Because developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, February is designated for National Children's Dental Health Month. Now in its 63rd year, this month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and others to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and adults, caregivers, teachers and many others. Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialize. We believe in innovative oral health education so that parents and children understand the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of a good oral hygiene regime. A few key lessons include: Teach kids about how sugar impacts their teeth. We might understand it, but it can be hard for children to understand that the fizzy drinks they’re consuming and the sweets they’re eating are directly impacting their oral health. With very young children, delay introducing sugary drinks as long as possible. If they only have milk and water, they don’t want anything else. As they get older, you can discuss the sugar content of products and make your child aware of the risks. Sometimes it comes down to showing children how much sugar is in their food. Encourage oral hygiene by example. Children will understand the importance of tooth brushing if they see their parents taking care of their teeth. There are a few ways parents can help teach kids that looking after their teeth is important from an early age: make it part of your everyday routine, brush before bed and at one other time during the day. Make sure you have time to do this properly with the children. We often advise that children’s brushing should be monitored until they are seven years old. We also prefer that parents get children involved as much as possible. Get them to pick a toothbrush with their favorite character, or play their favorite music while they're brushing (there are even apps for this!) There are also mobile games which you can brush along to ‘kill all the bugs’ which help motivate them. A reward chart to track their brushing habits and also diet habits too are great ways of getting them actively involved. The next big step is to get them to the dentist - something kids can (understandably) get scared about. We'll have tips for calming nerves and preparing your child in an upcoming blog.      
[caption id="attachment_1597" align="aligncenter" width="900"][/caption] It’s the most wonderful time of the year… holiday parties, social occasions galore and, of course, mistletoe! Whether you’re holiday plans are filled with company parties or gatherings with old friends, the last thing you want to do is make an unpleasant impression with bad breathe, teeth stains, or spinach and artichoke dip stuck in your teeth. How can you keep your teeth clean and your breath fresh during your holiday parties and get togethers without going to the bathroom every 5 minutes to check in the mirror or brush your teeth? Here are 3 simple tips: Drink to your health (and your breath). If you want to keep your smile bright, you should avoid drinking soda, black tea, coffee and red wine, which can stain your teeth. If you do drink these, the best way to avoid stains is to rinse your mouth with water immediately after consuming these beverages. Water helps keep bad breath under control because it washes away food particles and bacteria, the primary cause of bad breath. It also helps you avoid “dry mouth,” another cause of bad breath, by staying well-hydrated. Take advantage of the healthy holiday snacks. While the spread at many holiday parties consists of lots of sweets and libations, there are some healthy holiday snacks that can keep your teeth clean and your breathe fresh. Parsley and peppermint are two staples during the holiday season and can be extremely helpful when you’re in desperate need. Parsley is a breath-saver because it contains chlorophyll, a known breath deodorizer. You can also splash a drop of peppermint oil into your sparkling water and you are good to go for hours. We wouldn’t recommend it in your beer though. Keep quick cleaning basics close by. It might be impossible for you to brush your teeth each time you eat or between parties. Portable oral care basics like floss, Whisps, and mouthwash are great ways for a quick freshen up. They can also help remove the bacteria from hidden spaces that can’t be flushed out just by drinking water. Whatever your plans are this holiday, we hope that your days (and your teeth) will be merry and white. Happy Holidays from our entire staff!
It's that time of year again! Screen-Shot-2014-10-28-at-9.07.57-AM.png For the fifth year in a row, we are teaming to support The Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and help fight hunger. Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.08.41 AM The need for donations is real! Did you know that 1 in 6 Tennesseeans struggle with hunger and at least 25% of children in Tennessee are food insecure? But working together we can make a real difference. Last year alone we collected over 1000 non-perishable food items that helped feed many of your neighbors here in middle Tennessee. We were, quite literally, TRIPPING over your GENEROUS donations for weeks! Trippin In exchange for helping us feed the hungry we are offering FREE CUSTOM FIT BLEACHING TRAYS! Just bring in 30 non-perishable food items during the month of November and we will schedule you for an appointment to have your custom fit trays fabricated. If you already have the trays, bring in 15 items and we will restock your bleach. To provide optimal bleaching results and ensure that prescription bleaching methods are a safe and effective option for you, an exam and recent cleaning are required. Give us a call for further details. Please pass the word along to your friends, family, and coworkers! We look forward to seeing you soon!
IMG_0919Here's a rundown of our hours for the next two weeks: CLOSED: 12/24 and 12/25 Regular hours 12/28 - 12/30 (admin day only on 12/31) CLOSED New Year's Day If you have a dental emergency, call our office and the emergency line is listed on the voicemail. We wish you a wonderful holiday season!
[caption id="attachment_1390" align="aligncenter" width="500"]image via image via[/caption] We're never going to tell anyone they shouldn't enjoy a drink (especially around the holidays), but there are some dental dangers to over-imbibing. But are moderate drinkers at risk for serious tooth and mouth disease? There isn’t much conclusive medical evidence, but dentists say that they see the effects of moderate drinking regularly. The main threat to your teeth and gums comes from the sugar content in alcohol (including beer) which, when broken down in your mouth, creates an acidic breeding ground for bacteria and plaque. There is also a strong clinical link between the excessive consumption of alcohol and head and neck cancers. In fact, while it can increase the risk of getting these diseases if used together with tobacco, alcohol can pose a risk in its own right. People most often associate the health risks of excessive alcohol drinking with damage to the liver or stomach lining. But during Alcohol Awareness Month, Delta Dental warns that alcohol abuse can also prove harmful to oral health. It is estimated that each year in the United States there will be more than 30,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed and about one person every hour will die from this disease. 1. Heavy alcohol consumption is a risk factor for oral cancer.* According to the American Cancer Society, about 70 percent of oral cancer patients consume alcohol frequently. 2. Tobacco smoking (i.e., cigarette, pipe or cigar smoking), particularly when combined with heavy alcohol consumption, has been identified as the primary risk factor for approximately 75 percent of oral cancers in the U.S. 3. Using tobacco with alcohol poses a much greater risk than ingesting either substance alone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are approximately 17.6 million adults who are alcoholics or have alcohol problems.3 People with alcohol problems also tend to neglect other healthy habits like eating properly or taking care of daily hygiene. A small 2003 study conducted at an alcohol rehabilitation center found that residents had a higher incidence of periodontal (gum) disease and cavities.

