Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727

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Why It's Important to Start Dental Care Early for Children

Children should visit a dentist within the first six months after their first tooth erupts, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Many parents don't realize the importance of taking their children to the dentist at such an early age. They may think that as long as their child brushes and flosses regularly, they don't need to see a dentist. However, there are many benefits to taking your child to the dentist early on.

Instill Healthy Habits

The first tooth in your child is prone to cavities. Once your child has a cavity, it's more likely that they will get cavities in their other teeth. Therefore, you need to take your child to the dentist early to learn how to care for their teeth properly. Some of the things your child will learn include:

  • How to properly brush their teeth
  • How to floss correctly
  • What foods can damage their teeth
  • How to make dental habits fun

Once your child learns these healthy habits, they're more likely to continue them into adulthood.

Ease Dental Anxiety

According to a study in the Journal of Dental Hygiene, 50% to 80% of adult Americans have some form of dental anxiety. Up to 15% of these Americans avoid going to the dentist entirely because of this anxiety. This fear of the dentist often starts in childhood. If your child has a negative experience at the dentist, they're more likely to be afraid of going to the dentist as an adult.

However, if you take your child to the dentist early and often, they'll become more comfortable with the idea of going to the dentist. Some techniques that can help ease your child's dental anxiety include:

  • Choosing a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist is a dentist who has gone through extra training to work with children. They're more likely to be patient and understanding of your child's fear.
  • Using positive reinforcement. Try to praise your child when they cooperate with the dentist. You can also give them a small reward after their appointment.
  • Distracting your child. Bring a toy or book for your child to focus on during their appointment. You can also ask the dentist to explain what they're doing as they do it.

These techniques will decrease the chance that your child develops a lasting fear of the dentist.

Detect Oral Health Issues Early

Oral health problems often don't show any symptoms in their early stages. As a result, it may be hard to tell if your child has a problem.

However, if you take your child to the dentist regularly, the dentist can detect these problems early. Early detection allows for early treatment, which is often more effective than treating the problem later on. Some common oral health issues in children include:

  • Tooth decay. The cause of tooth decay is bacteria in the mouth. It can lead to pain, infections, and tooth loss.
  • Gum disease. Gum disease develops due to an infection of the gums. Its symptoms are redness, swelling, and bleeding. If not treated in good time, gum disease can damage the bones that support the teeth.
  • Oral thrush. Oral thrush is a fungal infection of the mouth. It can cause white patches on the tongue and inside of the cheeks.
  • Cavities. Cavities are holes in the teeth that result from excessive tooth decay. They can cause pain, infections, and tooth loss.
  • Thumb sucking. Thumb sucking can cause misaligned teeth and an overbite.

All of these issues can have a negative impact on your child’s future oral health if you do not address them promptly.

Take Your Child to the Dentist Today

If you haven't started taking your child to the dentist yet, now is a great time to begin. Your child will grow up with perfect teeth and a healthy smile.

Look no further than Airport Road Dental Associates if you need a child's dentist in Valparaiso and Chesterton. We've been providing personalized care to our patients since 1972. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child.

You may have heard or read many warnings over the years about the potential dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, including heightened risks for liver disease, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. However, you might not realize that alcohol can also have some negative impacts on your dental and oral wellness.

Once you've gained a basic understanding of alcohol's effects on your teeth, gums, and mouth, you'll most likely want to keep your drinking habits under relatively firm control. Take a look at four sound dental reasons you might want to limit your consumption of beer, wine, distilled spirits, and cocktails.

1. Alcohol Dries Teeth and Gums

If you've ever suffered from an unpleasantly dry mouth after a night of drinking, you've had firsthand experience with one potential dental complication related to alcohol consumption. As a diuretic, alcohol reduces the body's water stores. At the same time, it inhibits the production of saliva.

Because saliva helps to protect tooth enamel against plaque buildup and bacterial infiltration, a chronically dry mouth increases your risk for tooth decay. The plaque accumulation may also lead to gingivitis and other gum diseases. You may even develop an oral yeast infection known as thrush.

2. Alcohol Alters Your Bacterial Balance

A healthy mouth actually does contain its share of bacteria, with the healthy strains helping to limit the progress of the destructive ones. Research has shown that the mouths of heavy drinkers contain smaller numbers of these healthy bacteria, as well as larger numbers of the more harmful strains.

Scientists haven't yet determined exactly why this imbalance occurs, although it may involve the production of acids in the mouth or the production of toxins by the overgrowing harmful bacteria. In any case, minimizing your drinking would seem a sensible strategy for maintaining a healthier oral ecosystem.

3. Alcohol Can Promote Oral Cancer

People who abuse alcohol increase their risk for oral cancer. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation names alcohol abuse the second leading cause of this potentially deadly disease. Alcohol plus tobacco use raises the risk for oral cancer exponentially, but either substance also raises the risk on its own.

