Smile Safety for Active Kids

Active kids call for active safety. And while helmets, goggles and knee pads protect your kids’ bodies, it’s also important to protect their teeth. A mouthguard is an easy, reliable way to safeguard your child’s teeth during sports and play.
Mouthguards are especially crucial during contact sports such as football, hockey or boxing, where blows to the body and face are regular occurrences. But even non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, and recreational pastimes, such as skating or biking, pose a risk to the teeth.
In addition to cushioning your child’s teeth, using a mouthguard can prevent injury to the tongue, lips, face and jaw. Kids who wear dental braces should be especially careful to protect their mouths during physical activity.
A trip to the dentist can help you choose a mouthguard that’s right for your child. In general, there are three types of mouthguards to choose from:
– Stock Mouthguards. These pre-made protectors can usually be bought wherever sporting equipment is sold. Most dentists do not recommend their use because they cannot be adjusted to your mouth and provide only limited protection.
– Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards. Boil-and-Bite guards are softened with hot water and then molded over your child’s teeth. This somewhat custom fit leads to better protection and greater ease in talking and breathing. These are also available at most sporting goods stores.
– Custom Mouthguards. Your dentist can create a custom mouthguard designed specifically for your child’s teeth. These offer the best fit, comfort and protection, but may be more costly than store-bought varieties.

Are Baby Teeth Important?

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s development for several reasons. Not only do they encourage the development of the jaw bone – and reserve space required for the permanent teeth to follow – baby teeth also enable your child to chew solid food and assist in speech development. Moreover, they contribute to your child’s positive feelings about his or her appearance and help build confidence.

Therefore, it is important to begin a daily oral care routine for your child before the first tooth appears. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a warm, wet cloth or a small gauze pad to remove excess food and bacteria. As soon as the first teeth appear, brush them with a small, soft-bristled brush moistened with warm water. When teeth begin to touch each other, add daily flossing to the routine.

With adult supervision, most children are able to brush and floss their own teeth by about age four. However, we recommend assisting your child at least once a day to ensure a thorough job. You should continue to monitor your child’s oral care throughout childhood. Remember, with your own healthy oral care habits, you serve as an important role model for your child.


Sinusitis Got You Down?

During the winter months – in fact, any time when the air is very dry – it’s important to keep your nasal passages moist. A simple home remedy is to sniff salt solution into both nostrils 2-4 times a day.

To prepare an effective homemade solution, add ½ teaspoon of table salt and ½ a teaspoon if baking soda into one cup of distillated water. If using tap water, make sure to sterilize it through boiling and then allow it to cool. Stir the cool water until the salt and baking soda dissolves completely.

To apply, fill a squeeze bottle with the saline solution. Direct the saline solution stream toward the back of your head (not toward the top). The saline wash should go through the nose and out the mouth or other nostril. Repeat the process several times a day for best results.

Alternatively, you can buy ready-prepared nasal saline products – such as Ocean®, Simply Saline® or generic equivalents – from a drug store. As with the home solution, these products wash away mucus from the membranous lining of nasal passages.

They also help by shrinking any swollen parts of the nasal passage. If this is not done, mucus and the swollen membranes may block openings of the sinuses into the nasal passages. Sinusitis often ensues when nasal bacteria infect the mucus, which can no longer drain from the blocked sinus. Treatment of sinusitis (rather than prevention) often requires the use of antibiotics.

Some doctors are not enthusiastic about nasal saline irrigation since researchers found it does not significantly reduce the incidence of colds. However, do not confuse the common cold with sinusitis. Viruses cause colds, while sinusitis is a bacterial-induced complication of some colds.

Irrigation of the nasal passages with saline cannot kill viruses or bacteria. However, it does help to reduce the incidence of sinusitis in people with a tendency to develop this common complication.


Bridging The Gap

How we perceive our smile and appearance affects our self-esteem, our mood and how we function in social as well as work settings. And, since most people aren’t tough, hardened boxers or hockey players, missing teeth don’t serve as a badge of honor. Rather, it’s source of insecurity and embarrassment.

In fact, many people have spaces, or gaps, in their teeth. Either the teeth aligned that way naturally or the gaps were created (e.g. by extraction of teeth, injury, gum disease). For many patients, the treatment of choice is a fixed bridge – an attached group of crowns (caps) – to replace the missing teeth.

