Low Sugar Dessert Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

As the dental health professionals in charge of keeping your smile healthy, we want to do everything we can to keep potential health threats away from your teeth. We all know that sugar can cause major problems when it comes to oral health, particularly tooth decay. That being said, we know it’s unrealistic to tell you to stay away from sugar all together. Still, we want to give you the best opportunities to take good care of your teeth, so here are a few yummy low sugar dessert recipes you can use to satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing it on sugar!

Fudgy Guilt-Free Brownies

These yummy brownies promise all the chocolaty goodness of a regular brownie without packing a big sugar punch. Rather that lots of granulated sugar, this recipe includes a liquid sweetener such as maple syrup or brown rice syrup instead. Get the complete recipe from Lauren at Oatmeal With a Fork here.

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

These creamy & tangy key lime cheesecake bars are sure to be a refreshing treat despite the fact that they contain barely any sugar! If you’re a fan of raw diet options, you should also note that this is a no-bake recipe (but it does contain graham crackers, which are baked). Get the full recipe plus a great video showing the preparation process at Better Homes And Gardens here.

2-Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies

low sugar oatmeal cookies recipe to help you avoid tooth decay

Source: Power Hungry

You’ll be stunned at how easy these sweet & chewy cookies are to make! Just like the title says, there are only two ingredients: old-fashioned oats & super ripe bananas. Plus, as recipe-writer Camilla suggests, you can punch up the flavor & the texture with additional ingredients such as peanuts & shredded coconut. Get the entire recipe from Power Hungry here.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

sugar-free pumpkin pie pudding recipe to avoid tooth decay

Source: Low Carb Yum

This twist on a traditional pudding is sure to satisfy your spiced pumpkin pie cravings without the usual load of sugar that goes along with it. This recipe is also no-bake, dairy free & contains chia seeds which are often called a superfood. Get the full recipe at Low Carb Yum here.

Got another low-sugar or sugar-free dessert favorite? Share it with us & we’ll be sure to tell the rest of our family of dental patients about it!

Today’s Many Options for Braces

Young girl with braces

Source: BRENDA MICHELLE on Flickr

When you think of braces, you may think of months to years of a mouth full of metal, but just like all other technologies, the technology of straightening teeth has advanced in recent years. There are lots of options for braces these days, some of which you might not even call braces.

For example, invisible braces systems (like Invisalign®) use clear aligner trays to gently coax your teeth into position. These types of aligners can be removed temporarily to eat, so there are fewer restrictions on the foods you can enjoy when using clear aligners to get straighter smile. Invisible braces treatment can be performed by your dentist, without the need to visit an orthodontist separately (though most orthodontists also do invisible braces).

There are also lingual braces, which are essentially invisible because they are on the backside of your teeth (near your tongue). Lingual braces are a great option for those who want to straighten their teeth without appearing to have braces. However, because lingual braces are very customized, they may cost more than traditional braces that go on the front of your teeth.

Clear or white braces are another option that can straighten your teeth nearly invisibly. Clear braces use clear or white brackets instead of metal ones, so your braces are not as obvious. From a distance, people may not notice your braces at all.

You can complete your braces treatment more quickly by choosing one of the fast or quick braces technologies. These braces systems use innovative new versions of orthodontic technology to move teeth more quickly, or only move a few teeth at a time, so you can have a straight, aligned smile in as little as three to six months, as opposed to the typical 12 to 18 months with regular braces.

And then there are traditional metal braces with metal brackets. While not the most aesthetically pleasing, traditional braces have a unique advantage over all the other types of tooth straightening technology: they can be used to treat nearly any orthodontic problem. Not everyone’s teeth can be helped by the clear, fast or invisible options mentioned above. Ultimately, a dozen or so months wearing braces is worth it for a new straight smile that will last for years to come.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to braces. There are lots of elements to consider when choosing an option for braces, including time, cost, appearance, & what needs to be fixed (overbite, underbite, crossbite, etc.). Your dentist & your orthodontist can discuss the options with you & help you choose a treatment plan that fits your needs & desires.

