woman smiles and reveals a heart sticker on her shirt

3 Reasons to Love Your Smile

Unfortunately a lot of people are self-conscious about their smiles. From tutorials on how to smile better and what seems like every celebrity opting for veneers nowadays, there seems to be a lot of pressure on us to have perfect teeth! But just because your teeth aren’t perfectly straight or perfectly white does not mean they aren’t perfectly healthy and beautiful. Don’t believe us? Here are 3 reasons you should love your smile.

1. It’s uniquely yours.

Just like a fingerprint, no two people in the world have the same set of teeth. So if you feel self-conscious over crooked or discolored teeth – Don’t be! Each tooth has a particular size, a particular placement, and a certain distance from its neighbor, which makes the whole set unique. Even identical twins do not have exactly the same set of teeth, because a set of teeth is not only determined by genes, but also by clenching, grinding or thumb sucking.

Michael Strahan laughs and reveals his famous gap

Retired NFL Star & talk show host Michael Strahan—who has one of the most unique smiles we can think of—once considered closing his famous gap at one point. “I made the conscious effort to say, ‘This is who I am,'” he explains of why he didn’t and won’t close up his teeth. “I’m not perfect. I don’t want to try to be perfect.” We think you’re perfect exactly as you are, Michael, and we love your unique smile!

2. Less-than-perfect teeth are beautiful!

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says a well-known proverb, and we don’t disagree. Crooked teeth aren’t necessarily unhealthy or bad for any reason—despite some people’s obsession with straight teeth—so if you have a few crooked or discolored teeth, don’t stop loving your smile! Believe it or not, in Japan, crooked teeth are ideal. And they even have a specific word “yaeba” for their cute obsession with lengthier canines and less-than-straight smiles.

kate moss is smiling

Anna Paquin, Kate Moss and Kirsten Dunst are three stars who didn’t “fix” their teeth, but we think their smiles make them even more beautiful because they’re natural. If everyone had identical straight teeth, the world would be a boring place. Celebrate your uniqueness today and see your teeth in a new light.

3. It makes other people happy!

Ever seen a smile from a toddler or a happy puppy and had your day made? It turns out there is some science behind the happy feeling we get when we smile and see others smiling. Not only do our brains want to smile when we see someone else smile, research suggests that smiling leads to decrease in the stress-induced hormones that negatively affect your physical and mental health. One study even found that people who smile more lead happier and healthier lives than those who smile less.

So what’s the biggest takeaway here? Smile more! You’ll be happier. The people around you will be happier. And even if you’re self-conscious about your smile, who knows? Someone watching might think it is the most absolutely perfect smile they’ve ever seen. Gaps, snaggleteeth, yaeba, braces, whatever – smile a little more today and see what happens.

African American girl having tootache.

What to Do if Your Child Has a Toothache

Toothaches are common for young children. But as parents, we worry anytime our child is in pain. A child’s toothache can have many causes—tooth decay, plaque buildup, incoming teeth, cavities, broken teeth or food trapped between teeth—and sometimes what feels like a toothache might be just pain caused by something else entirely!

So what do you do when your child has a toothache? Follow our 6 easy steps to identify the problem, help ease your child’s pain and get them the treatment they need.

Ask Questions

The first thing you want to do is try to find the cause of your child’s toothache. If they are old enough, ask them to point at or describe the pain. If they are younger, look for swelling, redness of gums and cheek, tooth discoloration or broken teeth. If you find a tooth that is loose, discolored or broken, you’ve likely found the cause.

Help Your Child Floss

Next you want to help your child remove any food particles that may be trapped between their teeth. Remember to be gentle and careful while flossing, because your child’s gums might be sensitive. If your child struggles with flossing or has braces, consider purchasing a Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids to make it easier.

Rinse with Warm Salt Water

Mix about a teaspoon of table salt into a small cup of warm water. Have your child rinse with the solution for about 30 seconds and spit. This will kill bacteria in or around the affected area and encourage faster healing.

Use a Cold Compress

Apply a cold compress to your child’s outer cheek near the painful or swollen area. If you do not have a store-bought compress, you can make one by wrapping ice in a small towel or cloth. Try icing for 15 minutes and taking another 15 minutes off.

Use Pain Medication or Clove Oil

If pain continues, your child can take anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Remember to make sure that any medicine you give your children is safe for them: Read the Drug Facts label every time, look for the active ingredient and give the right amount.

