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27 Sep 2022
September 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Services

5 Natural Ways to Sleep Better

We think fondly of it, we all want it – why is it so hard to find? We’re talking about sleep, of course. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60% of adults report having trouble sleeping almost every night, with 63% saying their sleep needs are not being met. 

Like water, a healthy diet, and breathing, sleep is essential to support every part of your health. Sleep is when our bodies rest, repair, and run a lot of self-maintenance. Studies show that not getting enough sleep can harm your memory, your heart health, your immune system, and make you gain excess weight.

Sometimes sleep loss is a real medical issue that needs to be treated by a doctor (your Portland dentist can help with sleep apnea). But if you’re just dealing with the common troubles of settling down and enjoying your sleep, we’ve got sleep tips that are all easy to incorporate into your life…starting tonight! 

Set the Tone

Think of everything you do to set the right tone for a dinner party or even a study session. Every event needs some preparation. You can do a lot of little things to immediately make your environment more conducive for sleeping:

  • Turn your phone off
  • Dim the lights
  • Clean up if it will make you feel better
  • Light a candle
  • Use blackout shades to keep out any remaining sun or street light
  • Lower the air conditioning to 65-68 degrees 
  • Write a to-do list for the morning so you can stop thinking about ongoing tasks and let your mind rest

Make the Time

When it comes to sleep, timing is everything. Yes, you need to find about 8 hours each night when you can actually close your eyes. But just as important is the hour you spend before going to bed, as well as the time you wake up. If you want to sleep better:

  • Start winding down at the same time each night. 
  • Try to be in bed with lights out at the same time each night.
  • Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. 

Doing this naturally guides your circadian rhythm—the important hormones that direct your body clock for sleeping and waking over 24 hours. This will teach your body to expect sleep at a certain time and to actually be ready for it.

Establish a Routine

Harness the power of psychology and classical conditioning. Remember Pavlov’s dogs? Use the same stimulus to trigger your mind and body that it’s bedtime each night. For many children, even the first line of their bedtime song will trigger a yawn. You can trigger sleepiness for yourself by lighting the same candle, playing the same song, brushing and flossing your teeth and putting your pajamas on in the same order each night.

Herbal Supplements & Aromatherapy

There’s a lot to be learned about the power of herbs and aromatherapy when it comes to aiding a healthy lifestyle. Consider taking melatonin—a naturally occurring hormone that balances sleep; magnesium—a mineral that can calm your nerves and muscles; or valerian—an herb that helps you fall asleep faster and deeper. These are completely safe and natural supplements you can take regularly to help with sleep.

Similarly, using lavender, vetiver, or sandalwood oil can calm your body and induce better sleep. Try diffusing oil into the air or put drops on your pillow. Some supplements and methods will work better for you than others and they all do different things to the body. So talk with your doctor before taking any new herbs or supplements.

Meditate & Read

How you spend the hour before bed can do a lot to help you sleep better. According to the National Sleep Foundation, watching television or looking at any screen before bed can seriously hurt your chances of a good night’s rest. Instead, try reading something in actual paper and ink. It doesn’t have to be hard literature; even a magazine or light read is better than a screen and social media. Whatever you read is bound to make for a better conversation-starter throughout the week, too.

This might be especially difficult for people who feel they have to work on their computers late into the night. If that’s you, remember that you’re only human and you’ll be more productive the next day if you get the sleep you need. 

You can also try meditating, praying, or remembering things for which you’re grateful before you fall asleep. Your brain needs time to cool down and relax before totally shutting off and sleeping. This can help end the cycle of thoughts and worries that prevent many folks from finding restful sleep.

Sleep Help from the Dentist

As a professional healthcare provider, Family Dental Health wishes all of our patients the most optimal health and wellness, including quality sleep! In some cases, oral health issues such as TMJ, grinding and clenching (bruxism), or sleep apnea might be physical barriers keeping you from getting enough sleep. Your dentist can help you address and treat these issues.

If you are looking for a Portland dentist to help with these or any oral health needs, make an appointment at our office Family Dental Health today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Sep 2022
September 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

No Tradesies: Packing Mouth-Healthy Lunches for Kiddos

Breakfast is always being touted as the most important meal of the day—and for good reason! It’s important for families to kickstart their day with nutrients that will help them power through school, work, socializing, sports, homework… does anyone else feel exhausted just thinking about it all? 

