Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Making the Connection

Just as calcium and vitamin D are needed for healthy bones, they are also necessary for your baby’s oral health. Teeth start to form in utero, so dental problems can start before they even erupt. It’s long been known that calcium helps strengthen a fetus’ teeth during the development process, but now scientists have discovered a link between prenatal vitamin D and tooth decay.

A recent study indicates that children born to mothers with inadequate vitamin D levels had a greater chance of developing early childhood dental caries. During the study, the vitamin D levels of 206 pregnant women were analyzed during their second trimester. Only 10.5 percent of the women had adequate levels of vitamin D. Researchers then followed up on 135 of these infants at 16 months of age. Of the children born to women with lower levels of vitamin D, 21.6 percent of them had enamel defects, which leave teeth more susceptible to dental cavities. Tooth decay was found in 33.6 percent of the children born to women with the lowest levels of vitamin D.

The results of this study raise concerns in the dental health community, and although further research is needed, it may mean expectant mothers need to increase their vitamin D intake to help prevent childhood dental problems.

An Excellent Indication

As the research indicates, vitamin D may affect children’s dental health long before they’re born! If you’re expecting, speak with your dentist about your diet and nutritional supplements, and visit your dentist regularly for a dental checkup. Taking the time to care for yourself could increase your baby’s chances for a longer, healthier life!

Dental Care Checklist for Infants

Dental Care Checklist for Infants
See the dentist by age 1. Schedule your infant’s first dental visit by the age of 1 or after the first tooth erupts.
Clean baby’s gums. Use gauze to clean your infant’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, this should be done even before your baby’s first tooth erupts.
Brush baby teeth. Once your infant’s baby teeth erupt, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after feedings and at bedtime.
Floss baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day (preferably before bedtime).
Wean baby from the bottle. Ask your pediatrician when you should stop breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies should be weaned from the bottle by the age of 1.
Keep an Eye On:
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Keep your infant’s teeth healthy by cleaning them after feedings, and avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice (these contain decay-causing sugars); use water instead.
Signs of Teething — Your infant’s first tooth can erupt, or “cut,” as early as three months and as late as a year. Teeth symptoms can vary greatly, but if your baby becomes increasingly irritable or starts drooling, biting and coughing more than normal, he or she could be teething. Try a teething ring or bottle of cold water for relief.
Excessive Pacifier Use – If your infant uses a pacifier for more than three years, he or she may develop slanted teeth or a misaligned bite later. If you have a difficult time weaning your infant from pacifier use, ask us about alternative ways to give the comfort your little one craves.

What Is Cementum?

What Is Cementum?

Cementum is a hard layer of tissue that helps the periodontal ligament attach firmly to a tooth. Made of cementoblasts, cementum slowly forms over a lifetime.

Cementum is a hard, calcified layer of tissue that covers the root of the tooth. On its outer side, cementum is attached to the periodontal ligament; on its inner side, the dentin. Along with the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingiva, cementum helps a tooth stay in its place. In fact, if it weren’t for cementum, the periodontal ligament wouldn’t be able to attach firmly to a tooth.

Slowly formed throughout life, cementum is created when the root of the tooth excretes cementoblasts. Though cementoblasts are somewhat of a mystery, it is known that cementum is yellow in color and softer than dentin. Its chemical makeup is similar to that of bone — but unlike bone, cementum is avascular (not supported by blood vessels).

Types of Cementum

There are three types of cementum: acellular cementum, cellular cementum and afibrillar cementum. Acellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the root and has little to no cellular components. Cellular cementum covers about 1/3-1/2 of the apex and is permeable. Afibrillar cementum sometimes extends onto the enamel of the tooth.

If you have periodontal disease, your acellular cementum, cellular cementum or afibrillar cementum may also be diseased. A gum disease treatment called scaling and root planing can be performed to remove the diseased cementum, as well as dental tartar and diseased dentin.

If it has been awhile since your last dental visit, make an appointment today.

Chipped Teeth Choices

If you have a chipped tooth, you’re not alone! In fact, chipped teeth are the most common dental injury today. But don’t let that little-known fact fool you into ignoring a chipped tooth; any type of dental trauma deserves immediate attention. A small chip may not cause you pain, but there could be damage underneath the surface of the tooth. Our dentist can rule out cracks or internal tooth problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye. And in many cases, your chipped tooth can be repaired in just one visit.
Options, Options
Chipped tooth treatments vary according to the amount of damage. Depending on your situation, any one of these chipped tooth treatments may be an option for you:
Dental Bonding — Most chips can be corrected with dental bonding. Dental bonding is an efficient, durable and cost-effective way to correct minor chips.
Enamel Shaping — Often used in conjunction with dental bonding, enamel shaping can also correct small chips or surface flaws. During enamel shaping, a small portion of the tooth’s surface is removed or recontoured to smooth out imperfections.
Dental Veneers – If the chip is significant and dental bonding or enamel shaping can’t be used, you may need a veneer. These thin, porcelain wafers completely cover the surface of the tooth and are often used for front teeth.
Root Canal – Pain in the location of the chip can be a sign that the nerve is exposed. If that’s the case, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
Dental Crown — A dental crown is used to completely cover larger teeth or to cap a tooth after a root canal.
Tooth Extraction — If the tooth can’t be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. The good news is a dental bridge or dental implants can replace missing teeth.

Six Easy Ways to Prevent Dental Cavities

In dentistry, children and cavities seem to go hand in hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 percent of children ages 2 through 5 have at least one dental cavity, compared to 24 percent a decade ago. Although 4 percent may not seem like a lot, that increase represents thousands and thousands of children and cavities — as well as a trend in the opposite direction of the last 40 years, when tooth decay was on a gradual decline.

Eating unhealthy foods is one of the primary reasons for the rise in numbers of affected children and cavities. Healthy snacks such as fruits and nuts are often replaced with processed foods, and soda and sugary drinks have trumped water.

And unfortunately, even if your child is drinking water, it won’t do their teeth any good if it’s bottled; because unlike tap water, bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride, which is essential for the healthy development of your child’s teeth.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Visiting the dentist regularly, practicing good oral hygiene and promoting healthy eating habits are all ways to help break the connection between children and cavities.

You can also get a head start on fighting the children and cavities epidemic by taking extra special care of your child’s baby teeth. Baby teeth are adorable to look at, but they also set the stage for healthy adult teeth. If tooth decay is present in baby teeth, your child’s adult teeth can also become infected.

So if you have children and cavities are a concern, here are six easy ways to reduce the risk:

1. Avoid giving your baby juice or formula at night. The sugar in juice and formula causes the bacteria in the mouth to produce the acids that cause baby bottle tooth decay. Use fluoridated water instead.

2. Choose low-fat foods from the basic food groups. Raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole-grain breads and low-fat dairy products are great for your child’s overall health and their dental health!

3. If you must, give sweets only as a dessert. If your child must have sweets, limit it to dessert or following a main meal. Late-night snacking and frequent snacking are a major culprit of cavities in children.

4. Invest in a water filter. Most community sources of water are fluoridated — an excellent resource to help the battle between children and cavities. Instead of spending extra on bottled water, invest in a filter for your sink, or a filtered water pitcher.

5. Don’t share cups or utensils. Cavities are contagious. So if you have them, you can pass them onto your child by sharing cups and utensils.

6. If you smoke, stop. The University of Rochester’s Strong Children’s Research Center has discovered a link between smoking, children and cavities. Results from a recent study show that children of parents who smoke are more likely to develop cavities.

Learning how to brush properly is also essential in helping to stop the children and cavities epidemic. Teach your child to use short side-to-side, up-and-down strokes and to brush around his or her gum line for at least two minutes twice a day.

Finally, never skip taking your child to the dentist for regular exams and dental cleanings. While you’re at the dentist’s office, be sure to ask plenty of questions — your dentist is the best resource for learning how to protect your children from cavities!

Chipped Teeth Choices

If you have a chipped tooth, you’re not alone! In fact, chipped teeth are the most common dental injury today. But don’t let that little-known fact fool you into ignoring a chipped tooth; any type of dental trauma deserves immediate attention. A small chip may not cause you pain, but there could be damage underneath the surface of the tooth. Our dentist can rule out cracks or internal tooth problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye. And in many cases, your chipped tooth can be repaired in just one visit.

Options, Options

Chipped tooth treatments vary according to the amount of damage. Depending on your situation, any one of these chipped tooth treatments may be an option for you:

Dental Bonding — Most chips can be corrected with dental bonding. Dental bonding is an efficient, durable and cost-effective way to correct minor chips.

Enamel Shaping — Often used in conjunction with dental bonding, enamel shaping can also correct small chips or surface flaws. During enamel shaping, a small portion of the tooth’s surface is removed or recontoured to smooth out imperfections.

Dental Veneers – If the chip is significant and dental bonding or enamel shaping can’t be used, you may need a veneer. These thin, porcelain wafers completely cover the surface of the tooth and are often used for front teeth.

Root Canal – Pain in the location of the chip can be a sign that the nerve is exposed. If that’s the case, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.

Dental Crown — A dental crown is used to completely cover larger teeth or to cap a tooth after a root canal.

Tooth Extraction — If the tooth can’t be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. The good news is a dental bridge or dental implants can replace missing teeth.

Dental Care Checklist for Infants

See the dentist by age 1. Schedule your infant’s first dental visit by the age of 1 or after the first tooth erupts.

Clean baby’s gums. Use gauze to clean your infant’s gums after feedings and at bedtime. Ideally, this should be done even before your baby’s first tooth erupts.

Brush baby teeth. Once your infant’s baby teeth erupt, brush them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after feedings and at bedtime.

Floss baby teeth. When two baby teeth erupt side by side, gently floss them at least once a day (preferably before bedtime).

Wean baby from the bottle. Ask your pediatrician when you should stop breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies should be weaned from the bottle by the age of 1.

Keep an Eye On:

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay – Keep your infant’s teeth healthy by cleaning them after feedings, and avoid putting your baby to bed with formula or fruit juice (these contain decay-causing sugars); use water instead.

