Smoking And Children’s Oral Health

AS PARENTS, IT IS CRITICAL to make sure our children and teenagers aren’t picking up a habit as harmful as smoking. The disease we usually think of when we hear “health risks of smoking” is lung cancer, but the damage smoking can cause isn’t limited to the lungs. A smoking habit can do a lot of harm to a child’s oral health as well, far beyond merely staining the teeth and causing bad breath. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways this can happen.

Smoking Harms The Gums

Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, begins with inflammation of the gums. If untreated, it can lead to extensive damage to gum and supporting bone tissue, and it enables bacteria to spread from the mouth all through the bloodstream. Smoking introduces hundreds of toxins into the mouth, which not only doubles the risk of developing gum disease, it makes it harder to treat.

Whitening Of The Oral Mucosa

Stomatitis Nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis, is the inflammatory swelling of mucous glands in the mouth. This shows up as thick, whitish patches on the roof of the mouth. While it is usually not painful, smoker’s keratosis can be pre-cancerous.

Increased Risk Of Oral Cancer

A staggering 80 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers. Oral cancer affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Early symptoms include persistent mouth sores or pain, unusual white patches in the mouth, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness, swelling, and a sensation of something caught in the throat that won’t go away. Because many of these symptoms can be caught early at a regular dental exam, the dentist is your first line of defense against oral cancer.

Why Do Children Start Smoking?

If smoking is so unhealthy, then why do children and teens start doing it? Most often, they want to seem more grown up. Children are particularly likely to start smoking if they have a parent or relative they look up to who smokes, but it could also be because of peer pressure, pop culture, or defiance.

Even with everything they hear about the negative effects of smoking, children and teens don’t always believe those consequences will affect them personally, which is why it’s so important to talk to children about the effects of smoking to help kick the habit before it even starts.

Breaking The Habit

The good news is that smoking is the most preventable cause of all of these dental health problems, because we can either help our children quit smoking or help them decide never to start. Even someone with a long history of smoking can significantly reduce their risk of health complications by quitting, so don’t assume there’s nothing to be gained by kicking the habit.

Fight For Your Child’s Dental Health

If you want help to quit smoking, whether for yourself or your child, there are resources all around you. Support from friends, family, and even counselors can be the best help in quitting. You can also check out the CDC’s website for tips and information. As dental care specialists, we care deeply about your child’s health, and whether or not they’re smoking, we encourage you to schedule a dental exam for them so that we can make sure their mouth is staying healthy!

We care about the overall health of all our patients!

 

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.

Your Child’s First Loose Tooth

WE ALL REMEMBER what it was like to be children with loose teeth. For some, this was a pretty stressful time, while others found ways to speed up the process so they could get those Tooth Fairy payouts faster.

No matter what, though, the prospect of losing that first tooth is new territory for every child, and it can seem very strange and frightening to them. That’s why we’re here to help you calm your child’s nerves as they approach this milestone.

Perspective: This Is A Rite Of Passage

One of the top priorities of young children is proving to everyone around them that they’re “one of the big kids.” They’re growing taller, they can tie their own shoelaces, and they’re learning new things every day at school. Few things symbolize maturity better to kindergarteners and first graders than a gap-toothed smile.

A great way to help your child look forward to losing that first wiggly tooth, then, is to help them focus on what an important rite of passage it is and how grown-up they’ll feel after the tooth comes out.

Parental Dos And Don’ts Of Wiggly Teeth

Even when your child has the right attitude and is excited to gain Big Kid status by losing a tooth, it can still seem scary. Perhaps another child or an obnoxious uncle has filled their imagination with horror stories about the pain of losing teeth. You can ease their fears and make the experience more positive by following a few tips:

  • Don’t use pliers or other scary tools, especially if the tooth is barely loose.
  • Encourage your child to gently wiggle the loose tooth on their own with either a clean finger, their tongue, or a tissue.
  • Wait for your child to ask for your help pulling the tooth instead of forcing the issue.

