Dentist Auburn | Teeth Don’t Have to Be Afraid of Halloween

Kids love Halloween but it’s the parents who seem to be afraid of all of the candy and the harm it can do to their kids’ teeth. When it comes to Halloween candy, chocolate is one of the best options to eat. It melts quickly and washes off teeth easily so there’s less chance that cavity producing bacteria will grow. (Keep in mind this is plain chocolate; chocolate with caramel in it will certainly stick to teeth!)

It may seem counter-intuitive, but go ahead and let your kids eat the entire candy bar or little package of candy in one sitting rather than having them eat candy all day long. It’s better to eat candy and get it over with so they can then brush their teeth and have a clean mouth, rather than eat little bits of candy continuously throughout the day. If they can’t get to a tooth brush then have them eat an apple or other crunchy fruit or vegetable- it will help to clean their mouth.

Eating apples may help clean and brighten teeth besides being nutritious. The slight acidity in apples can act as a mild astringent. But keep the peel on to get this benefit as the fiber in the skin is an effective cleaner. The fleshy fruit with it’s high fiber content acts as a natural toothbrush, helping to clean away stains and plaque. Other crunchy fruits and vegetables such as celery and carrots can also work as cleaning mechanisms as they brush against dental plaque and bacteria trying to stick to teeth. The less bacteria, the better your breath and the healthier your mouth.

Did you know that potato chips are actually worse for teeth than some candy? Potato chips will cling to teeth sticking in the nooks and crannies making it the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Parents don’t think of this as most would offer their children potato chips over a chocolate bar. Sugary cereal is another food which can be just as harmful to teeth as candy but one that parents seem to easily overlook.

So don’t be scared of Halloween, just be smart about it. There is already plenty of harmful food out there in your children’s diets, it doesn’t happen to appear only at Halloween. Make smart choices, brush teeth regularly but most of all have fun.
Happy Halloween!!

Auburn Dentist, Dr. Helmkamp’s Quiet Giving

Her face was intact, but her teeth were broken and missing. She was in an abusive relationship. She had the daunting responsibility of raising her children by herself and found it difficult to obtain work due to her broken smile. Learning about free dental care through a local social services organization, she applied to be a potential patient through a program called “Give Back a Smile,” created specifically for victims of abuse and run by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD).

Miraculously, she was selected and directed to a local dentist, who had volunteered through membership with the AACD to donate his time and work. After extensive restorative and cosmetic dental work she had a new smile and was so appreciative and hopeful of the possibilities open to her. As a result, she was able to obtain work, support her family and have a better future. She has since moved away, but once returned to visit the office and thank Dr. Helmkamp for her restored smile and the confidence that it gave her.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Helmkamp has been involved in charitable dentistry through several national programs. Currently, he is the Maine chair of Donated Dental Services, a national organization that identifies and donates dental care to the elderly, medically and/or psychologically compromised patients. He continues to volunteer by taking new abuse cases through the AACD. He has long donated all proceeds from teeth whitening through the Smiles For Life program, which donates 100% of its proceeds and donations to directly benefit children charities and organizations. Finally, he has opened his doors during Have a Heart Day in which he donates full days of free dentistry to local residents.

Dr. Helmkamp is a quiet giver; he doesn’t seek recognition for what he does. Over the years, he has helped hundreds perhaps thousands of people through his charitable efforts. He believes that people can have better lives through improved health. He believes he can make a difference and that helping others is the right thing to do.

Auburn, ME Dentist | Commitment to Continuing Education

The technology to restore and protect teeth changes as fast as the technology and improvements we see in all areas of today’s fast-paced life. The continual advancements and breakthroughs across so many fields, results in ever-changing professions, specifically dentistry.

Dentistry and dental health care are always evolving; the dentistry of today is much different than the dentistry of 30 years ago,15 or even 10 years ago. Materials, methods, the use of computers, almost all aspects of the field have changed and likewise, that is today’s dentistry.

