5 Teeth Friendly Holiday Tips for Good Cheer!

teeth friendly holiday tips

Follow these five teeth friendly holiday tips to steer clear of emergency trips to the dentist’s office this season.

No matter how much you love your dentist, he or she probably doesn’t top the list of people you want to spend quality time with over the holidays.

1. Don’t crack nuts with your teeth.

Although protein found in nuts helps keep muscles and bones strong, you shouldn’t test the strength of your teeth by shelling nuts with them. The hard surface of most nutshells can cause serious tooth and gum damage, and may even crack teeth. Your safest bet? Shell nuts before snacking on them.

2. Pass on chewy treats.

Holiday candy platters are often loaded with treats that can harm your teeth. Sticky substances cling to tooth enamel and encourage tooth decay, and thick candies like caramel and taffy can even yank out fillings. Eat these sweets sparingly and along with other foods to help keep the treats from sticking to your teeth.

3. Use proper tools to open packages and bottles.

We know you’re excited to rip into that gift from your great aunt, but your teeth are not the right tools for the task. Gripping a package or stubborn bottle cap with your teeth can crack them, possibly requiring a root canal procedure and a crown for repair. Give your mouth a great gift – reach for scissors or a bottle opener instead.

4. Avoid chewing on hard candy or ice cubes.

Crunching on ice or hard candy can lead to cracked or chipped teeth, which are painful and pricey to treat. Whether you’re enjoying a sweet or finishing the ice in your holiday cocktail, let it dissolve naturally in your mouth. Better yet, skip these items altogether. Ice can cause discomfort for sensitive teeth, and hard candies promote tooth decay.

5. Say “no” to nail biting.

The holidays can be stressful, but biting your nails won’t bring relief. Anxious nibbling is bad for both fingernails and teeth. Experts have linked the habit to teeth grinding, clenching, jaw problems, facial pain and sensitive teeth. If you get the urge to chew, distract yourself for a minute or two and see if the feeling goes away. If that doesn’t work, consider buying bitter-tasting polish that’s designed to dissuade you from putting your nails anywhere near your mouth.

Be sure to check these tips twice to stay off your dentist’s naughty list this season!

SOURCE: Delta Dental

True or False: Flossing Doesn’t Work


A Recent Bombshell Report Claims Flossing Doesn’t Work

By now, everyone has read or heard about the Associated Press article claiming flossing doesn’t work. To summarize: Last year, the AP, under the Freedom of Information Act, asked the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture to provide the publication with evidence that flossing works. When the flossing recommendation was removed from this year’s federal dietary guidelines, the AP figured they were on to something, so they decided to take a look at the available research.

Brushing Alone vs Brushing and Flossing

Reviewing about 25 studies comparing the effects of brushing alone with brushing and flossing, the AP concluded the research used to previously recommend flossing did not actually meet the criteria that the Department of Health and Human Services requires to write something into its Dietary Guidelines. The studies the government did have, said the AP, suffered from short durations and small sample sizes.

The article spread like wildfire. People were quick to conclude that flossing has no health benefits and therefore people could stop doing it.

Flossing Benefits Outweigh Risks

Let’s be clear about one thing. No study, and certainly no dentist, would ever claim or even imply that flossing is harmful. You would be hard-pressed to find a study that concludes a person’s health is improved by eliminating flossing from her oral health routine. In fact, the conclusion that most studies draw is that even though the data are limited, the potential benefits of flossing outweigh the risks.

For example, a 2012 scholarly review, while cautious in its conclusions, states that

despite the uncertain or low quality of most of the studies, and given the importance of avoiding plaque deposition, plus the absence of any major disadvantages, these results support the use of regular flossing with toothbrushing.”

In other words, we’ve got a few studies that say it’s good, and no studies that say it’s bad, so let’s keep doing it — especially because we know proper flossing can help remove plaque, which can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.

“Proper Flossing” is Key

I say “proper flossing” because that’s an important term that might be being overlooked by some in their furor to invalidate flossing. For a 2006 study titled “Dental Flossing and Interproximal Caries: a System Review,” researchers wanted to see whether flossing at home had the same health benefits as being flossed by professionals.

