Have you ever heard of a tongue scraper?

When I first saw a friend using one, I had no idea why anyone would want to scrape their tongue every day when they wake up.  Now, after years of using one, I use one every day, and miss it terribly when I don’t have it. 

What the heck is a tongue scraper?

A tongue scraper (also called a tongue cleaner or tongue brush) is an oral hygiene device designed to clean off bacteria, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of your tongue.  The film that develops on your tongue while you sleep is a good indicator of what’s going on inside your body.  It can be clear, thick, white, yellow, brown, or even green.  The bacteria and fungi on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems and can be a leading cause of bad breath for many.

What is one of the first things many Eastern doctors or practitioners ask to see?  Yes, your tongue……

Tongue cleaning has been around since ancient times in India.  Ayurveda,  the Traditional Indian Science of Medicine,  recommends cleaning the tongue as part of your daily self-care regime to remove ama, toxic debris that builds up in the body. During sleep when the body is resting, the digestive system works to detoxify itself.  These toxins are deposited on the surface of the tongue via the internal excretory channels, and are responsible for the coating usually seen on the tongue first thing in the morning. Tongue scraping  has found it’s way into Western society as folks discover the benefits of cleaning the tongue every day.

 

5 Reasons to Scrape Your Tongue Every Day

#1 Improves the breath: 

Removing the bacteria, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the tongue significantly reduces the odor from the mouth.  You may have been told to use your toothbrush for this purpose, but brushing the tongue does NOT efficiently remove all of the film that develops on the tongue.  You will be blown away the first time you  do this by the amount of gunk that comes off of the tongue.

#2 Improves your ability to taste:

Removing build-up from the surface of your tongue will better expose your taste buds.  This will lead to better enjoyment of the flavors of your food.  Ayurveda teaches that the better we enjoy and savor our food, the better our bodies digest and assimilate, leading to better over all health.  Also, Ayurveda teaches that blocked taste buds and tongue receptors interferes with our body’s ability to communicate with our brain about what types of foods we need to maintain our health, leading to false cravings.

#3 Avoid toxins being reabsorbed into your body:

As you sleep, your body is detoxifying.  Much of the film on your tongue is toxins excreted from your body.  You don’t want to re-ingest that do you?  NO!  Scraping your tongue first thing in the morning will remove this sludge from your tongue and from your body, improving your over all health and improving your immune system.

#4 Improves dental health:

By removing bacteria and toxins, you are also contributing to better dental health as well, leading to healthier teeth and gums.  The bacteria that you remove from your tongue are responsible for things like periodontal problems, plaque build-up, tooth decay, gum infections, gum recession, and even loss of teeth.

#5  Get to know your tongue:

Did you know your tongue is a mirror reflection of your internal organs?  Just like with hand or foot mapping, the tongue is mapped out to reflect various parts of your internal body.  You can learn so much about what is going on in particular areas just by looking at your tongue every morning.  Also, by scraping your tongue, you are actually stimulating and massaging those corresponding internal organs, just like in acupressure or acupuncture.  Pretty cool, huh?

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How to scrape your tongue:

Tongue scraping should be done on a regular basis, preferably in the morning.  It involves using a long, thin, flat piece of metal (sometimes plastic), which is bent in the shape of a ‘U’, to scrape the surface of your tongue.   To do this, extend the tongue and place the scraper as far back on the tongue as is comfortable. Gently scrape from the back or base of the tongue using one long stroke, until you have scraped the whole surface. Rinse the scraper and begin again.  Scrape firmly, but gently. Do this until the tongue feels clean and is free of coating.   Wash the scraper well after each use with hot water.  When you first get started scraping your tongue, be extra gentle.  Your tongue will get used to it quickly.  You will be amazed at how much stuff comes off of your tongue in the morning!!

 

Where to buy a tongue scraper:

Many health food store sell tongue scrapers.  You can also buy them online. They are inexpensive, and there are a few different kinds out on the market.  I prefer the ones made from stainless steel because they are easier to clean.

 

 

What Is A Dental Crown?

 

There are so many restorative or cosmetic procedures in the dental world today that allow you to fix problem areas with relative ease.

