Patient's Information

Did you know that children’s teeth begin forming before birth? As early as four months, the first primary, or baby, teeth erupt through the gums. Knowing that, when is the best time to get the dentist involved? The answer is as soon as the first tooth appears. At this time, begin brushing your child’s teeth daily and schedule a dental appointment. In most cases, children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.

Ask friends and family and select a dentist in your area who likes children and takes care of them regularly. The first relationship your child has with a dentist can leave a lasting impression.

How Can I Prepare My Child For The First Dental Visit?

You can make your child’s first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Tell your child in advance that someone will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of a dentist or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentist. Most dentists prefer that a parent be present for the examination of any child under the age of three. Some ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold the young patient in their lap during the first few examinations. It can also be helpful to take your younger children along for an older sibling’s dental visit so that they can get accustomed to the office and the people. As children get older, they’re usually happy to be “grown up” and are willing to sit in the chair alone while they send their parents back to the waiting room. At the first visit, your dental professional will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of decay and other problems. He or she will also tell you many of the things you’ll need to know about helping your child grow up cavity-free. After the first visit, be sure your child sees the dentist regularly.

Dental Visit

Most people maintain their oral health with regular visits to a general dentist. A general dentistry practice focuses on taking care of your entire mouth, including cleaning teeth, preventing cavities, and evaluating your teeth and gums for signs of problems or infections. A general dentist can provide diagnostic procedures such as x-rays that are needed in preparation for specialized care such as orthodontics, dental implants, or surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth.

Routine Procedure

General dentists often perform routine procedures such as filling cavities and also the dentist or dental hygienist provides tooth cleaning or scaling. Your dentist also serves as a troubleshooter trained to identify early signs of gum disease, oral cancer, or temporomandibular joint disorders, and can coordinate your care with specialists,

such as orthodontists if you need braces or endodontists if you need a root canal.

Guiding the Patients

In addition, they provide patients with guidance and preventive health advice about how best to follow a regular oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.

Additional Information

In addition, general dentists can provide many cosmetic procedures such as tooth-whitening, dental veneers, and dental bonding. Cosmetic dentistry is not currently a recognized dental specialty, but general dentists may have pursued additional education in order to perform cosmetic procedures such as bonding, teeth whitening, enamel shaping, and dental veneers. If you’re interested in cosmetic procedures, start by talking to your general dentist. He or she can provide advice and refer you to a specialist if necessary.


Baby Teeth

Even though baby teeth aren’t permanent, they still require attention. Trauma to baby teeth can harm the permanent teeth developing underneath the gum, possibly delaying their eruption. And decay in a baby tooth can affect general gum and tooth health, too.

Be Ready In Case Of an Emergency

Babies and toddlers are known for their enthusiastic curiosity, and sometimes, that curiosity ends in a fall, or even an injury. New walkers in particular are very likely to take a few spills and bang a tooth every now and then. In fact, about one-third of all toddlers have experienced some kind of trauma to their pearly whites, and the risk peaks between 18 and 40 months. Here’s what you need to know to be ready in case of an emergency.

Knocked-Out Teeth

If your child’s baby tooth is knocked out completely, chances are, the dentist won’t be able to re-implant it, so they will most likely wait for the adult tooth to develop. Permanent teeth, on the other hand, can be re-implanted within one to two hours after being injured. Just place it in a clean container (don’t scrub it) with a sample of your child’s saliva or milk and take it to the dentist or emergency room right away.

In all cases of missing teeth, apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. If bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of constant, firm pressure, see the dentist or go to the emergency room.

Broken Teeth

If part of your child’s baby tooth breaks off, or if there’s a break line running up the tooth or a glob of reddish flesh (dental pulp) sticking out, see the dentist right away. If the tooth has just shifted a bit or if a tooth has been pushed up into the gum but isn’t broken off or bleeding, call your dentist and see what he/she recommends.

It is important to check in with the dentist, since further care may be necessary at that time, or in the future.

After any dental trauma, baby teeth are likely to turn color over a period of several weeks. If you did not see the trauma happen you may notice this suddenly. It may mean that the blood and nerve supply inside of the tooth has died. Consult with your dentist to understand what treatment may be needed.


