Happy Valentine’s Day!


Happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day dates back to the 5th Century, but did not become the Valentine’s Day that we know today until the 1700’s. Valentine’s Day is also called St. Valentine’s Day and Feast of St. Valentine.  There are so many mixed emotions over this holiday as it has become more commercialized over the years, and the truth is, it’s really about spending time with the one you love, not about how much money you spend.  Many people get caught up in the high expectations of what the media has made us think it needs to be. There are so many ways to make it special and romantic without breaking the bank.

Need some last minute ideas? I have found some wonderful ideas online from Google and Pintrest:

  • Movie at home – check out Netflix, Redbox or On Demand
  • Coffee Date – go out to your favorite place or a new coffee bar
  • Cooking Date – choose a recipe and make together
  • Take out from a nice restaurant – enjoy at home with a nicely set table or while watching a movie
  • Go out to dinner a different night – avoid crowds & increased prices
  • Indoor Picnic – lay a blanket on the floor and enjoy some wine, cheese, mini sandwiches while listen to some music
  • Play a game -at home or out; example is Dave & Buster’s or an Escape Room
  • Star Gaze
  • Make your own card to exchange to your Valentine

Fun Valentines Facts:

  1. Approximately 50 Million roses are given on Valentine’s Day around the world.
  2. There are approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards exchanged every year in the U.S alone.
  3. Candy hearts are a staple to Valentine’s Day – approximately 8 billion are produced, which would be enough to stretch from Valentine, Arizona to Rome, Italy and back again.
  4. Cupid is the son of Venus. Venus is the god of beauty and love.
  5. Penicillin was introduced on February 14, 1929.
  6. Every Valentine’s Day, the Italian city of Verona receives approximately 1,000 letters that have been addressed to Juliet, as this is where the lovers Romeo and Juliet lived in Shakespeare’s play.
  7. The phrase, “to wear your heart on your sleeve” has a historical meaning! In the middle ages young people would draw a name from a bowl, the name they picked would be there Valentine and they would have to wear that name on their sleeve for one week.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and remember:

“All you need is Love. But a little Chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt” – Charles M. Schulz


Caring for braces


Braces; what most kids need during adolescent years and some adults have later in life to allow for proper occlusal function and gorgeous smile! There are two types of orthodontia, traditional braces and invisalign. Today’s blog is about how to care for traditional braces as they are the most common.  It’s extremely important to take good care of one’s teeth when in orthodontic treatment, not easy, I know as I had them when I was in middle school, but imperative to have the beautiful smile everyone dreams of when they come off.  There are many adjustments that need to be made with one’s homecare routine, as well as some eating habits.  It’s also important to stay on track with routine check-ups to be sure they come off as scheduled.

Proper oral hygiene is the most important topic. I’m sure your orthodontist and dental hygienist has reviewed this with you and/ or your child. Some of the common things we see with orthodontia patients are gingivitis, demineralization, and heavy plaque buildup.  These irritating conditions can cause serious long term dental problems and if they become extreme, braces may need to be removed before treatment is finished.

Homecare with braces does take a little longer but the outcome is worth every minute. I recommend using the following items daily; a WaterPik Waterflosser, a Sonicare electric toothbrush with toothpaste that contains fluoride & Act fluoride rinse twice daily. Additional aids that are helpful are Superfloss, Ortho flossers and Proxy brushes/ Interdental brushes.  If possible, the Waterflosser by Waterpik should be used every night before brushing. Brushing should be done ideally 3-4 times a day; before school/work, after lunch, after school and before bed to reduce the amount of plaque sitting on one’s teeth for a long period of time. To properly remove plaque around brackets the toothbrush head should be angled against them, be sure to brush the chewing surfaces and the backs of the teeth as well. Act Fluoride rinse, or the rinse prescribed by the orthodontist should be used in the morning and at night and nothing should be consumed for 30 minutes after.  If you do not have the waterpik waterflosser than it’s extremely important to make sure you are doing a nice deep “c” motion around your teeth and brackets as well subgingivally along the gumline using superfloss. Flossing should be done every night, as braces are known for trapping food in difficult places that are hard to clean.  The flossing process may take a while when you first start doing it but as time goes on you will get faster. It’s also common to have a little bleeding when you first start flossing but it should not last more than two weeks if flossing daily and properly.

