Build Mouth-Healthy Habits For Your Kids

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AS PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN, you probably feel like you barely have time to take proper care of your own teeth most days, so wrestling your kids into the bathroom to brush their teeth too can seem close to impossible. Parenting will always have its struggles, but this is one we can help you out with.

Yes, Healthy Baby Teeth Are A Priority

Some parents might mistakenly believe that it isn’t important to take care of their kids’ baby teeth—they’re just going to be replaced in a few years, right? While it’s true that they’ll get their adult teeth eventually, baby teeth serve the important function of setting the spacing for those adult teeth.

It’s better to invest the time it takes to properly care for your children’s teeth now rather than increasing the chances that they’ll need years of expensive orthodontics as teenagers.

Watch the video below to learn how to properly brush your child’s teeth:

Now that we’ve seen the proper technique, how do we get those toddlers to sit still long enough to brush their teeth?

Handy Tricks For Squirmy Toddlers

When it comes to brushing a toddler’s teeth, sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that’s okay! The most important thing is not missing any brushings.

  • Don’t feel like you can only brush their teeth in the bathroom. If you have a toothbrush on hand, you can use it wherever you are. It’s easier to ambush the three-year-old when you don’t have to drag him all the way to the sink.
  • Out of toothpaste? Brush anyway! Maybe you can’t find it one day, maybe you ran out, or maybe the entire bottle was used to make a portrait on the bathroom mirror or floor. Just brush their teeth without toothpaste until you can restock.
  • Encourage them to “brush” a toy’s teeth if they’re too young to brush their own teeth without help but old enough to understand what a toothbrush is for. Help your kids see how important dental hygiene is by having them take care of their favorite toy’s smile! Use an old toothbrush and skip the water and toothpaste.
  • Play fun music or use an hourglass to get them to that two-minute goal. These might work better than a digital timer.
  • Brush in front of the mirror. Instead of parking them on the toilet to get them to hold still, let your child see the toothbrushing process in the mirror, like they will when they can do it themselves. They’ll feel much more involved this way, and they won’t associate brushing with using the potty.
  • Treat brushing like a priority. Don’t act impatient about it around your kids, or they’ll get the message that brushing is an inconvenience.
  • Have fun! Brushing shouldn’t feel like a punishment for them. Even if they sometimes make the process difficult for you, the more you can act like brushing their teeth is fun, the happier they’ll be to cooperate!

Building A Life-Long Habit

Brushing your children’s teeth is about instilling them with good habits they’ll maintain for the rest of their lives. Do you have a good tooth-brushing routine already? We’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, let us know which of these strategies helped you and your kids the most!

Thank you for being part of our practice

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Abigail Batchelder used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What To Expect At Your Next Dental Checkup

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VISITING YOUR DENTIST every six months is an important part of maintaining your oral health. Not only does it keep your smile clean, but it can help you keep an eye on your overall health too!

For some, it may have been a while since your last visit or you or a loved one may be apprehensive about visiting the dentist. Knowing what to expect can help relieve much of this anxiety, so today we want to explain the basics of what happens during your bi-annual cleaning and how you can prepare for your next appointment!

Gather Necessary Information Beforehand

Discussing your family history may not be the first thing you think of when scheduling your dental appointment, but being familiar with your family’s medical history allows us to better care for your oral and overall health.

Like many other conditions such as heart disease and certain forms of cancer, periodontal disease has strong genetic ties that can run in your family. Knowing your family’s medical history can help your dentist keep an eye out for oral health issues such as gum disease or other conditions which present symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes.

Aside from gathering any relevant personal or family medical information, be sure to to review your dental insurance benefits as you prepare for your appointment. Knowing your level of coverage will help you understand what costs will be associated with your care. If you have any questions about using your dental insurance in our practice or if you would like information about paying for care without insurance, give us a call!

What Happens During Your Appointment?

Although this varies from patient to patient based on their individual needs, a dental check-up generally consists of a professional cleaning, a comprehensive dental examination, and potentially X-rays.

Dental X-Rays

How frequently you need dental X-rays relies largely on your medical and dental history, your age, and your current oral health. New-patient examinations often include X-rays as well.

If required, dental X-rays are generally taken at the beginning of your dental appointment. Dental X-rays allow us to detect and diagnose tooth decay between teeth, on hard-to-reach surfaces, and under existing dental work. X-rays can even be helpful in identifying dental and orthodontic issues that exist beneath the gum line.

