E: brandermilldentistry@gmail.com | T: (804) 639-8338

Posts by alex

Tips for Teaching Kids to Floss

ON THE LONG list of things parents need to teach their kids in childhood is proper flossing, but plenty of adults don’t know the best techniques themselves! We’re here to help. Daily flossing should be a priority for anyone with two teeth that touch each other because brushing alone cannot remove the plaque and food debris in those spaces. The longer it remains and builds up, the more it contributes to gum disease, cavities, and worse.

Helping Your Child Floss

Parents should floss their child’s teeth for them until they have the dexterity to do it themselves. Make it part of the daily routine. Explain that flossing matters for keeping their smile healthy, and flossing is something big kids do like tying their shoes. Floss picks can also make the process easier instead of using string floss.

The Proper Technique Makes a Difference

Good flossing technique starts with pulling out about a foot and a half of floss and wrapping it loosely around the middle fingers, with an inch or two left in the middle to slip between the teeth. Don’t just snap the floss down onto the gums, curve it around each tooth in a C-shape and gently work down. Then rotate the floss along so that it’s always clean floss being used for each new gap. Dirty floss won’t clean teeth!

The Dentist Can Help!

Incorporating proper flossing techniques into your child’s daily routine is essential for their long-term oral health. If you’re unsure about the correct flossing method or want a demonstration, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’re dedicated to ensuring your child learns to floss effectively and confidently. Let us guide you through the process and make flossing a seamless part of their oral care regimen.

Together, we can train a new generation of effective flossers!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
What Does an Eating Disorder Do to Dental Health?

EATING DISORDERS can cause many kinds of damage to the body, including the teeth. Oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits are crucial, but in order to maintain good oral health, we also need a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals every day.

Anorexia Versus Oral Health

An eating disorder like anorexia nervosa can lead to osteoporosis, which increases the risk of tooth loss. It also causes dry mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease. It also makes it harder to avoid bad breath, because saliva washes away food particles.

Bulimia and Acid Erosion

Bulimia can be even more harmful to oral health, because in addition to starving the oral tissues of needed nutrients, frequent purging exposes the teeth to stomach acid, leading to enamel erosion, tooth discoloration, decay, and eventually tooth loss.

You Have Allies in Your Fight for Your Health

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. The road to a healthier relationship with food and weight can be long and difficult. Sympathetic family members, friends, and licensed mental health professionals are key allies on that journey, and dental health professionals can help safeguard oral health along the way.

One of Those Allies Is the Dentist

The impact an eating disorder can have on the teeth and gums is severe enough that dentists may be some of the first to know that something is wrong. Recognizing the signs of an eating disorder and seeking timely intervention are crucial steps in protecting oral health and promoting overall wellness. Your dentist wants to help.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
Learn the Basics of Lip Ties and Tongue Ties

BEING TONGUE-TIED isn’t just an expression; for many people, it’s an actual medical condition, and a similar one is being lip-tied. We all have thin, stretchy pieces of tissue that connect our tongues to the floor of our mouths and our lips to our gums. Sometimes those pieces of tissue are unusually thick or tight, which restricts the movement of the lip or tongue.

Effects of Tongue Tie and Lip Tie

Someone with a tongue tie might not be able to touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue, making it hard to chew, swallow, or pronounce words effectively. Someone with a lip tie might have a big gap between their two front teeth and be at higher risk of gum recession. Babies with a lip or tongue tie often struggle to latch effectively to breastfeed.

The Solution: Frenectomies

The treatment for a lip or tongue tie is a frenectomy, a quick and simple procedure with a short recovery period. It is usually performed by a periodontist or oral surgeon. After the area is numbed, a small incision (sometimes made with a laser) releases the tissue, which stops all of the symptoms. Super easy!

The Dentist Can Help!

If you believe you or your child have a lip or tongue tie, schedule a dental appointment so that we can verify it and make a plan for how to correct it. Don’t let it continue to get in the way!

We love taking care of our patients’ smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
Follow These Sensitive Tooth Tips

1 IN EVERY 8 Americans (including kids) has sensitive teeth. To understand why, we’ll need to take a look at dental anatomy.

Erosion and the Layers of a Tooth

Every tooth has nerves at the center. When the tooth is healthy, the nerve is protected by the outer layers. If the tooth enamel erodes enough, it can expose the porous dentin layer and subject the nerves to much more input than they’re supposed to get. That tends to make temperature changes or even a sudden burst of sour or sweet flavor very uncomfortable or even painful.

Other Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Erosion is the main cause of tooth sensitivity but not the only one. Exposed roots can be very sensitive because roots rely on gum tissue to protect them, not enamel. Gum recession (which is most often caused by brushing too hard) can leave roots exposed and vulnerable. Damage to a tooth, whether through an accident or cavities, also leads to sensitivity.

