For most young adults wisdom teeth will eventually become a topic of discussion. Do I have them? Should I have them removed? Have they already grown in? These are some common questions you may ask your dentist when considering what to do with your wisdom teeth. Having a fuller knowledge about what wisdom teeth actually are, why they exist in the human mouth and the risks associated with them will help you understand the whole process much better.
Wisdom teeth are called by that name because they normally begin to show in the human mouth around the ages of 17-25 years old. These years are typically thought to be the “ages of gaining wisdom”. They are said to originally exist in the mouth because humans used to have to eat much harder or grainy foods so they needed to have extra molars in order to grind it down. Today, food is much more processed and so the necessity for wisdom teeth has become less and less.
The main risk is that wisdom teeth are quite large and can easily cause crowding within the mouth. Crowding can lead to multiple complications such as tooth decay or jaw problems. If the mouth is overly crowded, wisdom teeth can become displaced and grow in sideways or only partially emerge from the gums. Partial eruption is dangerous because it makes the tooth difficult to clean and allows debris to be easily trapped around the tooth, which can lead to infection or decay. If the wisdom tooth never erupts at all, it can cause problems below the surface of the gums such as tooth displacement or crowding.
In certain situations the wisdom teeth can grow in straight to become fully functional. These scenarios typically don’t require immediate removal of the teeth however they still need to be watched and monitored closely because complications can occur later on. Fully emerged wisdom teeth are set very far back in the mouth making proper cleaning difficult. This leaves them always at high risk for decay or causing certain gum infections.
Braces have become a very popular practice in the American dental world. If you were to ask a room full young adults how many of them had had braces, over half would surely raise their hand. Though braces are very popular, not everyone is aware of the different types, which are available. Most people end up with the traditional or metal braces; however there are four types which dentists can typically offer you.
Traditional or metal braces are the most common. When you think of braces, these are most likely the type you think of, considering 78% of people under the age of 18 are wearing metal braces. Metal braces have come a long way since the earlier years and now consist of smaller square brackets, which are glued to the teeth connected by thin wires, which slowly pull the teeth together.
An alternative to traditional braces would be the Ceramic braces. The ceramic braces closely resemble metal braces in function and style however the metal square brackets are replaced with square ceramic brackets. These brackets are typically the same color as the teeth, leaving them to be less noticeable. Adults who require braces are more likely to favor this option.
Another option is the Lingual Braces. Lingual braces are unique because they are attached to the back or inside of the teeth closer to the lingual palate. This style is certainly more discrete, however can have severe downsides when it comes to cleaning. Tightening can also become a longer and more painful process due to their difficult-to-reach placement; though their invisibility from the outside really appeals to many patients who require braces
Lastly, there is the Invisalign. Invisalign was founded in 1997 and has continued to grow in popularity ever since. The invisalign technique consists of 18 to 30 custom mouth-guard-like inserts which cover the entire tooth. These are changed out every two to three weeks. They have to be changed in order to accommodate the new alignment of the teeth. Invisalign is popular because it is completely invisible and allows patients to eat and drink whatever they would like. Though, they are only suitable for adults and teens, not younger children.
Even though traditional metal braces are usually the recommended and most cost effective technique, it is always good to keep your options open and speak with your orthodontist about all the possibilities.
Tooth pulling or extraction is a common topic of discussion within the dental community. No one wants to voluntarily get a tooth pulled. Teeth were intended by the body to last a lifetime of wear and tear, however there a multiple reasons as to why tooth extraction should be or must be done.
Space is needed!
The mouth is only so big. Your skull determines that. However, the relationship between the size of the mouth, the dental arch and the size of the teeth sometimes do not coexist in harmony. Crowding in the mouth can be caused by any of the aforementioned factors and can lead to many harmful side effects, such as bite alignment, infection, smile aesthetic or just overall discomfort.
There are some instances where space could be made by braces or other teeth correcting techniques, however the time required to complete the job is too drastic and may jeopardize tooth and gum health. Thus pulling the tooth is the wiser and safer option.
Having a Bite, which is not properly aligned (malocclusion), though seemingly harmless, can actually affect the health of the mouth greatly. If the mouth is too crowded, the upper and lower teeth may not be properly aligned. This is an issue because it can cause irregular wear on particular teeth, jaw discomfort when chewing or frequent biting of the cheeks and tongue. All of which have a negative effect on the overall health of the mouth and teeth.
Profile and Smile
An out of place tooth can negatively affect the profile and smile which has an overall impact on your dental hygiene. If the mouth is overcrowded or there is a tooth with strange alignment or placement, the profile of the teeth will be affected. This tooth can be a danger to the hygiene of the mouth if it is hard to reach when cleaning or very easily traps debris throughout the day.
