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When you think of a teenager, what immediately comes to mind? High energy, reckless decision-making, and of course, braces. With a whopping 50-70% of American youths in braces at some point, it’s really no wonder that the corrective gear has become such a hallmark of the teenage experience. But despite being familiar with the concept of braces, many people have no idea how to care for them, or how important this actually is. When you consider the fact that the majority of teens are required to wear their braces for 1-3 years before they can be removed, it’s pretty obvious that braces demand TLC — and lots of it. So make sure that you and your teen are doing the following:

1. Clean, Clean, and Clean Some More!

It’s no secret that food has a way of finding its way into braces. The extra material inside of your teen’s mouth creates a place where it’s easy for food particles to get caught. While the wearer may check their reflection frequently to ensure that there’s nothing visible, this doesn’t mean that bits of food couldn’t be lurking beneath the surface. Left unnoticed, this can lead to the growth of bacteria, odors, and discomfort. Consequently, it’s imperative that your teen take the time to brush and floss after every meal or snack. You may even want to talk to your orthodontist about his or her recommendations for special flossing tools and techniques.

2. Know Which Foods to Avoid

Sugar may be delicious, but that doesn’t mean it’s doing your teen’s braces any good. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar content promote tooth decay for everyone, but even more so for those wearing braces as the residue has more opportunities to lurk in the dark and wreak havoc. In addition to this, those in braces should avoid sticky foods. Items such as caramel, taffy, dried fruit, etc. may seem tempting, but can create serious pain, discomfort, food buildup, and other issues since they may become trapped in the braces. In addition, teens should steer clear of hard (or hardish) foods such as hard candies, nuts, and jerky, all of which can break wires and loosen brackets.

3. When In Doubt, Give the Orthodontist a Shout

Let’s face it — accidents with braces do happen. There may come a time when your teen notices that a wire or a bracket has broken, but you should not attempt to correct the issue yourself as this could actually make the problem even worse. You may feel tempted to do so if the problem has created discomfort for your teen, but any sharp edges should simply be covered with wax or a wet cotton ball, and the actual correctional work should be left to the orthodontist. Be sure to make an appointment as soon as you notice that something is amiss. Most orthodontists will be able to squeeze you in for repair or correctional work right away.

4. Stay Close to Your Dentist, Too

Just because you’re visiting your orthodontist regularly doesn’t give you a hall pass on visiting the dentist. Those with braces should continue to come in for bi-annual checkups to ensure that maximum oral health is maintained at all times. The possibility of food and bacteria sticking to braces can increase the risk of cavities, so don’t be a stranger.

Braces have the ability to completely transform a teen’s teeth and appearance, but they can only do wonders when they’re treated properly. By sticking with these simple tips, you’re sure to have the most positive experience with braces as is possible. Give Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, a call for more tips on proper braces care.

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Ho, ho the mistletoe
Hung where you can see!
Somebody waits for you —
Kiss her once for me!
The holiday season is about a lot of things- – gathering with family, celebrating peace on earth, exchanging gifts, taking kids to see Santa, and cuddling up with that special someone next to a crackling fireplace. If you’re hoping to have a “Holly Jolly Christmas” and score beneath the mistletoe, though, you’re going to need to spend some time thinking about oral hygiene. After all, no one wants to lock lips with a partner that has bad breath.
How can you be sure that yours is pleasant and fresh all throughout Christmas day? Here are a few tips for which foods to eat, which foods to avoid, and other tips for keeping your teeth clean.
Foods to Avoid
Christmas dinner is a big part of the special holiday, but you may want to think twice before going overboard on certain dishes. Either plan to avoid the following foods altogether, or be sure to follow our freshening-up tips immediately after eating:
  • Garlic — It’s no surprise that garlic sits at the top of our list. While it may be used to season certain traditional holiday dishes, the odor created by garlic is very pungent and may make your partner or love interest steer clear of the mistletoe.
  • Onions — If you love Christmas casseroles like green bean casserole, you may not want to be told to take it easy on the french fried onions, but abstinence could earn you a kiss from your sweetie. Like garlic, onion has a powerful odor and should be avoided.
  • Spinach — Veggie platters often grace the holiday scene, and with them come yummy dips — including those with spinach in the ingredients list. While very healthy, spinach has a tendency to get stuck in one’s teeth and could cause you to miss a smooching opportunity.
Foods to Embrace
So what should you be eating or drinking? Here are a few of our holiday favorites for fresh breath and clean teeth:
  • Mint — There’s no better natural way to sweeten your breath than to enjoy something minty. Fortunately, Christmastime means that dinner mints, peppermint candy canes, and even mint tea are in ready supply. Pop a mint into your mouth before heading under the mistletoe to wait for your honey.
  • Water — Besides being good for physical health and weight management, drinking plenty of water is essential to keeping your mouth clean and preventing dryness that can lead to bad breath. Staying hydrated will lead you to the kiss you’re hoping for.
  • Fruits and Veggies — Hit the fruit and veggie platter to guarantee that your mouth remains fresh all day long. Citrusy fruits and melons work to kill odor-causing germs in your mouth, while fibrous veggies like carrots and celery will work to remove any food particles that could be hanging out between your teeth and creating either a foul smell or visual distraction.
Other Tips for Christmas Day Oral Hygiene 
In addition to knowing what you should and shouldn’t eat on Christmas day, here are a few other helpful suggestions for keeping your breath fresh this year:
  • Brush Frequently — It’s obvious, but in the holiday rush, the last thing you want to do is to forget to brush your teeth. We suggest brushing and flossing at least twice a day. You might even consider slipping a travel toothbrush in your purse so that you can freshen up while on-the-go.
  • Chew Xylitol Gum — Chewing suger-free gum can help to keep your mouth moist, remove debris, and freshen up your breath. Avoid gum with sugar, though, as the bacteria in your mouth will break it down and create an odor.
By sticking with these tips, you’re sure to find luck beneath the mistletoe this Christmas! Talk to Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, today to learn more about how to keep your breath as fresh as possible, no matter what the season.
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As Christmas grows nearer, the desire for all those little Christmas goodies are likely to increase. Whether you have a weakness for yams, candy canes, cookies, or whatever else, there’s a good chance that your willpower will be tested over the holiday.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of indulging. Everyone does it. However, you must be cognizant of the fact that many of your favorite yuletide treats are loaded with sugar — and that can spell bad news for your teeth and overall oral health. To help you avoid such problems, here are some quick tips for you to follow:

