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What's on your fall reading list?

October 5th, 2022

How better to spend the fall months than inside by the fireplace with a warm cup of cider and a book in hand? Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles encourage you to warm up your mind this fall season with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a hectic schedule, but reading is vital to brain development. Besides, reading is always a blast!

This week, we thought we’d ask what you or your child are reading this fall. Do you have any suggestions for must-read books this year? Out of ideas for great fall reads? Ask us for suggestions, and we would be happy to provide a few. You may also ask a local librarian here in Watkinsville for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share with us your fall picks or your all-time favorites below or on our Facebook page!

They're just baby teeth, right?

September 28th, 2022

“But they are only baby teeth; won’t they just fall out?” Our team at Healthy Smiles has had these questions asked many times from parents over the years. Primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” will indeed come out eventually, to be replaced by permanent teeth as the child grows and develops. These teeth serve a great purpose as the child continues to develop and require specific care.

Because baby teeth are temporary, some parents are unenthusiastic about fixing cavities in them. This may be due to the cost or having to force a child undergo the process—especially having to receive an injection. But if a cavity is diagnosed early enough, an injection can often be avoided. More important, failure to fill cavities in primary teeth when they are small and manageable can have lasting consequences in cost and health concerns. Serious illnesses in children have been diagnosed which began as a cavity.

Primary teeth act as a guide for permanent teeth. When decay reaches the nerve and blood supply of a tooth, this can cause an abscess. Severe pain and swelling may result. At that point, the only treatment options are either to remove the tooth or to perform a procedure similar to a baby root canal. When a primary tooth is lost prematurely—to decay or a painful abscess—the adjacent teeth will often shift and block the eruption of a permanent tooth. Braces or spacers become necessary to avoid crowding or impaction of the permanent tooth.

There is nothing more heartbreaking for Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells than to have to treat a child experiencing pain and fear. To all the parents of my little patients our team strongly recommend filling a small cavity and not waiting until it becomes a larger problem such as those described above.

Prevention is the key to a healthy mouth for our smallest patients. Parents should allow the child to brush his or her teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and then take a turn to ensure the plaque gets removed from all surfaces: cheek side, tongue side, and chewing edges of all the teeth.

What is hyperdontia?

September 21st, 2022

When a child is born, he or she will have 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth. But sometimes kids are born with additional teeth, and our team at Healthy Smiles calls this oral condition "hyperdontia." Primary teeth are the first set of teeth that erupt in your child's mouth, typically by the time they are 36 months old, and are shed by the time your child reaches the age of 12. Permanent teeth then take the place of the primary teeth and are usually fully-erupted by the time your son or daughter reaches 21 years of age. Anyone who develops more than 20 primary teeth or more than 32 permanent teeth has hyperdontia, and the additional teeth are referred to as supernumerary teeth.

While the cause of hyperdontia is not entirely clear, it is believed that there may be a genetic factor. Oral professionals have found that patients with extra teeth often have syndromes like cleidocranial dysplasia, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, Gardner syndrome, or cleft lip and palate. The prevalence of hyperdontia affects between one and four percent of the population in the United States, and the majority of cases are limited to a single tooth.

So, what is the best way to deal with hyperdontia? It really depends on the case. The treatment plan your doctor suggests varies according to the potential problem posed by the supernumerary teeth, as well as their type. Orthodontic treatment may certainly may help, but extraction can also be a good option. We recommend that children receive an oral evaluation or checkup no later than the age of seven. In addition to hygiene evaluation, this helps ensure your child does not experience hyperdontia problems.

If you suspect you or your child may be suffering from hyperdontia, please give us a call to schedule an appointment at our convenient Watkinsville office to be evaluated.

How to Brush a Two-Year-Old’s Teeth Effectively

September 14th, 2022

Our team at Healthy Smiles would like to offer some tips regarding the sometimes dreaded task of brushing a toddler’s teeth.

Much of the trick lies in the positioning. Before you begin, make sure you are in a position of control. This protects both you and your child from injury. Consider how well you can see. If you cannot see clearly, the quality of brushing drops significantly. For instance, if your child is standing, you are likely to see only the bottom teeth well.

Our team finds that the best position for brushing and flossing a toddler is when your child is calm. Have your child lie down on his or her back with arms out to make a T. Sit down just above the head and lightly place your legs over your child’s arms. Using a circular motion, brush all sides of the teeth.

It may sound odd, but approaching the routine this way can make brushing time a cinch! After you’re done, give your child the toothbrush and let him or her have a turn. The benefit of doing the brushing and flossing first is that it gives an example, which your child is more likely to repeat when you’re done.

Different methods work best for different families and children. These practices need to be performed with kindness and care. Be gentle and make this time a happy learning time. Don’t forget to bring your child to our Watkinsville office for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can advise you on ways to implement portions of these tips in a way that may work bests for you and your child.

Keep Those Teeth Shipshape, Matey!

September 7th, 2022

September 19th is just around the corner, and you know what that means—Aye, matey, it’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day”! Why do we have a “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and not a “Take Care of Your Teeth Like a Pirate Day”? You don’t need a treasure map to find the answers!

  • High Seas Hygiene

The toothbrush as we know it, with easy to clean nylon bristles, was invented less than 100 years ago. Even toothbrushes with animal bristles weren’t easily available until a century after pirates sailed the seas. If pirates brushed at all, they probably used rags or twigs with frayed ends to clean their teeth. And rags and twigs just can’t take care of plaque the way careful brushing and flossing can.

Two minutes brushing in the morning and two minutes at night, with careful flossing each day, will help keep your teeth as white as a chest of pearls—and healthy to boot!

  • Dastardly Diet

Pirates were a scurvy lot—literally. Scurvy is a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C, a vitamin found in fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the many unpleasant symptoms of scurvy is bleeding, swollen gums. As you can imagine, months at sea on a pirate ship provided very few chances for fresh fruit and vegetables. As a result, sailors often had to live with gum pain and even tooth loss from serious gum disease.

We now know that eating a healthy diet is a key to oral health. In fact, it was a British naval doctor who discovered that bringing oranges, lemons, and limes aboard sailing vessels prevented scurvy—but sadly for our pirate crew, this discovery happened several decades after the Golden Age of Piracy. Fortunately, you have access to a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and your teeth and gums will be all the better for it.

It’s not looking too good for our pirate crew, but let’s look on the bright side—even if a pirate did get a cavity or suffer gum disease, he could always see the ship’s dentist, couldn’t he?

  • Ship’s Dentist—Arrrr You Kidding?

If a pirate had a bad cavity, his best treatment option would probably be to ask a fellow pirate to pull the tooth. If a pirate needed a root canal, his best treatment option would probably be to ask a fellow pirate to pull the tooth. If a pirate had a cracked tooth, his best… well, you get the picture.

Luckily, it’s a different world today. Now we have dentists with years of education and training, modern tools and equipment, and the very best medical knowledge to treat all of our dental problems, big and small. See your dentist at least twice a year for exams and cleanings, and you will reap the bountiful rewards of regular, professional, proactive care.

Being a pirate for a day is fun. We all enjoy tales of a good treasure hunt. But you already have a treasure that most pirates could never hope to have—healthy teeth and healthy gums! And with proper care, this treasure can last a lifetime. Until next September 19th, fair winds and good checkups at our Watkinsville office be yours, matey!

Celebrate Labor Day by Getting Away

August 31st, 2022

Labor Day honors the contributions that workers have made to this country, and for many Americans, the holiday is a great time to relax at home with family and friends. But there are quite a few people who celebrate the holiday by getting out of town, with an estimated 33 million people traveling more than 50 miles over Labor Day weekend each year. If you’re dreaming of a great Labor Day escape but you’re not quite sure where to go, here are a few ideas from our team at Healthy Smiles to give you some travel inspiration.

Explore a National Park

On a national holiday like Labor Day, it’s only fitting to experience the beauty of America’s landscapes by heading to the nearest national park. If you’re confined to an office most days of the year, national parks can provide a relaxing and scenic escape, whether you’re by yourself, traveling with a group of friends, or bringing the whole family along. Depending on how close you live to the nearest park, you can stay for an afternoon or for longer than a week. With 58 parks located in 27 states, there are plenty of beautiful areas to choose from.

Chow Down in a BBQ Haven

Barbecuing is a popular Labor Day activity, but instead of sweating over your own grill or oven, try visiting one of the country’s BBQ capitals. U.S. News and World Report names Memphis as the top BBQ destination, with more than 80 BBQ restaurants in the city, most notably Corky’s BBQ and Central BBQ. Kansas City is also known for the sweet taste of its sauces, while central Texas is said to have perfected the technique of smoking tender and flavorful brisket.

Relax on the Beach

Many people think of Labor Day as the unofficial start of fall, which brings cooler temperatures, more rain, and for many people, an end to lazy days at the beach. End your beach days with a bang by taking a trip to one of the coasts or to a lakeside beach. For an added dose of festivity, find a city or town that celebrates the occasion with a fireworks display over the water.

Whether you’re looking to turn your getaway into a full week affair or you simply want to experience a quick escape, make the most of your holiday by changing your surrounding scenery. Happy Labor Day from the pediatric practice of Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells!

Halitosis in Children: Causes and treatment

August 24th, 2022

Halitosis is the scientific name for bad breath. It is one of the most common oral concerns, and it affects a large percentage of the population, including children. Having bad breath can be embarrassing and a nuisance. When considering what to do about halitosis, the team at Healthy Smiles highlights that you need to focus on the cause, rather than just masking the problem.

Children commonly have bad breath because of an upper respiratory infection. This includes a common cold, postnasal drip, or allergies. When this is the case, treatment may be complicated if one or more of these issues is chronic.

Another cause of halitosis in children is a condition with their teeth or gums. Just as in adults, gum disease has a distinctive malodor. The quality of brushing and flossing in children directly influences the presence of gum disease. If there is a large untreated cavity, there will be a strong smell causing bad breath. Both of these issues need professional attention, including a visit to the dentist.

Tonsillitis can also cause halitosis in children. It happens because of a constricted airway, resulting in mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is a concern because of how much it dries the tissue in the mouth. This makes any bacterial infection in the mouth worse and causes an increased potency within the bacteria in the mouth.

Treatment of halitosis is as varied as the causes listed above. Beware of ingredients in products that mask bad breath. Sucking on a mint on a regular basis will cause more harm than good because of potential decay. Chew sugarless gum and mints.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call us at Healthy Smiles or ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells during your next appointment!

Should Children Use Whitening Products?

August 17th, 2022

As adults, we often wish our teeth could be as white as they were when we were small children. Baby teeth have thinner and whiter enamel than adult teeth, and those brilliant smiles are a result! But occasionally, you may be surprised to discover some staining or discoloration on those lovely first teeth. You might be tempted to apply a whitening product to your child’s teeth, but, please—read on!

Causes of Staining

  • Improper Brushing—Often, a loss of tooth whiteness means that plaque has built up on the tooth surface. Careful brushing is needed to remove bacteria and plaque, and if your child isn’t brushing at least twice a day for two minutes, discoloration can be the result.
  • Medications—When given in liquid form, or when added to formula or food, iron supplements can cause dark grey staining on the teeth. Medications taken by a mother while pregnant or breast feeding, such as tetracycline, can also lead to discoloration.
  • Injury—If a tooth suffers a serious injury, the tooth can darken because of changes inside the enamel.
  • Health conditions—Certain health problems can cause tooth discoloration, or sometimes children are born with weaker enamel that is more likely to stain.

If you have noticed any staining on your child’s primary teeth, call our Watkinsville office. Simple stains can often be removed with better brushing techniques, and we can clean other surface stains in the office. Staining caused by an injury or a health condition is something we can discuss in detail with you. We can even use some professional whitening methods if those are indicated.

Why not just buy a home whitening kit for your child? There are several important reasons to leave these products on the shelf while your child is young.

  • Whitening kits are designed for adults. They have been tested for adult teeth in adult trials. Check the box for age appropriate use. Most products are not recommended for pre-teen children.
  • Remember that thinner enamel we mentioned earlier? Add to that the delicate skin of young children, and it’s sensible to be cautious about using a bleaching agent that can cause mouth and tooth sensitivity even in adults.
  • There is no body of evidence available as to the short and long term effects of using these products on children.

If you are concerned about the brightness of your child’s smile, please talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. We can recommend better ways to brush at home, clean your child’s teeth in the office, or suggest professional methods of whitening if there are physical or psychological reasons that it would be valuable. But while your child is young, those off-the-shelf whitening products can wait a few more years.

Pediatric Dentistry: The benefits of dairy

August 10th, 2022

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth

To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentine, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How does dairy help my child’s teeth?

Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp. Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How much dairy does a child need?

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

Tooth Eruption Timeline

August 3rd, 2022

Parents, and even older children, can become concerned about tooth development. Wondering when teeth should erupt, and being concerned when the teeth do not appear on schedule, is common. First, you need to remember that each individual is different. Guidelines are just guidelines, but Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles thought we would pass on this information to help you.

Primary teeth

Children normally have 20 primary or baby teeth. The first two to appear are usually the lower central incisors between six to ten months of age. These fall out between five and seven years of age.

  • Two upper central incisors – eight to 12 months
  • Two upper lateral incisors – nine to 13 months
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 16 to 22 months
  • Two upper first molars – 13 to 19 months
  • Two upper second molars – 25 to 33 months
  • Two lower lateral incisors – ten to 16 months
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – 17 to 23 months
  • Two lower first molars – 14 to 18 months
  • Two lower second molars – 13 to 31 months

As you can see, all the primary teeth normally have erupted before three years of age, but the timeline can vary by four to six months. Except for the lower central incisors and second molars, upper teeth tend to appear before lower teeth.

Permanent or adult teeth

Adults normally have 32 permanent teeth. However, four of these are wisdom teeth or third molars, which are often removed.

  • Two upper central incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two upper lateral incisors – eight to nine years
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 11 to 12 years
  • Two upper first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 11 years
  • Two upper second premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two upper first molars – six to seven years
  • Two upper second molars – 12 to 13 years
  • Two upper third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years
  • Two lower central incisors – six to seven years
  • Two lower lateral incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – nine to ten years
  • Two lower first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two lower second premolars or bicuspids – 11 to 12 years
  • Two lower first molars – six to seven years
  • Two lower second molars – 11 to 13 years
  • Two lower third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years

Please discuss any of your dental concerns during your visit with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. If there is a problem with tooth development, the earlier we address it, the better the outcome. We specialize in pediatric dentistry and look forward to helping you and your child with all your dental needs. To learn more about tooth eruption, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

When should I begin brushing my baby's teeth?

July 27th, 2022

One question our team at Healthy Smiles hear all the time is, “When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?”

You should begin regular cleanings even before your baby has teeth. After each breast feeding (or bottle-feeding) use a clean, damp washcloth to gently rub your baby’s gum tissue. You may wrap the material around one finger to make it easier to remove any food bits from your baby’s mouth.

When your baby’s first tooth comes in, switch to a baby toothbrush. Look for special baby toothbrushes in your drugstore; they have just a few bristles and are very soft. There are even brushes shaped like finger puppets that fit over the tip of your pointer finger! All you need at this point is water (no toothpaste yet).

After a few more teeth appear, you may start using toothpaste, but you only need a tiny bit, and make sure it doesn’t contain fluoride for the first two years. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing. That way, he or she will already have the good habit of spitting when you switch to fluoride toothpaste, which should never be swallowed.

If you have any questions about caring for your baby’s teeth, or to schedule an appointment at our convenient Watkinsville office, please contact Healthy Smiles.

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

July 20th, 2022

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing can be incredibly bad for your child’s teeth if done right after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each tooth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures the mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization—the process when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your child’s teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

A mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what is eaten throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in the mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your child’s teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your child’s teeth to be more susceptible. If your child brushes when the teeth have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to the enamel. Your child’s toothbrush bristles will actually wear away some of the enamel. So it’s healthier for your child to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after your child eats include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude a meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your child’s mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once your child’s mouth is restored to a healthy pH level, he or she may brush normally. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on the teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Still have questions? Call our Watkinsville office and schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells.

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

July 20th, 2022

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing can be incredibly bad for your child’s teeth if done right after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each tooth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures the mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization—the process when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your child’s teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

A mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what is eaten throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in the mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your child’s teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your child’s teeth to be more susceptible. If your child brushes when the teeth have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to the enamel. Your child’s toothbrush bristles will actually wear away some of the enamel. So it’s healthier for your child to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after your child eats include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude a meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your child’s mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once your child’s mouth is restored to a healthy pH level, he or she may brush normally. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on the teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Still have questions? Call our Watkinsville office and schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells.

Dental-Healthy Snacks for Your School-Aged Child

July 13th, 2022

Kids are constantly active and constantly growing. No wonder they’re constantly hungry! When it’s time for a snack, here are some tips to make between meal treats timely, tasty, and tooth-friendly.

Keep snacks to a minimum

Every time we eat, we’re also providing food for the bacteria in our mouths. Bacteria use sugars to produce acids. These acids weaken our enamel and can lead to cavities. Luckily, we have a natural way of protecting our teeth. Saliva washes away food particles and bacteria, and even provides substances that strengthen our teeth in the hours between meals.

When we eat throughout the day, there is no chance for this recovery period to take place. Small children aren’t usually able to get through the day without a few snack periods, which is perfectly normal. Just try to make sure that snacking doesn’t become all-day grazing!

Avoid foods that contain sugar and carbohydrates at snack time

We know that sugar leads to an increased chance of cavities because bacteria convert this sugar into acids that damage our enamel. But carbohydrates should also be in the no-snack zone. Why? Because carbohydrates break down into sugar very quickly. So while you wouldn’t offer your child a daily mid-afternoon snack of sodas and chocolate bars, those muffins, doughnuts, chips, and bagels should be on the “special treat” list as well.

Dental-healthy snacks

Luckily, we are left with many healthy and convenient choices when your child needs a nibble.

  • Crunchy, crisp fresh fruits and vegetables provide vitamins as well as a gentle scrubbing action to help clean teeth. They are also rich in water, which helps us produce the saliva that naturally washes away food particles and bacteria.
  • Low-fat yogurts and cheeses provide essential calcium for strong teeth and the vitamin D that helps us absorb calcium.
  • Whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers are healthier than products made only with white flour because they retain valuable vitamins and minerals that have been removed from refined grains.
  • Lean meats, peas, legumes, and eggs provide protein that helps build connective tissue and maintain tooth structure.
  • Water helps stimulate saliva production and provides cavity-fighting fluoride. Win/win!

You are constantly looking for ways to make your children’s lives better. Mix and match any of these foods for a snack that’s not only good for their teeth, but rich in the proteins, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep them active and growing throughout their school years. If you have questions about your child’s dietary needs, feel free to ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells at our Watkinsville office.

Dental-Healthy Snacks for Your School-Aged Child

July 13th, 2022

Kids are constantly active and constantly growing. No wonder they’re constantly hungry! When it’s time for a snack, here are some tips to make between meal treats timely, tasty, and tooth-friendly.

Keep snacks to a minimum

Every time we eat, we’re also providing food for the bacteria in our mouths. Bacteria use sugars to produce acids. These acids weaken our enamel and can lead to cavities. Luckily, we have a natural way of protecting our teeth. Saliva washes away food particles and bacteria, and even provides substances that strengthen our teeth in the hours between meals.

When we eat throughout the day, there is no chance for this recovery period to take place. Small children aren’t usually able to get through the day without a few snack periods, which is perfectly normal. Just try to make sure that snacking doesn’t become all-day grazing!

Avoid foods that contain sugar and carbohydrates at snack time

We know that sugar leads to an increased chance of cavities because bacteria convert this sugar into acids that damage our enamel. But carbohydrates should also be in the no-snack zone. Why? Because carbohydrates break down into sugar very quickly. So while you wouldn’t offer your child a daily mid-afternoon snack of sodas and chocolate bars, those muffins, doughnuts, chips, and bagels should be on the “special treat” list as well.

Dental-healthy snacks

Luckily, we are left with many healthy and convenient choices when your child needs a nibble.

  • Crunchy, crisp fresh fruits and vegetables provide vitamins as well as a gentle scrubbing action to help clean teeth. They are also rich in water, which helps us produce the saliva that naturally washes away food particles and bacteria.
  • Low-fat yogurts and cheeses provide essential calcium for strong teeth and the vitamin D that helps us absorb calcium.
  • Whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers are healthier than products made only with white flour because they retain valuable vitamins and minerals that have been removed from refined grains.
  • Lean meats, peas, legumes, and eggs provide protein that helps build connective tissue and maintain tooth structure.
  • Water helps stimulate saliva production and provides cavity-fighting fluoride. Win/win!

You are constantly looking for ways to make your children’s lives better. Mix and match any of these foods for a snack that’s not only good for their teeth, but rich in the proteins, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep them active and growing throughout their school years. If you have questions about your child’s dietary needs, feel free to ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells at our Watkinsville office.

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Watkinsville office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Watkinsville office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Watkinsville office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Watkinsville office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

July 6th, 2022

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skate boarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our Watkinsville office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Happy Fourth of July

June 29th, 2022

Every year, Americans all over the world celebrate the birth of the country and its independence on the Fourth of July. There are countless ways that people celebrate and they range from community parades and large scale gatherings to concerts, fireworks displays, and smaller scale celebrations among family and friends. For some people, July 4th is synonymous with baseball, while for others it is all about the beach of barbecues. However you celebrate, you can be sure that red, white, and blue is visible everywhere throughout the area.

The Beginnings of Fourth of July Celebrations

Although it wasn't officially designated as a federal holiday until 1941, the actual tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1783). At the time of the American Revolution, representatives from the 13 colonies penned the resolution that ultimately declared their independence from Great Britain. The continental congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd of 1776. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson's famous document that is now known as the Declaration of Independence, was adopted by delegates representing the 13 colonies.

First States to Recognize the Fourth of July

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state (or commonwealth) whose legislature resolved to designate July 4th as the date on which to celebrate the country's independence. Two years later, Boston became the first city to make an official designation to honor the country's birth with a holiday on July 4th. In that same year, North Carolina's governor, Alexander Martin, became the first governor to issue an official state order stipulating that July 4th was the day on which North Carolinians would celebrate the country's independence.