Under no circumstance should you rub aspirin or any painkiller on your child’s gums – it is very acidic and can cause burns. If you need a topical treatment, a home remedy that others have suggested is clove oil – an antimicrobial, anti-fungal essential oil that was used as far back as Ancient Greece. Gently dab clove oil with a cotton swab to the affected area around the tooth for temporary pain relief.

Call Your Child’s Dentist

Flossing, rinsing, icing and medicating are of probably not permanent solutions to the problem. If your child’s toothache is caused by a cavity, they’ll need to see a dentist for a filling, root canal or possibly an extraction. If your child is experiencing extreme pain, fatigue or fever, you’ll want to call your pediatrician immediately.

Children are at a greater risk for dental infections than adults. If your child’s toothache is not going away—especially if the toothache persists for over 24 hours—you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Even if your child’s pain goes away, there is still a chance they have a cavity which can develop into a painful abscess. If you have any doubts, please call us or schedule an appointment online.

Portrait of a young girl showing thumbs up while in the dentist

Keeping Your Family Safer with DentaPure

Since 1980, Howard Family Dental’s priority has been the health of you and your family. So as soon as we heard reports of children getting sick from the water at dental offices, we began working on a solution. As of today, we are proud to announce that the Dental Unit Waterlines at every Howard Family Dental office in Georgia and South Carolina, including our Kid’s Dentistree and Oral & Facial Surgery Group locations, are being treated with DentaPure® Cartridges.

Why treat waterlines with DentaPure®?

Last year in Georgia, nine children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium abscessus infections after undergoing pulpotomies (root canals) at a common clinic. An investigation found that the outbreak was caused by contaminated water that introduced the bacterium during irrigation and drilling. We decided that it was in the best interest of our patients’ health to not only revisit our waterline cleaning procedures, but also seek a long-term solution. DentaPure is a safe, reliable and effective EPA-approved cartridge that attaches to dental waterlines to prevent biofilm buildup in Dental Unit Waterlines (DUWL’s). When untreated, or improperly maintained, the water flowing through these contaminated DUWL’s and out through the air/water syringe or high-speed handpieces can carry pieces of biofilm that have broken off the waterline wall — potentially harming your patients, your staff and your practice’s reputation. Learn more by watching the video below.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

What better way to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month than ensuring the health and safety of your children? If you have any additional questions about DentaPure or improving your child’s dental health, feel free to ask any of our team members at your next visit! For more children’s dental health tips and tricks, check out our #NCDHM blog post here.

Howard Family Dental Summit!

We hosted our annual Howard Family Dental Summit this month where team members from every office gathered for a day of motivational speakers, prizes, award, food and ‘Winter Wonderland’ fun!

“Bring your best stuff to the present moment and pour it into the lives of others.”
These are the words of Kevin Brown, whom we were lucky to hear speak this weekend. Kevin is passionate about helping people expand their vision, develop their potential and grow their results. And, as the father of an autistic child he knows firsthand how the principles of true success reach beyond the boardroom and into the lives of real people facing the challenges of everyday life. To learn more about Kevin’s story, visit http://www.kevinbrownspeaks.com/

We also heard Josh Sundquist, a bestselling author, speaker and Paralympic ski racer. Josh was diagnosed at age nine with a rare form of bone cancer, ultimately having his left leg amputated. Josh inspired us to just go for it with his stories of emotional and physical trials, dating and Paralympic skiing. To learn more about Josh’s story, visit www.joshsundquist.com 
It’s rare to have all 190 team members together and we enjoyed celebrating everyone’s accomplishments and hard work. We left the day feeling inspired and ready to take on 2017!

“Kindness is like snow, it beautifies everything it touches.”

 

Girl with cigarette outside

Smoking Alternatives: Helpful or Harmful?

In the 20th century, tobacco use killed more people than World War I and World War II combined. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. But most people already know about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes and the addictive nature of nicotine, which is why the number of smokers has been decreasing steadily over time.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of 7 out of 10 current smokers in the US who say they’d like to quit altogether. And you’ve likely tried smoking alternatives that are advertised as healthier options. In this article, we will help you make a smart decision by discussing popular smoking alternatives and whether they are harmful or helpful.

