Author: Dr. Chea Rainford

Regular Checkups Can Save You Thousands

If you have dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease or even oral cancer, regular dental visits give your dentist a chance to catch it early on. That’s key. Because the earlier your dentist diagnoses a problem the easier it is to treat. For example, if you have gum disease and let it go unchecked (and untreated) for too long, you may need extensive — and expensive — gum disease treatment.
Regular dental checkups allow you and your dentist to stay ahead of problems, which can translate into thousands saved.
A professional dental cleaning is also a must because it’s the only way to effectively remove tartar (hardened plaque). Even if you brush and floss regularly, that’s not enough. Besides looking unsightly (tartar is a “stain magnet” and often has a brown or yellowish tint), tartar also contains cavity-causing bacteria. Preventing the need for a mouthful of fillings every year easily adds up to thousands saved in the long run.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to invest in regular dental exams and cleanings is that it has a positive impact on your overall health. Recent studies have shown that there’s a link between periodontal disease and heart disease; when the former is present, the latter is twice as likely.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease can have a domino effect on your health. The bacteria caused by periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and attach to your heart’s blood vessels, causing dangerous blood clots. Another scenario is that the plaque buildup caused by periodontal disease can cause the heart’s blood vessels to swell.
In this way, regular checkups and cleanings are not only money-saving but life-saving. And that’s priceless.

Extra Cavity Protection for Kids

You might think that cavities are inevitable for kids, but in truth, they’re not. A healthy diet mixed with good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) plus regular dental visits can prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants can reduce the risk even more. In fact, studies show that dental sealants can reduce decay in school children by 70%.
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves of back teeth, where tooth decay is usually a problem for kids and teens. Sealants act as a barrier between the chewing surfaces by blocking pieces of food and germs.
Sealants work best on permanent molars, which usually erupt at age 12. It’s best to have sealants applied soon after the permanent molars erupt so that decay doesn’t have a chance to develop.
Because they’re so thin, dental sealants won’t have an effect on your child’s speech or make chewing difficult. Sealants can be clear or slightly tinted; either way, they’re virtually invisible to the naked eye.
Though they don’t take much time to apply, sealants can last 5-10 years. Dental sealants are some of the most comfortable, cost- and tooth-saving solutions around!

Don’t Let Sores Make You Cantankerous

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are often confused with fever blisters (cold sores). However, they are quite different.

Canker Sores

Canker sores only form inside the mouth on the gums, cheeks, tongue or floor of the mouth and cannot be transmitted from one individual to another. They begin as small red circular swellings that usually ulcerate [rupture] within a day, after which they become white, surrounded by reddish inflammation and last for 8-10 days.

As open sores, they can be very painful to the touch. Canker sores afflict about 20% of the population. Their cause has yet to be discovered, although they appear to breakout more in stressful situations, from getting a small “nick” in the skin [mucous membrane] or from foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes.

While they can occur in very young children, canker sores usually manifest themselves in people between the ages of 10-20. It’s not uncommon for them to erupt three to four times a year, but they occur less frequently, or stop all together, in adulthood.

If you have canker sores, avoid rough textured or spicy foods, which irritate them. Try not to touch them with eating utensils or your toothbrush. Apply ointment that contains a topical anesthetic or some other active ingredient that will relieve the irritation.

Cold Sores

Cold sores form outside the mouth, usually on the lips, but they may appear on the chin, outside of the cheek or the nostrils. They begin as a red blister, burst and crust over and last for 7-14 days.

Cold sores – caused by the herpes simplex virus (type 1) – are contagious; they transmit by skin-to-skin contact. The virus, carried by almost everyone, is dormant most of the time. Fever blisters occur most often in young adults and adolescents and decline in people over 35 years of age. Certain factors activate its outbreak, particularly stress, colds, fevers and/or sunburn.

To reduce occurrences, avoid kissing when the blisters are visible. Also, don’t squeeze or scrape the blister. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching someone else and use UV sunscreen on your lips before spending time in the sun.

Treatment of cold sores includes avoiding spicy and hot foods that will irritate them, application of phenol-containing over-the-counter ointments and administration of some anti-viral antibiotics that will shorten their duration (but not prevent their outbreak).

If you’re worried about canker or cold sores, call our office. We’re here to help you deal with these common afflictions and will offer additional treatment recommendations, as necessary.

Tips for Breaking Bad Oral Habits

Did you know that a lot of little things you do (or don’t do) on a day-to-day basis affect your teeth’s well-being and may fall under a list of bad oral habits? These include not brushing or flossing enough, eating too many sweets too often, or even using your teeth to open a bag of chips.
Bad oral habits die hard, but they can be stopped in their tracks by the following tips:
Floss at least once a day. It helps remove bits of food and dental plaque in places your toothbrush can’t find, helping to keep your gums healthy.
Brush at least twice a day. If brushing is not an option, chew sugarless gum (make sure it’s sugarless!) for 20 minutes after a meal or snack. This helps prevent tooth decay.
Clean your tongue. Regularly cleaning your tongue with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper helps remove the bacteria that causes bad breath.
Replace your toothbrush regularly. Replacing your tooth brush ever 3-4 months is a good idea. Bristles in your toothbrush that are bent and broken don’t do a good job cleaning your teeth.
Eat a balanced diet. Snacking on sweets without brushing increases the acid in your mouth… and the likelihood of tooth decay. Munch on vegetables and fruit instead.
Regular Dental Visits. Your dentist is trained to do damage control in your mouth before it’s too late. You should visit the dentist regularly — every six months.
Adding these to your list one at a time is a good start to kick those bad oral habits. By doing a little self-check on your daily dental care habits, you can be on your way to making sure your teeth, your mouth’s health and your overall health are at their best.

