Robert E. Jepko, DDS, PA

Oral Health Habits To Teach Your Children

RAISING A CHILD IS TOUGH work. There are so many things parents have to teach them so that they can succeed as they grow older. Included on that list are good oral health habits that will enable them to keep their teeth healthy and strong for life!

 

 

Build Good Habits Early

For permanent teeth to be healthy and strong it’s crucial to start building good oral health habits at a very young age. These habits include brushing their teeth twice a day for two full minutes, scraping their tongues, and flossing daily. Being consistent with a daily routine will help establish these habits quickly. Besides, you want to keep their baby teeth healthy so that their adult teeth will come in where they should and have a healthy start!

Tactics For Teaching Oral Hygiene

Children love to imitate what their parents do, and they love proving that they are big boys and girls. Aside from letting them watch someone brush their teeth, here are a few other ways to help them form good habits!

  • Get them excited! Talking up good oral health will help them to get excited about starting to brush their own teeth as well as flossing and eating the right foods.
  • Let them choose their own “equipment.” When they choose their own toothbrush, it will them take ownership of their oral health, so encourage them to pick out their favorite one!
  • Use examples! Youtube videos, apps, children’s books, etc. are great examples, other than brushing yourself, to show your child that having good oral health is fun to do!
  • Praise their successes. If they know you’re proud of them for brushing their teeth, they’ll be proud of themselves and be happier to do it. You might even use a reward system until they get in the habit, like a sticker chart to build up to a prize.

Share this video with your children to show them why they should take care of their teeth:

Check out this 1.5 minute video for more!

Our Extra Expertise

If your child is still refusing to brush their teeth, or is having a hard time grasping the concept of maintaining good oral health, that’s okay! Every child learns at their own pace. Just be patient and keep trying. You can also come to us for help. We can show them examples, talk to them, try to find out why they’re not so interested in brushing, and set up a routine with them! They’ll be tooth-brushing pros before you know it.

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Garry Wiseman used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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Weight Management And Oral Health

 

MAINTAINING GOOD ORAL HEALTH is a goal we should all be striving to achieve each and every day. Not only does this help us to feel like our best selves; having good oral health is reduces our risk of developing a variety of conditions and diseases! Brushing, flossing, tongue-cleaning, and regular dental visits are all crucial ways to keep your mouth healthy, but did you know that a healthy diet and weight management can also have a positive impact on oral health?
 

How Weight Loss And Oral Health Correlate

One way our oral health correlates to what we eat and our weight has to do with our blood glucose levels. Sugar (glucose) is the favorite food of the bacteria in our mouths, and when we eat, our blood glucose goes up, particularly when we aren’t eating healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which makes blood sugar even more difficult to regulate and puts oral health at risk.

Inflammation in the body due to being overweight can also be harmful. It can make people’s bones lose density and they can even lose teeth because of gum disease! Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is important because our teeth and gums need the proper nutrients and vitamins from the foods we eat to be strong and work properly!

Crash Dieting Versus Oral Health

While we recommend healthy diets and lifestyles for oral health, crash dieting can do more harm than good. People want to see results fast and don’t always know the best ways to do it, so they turn to things like the internet or friends’ experiences to learn of the latest diets they can try. One example of a harmful crash diet is the grapefruit diet, which is bad for oral health because it can erode the enamel on our teeth due to high acid levels. Another “easy” solution that causes problems is weight loss pills, which can lead to teeth grinding.

Check out this 4.5 minute video on how to identify a fad diet!  

The Right Diets For Your Teeth And Your Health

When dieting is done right, it isn’t a problem for the teeth. Diets that encourage eating more whole foods and reducing added sugars will properly nourish your body and help oral health rather than hinder it. Vegetables, fruits, proteins, and healthy fats are all crucial to having good oral health! Eating a large amount of vegetables can help aid in healthy gums and oral tissues. Drinking whole milk will also help to provide our teeth with the calcium they need!

Continue Building Healthy Habits!

Eating and providing our bodies with the proper nutrients improves our lives in many ways, not just by improving our oral health. Conversely, maintaining a healthy weight through a nutritious diet isn’t the only way to keep your mouth healthy, so don’t forget about those other oral health habits!

Keep up the good work in living your healthiest lives!

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Seasonal Allergies And Your Oral Health

 

SPRING IS IN THE AIR…and that means so are allergies. Seasonal allergies affect millions of people every year, but did you know that they can also affect oral health?
 

Why Do We Get Seasonal Allergies?

While there are plenty of allergens that can make us sneeze year round, such as dust and pet dander, seasonal allergies typically flare up twice a year: in the spring and the fall. This can mean long months of congestion, an itchy nose, mouth, eyes, or throat, puffy eyes, sneezing, and coughing for people with allergies.