E-Cigarettes / Vape Pens

Electronic Cigarettes & Vaporizers

Believe it or not, electronic cigarettes were first invented in the 1930s, but the modern version we know didn’t gain popularity until the 2000s. An e-cigarette (or electronic cigarette) is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine into a mist, or vapor, that the user inhales. There’s no fire, no ash and no smoky smell. E-cigarettes do not contain many of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes, like carbon monoxide or tar. E-cigarettes, vaporizers and vape pens have been advertised as more convenient, less addictive, healthier and more socially acceptable than paper cigarettes – but more and more research is proving these claims to be false. One 2016 report suggests that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were equally damaging—in some cases, more damaging—to mouth cells as tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and college students, and there are non-nicotine versions of e-liquid (vape juice) available for purchase. But these products are still not regulated by the FDA and have not yet been researched enough to prove they are a safe alternative to smoking. Until we see some better evidence to support advertisers’ claims, our suggestion is to seek another stop-smoking aid.

Verdict: Harmful


Cigarette rolling machine, loose tobacco and rolled cigarettes

Rollies, Clove Cigarettes & Flavored Cigarillos

We’ve grouped these three types of cigarette alternatives together for the same reason – they are often misrepresented as a lighter, safer smoking experience as well as a healthier choice. Roll-your-own cigarettes (“rollies”) are often promoted as a more natural or organic alternative – and for some, a more authentic or cooler experience. Unfortunately “rollies” have seen a slight uptick in usage worldwide, and have actually have a higher risk of cancers of the larynx (voice box), esophagus (swallowing tube), mouth, and pharynx (throat) when compared with smokers of machine-made cigarettes – even if you use a filter.

Clove cigarettes (kreteks) and bidis are generally seen as more flavorful and contain ingredients not found in traditional cigarettes. People who smoke cloves sometimes think that they are less addictive or less hazardous than cigarettes, but studies show they have just as many negative effects as traditional cigarettes. Bidis are especially dangerous because it takes a deeper and more frequent inhale to keep them burning. Bidis often containing higher levels of tar, carbon monoxide and cigarettes and bidi smokers are at higher risk for heart attack, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. For all you Black & Mild or Swisher Sweet fans out there, you might be doing more harm than if you smoked cigarettes – putting you at risk for cancer, heart attack and respiratory diseases. Remember that cigars are not designed to be inhaled so when you choose to inhale cigar/cigarillo smoke, you might be doing even more damage to your lungs, brain and heart. If you’re looking to curb your habit, look elsewhere.

Verdict: Harmful

Hand holds smokeless tobacco product while other hand removes product with fingers

Smokeless Tobacco: Chew, Dip, Plug, Snuff & Snus

Smokeless tobacco comes in many different packages but for the most part, it is not a safe alternative to smoking. For example, one can of snuff contains the same amount of nicotine as 4 packs of cigarettes and dipping 8 to 10 times a day introduces as much nicotine into the body as smoking 30-40 cigarettes. And studies have shown that those who switch from cigarette smoking to chewing tobacco were more than 2.5 times as likely to develop cancer of the mouth or throat compared to those who quit smoking all together. If you’re trying to curb your habit or find a healthier alternative, smokeless tobacco is not the answer – because it still contains most of the chemicals in cigarettes that cause lung cancer and has even been tied to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

However, there is one exception and it comes in the form of a Swedish invention called “Snus.”  Snus is still highly addictive, but research shows that using snus to quit smoking has been proven to improve success rates by 50%. Also, in a large-scale study conducted in Australia, lifelong users of snus had a life expectancy comparable to those who quit tobacco all together. But it is important to note that this study was conducted in Sweden using the Swedish product, and American snus products are regulated differently. So it is possible that in the future, snus will become a helpful, recommended stop-smoking aid – for now, we remain skeptical of it being used in this way.

Verdict: Harmful

Smoking hookah with fruit head on dark background

Hookah or Shisha

Hookah (or Shisha, depending on your location) is a type of water pipe that is often smoked in social settings, at bars or parties. The tobacco is generally fruit-flavored, and its smoke is inhaled through long rubber hoses into a mouthpiece. Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals. Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, and can even lead to dependence and increased smoking habits. If you’re smoking hookah in a public place, there is also a chance that the equipment has not been properly cleaned – so there is an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases there. Hookah can be a fun, once-in-a-while activity with friends, but it is not a safe alternative to smoking and it will not help you quit smoking cigarettes.

Verdict: Harmful

 

There are many reasons to quit smoking, and it’s never too late. Quitting today can help reduce your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and asthma – and it can even improve brain function. Studies have shown that quitting at around age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%. If you quit at around age 50, you reduce the risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke. Even those who quit at around age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.

At Howard Family Dental, we are committed not just to your oral health, but to helping you live a longer, happier and more rewarding life. If you are a smoker, talk to us at your next cleaning about quitting. We’d be happy to discuss safe alternatives, stop-smoking aids we recommend and how quitting smoking today will improve your oral health. We are always happy to provide an oral cancer screening for you, which will alert us to any warning signs that you might be at risk for oral cancer. Good luck on your journey to stop smoking! We’ll be right here cheering for you.