Injured Tongue, Gums Or Lips

If your child cuts his tongue, and you see a lot of blood, stay calm; the injury may look worse than it actually is. Except in the case of very large cuts, the tongue will heal itself. If your child has cut or bruised his or her lips or gums, but the teeth are still intact, apply cold pressure (A compress, bag of ice or pack of frozen fruit or veggies will do.) If the cut is larger than a quarter inch or goes across the lip border, take your little one to see your health care provider. They can make sure everything will heal properly.

Managing Trauma to the Teeth

It’s always best to be prepared, and knowing how to be ready for a dental emergency can be important to your oral health. If left untreated, a chipped or broken tooth, or a broken crown or filling can provide an opening for cavities because the damaged area is hard to keep clean.

If you have a dental emergency that involves trauma to your teeth, don’t panic. Follow these simple steps to hold you over until you get to the dentist:

Chipped tooth: If you break or chip a tooth, save the pieces and rinse the pieces and your mouth with warm water. Apply gauze to any areas that are bleeding. Once any bleeding stops, apply a cold compress to the area and see your dentist as soon as possible. It may or may not be possible to reattach the pieces, but bring them with you just in case.

Dislodged tooth: If your tooth becomes partly dislodged, get to the dentist immediately, and put a cold compress on the area to decrease swelling.

Knocked-out tooth: If possible, find the tooth and pick it up by the crown end, not the root. Rinse the tooth if it is dirty but don’t scrub it — you want to preserve any tissue fragments. Teeth that have been knocked out have the best chance to be saved if they are put back in place within an hour of the accident. Try to put the tooth back in place (be sure that it is facing the correct way) but don’t force it. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, place it in a small container of milk, or water with a pinch of salt, or a specialized growth medium that you can buy in a drugstore.

When To Change Your Toothbrush or Brush head

Many dental professionals recommend changing your toothbrush about every three months, and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you replace your toothbrush approximately every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.

No matter what type of toothbrush you use, tooth brush bristles can become frayed and worn and may lose their effectiveness. And clinical research shows that a new toothbrush can remove more plaque than one that’s worn out, ensuring that your brush is working its hardest to help keep your teeth clean and healthy.

After Illness

Change your tooth brush after each illness to protect again getting the disease again or prevent you from getting sick. So be sure to change your brush regularly for maximum effectiveness and to practice diligent hygiene, despite the type of toothbrush you’re using.

Resources

* ADA Statement on Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storage and Replacement. Council on Scientific Affairs, November 2005. http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/positions/statements/toothbrush.asp.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is among the common causes of a toothache. The phrase “tooth sensitivity” refers to tooth discomfort or feelings of toothache in one or more teeth. The pain of tooth sensitivity is usually sharp, sudden and shooting. Tooth sensitivity occurs when the layer of a tooth underneath the enamel (called the dentin) or the layer covering the root (called cementum) is exposed along the gum line due to receding gums. The exposed areas respond to hot and cold, and sometimes sweet and spicy foods, and trigger pain. The causes of tooth sensitivity vary, and if you have sensitive teeth, it may be due to several of these factors:

Overzealous brushing. You can have too much of a good thing. Brushing your teeth with too much force, or with a hard-bristle toothbrush, may wear down tooth enamel, expose the cementum or dentin and cause tooth sensitivity.

Gum disease. Inflamed gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, leaving vulnerable areas exposed.

Tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth can cause the enamel to wear away and leave the dentin exposed.

If you have sensitive teeth, don’t neglect your daily oral care routine. Just be sure to use a soft toothbrush and soft floss. You can also try toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Several brands are available, and you should notice some improvement with regular use of any of them. Also, try spreading some sensitizing toothpaste along the exposed cementum or dentin area before bed to help reduce sensitivity. Just use your fingertip or a cotton swab to rub the toothpaste directly onto the exposed spot.

Brushing and Flossing

As everyone who brushes and flosses their teeth knows, your back teeth are harder to reach and to keep clean than your front teeth. The back teeth are designed with grooves and ridges that help you to chew food, but the down side is that these grooves and ridges can also collect tiny food particles, which can increase the risk of cavities and bacteria in plaque, which in turn can lead to gum disease.

To remove bacteria and plaque, it’s important to floss around the back teeth. If it is hard for you to reach this area, consider using aflossier.