There are some foods that should be avoided during orthodontia treatment as they can cause demineralization, increase the risk of decay, ruin wires, and pop off brackets. These issues can delay progress and mean additional trips to the orthodontists.  People who have habits of biting nails, chewing on pens or pencils or chewing any type of foreign object need to stop, as it can cause damage to wires and brackets too.

Examples of some foods to avoid include:

Sticky: Gum, Toffee, Caramels, Starburst, Jolly Ranchers, any other sticky food or candy

Hard: Nuts, Taco Shells, Hard Breads, Ice, Corn on the cob, Apples & Carrots (the last three if cut up are ok)

Sugary/ Acid: Soda’s, Lemons & Limes, Kool-Aid, Gatorade, Sweet Tea, Candy

Did you know February is National Children’s Dental Health Month?


Most people are unaware that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children. February is dedicated to increasing awareness on the importance of good oral homecare in children. The ADA reports that children in the United States miss over 51 million hours of school each year due to dental issues, and even more surprising, approximately 17 million children go without dental care each year and pediatric dental disease is even higher, reaching approximately 44% of children before they are in kindergarten (1). This information is important because when children miss school, they miss out on very important learning skills, such as reading and writing, which are crucial stepping stones to a successful education. In addition to missing school, tooth pain can cause these children to become distracted during school causing them to have lower grades.

I have written past blogs on the importance of baby teeth and good homecare which I would encourage you to read, but for now the most important things to remember are; seeing a dentist regularly (every 6 months starting no later than age 3) and following dental recommendation for Sealants and X-rays. In addition to dental visits, homecare is the most important thing you can do daily with your child. Parents should help their children brush 2x daily using a very small smear of fl2 toothpaste (see photo below). Parents who have babies should be wiping their gums with a damp cloth daily to remove milk & bacteria that resides on the gums. You can even floss your children’s teeth with flossers. It’s encouraged that parents help brush & floss their children’s teeth until they are about 6 or 8 years old. A good diet is also important! Most people know that candy and soda are risks for decay, but did you know milk, fruit, and traditional snacks can be dangerous too? Children should not go to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, the milk pools and sit on their teeth causing baby bottle decay. It’s also important to monitor your child during the day and not allow them to sip on milk or juice continuously, water is ok as long as it is from a proper cup that does not require them to suck on it, straws are ok. The constant exposure to sugar causes the Ph in your child’s mouth to continuously be acidic and a breeding ground for bacteria to eat away at the enamel of their teeth. Continuous exposure to sugars, carbohydrates and acidic foods can increase the risk of cavities. Even natural sugars in fruits, veggies, and yogurts, if left on the teeth too long, can break down the enamel leading to a cavity. Carbs turn to sugars in the mouth (examples; gram crackers, goldfish, animal crackers, cheerios, and ritz crackers). If left on teeth it will break down the enamel. A few other beverages to be aware of are chocolate milk, gatorade, lemonade, and soda which are all ok occasionally with a meal, but continuously drinking them will breakdown the enamel and cause cavities over time. Finally, gummy vitamins are a great option for kids but they do stick to the chewing surfaces of teeth, so I encourage all vitamins to be taken with breakfast and brush teeth after.

Be sure to brush your teeth and teach your kids about proper oral hygiene to provide them with a lifelong oral habit that will give them a reason to smile!  A great website for fun kid dental activities is: MouthHealthyKids.org


  1. https://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month



Away at school, vacation or moving? Here are some tips on finding the right dentist!


It’s not often you’re looking for a new dentist but when you are, be sure to find an office that makes you feel like you are family. We believe that your dental health is a vital part of your overall health and having a dentist that is looking out for you and your families’ best interest is important. Here at Parker River Dental we make all our patients feel like they are at home and comfortable, some of our patients even stop in for a friendly visit just to say hello!

So where do you start? First, think about your life-style and what’s convenient for you. Location of practice, hours of practice, and do they accept your dental insurance. You can look on social media for online advertisements as well as local advertisement and, best of all, word- of- mouth. I would encourage you to pick the top three recommendations and then visit their websites, or even give them a call to get a feel for the office and staff to see if it fits your needs. I have even had families come into our practice for a tour and to have their questions answered. It’s important to feel comfortable and have a connection with your dental team.

