Making Flossing Fun for Kids

flossingIt can be a struggle to get your child to brush their teeth twice a day, let alone ask them to floss. You may find it’s a challenge for you, as well. But flossing is essential to good oral health because it helps clean plaque from between the teeth. If left in the mouth too long, plaque can harden and turn into tarter, which then leads to gum disease. Once your child’s teeth start to come in next to each other, it’s time to start flossing. To make this daily task more enjoyable, try the following tips:

Floss to Music
Flossing along to a fun song is a great way to make flossing fun. Choose a slow, steady beat to help your child keep a measured rhythm as they work the floss back and forth between their teeth. If the song is too fast, it encourages them to floss too harshly which can damage gums. Flossing along in time with a song helps them stay consistent, which leads to a cleaner mouth.

Play a Game
Make flossing a story about good versus evil. The evil, of course, is plaque and tooth decay, with the good being floss. Your child will relish the power of being in control by making floss the hero of the story.

Make a Chart
Place a progress chart in your child’s bathroom, then mark each day they floss with their favorite stickers. Once they reach a certain number of consecutive days of flossing, reward them with either a small monetary incentive or, better yet, one that doesn’t cost money like a later night up on weekends or an extra story at bedtime. Parents can get in on then fun too by following a chart of their own. Not only will your flossing habits improve, but your child will be extra motivated by the friendly competition.

To learn more about ways to making flossing fun, or to schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

Your Child’s First Dental Visit: Getting It Done in Year One

dental checkupWhen your child is born, his or her primary teeth have already started to form inside the gums. And within approximately six months to a year, their first tooth will start to come through. You may be surprised to learn that tooth decay can occur as soon as this first tooth erupts. Once this happens, the teeth become susceptible to decay if not properly cared for. That’s why it’s important to take your child to the dentist no more than six months after the first tooth appears and no later than the first birthday. Here’s what you can expect at your child’s first dental visit:

The Meet and Greet
The first dentist appointment is really a time for you and your child to meet the dentist and learn how best to care for his or her developing teeth and gums. Until your child reaches age two, these dental visits will largely consist of a visual exam, as well as an introduction to the dental chair, the equipment such as air and water, and other items found in a dental office like safety glasses and a bib.

The Exam
With a child under a year old, you’ll likely be asked to hold your child while the dentist examines their mouth, checking your child’s gums, jaw and bite. This keeps your child at ease during the exam, as well as helps you point out areas in the mouth you may have questions about. If your child has several protruding baby teeth already, your dentist may clean your child’s teeth and apply fluoride.

The Follow-up
Depending on the condition of your child’s teeth, your dentist will advise you about when to schedule your next visit. When there are no significant problems, he or she will recommend you visit again in six months.

While every child has their own specific oral health needs, what it universally true is that early dental exams are a preventive measure that can effectively save you time, money and your child’s teeth in the long run.

To schedule your child’s first dental visit, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299. We look forward to hearing from you!


Signs You Grind Your Teeth (And How to Stop)

bruxismBruxism (or teeth grinding) is a common condition, but many people aren’t even aware that they do it. Grinding your teeth can cause irreparable tooth damage or other health complications. That’s why it’s important to identify the signs of teeth grinding and the ways to overcome it.

To determine if you might be grinding your teeth, check for symptoms first thing in the morning. That’s  because teeth grinding occurs at night. Signs that you may be a teeth grinder include:

  • Sore jaw
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
  • Sensitive teeth when eating or drinking hot or cold food and beverages
  • Dull, persistent headache
  • Sores inside your cheeks

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider the following tips to abolish teeth grinding once and for all:

  • Cut out caffeine. Partaking in beverages that contain caffeine, such as soda, coffee and energy drinks will make you unable to relax your body and mind, and can make it hard for you to relax your jaw.
  • Chew on food and only food. Many people absentmindedly chew on pens or pencils when they’re concentrating or feel stressed. Put a stop to this practice and opt for a stick of gum or a mint to help retrain your brain to keep the chewing to foods alone.
  • Use a mouth guard. Ask your dentist about the type of mouth guard he recommends, whether it’s provided by him or purchased over the counter. Wearing a mouth guard is an effective way to deter you from grinding your teeth while you sleep.
  • Reduce stress. Helpful stress relievers include spending time with friends, eating a balanced diet to curb irritability, and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day to maintain a healthy and stable energy level.

