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.