[pullquote1]They recruited 808 children aged four to 13 and split them into three groups: kids professionally flossed five days a week; kids professionally flossed once every three months; and kids who self-reported flossing at home.[/pullquote1]

The study lasted 18 months, and the findings were hardly surprising. Participants who were flossed professionally five days a week had a 40 percent decrease in their risk for cavities. The other two groups, those flossed professionally once every three months and self-reported home flossers, didn’t show any decrease of cavity risk. While this might at first seem to give some fodder to the “Stop flossing!” crowd, it’s important to clarify what exactly the study is showing. The researchers don’t conclude that flossing doesn’t help prevent cavities; they conclude that the key is flossing properly.

The conclusion of the study, then, is that when flossing is done correctly, it strengthens patients’ oral health.

Free Floss is Not a Moneymaker

Another major problem with the AP report is how shady it makes all of us dentists look by implying that we’re colluding with floss distributors to help them see increased profits, which we allegedly get a chunk of. Companies like Proctor & Gamble, who sell floss, have “paid for most studies and sometimes designed and conducted the research,” writes the AP.

So dentists are giving out floss because we want to make more money? In actual fact, we would make more money if we stopped handing out floss. In 2009, for instance, dental expenses for children aged five to 17 totaled $20 billion!

There’s a more obvious reason dentists might give you floss: because we’re convinced it will help you!

Other Interdental Cleaners

Patients should be aware that flossing isn’t the only kind of interdental cleaners. There are several options to choose from, including water picks and small brushes. Many of these carry the ADA seal. Regardless of which tool you use, it’s important to clean in between your teeth.

We know that our patients don’t love flossing. In fact, we know they’d rather spend the time doing other things — like cleaning a toilet.

To be honest, I am not even the world’s most reliable flosser. However, when I floss and see plaque or a tiny bit of dinner dislodge from between my teeth, I can’t deny that I have done something beneficial for my oral health.

It’s a Common Sense Thing

That’s the thing about flossing. It’s a common sense thing to do. If you don’t floss, you only clean 60 percent of your teeth’s surfaces. Imagine you left 40 percent of your body unshowered. Even if there were a couple articles circulating around Twitter about how that might be OK, wouldn’t you still feel gross about your hygiene?

Of course, appeals to common sense don’t replace rigorous scientific study. But the unanimous advice of the American Dental Association is hardly the stuff of Old Wives’ Tales. According to its guidelines, flossing ought to be part of everyone’s daily oral health routine.

In response to the fuss over the AP story, the ADA released a statement reiterating its position that flossing is “an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also said that flossing is an important oral hygiene practice, and clarified that the Department never intended to imply that it wasn’t.

At the end of the day, flossing is your call.

Patient autonomy is essential to health care, and as dentists, we can only advise you on what we think is best for you on an individual level.

But the next time you’re holding that tiny piece of string, ask yourself this: Would you rather floss, or get a filling or a root canal? The floss will cost you a few bucks every month or so. The dental work — well, that’s not as cheap.

Plus, it comes with a needle.

SOURCE: Huffington Post

Mouthguards Protect Athletes’ Smiles

The American Dental Association estimates that mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and collegiate football.

Mouthguards help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining.

Unfortunately, the word “mouthguard” is universal and generic. There are crucial differences between stock and custom guards and the impact to an athlete’s health & safety.

Mouthguard Options

The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. If you can’t afford a custom-made mouthguard, you should still wear protection.


Made by your dentist specifically to fit your mouth and comfort, these are more expensive than the other versions.

Boil and bite

Available at most sporting goods stores and drugstores, the boil-and-bite mouthguards may offer the next best fit to custom made mouthguards. Immerse in water (boiled) to soften them, then insert them into the mouth, to adapt to the shape of the mouth. Always follow the manufacturers instructions. CusMbite MVP is a boil and bite mouthguard that has earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.


Inexpensive and ill-fitting, these come pre-formed, ready to wear. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.

You’re Always Pretty When You Wear a Smile

Wear a Smile To Last a Lifetime

Whether you are preparing for a prom, wedding, or other special occasions, nothing is more memorable than when you wear a smile.