A crown is a restoration that covers, or “caps,” a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won’t solve the problem. If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn’t get worse. Crowns are also used to restore a tooth when there isn’t enough of the tooth remaining to provide support for a large filling, attach a bridge, protect weak teeth from fracturing, restore fractured teeth or cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.

How is a crown placed?

To prepare the tooth for a crown, it is reduced so the crown can fit over it. An impression of the teeth and gums is made and sent to the lab for the crown fabrication. A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On the next visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and cements the permanent crown onto the tooth.

Will it look natural?

Yes. The dentist’s main goal is to create a crown that looks like a natural tooth. That is why your dentist takes an impression. To achieve a certain look, a number of factors are considered, such as the color, bite, shape and length of your natural teeth. Any one of these factors alone can affect your appearance.

If you have a certain cosmetic look in mind for your crown, discuss it with your dentist at your initial visit. When the procedure is complete, your teeth will not only be stronger, but they may be more attractive.

Why crowns and not veneers?

Crowns require more tooth structure removal, hence they cover more of the tooth than veneers. Crowns are customarily indicated for teeth that have sustained significant loss of structure or to replace missing teeth. Crowns may be placed on natural teeth or dental implants.

What is the difference between a cap and a crown?

There is no difference between a cap and a crown.

How long do crowns last?

Crowns should last approximately five to eight years. However, with good oral hygiene and supervision, most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth, chewing ice or fingernail biting may cause this period of time to decrease significantly.

How should I take care of my crown?

To prevent damaging or fracturing the crown, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. You also want to avoid teeth grinding. Besides visiting your dentist and brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth is vital with crowns. Floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) are important tools to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Plaque in that area can cause dental decay and gum disease.

If you find yourself struggling with dental problems such as missing or decayed teeth, please know that we can work with you to solve these problems.  The longer you delay taking care of dental problems the harder they become to repair.  The ultimate damage caused by such delays could cost much more money than it would have had you come in sooner.

We want to sit down with you to discuss your options so that you can be comfortable with your mouth and it can stay healthy for many years to come.

What happens if I don’t have my wisdom teeth removed?

One of the things Dr.  Villalobos and our team monitor during your dental appointments is the growth of your wisdom teeth, or third molars. Third molars generally begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth may require removal for many reasons, including pain, infection, or growth issues. While not all patients need their wisdom tooth removed, problems can develop if removal is not performed.

Overcrowding

Many patients have smaller mouths and jaws, which do not allow room for the third molars to grow in properly. If these teeth do erupt, overcrowding can occur. Your teeth will begin to shift or overlap each other. Wisdom teeth that erupt after orthodontic care is completed can cause the teeth to shift and negate the work performed.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When wisdom teeth are impacted, they are trapped below your gum line. Impacted wisdom teeth can be very painful and may be prone to abscess and infection. The impaction can lead to decay and resorption of healthy teeth.

On occasion, if wisdom teeth are not monitored properly, their growth can shift parallel to the jaw line. They can also shift backward and eventually interfere with the opening and closing of your jaw.

Greater Potential for Decay

Even when wisdom teeth grow in properly, the location can make the teeth harder to care for. This in turn can lead to the growth of more bacteria, and create health issues later in life.

If you do not have your wisdom teeth removed, they will require continued monitoring. Wisdom teeth are just as subject to decay and other problems as the rest of your teeth. Those that appear above the gum surface can often be extracted at a dental office in a fashion similar to any other tooth extraction. Impacted teeth are normally handled by an oral surgeon.

Pain in the back of the jaw and swelling may indicated wisdom teeth that are beginning to rupture or are impacted. A simple set of X-rays will determine the extent and direction of growth. Please do not hesitate to discuss your concerns during your next visit our Jupiter dentist  office. We will be happy to explain wisdom teeth, and potential removal, as it applies to your specific case.

What to Expect at a Dental Cleaning

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Odontophobia, or fear of dentistry, is a very real problem for some people. It stems from many issues like bad previous experiences, fear of needles and pain and even embarrassment. Most cases are not severe, but more of a general anxiety about visiting a dentist. Typically, dental phobias can be overcome by gaining knowledge of the experience, and what will happen during simple processes like cleaning.

