Encouraging Age-Appropriate Dental Habits at Home

Proper at-home dental care is an important childhood lesson. Teaching children when they are young helps maintain the healthy habits into adulthood. In deciding what to show them and when, try to go slow. Many kids don’t know how to hold a toothbrush, much less correctly brush or floss without supervision. By teaching age-appropriate skills and staying involved, you make sure that children develop proper techniques over time.  

As with any childhood lesson, it isn’t easy knowing when to let kids do it themselves or if you should step in, so here are some of our favorite tips for every age:  

 Ages 6 and Under 

Until they have a firm grip on the toothbrush, keep brushing for them. Explain what you’re doing and why. Eventually, your young child might want to do the brushing themselves but stay close. Kids in this age range don’t have the fine motor skills needed for a thorough job. Young mouths change quickly, so children at 6 will brush the same way they did at 2 or 3 and miss new teeth. It’s up to guardians to help reach those teeth as they pop in. The best course of action is letting your child begin on their own and helping out when needed. For  flossing, get them started as soon as two teeth are touching.  

 Ages 7-12 

By now, children know what to do, but they might not want to do it! Many tasks become a battle during this age, so they’ll need active encouragement to take on their brushing and flossing responsibilities and do it correctly. Set a timer to help demonstrate what two minutes of brushing feels like and be aware that you may need to stick around so they don’t cut corners.  

 Ages 12-18 

Research shows that cavities are more likely to appear in early adulthood. That’s because many teenagers go years without a cavity and never grasp the consequences of missing a night of brushing. As a result, their oral hygiene takes a back seat. Don’t let your teen’s habits fall to the wayside. Now that they’re older and their bones weaker, getting cavities is easy. If you notice them slipping, try asking their dentist to remind them of the long-term effects of poor oral hygiene.  

 The best preventative habit to instill in your children is a twice-yearly visit to the dentist. By maintaining this schedule throughout their lives, it becomes second nature when they go off on their own. Contact us today to schedule their next appointment!

 

Are Veneers Right For You? 

Looking at models in magazines and actors on TV may lead you to believe one thing about teeth: That people naturally have a bright white and straight smile. But that isn’t the case. Often, the perfected grins you see on everyone from movie stars to moms, are the result of cosmetic dental surgery.

If you are unhappy with your smile, you’re not alone. Studies show that over 80% of people think their teeth look bad in photographs and will avoid showing their teeth when they smile. However, thanks to modern cosmetic dentistry, there are easy solutions to getting the look you crave, particularly veneers.

Veneers are one of the most popular procedures to correct cosmetic tooth deficiencies. This minimally invasive procedure corrects small problems like uneven size, color and alignment. Made of wafer-thin, tooth-colored material (porcelain or resin), they cover the front surface of teeth and improve appearance. The result is a bright white smile that patients desire.

How do you know if veneers are the right choice for you? Here are a few major factors that dentists look at when you ask about the possibility of veneers:

1. Healthy Teeth 
Veneers need to attach to healthy teeth – period! It isn’t advisable to place veneers on teeth that show signs of decay or gum disease. Veneers can last twenty years, and when placed on unhealthy teeth, the tooth continues to decay underneath the porcelain cover, leading to bigger problems brewing under the surface. Your dentist will suggest fixing these problems first before they fit veneers.

2. Absence of Bruxism (Tooth Grinding) 
Bruxism or grinding/clenching is a widespread problem which many people knowingly or unknowingly suffer from. Although veneers are durable, they aren’t as strong as our natural teeth. As a result, the amount of force exerted when a person grinds or clenches will damage the coating. In many cases, curbing bruxism is possible with a combination of night guards and relaxation techniques. If you experience clenching, your dentist may recommend treatment first.

3. Good Alignment 
Veneers can fix teeth that are unevenly spaced or slightly crooked, but aren’t beneficial for patients with severely misaligned teeth. The positioning of the jaw in these cases means that excessive pressure is put on the veneers when the wearer bears down. In many cases it can crack, chip, or break the porcelain or resin. Correcting misaligned teeth is done by orthodontic procedures, such as braces.

