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At What Age Should A Child See A Dentist?

At What Age Should A Child See A Dentist?

As a parent, you want to protect your child from everything that will hurt him. You want to ensure that he’s healthy and happy. It’s important to pay attention to his dental health starting at a very young age. Here are the recommendations for children’s dental visits.

When the first tooth appears…

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you take your child to the dentist for a first checkup as soon as his first tooth erupts. He should return for checkups every six months afterwards. Though baby teeth are temporary, their health is very important. Your child will have his first teeth until he’s at least five, and they provide a foundation for adult teeth.

The first visit puts your child at ease.

Visiting the dentist at a very young age is beneficial for more reasons than just dental health. Your child will become accustomed to the dental office, the dentist and his staff. When they start at a young age, the experience of having a checkup and cleaning become routine and kids learn to look forward to visiting their dentist.

What to expect at your child’s first dental visit.

Your dentist will perform an exam to feel for your child’s remaining baby teeth. He may take X-rays if he is concerned about the placement of the teeth. Your dentist will talk to you about oral hygiene and show you how to brush your child’s teeth and gums to keep them healthy. He may recommend a fluoride supplement, depending on your location and the amount of fluoride in your tap water. Your dentist may also recommend sealants for your child’s teeth, once all of his baby teeth have appeared.

Dental visits in addition to normal checkups.

In addition to regular exams and cleanings every six months, your child should see the dentist if any of the following occurs:

  • Tooth pain
  • Dental injury that results in chipping, cracking or a tooth falling out
  • Discoloration of teeth
  • Baby or permanent teeth that don’t descend
  • Habitual thumb-sucking past the age of three

Daily care of your child’s first teeth

Before your child’s first teeth erupt, wipe his gums gently with a clean, damp cloth at least twice per day. You can also use a soft toothbrush specially made for infants. Once the first tooth appears, brush it and the gums gently with fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristle children’s toothbrush. Use only a very small amount of toothpaste and make sure your child spits out any excess.

Ensure that your child is getting proper nutrition for healthy teeth. A balanced diet with strict limits on sugary foods and drinks will set your child up for a lifetime of dental health.

At What Age Do Kids Lose Their Baby Teeth?

At What Age Do Kids Lose Their Baby Teeth?

Once your child’s friends start losing their baby teeth, he’ll be eager to lose his as well. It’s a rite of passage that means a visit from the Tooth Fairy and a little bit of money under the pillow. Not all children lose teeth at the same age, however.

Kindergarten and First Grade

Walk into any kindergarten or first grade classroom, and you’ll find a bunch of gap-toothed smiles. The most common age for children to begin losing teeth is age 6; the age of early-elementary school. If your child loses a tooth during the school day, odds are that his teacher will have a special envelope or small case in her desk so that the tooth doesn’t get lost.

Which Teeth Fall Out First?

Baby teeth usually fall out in roughly the same order that they first came in. The two middle top and bottom front teeth fall out first, followed by the teeth next to the middle teeth (the incisors), then the first molars.

Your child will lose baby teeth until around age twelve.

The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Proper oral care is crucial from the time your child is a baby, throughout his life. Though baby teeth will fall out and be replaced, they should be brushed twice per day and flossed daily. Without proper hygiene, baby teeth will become decayed and the adult teeth can also be adversely affected.

Even while teeth are loose, they should be carefully brushed and flossed.

To Pull or Not to Pull?

Parents often wonder if they should pull a child’s loose tooth—especially if it seems to take a long time to fall out. Typically, a tooth should be allowed to fall out on its own. Encourage your child to wiggle the tooth with his tongue (avoid having him use his fingers unless they’re clean). Eventually, the tooth will work itself loose.

If the permanent tooth is coming in and the baby tooth still remains firmly attached, see your dentist. He or she can make a recommendation or may even pull the tooth in the office. Whatever you do, don’t yank on a tooth that isn’t loose enough—it could traumatize your child and cause gum damage.

Bleeding With Tooth Loss

It’s common to see a little bit of blood when a tooth falls out. Apply a bit of pressure to the gums with a square of damp, clean gauze. Bleeding should slow and stop within an hour or so. See your dentist if this isn’t the case.

Swallowing a Tooth

This happens more often than you might think—your child bites into his dinner, the loose tooth comes out, and he accidentally swallows it. This usually isn’t a problem; a baby tooth is small enough that it won’t cause any harm—other than some disappointment that the tooth fairy might not come.

