Monday, September 2, 2019

Should You Pull Out That Loose Tooth?

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Should You Pull Out That Loose Tooth?

You’ve seen the videos. The string tied to the loose tooth. The other end tied to something that moves fast – a rocket, a slamming door, a javelin … count to three, then let ‘er rip and out she goes! While these techniques make for some great cinema, they might not always be the best route to emancipating that wiggly little friend. There are three questions you need to ask to answer before you prepare that tooth for the tooth fairy.

  1. Should the tooth in question be loose right now?
    Baby teeth come and go on a fairly routine schedule that corresponds to our age. So, knowing which teeth should be loose and which shouldn’t can help you in determining whether you should intervene, or leave your kids’ teeth alone. In the dental world, we call the arrival of a tooth an “eruption.” Here’s a handy dandy dental eruption chart from The American Dental Association you can print that’ll help keep you in the loop as those teeth start loosening up. If the tooth in question corresponds to the age timeline, than allowing it to get progressively looser until it’s ready to fall out should be your plan.

  2. But how loose is “loose”?
    You’ll never know. But you know who will? Your child. Think of a tooth like a hangnail … would you rather yank it or clip it on your own, or have someone else do it for you? Pain is specific to the individual, and no amount of assuming will ever get you close to understanding how much, or how little, pain your child is experiencing. So if weeks have gone by and your kid is ready to get that sucker out of there, let THEM do the yanking.

    A good rule of thumb is to look for considerable back and forth movement, if your child has been fiddling with a loose tooth for weeks and can move it back ’n forth and sideways with little to no discomfort, and they feel comfortable wanting to get rid of it, allow them to try. Nine times out of ten, the tooth will fall out on its own, though, so you can just wait if you’d like. 

  3. How should we pull it out?
    Believe it or not, there really is no single “correct” way to do it. When a tooth is ready to come out, it really won’t take that much effort to remove it, and that’s why you hear so many creative stories about how people finally lost their baby teeth.  A little fun goes a long way! Would you like a few ideas? Check out these videos of kids gearing up for that inevitable moment! If you’d rather do it without a rocket attached, here’s a good guide to follow as well.
Baby teeth. We all lose ‘em. But, not all of us have cool stories (and videos) to share with the world when the moment of truth comes. Be safe, let your kid do it, and … maybe, record it for posterity.

Visit our Pediatric Services page for more fun facts, information and videos.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How Much Mouthwash is Too Much?

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Unless your dentist recommends adding mouthwash to your dental hygiene routine, most of us probably don’t need to use it. If you do need to use it, or if you simply prefer to add the extra sense of protection to your routine, then read on!

It’s amazing the number of mouthwashes available over the counter. With as many health claims as they have colors and flavors, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. We recommend asking your dentist about which one to use, based on your individual dental needs.

After that, it’s important to follow the bottle’s directions because, despite how harmless mouth wash may seem, there can be too much of a good thing.

It’s harmful if swallowed 

Make sure to spit out as much as possible and do not offer mouth wash to anyone unable to spit it out or who might confuse it with a yummy drink. It’s best to keep it locked in a high cabinet. If mouthwash has been swallowed, especially if you’re not sure how much, call 911 or your local poison control center right away.

Too much fluoride

Fluoride is one of the best preventers of tooth decay, and it is an important element in our toothpaste and drinking water. However, too much can cause problems, such as fluorosis. If you do use mouth wash with extra fluoride, be sure you have your dentist’s approval and only use the recommended amount.

Too much alcohol

Part of the tingly sensation you feel during a mouth wash swish is from the presence of alcohol. Not all mouth washes contain alcohol, but ones that do may prove too drying for your mouth.

Too antibacterial 

Some ingredients used to fight bad bacteria (such as alcohol and some forms of chloride) may also affect the good bacteria in your mouth, which help support dental and overall health. These ingredients may also stain teeth or cause other unwanted side effects.

Other general side effects of using too much mouth wash too often can include:
  • mouth sores
  • inflamed tissues
  • painful gums
  • decreased taste sensitivity 
If you experience any of these symptoms, discontinue use and call your dentist.