If you’re not happy with your current smile and you believe that you’re a good candidate for porcelain veneers, then visit our practice and talk to us about your options. Contact us at Vacendak Dentistry to schedule an appointment.

Soothing Sensitive Teeth

Are you one of the forty million adults who suffer the symptoms of sensitive teeth? Don’t be shy about it! It’s a common dental issue that creates mild to harsh flashes of pain. Cold, hot, sweet and acidic foods are all triggers for discomfort, making sufferers live in fear of eating or drinking the wrong things.

The enamel in healthy teeth protects another layer called dentin, which connects directly to internal nerves. If tooth enamel wears down or the gum line recedes, then dentin becomes exposed. When it’s exposed, the elements reach the nerves inside the tooth and cause pain. Fortunately, the pain doesn’t have to be permanent. Simple changes to diet, oral care or dental habits are all that’s needed for relief and possible reversal of the pain in many cases.

Follow these tips to fortify your enamel and ease sensitivity tooth pain.

1. Brush With Softer Bristles
The harder you brush, the more you wear away enamel. A good sign of brushing too hard is throbbing or bleeding gums directly afterward. Let your gums heal and invest in a quality toothbrush with softer bristles. Additionally, slow down when brushing and be gentle.

2. Guard Your Teeth Overnight
If you live with chronic stress, your teeth feel it. Many people involuntarily grind their teeth while sleeping due to stress in the waking hours. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, erodes enamel and exposes dentin. Waking up with a sore jaw is a tell-tale sign of the condition. Consult your dentist to recommend a custom-fitted dental mouth guard for nighttime protection.

3. Take Care When Whitening Your Teeth
Everyone wants a pearly white smile, but overuse of whiteners creates worse problems than having off-white teeth.  Even over-the-counter methods contain chemicals harsh enough to remove too much enamel. Take a break from the whitening and consult your dentist to prevent bleaching-related damage.

4. Find the Right Toothpaste and Mouthwash
One way to treat sensitive teeth is by using desensitizing toothpaste and mouthwash. These products contain compounds that block the nerve from painful sensations at the tooth’s surface. It usually requires several applications before the sensitivity reduces, but over time, sufferers reclaim their normal eating habits.

If you experience lasting pain, immediately consult a dentist for proper sensitive teeth treatment options. Vacendak Dentistry can diagnose the issue and advise you on the best treatments to combat the pain. If you’d like to schedule a visit, contact us today by calling (757) 609-3510 or by using our online form.

Drink to Your Health this Summer with Our Beverage Guide

Sports outings, beach vacations and long days at the neighborhood pool are near! All the fun of summer requires staying hydrated and your family will likely guzzle down any beverage they find when the days are hot. Unfortunately, some popular options can harm their oral health. Help your family beat the heat the healthy way by stocking up on better choices. Review our suggestions for a guide on the best and worst drinks you’ll encounter:

Good: Water
There’s one beverage dental professionals agree on as the most beneficial: water. Water, especially with fluoride, helps strengthen and clean your teeth. H20 flushes away food particles and residue that bacteria stick to, helping prevent cavities. It helps mitigate the negative effects acidic foods have on tooth enamel by regulating your mouth’s tPh level.  As a calorie-free and fast-hydrating option, you can’t go wrong taking a few bottles wherever you go.

Good: Milk
We all know that milk builds strong bones and that includes your teeth! Especially helpful for growing children, milk and other dairy products are rich in bone-loving calcium. This childhood classic also contains a protein called casein; a substance that helps fight tooth decay by strengthening enamel.

Good: Low Sugar Vegetable Juice
If you don’t like eating your veggies, just drink them. Look for a green juice with kale or spinach, which contain healthy B vitamins that fight gum disease. Leafy greens are high in calcium, too. When buying vegetable juice, look for “no sugar added” labels and limit the percentage of fruit.