The right foods in your child’s lunch can help boost their energy and keep those brains, bodies, and mouths going all day! Alternatively, lunches full of sugary, sticky, acidic foods and beverages can accelerate tooth decay and cause your child to feel sluggish both physically and mentally.

Dr. David Case of Family Dental Health loves to share ideas on what to include in your child’s lunch to keep their smile safe and their health optimal… and perhaps what to leave out and have as an occasional treat for good behavior. 

But First, Hydration

About 65% of a child’s body is made up of water (60% for adult men, 55% for adult women), and it’s important for this balance to be maintained. Water is the best choice for hydrating for the following reasons:

  • Water tends to be neutral instead of acidic or alkaline, which makes it safe for the teeth.
  • It helps prevent dry mouth (xerostomia), which creates a breeding ground for dangerous, decay and gum disease-causing bacteria.
  • Being adequately hydrated helps aid proper digestion.
  • Water regulates body temperature.
  • It helps deliver oxygen throughout the body.
  • Keeps joints lubricated and is a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.
  • Flushes waste from the body, mostly through urine.

Encourage your child to keep their mouth and body healthy by sending them to school with a refillable water bottle rather than a bottle of juice or soda.

Now for the Flavor

You probably guessed that Family Dental Health would recommend fruits and veggies, right? There are so many tasty options, and their vitamin and mineral content makes them an excellent choice for both oral and overall health. Our favorites are:

  • Apples 
  • Oranges
  • Limes
  • Kiwis
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries

Each of these fruits contains vitamin C, which can help kill bacteria and promote a healthy supply of collagen in the gums. We do suggest your child waits for at least 30 minutes to brush their teeth after eating fruits because the citric acid combined with brushing can weaken tooth enamel and cause erosion. (Everyone should wait 30 minutes to brush their teeth after eating, but especially with highly sugary or acidic foods and drinks.)

Veggie Time

They may not be your child’s favorite, but veggies are full of goodness for mouth and body health. The following choices naturally scrape away plaque that can build up between meals or be missed when your child brushes:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Snap peas
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber

Sandwiches & Snacks

If you’ve been wondering: “What about protein?” we’ve got you covered. We recommend using whole grain wheat bread and enamel-building meats like chicken and turkey. Including cheese will help your child get calcium, vitamin D, and phosphate, too. You can also go with the classic PB & J! 

Hard-boiled eggs are another good source of protein. For more fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin E, potassium, and zinc, add nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts, as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds!

We know it can be a bit more difficult if you have picky eaters at home, but these foundations are good to keep in mind. At Family Dental Health, we love to find recipes that some of these ingredients can hide in, ensuring our young ones get the health benefits without even knowing it!

A proper diet will go a long way toward keeping your child’s smile healthy, but it’s still important to bring them in for thorough, gentle cleanings and cavity prevention methods. We love seeing their smiling faces, too, so contact Family Dental Health today to schedule an appointment!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Aug 2022
August 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Dental Insurance Trends

Above any other medical need, people are more likely to skip seeing the dentist because they can’t afford it.

Many people choose not to buy dental insurance because it’s an added cost without a lot of perceived value. For some reason, people simply feel more comfortable taking this risk because they don’t fully understand the consequences of oral health problems. But it’s a risk indeed. You can develop a facial or oral injury just as easily as any other injury and oral infections and diseases are just as common—if not more common—as any other. 

Beyond the critical events of oral injury or infection, preventive dental care (aka your regular cleanings and check-ups) is crucial for catching problems before they become dangerous. Seeing the dentist regularly can help you address a surprising number of overall health and wellness issues.

Still, dentists understand that medical costs are rising, the world of insurance is often a mystery, and sometimes you’re just at a loss. Dr. Case, Portland dentist explains more below about the current trends in dental insurance and what they mean for you.

Forgoing Dental Insurance

Of all the reasons adults avoid the dentist, 40% say it’s because of cost, followed closely by the 33%  who don’t think they need dental care. You can see where this is going—there’s almost no reason someone would pay for a service they think is expensive and unnecessary.

A lot of people seek dental treatments without dental insurance to help cover it. In 2013, the numbers ranged from 12% of children to 61% of senior citizens. Insurance may seem like a luxury but when you need it, it becomes essential. If you can make any changes to your monthly budget to allow room for dental insurance, it might be one of the best ways you take care of yourself and your family. No one wants to be stuck with a cracked tooth, gum infection, or jaw pain while also wondering how you’re going to pay for treatment.

