Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

Properly brushing your teeth is a lifelong habit that you want to instill in your child as early as possible. Until he or she is able to properly brush, however, you will need to lend some assistance.

How to brush a child’s teeth properly

Remember that your child will probably offer some resistance at first. You can try to reduce this by telling him or her that you are going to tickle their teeth and that it will be fun. You may show him or her some cartoons of other people (or things) getting their teeth brushed and explain that you are going to do the same thing. The more you can make it feel non-threatening, the less resistance your child will offer, and the easier it will be for you.

The biggest thing to consider in brushing is that you want to hit every surface so you will need a system. Some parents start in the front and work to the back; others start on the inside and work to the outside. It really doesn’t matter too much what order you go in so long as you follow your system and make sure to get every surface.

Use small circular motions, as this will clean the tooth better than simply moving back and forth. Try cradling your child’s head and asking him or her to let you count all of his or her teeth. If he or she starts to cry, you can sometimes take advantage of the open mouth to get all the way to the back.

Although the process will be a struggle at first your child will quickly get used to it and will eventually sit quietly and allow you to do the job. It does help to use a child-friendly toothpaste flavor such as bubble gum or grape. The mint flavors that adults favor may be too strong and unfamiliar to your child and might even increase the trauma associated with the event. Keep talking with your child during the entire time, letting him or her know what you are doing and try to make it a fun time.

Frequently Encountered Dental Issues and Ways to Address Them

Few people go their entire lives without encountering at least a few issues with their teeth. Here are some of the more common issues people have, and potential solutions to each.

Decay in the tooth enamel

Usually if you have an ache in a tooth it is a sign of decay. The fix for this can be as simple as a filling, where the dentist drills out the decayed portion and replaces it with a filler substance, or as extensive as putting in a dental crown. The resolution will largely depend upon the extent of the decay.

Misaligned teeth

Although many people think that crooked teeth are a purely cosmetic issue, the fact is that when your teeth are crooked it can interfere with your ability to chew or even speak correctly, and some patients with crooked teeth have a difficult time keeping them clean. The treatment for this is generally some type of braces. Braces now come in a variety of styles (some of them are even clear) so talk with your dentist about your options.

Tooth discoloration

Diet, age, medications, and other factors can combine to discolor teeth. Frequently people attempt to resolve this through the use of over-the-counter whitening systems. However, these systems do not always work. Your dentist can apply a professional treatment to stubborn discolorations. Sometimes whitening simply doesn’t work and you may need to have veneers put in over the stains.

Wisdom teeth

For many people the eruption of the wisdom teeth signifies the onset of a new problem. Sometimes the teeth come in crooked; sometimes they only come in part way, leading to headaches, difficulty cleaning them, and other issues. Generally speaking, if you have an issue with your wisdom teeth, it’s best to have them removed entirely.

Missing teeth

Whether it’s from a trauma to the face, a diseased tooth, or some other reason, sometimes your teeth fall out. When this happens the result can be more than merely cosmetic in nature: missing teeth can affect your ability to eat, speak, and more. There are multiple replacement options available, each varying in cost and appearance. Talk with your dentist to explore your options.

Braces are a Great Option for Correcting a Crooked Smile

Everyone wants to have a great smile. There’s something about the impression you get when you meet someone for the first time and they have a nice, healthy smile with straight and beautiful teeth. Unfortunately for the majority of us, frequently our teeth don’t come in exactly as straight as we would like. Fortunately, we do have options.

Braces

Braces come in different styles. The first style—and probably what you thought of when you saw the word “braces”—is the traditional set of braces composed of metal brackets adhered to a wire running around the mouth. These can be uncomfortable and unsightly and require the wearer to modify his or her diet, as some foods will stick to the braces and cause other problems. Traditional braces are notorious for their tendency to irritate the gums and other soft tissues in the mouth. They have many nooks and crevices which have a tendency to rub against the cheek and cause lacerations.

Metal braces can take a significant amount of time to do their job and—at least in the case of adults—most people prefer not to get them if possible.