What Foods are Good for Your Teeth?

What Foods are Good for Your Teeth?

You already know that brushing, flossing and regular cleanings are important if you want healthy teeth. But did you know that what you eat has an impact on your dental health, too? Here are 4 foods that are good for your teeth.

Raw Veggies

Crispy, raw vegetables are great for your teeth. They’re full of fiber, so you have to chew them vigorously, which increases saliva. Saliva neutralizes the acid that builds up in your mouth and also provides calcium and phosphate which helps add more minerals to your enamel. Vegetables in a rainbow of colors—from dark purple eggplants to bright orange peppers, are just all-around healthy foods for your body. The nutrients they provide help build healthy cells—which includes the cells in your gums and teeth. The best raw veggie for your teeth? Celery. It’s stringy fibers help clean your teeth while you chew.

Fruit

Some raw fruits, such as apples, are good for your teeth for the same reasons as veggies—their fibrous flesh makes you chew more, increasing saliva in your mouth. Fruits also provide nutrients and vitamins that keep you healthy overall. In particular, pears have been found to be great for your teeth. One study showed that pears have the most neutralizing affect on plaque of all fruits.

One caveat: stay away from dried fruit. It has a high sugar content and is sticky, which can actually cause tooth decay.

Cheese

Cheese is low in sugar and high in calcium, making it a great food for your teeth. It also has low acid content. The casein protein in cheese is particularly good for rebuilding tooth enamel.

Most cheeses are fairly high in fat, so don’t go overboard or you’ll have other adverse health effects. Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses are both good choices.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is full of great proteins and low in sugar and acids, as long as you avoid yogurts with added sugar. Yogurt also has the benefit of acting as a probiotic.

Foods that are bad for your teeth

In addition to eating the good stuff, you should avoid the bad stuff. Some foods have a particularly negative effect on your dental health.

Sugary foods and beverages interact with the plaque in your mouth and the result is acid that breaks down the enamel on your teeth. The effect can last for up to 20 minutes after you eat. Sticky sweets, like caramels or taffy are even worse, because the food itself sticks to your teeth, prolonging the contact with plaque.

Why Do Gums Bleed When Brushing?

Why Do Gums Bleed When Brushing?

ADaily brushing is important for healthy teeth and gums. When your gums bleed during or after brushing, there may be cause for concern. Here are 9 reasons your gums may be bleeding:

Your toothbrush is too hard.

Most dentists recommend that their patients use a soft-bristle brush. Replace your brush often; once the bristles start to fray, they can cause tiny injuries to gums and the soft tissue in your mouth, which leads to bleeding.

You are brushing too hard.

The reason for brushing is to remove plaque and food from teeth and gums. This shouldn’t require a tremendous amount of pressure; let your toothbrush do the work. If you’re pushing too hard on the brush, you might be causing trauma to your gums, which will make them bleed. Lighten up a bit and see if that makes a difference.

You aren’t flossing properly.

The purpose of flossing it to remove bits of plaque and food from in between teeth, but if you’re flossing too aggressively, you may be damaging your gums. Talk to your dentist about proper flossing technique.

You aren’t brushing thoroughly enough.

When you don’t adequately remove plaque at the gum line, your gums may become inflamed, leading to a condition known as gingivitis. One sign of gingivitis is bleeding gums. Take care to brush teeth at the gum line and don’t skip your semi-annual checkup and cleaning.

You have more advanced gum disease.

Skip enough cleanings and you may find that your plaque has hardened into tartar. One sign that plaque has turned into tartar is increased gum bleeding. It’s very important to see your dentist for plaque removal in order to prevent even more advanced gum disease called periodontitis.

You are pregnant.

Some women experience gum bleeding while pregnant. This is due to a change in hormones and isn’t cause for concern. Make sure you’re using a light touch with the toothbrush and don’t let a little bleeding stop you from brushing at least twice a day. Mention your bleeding gums to your dentist or doctor just to make certain that the bleeding is caused by pregnancy hormones.

Your dentures don’t fit properly.

If your dentures are too tight, they could be pinching the gums, which can cause bleeding. Conversely, dentures that are too loose may slide around, rubbing sores on your gums that can bleed during brushing. See you dentist to make sure that your dentures fit properly.

You use tobacco.

Smoking or chewing tobacco can irritate gums and the soft tissue in your mouth, which can lead to bleeding.