Happy 2017!

Wishing you healthy, peaceful and joyful New Year full of fun! Here’s a New Year’s Resolution we hope to see… more smiles in 2017!

Man and woman smile while looking at a laptop, man is holding a credit card, CareCredit logo in top left corner

We Accept CareCredit

We aim to make dental care as available as possible to our patients, which is why we accept CareCredit at our offices.

CareCredit is a healthcare credit card designated to help pay for your out-of-pocket expenses, treatment and procedures.

Once approved for CareCredit, patients can charge expenses and depending on the financial option selected, patients can make deferred interest payments.

We are happy to help answer your questions about CareCredit. If you’d like to talk further, feel free to call any of our locations.

If you are ready to apply for CareCredit now, click here.

 

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks isolated on gray wall background

Are you missing out on free dental care?

Did you know: Most dental benefits are only available for one year?

Unused benefits — like FSA balances — from the prior year don’t necessarily roll over at the end of the calendar year. Many dental plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually, which means you could be missing out on free or discounted dental care. In fact, dental insurance companies count on making millions off of patients who never use their insurance benefits.

At Howard Family Dental, we are committed to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams and making dental care attainable, which includes utilizing your dental benefits. If you have been putting off a trip to the dentist or dental treatment, now is a great time to come in! We will review your dental benefits with you and show you how to maximize your benefits so that you can complete any outstanding treatment.

We also offer Payment Options and Care Credit if you need help covering any out-of-pocket expenses.

Give us a call today to see how we can help you use your benefits before you lose them!

Family having traditional holiday dinner with stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables pumpkin and pecan pie.

The 3 Best Thanksgiving Dishes for Your Teeth

As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this year, you might think about how it’s affecting the scale or your belt buckle — but what about your dental health? We’ve talked a lot about the link between dental health and overall health on our blog, so it’s no surprise that some foods are better for your teeth than others. Find out what’s inside some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and the positive effects they have on your teeth and gums.

Roasted turkey served on plate with a variety of vegetables, ready for dinner on Thanksgiving

Turkey

What’s inside: Protein, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Potassium and B Vitamins

Effects on your teeth: The star of the whole meal is probably the best thing for you on the table. Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, which strengthens teeth and your immune system. The minerals found in turkey — iron and zinc — promote healthy mucosal tissues that act as a barrier between your gums and dangerous bacteria. Phosphorous is important to bone health because it maximizes the benefits of calcium. And B Vitamins not only give you a natural energy boost, but they can also help prevent periodontal disease and repair damaged gum tissue. In fact, one of the only downsides to turkey is that it gets caught in your teeth, so you might want to bring along a flossing pick to Grandma’s house this year.


Homemade Red Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

What’s inside: Antioxidants, Vitamin C & Fiber

Effects on your teeth: Cranberries — like blueberries, kale and oatmeal — are often called a superfood because of their many health benefits. They are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can find, and antioxidants load your cells to protect you from disease. Cranberries are also rich in dietary fiber, which has been shown to reduce tooth decay, and Vitamin C. which strengthens your immune system. Most people go with canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving and we don’t blame you for saving some time, but unfortunately canned recipes are packed with sugar. Excessive sugar can damage your teeth enamel and lead to tooth decay, among other dental health problems. When you make your own cranberry sauce at home, you decide how much sugar goes in. So if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to canned cranberry sauce, check out this great recipe from Cookie and Kate.


Homemade Cooked Sweet Potato with Onions and Herbs

Yams or Sweet Potatoes

What’s inside: Vitamin C, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin A, Fiber & Potassium

Effects on your teeth: Yams and sweet potatoes are often interchangeable in recipes and can be prepared a lot of different ways on Thanksgiving — some of them more healthy than others. But at the heart of every yam or sweet potato dish is a vitamin-packed starch that is low in fat and high in nutritional value. Great at regulating blood sugar, their anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent periodontal disease. Healthy doses of Thiamine and Niacin in a balanced diet can decrease tooth decay. And Vitamin A promotes saliva production, which is crucial for cleaning away destructive bacteria and food particles from between teeth and gums. A lot of yam or sweet potato dishes are sweetened with sugar or marshmallows, but Thanksgiving is a time for a little rule-breaking — go ahead and splurge. Just remember to rinse your mouth with water any time you eat a sugary dish.


Happy Thanksgiving from our Family to yours!

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