Though the extraction of teeth is always an undesired procedure, the life-long positive effects of having a mouth with space, a bite with perfect alignment and a healthy profile and smile are well worth it!
Thumb sucking and pacifiers are probably the bane of any parent’s existence at one time or another. These habits, though incredibly useful to soothe a fussy baby or toddler eventually become a worry for most parents concerned about their child’s dental health. As child of 1-2 years old, these coping skills shouldn’t be worried about too greatly. However, when the ages of 3 or 4 are reached and the habit is still in full swing, some harm may be done to development of the child’s teeth, jaw and mouth. The sucking motion eventually narrows the upper jaw due to pressure being applied to the sides and soft palate often resulting in the need for braces or can potentially cause speech problems.
Parents are always wondering what are some tricks to help stop a child who sucks his thumb or takes a pacifier so here are a couple tips and tricks for both:
- Try to limit the time your child is sucking their thumb to only bedtime or naptime. This helps give them the day time hours where they will eventually learn thumb sucking is only for bedtime.
- Help your child understand that when they’re ready to stop sucking their thumb, you will be there to support them. This can really help empower a child to stop the habit.
- Come up with creative methods to help the child understand that they are growing every day and eventually won’t need to suck their thumb anymore.
- Taking the pacifier away earlier is always better. If you notice that your baby is not actively sucking on their pacifier or needing it too much as night, feel free to just take it away. Limiting their access will avoid difficult to break habit forming later on.
- Going cold turkey can also be an option. Many parents designate a special day, such as a birthday or vacation, where they tell the child before hand that they won’t have the pacifier after that. Don’t steal it away without any thought, but help the child understand the scenario then stick to your plan.
- Inventing a “binky fairy” or someone the pacifier needs to be given to is another excellent way. It can give your child a fun experience if they’re giving it away in exchange for a dollar, Christmas gifts or even to a new baby. It also helps explain where the pacifier went and why. When they may ask about it later on, they will remember the story or event and won’t feel surprised or confused.
All of these different methods have been used by countless parents countless times. Weaning your child off of a habit such as thumb sucking or a pacifier can be a lengthy process or a short one. Every child is different. Some methods will work for one and completely not work for another. Just pick a plan as the parents, discuss it with the child and then stick to the plan so no one gets caught off guard or confused.
Trick or Treat!
Halloween is a beloved holiday celebrated by most American children around the country. What kid doesn’t like getting free candy? And in copious amounts that will last them for weeks or even months to come?
Some parents opt for more family-friendly traditions, such as harvest festivals, or a celebratory gathering where there are other children. Some families decide not to celebrate at all, as many religions highly discourage parents from letting their children participate in a holiday with known Wiccan roots. However, if you are in the majority, Trick-or-Treating is the go-to practice for millions of children and young adults every October 31st.
Use the Buddy System
Up until a certain age, children should obviously be supervised while they go door-to-door at night approaching stranger’s houses. But once they reach an appropriate age (TBD by each parent’s discretion) it is best that kids travel in groups. This may seem like a no-brainer, but many times young preteens and young teens can get caught up in sugar-fueled excitement that they may lose track of their surroundings, and, one or some of their group.
Remind your child to keep an eye on everybody he or she is with. The buddy system goes all ways – everyone watches out for each other.
If someone gets lost or accidentally left behind, agree to have a designated meeting place that is open, and well-lit – such as under a streetlight in a park or a location close to the starting point. Thankfully we live in a more technologically-savvy culture, so sending phones along in case of a problem is also a good idea.
Use a Flashlight or a Guiding Light
This is a great tip especially if you have more than one child or more children are coming with you around the neighborhood. Not only will this help a child navigate sidewalks and spot low-hanging branches, but it will aid the parents or the adult supervising in spotting where they are at all times.
If children are unaccompanied by an adult or older sibling, this should also aid their group in staying together and being aware of each other at all times.
Unfortunately, not everybody can be trusted. When your child has finished Trick-or-Treating, regardless of age, have them pour out their candy into a pile. It is important that the stash be examined for any kind of obvious tampering, such as an opened wrapper; in which case the piece should be tossed out. While a lot of times this is accidental, it is good to use precaution. If you find a sweet that is not in commercial packaging or appears to be homemade, unless you trust the person from whose house it came, THROW IT AWAY. Homemade candy is not really acceptable in this day in age, and for obvious reasons.
With food allergies, make sure upon reading the ingredients that the food is not anywhere in the candy. In cases of incredibly sensitive peanut allergies, many times the label will tell you whether or not the treat was manufactured in an environment where peanuts were present. This is good information, especially if your child cannot even be near peanuts without have some sort of reaction.