Fun Facts About the Fourth of July

  • The reason the stars on the original flag were arranged in a circle is because it was believed that would indicate that all of the colonies were equal.
  • Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th.
  • Imports of fireworks each year totals over $211 million.
  • The first “official” Fourth of July party took place at the White House in 1801.
  • Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be the bald eagle. He believed that the turkey was better suited to the coveted distinction. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed with him, and he was outvoted, so the bald eagle became the official bird of the United States.

For many, the tradition is something entirely different. Along the coastal areas of the United States, people may haul out huge pots to have lobster or other types of seafood boils. Others may spend the day in the bleachers at a baseball game, or at a park, cooking a great traditional meal over an open fire. No matter how or where you celebrate, one thing is certain: all Americans celebrate July 4th as the birth and independence of our country.

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Brushing Tips for Kids

June 22nd, 2022

You’re all set for your happy morning and nighttime ritual. You’ve provided your son with his favorite action hero toothbrush and your daughter with her favorite flavored toothpaste. You’ve gotten them into the healthy habit of two minutes of brushing twice each day. You’ve introduced them to flossing. You have favorite brushing songs! Stickers! Gold stars! And, best of all, you’re teaching great brushing techniques.

Kids need the same basic brushing tools and skills as adults. What makes for the best cleaning?

Find the right brush

No matter how cute—or heroic—the brush, it needs to have soft bristles to protect enamel and delicate gum tissue. The head should be a perfect fit for your child’s mouth. And if the handle is easy to grip and hold, you have a winner.

Find the right toothpaste

The bubblegum flavor might appeal to your child, but it’s the fluoride that helps to prevent cavities. Talk to us about the right time to start using fluoride toothpaste and the right amount for your child’s brush.

Teach your child the angles

If your child is too young to brush alone, start geometry lessons early. Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle toward the gums will clean bacteria and plaque from the tooth surface and the gum line. And don’t forget the chewing surfaces and the insides of the teeth. When your child begins brushing on her own, coach her as she learns the best way to clean all the surfaces of her teeth.

Easy does it

Teeth and gums should be massaged, not scrubbed. Brushing too hard can damage not only tender gum tissue, but even your child’s enamel.

Learn to let go

No matter how comfortable and appealing the brush, after three or four months, it’s time for a change. Frayed bristles don’t clean as effectively, and making up for it by brushing harder isn’t the answer (see above). Also, toothbrushes can build up quite a collection of bacteria over time (see below), so a fresh brush is a must!

Everything in its place

A toothbrush should dry thoroughly between uses without touching other brushes. Placing a brush in a plastic container doesn’t let it dry and encourages bacterial growth. And a toothbrush needs its own space—touching toothbrush heads means sharing toothbrush bacteria. The best way to keep toothbrushes as dry and as germ-free as possible is to store them upright, without touching other brushes, in a clean, well-ventilated area.

Rinse and repeat

Your child should rinse his toothbrush before and after using it, and be sure to rinse his mouth as well. That should get rid of any leftover food particles brushing has removed.

Finally, keep up the good work! As you teach your child proper brushing techniques, and make sure she uses them as she grows, you are preparing her for a lifetime of great checkups with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells at our Watkinsville office. Give yourself a gold star—you’ve earned it!

Tips to Help You Beat the Heat This Summer

June 1st, 2022

The dog days of summer are upon us, and with the temperatures soaring, our team at Healthy Smiles wants you to be extra careful about sun safety when you’re out and about. Check out this incredibly helpful article on the Ten Summer Safety Tips for Kids, courtesy of Discovery.

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team also encourage you to always have a bottle of water handy when heading out into the sun.

We hope you’re having a great summer! Let us know what you're up to below or on our Facebook page!

Memorial Day

May 25th, 2022

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at Healthy Smiles remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Watkinsville area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

Make Brushing Teeth Fun!

May 18th, 2022

It’s understandable that kids would rather be playing outside or watching their favorite movie instead of doing a “boring” task like brushing their teeth. But there are ways to make brushing fun for your son or daughter, and encourage healthy oral hygiene habits early on! Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team have a few tricks that may help.

Game time

What child doesn’t love a good game? Try to turn brushing time into a game, whether by playing hide-and-seek or singing your child’s favorite song while he or she brushes for two minutes.

Kids also love rewards, so awarding them stickers after a good brushing can encourage them to do a good job every time. You might even tell your child that five stickers will earn a special treat or fun activity at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

Lots of toothbrush options can add something exciting to your child’s daily brushing routine. Toothbrushes that light up tend to be a popular choice with young kids. The same goes for toothbrushes shaped like your child’s favorite animal or cartoon character.

Teaching your kids about how long they should brush each time can also be fun. Let them have the special responsibility of setting a timer for two minutes before they start to brush.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Lots of kids can be picky eaters and that can the case with toothpaste flavors. Set aside a time to sample several different flavors, the way they’ve probably tried various flavors at the ice cream shop! Just make sure to be very clear that they shouldn’t swallow the toothpaste.

With your help, your child can easily develop healthy brushing habits over time. If you can find ways to make it fun, it can be an enjoyable experience for both of you!

Call Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells at our Watkinsville office for more fun tips or to make an appointment today!

The Perks of Dairy

May 11th, 2022

We all remember hearing this: “Finish your milk, it’s good for your bones!” If you have kids of your own now, you may catch yourself repeating many of the things you were told growing up.

Though parents occasionally exaggerate to get their kids to do certain things (such as eat veggies or behave), they’re spot-on about milk. Consuming enough dairy every day is crucial for growing children, because this can set them up to have strong and healthy teeth for the rest of their lives.

To understand the effects of dairy on your child’s teeth, take a look at tooth structure. Think of it in terms of layers: the innermost layer is the living tissue, the second layer is dentine (a calcified tissue), and the final one is the enamel, aka the white part of the tooth. Keep in mind that 96 percent of your enamel is made up of minerals like calcium.

Now, milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, so when you consider the need to build strong enamel for the first line of defense, it’s easy to see the connection between dairy and good dental health. When your son or daughter consumes dairy products, the body sends the incoming calcium to growing bones, which includes teeth.

This makes children’s teeth and bones stronger all around. Growing youngsters who do not get enough dairy in their diet are at risk for improper tooth development, as well as other dental problems.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of eight should be receiving at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight require three full cups, which is the same amount recommended for male and female adults.

If you’re looking for easy ways to incorporate dairy into your children’s diet, try snacks like cottage cheese, a milk-based smoothie, yogurt, cheese sticks, non-fat milk, and fruit parfaits, to name a few. Once you get a feel for what they like most, furnishing the ideal amount of dairy to their diet should be no problem!

If you’re concerned about your child’s teeth or have questions about a healthy diet, don’t hesitate to contact our Watkinsville office and ask a member of our team.

May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 4th, 2022

The month of May has the unique distinction of being National Teen Self-Esteem Month. What does that mean?

National Teen Self-Esteem Month was created to raise public awareness about how low self-esteem can negatively affect teens. Especially during May, parents and guardians of teens are asked to be positive role models. If teens can receive positive re-enforcement and their negative images of themselves are improved, then their self-esteem has a better chance of developing in a positive direction.

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles know there are a lot of young adults living in America are struggling with depressed self-images. These can affect all aspects of their everyday lives. Some evidence shows learning abilities and increased risk of eating disorders can originate in a teen’s low self-esteem. It can also lead to abuse of drugs and thoughts of suicide. Dating violence among high school teens is now more common than previously thought.

What can be done to help?

So what can adults do specifically to help their teens? The National Teen Self-Esteem Facebook page offers a variety of suggestions and positive messages for teens and parents alike. Of all the pages your teen “likes” on social media, perhaps he or she should include this page. Some of the tips offered include:

  1. When you stumble, get right back up.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Open yourself up to compliments.

Another great way to build self-esteem is to have a beautiful, health smile, and that’s where our team at Healthy Smiles come in! Whether your teen is due for a simple cleaning, could benefit from cosmetic treatments, or needs orthodontic care, we can help bestow a confident smile he or she will be proud to show off.

Overall, a more positive approach to life will help us all. It is a very important trait to instill in our teens. As parents, a big part of our responsibility is to show our children there is always another day and bumps in the road are just that. We need to help guide their self-esteem and reinforce their positive traits. We can help them recognize the value of who they are.

We should make our children’s self esteem a priority — not just in May, but throughout the year. Let National Teen Self-Esteem Month serve as the impetus for new levels of self-esteem.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

Snacks for Healthy Teeth

April 13th, 2022

Concerned parents often ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about which kinds of snacks are best for a child's teeth. While most know that candy isn't always the best choice, many parents are confused about which kinds of after-school snacks can actually be beneficial for teeth. Left to their own devices, children might pick the sugary snack that comes in colorful packaging. There are, however, choices that are much better for your child's teeth.

Go Natural

The foods that are best for your children's teeth are also the best for their overall health. Choosing whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, is always the best option for snacks. Try sticks of celery and let your kids dip it into all-natural peanut butter, or a juicy and crunchy apple cut into wedges.

Lean Proteins

Lean protein, such as chicken breast, fish, turkey, and lean cuts of pork also make good snacking options. For the best overall health, avoid giving your child a lot of lunch meats, because such products are often higher in sodium. However, these proteins are also low in sugar, which is always a preferable choice when it comes to teeth.

Avoid Packaged Foods

Sugars are unhealthy partly because they stick more readily to the surface of the teeth. Even foods that appear to be healthy, such as many brands of granola bars, can in fact be loaded with hidden sugars. Sugar can also be found in higher concentrations in dried fruit, honey, and syrups. The rule is that if a foodstuff has been altered in any way from its original state then there are perhaps better choices.

Beverages

Drinks are another murky area. Parents often presume that fruit juices are an acceptable beverage when in reality many of them are loaded with excessive sugar as well. The best beverages for your child's teeth are water and low-fat milk. Milk has the added benefit of containing calcium, which is highly beneficial for the bone structure that supports the teeth.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but it is also a great snack to keep teeth healthy. The next time your children are looking for an after-school snack, guide them toward healthier, low-sugar options that are beneficial to their overall health and their teeth.

My child has canker sores! How can I help?

April 6th, 2022

According to the American Association of Pediatric Density, roughly one in five children suffers from canker sores. Canker sores are small sores that appear inside the cheeks, on the lips, on the surface of the gums, and under the tongue.

Even though, canker sores are not contagious, they do tend to run in families. There are several reasons your child may be suffering from canker sores including:

  • Children who have Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid deficiencies tend to get canker sores more often than children who have normal levels of these vitamins and minerals.
  • Children who suffer from food allergies are also at a higher risk for developing canker sores. It’s difficult to determine what your child may be allergic to. If you feel strongly that the canker sores are related to an allergy, then a visit to an allergist is highly recommended.
  • Biting their lip or cheek can also result in a canker sore.
  • Any injury to mouth, where the skin breaks can cause a canker sore.
  • Brushing their teeth too hard can also be a problem.
  • Your child may be sensitive to an ingredient in their toothpaste. Try switching toothpastes and see if it makes a difference.
  • Emotional disturbances and stress are also factors to consider.

If your child has frequent canker sores a visit to our Watkinsville office will be beneficial. Canker sores are painful and usually last about 14 days. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells may recommend one or a few of the following treatment options:

  • Avoid food that is acidic, salty, and spicy.
  • A toothbrush with soft bristles may be helpful.
  • Avoid mouthwash and toothpaste that contain SLS.
  • Do not feed your child foods that they may be allergic to.

Canker Sore Remedies

  • Eating yogurt that contains Acidophilus will relieve the pain and help the canker sore heal faster.
  • Put one teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of lukewarm water. Have your child gargle and swish it around his or her mouth several times a day. Not only does this remedy relieve the pain, the canker sore could be gone in as little as 24 hours.
  • Place a wet tea bag on the sore and hold it there for a few minutes several times a day. This remedy will help with the pain and quickly heal the sore.
  • Camphor, Benzocaine, Lidocaine, and Orajel are over-the-counter medications that can help.

If you have questions about your child’s canker sore, contact Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells to schedule an appointment.

Does Your Child Need Endodontic Treatment?

March 30th, 2022

Baby teeth come with a built-in expiration date. That charming first smile is meant to make way for a healthy, beautiful adult smile. Unfortunately, before they are ready to make way for permanent teeth, primary teeth can be affected by decay, trauma, or infection—problems which can lead to damage to the pulp within the tooth. If your dentist tells you that your child’s tooth needs specialized endodontic treatment, is treatment really that much better for your child than losing a baby tooth prematurely?

Quite often, the answer is yes!

Baby teeth do much more than serve as temporary stand-ins for adult teeth. They are essential for:

  • Biting and chewing—a full set of baby teeth helps your child develop proper chewing, which leads to healthy digestion. And chewing also helps build face and jaw muscles.
  • Speech development—primary teeth help guide speech production and pronunciation.
  • Spacing—a baby tooth serves as a place holder for the adult tooth waiting to arrive. If a primary tooth is lost too early, the remaining baby teeth may drift from their proper location. This, in turn, can cause overcrowding or misalignment of the permanent teeth when they do erupt.

Baby teeth, like adult teeth, contain living pulp tissue. The pulp chamber inside the crown (the visible part of the tooth) and the root canals (inside each root) hold nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the pulp is damaged by trauma or infected, a baby tooth can still be saved with endodontic treatment. Endodontic treatment in baby teeth can take two forms.

  • “Vital” pulp is pulp that can be saved. Vital pulp therapy uses procedures to deal with damaged pulp inside the crown, or visible part, of the tooth. Pulp therapy can be used on teeth when only the top of the pulp has been affected by decay, limited exposure, infection, or trauma, but the root pulp remains healthy. Specific treatment will depend on the nature of the pulp injury, and a crown will usually be placed over the tooth after treatment to protect it.
  • With non-vital pulp, your dentist will probably recommend a traditional root canal procedure. All of the pulp tissue will be removed from inside the crown and the roots, and the pulp chamber and root canals will then be cleaned, disinfected, shaped, and filled. Finally, because the treated tooth will be more fragile, a crown will be used to protect the tooth from further damage.

There can be good reasons for extracting a seriously damaged baby tooth, and there are situations where preserving the tooth is the best and healthiest option for your child. Discuss your options with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells when you visit our Watkinsville office for the safest, most effective way to treat your child’s compromised tooth.

Gum Disease in Children

March 23rd, 2022

When it comes to gum disease and your child, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The very good news is that children rarely suffer from advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. The not-so-good news? Early gum disease, called gingivitis, is unfortunately an all-too-common childhood problem.

  • What does gingivitis look like in children?

Childhood gingivitis has the same causes and symptoms as the adult version. Healthy gums are firm and pink. When bacteria and plaque accumulate on the teeth, your child’s gums become irritated and inflamed. Call our Watkinsville office right away if you notice any of these symptoms of gingivitis: bleeding gums, puffiness, redness, gum tissue receding from the teeth, or bad breath even after brushing.       

  • How to Prevent Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor dental care. Creating a regular dental routine is the best way to prevent gingivitis from ever developing! Brushing and flossing with your child for two minutes twice a day from the very beginning helps make healthy cleaning a lifelong habit. Care should be taken to gently brush teeth at the gum line to make sure plaque doesn’t get a chance to build up there and cause gum irritation. And when your child comes in for regular cleanings, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can be sure that any plaque that might remain on the teeth is removed.

Two additional notes: as your child approaches adolescence, hormone fluctuations can make gums more sensitive and easily irritated. This is a time to really emphasize careful and gentle brushing and flossing. Also, some medical conditions may make children more pre-disposed to gum problems, so be sure to make us aware of your child’s medical history.

  • Uncommon Gum Diseases

While gingivitis is very preventable with proper dental hygiene, there are some rare gum conditions that can occur around the time of puberty that are quite different from gingivitis. Aggressive Periodontitis can cause severe bone loss around the first molars and incisors, even without any kind of plaque build-up, and Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis leads to inflammation of the gums, heavy plaque, and, eventually, loose teeth. Again, these conditions are rare, but if you have a family history of these diseases, let us know. Checkups and cleanings are a great way to catch any potential gum problems, so be sure to bring your child in for regular visits.

Almost all childhood gingivitis is preventable. With careful brushing and flossing at home, and visiting us regularly for checkups and cleanings, your child can enjoy healthy gums and teeth now and learn habits that will keep those gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime. And that is a good news/great news situation!

Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 16th, 2022

Millions of people, around Watkinsville and beyond, wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so they can show their spirit for the holiday and avoid getting pinched. While it may be easy for you to throw on a green shirt, sport a St. Patrick’s Day button, or wear a pair of emerald-hued shoes, if you’re an avid St. Patty’s Day enthusiast you may want to try something different this year. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells thought of a few ideas that will help you take your holiday spirit to the next level:

Visit Chicago’s Green River

If you happen to be near the Windy City during St. Patrick’s Day or you’re thinking of planning a trip, don’t miss out on going downtown to watch the large-scale celebration that kicks off when the city dyes the river bright green. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago has been celebrating the holiday with this tradition for more than 50 years, with tens of thousands of people gathering annually to witness the mysterious dying process and the stunning result.

Don Green Face Paint

Just like an avid sports fan on game day, you can use green face paints to showcase your enthusiasm for this holiday. Avoid breakouts or allergic reactions by only using paints that are specifically meant to be applied to the skin. A little bit of face paint can cover a large area, so feel free to get creative and decorate the whole family on St. Patrick’s Day.

Eat Green All Day

Not a fan of green eggs and ham? With the increasing popularity of green smoothies, there’s no better time to get in on this health craze. To create a green smoothie without the aid of food coloring, you can simply blend a generous amount of a leafy green vegetable, such as spinach or kale, with the ingredients that you would typically use to make a smoothie, like fruit, ice, milk, or juice. Keep the trend going throughout the day by using those same vegetables to create a green soup, egg salad, or a batch of bright green pastries. As an added bonus, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins without changing the taste of most of these foods.

If your old holiday routine has gotten stale, leave your green T-shirt in the drawer and try one or all of these tips. Don’t be surprised if you have so much fun that you decide to start a new, annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition! Have a happy St. Paddy’s day from Healthy Smiles!

Is there a connection between oral health and school performance?

March 9th, 2022

As a parent, you want the best for your children, and that includes doing their best in school. You can support them by taking an interest in their activities, being enthusiastic about attendance, and helping them with homework. There may also be one more way you can help your children succeed at school. Surprisingly, research suggests that children with better oral health are likely to do better in school.

What the Research Says

One study in North Carolina looked at risk factors for poor school performance among school-aged children. As expected, the study found poor school performance linked to low socioeconomic status, low levels of parental education, and poor overall health. However, it also found a strong link between poor oral health and poor school performance, with children classified as having poor oral health 40 percent more likely struggle in school.

These findings are generalizable to the rest of the country. For example, attendance is an important factor in academic achievement, but dental conditions are responsible for a loss 51 million school hours among schoolchildren each year. Dental pain and infection are linked to poorer performance.

School-Based Programs to Promote Oral Health

In light of the apparent benefits of good oral health for school performance, some schools are taking steps to promote better oral care and health. In Maine, for instance, schools in need can apply for grants through School Oral Health Program (SOHP). The SOHP consists of four components:

  1. Oral health education for all children to support healthy behaviors
  2. A weekly fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen teeth
  3. Dental screenings to identify children who may need dental care
  4. Dental sealants, or plastic coatings, on back teeth to guard against decay

The State of Maine also supports an “Annual Sugar Out Day” to raise awareness of the effects of sugar on dental health and to help students choose low-sugar alternatives.

Oral Health Habits to Adopt

You can help your child improve oral health and do better in school by encouraging good oral hygiene. This includes brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and reminding your child to drink water after eating. Also, regular trips to our Watkinsville office can help prevent serious tooth problems.

March is National Nutrition Month!

March 2nd, 2022

While you don’t have to wait to start eating right, March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks everyone to pay special attention to what goes into our bodies. The Academy has designated the month of March for focusing the public’s awareness on what they eat.

What Not to Eat

The academy points out that the foods you eat have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. That is why Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles tell our patients to cut back on both candy and sweets. They consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth and enhance tooth decay.

It’s the hidden sugars that will cost you, though. Get in the habit of reading labels on food and looking for products with added sugar. This includes ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” When it comes to nutrition, these foods offer little value beyond satisfying that sweet tooth.

What You Should Eat

Turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.

You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Use some caution with acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes, because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.

Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a fun reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

We encourage you to give us a call at our Watkinsville office to learn more!

Why Are My Child’s Baby Teeth So White?

February 23rd, 2022

One of the most charming aspects of your baby’s beautiful smile is his brilliantly white teeth. But now that his adult teeth are coming in, the difference in color is very noticeable. Is this something to be concerned about? Happily, probably not.

Both baby teeth and adult teeth have the same basic structure. The inside of the tooth, the pulp, contains blood vessels and nerves. The pulp is covered by a layer of dentin, a hard, yellowish substance composed of living tissue that helps protect the pulp and transmits signals for pain, pressure, and temperature. Enamel is the outer protective covering of the tooth, and its natural color can vary from greyish-white to light yellow.

If primary and permanent teeth are so alike, how can they look so different? As with so many things, the difference lies in the details. In adult teeth, enamel is semi-translucent, so it will allow the color of what is beneath it to show through. And the color of the thick dentin beneath is naturally yellow. Baby teeth have a thinner layer of the yellowish dentin. And while their enamel is also thinner, the enamel in baby teeth is generally whiter and more opaque, so less of the underlying yellow from the dentin is visible.

The result of these small differences is that adult teeth are normally darker than baby teeth to begin with. And when a permanent tooth that is just a bit darker erupts next to a bright white baby tooth, it is going to look even more yellow than it actually is. Once all of the baby teeth in front have been replaced with adult teeth, you will have a much better idea of their real color without unflattering comparisons!

There are times when concerns about tooth color should be looked at by Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells more closely.

  • Unusual discoloration in teeth should be examined. Some discoloration is caused by medical conditions such as hypomineralization, some by environmental factors such as excess fluoride, some by trauma, some by medication. If you notice a discolored section of your child’s tooth, or the tooth has turned a different shade from the teeth around it, give us a call.
  • Your child might have naturally whiter or yellower teeth simply as a matter of genetics. If your child is self-conscious about the color of his teeth, we can talk about whitening solutions when he is old enough to use them safely. Home whitening products should never be used on young children.