Tooth decay doesn’t happen overnight. But if you allow plaque to build up on teeth by not flossing properly over many years, the bacteria and acids that they produce will break down the tooth enamel. If plaque goes unremoved, tooth decay can progress inward and affect the nerves in the pulp of the tooth. This progressive decay can cause symptoms including pain and swelling, and may result in tooth loss in extreme cases.

Bacteria can convert fermenting carbohydrates (which are sugars and are found in cooked starchy foods) into plaque within 20 minutes. Be sure to clean around the back teeth with your toothbrush and dental floss every day.


Oral Care for Kids

Attention parents: It’s never too early to pay attention to your children’s oral health. Good oral hygiene starts in babyhood. As soon as a baby’s teeth come in, clean them daily by wiping them with a soft cloth or special baby toothbrush and water. Bedtime in the evening is a good time to get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s teeth. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gingivitis is not limited to adults—it occurs in children and adolescents, too. Gingivitis in children can be easily treated and reversed with a consistent oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing. But early detection of gingivitis is essential so it can be treated before it becomes severe. Check your child’s teeth daily, and remind your middle-schoolers and adolescents to pay attention to their gums as well.

Babies

If you see spots or stains on your baby’s teeth, visit a dentist. Healthy baby teeth should be all one color, without spots or stains. Although baby teeth will fall out to make room for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep them clean. Tooth decay can occur in baby teeth, and it can be painful for the child and may lead to problematic infections. Most baby teeth are in place by about 2 years of age, and you can brush them with a soft toothbrush designed for your child’s particular stage development.

Findings

In May of 2001, the Office of the Surgeon General released its first ever report on oral health in America.* The findings revealed that:

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease.

Millions of school hours are lost each year to dental-related issues.

Poor suffer twice as many dental problems than their affluent peers.

With statistics like these, it’s increasingly critical to place more importance on our children’s oral care routines.

Before the First Tooth

To help prevent the buildup of plaque bacteria that can lead to decay, pediatric dentists and pediatricians highly recommend regularly cleaning your newborn’s gums with a damp washcloth following feedings. In addition, take measures to prevent baby bottle tooth decay, a disease that occurs in 15 percent of children and causes severe, swift decay of baby teeth. To help prevent it, do not put your baby to bed with a bottle of formula or a sugary drink, such as juice. The possibility of tooth decay is directly related to the number of times that sweet things are in contact with the teeth (formula contains some sugar).

Brushing Baby Teeth

Around four months, a child usually begins to teethe. When the first tooth comes in, it’s time to start brushing and also set up a dentist appointment. Cavities, gingivitis and tooth decay are common problems associated with your child’s growing teeth. Brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day to help prevent decay and to help get

your baby used to the recommended brushing time.

Do Babies Need Special Products?

Just as developing children require special attention, so do their teeth. Use a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles until your child turns two to three, when it’s safe to switch to toothpaste with fluoride under your close supervision. When it comes to your baby, if you want to start training for using toothpaste in the future look for

a cleanser that’s safe to swallow, fluoride-free and doesn’t contain artificial colors or preservatives. A fruity flavor and non-foaming formula help, too.

Look for products designed to meet a child’s needs at different stages, taking the following into consideration:

Dentition – The formation of the teeth and jaw

Dexterity – The ability to handle a toothbrush

Development – Emotional changes and interests

Other Children’s Oral Care Statistics

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, five times greater than asthma and several times more common than hay fever.

Almost 20 percent of children between two and three have at least one untreated cavity before their first visit to the dentist at age four or five.

50 percent of children have gingivitis.

*Visit www.dentalcare.com to access the Surgeon General’s report.

Young Children

Although young children may think they can brush their teeth themselves, most children don’t have the manual dexterity for thorough teeth cleaning until they are about 7 years old. Until then, help your child brush and floss. Let them “do it themselves” first, and then follow-up by helping them brush and floss again. Most young children thrive on regular schedules, so try making morning and evening tooth brushing and flossing a family event and do your own brushing and flossing at the same time.

Kids

One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay in children is to get them enthusiastic about daily dental hygiene. After all, tooth brushing is probably not at the top of your child’s list of favorite things to do. But you can make it more acceptable – and even fun — by choosing a toothpaste and toothbrush that your child will like and will want to use.

