What’s Causing Caries in Childhood?

TWO OUT OF every five kids develop one or more cavity by the time they turn eleven. That makes dental caries the most common disease of childhood. The good news is that it’s very preventable when parents prioritize their kids’ dental health. We’re here to help you do that for your children by identifying the main culprits of childhood tooth decay. Oral Bacteria Love Sugar As much as kids love sugary treats, harmful bacteria living on the surfaces of their teeth love them even more. Oral bacteria eat any sugar that remains stuck to the teeth and excrete acid as a waste product. It takes about thirty minutes for saliva to neutralize these acids, so if a child is constantly snacking on something sweet, they’re giving their teeth a never-ending acid bath! Parents can fight back by swapping some of those sugary snacks for options like sliced fruits and veggies or cheese. This

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How Does Diabetes Impact Oral Health?

DIABETES (ANY TYPE) tends to make good dental health a much more difficult goal to achieve, and poor oral health also makes diabetes harder to control. More than one in five diabetics will develop a form of gum disease, which can take a toll on overall health if untreated and even become life-threatening if the bacteria reach the bloodstream. Diabetes and Gum Disease Symptoms of gum disease to watch for include swollen, red gums, chronic bad breath, gum recession, loosening teeth, and gums prone to bleeding. Diabetes makes these more likely as well as other problems like slower healing, dry mouth, enlarged salivary glands, fungal infections, burning mouth syndrome, and worse and more frequent infections. What About Diabetes and Braces? Gum disease can also be a challenge for orthodontic treatment, no matter what’s causing it. Parents of type 1 diabetic kids should be extra careful about controlling their diabetes and promoting

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How Do We Find the Right Toothpaste

THERE ARE SO many choices of toothpaste in our grocery stores. With an entire aisle of toothpaste options to choose from, we want to help our patients narrow things down a little based on their individual dental health needs. Whitening Toothpaste Choose a whitening toothpaste to remove surface stains, but remember that it can’t change a tooth’s natural color or fight deeper stains. Whitening toothpaste contains abrasives to polish the teeth and peroxide to break down surface stains. Using it twice a day can lead to visible results after several weeks, but make sure to look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance! Orthodontic patients should wait until Braces Off Day before using whitening products, toothpaste included so that they don’t end up with patches of different colors where the brackets were. For Sensitive Teeth Over-the-counter tooth sensitivity toothpaste is a good option for patients with sensitive teeth. It helps rebuild enamel

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Attention Parents: Follow These Teeth Tips

PARENTS CAN DO a few different things to give their kids’ smiles a healthy start. 1. Find an Effective Toothbrush They Like It should have soft, polished bristles and be the right size for their hands and mouths, but otherwise, they might like one with their favorite cartoon character on it. Make sure to replace it when the bristles fray! 2. Prevent Cavities With Sealants Sealants are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, particularly for kids with a history of tooth decay already. They greatly reduce the risk of childhood tooth decay. 3. Provide Teeth-Friendly Snacks Like Fruit and Cheese Whole or sliced fruit is a great mouth-healthy snack because the fibers help scrub the teeth clean. Cheese is a good source of calcium and stimulates saliva production. (We need saliva for neutralizing harmful acids and clearing away food debris.) 4. Manage Expectations for Whitening Toothpaste As much as

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How We Breathe Can Affect Our Teeth

YOU MAY HAVE heard the insult “mouth-breather” in recent years thanks to the popularity of the show Stranger Things. There are actually many good health reasons to avoid breathing through your mouth if nose breathing is possible. We should consider mouth breathing an emergency backup, not our main way to breathe. In both the short term and the long term, mouth breathing has negative health effects. The Short-Term Effects of Mouth Breathing There are several negative effects of mouth breathing that kick in either immediately or very quickly. A major one is lower oxygen levels. When we breathe through our noses, we trigger nitric oxygen production, which helps our lungs absorb oxygen. Mouth breathing skips this process, making it harder to get the most out of each breath, resulting in less oxygen absorbed and less energy for mental and physical tasks. Other short-term effects include: Impaired speech: when the mouth is always open,