A healthy smile starts with regular dental checkups to keep your teeth and gums in tip top condition and to catch any concerns early – even for your general health. After all, if your mouth hurts, you can’t eat and enjoy the variety of nutritious foods which help insure good health.

However, to perk up your pearly whites, there are cosmetic procedures which can make your smile picture perfect.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a simple process. Whitening products contain one of two tooth bleaches (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide), break stains into smaller pieces, so the color is less concentrated and teeth brighter.

Teeth whitening may not work on all teeth, which is why it is important to talk to your dentist first. For example, yellow teeth will probably bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. It also won’t be effective if your tooth discoloration is caused by medications or a tooth injury.


Dental veneers are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve appearance or protect teeth. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.

Veneers are ideal for masking discolored fillings in front teeth. Patients with gaps between their front teeth or teeth that are chipped or worn may consider veneers. Generally, veneers will last for many years.

Ask Your Dentist

When you look your best, you often feel best too. Ask your dentist what procedures would be suitable for you so you can wear a smile with confidence.

Gum Disease: Recognize, Remedy, Reverse It

Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it.

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.

Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • any change in the fit of partial dentures

Some factors which can increase the risk of developing gum disease are:

  • poor oral hygiene
  • smoking or chewing tobacco
  • genetics
  • crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • pregnancy
  • diabetes
  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.

See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease because the sooner you treat it the better. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.

Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis.

Chronic periodontitis affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States. It can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. This is the most common form of periodontitis in adults but can occur at any age. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.

Aggressive periodontitis is a highly destructive form of periodontal disease that occurs in patients who are otherwise healthy. Common features include rapid loss of tissue and bone and may occur in some areas of the mouth, or in the entire mouth.

Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.

It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs.

That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Remember: You don’t have to lose teeth to gum disease. Brush your teeth twice a day, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

SOURCE: American Dental Association

Nutrition for Dental Health

A Dental Health Diet for the New Year

Everyone knows that a balanced, nutritious diet is essential to healthy living. But did you know that eating patterns and food choices play an important role in promoting dental health and in preventing tooth decay and gum disease, too?

You may eat with your eyes first, but your mouth, teeth, and gums are more than just tools for eating.

They’re essential for chewing and swallowing—the first steps in the digestion process. Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume. So what you put in your mouth impacts not only your general health but also that of your teeth and gums. In fact, if your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your oral health.

Your individual nutrition and calorie needs depend on your age, gender, level of physical activity and other health factors, but according to MyPlate, a website from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, an agency of U.S. Department of Agriculture,a balanced and healthy diet should include:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Combined, these should cover half your plate at meals.
  • Grains. At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
  • Dairy. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods most often.
  • Protein. Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Vary your protein choices to also include eggs, beans, peas and legumes. Eat at least eight ounces of seafood a week.

In addition to diet, it’s also important to stay active for good health. Adults should get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week.

Foods That May Benefit Dental Health

Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, calcium-fortified tofu, leafy greens and almonds, are foods that may benefit tooth health thanks to their high amounts of calcium and other nutrients they provide. Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs are the best sources of phosphorus. Both of these minerals play a critical role in dental health, by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.

Fruits and vegetables are good choices for a healthy smile since they are high in water and fiber, which balance the sugars they contain and help to clean the teeth. These foods also help stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from teeth and helps neutralize acid, protecting teeth from decay. Plus, many contain vitamin C (important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds) and vitamin A (another key nutrient in building tooth enamel).

Hands down, water—particularly fluoridated water—is the most tooth-friendly beverage.


For dental health, it’s recommended that people limit eating and drinking between meals. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables or nuts—for your overall health and the health of your teeth. Did you know that certain foods can put you at risk for cavities and other oral health problems? Check out foods you want to avoid.

Diet and Tooth Decay

The foods you eat and the beverages you drink can have a direct influence on the incidence and progression of tooth decay, depending upon:

The form of the food—whether it’s liquid, solid, sticky or slow to dissolve makes a difference.
How often you eat sugary foods and beverages and how often you eat or drink acidic foods and beverages.
The nutritional makeup of the food.
The combination of the foods you eat and the order in which you eat them.
Medical conditions you may have, such as gastrointestinal reflux and eating disorders, which can increase risk of cavities and weaken teeth.