Dental Cleaning

Once it’s time for your cleaning, your dentist or hygienist uses a small metal instrument known as a scaler to scrape off tartar above and below the gum line and in between teeth. Next, they polish your teeth using a polishing tool and a lightly abrasive paste to deep clean your pearly whites and remove any tartar left behind after the previous step. Last but not least, they’ll finish your cleaning with a thorough flossing.

Comprehensive Exam

After your teeth are clean, your dentist will perform a comprehensive oral examination to ensure your oral health is in tip-top shape. They will:

  • examine your teeth for signs of decay
  • check for gum swelling and redness, and measure the depth of your gingival pockets to check for signs of periodontal disease
  • test how your top and bottom teeth come together and check for signs of teeth grinding or other potential orthodontic issues
  • examine your neck, lymph glands, and oral cavity for signs of oral cancer

Based on your exam, we’ll discuss any necessary treatment recommendations and offer helpful tips on how to improve your oral hygiene before your next appointment.

Check out the video below for more information on the importance of regular dental exams!

Whether your next appointment is in 6 months or even sooner, we’re looking forward to seeing your smile! Be sure to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and follow any additional instructions provided by your dentist before your next visit. If you have any questions about what to expect from a visit in our office, let us know!

We love our patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Oral Health & Weight Loss Go Hand In Hand

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A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE is the best prevention for illness and chronic disease. It can also be just as effective as any medicine a doctor could prescribe. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or simply live more healthily, the good choices you’re making not only do wonders for your body and overall health, but they also have a beneficial impact on your smile!

Congratulations On Making Better Food Choices

Oral health depends on more than how many times a day you brush your teeth, it also depends on your diet! As you choose healthier foods for your body, you are also choosing better foods for your teeth.

If you’re trading chips and fruit snacks in for healthier snacks like cheese, veggies and nuts, you’ve made the right choice! A diet low in sugar and processed foods can help you trim your waistline, fend off illness and prevent cavities.

Check out the video below to learn more about where added sugar could be hiding in your diet!

We See You’re Drinking More Water… Great Job!

Perhaps before you made your goal to live a more healthy lifestyle, you would reach for your favorite soda rather than water at mealtime. Did you know that one in four Americans get at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda? Not only can frequent soda consumption lead to weight gain, it also contributes to tooth decay!

Eliminating soda from your diet, or at least consuming it in moderation, is a good way to cut back on calories and cavities. And now that you’re starting to drink more water, you’re probably realizing how good it makes you feel, especially since it is calorie-free!

Keep Up The Good Work With Regular Exercise

By maintaining a healthy weight, you are protecting yourself from health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to name a few. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, these diseases often go hand in hand with periodontal, or gum disease. In fact, 91 percent of patients with heart disease and 22 percent of those with diabetes have gum disease.

So keep up the good work! Regular exercise does wonders for your body’s health and your smile reaps the benefits too!

One Last Tip For Our Wonderful Patients

It is widely known that almost nothing tastes good after you brush your teeth. So we recommend that you let good oral hygiene help you stem cravings!

If you’re experiencing a craving and want to avoid it, brush your teeth! Or even pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth. Not only will this help your craving pass, but you’ll be less inclined to eat after making your mouth minty fresh! Added bonus? Your pearly whites stay squeaky clean. Oh and did we mention that two minutes of brushing burns around 5 calories? It’s not much, but it’s something!

Do you have any other questions about your dental health or a topic you’d like us to write about? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you for being such wonderful patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Ever Wonder How Teeth Whitening Works?

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IT IS NOT UNCOMMON for your teeth to lose their luster over time, which is why so many people are interested in whitening them!

Teeth Get Yellow For A Number Of Reasons

Teeth becoming yellow over time is as normal as graying hair–it is a natural part of the aging process. As we get older, our tooth enamel begins to thin due to everyday wear and tear. This causes the layer beneath our enamel, called the dentin, to show more, giving our teeth a more yellow appearance.

There are other factors that can cause teeth to yellow other than aging however, such as:

  • Tobacco use
  • Food and drink
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Dental trauma
  • Certain medications

If you want to prevent your teeth from yellowing as best you can, we suggest you change some of your lifestyle habits. If you use tobacco in any form, quit. Consume acidic food and drink in moderation and monitor your intake of beverages that can stain your teeth such as wine, coffee, tea, soda, etc. And as always, brush up on your oral hygiene habits and make sure you’re getting frequent cleanings!

The Way You Whiten Your Teeth Depends On The Stain

There are two types of stains that you can have on your teeth. Surface, or “extrinsic” stains, caused by smoking and diet occur on the surface of the enamel. “Intrinsic” stains are deeper, and happen inside the tooth.

