Dental Sedation

Dentists work hard to make sure every patient has a pleasant experience during their visit.  A bad experience at an early age can lead to a lifetime of fear and delayed dental care.  Typically younger patients only need reassurance and encouragement for routine examinations and simple treatments.  However, occasionally they may need a more complicated procedure.  In order to keep them comfortable and quiet to ensure their safety during the procedure, your dentist may recommend sedation.

There are several sedation methods that have been shown to be safe. Depending on the procedure and the age of the patient, your dentist will recommend the appropriate approach.

Oral sedation is a syrup or pill that you swallow that will make you sleepy, allowing the dentist to perform the necessary treatment. Once you arrive for your appointment, the dentist or a licensed staff member will administer the medication, which starts to work in about 20 minutes.  You should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before receiving oral sedation and you will need to limit activities for a while once you return home.

The most frequently used method of sedation for kids is nitrous oxide or laughing gas. Your family dentist will place a mask over your child’s nose; many dentists have fun masks like a “space mask” or “clown nose” to help your child feel comfortable with the device. The nitrous oxide is often scented like candy or fruit and is mixed with oxygen. When your child breathes the gas, he or she will feel happy, “tingly” and relaxed during the procedure. Once the procedure is over, your dentist will give your child pure oxygen to breathe for a few minutes to get all the traces of gas out of his or her system.

In some situations, your dentist may recommend IV sedation, which involves inserting a needle into the vein. This produces a deeper level of sedation. You will get special instructions to prepare for the procedure and for care at home.  IV Sedation is only provided under the guidance of a licensed Anesthesiologist.

Sedation is a useful tool for certain dental procedures. Your family dentist will discuss methods with you to keep you comfortable and safe should you require a complex treatment.

Happy Smiles dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists.

What Parents Should Know About Fluoride

Dentists will agree that it’s never too early to begin caring for your baby’s teeth.  Early dental care can prevent a number of problems from occurring down the road.  However, as with most things in a child’s life, oral care should be done in stages.  This is especially true when it comes to using Fluoride

Oral Care For Babies

Family Dentists recommend using gauze to gently wipe your babies gums even before teeth come in.  Once the first tooth comes in, it is the perfect time to schedule his or her first check up.  At this point you can also begin brushing your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water.

When To Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste?

The American Dental Association recommends that children begin using fluorinated toothpaste at the age of two.  However, you should ask your family dentist about the appropriate time for your child to begin using fluoride.  Children should only use a pea-sized amount when brushing. Additionally, children under the age of six should be supervised while they are brushing with fluorinated toothpaste.

The main reason that fluoride is a concern for children who are under the age of six is because they are more likely to swallow the toothpaste.  Swallowing the little bit of toothpaste that is used for brushing is not likely to cause any harm.  However, over time, this can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis.  This is a condition that occurs when the teeth are repeatedly exposed to high amounts of fluoride when they are developing.  It causes discoloration of the enamel.

The Benefits Of Fluoride

Helps Reduce The Risk Of Tooth Decay

Fluoride makes the teeth more resistant to acid attacks. This acid comes from the sugar and bacteria inside of the mouth and it triggers tooth decay.  That is why many dentists also recommend that children get fluoride treatments during their dental visits.

Reverse Early Tooth Decay

Not only can fluoride prevent tooth decay, but it can also prevent tooth decay from progressing. Many dentists agree that fillings are not always required for early tooth decay.

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists


Children’s Dental Health Month

From infancy to our elder years, good oral hygiene has a significant effect on the health of our entire body.  By beginning routine dental practices from infancy, children grow up with good habits that bring many rewards throughout their lifetime. Children’s Dental Health Month is the perfect time for parents and children to brush up on their dental health knowledge. Here are a few important points to remember:

  • Your family dentist is your partner in good health. Make sure to schedule regular checkups as this allows your dentist to perform thorough cleanings as well as thorough exams that can help detect health issues.  Remember to ask questions during your visits. Your dentist is a great source of information and can help you establish a proper and enjoyable oral hygiene routine for you and your children.
  • One common misconception is that baby teeth are not very important because they eventually fall out and are replaced by adult teeth. As temporary placeholders, baby teeth play an important role in the alignment of permanent teeth. Cavities on baby teeth can affect the gum tissue which can harm future adult teeth. That is why children’s dentists recommend you start cleaning your baby’s gums with a soft wash cloth and water even before their teeth come in. When the first tooth comes in, use a soft toothbrush and water or non-fluoridated toothpaste. At about age 2 you can begin to use a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste. It is also important for parents to brush their child’s teeth until the child displays the ability to complete the task on their own.
  • Dentists agree that sugary drinks like fruit juices and soft drinks should never be given to young children in bottles or sippy cups. Fruit drinks, like apple and orange juice, contain relatively large amounts of sugar that can lead to tooth decay. You should especially avoid giving your child these drinks at bed time.

