Saturday, January 6, 2018

Seven Tips to Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

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Seven Tips To Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Cavities – they're not just for adults. Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium that contributes to tooth decay, is a rather indiscriminate little purple menace, and is quite fond of teeth no matter if they're in your mouth or the mouth of your baby. Keeping their mouth as clean as you keep your own can help you stay ahead of early childhood cavities, and only read about baby bottle tooth decay instead of experiencing it firsthand.

With that in mind, here are seven tips that can help you in the fight against Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), and keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay!

  1. Limit Snacking: Whenever a person consumes any type of food or beverage, the pH level lowers and the mouth becomes more acidic to aid in digestion. This first step in our digestion process ends about 30 minutes after we eat, and the pH returns to normal to help protect our teeth. When we snack, though, our teeth remain bathing in this acidic environment, wearing down tooth enamel, and providing a breeding ground for S. mutans. The same, of course, is true with infants who feed continually, or without a long enough break. You can counter this effect by planning mealtimes with a reasonable start and finish time. Ask your dentist or GP for the best advice for your child.
  2. Avoid The Sugar Dip: Some parents are prone to dipping pacifiers in substances like honey or sugar to acclimate a child to using the device. This is generally a bad idea. For the same reasons you wouldn't want to suck on a honey stick, you shouldn't give one to your child as well. Bad for the teeth.
  3. Don't Share The Spoon: Here's a surprise! Did you know that tooth decay can be transmitted from one person to another? By sharing your child's feeding spoon, you can actually transmit S. mutans living in your mouth to your child. If you want to use a spoon to show your child it's okay to eat in this fashion, you're best off using your own spoon, and then doing a little slight-of-hand-swicheroo.
  4. Keep A Washcloth Nearby: For children who currently do not have teeth, use a washcloth to clean their gums after eating. Think of this as tooth brushing 101.
  5. Brush Away: And, for those lucky enough to have teeth already, use a child-safe toothbrush to clean away any food debris after a meal. It's good training for your child, and good for their teeth as well!
  6. Fill The Bottle Wisely: Avoid putting anything in your child's bottle except formula, breast milk or milk. Anything sweet or sugary will just further promote decay.
  7. Obey Naptime Rules: Restrict bottle usage prior to bedtime, or at least brush or wash their mouth prior to bed. Allowing a child to sleep with a bottle is considered to be the number one reason for baby bottle tooth decay as the bottle tends to continually drip into the child's mouth. For more on why this is important, see tip, #1.
As you can see, avoiding tooth decay in children is really quite simple, and involves many of the same rules we have to follow as adults.

For more information on children dental care visit our Pediatric Services Page.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Is Your Tooth Still Sensitive After A Filling?

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These days, a trip to the dentist is a fairly uneventful affair. Patients report comfort levels far exceeding those in the recent past; pain relief medications are more effective and take effect more rapidly; and materials used in treating patients are more adaptive to tooth structures than ever before. Each of these improvements is designed to provide patients with the best clinical outcome and a degree of comfort previously unheard of. However, for a small percentage of patients, post-appointment pain can still crop up and linger for days or weeks on end. Why?

It’s Good To Be You – Sometimes.

Excluding rare instances of product malfunction or dentist error, the main reason a tooth is likely to hurt after a filling has to do with many highly individual factors in your mouth. The structure of your teeth, past dentistry, personal habits (like clenching and grinding), and even the durability of the blood vessels, tissues, and nerves within your teeth, play a part in whether you remain pain-free after your anesthetic wears off.

