Sick Body, Healthy Teeth: A Guide for Tooth Care When You’re Under the Weather

Written by Apollo Dental Center on . Posted in Uncategorized

With winter comes the cold, rotavirus, and flu season. Like most others, you probably muddle through these illnesses with cough syrup, fever-reducing medicine, hot drinks, and plenty of rest. When you get sick, taking care of your teeth is probably the last thing on your mind.

But protecting your teeth is actually very important when you’re ill, because many of the home remedies people use for common illness can actually be harmful to your teeth. Here’s a guide for helping you keep your teeth healthy when sickness strikes.

A Guide for Tooth Care When You're Under the Weather

Keep Drinking Water

If you’re vomiting or struggling with sinus pain or a sore throat, it’s tough to get enough fluids. Many people try to overcome the unpleasantness of swallowing by drinking soda, juice, or sweet tea. Those who have colds often drink orange juice for vitamin C, while those who are throwing up drink juice or sports drink to replace electrolytes and sooth the stomach.

All of these drinks are acidic, and when you sip them all day instead of drinking water, your teeth get prolonged exposure to this acid, which weakens your enamel. To avoid this, make an effort to hydrate with water. If you must drink something else, try to drink water afterward to help rinse the acid and sugar from your teeth.

Drinking water also helps offset dry mouth, which can come when you have a stuffy nose or you take decongestants. Breathing through the mouth dries out your teeth, making it easier for bacteria to remain on your enamel, so it’s important to rinse your teeth often and well.

Don’t Procrastinate Brushing

When you’re sick, you spend more time resting. Your daily routine is thrown off, so instead of brushing in the morning, after your morning meal, or before leaving for work, you just stay in bed. Getting up from your lethargic rest might seem like a chore, but procrastinating your tooth care is terrible for your teeth.

If possible, it’s actually better to brush a little more frequently than usual when you’re sick. When you’re ill, you speak and swallow less often. These actions keep saliva active in your mouth as you move your tongue. When you’re not moving your mouth, bacteria multiplies and settles more easily. To keep your teeth clean and germ-free in this situation, brush three times a day instead of two.

If you have trouble remembering to brush your teeth, set a reminder on your phone, or ask a family member to remind you throughout the day. It’s important that you provide your teeth with the supplemental help they need while you rest.

Rinse, Rinse, Rinse

Normally, you might not even think about rinsing your mouth out periodically during the day. When you’re eating, brushing, and flossing, there’s not a real need to. But when you’re sick, you should take the time to rinse your mouth after:

  • Taking sugary cough syrup or pink stomach medication. While medicine helps with sickness symptoms, it can still be like candy to your teeth. Follow all medications with water to help keep your teeth clean.
  • Vomiting. Almost nothing is more harmful to your teeth than the corrosive contents of your stomach. You might feel like immediately brushing your teeth after you throw up, but you should first rinse your mouth with water. If you can stand the taste, mix a little baking soda into a glass of water and gargle with it. The baking soda helps to neutralize the acid. Brushing before rinsing can actually increase the damage to your enamel, so never forget to rinse—your enamel will suffer.
  • Sucking on a cough drop or lozenge. Many of these products contain sugar. If you can, choose sugar-free versions, but just to stay on the safe side, rinsing will help rinse sugar off your teeth.

Rinsing is a powerful tool to help you keep your teeth healthy, even when you vomit or need to take symptom-reducing medications.

Keep Things Clean

Washing your hands and wiping door handles and other frequently touched objects is part of preventing the spread of infection. You should take the same care to keep your mouth clean. The more care you take with your dental hygiene, the better your teeth will fare. Try:

  • Removing and replacing your toothbrush after your symptoms pass. This is especially important if you keep your brush in close proximity to other brushes in the bathroom cupboard.
  • Using mouthwash during the day to help keep your mouth fresh and clean. Because some medications can make your mouth dry, using mouthwash between brushing can help replenish tooth moisture and fight bacteria.
  • Gargling with salt water. You’ll want to make sure you do not swallow the salt water, but salt rinses have anti-bacterial properties and can help ease tooth and throat pain that comes with illness.

Keeping your mouth and environment clean can help you overcome your illness more quickly, and retain your bright smile while you’re at it. For more information on healthy oral hygiene ideas to use when you’re sick, contact us at Apollo Dental Center.

