Need to brush-up on some last-minute holiday gifts and stocking stuffers?

Dec. 20, 2002
Don't forget oral health when buying last-minute gifts

Parents should take heed when buying their children athletic equipment -- and don't forget that the mouth is as important to protect as are the knees, elbows and shins. A mouthguard is a necessary piece of athletic gear, and should be worn by children of all ages that participate in any contact sport. It is important to protect the mouth and jaw from injury, fracture or concussion that can occur from impact during play or practice. While a properly-fitted mouthguard from your family dentist offers the best protection for your child, there are several styles of mouthguards available in sporting good stores that can provide some level of protection. This makes a good stocking stuffer.

Other stocking stuffer ideas include:
* Toothbrush ... be sure to purchase an age-appropriate toothbrush; your young child will find an adult toothbrush difficult to use.
* Floss ... waxed, unwaxed or teflon-coated flosses are all equally beneficial. Use a proper flossing technique as demonstrated by your dental health professional.
* Toothpaste ... choose one that has the ADA seal of approval, which indicates that the toothpaste brand has been evaluated for proper fluoride content and release.

And for the holidays, when we all tend to consume more sugary foods, the ODA provides the following oral health tips:
* Brush more frequently.
* Floss at bedtime and use a fluoride rinse.
* Limit pop consumption - the acid in pop contributes to the decalcification of teeth over time.
* If you cannot brush immediately after eating or drinking, chew sugar-free gum. This will stimulate secretions of the salivary glands, which neutralizes acids and sugar from the food and beverage, and can help decrease the decay.

Top Resolutions to Help Ensure a Healthy Smile - and Contribute to Good Oral Health

Good oral health is more than having white teeth and a bright smile -- it's an important component of a person's total health. So when making New Year resolutions this year, remember your choppers -- and resolve to improve your oral health -- and maintain a strong, healthy set of teeth.

The Ohio Dental Association offers the following list of resolutions to help keep teeth strong and healthy, and Dr. Bruce Grbach, a dentist in family practice in Mentor, Ohio discusses each resolution.

* I resolve to throw away those old toothbrushes and replace them with new ones. "Dentists recommend replacing the toothbrush every two to three months. Soft bristle brushes are recommended, and you should brush well, but don't 'scrub' your teeth."

* I resolve to schedule regular appointments with the dentist for my family and myself. "For basic oral care, we recommend seeing the dentist every six months for a cleaning and examination. People with periodontal disease generally see their dentist more frequently, as determined by their dentist."

* I resolve to be aware of how poor nutrition can impact oral health, and will make sure that what we eat and drink will not hurt our teeth and gums. "It is important to reduce the consumption of soda pop, low-nutrition snacks and foods high in sugar. If you cannot brush immediately after drinking pop or eating sweets, if possible, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum to help reduce the acid and sugar in your mouth from these foods."

* I resolve that my children will wear a mouthguard when involved in any contact sport. "All youth in contact sports should wear a properly-fitted mouthguard. Doing so can prevent injury to the teeth, knocked out teeth, or trauma to the mouth."

* I resolve to not use tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. "If you use tobacco in any form, eliminating these harmful substances from your body will reduce the risk of oral cancer. And using smokeless tobacco is no safer than cigarettes."

* I resolve to ask my dentist about cosmetic options for chipped or stained teeth. "There are a number of procedures and options that can make your smile brighter for the new year. Whitening, bonding, or veneers can give you the smile you always wanted."

* I resolve to get fluoride from other sources because I mostly drink bottled water. "I would recommend that individuals who don't drink water from a fluoridated source ask their family dentist about fluoride gels or fluoride tablets for their young children."

* I resolve to let my dentist know about any medical conditions or medications I am taking so that he can be a true partner to my overall health. "Dentists need this information because it can help with their examination and diagnosis. For example, certain medications cause dry mouth by reducing saliva and that can increase the likelihood for dental caries [cavities]."

* I resolve, because I am pregnant, to see my dentist within the first trimester, and discuss an appropriate care regimen to protect my teeth, and those of my baby. "It's especially important during pregnancy to maintain a good regimen of brushing and flossing, and ensuring proper nutrition. This can help keep you and your baby healthy and strong."

* I resolve not to chew on ice or hard candies.
"It's important to stick to this resolution so you don't end up with broken teeth and needing dental work that would normally not be necessary. It's not uncommon to get a cracked or broken tooth from chewing on something hard."