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Your Prescriptions and Your Oral Health

MOST MEDICATIONS come with a list of possible side effects, including side effects that impact oral health. These side effects are common even when the medications have nothing to do with your teeth or gums, so it’s helpful to know what you can do to balance necessary medications with maintaining a healthy smile. Oral Chemistry and Medicine Some medications and even some vitamins are actually directly harmful to our teeth. This is particularly common with children’s medication because they tend to come in the form of sugary syrups and multivitamins designed to be like candy. Sugar is the favorite food of harmful oral bacteria, which will then excrete acid on the teeth. Adult medications are most often in pill form so they don’t interact with the teeth or gums, but something like an inhaler can lead to oral thrush (irritating or painful patches of white fungus that grow on the roof of the mouth, the

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How Do Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities?

AS A PARENT, maybe you spend a lot of your time worrying about whether your child’s teeth will develop cavities. Obviously, it’s critical to teach them how to brush and floss and encourage them to do so daily, but there’s something else that can help prevent childhood tooth decay: dental sealants. The Battle Between Your Child’s Teeth and Bacteria 40% of children develop cavities by the time they begin school. This is a result of poor oral hygiene and frequent consumption of sugary drinks and snacks, and it’s why it’s so important to help them build strong oral health habits at an early age. The human mouth contains many species of bacteria, some of which consume the leftover sugar on our teeth and then excrete acid onto them. As tough as tooth enamel is, it’s very vulnerable to acid, so this causes tooth decay. The ways we keep oral bacteria in check

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Time for a Lesson in Dental Anatomy!

THERE WON’T BE a pop-quiz later, but we still want our patients to be familiar with the anatomy of their teeth, starting with the crown and going down to the roots. Everything visible above the gums is the crown, which has three layers. Tooth Enamel On the outside is the enamel, the hardest substance in our bodies. It needs to be that hard to withstand a lifetime’s worth of chewing our food, but enamel doesn’t replace itself once it’s gone. That’s why it’s so important to brush, floss, limit our consumption of sugary and acidic food and drink, and schedule regular dental cleanings. Dentin and Pulp Underneath the enamel is the dentin, a more bony layer that is yellow and porous. At the very center is the pulp chamber, which contains nerves and blood vessels. The pulp is how our teeth feel temperature changes and pain if something is wrong. Never

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Dental Health in Ancient Cultures

WE TEND TO ASSUME that people from earlier eras (especially the pre-industrial ones) must have had terrible dental health, but that’s not always true. While we get to benefit from modern dental care, braces, and root canal therapy here in the 21st century, the ancient Native Americans did a pretty good job of taking care of their teeth. So did people in ancient China! Diet and Ancient American Dental Health Perhaps the biggest thing ancient Native Americans had working in their teeth’s favor was their diet. The early Native American diet consisted of corn (maize), beans, squash, fish, game, and plenty of fresh fruit and nuts. That kind of high-fiber diet is great for dental health because the harmful bacteria in our mouths need sugar and starch to multiply. High-fiber foods actually help to scrub our teeth clean as we eat them! Ancient Skulls With Periodontitis Tooth decay and gum disease

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How Do Swimming and Diving Affect Teeth?

“SWIMMER’S CALCULUS” SOUNDS more like advanced mathematics than anything to do with teeth, but it’s actually the term for yellow or brown stains a swimmer can develop on their teeth after prolonged exposure to acidic chlorine ions in pool water. Tooth enamel is so vulnerable to acid that even mildly acidic pool water can increase the risk of stains. Tooth Squeeze for Scuba Divers For those who prefer scuba diving over swimming pools, the dental health risk is barodontalgia or “tooth squeeze.” The same way pressure builds in our ears when we dive, it can also build inside teeth, particularly any with untreated cavities or faulty dental work. If the pressure grows enough, it can even fracture the tooth. We recommend pre-diving dental visits to make sure no teeth are vulnerable. Diving Masks: One Size Fits…None? A common diving problem is that the so-called “one size fits all” mouthpieces don’t seem

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