Is Your Baby’s Bedtime Bottle Putting His or Her Teeth at Risk?

Written by Apollo Dental Center on . Posted in Uncategorized

Good dental health starts in infancy. Even before your baby’s first teeth start erupting, it’s important to take good care of his or her gums in order to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. One of the most common problems dentists see in young children’s teeth is a condition that’s called as baby bottle tooth decay.

Is Your Baby's Bedtime Bottle Putting His or Her Teeth at Risk

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

A child with baby bottle tooth decay has extensive decay that affects a number of his or her baby teeth. It most often affects the front teeth, but it can arise in the other teeth or spread to them over time. The decay starts as small cavities, but it quickly progresses to the point that large portions of the enamel become eroded and pitted.

What Causes This Condition?

Baby bottle tooth decay gets its name from the fact that it’s usually caused by putting your baby to bed with his or her bottle. The milk, juice, or formula in the bottle contains sugars that sit on the teeth all night. These sugars feed oral bacteria, which release acids that break down the tooth enamel.

In addition to putting your baby to bed with a bottle, there are a few other practices that can lead to or contribute to the condition:

  • Frequently dipping a pacifier into sugar water or juice before giving it to your baby
  • Allowing your toddler to walk around with a sippy cup of juice or milk all day
  • Using a bottle of milk or juice as a “pacifier” for a baby instead of sticking to scheduled feeding times throughout the day

Some children have softer tooth enamel than others and are more susceptible to tooth decay. However, most children will develop some decay if parents use the practices above. There are also a few practices that don’t exactly cause decay, but when combined with the habits above, tend to make it worse:

  • Sharing saliva with your baby via a spoon or bottle (your saliva contains bacteria, and when you share it, you pass on these bacteria, increasing the risk of decay)
  • Failing to brush your baby’s teeth or wipe his or her gums after feeding
  • Feeding a lot of unhealthy, sugary snacks to your toddler

If you avoid the practices above, your little one will get off to a much healthier start.

How Do You Know If Your Baby Has Tooth Decay?

If you’re worried that your child may be developing some decay, the best thing you can do is make an appointment with a pediatric dentist. In fact, the ADA recommends that all children see the dentist for the first time before their first birthday. The dentist should be able to tell whether your little one is experiencing decay just by looking at the teeth. If there is some decay, they may need to take x-rays to determine the extent.

How Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Treated?

Some parents assume that since the decay is in the baby teeth, there’s really reason to treat it; the teeth will fall out anyways. However, this is not the case at all. Your child needs his or her baby teeth to eat properly, to speak properly, and to guide the adult teeth into place.

Treatment will depend on the extent of the decay. Smaller cavities may be filled with composite resin or metal amalgam, much like your dentist would fill your own cavities. Teeth that are badly decayed are typically covered in crowns to protect them from future damage.

How Can You Break The Bad Habits That Cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

If you’re worried about your baby’s oral health because you have been putting him or her to bed with a bottle or engaging in some of the other practices described above, the most important thing to do is make a dental appointment. Here are some specific tips to help break the habits that lead to decay.

Bottles at Bedtime

If your baby has a hard time going to bed without a bottle, try weaning him or her off of it slowly. Replace the milk or juice with half water. Then, after a few nights, only put water in the bottle. The bottle will eventually become less interesting to your child, and he or she should start falling asleep without it. You may have a few nights of crying, but remember that what you’re doing is best for your child’s health in the long run.

Sippy Cups

Sippy cups put the liquid your toddler drinks right into contact with his or her front teeth. Wean your little one off of them and onto a normal cup as soon as possible. Use a cup with a lid and a straw if you’re worried about spills. The straw deposits the liquid behind the teeth, rather than on top of them.

Sweetened Pacifiers

If your baby won’t take a pacifier that has not been dipped in honey or juice, perhaps it is time to wean him or her off of the pacifier. You could also try switching to a different style of pacifier. Different children prefer different shapes and sizes.

If you have any further questions or concerns about baby bottle tooth decay, or if your child’s first birthday is approaching, make an appointment with a pediatric dentist. Regular dental checkups are the best way to ensure your child’s teeth stay in great shape.