What Can Bring About the Pain?
  • Heightened sensitivity: If you consider yourself to have sensitive teeth, a trip to the dentist is probably going to make them feel worse for a while. That’s mostly because prior to your visit, your teeth have, in a way, been “hiding out” underneath a bunch of plaque and tartar. No good for the health of your teeth, for sure, but that gunk can mask sensitivity when it covers recessed areas. Once your hygienist removes that barrier, you’re going to experience more sensitivity as a result. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help – so please ask your dentist for recommendations.
  • Material used: When filling teeth today, many dentists tend to gravitate toward the use of composite materials. They’re flexible and durable, insulate the tooth from extremes in temperature, and bond so efficiently that less of the tooth needs to be removed to place the filling. That said, despite their proficiency in dealing with temperature, composite fillings can cause increased sensitivity when the filling is deep, or if it’s placed on an area of the tooth that experiences greater “flex.” For example, a filling completed along the cheek or tongue side of the mouth may hurt for longer than one completed on the biting surface, because of the unique stresses the tooth experiences at that location.
  • Pulpitis: Just as any surgeon will tell you “all surgery is risky,” all restorative work is traumatic to teeth. When a tooth requires a filling, the extended vibration and heat from the drill can cause the pulpal tissue within the tooth to swell. This can result in a condition known as pulpitis. In most cases, the swelling that results from this overstimulation is transitory, and fades as the tooth heals itself. Occasionally, though, the tooth fails to deal with the trauma, and the result is irreversible pulpitis. When this happens, the unfortunate remedy is often a root canal procedure.
  • Uneven Bite: The most common cause of pain after the placement of a filling is a “high” or uneven bite. This occurs when a filling placed on the biting surface of your tooth is uneven with the opposing tooth. When this happens, your bite might feel a bit “off.” The good news is, it’s not really anything to worry about. All you’ll have to do is revisit the dentist and they’ll smooth out the filling so it fits more naturally with its opposing tooth.

How Long Will the Pain Last?

This is the $64,000 question – and the most difficult to answer. The short answer is, it depends. It depends on your overall health, the health of your teeth, and the exact reason for the pain you are experiencing. In the vast majority of cases, pain that exists after a restoration tends to dissipate within a few days.

However, if pain persists beyond a week, you should call your dentist to inform them of your symptoms. Depending on the type of work you had done, your dentist may decide to perform additional X-rays, or suggest you wait a bit to see if things settle down with the passage of time.

Believe it or not, it’s not unheard of for some patients to experience discomfort for months after a filling is placed. The key is to be in communication with your dentist so you can monitor the situation correctly. While certainly not ideal, maybe you can find some comfort in the idea that you are as unique as you’ve always thought you were!

Visit our dental blog for more

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cold Sore Treatments That Actually Work

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Cold Sore Treatments That Actually Work

If your children are among the more than 40% of Americans who get cold sores, they’ll be the first to tell you that having one is far from a pleasant experience. So, when your kids start to notice that familiar tingling sensation that signals an outbreak, what can you do to help? What actually works?

Well, quite honestly what "works" when it comes to cold sores, is management.  Specifically: preventing, treating, and eliminating the transmission of this most annoying of viruses. Here’s how to do it:

Cold Sore Prevention

The old adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is certainly true when it comes to cold sores, so knowing what causes them to surface is key. The number one and number two reasons are a weakened immune system and exposure to rapidly changing weather. To tackle the weather, encourage your children to have lip moisturizer with sunscreen on hand to protect their lips from the sun, wind, and cold. To boost the immune system, be sure your children are getting enough sleep, and share with them any sage advice you may possess regarding dealing with stress.

Also, as with most things in life, what's good for the waistline is good for our immune system. Here are a few dietary suggestions that can help boost the immune system, and keep cold sores from cropping up:

  1. Eat Raw, Alkalizing Foods: Fruits and vegetables are super-good for us. Have your kids consume as many of them as they enjoy. 
  2. Top-up On Cruciferous Vegetables: Clinical studies are beginning to suggest that veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale are of great benefit to cold-sore sufferers.
  3. Avoid Arginine: Cold sores need the amino acid arginine to grow, so if you can limit the excess intake of this amino acid, it may be possible to keep frequent outbreaks at bay. Nuts, chocolate, oats, and some protein shakes are high in arginine, and can be major cold sore triggers. 
By merely eating well and getting regular rest, it is possible to avoid several outbreaks a year.