Give yourself time to adjust to your child’s new, adult smile. You will probably notice no difference at all once all of his permanent teeth come in. And keep those new teeth their brightest with consistent brushing and flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings at our Watkinsville office. This is the simplest prescription for a charming, white, and healthy smile at any age.

Are My Child’s Baby Teeth on Schedule?

February 16th, 2022

Your darling three-month old is crying and fussy—can she be teething already? Or, your happy baby boy has just celebrated his first birthday—with only one tooth in that beautiful, gummy smile. Is this normal? Probably! While baby teeth do typically erupt (come in) in the same order for all babies, and around the same time, there is still a lot of flexibility in the time it takes for a full, healthy smile to develop.

Baby teeth actually form before your baby is born, and those 20 teeth are there under the gums waiting to come out and shine. And even though there are no firm and fast dates for each of these primary teeth to erupt, it’s helpful to have a general overview of typical teething patterns so you know what to look forward to.

Incisors

These little teeth create a charming baby smile, and, if your finger has been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a very sharp one as well! That is because these tiny incisors are made to bite into foods. You might notice this when you introduce solid foods, even if the majority of your child’s “chewing” is done with her back gums. These teeth are the earliest to arrive.

  • Six to ten months old: The lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) are often the first to come in.
  • Eight to 12 months old: The upper incisors (8-12 months) are the next to show.
  • Nine to 13 months old: The upper lateral incisors on each side of the front teeth arrive.
  • Ten to 16 months old: The lower lateral incisors appear.

First Molars

Because these are larger teeth, babies often experience another bout of teething pain at this time. The large flat surface of each molar helps your child to chew and grind food, so he can handle a wider variety of foods and develop his chewing skills.

  • 13 to 19 months old: You can generally expect to see the upper first molars arrive.
  • 14 to 18 months old: The lower first molars appear.

Canines (Cuspids)

Fitting between the first molars and the incisors, the strong, pointed shape of the canine teeth allows your child to grip food and break it apart more easily.

  • 16 to 22 months old: The upper two canines make their way into the space between the incisors and the first molars.
  • 17 to 23 months old: The two lower canines appear.

Second Molars

By the age of three, most children have a full set of baby teeth.

  • 23 to 31 months old: The second pair of bottom molars start erupting—you are in the home stretch!
  • 25 to 33 months old: The upper second molars come in—completing that beautiful set of 20 teeth!

Baby teeth are extremely important, as Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will tell you when you visit our Watkinsville office. They help your child eat and chew, develop face and jaw muscles, assist proper speech formation, and provide space for the adult teeth to come in properly. Now that your child’s smile is complete, keep providing him with the same care and attention you have been giving those little teeth since the arrival of the very first incisor.

It seems that so much of new parenthood is scheduling—when to feed her, when to put her to bed, how many hours between naps. But we soon find out that every baby is not on the same schedule, and the same is true for the arrival of their teeth. We should see your baby when that first tooth comes in, or by his or her first birthday. And if you ever have concerns at any time about your child’s teething schedule or teething delays, always feel free to give us a call.

The Transformation of Valentine's Day

February 9th, 2022

Did you know the actions leading to the beginnings of Valentine's Day were actually centered on the avoidance of war? A Catholic priest named Valentine defied the orders of the Emperor Claudius II and secretly married young men and their brides after the emperor had declared it illegal because only single, young men could be sent to war. Rather than lose potential soldiers to fight his war, Claudius attempted to hoard them by proclaiming marriage illegal.

Valentine continued to marry young couples anyway and, eventually, was put to death for it in 270 AD. Before his death, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine”. Nearly 1,800 years later, people are still signing letters and cards in this manner. This year, carry on the tradition started long ago, while adding your own twist. Here are a few suggestions.

Simple and Creative Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Memorialize it with a Photo. Couples often have photos taken around Christmas, but Valentine's Day photos allow you to capitalize on romance. Famous couple Julia Child and her husband, Paul, had their picture taken together every Valentine's Day and included their sense of humor with silly props.
  • Return to Your First Date Location. Even if your first date together was at a local hotdog stand, its sentimental value can make it a fun part of your Valentine's Day agenda. Be creative and make a treasure hunt with clues that lead your partner to the original date location, where you can express your love with flowers or a gift.
  • “From Your Valentine” Messages. Deliver your message in a creative way to make this Valentine's Day stand out from the others. Bake your partner's favorite treat and write a message on it with a tube of icing, or draw a note on the steamed up mirror so it shows up when your partner takes a shower.

Although Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, it doesn't have to be a special day only for couples. If you're single, use this special day to shower yourself with love, because you're worth it! After all, the priest Valentine believed so strongly in the sanctity of love that he was willing to risk his life for it. Whether you're in a relationship or single, young or old, romantic or not, Valentine's Day is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day from the pediatric office of Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells.

The Importance of Oral Health Care for your Child

February 2nd, 2022

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s a great time for our team at Healthy Smiles to talk about the importance of getting proper oral health care for your children. Oral health has been closely tied to the overall health of our entire body, so making sure that our children have the best oral health care can not only ensure that they have great smiles, but they are protected from the negative effects of poor oral health as well.

Special Care for Children’s Teeth

Oral health care should begin with the very first tooth that grows in your baby’s mouth. Even though these teeth will fall out within a few years, baby teeth hold a space for your child’s permanent ones, and it’s important that your child has a healthy mouth when those permanent teeth arrive. Without proper care, even baby teeth can decay and cause a host of problems, including:

  • Painful teeth and gums
  • Difficulty chewing, eating, and sleeping
  • Gum disease and inflammation
  • Embarrassment when talking and smiling

Develop Good Oral Health Habits Early

As a parent, you can teach your child the right way to care for teeth and make sure he or she visits Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells regularly for cleanings and checkups. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 50 percent of children under 12 have some form of tooth decay, and it is one of the most common childhood diseases. Alarmingly, a report by the National Institutes of Health, Oral Health in America, found that almost six out of ten children have cavities or other tooth decay (also called “caries”).

There are many things you can do to help your child maintain a healthy mouth with strong teeth and gums.

  • Brush your children’s teeth twice a day when they are babies, then teach them to do it on their own when they get older.
  • Be sure your child gets enough fluoride—you can find out whether it is already in your drinking water, and provide supplements if it is not. If you are unsure how to get more fluoride, give our office a call to discuss. In addition, make sure your child is brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Feed your child a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugars. We especially recommend you avoid sugary drinks.
  • Bring your child to our Watkinsville office for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Coming in every six months is recommended.

Helping children develop healthy habits to care for teeth while they are young is important. These habits can set the stage for good oral health care throughout their entire life. They can avoid many of the problems that result from poor oral health, including gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. Start encouraging those habits now during National Children’s Dental Health Month, and help your children reap the benefits through the rest of their lives.

The Best Snacks for a Healthy Smile

January 19th, 2022

One of the most frequent questions that Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team hear is about what kinds of snacks are best for a child’s dental health. Sugary snacks are inevitable sometimes, but it’s vital for you as a parent to monitor how frequently your child is eating the kinds of snacks that may give him or her a cavity or two down the line.

Unsurprisingly, the best snacks are healthy ones, though they may not always be the most appealing to your little ones. The good news is that healthy doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste. Once your kids give these tasty snacks a go, they might become open to all things healthy!

  • Fresh veggies and hummus
  • Apple wedges with peanut butter
  • Low-fat yogurt with berries
  • Cubes of cheese and crackers
  • Hard-boiled eggs with a little bit of salt and pepper
  • Celery sticks with cream cheese and sunflower seeds
  • A homemade milkshake with low-fat milk (or almond milk), the fruit of their choice, chia seeds, and cinnamon
  • Lean proteins such as chicken breast, fish, and turkey

These snacks aren’t high in sugar but they contain all the nutrients your children need to have the necessary energy throughout the day.

This is only a sample of all the great, healthy snacks out there for your kids. For more ideas, ask us the next time you visit our Watkinsville office. It’s never too early to create healthy habits; they’re not only good for oral health, but overall health too. That’s a win-win, if you ask us.

Protecting Your Child’s Smile with Mouthguards

January 12th, 2022

If your child participates in sports or other physical activities, it’s wise to consider getting a mouthguard. Also known as mouth protectors, mouthguards are a device worn over the teeth to lessen the impact of a blow to the face.

This reduces the chance that your child might lose teeth or sustain other serious oral injuries. We recommend that all patients involved in a contact sport such as wrestling, football, or hockey wear a mouthguard because of the high risk of such injuries.

However, anyone involved in a physically demanding sport or activity should wear a mouthguard as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose a few of your front teeth? The way you talk, eat, and smile would all change.

Injuries that can be sustained when not wearing a mouthguard include:

  • Chipped and broken teeth
  • Fractured jaws
  • Root damage
  • Concussions
  • Injury to the lips, cheeks, or gums

Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards — typically made of a soft plastic material or laminate. You can decide which works best for your child in terms of budget, fit, and comfort.

  • Stock mouthguards are prefabricated to a standard size. They offer adequate protection, but you need to find one that fits your child properly and comfortably. Stock mouthguards are readily available at department stores, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards are placed in boiling water to soften them, then into the mouth so they can conform to the shape of the teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more expensive, but offer a more customized fit than stock ones. You can find these in department stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are created just for your child by Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. These offer the best fit and comfort of all the options, but they are also the most expensive. Ask a member of our Watkinsville team for more information.

The American Dental Association says a good mouthguard should be easy to clean, fit properly, be comfortable, and resist tearing or damage. It shouldn’t restrict speech or breathing.

Still not sure if your child needs a mouthguard or which kind is right for his or her smile? Ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells or one of our staff members for more information.

When do children usually lose their baby teeth?

January 5th, 2022

Many parents worry that their children’s teeth are not falling out on time. A lot of concerned parents want to know: When will my child lose his or her first baby tooth? At what age should the last tooth fall out? Is there a specific order in which the teeth are lost?

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team explain that a child's 20 baby teeth (primary teeth) typically come in by age three and begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth, which usually appear by the time your child is six. It is important to know that timing may vary, and girls typically lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The last baby teeth will likely fall out by the time your child is 13.

So, which teeth do children lose first? Baby teeth tend to fall out in the order in which they came, which means the lower center incisors are usually the first to go when your child is between six and seven years old. The next teeth your child will lose are his or her top center pair, also called the upper central incisors.

It’s important to note that if a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of decay or an unforeseen accident, his or her permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space. If your child suffers an injury or has tooth decay, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells.

While we know some children couldn’t be more excited to lose their baby teeth, we know others are anxious about this childhood milestone. When your child starts to lose teeth, our team at Healthy Smiles encourages you to stress the importance of proper dental care on a daily basis.

Remember to:

  • Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
  • Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
  • Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime, especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for your child every six months.
  • Ask about the use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child's next visit with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells at our Watkinsville office, please give us a call today!

New Year's Eve

December 29th, 2021

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- Healthy Smiles included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in Watkinsville, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

Oral Health Concerns for Teens

December 22nd, 2021

You have a lot more freedom as a teenager than you did as a young child. You also have a lot more responsibilities, and one of your jobs is to take care of your teeth. Develop and maintain good dental habits now so you can have great dental health for life!

Tooth Decay

As a teenager, you risk tooth decay, or dental cavities, if you are not careful. In fact, 59% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have at least one cavity, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our staff recommend keeping your teeth strong and healthy by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every day.

If you suspect that you have tooth decay, do not be embarrassed. Instead, ask your parents to bring you to Healthy Smiles to get it looked at. When you do not treat your dental cavities, they can turn into more serious problems. A severely damaged tooth may need to be treated with a root canal or even an extraction.

You can take easy steps to prevent tooth decay when you are at school or hanging out with your friends. Carry a bottle of water around with you so you can take a sip after you eat any kind of food. Choose water or milk instead of soda or sports drinks, and if you chew gum, select a sugar-free flavor.

Other Oral Health Concerns

You can probably think of many reasons why you should not smoke or use tobacco. Your oral health is another one. Tobacco gives you bad breath and stains your teeth yellow. It also increases your risk for gum disease and cancer of the mouth. Smoking even slows the speed of healing after you have dental procedures done.

Here are a few more tips that can keep your mouth attractive and healthy during your teen years.

  • Drink plenty of milk.
  • Limit candies and sugary snacks.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play a contact sport.
  • Visit Healthy Smiles twice a year.
  • Reduce infections and avoid piercing your tongue and lips.

You only get one set of permanent teeth in your life, so get in the habit of taking care of them now!

How do you accommodate a child with special needs?

December 15th, 2021

Providing dental care for patients with special needs can be a challenge at times, both for the dentist and the family of the individual. Fortunately, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles have the experience needed to provide optimal care for your special-needs child. Here are just a few of the ways our office works to help those who need a little extra care.

Assistance with at-home dental health care

We understand that sometimes at-home dental care can be extremely difficult for those with special needs. Individuals with physical difficulties, which may prevent them from holding the toothbrush, and those with developmental issues, who may have difficulty understanding the importance of dental hygiene, need extra attention with regard to home hygiene care. Our team at Healthy Smiles can provide support and education to ensure your child will achieve and maintain a healthy smile. For example, devising improvised toothbrushes to help patients get a properly grip, creating a specialized meal plan, and establishing a more frequent office visitation schedule to monitor overall dental health are all areas where our office is happy to help.

Coordinating office care

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team understand that sometimes special-needs patients feel anxiety when it comes to receiving dental care. In many cases, reliably seeing the same dental health professionals can help to promote a relationship and soothe the patient. We encourage special-needs patients to make appointments at the optimal time of day for them to help everything go smoothly as well. We also encourage preparing your child in advance of the appointment so he or she is not surprised in the office. In certain situations, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells may also recommend sedation dentistry. Occasionally, special-needs patients are too overwhelmed by the thought of dental care and exams are best performed with the support of light sedation.

Accommodating physical needs

We also understand that special needs patients sometimes need physical accommodations. Two of the more common examples we face are patients in wheelchairs who need access to the office. We are fully compliant with all accessibility regulations to make sure our patients receive the care they need. Other patients need physical props for their mouth to help keep it open if they are physically unable to do so.

Dental care for patients with special needs requires knowledge and experience of limitations and how to address them. In our Watkinsville office, you will find an accommodating staff ready to help, so your child can receive optimal dental care.

What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

December 8th, 2021

You might think babies don’t need to brush their teeth, especially when they don’t have any. But by starting good habits like brushing when your child is young, you can lay the foundation for them to continue those good habits into adulthood.

When do I start?

The best time to start brushing your baby’s teeth is before he or she has any. Develop the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with a wet, soft washcloth or gauze every day. There is no need to use toothpaste, just wrap the gauze or cloth around your finger, moisten it with a little water, and gently rub it over the gums.

This helps your little one get used to brushing while it eliminates bacteria in the mouth that can harm emerging teeth. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure or even take very long: just a quick, gentle rub over the gums will do it.

What do I use?

When your child’s teeth begin to come in, you will need to switch from a cloth to a baby toothbrush. Find one that has a grip big enough for your hand, but a head that is small enough to maneuver easily in your infant’s mouth.

You don’t need to use any toothpaste until your son or daughter is about a year old. Even then, though, you’ll want to use just a tiny amount: about the size of a grain of rice. When your toddler is about two years old, you can use a pea-sized amount.

By around six years of age, your child will probably rinse and spit without your help. At that point, you may want to introduce a child-friendly fluoride mouthwash.

How do I do it?

Your child probably won’t be able to brush his or her teeth alone until about the age of five or six. This means that you will need to do it. To brush your child’s teeth, gently use the brush over all the teeth and gums, even areas where the teeth have not come in yet.

As your child grows and becomes more independent, you can allow him or her to hold the toothbrush while you guide your child’s progress. Make sure you talk to your child while you are brushing, and explain why you brush: what you are doing and how you are doing it.

In addition to regular visits with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, instilling good oral health habits in your child early on will ensure a lifetime of good dental health.

Why Baby Teeth Matter

December 1st, 2021

Sleepless nights, crankiness, drooling—how can such tiny teeth cause such a big fuss? But all those uncomfortable days and nights are forgotten when your baby’s first teeth make their appearance. Why? Well, certainly because your child is happier, but also because you know baby teeth, or primary teeth, are important for your child’s growth in so many different ways.

  • Chewing and Eating

Your baby might enjoy solid foods at an early age, but real chewing doesn’t happen until all the baby molars appear between the ages of one to three years. This is the time to feed children size-appropriate and texture-appropriate foods so they acquire proper chewing and eating habits for healthy digestion. Chewing also helps develop your child’s jaw and facial muscles.

  • Developing Speech

Pronouncing many of the common sounds used in speech often requires tongue and teeth working together. If teeth are missing or there is a bite problem such as an open bite, it might be more difficult to pronounce words properly. This could be only a temporary delay, or it could require speech therapy when your child is older.

  • Setting the Stage for Permanent Teeth

Baby teeth not only help with speech and jaw development, but they serve as space holders for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, a permanent tooth might “drift” into the empty space. The adult tooth will not have the room to fit where it should, and crowding or misalignment can occur. This might cause orthodontic problems in the future.

  • Learning Healthy Dental Habits

You are your baby’s first dental health care provider! Wiping the gums and erupting teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals, gently brushing baby teeth when your toddler is young, teaching how to brush as your child gets older, helping to establish daily routines for brushing—all these practices will prepare your child for lifelong healthy dental habits.

  • Making the Dentist a Regular Part of Your Child’s Life

Your child should visit our Watkinsville office soon after that first tooth comes in, and definitely by the age of 12 months. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can help with suggestions for your brushing and flossing routine, make sure your child’s teeth are healthy and clean, and ensure that teething progress is on track. In later visits, we will examine your child’s primary teeth and gums, and treat any problems, such as cavities, before they can become serious.

It turns out that baby teeth really are a big deal. Talk to us about suggestions for caring for your toddler’s teeth and about any questions you may have about teething progress, jaw and facial structure, speech development, or any other concerns at any time. We want to have a happy relationship with your child from the very start for a lifetime of healthy and confident smiles.

Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2021

At Healthy Smiles, we love to celebrate the holidays with vigor! Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells would love to share some unique ways of celebrating Thanksgiving from beyond the Watkinsville area to the national level!

When Americans sit down to dinner on the last Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held at Plymouth in 1621. According to National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was celebrated.

Different Types of Celebrations

Native Americans had rituals around which they celebrated in hopes of ensuring a bountiful harvest. The Cherokees had a Green Corn Dance that they did for this very purpose. The Pilgrims (not to be confused with the Puritans,) rejected any type of public religious display. They held a three-day long non-religious Thanksgiving feast. Although they said grace, the focus of their celebration was on feasting, drinking alcohol (they did have beer,) and playing games.

The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated a different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted. A few days later, they got the rain they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples they couldn't otherwise get. He also told them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of good fortune, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 30, 1623.

The Story of Squanto

No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a discussion of Squanto, or Tisquantum, as he was known among his people, the Patuxet Indians. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1580. As he returned to his village after a long journey, he and several other Native Americans were kidnapped by Jamestown colonist, Thomas Hunt. Hunt put them on a ship heading to Spain where they were to be sold into slavery.

As fate would have it, some local friars rescued him and many of the other kidnapped natives. Squanto was educated by the friars. Eventually, after asking for freedom so he could return to North America, he ended up in London where he spent time working as a ship builder. By 1619, he was finally able to get passage on a ship headed to New England with other Pilgrims.

Upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, he learned that his entire tribe was wiped out by diseases that accompanied earlier settlers from Europe. In gratitude for passage on their ship, he helped them set up a settlement on the very land where his people once lived. They called the settlement Plymouth. Since they knew nothing about how to survive, let alone how to find food, Squanto taught them everything, from how to plant corn and other crops, how to fertilize them, how and where to get fish and eels and much more.

After a devastating winter during which many settlers died, thanks to Squanto's teaching, they had an abundant harvest. After that harvest, they honored him with a feast. It is this feast of 1621 which was celebrated between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians that is widely considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

About the Meal of the Plymouth Settlers

Surviving journals of Edward Winslow that are housed at Plymouth Plantation indicate that the first Thanksgiving feast was nothing like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey,) and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other “traditional” foods that appear on modern menus.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the holiday. It is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others may celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football bowl games, or by playing family games.

If you ever wonder why you're so tired after the Thanksgiving meal, it's because turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan, and it sets off chemicals whose chain reaction combine to make people sleepy.

Understanding Cavities

November 17th, 2021

Getting a cavity seems like delayed punishment for eating that special dessert every weekend or for the few days you forgot to floss. When you are doing everything right with minimal exception and a cavity is diagnosed, it is discouraging. Knowing how cavities form and what causes them is valuable in knowing how to prevent them. In this blog post, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will help you understand cavities!

A cavity is not a one-time event. It is actually a symptom of a disease called caries. Tooth decay is a result of an active infection and condition in the mouth. There are ingredients to this infection, which include bacteria, acid, your tooth, and a food source. The main bacterial culprit is S. Mutans. Bacteria live in a housing structure called biofilm. This offers them protection, food, and an ideal replicating environment.

Biofilm can be healthy if there is a balance of good bacteria. When you have caries, the numbers of “bad” bacteria increase and produce an environment where they thrive and therefore cause tooth decay. A main indicator of this is a pH measurement of your saliva.

Several factors can influence the biofilm pH. Foods and beverages all have different pH levels. The lower the number, the higher the acidity. Since acid promotes tooth decay, a beverage like soda will promote a cavity. Water, being neutral, is a good choice to promote healthy oral pH. Healthy eating can still cause cavities. Here is an example of a highly acidic, yet traditionally healthy meal:

Toast with store-bought strawberry jam, and a cup of cottage cheese topped with fresh cranberries.

Instead, here is a better choice, which involves mixing acidic healthy foods with alkaline (non-acidic) foods to reduce the overall pH:

Toast with almond butter, and Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries.

The first example will result in a very low pH in the mouth and even in the rest of the body. The second meal mixes highly acidic blueberries with an alkaline Greek yogurt. Dairy products from cows are highly acidic. Toast is acidic because of the yeast and almonds are alkaline.

