Posts for: April, 2018


If you’re committed to providing your family nutritional, low-sugar snacks, you’re not only helping their physical well-being but their dental health too. If you have school-age children, though, you might be concerned about other snacks available to them while away from home.

To begin with, any potential problems at school with available snack items might not be as bad as you think. A few years ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established new snacking guidelines for public schools. Known as the Smart Snacks in Schools initiative, the new guidelines require schools to only allow snacks sold on school grounds that meet minimum nutritional standards. In addition, these guidelines promote whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.

Still, the guideline standards are only a minimum, which could leave plenty of room for snacks that don’t meet your nutritional expectations. And school-offered snacks aren’t the only ones available on campus: there are also those brought by other students, which often get swapped around. The latter represent tempting opportunities for your child to consume snacks that aren’t the best for dental health.

But there are things you can do to minimize the lure of these poor snacking opportunities at school. First and foremost is to educate your child on why some snacks are better for them than others. In other words, make nutrition an instilled family value—and, of course, practice what you preach.

You can also send them with snacks you deem better for them than what’s available at school. Of course, you’ll be competing with a lot of exciting and enticing snacks, so try to inject a little “pizzazz” into yours like a dusting of cinnamon or a little parmesan cheese on popcorn. And use a little creativity (even getting your kids involved) to make snack choices fun, like using cookie-cutters to shape whole-grain bread and cheese into shapes.

And consider getting involved with other parents to encourage school administrators to adopt stricter snack standards over and above the Smart Snacks in Schools initiative. This not only may improve the nutritional content of available snacks, but also transform a “family value” into a community-wide appreciation for snacks that promote healthy teeth and gums.

If you would like more information on dental-friendly snacking, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snacking at School.”

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
April 14, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   bruxism   night guard  

Lots of people don’t know that April is National Stress Awareness Month; don’t fret if you’re one of them. For many, stress is already a common feature of everyday life. According to the American Psychological Association, 62% of Americans are stressed at their jobs, and stress has been estimated to cause the loss of some 275 million working days every year.

In addition to its other negative physical and mental consequences, stress can also spell trouble for your oral health. It may lead to the problems of teeth clenching and grinding, which dentists call bruxism. A habitual behavior that can occur in the daytime or at night, bruxism is thought to affect perhaps one in ten adults. While the evidence that stress causes bruxism is not conclusive, there’s a strong case for the linkage.

Bruxism sometimes causes symptoms like headaches, soreness or pain in the jaw muscles or joints, and problems with fully opening the mouth. It can be detected in the dental office by excessive tooth wear, and/or damage to tooth surfaces or dental work. Grinding or tapping noises heard at night may indicate that someone is grinding their teeth while sleeping. In children, nighttime bruxism is common and not necessarily a reason for concern; in adults, it may be more troubling.

So what can you do if you’re experiencing this problem? If you find yourself clenching and grinding during the daytime, simply becoming more aware of the behavior and trying to limit it can help. A bit of clenching during times of stress isn’t abnormal, but excessive grinding may be reason for concern. Many of the same techniques used to relieve stress in other situations—such as taking a step back, talking out your issues, and creating a calmer and more soothing environment—may prove helpful here as well.

Occasionally, prescription drugs may cause bruxism as an unwanted side effect; in this case, a medical professional may recommend changing your medication. The use of stimulants like coffee and mood altering substances like alcohol and illicit drugs have also been associated with teeth grinding—so if you’re having this issue, consider foregoing these substances and making healthier lifestyle choices.

There are also a number of dental treatments that can help protect your teeth from excessive grinding. The most common is an occlusal guard or “night guard.” This is a custom-fabricated appliance made of plastic that fits comfortably over your teeth. Usually worn at night, it keeps your teeth from actually coming into contact with each other and being damaged. Occasionally, additional treatments such as bite adjustment or orthodontics may be recommended to help solve the problem.

If you would like more information about teeth clenching and grinding, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “When Children Grind Their Teeth.”

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
April 05, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: root canal  

Find out why root canal treatment is often necessary for the health of your teeth.root canal

We know that most people hear “root canal” and immediately envision a horror story scenario. Relax! Our Marion, AR, dentist, Dr. Wayne Cook, is here to tell you that there is really nothing scary about getting a root canal. Besides the fact that they are necessary if you want to preserve an infected tooth they are also no more invasive than getting a cavity filled.

What is a root canal?

This procedure is designed to preserve and protect a tooth from further damage from decay, trauma (e.g. crack; fracture), or an infection. A root canal itself refers to the inside or center of the tooth. Within the “root canal” is a soft structure known as a dental pulp. A dental pulp is made up of nerves, which is why a toothache is often the first sign that the dental pulp has become infected or inflamed.

What is the purpose of a root canal procedure?

This endodontic treatment is crucial if you want to preserve your natural tooth. Those who wait to seek treatment from our Marion emergency dentist or don’t seek treatment at all run the risk of losing the tooth altogether. Getting a root canal can prevent the need for a tooth extraction.

Of course, once bacteria has entered the inside of the tooth and affected the health of the pulp, the only course of action is to remove the infected pulp and to clean out the tooth so the bacteria doesn’t spread to neighboring teeth or bone. Luckily, your tooth doesn’t need the dental pulp in order to survive. If the tooth isn’t treated it could lead to an infection that could cause facial swelling, as well as tooth and bone loss.

What are the signs that I need a root canal?

It isn’t always obvious and not everyone experiences symptoms that will alert them to the fact that something is wrong. This is why even healthy individuals should come in twice a year for annual checkups. Even if you don’t think anything is wrong with your oral health we may find that decay, gum disease or an infection is actually present.

Common signs that you might need root canal therapy include:

  • A toothache
  • Sudden tooth sensitivity (particularly to hot or cold foods/drinks)
  • Tooth darkening (a sign that the roots of the tooth have died)
  • Gum swelling or tenderness surrounding the tooth
  • An abscess (a pimple-like growth) on the gums (a sign of infection)

Are you dealing with dental issues or symptoms? Do you want to find out if these symptoms warrant an immediate trip to our Marion, AR, dental office? Well, don’t hesitate to call us!

Marion, AR Family Dentist
Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
303 Bancario Rd.Suite 7
Marion, AR 72364
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