Ways to Minimize Sensitivity

There are several things to do for sensitive teeth. First, throw out the hard-bristled toothbrush and get a soft-bristled one. It doesn’t take much pressure to clean away plaque when we brush, but too much can scrape away enamel and gum tissue. Switching to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth should also help, and cut back on sugar intake and very acidic foods and drinks.

The Dentist Can Help!

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, make sure to bring it up with the dentist. We can determine the cause of the problem and recommend or prescribe a toothpaste that could help or schedule any necessary treatment. Every bite of food or swallow of drink you enjoy shouldn’t come at the price of a nasty jolt!

We look forward to helping find your tooth sensitivity solution!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
Let’s Answer Some Dental FAQs Before the New Year!

WE HEAR A LOT of the same questions from patients and parents of patients, so let’s wrap up the year by answering three of them.

#1: My tooth doesn’t hurt, so why do I need a filling?

Cavities aren’t always painful. They form when tooth enamel is eroded away until a hole forms. As the hole gets deeper, it can reach the dentin and even the pulp chamber at the center of the tooth, but in the early stages, they usually don’t hurt. While the best option is preventing a cavity from forming at all, it’s much better to treat a cavity before it hurts than allow it to reach that point. By then, a filling alone might not be enough!

#2: How important is it to keep baby teeth healthy?

Just because baby teeth are temporary, that doesn’t mean they don’t serve an important purpose. Kids need them to speak clearly, chew effectively, and master the lifelong brushing and flossing habits that will protect their adult teeth. They also hold the places for those adult teeth.

#3: Should I be worried about the effect of pacifiers and thumbsucking on my child’s teeth?

Pacifier use and thumbsucking can indeed contribute to significant problems, but not when the child is very young. Babies and toddlers often find these habits very comforting, and they usually grow out of them on their own. If they’re showing no signs of stopping by age three, parents should consider strategies for discouraging the habit, like clipping the pacifier. We can help find the right solution.

Did We Miss Your Top Question?

When our patients are educated about their teeth and gums, they are more empowered to stay in control of their dental health, so if you have any questions we didn’t cover, make sure to ask them at your next appointment!

There’s nothing better than seeing our patients’ smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
No, Vaping Is Not a “Healthy Alternative.”

WE’VE BEEN HEARING for decades how dangerous smoking is to many aspects of our health. As dental professionals, our focus is particularly on the dangers to oral health, including unsightly stains on teeth at the less serious end of the spectrum, to a massively increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease, to life-threatening oral cancer. More recently, vaping and e-cigarettes have emerged as an alternative, but are they any better?

The Data Is Starting to Come In, and It Isn’t Good

Because these particular nicotine delivery mechanisms are so new, there isn’t as much data about their effects, but the evidence far shows a link between e-cigarettes and poor oral health. No matter how nicotine is consumed, it restricts blood flow to the gums, contributing to gum disease. An iScience study showed that far more e-cigarette users have gum disease than people who don’t.

People Who Vape Are Getting Periodontal Disease Younger

It’s difficult to know the long-term dangers of something so new, but researchers are seeing periodontal disease (typically an adult disease) in younger patients who vape, as well as an increase in cavities.

The term “vape” is also misleading. This isn’t water vapor that contains nicotine, it works more like aerosol — essentially nicotine hairspray, for the mouth. That doesn’t sound as appetizing, does it?

We Encourage Our Patients to Prioritize Oral Health

There are plenty of activities that are fun to do, look cool, and don’t endanger your oral and overall health in any way. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment, and make sure you’re prioritizing the health of your teeth and gums in the meantime!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
What Are the Main Ingredients in Toothpaste?

WE’VE ALL HEARD of the active ingredient in toothpaste: fluoride. It supplies tooth enamel with important minerals to keep it strong and it protects against tooth decay. It’s the one ingredient toothpaste must contain to earn the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. But what else is in toothpaste?

Other Active Ingredients

1. Mild abrasive ingredients help scrub the surfaces of our teeth clean as we brush (and it doesn’t take more than a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle brushing to get the job done).

2. Foaming detergents help the toothpaste reach every tooth. (Fun fact: the foam is why actors rarely use toothpaste when they brush their teeth onscreen. It’s too messy for TV!)

Inactive Ingredients

1. Humectants keep toothpaste from drying out, so that it can come out of the tube in a smooth piece.

2. Flavoring and sweeteners make toothpaste taste good, but they can’t include actual sugar and still get the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Toothpaste for adults is usually a strong, minty flavor, but that can be overpowering for kids, which is why theirs often tastes like fruit or candy.

Toothpaste for Kids

All of the top recommended toothpastes for kids contain fluoride, and it’s safe when used in the correct amounts. That means a smear no bigger than a grain of rice for toddlers and a glob the size of a pea for kids aged 3-6. Parents should also supervise their kids and encourage them to spit instead of swallow.

