6 Reasons Your Teeth May Be More Sensitive in Winter

Written by Apollo Dental Center on . Posted in Uncategorized

The winter season may be filled with holidays, but the coldest months of the year also cause health challenges you might not experience at any other time. In our last blog, “4 Ways to Be Nice to Your Teeth This Holiday Season,” we provided strategies for protecting your teeth from common holiday hazards.

In this blog, we discuss how the winter weather itself may affect your teeth. Below we list six reasons why you may experience more frequent or intense tooth sensitivity over the winter.

  1. Aggressive BrushingWoman with nice teeth enjoying the snow

Brushing your teeth is an essential way to maintain your oral health. However, brushing your teeth incorrectly can contribute to certain oral conditions, including sensitivity. When you brush too aggressively or with a stiff-bristled brush, you can wear down the outer layer of enamel.

When the enamel thins, the inner layers of your teeth become exposed, causing pain and sensitivity.

You may resort to short, aggressive brushing sessions more often in the winter, leading to more frequent sensitivity. Some people may have to shorten the time spent on the
ir hygiene routines to ensure they have the time to commute on winter roads.

Give yourself plenty of time to brush, and brush gently. Consult with your dentist to determine whether you’re using the right brush type for your mouth.

  1. Hot Beverages

Many individuals who experience tooth sensitivity have pain related to a specific type of stimuli, such as extreme temperatures. In the winter, you may drink more hot beverages overall. Warm beverages can exacerbate existing sensitivity.

Additionally, when you drink a hot beverage while outside during the winter, you’re more likely to feel tooth sensitivity. The larger temperature difference irritates exposed nerve endings, causing more intense pain.

  1. Over-Whitening

As you visit friends and family for the holidays, you want to look your best. You may use at-home tooth whitening to brighten your smile for family pictures and your company Christmas party. However, you should always exercise restraint when whitening your teeth and do so under the care of a dentist.

Some whitening solutions that you can buy at the drugstore contain harsh chemicals that may weaken your enamel, causing tooth sensitivity.

Before you begin a whitening regimen, discuss your options with your dentist. He or she may recommend an in-office procedure, refer you to a specialist, or prescribe a high-quality whitening solution for you to use at home. Follow the whitening solution’s instructions and contact your dentist if you notice an increase in your tooth sensitivity.

  1. Seasonal Illness

Not all tooth sensitivity stems directly from the condition of your tooth enamel. Pain in the areas around your teeth can also cause sensitivity. For example, jaw conditions can cause sensitivity.

In the winter, you may be more susceptible to colds, flus, and sinus infections. These seasonal illnesses can all contribute to sensitive teeth because they inflame the maxillary sinus.

If you notice sensitivity that mainly affects your upper front teeth and occurs at the same time as a head cold or case of the flu, your illness may be causing the sensitivity. The maxillary sinus sits directly above your upper front teeth and, when the sinus becomes inflamed, may put pressure on that area.

  1. Sugary Foods

Many winter holidays feature rich, sugary foods. While these foods may encourage holiday cheer, they also increase your risk of tooth decay. Even small cavities can expose the nerves in your teeth, causing tooth sensitivity.

While it’s important to clean your teeth after a sugary treat, don’t brush immediately. Instead, drink a glass of water or chew sugar-free gum to help remove some of the remaining particles. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

Right after you eat acidic and sugary foods, your tooth enamel is at its weakest. Brushing your teeth during this time period can have the same negative effects as aggressive brushing or over-whitening.

  1. Thermal Stress

If you already have tooth sensitivity, you likely experience discomfort whenever your teeth become cold. In the coldest parts of winter, however, the low temperature itself can cause tooth damage that contributes to sensitivity.

Like most materials, your tooth enamel expands when warm and contracts when cold. When exposed to extreme cold or to short intervals of extreme cold and warmth, your teeth may experience thermal stress. In serious cases, thermal stress leaves tiny cracks in your enamel as it contracts, exposing the inner layer of your teeth and causing sensitivity.

If you have wintertime tooth sensitivity, schedule an appointment with Apollo Dental Center. It’s important to identify whether gum disease or tooth decay are contributing to your discomfort. Once we determine the causes of your tooth sensitivity, our team can recommend strategies to decrease your pain and reduce the risk of future sensitivity.

In many cases, a simple step like changing your brushing practices can make your teeth stronger and less sensitive, whatever the weather.