Bad: Fruit Juices
Many fruit juices are laden with as much sugar as soda, including juices from concentrate. Apple juice has as much as ten tsp. of sugar per serving, the same amount in the leading brand cola. Sugar and citric acids in fruit juice contribute to tooth decay and enamel loss, so it’s best to avoid these sugary go-tos. If you can’t go without a glass of OJ in the morning, try cutting it with water or opting for a low-sugar alternative.

Bad: Sports Drinks
Another culprit of tooth decay are sports drinks. These high-calorie liquids present dangers to your oral and overall health, although typically marketed as beneficial. Not only do they contain up to nineteen grams of sugar per serving but are sometimes infused with an unhealthy amount of sodium (salt). Almost as much sodium as a bag of chips! Check all ingredients and nutrition facts before buying any type of sports drink to steer clear of this undercover danger.

Bad: Sodas
Sodas have a bad reputation for a good reason. They are high in two of the worst things for teeth: sugar and acid. Some sodas contain more than the total recommended amount of daily sugar in one twenty ounce bottle. This high sugar and acid content eat away the enamel that protects teeth, leading to cavities. That’s not all, consuming too much soda causes harm to your health as well as soda consumption correlates to a risk of diabetes and other diseases. Some cities and states even impose an extra tax on these beverages due to their harmful nature. Your best bet is to stay away from these bubbling beasts altogether.

Reducing Negative Effects
We can’t be with our children all the time. That makes it hard to limit their intake of harmful drinks.  Help reduce some of the negative effects by teaching them to swish with water once they’re finished with their beverage of choice. Cultivate good preventative habits by helping them brush their teeth at least twice per day and flossing once per day to remove debris between their teeth.

Are you worried your child drinks too much soda or do you hear them complain about sensitive teeth? Then visit our office and we evaluate your child’s smile and determine if there are any issues.

How Maintain Good Oral Health While Traveling

With Spring Break and Summer quickly approaching, those few perfect months for beach vacations, camping trips, and family excursions are near. These are the most exciting times for your families, filled with activities and treats. Unfortunately, all the hustle and bustle can be detrimental to your oral health. Here are a few tips to make sure that everyone is all smiles during time away.

Pack Appropriately

The stress of preparing for a trip means important items can be forgotten, so put oral hygiene at the top of the list. Few things are as important as your health, and even someone who gets regular checkups and cleanings will suffer by leaving their toothbrush at home. If nothing else, make sure to pack the big three: a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.

There are a few specifics to consider when packing these items. We recommend having a second  toothbrush for traveling, so that your at-home toothbrush will remain clean and in good condition. There are collapsible toothbrushes that can fit inside limited luggage space and TSA approved toothpaste sizes if you’re only taking a carry-on. Finally,  investing in a toothbrush holder so that your toothbrush stays clean while packed in a bag with dirty shoes and souvenirs.

Schedule a Checkup Before You Go

We always suggest scheduling your preventative appointments every six months. That will ensure your oral health stays in check and nothing will surprise you while you are away. But, if you are about to embark on a journey, it’s especially important to consider seeing us before you leave.  Dental problems can escalate quickly and the last thing you want is emergency care from an out-of-town (or out-of-country) dentist who doesn’t know your history. Making an appointment before you leave will ensure that you get to experience your vacation to the fullest without surprises.

Emergencies Can Happen

Even the most prepared vacationers can experience troubles while traveling. That doesn’t mean they are caught off-guard. There are a few things you can do to make sure dental emergencies go smoothly. Bring a copy of your dental insurance and a list of your regular dental contacts if you need to reach them. Make sure to ask your insurance company about emergency care policies, especially if you are leaving the country. By being well prepared for your trip, everyone will be well taken care of, even if you are hundreds of miles away from home.