You can also help them feel less scared by showing them this video of a brave little girl losing her first tooth with a smile:

Incentivize It!

There are many ways parents can reward their children for successfully losing their first tooth. The Tooth Fairy is a particularly popular one, with different versions of the tradition practiced all across the world.

Other families reward their children with tasty treats like ice cream or a new toy befitting a child who just became a big boy or girl. If you’re looking for a more creative way to reward your child, just scroll through a few list articles until something strikes your fancy!

We Can’t Wait To See You!

After talking to your child, if they’re still worried about their loose teeth, bring them in to see us! We love helping children get over their fears of losing teeth. Other reasons to come to us over loose teeth are if the tooth has been loose for a while and doesn’t seem to want to come out, if your child’s teeth aren’t becoming loose when they should, or if there are permanent teeth growing over the baby teeth.

We wish you and your child the best of luck!

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

Our Team’s Thanksgiving Traditions

THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS COME in all shapes and sizes. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to breaking the wishbone to getting together with those wacky yet lovable relatives, traditions vary from family to family. Typically when we think of Thanksgiving, we think of turkey, mashed potatoes, noodles, pumpkin pies, etc. There is also lots of football to watch after we’ve stuffed ourselves silly. Some families deviate from the norm and get together and have pizza, or a chili cook off between family members. Some families aren’t able to visit with their relatives due to distance, so they spend the day with close friends.

Watch this video for an explanations of some of the most common Thanksgiving traditions.

Staying Mouth-Healthy During Thanksgiving

Enjoying traditions is one part of what makes Thanksgiving wonderful, but staying on top of our oral health is another! If you’re looking for ways to make your Thanksgiving dinner more mouth-healthy, you can find a few here. Don’t forget to keep brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily, and if it’s been a while since your last dental exam, we’d love to see you!

Tell Us About Your Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions!

We want to hear how your family celebrates Thanksgiving! Share a comment below or on Facebook to let us know about your unique traditions, or else tell us about them when you come in for your next appointment!

Our patients are what we’re most thankful for this year and every year!

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.

Managing That Halloween Sweet Tooth

HALLOWEEN IS a spooky time of year, but when it comes to sugar’s effects on teeth, all that candy can be downright scary. The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that it feeds harmful oral bacteria that excrete acid, and the acid erodes enamel and leads to tooth decay. So how can we keep our costumed Halloween adventures clear of tooth decay?

Ranking Candy On Dental Health

Very few houses give away treats like sugar-free xylitol gum to trick-or-treaters, so the chances are slim that the candy will actually be healthy. However, some types of sugary candy are worse than others, or present different kinds of problems.

  • Hard candy is a problem because there’s a risk of breaking our teeth if we chew it, but sucking on it isn’t safe either because that means holding a source of sugar in our mouths for an extended period.
  • Sour candies are like a double attack against dental health, because not only do they contain a lot of sugar to feed the bacteria, but they are also highly acidic, so they can harm our enamel directly!
  • Sticky or gummy candy is especially bad for teeth because it remains stuck there, feeding the bacteria for a long time and giving them a larger opportunity to attack the enamel.
  • The good news is that the least harmful sugary candy is chocolate! It doesn’t stick to teeth like most other candies, and the cocoa in it has many beneficial properties. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar will be in it, so aim for dark chocolate.

Reducing The Candy Quantity

Being picky about which types of candy we eat is one way to reduce the risk of tooth decay, but an even better way to do that is by simply eating less candy. As parents, we can help our children out with this by coming up with a plan before trick-or-treating time. We could let them trade the bulk of their candy haul for some kind of non-candy prize or limit the number of houses they visit. We just have to make sure to discuss the plan with them in advance. Dr. Bill is offering a Candy Buy Back special. Just bring in your candy and we will give your child $1 per pound (up to 5 lbs.) You can stop by on Wed, Nov. 1, Thurs, Nov 2, and Mon, Nov. 6. to trade in your sweets for cash!

