Dental fillings are often the treatment of choice for patients who have teeth that are decayed from cavities or other damage. When you choose to manage your cavities with fillings, your dentist will ask you what type of filling you prefer for your tooth. This short guide explains the types of materials available for dental patients today.
Dental care can be a challenge for parents of kids with special needs. Children with cerebral palsy, autism, and Down syndrome are also at a higher risk of having issues with tooth decay, dental pain, and dental misalignment.
If you’re the parent or caregiver of a child with special needs, make dental hygiene an everyday, familiar part of your child’s life. The following four tips will set you and your child on the path to good oral health.
- Establish Positive Oral Hygiene Habits in Infancy
Children look to adults for validation of what’s normal and what’s not. When you establish oral care routines starting on the day your baby comes home from the hospital, your child becomes accustomed to the routine of having the mouth cleaned twice a day.
You don’t need a toothbrush to start a baby off on a lifetime of responsible dental hygiene. A clean, soft washcloth is all you need. Don’t use washcloths tumbled dry with dryer sheets or laundered with scented detergents, as the perfume-tainted cloth may make your baby gag.
If you brush and floss your teeth like you should, you might be wondering what else you can feasibly do at home to ward off the onset of periodontal disease. However, since the health of your mouth is tied to the health of your body, making a few changes can help you to avoid this serious oral disease. Here are three interesting ways to prevent periodontal disease.
- Hit the Gym
When you exercise, you increase circulation throughout your entire body, rushing nutrients and protective white blood cells where they need to go. As a result, all kinds of health threats are reduced when you exercise, including gingivitis and periodontal disease.
In fact, one study showed that non-smokers had a 55% lower risk of developing periodontal disease if they exercised at least 3 times a week over the course of 10 years.
While the mechanisms of this reduced risk level are still being studied, researchers suspect that part of the benefit may stem from healthier lifestyle habits, since daily exercise is commonly considered a keystone habit that paves the way for other healthy life choices, such as visiting your dentist regularly and avoiding cigarettes.
Perhaps the most dreaded dental procedure is the removal of the wisdom teeth. Generally, teens and young adults hear horror stories about recoveries or watch funny videos of people who are recovering after surgery.
However, wisdom teeth can be misunderstood, and most of the time, the procedure itself does not have to be traumatic. If you are concerned about wisdom teeth growth and removal, learn more about common questions and concerns that patients might have about the teeth, the removal process, and the recovery.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth (so named because they grow in during adolescence or early adulthood) don’t always have to be removed. They can grow into your mouth straight and cause few, if any, long-term dental problems. However, the majority of people need some or all of these four large molars removed because:
- They can crowd other teeth. Teens who have had braces can be dismayed to discover that their wisdom teeth are pushing their nicely-straightened smile out of alignment. Crowding also causes cleaning issues which increases the risk of dental decay.
- They can grow crooked or even sideways. A common problem is that a person’s mouth can actually be too small for wisdom teeth to emerge properly. The teeth push into the roots of other teeth. This problem is known as impaction, and it causes pain and can damage other teeth that are otherwise healthy.
- They can aggravate other conditions. Patients who have headaches, jaw problems, or migraines may find that wisdom teeth make these problems worse.
Wisdom teeth are slow growing, and problems might not appear right away. For example, cysts or open pockets can form around these teeth, causing pain in the jaw or creating places for bacteria to collect. You might have tender or swollen gums or even risk developing an abscess.
Every parent wants what’s best for their baby’s health, but it’s surprisingly easy to overlook potential dental health issues. Because your baby doesn’t have teeth at first and will lose their baby teeth, you may assume that decisions you make now won’t affect your child’s overall dental health.
The truth is, you’re going to make some important decisions during this time in your child’s life that can affect their oral health, both immediately and in the future. Take a look at the answers to some important questions about baby and toddler dental health.
Many moms-to-be meticulously plan their meals for optimal nutrition, take daily vitamins and never miss a doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, those same women may feel too busy to consider keeping regular dental appointments during the nine months of pregnancy. However, ignoring dental care during this time of life can place both mother and child in jeopardy.
Being proactive about your dental health during your pregnancy is extremely important. It can make all the difference between a blissful, event-free pregnancy and one that is marred by complications. Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology have stated the importance of regular dental care during pregnancy.
Consider the following dos and don’ts of maintaining or improving your dental health while you’re pregnant. You are likely to find that more of your overall oral health care is in your hands than you imagined, and you’ll feel better on every level when you treat your teeth and gums well.
Children normally have light-colored teeth ranging in shade from bright white to a creamy ivory. Parents can start to feel a little alarmed if they begin to notice one or more teeth beginning to turn yellow, brown, or gray instead of remaining white.