The reason our allergies act up the most during spring and fall is that trees and grass pollinate throughout the spring, while ragweed pollinates in the fall. Mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune systems going into overdrive in response to these allergens.

Click here for a 2.5 minute video that explains more!

Allergies Versus Oral Health

While allergies can result in tingly or swollen lips, mouth, or tongue and irritated gums, the most common way seasonal allergies can become a problem for oral health is dry mouth. Whenever we have congestion, we end up breathing through our mouths instead of our noses, which dries up our saliva. Having dry mouth presents a serious threat to oral health, because saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay.

Prevention And Treatment

Because many allergens are airborne, avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do. It’s best to stay indoors on extra windy days when the most allergens are in the air. You should also wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow pollen and spores into your house.

If you do end up having an allergy attack, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate your salivary glands, and keep up your daily brushing and flossing routine. Make sure you also take the anti-allergy medications your doctor or allergist recommends to minimize your congestion.

Fighting Back Against Allergies Together!

If you’re experiencing dry mouth, whether as a side-effect of seasonal allergies or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to check with your general dentist! Your oral health is our top priority, and you can come up with a plan to keep your mouth healthy until the allergies end and beyond!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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Blow A Bubble For Oral Cancer!

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness month, and with your help and that of Oral Cancer Cause (OCC), our practice is raising funds to help oral cancer patients through the difficult period of their treatment and beyond.


 

Making Treatment And Recovery Easier

Over 450,000 people around the world will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and treatment often involves extensive oral reconstruction. Many oral cancer patients will have reduced mouth functionality afterward, including not being able to chew gum ever again.

Hope Through Medical Advancements

While the diagnosis and death statistics for oral cancer are still unacceptably high, thanks to advancements in early detection, improvements in treatment, and increased awareness, survival rates are improving. Every little bit helps!

Blow A Bubble And We’ll Donate!

When our patients show support for oral cancer patients, so can we! You can help us donate to this great cause in three simple steps:

Step 1: Grab some gum and blow the biggest bubble you can.

Step 2: Take a photo or video of your bubble.

Step 3: Post it to social media and tag (aka, check in to)  our practice!

For every tagged photo of one of our patients blowing a bubble, we will make a $5 contribution to Oral Cancer Awareness!

NOTE:
$250 minimum donation,
$500 maximum donation
The Blow a Bubble campaign runs through April 30th. 🙂

Together, We Can Make A Difference!

We’re looking forward to this opportunity to work with you, our wonderful patients and friends, to help raise awareness during Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Blow a bubble to show your support!

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The Different Types Of Teeth

YOU’VE PROBABLY NOTICED that your teeth aren’t all the same shape, but do you know the reason? Humans have four different types of teeth, and they each serve specific purposes, both in helping us chew and in giving us our beautiful smiles!
 

Types Of Teeth And What They Do

The reason we need so many different types of teeth is that we are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. We need teeth that can handle all of our favorite foods!

Incisors

At the very front of the mouth, the top four and bottom four teeth are the incisors. The middle ones are central incisors, while the ones on the sides are lateral incisors. Incisors are built for slicing. When we take a bite out of an apple, for instance, our incisors shear off a tasty chunk of fruit, but they aren’t the teeth we actually chew with.

Canines

Next to the lateral incisors are our canines, which are the sharpest and longest teeth in our mouths. This enables them to grip and tear food, particularly meat. Unlike incisors, we only have four canines. Their long roots and their position at the “corners” of our dental arches also make them some of the most important teeth in our smiles, because they provide much of the shape. Another name for canine teeth is eyeteeth. That might seem weird, but it’s because these teeth are directly beneath our eyes!

Premolars

After the canines, we have our premolars. You can think of premolars as hybrids between canines and molars. They have sharp outer edges, but they also have flat chewing surfaces, which means they can help the canines with tearing food and the molars with grinding it up. We don’t have any premolars as children; our eight adult premolars are actually the teeth that replace our baby molars!

Molars

Finally, we have the molars. Molars are our biggest teeth, with multiple roots and large, flat chewing surfaces. We have eight baby molars and up to twelve adult molars, depending on whether or not we have and keep our wisdom teeth. Molars are the teeth that do most of the chewing, because those flat surfaces are perfect for grinding and crushing food until it’s ready to be swallowed.

Want to show your kids about their teeth in a fun way? Try this 4 minute video

What About Herbivores And Carnivores?

Our teeth are the way they are because we’re omnivores. Herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have very different teeth. Herbivores typically have chisel-like incisors and large, flat premolars and molars for chewing plants, while their canines are small, if they have them at all. Carnivores tend to have much bigger canine teeth than we do, but their incisors are much smaller, and while they still have premolars and molars, they are often serrated like knives, built for shredding rather than grinding.