More Tooth-Healthy Strategies

There are a few other simple things you can do to reduce the dental effects of all that Halloween candy. You can drink more water to rinse out the sugar, limit the frequency of candy consumption more than the quantity, and wait thirty minutes after eating candy to brush your teeth. The reason for that last one is that it takes your saliva about half an hour to stabilize the pH of your mouth after eating sugar.

Keeping Teeth Healthy Year-Round

The Halloween season will come to an end, but the job of keeping our teeth healthy is never done! Make sure you’re always brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, keeping those sugary treats to a minimum, and scheduling regular dental visits!

Have a fun Halloween! Enjoy your treats, but remember to brush & floss!!!

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.

Which Toothbrush Is Best?

BACK IN THE GOOD old days before the 1930s, toothbrush bristles were made of animal hair.

We’re pretty happy to live in the era of nylon bristles, but how can we tell which toothbrush will be best for our teeth and gums? How hard should the bristles be? Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones?

Soft Versus Hard Bristles

It’s true that hard bristles make it a little bit easier to scrub away the plaque from your teeth than soft bristles. It isn’t worth it in the end, though, because those hard bristles can also scrape away enamel and even agitate your gums to the point of putting you at greater risk for gum recession, which could be permanent.

In the case of hard bristles versus soft, the costs of hard bristles clearly outweigh the benefits, which is why dentists always give out and recommend soft-bristle brushes.

Powered Versus Manual Brushes

In the past, there wasn’t a significant difference between the effectiveness of electric toothbrushes and manual ones. However, the technology has come a long way, and modern electric toothbrushes are better at getting plaque out of hard-to-reach spots.

Electric toothbrushes reduce plaque by up to 21 percent more than manual toothbrushes and reduce the risk of gingivitis by 11 percent more. Using an electric toothbrush also makes it easier to brush for the full two minutes and less likely that you will apply too much pressure.

That still leaves a lot of different electric toothbrushes to choose from. Luckily, whether you choose an oscillating brush (spinning tops) or a sonic brush (bristles vibrate from side to side), you’ll still see better results than with a manual brush. If you aren’t sure which brush would be best for you, feel free to ask us about it at your next appointment!

Taking Care Of Your Toothbrush

Once you’ve found the ideal toothbrush, it’s important to store it properly so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for bacteria. Store it upright somewhere it can dry out, preferably as far from a toilet as possible. Finally, don’t forget to replace your toothbrush (or the head of your electric toothbrush) regularly because even the best bristles fray and lose their effectiveness over time.

Watch the video below for a few more tips about brushing your teeth!

We Look Forward To Seeing You!

Having the right toothbrush and taking proper care of it are essential to good dental health, but there’s no replacement for regular professional dental cleanings. Make sure you’re scheduling your child’s appointments twice a year! We look forward to seeing you & your kiddos soon.

Good habits and the right tools make all the difference for your teeth!

Kids’ Dental Health 101

WE ALL REMEMBER what it was like to lose our first tooth and become “one of the big kids.” Children grow up fast, but the time of greatest change for their teeth is the transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth. If your own children are in or approaching that phase of childhood, there are a few things that are important to understand.

Baby Teeth Serve A Special Purpose

Even though baby teeth only last a few years, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to take care of them, because they serve several valuable functions. First and foremost, they are placeholders for the adult teeth, helping the adult teeth to come in straight. They are also an important part of articulate speech (hence the famous lisp when the two front teeth are missing), and, of course, chewing would be impossible for the first several years of childhood without baby teeth.

Pull Loose Teeth At The Right Time

Things can get very exciting when that first tooth starts wiggling. Kids look forward to the visit from the Tooth Fairy and being able to squirt water through the new gap, but it’s important not to rush things. Let the tooth loosen on its own. If that doesn’t happen, it could be for a number of reasons, including:

  • the baby tooth being stubborn,
  • the adult tooth being impacted,
  • and the adult tooth not coming in directly under the baby tooth.