Yes, Flossing Really Is That Important & Here’s Why

closeup the importance of flossingAs dental professionals we often feel like a broken record (or a scratched CD, depending on your generation) telling patients that they need to floss more. We don’t mean to be nags, we just want you to have the healthiest, happiest smile possible!

While brushing cleans the front, back & chewing surfaces of your teeth, flossing is the only way to properly clean the spaces between your teeth (what dental pros call the inter-proximal region). Even if you’re a teeth brushing superstar, you’re not cleaning your entire tooth if you don’t floss.

Here are just a few of the problems you will avoid by flossing daily:

Tooth Decay

The same micro-organism filled plaque that accumulates on the front & back of your teeth can accumulate between them. This bacteria-ridden buildup can cause cavities & tooth decay if it isn’t cleaned away by flossing.

Bad Breath

The bacteria in plaque left between your teeth can also eventually lead to bad breath. So if you brush & use mouthwash & still find yourself with bad breath, not flossing may be the culprit.

Tartar Buildup

Plaque that is left on your teeth can eventually harden into a substance called tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You can prevent the development of tartar by flossing, but once tartar has formed, only scaling & cleaning at the dentist can remove it.

Other Health Complications

Poor dental hygiene has been linked to both heart disease & aggravation of symptoms for those with diabetes. Remember that your mouth is an entry point for your entire body, so keeping your teeth healthy by brushing & flossing can prevent disease-causing pathogens from getting in.

If you feel you need a reminder of the best way to floss, your dentist or dental hygienist will always be happy to give you a demonstration at your next visit. You may also be more likely to floss if you find the right type of floss for your mouth. Try different types, such as unwaxed, waxed or tape floss, or floss on a pick tool, until you find what feels the most comfortable for you.

Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Dental Health?

woman answering dentistry quizTest your knowledge of dentistry & your dental health! Take the quiz & see the answer key at the bottom to see how well you did.

  1. When should you floss?
    1. Before you brush your teeth.
    2. After you brush your teeth.
    3. Before or after—as long as you floss at least once a day!

     

  2. Which beverages are acidic & can cause tooth decay?
    1. Wine
    2. Water with lemon
    3. Diet soda
    4. Coffee
    5. All of the above

     

  3. When should children first see the dentist?
    1. Within 6 months of their first tooth coming in.
    2. Once they have at least two teeth.
    3. Once all of their teeth have come in.
    4. Once they’re old enough to talk to the dentist.

     

  4. What does fluoride do?
    1. It helps keep plaque from sticking to teeth.
    2. It helps rebuild dental enamel & reverse early tooth decay.
    3. It kills bacteria in your mouth that can cause tooth decay.
    4. It helps keep teeth white by removing surface stains.

     

  5. In addition to poor dental hygiene, which of these are risk factors for gum disease?
    1. Genetic susceptibility.
    2. Diabetes.
    3. Smoking.
    4. Medications that cause dry mouth.
    5. All of the above.

     

  6. True or False: A hard bristle toothbrush is better at cleaning teeth than a soft bristle toothbrush.
    1. True.
    2. False.
Answers: 1:c, 2:e, 3:a, 4:b; 5:e, 6:b-False.

Great Reasons to Get Braces

Young woman with bracesMany people think of braces as a right of passage that we subject pre-teens & teens to in the midst of their most awkward years just to ensure they have a nice straight smile by the time they reach adulthood. But the truth is that braces can benefit people of all ages & not all of the reasons to get braces are aesthetic.

While most of us think of getting braces in order to have straight teeth, braces have a purpose beyond cosmetics. Braces can be used to treat misaligned bites (the technical term is malocclusion), which left untreated can contribute to difficulty chewing, jaw pain, & uneven wear on your teeth. Once your braces treatment is finished, you’ll get the benefit of a beautiful smile that is also functional.

