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Holiday Treats That Are Good for Your Teeth

The holidays mean time spent with family and friends, fun traditions, and maybe even some presents. They also mean lots of food, and often not the kind that are good for your oral health. For those looking to stay healthy and cavity-free this holiday season, we’ll discuss some holiday treats that are good for your teeth.

three gingerbread man cookies good for oral health

Gingerbread Cookies

Yes, some cookies are not bad for your oral health! The key is finding those that don’t require a lot of sugar. Your typical sugar cookies often have more than a cup of sugar, while gingerbread cookies call for about half that. Another benefit is that gingerbread is high in fiber and ginger is an anti-inflammatory.

Cheesy Reindeer

Want a snack that’s as healthy as it is cute? Look no further than cheese reindeer! Cheese is good for your teeth because it’s packed with calcium to make your tooth enamel stronger. To make cheese reindeer, simply take a wedge of cheese cut in a triangle for the face, use black olives for the eyes, a round chunk of red pepper for the nose, and pretzels for the ears.

Oatmeal Cookies

Another healthier cookie, oatmeal cookies are good for your oral health because they are also much lower in sugar. In fact, they can be made with even less sugar if you substitute applesauce for a lot of the sugar in the recipe. Applesauce is a more natural sweetener that will also keep the cookies moist for longer. Better for your teeth and better for your tastebuds!

Pumpkin Pie

Another holiday treat you don’t have to feel too guilty about is pumpkin pie. High in fiber and Vitamin A, pumpkin strengthens your teeth’s enamel and works to keep gums healthy. Pumpkin pie recipes also don’t often call for too much sugar. Just be sure not to pile on the whipped cream!

Sweet Potatoes

Naturally sweet without being packed with sugar, sweet potatoes are a great holiday treat. They’re high in vitamins A and C which are vital to maintaining healthy gums. Just make sure that you pass on the sweet potato casserole that’s topped with marshmallows and brown sugar.

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringues

Instead of Hershey’s kisses, which are filled with sugar, make your own drop cookies with chocolate and hazelnuts. It’ll save your teeth from a lot of sugar, but will be so delicious that you won’t miss the Hershey’s kisses.

If you have any other questions about healthy holiday snacks that are good for your teeth, or if you need to schedule a checkup, contact us today!

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How Long Does It Take for a Cavity to Form?

Sometimes patients wonder why it’s necessary to see us for a checkup every 6 months. This is because the health of your teeth can change drastically in a span of just a few months, and we want to make sure we’re aware of any changes to your dental health. Take cavities for example. A cavity can take months or even years to form in an adult. It takes even less time for a child because the enamel of baby teeth is more susceptible to breakdown than adult teeth. You or your child might not feel a cavity forming, but we can see it. This is why it’s so important to get seen routinely.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a hole in a tooth that forms when it begins to decay. Tooth decay is caused by a wearing down of enamel, or the outer layer of teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed off of sugar to cause plaque, which can break down the enamel of the teeth and cause cavities. Cavities can cause a toothache or sensitivity upon eating certain foods.

cartoon man brushing his teeth and cartoon tooth giving a thumbs up

How Can You Prevent Cavities?

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to diligently practice your daily dental hygiene. Brushing twice daily for two minutes each time and flossing once daily will greatly reduce your chances of getting a cavity. Also, reducing your sugar intake will help to keep teeth clean and free of plaque. Visiting our office for your scheduled cleanings is also an important step to keeping teeth strong.

What to Do if You Suspect You Have a Cavity

Give us a call! Don’t be shy. Fixing a cavity is easy and will help keep the tooth from being damaged further. We’ll repair your tooth with a filling and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time!

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Does Mouthwash Make Your Teeth Healthier?

Considering making mouthwash a part of your daily routine? There are some great reasons to do so, but do you need it?

man pondering the benefits of mouthwash for oral health

What Does Mouthwash Actually Do?