No matter how well we brush and take care of our teeth, microscopic debris and plaque builds up. Eventually this debris builds up on the teeth and they become discolored and develop cavities. It is impossible to remove with regular household toothbrushes and dental floss. Scaling, as teeth cleaning is called in the dental profession, removes this stuck on debris and plaque with specially developed dental tools.

Calculus is the name given to the hardened materials left on the teeth. The scaling of this debris can be done in two different ways, supragingival and subgingival. Supragingival removes only the plaque and debris that can be seen above the gum line. Subgingival is the removal of debris stuck one to two mm below the gum line.

The hygienist uses two different types of scalers during a teeth cleaning, hand scalers and ultrasonic scalers. Hand scalers are made in many different sizes and shapes to adhere to the curves and shapes of the different teeth. Little is felt but the gentle scraping of the tool. With an ultrasonic scraper, vibrations are felt. They also emit a small stream of water that helps wash away the dislodged debris from the teeth and between the crevices. Sometimes sensitivity is exposed from the water jet. If the water hits a cavity or recession in the gums, there’s a feeling similar to that of sensitivity to cold drinks or ice cream. Often, the dentist will recommend the use of toothpastes for sensitive teeth which block the area of the tooth that hurts when exposed to cold.

The dentist or hygienist will take some safety precautions when cleaning your teeth. He or she will wear goggles and protective gloves to protect both professional and patient from disease or flying debris. The patient is draped with a paper napkin to protect their clothing from water splashes, drips and falling debris. A small suction device will be placed in the patient’s mouth to siphon the excess water and loosened plaque and food particles.

After a cleaning, teeth sometimes feel sensitive for a few days. The calculus that has been removed had formed a barrier over the tooth prohibiting it from most feelings. After a few days this sensation will subside. If not, the dentist should be notified immediately.

A dental cleaning is a very simple and relatively fast experience. It is imperative to keep teeth healthy and cavity free for the lifetime of the tooth. While many people feel trepidation about the dental office, once they go, it usually subsides. The healthy glow of clean teeth is a reward that is incomparable.

Pregnancy and Dental Health

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There are many, many folk lore stories about being pregnant, and how it affects everything from your hair and nails to your eyes. Very little of it is even remotely based on fact, and pregnancy’s effects on oral health is no different. One of the most popular and well-known of these tales is that calcium is removed from the mother’s teeth to produce the baby’s when she is pregnant. While none of the rumors are true, there are some changes in oral health during pregnancy that can seem scary and weird. The change in hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause some strange reactions in your mouth. Being aware of them before they happen can ease your worry.

Gingivitis

Many moms to be have to deal with pregnancy gingivitis. Women who have chronic gingivitis anyway will experience it more acutely during pregnancy. Sometimes during pregnancy, gingivitis will appear and cause the gums to become red, swollen and tender. Left untreated, it can lead to a more serious case of gum disease which can harm the baby. A variety of different studies have shown a link between gum disease and preterm births.

Periodontitis

When pregnancy gingivitis is left to run rampant and no action is taken, it will lead eventually to periodontitis. This is actually just gum disease that has progressed to a more serious level. It not only shows in sore and swollen gums, but also an infection that spreads to the jaw bone.

Pregnancy Tumors

Some women will develop small painful tumors on the inside of their mouths during pregnancy. They are not cancerous and are usually left untreated, and they should go away on their own. They appear as swollen lumps on the gums between teeth, when plaque builds and bacteria form. Since they generally disappear without treatment, it’s unusual for them to be viewed as a serious problem unless they cause considerable pain. They can be removed if they interfere with eating.

Teeth Falling Out

If the gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis and the bone has become infected along with the gums, teeth can become loose and fall out. The swelling and infection in the gums and jaw bone cause decay, and the bone loses density.

Decaying Teeth

The longer pregnancy gingivitis goes untreated, the worse it gets. Bacteria begins to work away at the health of your mouth and acids break down the enamel of the teeth, making it easy for cavities to form. Pregnant women can have more acid present in their mouths than those who aren’t expecting. Morning sickness is another issue. A lot of vomiting will leave the mouth with large amounts of acid in it.