In addition to this, braces have other benefits for your oral health: straight, properly spaced teeth are also easier to clean. When you teeth are properly aligned there are fewer places where your toothbrush can’t reach that might accumulate bacteria & plaque that could lead to tooth decay. The same goes for properly spaced teeth: it is much easier to floss teeth that are not too crowded.

Another side benefit of braces treatment is an improvement to your facial aesthetics. If the purpose of your braces is to fix an underbite, overbite or otherwise misaligned bite, the result may also result in a more proportional & attractive relationship between your jaw & the rest of your face. It should be noted that more severe jaw alignment problems cannot be fixed by braces alone & may also require jaw surgery. While facial aesthetics alone are not necessarily a reason to get braces, improvements in this area are often seen once treatment is finished.

Your options for orthodontic treatment may vary when it comes to braces that are for primarily for cosmetic versus structural purposes. Many of the clear or quick options, such as clear aligners, may not be able to fix more complex orthodontic problems the way that traditional braces can. But while traditional braces may not be as attractive or fast as other braces or aligners, you will still end up with a beautiful, straight smile at the end of your treatment. No two sets of teeth are quite the same, so start a discussion with your doctor or orthodontist about which braces options might be right for you.

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Root Canals

a root canal can save your tooth
Root canals have earned a bad reputation. This procedure has become the butt of jokes on TV shows & in games of “Would You Rather”. It has also become the subject of an unusual amount of anxiety because patients expect the procedure to be painful, despite recent advancements that ensure this isn’t the case. But from a health perspective, root canals are heroic: they are a life-saving procedure for your tooth!

Each of your teeth has a hollow space inside it, which includes a pulp chamber & root canals. These interior chambers are filled with tooth pulp, which consists of connective tissues, nerves & blood vessels that nourished your tooth from the inside during development. Your dentist will perform a root canal procedure when the pulp becomes compromised.

Situations that can lead to the need for treatment include deep decay (i.e. a really bad cavity), a cracked tooth & repeated dental procedures. It is important to note that even an injured tooth that has no outward signs of damage can still have damaged pulp. The root canal procedure consists of removing the infected pulp & then cleaning & resealing the pulp chamber.

Modern advancements in root canal procedures & anesthesia have made the root canal’s painful reputation a thing of the past. The root canal procedure is performed under a local anesthetic, meaning you won’t be able to feel it.

Left untreated, damage or infection in the root canal could mean the loss of a tooth, not to mention pain & swelling in the meantime. But an infected tooth that has been treated with a root canal procedure should last a lifetime.

If you’ve been told you need a root canal treatment, you may have also heard the term “endodontist”. An endodontist is a dentist who specializing in treating the interior structures of your teeth, & thus can be thought of as a root canal specialist. If your dentist has determined you need a root canal, he or she may refer you to an endodontist for the procedure.

No matter what you’ve heard about root canals in the past, we know you’d probably prefer getting this routine procedure than enduring a toothache & possibly having your tooth removed. There’s no reason to fear root canal treatment!

Make the Most of Your Dental Insurance Before the Year Ends!

use dental insurance benefits before the end of the yearAs your dental clinic, it’s our responsibility to help guide you through your oral health care so it is as easy & affordable as possible. As a result, we’re dedicated to helping you make the most of your dental insurance, ensuring you get the care you need & you take advantage of every benefit available to you.

Did you know that your dental benefits don’t roll over from year to year? Once you reach the end of the calendar year, your annual dental benefits disappear for good, whether or not you’ve used them.

What do we mean by dental benefits? One of the best examples of a dental insurance benefit are the preventive care services that are usually covered between 80% to 100%, meaning the insurance company pays 80%-100% of the cost of the service . For example, most dental insurance plans give you two teeth cleaning visits each year covered at 100%, meaning you pay nothing out-of-pocket for your dental hygiene visit. Most insurance plans also fully cover at least one set of full mouth x-rays each year.

However, if you’ve visited the dentist for one teeth cleaning this year, that doesn’t mean you get three teeth cleanings next year! Instead, that free cleaning that you skipped goes away at the end of the year & you never get it back!