A natural buffer is saliva. Whenever mouth breathing or medications compromise the saliva flow, the pH is going to drop and caries can go rampant. Getting a cavity is not just about the sweets or forgotten flossing sessions. It is about the pH levels and bacterial management.

For more helpful tips about how to avoid cavities, contact our Watkinsville office.

Camping Oral Health Tips

November 10th, 2021

If your idea of camping is a quiet walk through the woods before returning to your rustic hotel, your regular brushing habits will be perfect for your trip. But if you are hiking into the mountains with your tent, backpack, and camp food, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team have some suggestions to adapt your dental routine to the great outdoors.

Water

If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t brush with it! Use bottled water if you have brought it, or make sure the local water is safe by using a testing kit. Boiling, filters and purification tablets are all ways to make sure the water tests clean and safe.

Toothpaste

You aren’t the only one in the woods who finds your toothpaste tasty. Bears, raccoons, and other animals are attracted to the scent of your toothpaste, so keep it safe with the same kind of tightly sealed, odor-proof container that you keep your food in. And if you want to discourage unwanted visitors, don’t spit your toothpaste out at your campground! It’s better to go some distance from your site and bury any paste, and best of all to spit used toothpaste into a container that can be tightly closed and removed from the campsite when you head for home. This practice protects you and the environment as well, since toothpaste can be harmful to small animals and plants.

Toothbrush

While there are disposable and camping toothbrushes available, a regular toothbrush will work as well. Normally, air-drying is the healthiest option for drying your toothbrush, but camping is an exception. Just as animals are attracted to toothpaste, they are also attracted to your toothpaste-scented toothbrush. Keep it in a sealed container that is odor-proof.

Floss

There are websites devoted to the many ingenious ways to use dental floss while camping, but we recommend the original use. Don’t forget to floss regularly, keep it in a sealed container, and do be sure to take used floss out of the area with you.

Even though you are roughing it, stick with your home routine as much as possible. If you are unable to brush as usual, rinse your mouth well with clean water and brush when you can. Have a great trip, and just one more thought—maybe go easy on the s’mores. Let us know all about your trip during your next visit to our Watkinsville office!

Halloween: Sweet candy and scary costumes!

October 27th, 2021

Halloween is an annual event celebrated by both children and adults every October 31. Some scholars claim that it originates from the celebration of Celtic festivals that honored the dead and harvest season. This day marks the end of summer, and the transition to cold winter months ahead. No matter what the origin may be, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team hope all our patients have a fun and safe Halloween!

The History of Halloween

North America predominantly celebrates Halloween by dressing up in costumes, going trick-or-treating to collect candy, and eating an abnormal amount of sweets. This tradition goes back hundreds of years and usually involves celebrations throughout the month of October.

Halloween festivities can also include carving pumpkins, going on hayrides, visiting apple orchards and haunted houses, watching scary movies, attending costume parties, and much more!

Spooky Facts

  • Fifty percent of kids prefer to receive chocolate candy for Halloween, compared with 24% who prefer non-chocolate candy and 10% who preferred gum.
  • One quarter of all the candy sold each year in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.
  • The first jack o’ lanterns were actually made from turnips.
  • Halloween is the second highest-grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.
  • The largest pumpkin ever measured broke the world record in 1993 by weighing in at 836 lbs.

Worried about your child’s teeth?

  • Limit the amount of candy he or she consumes each day.
  • Have your child brush his or her teeth after eating candy.
  • Avoid hard, chewy candies, because they can stick in hard-to-brush places.
  • Keep candy out of sight to reduce temptation.
  • Don’t buy candy too far in advance so you can limit pre-Halloween consumption.
  • Help or encourage your kids to floss.

Moderation is key when it comes to your oral health and celebrating Halloween. Make sure to schedule your child’s next appointment at our Watkinsville office if you notice any issues with his or her teeth. We hope you have a fun and spooky Halloween!

Thumb Sucking

October 20th, 2021

Learning to suck their thumbs is one of the first physical skills babies acquire. In fact, ultrasound images have revealed babies sucking their thumbs in the womb! Babies have a natural sucking reflex, and this activity is a normal way for your baby to soothe herself.

If your toddler still turns to her thumb for comfort, no need to worry. Most children give up this habit as they grow, and generally stop completely between the ages of two and four. But what of the child who doesn’t? Should you encourage your child to stop? And when?

When Thumb Sucking Becomes a Problem

After your child turns five, and certainly when her permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking is something to watch for. This type of vigorous sucking, which puts pressure on the teeth and gums, can lead to a number of problems.

  • Open Bite

Our bites are considered normal when the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower where they touch in the front of the mouth. But with aggressive thumb sucking, teeth are pushed out of alignment. Sometimes this results in a condition called “open bite,” where the upper and lower teeth don’t make contact at all. An open bite almost always requires orthodontic treatment.

  • Jaw Problems

Your child’s palate and jaw are still growing. Aggressive thumb sucking can actually change the shape of the palate and jaw, and even affect facial structure. Again, orthodontic treatment can help, but prevention is always the better option!

  • Speech Difficulties

Prolonged thumb sucking has been suggested as a risk factor for speech disorders such as lisping, the inability to pronounce certain letters, or tongue thrusting.

The consequences from aggressive thumb sucking can be prevented with early intervention. What to do if you are worried?

Talk to Us

First, let us reassure you that most children stop thumb sucking on their own, and with no negative dental effects at all. But if your child is still aggressively sucking her thumb once her permanent teeth have started erupting, or if we see changes in her baby teeth, let’s talk about solutions during an appointment at our Watkinsville office. We can offer suggestions to help your child break the habit at home. There are also dental appliances available that can discourage thumb sucking if your child finds it especially hard to stop.

Work with your Child

  • Be Positive

Positive reinforcement is always best. Praise her when she remembers not to suck her thumb. Make a chart with stickers to reward every thumb-free day. Pick out a favorite book to read or activity you can share.

  • Identify Triggers

Children associate thumb sucking with comfort and security.  If your child turns to her thumb when she’s anxious, try to discover what is bothering her and how to reassure her. If she automatically sucks her thumb when she is bored, find an activity that will engage her. If she’s hungry, offer a healthy snack.

  • Talk about It!

Depending on her age, it might help your child to understand why stopping this habit is important. We are happy to explain, in a positive, age-appropriate way, just how breaking the thumb sucking habit will help her teeth and her smile.

Again, most children leave thumb sucking behind naturally and easily. But if what is a comfort for your child has become a concern for you, please give us a call. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will work with you and your child to prevent future orthodontic problems and begin her lifetime of beautiful smiles.

 

Children and Halitosis

October 13th, 2021

Many parents are unaware that children can also suffer from symptoms of halitosis, better known as chronic bad breath. This common oral problem affects a majority of the population, including both adults and children. During treatment for this condition, it’s worthwhile to focus on the cause of the problem. Take a look at the most common reasons why your child might develop bad breath.

Having constant bad breath can be embarrassing and troublesome. Most often, boys and girls develop halitosis as a side effect of some sort of upper respiratory infection. It may be a common cold, allergies, or flu symptoms.

When the nasal passages are blocked, it’s more likely that your child will breathe through the mouth. Mouth breathing may also occur if your youngster is put on medication that decreases saliva flow. Mouth breathing can make bad breath much worse if there isn’t enough saliva to cleanse the area.

Another cause of halitosis in children can be tonsillitis. When your child’s airway is constricted, he or she is more likely to mouth-breath. When the tissues in your mouth dry out, bacteria will grow and increase in potency. If you notice symptoms of tonsillitis in your child such as a fever, swollen throat, trouble swallowing, chills, or congestion, get your little one to treatment right away.

Halitosis in children is can also be caused by an infection of the mouth. If your child’s teeth or gums are infected, odor will developed if untreated. Infection can occur due to inadequate brushing and flossing, which can lead to gum disease or cavities. If cavities are left untreated, they can develop a strong, noticeable odor. If you think your child has an infection or cavity, contact Healthy Smiles and schedule an appointment.

Other causes of halitosis may be certain pungent foods your child eats, or bacteria built up on the tongue. Make sure your son or daughter brushes and flosses thoroughly every day. Some mouthwashes may be beneficial for your child to alleviate bad breath caused by leftover bacteria in the mouth. Other ways of treating of halitosis can vary, based on the cause of the problem.

If you’re unsure about why your child has halitosis, contact Healthy Smiles and we can help you figure out where the issue originated. Remember, masking symptoms of bad breath with gum or mints will be only a temporary fix. Your child’s bad breath problems can be helped with a little investigation from Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. Always feel free to call our Watkinsville office if you are concerned about your child’s oral health.

Year-End Insurance Reminder

October 6th, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, as well as our team at Healthy Smiles, would like to give those patients with flex spend, health savings, or insurance benefits a friendly end of the year reminder that it’s high time to schedule your dental visits so you optimize your benefit.

Now is the time to reserve your appointment with us. Space is limited and we tend to get busy around the holidays, so don’t wait to give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

September 29th, 2021

Pediatric dentists strive to make your children’s visits welcoming and worry-free, and, we want the same for you! Ask us about any questions you might have. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and sedation options so you know just how safe and comfortable your child’s experience can be. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes parents feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is termed radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are different types of common dental X-rays which are used for pediatric exams, including:

  • Bitewing X-rays, which are used to check on the health of the back teeth.
  • Periapical X-rays, which allow us to look at one or two specific teeth from crown to root.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

If all of our dental conditions were visible on the surface, there would be no need for X-rays. But there are many conditions that can only be discovered with the use of imaging—infection, decay, or injuries, for example, can show up as darker areas in the teeth or jaws. Among their many diagnostic uses, X-rays can help us find:

  • Cavities between teeth
  • Damage to the tooth’s pulp which might require root canal treatment
  • Injuries to teeth or roots after trauma
  • Abscesses, tumors, or other conditions that might be causing swelling or pain
  • Unusual position or development of the teeth before and as they erupt
  • Alignment and development of wisdom teeth

X-rays can also serve an important preventative role, by discovering small problems before they become major ones.

How Do Dentists Make Sure Your Child’s X-rays Are as Safe as They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation patients are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a set of bitewing X-rays exposes us to slightly less than the amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are committed to making sure young patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

X-rays play an important part in helping us make sure your child’s teeth stay their healthiest. If you have any concerns, contact our Watkinsville office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

When to Begin Dental Care for Your Baby

September 22nd, 2021

Children’s oral health differs from the needs of adults in many ways. It’s vital for you to understand what your child needs to keep his or her teeth healthy. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are here to answer your questions to set you and your little one up for success.

In-home dental care should start as soon as your baby show signs of developing that first tooth. At around age one or two, bring your son or daughter to our Watkinsville office. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will examine your child’s tooth development and gum health.

The initial appointment will focus on getting your youngster familiar with our office and comfortable with our staff. We will go over several general matters during that first visit:

  • Inspect for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Check for gum disease or cavities
  • Examine your child’s bite and possible misalignment
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
  • Talk with parents about proper oral health
  • Give you tips for brushing and flossing your little one’s teeth
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your son or daughter’s teeth

Once your child is old enough for the first dental visit, you should schedule regular cleanings every six months. Call our Watkinsville location if you have any conflicts or questions.

Preventing Tooth Decay in Children

September 15th, 2021

Childhood tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting nearly one in three children between the ages of two and five. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry reports that tooth decay can appear in children as young as six months old. As a parent, it is possible to spare your child from early childhood tooth decay, and potentially prevent a lifetime of oral health problems in one fell swoop.

Birth to age two

Good oral health begins before your child’s teeth ever erupt from the gums. During the first few months of life, you should be wiping your child’s gums with a damp cloth after eating. As soon as teeth appear, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles recommend you start brushing them with a toddler toothbrush and water, and call our Watkinsville office to schedule your child’s first visit. Never allow your child to go to bed with a bottle, and try to limit beverages other than water only to meal times. Children who walk around or go to sleep with bottles or sippy cups full of juice or milk are exposed to more sugars and are more likely to develop tooth decay.

Ages two to six

All of your child’s primary teeth should erupt by age three. Brush your toddler’s teeth at least twice daily with a toddler toothpaste and toothbrush. As your child gets older and learns not to swallow toothpaste, you may begin to use oral care products specially designed for preschoolers and elementary-age children. Be sure to maintain regular dental appointments and cleanings as recommended by your child’s dentist, and encourage your son or daughter to begin drinking from a regular cup. This is also the time to teach your child the importance of healthy eating habits, which includes limiting sweets and sugary desserts to mealtime.

By first grade, your child will begin to lose primary teeth. This is the time to start talking with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about dental sealants, which can prevent tooth decay from forming on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Sealants are painless, easy to apply, and undetectable to other people.

Tips

Fluoride is an important ingredient for healthy teeth. Check to make sure the water your child drinks is enriched with fluoride. Also, brush your child’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, and talk to our office about whether fluoride treatments could be right for your family. For more information about preventing your child’s tooth decay, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

The Importance of Baby Teeth

September 8th, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team know it can be easy to underestimate the significance of baby teeth. At Healthy Smiles, we sometimes meet parents who assume that since their child's baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, eventually fall out and are replaced, they are less important. But did you know baby teeth serve purposes other than biting, chewing, and digesting food properly?

Baby teeth are essential not only for your child’s language development, but they also serve other important functions, like contributing to the normal development of your child’s jaw bones and facial muscles. Baby teeth also reserve space for your child’s future permanent teeth.

So, when do baby teeth fall out?

A baby tooth is intended to remain in your child’s mouth until the permanent tooth underneath it is ready to take its place. Sometimes, either due to a tooth being knocked out accidentally or being removed because of tooth decay, kids lose baby teeth before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If a tooth is lost, the teeth on either side of the open space may possibly push into the open space. The result? There may not be enough room for the permanent tooth when it is finally ready to erupt.

If you have any questions about your toddler’s teeth, or if your child is experiencing issues that concern you, please give us a call to set up an appointment at our convenient Watkinsville office.

Happy Labor Day!

September 1st, 2021

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Watkinsville community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our pediatric office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

Finding the Right Dental Products for Your Child

August 25th, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team know how overwhelming it can be to pick the right dental products for your children. When you visit the dental aisle at the grocery store, you see too many options to choose from. We want to help you make an informed decision based on your son or daughter’s needs.

First, you should consider your child’s age and where he or she is in terms of development. Most kids are unable to floss properly until around 12 years of age because of the necessary dexterity. If your youngster is under 12 years old, make sure to assist with flossing every night.

Another option is to use flossers for children. This will make the exercise a bit easier for your little one, because flossers have different-sized handles to fit all ages of hands.

When you’re looking for a child’s toothbrush, the head should be a little bigger than the top portion of your son or daughter’s thumb. If a toothbrush is too big, it won’t be able to reach small areas in the mouth properly. Battery-powered toothbrushes are also recommended because they improve overall brushing quality for both adults and children.

If your child is too young to spit, he or she should use toothpaste without fluoride. Small children tend to swallow toothpaste, even when they don’t intend to. Try looking for a toothpaste that has xylitol listed as the first ingredient. This is a natural sweetener that is beneficial to teeth.

You should also try to identify a flavor that appeals to your child. Same as adults, children like to brush more if they enjoy the flavor that lingers in their mouth after brushing.

It’s smart to look at the ingredients in a toothpaste for the benefits your child needs. Some toothpastes contain sodium fluoride, which fights effectively against cavities. If your child has a sweet tooth, or has already had a cavity, we recommend buying a toothpaste with this ingredient.

Stannous fluoride is another popular ingredient that discourages cavities and includes anti-bacterial properties. You should also watch for the ingredient triclosan, which also suppresses bacteria. These ingredients are both recommend for children who have a high risk for cavities.

Anti-sensitivity toothpaste should also be easy to find in the dental aisle of the store. It contains potassium nitrate to help with sore gums and teeth.

If you’re still unsure which dental products your child should be using, contact our Watkinsville office. Once we have general information about your child and his or her dental health, we can guide you in the right direction.

When it comes to picking the right toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash for your child, Healthy Smiles is always here to help.

Finding the Right Dental Products for Your Child

August 25th, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team know how overwhelming it can be to pick the right dental products for your children. When you visit the dental aisle at the grocery store, you see too many options to choose from. We want to help you make an informed decision based on your son or daughter’s needs.

First, you should consider your child’s age and where he or she is in terms of development. Most kids are unable to floss properly until around 12 years of age because of the necessary dexterity. If your youngster is under 12 years old, make sure to assist with flossing every night.

Another option is to use flossers for children. This will make the exercise a bit easier for your little one, because flossers have different-sized handles to fit all ages of hands.

When you’re looking for a child’s toothbrush, the head should be a little bigger than the top portion of your son or daughter’s thumb. If a toothbrush is too big, it won’t be able to reach small areas in the mouth properly. Battery-powered toothbrushes are also recommended because they improve overall brushing quality for both adults and children.

If your child is too young to spit, he or she should use toothpaste without fluoride. Small children tend to swallow toothpaste, even when they don’t intend to. Try looking for a toothpaste that has xylitol listed as the first ingredient. This is a natural sweetener that is beneficial to teeth.

You should also try to identify a flavor that appeals to your child. Same as adults, children like to brush more if they enjoy the flavor that lingers in their mouth after brushing.

It’s smart to look at the ingredients in a toothpaste for the benefits your child needs. Some toothpastes contain sodium fluoride, which fights effectively against cavities. If your child has a sweet tooth, or has already had a cavity, we recommend buying a toothpaste with this ingredient.

Stannous fluoride is another popular ingredient that discourages cavities and includes anti-bacterial properties. You should also watch for the ingredient triclosan, which also suppresses bacteria. These ingredients are both recommend for children who have a high risk for cavities.

Anti-sensitivity toothpaste should also be easy to find in the dental aisle of the store. It contains potassium nitrate to help with sore gums and teeth.

If you’re still unsure which dental products your child should be using, contact our Watkinsville office. Once we have general information about your child and his or her dental health, we can guide you in the right direction.

When it comes to picking the right toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash for your child, Healthy Smiles is always here to help.

Pacifiers and Your Child's Oral Health

August 18th, 2021

Children are born with a natural sucking reflex. In fact, sonogram images from the womb often reveal an unborn baby practicing by sucking on his or her fingers or thumb. Not only does sucking aid in your baby’s ability to acquire food and nutrients, but it is also a security and possible analgesic outside of meal times.

Though it is both normal and beneficial for parents to soothe their children with pacifiers during infancy, long-term use could interfere with oral health and development. Most children will stop using a pacifier on their own. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends halting pacifier use after age three. Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use after this time can cause the upper front teeth to begin to lean outward. It can also cause new teeth to erupt crookedly, and it can negatively affect jaw alignment.

If your child is not showing signs of self-weaning by age two, you may begin the process by limiting pacifier usage to specific times, such as nap time or when getting vaccinations. Offer an alternative security item, such as a blanket, and be sure to praise your child when he or she chooses the blanket over the pacifier.

Tips

  • Never under any circumstances should you dip your baby’s pacifier in something sweet. Though it is a tempting way of encouraging your child to take a pacifier when crying, it can also lead to early childhood tooth decay.
  • If your child has not discontinued pacifier use by age three, talk with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about behavioral modifications or appliances that can help your child wean.
  • Never use negative reinforcement to discourage pacifier use. Punishment for pacifier use is not effective for changing your child’s habits.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s pacifier usage or which types of pacifiers are best for your child’s oral health, please give our team at Healthy Smiles a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

August 11th, 2021

So much of parenting is a balancing act. Making sure your child has enough play time and enough nap time. Crafting meals that are both healthy and appealing. Making sure every dental product you use is both effective and safe.

While Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team can’t recommend the perfect bedtime story, or tell you why your child just won’t go for that delicious steamed broccoli, we are more than happy to discuss the very best ways to promote healthy, strong teeth. Should fluoride toothpaste be part of your child’s dental routine? For many good reasons, the answer is yes.

Why Fluoride is Important

Our enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, with the highest concentration of minerals, but it is not indestructible. The bacteria that live in our mouths create acids which attack our enamel. Weakened enamel leads to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel surface more resistant to these acids, and can actually help our enamel repair itself in a process called “remineralization.” Fluoride helps prevent cavities and makes teeth stronger, and those are benefits that will last your child a lifetime.

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Fluorosis is a condition that can sometimes develop when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride while the adult teeth are developing below the gum line. (Around the age of eight, children’s teeth have finished forming and are not at risk.) Fluorosis is not a disease, and doesn’t harm teeth, but can lead to faint streaks in the enamel. While this streaking is usually white and subtle, it can sometimes be darker and more noticeable. Teeth discolored by fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but prevention is always the best option.

Finding the Perfect Balance

Talk to us about using fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s first teeth start arriving. If a very young child is at risk for tooth decay, we might recommend early use of fluoride toothpaste. And for these small children, younger than the age of three, a small smear of paste (about the size of a grain of rice) is sufficient if needed. Swallowing fluoride products increases the risk of fluorosis, so make sure to use a very small amount of paste.

Because young children can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting, you always want to make sure the amount of toothpaste you use is age-appropriate even as they get older.  From ages three to six, a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is enough. Children should not use fluoride rinses or supplements unless recommended, and should be monitored to make sure they spit out fluoride toothpaste or rinses after brushing.

Most drinking water already has natural levels of fluoride, which normally aren’t a problem. If you are concerned about high fluoride levels in your local water, talk to us. If your water has higher levels of fluoride than normal, you can minimize consumption when your baby is young by breastfeeding, using non-fluoridated water for mixing with formula powder or concentrate, or buying prepared formula. If your child is a toddler, don’t add fluoride rinses or supplements unless they are recommended by a dental or medical professional.

Talk to us during your visit to our Watkinsville office about protecting your child’s teeth. We are happy to help you find just the right amount of fluoride to keep young smiles stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Healthy teeth in a beautiful smile—that’s a perfect balance!

Can my child really avoid tooth decay?

August 4th, 2021

Great question! Yes, in fact, tooth decay is preventable! Decay, which is caused by sugars left in your child’s mouth, can turn into an acid, which in turn can break down his or her teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits.

So, how can your child prevent tooth decay?