The result of continual change in dentistry is a necessary, almost obligatory commitment to staying current so patients can benefit most from these improvements. Very often techniques and materials used during a dentist’s or hygienist’s schooling have been improved upon, or perhaps have even become obsolete. Unfortunately, due to time and money, many dental offices do not value or invest in continuing education.

You want your dental home to have a solid commitment to continuing education (coursework as well as clinical, hands-on courses) for all staff. Through continuing education, you, as the patient, receive the best possible care for you and your family from the latest advancements in dentistry. Change is a good thing, especially when it means you’ll have a healthier smile.

NOTE: See “Continuing Education“

Dentist Auburn, ME | How to Choose a Dentist

Choosing a dentist can be overwhelming, particularly when you don’t even know the criteria by which to evaluate a dentist or dental practice. As with everything, there is a wide range in experience, skills and expertise among dentists and likewise, not all dental practices are equal. Fortunately, there are guidelines so you will ask the right questions in order to make a sound choice when choosing your dentist.

Starting with the basics, check that the dentist you are considering is a member of the American Dental Association, or ADA. As a bare minimum, you would want to choose a dentist who is willing to be a member of the ADA. Dentists who are members of the American Dental Association voluntarily agree to abide by the ADA Code as a condition of membership in the Association. (www.ada.org) Hopefully, most dentists will also be members of their state organizations as well, which in Maine is the Maine Dental Association. (MDA)

Once you’ve established the dentist’s basic professional memberships, it’s time to get to the nuts and bolts of how to evaluate a dentist and his or her practice. According to the Crown Council* (www.crowncouncil.com) an independent association of dental practices, there are FIVE KEY QUESTIONS you should consider:

1. How current is the dentist and how much continuing education have they taken in the last year? Dentistry is a continually changing profession with new developments in technologies, materials and treatments emerging all of the time. You will want to choose a dentist who has stayed current through continuing education beyond the bare minimum in both lecture as well as clinical courses. Keep in mind that state requirements to maintain a dental license can be minimal and so you will want to note whether a dentist is doing the minimum just to stay in practice or whether he or she is genuinely motivated to stay current within their profession in order to benefit YOU, the patient.

2. How much time will the dentist take with me during my initial exam? You will want to choose a dentist who spends at least an hour with you during your initial visit in order to give you a complete oral exam and assess your overall oral health. Although you may be eager to get into a new office for your initial dental hygiene visit, it is necessary for you to have a thorough exam and consultation with the dentist to discuss your condition and treatment options.

3. What is included in my initial exam? According to the Crown Council (www.crowncouncil.com )there are four things an initial exam should include:

a). A very thorough exam of your teeth for decay including charting, your existing restorations and the condition of all of your other teeth.

b). A complete evaluation of the health of your gums with a periodontal probe. Six points on every tooth should be checked and the findings charted.

c.) A check of your bite should be made to determine how your teeth come together to see if there is balance, excessive wear, or jaw pain.

d.) You should have an oral cancer exam. If the dentist is up-to-date the office will have either a VizLite or a VELscope. This will allow the dentist to immediately see if there are any abnormal tissue cells in the mouth. You should have an oral cancer exam at least annually.

4. Ask what will occur between the time of your arrival at the office and when the dentist starts the actual exam. A dentist interested in you and your health will set time aside to listen to your concerns during your first visit and not jump right into treatment.

5. Find out when the office last had their Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance training. OSHA has very clear guidelines for dental offices to follow in order to maintain the highest standard of sterilization and infection control. Every member of the dental office is required by regulation to take compliance training at least once a year.

*What is the CROWN COUNCIL?

The Crown Council is a prestigious alliance of leading-edge dentists around the world who are strongly committed to promoting oral health, fighting oral cancer, and serving their communities through charitable work. Membership is by invitation. These industry leaders in health, wellness, and prevention offer the latest dental procedures in state-of-the-art facilities.

To learn more about the Crown Council, or to find a Crown Council dentist near you, visit: CrownCouncil.com

Dentist in Auburn, ME | 2 Min 2x Is a Good Start

The Ad Council along with the Partnership for Healthy Mouths & Healthy Lives has put together a website with a wealth of information and resources to help motivate parents & make sure kids brush their teeth for 2 minutes twice a day.

The site is full of fun two minute videos designed to encourage kids to brush more often and improve on brushing techniques.

Information about teeth, techniques for brushing & flossing and a wealth of information for parents and children alike.

One of the coolest aspects of the the 2min2x campaign is they have an app (available for Apple or Android) with 2 minute videos. Load the app on your phone, play the fun video for you kids while they brush their teeth. We know many people who have used this application. The 2 minutes really fly by & kids are entertained while brushing.

Details can be found at www.2min2x.org. Browse your Android or Apple app store for “2min2x” to load the free app.

Dentist in Auburn | Back to School for All of Us

While mid August is the traditional start of the high school fall sports season, and the start of school right around the corner, at Mount Auburn Dental we also look ahead to possible educational opportunities for our staff.

Like other small businesses there is delicate balance to be made-making sure we serve the needs of our patients while also keeping up to date on current technology and encouraging our staff to further their education. For those in the dental field we can increase our knowledge base in one of two ways: hands on clinical trainings (often are more costly and require more time out of the office) or through lectures (a less expensive option with a smaller time commitment).

Even though there is no requirement for dentists to take “clinical” continuing education courses, over the last year Dr. Helmkamp and the staff Mount Auburn Dental have attended several clinical courses and workshops. Topics have included new trends in dental implants, a software update that helps efficiently make in-house crowns, periodontal disease and the relationship to oral hygiene, and of course hands on training of our Waterlase Laser.

A skilled workforce is more productive, helps businesses retain employees, and of course allows us to bring a greater wealth of knowledge and experience to our patients.

Yes, there is both a time and financial investment to continuing education. At Mount Auburn Dental we believe this is key component to the level of dental care we wish to bring to our patients. As you and your family prepare for the upcoming school year, you can smile knowing your dentist is also looking ahead.

Auburn Dentist | Refreshing (& teeth friendly) options on a hot day.

It is a hot summer day, perhaps you and your family are wrapping up a day at Range Pond State Park, or Auburn’s municipal beach, or just taking a walk along the river in Lewiston. Wow a nice cold, refreshing, beverage would be nice, so many drinks we associate with summer (shakes, ice coffee, sodas, energy drinks) are not necessarily good for your teeth.

Fast food chains, restaurants, and coffee shops advertise the the latest ice coffee or smoothies. While they certainly will take the edge off the heat, the added sweeteners will be harmful to your teeth. Don’t be afraid to ask for un-sweatened alternatives. While not always promoted or advertised, most establishments have lower sugar options.

Before heading off to the beach or the lake make some home made fruit smoothies, a great treat for when you get home. Fresh summertime berries, already containing natural sugar, means you don’t have to add any sugar or honey. Add some milk or cream to your berries, put them in a blender, fill the glasses, put ’em in the fridge. A perfect treat for when you get home.

Quite often we only think of drinks as a means to cooling off on warm day, there are a number of foods which can also do the trick. Watermelon can act as a thirst quencher, is full of antioxidants, a great source of Vitamin C & A (both are good for your teach). Also the water in the watermelon can help push unwanted food particles and plaque away.

Pure cold water is still the best option to refresh your body on a hot day. For a twist, try adding a lemon or lime wedge to your ice water.

Moderation is the key, with regular brushing and visits to your dentist, you can have the occasional sweet drink. Understanding all options, being informed and aware of what additives have been put into otherwise healthy drinks is important to life long dental health.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us at Mount Auburn Dental, 207-782-3971.