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 yellowthan 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!

#mycheshiredentist

The Bare Bones Of Gum Recession

NO ONE LOOKS FORWARD to getting “long in the tooth” because of gum recession.

However, while tooth length might be an accurate yardstick for judging the age of a horse, age is not the culprit behind receding gums in humans. Gum recession is simply such a gradual process that it can take decades before the effects are noticeable.

Not All Gum Recession Is Avoidable

There are many contributing factors to gum recession, and some unfortunately include genetics. Some people simply have fragile gums or don’t have enough jaw bone covering the front of the roots of their teeth to support gums up to the crowns. The good news is that many of the other contributing factors can be controlled, and even if you’re predisposed to gum recession, there are ways to minimize it.

Bruxism Versus Your Gums

Chronic teeth-grinding, or bruxism, causes a whole host of problems for your oral health, and one of them is increasing your risk for gum recession. All that grinding puts too much pressure on the gums, so they begin to retreat. Bruxism can be a difficult habit to break, especially if you’re doing it in your sleep, but you can minimize the damage to the jaw bones, gums, and teeth by using a mouth guard.

Overbrushing Damages Gum Tissue

It might sound counterintuitive, but you can actually brush your teeth too much. Or, at least, too hard. Brushing teeth isn’t like scrubbing the grime out of tile grout; gums are not built to withstand the abrasive assault of hard-bristled brushes (and neither is the enamel on our teeth). Soft bristles are actually ideal for scrubbing away plaque and massaging the gums without damaging them. The same principle applies to flossing; you should definitely floss once a day, but go easy on those gums.

Tartar Buildup And Gum Disease

When plaque isn’t removed by brushing and flossing, it will eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by dental professionals. This means that the longer you go without a routine dental cleaning, the more tartar builds up along your gum lines, which puts you at risk for gum disease. Speaking of which…

In the early stages of gum disease, also called gingivitis, the health of your jaw bones is not yet at risk, which is good for avoiding gum recession. If your gums are tender, swollen, and bleed easily, it’s likely gingivitis. You can combat it with healthy brushing and flossing habits, but it’s also wise to bring the problem to us.

If untreated, gingivitis advances to become periodontitis. This is when gums start pulling away from the teeth and the integrity of the jaw bones is compromised. There are many risk factors for gum disease, including smoking, hormonal changes (like during pregnancy), diabetes, and dry mouth as a side effect of medications. At this point, better oral hygiene habits aren’t enough and professional treatment is absolutely necessary.

Help Us Help You Keep Those Gums Healthy!

If you’re worried about the structure and health of your gums, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us! We can help you get your gum health back on track and discuss treatment options.

We’re rooting for you!

#MYCHESHIREDENTIST

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 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!

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!

Nail Biting And Oral Health

WE CALL SUSPENSEFUL BOOKS “nail-biters,” but the habit of nail biting itself has less exciting connotations.

The most obvious consequence is torn, uneven nails, and in particularly severe cases, nails that become dramatically shortened and deformed over time. This alone would be enough of a reason to discourage the habit, but far more insidious are the effects of nail biting on teeth and oral health.

Consequences For Teeth And Gums

Teeth should never be used as tools, and that includes using them as nail clippers. Over time, nail biting, or oncyophagia, can lead to a variety of complications.

Malocclusion and gaps

Grinding the front teeth together in order to bite through nails can gradually cause them to shift, creating a bad bite—malocclusion—or a gap between the top teeth.

Wearing, chipping, and cracking

At the same time that teeth are shifting into less than ideal positions, they could also be getting chipped or cracked, and they are certainly being worn down.

Root resorption

The pressure chewing nails places on the teeth can actually cause the jaw bone to begin re-absorbing the roots of those teeth, weakening them and increasing the risk of tooth loss. Having braces makes the risk of root resorption even greater.

Gingivitis

Fingernails trap a lot of dirt and microorganisms under them, and chewing on them introduces all of that bacteria to the mouth, which can lead to gum disease.

Increased risk of developing bruxism

People who chew their nails are more likely to develop a chronic teeth-grinding habit, which causes even more problems for the teeth, as well as frequent headaches and facial pain.

Why Does It Happen?

Compulsive nail biting has traditionally been thought of as a nervous habit, but recent studies indicate it may have to do with boredom and perfectionism as well as anxiety. It’s one of several body-focused repetitive disorders, such as picking scabs and pulling hair. Biting nails can be comforting or it can simply provide something to do. Many people who bite their nails don’t even notice they’re doing it. That, of course, makes stopping much harder.