Children’s Dental Insurance

Government-mandated insurance through the Affordable Care Act does not include dental coverage, except in the case of children. This is for good reason—children are vulnerable and they’re growing at such a fast rate. Catching a health problem and treating it promptly is essential for a lifetime of health and wellness. 

It’s also important that children develop good oral health habits early that they’ll stick to the rest of their life. Search HealthCare.Gov, or talk with a caseworker if you have one, to learn about your options for enrolling children in free or discounted dental insurance.

Increased PPOs & Decreasing Payments

PPO plans (Preferred Provider Organization), which are more expensive, are becoming far and away more popular, making up 80% of all dental plans. But dental insurance plans are actually paying dentists slightly less per patient than they have in the past. 

Consumerism

With or without dental insurance, more people are shopping around for the best rate before making a dental appointment. Following the recession, people care more than ever about understanding what they are paying for when they buy any goods or services.

Dental Plans Need to Stay Current

Research shows that, over time, dental insurance is actually the best “bang for your buck.” To help patients get even more out of their dental coverage, some plans are offering a rollover of funds if you don’t use all of your yearly benefits. Some plans allow for important preventative and diagnostic services without it going against yearly maximums.

Flexible Payment Plans

Your dentist wants you to be healthy and will do whatever we can to increase your access to good oral health care. If you’re avoiding dental treatment because you don’t have insurance and/or you’re afraid of the cost, talk honestly with your Portland dentist. Dentists are humans, too, and we understand life circumstances especially in regards to health and finances. 

Some flexible payment options we can discuss together are:

  • Discounted services for paying upfront, before the treatment
  • Interest-free payment plans
  • Splitting up the treatment over time (when appropriate) so you don’t have to pay for it all at once
  • Cheaper alternatives: many dental procedures have cheaper (though sometimes less desirable) ways of treating a problem. Your doctor can tell you what the most affordable route of treatment is.

If you need dental care, whether you have insurance or not, come see us at Family Dental Health. We’re a contemporary practice that can meet you where you are and offer caring, professional services. Make an appointment today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Aug 2022
August 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Lemon Juice – The Good, The Bad, & The Sour

In a great tale of opposites, lemon juice can be both acidic and basic, or alkaline. Read on to find out why people are talking about this, and what it means for your oral and overall health.

What Is pH & Why Does It Matter?

Drinking lemon juice (usually diluted in a glass of water or added to a cup of tea) is a beloved health tonic among fans of natural medicine. Potential benefits include lower cholesterol, lower inflammation in the body, and increased metabolism and energy. Lemon also contains high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C that boost your immune system. 

On a scale of 0-14, a pH of 7 is neutral (pure water) while numbers below 7 are acidic (unhealthy), while numbers above 7 are basic or alkaline (healthy). Believers in holistic health blame many ailments on the body’s pH being too low or too acidic. Increasing your body’s pH is called “alkalizing.”

Lemon juice in its natural state is acidic with a pH of about 2, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline with a pH well above 7. So, outside the body, anyone can see that lemon juice is very acidic. However, once fully digested, its effect is proven to be alkalizing with many health benefits. So how does lemon juice or a daily glass of lemon water affect the health of your mouth and teeth?

Acidity & Oral Health

The bottom line here is that any time you encounter lemon juice, it’s likely to be in its acidic state. Lemons contain citric acid, which is corrosive and damaging to tooth enamel. It’s not until the lemon juice has been fully digested and metabolized that it becomes alkaline. So, it’s important to ingest lemon juice sparingly, assuming the acid can and will eventually affect your tooth enamel. 

Signs Tooth Enamel is Damaged:

Discoloration – The white enamel may wear out and look yellow because of exposed dentin. 

Transparency – Clearness in enamel means it’s not as strong.

Sensitivity – Enamel protects the dentin and deeper layers. When enamel is damaged, your teeth will be more sensitive to hot and cold. 

When it comes to deciding between lemon water and plain water, use your best judgment. A glass of lemon juice diluted in water is certainly not as damaging as sucking juice straight from a lemon wedge. (Now, if you added a load of sugar to that lemon water to make lemonade, you have a new and different problem for dental health!) 