A few additional suggestions on places to start looking for a dentist are:

  1. Ask family, friend, co-worker or neighbor
  2. If your moving or at college; ask your current dentist for a recommendation
  3. Use the ADA’s (Find A Dentist Tool) – search by dentist name, location & specialty

A few things to look for in your searches are:

  1. Where was the dentist educated?
  2. What are the dentist’s credentials?
  3. What is the dentist’s approach to preventative dentistry?
  4. How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education classes?
  5. Is the office clean, neat & orderly?
  6. Is the staff willing to answer questions?
  7. Does the staff wear proper protective gear during patient procedures?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


Sodium laureth sulfate structure.png

Have you ever wondered why some toothpastes have a foamy reaction in your mouth and some do not? The ingredient that causes this foamy reaction is called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), it’s also known as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl ether sulfate.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a salt derived from lauryl sulfate. It is synthetically produced in laboratories through a process of denaturing dodecanol, a fatty alcohol that’s extracted from coconut and palm kernel oil (1).

Most toothpaste on the market currently has SLS but there is an ever growing market of toothpaste that does not. The majority of people who use toothpaste that contains SLS do not experience any reactions and enjoy the clean feeling that follows after brushing their teeth.  However, many people do have reactions to the SLS in their toothpaste, causing mouth sores; such as canker sores and mouth ulcers in addition to an upset stomach or experience diarrhea when swallowed. Although, there is no conclusive clinical evidence that SLS is the cause of the mouth sores, I have seen firsthand in a few of my patients the benefit of swapping from toothpaste that contains SLS to toothpaste that does not.  Some of the top SLS Free toothpastes are: Sensodyne ProNamel, CloSYS, Tom’s of Maine, and Uncle Harry’s Natural Toothpaste.  The top two I recommend on a weekly basis are:

Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste– This is the #1 SLS Free toothpaste I recommend. It has been around for decades and is also great to help with generalized tooth sensitivity. It is formulated to create a neutral PH in your mouth, which means it reduces acidity when brushing. It also has a low abrasion formula and promotes healthy gums.

CloSYS without SLS- This toothpaste has a combination of ingredients that help kill bacteria which cause plaque. It decreases bad breath as it removes bad bacteria but leaves good bacteria, and leaves  your mouth feeling fresh. It also has a mild polishing agent which helps remove daily surface stains and it’s ideal if you have sensitive teeth. It’s also best used in combination with a CloSYS mouthrinse.

The Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free toothpaste I would recommend for children is Tom’s of Maine. They have a variety of Flavors which is important, because if your child does not like the flavor it may discourage good brushing habits.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free toothpaste may also be a good option for younger children as they tend to swallow toothpaste more often.  If you go to the Tom’s of Maine website, they provide a breakdown of each ingredient in each toothpaste or rinse they offer.

If you prefer to use toothpaste that is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free, I would encourage you to review the ingredients list on the toothpaste or mouthrinse label to ensure that it is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free.  Many companies make a variety of products containing different ingredients to make sure they meet all consumers’ needs and wants.










When Should Mouthguards Be Worn?

IMG_8905 (1)

~ Photo: Actual guards made in our office- Custom Sports Guard and “B-Splint”~

When most people hear the word “mouthguard” they think of playing childhood sports. Mouthguards are protective devices that cover the teeth and gums to reduce the risk of injury to your teeth, gums and lips from trauma. Mouthguards typically cover your upper teeth as they usually get the brunt of the trauma because they stick out further than lower teeth.

Mouthguards should be used by children and adults who play contact sports as well as noncontact sports (such as gymnastics, weight lifting, skateboarding, skating and mountain biking).  It’s also highly recommended for people who have braces or permanent dental restorations (such as implants & bridges) to wear guards during any type of contact or noncontact sports.  If you have removable appliances such as ortho retainers or partial dentures, it is recommended that you do not wear them while wearing a mouthguard or during any contact or noncontact sport.  In addition to the need of a mouthguard during organized sports and other recreational activities, another common need is for those who grind their teeth.