Sugar Recommendations

In November 2015, the Food and Drug Administration recommended people over the age of 3 eat no more than 12.5 teaspoons (50 grams) of sugar a day (about the same amount that is found in a can of Coke.) Sugar, the FDA says, should make up no more than 10 percent of your daily calories.

The bacteria in your mouth use carbohydrates for food, so when you cut back on sugar, and other sources of simple carbohydrates that are easily fermentable, you reduce your cavity risk.

Limit added sugars in your diet by reading food labels to determine the amount of added sugar in a food. Since ingredients are listed on the label in order of weight, from most to least, if one of the following terms is listed as one of the first few ingredients, it’s a good bet that food is high in sugar. Another tip for spotting sources of sugar—terms ending in “-ose” indicate a sugar ingredient.

Here are some common added sugars:
brown sugar
cane sugar
confectioners’ or powdered sugar
turbinado sugar
raw sugar
corn sweeteners
corn syrup
crystallized cane sugar
evaporated cane juice
fruit juice concentrate
high fructose corn syrup
invert sugar
malt syrup
maple syrup

Top Sources of Added Sugar in the Diet and Percentages

soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, 35.7%
grain-based desserts (cakes, pies) 12.9%
fruit drinks 10.5%
dairy-based desserts (ice cream) 6.5%
candy 6.1%
ready-to-eat cereals 3.8%
sugars and honey 3.5%
tea (sweetened) 3.5%
yeast breads 2.1%
all other foods 15.4%

Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010

Foods That May Harm Dental Health

Empty calorie foods such as candy (especially hard or sticky candies like lollipops, mints, taffy and caramel), sweets like cookies, cakes and muffins, and snack foods like chips are a cause for dental concern, not only because they offer no nutritional value, but because the amount and type of sugar that they contain that can adhere to teeth. The bacteria in your mouth feed off these sugars, releasing acids, and that’s what leads to tooth decay.

Sugar-containing drinks—soda, lemonade, juice and sweetened coffee or tea (iced or hot)—are particularly harmful because sipping them causes a constant sugar bath over teeth, which promotes tooth decay. Learn more about the potentially harmful oral health effects of drinking acidic and sugary drinks here from the Indiana Dental Association’s Drinks Destroy Teeth.

Nutritious, acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can have acidic effects on tooth enamel, too, so eat them as part of a meal, not by themselves. Dried fruits, including raisins, are also good choices for a healthy diet, but since they are sticky and adhere to teeth, the plaque acids that they produce continue to harm teeth long after you stop eating them. Opt for a piece of fresh fruit instead.

Sugar Substitutes and Sugar-Free Products

Sugar substitutes may look and taste like sugar but they don’t promote decay-causing acids in your mouth that can harm teeth. There are many types of sugar substitutes, including aspartame, erythritol, saccharin, sucralose, isomalt, sorbitol, acesulfame potassium and mannitol. You might recognize some of these names from ingredient lists on food packages, or know some of them by their brand names (Splenda, Equal and Sunett).

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities:

Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes to remove sugars and food particles from your teeth.
Limit between-meal snacking.
Keep added sugar in your diet to a minimum by making wise food and beverage choices.
Include dairy, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and water in your diet—they all play a role in your dental health.

SOURCE: American Dental Association

5 Reasons to Use Your Dental Benefits Before Year’s End

Did you know that you can actually save hundreds of dollars by using your dental benefits before the end of the year?

While some dental insurance plans run on a fiscal year, most run on a calendar year. If your dental insurance plan is on a calendar year, these 5 reasons will show you why you should make a dental appointment now.


