Author: Dr. Chea Rainford

Dental Care Checklist for Kids

 

  • Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings. Now that their permanent teeth are growing in, it’s the perfect time to get kids used to healthy habits that are good for their teeth — that includes going to the dentist every six months!

 

  • Teach them how to brush and floss. By the time your child reaches the age of 6 he or she should have the coordination skills required to brush teeth. Teach your child proper tooth brushing techniques (short, up-and-down and back-and-forth strokes and brushing around their gum line). Teaching your child how to floss might be trickier, so you may want to buy floss picks to start.

 

  • Ask us about dental sealants. Dental sealants offer added protection against tooth decay.

 

  • Monitor fluoride use. Check to see if your community water supply is fluoridated. If not, ask us about professional fluoride treatments for your child. Keep in mind that too much fluoride can cause fluorosis.

 

  • Ask us for mouthwash recommendations. We know which types of mouthwash are safe for kids. Generally speaking, an alcohol-free mouthwash made especially for children is your safest bet.

 

  • Prepare healthy meals and smart snacks. A nutritious, well-balanced diet is just as important for your child’s teeth as it is for overall health. Instead of cookies, potato chips and ice cream, give your kids smart snacks such as fresh fruit, vegetables, unsalted pretzels, plain yogurt, nuts and low-fat cheese.

 

  • Schedule an orthodontic evaluation. It’s recommend that children receive a complete orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7.

 

Embarrassed It Has Been So Long?

 

If you’re nervous about having to sit through a lecture on the importance of dental health, you can stop worrying. We’re not here to cause you anxiety or point fingers. Trust us, we of all people know that dental health is affected by a number of factors that could be environmental, hereditary or habitual. Our goal is to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
This might surprise you, but there’s almost nothing that can surprise us when it comes to teeth. If you think your teeth are bad, we’ve probably seen worse. A large part of our training and professional work involves being exposed to just about every dental problem you can imagine. Without that kind of experience, how could we properly evaluate your teeth and treat them? We couldn’t.
One of the most important things you can do is to be up front with us. If you have dental anxiety, don’t silently suffer in the chair – tell us! The same goes for anything specific that might scare you – whether it’s needles or anesthesia or just sitting in the chair. And please tell us what we can do to make your visit more comfortable. Many people find that a blanket and pillow makes their visits much more relaxing. Others like us to explain what we’re doing before we do it. And some people find that taking frequent breaks is helpful.
Let’s talk about what you need before you talk yourself out of scheduling another visit. We’ll do whatever we can to ensure that you have a positive experience getting the dental care you need.

 

Oral Hygiene is a Must for Germ-a-Phobes

Those suffering from Misophobia or Mysophobia are burdened with the fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs. A study has shown that nearly 80 percent of American’s are concerned about the little critters on their hands, but the reality is they should focus more on their dental health if they really want to lower the chances of defiling their health.

According to Sigmund Socransky, associate clinical professor of periodontology at Harvard University “In one mouth, the number of bacteria can easily exceed the number of people who live on Earth,” (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/2002/08.22/01-oralcancer.html). These organisms band together and form colonies leading to excess dental plaque.

While the plaque community, a sticky film that can look off-white in appearance, can look harmless because of its size, the reality is that it will cause health issues. If left unchecked, the community will lead to gum disease and all the dental problems associated with that infection including halitosis and tooth decay. Science has proven that an excess of dental plaque can cause health problems such as strokes, diabetes and heart disease.

When it comes to cleaning the human mouth, brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily is the best way to remove harmful bacteria. Brushing should take a full two minutes allowing 30 seconds for each dental quadrant. Using a fluoride toothpaste is also recommended. Individuals should pay special attention to brushing teeth gently while maneuvering a toothbrush to reach the back teeth and the gum lines. If dental plaque has already hardened into dental tartar, only a cleaning from a professional dentist will do.

5 Clues Your Child Is not Brushing

 

1. The toothbrush is dry.
It’s tough to keep the toothbrush dry if you’re actually brushing! Make sure to check your child’s toothbrush every day (and night ) – before it has time to dry.
2. You can still see food particles.
After your child has brushed, ask for a smile. If you can still see bits of food on or in between your child’s teeth, send your child back to the bathroom for a do-over.
3. Teeth don’t pass the “squeak test.”
Have your child wet his or her finger and rub it quickly across the outside and inside of his or her teeth. If the teeth are clean, you will hear a squeaking sound.
4. Breath is everything but fresh.
If your child is brushing and flossing regularly, his or her breath should be fresh. The foul odor associated with bad breath is most often caused by food particles — either food left in between teeth or food trapped in the grooves on the tongue.
5. Your child has a toothache.
Even if you can’t tell if your child is brushing well, a toothache is a red flag. Make sure your child sees the dentist right away – a filling or other treatment may be in order.
Remember, brushing is just one part of your child’s total oral health regimen. In order to remove stubborn plaque and tartar buildup and prevent other dental problems, regular exams and cleanings are a must. Plus, your dentist can help reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene with your child.

