Oral Health

10 Ways to Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy When You Don’t Have Access to Dental Care

Stay-at-home oral care.

With many dental offices around the country closed to accommodate social distancing, patients are looking for ways to keep their teeth healthy at home.

Thankfully, you can achieve optimal dental care using the tools and resources right at your fingertips! Today, we’re sharing 10 tips to help you keep your smile bright until we can meet in person again.

1. Amplify your dental hygiene.

Are you an intermittent flosser? Do you only brush at night?

If you’ve been slacking a little with your dental hygiene routine, now’s the time to kick it into high gear. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and floss at least once a day. Then, remind your family to do the same. 

These simple steps can go a long way toward preventing tooth decay and keeping cavities at bay!

2. Prioritize your immune system.

Did you know that oral health and your immune system go hand-in-hand? It makes sense when you break down the biology. Everything that enters your body has to pass through your mouth first.

If your teeth and gums are filled with germs and bacteria, those organisms are also allowed to enter into your system. This can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Conversely, when you prioritize your oral health, you give your immune system an immediate boost and improve your whole-body health.

3. Snack smart.

We get it! Quarantine snacks are a necessity during this trying time. That said, try to reach for whole foods, including fruits and veggies, and whole grains when possible.

In addition to fiber-rich produce, which stimulates your saliva flow and wards off cavities, you can also indulge in cheese and dairy products. These are filled with tooth-loving minerals, including calcium. As an added benefit, the calcium also sticks to your teeth and helps prevent acid erosion!

Wondering what not to eat?

Try to avoid starchy, refined carbohydrates, such as chips, bread, or pasta. After lingering in your mouth, those starches break down into simple sugars. When internal bacteria feed on these sugars, they can produce acid that causes tooth decay.

At the same time, try to avoid hard, sugary candy, along with sodas and fruit juices. The saliva in your mouth cannot wash away the sugar from these items, so it sticks to your teeth for longer than it should. If you do indulge, be sure to brush your teeth afterward!

4. Drink water.

To help rinse your mouth and keep it free of harmful bacteria, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Other habits that can help keep your mouth as clean as possible include flossing daily and using a fluoride-based toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. 

5. Don’t skip mouthwash.

There are many reasons to make mouthwash, or mouthrinse, one of the stars of your oral hygiene routine. Not only is it effective at getting your teeth whiter and cleaner, but it also takes your brushing regimen to the next level.

When you rinse with mouthwash after brushing, it removes any lingering tartar and plaque. It can also help prevent gingivitis, which is early-stage gum disease.

Some of the benefits of using mouthwash include preventing cavities, strengthening your teeth, killing the germs that cause bad breath, and freshening your breath. This list of ADA-approved products is a great place to start! 

6. Learn how to defend against cavities.

The tips above can keep your teeth healthy and clean. Yet, until they become second nature, someone in your family might still develop a cavity. If this happens, it can be disheartening to consider what will happen when you can’t visit your dentist.

On one hand, you don’t want it to get any worse. However, you can’t exactly go in for a routine checkup right now. To help mitigate the spread and severity of the cavity, stay away from sugar, and remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day. This way, you can slow the growth of decay until you can visit your dentist again.

7. Clean your toothbrush.

When’s the last time you replaced or even cleaned your toothbrush? The ADA recommends replacing yours every three to four months or even sooner if the bristles are frayed.

To clean your toothbrush, simply rinse it with tap water and store it upright. Keep it separate from any other toothbrushes in your bathroom and only cover it if you’re traveling. Closed containers can create a moist environment that harbors unwanted bacteria.

8. Learn proper brushing techniques.

Especially if your children are very young, there’s a chance they aren’t brushing correctly. They could be brushing too vigorously or using the wrong toothbrush.

Use your time at home wisely to teach your children the importance of oral health. The ADA created this quick video to demonstrate brushing basics and help answer any questions. They also published this illustrative guide on how to floss!

9. Remember your tongue.

Plaque can easily build up on your tongue. When this happens, it can introduce a host of issues ranging from bad breath to more serious oral health issues. The best way to remove it is to gently brush your tongue while you’re brushing your teeth.

Remember that young children might need help with this step. Watch them while they brush and floss, and offer guidance as necessary.

10. Set a good example.

Children are natural emulators. If they catch you doing something, it won’t be long before they’re trying to create their own, pint-sized version.

Use this trait to your advantage by practicing great oral hygiene in front of your family. Let your kids watch you brush your teeth in the morning and at night, and show them how you floss. They’ll be that much more willing to adopt the skill themselves this way.

Practice optimal dental care at home.

