For most adults the dentist can be a scary experience, so we understand your reservations about bringing your baby to the dentist. But, good oral hygiene starts young, and so do dentist visits.
Your child should definitely make their first dentist visit before their first birthday. The general rule that most dentists follow is that the child should start seeing a dentist regularly six months after the eruption of the first tooth.
Bringing your infant to the dentist probably sounds like a lot to tackle, for you and for them. But, if you follow these simple guidelines then you’ll have no problem transitioning your child into a good oral health routine.
Before the first visit make sure to discuss with your dentist what the appointment will be like. You’ll want to know what your child is going through so that you can explain to them beforehand what will happen. Usually, a first dental appointment is just an opportunity for the dentist to get to know the patient and do a check up.
We all know that our kiddos can have those days; the ones filled with tantrums, screaming, and general grumpiness. Plan ahead for that and be willing to reschedule if that’s the case. Or, if your child is compliant, then plan ahead and be ready to go through the process with them. Try to schedule an appointment in the morning when your child is most alert.
For kids under 36 months, you will sit in the chair and they will sit in your lap. It might not be ideal for you to have a wriggling infant on your lap who may start crying at any minute, but it will make it easier for them. If your child feels comfortable doing the exam, then expect it to last between 15 to 30 minutes. The dentist will do a thorough examination of the teeth, gums, jaw, and bite as well as do a gentle cleaning, conduct x-rays, and show them how to clean properly at home.
The first trip to the dentist can be pain free if you practice good oral health at home and follow these steps.
One of the most common reasons people put off even basic dental cleanings is simply that they cost a lot of money. But here are three reasons that make your mouth worth the investment.
1. First impressions: Your smile is the first thing people see and will define people’s first impressions of you. Discolored or missing teeth affect how your smile looks (what dentists refer to as “esthetics”) and unfortunately human nature will make a judgment on what kind of person you are if your mouth doesn’t look well-cared-for. Not only that, but poor oral hygiene can result in build up of plaque and tartar leaving existing teeth unsightly and development of bad breath from the result of bacteria growing in the plaque and tartar, which will also affect those around you. If you are a mother with young children and are in the habit of sharing utensils, there is also the chance that bad-breath and cavity-inducing bacteria can be passed on to your children – even through the touching of the spoon to your lip to test the temperature.
2. Self-esteem: It’s unfortunate but true that impressions are usually made on appearances first, and whether they realize it or not, people with poorly maintained teeth or smiles are not as confident in themselves and in presenting themselves in public as those with a full smile or well-maintained dentition. They do not view themselves as pretty or presentable and will focus more on covering up their smile than on discovering and making new friends or new job opportunities.
3. Effect on other health systems: Several studies have shown that periodontal disease and other dental issues can affect other bodily systems. Studies have shown that, regardless of weight, those with periodontal disease have a higher level of insulin resistance than those with more minor or no periodontal disease. Additional studies have shown that “subjects with gum detachment that exceeded 2 mm had a 40 percent greater risk of developing lung disease than those with attachment loss of less than 2 mm” (www.sciencedaily.com). Missing teeth, particularly molars, can affect chewing and improperly or inadequately chewed food can make the stomach and digestive system work harder as it tries to process what we eat.
Your smile and overall oral health can affect how you view yourself, how others view you, and how your body deals with health issues. Taking care of your mouth with a proper oral hygiene routine including routine dental cleanings, and investing in restoration procedures such as fillings, dental implants, crowns and bridges can make the world of difference in a person’s life and improve a person’s quality of living.
Everyone knows that if you catch something early it is easier to treat. That is also true for teeth. Paying a smaller expense now is better than paying a bigger expense later to treat the resultant problem of neglect and procrastination.
A healthy smile really affects a lot of other things…it’s worth taking care of it.
Don’t judge a book by its cover is a common phrase usually associated with judging situations or people by looking at them. No news is good news is another adage that many people live by. Unfortunately in dentistry, these statements have proven incorrect and ultimately costly in many cases.