If you’d like to make a refreshing glass of lemon water part of your daily routine, give it a try! You may notice some of the many health benefits and alkalizing effects on your overall health. We do suggest you wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth so as not to agitate your enamel even more with both the brushing motion and acid present in your mouth. Ingesting lemon juice is not recommended if you have acid indigestion or mouth ulcers.

Always consult with your Portland dentist for more personalized support for all things health and wellness. For more information, or to get a checkup on the current state of your enamel, contact Dr. Case at Family Dental Health to make an appointment.

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Jul 2022
July 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Why Do We Have Baby Teeth?

Baby teeth, also called deciduous, primary, milk, or lacteal teeth, have many different purposes. Dr. Case at Family Dental Health is asked about the purpose of baby teeth often. So what’s the answer?

Tiny Teeth for Tiny Mouths

Child-sized mouths are not large enough to accommodate a full set of adult teeth, so the primary teeth become placeholders in the jaw, saving spaces for adult teeth to grow in as they begin to surface from under the gums. Baby teeth usually begin to erupt around 6 months of age, but may begin forming in the womb even before birth!

By the age of 3 years, children should have all 20 of their baby teeth, which remain in the mouth for the bulk of childhood—roughly 8-10 years. The presence of baby teeth allows children to eat solid foods and helps as they learn to speak clearly and quickly. 

They Grow Up So Fast

The first adult tooth erupts where the baby teeth have been lost around 6 years of age. By age 13, all permanent adult teeth—except wisdom teeth which tend to emerge between the ages of 17 and 21 years—will have taken up residence in the mouth.

Baby teeth are even more prone to cavities than adult teeth because small children lack the dexterity and knowledge to properly care for them. Statistics estimate that more than 50% of kids will be affected by tooth decay before the age of five years. So baby teeth can be very useful tools to educate kids about the importance of good oral hygiene. Premature baby tooth loss can allow permanent teeth to shift into available space in the jaw, causing improper placement and causing further dental problems down the road. 

Poor dental hygiene in childhood can lead to difficulty speaking and eating, infection, pain, and can affect their overall appearance and self-esteem. Baby teeth will be gone for good by age 12 or 13, but good dental hygiene habits formed in childhood will last a lifetime. 

If you have any questions about your child’s baby teeth or would like to schedule a hygiene appointment for your little one, please give us a call and schedule an appointment today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

19 Jul 2022
July 19, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

What Happens in Your Mouth While You Sleep?

Ah, nighttime… the end of the day, the ceasing of work, and hopefully a good night’s sleep. But did you know things are still happening in your mouth all night long, even if you’re blissfully unaware of it?  Portland dentist Dr. Case, sheds some light on the world of your mouth and everything going on inside of it while you catch some zzz’s.

Dry Mouth

You produce much less saliva overnight than you do during the day—your body’s way of minimizing the risk of choking. This leads to the common occurrence of dry mouth. Dry mouth can be a bit uncomfortable and lead to more cavities and bad breath. It’s perfectly fine and normal to have less saliva at night but to take care of your oral health, it’s important that you brush and floss before going to bed. 

Saliva usually rinses away the food debris that can stick around and cause plaque and bad breath, so it’s a good idea to head to bed with a blank canvas. Keeping a glass of water by your bed can relieve the pain in your mouth and throat from dry mouth.

Bruxism

If you wake up with a headache or jaw pain, or your teeth are noticeably ground down and fractured, you might have bruxism. Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism is an extremely common way that everyday stress gets expressed through the body. People grind their teeth for all sorts of reasons, such as:

You can prevent the side effects of bruxism by wearing a nightguard while you sleep.

Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Sleep apnea occurs when your breath is irregular or temporarily stops while you sleep. Sleep apnea can cause snoring, but not all cases are identical. Some cases of sleep apnea are a problem with your brain and its ability to regulate the vital function of breathing. 

Otherwise, sleep apnea can be caused by physical blockages of the airway such as:

  • Large tonsils
  • Collapsed soft tissues in your throat
  • Allergies clogging your sinuses

Being an older, overweight male increases your chances of developing sleep apnea. Whatever the cause of your sleep apnea, talk to your dentist or doctor. Sleep apnea can cause a host of other health issues such as fatigue, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and depression.