Watch What You Put on Your Plate

Sounds simple enough, right? Yet that’s where so many people fail. After all, with everything going on — the excitement of seeing your family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, enjoying holiday music, and maybe even watching a little football — it’s so easy to get caught up in having fun, so that when everyone forms a line to get food, you just plop down everything you see. We don’t want to take away all of your enjoyment of the holiday, of course, but we suggest that you load up with some healthy items, plus some sweets on the side. Also remember to pace yourself and avoid going back for seconds.

Make Sure That Someone Brings Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Yes, we know it’s Christmas time and everyone wants to bake cookies or craft their favorite casserole. This is all fine and dandy, but there should also be healthy options, such as fresh fruit or a veggie snack tray. You can make a snack tray yourself, of course, but during such a hectic time, it’s probably easier if you just go pick one up at the store. They’re pricier than making one yourself, but they obviously take much less effort. Whether you bring it yourself or make sure someone else will, it’s always nice for those who are trying to stay healthy, for both their weight and dental health.

Bring Sweet Treats That Are a Little Healthier

If you want to indulge your sweet tooth while also limiting the amount of sugar in your desserts, try a holiday favorite that is somewhat healthier than others. Strawberries covered in dark-chocolate, homemade pumpkin pie, and fruit tarts are all better than, say, a chocolate pie with graham cracker crust. We guarantee that these items will be just as popular as anything else being offered. Yes, these items still have a good enough of sugar, but every little bit helps. Your stomach will thank you and so will your teeth.

Take a Walk Before Grabbing Dessert

Have you ever been eating a meal and instead of gradually feeling full, it just happens all at once? That’s because it takes approximately 20 minutes for your body to tell your brain that your stomach is full. This is why many health-conscious people tend to eat smaller meals, or at least to eat at a slower pace. So after you’ve eaten the main course and sides, take a walk around the block to allow some time to pass. Then, once you get back, you have a better chance at realizing how full you are, which means you’ll eat less of the dessert.

As we said, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of indulging. However, if you want to keep your teeth healthy, we recommend that you follow the above tips. In addition, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon after the holiday as possible. Instead of waiting, give Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, a call today and we’ll get you started on better dental health for the upcoming year.

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It’s that time of year again — reindeer, snowmen, fancy lights, and — for some people — gifts. Giving Christmas gifts can be a very fun and rewarding experience. It’s always the thought that counts, but why not give a person something they’ll actually love? Finding a great gift for a family member or friend often boils down to frivolous items, ranging from TVs and iPhones to video games and knick-knacks. There’s nothing wrong with these types of gifts, of course, but what do you do when someone you love prefers more practical items?

If someone on your Christmas list is conscious about their dental health, we just might have the perfect idea of something to stick under their tree. And if an item on our list catches your eye, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to unwrap one of these beauties yourself.