A swish of mouthwash after brushing can feel great, leaving your mouth feeling squeaky clean. But besides leaving your teeth minty fresh, how is it benefiting your smile? Depending on the type of mouthwash you choose, you’ll be getting a different effect. Typically, mouthwashes are antiseptic solutions, formulated to target a variety of issues, depending on the type you select. Mouthwashes have been shown to be effective in reducing plaque and sensitivity, whitening and brightening the smile, freshening breath, and more.

Is Mouthwash Necessary?

If you’ve kept up with your brushing and flossing to maintain a healthy smile, you probably don’t need it, though it likely won’t do you any harm. Mouthwash is often recommended for use by people with gum disease, cavities, or halitosis, for example. If you’re suffering from any such issues, your dentist may recommend a specific formula for targeted treatment.

How to Use Mouthwash

Whether you need it or not, make sure you’re using mouthwash correctly, many people don’t! It’s important that you swish the solution for at least 60 seconds in order for it to take effect. Avoid an alcohol based mouthwash, they have been proven harsh and maybe even be dangerous. Also, do your research and look for a mouthwash that’s proven effective, and targets the problems you actually have. A fluoride rinse is a smart choice for those prone to cavities, while an anti-plaque wash is helpful to anyone with gum disease. Avid coffee drinkers may be looking for a whitening wash to add to their medicine cabinet. Don’t choose a mouthwash that doesn’t do the job you need, or doesn’t do the job at all. Some washes may freshen breath in the short term, but with no germ-fighting ingredients, do no long term work on fighting bacteria and eliminating bad breath.

Not sure? Ask Us!

If you’re not sure which type to use, or whether you should even use it at all, give us a call. At Mint Dental Care we’re here to advise you on how to round out your routine for the best possible clean!

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5 Tooth-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

sugar cubes on a black background
Sugar makes some food taste good, but that’s the only good thing about it.
Sugar is suspected to be a major factor contributing to many significant health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cancer.

And of course everyone knows it also wreaks havoc on our teeth. Actually, sugar alone is not the cause of cavities. Rather, cavities are caused by the acid released by the combination of sugar and bacteria. The acid destroys tooth enamel, which creates decay.

Fortunately, there are numerous sugar substitutes which do not react with bacteria to cause acid, and therefore do not lead to cavities. In this article, we offer a list of 5 such substitutes that you might want to try, if you haven’t already. All of them are available under various brand names, and are also marketed by numerous manufacturers under their generic names.

1. Sucralose

Sucralose, which is best-known by the brand name “Splenda,” is one of six sugar substitutes that are approved by the FDA. The others are saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, neotame, and advantame. Of all the FDA-approved sweeteners, sucralose is one of the most extensively researched, having been the subject of more than 100 safety studies.

Sucralose is a general purpose sweetener that can be found in a variety of foods including baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, gelatins, and frozen dairy desserts. Unlike some other non-sugar sweeteners, it is heat stable, making it suitable for use in cooking.

2. Stevia

This sweetener is derived from a plant native to parts of South America, where it has been used for hundreds of years. It is categorized as “GRAS” by the FDA, which means it is “Generally Regarded As Safe,” and therefore does not require premarket FDA approval like other food additives. However, the raw stevia leaf itself is not considered GRAS and is therefore not permitted for use as a sweetener.

3. Monk Fruit

Technically known as Luo Han Guo, Monk Fruit is a type of gourd that’s native to Southern China. Like Stevia, the sweetener derived from Monk Fruit is categorized as GRAS by the FDA. It has the additional benefit of being rich in antioxidants with their associated anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Xylitol

This is one of several sugar alcohols that are classified GRAS by the FDA. Commercially produced from sugars and starch, sugar alcohols are used primarily to sweeten sugar-free candies, cookies, and chewing gums. Among the sugar alcohol sweeteners, Xylitol is unique in that it actually prevents decay by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. It also may aid in teeth remineralization. As a result, Xylitol is increasingly popular as a sugar-free sweetener for chewing gum. It is sold under several brand names, including Ideal, Polysweet, and Xylosweet.

5. Erythritol

Erythritol, another sugar alcohol, occurs naturally in fruits such as melons, pears, and grapes. Zerose and ZSweet are probably the best-known Erythritol brands.