Though it may not seem like your daily oral hygiene routine would have much to do with your pregnancy and the child growing inside you, it certainly does. Taking care of yourself in every way, especially with good tooth care, is more important than ever. When anything harmful appears in the mouth, it has a direct route into the body, blood stream and nervous system.

Dental Implants vs. Bridgework

Approximately 70% of the population have at least one tooth missing. Dental implants and bridgework are two of the most often executed, least expensive and easily tolerated of the many options for replacing teeth offered by the dental industry. Often, it’s hard to choose between the two, so let’s take a look at their various advantages, disadvantages and differences.

Bridges

Bridges first became a part of dentistry in approximately 700 BC, in Etruscan society. The modern version we use now came into use in the early 20th century. It works by adjoining to abutments, or healthy teeth still in the mouth. The dentist makes a mold of the mouth and prefabricates the bridge specifically for that patient’s shape.

The process of installing a bridge requires that the abutment teeth be prepared to hold and give additional strength to the bridge. This preparation often includes drilling and some sanding, to make sure the healthy teeth can support the bridge. Most often a cap is placed over the healthy teeth that are meant to support the bridge.

With all the grinding, sanding and buffing done in preparation for the bridge, it’s a good time for plaque to take hold, and tooth decay is likely. Most people will need to have a root canal at some point after getting a bridge, especially if nerves were affected. There is also a greater chance of gum disease if a patient is wearing a bridge. They have a life of about 10 years in most conditions.

Implants

Implants are a whole new ball game that does more or less the same thing as a bridge. Put simply, it’s a pricier option, with a few more perks than a dental bridge, but it also has some distinctly unpleasant disadvantages. Implants are permanent replacements for teeth. They use an apparatus that is screwed into the jawbone and protrudes from the gum, upon which a crown is placed. It does not wear out or have to be replaced. It can replace a single tooth without affecting any others, or the health of the rest of the mouth.

Implants are very reliable, as they do not decay or become loose. Installing implants is a much bigger procedure than wearing a bridge, and it takes good planning and a fair amount of surgery time. There is a moderate amount of time required for healing, both before and after the crown is added, so there will be some time spent with missing teeth. Weighing the advantages and higher cost to implement, implants are a considerably better option for some people than bridge work.

While both procedures do the same job, essentially, they do so in radically different ways, with different costs and difficulties. Choosing which procedure to use depends solely on one’s own situation and circumstances. While you’re deciding which is best for you, consult with a dentist. It’s beneficial to write down any questions you have before you visit the dentist so you won’t forget any import information. Ultimately, only you can make the right decision for yourself, but a dental professional can help you do so by providing all the information you need.

How Stress Impacts Your Teeth?

It’s no big secret that stress can cause all kinds of nasty things to happen to our bodies. The longer a person is under stress, and the amount of stress involved, can cause everything from headache and stomach troubles, to hallucinations and sleep problems. A little known fact, however, is that stress can also affect your teeth, gums and general oral health.

Canker Sores and Fever Blisters

Not many people are aware that canker sores and fever blisters can be brought on by stress. Canker sores appear as small, shallow, white or greyish ulcers inside the mouth. Talking, yawning, eating, and anything else you do with your mouth can be very painful when they are present. Cold sores or fever blisters are also brought about by stress. They appear as blisters on the outside of the mouth filled with a clear fluid. While fever blisters are extremely contagious, canker sores are not.

Bruxism

Another way stress affects the teeth is when bruxism develops, which is the grinding and clenching of the jaws. It can be caused by a variety of things, but it’s usually stress or anxiety related. Many people will show these symptoms without even knowing. Bruxism also occurs during sleeping hours when the person is unaware. Signs that bruxism is present can be the flattening of the tips of the teeth, loss of enamel, and indentations in the tongue.

Temporomandibular Disorders

The group of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw, are called Temporomandibular Disorders or TMD, and are thought to be caused by stress and anxiety. It not only affects the teeth and jaw but also the neck. It can eventually cause pain and a popping in the jaw. TMD wears down the enamel of the teeth as well.