Water Flosser

Everyone knows how important flossing is to your dental health, but it can also be a little annoying. Years ago, certain brands made strides in the development of floss to avoid the string coming apart and getting stuck in your teeth. For many people, these new flosses were a godsend. But now, there’s an even better alternative — the water flosser. This device works by spraying a powerful water jet that removes debris and bacteria from your teeth. It has been clinically proven to be more effective than normal flossing. It’s especially useful for people who wear braces or suffer from gum disease, but will keep everyone’s teeth clean.

Ultraviolet Toothbrush Sanitizer

We’d all like to think that our toothbrushes are free from germs before we put them in our mouths, but the truth is that microorganisms and bacteria can quickly collect on your toothbrush. This is especially common when someone doesn’t replace their toothbrush often enough. Don’t lie — we know it’s a common problem. You can help keep your family member or friend healthy by giving them an ultraviolet toothbrush sanitizer, which uses UV light to kill those nasty critters. That way, the toothbrush is clean from germs every time it’s used.

Electronic Toothbrush

If you’re looking for a way to instantly improve a person’s oral and dental health, giving the gift of an electronic toothbrush is definitely the way to go. When used properly, an electronic toothbrush will clean better and more thoroughly than manual ones. Of course, it’s possible that a dental-conscious person will already have an electronic toothbrush. If that’s the case, buy them an upgrade one. And, remember — kids love them, too, because they’re fun to use. Give one a try and see for yourself!

Toothpaste Tube Wringer

We can put a man on the moon and a powerful mini-computer in our pocket, but we just can’t seem to develop a toothpaste tube that gets all of the toothpaste out. Sure, there are certain tubes that do a better job than others, but an aftermarket product like a toothpaste tube wringer is the most versatile — and effective — way to make sure that you get the most toothpaste out of that tube as humanly possible. It’s a great way to avoid waste and save money.

If you’re looking for a great gift for yourself or someone you care about, you can’t go wrong with any of these items. Just remember that even if you have the very best devices on the market meant to improve oral and dental health, you still need to be seeing your dentist on a regular basis. You’ll probably be eating a lot of food throughout the holiday, so when you’re ready for that much-needed check-up, contact Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, and we’ll get you started for 2016!

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If you have kids, there’s a good chance that you know how hard it is to get them to focus on good oral hygiene. Children just don’t have the ability to truly understand the importance of oral and dental health. To them, it’s a chore that must be done, and they don’t like that.

This is where you come in. As a parent, it is imperative that you help them to understand its importance. But even more so, you need to find ways to get your children into the habit of brushing and flossing on a regular basis. But, it doesn’t stop there. Healthy teeth are an essential part of the puzzle, but they also need to learn other basic hygiene tips. Here are a few strategies you can use for all of your child’s hygiene needs:

Lead by Example

Children mimic the things that parents do. If you don’t follow proper hygiene procedures, chances are your children won’t either. So before you start your children on any kind of plan meant to improve their hygiene, make sure that you are already doing all of those things. If not, they’ll become confused as to why you say one thing and do another.

Provide a Demonstration

Whether you’re talking about brushing, bathing, or anything in between, children need to be shown what to do. It may not stick with them the first time, so be prepared to repeat yourself until the child understands the best way to perform each task.

Positive Reinforcement

Children instinctively want to make their parents proud and will respond favorably when you provide them with positive reinforcement. A great way to do this is to create a chart that can track their hygiene activities, which can include brushing their teeth, flossing, washing hands, bathing, etc. Set up a prize at the end of a certain cycle and they’ll actually want to follow the procedures.

Books and Stories

There are plenty of books available on the market that help children realize the importance of good hygiene. They’ll teach kids about germs and bacteria, and how brushing their teeth, washing their hands, and other such activities will keep them healthy and safe. And if your child has a smartphone, you can also download apps to the phone that provide the same kind of information.

Design a Routine and Stick to It

If your hygiene routine is all over the place, it will be hard for a child to stick with it. What you need to do is design a hygiene routine for morning, day, and night, and then make sure you stick with it as much as possible. After a while, the routine will become an automatic response.

Make It Fun

Let’s face it — brushing and flossing can be an extremely boring chore. Children need stimulation if you want them to follow a routine. You’ll want to figure out what is best for your child, but two popular ideas is to use character-oriented toothbrushes and toothpaste, and to play a song that they can dance or sway along to while they’re working on their hygiene.

Good hygiene is important for everyone, and instilling that into your children is the best way to ensure that they grow up to be hygiene-conscious adults. In addition to the tips listed above, you also need to take them to see a dentist on a regular basis. If you need to make an appointment for check-up or cleaning, whether it’s for your children or you, contact the office of Dr. Bruce McArthur, DDS, today and we’ll get your entire family started on good oral and dental health.

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