Solutions for sleep apnea include:

  • Changing your sleep position
  • A Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) device
  • Oral appliances that keep the airway open
  • Surgery to fix oral tissues and aid airflow

Morning Breath

Sadly, not everyone wants to have that Hollywood-worthy morning kiss with their partner when they first wake up. Bad breath (or halitosis) tends to be worse in the morning and it can be really unpleasant. Normal oral bacteria become more active overnight, eating and digesting proteins found in your mouth. 

Bacteria produce a sulfur gas while they digest that can smell like rotten eggs. Normally, saliva washes bacteria away and neutralizes the smell, but you make less saliva overnight, so the smell can really build up. This is why it’s essential that you brush, floss, and only drink water right before falling asleep.

Oral Health & Sleep

Did you know that regular visits to the dentist will improve your overall health and well-being, and can even improve your quality of sleep? If you’re looking for a medical professional to help you feel better across the board—with a beautiful smile to boot—come see us at Family Dental Health! Make an appointment to address any concerns and start taking care of your oral health today.

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 Jun 2022
June 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental HealthPatient Care

Are Baby Bottles Bad for Baby Teeth?

Tooth decay in infants and very young children is often called baby bottle tooth decay. This happens when liquids with natural or artificial sugars remain in an infant’s mouth for extended periods of time. Bacteria in the baby’s mouth thrive on these sugars, using them to produce acids that attack the teeth and gums. Today, Family Dental Health would like to share some information about baby bottle tooth decay and how to prevent it.

What Not to Do

Children whose pacifiers are dipped in sugar, honey, or syrup and those who are given bottles of sugary concoctions for naptime or bedtime comfort are at increased risk of tooth decay due to the decrease in natural saliva flow during sleep. Even fruit juice, milk, and formula contain natural sugars that can wreak havoc on tiny teeth while your little one slumbers. Here are some helpful “don’ts” for avoiding baby bottle tooth decay:

  • Don’t fill bottles with sugar water or soda. Bottles should only be for milk, water, formula, and pediatric electrolyte solutions.
  • Don’t allow them to go to sleep without wiping or brushing their gums and teeth.
  • Never give your child pacifiers dipped in anything sweet.
  • Reduce the sugar in your baby’s diet, especially between meals.

Baby Teeth Are Important

Although baby bottle tooth decay usually affects the upper front teeth the most, other teeth can be affected as well. Some folks underestimate the importance of baby teeth, but they are actually very important for children’s health and development. Not only are baby teeth necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling, they serve as placeholders for permanent teeth that come later. Left untreated, baby bottle tooth decay can result in pain, infection, and premature tooth loss.

When children lose teeth prematurely because of baby bottle tooth decay, they may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged permanent teeth. The chances that the permanent adult teeth will also be crooked and unhealthy are greatly increased by the presence of baby bottle tooth decay.

What to Do

Starting a good oral hygiene routine early can help keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay:

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, warm washcloth after each feeding.
  • Begin brushing your baby’s teeth with a baby-sized toothbrush, without toothpaste as soon as they come in.
  • Clean and massage the gums in areas of your child’s mouth that do not have teeth.
  • Once baby teeth have come in, begin flossing between them.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride. You can begin using fluoridated toothpaste around age three. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist or doctor if a supplement would be appropriate.
  • Start regular dental visits by your baby’s first birthday. If it seems necessary, ask about sealants, which can help prevent tooth decay.

How Do I Break Bad Habits?

It’s never too late to change those bad habits. Start today by:

  • Gradually diluting the contents of bottles with water over a period of 2-3 weeks.
  • After 2-3 weeks have passed, fill bottles with only water.
  • Switching from a bottle to a pacifier at night before bedtime.
  • Establishing a nightly oral hygiene routine so they never go to sleep with a sugary mouth.


Remember, the healthier your child’s baby teeth are, the more likely their permanent teeth will be healthy, too. If you have any questions about baby bottle tooth decay or would like to schedule a visit for your little bundle of joy, contact Family Dental Health today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 Jun 2022
June 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Sugar Rush: When Sweet Turns Bitter

You’ve heard it before: too much sugar is not good for little bodies. Or, more precisely, added sugar is not good for people, big or small. The more we learn about how sugar affects the body, the more we realize that additional sugars have many downsides for health. This is particularly true of dental health. Sugar can cause serious problems for tiny teeth.

