Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.
“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into caviÂties. How did this happen?
Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.
While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.Â Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.
This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”
Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:
- Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
- Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
- Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.
Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.
“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”
If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”
You have a great smile: beautiful white teeth all perfectly aligned. But unbeknownst to you, periodontal (gum) disease might even now be damaging your gum tissues, setting the stage for future tooth and bone loss — and a ruined smile.
While it’s easy to miss the early stage of this disease caused by bacterial plaque on tooth surfaces, there are a few signs if you pay close attention. Bleeding gums after moderate brushing or flossing could indicate normally resilient gum tissues have begun to weaken. You may also notice a slight redness and swelling around the margins of the gums and a bad taste or breath. As it progresses, you may experience painful abscesses (infected pockets that develop between the gums and tooth) and loose teeth, a late sign of tissue detachment and bone loss. If you are a smoker, nicotine reduces swelling and bleeding of the gums, removing signs you have a disease. If you smoke, you need to see your dentist regularly.
While renewed daily oral hygiene is important for stopping gum disease, you may also need professional care to bring it under control. The main treatment calls for the manual removal of plaque and calculus (hardened deposits of plaque) that are sustaining the infection. Dentists and hygienists both can perform scaling, which removes plaque and calculus at or just below the gum line, and root planing to clean accessible root surfaces.
In more advanced cases, though, you may need the services of a periodontist, a specialist in treating diseased or injured gums, bone and other connective tissues that support the teeth. They’re also skilled in more advanced treatments like gum flap surgery that more fully exposes a tooth’s root area for plaque and calculus (or tartar) removal, or tissue grafting procedures that improve the health and appearance of damaged gums.
If you suspect you have gum disease, the place to start is with your family dentist. They can determine if your case will respond to basic scaling, root planing or antibiotic treatment. If the disease appears more advanced or with complications, they will most likely refer you to a periodontist for treatment.
If you’ve already seen bleeding, swelling or redness, see your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you begin treatment for any case of gum disease, the less likely it will lead to the loss not only of your teeth but your beautiful smile.
If you would like more information on the treatment of periodontal (gum) disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “When to See a Periodontist.”
Exchanging passionate kisses with big-screen star Jennifer Lawrence might sound like a dream come true. But according to Liam Hemsworth, her Hunger Games co-star, it could also be a nightmare… because J.Law’s breath wasn’t always fresh. “Anytime I had to kiss Jennifer was pretty uncomfortable,” Hemsworth said on The Tonight Show.
Lawrence said the problem resulted from her inadvertently consuming tuna or garlic before the lip-locking scenes; fortunately, the two stars were able to share a laugh about it later. But for many people, bad breath is no joke. It can lead to embarrassment and social difficulties — and it occasionally signifies a more serious problem. So what causes bad breath, and what can you do about it?
In 9 out of 10 cases, bad breath originates in the mouth. (In rare situations, it results from a medical issue in another part of the body, such as liver disease or a lung infection.) The foul odors associated with bad breath can be temporarily masked with mouthwash or breath mints — but in order to really control it, we need to find out exactly what’s causing the problem, and address its source.
As Lawrence and Hemsworth found out, some foods and beverages can indeed cause a malodorous mouth. Onions, garlic, alcohol and coffee are deservedly blamed for this. Tobacco products are also big contributors to bad breath — which is one more reason to quit. But fasting isn’t the answer either: stop eating for long enough and another set of foul-smelling substances will be released. Your best bet is to stay well hydrated and snack on crisp, fresh foods like celery, apples or parsley.
And speaking of hydration (or the lack of it): Mouth dryness and reduced salivary flow during the nighttime hours is what causes “morning breath.” Certain health issues and some medications can also cause “dry mouth,” or xerostomia. Drinking plenty of water can encourage the production of healthy saliva — but if that’s not enough, tell us about it: We may recommend switching medications (if possible), chewing xylitol gum or using a saliva substitute.
Finally, maintaining excellent oral hygiene is a great way to avoid bad breath. The goal of oral hygiene is to control the harmful bacteria that live in your mouth. These microorganisms can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath — so keeping them in check is good for your overall oral health. Remember to brush twice and floss once daily, stay away from sugary foods and beverages, and visit the dental office regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.
So did J.Law apologize for the malodorous makeout session? Not exactly. “[For] Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, yeah, I’ll brush my teeth,” she laughed.
Hemsworth jokingly agreed: “If I was kissing Christian Bale I probably would have brushed my teeth too. With you, it’s like, ‘Eh. Whatever.’”