Alcohol may also have a less direct effect on your oral cancer risk. Researchers have noted that people who have cirrhosis of the liver (a disease often from excessive drinking) also develop changes in their throat and mouth tissues that make those tissues more vulnerable to cancer.

4. Alcohol Can Make You Careless

Alcohol can impair your physical coordination as well as your mental judgment. This combination of impairments can make you more vulnerable to accidents such as tripping over curbs or getting into automotive collisions. The impacts from these kinds of injuries can result in cracked, broken, or even lost teeth.

Even if you don't injure yourself after a few too many drinks, the mental fuzziness common after heavy drinking could cause you to neglect your dental hygiene. Inconsistent brushing, flossing, and dental checkups can leave you with cavities and gum disease that may call for extensive treatment.

Alcohol also interferes with the body's absorption of nutrients. If your body doesn't receive and absorb critical nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin A, you can suffer from tooth damage or gum disease. Insufficient levels of vitamin C can weaken the connective tissues that hold your teeth in place.

Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, can provide you with ongoing dental evaluations and guidance, including dietary and lifestyle advice, to help you keep your mouth in optimal condition for decades to come. Contact our office to schedule a consultation or any treatment you might require.

Just because you smoke or used to smoke doesn't mean you can't do something to prevent bad breath, tooth decay, teeth discoloration, and gum disease. While the best way to maintain your oral health would be to quit smoking if you still do, that may be easier said than done. Below are some of the best oral health tips to follow if you're a smoker or ex-smoker. 

1. Brush and Floss Regularly 

While this is a requirement for everyone, smokers are more prone to oral health issues such as tooth stains, tooth loss, and gum disease. Make it a habit to brush and floss at least twice a day to prevent the harm caused by smoking. 

It's advisable to brush right after smoking to remove the tar and other chemicals left on the teeth. The more you wait, the more the chemicals set in, making them harder to remove. Don't forget to clean the tongue as it can harbor lots of bacteria that cause bad breath and compromise your sense of taste. 

2. Use an Appropriate Toothbrush and Toothpaste

In order to tackle the tobacco stains and clear away damaging substances, use a toothbrush with soft bristles. It should be flexible enough to reach all areas of your mouth for a thorough clean. However, in the eagerness to remove your tooth stains, avoid the temptation of brushing aggressively as it can damage your teeth and gums.

Use toothpaste specifically made for smokers if possible. Such kinds of toothpaste have stronger chemicals and more intense mint flavoring to fight off bacteria and improve the freshness of your breath. 

3. Rinse With a Mouthwash

One of the biggest complaints amongst smokers and ex-smokers is their bad breath. Rinsing your mouth daily with mouthwash can eliminate bad breath and keep your mouth healthy. Since smoking encourages the growth of bacteria in the mouth, choose an antibacterial mouthwash that can kill the bacteria. 

4. Avoid Teeth-Staining Foods and Beverages

Highly acidic foods and beverages can cause stains and erode your enamel, and this is even more true for smokers who may already have weakened enamel. Stay away from coffee, soda, berries, and pasta sauce. And if you must consume them, do it in moderation. Foods rich in protein, vitamins, fiber, and calcium are best for the health of your teeth. These include leafy greens, celery, carrots, and cheese. 

5. Whiten Your Teeth

Nicotine and tar from cigarettes usually cause teeth stains over time. But the good news is that you can reverse these effects through professional teeth whitening. This procedure can remove even the deepest and most stubborn stains, and you will experience the results immediately. Ideally, get professional teeth whitening if you have already quit smoking. If you are still smoking, it won't be long before the nicotine and tar discolor your teeth again. 

6. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Visiting your dentist regularly is the most reliable way to keep your oral health intact. First, your dentist will conduct professional cleanings to eliminate the buildup of tartar between your teeth and gums. They will also scrub your teeth to remove plaque. 

The dentist will also perform an oral examination to check for other deeper issues such as cavities, tooth decay, periodontitis, and oral cancer. Catching these problems early is crucial in managing or treating the problem. Due to the multiple oral health risks associated with smoking, visit your dentist at least twice a year. You may even need more frequent visits if you have an ongoing oral condition. 

Whether you're a smoker or ex-smoker, following the tips above can help maintain your oral health. And if you need a dental checkup, professional teeth whitening, or any other dental service, contact us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC.

Are you one of the people who think that oral health only involves teeth? While you cannot brush your gum, your oral hygiene will determine its condition. Therefore, even if you have cavity-free teeth and a bright smile, your gums are still at risk of gum disease if you don't practice good oral hygiene. Gum disease occurs when plaque accumulates around your teeth's roots, spreading bacteria into your gum.

Luckily, you can prevent gum disease using the simple practices below.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene at Home

Though some causes of gum diseases like hormonal changes and low immunity may be out of your control, you can prevent gum disease by simply practicing good oral hygiene. When you fail to brush or floss your teeth every day, plaque will build up on your teeth and inflame your gum, leading to gum disease.

However, brushing your teeth two times a day eliminates the bacteria that cause gum disease. You should also brush your tongue, as it can also harbor bacteria.

