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Behind every healthy smile is a person who is motivated to maintain their overall health. “It is so much more than brushing and flossing, as that is just the starting point,” says Richard K. Whalen, D.D.S. Proper home care is of course important, but diet and nutrition also play a big role in not only our general health but also our dental health, and it all starts from the moment we are born.

How does a healthy smile begin?
As newborns, it is important for the features of the face and skull to develop as nature intended. And breastfeeding is an important component as it helps develop the maxilla and consequently the mandible as well. Bottle-feeding often involves an improperly shaped or too stiff of a nipple which can cause a narrowing of the face. This can later lead to a dental malocclusion (bad bite), with narrowing of the dental arches, possibly retruding the jaws resulting in a compromised airway.

Similarly, much of what we feed to our children may be allergenic (i.e. casein or whey in milk) and cause congestion, which can lead to mouth breathing. As a mouth breather, you are more likely to have a narrow/collapsed maxillary arch. It is incredibly important to be able to breathe through our nose as it provides better oxygenation, and also maintains ideal facial growth. If not, again we are more susceptible to snoring and sleep apnea.

dr. richard k whalen
Richard K. Whalen, D.D.S.

before after

Before (left) and after (right) treatment

What hygiene process should be performed at home?
Proper home care starts with proper brushing and flossing, but also may require the use of dental rinses, oral irrigators (ViaJet, Waterpik, etc.), tongue scrapers, and other floss aids. Every person’s hygiene is dependent on their specific needs. But, it’s critical to focus on inflammation, or more importantly, lack of inflammation, in your mouth.

Why is treating inflammation key to good overall health?
Inflammation doesn’t occur in an isolated fashion, meaning your body is mounting a response and not just the target area is affected. That is why bleeding (inflamed) gums has been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other diseases.

At Dental Design Studio, Dr. Richard K. Whalen and his team customize every patient’s treatment plan to eliminate inflammation and keep your smile as well as your overall well-being in optimal shape. There is no cookie-cutter approach, but a plan that may include the use of a laser, localized delivery of antibiotics, special toothpaste, and more.

Dental Design Studio
46 Fox St., #3, Poughkeepsie

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Hudson Valley Magazine editorial staff.