10 Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Enjoy the Holiday the Mouth Healthy Way!

halloween kids

Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health and safety challenges.

Here are 10 ways you can help your children maintain good oral hygiene during Halloween and year-round, brought to you by the American Dental Association®.

  • Time It Right

Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

  • Choose Candy Carefully

Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.

  • Avoid Sticky Situations

Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

  • Drink More Water

Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.

  • Maintain a Healthy Diet

Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.

  • Stay Away from Sugary Beverages

This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.

  • Chew Gum with the ADA Seal

Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by dental plaque bacteria. Find one with the ADA Seal.

  • Brush Twice a Day

Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Remember, replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

  • Clean Between Your Teeth

Floss your teeth once a day. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

  • Visit Glen Oaks Dental

Regular visits to Glen Oaks Dental can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to “treat.”

So go ahead and let your kids enjoy their Halloween candy! Just follow the Mouth Healthy tips above and visit your dental team at Glen Oaks Dental regularly. Time for a cleaning? Give us a call at 763.786.8460 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you and your smile!

Sip All Day, Get Decay® – The Facts About Soda and Tooth Decay

Soda and Tooth Decay

Image credit: Minnesota Dental Association

Soft drinks are no longer an occasional treat; they’ve become a daily habit for a growing number of kids, teens and young adults. But did you know a steady of diet of soft drinks can lead to tooth decay? It’s a problem the Glen Oaks Dental team sees in their offices nearly every day. That’s why the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA) is leading the effort to educate Minnesotans about this important public health problem with its Sip All Day, Get Decay® campaign.

The Effects of Sugar and Acid on Your Teeth

Certain bacteria in the mouth take the sugar in soda and produce acid, which attacks the teeth and starts the decay process. Diet or “sugar-free” soda contains its own acid, which also can damage teeth. Each attack lasts about 20 minutes and starts over with every sip of soda you take.

You can easily figure out the amount of sugar in drinks by reading the label. Simply divide the grams of sugar per serving by 4 to determine the teaspoons of sugar per serving. Remember, a bottle of soda is often more than one serving!

Eight Hard Facts About Soft Drinks

Here are some additional facts about soda, according to SipAllDay.org:

  • A bottle of soda pop in the 50’s was 6.5 ounces. Today, a 12-ounce can is standard and a 20-ounce bottle is common.
  • Larger container sizes mean more calories, more sugar and more acid in a single serving. A 64-ounce “Big Cup” has more than five cans of soda pop in a single serving!
  • There is no nutritional value in soft drinks. In regular soda pop all of the calories come from sugar.
  • In addition to cavities, heavy soda pop consumption has been linked to diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
  • One-fifth of all one- and two-year-old children drink soda pop.
  • Today, teens drink three times more soda pop than 20 years ago, often replacing milk.
  • Soft drink companies pay high schools and middle schools big bucks to offer their products.
  • Sealants only protect tooth chewing surfaces. Soda pop decay tends to occur where sealants can’t reach.

Nine Things to Start Doing Now

To reduce decay, The Minnesota Dental Association recommends:

  • Drink soft drinks in moderation.
  • Don’t sip for extended periods of time. Ongoing sipping prolongs sugar and acid attacks on your teeth.
  • Use a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth.
  • After drinking, swish your mouth out with water to dilute the sugar.
  • Never drink soda pop or juice before bedtime because the liquid pools in your mouth and coats your tongue and teeth with sugar and acid.
  • Read labels. Regular soda pop is high in sugar. And diet or “sugar-free” soda pop is high in acid. Sugar and acid are both bad for your teeth.
  • Drink water instead of soft drinks. It has no sugar, no acid and no calories.
  • Get regular checkups and cleanings to remove bacteria buildup (plaque).
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth. Floss, too.

This doesn’t mean a person should never drink soda. In fact, drinking it in moderation may cause no harm at all. However, continual and/or excessive drinking of sugary, acidic carbonated beverages could cause decay in the long run.

You can avoid tooth decay from drinking too many soft drinks – just limit your intake, brush and floss twice a day, and have visit your dental team at Glen Oaks Dental regularly. Time for a cleaning? Give us a call at 763.786.8460 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you and your smile!

Preventing Dental Injuries in Sports

The Importance of Mouthguards

Image credit: Google Images

Image credit: Google Images

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating—everything would be affected. That’s why knowing how to prevent and treat dental injuries is important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities. When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of an athlete’s standard equipment from an early age. In fact, an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard.

Why use a mouthguard when playing sports?



Because accidents can happen during any physical activity, the advantage of using a mouth guard during sports is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to your lips, tongue, and soft tissues of your mouth. Mouth guards also help you avoid chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or even tooth loss.

There are three types of mouth guards:

  • Stock mouth protectors are preformed and come ready to wear. They are inexpensive and can be bought at most sporting good stores.
  • Boil and bite mouth protectors also can be bought at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors.
  • Custom-fitted mouth protectors are individually designed and made in a dental office or a professional laboratory based on your dentist’s instructions. Although custom-made mouth guards are more expensive, they provide the most comfort and protection.