You are taking medication that can affect bleeding.

If you’re taking blood thinners, you may find that your gums bleed while brushing. Mention this to your doctor.

What are Wisdom Teeth For?

What are Wisdom Teeth For?

You’ve probably heard several tales of people getting their wisdom teeth removed and probably wondered, “what are wisdom teeth for  anyway?” They seem rather useless if their only purpose is to get removed. Perhaps the better question isn’t what they are used for, but rather what they were used for. Honestly, in this day and age, we no longer need wisdom teeth like our ancestors did centuries and centuries ago.

Wisdom teeth had more of a purpose when the human diet consisted of rough, tougher foods, like leaves, nuts and meat. Humans of long ago didn’t have the utensils and soft foods we do now, so wisdom teeth gave them the chewing power they needed to consume those hefty and raw foods. These days we have different cooking techniques, forks and knives to assist us in our eating habits. We don’t need the tough teeth anymore.

Why do They Cause so Many Problems Now? 

As the human lifestyle changes over the centuries, so do our bodies. Our jaws are a bit smaller than people from long ago and, in result, our wisdom teeth don’t have as much room to come in properly. They may be blocked by other teeth, or become impacted, by coming in at an odd angle. It is possible for wisdom teeth to come in without any complication and be functional teeth. But, wisdom teeth will usually need to come out for one reason or another, as they can also affect the position of other teeth and cause headaches.

Fun Fact:

Wisdom teeth usually come in between seventeen and twenty-five years of age. This is about the age people are thought to become wise, thus giving wisdom teeth their name.

How to Keep Braces Clean

How to Keep Braces Clean?

Braces can be a hassle when it comes to brushing and flossing. But, you still want to make sure you cleaning them correctly, or it could have unfavorable results. Plaque buildup can damage teeth and braces provide several areas for plaque collection. When you get those braces off, you want to see straight, beautiful teeth. But, cleaning improperly with braces can cause white spots or other damage to your teeth.

Brushing: 

Brushing seems simple enough, but the idea of brushing thoroughly changes as soon as you get those brackets on your teeth. Braces bring a whole new world of brushing angles and toothbrushes. You may even want to ask your orthodontist or dentist what they recommend for brushing with braces.

First, put your usual toothpaste on your toothbrush. If you have whitening toothpaste and are worried about its effects with braces, don’t fret. Whitening toothpaste isn’t actually as effective as you might think. If there ends up being a little whitening anyway, you can easily even out the color of your teeth with some kind of whitening treatment.
When brushing your teeth with braces, first brush like you normally would with circular motions and brush the back of your teeth.
Next, angle your toothbrush to brush over the brackets to make sure you’re scraping the plaque from those sneaky little spots. Angle your toothbrush to brush under the brackets as well to get every little bit.
Check your teeth. If it looks or feels like you missed a spot, you probably have. Brush whatever areas you might have missed and rinse your mouth out.

Orthodontists will often provide proxy brushes, which look like a tiny section of pipe cleaner that’s shaped like a Christmas tree. These are handy for getting in between your brackets and behind the wires of your braces. Use these when you can to be sure you’re getting every spot.

Flossing:

Flossing can sometimes be a hassle with braces. But, to be certain you’re caring for your teeth properly, it has to be done. The only real problem is threading the floss behind the wires, but there are a couple different products that help make the process easier.

If your orthodontist has provided you with stiffer floss, usually waxed floss, merely thread the floss between brackets and behind the wire. Floss like you would normally and continue to do so with each tooth.
Sometimes, orthodontists will provide you with floss threaders, which look like flexible, plastic sewing needles. Slip some floss in the loop of the threader, thread the floss behind the wire and floss your teeth like usual. Continue to do so with each tooth.

If you’d like, you can finish off your flossing and brushing with a swish of mouthwash, but it’s up to you. Just be sure you’re flossing every tooth and not just the front teeth.

Tips:

If you braces are poking or damaging the inside of your mouth, there could be something wrong. The inside of your mouth, especially the back, should not be getting damaged, so visit your orthodontist if you’re feeling anything poking or tearing in your mouth.
Should you be feeling some sort of scraping from your brackets, orthodontists provide wax to apply to the brackets to keep them smooth. This kind of discomfort is normal for people that have just gotten braces, as your mouth may not be used to the presence of brackets on your teeth.
After getting your braces tightened, you will probably feel some pain for about a week or two. You could take a simple pain killer to alleviate pain, or drink hot liquids to relieve any swelling.

