Tooth Decay Can Cause Future Problems for Kids

kids-dentistMost people don’t worry if their children get a cavity or two. Unfortunately, tooth decay can have an impact on can impact, development, nutrition, and behavior. Identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a silent epidemic, tooth decay occurs five times more often in children than asthma. By kindergarten, 40 percent of kids will have developed cavities.

During difficult financial times, such as the ones our country has recently faced, families have to prioritize their spending and dental care is often seen as optional. For infants and children, dental checkups are an important component of overall health. Because tooth nerves are close to the blood supply, tooth infections can quickly and easily spread, which can lead to serious complications.

Other issues can also arise. When children have pain from cavities, they may eat less, increasing the risk for malnutrition. If kids are malnourished, they can have difficulty learning. Sometimes, parents mistakenly believe baby teeth don’t matter, but that’s not the case. If early teeth are lost too soon, permanent teeth can come in at the wrong time and in the wrong location, creating future orthodontic problems.

These tips will help you keep your child’s smile healthy and strong:

  • Schedule a first exam between ages one and three. Make regular checkup appointments twice a year after that.
  • Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one erupts.
  • Limit sticky, starchy, and sweet foods.
  • Select healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and cheese.
  • Talk with your dentist about applying a fluoride varnish to protect teeth.


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Surprising Facts about Dentures

If missing teeth have compromised your smile and oral health, dentures can help. Unfortunately, many people have misconceptions about dentures so they live with incomplete smiles. Separating the reality from common myths can help you make the best decision for your dental health.

Myth: Dentures will last forever

Fact: Though your prosthetic teeth are designed to withstand normal wear, they can get damaged if they are dropped, left to dry out, or placed in hot water. With time, dentures can change in appearance or function.

Myth: People can tell when you wear dentures, which is embarrassing

Fact: Usually, the signs of dentures, like slippage, odors, or stains, occur because of poor maintenance. Cleaning your prosthetic and storing it as recommended will help your dentures function properly.

Myth: With dentures, you can’t eat or speak normally

Fact: Although you can’t eat everything you want, most denture wearers can eat a healthy, balanced diet. If you experience persistent speech or eating problems, contact your dentist.

Myth: I can fix the dentures myself

Fact: You might be handy with cars or electronics, but don’t attempt to adjust your dentures because you can cause damage and possibly ruin your dental appliance.

Myth: You don’t have to visit the dentist if you have dentures

Fact: Not only does your mouth still need attention, but your dentures require care too. When you visit the dentist, your doctor will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer and other conditions that can show symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes. Your dentist will also examine your dentures to make sure nothing is loose and that the prosthetic is in good shape.

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Pregnancy and Your Dental Health

There are many issues to consider during pregnancy, and your oral health is one of them. Your mouth can be affected by hormonal changes, so it’s important to be aware of dental hazards and how to handle them.

Dental problems

There are certain oral health issues that women are more susceptible to experience during pregnancy. These include:

  • Pregnancy gingivitis – Gum inflammation, or gingivitis, can occur due to higher hormone levels in the body during pregnancy. Your gums may become swollen and red, and bleeding may occur. Pregnancy gingivitis symptoms usually disappear after giving birth.
  • Periodontal disease – Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a more serious condition that develops when an infection occurs under the gum line. It can increase your risk of tooth loss, and also may cause harmful effects for the baby due to a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Dry mouth – Hormone changes during pregnancy cause many women to produce less saliva. A dry mouth increases the risk of various dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Tooth enamel erosion – Frequent vomiting that sometimes accompanies morning sickness can cause tooth enamel to erode.
  • Pregnancy granuloma – A red growth called a granuloma may appear along the upper gum line. It bleeds frequently, can affect speaking and eating, and causes discomfort. These growths are not dangerous and usually disappear after giving birth.

Oral care
Special attention should be given to dental care during pregnancy.  Brush and floss regularly, eat a healthy diet, use an antimicrobial mouthwash approved by your doctor, and maintain dental visits.