Celebrating Children’s Dental Health Month is a great way to involve your family in positive steps towards beautiful, healthy teeth and gums. Children who grow up with good oral habits find that continuing good dental practices as adults comes easily.  At Happy Smiles, it is our pleasure to partner with you and help meet your family’s dental needs. Feel free to contact us for an appointment.

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists

7 New Year’s Resolutions For A Healthier Smile

Making a list of resolutions or goals is a great way to start the New Year.  It’s the perfect time to resolve to let go of old, bad habits and take on new, healthier ones.  One common topic you will find on many lists is “health”.  While on that topic, why not include resolutions for a healthier smile this year?  Studies have shown that good oral health helps promote good overall health.  In the same way, diseases in the mouth can lead to other health issues.  That is why it is especially important to maintain good oral hygiene.  For this new year, resolve to be better to your mouth.  Use these 7 tips to help you meet your goal:

Eat Fruits and Vegetables

It’s no secret that eating fruits and veggies is important for your overall health.  Good nutrition helps improve the entire immune system and also helps fight common oral disorders, including gum disease.  Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. Crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery also help clean plaque from teeth and freshen your breath.

Limit Your Coffee, Tea & Red Wine

Beverages like coffee, tea and red wine are known to stain teeth.  Some stains can be superficial and polished off during your scheduled cleaning with your family dentist, but drinking these beverages frequently can also cause internal staining of the tooth enamel. Limiting these drinks and rinsing with water to help get the dark liquids off the teeth will reduce staining as well as risk of decay.

Drink More Water

Drinking plenty of water comes with many health benefits. Water keeps your body hydrated, energizes your muscles, and cleanses your body of toxins.  Water also contains zero calories and unlike acidic and sugary drinks that are harmful to your teeth, it helps prevent decay by flushing your teeth of food and acid.

Brush Twice a Day

Brushing twice a day is essential for removing plaque from your teeth.  Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth on a daily basis and contains millions of bacteria. The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars in your food and beverages producing acids that eat away at the tooth enamel.  Not brushing regularly allows plaque to sit on the teeth and causes the enamel to break down, eventually resulting in a cavity.  That is why it is so important that you brush twice daily.  Be sure to use a soft bristled toothbrush; stiffer bristles and aggressive brushing causes gums to recede and can wear enamel away from the teeth.

Floss Daily

Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health.  Plaque that is not removed daily by flossing between teeth can eventually harden into tartar. As the tartar, plaque and bacteria continue to increase, the gum tissue can become red, swollen and possibly bleed when you brush your teeth. This is called gingivitis, an early stage of gum (periodontal) disease.

Visit Your Family Dentist Twice A Year

By seeing your dentist at least twice a year, you can help prevent dental health problems before they cause discomfort or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment.  During your visit your dentist not only performs a deep cleaning to remove stains and tartar from your teeth but also screens for any other possible conditions.

Don’t Delay On Dental Treatment

A small cavity, left untreated, can easily grow into a large tooth abscess and require a root canal and a crown rather than a small filling.  Treating tooth decay early means that smaller and less invasive treatments will be required. This helps maintain the structure and stability of the remaining tooth, not to mention keeps treatment costs lower.  If left untreated, decay can also spread to other teeth and may cause infections throughout the rest of the body.

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists

6 Reasons To Use Your Dental Insurance Before the End of the Year

Did you know that you could actually save hundreds of dollars by using your dental benefits before the end of the year? While some dental insurance plans run on a fiscal year, most run on a calendar year. If your dental insurance plan is on a calendar year, these 6 reasons will show you why you should make a dental appointment now.

1. Yearly Maximum
The yearly maximum is the most money that the dental insurance plan will pay for your dental work within one full year. This amount varies by insurance company, but the average is around $1,000 per year, per person. The yearly maximum usually renews every year (on January 1 if your plan is on a calendar year). If you have unused benefits, these will not rollover.

2. Deductible
The deductible is the amount of money that you must pay to your dentist out of pocket before your insurance company will pay for any services. This fee varies from one plan to another.  However, the average deductible for a dental insurance plan is usually around $50 per year. Your deductible also starts again when your plan rolls over.

3. Premiums
If you are paying your dental insurance premiums every month, you should be using your benefits. Even if you don’t need any dental treatment, you should always have your regular dental cleanings to help prevent and detect any early signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer and other dental problems.

4. Fee Increases / Changes in Coverage
Another reason to use your benefits before the end of the year are possible fee increases. Some policies raise the out of pocket costs and / or lower the covered benefits at the beginning of the year.

5. Dental Problems Can Worsen
By delaying dental treatment, you are risking more extensive and expensive treatment down the road. What may be a simple cavity now, could turn into a root canal later.