Limiting the Damage

  • Most importantly, after a night out, you should brush and floss your teeth before going to bed. If you often forget to do this, leave your tooth brush on your pillow before you go out to remind you to spend a couple of minutes brushing.
  • While you’re drinking try to swish a mouthful of water around every so often to increase the saliva flow and rinse away sugars and acid in your mouth
  • On your way home, chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow and clear the mouth of harmful sugars and acid.
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IMG_4643With summer in full swing, you might start craving some of your favorite hot weather treats. What could be better than a fun family barbecue, a trip to the fair, or a refreshing popsicle by the pool? Read on to learn more about how your favorite summer treats can affect your dental health and what you can do to maintain your smile.

Healthy Snack Options

Summer offers a bounty of food options that can improve your overall well-being and enhance your dental health. These include:
  • Corn: This plant is at its prime sweetness during the hottest months of the year. It can be delicious when grilled, barbequed, or steamed, either on the cob or off of it. Corn is rich in important compounds that benefit dental health, including phosphorous, magnesium, thiamin, fiber, and vitamin C. Just make sure to floss after enjoying your corn so that it doesn’t remain stuck between your teeth for the rest of the day.
  • Salads: crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and vibrant carrots make up a healthy summer salad. In addition to providing important nutrients and fiber, raw vegetables can naturally scrub debris from your teeth to keep them shiny and clean.
  • Fish: Many people enjoy lighter meals during the summer, and fish is an excellent protein option for this purpose. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish can help fight gum disease and benefit your general health.
  • Berries: One of the best parts of summer is enjoying sweet, luscious, delectable berries. 1-800-Dentist points out that “ripe, juicy, red strawberries are the perfect snack for self proclaimed ‘sugar addicts’ as the perfect berry will taste better than any candy out there, minus the risks and with vitamins and minerals essential for fueling the human body.” Berries often contain vitamin C, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and even cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Less Than Ideal Summertime Treats

Unfortunately, while they’re tasty, some of our favorite summer foods aren’t the best for our teeth. The barbeque sauce that gives a special zing to your ribs and steaks on the grill can be spicy or acidic, wearing down your enamel. Many people also enjoy sipping on sweet cocktails on vacation or out by the pool, but these sugary beverages can feed decay-causing bacteria. Cold treats like frozen popsicles and ice creams can also coat your mouth in sticky syrup, contributing to dental plaque on your teeth and even beneath your gums. Munching on potato chips or other starchy snacks can also contribute to plaque formation. While they are delectable, we recommend limiting your consumption of these types of summertime treats and remaining especially conscientious about your oral hygiene if you do.