There are a few reasons for discolored teeth; some of them are actually not concerning, and others indicate a more serious problem. Here’s what parents should know about causes of discoloration and what they can do about it.
Children often need antibiotics in order to fight normal childhood diseases. Strep throat, ear infections, and bacterial pneumonia are common childhood illnesses, and they can be treated with basic antibiotics. The most common medicines prescribed are penicillin based, with names like amoxicillin and phenoxymethylpenicillin.
Fortunately, while these medicines may cause graying while your child is taking them, the staining is usually superficial, and with careful brushing during and after the course of the medication’s administration, your child’s teeth should return to their regular color.
In some rare cases, children may have permanent staining due to the use of tetracycline. Doctors will almost never prescribe this medication for children under 10 years old because it can have a permanent negative effect on the enamel, along with gray, orange, or yellow stains that cannot be removed with normal bleaching.
Staining can occur even when pregnant women use tetracycline or doxycycline. Babies may be born with stained teeth that are brittle and unable to stand up to decay. Your dentist will need to take extensive protective measures, including the use of caps, sealants, and crowns, to restore the teeth.
Summer is full of awesome activities, including swimming, days at the lake or the zoo, camping trips, vacations, and long lazy days of reading. Given the nice weather and busy schedule of activities in the summer, it’s pretty easy for you or your kids to let dental habits slip.
No matter what your summer plans are, brush up on these dental care tips to make sure every member of the family ends the summer with healthy, beautiful teeth.
Adapt to Loss of Routine
The first and most basic threat to your dental health, your children’s especially, is the loss of routine. When kids are in school, it’s easy to remember to brush right before bed and right after breakfast because these things happen at the same time every day.
During the summer, routine can sometimes go out the window, and brushing may get skipped with late night barbecues and visits to Grandma’s and late wake-ups. Try to adapt to routine loss by planning a new summer routine so kids still at least wake up at the same time.
To remind yourself to brush your teeth, keep an alarm on your phone that goes off mid-morning and in the evening. This alarm could also help you remember to ask your kids whether they’ve brushed their teeth. Keep new extra brushes in your car just in case you forget brushes for a camping trip or a visit to family.
Dental cavities are one of the most common health conditions to affect children. Encouraging your child to brush and floss and taking them to the dentist for regular checkups will go a long way towards reducing their risk of cavities. But often, even these methods aren’t enough.
Your child’s back molars are particularly at risk for decay due to the deep grooves in their chewing surfaces. Since children are not always very thorough when brushing their teeth, plaque and food particles that accumulate in these grooves don’t always get removed. Bacteria then accumulate, leading to decay. Luckily, you can help your child keep food particles and bacteria out of these grooves: invest in dental sealants.
Dental Sealants: An Overview
Dental sealants are plastic-like overlays that form a barrier between your child’s molar and the inside of their mouth. The sealant material starts off as a liquid. Once it’s painted onto the chewing surface of the tooth, it hardens, becoming impervious to bacteria, saliva, and food particles. The sealant keeps bacteria from accumulating in the tooth’s crevices, so cavities don’t form.
Sealants are most often placed on the six and 12-year molars, since these teeth have the deepest grooves. It’s best to have them applied as soon as possible after these teeth erupt. So, you should have sealants applied to your six-year-old’s new molars as soon as they appear. When he or she is about 12 years old and four more teeth come in, you can then have sealants applied to these teeth.
The Application Process for Dental Sealants
Though children are sometimes a bit apprehensive about having sealants applied, the process is quick and completely painless. The dentist will start by cleaning the tooth to remove any bacteria and debris from its surface. A drill or file may be used to roughen up the surface of the tooth. Since only the very surface of the tooth is filed away, your child won’t need anesthesia. All your child will feel is a little vibration.
Once the tooth is clean and filed, the dentist will apply an etching gel to the chewing surface of the tooth. This helps ensure the sealant material adheres properly. After the etching liquid has a minute or so to work, the dentist rinses it away and dries off the tooth. Then, he or she applies the sealing material to the chewing surface of the molar using either a brush or a tiny syringe. The dentist uses a curing light to harden the sealant, and the process is complete.
Your child may experience a sour or unpleasant taste in his or her mouth after having sealants applied, but your child can eat and drink normally as soon as the procedure is over.
The Effectiveness of Dental Sealants
The sooner dental sealants are applied to a new molar, the more protection they offer. The CDC has reported that children with sealants have less than one third as many cavities as children without sealants. Furthermore, sealants are said to protect against 80% of cavities in the two years after they are applied.
Sealants don’t last forever. They typically fall out on their own within about 10 years. By this time, your child’s tooth brushing habits should have improved, so their risk of developing cavities in the deep grooves of their molars will be lower. If the sealants become damaged or fall out before your dentist feels your child is ready to let them go, they are easy to repair or replace.