Biannual Visits

What do all four types of your teeth have in common? They need regular attention from a dentist! Keep taking those incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to your general dentist every six months so that we can make sure they’re all staying healthy. In the meantime, you can do your part by remembering to brush twice a day, floss daily, and cut back on sugary treats!

Top image by Flickr user _zhang used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth

TEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson. Now let’s dive right into the structure of a tooth! The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.
 

 

Something To Chew On: The Crown

The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline. It consists of three layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be so that we can chew our food! However, enamel isn’t made of actual cells, which means it can’t repair itself if it wears down. Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.

Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified. It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel. That’s why we can feel temperature in our teeth! If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.

At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber. The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong. If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that’s a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root

The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone. Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support. The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel. Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum. As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there isn’t a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.

Here’s a great one minute video that puts it all together!

Protect Those Teeth!

Every part of a tooth’s anatomy is important to it staying strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen. Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

 

Top image from aae.org (“Root Canal Explained”).

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What Is A Dental Assistant?

PEOPLE ARE COMMONLY CONFUSED about what the exact role of a dental assistant is. What does an assistant take care of vs. a dental hygienist, for example? We want to set the record straight! Our dental assistants are an invaluable part of our team and practice–to be honest, we couldn’t get much done without them!

Dental Assistants Are Specially Trained To Serve You

Our dental assistants are specially trained to serve YOU–our valued patients!

There are two options to become a dental assistant:
1- attend a local college for the training, which ranges from a few to 12 months in length, or
2- like a trade, put in the training hours in a dental office and take the radiology course separately. 

 

What do assistants do, anyway?

Some of a dental assistant’s duties include: helping the dentist with procedures like fillings, crowns, dental impressions, or as here in our office, root canals; sterilizing instruments and disinfecting the treatment rooms in between patients; ordering materials; taking radiographs; scheduling appointments, etc.
Check out this 3.5 minute video that goes into more detail from an assistant’s perspective that works in a general office.

What’s the difference?

Dental Assistants are different from Dental Hygienists- hygienists are the people you see when you have your teeth cleaned. Assistants are those at the dentists’ side, helping with procedures. Here at our specialty endodontic office, we do not have hygienists, but all assistants and front desk staff to help you and Dr Jepko.

Our Patients Are Our Priority

Our priority is providing the highest quality of care to our patients. And we couldn’t do it without the amazing dental assistants in our office! Do you have any questions for our assistants? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to answer!

 

 

Top image by Flickr user Véronique Debord-Lazaro used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Childhood Tooth Injuries

WHEN WE PICTURE the ideal childhood, we usually think of children playing on playgrounds and exploring nature with their friends. They discover the world around them, imagine fantastical worlds beyond it, play games, and make friendships that could last a lifetime. As wonderful as that image is, it often comes with bruises and scraped knees — and, sometimes, tooth injuries.

So what can parents do to minimize their children’s risk of tooth injuries while they play? It’s easy enough to remember a mouth guard during actual sporting activities, but sports games and practice aren’t the only situations that can lead to a lost or chipped tooth.

Home And Play Tooth Safety Tips 

Here are a few simple tips for keeping your children’s teeth safe around the house and when playing with friends.

  • With babies and toddlers, the most common culprit for tooth injuries is the bathtub. Never leave a young child unattended in the bathtub, because they could easily slip and hurt their teeth.
  • When your child is playing with friends and using objects such as frisbees or balls, have a discussion with them about safety. Make sure they know how important it is not to aim for each other’s heads.
  • Using playground equipment like the monkey bars, jungle gym, and swings can easily lead to tooth injuries. Make sure to talk to your children before they start playing so that they will know to be careful.

Adult supervision and open conversations about safety are the most crucial components of reducing the risk of injury. By utilizing them, you could help your child avoid the need for major dental work. Just as important in that regard are their daily brushing and flossing habits and their regular dental checkups, because healthy teeth are harder to injure.

What To Do When Accidents Happen

While it is possible to reduce the risks of your child injuring a tooth, not all accidents are preventable. In the event a tooth does get knocked out or chipped, don’t panic. If the tooth isn’t already loose when it gets knocked out, and especially if it’s an adult tooth, try to put it back in place and come straight to the dentist. This will give it the best chance for reattachment.

If it isn’t possible to put the tooth back in place, the next best thing is to place it in a glass of milk to keep the root alive. In any case, bring your child to the dentist as quickly as possible. The faster you arrive at the dentist, the better the chances are of saving the toothDo not clean the tooth or put it in water! This will kill the root!