Another example of your insurance benefits is your annual maximum, meaning the maximum amount that your dental insurance company will pay toward your dental care each year. Annual maximums vary greatly, but say your plan’s maximum is $2,500. If you’ve only used $500 of that $2,500 by the end of the year, the remaining $2,000 disappears & you never get to use it. Essentially, you’re leaving money on the table!

So what should you do if the year is almost up & you still have some of your annual maximum left? Well, this is why the end of the year is a great time to start recommended treatment. First of all, if you haven’t had both your teeth cleanings this year, call us as soon as possible to schedule your second cleaning before the end of the year!

As another example, imagine we told you that you need a crown on one of your molars but you haven’t actually completed the treatment yet. If you continue to put off getting the crown until the beginning of next year, you’ll be throwing away your remaining annual maximum for this year & using up next year’s benefits early instead. That means if you need any other treatment during the course of next year, you will have already used up your annual maximum & will have to pay out-of-pocket for it. Using up this year’s insurance maximum could actually save you money next year by ensuring you don’t hit your maximum too early!

So if you have dental treatment recommendations from us that you haven’t completed yet, give us a call as soon as possible so we can schedule your visit before the end-of-year rush. We’d be happy to help you check to see if you’ve hit your annual maximum yet & help you make the most of the money you have remaining on your insurance plan.

See the Dentist More Often & You’ll Save Money!

an ounce of preventive dentistryWhat if we told you the more often you see your dentist, the less you’ll spend on dentistry? We know it sounds like a contradiction, but that is the power of preventive dentistry.

We recommend that you visit us at least twice a year for a teeth cleaning appointment, which also includes a basic exam. You’ll hear dental professionals refer to this kind of appointment as prophylaxis (prophy for short), which is a word that comes from a Greek term that means “guard”. The services we perform during your teeth cleaning & checkup are intended to guard against the spread & development of disease, particularly tooth decay & gum disease.

Think of your preventive dental care in terms of this metaphor: you’re at home & a bad rain storm is coming. What would you rather respond to, a weather report telling you that there is a flood warning, or three feet of water in your living room? Wouldn’t you want the early warning so you have time to place sandbags to keep the water out?

As a dental patient, which would you rather have, a dental hygienist gently removing plaque & tartar from your teeth, or the dentist telling you that your tooth is too far gone to be saved & has to be removed?

We say this not to scare you & not as a threat, but because we want you to think of preventive dentistry as an early warning system for your mouth. We’d rather let you know about the risks to your health & help you take preventive measures than be on the phone with the insurance company telling them about the damage.

A few dozens sandbags are a lot cheaper than replacing your belongings & repairing damage to your house. Preventive dentistry, like teeth cleanings, is much cheaper than restorative repair to fix decay, such as fillings, crowns, & bridges or gum disease treatments. If you have dental insurance, most of your annual preventive dental care is covered & won’t cost you any extra money. That’s like if your homeowner’s insurance offered you a load of sandbags for free twice a year, just in case there was a flood. If you knew there was a risk of flooding, why would your refuse the offer?

So if you want to avoid costly restorative dentistry or gum disease treatments in the future, be sure to come see us every six months for your preventive care & cleaning appointment. An hour of your time twice a year is well worth trying to repair the damage after a catastrophe!

Teeth Cleanings Are About More Than Clean Teeth!

teeth cleanings and your healthWhen most of a us think of a teeth cleaning appointment, we think of polishing & maybe a little scraping. But the truth is that teeth cleaning appointments are about so much more than clean, shiny teeth!

Most teeth cleaning appointments also include a quick examination by the dentist. That’s one of the reasons we call them check-ups: your teeth cleaning appointment is an opportunity for the dental hygienist & the dentist check up on your oral health.

The dentist will pop in at some point during your time with the dental hygienist & perform a quick examination. This exam looks for more than just cavities. The dentist & the hygienist will examine your gums for signs of gum disease & your entire mouth for other problems, such as early signs of oral cancer. This may involve a little poking & prodding with a small metal tool called an explorer & a dental mirror. They will also review your x-rays, which are often taken at the beginning of the appointment. The dentist will discuss any potential problems that they have spotted, introduce treatment options if necessary, & ask you if you have any concerns.