You can remove surface stains on your teeth by using a whitening toothpaste. These kinds of toothpastes usually contain special abrasives that gently polish the teeth as well certain chemicals that can help break down stains. These toothpastes can be tough on tooth enamel, so make sure to always read labels when using them–some should only be used temporarily.

Intrinsic stains can’t be helped by whitening toothpastes. To get that brighter smile, you’ll need to actually change the color of your teeth. You can do this using a bleaching agent. The bleaching agents most products use are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These chemicals break stains into smaller pieces, making their color less concentrated and leaving your teeth much whiter! Some of the most common ways to bleach your teeth are whitening strips and gels, tray-based tooth whiteners and in-office whitening services supervised by a dentist.

We Would Love To See You At Our Office

At our practice, we offer in-office whitening that will get you the white smile you’ve been dreaming of in half the time or less than other whitening options. We will also carefully monitor the whole process to ensure its safety and efficacy.

Or, if you’re looking to use a tray-based whitening system, we can customize your mouthpiece to exactly fit your teeth! This will protect the soft tissues of your mouth, especially your gums, as well as ensure maximum contact between your teeth and the whitening solution.

Either way, we’d love to see you, whether that’s for a cleaning, checkup, or whitening treatment!

Have any questions? Call us or let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading our blog!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

A Brief History Of Dental Floss

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TODAY, FLOSSING IS A staple of oral hygiene and health. But have you ever wondered when we started flossing? You might be surprised by the answer. 

Flossing Is An Older Concept Than You Might Think

While we don’t know the exact beginnings of flossing, it looks like as long as food has been getting stuck in our teeth, we’ve used some type of interdental cleaner. Discoveries have been made that suggest cleaning between teeth was practiced as early as the Prehistoric period!

Did you know that even some species of monkeys practice flossing? This has been most prominently observed in Thailand. Long-tailed macaque monkeys have been known to pull out hair from their human visitors and use it as floss! They have also been observed flossing with coconut fibers or twigs. Mothers even take the time to teach their young how to floss properly!

The First Dentist To Recommend Flossing

Floss as we know it today was developed around 200 years ago. In 1815, an American dentist named Levi Spear Parmly introduced the idea of using waxen silk thread as floss. In his book called “A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth,” he stated that the silk thread should be run “through the interstices of the teeth… to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove and which is the real source of disease.”

Unfortunately, flossing didn’t catch on right away. Victorian’s were more interested in toothpicks than putting their hands in their mouths to pull thread through their teeth. Charles Dickens–along with many other wealthy gentlemen of the time–owned a retractable toothpick engraved with his initials and ornamented with ivory. Fancy!

Over Time, Flossing Slowly Gained Popularity

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that flossing became more widespread. During World War II, Dr. Charles C. Bass, known as “The Father of Preventive Dentistry,” developed nylon floss, noting that it was more elastic and durable than silk. After the war, flossing became much more mainstream.

Keep Up The Good Work And Floss On!

For the most part, floss today is still made of nylon. But now, there are a lot more options than there used to be such as dental tape, waxed floss or woven floss. There are pre-threaded floss picks and floss threaders for orthodontic patients; there are even devices that floss your teeth with water or air!

All in all, it doesn’t much matter what you use to floss, what matters is that you do! Correct daily flossing can make all the difference in your oral health and is one of the simplest ways to prevent tooth decay. So, since human beings have been cleaning between their teeth for centuries, all we have to say is keep up the good work, and floss on!

Thank you for choosing our practice!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Photos by S.Harrison/UofL used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How Much Calcium Do We Actually Need?

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WE’VE ALL HEARD calcium builds strong bones and is key to preventing osteoporosis. But did you know taking in the right amount of calcium also has a huge effect on our oral health?

Calcium Benefits Our Oral Health

Does calcium really make a difference in our oral health? The answer is yes! Even before we’re born, we begin storing a supply of calcium and other nutrients to grow strong, healthy teeth and bones.  As we grow older, calcium continues to repair and strengthen our teeth, making them more resistant to decay and fortifying them against disease.

Although many foods contain calcium, the best and most easily absorbed source comes straight from milk and dairy products!  Milk is not only a rich source of calcium, but of phosphorous, magnesium, and Vitamin D, which combined together coat teeth in a protective film and ward off harmful acids and bacteria-causing cavities, and also strengthen and reinforce tooth enamel.

How Much Calcium Should I Get Each Day?