Traditional bridges are made with porcelain fused to metal for both strength and esthetics. To prepare for the bridge, the teeth are cut into a conical shape to serve as abutments to which the fixed bridge is attached so the pontics (i.e. crowns that replace the missing teeth) are held in position. This procedure usually takes two to four visits, depending on the situation, and is completed when the bridge is permanently cemented to the abutment teeth.

Of course, each patient presents specific circumstances that must be evaluated on their own merits. Factors such as occlusion (bite), oral habits, available space, health of the gum tissue, severity of the problem and patient expectations must be taken into consideration while planning a cosmetic makeover.

Please call our office to discuss your particular situation. We welcome the opportunity to restore your smile and confidence.


Seniors at Higher Risk for Dental Cavities

You may think that as an adult you don’t have to worry about cavities anymore — but dental cavities aren’t just child’s play!

As we entered the new millennium, it was discovered that seniors were actually getting more dental cavities than children. Today, children and seniors are still the two highest at-risk groups for tooth decay.

Aging puts us at greater risk for dental problems — the wearing away of tooth enamel, receding gums and loss of jawbone are signs that our mouths are aging along with our bodies.

Your grandparents could probably tell you that, in their youth, most senior citizens had missing teeth. Many lost their teeth to dental disease, and a tooth extraction was a common treatment for dental problems.

With current dental technology, we’re relying less on old-fashioned dentistry and more on modern dental procedures to restore our smiles. That’s great news to seniors, who are keeping their teeth longer. Now for the bad news — anyone with natural teeth can get dental cavities. And the longer we have our teeth, the more we expose them to the elements that can cause tooth decay.

The Risk Factors

Unfortunately, geriatric teeth are less able to handle the normal wear and tear of those in younger generations. There are several reasons why seniors may be prone to more dental cavities:

Lack of Fluoride — Most of our nation’s seniors didn’t have the benefits of community water fluoridation while growing up. And with the popularity of bottled water today, seniors may still not be getting the fluoride they need. Fluoride strengthens teeth and helps prevent tooth decay.

Arthritis — Those who suffer from arthritis, or other medical conditions, may have a hard time gripping a toothbrush or floss, making it difficult to practice daily oral hygiene.

Gum Disease — Over 95% of seniors have receding gums, exposing the roots of teeth and making them vulnerable to the same dental diseases that affect the tooth’s crown. Root decay is becoming much more common among seniors.

Dry Mouth — Dry mouth is often a side effect of medications or health problems often associated with seniors. Saliva is needed to wash away food particles and neutralize the acid that promotes tooth decay. When our mouths are dry, our teeth become more susceptible to cavities.

Diet — Aging may cause our diet to change. Seniors often lean towards softer foods, which don’t always have the nutrients you need for healthy teeth. A diet heavy in carbohydrates and sugar also contributes to dental cavities.

Assisted Living — Although assisted living centers are designed to help our loved ones get the care they need, oral hygiene may fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, a lack of individual attention may keep seniors from maintaining their smiles.

Finances — When on a fixed income, oral health care may not be a priority. Some seniors can’t afford to pay for dental products or professional dental care.

Look Grandma — No Dental Cavities!

There are several ways seniors can improve their chances of staying dental cavity-free. A diet low in sugar and high in calcium promotes tooth health. If you aren’t getting enough fluoride, try using fluoride toothpastes, mouth rinses or tablets. Drinking water, sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugarless gum promotes saliva production and reduces dry mouth.

For seniors with dexterity problems, wrap tape or an elastic bandage around the toothbrush. If a wider grip is needed, you can even try taping a tennis ball, sponge or rubber bicycle grip to the handle. An electric toothbrush may also be helpful for those who cannot maneuver a manual toothbrush easily. And daily flossing should not be forgotten, either — floss holders and waxed floss may make it easier for seniors to continue their oral hygiene routine.

Because of the special dental needs of seniors, regular dental visits are necessary to maintain their oral health. Dentists use this time to check for the dental problems that affect older patients, including gum disease, root decay and oral cancer. If a senior you know is living in a nursing home, arrange for them to receive oral care and continue with their dental appointments. If transporting them to the dental office is impossible, try finding a dentist who can arrange in-house care at their facility.

Now that you have the chance to keep your teeth for a lifetime, you should take advantage of it. Taking the right steps to maintain your smile will help you remain cavity-free, so you can truly experience what your golden years have to offer!


