Posts for: September, 2016
From the time they're born, you do everything you can to help your children develop a healthy body. That should include their teeth and gums. It's not over-dramatizing to say that what you do now may set the pattern for a healthy mouth for the rest of their life.
Here, then, are 4 things you should be doing for your children's oral health before they begin school.
Train them to brush and floss. Good hygiene habits have one primary purpose — remove dental plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles that builds up on tooth surfaces. Plaque is the number one cause of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, so focus on brushing and later flossing as soon as their first teeth appear in the mouth, gradually training them to perform the tasks themselves. You can also teach them to test their efforts with a rub of the tongue — if it feels smooth and “squeaky,” their teeth are clean!
Keep your own oral bacteria to yourself. Children aren't born with decay-producing bacteria — it's passed on to them through physical contact from parents and caregivers. To limit their exposure to these “bad” bacteria, avoid kissing infants on the lips, don't share eating utensils and don't lick a pacifier to clean it off.
Eat healthy — and watch those sweets. Building up healthy teeth with strong enamel is as important to decay prevention as daily hygiene. Be sure they're getting the nutrients they need through a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and dairy (and set a good example by eating nutritiously too). Sugar is a prime food source for bacteria that cause tooth decay, so avoid sugary snacks if possible and limit consumption to mealtimes.
Wean them off pacifiers and thumb sucking. It's quite normal for children to suck pacifiers and their thumbs as infants and young toddlers. It becomes a problem for bite development, though, if these habits continue into later childhood. As a rule of thumb, begin encouraging your children to stop sucking pacifiers or their thumbs by age 3.
If you would like more information on promoting your child's dental health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Help your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Brushing and flossing your teeth daily can help prevent cavities. However, despite good oral hygiene, tooth decay can still occur. There are several signs of a potential cavity. If you are experiencing any of them, it is important that you have your teeth professionally examined by a dentist immediately. The Mill Creek, WA dentists at Penny Creek Family & Cosmetic Dentistry can help.
Signs of a Cavity
Not only do cavities cause discomfort, but they can also lead to more serious oral health problems. When cavities go untreated, infections and tooth loss can occur. There are several signs that you might have a cavity, including:
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Tooth Pain
- Chronic Bad Breath
- Dark Spots on Teeth
- Holes in Teeth
Experiencing pain or sensitivity in your teeth can mean that a cavity has developed. Many people’s teeth are sensitive to hot or cold foods and beverages and that doesn’t always mean they have cavities. If you have tried brushing with a toothpaste for sensitive teeth and are still experiencing discomfort, then you might have a cavity. Additionally, if your teeth feel especially sensitive when eating extremely sweet or sugary foods, that is an indication of potential tooth decay and/or a cavity.
As mentioned, other signs of a cavity include persistent bad breath and the formation of dark spots or holes in the teeth. These are all indications of poor oral health. Finally, the most serious sign of a cavity is the presence of pus. When pus is present, an abscess has developed and should be treated immediately. If this has happened to you, seek professional dental assistance right away.
There are several steps you can take to prevent cavities. One of the best things you can do to maintain good oral health is get professional dental cleanings from your Mill Creek area dentists at least twice a year. Other cavity prevention measures include:
- Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
- Flossing your teeth every night before bed.
- Rinsing with a fluoridated mouth rinse daily.
- Limiting the amount of sugary foods and beverages in your diet.
- Having dental sealants professionally applied to your teeth.
Untreated cavities can lead to more serious problems with your oral health. Taking good care of your teeth and mouth is important to preventing cavities, and that includes regular dental visits. Call Penny Creek Family & Cosmetic Dentistry at (425) 337-7300 to schedule a professional cleaning and cavity check with Dr. Chad Slocum or Dr. Sara Lundgaard, your Mill Creek, WA dentists.
Want to know the exact wrong way to pry open a stubborn lid? Just ask Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC-TV’s popular “Tonight Show.” When the 40-year-old funnyman had trouble opening a tube of scar tissue repair gel with his hands, he decided to try using his teeth.
What happened next wasn’t funny: Attempting to remove the cap, Fallon chipped his front tooth, adding another medical problem to the serious finger injury he suffered a few weeks before (the same wound he was trying to take care of with the gel). If there’s a moral to this story, it might be this: Use the right tool for the job… and that tool isn’t your teeth!
Yet Fallon is hardly alone in his dilemma. According to the American Association of Endodontists, chipped teeth account for the majority of dental injuries. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a number of great ways to restore damaged teeth.
If the chip is relatively small, it’s often possible to fix it with cosmetic bonding. In this procedure, tough, natural-looking resin is used to fill in the part of the tooth that has been lost. Built up layer by layer, the composite resin is cured with a special light until it’s hard, shiny… and difficult to tell from your natural teeth. Best of all, cosmetic bonding can often be done in one office visit, with little or no discomfort. It can last for up to ten years, so it’s great for kids who may be getting more permanent repairs later.
For larger chips or cracks, veneers or crowns may be suggested. Veneers are wafer-thin porcelain coverings that go over the entire front surface of one or more teeth. They can be used to repair minor to moderate defects, such as chips, discolorations, or spacing irregularities. They can also give you the “Hollywood white” smile you’ve seen on many celebrities.
Veneers are generally custom-made in a lab, and require more than one office visit. Because a small amount of tooth structure must be removed in order to put them in place, veneers are considered an irreversible treatment. But durable and long-lasting veneers are the restorations of choice for many people.
Crowns (also called caps) are used when even more of the tooth structure is missing. They can replace the entire visible part of the tooth, as long as the tooth’s roots remain viable. Crowns, like veneers, are custom-fabricated to match your teeth in size, shape and color; they are generally made in a dental lab and require more than one office visit. However, teeth restored with crowns function well, look natural, and can last for many years.
So what happened to Jimmy Fallon? We aren’t sure which restoration he received… but we do know that he was back on TV the same night, flashing a big smile.
If you would like more information about tooth restorations, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers” and “Artistic Repair Of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”