  • Start early. After the age of two, brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. And, if possible, clean between the teeth with dental floss at least once a day, preferably before they go to bed.
  • Don’t allow your little ones to eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime, as salivary flow decreases while they sleep and their teeth become vulnerable to cavities.
  • Do not allow your little ones to nibble food or sip drinks continuously, and keep in mind that a low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay. Allow time between meals for saliva to neutralize acids and repair the teeth.
  • Drinking water frequently throughout the day can also reduce the possibility of new cavities forming.
  • Dental sealants can also protect your children’s teeth from cavities. Sealants, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, act as a shield between the tooth and harmful bacteria.

Finally, make sure your child visits Healthy Smiles approximately every six months for a checkup and routine cleaning! Please give us a call at our Watkinsville office.

Periodontal Disease in Adolescents

July 28th, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles know that periodontal disease isn't something exclusive to adults. It can affect adolescents as well. Gingivitis, which is a milder form of periodontitis, is a form of periodontal disease, and a warning that more serious problems may arise. Untreated gingivitis can develop into full-blown periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that research proves that younger people may develop more severe forms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is linked to periodontal disease. Children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease.

There are three types of periodontal diseases Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team see in children and adolescents.

Chronic gingivitis

Parents may suspect that their adolescent has chronic gingivitis if he or she shows or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Early treatment may prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Once called adult periodontitis, the term chronic replaces “adult” because periodontitis can occur in people in their early teenage years, and progress throughout their teens. Chronic and aggressive periodontitis primarily affects incisors and first molars. One of its distinguishing characteristics is bone loss. Curiously, patients who suffer from this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque on examination.

Generalized aggressive and chronic periodontal disease

This form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics of the chronic and aggressive form, but this more severe type of the disease affects the entire mouth. Symptoms include major plaque and calculus accumulation, and inflamed gums.

In both forms of more severe periodontal disease, the overall gum structure may change. The severity of these changes may alter gum strength enough to loosen teeth, or even worse, cause them to fall out.

The success of any treatment is largely contingent on early diagnosis. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells should conduct a thorough periodontal exam as part of an adolescent’s twice-yearly complete dental examinations.

The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is necessary for food digestion. Diseases are more likely to develop if bacteria travel to open places in the mouth, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities. Proper dental hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth offers greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Be sure every member of your family has a complete dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and contact Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells when you or your young kids or adolescents complain of pain, sensitivity, or other oral problems. Early detection at our Watkinsville office leads to treatment of oral problems and prevents them from turning into serious periodontal disease and potentially irreversible problems.

Should You Be Concerned about Your Child’s Bad Breath?

July 21st, 2021

The short answer to this question? Yes. Because your child’s breath is a reflection of his or her oral health, you should talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells if you notice any unpleasant changes. While better dental hygiene is usually the answer for young children, bad breath can also be a symptom of more serious problems.

Oral Hygiene

Most often, bad breath is simply a sign that your child needs a little help developing proper brushing and flossing habits.

  • Show your child how to use a soft-bristled brush that fits in the mouth comfortably, be sure to brush all the surfaces of each tooth, and don’t forget to angle toward the gum line. And brush long enough. Once all the baby teeth have arrived, two minutes of brushing is usually recommended for children.
  • It’s not too early to floss! Adults need to handle the flossing duties for children until they can manage on their own, so it’s a perfect time to teach technique. And, just like toothbrushes, floss should be flexible and soft.
  • Don’t forget the tongue. Our tongues harbor the bacteria that cause bad breath, so finish off your child’s routine with a gentle brush of the tongue.

Better oral habits mean not only fresh breath, but give those baby teeth the best chance of staying healthy until they are naturally replaced by adult teeth. After all, baby teeth not only help your child learn to eat and speak properly, but they act as necessary placeholders so the permanent teeth are able to erupt in exactly the right spot.

Talk to a member of our Watkinsville office team at your child’s next appointment if you are concerned about oral hygiene–they have many great suggestions for making brushing and flossing more efficient, comfortable, and even fun for your child.

Five Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids' Smiles

July 14th, 2021

If your child could have it his way, chances are he would eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, a peanut butter and fluff sandwich for lunch, and chicken fingers slathered in ketchup for dinner.

Kids will be kids, and maintaining a healthy diet is often the farthest thing from their minds. Do you remember the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, that folksy wisdom can be applied to oral health, too. Think of it like this: an apple a day keeps the dentist at bay. Here are five nutrition tips Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles wanted to pass along that will give your child a healthy, bright smile.

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. We weren't joking about the apple. An apple naturally scrubs and cleans your teeth. The nutrients and antioxidants in vegetables are good for the entire body.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones and teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Dark leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and tofu are also healthy options.
  3. Keep snacking to a minimum. Sticky and gummy snacks can increase a child’s risk of tooth decay. Unless a child brushes after every snack (and what child does?), sticky snacks can easily get lodged between the teeth.
  4. Limit soda intake. Drinking large amounts of soda has been linked to childhood obesity. Soda is loaded with sugars and acids, and these ingredients also damage the teeth. Soft drinks have long been one of the most prominent sources of tooth decay. Have your child drink water throughout the day or juice that’s low in sugar concentrate.
  5. Chew sugarless gum. After all those fruits and vegetables, sooner or later your child is going to want a treat. Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which in turn helps keep teeth clean and bacteria-free. Sugarless gum contains xylitol. The combination of excess saliva and xylitol reduces plaque, fights cavities, and prevents the growth of oral bacteria.

For more information on keeping your child’s smile looking its very best, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

Summer Dental Health? Get into the Swim of It!

July 7th, 2021

On a sizzling hot day, there’s not much that makes us happier than heading to the water for a quick swim, some gentle laps, or even a rousing game of water polo. And this being a sizzling hot dental blog, we are happy to offer some tips on how to make your summer swim good for your dental health as well as your mental health!

  • Mouthguards

You might use your mouthguard all the time—for biking, or basketball, or skiing. But in the pool? Absolutely! Anyone who has played water polo knows what a physical workout it is. Elbows! Hard tosses! Collisions! And it’s not just pool sports. Water-skiing on the lake, surfing in the ocean—anywhere humans and solid objects are involved, tooth and jaw injuries are possible. Don’t spend valuable summer hours tending to a cracked or broken tooth as a result of sports accidents.

And, unlikely though it seems, even hanging by the pool can be hazardous to your smile. Hard concrete edges wait to greet surfacing divers. Slippery cement and tiles surrounding the pool are the downfall of many a swimmer running to jump back into the water. Be aware of possible dental dangers, and use a mouthguard as a great proactive way to avoid them.

  • Swimming Pools & Chlorine

Ah, the smell of chlorine! We all want to know that swimming pools are as clean as they can be, and one method of keeping them that way is with the addition of antimicrobials to the water. But too much exposure to chemicals can cause enamel erosion, or even a condition called “swimmer’s calculus.” Swimmer’s calculus is recognized by a hard, brownish, tartar deposit that appears on the front teeth of swimmers who spent a lot of hours in the pool. It’s a cosmetic problem, but one that’s difficult to get rid of without a professional cleaning. If you’re a competitive swimmer, or simply someone who spends many hours a week in treated water, give us a call if you notice hard-to-remove discoloration or tooth sensitivity.

  • Retainers

Different people have different opinions on whether or not your retainer should be exposed to the chlorine in pool water. (Or the salt in saltwater or the bacteria in lake water.) Ask us for ours! But you’re best off leaving it in your bag or locker, anyway, because retainers can be easily lost in the water. They might be able to survive a swimming pool, but a lake or ocean rescue is very unlikely. Just remember to put your retainer in a case, in a safe spot, and replace it when you’re out of the water for the day.

Enjoy your time on the water, and don’t forget to schedule an exam with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and a professional cleaning if you haven’t been in the office for a while. If you do have a dental problem or an accident, give our Watkinsville office a call immediately. We want to make sure you dive in to summer fun with a healthy, beautiful smile!

Fun Facts for the Fourth

July 1st, 2021

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at Healthy Smiles.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Watkinsville, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

Your Child’s First Toothbrush

June 23rd, 2021

First word, first step, first haircut, first… toothbrush? While it may not be considered a typical milestone, choosing the right first toothbrush is an important first step in your child’s future dental health.

The time to start brushing is when your baby’s first tooth appears. Until then, you have probably been using a clean, moist washcloth or gauze to carefully wipe your baby’s gums. Continue that gentle treatment with a toothbrush designed for infants. Look for a toothbrush designed especially for infants and toddlers, with extra-soft bristles and a small head for tiny mouths.

When your toddler is ready to try brushing for the first time, there are many options to make learning the proper technique enjoyable for both of you! Extra-soft bristles and small brush heads again are important for young children, and brushes are available with colorful patterns and designs to charm any child. There are brushes available with handles designed for easy gripping, right-handed and left-handed options, and even electric models.

No matter which brush you choose, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team recommend:

  • Use soft bristles and a brush head sized to fit your child
  • Use the proper amount of toothpaste (when your child is old enough to spit out toothpaste instead of swallowing)
  • Replace the toothbrush every three months, or earlier if it is frayed
  • Always supervise your young child while he or she learns to brush
  • Don’t forget to schedule checkups every six months at our Watkinsville office!

You probably won’t be preserving your baby’s first toothbrush in your baby book, but teaching your child the proper way to brush with the right toothbrush can lead to a lifetime of dental health. And that’s a milestone to celebrate!

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

June 16th, 2021

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Watkinsville office.

Educational and Entertaining Enamel Experiments

June 9th, 2021

Let’s talk about the science of our teeth for a moment. Our enamel has a very high mineral content, making it extremely strong.  In fact, enamel just happens to be the hardest substance in our bodies.  But, unfortunately, it is not indestructible! Certain foods we eat can actually damage the surface of our teeth. Some simple and entertaining experiments can show children how our teeth can be affected by things we eat and drink, and how we can help protect them.

If you have a science-minded student at home, there are many activities you can do together, using educational websites, common household products and lots and lots of eggs. (Why eggs? Eggshells are a great substitute for teeth in these experiments. Not only are they various shades of white--like our own teeth, they are also calcium-rich—like our own teeth.) You can find any number of experiments using uncooked eggs, hardboiled eggs, whole shells with the contents blown out, or eggshells alone, so you can find just the right activity for whichever egg treatment works best for you.

Examine Enamel Erosion

One of the ways we protect our teeth is with healthy eating. The bacteria in plaque use the sugars and starches in our foods to produce acids. These acids are the substances that break down the minerals in our enamel and leave the enamel weaker. Weaker enamel is more easily attacked by bacteria and acids, which leads to cavities.

With eggs or eggshells and some carefully selected food products, you can see just how acidity affects teeth. Different websites suggest a variety of acidic liquids to dunk your eggs in, such as vinegar, soda, or citrus juices, so it’s easy to find an experiment that works with your pantry. Always use a plain water sample when you submerge eggs or shells to act as a control to measure differences against. How do the egg shells soaked in acidic liquids differ from those in plain water? It’s also fun to add simple sugar water as a test liquid to see what happens. Is it sugar or acid that causes more damage? And why might that be?

The Fluoride Fix

Fluoride is well known as a mineral that protects the structure of our teeth and helps prevent cavities. And there are actually experiments out there to test the protection fluoride provides using your egg stand-ins.

In some experiments, a hardboiled egg is coated with fluoride toothpaste or rinse for a specific amount of time and then dunked into vinegar. An untreated egg also gets a vinegar bath. You are asked to observe what is happening to each egg as it sits in its vinegar bath—are there bubbles on one egg and not the other? What do the bubbles mean? Other experiments require longer exposure to fluoride and then to vinegar—what happens to the shells of the treated and untreated eggs? What could this mean for our teeth?

Staining Studies

Our diet can do more than help create cavities. Enamel is very strong, but it is not stain-proof! Dark colored foods and drinks can make our teeth appear darker or more yellow. (And teeth that have suffered enamel erosion can pick up stains more easily.) How does food affect the brightness of our smiles?

If this question interests you, find experiments that use favorite beverages as a soak for your eggs. Choose liquids with a range of color, such as coffee, soda, and apple juice. Or choose an experiment that uses different varieties of soft drinks. Will foods the same color cause the same amount of discoloration in your egg volunteers? Do you want shorter or longer soaks in each liquid? Do you want to make use of a recycled toothbrush to see if brushing that discolored shell makes a difference? With toothpaste or without?

Even though these activities are designed for older children, they still require adult supervision. You can find detailed instructions for any of these experiments at many science and educational sites online. With some household supplies, plenty of extra cups, and a quantity of eggs, you and your child can demonstrate some of the basic effects our food choices have on the health and appearance of our teeth. It’s a wonderful way to promote healthy eating and brushing habits, scientific curiosity, and shared experiences!

Don’t forget to let Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells know how your experiments turned out the next time you visit our Watkinsville office!

June is National Smile Month: Show off your smile!

June 2nd, 2021

The community health awareness group Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.

To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between your teeth
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells for scheduled appointments

If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment, or ask us on Facebook!

Using Sippy Cups Successfully

May 19th, 2021

Congratulations! Your child is beginning to leave her bottle behind and has started to use her first sippy cup. And the best training cup is one that makes the transition from bottle to cup an efficient, timely, and healthy one.

The Right Training Cup

While a “no spill” cup seems like the perfect choice for toddler and parent alike, those cups are designed much like baby bottles. The same valve in the no-spill top that keeps the liquid from spilling requires your child to suck rather than sip to get a drink. If your child’s cup has a top with a spout, she will learn to sip from it. Two handles and a weighted base make spills less likely.

When to Use a Training Cup

Children can be introduced to a sippy cup before they are one year old, and we suggest phasing out the bottle between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Use a sippy cup as the source for all liquids at that age, and only when your child is thirsty and at mealtime to avoid overdrinking. The transition from sippy cup to regular cup should be a swift one.

Healthy Sipping Habits

The best first option in a sippy cup between meals is water. Milk or juice should be offered at mealtimes, when saliva production increases and helps neutralize the effects of these drinks on young teeth. And don’t let your child go to sleep with anything other than water—falling asleep with a cup filled with milk, juice, or other sugary drinks means these liquids stay in the mouth overnight. Finally, while a sippy cup is convenient and portable, don’t let your young child walk and sip at the same time to avoid injuries.

When your child comes to our Watkinsville office for her first visit, please bring any questions you might have about training cups. We would be glad to share ways to make the move from bottle to cup both successful and safe!

Dental Emergencies in Children

May 12th, 2021

Unfortunately, dental emergencies can sometimes be unavoidable among young children. The good news is Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can help you prepare in case you and your child find yourselves in any of the following situations.

Teething

Starting at about four months and lasting up to three years, your son or daughter may experience teething pain. It’s common for teething children to grow irritable and become prone to drooling due to tender gums. Give your child a cold teething ring or rub his or her gums with your finger to help relieve the discomfort.

Loss of Teeth

If a baby tooth is knocked out in an accident, bring your child to our Watkinsville office to make sure damage hasn’t occurred in the mouth. Permanent teeth can sometimes grow in before baby teeth have fallen out. In this situation, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells should examine your child to make sure teeth are growing in properly. This can prevent serious issues from arising later in adulthood.

Gum Issues

Bleeding gums could mean several things. They may be an early sign of periodontal disease, which results from poor oral hygiene. Gums may also bleed if a youngster is brushing too hard or has suffered an injury to the gum tissue.

Rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water and apply pressure to the area if bleeding continues. Don’t hesitate to contact our Watkinsville office if you are concerned so we can schedule an appointment.

As a parent, you can provide the best education for your children on proper oral hygiene habits. If you some coaching, ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells for tips during your next appointment.

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 5th, 2021

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at Healthy Smiles.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

Dangers of Thumb Sucking

April 28th, 2021

It’s common for children to suck their thumb at a young age. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team want you to understand the potential issues that can surface down the road if the habit isn’t broken early on.

It’s normal for infants to explore the function of their mouths by putting objects like their thumbs inside it. You shouldn’t be concerned if your baby regularly sucks his or her thumb. For infants who are still growing their baby teeth, thumb sucking can help with stimulating growth and development of their baby teeth.

Thumb sucking is not a problem among infants because they generally do it to sooth and comfort themselves. Problems can occur of kids continue the habit when their baby teeth begin to fall out, around six years of age.

If you have a young child whose adult teeth are starting to come in, that’s when thumb sucking can start to be a problem. Most children stop thumb sucking between the ages of two and three years. According to the American Dental Association, if thumb sucking continues as adult teeth come in, this can lead to problems involving improper alignment of teeth and growth of the jaw, gums, and roof of the mouth.

It may also affect your child’s speech after that, by causing a lisp or other speech impediments. As a parent, you may need to begin to regulate and intervene if thumb sucking starts to become a bigger problem for your child.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

  • Provide comfort to your child if thumb sucking happens when he or she is anxious.
  • Limit thumb sucking initially to bedtime or naptime.
  • Employ positive reinforcement for good behavior.
  • Talk with your child about the potential problems that come from this habit.
  • Distract your son or daughter with activities such as fun games any time you notice it starting.
  • Involve your little one in choosing methods for stopping, like positive rewards.
  • Have Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells talk to your child to reinforce concerns about thumb sucking.

Don’t forget that thumb sucking is a common habit that many children indulge in, and it should not be a concern right away. If you’re worried about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, start to address the issue as soon as possible.

The above techniques can help to reduce the amount of time your child sucks a thumb. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are here to help you if you have any questions or concerns about this habit.

Feel free to call our Watkinsville office and we will be happy to help you and your child.

Earth Day

April 21st, 2021

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. He envisioned an Earth Day that would be a kind of environmental teach-in. The first Earth Day celebration took place on April 22, 1970, and a surprising 20 million people participated on that day. Ultimately, it became the largest organized celebration in US history.

Earth Day Over the Years

Over the years, the recognition of the day, and the number of people celebrating it all over the world, turned Earth Day into an international celebration. Because it is celebrated throughout the world, it is not only the largest international environmental observation, but it is also more widely celebrated than any other environmental event in the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries where over 500 million people participate in celebrations.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement is credited with developing the idea that people should “think green”. It encouraged congress to enact laws, including one that resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also inspired the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

The Five R's and Their Importance

  • Reduce – Reduce by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Reduce your use of materials that wind up in landfills. Reduce the use of chemicals around your house. Reduce your use of disposable bags, plates, cups, eating utensils, and batteries.
  • Reuse – Instead of using plastic bags for your groceries or purchases, bring your own reusable bags. When you go to buy coffee at Starbucks, take a travel mug so you don't have to get your coffee in a disposable paper cup. Instead of storing food in disposable refrigerator containers, buy containers that can be washed and reused. Don't use regular batteries. Whenever possible, opt for rechargeable batteries that you can reuse.
  • Recycle – Most cities offer a recycling program to collect used bottles, cans, and newspapers. Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers and manufacturing raw materials into new products.
  • Re-buy – Make an effort to purchase things that are made through recycling. When purchasing furniture, look for items that are made from reclaimed wood. When buying paper for kids school work, computer printer paper, holiday cards, or anything else, make a point of purchasing recycled paper products. Instead of buying clothing at full retail price, shop for second hand clothing. You will save a lot of money by doing so!
  • Rethink – Rethink the way you do things so that you do them in an eco-conscious way at all times. Instead of driving to work alone, consider taking the bus or going in a carpool. Walk or ride your bike when you're only going a short distance. Plan your shopping trips and errand runs so that you can do everything on one day, and do it in a way where you can save time and gas.

Other ways to "think green" include growing your own food, composting yard waste and food scraps, or by participating in local recycling programs. Join a group like Freecycle so you can share your unneeded and unwanted possessions with people who can use them. Likewise, you'll be able to get things you need or want for free.

Earth Day teaches people that the planet belongs to everyone, so everyone is equally responsible for protecting it. Although Earth Day is an environmental celebration, our team at Healthy Smiles wants to remind you that you don't have to wait until then to make changes that will allow you and your family to live a greener life.

Happy Earth Day from the team at Healthy Smiles.

April is National Facial Protection Month

April 7th, 2021

The Importance of Facial Protection

Americans from all walks of life should mark April as National Facial Protection Month on their calendars. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have combined forces to sponsor this annual campaign, which aims to educate and remind us of the importance of protecting our face and teeth against impacts and injuries.

Wearing a helmet can save your life and prevent devastating physical damage in a variety of situations, from playing football to riding a bicycle. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, helmets reduce the risk of various head injuries by as much as 85 percent. Whether helmet laws apply in your area or not, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles want you to make sure you and your loved ones wear helmets with the appropriate safety ratings for specific activities. (A sticker on or inside the helmet will usually indicate this rating.) Helmets can also help save your teeth if they come with an attached faceguard, an essential addition for football players and others involved in contact sports.

Preventing Dental Injuries

A mouthguard can protect you against a variety of dental injuries, such as cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth. The American Dental Association states that mouthguards play an essential role in preventing up to 200,000 dental injuries each year, and many states mandate their use for sports activities such as football and hockey. The Academy for Sports Dentistry warns, however, that these mouthguards must be custom-fitted as precisely as possible to prove effective. Have a professional-quality mouthguard molded and fitted by our team at Healthy Smiles for better protection than a generic store-bought or “boil-and-bite” variety can offer. These cheaper versions tend to wear out quickly, interfere with proper breathing, and provide uneven degrees of cushion against impacts. Always have a fresh mouthguard fitted for each new sports season.

Choose the right combination of helmet, faceguard, and mouthguard to protect your teeth and face this April, and tell your friends to do the same! To learn more about mouthguards, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office!

My son is turning one. When should I bring him in for a visit?

March 31st, 2021

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team know that cavities know no age boundaries, and that is why we recommend a visit to our Watkinsville office by a child’s first birthday. That also happens to be the opinion of our friends at the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Dental Association.

Research has shown that more than one in four kids has had at least one cavity by the time they’re four years old. In fact, many children get cavities as early as age two, which is a critical reason why you should pay us a visit sooner rather than later. Your child’s appointment at Healthy Smiles also covers topics such as the importance of baby teeth, nutrition, development, and any concerns you may have with your child’s dental health. We believe that your child’s first visit with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells should be an enjoyable and positive one, and we strive to teach good oral care that will enable your child to have a beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child’s next visit with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call today! We look forward to seeing you!