When it comes to avoiding cavities, sugar substitutes are a reasonable substitute for the real thing. However, there’s no substitute for good oral hygiene and professional dental care! So if you’re overdue for a checkup, contact us at Mint Dental Care and set up an appointment with Dr. McCord or Dr. Knox today.

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Here’s Why You Should Consider an Oral Cancer Screening

Keeping your mouth healthy doesn’t just mean preventing cavities and decay. It also means preventing potential oral cancer, which claims the life of one person per hour every single day. Cancer is a very serious (and often fatal) disease so opting for a quick oral cancer screening during your dental visit could save your life.

What Is an Oral Cancer Screening?

An oral cancer screening consists of a thorough examination of your mouth, cheeks, and tongue. Our expert team will also scan your lips, face, and neck and physically examine the lymph nodes in your neck in order to check for any potential abnormalities, like lumps and discoloration. If we believe that you need any further testing, we will refer you to a specialist or conduct it ourselves in our office. Don’t be worried during your oral cancer screening. If you come see us every six months, chances are that any abnormalities will be detected in the early stages. With early detection, chances of survival are much higher!

What Are the Causes of Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer has many causes, but your chances of developing it increase if you use tobacco products, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, and/or practice poor dental hygiene. You are also at risk if you or a blood-relative have previously been diagnosed with oral cancer or if you have had excessive exposure to the sun.

Closeup of a woman with painted red nails smoking a cigarette, increasing her risk of oral cancer

How Can I Prevent Oral Cancer?

Quitting smoking or avoiding smoking is a major way to prevent oral cancer. You can also reduce your chances of developing oral cancer through the same ways you prevent other oral health ailments: daily brush and floss your teeth to prevent bacteria growth; consume a proper, balanced diet that is low in sugar, acid, and alcohol, all of which can create a toxic environment in your body; drink plenty of water; and visit our office every six months.

Your Oral Health Is Our Priority!

Preventive care is critical to maintaining positive oral health. Next time you visit our office, ask for an oral cancer screening to take an extra step in ensuring that your smile is strong and healthy. At Mint Dental Care, we offer oral cancer screenings as one of our many preventive treatments. Contact us to schedule your next appointment today!

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5 Tips to Get Your Kids Excited About Brushing

Dark-haired girl puts hands on 
cheeks while standing in a green meadow with wildflowers while wearing a white dress

Teaching your child to brush their teeth is one thing, but how do you make sure that they brush their teeth twice a day, every day, for two whole minutes each time? These tips will help your kiddo start—and stick to—a proper brushing routine.

  1. Set a Good Example
  2. Children love to follow the example of their parents. Establishing a brushing schedule of your own is the best way to make sure that your child does the same. If possible, attend twice yearly dental appointments as a family to set an example of superb preventive dental care for your children while confirming everyone’s oral health is in good shape.

  3. Teach Them Why It’s Important
  4. A question that kids love to ask is: “Why?” Explaining the importance of brushing to your child will help them brush more often. Try to find fun books, videos, and tools like dissolving agents to get your little one to learn the science behind why they need to brush to keep their mouth healthy.

  5. Make It Fun
  6. Let your kiddo choose their own toothbrush color and toothpaste flavor so they have a say (and an element of control) in their routine. Doing so will help them get more excited about brushing their teeth twice a day!

  7. Incentivize Your Child
  8. A little reward can go a long way! Try putting stickers on a calendar every day your child brushes to motivate them to brush their teeth without you having to ask. Let them collect a certain number of stickers until they win a prize.

  9. Visit the Dentist
  10. A family dentist, like Dr. McCord and Dr. Knox, can help your child establish a consistent brushing routine. In child-friendly language, they explain dental procedures and the importance of maintaining excellent oral health to our young patients, and demonstrate proper oral care techniques to perform at home. Moreover, at Mint Dental Care, we offer state-of-the art technology to give you and your children the most thorough dental examination while maintaining everyone’s comfort. Come check out our spa-like amenities! If your child experiences dental anxiety, we also offer nitrous oxide to put them at ease throughout their appointment.

We are here to set your child up for a lifetime of oral health success. Our team can help your family establish and maintain positive oral hygiene habits. Contact us at Mint Dental Care to schedule appointments for you, your spouse, and your children!