[dropcap]1[/dropcap] Yearly Maximum
The yearly maximum is the most money that the dental insurance plan will pay for your dental work within one full year. This amount varies by insurance company, but the average is around $1,000 per year, per person. The yearly maximum usually renews every year (on January 1 if your plan is on a calendar year). If you have unused benefits, these will not rollover.
[dropcap]2[/dropcap] Deductible
The deductible is the amount of money that you must pay to your dentist out of pocket before your insurance company will pay for any services. This fee varies from one plan to another and could be higher if you choose an out-of-network dentist. However, the average deductible for a dental insurance plan is usually around $50 per year. Your deductible also starts again when your plan rolls over.
[dropcap]3[/dropcap] Premiums
If you are paying your dental insurance premiums every month, you should be using your benefits. Even if you don’t need any dental treatment, you should always have your regular dental cleanings to help prevent and detect any early signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer and other dental problems.
[dropcap]4[/dropcap] Fee Increases
Another reason to use your benefits before the end of the year are possible fee increases. Some dentists raise their rates at the beginning of the year due to the increased cost of living, materials and equipment. A fee increase can also make your copay higher.
[dropcap]5[/dropcap] Dental Problems Can Worsen
By delaying dental treatment, you are risking more extensive and expensive treatment down the road. What may be a simple cavity now, could turn into a root canal later. Call your dentist and schedule an appointment to use those benefits.

SOURCE: About.com

Precision Dental is an In-Network Provider: Why That’s Good for You

By choosing an in-network provider, you get high-quality care at greatly reduced rates.

The best way to take full advantage of your dental coverage is to understand its features. As an in-network provider for major insurance carriers, Precision Dental is happy to work with you and your insurance company to determine your coverage.

The following outline is an overview of how dental coverage works. Precision Dental understands that plan booklets are not easy reads, so we help patients get to straight to what matters most: what’s covered and what are my out-of-pocket costs. You authorize us to make a call to the insurance company on your behalf, we’ll do the rest. You then decide what you want to do.

If you have questions about any of the following aspects of your dental coverage, just ask us to help.

Benefit Period

Dental benefits are calculated within a “benefit period”, which is typically for one year but not always a calendar year. Plan benefits which are not used within the benefit period do not carry over. Fall is a good time to review remaining available benefits, if any, for which you have paid. Why not use them? If you need help figuring it out, call Precision Dental.


Most dental plans have an annual dollar maximum. This is the maximum dollar amount a dental plan will pay toward the cost of dental care within a specific benefit period (usually January through December). The patient is personally responsible for paying costs above the annual maximum.


Most dental plans have a specific dollar deductible. It works like your car insurance. During a benefit period, you personally will have to satisfy a portion of your dental bill before your benefit plan will contribute to your cost of dental treatment. Your plan information will describe how your deductible works. Plans do vary on this point. For instance, some dental plans will apply the deductible to diagnostic or preventive treatments, and others will not.


Many insurance plans have a coinsurance provision. That means the benefit plan pays a predetermined percentage of the cost of your treatment, and you are responsible for paying the balance. What you pay is called the coinsurance, and it is part of your out-of-pocket cost. It is paid even after a deductible is reached.

Reimbursement Levels

Many dental plans offer three classes or categories of coverage. Each class provides specific types of treatment and typically covers those treatments at a certain percentage. Each class also specifies limitations and exclusions. Reimbursement levels vary from plan to plan, so be sure to read your benefits information carefully.

Here is the way the three levels typically work:

Class I procedures are diagnostic and preventive and typically are covered at the highest percentage (for example 80 percent to 100 percent of the plan’s maximum plan allowance). This is to give patients a financial incentive to seek early or preventive care, because such care can prevent more extensive dental disease or even dental disease itself.
Class II includes basic procedures — such as fillings, extractions and periodontal treatment — that are sometimes reimbursed at a slightly lower percentage (for example, 70 percent to 100 percent).
Class III is for major services and is usually reimbursed at a lower percentage (for example, 50 percent). Class III may have a waiting period before services are covered.

Pre-Treatment Estimate

If your dental care will be extensive, you may ask your dentist to complete and submit a request for a cost estimate, sometimes called a pre-treatment estimate. This will allow you to know in advance what procedures are covered, the amount the benefit plan will pay toward treatment and your financial responsibility. A pre-treatment estimate is not a guarantee of payment. When the services are complete and a claim is received for payment, Delta Dental will calculate payment based on your current eligibility, amount remaining in your annual maximum and any deductible requirements.

