What we expose ourselves to

These days we can never be too careful with our bodies and what we expose ourselves to. More often than not I have patients who will decline dental X-rays because of the myth of how much radiation they actually produce. It is not my practice, nor any member of my staff to unnecessarily expose patients to radiation. The recommended amount of X-rays truly depends on your age, oral and physical health, and your risk for disease, thus the reason a health history update is asked for at each visit to the office. For instance, children require dental X-rays more often than adults as their mouths continue to grow and develop and their mouths are more susceptible to tooth decay. Even though adult's mouths stop developing at a certain point that does not mean that the mouth stops changing. X-rays are important for adults as well to monitor new decay and any wear and tear that comes with (gasp) age, eating habits, previous dental work or trauma.

Dental X-Rays are safe, but they do require very low levels of radiation exposure. There are certain types of images in very specific instances that do emit a much high dose of radiation, but Cone Beam images are rare and if your dentist or doctor suggests one, it would be for a very good reason. The lead jackets provided protects your vital organs and your thyroid from the low levels of radiation delivered though routine dental X-rays. The background radiation of a set of dental X-rays is 1 day. Background radiation is natural radiation that we are all exposed to on a daily basis and can be found in soil, rocks, buildings, the sun, air and water. The radiation you are exposed to on a 4 hour passenger airline flight is the same as 1 set of dental X-rays. For this and more information about dental x-rays please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/x/x-rays

What some healthier options are to hand out – from a dentist who truly loves Halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be asking yourself what some healthier options are to hand out - from a dentist who truly loves Halloween. Of course we need to give out items that won't get your house egged or teepee'd at the end of the evening. Let's face it; nobody wants to be that guy. What fun is Halloween without an endless supply of perfectly portioned chocolate bars and suckers galore? As a dentist I feel inclined to tell you to pass out tooth brushes or apples, but to keep the holiday light and fun let's review some other options and keep you under the radar.

Certain candies should always be avoided; caramels, suckers, super sour candies or anything containing a lot of acid and sticky chewy bubble gum. These types of candies have a tendency to get stuck in the grooves of your teeth and are harder to remove with regular brushing. Better choices would include pretzels, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and sugar free gum. As a parent, I do not forbid my children to have all sorts of candies, but I do limit their intake and make sure they are brushing and flossing for at least 2 minutes twice per day.

Here are a few tips straight from the American Dental Associations "Mouth Healthy" site to help your children stay on top of their hygiene year round: Drink more fluoridated water, it can help prevent tooth decay; avoid sucking on candy for long periods of time, the amount of time the sugar stays in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay; eat Halloween candy shortly after mealtime, the saliva your mouth produces while eating and help rinse away those extra food particles. For this and more tips please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/halloween-tips

Lastly, if you want to incentivize your kids to make a little mad money and not run the risk of getting cavities - I offer $1.00 for every pound of candy that is brought into my office. All the candy brought to the office and bought off your kids will be sent overseas to our soldiers who need a little extra as the holidays approach.

What you eat matters

Remember in the 1980's when fitness became all the rage? We tend to go in cycles of what we as a group consider popular or trendy. The fitness craze is back, and it is back with a vengeance. Everywhere I turn there are marathons, 5k's, fun runs, cross fit, hot yoga, Barre3 - I could go on and on. The cycle is the same with our diets; juicing, the raw food movement, the sudden popularity of kale and Brussels sprouts, 6 small meals a day, low carb, no carb, paleo diets. Regardless of trend the bottom line is always the same: What you eat matters. I fully embrace a healthy lifestyle, and as a dentist I am more aware of what I put into my mouth because I know the effects certain foods have on my oral health. I understand, and I want all of you to understand that your mouth is a huge component in your overall health.

Just to cover all the angles I will go ahead and state the obvious; sugar, sticky candy, lollipops, hard breads, and soda can be damaging to your teeth. Did you know that items such as fruits, certain coffee and tea, alcohol, sports drinks and flavored waters, nuts, even ice can lead to an unhealthy mouth? Fruits that are high in citric acid can cause erosion and irritate your gum tissue, causing sores. Coffee and tea, when you add all the good stuff can cause tooth decay; alcohol promotes dehydration and dry mouth which causes tooth decay as well. What you eat matters more than you know. While we all strive to live a little healthier - body, mind, soul and mouth, avoid excessive snacking. Not only is it dangerous to your waistline it is dangerous to your teeth as well - the more you snack the more food is collected in the little tiny crevices and remain hidden until your next brushing. When snacking, choose cheese, almonds, leafy greens, eggs, etc. Try to avoid sugar, even "sugar free" snacks. Most importantly, remember to brush and floss regularly - and come see me for your preventative needs.

Baby teeth, are they really THAT important????

There are a number of parents out there that think; they are just my kid's baby teeth, are they real THAT important???? I think we assume that since teeth aren't visible they aren't exposed to the same thing that adult teeth are. 20 baby teeth are already formed in the jaw at the time of birth and typically erupt before babies are 6 months old. When I see decay on baby teeth and I discuss those findings with Mom or Dad - you wouldn't believe how many of them say they would rather wait until their baby teeth fall out. Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. Teaching your children about good oral hygiene early can lead to healthy mouth habits that will preserve their smile for the rest of their lives. We are only given two sets of teeth - and once the permanent ones are gone, they are gone for good. The American Dental Association recommends that parents take children to the dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.

Kid's mouths go through so much. First they have to deal with the awkward gaps that can form when teeth are missing. If a baby tooth comes out too soon, it can cause problems for the adult teeth trying to grow in. Drifting, spacing, crowding and crooked teeth can be a result of losing teeth before their time. That then results in a mouth full of metal to correct that. 2 years of metal - orthodontia has come such a long way but still. I went through orthodontics as an adult so I UNDERSTAND, trust me. As if it couldn't get any worse then come the wisdom teeth. Without regular dental care; cleanings, x-rays, sealants and fluoride - all preventative items - we are putting our kids at risk of making dentistry a horrible, dreaded thing.

I am not out to make braces or getting your wisdom teeth pulled a terrible thing, it really isn't. Ever heard the saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?" That is the bottom line; Baby teeth, are they really THAT important???? Yes.