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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 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.

What Does Fluoride Do to Your Teeth?

What Does Fluoride Do to Your Teeth?

You’ve probably heard that fluoride is good for you teeth and, yet, what it does has somehow remained a mystery. It’s actually rather simple: fluoride protects and strengthens your teeth. With all the different foods we eat and beverages we drink, sometimes the enamel of our teeth get a little worn away. Fluoride’s purpose is to both prevent damage to teeth as well as strengthening the enamel that may have already been damaged. It’s actually quite effective. But if you already have a cavity, then the damage is beyond fluoride’s repair in that area. So maybe fluoride has become your teeth’s new best friend, you just need to find it. It’s actually more common than you think.

While some foods can be acidic and dangerous to your pearly whites, others can be helpful. Fluoride is naturally found in some foods like meat,  fish and eggs, which will be absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually get into your teeth. Tea leaves also naturally contain fluoride. Some places do fluoridation, which is putting fluoride in the community’s water supply to ensure that everyone in the area is getting a proper amount of fluoride.  If all that doesn’t make fluoride available enough, then there are several dental products with fluoride included.

Fluoride Treatments

By using dental products containing fluoride, the fluoride can be directly applied to the teeth. Fluoride can be found in mouthwashes, toothpastes, fluoride gels and fluoride supplements.  If home treatment doesn’t seem to be enough, then there are also topical fluoride treatments done by dental professionals. These treatments also apply fluoride directly to the teeth, but are much more effective and ensure a better coverage of the teeth.

Everybody needs some fluoride in their lives to ensure they have healthy teeth, but there are some people who may need fluoride more than others. Individuals who are prone to cavities because of their diet, their access to a dentist or for genetic reasons need to be especially diligent in their exposure of fluoride. Also, those who are undergoing some sort of orthodontic treatment, like braces, will benefit greatly from some sort of fluoride treatment. Some orthodontics encourage the use of fluoride since bacteria can collect around the brackets and cause damage to the enamel and leave white marks on your teeth. Using fluoride while wearing braces will protect your teeth from this sort of damage and ensure that your teeth will be straight and beautiful after the brackets are removed.

Fluoride is perfectly safe when used in proper amounts and applied correctly. Of course, too much exposure can be harmful. For example, we try not to swallow toothpaste because we know that consuming it can be bad for us. Little bits here and there are okay, but gulping up a whole tube of toothpaste will make you sick. It’s the same with fluoride: don’t swallow it if you can help it. If you’re not certain how often to apply fluoride or what would the best treatment, go ahead and ask your dentist at your next checkup. They’ll gladly discuss it with you to help you feel comfortable about applying fluoride.

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches?

Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Headaches?

Wisdom teeth can be a hassle. Or they can be nothing at all, just some extra teeth hanging out in the back of your mouth. But if you’re one of the unlucky people with troublesome wisdom teeth, you might start wondering what sorts of problems your good ol’ wisdom teeth area actually giving you. As they’re coming in, a headache might pop up. Sometimes a headache is just a headache. But if your wisdom teeth are coming in and giving you grief, that headache might be a wisdom tooth headache.

As those great teeth of false wisdom appear, a gum pouch develops where the tooth is trying to push through. This pouch can become infected, swelling up and getting in the way of some of your other teeth. Obviously, you don’t want to bite on that tiny pillow of infected gum tissue; it would hurt too much. So, most people solve the biting issue by adjusting their jaw position and changing their bite. This is where the problem really begins.

By adjusting the position of your jaws, you may be instantly developing a bad bite. This makes the jaw joints go into the wrong position, which causes them to become inflamed and provide pain and problems for you. If that isn’t horrible enough, the bad bite pushes your jaw joints into your ear muscles whenever your teeth bite together. Because of this, your jaw muscles try and correct the problem to keep the pressure of the ear muscles, but instead go into spasms and cause pain. That is what causes that awful headache. Headaches are terrible enough, but someone with incoming wisdom teeth may constantly experience a wisdom tooth headache.

Treatment

The best treatment for a wisdom tooth headache is the removal of those wisdom teeth. Taking painkillers will only take away the pain and will not correct the core problem. Removing your wisdom teeth will keep your jaw from developing an improper bite and will, in turn, stop those wisdom tooth headaches.

A Wisdom Tooth Infection

In some cases, a wisdom tooth infection can create pus that leaks into the jaw muscles and irritates them. Such an infection can prevent a person from opening their mouth and can also throw in that unpleasant wisdom tooth headache. In these situations, see a dentist immediately, as the infection can flow into the brain and cause long term issues or even death.

How to Prevent Dental Stains?