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Meet Our Friendly Centerton Dental Team!

Mint Dental Care Team

You have a choice when it comes to finding your perfect dental office, and we at Mint Dental Care appreciate you taking the time to learn more about what sets our practice apart from the rest. Let’s introduce you to our wonderful team!

Dr. Trent McCord

Dr. McCord is an Arkansas native and earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, where he won the Edward L. Wilson Award. Committed to his community, Dr. McCord is a volunteer dentist with the Samaritan Community Center and was named their volunteer of the year in 2015. In his spare time, you can find him hanging out with his family, hiking, reading, fishing, and cheering on the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Dr. Chelsea Knox

Dr. Knox completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry, where she earned pediatric dentistry honors and was #2 in her class. Like Dr. McCord, Dr. Knox is passionate about volunteer work and has gone on a dental mission trip to Peru. Dr. Knox enjoys kayaking, hiking, and playing in an adult volleyball league. Dr. Knox says that what she loves about working at Mint Dental Care is that everyone goes above and beyond for their patients: “We treat them like family and friends. We know everyone by name, and we laugh and joke around which is very unique to our dental office.”

Get to Know Our Mint Dental Care Team

Mint Dental Care’s family of front desk staff, hygienists, and assistants all contribute their own unique skills and interests to our practice. Many of them are fluent in Spanish to help deliver quality care to our Spanish-speaking patients. Check out this short video on our Facebook page to meet our fantastic dental crew!

Join Our Dental Family

If you’re looking for a dentist in the Centerton area, we hope you consider Mint Dental Care. It is our team’s priority to make you and your family feel as comfortable as possible while we provide you with expert care. We offer extended hours, family-block appointments, and same-day emergency dental care. Contact us to set up a visit and meet our team in person today!

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5 Tips for Fighting Cavities

Aerial view of a pink, blue that is missing a bite, and brown donut, covered with colorful sprinkles on a wooden counter

If you have ever had a cavity, you’re in the majority: it’s estimated that nine in ten American adults have at least one cavity.

What Are Cavities?

A cavity is a small area of decay on your tooth, usually in the form of a small hole. They’re not easy to detect yourself, which is why it is so important to see Dr. McCord every 6 months so that he can determine if you have them. Common signs of cavities include tooth sensitivity and pain, along with bad breath. Cavities are easily treatable in their early stages, but if you don’t get them treated right away, the decay will spread and you may be required to have a root canal or a tooth extraction in the future.

What Causes Cavities?

Tooth decay occurs when you have too much bacteria on the surface of your teeth and are not doing enough to curb their growth. Eating a diet that is rich in sugar and carbohydrates is a leading cause of cavities, because when bacteria on your teeth break down leftover sugar, they release acid that can actually eat away at the protective layer of your teeth. Additionally, poor oral hygiene leads to cavities.

5 Tips to Prevent Cavities

Even though they’re quite common, cavities are actually easily preventable! Follow these 5 tips to be completely cavity-free.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet
  2. A well-balanced diet will balance acid levels in your mouth, making it harder for bacteria to grow. Having a proper mix of vitamins and nutrients will also help remineralize, or strengthen, your teeth every time you eat. Protein, calcium, and fiber are especially important for your teeth, so don’t be shy to incorporate more dairy, leafy greens, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet!

  3. Use Fluoride
  4. Using dental products that contain fluoride and drinking fluoridated water is a great way to ward of cavities, since fluoride prevents cavity-causing bacteria from multiplying. Just be careful not to use too much, because it can cause staining on your teeth.

  5. Brush & Floss Every Day
  6. Brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time and flossing at least once per day is the best way to prevent cavities and gum disease. It only takes a couple of minutes each time!

  7. Stop Smoking
  8. Smoking negatively impacts your health, and because it weakens your immunity, it makes it even easier for the bacteria that is normally not so harmful to your teeth to overtake them and cause infections.

  9. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
  10. It’s very important to have Dr. McCord examine your teeth twice per year to make sure that either you don’t have cavities at all or are able to have them treated.