What Causes White Spots on Teeth?

What Causes White Spots on Teeth?

White spots on teeth are mostly caused by some sort of acid. It could either be from acidic foods or from plaque buildup in certain are as. Of course, whether or not you get white spots can also depend on genetics and specific situations.

Braces and Plaque: 

White spots on teeth are mostly caused by some sort of acid. It could either be from acidic foods or from plaque buildup in certain areas. Of course, whether or not you get white spots can also depend on genetics and specific situations.

Acidic Foods:

If you get white spots on the tips of your teeth, this is mostly likely caused from eating acidic foods. It can be a product of acid reflex disease as well, but if you don’t have any problems with acid reflex, your diet is probably causing the white spots on the tips of your teeth. If you eat sour candies, citric fruits or vinegary items, the enamel at the tips of your teeth will slowly wear away and create white spots.

Decalcification:

Spots can also be caused by decalcification, which is the loss of calcium salts in the teeth and bones. If your diet lacks calcium, or you have a genetic issue with absorbing calcium, you could be dealing with decalcification.

All in all, white spots on your teeth come down to three main causes: plaque buildup, acidic foods and lack of calcium. Whether it’s genetics, braces or acids, white spots are not always something to worry about. If you’re looking to get rid of these spots, sometimes whitening them will help, but it’s best to talk with your dentist about what option is best and safest for your teeth.

What are Dental Sealants?

What are Dental Sealants?

If you’re looking for a great way to protect your teeth, dental sealants is definitely a way to go. The most common place to get cavities is in your back molars, where there are plenty of grooves and depressions for plaque to hide in. While brushing can certainly help, it can be difficult to scrape the plaque out of those tiny, hidden grooves.

A dental sealant is a thin layer of plastic coating over the chewing surface of a tooth. It fills in those small grooves and decreases the chance of getting a cavity in those hard to brush areas. While it sounds odd to have a plastic sealant over your tooth, it’s hardly noticeable and very helpful. Because it’s so thin, it doesn’t affect how you eat or chew at all. It’s merely there to protect, not to bother.

What are Dental Sealants?

Sealants are applied in a dental office, not at home. But the process is quick and painless, as it only affects the surface of a tooth. The process of getting a sealant will go something like this:

A dental professional will first clean and dry the tooth to prepare it for treatment.
Then, a slightly acidic solution will be used to create a somewhat rough surface on the chewing area of the tooth. The rough surface will help the sealant stick to the tooth so it will last longer and continue to protect your teeth.
A thin layer of liquid plastic material will then be applied to the chewing surface, filling in the grooves and fissures of the tooth.
Most often, blue spectrum natural light will be shone on the plastic in order to cure it. Some sealant material requires curing by a chemical process, but it’s not as common.
After it has been cured, the sealant is hardened and ready to be chewed, chomped and crunched on.

A sealant will last for about five years or more, sometimes reaching up to ten years. It’s also not visible, usually being too thin to notice. So, when you talk, you won’t have any odd colors or materials on your teeth.

Dental Sealants are an easy way to protect your teeth from decay and cavities. The use of fluoride is still encouraged to help strengthen your enamel, but the sealant will keep those grooves and fissures protected from plaque buildup.

What is a Root Canal?

What is a Root Canal?

Whenever you hear the phrase “root canal” amid a conversation about dentists, you cringe a little. It does sound painful, especially since it targets the core of your rather sensitive teeth. But a root canal is actually a canal full of pulp and nerve that runs down the length of each tooth. How many root canals a tooth may have depends on the type of tooth, but it still varies between teeth. Molars may have two to four, premolars and cuspids may have one or two and incisors usually have one.