Look for toothpaste with fluoride that’s child-friendly, with flavors and colors that appeal to kids, such as Kid’s Crest. There are toothpaste choices more appropriate to adult needs as well, so many families find themselves using more than one type of toothpaste.

Knowing how to brush your teeth is just as important as the type of toothpaste you choose. Teach children the proper technique early to help encourage them to develop good oral health habits. Explaining how to brush your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with these simple steps to get kids off to a good start.

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.

Move the brush back and forth gently, in short strokes, over the fronts, backs, and tops of your teeth. Don’t scrub hard along the gum line; you can irritate your gums.

Don’t forget to brush (and floss) behind your top front teeth and behind the bottom front teeth. (The area behind the bottom front teeth is prone to tartar buildup and needs attention.) Use the top bristles of the brush to reach this area—some toothbrushes have a slightly longer tip to make it easier to reach these spots.

Mouth Rinses for Kids

Benefits of Mouth Rinses

Older children and teenagers may express interest in mouthwash as a breath-freshening agent, and they can reap the benefits of a fluoride rinse as well. Older children who have braces are especially good candidates for fluoride mouth rinses because the rinse can help prevent teeth from acid-producing plaque bacteria which may buildup under the brackets.

One of the best ways to prevent tooth decay in children is to get them enthusiastic about daily dental hygiene. After all, tooth brushing is probably not at the top of your child’s list of favorite things to do. But you can make it more acceptable – and even fun — by choosing a toothpaste and toothbrush that your child wil

l like and will want to use.

Look for toothpaste with fluoride that’s child-friendly, with flavors and colors that appeal to kids, such as Kid’s Crest. There are toothpaste choices more appropriate to adult needs as well, so many families find themselves using more than one type of toothpaste.

Knowing how to brush your teeth is just as important as the type of toothpaste you choose. Teach children the proper technique early to help encourage them to develop good oral health habits. Explaining how to brush your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with these simple steps to get kids off to a good start.

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.

Move the brush back and forth gently, in short strokes, over the fronts, backs, and tops of your teeth. Don’t scrub hard along the gum line; you can irritate your gums.

Don’t forget to brush (and floss) behind your top front teeth and behind the bottom front teeth. (The area behind the bottom front teeth is prone to tartar buildup and needs attention.) Use the top bristles of the brush to reach this area—some toothbrushes have a slightly longer tip to make it easier to reach these spots.


Young Children Should Avoid Mouthwash

Benefits of Mouth Rinses

Older children and teenagers may express interest in mouthwash as a breath-freshening agent, and they can reap the benefits of a fluoride rinse as well. Older children who have braces are especially good candidates for fluoride mouth rinses because the rinse can help prevent teeth from acid-producing plaque bacteria which may buildup under the brackets.

But in general young children should not use mouthwash because they are less able to avoid swallowing the product. Children between ages six and 12 years should only use a mouth rinse under close adult supervision. And children under the age of six should avoid fluoride rinses-excess fluoride exposure for children whose teeth are not fully developed can result in fluorosis, a harmless but unsightly condition that leaves spots or streaks on the teeth.


Preserving A Healthy Smile

Benefits of Mouth Rinses

Older children and teenagers may express interest in mouthwash as a breath-freshening agent, and they can reap the benefits of a fluoride rinse as well. Older children who have braces are especially good candidates for fluoride mouth rinses because the rinse can help prevent teeth from acid-producing plaque bacteria which may buildup under the brackets.

Parents who are concerned about the alcohol content in mouth rinses can find a variety of alcohol-free products that are just as effective at freshening breath. And there are non-alcohol rinses with fluoride, too. Concerned about chemicals? No matter what type of mouthwash your child uses, be sure to remind him or her that mouthwash, even a fluoride rinse, does not replace a regular routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing to preserve a healthy smile.


Dental Hygiene During Pregnancy

Benefits of Mouth Rinses

Older children and teenagers may express interest in mouthwash as a breath-freshening agent, and they can reap the benefits of a fluoride rinse as well. Older children who have braces are especially good candidates for fluoride mouth rinses because the rinse can help prevent teeth from acid-producing plaque bacteria which may buildup under the brackets.

Reasons Why Oral Care Is Important During Pregnancy

Oral care is especially important during pregnancy for several reasons:

Frequent Eating

During pregnancy, women are likely to eat and drink more frequently throughout the day. And with the more frequent sugar intake comes an increased risk for cavities, so its especially important to stick with a sound tooth brushing and flossing routine.

Hormonal Changes

Some women may be more likely to develop red, puffy gums during pregnancy because the additional amount of the hormone progesterone in the body causes a strong reaction to normal amounts of plaque. If your gums are especially sensitive, try a soft floss that slides easily and comfortably between teeth.

Radiation Avoidance

Although some pregnant women may have a dental emergency that requires a dental x-ray, taking good care of your teeth during pregnancy reduces the odds that you will need dental x-rays, and you can avoid exposing your baby to radiation. But if you do need x-rays, do not panic. Your dental professional will minimize your exposure by having you wear a leaded apron and leaded band around your neck to protect your thyroid.

Of course, proper nutrition is part of good dental hygiene, and pregnant women in particular should be sure to eat a variety of healthy foods and get plenty of calcium, phosphorous, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin C.

Contrary to a popular myth, you won’t lose calcium from your teeth during pregnancy if you aren’t getting enough calcium in your diet. A growing baby will take calcium from a mother’s bones, not her teeth. But that’s all the more reason to eat healthy while following a strict routine of good oral care


Avoid Gingivitis During Pregnancy

Benefits of Mouth Rinses

Older children and teenagers may express interest in mouthwash as a breath-freshening agent, and they can reap the benefits of a fluoride rinse as well. Older children who have braces are especially good candidates for fluoride mouth rinses because the rinse can help prevent teeth from acid-producing plaque bacteria which may buildup under the brackets.

What Pregnant Women Should Know About

If you’re pregnant, your dentist needs to know about the first signs of gum disease symptoms. Pregnant women are at increased risk for periodontal disease because the increased levels of progesterone that come with pregnancy cause an exaggerated response to plaque bacteria. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis even if they follow a consistent oral health care routine.

Gingivitis is most common during months two to eight of pregnancy. Tell your dentist when you are pregnant — he or she may recommend more frequent dental cleanings during the second trimester or early in the third trimester to help combat the effects of increased progesterone and help you avoid gingivitis.

In addition, eating a balanced diet during pregnancy will help promote dental health and overall health for you and your baby. A baby’s teeth begin to develop between months three to six of pregnancy, so be sure that you are getting enough calcium, vitamins D, C and A, phosphorous and protein.

A myth persists that a pregnant woman will lose calcium from her teeth if she isn’t getting enough calcium in her diet during pregnancy. In fact, any calcium loss due to inadequate dietary calcium will occur in the bones, not the teeth. But if you include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet during pregnancy, your bones and teeth—and your baby’s bones and teeth—should be strong and healthy.

Pregnancy: Tooth Care for Two

If you’re pregnant, your dentist needs to know about the first signs of gum disease symptoms. Pregnant women are at increased risk for periodontal disease because the increased levels of progesterone that come with pregnancy cause an exaggerated response to plaque bacteria. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis even if they follow a consistent oral health care routine.

Gingivitis is most common during months two to eight of pregnancy. Tell your dentist when you are pregnant — he or she may recommend more frequent dental cleanings during the second trimester or early in the third trimester to help combat the effects of increased progesterone and help you avoid gingivitis.

In addition, eating a balanced diet during pregnancy will help promote dental health and overall health for you and your baby. A baby’s teeth begin to develop between months 3 to 6 of pregnancy, so be sure that you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, C and A, phosphorous, and protein.

A myth persists that a pregnant woman will lose calcium from her teeth if she isn’t getting enough calcium in her diet during pregnancy. In fact, any calcium loss due to inadequate dietary calcium will occur in the bones, not the teeth. But if you include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet during pregnancy, your bones and teeth—and your baby’s bones and teeth—should be strong and healthy.

If you’re pregnant, your dentist needs to know about the first signs of gum disease symptoms. Pregnant women are at increased risk for periodontal disease because the increased levels of progesterone that come with pregnancy cause an exaggerated response to plaque bacteria. As a result, pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis even if they follow a consistent oral health care routine.