6. Use Up Your Existing FSA Contributions
Another good reason to take care of dental work now is to spend any remaining balance in your flexible spending account (FSA). This is an account that you establish through your employer, and that you may have elected to have some of your pre-tax pay put into. If you don’t use all of your FSA contributions by the end of the year, you lose them.

Schedule your appointment now to ensure you are maximizing your benefits!
Visit today!

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists


Halloween Tips For Treats

There’s no question that Halloween and candy go hand in hand.  It’s that time of year kids look forward to with great anticipation for tasty treats.  However, for parents it can be an entirely different story.  You want your kids to have fun dressing up and collecting candy, but how do you keep their teeth from suffering in the process?  Not to worry.  Here are a few Tips For Treats that will help make this Halloween more teeth friendly.

Eliminate the BAD candy – Candy that remains in your mouth for an extended period of time increases the risk of tooth decay.  Taffy and hard candy are the top culprits. Why? Because bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar that sits on teeth.  It then produces acid that causes decay.  When sorting through your child’s candy, remove these types of candy right away.

Donate some candy – Although it is exciting to come home with a bag full of candy, there’s no rule that says you have to keep it all for yourself. This is a great time to encourage your child to share by keeping a small portion of the candy and donating the rest.

Schedule treat time – Tooth decay is not necessarily caused by the amount of sweets consumed, but the frequency in which they are consumed.  Rather than letting your child snack on sweet treats throughout the day, set a specific time of the day for that. Directly after a meal is the best time as the mouth creates more saliva during meal times, which helps wash away the acid that causes tooth decay.

Brush and floss Family dentists recommend the 2×2 rule – Brush twice a day for two minutes.  Floss at least once a day to get bacteria between teeth that tooth brush bristles can’t reach.  Fluoride mouth rinse also helps prevent tooth decay and strengthens teeth.  This routine is especially important after having sweet treats.

Drink water and chew gum – Drinking more water and even chewing sugar free gum with Xylitol will help get candy off the teeth and wash away acid, preventing tooth decay.

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists

Baby Tooth Decay…It’s Possible And Preventable

Baby teeth may be temporary, but the care you give them can have long lasting effects. Baby teeth are considered place holders for adult teeth. If they are lost early, it can lead to future spacing issues of permanent teeth. In addition, early tooth loss due to decay can lead to poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and can even damage future adult teeth. Taking preventative measures early on is key to a lifetime of good dental health.


Believe it or not, letting your baby go to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice can cause decay. This is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. The frequent and prolonged exposure of drinks that contain sugar, including baby formula and milk, leads to decay. Why? Because during sleep less saliva is produced and these liquids are able to sit on your baby’s gums and teeth as they sleep. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid that attacks the teeth.

  • Avoid giving your baby milk or juice at bedtime. Use water or a pacifier as good alternatives.  Also, avoid dipping the pacifier in sugar or honey.
  • Avoid sugary drinks in general and limit juice and other beverages to mealtimes instead of allowing your baby to have bottles or sippy cups throughout the day.
  • Transition to a drinking cup as soon as your child is able. Drinking from a cup is less likely to cause liquid to collect around teeth.


Tooth decay can begin with cavity-causing bacteria being passed from the mother (or primary caregiver) to the infant. Because bacteria can be transferred through saliva, there are some things that mom’s and caregivers should be careful not to do.

  • Avoid sharing anything that would transfer saliva including cups, spoons, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Do not clean a pacifier with your mouth.


Even before the first tooth erupts, you can begin practicing good oral hygiene on your baby’s mouth to ward off any attacks on their future teeth.

  • Gently wipe down your baby’s gums at least twice a day with a soft, damp washcloth. This will keep bacteria from clinging to your baby’s gums, which can damage their baby teeth as they come in.
  • When the first baby teeth start to come in, you can begin to use a toothbrush and water to clean the teeth. Make sure to use a soft brush with a small head and large handle. Brush gently around the teeth, including the front and back.
  • Schedule an appointment with a family dentist when your baby’s first tooth comes in.
  • At about age 1, you can begin using a pea-sized amount of a non-fluoridated toothpaste. Wait to use fluoride toothpaste until your child is at least 2 years old.
  • Brush your baby’s teeth until he or she is old enough to hold the brush. Continue to supervise the process until your child can rinse and spit without assistance.


Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists




5 Steps To Help Your Child Overcome Fear Of Dentists

A visit to the dentist may seem routine to many, but for children who fear the dentist, it is anything but routine.  Fear of the unknown and/or fear of pain are very common fears among kids and are often the reason why they might cry or act out when it’s time to visit the dentist.  Fortunately, parents are not alone in their quest to ease their child’s fear of the dentist.  Many dentists and their staff are trained to work with kids and know how to help them cope with their fear.  Parents can also help prepare their child at home using these five recommended steps:

Talk ­­Teeth: Make oral health a common topic in your home. Picture books and cartoon dental videos are great resources.  Also, during your daily and nightly routines of brushing and flossing, have fun role playing “going to the dentist”.

