Category: General Tooth Care Info

Not Sure What to Pack Your Kids for Lunch?
Not Sure What to Pack Your Kids for Lunch?

Choosing the best foods to put in your child’s lunch or give them as a snack can often be a challenging task. As a parent you want to choose something they will like but also something that is healthy for their body and their teeth. If a child is regularly eating candy or sugary snacks during the day, that sugar will just sit on their teeth until they brush them in the evening. Here is a list of some snack options that  promote children’s dental health as well!

  1. Oranges, sweet peppers or strawberries all contain the popular nutrient vitamin c. This vitamin is especially helpful in fighting certain types of bacteria in the mouth because they don’t like its acidic nature.
  2. Nuts or foods containing seeds have healthy oils in them which can coat the teeth and act a protective barrier to invading bacteria. Some examples could be peanuts, almonds, whole grain breads or hearty granola bars.
  3. Milk and Dairy products can also be healthy for teeth because they are an excellent source of calcium, which is helpful in keeping kids teeth strong and resilient. Dairy products also increase the acidity of the mouth and thus ward off any acid loving bacteria.
  4. Apples, Carrots or celery can be excellent choices because they mechanically clean the teeth. Their crispness acts as a kind of abrasive surface on the teeth, helping scrape off any plaque or buildup.
  5. Always give water. Children of course love juice and sugar drinks however the less you give these to your children, the better off their dental health will be. Always promote drinking water because it helps rinse the mouth as well as hydrate.

These are just a few ideas to help inspire healthy snacks, which are also healthy for the mouth. Limiting the amount of times your child snacks a day is also very helpful in keeping the sugar loving bacteria to a minimum.  Being a parent is never easy, but promoting and instilling healthy snacking habits in your child will always pay off, especially concerning their dental health.

Soothing Teething Babies
Soothing Teething Babies

Teething or the development of baby teeth is something every child has to go through during their early years of life. It is a process, which normally causes discomfort and restlessness and can therefore be an exhausting period for the child and the parents.

Teething typically begins anywhere from 3 months to one year when the primary teeth are finding their way to the gums surface. The soreness at this time is most often due to the swelling of the gums as the teeth begin to move. This discomfort can leave the child fussy and unsettled. Every baby is going to be different during this time however, here are some remedies, which will hopefully help, ease the process!

  1. A clean finger -moving over the surface of the gums can relieve some of the teething pain.
  2. A damp washcloth put in the fridge and then offered to your baby to chew on can offer some cool relief.
  3. Breastfeeding can be a simple and soothing option to help distract your baby and relieve some of the pain.
  4. There are also certain pain relievers or Tylenol  you can ask your doctor to recommend.
  5. Amber Teething Necklaces-are a trending holistic solution with the belief that the heat from your child’s skin warms the amber beads which then releases oils containing succinic acid which are then absorbed into the blood. Succinic acid is a natural pain-relieving agent.
  6. Mesh Teethers-can also be a good solution by placing frozen fruit inside and giving the baby something cold but yummy to chew on.

These remedies are not a solution to everyone’s teething baby problems. However, hopefully they offer some temporary relief or more sleep filled nights.

 

Tips for the Kids Who Don’t Like Brushing
Tips for the Kids Who Don’t Like Brushing

Easing into a tooth-brushing routine can often be a difficult process with young children. The magic of being a “big kid who brushes their teeth” doesn’t last for very long, eventually making the repetitive routine of teeth brushing a bit painful.

There are always some tips and tricks however, which can make this adjustment process much simpler!

  • Let your kids practice by letting them brush your teeth. This can be a promising solution because it allows them to feel like you are in this process with them and not just the tooth-brushing dictator.
  • A reward system can also be effective. Add stickers to a calendar or quarters to a jar or maybe a fun game before bed. This helps give the child incentive and makes them feel like they are doing something right by brushing their teeth. (Just don’t make it candy or chocolate on a daily basis, as this is semi-counter intuitive to purpose of brushing teeth!
  • Changing toothpaste can also be effective by adding a new flavor and helping it feel like a new experience. Sometimes even making toothpaste optional at first, can make the initial experience a bit less dramatic.
  • Giving independence. Allowing your child to put on his or her own toothpaste and do a lot of the brushing themselves as well as rinse out their own mouth can help them feel responsible and in control.
  • Brushing to music makes tooth brushing into more of a party or game, which can help break up the monotony of the routine.
  • Use an Analog timer. These timers are a fun visual for children and can help give them a 3D image to watch as well as know how long they need to brush.

Brushing teeth is never an easy task at the beginning, but hopefully these six simple tips help you better negotiate with your reluctant brushers!

What is Fluoride?
What is Fluoride?