Gingivitis is most common during months two to eight of pregnancy. Tell your dentist when you are pregnant — he or she may recommend more frequent dental cleanings during the second trimester or early in the third trimester to help combat the effects of increased progesterone and help you avoid gingivitis.

In addition, eating a balanced diet during pregnancy will help promote dental health and overall health for you and your baby. A baby’s teeth begin to develop between months 3 to 6 of pregnancy, so be sure that you are getting enough calcium, vitamin D, C and A, phosphorous, and protein.

A myth persists that a pregnant woman will lose calcium from her teeth if she isn’t getting enough calcium in her diet during pregnancy. In fact, any calcium loss due to inadequate dietary calcium will occur in the bones, not the teeth. But if you include plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet during pregnancy, your bones and teeth—and your baby’s bones and teeth—should be strong and healthy.


Fluoride

Learning what fluoride does for the health of your teeth will increase your knowledge of oral care and help you become more aware of how to identify plaque and prevent it from becoming a cavity.

Fluoride helps protect teeth by making the tooth surface harder and thus, helping to prevent cavities. Fluoride can be found in drinking water, toothpaste and certain types of mouthwashes.

Drinking Water: Adding fluoride to your drinking water is one of the easiest and most cost-effective methods of protecting children and adults from tooth decay.

Not certain about the fluoride levels in your water system? Just ask your dentist. If you find your water does not contain fluoride, your dentist may recommend prescribing fluoride tablets or drops for you and your family to help protect your teeth from cavities.

Try drinking fluoridated water every day to help minimize your and your family’s intake of sugary beverages like soft drinks, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. And while drinking bottled water may seem convenient and healthy, bottled water does not include fluoride, so be sure to think about the benefits of fluoride you’ll be missing when you choose bottled water over the tap.

Toothpaste: Toothpastes containing fluoride help prevent cavities in both children and adults. You should always supervise your children when they’re brushing their teeth. Moreover, children under the age of six should only use a pea-size dab of toothpaste when it contains fluoride.

Mouthwash: Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash that contains fluoride is another way to help protect you and your family from cavities. Many brands of mouthwash now contain fluoride in their product lineup.

Other Ways to Fight Cavities:

Sealants placed on teeth

Sugar-free foods and drinks

Daily brushing and flossing (especially after eating)

Regular visits to the dentist


Food Choices That Prevent Tooth Decay

It’s no fun passing up sugary treats like cookies and candies. But when it comes to tooth decay, food choices play an important role. Some foods can harm your teeth, while others contain essential nutrients to keep them healthy and strong. To help prevent tooth decay, keep the following food choices in mind. Calcium

Calcium is a prime ingredient for preventing tooth decay, especially for growing children. Dairy is a great source, with choices such as milk, yogurt and cheese. And calcium isn’t hiding in the fat, so skim milk and low-fat yogurt are just as good. Other options are leafy greens such as broccoli and bokchoy, canned fish with bones, almonds, Brazil nuts and dried beans.

Fruit, Fiber and Veggies

Eating high-fiber foods keeps saliva flowing, which helps create mineral defenses against tooth decay. Good sources of fiber are dried fruits such as dates, raisins and figs, and fresh fruits, like bananas, apples and oranges. Other options include veggies, such as beans, Brussels sprouts and peas, along with peanuts, almonds and bran.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide B vitamins and iron, which help keep gums healthy. Whole grains also have magnesium-an important ingredient for bones and teeth. In addition, whole grains are high in fiber. Look for foods such as bran, brown rice, and whole-grain cereals and pasta to be good sources of whole grains.

Sugar Snacks

When you get the munchies, focus on choosing healthy foods, like the ones we mentioned earlier. Try to steer clear of sweets, because sugar partners with plaque to weaken enamel, leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay. In fact, each time you eat a sugary snack, your teeth are under siege for the next 20 minutes.

The Food Pyramid

When looking to follow a healthy diet that’s good for your teeth and the rest of your body, try sticking to the food pyramid. The pyramid is structured to give you a healthy serving of all the necessary food groups you need throughout the day.


Choosing A Good Toothbrush

How do you go about choosing a toothbrush? Sometimes, it’s not easy. There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to purchasing a toothbrush, which makes it difficult to know what to look for. A good starting point is to ask your dentist and hygienist for a recommendation.