Above all, it’s important to note that using mouth wash is NOT an effective replacement of proper brushing and flossing. If bad breath is your nemesis and number one reason for reaching for the mouth wash, it’s likely that you have some other underlying dental health issues that would be best addressed by visiting your dental office.

For more information on mouth wash, we recommend the American Dental Association’s page on the subject
Visit our Preventative Services page for more information and videos or preventative dental care.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Does My Child Need a Mouthguard for Sports?

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A six-year-old missing their two front teeth can be quite the cause for celebration. Just think of all the tooth fairy visits and all relatives marveling at the new, hip look.

Now if it’s a teenager without those teeth, well that’s a different story with much less celebration. And such tooth loss happens all the time - particularly if your child participates in sports.

In fact, the American Dental Association suggests that athletes are 60 times more likely to experience harm to their teeth if they're not wearing a properly fitting mouthguard.

Why Your Child Needs A Mouthguard

If your child is active in sports - even the backyard variety – please consider investing in one.

The American Dental Association estimates that “a full third of all dental injuries are sports related … and that the use of a mouthguard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth each year”.

The risks of playing sports without protection aren’t just related to teeth loss: a harsh impact to the jaw can even affect the growth of facial features or cause a concussion that could have otherwise been avoided.

When choosing a mouthguard, it’s important to remember that custom-made guards are far superior to the "boil and bite" variety at local sporting goods stores.

They are designed using a process similar to that used when making an orthodontic retainer, and guarantee a perfect fit to your child's mouth. The fit is the most important aspect of a protective mouthguard.

Variations in the preparation and specifications of custom guards depend on the type of sport your child plays, as well as their age and overall dental health.

On the fun side of things, guards can also be made to match your child's school colors, or can feature the logo of their favorite professional team.

When There's Convincing to Do

At first, you may find that your child objects to the idea of wearing a mouthguard, much in the same manner as when you suggested they wear a helmet while cycling.

This is natural, and if you experience kick-back, it might help to show them pictures of their sports heroes wearing guards. After all, mouthguards are commonplace in professional sports, and there’s no reason your child wouldn’t want to imitate more than just their favorite player’s moves.

If you’re still wondering whether investing in a mouthguard is worth it, you’ll be pleased to know that these dental appliances are rather affordable, and can even sometimes be covered by your insurance.

You will also sleep better at night without the prospect of huge dental surgery bills – and knowing your child won’t going through school with a 1970’s hockey-star smile.

Visit our Pediatric Services page for more information and videos.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

What’s the Right Toothpaste for Kids with Baby Teeth?

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Life is full of mysteries. Such as, why are there so many kinds of toothpaste?

Having a variety is good – but sifting through the multitude of children’s toothpaste (on Amazon there are over 4,000 listings) is downright confusing.

There are a couple key traits that you’ll want to look for when purchasing toothpaste for your child. We’ll break it down for you!

Make sure it contains fluoride
In the past, it was recommended that children younger than 3 years old use toothpaste that didn’t contain fluoride – i.e. “training” toothpaste. This was to prevent accidental swallowing of too much fluoride which could cause fluorosis or stomach upset.

In 2014, however, the American Dental Association began recommending that all children use fluoride toothpaste.

The new recommendation was put in place to combat tooth decay, the most common chronic childhood disease. Decades of research showing the safety and effectiveness of using fluoride to prevent cavities makes this new policy a no-brainer.

Use the right amount
The most important part of using fluoride toothpaste is to use the right amount: the size of a grain of rice for children under 3 (who cannot yet spit), and the size of a pea for children over the age of 3. A helpful image showing these amounts is in this report from the Journal of the American Dental Association.

A toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval will always contain fluoride – so that’s an easy thing to look for.

After that, choose whatever toothpaste your child will use!
And you don’t have to choose children’s toothpaste either. Choose whatever they like (or tolerate). Experiment with flavors, or have them pick out the one with their favorite cartoon character.

Whatever toothpaste they accept works!

Just make sure you’re not sharing your tube of toothpaste with your little one. You don’t want to transfer any cavity-causing bacteria to their little mouths. Plus, when sickness goes around, you’ll at least minimize the risk of infecting your whole family with a single tube of toothpaste.