Making Dental Visits Easy for Kids

With your help, dental visits can be a positive – even fun – experience for your kids. Our staff will spend a lot of time with your kids to help them feel comfortable and understand what they can expect. You can help us make their next visit a successful one by working with us to accomplish this goal!

Here’s what we suggest:

  • Use only positive words when answering your kids’ questions. Soft, easy, fun and play are good words to use.
  • Avoid using words like pain, hurt, needle and shot. These words make kids (and many adults) scared and anxious.
  • After treatment is completed, you can help continue the positive experience by praising your child and referring to the fun time they just had.
  • DON’T ask negative questions like: Did it hurt? Were you scared? Did you get a shot? These comments could make your child think that there was a reason to be afraid even though they were cooperative and had a good time. It might also make them afraid of future visits.

If your child receives any kind of anesthesia, assure them that their “tickly” or “sleepy” tongue will go away in no time. Most kids don’t mind the numbness, and some even think it’s fun – that’s a good thing.


Puberty Causes Swollen Gums

Puberty is a fact of life where a child’s body matures and becomes capable of reproduction. It is during this time that hair sprouts up in unusual places, voices drop, girls start menstruating and smiles can become plagued with swollen gums that are more sensitive to dental plaque and at greater risk for dental problems.

Puberty is fueled by hormonal signals to the brain and the release of those compounds is essential to the maturation process. However, while those hormones are imbalanced, growing girls and boys are more prone to oral issues including infections, gingivitis and mouth sores. Fortunately a good dental hygiene regimen complete with daily brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist will act as a form of preventative dentistry and minimize any oral health risks associated with the natural evolution of life.


Dental Care Checklist for Seniors

Keep up your regular dental visits. Hopefully, you’ve had a lifetime of professional dental care. Don’t stop now! Just as these years might motivate you to take special care of your overall health, it’s a good idea to give your teeth some extra attention, too. That means visiting your dentist regularly and practicing good oral hygiene habits at home.

Get professional denture care. Over time, your dentures may start to loosen and shift while you talk or eat. Rather than use an over-the-counter denture repair kit, which can damage your dentures, come in for a professional denture reline. We can reshape your dentures so that they look and feel great again.

Switch to an electric toothbrush, if necessary. Arthritis or a limited mobility may make it difficult to brush your teeth. Using an electric toothbrush can help eliminate a lot of the physical movement required to brush manually, doing most of the work for you.

Consider dental implants to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are one of the most revolutionary dental treatments around. Many patients prefer dental implants over dentures because of their natural look and feel. And with today’s technology, you can get dental implants in a single visit!


Why So Sensitive? 5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt

Do your teeth hurt when you drink or eat something hot or cold? Most people think this is normal, but that’s not always the case. When your teeth hurt, they’re trying to tell you something: See your dentist.

More often than not, tooth sensitivity is a sign of a dental problem like tooth decay or gum disease. But there are other reasons why your teeth may be hurting:

  • You might have a cracked or broken tooth
  • One of your fillings could be broken or rotten
  • You might be grinding your teeth while you sleep
  • You could be brushing your teeth too hard
  • There might be dental plaque buildup on your tooth roots

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring sensitive teeth or trying to self-treat. If your sensitivity lasts longer than a couple of days or keeps recurring over a couple of weeks, make an appointment to see your dentist. The longer you wait, the worse it can get and the more expensive treatment will be. A quick exam can reveal exactly what’s going on and get you back to living pain-free.


Preventive Dentistry Starts at Home

The main responsibility of preventive care falls on you! In order to reduce your chances of getting a dental disease, you have to take care of yourself. Consider the following points when it comes to your preventive dentistry program:

Oral Hygiene — Brushing and flossing removes dental plaque, a film-like substance that is constantly forming on your teeth. If not removed, dental plaque can build up over time and produce dental tartar, a hardened, sticky substance which harbors the acid-producing bacteria that generate tooth decay. Eventually, dental tartar will creep under the gum line, leading to gum disease as well.

Diet — A good diet is incredibly important to your dental health. Not only do foods that contain sugars and carbohydrates feed the bacteria that produce dental plaque, but studies also show a diet low in calcium can increase your chances of ending up with periodontal disease and jaw deterioration.

Smoking and Drinking — Smoking, chewing tobacco and consuming alcohol can wreak havoc on your mouth! If the dry mouth, tooth discoloration and buildup of dental plaque aren’t enough for you to want to quit smoking, consider this: Smoking causes gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer.