Top Causes Of Childhood Tooth Decay

42 PERCENT OF CHILDREN will get at least one cavity between ages 2 and 11, and tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Why is it so common, and what can we as parents do to keep our children’s teeth healthy? Well, before we can fight childhood tooth decay, we have to understand what causes it.

Sippy Cups And Baby Bottle Rot

One of the biggest dangers to a child’s oral health comes from sugary drinks and the way children consume them. Whether the drink is soda, fruit juice, or even milk, the sugars in the drink will feed your child’s oral bacteria and increase the risk of decay. Sugars in drinks become particularly dangerous if a child has access to a bottle or sippy cup that they can keep drinking from over a long period of time because their teeth are constantly exposed to more sugar.

This is such a common problem that it has actually earned its own name: baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle rot. Now, we aren’t suggesting a total ban on all sugary drinks, but the less time your child’s teeth are exposed to them, the better. Sugary drinks are much safer for teeth when consumed quickly at mealtimes. If a sippy cup or bottle is the only thing that helps your child fall asleep at naptime and bedtime, then the healthiest option for their teeth would be to fill it with water.

Sugary Snacks And Candy

Sugar doesn’t have to be in liquid form to cause trouble for the teeth, which brings us to our next oral health danger for children: snacks. Everything from candy to healthier options like cheese and crackers contains sugar. Every time we eat, our saliva needs at least half an hour to wash away all the remnants of the food, but when children have access to snacks all the time, their mouths never have a chance to recover.

So just like with sugary drinks, it’s best to consume sugary foods during mealtimes instead of nibbling on them throughout the day. Cutting back on treats with the most sugar, like candy, is also a good choice for dental health.

What Parents Can Do

Apart from cutting down on juice-filled sippy cups and sugary snacks, there is a lot that parents can do to ensure that their children remain cavity-free. The most important thing is to teach them how to effectively brush their teeth and help them get to a point where it becomes a routine rather than a chore. Giving them a toothbrush and toothpaste they like will make this easier. And don’t forget to teach them about flossing! Also avoid doing things that will spread bacteria, such as sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your own mouth.

Here’s a fun demonstration you can do with your kids to show how soda affects teeth:

The Role Of Your Child’s Dentist

Even if you’re already doing everything in this post with your children, sometimes a cavity will still appear. Don’t get discouraged! Everyone’s teeth are different, which is why the final crucial thing you can do as a parent to help your child keep their teeth healthy is bringing them in to see us for cleanings and dental exams!

Keep up the good work raising kids with great oral health!

Top image by Flickr user Upsilon Andromedae used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Side-Effects: Medications And Oral Health

 

MEDICAL PROBLEMS ARE things none of us ask for but many of us have, and with medical problems come medications. Unfortunately, along with medications come side-effects, and these often have a negative impact on oral health.

The Delicate Balance Of Our Mouths

Our oral health does best when our mouths can stay close to a neutral pH — neither acidic nor basic. The food and drink we consume tends to temporarily disrupt this pH balance, and so does medicine. When children eat chewable vitamins or drink syrupy medicine that contains sugar, it feeds their oral bacteria, which excrete acid onto their teeth. This acid wears away at their tooth enamel.

Another common problem with children’s medication comes from asthma inhalers, which can lead to the development of oral thrush (white fungus patches in the mouth). The easiest way to avoid any of these issues is to encourage our children to rinse with water after eating vitamins, using their inhalers, or drinking cough syrup.

Oral Side-Effects Of Medications

Even if the medication doesn’t do any damage while you’re ingesting it, it can still be harmful to your mouth over time, so let’s look at some of the side-effects that might show up after starting a new medication.

  • Dry Mouth. This is the most common oral side-effect of over-the-counter and prescribed medications. Our saliva is our first line of defense against bad oral bacteria, and when it dries up, it leaves us vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Abnormal bleeding. Some medications contain blood thinning components, and this makes it easier for us to bleed. If you start noticing more bleeding from your gums after brushing, it could be because of the medication.
  • Inflamed gums. Gingival overgrowth (or excessive growth of gum tissue) is a side-effect of several medications, and it increases the risk of gum disease.
  • Change in taste. Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can leave a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth or interfere with your sense of taste in general. While unpleasant, this side-effect isn’t necessarily serious.
  • Bone loss. In rare cases, drugs used to treat osteoporosis can cause a loss of bone tissue in the jaw, putting patients at risk of tooth loss and gum recession.

Your Dentist Can Help!

No matter what medication you take on a regular basis, whether prescription or over-the-counter, it’s critical that your dentist knows about them. Sometimes, the oral health side-effects can be minimized or stopped, but only if the dentist knows! So if you’re taking medications, especially if you’ve noticed any of the above problems, make sure to mention them during your next dental appointment!

Remember to speak up about your medications!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth The Healthy Way

EVERYONE LOVES A good sweet snack once in a while, but unfortunately, that includes the bacteria in our mouths. Those little germs’ favorite food in the world is sugary treats, and the more sugar they get, the more they put our teeth at risk of tooth decay. So how can you satisfy your sweet tooth without giving your harmful oral bacteria a treat? By snacking healthy!

A Few Healthy Treats To Enjoy

Sometimes it seems like the healthy snacks are the ones that take longer to make or cost more, but that isn’t always true! So before you reach for that jelly-filled doughnut or bowl of ice cream, take a look at some of these quick, affordable, tasty options that are better for your teeth:

  • Coconut whipped cream with strawberries. Coconuts are exceptional bacteria killers and they can also reduce the amount of plaque build up, and strawberries are great for scrubbing away plaque too! Coconut whipped cream is a great substitute for dairy whipped cream because it’s low in sugar and high in healthy fats.
  • Frozen dark chocolate bananas. This treat is great because bananas are full of important nutrients that help keep teeth and gums strong, and dark chocolate is good for your teeth too. (You could also switch things up and put the coconut whipped cream on the bananas and the dark chocolate on the strawberries!)
  • Fruit smoothies with yogurt and applesauce. Toss your favorite fruits in a blender, but instead of adding sugar or ice cream, use unsweetened applesauce and frozen yogurt for a refreshing smoothie that is low in sugar!
  • Yogurt and granola. Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. Crowd out that harmful bacteria in your mouth with the good bacteria in yogurt. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium for building strong teeth.
  • Fruit Bowls. You can never go wrong by throwing together a bowl of berries and sliced fruit. While fruit does contain natural sugar, eating it whole is much healthier than drinking fruit juice (which isn’t much better for your teeth than soda). The fiber in the whole fruit makes it harder for the sugar to reach your teeth (or your digestive system!), and you get all the great vitamins too!

Check out this video for a brownie recipe that leaves out the refined sugar!

 

Want More Healthy Snack Ideas?

If you like these healthy treats and want more, we can help you find them! From sugar substitutes in baking to easy on-the-go snacks, we have you covered! And don’t forget to keep up your other good oral health habits, such as brushing twice daily for two minutes, flossing, and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

And don’t worry, we have sweet teeth too!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

4 Animals With Unusual Teeth

ANIMALS MIGHT NOT BE as concerned with maintaining their oral health and hygiene as we are, but that doesn’t stop some of them from having very interesting teeth! Like our teeth are adapted to an omnivorous diet, animal teeth are adapted to the foods they eat. In some cases, the results can get pretty strange. Today, we’re going to focus on four of the weirdest sets of chompers we could find.

1. The Tusks Of The Babirusa

Babirusas are pigs native to Indonesia, but these pigs aren’t quite like the farm animals we are used to. No, these pigs have a serious dental problem in the form of their multiple pairs of very large tusksThese tusks are actually the babirusas’ canine teeth, which continue to grow through their lives. The males’ upper canines grow right through their upper lips and keep growing, sometimes so much that they end up curving all the way back around towards their skulls! Yikes!