Summer Smile Suggestions

In addition to enjoying healthy summer foods and limiting your consumption of potentially damaging treats, you can take simple, proactive steps to improve your oral hygiene this summer. These include:
  • Drinking plenty of water. Especially in summer heat, staying hydrated is very important. Dr. Flanagan and our team recommend swishing your mouth with water after eating to wash away debris and improve your saliva flow.
  • Chewing xylitol gum. This artificial sweetener tastes great and can help fight cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Setting aside specific snacking times. Munching on sugary, starchy treats throughout the day constantly exposes your teeth to them, raising your risk for decay and other dental issues. Limiting your summer food fun to specific times can help you relish your treats while preserving your smile.
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth. You should brush at least twice per day and floss at least once.
  • Coming in to our practice for regular cleanings and examinations. Dr. Clark recommends that patients come in at least twice a year for a check-up. Attending these routine visits allows us to catch and treat any oral health conditions before they worsen.

Enjoy Summer Refreshments and a Dazzling Grin

By taking advantage of wholesome summer treats, avoiding certain snacks, and keeping up your oral hygiene regimen, you can appreciate everything the season has to offer while maintaining your smile.  

If there’s one thing that can ruin the most romantic holiday of the year, it’s bad breath. In a recent survey, 45 percent of the 5,000 singles polled listed fresh breath as the most important consideration when prepping for a date and both women (71 percent) and men (58 percent) said that teeth matter most when scrutinizing a potential match.

Whether you’re married or single… going on a first-date or celebrating your 25th Valentine’s Day together, you don’t want bad breath to become a major embarrassment if you’re snuggling up to your sweetie and he or she asks you what you had for lunch. And you definitely don’t want to have your significant other give you breath mints as a gift like this famous celebrity couple.

Most of these ideas won’t be new to you, but if you want to be kissable this Valentine’s Day, here’s what you should do:

Before the Date

  • Brush your teeth -- and tongue -- before your date
  • Floss in the morning and before your date to remove any food that might be stuck in your teeth.
  • Kill all existing germs in your mouth with mouthwash
  • Eat yogurt or dairy-based food for breakfast to replenish good bacteria in your gut. 

During Dinner

  • Order a “breath-friendly” foods. If you need ideas, our Facebook Page has several head-to-toe healthy foods to choose from.
  • Avoid foods that cause bad breath such as garlic and onions.
  • Drink lots of water along with your other beverages during dinner.
  • If you left the mints at home, gnaw on a garnish. The herbs that garnish your dinner plate can help to neutralize bad breath caused by sulfides given off by the bacteria in dental plaque.
  • When the dessert menu comes your way, steer clear of that chocolate cake and instead look for a dessert full of berries, oranges or apples, which will strengthen your breath by increasing saliva production
  • If you can skip the coffee, sip lemon tea. Lemons can do wonders at neutralizing bad breath!
  • Bring a toothpick or flosser and head to the bathroom and make sure there’s nothing between your teeth after you eat, and rinse your mouth out with water.
  • Just in case… bring a travel toothbrush & excuse yourself to the restroom.

After Dinner

  • Reduce upset stomachs to ease bad breath, especially if you suffer from acid-reflux.
  • Chew gum with xylitol to banish bad breath after dinner & dessert.

With 2014 officially upon us, many Nashvillians have kicked off their New Year’s resolutions. While people know eating right, tossing the smokes and exercising are all part of leading a healthier lifestyle, most are not aware of the overall health benefits of taking care of their teeth.