A note about ingredients
Unless your little has a particular sensitivity to specific ingredients, you don’t need to worry about choosing a toothpaste labeled “natural” or one that markets with all the ingredients it doesn’t contain.

If you feel more comfortable sticking with a particular brand or avoiding ingredients like dyes or sodium lauryl sulfate (which can aggravate canker sores), then go with that! Just be sure to stick with fluoride!

As always, make sure your little brushes twice a day for two minutes at a time, and maintain regular dental visits to ensure a healthy mouth for a lifetime.

Visit our Pediatric Services page for more information and videos.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

When to Start Thinking About Braces

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Most of us view braces as one of the awkward parts of adolescence that we’d like to forget. Phrases like “metal mouth” and “brace face” make us cringe as we think our own kids might deal with some of the unpleasantness of their youth.

But what if we could get a head start on the process and make everything go a little smoother? Well, that’s just what the doctor ordered!

When to see an orthodontist
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, a child should be evaluated by an orthodontist by the age of 7. This is when a child’s permanent teeth begin to erupt, which means your orthodontist will be able to spot any issues that may, well, pop up.

If your child is older than that, don’t worry! Any time is a good time to make that initial appointment.

What happens at your first appointment?
Many initial consultations with orthodontists are complimentary, so don’t let the cost of a visit keep you away. Your orthodontist will conduct a thorough clinical exam of your mouth to determine if there are any potential issues that could benefit from orthodontic treatment.

If that is the case, the next step is to get diagnostic records which will include pictures and x-rays of your mouth. Your orthodontist will then have a digital model of your teeth to determine the best course of treatment.

Why start treatment so early?
Not all cases will need to start early treatment. Every individual patient is unique, and some types of orthodontic treatment will work best if started after all adult teeth have come in.

For others, starting treatment “early” — that is, while baby teeth are still present — will set your child up for a smooth course of treatment over the long run. Early treatment will help guide incoming permanent teeth into the right place and ensure proper jaw development. This prevents overcrowding, impacted teeth, and other unpleasant things.

If you notice your child has an underbite, overbite, crossbite, severe overcrowding, adult teeth erupting in the wrong place, or early loss of baby teeth, they might be a candidate for early treatment.

Is orthodontia mostly cosmetic?
No way! While straight teeth are certainly more pleasing to look at, they also prevent a lot of oral health problems.
  • Teeth that are overcrowded or crooked make gum disease and tooth decay more likely – as there will be more hidden crevices where your toothbrush and floss can’t reach, leaving cavity-causing bacteria to flourish
  • A bad bite can cause issues with chewing – leading to jaw problems, strained muscles and frequent headaches
  • Untreated orthodontic issues may also affect your child’s speech
When you get your child on the right track, you increase the likelihood that their natural teeth will last them a lifetime.

Plus, technology these days is leaps and bounds better than when we were kids. You might find your child is excited to get their very own set of braces if they get to pick out the colors and shapes – especially if they get to skip part of their school day to do so.

Visit our Pediatric Services page for more information and videos.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Different Types of Fillings

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Have you ever had to patch a hole in your home? What size hole was it? And where? For smaller holes, a little putty or spackle should do the trick. But for larger ones, well, you might have to patch them up with a fresh sheet of drywall. Just as you might need different types of materials to mend your walls, your dentist uses different types of filling material to fill cavities in your teeth.
Most people are familiar with silver fillings. But some folks may think that these types of fillings are outdated or dangerous.

Let’s sort out the facts and introduce you to the cast of characters your dentist works with on a daily basis.


Those silver fillings are really an amalgam of different metals, including tin, silver, copper, and mercury.

Don’t be concerned about the mercury in these fillings; when combined with other metals, it forms a safe, stable material. According to the American Dental Association, amalgam poses no health risk and is a safe and effective filling material. Toxicology International has a great report on amalgam safety if you’d like to read more.

Amalgam is less expensive than other types of fillings and is extremely durable. It is used to fill larger areas of decay as well as the teeth that endure a greater degree of stress on a daily basis (your molars, for example). Amalgam also hardens quickly, which can be useful for a patient who may be unable to sit still for an extended period of time, such as children and those with special needs.