Gum Disease

Many prestigious universities across the country have done studies showing a connection between gum disease and stress factors. An interesting fact garnered from such studies is that the degree of gum disease, or periodontal disease, is directly related to the degree of stress experienced in the last 12 months. This can include many factors; for example, financial problems. Studies show people who stress about their money issues in highly emotional ways develop gum disease at a higher rate than those who do not.

Drugs and Alcohol

Certain drugs used to treat anxiety and stress can lead to dry mouth, which causes bad breath, gum disease and often, tooth loss. Saliva plays an important role in the prevention of tooth decay and good oral health. Alcohol can also give you dry mouth. It may be strange to think that drinking something can give you dry mouth, but in the case of alcohol, it’s true.

One of the main reasons stress affects the teeth so badly is because when people stress out, they are less likely to be in the mood to take care of themselves. Brushing and flossing fall to the wayside when you can’t find the motivation to get out of bed. Make sure you see a professional about what’s causing the stress – or the problem will continue.

Strategies to Prevent and Treat Periodontal Disease

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 Having periodontal disease is not a death sentence. It can be treated successfully. As a matter of fact, periodontal (gum) disease has many forms and a variety of harm levels. It could be as simple as a mild case of gum irritation or as drastic as serious bone disease and tooth loss. Most people experience some form of it during their lifetime and the progression or stopping of it depends on how well you take care of your teeth before, during and after the appearance of periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque and Tartar

Our mouths are full of thick, sticky, colorless, fats, bacteria, mucus, and food particles that make up plaque which covers the teeth and causes decay. Brushing, flossing and professional cleaning can all remove plaque from the teeth. If plaque is not removed it becomes hardened on the teeth and is called tartar. Brushing and flossing does not remove tartar. Tartar must be removed by professionally cleaning. If it is not removed, it causes periodontal (gum) disease.

As the time goes by, tartar causes more and more damage to the teeth, gums and bones of the mouth. Gingivitis is the first sign that trouble is afoot. When tartar causes gingivitis the gums become red, swollen and painful. They may also bleed. When caught at this stage, brushing, flossing and a simple professional cleaning can stop it in its tracks before there is any bone damage or tooth loss.

If gingivitis is not caught it, most often progresses to periodontitis. During this phase of the disease the gums pull away from the teeth and leave a pocket that fills with infection. The infectious bacteria then delves below the gum line and intrudes into bone. The body’s own response to infection and the toxins in the bacterial begin to break down the bone and connective tissue eventually causing tooth loss and bone destruction.

Gum disease doesn’t usually manifest until age 30 – 40. Men are more prone to periodontal (gum) disease. There are now some new ideas on the horizon for stopping this disease by targeting the molecular receptor that periodontal bacteria use to start the disease. In tests it has shown to stop and prevent periodontal (gum) disease in mice.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that can increase the chances of periodontal (gum) disease developing. Smoking is one of the most common risk factors. It also lowers the chances of treatments being successful. Some hormonal changes in women and girls can also make gums sensitive and more susceptible to gingivitis. Diabetes is another risk factor. People with this disease are at a higher risk for developing infections anywhere in the body, including the gums. Certain medications can also make a person more susceptible as well as some predisposition by genetics.

The best way to prevent periodontal (gum) disease is to simply brush, floss and take care of your teeth as we have always been taught to do. Visit a dentist regularly to keep gum disease in check and your mouth healthy and happy.

The History of Teeth Whitening

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Besides pain and cavities, improving the look of your smile is one of the top reasons people visit a dentist and whiter teeth play a big part in this. Teeth whitening is also on the less expensive end of the spectrum, which makes the treatment available to more patients. People have been attempting to whiten and brighten their smiles since ancient times using a variety of techniques that are both frightening and genius. The techniques have come a long way but still consist of the basic ingredients first discovered in the early 19th century.