Cold Sore Treatment and Remedies

Preventing a cold sore from appearing is indeed the best medicine. When a cold sore does make an appearance, though, here are a few things you can suggest your children do to minimize its pain, size, and duration.
  1. Ice It! At the first sign of tingling, grab an ice cube, wrap it in a paper towel, and have your child place it on their lip where they feel the cold sore coming on. Often two back-to-back applications of an ice cube until it melts can dramatically reduce the pain and swelling that accompanies the sore.  
  2. Slather It? Not Now, But Later. Cold sores love warm, moist environments, and this is precisely the environment presented to a cold sore when it is slathered in cream for days on end. Experiment with this, but it’s often best to let it dry out to the point where it is no longer painful, and then begin applying cream or lip balm to minimize splitting. As the cold sore resolves itself, it's best to keep lips moist to prevent bleeding, which also aids in the healing at this stage.

Eliminate Transmission of Cold Sores 

Be sure to let your kids know they should avoid sharing food, utensils, towels, toothbrushes, or any other item that could come in contact with their mouth. Doing so will help avoid spreading the virus to others. Kissing and other aspects of intimacy that involve the mouth should be avoided entirely. Also, be sure they know to avoid touching the cold sore and then later touching their eyes or genital area. In fact, the best course of action is to suggest they avoid touching their mouth at all during an outbreak, and not again until after the scab has dropped off completely, AND healed over. This can take some weeks. As always, thorough hand-washing habits are a must as well.

Having a cold sore is not the end of the world, and your kids will get used to having them. Nine out of ten people get at least one cold sore in their life, so there is no need to hide in the closet. Help your children to understand triggers, find solutions that work, and keep others healthy by avoiding spreading the virus. Stay healthy!

Visit our dental blog page for more fun an informative articles.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Magic of Reversing Tooth Decay. Fun Science!

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The Magic of Reversing Tooth Decay. Fun Science!

Okay, so here’s a neat idea. Did you know that even though a cavity may start to form in your mouth, there are ways to reverse that decay? Pretty cool, huh?! It’s possible. And, it’s neat as heck. We’ll tell you about it. There are also these little cells called odontoblasts (doesn’t that sound like it’s something from Star Wars!?) … yeah, and they lay down this layer of protection against approaching cavities like it’s a battle, and … Wait! Grab the kids so they can learn too!

Your teeth are pretty amazing. They’re also exceedingly good at “recognizing” their importance in your life. Teeth allow are critical for sustenance, to the structure of your face, and in the ability to interact with others with a smile. It’s no wonder then, your pearly whites like to take care of themselves – all the way to the cellular level … to the Odontoblasts!

A Look at Odontoblasts

Odontoblasts are columnar cells that live in our teeth along the border between the pulp and the dentin. One of their main roles is to continually secrete fresh dentin to allow our teeth remain strong and healthy. Remember, your teeth are living sensory organs, so these little cells are at it all the time. They’re also very proactive when a cavity begins to encroaching on its territory.

When a cavity progresses to the degree that it threatens the integrity of the pulpal chamber (which would require root canal treatment), Odonotoblasts feverishly get to work laying down additional layers of dentin to protect the pulpal chamber. To get a feel for what this might look like, imagine a cavity driving down straight from the top of your tooth, aiming straight for the pulpal chamber in the middle of your tooth. The Odontoblasts (along with nearby stem cells), recognizing this impending attack essentially throw up their “shields” (dentin), in an effort to stay safe. This reduces the overall height of the pulpal chamber ever so minimally, but enough to protect the chamber. This is one good reason why you don’t want to ignore tooth pain … jeez, those little Odontoblasts are trying to protect you for all their worth … help them out and see the dentist!

What about Reversing Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is progressive. It can also be reversed, IF you catch it early enough. And, in this scenario your two best allies are your dentist, and fluoride.
Let’s take a quick look at fluoride. This mineral’s role when it comes to your teeth, is teaming up with calcium and phosphate to strengthen the enamel through the process of remineralization. When fluoride is added to the calcium and phosphate ions that exist in our saliva, and that we also get from food, the three combine to form a mineral known as fluorapitite. This mineral is then transported by our saliva into the “pores” of our teeth, effectively making our enamel harder than it would be by nature. Why is this important? Because tooth decay happens slowly, and in its first stage, the damage it’s beginning to inflict can be stopped or reversed with the assistance of fluorapitite.