How much calcium you need depends on your age and gender. Although the amount you need will differ from others you know, including enough calcium in your diet is important to your oral and overall health.

To give you a better idea of just how much you need, one eight ounce glass of milk contains around 300 milligrams of calciumStudies show that those who consume more than 800 mg of calcium a day are much less likely to develop gum disease.

The Dietary Reference Intakes lists a recommended amount of calcium for every age:

  • Children ages one to eight need anywhere from 500-800 mg a day,
  • Teens need around 1,300 mg,
  • Adults and nursing mothers ages 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg,
  • Older adults and younger mothers need 1,200 mg or more.

What Are Good Sources Of Calcium?

Need some inspiration to increase your calcium intake? Try any of these:

Dairy products

Milk, cheeses, yogurts, buttermilk, cottage cheese, puddings, and ice cream are an easy (and delicious) way to get calcium.

Vegetables

If you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant, you still have plenty of options to choose from! Broccoli, collard greens, and kale are good, healthy sources of calcium. Collard greens alone provide 268 mg of calcium per cup!

Other Good Sources

Looking for other options? Oranges, sardines, white beans, tofu, almonds, and some breakfast cereals and juices are all non-dairy alternatives to get your daily source of calcium!

Make Calcium A Part Of Your Diet

Do your teeth and gums a favor by incorporating the right amount of calcium into your daily diet! Enough calcium coupled with good oral hygiene habits make all of the difference in your smile, and will keep your teeth healthy and strong for years to come. If you have any more questions about your daily calcium intake, call us or let us know in the comments below!

Thank you to all of our wonderful patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Smoking Puts Your Oral Health At Risk

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DID YOU KNOW that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States? It’s well known that smoking can lead to a number of lung-related diseases but in reality, the negative effects of smoking can be seen in almost every part of the body, especially the mouth.

Smoking Compromises Your Oral Health

Among other cancers, smoking puts you at a much higher risk of developing oral cancer. In fact, approximately eight out of 10 patients with oral cancer are smokers. Smoking remains the biggest controllable risk factor for this deadly disease.

Tobacco use is also related to severe gum disease. Becausesmoking weakens your body’s ability to fight infection, bacteria build up more easily in your mouth in the form of plaque and tartar. Bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and cause them to pull away from your teeth, resulting in bleeding and sensitivity. This can ultimately lead to tooth and bone loss. Those who smoke are two times more likely to develop gum disease than a nonsmoker.

Other dental problems that can be caused by smoking include:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Coated or black hairy tongue
  • Tooth decay
  • Dulled sense of taste and smell
  • Dry mouth
  • Slowed healing after tooth extraction or other surgery
  • Lower success rate of cosmetic dental procedures

Watch the video below to see how smoking affected Brett’s smile:

A Note About Electronic Cigarettes

Within the past couple of years, electronic cigarettes have gained popularity, especially as a “safer” alternative to smoking. Since e-cigarettes are relatively new, not much research has yet been published about their long-term health effects. What we do know is that while e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, most contain nicotine, which is known to cause damage to the mouth.

Because nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, it reduces the amount of blood that can flow to your gums. This means that the gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need, causing gum recession and tooth sensitivity as well as putting you at a higher risk of cavities. The reduced blood flow to the gums caused by nicotine use can also mask the signs of gum disease, making it harder to detect and diagnose. This delays treatment and allows the disease to progress.

Until further research is done, we can’t really know how safe e-cigarettes are. As health care professionals, we advise you to avoid them until their long-term effects are known.

Count Us As A Part Of Your Support System

Our patients are more than just patients–they are friends. We care about your health and well-being and want you to count us as a part of your support system to help you quit smoking. If you aren’t quite ready to quit, continue to see us regularly as recommended so we can help you maintain your oral health as best as possible. Talk to us about quitting today and how we can help you!

Thank you for your friendship and loyalty!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Take Care Of Your Tooth Enamel

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TOOTH ENAMEL IS THE hardest substance in the human body. But don’t let that fool you–it’s far from invincible. In fact, there are things you may be doing on a regular basis that weaken your enamel, which could lead to more frequent cavities, tooth discoloration and sensitivity.

Tooth Enamel Acts As A Protective Barrier

The enamel makes up the tooth’s protective outer layer and is the first line of defense against harmful acids and bacteria. Unlike other parts of the body, tooth enamel cannot regenerate or heal. This means that once damage is done to the enamel, it cannot be repaired. That is why we want to give you some tips on how to best take care of your teeth and keep your tooth enamel in tiptop shape!