Common Risks and Concerns Associated With Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are incredibly safe and do not cause any side effects. They have been used since the 1960s, and their safety and effectiveness have been thoroughly evaluated by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as well as other agencies.
Some parents worry about the safety of dental sealants because they contain Bisphenol A, or BPA. This compound made headlines in 2008 when studies suggested it may increase the risk of certain cancers. However, the FDA states that BPA is safe at the low levels to which humans are frequently exposed, and dental sealants only contain a tiny, tiny amount of BPA. Your child would be exposed to more BPA when touching a receipt than when getting sealants.
Dental sealants present essentially zero risk to your child, but they will benefit him or her for life by preventing cavities from forming during childhood. However, since sealants only protect the areas to which they are applied, you’ll still need to make sure your child brushes thoroughly, sees the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups, and consumes a healthy diet that’s low in sugar.
Make an appointment with your child’s dentist to learn more about sealants and other preventative dental care. Contact Apollo Dentistry, and we can help you keep your child’s teeth healthy.
Everybody wants to beat their bad habits for a better quality of life. Some bad habits have several unknown side effects. You’ll be surprised to learn that some classic bad habits, like nail biting and snacking, have a profound negative effect on your oral health.
Here’s what you need to know about how some bad habits affect your teeth. Knowing the potential for damage can give you another reason to give up a bad habit for good.
Chewing Your Nails
This is bad habit for more reasons that just your dental health, but your teeth can be a motivating reason to quit. Biting your nails continually can have these negative oral side effects:
- Your teeth can get chipped. Your nail is not strong enough to chip your teeth, but your other teeth are. When biting through a nail, your teeth can strike together forcefully. Each strike weakens your enamel, and you could end up chipping your tooth. You may even need a filling to repair the damage.
- It increases the risk of tooth loss. The pressure from continued biting can contribute to shortened roots, especially if your teeth are already stressed with orthodontics.
- Nail biting can lead to bruxism. Bruxism, or tooth grinding, comes from the same mechanism of clenching and biting to relieve stress. Nail biters, especially those who do it as a method for coping with anxiety, are more liking to grind their teeth. More healthful stress relieving activities will help with this problem.
- You have an increased risk of infection. Your nails become jagged and sharp from the ragged edge your tooth leaves after biting. A slip of your finger can cut the gums, introducing the bacteria under your nails to your gum tissue. A painful abscess can result.
Talk to your dentist about ways to break your (or your child’s) nail-biting habit to save yourself from years of pain and stress to your teeth down the road.
Chewing on ice can cause injury to your teeth and gums. Ice is hard enough to break your teeth! Many people love the tough crunch of ice, especially in the summer. If you need a cold crunch, try a carrot instead of ice.
If you can’t shake the habit of chewing ice, you may want to talk to your doctor. Sometimes, craving ice can be a sign of dangerously low iron levels.
Using Your Teeth as Tools
People use their teeth for things other than chewing food on a daily basis; you’ve probably used your teeth to tear open mail, open pop cans, or bite on tape. Some people also use their teeth to pry open seafood shells, bite on wire, hold pins, or crack open nuts.
All of these actions are harmful to your teeth. Nuts have a rough exterior, and every time you use your teeth to open one, the rough exterior sands away some of your enamel. Holding pins with your teeth can actually leave indentations after years of sewing. Opening pop cans and ripping tape can actually misalign your jaw or break your teeth.
If you have a bad habit of using your teeth as tools, invest in a keychain-style multi-tool to take with you wherever you go. That way, you have a small knife to help you with packaging and clam shells.
Snacking Throughout the Day
Most people think that by brushing and flossing daily, they are completely safe from tooth decay. However, persistent snacking all day long can speed the development of dental caries. You might have thought cutting out snacks would help with weight loss or mindfulness, but minimizing your snacking will also protect your teeth.
Every time you eat, residual sugars from the foods you consume remain in your mouth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on these sugars and produce acid as they metabolize it. The acid is what causes your teeth to demineralize.
If you eat enough at meal times, your teeth are only exposed to this acidic process a few times per day. If you are careful to brush after meals (at least after breakfast and dinner), your teeth stay mostly clean all day long. Snacking ruins the beauty of this process. Instead, the benefits of mealtimes and brushing schedules are quickly washed away by the continual wash of sugar in the mouth.
If you must snack, choose tooth-friendly options like vegetables, cheese, or unsweetened yogurt. Avoid common snack foods like crackers, breads, candy, dry cereal, or baked goods. Even if crackers have no sugar added, the enzymes in your saliva will break down the carbohydrates into simpler sugars as you chew.
For more information on how daily habits can help or hurt the health of your teeth, contact Apollo Dental Center. We can help patients of all ages replace the bad habits with good ones that will lead to long-lasting oral health.