In this first stage of a cavity’s development, a cavity appear on the surface of the enamel as a white spot. They’re often visible to a dentist, and will show up on an X-ray. Again, they don’t show up overnight, so two visits a year to the dentist is your best course of action to catch these things early. After all, you don’t want those poor Ondontoblasts to have to go through all that stress just to save you from yourself, do ya’?

Odontoblasts and Fluorapitite. Your secret weapons in dental health. Oh, and your dentist as well! How could we forget?!

Learn more about this and other cool stuff on our Preventative Services page

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 6th is National Fresh Breath Day!

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August 6th is National Fresh Breath Day!

Going to a lot of social events this summer? They can be tough work. First, you have to have a few interesting topics outside of the weather to chat about. Then, if there's food involved, you've got to do that whole David Copperfield balancing act with your food plate to ensure you don't spill it all over yourself or your new friends while having that great conversation. And, of course, we all want to put our best foot forward for first impressions by looking our best. Yet there's one aspect to socializing many never really think about, and if ignored can be the surest way to guarantee your next invite will end up “lost in the mail.” 

Getting the cold shoulder?

So what is this social faux-pas that can ruin just about any good party? Well, it's no more than the quality of your breath. Rest assured, though, as quickly as bad breath can ruin a good night out, correcting it can be just as simple. So, aside from your regularly scheduled cleaning, which keeps tartar, gum disease, and bad breath in check, try a few of these measures to make sure you're the center of conversation at the party, instead of your breath:
  1. Replace your toothbrush at least every three months: If you're not replacing your toothbrush every few months you're robbing your oral care routine of the best tool in its arsenal. An old toothbrush is an ineffective toothbrush, and it will hamper your efforts to remove plaque and food debris from your teeth. Both attract and generate bacteria that cause bad breath, so toss the old and bring in the new.
  2. Flossing: This one is simple, and everyone knows it's important. Still, its the first thing we stop doing after a thorough cleaning at the dentist's office. The only real way to stick with flossing is to make it easy. You can do this simply by having your floss in plain sight, so each time you visit the bathroom, it will register in your mind that you've got to floss. Don't place it in the cabinet – stick it right on the countertop. Believe it or not, our subconscious mind is more convincing than we think and is phenomenal at convincing us when we need to create a good habit, or end a bad one. Want to test the theory? Fill a container with the ten teaspoons of sugar that are in the average can of soda, and place it where you normally enjoy your beverage of choice – you'll quit pretty fast staring at that container every day and allowing your mind to register what you're doing to your waistline.
  3. Try a tongue scraper: There are many versions of scrapers on the market, and they're super cheap. Find one you like and use it once a night. Even after what you think is a thorough home cleaning, you'll be amazed how much debris a tongue scraper removes from your tongue. Less debris and bacteria means fresher breath. Try it!
  4. Stay hydrated: Drinking water throughout the day promotes saliva production, and is your mouth's natural defense against the germs that cause bad breath. If you ignored each of our other tips, just drinking water would at least help a little bit, not to mention the multitude of other great things being well-hydrated does for your body.
  5. Cover it up in a pinch: If your mom ever tried to get you to eat the parsley on your plate when dining out, maybe she was actually trying to tell you your breath needed some freshening! Parsley appears to have antibacterial and antifungal properties which can help keep your mouth clean. Yogurt and celery also work in a similar fashion, and sugar free gum with Xylitol can also help to promote salivation without adding sugar into the mix.
So, that's it. A few simple things that can help you maintain fresh breath and remain welcome at every gathering you would like to attend. And, if you find yourself having forgotten about the status of your breath, you've got back up in the built-in reminder of National Fresh Breath Day on August 6th to help you ensure that next invite always makes it to your door on time!

Visit our Dental Preventative Services for more useful information and have a wonderful August!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why Are Primary Teeth So Important (Won't They Fall Out Anyway?)

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There's hardly anything better than a smile from a child. Even the gummy toothless smile of a toddler brings a certain joy to one's heart! What you might not know about the teeth hiding below that toothless smile, though, is that they play a far greater role in the health and development of your child than you'd possibly imagine.