Swelling: A Sign to See Your Dentist

 If you notice swelling in your mouth or jaw, call us right away for an appointment. Oral swelling is almost always caused by an infection of a tooth or the gums. If an infected tooth is the culprit, it usually means there’s a deep cavity allowing bacteria to infect the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth. Without treatment, the infection will spread to the tissues and eventually form an abscess. Abscesses also spread – to the jawbone and cheek. And the longer an abscess is left untreated, the more the swelling will spread. A gum infection can also cause swelling when plaque and debris get trapped under the gum line. This almost always occurs in people with pre-existing gum disease. In either case, swelling is not something to take lightly; it requires immediate professional attention.

Swelling caused by an infected tooth will be treated with either root canal therapy, to remove the infected nerves, or with an extraction. In most cases, it’s preferable to save the tooth with root canal therapy rather than remove it. For gum infections, we can clean under the gum line to treat the infection.

Before your dental visit, try rinsing with warm salt water (8 oz. of water with 1 tsp. of salt) every two hours to bring some of the swelling down. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, or a topical ointment like Orajel® to help with the pain.

Boost Brain Power

The human brain is a marvelous piece of organic design. The organ controls the nervous system in all vertebrates, including humans. The hub of what helps distinguish man from the rest of the animal kingdom processes about 70,000 thoughts a day and in order to keep the synaptic connections sharp, daily brushing and flossing are necessary.

According to a study conducted by a team of British psychiatrists and dentists, “…gingivitis and periodontal disease were associated with worse cognitive function throughout adult life, not just in later years.” (http://www.prevention.com/health/brain-health/surprising-tips-boost-your-brain). The information was unearthed after the team analyzed thousands of subjects aged 20 to 59. They suggest following dentist recommendations of brushing teeth twice daily for two minutes a session, plus flossing every day to remove dental plaque. A solid preventive oral health regime will keep you sharp, regardless of your age.

White-Hot Composite Fillings

When it comes to fillings, most people think of amalgam, or silver. That’s no surprise. Dentists have used amalgam to fill cavities for over 150 years and for good reason: Amalgam is one of the most durable and long-lasting restorative materials used in dentistry.
But what amalgam offers in affordability and endurance, it lacks in aesthetics. Composite resin, on the other hand, matches your natural tooth color. No one – not even you – can see composite fillings with a naked eye.
So what is composite resin?
Composite resin was first introduced to dentistry in the 60s and is made of a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with silicon dioxide (glass). Early on, composite fillings were only used to restore front teeth because they weren’t strong enough to withstand the chewing pressure produced by back teeth.
Today’s composites not only look more natural but are also tougher, more versatile and can be used to:
·        Restore small- to mid-sized cavities
·        Reshape chipped teeth and broken teeth
·        Replace amalgam fillings
Composite fillings have other benefits, too. If you have sensitive teeth, composite fillings may make them less sensitive to hot and cold. And with composites, more of your tooth structure stays intact – that’s not the case with silver fillings. Composite fillings are also easily fixable if they’re damaged.

Smile Safety for Active Kids

Active kids call for active safety. And while helmets, goggles and knee pads protect your kids’ bodies, it’s also important to protect their teeth. A mouthguard is an easy, reliable way to safeguard your child’s teeth during sports and play.
Mouthguards are especially crucial during contact sports such as football, hockey or boxing, where blows to the body and face are regular occurrences. But even non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, and recreational pastimes, such as skating or biking, pose a risk to the teeth.
In addition to cushioning your child’s teeth, using a mouthguard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. Kids who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity.
A trip to the dentist can help you choose a mouthguard that’s right for your child. In general, there are three types of mouthguards to choose from:
Stock Mouthguards. These pre-made protectors can usually be bought wherever sporting equipment is sold. Most dentists do not recommend their use because they cannot be adjusted to your mouth and provide only limited protection.
Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards. Boil-and-Bite guards are softened with hot water and then molded over your child’s teeth. This somewhat custom fit leads to better protection and greater ease in talking and breathing. These are also available at most sporting goods stores.
Custom Mouthguards. Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard designed specifically for your child’s teeth. These offer the best fit, comfort and protection, but may be more costly than store-bought varieties.