Limitations and Exclusions

Dental plans are designed to help with part of your dental expenses and may not always cover every dental need. The typical plan includes limitations and exclusions, meaning the plan does not cover every aspect of dental care. This can relate to the type or number of procedures, the number of visits or age limits. These limitations and exclusions are carefully detailed in the plan booklet and warrant your attention, so you have realistic expectations of how your dental plan can work for you.

Specific care and treatment may vary depending on individual need and the benefits covered under your contract.

SOURCE: Delta Dental

Fluoride Facts for Dental Health

Is it Right for You? Fluoride Facts to Help You Decide

First, you want to know that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which protects teeth from tooth decay.

Why is fluoride added to water and toothpaste?

Fluoride in the mouth (in the saliva and dental plaque) is an effective way to prevent tooth decay. The health benefits of fluoride are:

  • Fewer cavities and less severe cavities.
  • Less need for fillings and tooth extractions.
  • Less pain and suffering associated with tooth decay.

How does fluoride work to prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process—it keeps tooth enamel strong and solid. Tooth decay is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth. When a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from forming.

Click on image to enlarge

What is community water fluoridation?

Almost all water contains some naturally-occurring fluoride, but usually at levels too low to prevent tooth decay. Many communities adjust the fluoride concentration in the water supply to a level known to reduce tooth decay and promote good oral health (often called the optimal level). This practice is known as community water fluoridation, and reaches all people who drink that water. Given the dramatic decline in tooth decay during the past 70 years since community water fluoridation was initiated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named fluoridation of drinking water to prevent dental caries (tooth decay) as one of Ten Great Public Health Interventions of the 20th Century.

Why did the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) make a new recommendation for community water fluoridation?

Fluoride facts indicate that sources of fluoride have increased since the early 1960s. Today, water is only one of several sources of fluoride. Other sources include dental products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, prescription fluoride supplements, and professionally applied fluoride products such as varnish and gels. Because it is now possible to receive enough fluoride with slightly lower amounts of fluoride in water, HHS developed a new recommendation for the lower level of fluoride (0.7 milligrams per liter) that is to be used in community water fluoridation.

Click on image to enlarge

What is dental fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis is a condition that causes changes in the appearance of tooth enamel. It may result when children regularly consume fluoride during the teeth-forming years, age 8 and younger. Most dental fluorosis in the U.S.—about 92 percent—is very mild to mild, appearing as white spots on the tooth surface that may not be noticeable.

Moderate and severe forms of dental fluorosis, which are less common, cause more extensive enamel changes. In the rare, severe form, pits may form in the teeth. The severe form hardly ever occurs in communities where the level of fluoride in water is less than 2 milligrams per liter.

Controlling Young Children’s Intake

Young children often have trouble controlling their swallowing reflex and swallow toothpaste while toothbrushing.

As soon as the first tooth appears, begin cleaning by brushing without toothpaste with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and plain water after each feeding. Begin using toothpaste with fluoride when the child is 2 years old. Only use toothpaste with fluoride earlier if your child’s dentist or doctor recommends it.

Brush your child’s teeth two times a day with a fluoride toothpaste,
Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush, and
Supervise your child’s tooth brushing, encouraging the child to spit out toothpaste rather than swallow it.

If your child’s dentist or doctor prescribes a fluoride supplement (or vitamin supplement that contains fluoride), ask him or her about any risk factors your child has for decay and the potential for dental fluorosis. If you live in an area with fluoridated water, fluoride supplements are not recommended.

Fluoride and Formula

You can use fluoridated water for preparing infant formula. However, if your baby is exclusively consuming infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water, there may be an increased potential for mild dental fluorosis. To lessen this chance, parents can use low-fluoride bottled water some of the time to mix infant formula; these bottles are labeled as de-ionized, purified, demineralized, or distilled and without any fluoride added after purification treatment. If fluoride has been added after purification, the product will be labeled accordingly.

