Posts for: February, 2019
Like other aspects of our lives, aging can take a toll on our smile. Over a lifetime the effects of disease, teeth wearing and the foods we eat can cause our teeth and gums to look unattractive.
Here are 3 of the most common age-related dental problems and how we can help you "turn back the clock" on each one.
Discoloration. Teeth can dull and grow darker over time. And not just from what we eat or drink—age-related structural changes in the tooth can also cause discoloration. We can often alleviate external staining temporarily with teeth whitening. If the staining is heavy or it originates inside the tooth, then we can install life-like porcelain veneers or crowns to cover the discoloration. We can also use composite dental materials to alter the color of one darkened tooth so that it doesn't stand out from the rest of your teeth.
Wearing. Our teeth naturally wear down over time. If the wearing is excessive, though, teeth can look shorter and less youthful. Again, we can use veneers or crowns to change a tooth's outward appearance and make them look longer. We can also employ enamel contouring and reshaping that smoothes out sharper edges caused by wearing to give your teeth a softer, more youthful look.
Receding gums. On the other end of the spectrum, gums that have shrunk back or receded from the teeth can make them look much larger and unattractive. Our first step is to treat any gum disease present—the most common cause of recession—which often helps the tissues to regenerate. If your case is more advanced, though, you may also need grafting surgery to restore lost gum tissue. Using in-depth microsurgical techniques, surgeons attach grafted gum tissue at the recession site. Over time new tissue will grow, restoring adequate gum coverage.
You can also improve your appearance at any age with orthodontics. Besides a more attractive smile, properly aligned teeth tend to wear more slowly and evenly. This and proper daily oral hygiene and regular dental care can keep your teeth looking younger even in your later years.
If you would like more information on gaining a more youthful smile, 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 “How Your Dentist can help you Look Younger.”
How do I brush my child’s teeth?
Proper oral hygiene should begin as soon as teeth start to erupt, generally around six months. Oral health can start with a wet cloth, wiping the gums and front teeth. Once the molars start to erupt (around age 1) a proper, child-sized toothbrush should be used at least twice a day. The bristles are needed to mechanically disrupt plaque so it cannot harden into calculus or tartar. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a fluoride-containing toothpaste before all 20 teeth have erupted. For children 0-2 years, a rice-grain-sized amount is sufficient, after age 2, the amount should resemble the size of a pea. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and remineralizes tooth surfaces.
Is flossing necessary before adult teeth come?
Daily flossing should start once teeth start to contact each other. If teeth are all spaced, the toothbrush should clean in between sufficiently, however, once the contact areas close, only floss can reach in between to disrupt bacteria. Flossing is not just to remove stuck food, it also helps clean between the teeth to prevent cavities and cleans below the gums to prevent gum disease.
My child is very difficult, how am I supposed to brush their teeth?!
The sooner a regular habit of brushing and flossing is established, the more compliant most children are. Brushing can often be a struggle at first as the oral cavity can be a sensitive area, but as with most things, children usually respond well to routines. Some tips for more difficult children
can include: brushing teeth with child’s head in parents’ lap, swaddling busy children in a towel or blanket, having one parent distract with songs, books, shows while the other parent completes the brushing or reward charts for older children.
Can my child brush their own teeth?
Children need to build dexterity and skills over several years before they are capable of doing their own home care. Some basic guidelines to assess your child’s ability to use a toothbrush and floss properly include: being able to tie their own shoes, using a fork and knife to cut their food correctly and being able to write clearly with a pen or pencil. In general, boys take longer to build the proper manual dexterity to brush and floss on their own.
Besides brushing and flossing, how can I help protect their teeth?
Limiting a child’s consumption of processed, high sugar foods is one of the easiest ways to prevent decay. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy fats will aid in overall health as well as excellent oral health. Children should only drink milk and water, sweetened beverages such as juice and pop can rapidly destroy tooth enamel, resulting in cavities and staining.
Making oral hygiene an important habit, just like any other self-care habit such as eating healthy and exercising can shape a child’s future self into a positive, happy and healthy one. Contact us to schedule an appointment or to get more information.
Long ago dental work could be painful and stressful—often for both patient and practitioner. Thankfully, that time is long past: today, most procedures are painless in large part due to local anesthesia.
Local anesthetics are numbing substances applied to specific areas of the body like the teeth and gums to temporarily block pain during a procedure. And because they only affect a localized area of the body, you remain conscious and alert throughout the procedure.
To achieve the level of numbing necessary for dental work, we often need to deaden the gums using a needle to deliver the anesthetic. But then this poses a secondary pain concern—the needle stick itself.
Again, topical anesthesia comes to the rescue in the form of a swab, patch or spray applying an anesthetic directly to the top layer of the gums at the injection site. This numbs the area and prevents you from feeling the needle stick. It's highly probable, therefore, that from start to finish you won't feel any discomfort during your dental work except perhaps for a little pressure.
Local anesthesia truly is a game changer for dental care—and not just for the patient. A dentist who's concerned about their patient's comfort level may work hurriedly to complete a procedure. But if their patient is relaxed, the dentist can work calmly and methodically. The result is better, more focused care.
For all its improvements in the patient experience, though, there has been one consistent complaint—the numbness that often lingers for a while after the procedure is over. But there have been advances in recent years that have helped reduce this irritation: new anesthetic agents (even some that can reverse the anesthetic effect) and fine-tuned dosages can help keep residual numbing to a minimum.
Not all procedures like routine teeth cleanings or enamel shaping require anesthesia. But when it's appropriate, local anesthesia can make your next dental visit much more pleasant.
If you would like more information on how anesthesia benefits your dental care, 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 “Local Anesthesia for Pain-Free Dentistry.”