Consider seeing your dentist during the second trimester of pregnancy, when the baby is least at risk. Tell your dentist you are pregnant so that precautions can be taken to help guarantee your baby’s health. X-rays and medications will be considered. Avoid major procedures until after your baby is born if possible. Also, ask questions if you have concerns about any treatments so that you will feel confident you and your baby are safe.

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Tips for Periodontal Maintenance

Gum disease is a serious oral health concern that impacts approximately 80 percent of American adults. If you or a loved one has completed periodontal therapy, or treatment for gum disease, you need to continue to take good care of your gums at home. Without the right dental care regiment, gum disease can continue to progress, resulting in more oral tissue damage and additional expenses.

Follow these suggestions to maintain optimal oral health:

Be diligent about brushing and flossing
Most people understand the importance of brushing, but they don’t realize how critical it is to floss as well. Because your toothbrush can’t get between teeth, these areas are especially vulnerable to plaque and tartar, the main culprits in gum disease.

Keep scheduled appointments
After treatment, your dentist or hygienist may suggest more frequent visits to monitor your gums and give you the best chance for renewed oral health. Put these appointments on the calendar and make them a priority.

Make smart choices
When you look for toothpastes or toothbrushes, choose items with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal because these products meet strict guidelines for effectiveness and safety.

Talk with your dentist
Some patients experience tooth sensitivity after periodontal therapy, which can make you reluctant to brush and floss. Usually this sensation is temporary, but your dentist may be able to recommend specific products to combat this discomfort. Continuing to brush and floss will promote healing, so don’t stop your oral care routine.

Live a healthy lifestyle
Eating a balanced diet, curbing alcohol use, and cutting out tobacco products can help you enjoy a lifetime of fabulous smiles.

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Questions and Answers about Gum Disease

Conservative estimates suggest that about 80 percent of adults in this country have some level of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. In many cases, people don’t realize they have a problem because the initial symptoms are so mild. Without treatment gum disease can lead to pain, bone degeneration, and tooth loss.

What is gum disease?
An infection of the gums surrounding the teeth, periodontal disease is caused by plaque and bacteria along the gum line. Gum disease is actually the number one cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which presents as swollen, bleeding gums. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, pockets form and the gums separate from the teeth.

What are some signs of gum disease?
Often, gum disease begins with red, swollen gums. You may also experience bleeding when you brush. Other symptoms include receding gums, pain, and chronic bad breath.

Are there certain risk factors for gum disease?
One of the main causes of periodontal disease is poor hygiene. Brushing and flossing regularly, as well as routine checkups, can go a long way to preventing gum disease. Certain lifestyle choices, like tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as genetics and medication side effects can make you more susceptible to gum disease.

How do you treat gum disease?
If you have gingivitis, your dentist will likely recommend a thorough cleaning and improved home habits. For more advanced gum disease, you may need scaling and root planing, which removes the infection and helps promote healthy gum tissue.

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Getting the Most Out of a Family Dentist

Facing dental issues are a fact of life, no matter your age. The likelihood is almost certain that at least one member of your family will require dental treatment at some point, not to mention the need for regular checkups and cleanings. The promise of dental care being required by every family member means that it can be beneficial to have a family dentist who can take care of each one’s oral health.

Although you might choose to seek oral care from a general dentist, there are some unique advantages that family dentists offer. First and foremost, a family dentist treats every member of your family no matter their age. This type of dental practice is comfortable handling any age group, while a general practice might not be as prepared for the young and old and everyone in between.

Another benefit is that you can find a single family dental practice and not have to keep looking for a dentist for each family member. You can convey your family information one time to one office, and the staff will get to know all of you. The dentist and staff will learn about the oral health of every family member, and you can feel confident that each person is receiving the same quality care.

Once you choose a family dentist, everyone will know what office to go to and may even be able to make joint appointments. It will be easy to communicate with a single location, and you’ll grow comfortable in dealing with the same group of people for every family member. Many people appreciate having a long-term professional healthcare relationship, and feeling confident in the care and experience each member of your family will have there.

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