Dental problems such as tooth decay or root deterioration are not always obvious. Just looking at a tooth in the mirror every time you brush will not show if there are problems inside or around it. Assuming that your oral hygiene is fine or you don’t need a dentist or routine dental cleanings because your teeth don’t hurt does not mean there isn’t anything wrong with your teeth or mouth. Many issues cannot be felt and yet are discovered upon the taking of X-rays or by examining the areas around and in between with dental instruments.
Dentistry’s main goal is preventive care…maintaining optimal oral conditions to keep problems from forming. Its secondary goal is to find and treat problems before they become too painful or destroy teeth or gum or bone. Ensuring that you maintain good oral hygiene habits including regular cleanings with a hygienist and check-ups with a dentist is a lot less costly financially and personally than waiting for problems to painfully appear and dealing with them then. For many patients, there is no prior warning of anything wrong with their mouth or teeth before the onset of pain, but a simple matter of good oral hygiene and regular dental appointments would have caught the issue a lot sooner, saving the patient a lot of pain and expensive restorations.
If you’ve ever bitten down on a crusty piece of bread or an unpopped popcorn kernel or suffered a blow to the upper or lower jaw during an accident, you may have experienced part of a crown chipping off and falling out into your hand. In these kinds of cases, it is pretty obvious that a tooth is cracked. But many people do not realize that a tooth can be cracked without coming completely apart.
Causes of Tooth Cracking
If a tooth has had restorative work done such as a filling or root canal, or has untreated tooth decay where the structural integrity of the tooth has been compromised, there is a greater chance that this tooth will crack, either as a result of trauma or function.
Parafunctional habits such as grinding and clenching, where the molar teeth in particular are put under additional biting stress, can also increase the chances of a tooth cracking.
In many cases, the crack isn’t visible on an X-ray.
Symptoms of Cracked Teeth
So if your dentist can’t see these cracks or fractures on an X-ray, how do he or she know the crack is there? The presence of biting, percussion (light tapping or touch), or temperature and sweet sensitivity will alert your dentist that there is a potential problem.
The severity or acuteness of the discomfort is determined by the position, depth and direction of the crack. If the crack is below the gumline, an infection may develop in the gum tissue or inside the tooth root (if the crack is deep enough) resulting in a “fistula” (a blister) on the gum surface. A fistula drains pus from an infected site and is a definite sign to a dentist that something is wrong.
A dentist may not be able to diagnose a crack right away even with the presence of these symptoms. In fact, an examination by an endodontist may be required. If the source of the pain is still unknown, then a root canal might be suggested to address a suspected root issue, and it is often during this procedure that the crack is discovered. At this point, it is at the dentist’s discretion whether he or she believes the tooth can be saved, and the root canal procedure can continue with appropriate fracture management methods, or whether he or she should stop the treatment and consider other restorative options.
Orthodontics is not just for teens and young people anymore. Adult orthodontics is an area of increasing specialty, and many adults are deciding to have their teeth straightened, or to improve their bite and smile. The main challenge in adult cases is that the physiology of the tissues surrounding teeth is different than in growing patients. There is also the greater likelihood that adults have experienced more and more extensive dental restorations, which may limit the available orthodontic approaches. That’s why orthodontic goals in adults may be slightly different than in teens. An adult may decide to have braces as part of his or her treatment, but it doesn’t necessarily mean treatment will take two-and-a-half years, as is traditionally the case with teens. Today’s orthodontists have many different strategies and technologies available to treat all kinds of malocclusions, from simple alignment issues to full-mouth occlusal rehabilitations.
Each treatment plan is developed in consultation with the patient, family dentist, and other dental professionals as necessary (ex: oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists) Communication between all the team members is essential.
Depending on the particular case, extractions may be needed to create space or alleviate crowding. In more extreme cases, orthodontic alignment may involve orthognathic jaw surgery to help optimally set the upper and lower jaws in relation to each other in conjunction with the brackets.