Generally, mouth guards cover your upper teeth only, but in some instances (such as if you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw), your dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Your dentist can suggest the best mouth guard for you. An effective mouth guard should be comfortable, resist tears, be durable and easy to clean, and should not restrict your breathing or speech.

image 1

Patient was hit in the mouth by a billiard ball and fractured two teeth.


Time is critical in dental injuries

Do not allow the athlete to wait until the end of the game to seek treatment for a dental injury. Transport them and the tooth (in Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution (Save a Tooth), milk, saline soaked gauze, or under the athlete’s tongue) to the dentist immediately.


Glen Oaks Dental was able to bond the tooth fragments to the intact teeth, restoring the patient's smile.

Glen Oaks Dental was able to bond the tooth fragments to the intact teeth, restoring the patient’s smile.


Even if a tooth has been knocked out, it often can be saved if you get to a dentist quickly enough. Minor chips and cracks can be repaired. Dentists use tooth-colored materials that are nearly as strong as the original tooth. However, even “minor” dental injuries can cause serious and costly damage.

The dentists at Glen Oaks Dental routinely perform emergency and restorative procedures, and have developed a thorough approach to determine the best solution for each patient. If you or a family member suffers a dental injury, contact Glen Oaks Dental immediately at 763-786-8460.

Facts from the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety

  • Dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during participation in sports; the majority of these dental injuries are preventable.
  • An athlete is 60 times more likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouthguard.
  • The cost of a fractured tooth is many times greater than the cost of a dentist diagnosed and designed professionally made mouthguard.
  • It is estimated that faceguards and mouthguards prevent approximately 200,000 injuries each year in high school and college football.

10 Tips for Healthy Teen Teeth

10 Tips for Healthy Teen Teeth

teen braces smileMaintaining healthy teeth and gums is key for overall health at any age, and the teenage years are no exception. During the teen years, socializing, fitting-in and looking good are important for building self-esteem. Maintaining a healthy and pleasing smile without damaged or missing teeth is part of the equation. In addition to brushing, flossing, maintaining a healthy diet and visiting your dentist on a regular basis, there are several other dental considerations during the teen years to help ensure a healthy and attractive smile for years to come.

Sealants Dental sealants are bonded to teeth with deep pits and grooves to help prevent decay.  They act as a barrier, protecting cavity-prone areas during a high caries risk period of a teenagers life.  Remember: Just because you have sealants doesn’t mean you don’t have to brush and floss every day. Sealants are added protection against decay!

Braces If your teeth are crooked or out of alignment, you may benefit from braces. Fortunately, today’s braces are more comfortable, available in various colors, and give you more treatment options. In certain cases, invisible and removable clear plastic aligners that gradually move the teeth might be an option.

If you have braces: Good oral hygiene is especially important for teens with braces. Your dentist may recommend avoiding certain foods that could damage braces or accidentally bend the wires. These foods may include nuts, popcorn, hard candy, ice and sticky foods like chewing gum, caramel or other chewy candy.

Wisdom Teeth Wisdom teeth get their name by being the last teeth to come in during young adulthood. Most permanent teeth have come in by age 13, and your wisdom teeth should come in between the ages of 17-21. Sometimes they do not have enough room to come in normally or are in the wrong position to erupt properly.   When that happens, your dentist may refer you to a specialist for extractions before complications develop.

Gum Disease Gum disease may seem like a dental problem that affects only adults, but it often starts during the teenage years. In fact, 60% of 15-year-olds experience gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis, which involves the gums but not the underlying bone and ligament, is almost always caused by an accumulation of plaque.

If you remove plaque regularly and follow good oral hygiene habits, your gums usually will return to their healthy state. However, more serious gum disease can cause gums to swell, turn red, and bleed, and sometimes causes discomfort. So if you notice that your gums are bleeding while flossing or that you have bad breath, ask a parent to schedule a dental appointment. Your dentist can make a proper diagnosis and recommend treatment to treat the gum disease.

Bruxism (Tooth Grinding) It’s not uncommon for teens to “stress out” about things – a big test at school, a new relationship, making the team or being accepted to the college of your choice. Unfortunately, that stress can translate into dental damage if it leads to grinding your teeth. Tooth grinding (bruxism) wears down the teeth and also could lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMJ), a painful condition that makes it difficult to open and close the mouth.

If you’ve noticed that your jaw is sore in the morning, you hear a clicking sound when opening or closing your mouth and/or your teeth are sensitive, you could be grinding your teeth at night. Make an appointment to see your dentist, who may recommend a splint to wear at bedtime to protect your teeth and help relieve your symptoms.

Drinking Soda The number of teenagers who consume soda today has nearly doubled from what it was several years ago. Sodas and other carbonated beverages typically contain an excessive amount of sugars and acidic flavorings that erode tooth enamel, which can ultimately lead to tooth decay.

You can calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar that you are consuming by dividing the grams of sugar per serving by 4.  Be aware that some cans of pop are more than one serving!  Some cans of pop contain up to 11 teaspoons of sugar in one serving!