Your teeth cleaning appointment is also a great opportunity for educate yourself about your teeth. Even if all you need is to brush up (so to speak) on your toothbrushing & flossing techniques, your teeth cleaning is a great opportunity to ask questions. You can ask your dentist or dental hygienist for recommendations on which toothpaste to use, options for whitening your teeth, or any other topics of concern or curiosity. Regular dental care works best when the dentist, hygienist & the patient are all actively involved in the treatment process, so don’t be shy about getting informed!

It’s also extremely important to know that your dental health is part of your overall health. Just because you see one doctor for your teeth & another for your general health doesn’t mean these things aren’t related! Gum disease & tooth decay have been linked to other health problems like heart disease & low birthweight in babies. People with certain health problems like diabetes or cancer are more prone to dental problems than others. In addition to oral health related problems, your dentist & hygienist can spot signs in your mouth (such as dry mouth, bad breath or sores) that may indicate a problem with your general health.

We know not everyone looks forward to teeth cleanings, but going to your dentist frequently for a cleaning & checkup is the best way to prevent potentially painful & expensive dental problems in your future & keep tabs on your health in general. If we catch a problem early during your cleaning appointment, your treatment is likely to be more comfortable, less complicated, & less expensive.

5 Tips for Being a Better Dental Patient

5 tips better dental patientLike any relationship in life, having good communication with your dentist is the key to success. The five tips listed below are intended to help you improve your oral health by communicating better with your dentist & /or dental hygienist.

  1. If your dental hygienist or dentist says something you don’t quite understand, don’t just nod or pretend you do understand, ask for clarification! Sometimes we have trouble translating from the clinical language our dental colleagues understand to words that patients understand. So if you hear us saying unfamiliar words, ask us what they mean, even if you’re afraid it’s something super basic that most people already know. There are no stupid questions. The more you understand about your oral health, the better it will be!
  2. Tell us the real reason you’re hesitating to commit to recommended treatment. It’s a lot better for us to know what you’re thinking than trying to guess. If your concern is the cost of treatment, tell us & we might be able to offer your payment options or treatment alternatives that you weren’t aware of. If you’re hesitating because you have a fear of dental procedures, let us know so we can offer distractions like headphones or movies, or even sedation to ease your nerves. If you don’t understand the purpose or process of the treatment, please ask us for clarification & we’ll find a better way to explain it.
  3. Don’t say yes to an appointment you already know you probably can’t keep just because you want to be polite or feel pressured. If you know that Tuesdays at 4pm are a bad time for you, don’t let us schedule your appointment then. Be honest about when you can get time off or when you get out of work, & we’ll be happy to accommodate you. Finding the right place for you in our schedule is much better for your oral health than if you have to cancel or skip your appointment in the future!
  4. Don’t lie about how often you brush or floss. For one thing, you dental hygienist will be able to tell by looking at your mouth how well you’re taking care of your teeth. What’s more, signs or symptoms we may detect in your mouth may mean something completely different depending on what you tell us. In order to care for you properly, we should have the most accurate information you can give us!
  5. Don’t be dishonest about your lifestyle & dietary choices that are bad for the health of your teeth. If you’re a smoker, please try to quit! The affects on your mouth go way beyond yellow/brown teeth. No one will be a more enthusiastic cheerleader for your effort to quit than your dentist & dental hygienist! Consuming excessive amounts of sugary drinks, sugar-free soda pop & energy drinks, sports drinks or highly acidic drinks like citrus juices can put you at high risk for tooth decay or rot your teeth directly by breaking down your tooth enamel. If we have a realistic understanding of your habits we can help guide you to change them for the better.

As dental professionals, our favorite thing is a happy & healthy smile. We see your dental health as a team effort & if you follow the tips above, you’re sure to be a team player!

 

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