What you probably think of the most when “root” and “canal” are squished together is the procedure that involves some serious dental drilling. When those precious root canals become infected or start to decay, something must be done to save the tooth and maintain great oral health. This is where the root canal procedure comes in and goes something like this:

  •  An x-ray is done to determine the state of the tooth and where the infection is.
  • Once the infected area is determined, it will be numbed and a rubber sheet—better known as a rubber dam—will be wrapped around the tooth to keep the tooth dry during the procedure.
  • A hole is then drilled down into the tooth to get access to the pulp chamber.
  • They will then remove the infected pulp and nerve using various sizes of files to ensure that all the infected material is scraped from the canal.
  • After a thorough cleaning, the hole will then be sealed to prevent any bacteria or debris from getting inside. The sealing usually happens on the same day but, in some cases, the dental professional may think it’s necessary to put medication in the tooth to clear up all the bacteria. In those situations, a temporary sealing will be in place until a permanent sealing about a week later or so. When permanently sealing, the canal will be stuffed with sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta percha and then sealed in by a permanent filling.
  • Sometimes, the tooth will require some other restorative technique besides a sealing, such as a crown.
  • Of course, the latter of all this depends on the state of tooth and how much it may have decayed.A diagram of a root canal procedure

A diagram of a root canal procedure

It may sound painful, despite the promise of numbing. Honestly, the numbing is just a precaution and to help you feel better. If a root canal procedure is necessary, then the nerve in the canal is most likely dead, making it very difficult to feel anything at all. So, have no fear because the procedure is painless. Afterwards, the area may be understandably tender and sensitive, but nothing that can’t be solved with a simple painkiller.

Maybe you’re wondering if it’s okay to remove the nerve and pulp in your tooth. It has to be there for a reason, right? Once the tooth has popped through your gums and made a permanent home, the nerves in your teeth are unnecessary. So, losing that nerve won’t affect your daily life in any way.

But if you have an infection in your root canal, you may not have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you’ll probably experience a little pain when you chew or when you consume hot or cold foods.  Sometimes the infected tooth will have some discoloration or the gums surrounding the tooth will become tender and swollen.

Such an infection can be caused by a few things, like serious decay, a crack or a chip in the tooth or trauma to the face. It can also be caused by having repeated dental procedures on the same tooth or a large filling. If the infection gets serious enough, a tooth abscess may form, which is a pocket of pus at the tip of the tooth and is very painful.

Hopefully, you have healthy, strong teeth. But if you suspect any sort of issue with your teeth, you should consult your dentist immediately to make sure. The infection will be demolished effectively and you can go back chewing your steak with a smile.

How to Clean Your Teeth Without a Toothbrush

How to Clean Your Teeth Without a Toothbrush

Have you ever gone on a trip and realized you forgot your toothbrush? Maybe you’re camping with your family and discover you’re lacking your favorite dental tool. In that horrible moment, you see your dental health crashing before your eyes as visions of heavy plaque and cavities invade your mind. Then you probably thought: “there’s got to be a way around that.” Good news, there is a way to take care of your teeth amid such awful situations. Just collect your toothpaste, yourself and a paper towel—or napkin if paper towels are scarce.

Brushing Without a Toothbrush

Wet the paper towel a little bit and squeeze a dab of toothpaste onto it.

Wrap the paper towel around your finger and brush like it was a toothbrush. Be as thorough as you can to ensure your scraping off most of the plaque.

To “brush” your tongue, you’ll just have to enact the classic scraping-with-your-teeth trick.

Rinse thoroughly. Swish back and forth and sideways and whatever else you’ve got up your sleeve to ensure your teeth will be as clean as can be.

If you have mouthwash or floss, go ahead and use them the best you can. Floss and swish to your heart’s desire to further the cleanliness of your pearly whites.

Brushing Without any Dental Supplies

Sometimes, it isn’t just your toothbrush that’s missing. Every now and then, the whole arsenal of dental supplies will be where you aren’t and you’re in a situation where a toothbrush won’t come easy. Luckily, there’s a way to clean your teeth until you can get a hold of something better.

Wash your hands thoroughly, but don’t dry them.

Use your wet finger to rub across your teeth and gums on one side.

Rinse your finger and repeat the second step on the other side of your teeth.

Wrap a wet paper towel around your fingers and rub it over your teeth. Cover as many areas as you can with the paper towel and be as thorough as possible.

Rinse your mouth especially well with forceful swishing in all areas.

Helpful Tips for Where You Are

If you’re at a hotel when you discover the absence of your dental supplies, go ahead and call the front desk. Most hotels can provide a toothbrush and toothpaste for you if you’ve forgotten yours.

If you’re out camping with the family without a toothbrush, you can scout out a green twig. Clean it as well as you can and chew on the end until the fibers fray. You’ll have yourself a homemade toothbrush to glide across your teeth.

DO NOT go very long without brushing your teeth with an actual toothbrush. These tactics certainly help when you’re in a pickle, but don’t compare to the effective brushing of a toothbrush.