Fluoride can be a controversial topic when discussing the dental health of children. There are many different opinions as to whether fluoride is actually helpful in preventing tooth decay or if it has any dangerous health implications. The facts surrounding what fluoride is, where it can be found and its multiple uses may help decipher whether fluoride is a good choice for you and your children.

Fluoride is a monatomic, inorganic anion from the element of Fluorine (F).  An anion is a negatively charged ion, which is attracted to positively charged substances. Fluoride can be found in multiple different mineral sources on earth but is mostly found in trace quantities within water. It has a slightly bitter taste and no color.

Due to the fact that fluoride is an anion it sticks very firmly to the calcium ions found within the enamel of a tooth. Tooth enamel is comprised of calcium and phosphate and can be easily broken down by the sugar-loving bacteria found within the mouth. These bacteria produce acid as their bi-product, which decays the tooth. Saliva acts as a natural repair device for the enamel in the mouth by neutralizing these acids. However, the amount of acid decay often can be too much for the saliva to properly neutralize, this leads to cavities and decay in the mouth.  Fluoride is a helpful agent in this case because it sticks tightly to the teeth, reinforcing the enamel and protecting the teeth from bacteria and acids.

Normal doses of fluoride can occasionally leave white marks on the teeth. In extreme doses, discoloration can take place in brown or yellow coloring. There are certain studies which state fluorine in high doses can be toxic to the body, mostly the bones (skeletal fluorosis). However, many of the negative effects of fluoride are still open for discussion and study.

As with most substances, moderation is key. Fluoride certainly falls into this category.  Kids should not use a toothpaste with fluoride in it until they are at least 2 years of age. After that, only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush is enough to get the job done!

Facts About Wisdom Teeth You May Not Know

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.

What Type of Braces Does Your Child Need?
What Type of Braces Does Your Child Need?

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.

Image result for braces

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.

Extractions: When Are They Necessary?
Extractions: When Are They Necessary?

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.

Bite Correction

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, Pacifiers, and How They Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth
Thumb-sucking, Pacifiers, and How They Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

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:

Thumb sucking:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 

Pacifier use:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Dry Mouth: What It Is & How it Can Affect Your Teeth
Dry Mouth: What It Is & How it Can Affect Your Teeth

Dry mouth is an oral condition that is fairly self-explanatory: it is where there is not enough saliva production inside the mouth.

Saliva adds a very important element to virtually every function your mouth needs to do. When a bite of food enters the mouth, alongside chewing with teeth there are enzymes in spit that help begin breaking down food before it even enters the stomach. This aids in not only swallowing properly but digestion as well.

The saliva glands continue producing day and night to help wash away leftover debris between meals. This helps keep teeth clean and is our body’s natural, initial defense against cavities. Build-up from the bacteria in saliva is what causes plaque, which is why we have to brush our teeth manually at least once a day. But if we didn’t have saliva, we would have to brush and wash away debris much more frequently!

Not only is saliva helpful with eating and preserving teeth, but it keeps the mouth well lubricated for speaking, and prevents the tongue and gums from drying out and cracking. It is crucial that the tongue always stays wet – if it doesn’t, taste buds don’t work properly! Yes – we actually could not taste food very well without spit!

Amazingly enough, our body actually produces less saliva when we sleep at night. If you sleep with your mouth open, you might notice that you will drool a little bit at night. But if you’ve ever woken up with cotton mouth, it’s because not only did leftover moisture leave the mouth (drool) but the production of saliva reduces significantly.

There are a couple ways that we can experience temporary dry mouth: dehydration, stress, or sleeping with your mouth open. But when dry mouth persists, it is known as a clinical condition called xerostomia (zehr-ehs-toh-mee-ah), which is much more serious.

Xerostomia is caused primarily by certain medications. There are over 500 prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can affect fluid regulation in the body, such as allergy medicines (antihistamines). It can also be caused by antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs.

The common misconception is that mostly elderly people get dry mouth, which simply isn’t true. Many individuals who take the above medications are susceptible; and cancer, allergies, and mood disorders can appear at any age.

Radiation treatments to the head and neck (for cancer found in these areas) can also cause permanent damage to the glands. Other diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, and AIDS can also have dry mouth as an added ailment.

If you think you or your child may have dry mouth, here are some steps you can take:

  • If you or your child take a regular medication(s), tell your doctor about the dryness you are experiencing and see if dry mouth is one of the side effects.
  • Take regular sips of fluid. It is imperative that your mouth continually stay moist and wash away food debris throughout the day. Water is always best.
  • Sleep with a humidifier in the room. This can be really soothing, especially if you are prone to sleeping with your mouth open.
  • Don’t smoke. This will definitely aggravate the dryness!
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Remember when we said that if we didn’t have saliva, we’d have to brush more frequently?! That’s because with dry mouth there lacks a natural way for food and bacteria to be consistently flushed out.
  • Don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year. This is just a good practice, whether you have dry mouth or not!
Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?
Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?

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.