Ancient attempts

Ancient tooth whitening attempts were as primitive as you’d expect. Early man used frayed sticks and thorns from bushes to clean and scrape their teeth. Once civilization began to emerge, white teeth were a sign of nobility and wealth. Romans used a paste of urine and goats milk. Egyptians used pumice and a wine vinegar. 12th century physicians recommended that patients use a sage and salt rub to whiten their teeth or that they scrub them with the Elecampane flower. The public turned to barbers for their dental needs in the 17th century, who would use a metal file to make the teeth abrasive and then paint them with nitric acid. The late 18th century brought about the use of bleaching with oxalic acid by some physicians. While all these techniques probably worked to an extent, they also caused immeasurable damage to the teeth.

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The birth of modern whitening

With the dawn of the 19th century, dental professionals were concerned with healing the gums from disease and infection, especially in conjunction with braces and corrective orthodontic wear. They had discovered the positive restorative effects of hydrogen peroxide and were constantly developing ways to enable patients to keep their gums exposed to it for longer periods of time. In 1918, it was discovered that a heated lamp in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide would lighten teeth. A dentist in the late 1960’s discovered that after prescribing an overnight soak in carbamide peroxide using an orthodontic positioner for gum irritation, the teeth were significantly whiter.

The idea was tossed around the dental convention circuit for 20 years before it really took off. A thick whitening gel, Opalescence carbamide peroxide (Ultradent Products), was patented in 1989 and is still the basic technique used today. Dentists offices began offering tray whitening services and strip whitening also began to take off. Another technique used in offices today is to visit the dentist several times consecutively to have highly concentrated bleaching solution applied in conjunction with an LED light. Tooth bleaching trays are custom made to fit the exact mold of the patients teeth.

At-home products

The popularity of teeth whitening procedures led to an influx of at-home varieties. They vary in cost and effectiveness but many rival office procedures and are cost effective. There are also a wide variety of whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Dental offices have had to make concessions for the huge amount of at-home products for good quality teeth whitening as people continue to search for the perfect smile.

Halloween Dental Tips

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Halloween has got to be a dentist’s least favorite holiday. Just the thought of all that chocolate, caramel and sugar resting on the teeth and between the cracks makes them cringe. There’s no doubt about it, Halloween is not a holiday that does teeth any good. Everything about it screams sticky, gooey treats and candies of all sorts. It’s a nightmare of scary costumes, horror movies and fattening, teeth rotting foods. Thankfully, there are some dental hints and tips that carry us through the holiday with as little damage as possible.

Don’t Deny Halloween Fun

One tip dentists recommend is not to deny the Halloween fun. It’s a tradition and all the kids are doing it. Keeping your kids out of the fun just because of all the candy makes it even more irresistible. You may find them sneaking candy or binging. Instead try portioning out the candy. Each night after Halloween, have them choose 10 pieces of candy. Put the rest away for the next night or the next week.

Set a Time

You can also set a treat time when children are allowed to sit and eat their treats for a specific amount of time. This encourages healthy thinking about eating sugary snacks at specific times as opposed to all day long. They also look forward to this time and will keep good behavior in mind if no treat time is a punishment.

Parental Tricks and Treats

Eat a big dinner before going out trick or treating. Having a full belly will deter over-eating when you get home with full bags of candy. Another parental trick is making sure kids drink plenty of water after their candy eating. This is a big help, especially if you can’t get to a toothbrush right away. As soon as the candy extravaganza is complete, make sure the kids brush extra well, use floss and mouthwash.

Dentists recommend choosing candies that melt or dissolve quickly. Even the sticks of pure powdered sugar aren’t as bad as you’d think. Sure, its pure sugar but it dissolves quickly and residue rinses away with a drink of water. Of course, sugar free candy and gum are the best choices but aren’t always what the neighbors give out or what children want. Chewy and hard candies are the hardest on teeth. They stick around in the mouth longer, getting hinged between teeth and embedded in molars. They take a bit of extra brushing to be fully get rid of.

Visiting your dentist before Halloween can put some tricks in the parent’s bag. Have some sealants put on your children’s teeth prior to the candy eating. You can also ask for tablets that children can eat prior to brushing their teeth that show the places plaque and tartar have built up the most. This will help make sure their teeth end up really clean.

Halloween can be fun no matter what your personal philosophy on candy eating may be, by using a few of these tips everyone can have a great time and a great smile. Protect your teeth during this frightfully sweet holiday.