Consider Special Obstacles

Many of us like to experience new things when we travel. That can mean late nights, sweet treats or even going off-grid. It’s easy to forget your tooth care routines when your environment changes. Consider the challenges  you may encounter and prepare for them. If you are camping, there is environmentally-friendly toothpaste and mouthwash in times where no plumbing is available. Some people bring handheld floss picks that make it easier to reach without a mirror. Setting a reminder on your phone can help you remember to brush when you are especially tired from a long day of adventure. And in times of minimal space, you can always grab a pre-pasted toothbrush.

Vacation is the most fun time of the year and with a few steps before you leave you and your family’s teeth will be well prepared! By considering these obstacles, packing appropriately and planning ahead, you’ll ensure that everyone will happily flash those pearly whites in all their photos.
If you need special travel accessories or more tips, call us at 757-609-3510 or visit this link to schedule an appointment or with us before you take off. Safe travels!

What To Expect On Your First Visit

Whether you’ve visited the dentist every 6 months for your entire life, or once every few years, an appointment with a new doctor can be stressful. If you have sensitive gums, teeth that hurt or have even had a bad experience with a previous dentist, it can be nerve-wracking to step into an office for the first time. Like any new situation, the best way to alleviate stress is to do your research and come prepared. Here are a few things you might expect on your first visit to a new dental office:

Paperwork and Forms

You’ll likely need to fill out quite a few forms if you are a new patient – your medical and dental history, new patient registration, insurance forms and others, depending on the office. Plan to arrive a little early for your first visit to make sure you have time to carefully review documents. Your dentist may also have forms available online, so be sure to check their website. Locate your identification and insurance cards the night before your visit.

Questions and Concerns

Just like a presentation you haven’t prepared for, it might be difficult to remember any concerns you have about your oral health that your new dentist will want to know. It’s a good idea to make a list with questions and concerns you have–orthodontics, sensitive teeth, pain, etc – and have it handy for your first appointment.

Procedures

If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, you should expect to spend a bit more time at the office. You’ll have your regular cleaning, but will also need to update your x-rays and may talk with your doctor more than you would at a normal checkup.

With these expectations in mind, your first visit to a new dentist will be a breeze! If you’d like to schedule a visit to Vacendak Dentistry as a new patient, contact us today by calling (757) 609-3510 or by using our online form.

Three Common Dental Problems, And How to Solve Them

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may have some oral health concerns that need addressing. Some issues are simple, while others may require professional treatment. Here are five of the most common dental problems:

  1. Bad breath. The source of bad breath isn’t always the stinky food you ate for lunch. If you find that your friends and family are leaning away as you talk, it could be from a number of causes relating to oral health and bacteria. Make sure you are brushing after each meal, flossing daily and brushing your tongue. If a good dental hygiene routine isn’t helping, you may need a deeper cleaning from your dentist, and regular 6-month checkups.
  2. Gingivitis. Gum disease sounds scary and often has a stigma around it, but nearly 47% of American adults have gingivitis. If you notice frequent inflammation of the gums, bleeding after brushing or gum line recession, it could be a sign of gingivitis. Thankfully, this condition can be treated, but not at home. Schedule a visit with your dentist for a professional diagnosis, and follow up with good brushing habits.
  3. Tooth sensitivity. Is it taking you longer to brush your teeth each day because you’re waiting for the water to warm up or cool down? Tooth sensitivity can be incredibly uncomfortable, and even prevents some from enjoying their favorite meals and sweet treats. This problem can be mediated by using special toothpastes made for sensitive teeth, but you may want to consult your dentist to find the underlying issue if your symptoms are sudden, or getting worse over time.

If you think are experiencing any of these common dental problems, don’t worry! The doctors at Vacendak Dentistry are ready to help you identify the causes and find a solution to keep you healthier and worry-free. Contact us at (757) 609-3510 to schedule an appointment.