Composite Resins

Also known as “tooth-colored” fillings, composite resins are composed of a glass or quartz filler. They can mirror the color, texture, and luminescence of your own teeth, making them a great option for those of us concerned with maintaining a white smile. They also help your natural tooth structure to remain intact and bond more securely with your tooth than amalgam fillings do.

Composite resins do have some drawbacks: they may create some mild sensitivity for patients, and may stain with coffee, tea, or other foods and beverages. Composite resins also may not last as long as amalgam.


The gold standard in terms of durability is, well, gold fillings. Able to last two decades or more, they are composed of gold, copper, and other metals.

Gold is used in inlays and onlays, as well as gold foil restorations. Most dentists these days do not offer gold foil restorations because the technique requires highly specialized training.

Most commonly made of porcelain, ceramic is used in inlays and onlays. They are tooth colored and more resistant to staining than composite. However, they are more brittle and more expensive.

Glass Ionomer
This is a filling material composed of acrylic and a component of glass called fluoraluminosilicate (bonus points if you can pronounce that one right!). One advantage of glass ionomer is that it releases fluoride within the tooth, which can help prevent further tooth decay.

However, glass ionomer is less durable than other fillings. For that reason, dentists use it in baby teeth or smaller parts of teeth that aren’t used for the heavy lifting of daily life (munching, crunching, etc.). Plus, this type of filling does not match the color of your teeth as well as composite resins.

Did You Ever Know There Were This Many Options?
When it comes to patching tooth decay, your dentist will help you decide your best filling or restorative options based on the severity and location of tooth decay, as well as your budget.

There may be only one type of filling that your dentist recommends for a particular area of your tooth, but at least you’re more informed now about what they’re recommending!

Visit our Restorative Services page for more information and videos.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Think You Can't Afford Braces? Think Again.

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Think You Can't Afford Braces? Think Again.

Planning for braces requires just that: a plan. Without one, you’ll find yourself in the awful predicament of having to make quick and uncomfortable budget adjustments at a time when your child is trying to move gracefully through adolescence. The thing is, though, developing a plan is more about knowing what sort of help is out there for you – the cost of braces may seem daunting, but it shouldn’t be. Doctors are here to help, and there are several options for payment. Let’s look at the specifics.

Option #1: Flexible Savings Accounts

Flexible Savings accounts are pre-tax savings accounts you can establish with the help of your employer. Essentially, you tally up your intended medical expenses for the year, and once you’re enrolled in the program, that money is made available to you (for those medical expenses) – typically via a debit card. You pay into the account by having those planned expenses deducted from your paycheck in amounts equally divided across pay periods. Also, because it’s extracted pre-tax, your spending power is increased. Put in terms of the cost of braces, if your orthodontist suggests a budget of 2K, because you’re taking that money out pre-tax, the actual cost to you (if you are in the 28% tax bracket) would only be $1440. Not a bad deal at all.

Option #2: Ask Your Orthodontist/Doctor about Payment Plans

Dental professionals understand consumers have limited insurance for dental care. As a result, payment plans are often offered to stretch payments over a longer period of time. Also, the larger the expense, the more creative doctors tend to be. So, if you ask, you’ll likely run into all sorts of payment arrangements to choose from, including discounts for pre-payment, early pay-off, and auto-debiting. All you have to do is ask! 

The Alternative?

Waiting to plan. Avoiding orthodontic care not only results in crooked teeth, it can also lead to more expensive future dental care because of the resultant difficulty in cleaning crowded teeth. Also, alignment issues are often due to concerns beyond the cosmetic. Braces may be needed to correct developmental concerns with a child’s jawbone and bite – both of which can affect speech, appearance, chewing and the proper digestion of food.

Teeth aren’t in our mouth for cosmetics. They are the first tools of digestion, the designers of our face, and the protectors of our gum tissue. In order to work correctly, they need to fit together correctly. And, unless your children are gifted with a perfect bite, the best thing you can do to care for your children’s teeth is to plan ahead.
Visit our dental blog for more fun and informative articles.