Check out this 4 minute video by an orthodontist for more on how to keep teeth safe and even how a mouth guard should properly fit! 

They Grow Up So Fast

Childhood never seems to last as long as we, the parents, wish it would. Our practice can’t make it last longer, but we hope this advice will help make it a little safer. If you have any questions for us about child tooth safety, feel free to ask your child’s dentist. Be careful with those teeth, but don’t forget to have fun!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

When To See Your Dentist

BECAUSE PREVENTION IS such a major part of good dental care, it’s critical to visit the dentist for regular checkups. In most cases, two regular dental cleanings a year will be all you need, but not always. So what are the signs that you shouldn’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to come back? For this blog post, we’ve listed the top five.
 

1. Aches Of Any Kind

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, that could mean a cavity has gotten to the point where the dental pulp is getting infected. Don’t tough it out thinking it’ll just go away on its own. Other types of pain you should bring to the dentist are an aching jaw and frequent headaches. These are often connected to oral health issues such as bruxism (teeth-grinding) or an inflamed nerve, and the dentist can help!

2. Mouth Sores And Bleeding Gums

Mouth sores usually go away on their own, but they can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s important to get those looked at when they appear. If you notice that you’re bleeding after brushing or flossing, it’s time to come see the dentist, particularly if you’re already using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Bleeding gums are one of the first symptoms of gum disease, so don’t ignore the signs!

3. Previous Dental Work

If you’ve had dental work done in the past and there’s a problem with it now, don’t wait until a regular appointment to get that fixed, because it will likely get worse. A cracked or chipped crown needs to be repaired quickly so that infection doesn’t set in. Worn-out fillings need to be replaced to prevent bacteria from thriving in the gaps between the tooth and the filling.

4. Serious Medical Concerns

Serious conditions such as diabetes, eating disorders, and gum disease affect our oral health more than we realize, and sometimes the treatments have negative impacts too. Many medications cause dry mouth, which can seriously jeopardize oral health. That’s why if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease and/or have new medications prescribed to you, your dentist needs to know about it.

5. Bad Breath

Few things are as mortifying as being in a social situation and realizing you have bad breath, but did you know that bad breath is sometimes a symptom of gum disease or other health problems? If you find yourself having an unusually hard time keeping your breath minty fresh, it’s a good idea to visit the dentist so we can discover the underlying cause.

Check out this video for more!

Keep Up Your Regular Visits!

While we hope you come to see us for tooth pain or your general dentist right away if you notice any of these signs, we want to reemphasize the importance of scheduling regular appointments. Most dental health problems appear gradually, and an appointment every six months is enough to catch these problems before they become serious.

 

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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Which Toothbrush Is Best?

BACK IN THE GOOD old days before the 1930s, toothbrush bristles were made of animal hair. (EEKK!)

We’re pretty happy to live in the era of nylon bristles, but how can we tell which toothbrush will be best for our teeth and gums? How hard should the bristles be? Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?

Soft Versus Hard Bristles

It’s true that hard bristles make it a little bit easier to scrub away the plaque from your teeth than soft bristles. It isn’t worth it in the end, though, because those hard bristles can also scrape away enamel and even agitate your gums to the point of putting you at greater risk for gum recession, which could be permanent.

In the case of hard bristles versus soft, the costs of hard bristles clearly outweigh the benefits, which is why dentists always give out and recommend soft-bristle brushes.

Powered Versus Manual Brushes

In the past, there wasn’t a significant difference between the effectiveness of electric toothbrushes and manual ones. However, the technology has come a long way, and modern electric toothbrushes are better at getting plaque out of hard-to-reach spots.

Electric toothbrushes reduce plaque by up to 21 percent more than manual toothbrushes and reduce the risk of gingivitis by 11 percent more. Using an electric toothbrush also makes it easier to brush for the full two minutes and less likely that you will apply too much pressure.

That still leaves a lot of different electric toothbrushes to choose from. Luckily, whether you choose an oscillating brush (spinning tops) or a sonic brush (bristles vibrate from side to side), you’ll still see better results than with a manual brush. If you aren’t sure which brush would be best for you, feel free to ask us about it at your next appointment!

Taking Care Of Your Toothbrush

Once you’ve found the ideal toothbrush, it’s important to store it properly so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. Store it upright somewhere it can dry out, preferably as far from a toilet as possible. Finally, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush (or the head of your electric toothbrush) regularly because even the best bristles fray and lose their effectiveness over time.

Watch this video for a few more tips about brushing your teeth!

Having the right toothbrush and taking proper care of it are essential to good dental health, but there’s no replacement for regular professional dental cleanings. Make sure you’re scheduling appointments twice a year!

Good habits and the right tools make all the difference for your teeth!

 

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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