Optimal dental care begins with a personal choice. If you’re committed to keeping your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, then the steps on this list will come naturally. 

While you’re together at home, make it a point to discuss the importance of oral hygiene with your family. Then you can learn, practice, and grow together as you discover how fun dental health can be!

In the meantime, please call us for any dental-related questions or emergencies, and remember we can still schedule routine appointments in advance. We’re here for you and miss your beautiful smiles!



5 Self-Care Tips to Practice at Home to Ease Stress

Things are tough right now, and that means practicing self-care is more important than ever.

The last couple of weeks have brought numerous changes to our daily lives, especially as parents. Schools and daycare facilities are closing, many parents are working from home, and shopping for essentials is tough. Ask the average parent how they’re feeling right now, and most will probably respond with “stressed.”

As a parent, you’re probably focused on how to care for your children during this time, but it’s important that you don’t forget about taking care of yourself. With your own anxiety and worries under control, you’ll be able to help your children get through this time as well.

Here are 5 easy but very effective ways to practice self-care and relieve stress while staying confident and optimistic.  

1. Reach out to fellow parents or even parent groups on social media when you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

Juggling social distancing with working from home and homeschooling your kids at the same time can make any parent feel overwhelmed. Knowing you’re not alone in your struggle can not only boost your confidence but also serve as an outlet to relieve stress.

If you’re feeling frustrated, reach out to a fellow parent friend or look for parent support groups on Facebook. Sometimes stress doesn’t come from a single problem but rather an overload of emotions. By texting or calling a friend or checking in with your parent group, you’ll get some worries off your mind, and we bet you’ll also find that many parents feel the same way.

2. Take advantage of FaceTime, Skype, and other free video chat apps to keep in touch with friends and family.

Phone calls and text messaging are convenient, but going without actually seeing the people you love can take a toll on your well-being and raise your stress levels. Social distancing might keep you physically apart, but video chatting is a wonderful substitute.

There are plenty of free video chat apps out there, from FaceTime for Apple users to Facebook Messenger. Skype is also free and is perfect for group video chats. You can video chat with up to 50 people at a time on Skype, making it perfect for holding a virtual family or friend get-together.

If you’re feeling rundown from a lack of socializing, daily video chats can really improve your mood. Plus, it gives your kids a chance to see their grandparents and friends!

3. Staying in the know is important, but try to limit how much news you’re consuming—especially on social media.

Staying informed is really important right now, but spending all of your time watching the news or reading related posts on social media can have a negative effect. If you find your stress levels rising as you scroll through Facebook or while you’re watching the news on TV, that’s a good sign you need a break.

Right now is a really good time to take a breather from social media by limiting how much time you spend on it. You might also limit watching the news channel when you’re having your morning coffee. For some people, reading news articles is less stressful than watching videos.

If you feel anxious about wanting to check the news, distracting yourself with baking some cupcakes with your kids or heading out to the backyard to play catch can ease your tension and create some wonderful memories at the same time.

4. Grab a yoga mat or some dumbbells and squeeze in a 30-minute workout while the kids are busy.

Diving into a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream and laying on the couch can be really tempting when you’re stressed. Although indulging your cravings can provide comfort, it’s only temporary. Right now, it’s more important than ever to boost your health (and your immune system) while also kicking stress to the curb. The solution? Just 30 minutes of exercise!

Research has continually proved for decades that regular exercise relieves stress, and in most cases, it’s a nearly immediate effect. The gym might be out of the question, but you can still do bodyweight exercises, strength training with dumbbells or bands, and yoga at home. You can find guided workout routines online for free (check out YouTube) and even use video chat with a fitness friend to keep you both motivated.

All forms of exercise are great for relieving stress, and it’s good to practice flexibility, strength training, and cardio to stay well-rounded. However, studies do show that hatha yoga is ideal if you’re specifically exercising for stress-relief.

5. Write down your worries, concerns, and general thoughts instead of keeping them inside.

Talking with someone you trust is always a great idea, but expressive writing has been shown to be even more effective at relieving stress and pent-up emotions and can even help you regain focus on the important things in life. If you’re a private person or you find yourself still feeling frustrated after trying to talk with a loved one about your stress, grab a journal and try writing instead.

The goal of expressive writing is to let your mind go and write down whatever happens to pop up instead of trying to focus on writing about one thing in particular. If you enjoy guided journaling, you can also try that approach by focusing on specifically writing about what might be bothering you and the emotions you’re experiencing.

Whatever style of writing that best reduces your stress is the right one for you.

Dr. Judith Shea and her team look forward to seeing you and your children when we return to our office.