When it comes to actually moving or aligning the teeth, several options are available including traditional braces (metal or porcelain), lingual braces or invisible aligners such as Invisalign™. Your orthodontist will help you decide which option is best to achieve the results you want. Some patients will require a full-mouth treatment plan. Others will be able to treat just the dental arch in question, if the bite allows for it. Other options may also be available depending on each patient’s individual needs.
Not only does an optimally aligned smile and jaw line affect how your smile presents you to other people, but it can also affect and improve the way your teeth function together. It’s never TOO LATE to get started!
Having a dental problem is not always obvious. Some people may not experience any discomfort or pain at all, some may not experience it until the issue is really advanced, and others know something’s wrong from the very early stages. This is one of the reasons it is so imperative to schedule regular dental checkups; to catch any potential dental issues at the earliest stages to reduce the chances of pain or complications and costs associated with treatment. Your dentist will always be happy to talk with you about any questions you may have about something new or different happening in your mouth. Although there may not be any severe pain, below is a list of symptoms that should prompt you to consult with a dentist for evaluation. There may not be a problem, but, if there is, treatment can be initiated as soon as possible, avoiding complications and giving you peace of mind.
Pain – This is the most obvious indication that there is a problem in your mouth. But it may not be always be associated with your teeth. Keep track of where the pain starts and whether it “spiders” or radiates from a certain spot in your mouth. Is it actually in a tooth? What happens to create the pain (biting or chewing, exposure to hot or cold)? If you have pain in either of your jaw joints note what happens to your level of pain when you’re chewing or resting. Also try to determine whether the pain is related to the joint (ball and socket) itself, or the muscles around it. Obviously, if you experience any severe pain call your dentist immediately. Mild or moderate pain that does not go away on its own within a day or two also requires a timely call and visit to the dentist to find out what is going on and fix the problem.
Red and bleeding gums – Red and bleeding gums are one of the first indications of gum disease and can be easily remedied with the establishment of a more stringent oral hygiene regimen, including flossing which is often neglected. Obviously if these symptoms do not improve you need to see a dentist, or schedule more frequent dental hygiene visits. Often a new prescription medication will cause the mouth to be dry and require more frequent cleanings, as the plaque builds up faster.
Decreased range of motion – This is of particular importance in issues related to the jaw joint, or TMJ, especially if there has been some kind of trauma to the jaw area. Sometimes a person is unable to open their jaw as wide as normal. This is usually because the ligaments, muscles and joint have been stretched or damaged. Sometimes the bone is broken. Decreased range of motion can also occur when wisdom teeth that are trapped below the gumline, infected or impacted. Your dentist should be consulted immediately if your mouth doesn’t open as usual. Again, a timely consultation can avert disaster by beginning treatment early, avoiding complications and providing peace of mind.
Loose teeth – Loose teeth are often the results of poor oral hygiene which can cause red and bleeding gums and lead to severe periodontal disease. This infection in the gums causes the bone around the teeth to melt away, essentially reducing contact with the teeth. Teeth can then become loose and be lost as the anchor of bone is eliminated. Loose teeth are not necessarily painful, but they are a major sign that things aren’t right and, if treatment isn’t sought soon, can result in even bigger restorative issues and treatment costs. The health of the whole body is poorly impacted by the bacteria associated with periodontal disease. Recent medical research has shown that the cleaner your mouth is, the healthier your body is.
These are just some of the more commonly experience dental problems that don’t necessarily start with an X-ray or dental examination and may, in fact, happen in between dental appointments without warning. Your dentist will always be happy to evaluate your issues and discuss options with you, so please call if you have any concerns!
Many patients request that we whiten their teeth, but sometimes tell us they've had an experience in the past of tooth sensitivity after the procedure. This can range from mild cold sensitivity to, in rare cases, more severe sensitivity. This sensitivity is almost always very transient and without consequence. I recommend to my patients that they use a desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne(R) or Crest Sensitivity(R) for two weeks prior to whitening and for two weeks thereafter. This often reduces or eliminates tooth sensitivity.