The Rise & Fall

A sugar rush is a real thing, and it can be no joke. Sugar is a simple source of energy that the body can use very quickly to make energy. Because the body uses it so quickly, the sugar rush is generally followed by a sugar crash when the body runs out of the high-energy sugar. 

The human body isn’t the only thing that feeds quickly on the simple sugar. The bacteria in your child’s mouth also like to feed on sugars. When they eat sugary foods or drink high-sugar drinks, the bacteria in their mouth begin to feast. This lets the cavity-causing bacteria grow quickly, making lots more bacteria.

A Balancing Act

Sugar doesn’t just feed decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. It also changes the pH balance of the mouth. The pH is a way to measure if an environment is acidic, basic (the opposite of acidic), or neutral. Sugar tips the balance of the mouth toward acidic. This is a problem, since the bacteria that cause cavities to grow and thrive in an acidic environment. 

The acid, in addition to helping the bacteria overgrow, softens the minerals in the tooth enamel. If the acidic environment sticks around instead of returning to neutral soon, the minerals can be washed away instead of reabsorbed. The loss of minerals causes serious damage to the teeth. The demineralized areas are more susceptible to cavities, particularly since the cavity-causing bacteria are present and thriving.

Cavities are Only Part of the Damage

It’s important to remember that the damage sugar can do to your children’s health goes beyond cavities. Too much sugar can contribute to obesity and diabetes, both of which bring additional risks for oral health. A diet high in refined and added sugars contributes to fat accumulation in the body. 

Worse still, sugar causes the brain to release dopamine, the feel-good chemical that causes sugar to be addictive. The more sugar your children eat, the more sugar they will want. The more they want, the more damage it can do, both to their overall health and their dental health. Do your children (and yourself) a favor, and limit added sugars in their diet. Their improved health will thank you, even if they aren’t likely to do so themselves.

The Side Effect

Sugar itself does not directly cause the tooth to fail. Rather, it starts a cascade that causes cavities. In that sense, cavities are like a side effect of sugar. Avoid the sugar roller coaster of energy rushes and dives, the acid spikes, and teach your children healthy habits that will serve them well their whole lives.

If you have any questions about sugar or anything related to oral health, or would like to schedule a visit with your Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health, please contact us today to make an appointment. We would be more than happy to help your little one learn the importance of a healthy smile and body. Isn’t that sweet!?

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

27 May 2022
May 27, 2022 by David CaseBlogDental Health

Finding Your Oasis: Food & Drinks for Dry Mouth

Xerostomia is the technical term for dry mouth, the condition that results from absent or reduced saliva flow. It is not a disease on its own, but it may be a side effect of medication or radiation treatments.  Xerostomia affects about 20% of the elderly population—not because of their age, but due to the increased likelihood of using medication or having radiation therapy that causes dry mouth. Family Dental Health is here to discuss some foods and beverages to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.

Food & Beverages that Help Dry Mouth

8-12 glasses of water per day are ideal to keep saliva production on track, so making a habit of carrying a water bottle with you is a great idea. Sugar-free juices, reduced-sugar sports drinks, club soda, and herbal tea with lemon are good beverage choices when you just can’t stand the idea of drinking any more water.

A soft, high-protein diet is recommended for people with dry mouth. Substitute moist fish, eggs, and cheese for red meat. Serving food lukewarm or at room temperature reduces the chances of burning the mouth with hot food. To make bread or rolls easier to eat with dry mouth, soak them in milk or your favorite sauce to soften them. Eat moist casseroles and other foods that incorporate gravy, sauce, or broth in their recipes. Make smoothies, slushies, or shakes in the blender that incorporate milk alternatives like soy, almond, or rice milk (consumption of cow’s milk often produces thicker saliva and can worsen dry mouth).  

More examples of soft natural foods that are helpful for people with dry mouth include tender meats like chicken and fish, smooth peanut butter, soups, canned fruits, soft-cooked/blended vegetables like carrots or celery, mashed potatoes, soft-cooked pasta, oatmeal, ice cream, pudding, and popsicles. Herbal flavor enhancers, condiments, and fruit extracts can be used to make food more flavorful, as the diet for dry mouth may seem bland to many.

There are also artificial saliva substitutes and stimulants that can help curb dry mouth, as can sugarless candies and chewing gums. Sucking on fruit pits from cherries or olives, and lemon rinds can help stimulate saliva flow, as do lemon drops and other hard candies, although be wary of excessive sugar intake. 

