New Year’s Resolutions For Your Oral Health

As you consider your New Year’s resolutions for 2014, don’t forget about your oral health. A healthy, confident smile makes you feel great. There are many things you can do to ensure you maintain a beautiful smile throughout the coming year and beyond.

1. Quit smoking. It is important to stop smoking for many reasons. Although most people know the danger smoking poses to your lungs, it also presents a danger to your oral health. In fact, cigarette smokers and people who use smokeless tobacco have a greater risk of gum disease and oral cancer. Smoking also causes chronic bad breath and stains tooth enamel. Make it a priority to quit smoking in 2014 and your risks can decrease considerably.

2. Avoid alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to gum recession, also called periodontal pocketing. The result can be loose or missing teeth and advanced gum disease. Alcohol use also triggers tooth grinding, which can cause permanent damage to your teeth. In addition, according to some studies, heavy alcohol drinkers have a higher risk of oral cancers.

3. Eat healthy foods. Some foods are healthy choices for your body and your smile. These foods protect your tooth enamel while also keeping your teeth free of debris. Make healthy eating a habit in the coming year by choosing foods such as cheese and chicken, which contain calcium and phosphorus. Eat plenty of crunchy vegetables and crisp fruits that are filled with water to wash away the acids on your teeth.

4. Keep your teeth clean. If you are not already brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day, you need to start now. When you don’t remove plaque from your teeth regularly, it becomes tartar and eventually causes gum disease. Flossing removes plaque trapped between your teeth and under the gum line. If you are not sure how to brush and floss properly, ask your dentist to show you how.

5. Visit the dentist. You should see your dentist at least once every six months for a thorough cleaning and exam. If you have signs of gum disease then you need to see the dentist even more often. Schedule your checkups in advance and always keep your appointments so that you can maintain a healthy smile. When you receive regular preventative care, your dentist can fix issues before they become serious.

6. Stock up on dental products. Don’t run out of the products that are essential for good oral health. Change your toothbrush every 3-6 months. Keep replacement toothbrushes in the closet so that you have one ready when it’s time. Note the date on your calendar so you don’t forget to switch to a new toothbrush. Buy toothpaste with fluoride to protect your teeth from cavities. Experiment with different types of dental floss to find out which works best. An antimicrobial rinse is another useful step to add to your dental routine.

Best wishes to you and your family in 2014 from the Craig Armstrong, DDS team!

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Merry Christmas From The Craig Armstrong, DDS Team!

The Craig Armstrong, DDS team would like to take a moment to send you our best wishes this holiday season. We are proud to partner with you all year long to maintain your dental health. As you spend time celebrating with friends and family, take time to consider the ways you can make your dental health a priority in the coming year.

Home care, including brushing at least twice a day, plays a critical role in keeping your teeth healthy.

Always floss after brushing to remove debris from between teeth and plaque from below the gum line.

Pay attention to the teeth in the back of your mouth, which are often overlooked.

Prevention is the key to oral cancers, so do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

You should visit the dentist at least once every six months for a cleaning and exam.

Healthy foods are good for your oral health, including calcium-rich foods to strengthen your teeth.

Oral and Maxillofacial surgery can treat your sleep apnea, TMJ and impacted teeth.

Let your dentist brighten your smile with a professional teeth whitening.

Instead of using a manual toothbrush, consider upgrading to an electric toothbrush this year.

Dental implants can be the key to a stunning smile.

Always keep your dentist informed of any changes to your medications.

Your satisfaction is very important to us!

So enjoy your holiday and we look forward to making you smile in 2014!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Craig Armstrong, DDS team!

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Tooth Care for Travelers

If you will be traveling this Christmas, make sure that you have a plan for taking care of your oral health.

See your dentist about any potential dental problems well in advance of your trip, especially when you will be traveling by plane. The change in pressure during air travel can cause issues after some procedures, such as root canals.

There are certain things you can do to decrease the likelihood of a dental emergency while away from home.

  1. Don’t chew on ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy – all of which can cause damage to your teeth.
  2. Although sometimes it can be tempting to cut things with your teeth, such as tape used when wrapping gifts, it is not a good idea. The same goes for opening holiday gifts with your teeth.
  3. Keep the number of the American Dental Association in your phone or wallet so that you can call them if you need a referral for a local dentist.

Sometimes accidents happen. If you do have a dental emergency, consider these suggestions. Here’s what you can do until you see a dentist:

Toothache? Rinse your mouth with warm water. Then use a dental floss of interdental cleaner to remove any debris from your teeth. If discomfort persists, contact a dentist.

Cracked Tooth? Apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swelling, then see a dentist or go straight to an emergency room for treatment.

Broken Tooth? Gently swish warm water in your mouth to clean the area. Next, apply a cold compress to control swelling.  See the dentist right away.

