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Holiday Sweets and Brushing Your Teeth

As the holidays roll around, parents often tell their kids to wait until after dinner to eat their favorite seasonal sweet; however, dentists suggest this may not be as effective for their tooth care. On the downside, sugar is public enemy No. 1 when it comes to dental health. It causes cavities, affects the enamel that protects your teeth and has the potential to do long-term damage to your mouth.

The upside is that one way to neutralize the effects of sugary desserts is to eat them along with your main meal. That’s right: You won’t have to wait for dinner to be over to get a taste of Grandma’s world-famous three-layer chocolate cake or that cherry pie you’ve been staring at since it came out of the oven.

“If you are going to eat sugar, it’s better to do it at the same time as a balanced meal,” says Dr. Dorothy Baker of Summerville Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics. “Rather than serving dessert last, incorporate it into your holiday meal. Healthy foods help neutralize the acids in sugar, and they also displace sugar from your teeth.”

Dr. Baker cited several eating habits that kids should avoid, not only during the holiday season but throughout the rest of the year as well. For instance, even though nuts are great to help build strong bones and muscles, you shouldn’t use your teeth to crack them open. Chewing on items such as ice cubes and hard candy is also a no-no.

“Hard candy is the worst offender,” she says. “It stays in your mouth for a long time, and it can also break your teeth.”

She added that soft drinks should be avoided and that fruit juice is included in that category because it provides lots of sugar and empty calories but little in the way of useful nutrients.

So what are parents to do during the holiday season? Should they keep their children from eating any sweets at all, or is it OK to depend on regular brushing and flossing to protect their kids’ teeth from the chaos sugar is capable of producing? Fortunately, they have another option: Various spices can be used to replace sugar, and many of them also have qualities that add to, rather than subtract from, your kids’ overall health and well-being.

Cinnamon, for example, plays a role in reducing inflammation and fighting off bacteria, and it also adds flavor to oatmeal or apple pie. Nutmeg, an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, can play the same role, according to Dr. Baker. She added that clove has been used as a pain killer, and clove oil is an ingredient in some toothpaste and oral antiseptics. It also can be used to give a burst of flavor to apples and pears.

Peppermint, meanwhile, helps alleviate digestive issues, and Dr. Baker points out that rubbing it on your temples can make a headache go away. And chewing on a mint leaf can help you get rid of bad breath.

“Smart snacking is advised, especially right before bedtime and after brushing,” Dr. Baker concludes. “You can replace candy with any winter produce, such as squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins or any fresh vegetables.”

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Bullwinkel Brings Familiar Name to Summerville Orthodontics Practice

Bullwinkel Brings Familiar Name to Summerville Orthodontics Practice

The building is the same, as is the staff inside, as well as the orthodontist helping to bring brighter smiles and increased self-confidence to patients. There’s a new name and a new logo, but everything else about what had been the orthodontics wing of Summerville Pediatric Dentistry remains comfortably unchanged.

That’s because the new name is really a familiar one: Dr. Katie Bullwinkel, orthodontist with Summerville Pediatric Dentistry since January of 2016, has started a new practice called Bullwinkel Orthodontics. Her office at 405 West 5th North St. was the original home of Summerville Pediatric Dentistry, and while the two offices are not affiliated, she maintains close ties to Dr. Dorothy Baker at the dentist’s current office down the street.

“It was an opportunity I could not pass up,” says Bullwinkel, a native of Chapin, S.C., graduate of The Medical University of S.C. and a mother of three.

“This office is a perfect fit for me—I have a background in pediatric psychology, and I have my own experience with children by being a working mom and a busy mom. I know what it’s like to have kids and take them for appointments, so I think I bring a personal touch to the office that makes it special. And it’s always been a dream of mine to own my own office, and Dottie was wonderful enough to help me realize that dream.”

Stronger Than Ever

Bullwinkel, whose husband is from Charleston, split her time between working at offices in Mount Pleasant and her native Chapin before an opening arose for an orthodontist at the practice then called Summerville Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. She joined Baker’s practice, and the connection was instant—to the point where Baker knew it was Bullwinkel who would one day take over her orthodontics wing.

As Summerville Pediatric Dentistry grew larger and busier, Baker moved the dentistry wing to another building at 384 East 5th North St., where it’s currently located. Over Christmas, she approached Bullwinkel about taking over the orthodontics practice.

“Once she realized it was a good fit for her and her patients, she knew this would be the plan,” Bullwinkel says. “We’d been talking about it for a while, and this was the time to do it.”

The purchase became official in January. Bullwinkel says patients will notice no difference other than the new logo, and that her relationship with Baker—whom she called a mentor, and says coached her so she was ready to open her own office—is stronger than ever.