Start Early: Dentists recommend that you start taking your child to the dentist when their first tooth comes in (around 1 year old). These early visits will often consist of quick check-ups and gentle cleanings, which are great way to introduce your child to dentistry.

Schedule A Pre-Visit:  A pre-visit to the dentist is a great way to familiarize your child with the dentist’s office without any overwhelming exams or procedures that same day.  Meeting the staff, seeing the fun environment and getting answers to questions can help ease any fears, making the actual appointment much more pleasant.

Leave The Details To The Experts: When preparing your child for their first visit to the dentist, keep the explanation positive and simple.  Let the trained staff and dentist explain procedures and treatment to your child. You might want to say something simple like: “The dentist is going to check your smile to make sure your teeth are strong, healthy and clean. Avoid negative words like shot or pain.

Discuss The Option Of Sedation With The Dentist: Some children need more help relaxing to allow the proper amount of time for their treatment.  When more extensive work is needed, sedation can especially be a great benefit.  There are several options and methods for sedation for children. Your child’s dentist can explain these options and recommend the appropriate one for your child.

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists


Dental Sealants…What Parents Should Know

What are dental sealants?

Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are usually placed on the chewing surfaces of the permanent back teeth. The liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Why get sealants?

The number one reason to get sealants is to avoid tooth decay.  The chewing surfaces of the molar and premolar teeth have grooves (fissures) that make them difficult to clean and more prone to decay.  Plaque accumulates in these areas, and the acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel, which leads to cavities.  Dental sealants provide extra protection by covering the fissures and smoothing out those grooved areas, making it much easier to keep food and germs out.  Another benefit of getting sealants before teeth decay is the time and expense you save from avoiding dental treatments like fillings,crowns and caps.

When to get sealants?

Dentists recommend sealants on permanent molars once the chewing surface of the tooth has completely come in — before decay attacks the teeth. The first permanent molars, called “6 year molars”, come in between the ages of 5 and 7. The second permanent molars, “12 year molars”, come in between 11 and 14 years old.  Your dentist might also recommend sealants for other teeth that have deep groves. Teenagers and young adults who are prone to decay may also need sealants.

Dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.

How is the sealant placed?

The tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Then, a solution is placed on the fissured area to make a fine, rougher surface that enables the dental sealant to attach to the tooth. After the tooth is dried again, the liquid dental sealant is placed on the tooth and hardened using a light or a two-component dental sealant that sets without using a light. The sealants harden quickly and you are able to chew on the tooth again.

How long do sealants last?

Sealants can last up to 10 years. However, it is important to have your family dentist check your sealants for chips or worn away areas during your regular dental visits.

Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists

Toddler Teeth Brushing: 6 Fun Tips!

At the toddler stage, children become aware that they are individuals and can become more insistent on doing things on their own. You might see them try to dress themselves or even attempt to feed themselves. Why not use this to your advantage and include them in making teeth brushing time enjoyable for all? Here are a few helpful tips:

Make it Routine: Kids work well with consistency. Have a morning and nightly schedule that they can come to depend on and include these proper steps to brushing in the routine.

  • Squeeze a pea-size amount of toothpaste onto your child’s soft-bristle brush.
  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums and gently brush back and forth across each tooth. Brush all sides of each tooth, including the top, front and back sides.
  • Place the toothbrush vertical against the inside or back of the teeth and brush up and down.
  • Spit out the excess toothpaste as you brush
  • Brush the tongue to remove bacteria.
  • Rinse the mouth with a cup of water. Swish the water around in the mouth and spit it out.
  • Brush for at least two minutes twice a day.

Brush Together: Toddlers love to mimic what you do so why not brush together?  Let him see how you enjoy taking care of your teeth.  To make it more interesting you can play Simon Says while teaching him the steps to brushing.  Also, take turns brushing each other’s teeth but remember not to share tooth brushes as you do not want to exchange bacteria.

Use Fun Tools: Get a fun toothbrush and toothpaste in your child’s favorite color or one that has his favorite cartoon character. Let him use the mirror while brushing. Let your child pick his favorite 2-minute song or use a fun timer that alerts him when those two minutes are up.

Reward their efforts: A fun tooth brushing chart is a great way to track your child’s progress and to reward him for his efforts. Every time he brushes he can receive a star to add to the chart. When the chart is complete you can celebrate with a small prize.

Experiment: Try fun experiments like this one from Milk and Cuddles that uses an egg and cola to show your child just how important it is to brush your teeth.

Make An Appointment:  Help your toddler overcome any dental fears and learn more about good oral hygiene in a fun environment by making regular visits to your family dentist.


Happy Smiles Dentists are MS Licensed General Dentists