Keep Your Tooth Enamel Healthy And Strong

There are a number of things you can do to care for your enamel and protect it from erosion.

Watch what you eat and drink

Sugary, starchy and acidic foods and beverages are the top offenders when it comes to weakening and ultimately eroding tooth enamel. Calcium-rich foods and drinks, however, help to neutralize acids in the mouth and strengthen tooth enamel. You can find calcium in dairy products, dark leafy greens such as kale, soybeans, and sardines.

Our simple recommendation is to try to eat healthier and cut back on sugary snacks and drinks, soda in particular. Soda is especially damaging to tooth enamel due to its high sugar content and acidity. If you must drink something acidic or sugary, even fruit juice, use a straw!

Drink plenty of water

Drink water throughout the day to avoid dry mouth. Rinse your mouth out with water after meals to get rid of food debris as well as stimulate saliva flow. Not only does our saliva contain antimicrobial agents that protect teeth and defend against bacteria, it also consists of calcium and phosphate that remineralize and build up tooth enamel.

Brush and floss properly and regularly

When bacteria in the form of plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth for long periods of time, they produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Regular brushing and flossing rid the mouth of plaque and food debris. Be sure not to brush too aggressively as this habit will weaken enamel over time.

See your dentist

Regular checkups and cleanings are vital to maintaining a healthy mouth. When you come in for your biannual appointments we look for signs of tooth enamel wear, such as tooth grinding and cavities, and can help you get them under control early.

Do Your Teeth A Favor

Your tooth enamel works around the clock to defend your teeth. By following the above guidelines, you can return the favor by protecting your enamel from wear and erosion. Do you have any questions about tooth enamel? Feel free to comment below or send us a message on Facebook!

We’re ENAMELED with our patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Don’t Let Your Insurance Benefits Go To Waste!

THE END OF THE YEAR IS approaching fast! Before year’s end, our team wants to remind you to take a look at your dental insurance benefits!

Insurance Benefits Typically Don’t Roll Over To Next Year

Each year your dental insurance company probably gives you a maximum amount of available benefits. Since those benefits don’t typically roll over into the following year, you’ll want to contact us now to get your appointment scheduled!

We all know how it is, once the holiday season is upon us—hectic! Life can get really busy and some things fall between the cracks. So remember that your dental health needs your attention too—not just for the sake of your teeth, but for your overall health. If you’re due (or overdue) for an appointment, make sure to talk to our office. Take advantage of those dental insurance benefits before time is up!

Do you have any questions about your dental insurance benefits? Call us! We’re happy to work with you to create a dental health plan that works for you!

Thanks for being our valued patient!

Are You Prepared For A Dental Emergency?

ACCIDENTS ALWAYS SEEM to happen when we least expect them. When those accidents involve tooth damage, it’s important to know what steps to take. Being prepared before a dental emergency occurs can save a damaged or knocked out tooth, prevent infection and decrease the need for extensive treatment.

Step One: Find Your Dental Home

The most important step to being well-prepared for a dental emergency is establishing a dental home. This means finding a dental practice that is right for you and sticking with it. When the worst happens unexpectedly, it can be a great help to have a dentist and dental practice you trust by your side.

If you have found your dental home, you will likely be more familiar with their hours and know if and when your dentist provides emergency services. With an already established relationship, you know your preferred practice will be able to provide high-quality care, advice and support.

Step Two: Be Prepared

We all know accidents happen. Being “prepared” simply means knowing what to do in certain situations before a mishap actually occurs. In a dental emergency, time is of the essence–it could mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), here’s how you should handle these dental emergencies:

When a baby tooth is knocked out…

If this happens to your child, contact their dentist as soon as possible. The tooth will most likely not be replanted because of potential damage to the developing permanent tooth.

When a tooth is fractured or chipped…

Contact your dentist immediately as prompt treatment is required. Rinse out your mouth with water and find any broken tooth fragments. Place the fragments in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dentist.

When a permanent tooth is knocked out…

Again, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention from your dentist. Most knocked-out teeth can be saved if a dentist is seen within 30 minutes to an hour of the accident. In the meantime, find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water (no soap), without scrubbing or cleaning it. Replace the tooth back in the socket, if possible, and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you cannot put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a container with cold milk, saliva or water.

We’re Here For You

If you have a dental emergency, call us immediately. We make it our priority to be here for you, rain or shine! Do you have any more questions? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

Thank you to our wonderful patients!

 

Top image by Flickr user Sebastiaan ter Burg used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.