Whatever the cause, we can address it at our practice.

New Adult Teeth Differ From Baby Teeth

Don’t panic if your child’s brand new adult tooth looks more yellow than the surrounding baby teeth. That’s simple biology. Baby teeth have more of the white enamel layer and less of the underlying yellow layer than adult teeth, which is why they appear more white. A slight difference in color is completely normal, but if you’re worried, we can certainly check them out.

Another difference between baby teeth and adult teeth is that adult incisors have small bumps called mamelons along the tops. Help your child understand that these bumps are perfectly normal and often wear down after a few years.

Keep Taking Care Of Those Teeth!

There are a few essential components of dental care for growing kids, whether they’ve started losing baby teeth or not. First, teach them good brushing and flossing habits. This means brushing twice daily for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and flossing once daily, working gently along the gumline on each side of the gaps between teeth. Second, cut back on sugary snacks, sodas, and fruit juice that dramatically increase the risk of tooth decay. Finally, make sure to bring them in for regular cleaning appointments, as well as dental sealants as soon as the adult molars come in.

If you have any questions about your child’s developing teeth or their oral health, feel free to let us know in the comments below or call and make an appointment today!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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.

Now that school is back in full swing, it’s time for back-to-school dental check-ups!

DID YOU KNOW THAT TOOTH DECAY is the most common chronic disease in children? An estimated 42 percent of children between ages two and 11 get tooth decay in their baby teeth, and it doesn’t stop there, with 59 percent of kids between 12 and 19 getting at least one cavity.

As alarming as these statistics are, childhood tooth decay can be prevented with good oral health habits and regular dental appointments.

Why Schedule A Back-To-School Dental Appointment?

When it comes to the health of your children’s teeth, an ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a pound of cure. If you wait until there’s an obvious problem, it’ll take more extensive (and expensive) treatment to fix. Teeth won’t start to hurt until decay has reached the dental pulp, so bring your children in for an appointment before it can get that far.

What To Expect At Our Office

When you come to our office, you can expect your child to be seen at his/her appointment time. Dr. Bill doesn’t like to keep his patients waiting! Your child will be made comfortable while our dental assistants clean their teeth and Dr. Bill will then examine them. He will have a short meeting with you after the appointment to update you on what he saw in the exam and give you recommendations on your child’s dental health!

What You Can Do For Your Child’s Teeth At Home

It’s very important that your children brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Also, eating minimal sugary foods is extremely helpful to keep those teeth healthy! Encourage your children to eat vegetables and drink milk, but limit fruits and juices to 2-3 a day, because of their high sugar content.

Here’s a few tips to keep your child’s oral hygiene on track in between appointments:

We’ll See You Soon!

Make sure your kids start off their school year right: with healthy teeth and the confidence to share their smile with new friends and teachers. Call now (901-853-1568) to schedule your child’s back-to-school dental examination!

Wishing your kids a mouth-healthy year at school!

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.

Chocolate And Your Teeth

UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health!

To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.

All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal

How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.

If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.

Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.

Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything

Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!

Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!

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 Coolest Teeth In The Animal Kingdom

MOST OF US already know that sharks constantly grow new teeth, venomous snakes use their fangs like syringes full of poison, and elephants have enormous tusks. As lovers of teeth of all shapes and sizes, today we’d like to take a moment to spotlight a few lesser known bizarre teeth out there in the wild.

Crabeater Seals

Contrary to their name, crabeater seals’ diets consist almost entirely of antarctic krill, but you probably wouldn’t guess that by looking at their teeth. Where we have our molars, they have some very bizarre teeth. These teeth are like if a normal sharp canine tooth had many smaller canine teeth coming out of it. All together, they look like they’re packing deadly saws in their jaws.