Your Guide to Recovery and Tooth Care Following a Dental Filling

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If one of your teeth develops a cavity, your dentist will typically remove the decayed material and fill the hole with amalgam or composite resin. This filling helps prevent decay from progressing, protecting what remains of your tooth. Getting a filling is usually a simple, pain-free procedure since it’s performed under local anesthetic. However, it is important that you know what to expect in the days after a getting a filling—and how to protect the filled tooth in years to come.

Your Guide to Recovery and Tooth Care Following a Dental Filling

What to Expect After a Filling

Your mouth will generally still be numb when you leave the dentist’s office. Within one to three hours, the numbness should wear off. You should not feel any serious pain, but don’t be alarmed if the filled tooth is suddenly sensitive to heat and cold. This is a normal side effect of having a tooth filled; it occurs because all of the drilling and filling has irritated the nerves in your tooth. If the sensitivity does not subside within a few days, contact your dentist.

It’s also normal for your gums to feel a bit sore after the procedure. This may be due to the anesthetic injections or the dental tools rubbing against the inside of your mouth. If the soreness is bothering you, try rinsing your mouth with some salt water or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.

If you feel like you’re biting down on something hard or you notice a sharp point on the filling, contact your dentist. Though your dentist aims to polish and smooth all fillings after they are placed, there are times when he or she may miss a spot. It should only take a minute to smooth out the rough spots so you can eat and speak comfortably again.

Caring for Your Filled Tooth

Dental fillings can last for decades—but only if you properly care for them and the teeth around them. Now that you have a filling, there are a few things you need to do to prevent it from loosening or cracking, and to prevent the tooth around it from developing additional decay.

Brush and Floss Regularly and Carefully

As always, you should be thoroughly brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing daily. When you brush, pay a little extra attention to the tooth with a filling. This helps ensure that the area around the filling remains free of plaque and oral bacteria so you don’t experience decay around the filling.

If the filling is on the edge of your tooth, be very careful when flossing. You don’t want to catch the filling and cause it to break. Use extra-thin floss and guide it gently between your teeth; don’t force it.

Avoid Sticky and Overly Crunchy Foods

You don’t have to make any serious dietary changes now that you have a filling. However, you should avoid chewing on hard candy and ice and cracking nuts with your teeth. Also steer clear of sticky caramels and taffy. If you do eat these foods, suck on them. Overly hard foods could crack a filling, while sticky ones could loosen it, paving the way for decay to set in around it.

Use a Fluoride Rinse

Ask your dentist if it’s a good idea for you to use a fluoride rinse after your tooth is filled. This is often recommended for patients who have large fillings and those who have really struggled with decay in the past. The fluoride will help harden your enamel, which should keep the tooth around the filling strong. Fluoride rinses are available over-the-counter and you typically use them once a day after brushing.

Signs Your Filling is Failing

Even with proper dental care and the tips above, it is possible for a filling to crack, loosen, or fall out completely. The longer a filling has been in your mouth, the more likely these issues become. The following are signs that your filling may need to be replaced.

Pain When Biting Down

If you suddenly start feeling pain in the filled tooth when you bite down on something, this could indicate that the filling is cracked or that decay has begun to develop around it. Contact your dentist, and in the meantime, avoid chewing on the painful side of your mouth.

Hard Material Breaking Off

If you find a small piece of white or silver-colored material in your mouth after brushing, flossing, or eating, this could be part of a filling that has broken off. Keep in mind that when fillings are placed between your teeth, you can’t always see them fully. So contact your dentist, even if you don’t see a place where the filling is broken.

Tooth Sensitivity

There are many possible causes for tooth sensitivity, from gum disease, to loose fillings, to dental abscesses. If your teeth suddenly become sensitive to hot and cold years after having a filling put in place, see your dentist to ensure that whatever the problem is, you receive the proper treatment before it gets worse.


Dental fillings are quite common. There’s no better method for fixing cavities, but they do require some ongoing precautions and monitoring. If you have concerns about a filling in your mouth, schedule an appointment with a dentist in your area.

Fluoride: An Essential Component for Your Child’s Dental Health

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You’ve probably seen it listed as an ingredient on toothpaste, and you may have even heard some fear-mongering arguments as to its safety — but how much do you really know about fluoride? Like calcium and magnesium, this naturally occurring mineral is essential for healthy teeth.