2. The Icepick Teeth Of The Payara

The payara is a carnivorous fish from the Amazon Basin whose lower fangs have earned it nicknames like “vampire tetra” and “saber-tooth barracuda.” These long, thin fangs range from four to seven inches long, and the payara uses them to impale its prey, including piranhas! Payara can grow to up to four feet long and 80 pounds!

3. The Serrated Bill Of The Goosander

At first, you might think a goosander looks like any other duck, but if you catch one yawning or chomping down on food, you’ll notice its rows of tiny, razor-sharp teeth! These European birds are members of the Merganser genus, also called sawbills — so named because of the 150 teeth lining their bills, which are designed to saw through whatever they eat, such as small mammals and sometimes even other birds!

4. The Red Fangs Of The Triggerfish

Triggerfish are a group of about forty different species of brightly colored fish marked by the lines and spots in their scales, but don’t let their beautiful scales distract you from their teeth! Triggerfish have very powerful jaws and teeth that they use to crush the shells of crustaceans. The red-toothed triggerfish is perhaps the weirdest species of the group, with bright red fangs protruding from its mouth!

Taking Care Of Your Teeth

Do you know of any other weird teeth out there in the wild? We’d love to hear about them! In the meantime, make sure you continue taking great care of your own pearly whites by brushing and flossing regularly. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

We love helping our patients take care of their teeth!

Top image by Flickr user peterichman used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Different Types Of Dentures

MANY OF US HAVE TO deal with tooth loss as we get older, whether because of an injury or tooth decay. What can we do when this happens to us? Fortunately, the field of prosthodontics (false teeth) has come a long way, giving us plenty of options for filling those gaps back in.

Dentures Throughout History

The first known dentures were made around 700 BC in northern Italy. These dentures were made from human and animal teeth, and although a set of these dentures would deteriorate quickly, they remained the norm for two and a half millennia. However, the industrial revolution in the 1800s led to a massive increase in the amount of sugar people consumed, and this caused the demand for dentures to increase dramatically, along with a demand for higher quality!

It was around that time that people started trying new materials, such as ivory, which lasted much longer. In fact, hippo and elephant ivory are what George Washington’s dentures were really made of, not wood! Nowadays, false teeth are made of porcelain or acrylic resin, depending on the situation. These are much stronger and more durable materials.

Modern Denture Types

Your individual situation will determine the type of denture that would work best for you. Obviously someone who still has some of their natural teeth won’t use the same type as someone with no natural teeth left. So what are the different types?

  • Full dentures are a complete set of removable false teeth. They can be just the top teeth, just the bottom, or both. These may be made of porcelain, which imitates the look and feel of natural teeth, and they can last from 5-10 years.
  • Partial dentures are for people who still have some healthy natural teeth. The new teeth fill the gaps so the natural teeth don’t start to shift and cause new oral problems. They are often made of acrylic resin, which won’t wear down the natural teeth like porcelain will, but don’t last as long.
  • Fixed dentures, meaning non-removable dentures, come in a few different varieties. There are implants, which are surgically placed into the jaw bone and fuse over time to mimic the old root; bridges, which fill gaps by being cemented to the teeth on either side of the whole; and implant-supported dentures, which use implants as anchors for dentures.

Which Dentures Are Right For You?

Figuring out the ideal replacement teeth for you can be tricky, particularly if you’ve never needed them before, but that’s why you have us! Schedule a visit with us as soon as you can so we can talk about what type you need and set up a plan to get you on your way back to a bright, full smile!

As always, thank you for putting your trust in us!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Why Are Dental Sealants Important?

DO YOU SPEND A LOT of time worrying about how to keep your child’s teeth cavity-free? Teaching them to brush and floss are critical steps toward ensuring that they can take good care of their teeth for life. Once those permanent teeth come in, there’s something we can do at the dental practice that will give them even more protection against tooth decay, and that something is applying dental sealants.

Bacteria Versus Your Child’s Teeth

The reason it’s so critical to teach our children good oral health habits at an early age is that 40 percent of children develop cavities by the time they start school because of poor oral hygiene and consuming sugary snacks and drinks. Every human mouth contains numerous species of bacteria that excrete acid onto our teeth when consuming sugar, and this acid wears away at our enamel and leads to tooth decay.