Food & Beverages to Avoid for Dry Mouth

Increased water and fluid intake are recommended, but caffeinated fluids such as tea, coffee, and cola act as diuretics and are not ideal for xerostomia sufferers. If you’re craving soda, let it go flat prior to indulging. Alcohol consumption should also be limited or avoided. 

Foods should not be excessively hot or cold, sugary, salty, spicy, or acidic, including citric fruits like tomato, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple and astringent foods like apple, pomegranate, pear, quinoa, legumes, tofu, sprouts, beans, and lentils. You should also avoid dry, crumbly foods like crackers, cereal, pastries, toast, and dry meat.  

If you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth, contact your Portland dentist, Dr. David Case at Family Dental Health today and we’ll be happy to talk about solutions with you!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

13 May 2022
May 13, 2022 by David CaseBlogPatient Care

Is Thumb Sucking Dangerous?

Thumb sucking is normal behavior for babies and young children. But just how normal? More than 75% of little ones suck their thumbs, fingers, hands, pacifiers, or other items such as the corner of a blanket during these early years. Most kids stop this behavior on their own between the ages of three and six. But how long is too long, and can it be problematic? Family Dental Health would like to share more information about this common childhood habit.

Why Do Babies Suck Their Thumbs?

Human babies come into the world hungry, and with hunger in mammals comes an instinct to suck. This urge usually becomes less intense naturally, beginning to taper off when babies reach about six months of age. However, many babies take a liking to the practice, continuing to suck their thumbs to self-soothe when hungry, anxious, sick, bored, tired, or just trying to adjust to changes in their environment. Thumb sucking may also help them fall asleep or lull themselves back to sleep. Since it is an age-appropriate way for kids to calm and comfort themselves, many experts recommend ignoring thumb sucking with children who are preschool age or younger. They should stop in their own time when they’re ready.

Can Thumb Sucking Cause Any Lasting Problems?

The American Dental Association says most kids can suck their thumbs safely without damaging teeth and jaw alignment until permanent teeth start to appear around age six. It should be noted that all thumb sucking is not created equal – kids passively resting their thumbs in their mouths are less likely to have dental problems than children who are vigorous thumb suckers. However, prolonged or intense thumb sucking can alter tooth and jaw alignment, so the longer the habit continues, the more likely that orthodontics will become necessary in the future – but if the child is able to kick the thumb habit between four and six, alignment issues may resolve themselves.

If your child is an aggressive thumb-sucker, consider starting to work with them to kick the habit around age four. If you notice changes in your child’s mouth or teeth, consult Family Dental Health, and if you observe evidence of speech problems, consider a consultation with your child’s pediatrician as well. 

How Can I Help My Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb?

A child should never be punished for thumb sucking. After all, it’s a habit formed from a human instinct they were born with – and shaming only hurts their self-esteem. Children usually give up thumb sucking when they find other ways to calm themselves. (For example, if a child tends to suck their thumb when hungry, eventually they will learn to ask for a snack or look in the fridge instead.)

  • Limit the times and places the child can suck their thumbs, such as only at naptime and bedtime.
  • Try distraction with a substitute activity, like a fidget spinner, stress ball, or finger puppets.
  • If your child turns to the thumb when frustrated, try to help them “use their words” to talk about how they are feeling instead.
  • Put stickers on a chart or calendar for positive reinforcement, and give lots of hugs and praise.
  • After an agreed-upon goal is reached, celebrate the victory so their good behavior is encouraged.

It can be a frustrating process, but most kids do stop on their own if given the opportunity – and once they are in school, peer pressure can work wonders.

When Should I Be Worried About Thumb Sucking?

Watch out for several specific symptoms in your child that may be cause for concern:

  • Changes in teeth or bite alignment
  • Problems with speech
  • Callused, chapped, or red thumbs
  • Over 5 years old with no sign of stopping the behavior

Thumb sucking can also be a symptom of anxiety and other emotional or developmental problems in kids five and older. If this seems to apply to your child and the at-home methods are just not taking root, treatment options ranging from speech therapy to behavioral therapy to devices that are attached to the thumb or the mouth do exist and have been shown to help. 

If you have any questions or concerns about thumb sucking, don’t hesitate to contact Family Dental Health for an appointment today! 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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