Breaking The Habit

There are many different strategies nail-biters can use to help overcome the urge to keep chewing those nails.

  • Keep nails trimmed short so there isn’t much to bite.
  • Use bitter-tasting nail polish to make nail biting unpleasant.
  • Get manicures so that you’re more motivated to keep your nails looking nice.
  • Replace nail-biting with a different habit, such as squeezing a stress ball or playing with silly putty.
  • Identify your triggers. If you know the circumstances that cause you to bite your nails, you can make plans for dealing with them.
  • Stop gradually. Pick one or two fingernails at a time to stop biting (you might need to cover them to physically prevent yourself from biting them), then gradually add more fingernails until there are none left to bite!

We’re With You All The Way!

Our patients’ oral health is our top concern, which makes us your biggest ally against bad habits that put your oral health in jeopardy. If you have any questions or concerns about nail biting or would like more advice on putting the habit behind you, don’t hesitate to call us!

Our practice is rooting for you!

#mycheshiredentist

Cause, Effect, And Prevention Of Dry Mouth

HAVE YOU EVER woken up with your mouth feeling like a barren desert? Then you’ve probably experienced dry mouth, although it can be even more severe, making it difficult to speak or even eat. Dry mouth affects a tenth of the population, but why is it such a problem, why does it happen, and what can we do about it?

In The Absence Of Saliva…

Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria, bad breath, and tooth decay. It washes away leftover food particles and neutralizes acids, protecting our teeth and gums. Consequently, when there isn’t enough saliva to perform all of these important tasks, the result is much more serious than just an unpleasant sandpaper feeling.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth has numerous causes, including smoking, drinking, dehydration, and even aging. Sometimes the salivary glands can be damaged by chemotherapy or radiation treatment. But the most common cause is ordinary medication. Over 400 medications include dry mouth on their lists of side effects. If you’ve been suffering medication-related dry mouth, come talk to us about options like switching to different medication or changing the dosage.

Good Habits To Prevent Or Reduce Dry Mouth

For particularly severe dry mouth, artificial saliva could provide relief and protect your teeth from decay, but there are also a few good habits that can minimize the problem.

Nose Breathing

Avoid breathing through your mouth—whether you’re awake or asleep. Even for people with fully functioning salivary glands, mouth breathing is going to result in a much drier mouth than nose breathing. For that—and many other health reasons—it’s important to breathe through your nose whenever possible, including during sleep.

Hydration

Stay hydrated. Your salivary glands can’t produce saliva if you’re not drinking enough water, and even if saliva production is impeded for other reasons, regularly sipping water can help eliminate the dry mouth feeling.

Stimulate Saliva Production

Sugar-free gum and candy encourage your salivary glands to up their production, particularly if the flavor is citrus, mint, or cinnamon. (Bonus points: sugar-free gum is also good for your teeth, because it starves the bacteria that feed on sugar!)

Choose Your Mouthwash Carefully

Mouthwash containing alcohol may undo its own positive germ-killing effects by drying out your mouth! Just like drinking alcoholic beverages has a dehydrating effect on the body, swishing alcoholic liquid around will specifically dehydrate the mouth! Make sure you choose a non-alcoholic mouthwash.

Don’t Smoke

As smoking is one of the common causes of dry mouth, not smoking is an obvious solution. The same goes for dry mouth caused by alcohol intake.

We Can Beat Dry Mouth Together!

Dry mouth can pose a serious threat to your oral health, so aside from following these good habits, one of the best things you can do if you experience it is to schedule an appointment with us. We’ll be able to identify the cause and make a plan to put an end to that sandpaper feeling!

We love to fight for your dental health!

That’s it for now folks!

#mycheshiredentist

It’s Time For Back-To-School Dental Checkups!

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

We pride ourselves in making our “little” patients feel comfortable and safe in our chair.  If your child has any specific fears or issues, please feel free to let us know,  and we will do out best to accommodate in any way we can.   We also welcome any new patients to come and take a look around before your initial visit.

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

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 to schedule your child’s back-to-school dental examination!

Wishing your kids a mouth-healthy year at school!

Easy Ways To Improve Your Dental Health

WE’VE ALL HEARD that if we want healthy teeth, we should brush twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule regular dental cleaning appointments twice a year. Definitely keep doing those things, but if you want to step up your oral health game, here are a few easy ways to do that.


Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

One of the simplest ways you can improve your dental health and hygiene is to replace your toothbrush on a regular basis. Vigorous brushing will make the bristles fray and reduce the brush’s cleaning ability, but that’s not the only reason toothbrushes should be replaced often.

A lot of the bacteria we brush off our teeth stays on the bristles of our toothbrushes. Proper storage–meaning storing the toothbrush upright and letting it dry out between uses–can keep a toothbrush from getting smelly and nasty too fast, but it’s still important to replace your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months.

Use A Tongue-Scraper

Brushing your teeth twice daily is a no-brainer, but don’t forget your tongue! The same bacteria and gunk that flourishes on teeth can hide on your tongue too. Using a tongue scraper or just running your toothbrush over your tongue will leave your mouth feeling much fresher than if you only focus on your teeth and gums.

Don’t Brush Too Hard

Sometimes it seems like we need to really work at those teeth when we brush, to get absolutely all of the food particles and plaque out. However, if we brush too hard, we risk scraping away at the tooth enamel, which is your teeth’s first line of defense against decay. Brush gently or use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging your teeth.

Eat Teeth-Friendly Foods

Many foods are bad for your teeth. Sugar and carbs feed the harmful bacteria living in your mouth and acidic drinks erode tooth enamel. Avoiding some of these foods will help, but there are also plenty of foods you can eat that are actually good for your teeth.

Adding more cheese, yogurt, leafy greens, apples, carrots, celery, and almonds to your diet will make your teeth happy, whether by scrubbing them as you eat, fighting bad bacteria, treating gum disease, neutralizing your mouth’s pH, or remineralizing your enamel.

We’d Love To See How Your Teeth Are Doing!

If it’s been a while since your last dental exam, we’d love to see how your teeth are doing, and we’ll be excited to see how adopting these simple habits will affect your oral health by the time we see you again!

We Love Our Patients!

#mycheshiredentist

Medications’ Impact On Oral Health

MANY OF US need to take medications to treat a wide variety of conditions. However, even as those medications treat our illnesses, they could be causing problems for our teeth and gums.

Medicine And Oral Chemistry

Some medications—even some vitamins—can damage our teeth for the brief period that they’re in our mouths. This can pose a particular problem for children. As adults, we swallow most of our medicines. Children’s medicine tends to come in the form of sugary syrups and multivitamins, which feed oral bacteria and leads to tooth decay.

Inhalers for asthma can also cause problems, specifically oral thrush, which is white patches of fungus in the mouth that can be irritating or painful. The best way to avoid this complication of using an inhaler is for you or your child to rinse with water after each use, and the same goes for sugary cough syrups and chewable multivitamins.

Side-Effects For Your Mouth

Plenty of other medications, though they don’t do any damage while you’re ingesting them, can be harmful to your mouth in the long term because of the side-effects. Let’s take a look at some of the more common side-effects.

Inflammation And Excessive Bleeding

If you notice your gums becoming tender and swollen shortly after you start on a new medication, you should talk to a medical professional about it. Several medications can cause gingival overgrowth(or excessive growth of the gums), which puts you at increased risk of gum disease.

To learn more about the risks of gum disease, watch the video below:

Altered Taste

Some medications, such as cardiovascular agents, central nervous system stimulants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and smoking-cessation products can leave you with a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth, or even interfere with your overall sense of taste. This isn’t necessarily a serious side-effect, but it can be unpleasant, especially for food-lovers.

Dry Mouth

The most common mouth-related side-effect of medications is dry mouth. A wide range of medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, drugs for urinary incontinence, Parkinson’s disease medications, and antidepressants can all cause it.

Aside from feeling uncomfortable, dry mouth is very dangerous to oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense. It contains compounds that remineralize your teeth, neutralize acids, and keep bacteria in check. Without enough saliva, that bacteria runs rampant and there’s nothing to neutralize the acid or add minerals back into your tooth enamel. From there, you can develop mouth sores, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Taking Medications? Let Us Know!

The best thing you can do to ensure your medications aren’t clashing with your oral health is to tell your dentist about your prescriptions and any over-the-counter medications you’re taking. From there, we can formulate a plan for how to counteract the medications’ effects.

At our practice, we’re rooting for your oral—and overall—health!

Thats all for now!

#mycheshiredentist