The bacteria in your mouth take the sugar and produce more acids which increase your risk of decay substantially.  Drinking water after soda helps to rinse your mouth and reduce your risk of cavities. To help keep your teeth strong for your lifetime, limit your intake of carbonated beverages.

The Minnesota Dental Association is leading the effort to educate people about this important public health problem through its Sip All Day, Get Decay® campaign. For more information on the effects of and preventing damage from soda, click here.

Mouthguards If you play sports or are active in things like skateboarding or snowboarding, it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard. It may feel funny at first, but mouthguards are the best thing you can do to protect your teeth.  Mouth guards help protect against chipped or broken teeth, root and bone damage, and tooth loss. Whenever there’s a chance you’ll be in contact with other players or hard surfaces, wearing a mouth guard makes sense. If you don’t have one, see your dentist to be fitted for a custom and durable mouth guard.

Smoking  If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do, it’s time to quit. Smoking and/or chewing tobacco stains your teeth, gives you bad breath, and increases your risk of developing periodontal disease (gum disease) and oral cancer. If you use tobacco products, be honest about it with your dentist or hygienist. Be sure to discuss any problems you may be experiencing with your mouth, too.

Oral Piercings  Oral piercings may look cool, but they can be dangerous to your health. If you’re tempted to pierce your lip, cheek or tongue, be advised that such piercings come with significant risks. Oral piercings put you at risk for chipping your teeth while eating, sleeping, chewing and talking. The damage caused by tongue piercings can lead to tooth fractures that may ultimately need fillings, crowns or even root canals.  Oral piercings can also damage the soft tissue around your teeth.  For all of these reasons we recommend removing oral piercings permanently.

Eating Disorders Eating disorders commonly arise during the teen years from a variety of complex physical, emotional and social issues. They can also be devastating to your oral health. An eating disorder can lead to bleeding gums and chronic dry mouth. Throwing up frequently can affect teeth too. When strong stomach acid repeatedly flows over teeth, the tooth’s enamel can be lost, resulting in changes to your teeth’s color, shape and length. The edges of teeth can also become thin and break off.

Dentists can usually identify eating disorders based on the effects, and can recommend psychological counseling or offer a referral to a physician. Although dentists can restore teeth damaged by the acid erosion caused by the constant purging using dental crowns, composite fillings and other treatments, they cannot treat the eating disorder.

A healthy and pleasing smile is an important part of a teen’s positive self-image. In addition to brushing, flossing, maintaining a healthy diet and visiting your dentist on a regular basis, being aware of the issues discussed above will help ensure a healthy and attractive smile for years to come. The staff at Glen Oaks Dental looks forward to providing quality dental care and a great dental experience for your teen. Call us today at 763-786-8460 to schedule an appointment!

Six Simple Steps to Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy


By the time a baby is born, he or she already has 20 primary (or baby) teeth formed inside the gums. These teeth will start to come in when the baby is about six months old, and by age three most children will have a full set of primary teeth. Baby teeth will later be lost and replaced by permanent teeth, so why be concerned about baby teeth becoming decayed when they will be replaced? It’s simple – because a child who has caries (decay) in baby teeth is three times more likely to develop decay in the areas between his or her permanent teeth.

So what should you, as a parent or caregiver, be doing to keep your baby’s teeth healthy? Glen Oaks Dental recommends following these six easy steps to a healthy smile to all its pediatric dentistry clients:

Start oral care early. Wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after every feeding. As soon as the first tooth appears, start brushing with water only. Wait until the child is at least two years old before using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste (and can spit out the toothpaste, not swallow it).

Never allow a baby or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juice or any sweetened liquid, or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey. Even diluted sweet drinks can be harmful and result in tooth decay. Infants should finish their bedtime or naptime bottle (or breast feeding) before being laid in bed.

Encourage the child to drink from a regular cup by his or her first birthday. Discourage frequent use of a training (sippy) cup, as it can also contribute to “baby bottle” tooth decay.

Schedule the child’s first dental visit by his or her first birthday. Think of it as a “healthy baby checkup) for teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay, your dentist will discuss other pediatric dentistry concerns like pacifier or thumb-sucking, fluoride needs, and common dental injuries and treatments.

Care for your child’s baby teeth as if they are permanent teeth. Baby teeth hold the space needed for the permanent teeth.  Parents often think “it’s only a baby tooth, why spend all of the time and money?” If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, many times the other teeth (both permanent and baby) will shift/move and create problems for the permanent teeth yet to come in. In particular, the first molars (6 year molars) will often tip forward if a primary molar is lost, causing spacing issues for the teeth around it.

Share this information with others! In many households, parents rely on others to care for their baby at least part of the time. Educate all caregivers on children’s oral health – keeping your baby’s smile healthy is a team effort!

Children learn healthy habits from their parents, and good oral health is an important part of a person’s overall health. Following these simple steps with your baby’s teeth will start him or her on a path to a healthy and beautiful smile! And when it’s time to schedule that first dental visit, look to Glen Oaks Dental for all your pediatric dentistry needs. The staff at Glen Oaks Dental will provide quality dental care in caring manner, and will work with you as a team to provide a great dental experience for your child.

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13447091@N00/3610103532 by Teefs! via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/