To keep our young patients, their families, and our community safe through social distancing, we’re following CDC guidelines by temporarily closing.

If your child has a dental emergency during this break, you can give our office a call and get our emergency-only number from our answering machine message.


10 Things Your Whole Family Can Do In Together At Home

Cure your family’s cabin fever during self-quarantine.

Even under self-quarantine, it’s a blessing to have spare time to spend with your kids. After the first few days, however, you may find yourself out of ways to entertain your family—leaving you with a gaggle of increasingly rowdy, bored kids. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can save yourself and your kids from cabin fever without breaking self-quarantine. Here are 10 things your whole family can do together at home.

1. Have a movie night.

If you’re ready for a relatively quiet night at home, have a movie night. Movie theaters are even adapting by allowing you to stream movies that are still in theaters from home! You can make it more special and gain an entire afternoon of fun by turning your movie night into an at-home, drive-in theater! It’s as simple as helping your kids make “cars” out of cardboard boxes. Your kids will have a blast making their cars, which will, helpfully, catch most of the crumbs from snacks during the movie.

2. Teach your kids to bake.

Teaching your kids to bake, especially if they’re on the younger side, can be messy, but it’s a fun and rewarding task for them because it produces a delicious treat they can enjoy. It can also work as a sneaky lesson in measuring and math for slightly older children.

3. Camp indoors.

It might not be the best time to go camping at a campground, but you can still have a blast and create lasting memories by setting up a tent and some sleeping bags in your living room! You can even get an inexpensive indoor s’mores maker to roast marshmallows, allowing you to enjoy the special treat without a campfire.

4. Introduce your kids to Mad Libs.

While your kids are out of school, you can keep them learning by introducing them to Mad Libs. The word exercises teach your children parts of speech, but they’re also incredibly fun; your kids will love reading the hilarious, silly stories they’ve created. Turning this into a family activity by making your own or working together to create a story can make it even more entertaining.

5. Reinforce the importance of oral hygiene.

While you have your kids at home for an extended period of time, it’s a great chance to reinforce just how important oral hygiene is. You can read books about it with your kids and make a habit of brushing and flossing your teeth as a family. It’s important for your kids to see you practicing what you preach, so a habit as simple as starting a family oral hygiene routine can greatly improve your kids’ willingness to brush and floss their teeth.

6. Visit Mars—online, of course.

NASA’s Curiosity rover has been on Mars for years now, diligently studying the planet and taking high-resolution photographs of its surface. These pictures have been used to create a 360-degree view of the red planet that your family can see online for free! It’s full of fast facts about the planet, the rover’s mission, and the rover itself; there’s even an image of Curiosity that explains what each part of the rover is designed to do. This makes for an exciting learning experience for kids, especially if they love space; while many of the explanations on the website are too complex for young children to understand, they’ll still love getting a look at Mars.

7. Play hide and seek.

Hide and seek is a classic children’s game for a reason—it’s simple, takes zero time to set up, and it’s incredibly fun for kids. Playing a few rounds of hide and seek as a family will make your kids incredibly happy and can easily entertain your little ones for an hour or more.

8. Cuddle up with a good book.

Reading with your kids is an easy, low-energy activity that won’t create a mess, but it also allows you to get some cuddling in and helps build your kids’ love of reading. It also sneaks in a little learning, helping to improve your child’s reading ability and vocabulary the more you encourage them to read. For a special treat, you can even settle in to listen to a story read by an astronaut in space! Young kids who love science and space or who want to be astronauts one day will absolutely love this.

9. Paint masterpieces together.

If your children are getting a little antsy, you can fill an entire afternoon by setting up a painting craft for them to do. You can do this in your backyard if the weather’s nice, which protects your furniture and is easier to clean up, or you can set it up inside. Your entire family will have a blast going crazy with colors and being creative, and when the afternoon is over your kids’ masterpieces will make great decorations for your refrigerator or presents for their grandparents.

10. Go on an African safari at home.

Africa is full of unique, beautiful wildlife—all of which you can see right from your home computer! There’s a collection of cameras that record live footage of water holes across Africa, day and night. With a little patience, even just an hour or so of monitoring the cameras on and off can earn you and your kids a glimpse of lions, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, antelope, jackals, baboons, and more. This provides a great opportunity for you to teach your kids a little bit about Africa’s wildlife and the challenges they face, and kids who love animals will be thrilled at the chance to see them in the wild.

It’s natural for your whole family to feel the effects of cabin fever after a few days cooped up at home. Thankfully, you can use a mixture of technology and tried-and-true methods like hide and seek to keep everyone happy, entertained, and even learning.