To learn more about how to eliminate teeth grinding, contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299. We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Common Dental Fears and How to Overcome Them

dental healthDental phobia is surprisingly common. But putting off going to the dentist can lead to more serious complications down the road. If you are a “Dentaphobe”, here are five ways to help you cope with this fear and get the dental treatment you need:

  1. Fear of the unknown. Being whisked away from the waiting room, draped with a green bib and positioned with a nice view of the ceiling, can be a little intimidating. You likely have some questions before the dentist gets to it, so don’t be afraid to ask for a break-down of the procedure. By learning more about the details of your check-up, you can begin to feel more at ease.
  2. Dental equipment. Having sharp metal objects stuck into your mouth can instill fear in the hearts of many. You probably want to know what these tools used for. And, perhaps more importantly, will this hurt? Ask your dentist if you can hold the tools first so they don’t seem so foreign. You may also want to ask for a quick demonstration on how the tool will be used.
  3. Trying to breathe through the nose. If you breathe primarily out of their mouth, a visit to the dentist can feel stifling when the dentist must work in your mouth. It may help to wear nasal strips, which can open up your nose for easier breathing. And if you need to take a break during the procedure to catch your breath, work out a hand signal with your dentist to indicate that he needs to stop working for a moment.
  4. Gag reflex. For those with a tendency to gag during dental work, the thought of putting those tabs into your mouth for an X-ray – or the molding clay in for an impression – can feel daunting. To combat the urge to gag, breathe through your nose. It may be a good idea to use a nasal spray or strip to open up nasal passages beforehand. Another trick is to moisten your finger and put a dab of salt on the end of your tongue right before the procedure.
  5. Fear of needles. For many, needles can be terrifying, especially when inserted into your mouth. Before the injection, ask your dentist if numbing gel will be used. This can help tremendously with discomfort. Additionally, try to focus your attention away from the pain of the needle in favor of how the needle will eliminate any pain during dental treatment.

Don’t put your dental appointment off any longer! Contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling (701) 839-1299 to schedule a check-up.

The Benefits of Chewing Sugar-Free Gum

sugar free gumThere has been some debate on whether sugar-free gum is good for your oral hygiene or if it’s detrimental to your oral health. It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the American Dental Association actually promotes chewing sugar-free gum. In fact, there are a number of reasons why chewing sugarless gum is beneficial:

  1. It’s good exercise. Chewing gum is a great way to exercise your neck and jaw. It’s also beneficial for preventing teeth grinding and reducing the craving for unhealthy sweets and beverages.
  2. It increases saliva production. When you chew sugarless gum, you’re boosting the flow of saliva in your mouth, which helps wash away digestive acids and food particles after you eat.
  3. It’s safe for your oral tissues. This can result in fewer cavities, better breath, and increased enamel production, less gingivitis, dry mouth and stained teeth.
  4. It relieves stress. Studies suggest that people who chew gum typically consumed less alcohol, were more alert, experienced lower levels of depression and work-related stress, and had lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
  5. It reduces tooth decay. Most sugarless gum is sweetened with xylitol, which is a healthy alternative to sugar. Xylitol prevents the growth of oral bacteria that causes cavities by inhibiting bacteria’s ability to stick to the tooth.
  6. It minimizes acid reflux and heartburn. Acid reflux is a condition where the stomach contents reflux into the mouth. This can cause tooth erosion which may lead to permanent and sometimes severe loss of tooth structure. If you suffer for acid reflux and heartburn, chewing gum after you eat may help limit acid in the esophagus. That’s because gum chewing increases saliva production and increases how much you swallow, which then clears the acid.

While it’s true that chewing sugarless gum has more health benefits than risks, it’s important to note that chewing gum should not be used as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing, which is imperative to your oral health. It’s also important to schedule regular dental exams.

Contact Dr. Stanley Hirst, DDS, and Bethany Jensen, DDS, at Broadway Family Dentistry today by calling 701-839-1299 to schedule a check-up.