What to Do During a Dental Emergency

A dental emergency is always a stressful situation, but it can become absolutely nerve-racking when your dentist is out of the office. Whether it’s late Saturday night and your dentist won’t be back in until Monday, or if your dentist is out of the country on 2-week vacation, a dental emergency can be difficult to manage on your own. There are some basic things that you can do to prevent or cope with dental emergencies when they occur.
The best way to handle a potential dental emergency is to avoid it in the first place. The most common dental emergency is pain or swelling from an infected tooth. In most cases, this does not happen suddenly, overnight. Typically, a person has some degree of pain or discomfort for several days or even longer before they are in severe pain and in need of emergency dental care. The best advice is to visit the dentist at the first sign of any discomfort in the teeth or gums.
If a dental emergency does occur when your dentist is unavailable, there are several things that you can do. Pain in the teeth or gums can often be effectively handled with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®), to be taken as directed. Rinsing with warm salt water (a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water) can help temporarily relieve puffy or swollen cheeks and gums. Some-store bought products like Orajel® can also be effective in relieving minor soreness of the gums. If you have a broken tooth, a piece of wax or even some soft chewing gum can cover a sharp edge until you can get to the dentist.
Your dentist should also be available for advice if a dental emergency occurs. Thanks to cell phones and answering services, patients can often reach their dentist after office hours. This gives the dentist the ability to contact the pharmacy for antibiotics and pain medication should they feel that patients need them. If your dentist is going to be out of the office for more than a few days, he or she should have another dentist available to treat any dental emergencies that may occur.

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.

Making Dental Visits Easy for Kids

With your help, dental visits can be a positive – even fun – experience for your kids. Our staff will spend a lot of time with your kids to help them feel comfortable and understand what they can expect. You can help us make their next visit a successful one by working with us to accomplish this goal!
Here’s what we suggest:
·        Use only positive words when answering your kids’ questions. Soft, easy, fun and play are good words to use.
·        Avoid using words like pain, hurt, needle and shot. These words make kids (and many adults) scared and anxious.
·        After treatment is completed, you can help continue the positive experience by praising your child and referring to the fun time they just had.
·        DON’T ask negative questions like: Did it hurt? Were you scared? Did you get a shot? These comments could make your child think that there was a reason to be afraid even though they were cooperative and had a good time. It might also make them afraid of future visits.
If your child receives any kind of anesthesia, assure them that their “tickly” or “sleepy” tongue will go away in no time. Most kids don’t mind the numbness, and some even think it’s fun – that’s a good thing.

Nitrous Oxide: A Quick Fix for Dental Fear

Sometimes it’s not enough to have a great dentist, caring dental staff and soothing office environment – you or your children may still feel anxious about dental visits. That’s why many dentists use nitrous oxide; it helps calm patients of all ages – from timid tykes to anxious adults. Nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) has been used by U.S. dentists since the late 1800s. Its benefits are many, and the risks are few.
Nitrous oxide is safe for all ages. Nitrous oxide is considered one of the safest anesthetics available. It is well tolerated by patients of all ages, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic.
It reduces pain and anxiety. The effect of nitrous oxide is often remarkable, for both kids and adults. It’s typical for an adult or child to be relaxed and calm just minutes after receiving nitrous oxide. And when you’re calm, that means a faster, more comfortable dental visit.
You remain conscious. With nitrous oxide, you remain completely conscious and in control of your reflexes. You can talk and respond to your dentist. The point of nitrous oxide is to help you relax.
Comfort comes fast. Nitrous oxide takes effect within minutes and lasts for as long as you’re inhaling. After treatment, oxygen is used to flush the nitrous from your system just as quickly as it entered.

Can Teenagers Get Gum Disease?

Gum disease might seem like something only adults get, but the truth is it affects people of all ages. In fact, TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Other studies show that teenage girls may be even more vulnerable to gum disease because of hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: Gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
But how do you keep gum disease from coming back? Pretty much the same way you can prevent it from developing in the first place: brush, floss, get dental cleanings AND eat healthy foods. Healthy eating is where teens often get tripped up – sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are heavily marked to and consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easy for your teen to choose healthier options for their teeth and body by making sure the fridge is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.

Put Your Dental Fears to Rest!

Do you feel uneasy about going to the dentist? If so, there are ways to calm those nerves so you can get through your dental appointment with ease.
Using sedatives and pain relievers, along with local anesthetics if appropriate, we can put you into an extremely relaxed state, while leaving you awake and able to communicate with your dentist the entire time.
By helping you overcome your fear of the dentist, sedation dentistry means you can finally feel comfortable giving your teeth the care they need and deserve. Give us a call to find out about options to help calm those dental-visit nerves.