Brushing, flossing, and limiting our sugar intake are all important ways we can keep that bacteria in check. But even when we do all of these things, there are crevices in our teeth where bacteria can hide, and these can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush. That’s where sealants come in!

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a protective clear plastic layer brushed onto the chewing surfaces of teeth to “seal them off” from plaque and bacteria that would cause cavities to form. Dentists started using sealants in the 1960s, and they’ve been popular ever since.

Typically, sealants are applied to the molars because these teeth are the ones that do the most chewing and have those deep crevices where bacteria can hide. The sealant will fill in and cover any crevices on the tooth to act as a shield from the bacteria. What makes them even better is that the sealant application process is quick and painless!

When Should Your Child Get Sealants?

The best time to bring your child in for dental sealants is around when their adult molars erupt, which is usually at age six. The sooner they sealants are in place, the less opportunity the oral bacteria will have to build up in the crevices of the molars. However, sealants are still beneficial when applied later on. Older children and even adults can get them and have their teeth protected too!

Schedule Your Child’s Next Appointment Today!

Whether your child needs sealants or just a normal twice-yearly dental cleaning, don’t hesitate to schedule their next appointment! And if you have any concerns with the way your child is brushing or with how the food they eat might be affecting their teeth, be sure to let us know so that we can help.

Our top priority is protecting your child’s smile!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

SOMETIMES, BEDTIME CAN BE a real struggle, and a bottle might seem like an easy solution. Unfortunately, putting a baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice does more harm than good, because the easier bedtime comes at the expense of the baby’s oral health. Keeping those baby teeth healthy is crucial so that the adult teeth will have a better chance of coming in straight.

What Is Bottle Rot?

Prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk or juice erodes the enamel on a baby or toddler’s teeth, particularly the central incisors. If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “baby bottle tooth decay” or the more sinister-sounding “bottle rot,” this is what it refers to, and it’s definitely something to avoid. It can also happen with sippy cups and even breastfeeding! If a baby’s gums and teeth aren’t properly cleaned after feeding, the sugary milk residue left in their mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.

Stopping Bottle Rot Before It Starts

Preventing bottle rot is simple: only use a bottle for the baby’s mealtimes, not to soothe them or help them fall asleep when they aren’t hungry. A pacifier will be much healthier for their teeth. After the baby reaches six months old, it’s safe to use a bottle of water, or a sippy cup of water for toddlers. Not only will it not cause bottle rot, but it won’t leave stains if it spills!

After every meal, make sure to clean out milk residue. Once baby teeth start appearing, it’s time to start brushing them. Use a soft toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice. Because babies can’t rinse and spit, make sure to use a non-fluoride toothpaste that is safe to swallow.

Treating Existing Bottle Rot

If your baby is already showing signs of tooth decay, come see us! We’ll be able to assess the extent of the decay, deal with any cavities, and come up with a plan to prevent future damage. One of the easiest steps you’ll be able to take at home is to limit their consumption of sugary drinks like juice and soda. You can also bring them to us for fluoride varnish treatments to give their teeth extra protection.

We Can Help

We know that parenting is full of unexpected twists and turns, but we’re happy to help you navigate the ones involved in infant and child dental care. Like you, we want your child to have a healthy smile for life! If you haven’t already brought them in for a checkup, schedule one today!

Thank you for being our valued patients!

Top image by Flickr user Sander van der Wel used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Different Types Of Teeth

YOU’VE PROBABLY NOTICED that your teeth aren’t all the same shape, but do you know the reason? Humans have four different types of teeth, and they each serve specific purposes, both in helping us chew and in giving us our beautiful smiles!

Types Of Teeth And What They Do

The reason we need so many different types of teeth is that we are omnivores, which means we eat both plants and meat. We need teeth that can handle all of our favorite foods!

Incisors

At the very front of the mouth, the top four and bottom four teeth are the incisors. The middle ones are central incisors, while the ones on the sides are lateral incisors. Incisors are built for slicing. When we take a bite out of an apple, for instance, our incisors shear off a tasty chunk of fruit, but they aren’t the teeth we actually chew with.