We Can Help You Find the Right Toothpaste

With so many toothpaste options to choose from, what’s the best toothpaste for your child? The next time we see you, we’d be happy to make a recommendation. We look forward to your child’s next dental checkup at our practice!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
Happy TMJ Awareness Month!

OUR JAWS GET a pretty constant workout between all the talking, chewing, and yawning we do, but those simple activities become more complicated for those with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ). There’s a small, fibrous disk that serves as a cushion between the ball and socket of the joint. If it shifts out of place or erodes, that leads to jaw trouble.

TMJ Disorder Symptoms and Remedies

Typical symptoms of a TMJ problem include tenderness or pain in the jaw, difficulty chewing, pain around the face or in the ear, and even locking of the jaw joint.

There are a few things to try for TMJ relief. Avoid making extreme jaw movements when singing or yelling, and control yawns by putting a fist under the chin. Make small movements while chewing, and rest with the jaws slightly apart instead of fully closed (a lot of people don’t realize that this is the natural position of the jaws).

Treatment for More Serious Cases

Most TMD cases resolve on their own, but persistent symptoms may need treatment. Typical TMD treatments include ice packs, exercise, moist heat, medication, and splints. If those don’t help, then the next steps often include ultrasound treatment, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or trigger-point injections. For the most extreme cases, jaw surgery may be recommended.

Bring Your TMD Symptoms to the Dentist

If the symptoms above are familiar to you, make sure to come and tell the dentist. If your regular cleaning appointment is months away, schedule one specifically to discuss TMD issues so that we can discover what’s causing the problem and recommend the best next steps to take.

You can beat TMD with the dentist’s help!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
Sugar Is the Main Cause of Childhood Cavities

2 OUT OF EVERY 5 KIDS have at least one cavity by the time they finish elementary school, and the main reason is sugar.

Bacteria Love Sugar As Much As We Do

Harmful bacteria living on the surfaces of our teeth love eating the leftover sugar after we enjoy a sweet treat or drink. Then they excrete acid onto our teeth as a waste product, increasing our risk of tooth decay. So what can parents do for their kids’ teeth? A big improvement parents can make is to swap out sugary snacks for options like cheese or sliced fruits and veggies, which are also much healthier overall.

This time of year, it can be hard to avoid sugar, but this hygienist has some tips:

Sugar Is Hiding in Your Child’s Favorite Drinks Too

When it comes to sugary drinks, juice and soda are full of sugar and highly acidic, and even milk contains sugars. These drinks are most dangerous to a child’s teeth when sipped over the course of hours, as this acts like a continuous acid bath, preventing their saliva from washing away residue and neutralizing the pH of their mouths. We urge parents to restrict access to drinks other than water except during meals.

Be an Example of Good Dental Hygiene

Finally, parents should model good dental hygiene habits and schedule regular dental visits for their kids. Limiting sugar intake can’t make up for a lack of daily brushing and flossing!

The Dentist Is a Great Resource

All the things parents can do at home to encourage great dental health are very important, but don’t forget that you’re not in this fight alone! The dentist can help. If you have concerns about your or your child’s teeth or gums, schedule an appointment. We can identify any problems and determine the best next steps to take. And regular preventative appointments are important too!

We’re rooting for our patients to stay cavity-free this Halloween!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
Don’t Take Dental Advice From TikTok!

UNLESS THE DENTIST is an active TikTok user, it’s not a good idea to get dental health advice from social media. We’ve noticed a lot of dangerous DIY ideas popping up so let’s take a minute to nip them in the bud.

1. “Healthy Soda”

No soda is truly healthy for teeth, as the bubbles in soda come from acid and teeth are highly vulnerable to acid erosion. Sparkling water and balsamic vinegar (the combo in the trend) do not make a healthier soda alternative because that’s just two acids mixed together!

2. “Veneers Check”

Some TikTok users are filing their own teeth down to pegs prior to crown restorations. PLEASE do not do this. It can lead to nerve damage or the need for root canals and can even lead to previously healthy teeth needing to be pulled. Teeth don’t even get filed down before veneers anyway!

3. Home Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening

Swishing 3% hydrogen peroxide is not a good way to whiten teeth. It can cause long-lasting sensitivity and gum irritation. Go to the dentist for whitening recommendations and good results!

4. DIY Braces

It takes orthodontists years of education and training to learn how to effectively move teeth into their correct positions; this is not something a random TikTok user can figure out with rubber bands and paper clips. DIY braces lead to bad results and sometimes tooth loss!

Trust the Professionals

Trusting random people on the internet over the actual experts is very dangerous and could have permanent consequences for your dental health.It takes dentists years of study and practice to become qualified to look after patients’ teeth. The people promoting these harmful trends are just making wild guesses.

When is your next dental checkup?

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on 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.
1234513Next