Get Regular Dental Cleanings

Even if you brush and floss your teeth daily, you still need professional teeth cleaning to remove plaque and tarter in the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth, like the inner side of your teeth. Your dentist can also spot the signs of dental disease during the checkup and help you prevent its spread.

Stop Smoking

You are at a higher risk for gum disease if you are a smoker. Smoking is a major cause of gum disease as it exacerbates bacterial plague. In addition, since smoking decreases your body's ability to fight off infections, you may struggle to heal damaged gums when you are a smoker.

Another reason you are at a higher risk of gum disease as a smoker is the inability to spot the disease in its early stages. Bleeding gums is the first symptom of gingivitis, but a smoker may not experience it since the nicotine in cigarettes restricts the flow of blood into gums.

Stay Hydrated

Do you know that your saliva prevents dental plaque? First, saliva clears leftovers from your mouth, inhibiting the growth of bacteria that form dental plaque. The antibodies in your saliva also minimize the number of disease-causing bacteria in your body.

Therefore, you should drink enough water to produce enough saliva to perform these two functions.

Watch What You Eat

What you eat has a significant impact on your dental health. For example, sugary foods, like cakes and candies, will provide the food that the harmful bacteria in your mouth need to thrive. On the other hand, a balanced diet will improve your immunity, enabling your body to fight diseases, including periodontal diseases.

Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

Since vitamin C deficiency is one of the causes of gum disease, you can take in more of this vitamin to prevent the disease and treat its symptoms. More vitamin C intake will also stop gum disease symptoms like bleeding and swelling gums. Some common sources of vitamin C include oranges, kiwis, strawberries, and vitamin C supplements.  

Use Fluoride Toothpaste

Nowadays, you have to choose your best toothpaste from various brands on the market. While you can choose any color and flavor, the best toothpaste to prevent gum disease should have fluoride and an ADA seal of acceptance.

The above combination of actions and habits should help prevent gum disease for a happier and healthier life. However, you should continue with your annual dental checkup to ensure the early detection and prevention of gum disease and other oral health issues. At Airport Road Dental Associates, we have all the experience and tools needed to prevent and treat a myriad of dental issues. Book an appointment today to experience our personalized dental services.

Are you unhappy with your smile? The reasons vary widely — from old tooth injuries to an inability to sufficiently whiten teeth — but the solution may be the same: veneers. To help you decide if veneers are right for you, here are a few answers to common questions you may have.

What are Veneers?

Veneers are a slim shell designed to look like regular teeth. Dentists place veneers on top of your actual teeth and hide these behind a more attractive, tailored appearance that replicates the smile you want. The dentist will slim down your original teeth to provide a base for the veneer, which is then color-matched to be indistinguishable from adjacent teeth. 

You may receive a temporary veneer to use while the permanent replacement is molded, allowing you to see how the final product will look. Once satisfied, the dentist will bond it to your tooth and shape it into a pleasing form. 

What are Veneers Made From? 

Veneers today are made from one of two common materials. The first is a composite, similar to the material used to fill cavities and other tooth defects. Composite is widely available and less expensive than other materials, and it is often reversible should you decide to change your smile later. However, it may be a little less hardy as well, having a shorter lifespan. 

The other material is porcelain. These veneers are a more complex process and generally take more time than composite. However, you get more years of service from porcelain in return. The biggest difference between the two is also how much of your own tooth must be altered for the porcelain shell as compared to composites. 

How Long Do Veneers Last?

So, veneers will give you an immediate smile makeover. But will they last? Modern dental technology has extended veneers' lifespans with better quality processes and materials. Composite veneers often last between five and seven years, with porcelain veneers lasting a decade or even longer. 

Aside from veneers' hardness and structure, the length of time they work for you will also depend on how well they resist changes in color. Tooth-staining habits like drinking excessive tea and coffee, smoking, eating soy sauce, and chewing berries can alter the color of the veneers just as it can your natural teeth. If the veneer changes color compared to surrounding teeth, they may need replacement. 

How Do You Care for Veneers?

Once your veneers are set and stable, and you're happy with their look, they function just like your original teeth in most circumstances. In some ways, they'll be even better. If you've been extra cautious with daily activities due to bad teeth or have been trying to whiten yours, you'll no longer struggle with these problems. 

Your dentist may advise you to be a little more careful with very hard foods, such as ice or bones, as the shell of the veneer can be more susceptible to chipping. The dentist can often shave small imperfections during regular visits. You will also continue with proper dental hygiene just as with natural teeth. Failure to keep up with good dental hygiene could result in your gums shrinking to expose the edge of the veneer. 

Where Can You Learn More

Do veneers sound like something that could help you in your everyday life? No matter what tooth appearance problems you want to solve, it could be a great answer. Begin by learning more about how veneers work and what you might expect with yours. 

The team at Airport Road Dental Associates can help. We've assisted many of your Indiana neighbors in improving their teeth through veneers and other modern dental techniques, and we can help you. Call today to make an appointment.





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