If you feel you clench or grind your teeth I recommend that you discuss your concern with your dentist and have an occlusal analysis done. This comprehensive exam will allow your dentist to see if you’re only grinding at night or if it’s part of your everyday function.  A night guard is a customized acrylic splint that helps allow your muscles to relax and protect your teeth from further wear, chipping, and cracking.

There are three common types of guards available; Custom-made, Boil and Bite, and Stock. The best type of guard is one that is customized to your mouth and made by a dentist.  The Boil and Bite guards are made out of a thermoplastic material and usually can be found at most sporting good stores. This type of guard is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in your mouth and shaped around the teeth, using finger and tongue pressure to mold it, be sure to follow manufactures instructions. The Boil and Bite guards offer a much better fit than stock guards. Stock guards are also available at sporting goods and department stores but are not recommended by dentists. They are generally bulky as the fit cannot be adjusted, which makes breathing more difficult, and they provide little to no protection.

Once you have your guard it’s important to maintain it, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Rinse your guard with cold water before and after each use, you can even rinse with mouthrinse and brush with a toothbrush (without toothpaste)
  • Keep guard in a firm container that permits air circulation which helps prevent damage
  • Keep away from hot water, hot surfaces and direct sunlight – these can distort the shape & fit
  • Monitor guard for wear – if the fit becomes loose or you have holes or tears then it needs to be replaced. * Children’s & Teen’s guards may need to be replaced more often because their mouths are still growing & changing.
  • Bring guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have it cleaned and evaluated
  • Keep out of reach of pets as they tend to chew or eat them

The most important thing to remember is your guard needs to be effective. You need a proper fit, easy to clean, durable, and not restrict your breathing. Ask your dentist for more information on which guard would best meet your needs.  You don’t want to get caught without a mouthguard and risk fracturing your teeth or the loss of one of your front teeth causing trouble with smiling, talking, and eating!




2018 Resolutions

2018 new year

Wow, I can’t believe its 2018 already!  Who made their annual New Year’s Resolutions?  Resolutions can be life changing if you create a plan on how you want to reach them.  There are lots of books and articles on ways to help make sure you identify the right resolutions to improve your life and not set yourself up for failure.  You should start by making SMART goals. This is something I learned about in leadership training I did a few years back and then came across in a few articles before writing this post. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. After you identify your goals you will want to create a plan. It would be great if we could just write them down and then the next day it’s a new lifelong habit, but it’s not that simple.

As I discussed in a past blog post “The Power of Habit” a habit requires three parts; a cue, a routine and a reward. Here is an example from an article in the New York times; Habit: I Smoke, Routine: Smoke a cigarette, Reward: I’m stimulated. A way to change the behavior: Instead of smoking a cigarette, replace stimulus with something else, like coffee (1).  Your resolution should be personal, you need to figure out what the cue for your habit is. For example, if you want to start exercising more put on your workout clothes and shoes and start walking around the block or going straight to the gym before or after work. Reward could be to enjoy a small piece of chocolate, eventually your reward can become a personal feeling of being more energized daily. I have always been active but needed to start working out routinely. I started back in 2009 going to the gym three nights a week, straight from work. Then in 2012 I started going in the morning, that was not an easy task but It felt great to get my workout done in the morning. My reward was not having to think about it for the rest of the day, being home for dinner with my family and having energy all day. Now in 2018 I still make working out daily and eating a balanced diet one of my resolutions as a reminder of a goal that is important to me. Remember, no matter how good your plan is, change is hard and you’re going against yourself.  It’s important to create a step-by step process on how to manage your plan. Focus on the small steps and what you have accomplished not what you have left. Finally, remember to be flexible, you’re not going to accomplish your goal 1st try, you will probably slip a few times. If you slip that is ok, use it as a learning opportunity and start again the next day. If you keep slipping don’t blame yourself, stop and think about what keeps triggering the slip and try to change that cue and habit.

So, make your SMART Goals and be part of the 50% that succeed! You won’t fail if you try and try again until you accomplish your goal. Charles Duhigg the author of “The Power of Habit” said that “Belief is a metaphorical muscle that with practice gets strong and easier to use” (1).  If you have not read or listened to Duhigg’s book, I would strongly recommend it. Good Luck with your 2018 resolutions!


  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/18/smarter-living/how-to-stick-with-new-years-resolutions.html
  2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg