. Eating an entire bagful of candy will not only harm your child’s teeth, it’s likely to make them sick if they gorge themselves. Instead, tell them to pick out a certain number of their favorites, whether it’s 10, 15, or maybe more. To avoid arguments, it’s best to inform them of this plan before Trick ‘r Treating and make their agreement to this idea contingent on getting the candy in the first place.

Set a Treat Time

No matter how well-behaved your child is, the allure of candy may turn them into a ravenous beast who will lie, cheat, and steal to obtain it. You can help prevent this by setting a specific treat time. This goes for all instances of treats — not just Halloween. When your child knows that they will be able to enjoy a piece of candy at a given time, they are less likely to attempt a coup and eat your hidden stash.

Organize a Brushing Schedule

This is something every parent should do, regardless of the impending holiday. Children do best when they are provided with a structure around certain activities. Brushing and flossing both fall into that category, so it’s important to establish a daily brushing schedule and stick to it as much as you can. And obviously, don’t allow your children to eat any of their Halloween candy after their teeth have been brushed for the night.

Check Their Teeth with Disclosing Tablets

Many parents have never heard of disclosing tablets, and they’re definitely something to be aware of. They are chewable tablets that will temporarily stain plaque on a child’s teeth so that you can see the build-up of such plaque for yourself. It’s a good idea to schedule a weekly “disclosing session”, and if you don’t like the use of tablets for whatever reason, there are swabs and solutions you can pick up as well.

Make Brushing Fun

Whether it’s Halloween or not, young children are more likely too brush their teeth regularly if you make the activity fun. A great way to do this is to purchase a toothbrush of their favorite character. You should be replacing the toothbrush every few months anyway, and Halloween is a great opportunity to switch it out with something they’ll like. And if you let them choose the brush, even better.

Are you interested in more ways to help maintain your child’s dental health? Do you have an adult sweet tooth and plan to eat a lot of candy in the next few days? Are you using your children to help you score said candy on Halloween? Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, cares about a person’s dental and oral health, so if you’re ready to get started on making improvements for you and your children, contact us right away for an appointment.

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Let’s talk about a topic today that many people shudder to think about — oral cancer. Other types of cancer get a lot more attention, but the truth is that oral cancer is a big problem in our country. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s difficult to diagnose and by the time you receive a diagnosis, the cancer is late in its development. This increases its mortality rate substantially. In fact, once diagnosed, there is a 57 percent chance that a person will succumb to the disease within five years.

We’re not trying to scare you — at least not too much — but this is an important issue that should be addressed, and one that many people don’t even think about until it’s too late. Each year, several thousand people die from oral cancer, and while that might not seem like a lot compared to other cancers, it comes out to roughly one related death every hour. And even if you do survive oral cancer, you are likely to spend a lot of money for treatment and may find yourself disfigured and in need of reconstructive procedures.

Did we say that we weren’t trying to scare you? Sorry about that. But this is an important topic.

The good news is that there are ways to help avoid oral cancer. Here are some actions you can start taking today:

Avoid Tobacco

It will come as no secret to anyone that smoking tobacco is bad for you. Smoking causes many types of health problems and one of the greatest things you can do for your body as a whole is to quit. Oral cancer is also very common for those who use chewing tobacco, so if this is something you enjoy — stop right now! But whether it’s smoking or chewing that you’re trying to stop, you’re not alone in getting help. These days, there are support groups, gums, and many other helpful ways to stop.

Eat the Right Way

A lesser concern, but one that you should think about, is the ingestion of processed meats. These meats contain nitrosamines, which are also found in tobacco and can increase your chances of oral cancer. It is also recommended that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to decrease your chances as well.

Avoid Risky Sexual Behavior

The idea of risky sexual behavior isn’t something that typically pops up while discussing dentistry, but when it comes to oral cancer, it definitely needs to be addressed. In recent years, the number of oral cancer cases among young men and women has been increasing. This has been attributed to oral sex, thanks to the transmission of a particular strain of the human papilloma virus (HPV-16). So in addition to proper dental care, be careful out there.

Check Your Mouth

If you experience any unusual bumps, sore, or other changes in your mouth or throat, contact your dentist or doctor immediately. As previously stated, oral cancer’s mortality rate increases substantially because it gets caught too late. Instead of being a statistic, treat these types of changes as an emergency. And when you call your dentist, tell them what you’re fearful of, so that they’ll make every effort to get you in as soon as possible.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Like all other dental issues, visiting your dentist on a regular basis can help when it comes to oral cancer. A dentist will be able to identify the early stages of oral cancer, and will help you get started on treatment right away. And the earlier you get diagnosed, the better the outcome is likely to be.

Whether you’re worried about oral cancer or have a lesser dental problem that you need to have dealt with, Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, can help you out. Our trained staff will help ensure your oral and dental health, and will assist you with caring for your teeth in the future.

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Dentists treat a wide variety of dental issues on a daily basis. The unfortunate truth is that many people don’t take care of their oral health in the way they should, and when they visit the dentist, they’re often shocked at the condition of their teeth and gums.

The truth is, day in and day out, most issues that are handled by dentists deal are common. Which are the most common dental issues that could easily be avoided with a little time and effort? It basically breaks down to three problems:

Cavities

We’ll start with the biggie. Cavities are the most common problems that most people are likely to develop, and are often the result of our culture’s sugar-loving lifestyle. A cavity is formed when plaque, which is full of harmful bacteria, builds up on the surface of a tooth and “eats” a hole in it. Unfortunately, your teeth do not have the ability to heal themselves, which means you’ll need to have a dentist fill it.

How can you avoid cavities? The first thing you can do is limit your intake of foods that are high in sugar, which can drastically cut down on the tendency for a cavity to form. But more importantly, it comes down to proper dental care. Develop a daily routine where you’re brushing and flossing twice a day — once in the morning and once before bed — and you’ll see less cavities. The second thing you need to do is visit your dentist once a year for a professional cleaning and exam.

Gum Disease

When plaque attacks your gums, it’s known as gum disease — or periodontal disease, if you want to get fancy (or technical). The first stage of this problem is gingivitis, where gums can become red and swollen, and will easily bleed when you brush or floss. The second stage is periodontitis, where the problem has advanced to the point where your gums will begin to shrink away from the teeth and create spaces that are prone to infection. If left untreated, tooth loss becomes a real concern.

Diabetes and hormonal change can cause gum disease, and smoking is a big contributor as well. Luckily, unlike the formation of cavities, gingivitis can be reversed with regular brushing and flossing. That being said, a visit to the dentist for a proper evaluation can help you get rid of the problem before it becomes more serious.

Enamel Erosion

Think of enamel as an invisible barrier with one job — the protection of your teeth. Unfortunately, enamel can be worn down, resulting in tooth sensitivity, discoloration, cracks, and chips. Tooth sensitivity can be a big deal, because it’s often painful, while erosion of enamel also makes you more prone to cavities.

If you’ve ever visited our blog before, you’re probably well-versed in the dangers of highly acidic food and beverages, which can eat away at your enamel. Avoiding such things, especially favorites like high-fructose sodas, will go a long way to ensure your enamel’s survival. Other ways to protect enamel include drinking water throughout the day to wash away any acid, in addition to brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristed toothbrush on a regular basis.

Teeth are essential for a good life, and that’s why it’s so important to take care of them. Brushing and flossing twice a day, in the proper manner, can go a long way to ensuring dental health, and visiting a dentist at least once a year is a great way to keep things going strong. If you’d like to know more about steps you can take or need to set up an appointment, contact Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, and he’ll put you on the path to quality dental and oral care.

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Having a great smile is one of the best ways to get noticed by others. Teens know this all too well. During that time in their lives, appearance is paramount. Looking good can improve self-esteem, and your child’s teeth is often one of the first things that get noticed. If they’re yellow or discolored, your child probably isn’t going to be heading to school as a very happy camper.

Teeth whitening is a safe, effective way for anyone to improve his or her smile, which is why it’s been catching on in recent years. However, if you’re going to allow your teen to get their teeth whitened, there are a few tips you should follow:

Tip #1: Consult with Your Dentist

Before you start any kind of teeth whitening treatment, it’s important that you speak to your dentist about it. Your dentist will examine your child’s teeth and advise you on how to proceed. Although there are at-home whitening treatments, an in-office visit is usually faster and more effective. Plus, your dentist can identify and repair any dental problems prior to treatment, such as cavities or enamel erosion, ensuring that your teen get the very most out of the treatment.

Tip #2: Whitening Toothpaste is Not a Simple Cure

The use of whitening toothpaste has increased in popularity over the years, in part because the idea of whitening your teeth while brushing every day is quite an attractive proposition. However, it’s important to realize that while these toothpastes can be effective in removing surface stains, bigger problems won’t be affected too much. You’re not going to see a drastic change in the appearance of your teeth simply by using a teeth whitening toothpaste.

Tip #3: Avoid At-home Whitening Treatments for Youngsters

The suggested age you’ll hear from most dentists for the use of whitening treatments is around 14 or 15. If your child is under the age of 13, you definitely want to avoid at-home whitening treatments. Instead, confer with your dentist to see what he or she recommends for your teenage son or daughter. If your dentist tells you to hold off a year or two, you should heed that advice.

Tip #4: Explain to Your Teen What to Expect

Teens these days have grown up in a very “immediate” world. Meaning that when they want to see a movie, listen to music, contact a friend, etc., they’re able to do so right within moments due to emerging technology that often fits in their pockets. So you may need to explain to them that teeth whitening will work a little differently. They must learn to be patient so as to avoid overuse of whitening products, which can cause intense tooth sensitivity.

Tip #5: Teach Them How to Avoid Yellow Teeth Post-Whitening

Once treatment begins, it’s important that your teens be told how to keep their teeth from going right back to yellow again. Explain to them that they must limit their consumption of teeth stainers, which include soda, coffee, and smoking. And, of course, proper dental care like the 2-2-2 rule — flossing twice a day, along with brushing twice a day for a period of two minutes — must be followed if they wish to keep their teeth in tiptop shape. And as a bonus, you’ll be able to avoid paying for a second whitening treatment.

Everyone should have a great smile. Whitening is an effective way to improve your smile, but you need to ensure proper dental and oral health in order to make the most of it. For further information, or to set up an appointment, call the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS. He’ll fix whatever problems you have and put you on a regimen to follow that will ensure your future dental health.

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A couple weeks ago, we touched on five bad habits that are ruining your teeth. But if you thought those were the only ones, you thought wrong! Now we’re back with five more bad habits that you should cut out right now or else risk damage and expensive dental work. And without further adieu, here they are:

Bad Habit #1: Brushing Too Hard

As you know, it’s important that you do a good job when brushing your teeth. If you don’t put a good amount of effort into the endeavor, you’ll often be wasting your time. The problem is that some people will get too vigorous with their brushing. If you put too much pressure on your teeth and gums, you may end up causing more harm than good. Hard brushing can wear down your enamel, irritate your gums, and increase your teeth’s sensitivity to cold. In some instances, you may even find that brushing too hard causes cavities. If you feel that you may be a little vigorous, lighten up a little and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Bad Habit #2: Sucking on Lemons

You know that old insult “Go suck on a lemon!”? The funny thing is that some people actually do suck on lemons. They just love the taste of these bitter fruits, and given the fact that people now find hamburgers made with a pair of donuts instead of buns appetizing, we really can’t throw stones. Unfortunately, lemons are very acidic and sucking on them for extended periods of time can corrode your teeth’s enamel, creating a rough texture on the surface of your teeth. If you care about your dental health, this is one habit you should definitely kick right away.

Bad Habit #3: Chewing on Various Objects

As human beings, we tend to get bored very easily. For some reason, this often means that we’ll stick whatever is handy in our mouths in order to keep our brain occupied and pass the time. Certain objects, such as glasses, pens, and pencils, are especially “normal” for such chewing. But as you can imagine, chewing on plastic or wooden items is not healthy for your teeth. Teeth have been known to shift or even crack due to this habit, and it may even damage existing dental work. Our advice: find another way to cure your boredom.

Bad Habit #4: Tooth Grinding and Jaw Clenching

Many people grind their teeth or clench their jaw without ever being aware of it. These actions are typically caused by stress. The bad news is that such severe pressure placed upon your teeth can cause micro-fractures, and sometimes even full-on fractures, to occur in your teeth. Plus, if you’ve had dental work in the past, clenching or grinding can put this work at risk of damage.

Bad Habit #5: Sucking Your Thumb

While a surprising number of adults continue to suck their thumbs (just not in public, so you’ll never know), the primary focus of this bad habit is toward children. Little kids suck their thumbs for a number of reasons, but it mostly has to do with a sense of security or safety. Unfortunately, thumb sucking can cause permanent damage to a child’s permanent teeth over time, specifically misalignment. This misalignment can lead to difficulty chewing, in addition to breathing problems. The sooner you can get your child to stop sucking his or her thumb, the better off everyone will be.

If you need further help breaking these habits or simply need a dental check-up, contact the friendly office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS. We will help guide you on your way to dental and oral perfection.

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