Here are 3 common resolutions that also help you take care of your teeth:

Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A poor diet that consists of sugary treats and fast food can result in premature loss of tooth enamel, resulting in a weaker tooth structure. Due to this, it is especially important that you try to maintain a healthy diet. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are full of valuable antioxidants and nutrients that help your body – and your mouth – fight off bacteria and infection. If you want more ideas about healthy foods that help your teeth, check out our “Head to Toe Healthy Food Choice” on Facebook.

Quit Smoking. This is another common resolution most people make during the New Year. As we all know, the effects of smoking can lead to serious health complications, including gum disease, bone loss, and oral cancer. While the impact it has in improving your long-term health is widely known, what you may not know is how it can benefit your teeth. Smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers.

Give up carbonated beverages. Many people resolve to drink the recommended eight glasses a day of water each year.  Eight or more glasses a day leads to feeling better and can is beneficial to your mouth as it cleans your teeth. For example, if you drink a glass of wine and follow with water, the wine has less time to sit and stain your teeth.  In addition to that, the fluoride in most tap water fights cavities. Drinking water will not only improve your overall health, but also improve your oral health.

We hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2014 and we wish you all the best achieving your goals!

What are some of your New Year’s resolutions for 2014?

Last month we hosted our 2nd Annual Downtown Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. And we were blown away by the way you responded!

We were overwhelmed by the compassion you showed and we are so grateful for everyone who donated or helped collect food for those in need. We’re truly inspired by your generosity. YOU donated 1196 food items! That's nearly 100 items more than we received last year. Thank you to our patients and other downtown residents and business professionals who came together to help feed familiies across Middle Tennessee this holiday season!

How you can continue to give back this holiday season

While the food you collected will help feed hundreds of families, the need is still great….

  • There are 103,000 people in Davidson County who classify as food insecure according to Second Harvest.
  • 1 in 6 Tennesseans will struggle with hunger this Holiday season.
  • 1 in 4 children are at risk of suffering from hunger, especially during the break from school.
  • Over 395,000 people in Middle Tennessee who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, much less what they’re going to eat for their holiday meals.

Whether you missed the food drive or you’re looking for ways to continue to give back this holiday season, here are a few simple ways you can provide food to those in need this holiday season:

  • Second Harvest has created some really cool ways for you to continue to give back this Holiday season. One way you can continue to help Second Harvest is by donating your lose change to help them fight hunger. Another simple way to help is to volunteer to help assist with the preparation, serving, and clean up at their First Harvest Café.  
  • The Nashville Food Project is another incredible organization helping to fight hunger in our city. Whether you enjoy growing food in a garden or preparing home-cooked meals, they provide several opportunities for you to use your skills and love of food to help those in need.
  • Community Food Advocates is an organization that was created in 2009 to address the root causes of hunger and poverty, and Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee. Located in East Nashville, the organization is doing incredible things to help those affected by recent reduction in food stamp benefits and there are numerous ways for you to help out.

These are just a few of the incredible ways you can help to bring a smile to someone in need this holiday season, but they’re definitely not the only ways to give back.

What are some other ways that you enjoy giving back here in Nashville during the holidays?

Last week we launched our 2nd Annual Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. The donations have already started to pour in….

 Give a little. Receive a little…

While they say it’s better to give than to receive, we wanted to find a way to help you do both…. Because we’re so inspired by the generosity of our patients and other downtown residents and employees, we want to celebrate when you give. We are once again going to be offering FREE custom teeth whitening* for anyone that bring 15 non-perishable food products.  If you already have your teeth whitening kit, you can bring in 10 non-perishable food items for a complimentary tube of our prescription-strength whitening bleach (22% hydrogen peroxide strength).

 2 easy steps to whiten your smile while giving back this Holiday

If you want to take advantage of our offer, all you need to do is: 1)     Bring in food items during the month of November. 2)     Schedule an appointment to have custom fit trays made if you donate 15 items and want to receive a free teeth-whitening kit. We hope you’ll join us in helping to make other Middle Tennesseans smile this Holiday season. As we continue to help our patients stay healthy from head to toe, we look forward to partnering with you as we pass that opportunity onto the hundreds of thousands of other Middle Tennesseans who might not have that opportunity otherwise. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our office at 615-254-1393!
*Note: In order to assure there are no contraindications to the procedure, patients must have had a recent cleaning and exam before Downtown Dental can fabricate custom bleaching trays and prescribe prescription strength bleach.