There’s a lot of misinformation circulating around fluoride, but experts, including the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers fluoride-an-essential-component-for-your-childs-dental-healthfor Disease control, all agree that in the correct amounts, fluoride is not only safe but incredibly important for your child’s dental health.

What Is Fluoride?

It’s important to note that fluoride is not a drug or medication. Rather, it is a mineral that is naturally found in rocks, volcanic emissions, water, and many foods. Like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, it is an essential component of your teeth and bones.

As the dental health benefits of fluoride became apparent in the 1940s, many municipalities began adding fluoride to their water supplies. Now, most tap water in the United States is supplemented with fluoride. This is akin to iodine being added to salt.

How Does Fluoride Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy?

Fluoride is important for children and adults at any age, but it’s most important for children under the age of 16. At this time, your child’s primary and permanent teeth are erupting. As they erupt, exposure to fluoride helps harden their enamel, making them more resistant to cavities and decay. Children who receive enough fluoride when they are young will have a lower risk of tooth decay and tooth loss throughout the rest of their lives.

What Effects Has Fluoride Had on the Population’s Dental Health?

Adding fluoride to the drinking water has greatly reduced the occurrence of tooth decay in the United States. In one study, patients in counties where water was not fluoridated needed 33.4% more fillings, extractions, and root canals than patients in nearby counties where fluoride was added to the water.

It’s estimated that every $1 spent on fluoridating the water supply saves residents $38 in dental treatment costs. You, too, can save on dental costs by ensuring your child gets enough fluoride.

How Do You Make Sure Your Child Is Getting Enough Fluoride?

Most children will get enough fluoride if they are given fluoridated tap water to drink. If you give your child bottled water instead, make sure that the brand you purchase contains supplemental fluoride; some do not. If you feed your infant or toddler baby formula, prepare it with tap water rather than with distilled or non-fluoridated bottled water.

If you have a home water filtration system, it may remove some or all of the fluoride from your tap water. Charcoal and carbon filters and water softeners do not typically remove fluoride, but reverse osmosis and steam distillation systems do. If you have a filtration system that you suspect removes fluoride from your water, your dentist may recommend supplemental fluoride treatments for your child. These come in the following forms.

Fluoride Mouth Rinses

These are available in both over-the-counter and stronger, prescription-strength forms. Your dentist will recommend one that’s the correct strength for your child based on the condition of their teeth and the amount of fluoride they believe they are being exposed to already from water and fluoridated toothpaste. Generally, your child will need to rinse their mouth with the solution once or twice a day after brushing.

In-Office Fluoride Treatments

Your dentist may administer periodic treatments during which your child’s teeth are exposed to a high level of fluoride for a short period of time. This treatment is painless; your child just has to bite down on a tray for a few minutes.

Fluoridated Toothpastes

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommend using fluoridated toothpastes for babies and toddlers — whether or not your water also contains fluoride. Just make sure you only use a pea-sized amount of the toothpaste and supervise your child’s brushing routine so that they don’t swallow too much.

Are There Risks Involved With Fluoride Treatments and Supplements?

Those who speak out against fluoridation of the water supply often cite the risks of excessive fluoride exposure. It’s true that exposure to very high levels of fluoride can lead to a condition called skeletal fluorosis, in which the bones accumulate too much fluoride and become brittle.

However, this level of exposure is very rare and typically only occurs in a factory setting. The amount of fluoride contained in the United States’ tap water and toothpastes is not anywhere near high enough to cause these effects in children.

Some children do experience a mild side effect called dental fluorosis if they have a little too much fluoride exposure. This condition causes white spots to appear on the teeth. However, it does not harm the health of your child’s teeth or cause any pain. If you’re careful to minimize the amount of toothpaste that your child swallows and only use supplemental fluoride rinses as recommended by your dentist, the chance of dental fluorosis will be quite low.

Fluoride is absolutely essential for excellent dental health, and making sure your child gets enough is one of the best things you can do for their teeth. If you have any concerns about fluoride and your child’s dental health, speak with a pediatric dentist.

6 Reasons Your Teeth May Be More Sensitive in Winter

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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?

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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
Saturday - Sunday - Closed
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