How to Help Prevent Tooth Decay in Children’s Teeth

A boy sits in a dental chair as a dentist checks his teeth for tooth decay

As a parent, you want the best for your children. The best schools, the best friends, the best doctors—the list goes on and on. One of the most important things you can do to help your kids enjoy healthy lives is to establish good patterns for their oral health.

Poor dental health and tooth decay can lead to further health complications that may stay with a child for the rest of their life. Yet, many families still don’t emphasize the need to take good care of teeth. In fact, over 40% of kids have experienced tooth decay and cavities by the time they reach kindergarten.

Here are a few ways you as a parent can help prevent tooth decay in your children’s teeth and improve their dental health.

Start Them Early!

From infancy to adolescence and beyond, never stop looking for those teaching moments where you can share why dental health matters. Reinforce brushing habits as early as you can by giving your children their own soft-bristled toothbrush, brushing alongside them, and making it a part of your daily routine.

For babies, give them a small, very soft toothbrush that they can begin putting in their mouth when you brush. Don’t use toothpaste, and be sure to keep them upright so they don’t begin gagging. You’ll also want to wipe down their teeth after each feeding to avoid plaque buildup before they can properly use a toothbrush.

Make Brushing Fun

You be the example and show kids that brushing their teeth can be fun! Brush with them in front of a mirror so that they can try to mimic your movements. Be sure to smile while you brush, and maybe turn brushing into a game, to indicate to your child that brushing teeth doesn’t have to be boring.

If children have a poor first experience brushing their teeth, they will be less likely to continue good brushing and oral health habits later on in life. So speak positively about it, don’t make brushing a punishment, and avoid scolding kids if they haven’t got the right techniques down yet. Work together to make brushing enjoyable.

Give a Little Assistance

Toddlers will especially need your help to brush effectively. Again, make sure that it’s a good experience, not something you’re forcing on them. Have children hold your hand and look in the mirror as you guide their toothbrush back and forth gently, but firmly. You may need to help children as old as 6 or even 8 years old before they have mastered basic brushing techniques.

Less Sugar, More Water

One of the dangers to kids’ teeth is an excess of juice or sugary drinks. These drinks break down enamel quickly, especially if children are not brushing at least twice a day. Instead, have kids drink more water! Choose tap water with fluoride when possible as a substitute to these less healthy drinks that may cause more cavities. Drinking a glass of water after a meal especially can help stimulate saliva glands and wash away bacteria and plaque from that meal.

Try avoiding sticky candy and food as well that may get stuck in between teeth allowing for more plaque buildup. Reward kids with their favorite fruit instead of candy, and buy fresh instead of dry fruit that tends to be stickier. Good nutrition is just one more way you can improve their dental health, but also overall health.

Bottles Before Bed

Many kids like going to bed with a bottle of milk or a drink in their favorite sippy cup. But children’s teeth shouldn’t be exposed to the sugars in formula or breast milk, juice, and other drinks for the entire night. If they are, they may experience baby bottle tooth decay. Give them a drink before bedtime, but clean their teeth before hopping into bed and be sure to keep the bottles out of the bunks or cribs.

Visit the Dentist

Like brushing needs to be a good experience for children to continue the habit, so should a trip to the dentist be a good experience, especially when it’s a child’s first visit. We recommend taking your baby to the dentist before their first birthday when their first tooth appears. After that, visit your family dentist every six months for dental cleanings and exams. Again, if you can be the example of regularly visiting the dentist, then your kids will get into the habit as well.

If children are anxious about dental appointments, be sure to speak positively about your own experiences at the dentist, and communicate openly about what they can expect. Find a family-friendly dentist who will happily answer your child’s questions and alleviate their concerns.

For families with children in Wasilla or Palmer, AK, visit Meridian Dental, conveniently located by several schools in Wasilla! Our family dentists will help your children feel comfortable and at ease from the moment they walk inside our dental office. We offer general and advanced dental services for the entire family! Request your appointment with our compassionate Wasilla dentists today.

6 Ways to Keep Your Invisalign Retainers Cleaner

A woman puts her Ivisalign clear retainers in her mouth after having them cleaned

Invisalign is a great teeth straightening treatment for adults who want to correct misaligned smiles without the hassle or notice that braces bring. Traditional metal braces can prove uncomfortable and make it difficult for many patients to clean teeth in between wires. Invisalign retainers, on the other hand, simply slide off when you eat, brush, or floss for cleaner teeth and a less painful experience.

To keep your Invisalign retainers looking and feeling clean, though, will require some work on your end. Otherwise, the clear aligners will begin to dull and may appear more noticeable. But more importantly, clean aligners will help keep your teeth healthier as you straighten them.

What can you do to ensure that each set of your Invisalign retainers stay clean and look like new? Start with the 6 simple steps below, and consult with your local Wasilla dentist for additional information.

1. Rinse Daily

Bacteria and plaque can build up along the walls of your Invisalign clear aligners quickly. Whenever you remove aligners to eat and brush, rinse them out with water. You may also want to use clear antibacterial soap, but avoid any colored soap that could stain the retainers.

2. Keep Retainers Safely Away

After taking out aligners, don’t leave them out on a countertop or table. Beyond the possibility of forgetting them when you leave, retainers can pick up more germs and bacteria out in the open than they would safely hidden in their tray container. So pack them away after rinsing them, or be sure to rinse them out again if you do leave them out.