Lost Tooth? You should never scrub a tooth after it has been knocked out. However, you hold it by the crown and carefully rinse it off. Try to put the tooth back in the socket if at all possible. If you are unable to put the tooth back, the ADA recommends putting the tooth in a cup of milk and seeing a dentist right away. You can also use Save-A-Tooth, which is sold at most pharmacies. It is a good idea to keep some on hand in case of an emergency. The solution will keep the tooth safe for up to an hour so that you can have a dentist implant it.

Traveling Out of the Country

If planning a trip outside of the U.S., see your dentist before you leave, especially if you have a history of gum infections. Make an appointment for a cleaning and dental exam so that your dentist can rule out any potential issues that could crop up while you are away.

It is also smart to have an idea of where to turn in case of a dental emergency while out of the country. A database of medical personnel around the world, including health care practitioners who can make dental referrals, is available through IAMAT (International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers). Membership to IAMAT is free and open to the public.

Dentists living and working in Europe can join the ADSE (American Dental Society of Europe) after completing a full-time course of study at an accredited dental school in the U.S. or Canada. The ADSE website has information about dentists available for treatment.

The Craig Armstrong, DDS team wishes you and your family a safe and healthy holiday season!

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Holiday Gifts You Can Purchase From Your Dentist

Have you noticed that during the holidays there are always some people who are impossible to purchase gifts for? Sometimes they already have everything they want, and other times they are just too picky about presents. That’s when a holiday gift purchased from your dentist’s office is the perfect solution. And best of all, you can pick up these gifts even at the last minute.

Gift Certificates

A gift certificate is sure to elicit a smile from any recipient. Consider a gift certificate for one of the following services:

Professional Tooth Whitening

Everyone knows that a stunning smile is a confidence-booster. Teeth whitening is a service popular with many patients. It is possible to brighten teeth stained from medication, too much fluoride, or worn enamel. Give the gift of a professional teeth whitening treatment and your loved one will see the dentist for two short visits. First the dentist will create the custom-shaped, clear plastic trays used during the treatment process. The dentist will provide individual instructions, but most trays are to be worn twice a day for 30 minutes, or overnight for several weeks.

Dental Makeover

Request a gift certificate in any denomination from the office of Craig Armstrong, DDS. Then direct your loved one to the Smile Analysis questionnaire on the office’s website. They will answer such questions as:

  • Do you have any gaps or spaces between your teeth?
  • Would you like your teeth to be whiter?
  • Are you missing any teeth?

The results of the Smile Analysis will help patients work with Dr. Armstrong to devise a custom dental treatment plan. They may decide to use their gift certificate for:

Dental Care

Imagine how excited someone would be to receive a gift certificate for dental care. Perhaps you want to gift a dental exam and cleaning. Why not purchase a gift certificate for one of the many restorations performed by your dentist, such as dentures, fixed bridges or root canal therapy?

Parents, you have already invested financially in your children’s smiles, with retainers, braces or wisdom teeth removal. Help your college student maintain that beautiful smile with a certificate for a mouth guard or teeth cleaning.

Dental Products

Check with your dentist to see what products you can purchase at his office to give as presents. Many dentists carry such items as:

  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Teeth whitening kits
  • Breath freshener kits
  • Waterpiks

At Craig Armstrong, DDS you can find many top of the line dental care products to wrap and place under the tree. Stop in to see their full line of dental products. No matter how tricky gift giving can seem at times, there is always a solution. Think about giving the gift of good oral health this holiday season.

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Protecting Your Teeth From Christmas Treats

The delicious Christmas treats associated with the holidays can wreak havoc on your dental health. Nobody wants to be a scrooge during the holidays and take away the fun snacks and desserts synonymous with celebrations, but it is important to pay careful attention to what you consume to avoid damaging your teeth. You can easily weaken and wear down tooth enamel unconsciously, especially when you eat often throughout the day as you move between parties and family gatherings, never giving your teeth a break.

So what can you do to ensure your smile remains radiant this holiday season and beyond?  The Craig Armstrong, DDS team has some Christmas strategies for maintaining your smile:

1) Eat in moderation. While skipping all goodies can be an impossible feat, there is no reason to partake in everything on the table either. Choose small portions of your favorite desserts to take the edge off of your cravings. Also, it can be easy to become distracted and not even realize that you are eating a lot, so try to be conscious of what you do put in your mouth.

2) Bring an appetizer. Help out your host or hostess by bringing an appetizer to share, and make it something that benefits everybody’s oral health. A tray containing crisp fruits and veggies that stimulate saliva flow and wash away food particles and acids that can harm your teeth, is always a good idea.

3) Brush and floss regularly. Keep a disposable toothbrush with you so that you can pop into the restroom after eating sugary treats. Brush well, and remove particles and debris that can cause tooth decay. Bring along a pre-threaded dental floss pick for simple one-handed flossing on the go.