5 Ways To Transform Your Oral Health For The New Year

The new year is here, and if you have resolutions to transform your health this year, it’s time to include your teeth and gums. Did you know that your oral health also contributes to your overall health, and is often reflective of it? Having a healthy mouth can also affect the way you present yourself – showing a big smile when meeting new people or giving a presentation can boost your confidence! Ready to transform your oral health in 2019? Here are 5 ways to get started:

  1. Visit your dentist. Just like you should consult your doctor before trying a new fitness plan or diet, visiting your dentist is the first step to transforming your oral health. This is your chance to start the year fresh and build from a clean slate, and also your chance to ask any questions about your routine or products!
  2. Get the right tools. Are you still using a fraying, old toothbrush? Only flossing when you visit a friend’s house? It’s time to stock up on the right tools to make sure you’re set up for success.
  3. Invest in yourself. If there is cosmetic dentistry you’ve been meaning to get, but keep putting off, 2019 is the year to finally invest in yourself. Getting the smile you deserve can not only transform your oral health, but possibly your entire year!
  4. Set reminders. It takes around 60 days to form a new habit like flossing or brushing your teeth after lunch. Until then, setting reminders on your phone or computer can help!
  5. Eat the right foods. If you already have a resolution to eat more healthy foods, this one should come easy! Some foods can help with your oral health journey, and others can hurt it. Avoid too much sugar, and fill your diet with foods high in calcium, like leafy greens and yogurt.

    Drs Sheila and Daniel Vacendak and the team at Vacendak Dentistry are here to make your dental health care a positive experience! We are conveniently located in the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake and serve patients all across Hampton Roads. Call us today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule an appointment.

Gifts Your Teeth Will Thank

Is tough to stuff a stocking with toothbrushes and toothpaste…your family might think you are trying to tell them something. However, dental products are often something we forget to replace as frequently as we need to, or something we don’t really want to spend much money on. That’s why they make such good gifts for the holidays!

If you have family members who never seem to spend money on themselves, or are finally ready to give yourself a gift for your health, here are a few exciting tools to try:

  1. An electric toothbrush. Some of the best electric toothbrushes can be awfully pricey, and the replacement heads drive up the cost. However, this item is a great investment that can help improve oral health by reaching places that standard toothbrushes cant.
  2. A water pick. Water picks aren’t just for braces! This item is great for making flossing fun and exciting, by using a stream of water to dislodge food debris and remove plague around your gums.
  3. A travel kit. Do you have a family member or friend who always seems to be traveling? Build or buy them a travel kit with all of the essentials they will need to keep their teeth clean and their breath fresh after a long flight or drive. This way, they will never forget to pack their toothbrush when visiting for the holidays…

Remember, 2019 is almost here. While you may be gifting your friends and family with useful items, it’s also time to start thinking about your own resolutions. If you’re reading to take control of your oral health, Vacendak is here to help! Call our Chesapeake office today at (757) 609-3510 to schedule a dental visit or to learn more about our practice.

Giving Thanks

November is the month of giving thanks, and this year we want to give a special thanks to something we use every day but may never truly appreciate: our teeth! You may not even think about them until it’s time to head to the dentist or something hurts, but our teeth are pretty amazing. Here are a few reasons to give thanks to your teeth:

  1. They help you scarf down that delicious thanksgiving meal – and the pie after! Having healthy teeth is so important for eating a balanced diet of foods that your body can digest more easily after being chewed.
  2. They give you a great smile. Your teeth are the first thing you notice during that holiday family photo shoot. Taking care of them means you’ll have great photos with an even better smile, and will also be more confident when meeting new people and having a conversation.
  3. They tell you about your history. Teeth can tell us a lot about where our ancestors come from, and even the types of food they ate! Did you know that teeth are also used for DNA identification?
  4. They give you hints about your health. Your teeth can be indicators of your overall health. For example, very pale gums could be a sign of anemia, and loosing teeth could be a symptom of osteoporosis. However, you won’t be able to self-diagnose by looking at your teeth. If you notice anything different, contact your dentist!

You can give thanks to your teeth by taking extra care of them. Brush regularly, floss every day and keep up with your regularly scheduled cleaning.

The doctors at Vacendak would also like to remind our patients just how thankful we are for them! If you haven’t seen us in a while, give us a call at (757) 609-3510 to schedule your checkup.