3. Clean Before Breakfast

You know how bad your breath can smell in the morning after waking up, even without wearing Invisalign retainers? The bacteria that causes morning breath can dirty your clear aligners when worn overnight, so when you wake up, give them a quick clean for fresher breath.

4. Brush and Floss After Eating

Keeping up with a good dental health routine will also help ensure that Invisialign retainers stay clear and clean. On top of that, these habits will help prevent tooth decay and cavities from food stuck between your teeth that’s held in place by the retainers.

Start by brushing and flossing after every time you take out the clear aligners to eat. Removing food particles before putting Invisalign retainers back on will help keep that food building up and eating away at your enamel.

5. Soak in Denture Cleaning Solutions or Specific Invisalign Cleaner

One of the best things you can add into your dental health and Invisalign cleaning routine is to leave aligners to soak in a cleaning solution for around 15 minutes. This could be the Invisalign Cleaning Crystals specifically for their retainers, but other denture cleaners or Retainer Brite are other good cleaning solutions to use.

6. Leave Toothpaste Out of It

Toothpaste, however, is not a good cleaning agent for your Invisalign retainers. Teeth-whitening toothpastes especially have been known to discolor aligners and may wear them down from the toothpaste’s corroding chemicals. These materials aren’t abrasive for your teeth, but they won’t be friendly to your clear plastic retainers.

You can also avoid wearing down aligners by brushing them softly. You won’t need to apply too much pressure if you’re following all the above steps to keep aligners clean and free of bacteria or plaque.

Cleaner Aligners and Straighter Teeth

To keep your teeth and Invisalign retainers in good shape, use the cleaning techniques mentioned! Although you only wear each new set of clear aligners for a few weeks, they can have a big impact on your oral hygiene without proper care.

Talk with one of our dentists in Wasilla, AK if you have more questions about Invisalign, braces, or other cosmetic dentistry treatments for straightening teeth. Our experienced staff can help you come up with a personalized treatment plan that helps you achieve the smile you’ve been wanting.  Schedule a consultation appointment at our dental office today!

What Can Dental Implants Do for You?

A close up illustration of a dental implant above and below the gumline

One of the best advancements for replacing missing teeth are dental implants, or small, titanium shafts that stay securely in place by fusing together with your jaw bone. Tooth crowns, bridges, or dentures are then attached to the implants for a complete and natural-looking smile.

If loose or missing teeth are causing you to feel self-conscious or are making it difficult to eat, looking into options for teeth replacements is the next natural step. But rather than worry about replacements shifting or falling out of place, why not go with a solution that gives the permanent results you want like implants?

Discuss the pros and cons behind dental implants with your dentist to see if they may be the right match for you. In the meantime, we’ve gathered up a few issues dental implants can resolve or help you out with that other teeth replacements can’t. Check them out below before you schedule your next dentist appointment!

Dental Implants Help with Periodontal Gum Disease

What many patients may not realize is that implants can assist you in treating periodontal gum disease. This is the chief cause for tooth loss in adults by damaging gums that support teeth to keep them firmly in place. Pockets form in between gums and teeth where food particles and bacteria often get stuck allowing for severe tooth decay and even bone loss.

Tooth implants may be the solution you need for teeth and gums severely affected by gum disease. While our Wasilla dental office will seek first to provide non-surgical gum treatments, decay and bacterial infection may be serious enough that we need to remove the tooth and clean out all infection to save the remaining gums and bone structure.

Once the area is cleaned and the implant put in its place, results have been positive for a large majority of patients. The implant and its tooth crown consist of materials that are not prone to further decay or bacterial infection, and won’t need root canal treatment in the future either, a complication for many patients with extreme gum disease.

They Reduce Bone Loss and Retain Jaw Structure

Because the implant’s titanium shaft is placed directly into the bone where the tooth roots once were, it stimulates the bone to keep it from deteriorating. Preserving the bone is essential for maintaining your current jaw structure and giving the lower half of your face the support it needs. If teeth are removed without anything in their place, gradually that structure and the bone itself will degenerate.

Unlike traditional tooth bridges, implants also won’t damage or weaken any surrounding teeth. The crown, bridge, or dentures placed on top won’t need to rely on teeth nearby to anchor themselves when they will already be firmly attached to the implant.

Replace a Single Tooth, Multiple Teeth, or All Your Teeth

Dental implants are versatile in that they are the best replacements not only for replacing a single missing tooth, but multiple teeth when necessary. They can support implant bridges as well as partial or full dentures. That includes both removable and permanent dentures, giving patients greater flexibility and less adjustment time after the procedure.

If the tooth crown, bridge, or dentures need replacing, the implant can remain right in its place as custom caps are being created. The new replacement can then be placed on the original shaft, and you’re good to go!

Implants Provide You with Natural-Looking and Long-Lasting Results

No matter how many teeth you need to replace, dental implants are long-term investments with great results. Same-day crowns, bridges, or dentures you decide on will be carefully crafted to resemble surrounding teeth in color and shape. You’ll hardly even notice the difference or know that they’re there! Unlike other tooth replacement solutions, implants offer a permanent solution that looks and feels natural.

Contact your local dentists in Wasilla, AK to discuss if dental implants are the best solution for you! We’re here to answer all your questions about the procedure, cost, insurance, and more.

Can’t see our cosmetic dentists during the workweek? Don’t let that keep you from feeling confident with your smile again. We even offer evening and weekend dental hours for patients in Palmer, Wasilla, and surrounding areas in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley. Schedule an implants consultation with us today!