Invisalign

Many people prefer to go with an Invisalign or other similar system. These types of braces are clear plastic trays that sit over the teeth. They are virtually invisible when worn and, because they may be removed, the wearer is still free to enjoy his or her favorite foods without being concerned that they may become stuck in the braces. As the teeth gradually straighten, old trays are switched out for new ones until the teeth are in the desired position.

Another advantage of these types of braces is that they are smooth and, as such, are easier on the soft tissues inside the mouth. They are easier to keep clean because they may be removed for cleaning. Finally, they tend to work faster than traditional braces, meaning that patients can achieve their desired smile in a shorter amount of time.

Talk with your dentist to see which option is best for you.

Crowns Versus Fillings: What is Best for You?

When you have to have a tooth repaired you have a few different options. The most common choices are to get a crown put on or to have a filling put in. Depending on the specifics of your situation, each option has its pros and cons.

Crowns

Crowns are structures that are actually placed over the top of the tooth. They are usually used in situations where the decay is more extensive. Occasionally, there will simply not be enough of the tooth left to adequately hold a filling in place, so your dentist may recommend the use of a crown.

Crowns are also used in situations where the entire tooth is weakened. As you can imagine, chewing places a tremendous amount of stress on the structure of the tooth, and if the tooth is weakened, then putting in a filling will do little to prevent further structural breakdown of the tooth.

Using a crown can sometimes save a tooth which might otherwise have to be pulled out. Crowns are frequently applied after a root canal in order to save the tooth and strengthen it.

Fillings

Fillings are usually used when the decay is not too extensive and the tooth is otherwise healthy. The dentist will drill out the decayed area and fill the gap with a composite material. In years past fillings were typically a metallic mixture, but with today’s technology there are many natural-colored alternatives available, including ceramic or porcelain.

Although a filling is generally faster and cheaper, it does require that the tooth in which it is placed be somewhat healthy and strong (aside from the area of decay). If the tooth is not strong, then putting a filling in place will do little to preserve the integrity of the tooth, and you will likely crack or break it at some point down the line.

What’s best for you?

Ultimately, each situation must be determined on a case-by-case basis. If your tooth is giving you pain you need to see a dentist immediately. If you catch it early enough, you could avoid needing more extensive—and more expensive! —work down the road.

Do You Have Gum Disease? Here Are Some Common Indicators.

Gum disease is a serious health issue in the United States today. While some of its effects—such as tooth loss—are obvious, many less well-known effects are equally pernicious. Gum disease can directly contribute to heart problems and infections elsewhere in the body. Because it tends to be undiscovered until it is in its more advanced stages—in fact, nearly half of adults have some stage of gum disease—it is something requiring vigilance to guard against. With this in mind, it’s wise to know the signs of gum disease and what you may do if you discover that you have it.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is caused when bacteria on the teeth forms a substance known as plaque. The plaque can cause trauma to the gums along with the earlier symptoms of the disease. At its beginning stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis and is easily reversible with proper treatment.

As the disease progresses, the symptoms become worse, and some of the damage may be permanent. Gums will pull away from the teeth and tooth loss may occur. People with advanced gum disease are at an increased risk for heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

Signs of gum disease

Some of the early symptoms of gum disease are bad breath which seems to persist regardless of remedial actions, red and sore gums, gums that bleed (this may occur when brushing or flossing, but can occur at other times as well), and pain in your gums when you are chewing.

As the disease progresses the symptoms will become worse. The teeth may begin to wiggle and your dentures may no longer fit properly. Further, your teeth may not fit together when you chew the way they once did.

Treatment

Prevention is of course the best treatment. Regularly perform oral hygiene tasks such as brushing, flossing, and having your teeth cleaned by the dentist at least every six months. If you do develop gum disease, your dentist may use antibiotics or other measures to fight it. If you have developed any of the symptoms noted above, you should immediately see your dentist and have the issue addressed before it progresses.

What Is the Best Toothpaste For You?