Canines

Next to the lateral incisors are our canines, which are the sharpest and longest teeth in our mouths. This enables them to grip and tear food, particularly meat. Unlike incisors, we only have four canines. Their long roots and their position at the “corners” of our dental arches also make them some of the most important teeth in our smiles, because they provide much of the shape. Another name for canine teeth is eyeteeth. That might seem weird, but it’s because these teeth are directly beneath our eyes!

Premolars

After the canines, we have our premolars. You can think of premolars as hybrids between canines and molars. They have sharp outer edges, but they also have flat chewing surfaces, which means they can help the canines with tearing food and the molars with grinding it up. We don’t have any premolars as children; our eight adult premolars are actually the teeth that replace our baby molars!

Molars

Finally, we have the molars. Molars are our biggest teeth, with multiple roots and large, flat chewing surfaces. We have eight baby molars and up to twelve adult molars, depending on whether or not we have and keep our wisdom teeth. Molars are the teeth that do most of the chewing because those flat surfaces are perfect for grinding and crushing food until it’s ready to be swallowed.

What About Herbivores And Carnivores?

Our teeth are the way they are because we’re omnivores. Herbivores (plant-eaters) and carnivores (meat-eaters) have very different teeth. Herbivores typically have chisel-like incisors and large, flat premolars and molars for chewing plants, while their canines are small if they have them at all. Carnivores tend to have much bigger canine teeth than we do, but their incisors are much smaller, and while they still have premolars and molars, they are often serrated like knives, built for shredding rather than grinding.

Biannual Visits

What do all four types of your teeth have in common? They need regular attention from a dentist! Keep bringing those incisors, canines, premolars, and molars to see us every six months so that we can make sure they’re all staying healthy. In the meantime, you can do your part by remembering to brush twice a day, floss daily, and cut back on sugary treats!

We look forward to seeing you again!

Top image by Flickr user _zhang used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Why Straight Teeth?

TO SOME, IT MIGHT seem like the benefits of having straight teeth are purely cosmetic. And those benefits certainly do exist. Studies have shown that people tend to perceive someone with straight teeth as wealthier, happier, and more dateable than someone with crooked teeth. But there are plenty of other important benefits as well.

Consequences Of Crooked Teeth

There are many different ways crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth can negatively impact a person’s health and quality of life. Let’s take a look at a few of the big ones.

Difficult To Clean

When teeth overlap each other in ways they aren’t meant to, they can be much harder to clean with brushing and flossing than straight teeth. If teeth aren’t getting cleaned as effectively, then they become more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Impede Clear Speech

Underbites, severe overbites, and other teeth alignment problems can interfere with a person’s ability to speak clearly, leading to lisps and other distortions in articulation.

Interfere With Healthy Digestion

Chewing is a critical part of the digestion process. Our saliva begins to break food down on a chemical level while our teeth break it apart into more manageable pieces. Crooked teeth can make it difficult or even impossible to chew food enough, which forces the rest of the digestive system to pick up the slack. This can lead to a number of unpleasant GI consequences, and it can even make it harder to lose weight!

Can Interfere With Healthy Breathing

If your teeth don’t fit comfortably together, you might keep them apart instead of closing your jaws when resting. This can lead to mouth breathing, which has many negative health effects. The two most connected to oral health concerns are chronic bad breath and dry mouth.

Can Cause Jaw Problems

If there’s something wrong with your bite, that can result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndromeSymptoms include a clicking jaw joint, jaw pain, and frequent headaches.

Do Your Teeth Need Straightening?

Having straight teeth eliminates or greatly reduces all of these problems. This, paired with the cosmetic advantages and the boost in confidence, makes orthodontic treatment a very worthwhile investment. If you think you could benefit from orthodontic treatment, our practice can recommend a great orthodontist for you. In the meantime, keep brushing, flossing, and scheduling your regular dental appointments!

You deserve the best for your teeth!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.