During World War II our soldiers were required to brush their teeth daily, something most Americans did not do. At the same time the Dupont de Nemours company introduced the first toothbrush with nylon bristles, Dr. West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush. Their ad campaign “Your American Duty…” encouraged all Americans to brush daily. When the soldiers came home, they kept up this very excellent routine, and their families joined in. Today, we recommend brushing twice a day and flossing daily – maybe not your American duty but certainly a great habit!
To help protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth – pre-molars and molars – we may recommend applying a sealant to your child’s teeth. Made of plastic material, the sealant is “painted” on teeth where bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.
A sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. 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 and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed.
Because the likelihood of developing tooth decay which leads to cavities begins early in life, children and teens are perfect candidates for sealant application. But adults can benefit from sealants, too. You are never too old or too young to prevent cavities! Dr. Hawkins will discuss all the options to you so you can make the best choice for you and your family.
Women who are planning a family don’t necessarily think about a visit to the dentist. But it is a very good idea to schedule your regular checkup before getting pregnant. Because your overall health is important for you and your baby-to-be we want to thoroughly clean your teeth to ensure that any oral health issues can be resolved before pregnancy.
Dental Care When Pregnant
You will want to let us know if you are pregnant but do not cancel any regular checkups. We will offer the dental treatment plan appropriate for whichever trimester you are in. Pregnancy causes changes to the mother’s hormones which can effect oral health, including a periodontal problem called “pregnancy gingivitis.” Some women experience tender or bleeding gums during pregnancy. If that does occur, call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hawkins.
A healthy diet is good for you and your baby. Your baby’s teeth begin developing during the third month of pregnancy — calcium rich foods such as dairy products will help your baby develop strong teeth, gums and bones.
Maintain strong twice daily brushing and flossing habits to protect yourself from gum disease and help your baby, too. Studies have shown that bacteria which causes tooth decay can be passed from mother to baby.
If you suffer from morning sickness and the taste of toothpaste is a problem, try a different brand that does not contain mint or other flavoring. Rinsing with mouthwash or even plain water can help reduce the adverse effect of frequent morning sickness on your teeth.
After Your Baby is Born
Taking care of your baby will keep you very busy, and sometimes taking care of yourself falls through the cracks! We suggest you make your “after the baby” regular checkup before delivering so you already have it on your schedule. If you experience any gum problems during pregnancy you will want to come in as soon as possible after the baby is born.
You may wonder why we ask about your health history, including all medications you may be taking, when you visit Hawkins Dentistry. Some medications can have an adverse effect on your oral and dental health, so we want to be sure we help manage any concerns. As part of our commitment to sharing information with patients we will share suggestions on how to best manage some common medications.
While a vital part of some asthma management plans, the powder in some inhalers is acidic and can damage tooth enamel. This could lead to tooth decay over time if it isn’t balanced with good oral hygiene. To avoid tooth decay, rinse your mouth with water immediately after each use of the inhaler. Do not brush your teeth immediately after using the inhaler because the powder can soften tooth enamel. Allow 30 – 60 minutes before brushing.
Some medicines can affect your oral health because of their sugar content. Check the label of any medication for any hidden sugars, particularly if you will be taking the medication for a long period of time.
Saliva helps clean and protect your teeth – without saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems can become more common. Some medications can reduce saliva production, leaving you with a dry mouth. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of the medication on saliva and teeth. Older children and adults can try chewing sugar-free gum. It stimulates saliva flow and helps to protect teeth from decay.
Rinse your mouth with water immediately after taking medication, and brush with fluoride toothpaste one hour after taking medication.
Talk To Your Doctor
Please discuss any concerns you may have about your oral healthcare with their doctor. And let us know of all medications you take. We want to be your partner in your oral and dental healthcare.
Thumbs Down on Thumb Sucking
Children who still suck their fingers or thumbs after their permanent teeth start coming in — usually around the age of 5 or 6 — could be causing permanent changes that affect tooth and jaw structure. Specifically, thumb sucking can cause a misalignment of teeth. This misalignment can lead to a number of issues, including difficulty chewing and breathing problems. During your child’s visit to Hawkins Dentistry we can discuss any concerns you have. In general though, it’s a good idea to help wean your child off his thumb.
Lay Off the Lemons
Sometimes kids pick up little habits that seem innocent enough but can cause problems. Sucking lemons is one of those things. People who suck lemons may be putting their dental health in jeopardy. According to Dr. Hawkins, the acidity in lemons corrodes the enamel of teeth. With repeated exposure to acidic substances you can cause permanent damage to tooth enamel which can lead to tooth decay and discomfort.
Don’t Brush Too Hard
Brushing your teeth regularly is part of good oral hygiene, but if you brush too vigorously, you can cause more harm than good. Brushing your teeth too hard can wear down enamel, irritate your gums, make your teeth sensitive to cold, and even cause cavities. To avoid these problems, Dr. Hawkins recommends using a soft bristled toothbrush.
Refrain From Jaw Clenching and Tooth Grinding
For some people, stress can trigger frequent clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth. “There is a severe amount of pressure on your teeth when you do that, and you can get microfractures or actual fractures in your teeth,” warns Dr. Hawkins. Microfractures are weakened areas in your teeth that puts them at risk for further damage. Jaw clenching or tooth grinding can also damage dental work.
Your Teeth Are Not a Tool
Many people use their teeth to break off a tag on clothing, rip open a package of potato chips, or even unscrew bottle tops. But according to Dr. Hawkins, teeth are meant to help us do three things: chew food, speak properly, and look better when we smile. “Teeth are not pliers, teeth are not hooks,” he says. Using your teeth as a tool is a threat to dental health and can damage dental work or cause your teeth to crack.
Don’t Park Your Pencil Between Your Teeth
Some people have a habit of holding objects — such as pens, pencils, or eyeglasses — between their teeth when concentrating on a difficult task. But they might not realize how much pressure they’re placing on their teeth as they bite down on a non-food object. Biting on a pen or a similar object can cause your teeth to shift or even crack. It can also damage existing dental work like veneers and crowns.
Boycott Nail Biting
Biting your nails doesn’t just harm the appearance of your hands — it can also damage your teeth and become an oral hygiene issue. “People who bite their nails usually do it chronically,” notes Dr. Hawkins. Regularly biting your nails can cause your teeth to move out of place. In addition, nail biting could potentially cause teeth to break or tooth enamel to splinter.