The Dental Woes of Women

Women come in all different shapes and sizes and regardless of their form oral hygiene is vital to the success of the female of the species. Thanks to the XX genetic markers, women have their own unique biological issues, health worries and conditions. This is true for every body part, including all the features that compose their smiles.

Once facial muscles are flexed, a smile is born. While it may simply look like teeth and gums, underneath a grin is an intricate network of tooth enamel, pulp chamber, dentin and many other dental anatomy components. Those parts backed by the gender specific biology puts women at a higher risk for a multitude of dental problems than their XY counterparts.

TMJ Sufferers are 90% Female

Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, AKA TMJ (National Institutes of Health). Of those suffering with symptoms ranging from headache, facial pain, jaw popping, clicking or locking, unnecessary dental wear and tear, malocclusion and teeth grinding 90 percent of them are women.

While TMJ can be caused by facial trauma or accidents, the condition is most closely linked to women in their childbearing years. TMJ syndrome can cause discomfort in jaw joints, facial muscles, facial nerves and surrounding tissues and there are several reasons why women are more prone to developing the condition. Arthritis, hormone fluctuations, joint structure and a dietary deficiency of magnesium are all conditions more common in women and those factors are believed to negatively influence women TMJ sufferers.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Both men and women can experience the fiery sensation caused by burning mouth syndrome, however the condition is more common in menopausal women. ‘The change of life’ typically affects women between the ages 40-50 and it marks when the ovaries permanently shut down making conception an impossibility. When the monthly sequence of reproductive hormones comes to an end, women can experience side effects including hot flashes, weight gain, mood fluctuation and burning mouth syndrome.

While a burning sensation may be part of the condition, it is not the only symptom. The feeling may also be coupled with dry mouth, soreness, tingling or a metallic taste. Those conditions can trigger off other problems such as sleep difficulties and depression. In menopausal women the hormonal changes are thought to reduce the flow of otherwise healthy saliva production and dry mouth is thought to be the trigger for burning mouth syndrome.

Gingivitis

Courtesy of dental neglect, both men and women can develop gingivitis regardless of their stage of life. However, statistics have indicated that approximately 50 percent of all pregnant women develop pregnancy gingivitis. The condition is marked by inflamed gums, potentially coupled with tenderness and bleeding. If left untreated by a professional dentist, the condition could develop into full-blown a periodontal disease infection. If the impurity from the infection manages to enter the bloodstream, the body will automatically produce antibodies and chemicals to fight of the condition. While the battle may help a smile, it can also cause premature labor, low birth rate and even miscarriages.

Girls, sisters, mothers and friends should all be warned about the specific risks associated with being a woman and become properly educated on how good oral hygiene can combat the problems. Practicing a good oral hygiene regime of brushing twice a day, daily flossing and regular dental exams and cleanings twice a year can help minimize the danger.

The Aging Mouth: What’s Normal, What’s Not

The natural process of aging takes its toll on your teeth and mouth just as it does your body. Here are some common oral health changes you can anticipate as you age:
Enamel Wear — Chewing, cleaning and the normal aging process means your teeth will eventually wear down over time.
Darker Tooth Color — Aging dentin (the tooth’s middle layer) holds stains easier than younger dentin, making your teeth appear slightly darker.
Gum Changes — Aging gums naturally recede over time.
Cavities — Cavities around the root of the tooth are more common as you age. Any fillings you have are also aging and can weaken or crack.
Other changes to your teeth and gums aren’t normal and shouldn’t be overlooked. These symptoms could signal something more serious and are reason to see your dentist right away:
Tooth Loss — Dental cavities and gum disease are the leading culprits of tooth loss in seniors, but neither is a normal part of aging. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s no reason why your teeth should fall out.
Dry Mouth – As you age, you may notice a reduced flow of saliva, sometimes as a side effect of medical conditions, medications or medical treatment. Saliva is important because it lubricates the mouth and neutralizes the acids produced by plaque.
Bleeding Gums — Bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease, a leading cause of tooth loss in seniors. But gum disease is not an inevitable result of aging; it’s caused by the build up of plaque. Left untreated, gum disease is linked to other health concerns like arthritis and heart disease.