“We still communicate on the back end, we still text every day, we still communicate about our patients,” Bullwinkel said. “Dottie and I are great friends. We talk all the time. This is just my opportunity to realize a dream, and she’s been very instrumental in helping me with that.”

A People Person at Heart

Growing up, orthodontics was not exactly the career field Bullwinkel foresaw for herself. She was more interested in architecture, until she realized during a shadowing assignment that it lacked the personal interaction she desired. As someone who did her own time in braces, Bullwinkel wound up working after school for her orthodontist, who helped her see that the profession combined design elements—just for teeth, rather than a building—with people skills.

“It brought together that design and artistic element, and also kids and families and people,” she says. “I’m just a people person at heart. I come from a long line of teachers, and there’s lot of teaching and coaching in orthodontics. You really have to have the patient on your side, no matter what the treatment.”

Now, she’s putting those skills to use in an office with her own name out front. If your child is in need of orthodontic care, contact Bullwinkel Orthodontics at (843) 285-5315, or visit their website at for further information.

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Sleep Apnea and Your Child’s Dental Health

UP TO 20 PERCENT of habitually snoring children have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in brief but repeated interruptions to normal breathing during sleep. Not only is this a potentially life-threatening disorder, it also has a significant impact on oral health.

The Three Types Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can occur in three different ways. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of a blockage in the airway, typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which in turn collapses against the back of the throat, closing off the airway. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles of the respiratory system to keep breathing. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types.

Each time breath is interrupted, the brain causes the person with sleep apnea to wake up. It happens so quickly that they usually don’t remember it, but the interruptions severely impact the overall quality of sleep, as they can happen as often as hundreds of times in a single night.

What Does Sleep Apnea Have To Do With Teeth?

In addition to leaving your child with all the usual symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as exhaustion, difficulty concentrating at school, irritability, and hyperactivity, sleep apnea has a number of effects on oral health. There is a significant association between OSA and moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease), but the most common dental health complications are temporomandibular joint disorders(TMJ or TMD).

Studies have shown that the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from becoming blocked when the throat relaxes during a sleep apnea episode. TMD leads to other problems like worn, cracked, or broken teeth, pain when chewing, chronic headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.

How The Dentist Can Help

The dental effects of sleep apnea are so common that the dentist might be the first one to spot the signs and diagnose the disorder. This is just one way your child’s regular dental appointments will benefit their overall health. If they are diagnosed with sleep apnea, common treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and nighttime dental devices that push the tongue or the lower jaw forward.

Healthier Sleep For Healthier Smiles

If your child has been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, there’s no reason for them to continue living with interrupted sleep and the health and cognitive problems that come with sleep apnea. Give us a call or drop by our practice today to schedule an appointment so that we can see if sleep apnea is the cause and get your child on the path to more restful sleep and better oral health.

Wishing all our patients a good night’s sleep!


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New Years


New Years

IT’S A NEW YEAR! We’re so excited for what this year will bring, particularly when we look back at everything we achieved in 2018. That’s why we’re taking this opportunity to give our wonderful patients an update on the goals our team members have made for the new year, as well as their accomplishments from the last!

How Far We Came In 2018

2018 was a year of focus and growth for our office. After the big move of 2017 to our new Pediatric and Teen dental location, both the dental office and the orthodontic office spent 2018 breathing in their new space. We’ve celebrated new milestones and fun giveaways with our patients and office family, incorporated new technologies and fun new treatment options—I’m looking at you GOLD BRACES. We’ve worked hard to make sure your dental and orthodontic experience is always TOP NOTCH. Thank you for all of your patience, your suggestions and your love for our doctors and our amazing team. You, our WONDERFUL patients, have made us all so thankful to be in this profession of serving others.

Our Roadmap For 2019

We are EXCITED to tackle this new year, 2019, with goals for health, mindfulness, presence, but importantly reflection on where we have come from and where we are going. Thinking back to our start over TEN years ago, it is the love our patients that has propelled us forward. Our office goal for 2019 is to continue to grow and surpass your expectations with a single-minded obsession. You have many choices for dental care and we are honored that you have chosen our little office!

Side note — Dr. Katie is also super excited about her new Bullet Journal resolution… #bulletjournal… mind blown. Shout out to Olivia Olson for the suggestion! Bring on that #organizedlife!!!

Check out this video for tips on keeping your resolutions:

What Are Your Goals This Year?

Now that we’ve told you about our goals for the new year, we want to hear about yours! Share your New Year’s resolutions in the comments below or on Facebook, and we look forward to seeing you this year!

Let’s all support each other in making our resolutions a reality!