4 Ways to Be Nice to Your Teeth This Holiday Season

Written by Apollo Dental Center on . Posted in Uncategorized

When you go into your dentist’s office, you can bet that your dentist will have a list of dental concerns to address, and he or she will likely check it twice. In just a few minutes of examination, your dentist will know whether you’ve been naughty or nice to your teeth during the holidays. He or she can tell if you’ve been flossing, and he or she will know if you’ve been using proper brushing techniques.

If you want to come away from your appointment with a smile rather than a pout (and a hefty bill), take extra care of your teeth this season. The following tips and pointers can help you fight gum inflammation and minimize the likelihood of tooth decay.

  1. Let the Nutcracker Do the Work

The vitamins and minerals in nuts can greatly improve the health of your teeth and gums. Almonds, for example, offer plenty of calcium, which supports strong bones and connective tissue. Similarly, walnuts supply calcium as well as magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc, which optimize calcium absorption.

However, nuts do pose problems if you try to open the shell with your teeth. If you don’t exercise care, you may loosen, crack, or chip a tooth in an attempt to pry that last pistachio out of its shell.

To enjoy the benefits without the risks, use a nutcracker to pull apart the shell. Don’t have a nutcracker on hand? Wrap the nuts in a towel and smack them with a hammer or similar object. The towel will hold the nuts in place and cushion the blow if you miss.

  1. Choose Tooth-Friendly Snacks

The holiday season presents countless opportunities to snack, nibble, and munch with your friends and family. But if you want a healthier smile this season, make tooth-friendly swaps whenever you eat appetizers, snacks, and hors d’oeuvres.

Rather than chowing down on chips and dip (which will stick to your teeth), select from the cheese platter (as dairy neutralizes acids in your mouth). Instead of chugging the sugar-filled eggnog, opt for water, milk, or unsweetened tea. If you must choose between caramel popcorn and dark chocolate peppermint bark, pick the chocolate for its cavity-fighting polyphenols.

Not sure if a treat is helpful or harmful? As a general rule, avoid any sticky-sweet foods that linger on your teeth long after you indulge. Similarly, watch out for hard, crunchy foods that may chip a tooth. When in doubt, pick fresh fruits and vegetables, and remember to rinse your mouth with water after you eat.

  1. Incorporate Dessert as Part of the Meal

If you’ve been good all year, you may feel tempted to be a little naughty during the holidays and indulge in fanciful desserts that you might not otherwise. That slice of grandma’s homemade apple pie may seem too irresistible to pass up, and that delightfully frosted sugar cookie may call out to you.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice all sweets to protect your teeth. You simply have to exercise a little restraint and time your desserts with care.

To minimize damage, eat your delicacies alongside a healthier meal rather than making dessert a separate affair. Large meals stimulate your saliva production, and your saliva effectively neutralizes acid while rinsing away food particles that stick to your teeth.

If you must eat dessert separately, chew on sugar-free gum afterward to keep your saliva production going.

  1. Take Time to Relax and Unwind

The holidays can introduce a lot of extra stress and pressure in your life, especially if you have to cater to large groups of people. You may have to juggle multiple family events with your already hectic work schedule. You might have to cook batch after batch of cookies for the neighborhood social. Or, perhaps you need to house your sister-in-law and her three kids while they visit from out of state.

This extra stress can wreak havoc on your teeth, gums, and mouth. During particularly anxious moments or frustrating moments, you may clench and grind your teeth until they crack. In your rush to keep everyone else happy, you might forget to brush and floss. If you feel nervous about giving the annual speech at the party, you might develop dry mouth.

To keep your teeth (and your sanity) this year, make sure to take time for yourself amidst all the hustle and bustle. Take a long hot shower or soak in the bathtub after a day of shopping for gifts. Lock yourself in your bedroom and read that novel you’ve neglected for months. Or, crank up some seasonal tunes and dance away your nervous energy.

Enjoy the Festivities Without the Cavities

You and your family deserve a holiday season filled with happy, healthy smiles. When you combine your daily oral routine with the above tips, you can significantly reduce your likelihood of cavities without sacrificing the fun and magic of the season.

Just remember to book your annual dental checkup after the fun has ended so you can keep your teeth in great shape.

Is Your Child’s School Lunch Teeth Friendly?