If you would like more information about bad breath and oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than Just Embarrassing.”
If you are considering whether to get braces vs going to an Invisalign dentist, you are already on the road to getting straight teeth and a beautiful smile. During a consultation in our office, we can examine your teeth and let you know what we feel will be the most effective treatment solution for moving your teeth and bite into alignment. In the meantime, if you are comparing the pros and cons of each, here is what you need to know.
Effectiveness: Braces vs Invisalign®
If you are looking for a solution that is the most effective, braces and Invisalign® can both accomplish the goal of moving your teeth and bite into alignment. As an Invisalign Dentist, we will say that if your bite is severely misaligned, for example, a major overbite, traditional metal braces might be your best option and we will recommend a course of action that may include seeing an orthodontist. This is because a variety of oral appliances and solutions like rubber bands can be used to move the jaw into alignment during the course of the treatment. If you are simply looking to straighten your teeth, both solutions should work quite well.
Convenience: Braces vs Invisalign®
As an Invisalign Dentist, we know that wearing clear aligners is typically far more convenient than wearing traditional metal braces. This is one area where Invisalign® really shines. When your teeth are being straightened using aligners, they are designed to come out when you eat, drink and brush your teeth. That means that you will not need to worry about anything getting stuck in between your teeth or the embarrassment that is associated with that. Since the Invisalign® aligners come out, you can even remove them to go on a date, make a presentation at work, attend a wedding, etc. This makes it possible to look like a better version of yourself while going through the process of straightening your teeth. The only time where this would be inconvenient is if you had a job that would make it difficult to remove the aligners when eating, in which case, traditional braces may be a preferred option.
Treatment Time: Braces vs Invisalign®
When comparing treatment times, they should be relatively the same. As an Invisalign dentist, we know that the average treatment time is 12 to 18 months and the average treatment time for adult braces is also 18 months. With that in mind, you should select the solution that you are the most comfortable wearing. During your examination and consultation, we will provide you with specifics regarding your personalized treatment plan and timeline.
Children’s Orthodontist: Braces vs Invisalign®
If you are looking for a solution to straighten your child’s teeth, they need to wear traditional metal braces. We understand that a lot of our young patients would like to straighten their teeth using aligners but this is not a viable solution for them. While they might not qualify for cosmetic braces, they can have fun with their braces treatment by letting them select their favorite color of rubber bands every time that their wires are adjusted.
What is the importance of a family dentist? There are many ways to answer this question, but perhaps the best way is to pose another question: “Why not have a family dentist?” A family dentist is someone who provides services to the entire family, creating a number of intrinsic benefits common to many service providers who service an entire family. From a dentist point of view, it is even more beneficial when you take into consideration how many people suffer from dental anxiety. We strongly encourage our families to take advantage of the fact that we are a family dentist and to come in together, whenever possible, for routine maintenance and cleaning. What the families who do this have discovered is that when they make it a family habit to visit us, the entire family stays healthier and they have an overall improvement in their oral health and hygiene. In addition, kids learn very young to trust and rely on the family dentist for any dental
health needs they may have, much the same way as families have learned to rely on the family general practitioner. As the familiarity between us and your family improves, so too will that critical trust factor, which is something family dentists rely on very heavily.
Consider it from a child’s perspective for a second. Coming to a medical service center of any type is something naturally scary for a child. There are unfamiliar surroundings, strange sounds and smells, and the innate fear of the unknown. When, however, you add in the smiling face of a trusted family practitioner in the form of your family dentist, much of that anxiety dissipates. Since the child has previously seen this person as a friend and someone who treats Mom
or Dad, they are no longer as concerned about the procedures or what goes on in the chair. Additionally, we have discovered that parents who make it a habit to come in with their children are also more inclined to trust the dentist and have their own oral health needs taken care of.
Besides the ability to build trust with the family, there are other very tangible benefits for a family who sees a family dentist. The first among these is the ability to save time. When you have different services providers for different members of the family, you will find yourself juggling schedules and driving from place to place to ensure everyone is getting what they need. On the other hand, when the entire family sees the same family dentist, we are able to provide you with all the services under one roof. For general services from fillings to extractions and from
cleanings to x-rays, we are able to offer all of that in the clinic, so you do not have to go anywhere else. In a the same vein, families do not want to be juggling schedules, so we have a booking system that allows you to book each other’s appointments in congruence or relationship with each other. This way, when you and the family come in to see the family dentist, all your bases are covered at the same time.
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