Walk into the store and go to the toothpaste section. The varieties of toothpaste are nearly endless: various flavors, sizes, and ingredients, not to mention the different functions the various toothpastes claim to serve. With so many choices in front of you, how can you hope to choose the right one?

Here are a few pointers to help you narrow down the section.

Things to look for in a toothpaste

First and foremost, you want to be sure that the toothpaste you are considering is approved by the ADA. You don’t just want to smear some minty paste around your mouth; you want to be sure that the product works the way it is supposed to. The ADA seal is an indicator that the toothpaste passes muster and is appropriate for cleaning your teeth.

Next, you want to be sure that the toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride strengthens your teeth and makes them less prone to cavities. Some municipalities add it to their drinking water; if yours does not, you need to make sure that your toothpaste has this mineral.

If you have small children who frequently forget (or just neglect) to brush, look for a toothpaste that they will enjoy using. As you probably know, getting a child to do a good job at something that he or she doesn’t want to do can be a challenge to say the least. By giving them a flavor they like (such as bubble gum) or choosing fun packaging and/or dispensers you can help your cause and head off any bedtime battles.

Finally, consider what your needs are. Do you have some tough stains that just won’t come out? Consider a whitening toothpaste. Do you have sensitive teeth? They make toothpaste especially for use on teeth such as yours. Do you prefer more natural pastes? Some manufacturers offer toothpastes made out of more traditional ingredients such as baking soda.

As far as the form of the toothpaste, both gels and traditional pastes deliver the same benefits. Functionally speaking, there isn’t much of a difference between the two, so just pick whichever form you prefer.

Why You Should Eat Sweets With Your Meal

It is typically frowned upon to eat sweets often, but we all know that everyone needs a little dessert now and then. As long as it is not a regular part of your diet, it can be acceptable to have a sweet to satisfy that craving. The key is when you eat that sweet treat as eating it at the wrong time can cause more damage to your oral health than necessary. The best time to eat desserts or sugary snacks is with your meal. This is when your body is producing the largest amount of saliva, which gives the sugars and acids the best chance of being removed from your mouth rather than left to eat away at your enamel.

Why Sugary Treats are Bad

Why is something that tastes so good so bad for your teeth? It is all thanks to the sugar that works in conjunction with the bacteria that naturally resides in your mouth. The sugar is instantly befriended by the bacteria, turning it into acid. The acid works away at the enamel of your teeth and since the enamel is what protects the interior portion of your teeth, tooth decay occurs and more dental work is needed. If you only consume a sweet treat once in a while and are good about brushing your teeth approximately 30 minutes after consuming that treat, excessive damage does not usually occur. If you eat sweet treats often, however, your oral health could be at risk.

Habits to Start

If you are among the group that loves those sugary snacks, try to get into the following habits:

  • Eat the sugary snack with other foods so that your saliva production is higher and the other foods can help to wash the sugars away rather than allowing them to pair up with the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Drink a glass of water after eating the sugary snack to further the benefit of removing the sugar from your mouth.
  • Brush and floss your teeth within an hour of eating the snack, but not earlier than 30 minutes after consuming it as the sugar can get further driven into your teeth as the acids weaken your enamel during that first 30 minutes after consuming the food.

Why Digital X-rays are Beneficial to your Oral Health

If you are worried about the risks involved with dental x-rays, you can rest assured that digital x-rays are a safe alternative. This new form of dental technology not only makes it safer for patients because it emits 90 percent less radiation than standard x-rays, but also because it provides us with a more detailed look inside your mouth, allowing us to detect dental issues in their earliest stages. Among these benefits, are many others that many patients enjoy:

  • The ability to see the results right away. With traditional x-rays, there was a time lapse between when the x-rays were taken and when the results were available. Digital x-rays, on the other hand, provide the results immediately, portraying them on a computer screen right in front of you. This gives everyone the ability to review the results together and to discuss a treatment plan right away.
  • The ability to manipulate the results to get a better view. With traditional x-rays, if something needed to be seen up closer or an area is not easily seen, additional x-rays needed to be taken. With digital x-rays, the areas can be viewed up close by zooming in or changing the contrast, making it easier to see the areas of concern.
  • The ability to transfer x-rays quickly. If you have a dental issue that requires the assistance of a specialist, we are able to transfer your images via computer in seconds. This gives the specialist time to review your images before you have your appointment, making better use of everyone’s time and eliminating the need to have further x-rays performed.