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

March 24th, 2021

Imagine that you sit down for some evening television, and during the course of the evening, you see five commercials regarding dental products. They all claim to be the best. Then remember your last visit to the dental aisle at a local grocery store. The choices are overwhelming and there seems to be no sure answer as to which would be the best choice for your child.

Healthy Smiles recommends that parents break down the decision process. First, consider your child’s age and stage of development. Up until age ten to 12, your child cannot adequately brush or floss independently. It is not a maturity issue, but rather dexterity. Automatic toothbrushes are highly appropriate for all ages. Brushing quality improves when using a battery-powered toothbrush. Use it together with your child, and always play an active role in your child’s oral home care.

As a general rule, the brush head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the child’s upper portion of the thumb. This will help ensure it will fit in all the places it needs to.

Flossers are great for children. These will have a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in-between. A particular brand name does not matter. Some have a higher quality and this should be evident when you use them. You can make a choice for individual preference with color, handle size, or shape, etc.

There are many brands of toothpaste and there are also differences in the ingredients. Some contain sodium fluoride, the standard ingredient in cavity prevention. Others have stannous fluoride, which is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Potassium nitrate is commonly found in anti-sensitivity, and triclosan is found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial properties. It is most common for children to be at a high risk for cavities. Therefore, our team at Healthy Smiles recommends toothpaste with fluoride once your child is old enough to spit.

Before a child can spit, use toothpaste without fluoride. This is an ideal time to use toothpaste with xylitol. Xylitol should be listed as the first ingredient; this way you’ll get the almost medicinal property of this natural sweetener. After you have found the right type of toothpaste, consider its flavor. The best kind of toothpaste is one that will be used, so choose a flavor that your child will love!

If you have any other questions, our would like specific brand recommendation feel free to call us at Healthy Smiles or ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells during your next appointment!

St. Patrick's Day

March 17th, 2021

On March 17, everyone has a little Irish in them. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of Irish heritage. The holiday originated as a commemoration of Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. The saint arrived in Ireland in 432 and earned the reputation of a champion of Irish Christianity. March 17th, the day of St. Patrick’s death, has been commemorated by the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed as a religious feast day by several Christian denominations, but it is better known in the public imagination as a rich celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Each year, the Irish celebrate with a several-day festival that includes theater performances, music, fireworks, and festive parades. The celebration is also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In other parts of the world with heavy Irish populations, it is an unofficial celebration of Irish heritage. Parts of Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia commemorate the holiday each year. Typical celebrations in these countries include drinking green beer, wearing green, eating traditional Irish foods, parades, and shamrock decorations.

Many people, Irish and non-Irish alike, take part in the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. His use of shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish made the green clover emblematic of the holiday, leading to the traditional green attire worn by thousands on St. Patrick’s Day. Other little-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day include the following:

  • Each year, the United States and Ireland face off in a rugby competition called the “St. Patrick’s Day Test.”
  • Montreal celebrates the holiday with an annual parade, which has been held each year since 1824. The Montreal city flag even features a shamrock in its corner, as a nod to its Irish heritage.
  • The Guinness World Records named St. Patrick’s Day the “Friendliest Day of the Year.”
  • Along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

No matter your cultural heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to let loose and celebrate your inner Irish-ness! Don your greenest attire and exclaim “Erin go Bragh!” (Ireland forever!) to everyone you meet. From Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells - have a great St. Paddy’s day!

Pediatric Dental Emergency Know-How

March 10th, 2021

Parents are usually expert at taking care of their children’s injuries. You know how to disinfect a cut, soothe a bump on the head, and apply a bandage faster than you can blink.

But what happens if your child suffers a dental injury? Teeth can get broken, knocked out, or displaced from a forceful impact, and parents ought to know what to do in those situations, too. Luckily, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are here to be a resource for such incidents!

Chipped front teeth are a common injury for young children. First, check to see if the teeth have been broken to the nerve. You can tell this is the case if you see layers and a pinkish center.

Then, wiggle each tooth to make sure it is not loose. If the teeth still feel firmly in place, that’s a good sign. Don’t worry if they are a little loose, because they will tighten again with time.

If your child develops a high temperature or bite sensitivity, treatment is necessary and could include a root canal.

A knocked-out tooth is an injury that requires more attention than just observation. Locate the tooth as soon as you can, and touch only the crown, not the root. Rinse any debris gently with milk or water and place the tooth back in its socket as soon as possible.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, a tooth has a high chance of survival and retention for life if it is returned to the socket within five minutes, and possibly up to 60 minutes, if soaked in milk or saline solution in the meantime.

Say your child is elbowed in the mouth and a tooth gets severely displaced but does not get knocked out. Attempt to shift it back into place by applying light pressure, but be careful not to use too much force. Give your child a cold pack for the swelling and contact our office as soon as possible.

Dental emergencies can be frightening for the child as well as the parent. The best advice we can offer is to stay calm and be assured that we are always here to help! Contact us at our Watkinsville office as soon as you can, if your child encounters a dental emergency.

What’s an intraoral camera?

February 24th, 2021

One of the greatest features our team at Healthy Smiles offers is the ability to see first-hand how we can help our patients. While X-rays help us detect any problems in your mouth and give us valuable information on what is bothering you, they often don’t give Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells a complete view of everything that is going on inside your mouth. With the use of an intraoral camera, we can see every aspect of your teeth and mouth with incredible detail, uncovering cracked or fractured teeth, excessive wear, carious lesions, cavities, or other issues that may be hidden. When we can discover oral problems early on, your treatment is much less invasive and often saves you money down the road.

An intraoral camera allows Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells to view clear, precise images of your mouth, teeth, and gums and allows us to make an accurate diagnosis.  With clear, defined, enlarged images, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team see details that standard mirror examinations may miss. It’s much easier to understand what is happening in your mouth if you can see the problem on a computer monitor, and it means faster diagnosis and less chair-time for our patients!

Intraoral cameras are small, about the size of a dental mirror, and emit a light onto the tooth. The tooth will emit a color that lets Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells determine if the tooth is healthy or diseased. Intraoral cameras also allow us to save your images on our office computer to provide a permanent record of treatments. These treatments can be printed for you, other specialists, and your lab or insurance companies.

For any questions about the intraoral camera, we encourage you to ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells or our team during your or your child’s next visit or by giving us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office.

What is a pediatric dentist?

February 17th, 2021

Our team at Healthy Smiles hears this question a lot. According to our friends at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), pediatric dentistry is “an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral healthcare for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special healthcare needs.”

Pediatric dentists, such as Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, are dedicated to the oral health of our young patients from infancy through their teen years. Our team at Healthy Smiles has the experience and qualifications to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout his or her various stages of childhood.

Pediatric dentists complete at least four years of dental school, including an additional two additional years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs.

At Healthy Smiles, we know children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. And that is why Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them relaxed and comfortable.

To learn more about pediatric dentistry, or to schedule your child's next visit at our Watkinsville office, please give us a call today!

Valentine's Day History

February 10th, 2021

Valentine’s Day is best known as a celebration of love in all its forms. Pink hearts, red roses, and cute greeting cards adorn every surface you see. What many people don’t realize is that the modern Valentine’s Day celebration arose from a religious holiday.

St. Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as a religious feast day in honor of early Christian martyrs. Three martyrs named Valentine were honored: a priest in Rome, the persecuted bishop of Interamna (a town in central Italy), and a saint martyred in Africa. This saint’s day was celebrated throughout Christendom, although it was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969.

The origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday for lovers began with Geoffrey Chaucer in his 1382 poem “Parlement of Foules.” Chaucer wrote, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” and the modern romantic holiday was born. William Shakespeare and other writers mentioned Valentine’s Day as a day of love.

Valentine’s Day as we know it came about in the early 19th century. In Victorian England, printers began manufacturing small numbers of cards with romantic verses, lace, ribbons, and other frills. Anonymous Valentine’s Day card were a popular way for young lovers to exchange romantic sentiments in an otherwise prudish time. As the 19th century progressed, printers began mass manufacturing Valentine’s Day cards. People in the United States give an estimated 190 million valentines every year, and up to one billion if you count children exchanging cards at school! With the rise of the Internet, Valentine’s Day e-cards have become a popular mode of communication, with millions of e-cards sent each year.

The other items associated with Valentine’s Day include chocolate and flowers. The tradition of giving chocolates has been around for decades, and Richard Cadbury created the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates nearly 150 years ago. Today, purchases of chocolate total over $1 billion in the United States alone, with 35 million heart-shaped boxes sold each year. Loved ones also exchange flowers, with red roses being associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. On Valentine’s Day itself, florists sell nearly 200 million stems of roses.

Although many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a commercialized “Hallmark holiday,” it is beloved to couples and romantics across the United States and other countries. The team at Healthy Smiles wants to remind all patients that no matter what your celebratory plans, February 14th can be a wonderful day to celebrate the loved ones in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 3rd, 2021

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and a perfect time for Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells to review some of the important steps in keeping your child’s smile healthy!

Your Baby

Early care is best! Even before teeth appear, the American Dental Association recommends gently wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth after feeding. When his or her first tooth arrives, it’s time to schedule your child’s first visit. Our office will be happy to answer any questions you might have about brushing tools and techniques. This is also an opportunity to check not only tooth health, but jaw and teeth development. Check your baby’s teeth regularly, and call us if you have any concerns.

Your Preschooler

By the time children are three, they will probably have all or most of their baby teeth. Brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled, child-sized brush is a great model for when your child begins brushing on his or her own. And when teeth begin to touch, flossing your child’s teeth is recommended once a day as well.  Remember to schedule regular checkups at our Watkinsville office, and help make your toddler’s visit positive by reading books or watching videos about visiting the dentist, using playtime to practice things that might happen in the dentist’s chair (such as opening his or her mouth to count teeth), and planning visits during times your child is well-rested.

Your School-Age Child

Your child might be ready to take on brushing and flossing while you supervise, and there are many ways you can encourage both reluctant and enthusiastic brushers! The ADA recommends two minutes of careful brushing twice a day, or as directed by your dentist or physician. You can use these four important minutes to tell your child stories, listen to music, or brush together. Your child can help choose his or her toothbrush and toothpaste, or earn stickers for a brushing job well done. Stick to a routine for best results, and schedule regular checkups and cleanings to protect your child’s overall dental health. This is also an important age to check bite alignment, any potential orthodontic issues, and the possibility of sealants.

February might be the shortest month, but it’s a great time to consider your child’s life-long smile. If you have any questions or concerns, the team at our Watkinsville office is always happy to discuss them with you—any time of year!

Who’s afraid of the dentist?

January 27th, 2021

Is the sound of a drill enough to make your child flinch or cringe? Does he or she worry about the twice-yearly dental checkup at Healthy Smiles? Trust us when we say your child is not alone!

To help eliminate that distress, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team put together five steps to help your child overcome his or her dental anxiety when visiting Healthy Smiles.

1. Ask your child what they’re most afraid of. Is it the sound of the drill? Do you have needle phobia? Has your child been traumatized by previous dental visits? Have children write down their fears, one by one, and talk about them.

2. Don’t wait. The more frequently your child visits our office, the less work will need to be done at any given visit. Simply having Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells professionally clean your child’s teeth twice a year prevents many, if not most, problems down the road.

3. Bring a distraction such as music to your child’s appointment. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the music. Listening to tunes can also be a pain killer.

4. Remind your child to unwind. Inhaling slowly and counting to five helps. Encourage children to hold their breath for ten seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of eight, and repeat as needed. It’s easier if they’re not focused on the work going on inside their mouth.

5. Ask us. Before any procedure your child undergoes, we encourage you to ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells or one of our assistants why we’re using the tools we’re using. Ask us what we’re doing during your child’s procedure, what the tool is used for, and how it benefits your child. Also, please ask about anti-anxiety medications we may prescribe to help your child relax during his or her appointment.

Remember, our team at Healthy Smiles are health care professionals who strive to improve your child’s oral health, and will do all we can to ensure a trauma- and pain-free experience during his or her visit!

We hope these tips help! For more on pediatric dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to our Watkinsville office! Or, ask us below or on Facebook!

Make Brushing With Your Child Fun!

January 20th, 2021

It’s no secret that kids and adults have different priorities: your duty is to raise a happy, healthy child, but your little one’s only priority may be to have fun. When it comes to brushing teeth, it can be hard to combine a healthy habit with having fun. You might fear it can’t be done, but with a little creativity, brushing time can be a great experience for both of you!

Make It a Party

Brushing time doesn’t have to be a chore when you throw a little party! Get Mom and Dad together so the whole family can brush their teeth at the same time.

Let your child choose a song to dance to while you all brush for the required two minutes. Your son or daughter may grow to love this silly routine, especially when the parents are clearly dedicated to brushing their own teeth as well.

Big Kid Decisions

Kids love the responsibility of making “big kid” decisions. Keep a variety of toothbrushes, colors of floss, and toothpaste flavors on hand so they can choose something “new” each time they brush, just like when they visit our Watkinsville office.

Not only can this help them grow more comfortable with the idea of seeing the dentist, but they’ll love having the responsibility of picking what would be fun at brush time.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s true that the only way to get better at something is to practice, practice, and practice. Have your child practice brushing on his or her favorite stuffed animal, and use that opportunity to teach your youngster how to hold the brush and use circular cleaning motions. Showing how you brush your own teeth can also be worthwhile.

There’s An App For That

Did you know there are lots of fun apps that encourage good brushing habits among children? Brands like Oral-B and Aquafresh have free apps you can download on your phone.

The child gets to select a character, scenery, and a song he or she would love to accompany the task of brushing. If you have a daughter, she might like to use the Tooth Fairy Timer, which allows her to pick her very own fairy as her brushing buddy.

The important things to remember when you seek to establish good brushing habits is to keep it fun and stay consistent with your routine. It may take some getting used to, but after a while your child will become familiar with brushing and might even look forward to the new dental routine.

Building Blocks for a Healthy Grown-Up Smile

January 13th, 2021

Even before a baby is born, those tiny baby teeth are already forming. Expectant mothers can help ensure that their children’s baby teeth will be strong and healthy by getting the recommended amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals in their prenatal diets.

But a mother can’t “eat for two” to make sure her child’s adult teeth are healthy—children’s permanent teeth begin real growth and development only after birth. What can we do to encourage strong permanent teeth as our children grow and develop? Here are four important building blocks parents can use to lay a healthy foundation for their children’s grown-up smiles.

Serve a Tooth-Healthy Diet

The same vitamins and minerals that help create baby teeth are essential for creating healthy adult teeth. Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is almost completely made up of calcium phosphate minerals.  A diet which provides the recommended amounts of calcium and phosphorus helps your child’s body grow strong enamel. And don’t forget vitamin D, which our bodies need to absorb calcium and phosphorus.

A tooth-healthy diet should include several servings of foods which provide calcium, such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), dark leafy vegetables, and fortified juices, cereals and tofu. Phosphorus can be found in proteins like meat, fish, and poultry, as well as beans, nuts, dairy, and whole grains. Egg yolks and fatty fish are natural sources of vitamin D, and it’s easily available in fortified foods such as cow’s milk, soy milk, cereals, and orange juice.

Use the Right Amount of Fluoride

Fluoride is called “Nature’s cavity fighter” for a reason. Fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and helps strengthen tooth enamel. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can offer invaluable advice on when to start and how to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your child’s baby teeth and developing adult teeth.

Can there be too much of this good thing? While fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect teeth in normal, recommended amounts, too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis. This condition can cause cosmetic changes in the enamel of permanent teeth, from almost invisible lighter spots to darker spots and streaking.

How to make sure your child gets the right amount of fluoride?

For children under the age of three, use a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Ask Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells if fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

Young children can’t always understand the idea of spitting and rinsing after brushing, so children between the ages of three and six should use only a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste, and need you there to make sure they spit and rinse afterward.

Ask us about local water fluoride levels if you have any concerns about using tap water for drinking or for mixing formula, keep fluoride toothpastes and other products out of the reach of children, monitor your children while they brush, and always check with us before giving your child a fluoride rinse or supplement.

Help Your Child Retire Harmful Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habits

Your child might self-comfort with the help of a pacifier or thumb sucking, which can be a valuable soothing habit. But it’s important to talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells to see just how long this soothing habit should last. Around the age of four, aggressive thumb or pacifier sucking can lead to problems for permanent teeth.

Vigorous sucking can cause protruding upper front teeth. Aggressive sucking can lead to changes in the shape of your child’s palate and jaw. Open bite malocclusions, where the upper and lower teeth are unable to meet, and overbites, where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth more than they should, can also be the result of lengthy and forceful thumb sucking.

Take Care of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are important! They bite and chew food, and they work with the tongue to help your child learn to pronounce words properly. And there’s one more important reason to make sure primary teeth stay healthy: they serve as the place holders which guide permanent teeth into their proper spots.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, due to decay or injury, the teeth on either side can drift into the empty space, preventing a permanent tooth from erupting where it needs to. Any misalignment or crowding which results may require orthodontic treatment in the future.

Call our Watkinsville office if your child unexpectedly loses a baby tooth. There may be no cause for concern, or, if there’s a potential problem, an appliance called a “space maintainer,” which keeps the baby teeth from shifting out of place, can be fabricated especially for your child.

Your child’s adult teeth are being formed now. Work with us to make sure the building blocks of present and future dental health are in place. You’re giving your child the foundation for a lifetime of beautiful, grown-up smiles!

How often does my child need to see the dentist?

January 6th, 2021

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, checkups at Healthy Smiles are recommended for all children two times a year. Children should be evaluated for cavities and other emerging dental issues every six months, because these problems can lead to more serious dental problems and health issues if left untreated.

While it is always good to follow the official guideline mentioned above, it is also important to understand that each child is unique and his or her dental needs are equally unique. If your child shows signs of dental or orthodontic problems, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells might recommend more frequent visits.

One way to help your son or daughter maintain good oral health between pediatric dental visits is to monitor brushing and oral care habits, especially if the child is still very young. Children who are two to five years of age will usually still require at least some degree of monitoring during their dental care routine.

The Checkup Visit

During your child’s regular dental care checkups, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will evaluate the current state of oral health and will be able to recognize any issues. The twice-yearly checkup visits are typically the time at which problems like cavities, irregular growth patterns of the teeth, and oral decay are discovered. Thus, making these appointments for your child, and following through with them, is extremely important.

Learning and Maintaining Good Oral Health

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our Watkinsville staff are your partners in terms of your child’s health care. Even when your child is an infant and a toddler, good brushing and other oral care habits can be taught. We will help you to educate your child about how to care for teeth in the most effective way, and you can carry those lessons home and help your child to follow them for the ultimate in oral health.

New Year's Day Around the World

December 30th, 2020

New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the calendar year in most parts of the world. The holiday is celebrated on January 1st of each year. Customs and celebrations vary by country, religion, and even individual desires. Whether celebrated quietly or with gusto, the day brings the start of new opportunities for those that observe it.

United States and Canada

In both the US and Canada, celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve. At midnight on January 1st the New Year is welcomed with bells, horns, whistles, and other noisemakers. Fireworks are often part of the celebrations. In New York City, Times Square comes alive with revelers. In Toronto, there are large celebrations which may feature concerts, late-night partying, sporting events, and fireworks, with free public transit service during peak party times. Many individuals in North America greet the year by making resolutions for improvements in their lives.

China

In China, many people celebrate two forms of a new year. They may observe January 1st, but the traditional Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar. Parades with paper lanterns and dragons made from silk are a significant part of the festivities. Legends say that the dragon spends most of its time in hibernation so fireworks are used to keep the dragon awake.

Jewish Celebration

Jewish New Year’s observances begin with Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the New Year, and end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This ten-day celebration is held in September or October, based on the Hebrew calendar. The New Year is not marked as much with loud celebrations as with personal insight to mend wrongs and resolve to better oneself.

Other countries and cultures also have different dates for New Year’s Day observances:

  • Vietnam observes the New Year in February
  • In Iran, the day is celebrated on March 21st
  • Islamic cultures often observe the tenth day of the month of Muharram
  • Russian Orthodox observers use the Julian calendar and celebrate on January 14th
  • Buddhist celebrations are held from April 13th through 15th

If you observe New Year’s Day by making healthy resolutions, include dental care in your plans with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. The health of your teeth and gums contributes to your overall health. Caring for your mouth now can prevent many dental problems later in life. Healthy Smiles wishes you a healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year!

What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

December 23rd, 2020

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is a type of contagious viral illness that causes a rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet of infants and young children, and, while rare, adults. Characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus, a bacterium that lives in the human digestive tract. HFMD can spread from person to person, typically via unwashed hands.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

Symptoms of HFMD usually begin with a fever, sore throat, poor appetite, or general malaise. A couple of days after the fever starts, kids may develop painful sores in the mouth. A skin rash characterized by red spots may also develop, usually on the palms of your child’s hands and soles of their feet. It’s important to note some children may only experience a rash while others may only have mouth sores.

Is HFMD serious? Should we be concerned?

Usually not. Nearly all children infected recover anywhere between seven to ten days without medical treatment. Rarely, however, a child can develop viral meningitis and may need to be hospitalized. Other rare complications of HFMD can include encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can be fatal.

How can my child prevent HFMD?

There is no known vaccine to defend your child against HFMD. However, the risk of your child contracting the disease can be reduced by:

  • Making sure your child washes his or her hands often
  • Thoroughly cleaning objects and surfaces (these include doorknobs and toys)
  • Making sure your child avoids close contact with those who are infected

To learn more about hand-foot-and-mouth disease or to schedule an appointment for your child, please give us a call at our Watkinsville office!

Can a Night Guard Mean Sweet Dreams for Your Child?

December 16th, 2020

Sometimes the reason for a poor night’s sleep is obvious. Maybe your child watched a scary movie. Or loaded up on sugar before bed. Or can’t get to sleep after a night of computer screens or video games. Not much we can do about these problems.