How to Prevent Dental Stains

With all the foods and beverages readily available to us night and day, there is almost nothing to stop us from eating what we want, whenever we want, however often we want. But, maybe you’ve noticed your teeth looking a little less sparkly than they used to and you’re wondering how you can keep your teeth pearly white. The only way to truly prevent dental stains is to avoid what’s staining them in the first place, which is basically hidden in whatever you consume daily.

You’ve probably heard of a few foods that are sure to stain your teeth over time, but the list is a little longer than most realize. The main groups of foods and beverages to avoid are acidic, sugary and deeply pigmented foods.

Acidic Foods

That coffee in the morning may have a reputation for staining teeth, but it’s merely taking the brunt of the attack. Coffee is acidic, which will demineralize your teeth, weakening the enamel and causing the teeth to become translucent. This makes the yellow-brown dentin show through from beneath the enamel and give your teeth a yellowish hue. Not only do acidic foods erode the enamel of your teeth, they also soften it, causing your teeth to be more prone to erosion than they were before. Yes, coffee may be one of the top stain-inducing beverages you know of, but there’s actually more than you think. Teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, sodas and wines are all acidic and wear away that precious enamel. So, protect your enamel and keep your teeth strong by avoiding as many acidic foods as you can.

Sugary Foods

Eating sugary foods only encourage the buildup of bacteria in your mouth, which will also wear away and soften the enamel on your teeth. Of course, we’ve all been told that sugar isn’t good for your pearly whites. We may even have been threatened with more cavities when we excitedly unwrap that lollipop, but those warnings exist for a reason. Sugary foods really do encourage more damage to your teeth than most other foods.

Deeply Pigmented Foods

Deeply pigmented means exactly what it sounds like: foods that have a lot of color packed into them. It makes sense for heavy color to make its mark on your teeth and this doesn’t only mean foods that are artificially colored. Some berries are major offenders in the ways of dental staining, especially when they have been crushed or blended. Maybe you like to eat a little dark chocolate for health, but it also has staining potential. Red wine, teas, sodas and energy drinks are some good products to avoid as well as colored sauces, like tomato sauce or soy sauce. If it looks full of color and ready to stain, then it’s probably best to avoid it as much as possible.

So, maybe you looked through all this and realized that you just can’t give up those favorite foods. Is there still some way to prevent that awful staining? If you just can’t give up your favorite daily soda, then there are still some things you can do.

After eating any sort of staining or damaging foods, rinse your mouth out real quick so get as much of it out as you can.
For your favorite beverages that pack some unfortunate staining, drink out of a straw. It may be unacceptable to use a straw for some drinks, but for what you can, go ahead and slip one in.
After a meal, eating a piece of cheese or drinking some milk will counteract the effect of the acid in some foods while also strengthening your teeth.

So, even if you can’t break away from your dietary routine, you can do a few other things to minimize the staining your teeth, especially if you just whitened your teeth and want that nice white surface to linger. But, don’t whiten your teeth too often, as your teeth may take on a grayish color, which is probably not what you’re going for. If you’re unsure of what foods you can eat or what you can do to prevent dental staining, just ask your dentist for advice. It’s always better to ask a dental professional about what’s good and bad for your teeth and ensure that you’re keeping great dental health.

How to Floss Correctly

How to Floss Correctly

Your whole life you’ve been told that dental hygiene is important. By now, you’re probably excellent at brushing your teeth, but have always questioned whether or not you were flossing properly. Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself for flossing, but that simple string can get places that your trusty toothbrush can’t. Of course, that’s only as long as you floss correctly.

Prepare the Floss

Take about an 18 inch string of floss and wind each end around your middle fingers and then pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers. There should be about one or two inches of length in between.

Floss Position

Always keep one or two inches of floss taut between your fingers. Use your thumb to guide the floss for your upper teeth and your index finger to guide the floss for your lower teeth.

How to Floss

Glide the floss between your teeth using a zigzag motion. Be sure to be gentle and somewhat slow. Don’t hurriedly shove your floss between your teeth. While flossing, form a ‘C’ shape by angling the floss to hug the side of one tooth. Don’t forget to angle the floss the opposite way to get that other tooth.

Where to Floss

Floss up and down against the tooth surface and a dip under the gum line. Be sure to floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss on the same string. Even those molars in the back need flossing. After flossing, rinse with mouthwash or water.

Any kind of floss will be effective if you floss properly. Just be sure to floss every tooth along the sides and the gum line. Brushing can only do so much, but flossing will help your teeth be the cleanest they can be. Even teeth with broader spaces between them need flossing.

Braces or Other Dental Work

If you have braces, a permanent retainer or some other dental work that can get in the way of normal flossing, there is special orthodontic floss that’s stiffer and can be threaded under wires. There’s also the option of floss threaders, which look like plastic, bendable needles. You can simply thread the floss through the loop and easily push the threader and floss under wires.