Digital x-rays are safe and can literally save your oral health. They can be used to detect tooth decay that is not recognized with the naked eye; gum disease; gum recession; bone loss; and even oral cancer. The earlier that you catch any of these dental health issues, the easier the treatment as well as more successful. You only get one chance at having your natural teeth, use today’s dental technology to help you keep those teeth in perfect condition for many years to come!

If You Aren’t Flossing, You Are Missing Out

Flossing is an integral part of every oral health care routine. It only needs to be performed once a day, but this simple act can help fight against gum disease, gum recession, tooth loss, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and respiratory illnesses. Those factors alone should be enough to convince you that flossing your teeth on a daily basis is crucial! You can floss in the morning or at night, whichever time you find more convenient and makes it possible to stick to a routine that you will not avoid.

Flossing Saves Teeth and Lives

Even if you brush your teeth regularly for two minutes at a time, twice a day, you could be missing a large part of the bacteria and plaque that reside in between your teeth. It is impossible for your toothbrush to get in between those tight spaces, which is why flossing is essential. When that plaque and bacteria are left to build up, they begin to infect your gums, which causes gingivitis or advanced stages of gum disease. If your gums get to the advanced stage, you are at risk for tooth loss, heart disease, and other illnesses as the infection passes from your mouth into your bloodstream.

Save Money by Flossing

Believe it or not, flossing on a regular basis can even save you money! Patients that do not floss have to have more invasive dental procedures performed, such as scaling and root planing to get beneath the gum line to remove plaque and bacteria or even procedures, such as root canals or dental implants, depending on the severity of the infection and its detrimental results. Rather than putting your pocketbook and mouth through these procedures, you can put an end to the risk by flossing regularly. The ADA recommends that you floss before you brush your teeth so that any debris, plaque or bacteria that you remove from in between your teeth is removed from your mouth completely from brushing your teeth.

Flossing is one step in the oral hygiene process that should not be avoided! Find a time that it works best for you and stick to it!

Do you Brush your Tongue?

If you are not brushing your tongue, you could be leaving thousands of germs in your mouth that can be wrecking your oral health. Even if you are efficient with brushing and flossing your teeth, removing all debris, bacteria, and plaque, leaving bacteria on your tongue can cause problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even physical illnesses! Your tongue is a gateway to the rest of your body, which means that you can put your body in danger if the wrong bacteria are left to reside on your tongue. As an added benefit, brushing or scraping your tongue can make it possible to fight bad breath, which is impossible to eliminate if germs still reside in your mouth.

How to Brush Your Tongue

Brushing your tongue is a very simple process. You can use either your toothbrush that you use to brush your teeth or a tongue scraper, if brushing your tongue makes you gag a little. The tongue scraper is a flat tool that effectively scrapes the germs off of your tongue. The key is the technique that you use and that you are consistent about brushing your tongue rather than the tool used to do it.

It is important that you brush from back to front to avoid pushing the bacteria to the back of your mouth where it will cause more damage. Starting at the back of your mouth, scrape your tongue in a forward motion in order to remove the bacteria from your mouth. It is best to work from one side to the other and to work in straight lines so that you ensure that you hit every spot on your tongue. Once you are finished scraping your tongue, make sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth either with an ADA approved mouthwash or with warm water. Rinsing and spitting out the liquid will ensure that any remaining germs that are now loosened are removed from your mouth.

After scraping or brushing your tongue, you are left with fresh breath and a germ free mouth, giving you the best of both worlds – optimal oral health and fresh smelling breath.