Signs of Teething — Your infant’s first tooth can erupt, or “cut,” as early as three months and as late as a year. Teeth symptoms can vary greatly, but if your baby becomes increasingly irritable or starts drooling, biting and coughing more than normal, he or she could be teething. Try a teething ring or bottle of cold water for relief.

Excessive Pacifier Use – If your infant uses a pacifier for more than three years, he or she may develop slanted teeth or a misaligned bite later. If you have a difficult time weaning your infant from pacifier use, ask us about alternative ways to give the comfort your little one craves.

Health Watch: How Bottled Water Affects Your Teeth

Millions of Americans are embracing a healthy lifestyle and turning to bottled water as part of their diet. Bottled water is often marketed as being better for you, but it may be doing your teeth a disservice. Your bottled water could be missing some elements that promote oral health.

For over 60 years, the United States has been involved in a public health program called community water fluoridation. Many communities throughout the nation added fluoride to their water supply, and the result was a significant decrease in childhood cavities. In fact, community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure for tooth decay prevention to date.

The Water Works

Fluoride battles dental cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and remineralizing teeth damaged by acid. Unfortunately, the majority of bottled waters contain little or no fluoride. In fact, fluoride may even be removed from water during the filtration process. Bottling companies and home filtration systems use reverse osmosis or distillation units to remove sediments and impurities from the water. Reverse osmosis is a water purification system that filters out minerals and some chemicals, while distillation uses heat to literally steam water away from impurities. The steam is then cooled and turned back into water.

What’s gaining steam in the water industry is the sale of bottled water — and you’ll need to drink plenty of it in order for your teeth to benefit. According to the American Dental Association, fluoridated water should contain 0.7-1.2 milligrams per liter of fluoride for effective cavity protection. While fluoride intake varies according to weight, the ADA states that ingesting 4 mg of fluoride per day is adequate for the average 160 pound person. Since most bottled waters contain less than 0.3 mg per liter of fluoride, you’ll need to stock up to get the amount of fluoride recommended by the ADA!

Baby Teeth Care Basics

It’s never too early to start taking good care of your baby’s teeth. Here are some baby teeth care basics:

– Prevent early childhood caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, by making sure baby doesn’t sleep with a bottle containing any sugary liquids — even breast milk. And never give your child a pacifier that’s been dipped into anything sweet.

– Start brushing baby teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Routine baby dental care should also include massaging the gums with a clean gauze pad. When all teeth have erupted, floss at least once a day to help prevent the buildup of dental plaque.

– Wean your baby off thumb-sucking if he or she is still doing so by age four. Otherwise, it can cause overcrowded or crooked teeth.

– Consider a combination of fluoride treatment and dental sealants, thin plastic coatings applied on baby molars to keep dental plaque from accumulating. Talk to your dentist before giving your child any fluoride dental treatment and have your child use only un-fluoridated toothpaste until two years of age.

– Take your child to the dentist after the first tooth arrives or by age one. Regular dental visits combined with daily baby teeth care can help give your baby a good head start on the road to dental health.

Bad Breath Remedies: Simple Ways to Freshen Up

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, may be caused by a number of factors. We all know that pungent foods such as onions or garlic can cause less-than-fresh breath, but dry mouth, periodontal disease and tobacco use can also contribute.

Bad breath can also be caused by bacteria that feed off of food particles and other debris that sticks to teeth, dental braces or dentures. Thorough brushing and flossing at least twice a day or after eating should take care of the offending odors. Paying specific attention to your tongue while brushing can also help eliminate odors since bacteria can cling to the tongue’s surface.

If you are concerned about having bad breath after eating, but do not have time to brush afterwards, chewing gum or sucking sugar-free candy can help stimulate saliva flow which helps wash away bacteria and debris.

What to Do Next

Drinking plenty of water and snacking on crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and carrots can also prevent halitosis-causing bacteria from forming. If you smoke, bad breath is one of many health concerns that may affect your decision to quit. Since smoking can cause vitamin C deficiency, which could be contributing to your bad breath, taking a vitamin C supplement may help.

It is also important to understand that infamous bad breath causers – such as onions and garlic – often live up their reputations. Once you begin to digest them, their odor-causing chemicals are absorbed into your blood stream. As they travel through your circulatory system, they may be transferred to your lungs and become detectable in your breath. When this happens, you may be stuck with an unfortunate odor for two days no matter how often you use your toothbrush!

Products like breath sprays, mints and mouth wash are also great ways to mask bad breath on the run but will not treat its root cause and may wear off quickly. If you notice that you are developing chronic bad breath, it is a good idea to speak with your dentist.

If your halitosis is caused by periodontal disease, your dentist can offer a gum disease treatment to relieve symptoms or may refer you to a periodontist to address the underlying cause of your bad breath. If you are prone to heavy dental plaque build up, your dentist may recommend that you use a special antimicrobial mouthwash. Tooth decay can also cause bad breath, so consult your dentist if you don’t smell an improvement after a few days.