Even though they look deadly, crabeater seals use their teeth in much the same way that we use strainers for pasta: they’ll take a big gulp of ocean water, then squeeze the water back out while their teeth trap all the tasty krill inside. Yum!

Beavers 

You’d be horrified if you woke up with orange teeth, but that’s because you aren’t a beaver. Beaver teeth become orange over time because of the iron in the food they eat. The iron makes their teeth harder, which helps them chew through trees to construct their dams. But even iron doesn’t fully protect against wear and tear, which is why their teeth constantly grow.

Narwhals

Narwhals are often called the unicorns of the sea because of the single spiral horn protruding up to ten feet long from the males’ heads. However, those aren’t really horns. In fact, they are tusks—in this case, elongated canine teeth that grow through the upper lip. Usually only the left one manages to grow that long, but some male narwhals end up with two full-length tusks, and occasionally a female narwhal will grow one or both as well.

As recently as May of this year, scientists still weren’t sure about the tusks’ purpose, but new footage has shown narwhals using their tusks to stun fish, making it easier to eat them. There’s probably more to it than that, though, because the tusks also contain millions of nerve endings, which likely means narwhals use them to sense their surroundings.

Keep Taking Care Of Those Chompers!

We might not be able to bop fish over the head, saw through trees, or strain krill with our ordinary human teeth, but we still need them to be healthy and strong in order to chew our food, speak clearly, and share beautiful smiles with the people we love. Always remember to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss once a day, schedule regular dental appointments, and contact us if you’re having any dental problems in between appointments!

As cool as animal teeth are, human teeth are still our favorite!

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.

Dental Sealants Have Our Seal Of Approval

AS PARENTS, our children’s well-being is always our top priority, and their dental health is a big part of that. It’s important to take good care of their baby teeth, of course, but what can we do to ensure that their permanent teeth get off to a good start?

A Child’s Risk Of Tooth Decay

Did you know that 40 percent of children will develop cavities by the time they reach kindergarten? Poor oral hygiene habits and sugary snacks can result in severe tooth decay in baby teeth, and genetics sometimes contribute to the problem as well.

As important as baby teeth are, it’s even more crucial to protect incoming adult teeth from decay, because those are the final set of teeth your child will have, and you want them to stay healthy and strong for a lifetime. One way of ensuring that a child has a lower risk for tooth decay is applying dental sealants to the permanent molars.

Dental Sealants Protect Hard-to-Reach Areas

Most of us have deep valleys and crevices between the peaks of our molars. Those can be very difficult spots to keep clean, and decay-causing bacteria thrive there. That’s where a dental sealant material comes in. Dental sealants serve as a barrier against bacteria and food particles in those deep molar crevices. It doesn’t make up for slacking off in the brushing and flossing department, but it does make adult teeth far more resilient against decay.

The ideal time for your child to get dental sealants is shortly after their adult molars erupt, which usually begins around age six. The sooner the sealants are in place, the less of an opportunity bacteria have of setting up shop in those hard-to-brush crevices.

Sealant Application Is Simple

Applying the sealant to teeth is simple, quick, noninvasive, and painless. First, the teeth are carefully brushed and cleaned. Then they are blown dry before being painted with special gel. The clear plastic coating is applied to the deeper grooves of the biting surface of the molars next. In order to cure or harden this coating, we use a special light. Sealants can last from five to ten years, and we make sure to keep an eye on them whenever your child comes in for a dental check-up.

Sealants Are Only One Part Of The Equation

Never forget that sealants are only part of the dental health equation for any child. It’s also crucial to encourage good daily brushing and flossing habits. A healthy diet–specifically, one in which sugary treats, sodas, and fruit juices are rare–will make it harder for tooth decay to encroach as well. And, of course, bringing your child in for regular dental appointments will enable us to spot problems early on and make sure everything is on track.

We’re in the business of 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.