4) Eat before going out. You will be less tempted to snack if you eat something before heading out. A meal with calcium-rich cheese and chicken will strengthen tooth enamel to combat enamel-eroding acids. Wash it down with a glass of milk for good measure.

5) Limit the eggnog. You may decide to celebrate with a glass of eggnog, but consider keeping it alcohol-free. Alcohol irritates the soft tissues in your mouth and also decreases the amount of natural saliva production. Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to oral cancers because it can affect the way tissue cells divide.

6) Drink lots of water. Carry a bottle of fluoridated water with you at all times. Drinking water will help you control your appetite and the fluoride is good for your teeth. Water washes away debris that can get trapped between teeth and cause problems later on.

7) Chew gum. If you are protecting your smile, the last thing you want to do is pop a piece of sugary bubblegum. But gum made with xylitol can actually be good for your teeth. Chewing a piece of minty gum can also help you limit the amount of food you eat.

Enjoy the season by making good choices that will affect your oral health for many holidays to come!

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Plan Now for a Healthy Smile in the New Year

As December comes to a close, so does 2013. The New Year is just ahead, a clean slate waiting to be filled. Take time now to plan out your dental health strategy for 2014 so that you can create and maintain a beautiful smile.

The American Dental Association recommends that you visit the dentist at least once every six months for maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. People at risk of periodontal disease should see the dentist more often. Ask your dentist how frequently you should schedule your appointments during your next exam.

Visiting the Dentist

There are several things that occur during a typical appointment.

In most offices, your first stop is with the dental hygienist to have x-rays taken. Your dentist looks at the x-rays to identify problem areas that are too small to see with the naked eye. The hygienist then examines your mouth for signs of periodontal disease. If you require a routine cleaning, the hygienist will clean, polish and floss your teeth carefully before calling in the dentist for the exam.

Root Scaling and Planning

Although dental hygienists are able to clean plaque and tartar from the teeth of most patients with a routine cleaning, some patients have such significant calculus or tartar that they need a root planing and scaling. If the hygienist suspects a root planing and scaling is necessary, she or the dentist will use a periodontal probe to measure the space between your teeth and gums. Deep pockets are a sign that the area will be too difficult to clean with a basic cleaning.

Scaling and root planing is a way to remove the plaque and tartar below the gum line. Sometimes the dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb your gums during the cleaning before using a small scaler or ultrasonic cleaner to thoroughly clean out the bottom of each pocket. He then smooths out the root surfaces, which helps the area to heal. This also prevents plaque from getting back into the pockets.

Importance of Regular Visits

Regular exams are important because they give your dentist the opportunity to discover potential issues while they are still simple to treat. When you see the dentist at least every six months, he has a baseline to use when looking for progression of tooth decay and cracks and damage in dental restorations. Oral cancer screenings are also an essential component of dental exams because early detection increases your chance of full recovery. If you have noticed any clicking noises or pain in your jaw, let your dentist know. They can be signs of TMJ, which your dentist will be checking for during the exam. He will also examine your face, neck and lymph nodes for abnormalities.

Before 2014 becomes just as busy as 2013, schedule your dental appointments and write them on your calendar. In between appointments, it is your responsibility to brush and floss at least twice a day as you work to maintain your dental health year round.

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Self-Care During the Holidays

Have you sent out your Christmas cards yet? Or does the thought of having another item on your to-do list add to your stress level during the busy holiday season?

Christmas Card Day is Dec. 9, and is a great opportunity to find out what your friends and family who live far away have been up to during 2013. However, if the holiday pressure is becoming too overwhelming, consider taking a little time for yourself. These self-care strategies will help you relax and recharge amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas time.

Take a walk. Set your alarm clock to go off 30 minutes early a few times a week and go for a brisk walk. If you prefer staying indoors, try a yoga or stretching DVD to get your day started. You may find you actually have more energy after adding a little exercise to your routine.

Get your teeth cleaned. Your health is important no matter what the time of year. See your dentist for a thorough cleaning and exam. Seeing the dentist regularly is a great way to take care of potential issues before they get out of control. In addition, a cleaning will leave you feeling refreshed and will allow you to check off another item on your to-do list.

Take a nap. Dr. Sarah C. Mednick, author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, has researched the science of napping. Dr. Mednick has found that not taking a rest in the middle of the day keeps people from performing at optimal levels. Take a quick nap to re-energize.

Pamper yourself. There may not be a lot of extra time at this point in the year, but that doesn’t mean you should skip things that make you look and feel great. Once your dentist creates a mold of your mouth, you can whiten your teeth at home. It only takes 30 minutes twice a day, and is a good way to build in some downtime while ensuring you have a radiant smile at holiday parties.

Say no. Although you may enjoy the many fun things to do during the holidays, you don’t have to do them all. It’s okay to turn down a few invitations and stay in. Sit in front of the fire with your family and tell stories about Christmas when you were little. Or head to bed early so you can start the day refreshed in the morning.

Evaluate your stress level. Be on the lookout for signs that your stress level is getting out of control. Is your blood pressure too high? Stop at a pharmacy and check it on one of the machines in the waiting area. Are you grinding your teeth at night? Ask your dentist about getting fitted for a mouth guard so that you do not damage your teeth. Your body knows when you have had enough. It’s up to you to listen.

Take care of yourself this holiday season so that you can enjoy all that it has to offer you and your family – even if it means skipping the Christmas cards.

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Craig Armstrong, DDS Salutes Military Dentists on Pearl Harbor Day

December 7th is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2013, commemorating the attack in Hawaii during World War II where many American servicemen and women lost their lives or suffered serious injuries. The practice of Craig Armstrong, DDS salutes all servicemen and women, including military dentists responsible for the oral health of soldiers and their families.

The Houston area is proud to be home to many military branches, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. In addition, military branches with a presence at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston include:

  • Texas Air National Guard
  • Texas Army National Guard
  • U.S. Army Reserve
  • U.S. Navy Reserve
  • U.S. Marine Corps. Reserve

There are many ways to pursue a dental career in the military, protecting the oral health of military members and their families. The dental specialties are the same as those practiced by civilian dentists. However, military dentists are often deployed away from their families for long periods of time. Many military dentists set up field dental units in war zones and act as triage officers in combat. They also have the opportunity to contribute to humanitarian efforts in areas of the world with extensive medical and dental needs.

Some of the dental specialties in the military include:

General Dentist Responsible for diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries of the teeth, jaws, oral cavity and supporting structures. Military dentists also plan and execute disease prevention and health promotion programs.

Endodontist Treat diseases and trauma to the tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the root, including root canals. They also perform medical research, participate in graduate medical education, and train other personnel.

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon Surgical specialists who treat many diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face and jaw. They take care of issues with the hard and soft tissues of the mouth, jaw and face.

Periodontist Focus on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. They also specialize in the placement of dental implants.

Prosthodontist Specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and maintenance of the oral function, comfort, appearance and health of patients with missing teeth and other associated structures through the fabrication of maxillofacial prostheses.

Craig Armstrong, DDS and his team have great respect for the stress and demands placed on all military servicemen and women. Thank you to everyone who has served or is currently serving in the military. Take a moment this Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day to remember those who lost their lives December 7, 1941.

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Don’t Neglect Your Smile During the Holidays

It can be tempting to head to bed without brushing when you are tired. But it is very important to maintain a healthy smile, even during the hectic holiday season. Skipping your routine is a big mistake that can lead to many problems down the line. Take a few minutes to brush and floss, and your mouth will look and feel great all year long.


Here is a quick review of the most effective way to brush and floss your teeth – something you need to do at least twice a day every day.

  1. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Clean your teeth starting at the gum line with small circular motions.
  2. Gently brush both sides and the top of each tooth. Don’t scrub too hard or you will damage your gums and tooth enamel.
  3. Clean the insides of your front teeth with the tip of your toothbrush.
  4. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria.

Although a manual toothbrush will get the job done with the right technique, the holidays are a great time of year to purchase a new electric toothbrush as a gift to yourself or someone you care about. Consider one of the rotation-oscillation toothbrushes that move in circles as well as back and forth for a thorough cleaning. Look for a toothbrush with a timer so that you keep brushing for at least two minutes. Whether using a manual or electric toothbrush, soft bristles will protect you from scrubbing too hard.


The reason why it is so important to floss is that it removes plaque from between your teeth and narrow areas that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Cleaning under the gum line will help you keep periodontal disease at bay too. Establish a flossing pattern to use every time you floss so that you don’t miss an area by mistake.

  1. Take a piece of dental floss 12-18 inches long, and wrap it around your middle fingers until your hands are 2-3 inches from each other.
  2. Work the floss between two teeth at a time, curving it in a C or U shape and sliding it below the gum line.
  3. Gently slide the floss up and down to remove particles and debris. Be sure to include your back teeth.

If you find it too challenging to position the floss, consider a pre-threaded floss pick that is easier to maneuver. They come in a variety of colors and make a great stocking stuffer, especially for children just learning how to floss on their own.

Although the holiday season is a busy time of year, don’t neglect your oral health, especially if you have young children. If they notice that you aren’t keeping up with your own dental care, they will be more likely to try and skip it themselves. Good habits begin early so be a good role model, even when you are tired. And as a bonus, your entire family can smile beautifully in all of your holiday photos.

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