Written by Apollo Dental Center on . Posted in Uncategorized

Over the last decade, Americans have had an ongoing national conversation about childhood nutrition. Lawmakers, public health officials, educators, and parents have all spoken up about wanting to teach kids how to eat healthy and set them up for a healthy future.

One aspect of this conversation that sometimes gets lost is how foods affect children’s teeth. In general, foods that have a reputation for being healthy qualify as good for teeth. Still, it can be difficult to judge how some kid favorites affect developing smiles. This blog takes a look at how teeth interact with a few foods that commonly appear on the cafeteria tray and in the lunchbox.

Cafeteria Lunches

School lunches are convenient for families with busy schedules, and recent legislation has improved the healthiness of cafeteria offerings. Let’s look at a few of the staples of public school lunch lines and how they affect dental health.

Chocolate Milk

This beverage remains one of the most popular and most consumed items commonly available in public school cafeterias. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act dictates that schools can now offer only nonfat flavored milk, but kids don’t seem to mind. An LA Times article from 2014 reported that students guzzled down 99.1% of chocolate milk given out at schools.

Is chocolate milk healthy for children’s teeth? This treat earns a passing grade. Both chocolate and plain milks have the same basic nutrients. Your kids get servings of calcium and vitamin D, which contribute to strong teeth.

What about added sugar? All milk has some natural sugar in the form of lactose, but chocolate milk does have some added sugar. That added sugar usually makes up about half the total sugars in a serving. Ultimately, kids should limit added sugars, so if they drink chocolate milk every day, encourage them to indulge in other sweets less often.

Canned Fruit

This item has the word fruit in it, so can it really be a poor choice for dental and general health? In some cases, yes-for several reasons. First, all fruits contain natural sugars, and even natural sugars can get stuck on teeth and create a potential for tooth decay. Second, many fruits are also acidic, and those acids can weaken tooth enamel.

Lastly, the worst part about many canned fruits is the added sugar. Rather than resting in water that preserves their natural flavors, many packaged fruits float in natural juices or thick syrup. Those liquids act like salad dressing-adding calories and flavor but not much nutritional value. They also make canned fruits less healthy for teeth.

What should you tell your kids about eating fruit from their cafeteria? First, tell them to pick fresh fruit over canned fruit whenever possible. Second, teach them to judge whether fruit comes packed in thick syrup, natural juice, or, best of all, water. Encourage them to limit their portions based on the material around the fruit.

Sack Lunches From Home

Of course, some kids prefer to bring a homemade lunch with them on a regular basis. This option gives you as a parent more control over your child’s diet, but some popular foods in these lunches are not too beneficial to your child’s smile. Here’s a look at a few to reconsider.

Juice Boxes and Pouches

You can probably guess that sugar is a major reason these drinks don’t qualify as teeth friendly. However, sugar is only part of the issue. Because juice is a liquid, it can also easily reach into spaces between teeth and small grooves and indentations on teeth. Once there, the sugar may cling to the teeth for hours while your child plays at recess or performs science experiments.

To be fair, a juice box may contain roughly as much sugar as a carton of chocolate milk. However, the juice usually doesn’t contain the same teeth-strengthening nutrients as milk. Plus, even 100% juice is often mainly apple or grape juice, both of which are high in sugar but low in nutritional value.

As much as possible, send your kids with water in their lunch. Try sending juice as a special treat only occasionally.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

You might consider this food as a staple of childhood, and you shouldn’t feel like your kids can never pack PB and J for lunch. Even so, you should be careful about exactly what bread, jam, and nut butter you use to create this classic sandwich.

At their core, all three components of this meal are sticky and sugary. The sugar-loaded sandwich feeds the bacteria inside your child’s mouth, creating an environment that encourages tooth decay. Plus, the sticky mixture can cling to back areas of the mouth, and kids may struggle to remove those clumps completely.

You can make PB and J sandwiches a little healthier. Try whole-grain bread, spread on all-natural peanut butter with no added sugar, and swap out the jelly for apple or banana slices.

 

Use the information here to help your kids consume teeth-friendly foods during their school lunch break. Remember that most foods are okay in moderation, particularly for kids who take care to practice good dental health at home. With these rules, regular brushing and flossing, and twice-yearly visits to a pediatric dentist, your children can enjoy strong, bright smiles for many years. 

Upcoming Dental Appointment? What to Do Beforehand

Written by Apollo Dental Center on . Posted in Uncategorized

Whether you’re visiting the dentist for the first time or the tenth, you may still have some anxieties about having your teeth examined or worked on. Because you want to keep your teeth healthy and pearly white, you’ve scheduled an appointment and plan to visit your dentist regularly.