Sometimes, though, the cause of your child’s sleep difficulties is dental in origin, and that is something Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can help with.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common childhood dental problem. While children with this condition sleep, their jaws clench and their teeth grind against each other throughout the night. When to suspect children might suffer from bruxism? When they experience:

  • Frequent headaches or facial pain
  • Waking with a sore jaw, or popping or clicking jaw sounds through the day
  • Teeth which are chipped, cracked, flattened, worn down, or sensitive
  • Waking up tired, because grinding affects the quality of sleep
  • Siblings who complain about nocturnal grinding noises, which affect the quality of their

Pain and fatigue are unpleasant enough, but there are additional serious consequences for those who suffer from bruxism. Our jaws are extremely powerful, and clenching and grinding can put hundreds of pounds on pressure on teeth and jaws over a few hours of sleep.

These forces can lead to damaged teeth and dental work, and problems with the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the complex hinge that allows our jaws to move up and down, back and forth, and side to side.

Clearly, prevention is clearly a much better option for a healthy smile. And one of the simplest and most effective treatments for preventing the damage caused by bruxism is a night guard.

Night guards fit over the affected teeth to prevent them from touching directly, saving tooth and enamel from injury and wear. Not only do night guards prevent contact, they spread the biting forces of the jaw over the surface of the guard to greatly reduce their impact. And because they also stop the jaw muscles from clenching tightly, there’s no excess stress placed on the temporomandibular joint.

For all these reasons, a night guard is pretty much a slam dunk for adults who grind their teeth. But for children, it’s not necessarily an automatic decision. Why?

  • If tooth grinding is mild and appears to be limited to baby teeth, children often outgrow the condition. Your dentist can let you know if you need to do more than monitor the situation.
  • Sometimes it seems like your child’s smile changes from day to day. Between losing baby teeth and erupting adult teeth, this beautiful smile is a work in progress. A fitted night guard might not be a perfect fit while your child’s teeth are still coming in and shifting position.
  • Finally, jaw and facial pain can also be caused by problems with your child’s bite or misaligned teeth, and that might mean that an orthodontic consultation is in order.

But if you suspect your child is suffering the effects of night time grinding and clenching, give our Watkinsville office a call. A thorough examination will provide you with the best diagnosis and solutions for helping your child retain a healthy smile and regain a healthy night’s sleep.

And if a night guard is recommended, a dental professional is the best person to see for the most effective night guard.

While over-the-counter products are available, a custom night guard is designed to fit your child’s individual teeth and mouth perfectly. Impressions or 3D scans are taken in the office, and a guard is fabricated with the precise shape, strength, and thickness needed to protect young teeth. And, as a bonus, custom night guards offer the most comfortable fit for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

Scary movies, a late night sugar rush, mesmerizing video screens—not much we can do about those! But if your child is suffering lost sleep and painful mornings because of tooth grinding, give us a call. A night guard just might be the key to sweet dreams.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

December 9th, 2020

Great question! Baby bottle tooth decay is the development of cavities caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. These liquids include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas and other sweetened drinks. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and produce acids that attack the infant's teeth and gums. After numerous attacks, tooth decay can begin.

The first rule is to make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids. Giving an infant a sugary drink before bedtime is harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, pain and infection can result.

So, how can you prevent baby bottle tooth decay? Be sure to clean and massage the baby's gums once a day to help establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething. When brushing your child's teeth, use a soft toothbrush, as well non-fluoride toothpaste. Once your little one is able to spit, around the age of two, you should begin using fluoride toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing. That way, he or she will already have the good habit of spitting when you switch to fluoride toothpaste, which should never be swallowed.

Also, be aware that children should visit Healthy Smiles when they are between six and 12 months old. Please give us a call if your child hasn't visited our Watkinsville office in the last six months!

Thanksgiving in North America

November 25th, 2020

Thanksgiving marks the start to the holidays; a season filled with feasting, indulging, and spending time with family and friends are always special. Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for giving thanks, and while this may seem like such a natural celebration, the United States is only one of a handful of countries to officially celebrate with a holiday.

Unlike many holidays, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is, oddly enough, much closer to a time when harvests were likely gathered. In addition to the different dates, the origins of the celebration also share different roots.

Thanksgiving in the United States

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest are not new, but the modern day holiday in the US can be traced to a celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621. This feast of thanksgiving was inspired by a good harvest, and the tradition was simply continued on. At first, the colony at Plymouth didn't have enough food to feed everyone present, but the Native Americans helped by providing seeds and teaching them how to fish, and they soon began to be able to hold a feast worthy of the name. The tradition spread, and by the 1660s, most of New England was hosting a Thanksgiving feast in honor of the harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

An explorer of early Canada named Martin Frobisher is accredited for the first Canadian Thanksgiving. He survived the arduous journey from England through harsh weather conditions and rough terrain, and after his last voyage from Europe to present-day Nunavut, he held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival and good fortune. As time passed and more settlers arrived, a feast was added to what quickly became a yearly tradition. Another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, is linked to the first actual Thanksgiving celebration in honor of a successful harvest; settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the harvest with a bountiful feast.

A Modern Thanksgiving

Today, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the best of Americana. From feasts and football games to getting ready for the start of the Christmas shopping season, Thanksgiving means roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole. No matter how you celebrate this momentous day, pause for a moment to give thanks for your friends, family, and all the bounties you’ve received. Happy Thanksgiving from Healthy Smiles!

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

November 11th, 2020

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team know that as a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. By now, you probably know that your son or daughter’s oral health plays a huge role in overall health.

When there are so many toothpaste ads and different styles of brush to choose from, it can be difficult to know which will serve your child the best. We recommend you break down the decision process to make it simpler.

First, your child’s age and stage of development are vital to consider. Until about the age or 12, your youngster may not be prepared to brush or floss adequately alone, due to dexterity issues. If that’s the case, it can be easier to use a battery-powered toothbrush to improve the quality of brushing.

Next is to select the right size of toothbrush head to fit your child’s mouth. As a general rule, the head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the upper portion of the child’s thumb.

Flossers are great for children and easy to use. They have handles and a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in between. Your child can choose a color he or she likes as well as the handle size, shape, etc.

Not only are there many brands of toothpaste to choose from, there are also many different ingredients that offer varying benefits. Kids are at high risk for developing cavities so you want to make sure the following ingredients are in your child’s toothpaste if you wish to avoid problems later on.

Sodium fluoride is the standard ingredient for cavity prevention, while stannous fluoride is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Anti-sensitivity toothpastes often contain potassium nitrate, and triclosan can be found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial action.

Fluoride should not be ingested, so if your child can’t spit yet, use a toothpaste that contains xylitol. This is a natural sweetener and should be the first ingredient listed on the tube.

Now comes the fun part: choosing a flavor! Your little one may sample different flavors and select the one he or she likes the best. A youngster is more likely to adopt good brushing habits if the flavor is appealing.

Don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells if you need to make an appointment at our Watkinsville office, or if you have any questions about toothpastes or toothbrushes.

Your Toddler’s First Dental Visit

November 4th, 2020

It’s common for toddlers to be wary of strangers, but their first experience at the dentist shouldn’t be a scary one. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team have five tips for you to make your child’s first visit to Healthy Smiles easy as pie!

  1. Bringing your child to one of your own appointments before his or her first dental visit can calm your little one’s nerves. This gives your son or daughter the opportunity to get familiar with our office and see a cleaning isn’t very scary.
  2. Our big dental chair can be fun! Toddlers love games, and seeing the chair go up and down can make it seem like an amusement ride rather than sitting down for an exam.
  3. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team hand out cool toothbrushes and stickers to kids after their appointment. Your child will love the fun-colored toothbrush and can look forward to a post-appointment prize at the next visit.
  4. Schedule your appointment for a time that sets you up for success. Bringing your child to our Watkinsville office an hour before he or she is due for a nap may be a tantrum just waiting to happen.
  5. Kids love books! Try reading your toddler bedtime stories about what happens at the dentist before you come in for the appointment. We recommend Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci.

What Are Dental Sealants?

October 28th, 2020

You’re constantly playing defense. Your child spends two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night carefully brushing and flossing with a fluoride toothpaste. You make sure sugary and acidic foods are not a major part of your diets. Your child visits our Watkinsville office for regular exams and cleanings. Really, how can a cavity get past all that?

But even with the best defensive practices, you don’t have a level playing field—literally. The tops of our molars and premolars don’t have the smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces that our other teeth have. If you look at the chewing surfaces, you will notice deep grooves which toothbrush bristles have a much harder time reaching.  

Plaque and food particles can become trapped in these grooves (known as pits and fissures), providing perfect conditions for a cavity to develop. That is why cavities are so common in newly erupted molars. Dental sealants protect these teeth from cavities by providing a barrier which smooths out the surface of the tooth and prevents food and bacteria from reaching the molar’s crevices.

Most sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings which we apply in our Watkinsville office. Usually the procedure is so quick and easy that no dental anesthetic is required. Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of early decay, we will gently treat that area before beginning.

When the tooth is ready, it will be cleaned and dried. An etching solution will be brushed on to the dry surface to roughen the area a bit so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light. And that’s it!

Once teeth are sealed, they should be cleaned and flossed just as carefully as before. Regular exams and cleanings are still very important, and we can monitor the condition of the sealant and the sealed teeth. Properly applied, sealants can last from three to five years, or even longer.

Who should consider sealants? Sealants are typically recommended when the permanent molars first erupt. Children’s enamel takes a while to become its strongest, and so these just-erupted teeth are more at risk for cavities. Sometimes Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will recommend sealants for primary (baby) teeth if needed. But even adults can benefit—talk to us if you are interested and we will let you know if sealants might be right for you.

Sealants are a simple, safe, and minimally invasive way to prevent cavities. Studies of sealed molars and premolars show a dramatic reduction in cavities compared to untreated teeth. Sealants are one of the most effective ways to defend your teeth or your children’s teeth from tooth decay. And as we’ve all heard—defense wins championships!

There’s an App for That!

October 21st, 2020

Kids today are more tech-savvy than ever before. Even young children use computers, tablets and smart phones to make learning about their world more accessible and more enjoyable. And with the enormous variety of apps geared to childhood education, it comes as no surprise that you can download an app to encourage your children to learn about—and celebrate—their dental health.

What kinds of apps are available for your child?

Happy Brushing!

Children’s apps can offer helpful advice for learning effective brushing and flossing habits that will last a lifetime. Some of the apps for young brushers include:

  • Age appropriate instructions for proper brushing technique
  • Two minutes of carefully chosen songs or stories to keep them brushing the recommended amount of time in an entertaining way
  • Reminders to replace those little toothbrushes—every three months, please!
  • Educational games and stories to teach effective dental habits and tooth-healthy food choices.

The best apps not only provide lots of important information for keeping young teeth and gums their healthiest, but make learning fun with rewards such as badges, stars, games, or simply plenty of positive encouragement.

Time for the Tooth Fairy to Appear?

Losing a tooth is an important event for many young children. If you’re a fan of the Tooth Fairy, there are apps that can provide some reassuring fun while your child waits for that first loose tooth to finally come out. Tooth Fairy apps offer a wide variety of activities, including:

  • Tooth Fairy voicemails to report a loose or lost tooth
  • Tooth Fairy diaries to record lost teeth—and save photos of the adorable smiles that result
  • A video of an animated Tooth Fairy fluttering around your child’s pillow on the big night
  • A Tooth Fairy alert for forgetful Tooth Fairy assistants.

Apply the Latest in Brushing Technology

If you’ve decided that an electric toothbrush is the best brush for your child, many of the products available today come with their own apps. What can these apps do?

  • Let children know if they’ve brushed long enough
  • Alert them when they’re brushing too hard, which is not good for young gums and enamel
  • Some apps even provide a map of the mouth and teeth that lets children know just where they’ve brushed, in case they tend to neglect a few spots regularly.

Keep Those Appointments

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are here to help keep your child’s teeth healthy. Regular examinations and professional cleanings at our Watkinsville office not only make sure problems are caught before they become serious, they can help prevent problems from developing in the first place.

There are many apps out there that are designed to help you keep your child’s dental care on track with appointment reminders. This sounds pretty basic, but when kids have school, sports, lessons, and activities filling their days, it doesn’t hurt to get a timely reminder that Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells should be seeing someone in your family for an appointment or checkup and a cleaning in the near future.

Dentist Approved

When looking for a dental app for children, there are lots of options. The best apps provide age-appropriate educational tips for keeping young smiles healthy, and present them in a way that engages your child’s imagination and provides positive reinforcement.

If you think an app might make dental care not only more efficient, but more enjoyable for your child, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells! We might have some suggestions that will be just right for your family.

Just What Is Plaque?

October 14th, 2020

When you were younger, and you brushed your teeth without any help for the first time, it was a big step. It meant you’d learned the right way to brush to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But why does brushing help keep you healthy? Let’s talk about plaque!

  • What Is Plaque?

Plaque rhymes with “attack,” and that’s just what it does to your teeth. If you don’t brush for a few days (which is a bad idea!), plaque is the reason for that fuzziness you feel when you run your tongue over your teeth.

If your teeth feel fuzzy, that means that plaque has been building up for a while. But how does it begin?

Plaque is made up of saliva, bits of food, other liquids, and tiny little organisms called bacteria. While most of the bacteria in our bodies don’t bother us—and some even help us—the bacteria in plaque are not so helpful.

Plaque starts with a type of bacteria that stick to the teeth, loosely at first, and then more strongly. Within hours, they join with saliva, bits of food, and other bacteria and bacterial products to make a very sticky film. This film is plaque.

Why is it so important to brush plaque away every day? As Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will tell you, plaque can cause cavities and hurt your gums.

  • How Does Plaque Cause Cavities?

Bacteria are like us—they need food. The bacteria in plaque especially like the sugars we eat. (That’s why you shouldn’t have too much junk food or candy in your diet.) Bacteria change these sugary building blocks into a kind of acid, and because plaque is sticky, the acids stay on your teeth.

These acids breaks down the enamel, that hard coating which covers teeth. Tiny weak spots can grow and become holes in the enamel. We call these holes cavities, and your dentist can repair them by cleaning away the decay and putting a filling in your tooth to protect it.

But it’s best to prevent cavities from ever starting by brushing and flossing. Even though plaque is sticky, it is easy to brush away when you do it every day.

  • How Does Plaque Hurt Your Gums?

The gums surround our teeth and help protect them, but they are also delicate. When plaque builds up, it can irritate your gums.

You might notice that your gums get red, feel sore when you brush, or look puffy. You might have bad breath that doesn’t go away. All these are signs that your gums are reacting to the plaque around them.

The good news is that careful brushing and flossing can usually fix these problems. Talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about taking good care of your gums.

  • Can We Fight Plaque?

Yes! From the time you were small and learned how to brush, you’ve been learning how to fight plaque.

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all around each tooth and the gums.
  • Floss to remove plaque from where it hides between the teeth and near the gums.
  • Visit our Watkinsville office for a cleaning, to remove plaque from hard-to-reach places and to learn the best ways to brush and floss.

As soon as you finish brushing, plaque starts to build up again. But no need to worry! Keep brushing, flossing, and visiting us for regular cleanings, and all your careful work will be rewarded will a beautiful, healthy smile.

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 7th, 2020

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Watkinsville office, make your Halloween a safe one!

Mamelons

September 30th, 2020

Quick trivia question: define “mamelon.” Some kind of warm blooded animal? No, not a member of the mammal clan, but good guess. A fruit of the gourd family? Nope! There are watermelons, and honeydew melons, and even canary melons, but no ma-melons. Those little rounded bumps you notice on the edge of your child’s permanent incisors when they first emerge? We have a winning answer!

  • Why Do We Have Mamelons?

We have eight incisors, or biting teeth, in the front of our mouths—four on top and four on bottom. Mamelons are actually a clue as to how these incisors were formed. Even before a baby is born, the permanent teeth begin to take shape. Three different groups of cells develop to form the incisal edge of these front teeth. As they fuse together, they create three lobes of enamel on the erupting edge of the tooth. It’s these lobes, or bumps, that give the teeth a serrated appearance.

Whether your child’s mamelons are quite prominent or barely noticeable, if you are worried about them, relax! They are almost always a temporary part of your child’s smile, and disappear over time with chewing and normal wear. But what if the mamelons overstay their welcome?

  • Cosmetic Concerns

Because mamelons are composed of enamel, without the underlying dentin layer found in the body of the tooth, they can appear translucent or a bit different in color. They might wear away unevenly, leaving the tooth edges looking misaligned. Or, they might not wear away at all if your child’s tooth eruption is delayed. Talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells if mamelons are a cosmetic concern for you or your child. You might discover that they are wearing away naturally, or we can discuss ways to polish or smooth them down if needed. This is a painless procedure that doesn’t require an anesthetic. Generally, however, this is a matter where time will resolve the issue for you.

  • Orthodontic Implications

Occasionally, mamelons might become a topic of discussion for orthodontic reasons. Sometimes, mamelons do not wear away over time because of a malocclusion (misaligned bite). Your orthodontist will let you know your child has a bite problem and can explain treatment options. Your orthodontist might also suggest smoothing away the mamelons to ensure that the edges of the incisors align correctly and symmetrically while the teeth are in the process of straightening. Again, this is not always considered a necessity, so weigh your options with your dental care provider.

So, if you notice that your child’s beautiful new teeth are bumpy or serrated as they erupt, don’t be concerned! If you have any questions about mamelons, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells at your next visit to our Watkinsville office. This is a natural occurrence and most likely just a temporary “bump” in the road. Soon enough, mamelons will be a memory—and the answer to a pretty difficult trivia question.

Pediatric Dental Emergency Know-How

September 23rd, 2020

First aid training is a must when you are a parent. You can put on a bandage with your eyes closed. Perhaps even apply butterfly tape to avoid stitches. What about a dental injury? Do you have a checklist in mind on what to do when a tooth is knocked out, broken, or displaced from impact? All of these situations happen often and should be in a parent’s emergency training regiment. Luckily Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are here to be a resource for such an incident!

Children’s most common dental injury is chipping a front tooth. It is so common that it seems like a right of passage. Say, for example, a two year old trips and hits her front teeth on the tile floor. First, check to see if the teeth have been broken to the nerve. You can tell if you see layers and a pinkish center. Then, wiggle each tooth and make sure it is not loose. If the teeth feel firmly in place, that is a good sign. Even if they are a little loose, the teeth will tighten again with time. If she develops a severe temperature or bite sensitivity then you know treatment is needed, which may include a root canal. If there are minor symptoms that diminish with time, continued observation will be fine.

Knocking out a tooth is also common and requires more attention than observation alone. As soon as possible, locate the tooth, touch only the crown (not the root), and rinse any debris gently with milk or water. Place it back into the tooth socket as soon as possible. The American Association of Endodontists states a tooth has a high chance of survival and retention for life if it is re-implanted within five minutes or up to 60 minutes if soaking in milk or saline solution. Our team at Healthy Smiles know many parents are nervous about the thought of doing this alone, but not to worry, our team is here to help!

Here’s another dental emergency example: Your child takes an elbow to the mouth during a basketball game and severely displaces a tooth but does not knock it out. What to do? First, apply light pressure in an attempt to move it back into place. Be extremely careful not to use excessive force. Place a cold pack for swelling and contact our office as soon as possible.

A dental emergency can be frightening. It is often messy and painful. The best initial reaction is to remain calm, and remember that we are here to help! Contact us at our Watkinsville office if your child encounters a dental emergency.

How safe are dental X-rays?

September 16th, 2020

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our staff rely on digital X-rays to help us diagnose oral conditions and process images at incredibly high speeds. You can also view digital X-rays in real time while we examine your mouth with an intraoral camera and upload the images to a software program. A chairside computer monitor lets you see these images as we refine areas of concern to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

But are dental X-rays safe?

Yes! They emit 80 percent less radiation than exposure-type X-rays and provide detailed images to improve diagnosis and treatment. We can now detect dental problems in their earliest stages without subjecting you to unnecessary radiation. The amount of radiation released by digital X-rays is “negligible,” which means the amount is so small, that it can be safely disregarded.

Safe enough for children and pregnant women, digital X-rays detect microscopic pitting in tooth enamel and other abnormalities in the oral tissues that might have remained undetected with traditional X-rays. When Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our staff discover dental caries in their earliest stages, we can initiate treatment measures that will effectively prevent cavity development, tooth decay, and potential tooth loss.

Patient appointment lengths are shortened with digital X-rays as well, because images are immediately viewable and do not require the exposure time associated with old-style X-rays.

How Digital X-Rays Differ from Traditional X-Rays

Instead of using cardboard-contained film, we insert a small sensing device about the size of a pen in your mouth and engage the digital X-ray machine by manually manipulating control buttons. Within seconds, images appear on the monitor that can later be stored in your file or sent to another doctor for further examination.

The increased resolution afforded by digital X-rays means that patients are able to understand the seriousness of their dental issues better, and are more inclined to follow through with procedures recommended by Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells.

Safer, Better and Faster

For detection of cancerous tumors in their early states, digital X-ray technology offers vast improvements over film X-rays because of its cutting-edge image processing capability. Early detection of oral cancer and dental caries is the best way to prevent any type of oral health problem from exceeding the treatable stage.

Gum Disease and Your Child

September 9th, 2020

At Healthy Smiles, we know that unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your child’s mouth without you even knowing. In fact, your child may be suffering from the beginning stages of periodontal (gum) disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Since gum disease can be undetectable, it’s critical to watch for the warning signs in order to prevent the disease from growing worse!

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells as soon as possible:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are receding
  • Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose teeth
  • Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If your child is experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away by calling our Watkinsville office. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team can diagnose the problem and begin treatment to save your child’s teeth!

Our team at Healthy Smiles looks forward to seeing you!

How Our Office Makes Your Child’s Visit Anxiety-Free

August 26th, 2020

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles specialize in pediatric dentistry, and we understand that children can be frightened of things they do not understand. This anxiety is often heightened by an unpleasant dental experience or stories they hear from classmates. We have many methods at our Watkinsville office to make your child’s dental visit pleasant and anxiety-free.

Listening

The first thing Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team do is talk to your child, listen to any concerns he or she may have, and take the time to explain the dental work that will be done. Often children will lose their fears by simply understanding what is happening and why. In addition, you are welcome to be in the room with your child during exams and treatments. When a child is able to see that the parent is relaxed, this is more conducive to the child’s relaxation.