“Treat”-ing While Trick-or-Treating
It is best that children do not eat candy while going door-to-door – especially for smaller children, as this can pose a choking hazard. Instead, send your child out after dinner or make sure they have a snack in their stomach before they head out. This way, kids will not be as tempted to begin eating any of the candy until after it has been inspected.
We hope these tips and ideas can keep your kiddos safe this Halloween, but also not hinder any fun there is to be had! For more information, visit:
As a parent, there is a natural concern or even objection to your child having x-rays on their teeth. Can’t radiation be extremely harmful to children? Is it even necessary?
All dental experts agree: No to the first question, yes to the second. The first objection is perhaps the most common, and the most obvious concern. Children get their first tooth often before their first birthday. Isn’t it dangerous to expose an infant to radiation?
Here are the facts. In comparison to other ways bones and other internal organs are examined, x-rays are the most comfortable and fastest way to examine anything inside the body – and most importantly, identify a particular issue if there is one.
The whole process to capture the x-ray is only a few seconds and cannot be felt at all. Dental experts agree that there can be far more damage in the avoidance of x-rays. This is because they can detect issues and potential issues regular dental instruments can not, and can allow the dentist to identify cavities, view emerging adult or wisdom teeth, catch early decay, and even small fractures in the case of an injury.
Without the use of x-rays, the detection, prevention, and resolution of these issues would be nearly non-existent – and ultimately, more detrimental – costing you more money and your child more pain in the long-run. Cavities and decay especially can occur between teeth or in places not visible by a regular probe. In the case of a damaged root or a tooth that is positioned improperly under the surface of the gums, this is impossible to identify and treat without x-rays.
If this quick and painless process has any discomfort whatsoever, it’s the measures taken to ensure your child is positioned properly for the brief moment is takes to capture the x-rays. The dentist or pediatric dentist will most likely explain to your child that they are going to take a picture of their teeth and in order to capture this they have to sit very, very still. This way, the child is not frightened and is more inclined to move as little as possible for the few seconds the machine is obtaining the images.
These examinations only take place usually once a year (every other semi-annual appointment) which means the amount of x-rays passing through are incredibly spread out. Not only that, your child will wear a weighted lead vest during this process to protect the rest of their body. Truly, however, the vest is very strictly precautionary.
If you have any further concerns about x-rays, do not hesitate to talk to your child’s dentist at their next appointment. Chances are they will reassure you that x-rays are risk-free and necessary to monitor a growing smile closely and effectively.
Is the kind of toothpaste we use really that big of a deal?
While many come dentist-recommended, one of the most important things you can do for your smile everyday is to brush your teeth, regardless of whatever you are using to do this.
If you have a toothbrush that is able to get every nook and cranny of your mouth, it’s crucial that you are using it to get any bacteria and buildup off of your teeth. Most toothpastes have a bacteria-fighting agent in them that aid you in doing this. If you’ve ever brushed without any toothpaste, you may have noticed a difference as to how much less time it takes for your mouth to feel “gross” again.
When it comes to children brushing their teeth, it’s important that as soon as their first tooth comes in that you begin brushing it for them until they are old enough to do it on their own. While still in infancy, do NOT use toothpaste with fluoride, but use a gentle, baby-sized toothbrush with water (or fluoride-free baby toothpaste).
Once a child is 3 years old, then you can begin using toothpaste with fluoride. This helps build up the enamel and makes teeth strong. Be sure that you are only placing a pea-sized portion on the toothbrush up until they are about 7. This prevents swallowing too much and can also aid in preventing fluorosis; a minor cosmetic issue that occurs on the surface of the teeth if a build-up of fluoride begins incurring. It basically looks like brown or white spots appearing on the enamel.
According to the American Dental Association, here are the top recommended brands for kids that won’t break the bank:
- Crest® Pro-Health Stages® Disney Princess Toothpaste – This toothpaste is guaranteed to fight against cavities, and the mild gel formula has been kid tested and approved. The packaging features Disney characters, which all children love.
- Aquafresh® Fresh ‘N Fruity – The subtle flavors of this brand makes it a great transition toothpaste for toddlers coming out of infancy. It gently cleans vulnerable new teeth and includes fluoride for cavity protection. This toothpaste is suitable for children three years and older; supervised use is recommended.
- Colgate Children’s 2-in-1 toothpaste – This toothpaste is approved by the American Dental Association and is recommended best for children over the age of five. It is a liquid gel formula that is kids are known to love and comes in a variety of flavors to suit their individual tastes. It provides dual benefits as both a toothpaste and a mouthwash that protects your kids’ teeth against cavities.
- Tom’s of Maine, Natural Anti-Cavity Toothpaste for Children – This brand has a defense mechanism against bacteria and acids. There are no artificial preservatives, dyes or saccharine in this toothpaste and it contains real fruit juice to make it taste great for kids.
Source: Children’s Dental