But do you know how to prepare for your next dental appointment? What do you bring with you? What things should you do before you arrive at the dentist’s office?

Below, we list several tips so you can better prepare yourself for your next appointment. Read on to discover how you can make getting your teeth cleaned and examined easy and worry-free.

1. Know What Your Insurance Covers

Regardless of your reason for your upcoming appointment, you’ll want to make sure that your dental insurance will cover the procedure and how much of the cost your policy pays for.

Many insurances will cover 100% of the cost for preventive care procedures like cleanings, exams, X-rays, and fluoride treatments. For other procedures, insurances usually cover up to 80% of the total cost, leaving you responsible for paying the difference.

Call your insurance provider and ask them about the procedures your plan covers. Or, if you know which service you need specifically, you can ask your insurance provider how much of the cost is covered under your policy.

2. Talk to Your Dentist About Your Concerns

As with any health appointment, you want your dental visit to go as comfortably and smoothly as possible. When you visit your doctor, you have to tell them everything you feel and any concerns you have so they can properly diagnose and treat you.

Likewise, you need to be honest with your dentist and his or her assisting staff members. You may feel embarrassed about pain or symptoms you’ve experienced. But if you don’t tell your dentist about your concerns and the symptoms you’ve noticed, he or she can’t treat you as quickly or effectively.

Additionally, if you feel anxious about your upcoming procedure, tell your dentist. He or she may use general anesthesia or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to keep you calm during your procedure. If you don’t mention your anxiety to your dentist, you may have a harder time feeling relaxed. If you’re more tense or nervous, your dentist could also have a harder time treating you.

3. Ask Questions

You may want to make a list of questions for your dentist to bring to your appointment. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How long will treatment take?
  • Will I need to make additional appointments?
  • What should I take to reduce the pain?
  • What can I do at home to keep my teeth healthy?
  • Which toothpaste and mouthwash brands do you recommend?

If you think of any other questions while you talk with your dentist, ask them. As you discuss these questions, you can better understand important details like what your treatment involves and what you can do afterward.

4. Confirm Your Appointment

Even though you’ve already scheduled your appointment, you’ll still want to confirm the visit. Call your dentist’s office and tell the staff that you want to make sure you’re scheduled on the right day and time. This call tells your dental staff that you’re still planning to show up for your appointment. Many dental offices will make a courtesy call two business days before your scheduled visit.

Confirming your visit also ensures that you have the date and time right so you show up when you should. And, in the off chance that your appointment was scheduled incorrectly or accidentally deleted, the office staff can quickly correct the error.

5. Clean Your Teeth

Make sure your teeth, tongue, and gums are clean before your visit. Your dentist can more effectively clean your teeth and diagnose any dental issues if they don’t have to remove food and plaque buildup. And, a nice pre-clean can help your appointment go by a lot faster.

Additionally, you should try to avoid eating foods that can cause bad breath, like onions, garlic, and spicy food. You may also want to avoid foods and beverages like cookies, sodas, and tomato-based sauces so your teeth aren’t stained.

6. Get to the Office Early

You’ll want to get to the dentist’s office early in case you need to fill out paperwork. Or, if you’re visiting an office for the first time and haven’t transferred your dental records, you’ll need to have these documents sent over before your visit. Make sure to bring a current list of medications you are taking to share with your dental provider.

Arriving early gives you the time you need to fulfill these tasks before you meet with your dental professional.

7. Arrange Payments

Even if your insurance does cover some of the cost for your treatment or procedure, you may still be responsible for some of the cost. If you do have to pay for your visit, ask your office’s billing department if they offer financing. If payment options are available, set up a payment plan. If they don’t provide financing options, you’ll have to pay for the procedure out of pocket.

 

Use these tips to prepare for your next visit to the dentist. If you have any other questions about getting ready for your appointment, call Apollo Dental Center.

Apollo Dental Center

3000 43rd Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901

Office Hours

Monday - 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
Tuesday - Thursday - 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday - 7:00 am - 2:00 pm
Telephone Numbers: (507) 287-8320
Toll Free: (866) 915-8320
General Dentistry: (507) 287-8320
Pediatrics: (507) 424-6161
Accounting Office: (507) 424-6164
Fax: (507) 281-8757