Relaxation

When you arrive at Healthy Smiles, let your child to play with the toys we provide. This starts the visit in a positive manner. Taking your child’s mind off the exam is useful. While your child is undergoing an examination or procedure, listening to music or watching a video can support a sense of relaxation. When children understand that we care, their anxiety levels are reduced.

Sedation

Nitrous oxide is a sedation technique commonly used to reduce anxiety and alleviate any pain. It is beneficial partly because the effects wear off quickly. Topical pain relievers can also be useful for children with sensitive teeth, and this will eliminate discomfort.

Deeper sedation is useful for complex dental issues, extreme anxiety, or a fear of needles. A liquid or tablet sedative can be given before your child’s appointment. This type of sedation is also helpful for children with a fear of the masks used for nitrous oxide.

We welcome you and your child to discuss any concerns that you have regarding his or her dental appointment. We want your child to be free from anxiety about visiting Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. The earlier your child’s fears are addressed, the less likely the fear will carry into adulthood.

Sealants: What are they and how do they help?

August 12th, 2020

Molars are made up of canyons, caves, pits, and seemingly endless caverns that are a breeding ground for decay. The protective solution is a sealant. When done correctly, a sealant from Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells of Healthy Smiles can be most effective in preventing cavities.

A sealant is made up of composite (a plastic-like) material that contains bonding agents to seal to the edge of the tooth. Sealants placed on the chewing surfaces of back teeth block food from being trapped. The process in which a sealant is placed is quite precise and painless.

First the tooth is cleaned with a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) spray. Then an acid etch is applied to “roughen up” the surface. No saliva is to touch the tooth. This will re-mineralize the area, then a repeat etching is needed. An alcohol-based liquid then dries out the area and it must remain completely dry. The sealant is placed and guided through all the caverns, pits, fissures, and grooves. It is then cured with a special light, which makes it a hard, plastic-like material.

Sealants can last for several years. It is wise to have them examined on a semi-annual basis. If there is a break in the sealant, a high risk for decay is common. If a sealant is damaged, repair is simple, painless, and quick to complete.

Who can benefit from sealants? Anyone! Children often receive sealants as routine preventive care. Adults with deep canyons with stained grooves on their teeth can also benefit from a sealant. The process is quick, painless, and does not require any anesthesia. It is an effective way to lower dental restorative costs.

An investment in dental sealants can reap great benefits as properly cared for teeth will remain cavity free. Our Watkinsville location is available to answer your questions so give us a call today!

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

August 5th, 2020

A study conducted in Washington State in 2004 and another conducted in Madrid, Spain in 2012 both reported findings that support a direct relationship between parents’ dental fear and their child’s fear of the dentist.

The Washington study examined dental fear among 421 children ages 0.8 to 12.8 years old. They were patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in western Washington state. The Spanish study observed 183 children between the ages of seven and 12 as well as their parents.

The Washington study used responses from both parents and the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey consisted of 15 questions, which invited answers based on the child’s level of fear. The scale was one to five: one meant the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicated he or she was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those among their kids. The most important new discovery from the Madrid study was that the greater the fear a father had of going to the dentist, the higher the level of fear among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who feared dental procedures appeared to pass those fears along to every member of the family. Parents can still have some control over fear levels in their children. It is best not to express your own concerns in front of kids; instead, explain why going to the dentist is important.

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team work hard to make your child’s visit at our Watkinsville office as comfortable as possible. We understand some patients may be more fearful than others, and will do our best to help ease your child’s anxiety.

Can baby teeth get cavities?

July 29th, 2020

Our team at Healthy Smiles knows that every parent loves to hear his or her child say, "no cavities!" when leaving our office. Let's talk about why primary (baby) teeth get cavities, what you can do to help prevent them, and what Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can do if your child gets a cavity. It's a team effort!

Prevention is Key

A well-balanced diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals (especially calcium and phosphorous) is an important part of cavity prevention. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) states that children should eat healthy snacks like cheese, vegetables, and yogurt, and drink milk. Limit hard candy and carbonated beverages, which have acid and can cause tooth decay. Also, do not put children to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice because sugary fluids pool around the teeth and gums, which promotes decay.

In addition to limiting sweets and scheduling regular visits at our Watkinsville office, make sure your child flosses once a day and brushes his or her teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. A good rule of thumb is if children can tie their shoelace, then they should be able to brush their teeth without help. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following basic brushing techniques:

  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short strokes
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all teeth.
  • To clean the inside surface of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

These tips will greatly increase cavity prevention; however, if your child gets a cavity, it will not heal on its own and must be fixed. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill the hole where the decay was. You may wonder why it's important to fill baby teeth if they're going to fall out eventually. Baby teeth hold space for permanent teeth to grow in. If one is lost, teeth may shift and prevent a permanent tooth from growing in. In addition, a decayed tooth can become abscessed and cause pain. No fun!

Let’s work together to help your child develop good oral health habits that last a lifetime. Please contact our office if you have any questions about your child's diet or cavity prevention.

Amalgam Fillings vs. White Fillings

July 22nd, 2020

Many varieties of fillings are available at our Watkinsville office. Most people are familiar with traditional amalgam fillings: those big silver spots on top of teeth.

Made from a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury, amalgam fillings have been used to fill cavities for more than 100 years. They offer several advantages, including:

  • High durability for large cavities or cavities on molars
  • Quick hardening time for areas that are difficult to keep dry during placement
  • Reduced placement time for children and special-needs patients who may have a difficult time keeping still during treatment

Although dental amalgam is a safe and commonly used dental material, you might wonder about its mercury content. You should know that when it’s combined with the other metals, mercury forms a safe, stable material.

The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, and World Health Organization all agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material.

White Fillings

Newer, mercury-free, resin-based composite fillings (white fillings) are also available at our Watkinsville office. Composite resin fillings are made from plastic mixed with powdered glass to make them stronger.

Resin-based fillings offer several benefits for patients, including:

  • They match the color of teeth
  • Less tooth structure needs to be removed than with amalgam fillings
  • BPA-free materials can be used

Resin-based composite fillings also have some disadvantages, including:

  • Higher cost than amalgam fillings
  • Inlays may take more than one visit
  • Requires more time to place than amalgam fillings

There’s a lot to think about when you have to get a cavity filled. We recommend you do your homework and speak with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells before deciding what’s best for you or your family.

Happy Fourth of July!

July 1st, 2020

Happy Independence Day from Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and team! The Fourth of July celebrations in America may have changed a lot over the years, but there is no doubt that we Americans love to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence! Today we're devoting the Healthy Smiles blog to some fun facts about the Fourth!

  • My, how we have grown! This year the United States Census Bureau estimates that our country has 313.9 million residents celebrating the Fourth of July this year, but back in 1776 there were just 2.5 million members of the country.
  • Our country loves to show how proud that we are of our independence. Did you know that there are 31 United States places with the word “Liberty” in their names? The state of Iowa actually has four towns with the word Liberty in the name: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
  • The United States loves Fourth of July food! It is expected that around 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth each year. One of the Fourth's most popular sides, potato salad, goes just perfectly with the hotdogs and hamburgers that are standard Fourth of July fare. Some people choose potato chips instead, but we wouldn't have such a plethora of potatoes if not for the prodigious production of the states of Idaho and Washington -- they provide about half of all the potatoes in the United States today!
  • Americans love celebrating the Fourth outdoors: About 74 million Americans fire up their BBQ grill every Fourth of July.
  • The Chinese contribution: Did you know that Americans have spent more than $211 million on fireworks that were imported from China?

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth, stay safe, take precautions, and don't forget to brush after your fabulous Fourth feast!

Ways to Make Brushing Fun for Your Child

June 24th, 2020

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit a dentist, like Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, when his or her first tooth pops through the gum, or by time they are one year old.

Children do not always want to brush their teeth. In fact, the average child has three cavities by the time they reach their third birthday. However, if you make brushing fun for them, they will look forward to it, and develop a lifelong habit of good oral hygiene.

How to Make Brushing Fun

  • Let them pick out their own toothbrush, like one with their favorite cartoon character.
  • Allow your child to choose their own special toothpaste, as long as it adheres to AAPD guidelines for safety.
  • Brush to a fun song that is two to three minutes long. When the music stops they are done brushing.
  • Brush your teeth with them. Make it a family affair!
  • Toddlers may be afraid of having their teeth brushed or brushing them by themselves. Allow them watch as you brush your teeth; this will help them to see that brushing their own teeth will not hurt them.
  • Reward systems are great incentives for children, just don’t overdo it. You’re trying to instill good brushing habits, not simply reward them for something they need to do.
  • Try an app on your phone; you’ll be surprised how many there are and how much fun your child will have using them.
  • It’s important to make sure every tooth gets brushed, so as you child brushes their teeth, count them. Then when they are finished ask them how many teeth they have. You can switch it up a little by giving each tooth a silly name or make up a short rhyme about each tooth as your child brushes.
  • Use educational tools, such as the movie “The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth.”
  • Read books to your child about brushing their teeth and good oral hygiene.

All you need is a little imagination to help your child learn to love brushing their teeth!

Can Your Child Benefit from Nitrous Oxide Sedation?

June 17th, 2020

Is every trip to the dentist a difficult one because your child suffers from dental anxiety? Or has difficulty sitting still in our chair? Or needs a first filling, or another unfamiliar procedure that you are concerned might be upsetting? If so, consider dental sedation for your child’s next visit.

Nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas, has been used for more than a hundred years in dentistry. A very safe process, inhalation sedation leaves your child happy and relaxed. He or she will remain awake and responsive, and able to follow our instructions.

The mixture of nitrous oxide gas and oxygen is administered through a child-sized mask. When your child breathes in through the nose, the gas begins to work at once. As soon as the mask is removed, the effects begin to disappear immediately. Because nitrous oxide is non-irritating, starts and ends working quickly, and allows your child to remain conscious and breathe easily, it is the most common form of pediatric sedation.

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are concerned with your child’s safety above all, and we are carefully trained in any of the sedation procedures we offer. We always take into account your child’s age and weight, health history, medications, and any conditions that could have an impact on the sedation experience. We will talk to you and your child about what to do to prepare before the visit, and what will take place during and after treatment.

An important part of our work as children’s dental caregivers is setting them up for success in future visits. If you feel nitrous oxide sedation can help your child overcome anxiety, sit calmly to help make procedures go smoothly, or prevent unpleasant reactions to new or longer procedures, please talk to us about inhalation sedation during your next visit to our Watkinsville office. Our goal is to make each visit positive and worry-free for both child and parent!

How to Care for a Teething Baby

June 10th, 2020

After hours of juggling a wailing baby, you’re probably desperate to address teething pain. If your baby is irritable, drooling, and chewing on hard objects, he or she is likely teething. Although some discomfort while your baby is teething is inevitable, learning a few basic approaches can ease painful gums and soothe your frazzled nerves.

  • Offer your finger. Simply chewing on your nice, plump finger may be enough to ease your little one’s pain. Make sure you clean your finger before placing it in your baby’s mouth.
  • Use a teething ring. A firm rubber teething ring allows your child to gnaw, and alleviates pain. If your baby seems to like sucking on a bottle, replace the milk or formula with water during teething periods. This reduces sugar intake and decreases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Cool it down. Stick a clean, moist washcloth in the freezer (place it on a tray for cleanliness) and offer that to your baby. The cooler temperature of the chilled cloth eases the pain of teeth erupting through the gums. Soaking the washcloth in non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile, may reduce inflammation associated with teething.
  • Grab some hard foods. Certain foods allow your kiddo to gnaw, and can ease teething pain. For example, frozen bananas, large chunks of chilled carrots, an apple, or frozen bagels make good teething pain relievers. If you’re offering your child solid food, watch carefully to ensure that your infant doesn’t bite off a piece and choke.
  • Try a natural remedy. Years of grandmotherly wisdom suggest that home remedies might help with teething. Try rubbing clove oil, peeled ginger root, or vanilla extract onto your child’s gums. Although there isn’t scientific evidence to prove these remedies are effective, they may help your little one through the painful teething process. Just remember to test the method out on your own gums first to ensure any tingling or numbing is bearable for your child.
  • Use medications. If your baby seems to be especially uncomfortable, over-the-counter medications may be appropriate. Giving an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may reduce discomfort. Make sure you check with your child’s pediatrician or our office first to ensure the medication is safe.

If nothing seems to be helping your child’s teething pain, you can always schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells. Our team at Healthy Smiles understands the unique health needs of your little one, and are more than happy to help ensure he or she grows up with a beautiful smile.

For more information about teething, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells, please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office today!

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

May 27th, 2020

Two studies – one conducted in Washington State, and whose findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry in 2004, and another conducted in Madrid, Spain, and whose findings were reported in 2012 in Science Daily, reinforce earlier findings that show a direct relationship between parental dental fear and that of their children.

The Washington study looked at dental fear among 421 children whose ages ranged from 0.8 to 12.8 years. The children were all patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in Western Washington State. The Spanish study looked at 183 children between the ages of seven and 12, and their parents in Madrid.

The Washington study used the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey responses came from either parents, or other parties charged with taking care of the children. The people responsible for each child filled out the survey, which consisted of 15 questions to which answers were given based on the child’s level of fear. The scale used was one to five, with one meaning the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicating the child was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found that like past studies, there is a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those of their kids. The most important new discovery from the study conducted in Madrid, was that the more anxiety and fear a father has of going to the dentist, the higher the fear levels among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who suffer from fear of going to the dentist and fear of dental procedures in general pass those fears on to every member of the family. While parents may not feel like they have control over those fears, the best way to help your child understand the importance of going to the dentist is by not expressing your fears in front of them – or around the rest of the family.

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team understand that some patients are more fearful than others when it comes to visitingour Watkinsville office. We work hard to make our practice as comfortable for our patients, both children and adults.

Kids and Teeth Grinding

May 13th, 2020

Grind, grind, grind… if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team at Healthy Smiles also call bruxism, is common in children. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they’re doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. In most cases, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will tell you that teeth grinding is not something to take lightly. Teeth grinding can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team will be able to help. Please give us a call at our convenient Watkinsville office! We look forward to treating your child!

Wishing all our moms a happy Mother’s Day!

May 6th, 2020

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." - Robert Browning

We would like to take this moment to thank all the great moms out there for being so great during their child’s visits to Healthy Smiles. Whether it’s driving their kids to regularly scheduled appointments or for “being there” while their child is treatment, the moms who come to our office are all stellar individuals, so Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our entire staff would like you to know that we appreciate you all!

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy your special day!

When should my child start using toothpaste and how much should I use?

April 29th, 2020

As a parent, it is your job to instill good dental habits in your kids, and this starts even earlier than you might realize. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry responds to the “when to start” question with a succinct “The sooner the better!”

From the time your baby is born, you should make sure that your child’s gums are regularly cleaned using water and a toothbrush made for infants. Once the first tooth erupts, you should visit the pediatric dentist for the first time. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our staff often recommend that if your child is a year old, but has yet to get the first tooth, you should bring your son or daughter to our Watkinsville office for his or her initial dental care appointment.

Once your child’s teeth start to appear, you can begin brushing two times per day, using fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush made specifically for your child’s age group, and one with has soft bristles.

Only a small smear of toothpaste is needed if your child is under two years old. Once the child celebrates his or her second birthday, you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Continue this practice until your child is five.

Of course, it is important that you monitor your child’s tooth brushing closely to help educate about proper techniques. Some young children might try to eat or swallow toothpaste, and this needs to be strongly discouraged. Be sure to teach proper rinsing and spitting behavior to round out your child’s early childhood tooth-care regimen.

For young kids, tooth brushing can be made into a fun event, and you can find a multitude of special toothbrushes that appeal to kids. There are even uniquely flavored and colored toothpastes that might encourage your child to get into the brushing game!

Make Every Day Earth Day

April 22nd, 2020

Earth Day began in 1970 as an event to raise awareness of our environment. What began as a single day in April is now recognized around the world to bring attention and education to global environmental issues. Conserving our natural resources, reducing water and air pollution, and developing green technologies are all ways in which we can improve the environment around us.

Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse

One of the easiest ways to participate in Earth Day is by simply reducing the amount of refuse that ends up in landfills. Many communities have recycling programs for paper, plastic, and metal refuse. By keeping recyclable items out of landfills, we reduce the need for new disposal space and the amount of energy needed for burning refuse. Recycling products also helps conserve the resources that are used in making new products.

You can save money by reducing your consumption of many everyday products. Single disposable water bottles can be recycled but they are costly. By using filtered faucet water, you can conserve your financial resources. Disposable paper towels can also be wasteful. Consider reusable cleaning rags for the majority of your chores.

Reusing items saves both the environment and your finances. A large number of products can be re-purposed to create a new item. Old furniture can be remade into a new piece. Old clothing can be used for craft items. If you are not able to find ways to reuse your old items, donate them to a charity. Remember to continue your positive environmental steps on a daily basis.

Other things you can do to improve the environment

Everyone, young or old, can find ways to participate in improving the environment. Some ideas include:

  • Planting trees
  • Picking up litter
  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Walking, bicycling, or carpooling to work or school
  • Disposing of hazardous waste properly
  • Using rain barrels to conserve water for plants

Earth Day is designed to appreciate and celebrate the health of the earth. Keeping the earth healthy is important, but keeping your mouth healthy is important, too. Healthy teeth and gums contribute to your overall health and well-being, so remember to call our team at Healthy Smiles to schedule an appointment. Have a happy and healthy Earth Day, from Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells!

Oral Health Concerns for Infants

April 15th, 2020

Because babies’ teeth don’t appear until around six to eight months of age, it’s a natural misconception that they don’t need dental care. But the steps you take as the parent of an infant can help your baby maintain good oral health and develop healthy dental habits in the future.

It’s easy to take care of a baby’s teeth and gums, especially when oral hygiene for your infant becomes part of the normal daily routine. Learn more about how you can promote good dental health for your baby with these tips and considerations.

Taking Care of Baby’s Oral Hygiene

  • Dental Hygiene for Birth to Six Months. Cleaning your infant’s gums is as important as cleaning teeth will be later. Hold your baby in your arms, and with a clean, moistened washcloth wrapped around your index finger, gently massage his or her gums.
  • Dental Hygiene for Six to 12 Months. After teeth begin to appear, it’s time to switch to a soft, children’s toothbrush for teeth cleaning. New research has shown that fluoride toothpaste is safe and recommended for use once your baby’s first tooth arrives. Gently brush your baby’s teeth after each feeding, in the morning, and before bedtime, just as you did before teeth appeared.
  • Good Bedtime Habits. One of the most important things you can do to protect your infant from tooth decay is to avoid the habit of putting baby to bed with a bottle. Use other soothing bedtime activities, such as rocking and lullabies, to help your baby drift off to sleep.
  • A Note about Dental Decay. Many people are unaware that dental decay is transmissible. Avoid placing your baby’s bottle, sippy cup, or pacifier in your own mouth to test the temperature. Likewise, don’t share utensils with your baby.

Partner With Your Dentist

Your baby should receive his or her first dental health checkup by the age of six months. Even though your infant may not have teeth yet, Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can assess the risk your baby might face for oral diseases that affect hard or soft tissues. Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells can also provide you with instructions for infant oral hygiene, and explain what steps to add as your baby grows and develops.

Healthy Smiles is your partner for good oral health, and we’re here to make caring for your baby’s dental hygiene and health easier and more enjoyable for you.

Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids’ Smiles

April 8th, 2020

The grown-ups in your life want you to have a healthy, happy smile. That’s why they help you brush and floss, and make sure you come see Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells for checkups and cleanings. Did you ever wonder if there are other ways you can help build a beautiful smile? There are! And one of them is eating food that makes our teeth and gums strong and healthy.

Friendly Foods

  • Enamel and Bone Builders

Calcium is a very important element that helps us grow strong bones and enamel, the hard covering on the outside of our teeth. Bacteria in our mouths can create acids that weaken enamel and lead to cavities, so we want to keep our enamel as strong as possible. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are great sources of calcium, but you might be surprised to know dark green vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli help build strong teeth as well, and strong teeth are less likely to get cavities!

  • Good for Our Gums

Many foods have important vitamins that help keep our gums and mouths healthy. Vitamin C helps protect our gums and make them stronger. When we think of Vitamin C, we usually think of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, but there are many other fruits and vegetables that give us this important vitamin, including mangos, potatoes, and strawberries. Vitamin A also helps keep our gums healthy. We can increase our Vitamin A by adding fish, leafy green vegetables, or orange colored foods to our diet.

  • Natural Toothbrushes

Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, and celery can help keep our teeth clean. They act like gentle brushes to remove food and bacteria left on our teeth after eating. Chewing also increases saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. And, of course, drinking or rinsing with water after a snack helps clean our teeth when we can’t brush.

What Foods Aren’t Good for Our Teeth?

  • Bacteria Builders

Plaque is a film of bacteria that sticks to our teeth. These bacteria make acids that soften our enamel and cause cavities. And what do these bacteria use for food? Sugar is one of their favorites! We can’t stop eating everything with sugar, of course, and we all deserve a treat every now and then. But to keep our teeth their healthiest, it really helps to cut down on sugary foods and drinks, and to brush or rinse with water when we do enjoy dessert.

  • Acid Attacks

Bacteria can make acids that weaken our enamel, but we can also eat foods that damage our enamel and might lead to cavities. Drinks like sodas, citrus juices and even some sports drinks are acidic enough to make our enamel softer. Drinking with a straw or rinsing your mouth with water helps, but it’s a good idea to limit foods and drinks that make our enamel weaker over time.

  • Sticky Stuff

Any food that stays on or between your teeth gives bacteria more time to grow and produce the acids that cause cavities. We can guess that hard candy and caramel would be a bad idea, but even healthy foods such as dried fruit and trail mix can be a problem when they stick to your teeth. If you eat something sticky, be sure to rinse with water or brush and floss as soon as you can.

You already know that brushing and flossing are the best way to keep your teeth clean, and that visiting us for checkups and office cleanings helps your teeth and gums stay strong and healthy. Eating well is just one more thing you can do to help. The next time you visit our Watkinsville office, talk to us about what you and your family can add to the menu for a lifetime of beautiful smiles!

Welcome To Our Blog

March 30th, 2020

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about orthodontics and the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctors and staff - we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!

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