After all, those little baby teeth, which begin forming in the womb, do much more than just help your child eat. They also aid in the development of your child's facial features, and even play a role in the character of their voice. Baby teeth are special - and that's why we need to take care of them. Maybe that's why baby teeth have acquired so many different names over the years. Some call them primary teeth, or milk teeth, or even reborner teeth. Their proper name, however is deciduous teeth - which means, "to fall away" - just like the name given to deciduous trees which lose their leaves each season. Yet, unlike the leaves on trees, they only fall out once, and they actually live in your child's mouth for a good number of years before moving on to the tooth fairy's collection.

Baby Teeth Are Place Holders for Permanent Teeth

The most important reason to care for your child's deciduous teeth is real estate. The main job of these teeth as a child ages becomes to save a specific spot in the mouth for the adult teeth that begin to arrive around age six. If teeth fall out too early due to decay or injury, and are not bridged by a space maintainer, there is nothing to prevent the teeth behind from moving forward. This sets up all sorts of later complications which can, of course, lead to a need for braces, increased cavities due to overcrowding, and crooked teeth or a misaligned bite.

Your dentist can suggest a sealant to protect your child's teeth as they age, and may also recommend regular fluoride treatments or supplements to strengthen the enamel and resist decay. Whenever possible, drink fluoridated water and always use fluoridated toothpaste. Also be sure to protect your child from any oral injuries that might result from sports activities, and if toddlers stay with a pacifier or finger sucking beyond the age of two, ask your dentist for advice on curbing these habits as well.

Your child's early teeth set up their entire mouth for its later look and feel, and they keep those teeth for many years before they're fully equipped with a full adult set. Take care of them, and your child - as well as your wallet - will thank you for it.

Visit our pediatric page for more information

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dental Advice for the Weekend Warrior In Your Family

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Dental Advice for the Weekend Warrior In Your Family

Have you ever wondered what you'd look like without your two front teeth? Probably not since you were six years old we'd imagine. Well, if you're active in sports, and you'd rather *not* envision yourself with a 1970's era hockey-star smile, you might wish to make friends with a sports dentist. A sports dentist specializes in the protection and treatment of orofacial injuries, and is your best ally when it comes to protecting you from having your teeth knocked out of your head. Gone are the days when a toothless smile was a badge of honor for sports heroes, so don't go joining the ranks of the old hall-of-famers this year, and take a look at some of the cool things a sports dentist can do for you.

The Best Gear

First in the arsenal of the sports dentist is the mouth guard. If you're involved in any sort of sport activity where contact with another player - or the ground - is possible, you'll want to ask your dentist about obtaining a custom-made mouth guard. Such mouth guards are affordable and last several years with good care. They're your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your teeth during sporting events.

Mouth guards are ubiquitous in sport, and for good reason - they save teeth. Some dentists and researchers also suggest that mouth guards might protect against concussion by absorbing the shock of a blow to the lower jaw. Another good reason to don a guard. Custom-made guards are far superior to the "boil and bite" guards you've probably seen in your local sporting goods store, and are made using a process similar to that used when making an orthodontic retainer. Essentially, a custom mold is made of your teeth, and the resulting product is a guard that fits your mouth and teeth as well as a tailored suit would fit on your body. Variations in the preparation and specifications of custom guards are dependent on the type of sports you're involved in, as well as your age and overall dental health. Consultation with a sports dentist can provide you with the insight you need to decide which kind of appliance is the best for your needs.

Taking It to the Field

Of course, sports dentistry doesn't solely revolve around the creation of mouth guards. If you happen to manage a team, or are involved in the operation of a large club, you may be interested in actually hiring a sports dentist to work on the field of competition as well. This is where a sports dentist can really be an asset, because in this role they act as a full member of the squad, proactively protecting athletes well before pre-season begins and until the very last game is played. On-field dentists are skilled in diagnosing injury on-site without the aid of x-rays, can execute tooth re-implantation during that very crucial five-minute window, and are the best person to have on-hand should someone experience a concussion or other injury that requires referral to a medical professional.

Protecting athletes - even the weekend warriors among us - is the job of the sports dentist. Get to know one if you're active in sports. This way, when you're finally featured on the cover of your favorite sporting magazine, you'll still be sporting a full mouth of your own healthy teeth!

Visit our children dental services page for more information