Other Sources of Fluoride in Everyday Food and Products

Commercial foods and beverages made with fluoridated water are an additional source of fluoride intake. Other fluoride-containing dental products, such as gels, varnishes, pastes, and dietary supplements are applied or prescribed by a health care professional. Most of these products are used only occasionally on the outside of the tooth and do not contribute much to a child’s total intake of fluoride. Dietary fluoride supplements do contribute to the total amount of fluoride taken in.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kids’ Dental Health Starts at Birth

You Can Foster Your Kids’ Dental Health Even Before You See Their Teeth

Did you know that just because babies don’t have any visible teeth, doesn’t mean they can’t get cavities? A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth. And those baby teeth that begin coming through the gums around 6 months help set the stage for future smiles by keeping space in the jaw for adult teeth.

Baby teeth matter

When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come. The ADA recommends that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

You can help prevent your baby from getting cavities or developing what is called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Early Childhood Caries, by beginning an oral hygiene routine within the first few days after birth. Start by cleaning your baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean gauze pad. This helps removes plaque that can harm erupting teeth. When your child’s teeth begin to come in, brush them gently with a child’s size toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. For bottle feedings, place only formula, milk or breast milk inside and avoid using sugary beverages such as juice or soda. Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottle before going to bed.

Dental Emergencies

Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing your child’s permanent tooth. For all dental emergencies, it’s important to take your child to the dentist or an emergency room as soon as possible.

Here are some tips if your child experiences a common dental emergency:

  • For a knocked-out tooth, keep it moist at all times. If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that’s not possible, place it in between your child’s cheek and gum, or in milk. Call your dentist right away.
  • For a cracked tooth, immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Put cold compresses on the face to keep any swelling down.
  • If your child bites his tongue or lip, clean the area gently and apply a cold compress.
  • For toothaches, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to remove any food caught between the teeth. Do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.
  • For objects stuck in the mouth, try to gently remove with floss but do not try to remove it with sharp or pointed instruments.


Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may suck on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects. It may help them relax or make them feel safe or happy. Most children stop sucking by age 4. If your child continues to thumb suck that after the permanent teeth have come in, it can cause problems with tooth alignment and your child’s bite. The frequency, duration and intensity of a habit will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. If you are worried about your child’s sucking habits, talk to your dentist or consult your child’s pediatrician.

Space Maintainers

Space maintainers help “hold space” for permanent teeth. Your child may need one if he or she loses a baby tooth prematurely, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. If a primary tooth is lost too early, adult teeth can erupt into the empty space instead of where they should be.When more adult teeth are ready to come into the mouth, there may not be enough room for them because of the lost space. To prevent this from happening, the dentist may recommend a space maintainer to hold open the space left by the missing tooth.


Sealants are a fast and easy way of protecting your child’s teeth that act as barriers to cavity-prone areas. They are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth and sometimes used to cover deep pits and grooves. Sealing a tooth is fast and there is virtually no discomfort. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing but may have to be reapplied if needed. Both primary and permanent teeth can benefit from sealants. Ask your dentist if sealants will help your child.


Mouthguards can help protect your child from a dental emergency. They should be worn whenever your child is participating in sports and recreational activities. Mouthguards cushion blows that would otherwise cause broken teeth, injuries to the lips and face and sometimes even jaw fractures. If your child participates in such pastimes, ask your dentist about custom-fitted mouth protectors.


Malocclusion, or bad bite, is a condition in which the teeth are crowded, crooked or out of alignment, or the jaws don’t meet properly. This may become particularly noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, when a child’s permanent teeth are coming in. If not treated early, a bad bite can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean where teeth are crooked or crowded, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease.

Bad bites can also:

  • Affect proper development of the jaws.
  • Make the protruding teeth at risk for chips and fractures.
  • Affect eating and speaking.
  • Make some teeth more likely to wear abnormally or faster than those that are properly aligned.

Anesthesia and Sedation

Your dentist might recommend that your child be administered anesthesia or sedation to relax them in order to safely complete some dental procedures. Download a PDF of questions to ask your dentist before your child undergoes any type of anesthesia.

SOURCE: American Dental Association