The Tooth Fairy Across Time and Cultures

ONE OF THE most prominent figures of the magic of childhood is the Tooth Fairy, but depending on where and when you are, the traditions around lost baby teeth are very different from what we have in our culture! Baby Teeth in Medieval Europe Centuries before the Tooth Fairy came along to swap teeth under pillows for quarters, she might’ve needed to dig them up or find them in fireplaces, because Medieval Europeans believed that witches could control people through their teeth, so they would burn or bury theirs. Kids also burned their baby teeth to help guarantee a peaceful afterlife, because there was a belief that they might be doomed to search for their teeth for eternity as ghosts if they didn’t destroy them. A Warrior’s Prized Accessory A little farther north, the Vikings had a very different view: baby teeth were such powerful symbols of good luck in battle

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Do Your Friends Know These 6 Mouth Facts?

IF YOU’RE SHORT on fun topics of conversation for your next party, might we interest you in some weird mouth trivia? We’re sure you’ll be able to impress your friends. 1. The Bumps on Newly Erupted Adult Teeth Have a Name You might remember what it was like when your adult front teeth came in and they had bumps on the ends of the chewing surfaces. If not, maybe you’ve seen those bumps on your child’s teeth. Well, those bumps are completely normal and they are called mamelons. The theory about why we have them is that they help the teeth erupt from the gums, and in most cases, they will wear away over time from chewing. 2. Our Sense of Taste Relies on Spit None of the ten thousand taste buds we have on our tongues would be any use if it wasn’t for our saliva. That’s because we don’t taste the

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How to Protect Against Childhood Tooth Injuries

CHILDHOOD IS A TIME of scraped knees and bumps and bruises as kids run around discovering the world. As pediatric dentists, we want to help parents minimize the risk of their kids getting preventable tooth injuries while they’re enjoying what childhood has to offer. The Main Tooth Injury Risks For babies and toddlers, the majority of tooth injuries happen from a slip in the bathtub. Keeping a close eye on them while they’re in the tub will help, as will a non-slip bath mat. Playground equipment is a common cause of tooth injuries in older kids, including monkey bars, jungle gyms, and even swings. Make sure to talk about safety with the kids when they’re playing on this kind of equipment. Balls and frisbees are also a risk, so stress the importance of not aiming for each other’s heads when playing with them. Plan for an Accident Even when we’re careful,

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Your Child’s Toothbrush

THESE DAYS, THERE are so many toothbrushes to choose from that it’s hard to find the right one for ourselves, let alone our kids. It’s not as simple as just picking one, because not all children’s toothbrushes are created equal. Let’s go over a few of the factors to consider when searching for the perfect toothbrush for your child. The Experts on Toothbrushes Our top goal as dentists who work with young patients is to provide better dental care for families, which includes knowing which toothbrushes will be most helpful for children who are learning how to take care of their own teeth. Here’s a handy guide that can help you navigate the toothbrush aisle the next time you need to replace a toothbrush (which should be every few months — certainly by the time the bristles look bent). Electric Versus Manual The first big question you might be asking is

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Training a Generation of Flossing Masters

NEXT TO BRUSHING, the best tool we have for preventing tooth decay and gum disease is daily flossing, which is why it’s important to help our kids develop a flossing habit early on. Here are some great tips for parents with kids who are learning how to floss: 1. Explain what flossing does for their teeth. They will be more motivated to floss if they understand why it’s important.2. Help them see flossing as one of the coveted Big Kid skills, like tying their shoes or riding a bike without training wheels. They’ll be excited to prove how grown up they are by flossing.3. If using traditional floss, demonstrate pulling out the right amount (about eighteen inches) and loosely wrapping it around their middle fingers, with just an inch or two left in the middle to slide between teeth.4. Help them get the hang of good flossing technique. Use a back-and-forth

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Stress and Our Smiles

MENTAL HEALTH AND physical health are tied together in ways we don’t always expect. That even extends to the relationship between oral health and stress. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools we can use to protect our smiles from the effects of stress. Stress Could Be Behind a Teeth-Grinding Habit Habitual teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching are called bruxism. Clenching and grinding are natural responses to frustration and stress for many people. The typical signs of bruxism include a sore jaw and, eventually, flattened chewing surfaces of the teeth. Bruxism brings with it significant oral health risks, and the people with this habit might not even notice they’re doing it — particularly for those who grind their teeth in their sleep. Stress Can Compound the Symptoms of TMD Another oral health condition stress can contribute to is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), a disorder of the muscles, joint, and nerves in the jaw that

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What’s Your Plan for the First Loose Tooth?

MOST OF US can still remember what it was like to lose a baby tooth, especially that major Big Kid milestone of losing the first one. How did it happen for you? Did it take longer for you to lose a tooth than most of your classmates, or were you the one who knocked a tooth out on the playground before you knew it was loose? Regardless, losing a tooth is a big deal for kids, and now that we’re parents, we want to help that be a positive experience for them. Establish the Right Mindset First While losing baby teeth is a perfectly normal part of growing up, it can still be a scary new experience for little kids, particularly the first time it happens when they don’t yet know what to expect. Parents can make it easier by encouraging the right mindset. Emphasize that losing a tooth is part

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Avoid These Canker Sore Triggers

CANKER SORES MIGHT be small, but they tend to mean days of distracting discomfort. They are shallow ulcers that can develop on the insides of our cheeks or lips, and eating or even talking around them can be difficult. There are a few things that are common triggers of canker sores. The Major Canker Sore Triggers The usual suspects for causing canker sores tend to be one of the following: A tissue injury from a bitten lip or cheek. When the area swells up after the first time you bite it, it only makes it easier to bite again! Long periods of high stress can put a lot of strain on the immune system, leaving the mouth more vulnerable to canker sores developing. Sickness strains the immune system too, which means we’re more likely to develop canker sores on top of an infection we’re already fighting off. Highly acidic foods can be hard on the

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Let’s Answer Some Dental FAQs!

A LOT OF PATIENTS and parents of patients come to us with the same dental health questions, so let’s have a quick FAQ session! 1. How often do I need to visit the dentist? Twice a year is a good general rule, though it may vary depending on individual circumstances. Regular dental visits are critical for combating tartar buildup and catching problems early. 2. Why do I need a filling if my tooth doesn’t hurt? A cavity typically doesn’t start to hurt when it’s still in the outer layer of the tooth, but that makes it the best time to get to it with a filling, to keep it from getting deeper! 3. Why are my teeth turning more yellow? Over time, our teeth naturally get darker or more yellow, but tooth discoloration can also be the result of trauma or consuming a lot of substances that leave stains. 4. When

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Dental Health: Men Vs. Women

MEN AND WOMEN have a lot in common, but they face significantly different challenges when it comes to keeping their teeth and gums healthy. Men’s Dental Health Issues Here are some of the major dental health problems that affect men more than women: Being less likely to brush and floss regularly. Men are 20% less likely than women to brush twice a day, floss daily, and even replace old toothbrushes! They’re also less likely to go to the dentist for a regular preventative checkup. This is one reason it’s so important to cement good oral health habits at an early age, so parents of young boys take note! Because men are more likely to drink, smoke, and chew tobacco than women, they are at greater risk of advanced gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Dry mouth can affect men more because it’s a common side-effect of high blood pressure and

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