Don’t let cavities get the best of you! Visit us at Mint Dental Care for a clean bill of health. Contact us today!

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What Happens If I Leave a Cavity Untreated?

Brunette young woman outside hides her mouth with the collar of her brown knitted sweater

It’s always a little unnerving to hear that you have a cavity, especially if you generally take good care of your teeth. Since cavities develop below the surface, it’s hard to notice if you ever even had one at all prior to visiting your dentist. While a filling is the best way to take care of the problem, what happens if you just don’t do anything about it at all?

Why Cavities Develop

A cavity is a source of tooth decay. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth twice a day, you’re allowing bacteria on the surface of your teeth to multiply. When these bacteria consume sugars and starches left behind on your teeth, they release acid that destroys the enamel on your teeth. A cavity forms when acid eats away at the enamel inside, rather than on the very surface of, your teeth.

Cavity Treatment

The best way to treat a cavity is with a filling. Your dentist will clear the decay from your tooth and fill the area with a material to prevent further decay. In the past, dentists used metals like gold, silver, mercury, and zinc to fill teeth, which can be easily detected if you smile. Today, there are more natural-looking fillings made of resin or porcelain so that they are virtually unnoticeable!

What Happens If I Leave a Cavity Untreated?

If you decide to leave a cavity untreated, here is what you can expect:

  • Tooth Sensitivity — Your tooth will feel sensitive to heat and cold exposure, making it difficult to eat and drink your favorite foods.
  • Tooth Pain — Not only will your tooth become more sensitive, but the act of chewing or even talking will become increasingly painful. You will likely feel radiating pain whenever you talk or eat.
  • Tooth Decay — As the bacteria and decay grows down to the root, you may need a root canal or even a tooth extraction in the future. If you do require an extraction, you will have to consider ways to replace your tooth.

Cavity Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure, and that applies to cavities! Brush and floss diligently twice a day, limit your sugar and carb intake, and visit your dentist twice a year for thorough examinations. If you do need a filling, don’t worry. They are quick and can be completed in just one visit, so there’s no need to let a cavity go untreated. Doing so will mean that you will have go through more pain and money to find relief in the future!

From cavity prevention to cosmetic and restorative services, we at Mint Dental are here to help you have the smile of your dreams. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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Can I Claim Dental Expenses on My Taxes?

laptop on desk next to pen and paper, hand on mousepad

It’s tax season, and that means trying to figure out what you can claim on your taxes. The good news is that yes, you can claim dental expenses on your taxes, just like you can claim medical expenses, but there is some small print.

Adjusted Gross Income

You may deduct qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. According to TurboTax, your adjusted gross income is your income minus any deductions, IRA contributions, student loan interest, etc.

The folks at TurboTax have a great example for finding out how much of a medical and dental deduction you can take.

Say you have a modified adjusted gross income of $45,000 and $5,475 worth of medical expenses. Multiply $45,000 by 0.075 (or 7.5%) to see that only expenses exceeding $3,375 can be deducted. $5,475 minus $3,375 leaves you with a medical expense deduction of $2,100.

Save Your Receipts

In order to deduct expenses, you need to save your receipts as proof. So don’t throw those receipts away! And if you have trouble finding a receipt, you should ask your dental provider for another copy of it as soon as you can. There’s nothing worse than rushing around trying to find receipts in early April.

Items You Can Deduct

Here are some items you can deduct:

  • Dental expenses for you and all your dependents (including your spouse and children)
  • Prescription medications related to your dental expenses
  • Dentures and other dental appliances
  • Travel to and from your dental care (this could be gas bills, a bus ticket, or another form of transportation)

Items You Can’t Deduct:

And here are some items you cannot deduct:

  • Anything that’s already tax-deductible (for instance, anything that has been paid with by your flexible spending account at work)
  • Cosmetic dental procedures (only medically necessary procedures are allowed)
  • Non-prescription medication or treatments (such as toothpaste or mouthwash)

If you have questions about claiming dental expenses on your taxes, give our friendly team a call today and we’ll do our best to help you out. We also suggest you contact a tax professional, or a tax website.

Have dental-related questions?