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candy and braces

Halloween, Candy, and YOUR BRACES

Halloween, Candy and YOUR BRACES

WE ALL LOVE EATING our favorite candy from time to time, especially around Halloween. But those treats can get tricky for orthodontic patients, because many of the standard goodies are harmful to braces. So how can you safely enjoy your spooky night of fun and sweets? Just follow our guidelines of what to aim for and what to avoid in the trick-or-treat bowls around your neighborhood.

candy and braces

Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

The good news is that chocolate is safe! Any type of soft chocolate, from a bar to a peanut butter cup, is perfectly fine to eat with braces. But soft is the keyword there. Hard or large pieces of chocolate could still pose a danger to orthodontic equipment, and you should avoid chocolate with hard pieces of toffee embedded in it.


Cookies and brownies are another safe option for braces-wearers, so make sure you pay a visit to the house that always hands out baked goods this year! Again, softness is key. If someone gives you a hard cookie, give it a good long soak in cold milk before biting into it.


While whole caramel apples are firmly on the banned list, you can take that caramel apple home and chop it into slices. After that, it won’t pose a threat to your braces. Even better, apples are much healthier for your teeth than all that candy, so you can enjoy something both delicious and good for you!


Hard candies are okay, but there’s a catch: no chewing allowed. If you have the patience to be able to suck on it until it dissolves, a hard candy is safe. However, just because they’re safe for braces doesn’t make them great for your teeth, so we still recommend sticking to the other options.


Treats To Trade To Your No-Braces Friends

No matter how much you love them, there are some treats and candies that are definitely off-limits if you have braces. Anything hard, gummy, chewy, or sticky can put brackets and wires at risk. That means no taffy, gummies, caramels, toffee, popcorn, jelly beans, Tootsie Rolls, or Starbursts, and absolutely no gum. Any of these can pop or pull a bracket right off a tooth. It’s also important to avoid candies like M&Ms or Skittles, because their small size makes it easy for them to get into the wrong place and pop a bracket loose.


Check out this video for a reminder about banned foods and why to avoid them:


If you do end up with a bag full of banned treats, just trade those away to a friend or sibling without braces until your Halloween haul is all orthodontist-approved!


Don’t Forget To Clean Your Teeth!

The most important thing to remember after your night of fun and tasty treats is to take care of your teeth and your braces, because many of the treats that are safe to eat can still lead to tooth decay without proper attention to dental hygiene. So make sure to brush and floss away all traces of that sugary deliciousness. We’ll be checking the next time we see you that you’ve been keeping up with your braces cleaning routine!


Keep making wise choices to keep your braces safe!


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4 Animals With Unusual Teeth

4 Animals With Unusual Teeth


ANIMALS MIGHT NOT BE as concerned with maintaining their oral health and hygiene as we are, but that doesn’t stop some of them from having very interesting teeth! Like our teeth are adapted to an omnivorous diet, animal teeth are adapted to the foods they eat. In some cases, the results can get pretty strange. Today, we’re going to focus on four of the weirdest sets of chompers we could find.

  1. The Tusks Of The Babirusa

Babirusas are pigs native to Indonesia, but these pigs aren’t quite like the farm animals we’re used to. No, these pigs have a serious dental problem in the form of their multiple pairs of very large tusksThese tusks are actually the babirusas’ canine teeth, which continue to grow through their lives. The males’ upper canines grow right through their upper lips and keep growing, sometimes so much that they end up curving all the way back around towards their skulls! Yikes!

  1. The Icepick Teeth Of The Payara

The payara is a carnivorous fish from the Amazon Basin whose lower fangs have earned it nicknames like “vampire tetra” and “saber-tooth barracuda.” These long, thin fangs range from four to seven inches long, and the payara uses them to impale its prey, including piranhas! Payara can grow to up to four feet long and 80 pounds!

  1. The Serrated Bill Of The Goosander

At first, you might think a goosander looks like any other duck, but if you catch one yawning or chomping down on food, you’ll notice its rows of tiny, razor-sharp teeth! These European birds are members of the Merganser genus, also called sawbills — so named because of the 150 teeth lining their bills, which are designed to saw through whatever they eat, such as small mammals and sometimes even other birds!

  1. The Red Fangs Of The Triggerfish

Triggerfish are a group of about forty different species of brightly colored fish marked by the lines and spots in their scales, but don’t let their beautiful scales distract you from their teeth! Triggerfish have very powerful jaws and teeth that they use to crush the shells of crustaceans. The redtoothed triggerfish is perhaps the weirdest species of the group, with bright red fangs protruding from its mouth!

Taking Care Of Your Teeth

Do you know of any other weird teeth out their in the wild? We’d love to hear about them! In the meantime, make sure you continue taking great care of your own pearly whites by brushing and flossing regularly. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

We love helping our patients take care of their teeth!