Saturday, November 16, 2019

What Does it Mean if My Child's Teeth Are Sensitive to Hot and Cold?

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What Does it Mean if My Child's Teeth Are Sensitive to Hot and Cold?

If you've ever been afflicted with that instant needle-like shock of pain that comes from tooth sensitivity, you know exactly the curse it can be. As an adult, it's something we strategically try to avoid, opting to chew on one side or our mouth, for example, or avoiding things we really enjoy such as ice cream or frozen drinks. Tooth sensitivity can be a real pain for adults, and for children without a knowledge of what might be causing their sensitivity, it can be an even more shocking and distressing event.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

It's important to properly define the nature of the discomfort your child is experiencing. Often a child will say their tooth "hurts" when really, the tooth is just sensitive. Deciding which it is will help you determine how soon to see your dentist. A tooth is "sensitive" when the discomfort is immediate, yet fleeting once its cause is removed. Think of how uncomfortable it would be, for example, to place an ice cube on a sensitive part of *your* tooth. Doing so would cause an immediate, yet passing sensitivity as soon as the ice cube was removed from the tooth. If, on the other hand, you were to *wake up* with a tooth that was bothering you - and that discomfort continued throughout the day - or, if each bite of every meal caused discomfort, you would likely refer to these instances as a "pain" or a "soreness."  Placing your child in these scenarios will help you decide what they’re actually feeling, and what cause of action to take.

What Causes Sensitive Teeth in Children?

  • Cavities: Since children don't typically experience sensitivity due to years of improper brushing, the most common reason your child will complain of sensitivity will be due to the presence of a cavity.
  • New teeth: Once your child's teeth have erupted and begin to rise to their proper height, that newfound exposure to air and food can cause some sensitivity. In contrast, the actual eruption of the tooth is more likely to cause pain and soreness.
  • A crack or break in the tooth: If a child has a misaligned bite, or tends to grind their teeth at night, they can end up with hairline cracks that can cause pain or sensitivity when eating.  
  • Fillings: Children with silver amalgam fillings might experience hot/cold sensitivity because of the metal's high thermal conductivity.
  • Sinus problems: Sometimes children with allergies and sinus problems can experience tooth sensitivity, particularly in their upper molars. However, if discomfort in the tooth is present when tapped, the problem is more likely to be with the tooth itself, and not related to sinus issues.
  • Improper brushing: While it's true your child is unlikely to experience sensitivity because of improper brushing, it is possible. Learning proper brushing technique early-on can help your child reduce the risk of this type of sensitivity.  Teach your child to use a soft circular motion as opposed to a rapid back'n'forth motion. This will help preserve the tooth's enamel which, in turn, protects the nerve-rich dentin.  Exposed dentin is what causes this kind of sensitivity. If your child has braces, technique is even more important. The reason for this, is that a child with braces tends to inadvertently brush "lower" along the gum line then they are aware. If they are doing so at a rapid pace, and in a back'n'forth motion, they're likely to affect the integrity of the gum line, and can set themselves up for later tooth sensitivity.
If your child is experiencing sensitivity in their teeth, mention it to your dentist at their next appointment. Of course, when more lingering sensitivity or outright pain is present, you may wish to schedule an appointment sooner - rather than later - to determine the root cause of your child's complaints.

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

Friday, October 4, 2019

What Age Should Children Start Flossing?

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Bedtime routines with little ones can be hard enough. Getting them to put on their pajamas, brush their teeth, and fall asleep at a decent hour isn’t a smooth process. The thought of adding flossing to the mix makes the bedtime routine sound even more daunting.

But the earlier you incorporate flossing into their normal daily activities, the more likely this habit will stick. So how early should you start?

There are two schools of thought to consider:

#1 — As Early as Possible

As soon as your baby’s teeth erupt, you will want to start brushing. There isn’t much to floss at this stage, but your little one is watching your every move. Soon enough, perhaps by 12 or 18 months, they will want to copy your flossing and try it for themselves. (That means you ought to be flossing yourself.)

Use a disposable flosser to gently clean between their teeth. Let them hold it and use it themselves. Allowing them to experience the sensation of the thin floss moving between their teeth will help that feeling be just part of their routine, instead of something to fear. The more familiar they are with the process, the better.

#2 — When Their Teeth Start Touching 

Once your baby starts visiting the dentist regularly (most dentists start seeing children between 1 to 3 years of age), your dentist will be able to tell you when their teeth are close enough for flossing. (Flossing before teeth touch is just to get them used to the idea.)

When two or more teeth are close together, food debris can get stuck. That’s the perfect moment to demonstrate what floss does. Help them identify which tooth needs treatment, and show them how floss can remove the food and the discomfort.

Incorporate flossing every day into their routine. The best time to floss? Probably right before bed, so they can sleep with the cleanest teeth possible. Don't forget to use a clean section of floss between each set of teeth, too.

Final Tips

A couple final tips: help your children understand why you floss. Show them the food debris that gets dislodged, and encourage them to enjoy the feel of a clean mouth. Lessons like these will intrinsically motivate them to continue flossing on their own.

And, again, make sure flossing is part of your daily routine. Our kids are experts at recognizing hypocrisy. If you say they should do it, you should do it too. Happy flossing!

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

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.