In addition, here are some general tips on what to look for:

Small brush head and well-designed bristles: Choose a toothbrush with a small brush head and a bristle design that helps you to get to the hard-to-reach places of your mouth.

Soft bristles: Your toothbrush should have soft bristles that are gentle on your teeth and gums.

Comfortable handle: Many toothbrushes have non-slip grips which make them easy to use even if wet. Additionally, the handles on many Oral-B toothbrushes have been modeled based on research into the five different ways that people hold their toothbrush while brushing.

Remember that regular replacement of toothbrushes contributes to maintaining a consistently high level of oral hygiene because clinical research shows a new toothbrush can remove up to 30% more plaque than one that’s three months old.*


How To Keep Your Toothbrush Clean And Safe

Because one of the main purposes of a toothbrush is to remove bacteria from your mouth, it’s important to keep your toothbrush sanitary and free of bacteria.

Keep these tips in mind to keep your toothbrush clean and safe:

Keep it covered on the road, but not at home. When you travel, put your toothbrush in a travel toothbrush holder-don’t let it roll around uncovered in your suitcase or toiletry bag where it can pick up dust, dirt, and bacteria. But don’t store a toothbrush in a toothbrush holder at home-the chronically moist environment can promote bacteria growth. If you must use a covered toothbrush holder frequently, look for one with small holes to let air in. When at home, store your toothbrush upright in a cup or a toothbrush holder that allows it to air dry and has several openings to keep multiple toothbrushes separate.

Consider a sanitizer. There are commercially available “toothbrush sanitizers,” but there’s no solid evidence to suggest that they actually keep toothbrushes cleaner than simply rinsing them with water after use and allowing them to dry. If you want to try a sanitizer, look for one that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for “reducing bacterial contamination that occurs naturally on toothbrushes.” Be suspicious of sanitizing products that make unrealistic claims. And never try to clean your toothbrush by putting it in the dishwasher or microwave; the high temperatures can damage the brush.


Diabetes Patients and Periodontal Disease

Did you know diabetes can help contribute to dental health issues? If you are an adult with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and your blood sugar control is sometimes not as good as your doctor wants it to be, you could be at greater risk for developing oral health problems. One of these potential threats includes a serious type of gum infection called periodontal disease that can lead to the loss teeth. Diabetes may lower your ability to fight the germs that cause periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.

Periodontal Disease and Blood Glucose

Periodontal or gum disease is a serious gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and might prevent you from achieving the nutritional goals set by your doctor or diabetes educator. If not detected by a dentist or hygienist or if left untreated, periodontal disease can cause an infection that destroys the bone supporting your teeth. As the gum disease progresses, symptoms might include tooth loosening or shifting, bad breath or bleeding gums. Periodontal disease can worsen blood glucose control and vice versa. If your blood glucose is high or fluctuates, you are at risk of developing severe periodontal disease.

Symptoms:

Red and swollen gums.

Gums that bleed are not healthy. Even if your gums bleed only when you brush too hard, ANY sign of bleeding is not normal.

White or yellow pus around gums.

Teeth that are longer and gums that have pulled away from teeth.

Consider the following questions:

Have you ever noticed blood (red) on your toothbrush, on your food, or in your saliva?

Do you have any loose teeth or teeth that have shifted on their own?

Have you ever been told you had gum disease or had a tooth pulled because of gum disease?

Do you use any tobacco products?

Has it been over two years since you last saw a dentist?

Is your hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.0?

One or more responses of “yes” warrants a dental examination for periodontal disease.

If you have diabetes, be sure to pay special attention to your oral care routine, because periodontal disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits.

Treating Periodontal Disease Symptoms

Simply put, prevention is the best periodontal disease treatment. To catch dental problems before they become severe, it’s good to get into the habit of checking your mouth daily as part of your overall dental health care routine. Look for changes in the color or appearance of your teeth, gums, tongue, and gingival tissues.

Many people with mild gum disease don’t show any symptoms, but if you notice anything different about your mouth or teeth, be sure to tell your dentist. Possible signs of periodontal disease include tooth sensitivity, pain when you chew, red or bleeding gums, and bad breath. If you do have periodontal disease, the treatment will vary depending on the severity of the infection. Severe periodontal disease treatment may involve a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planning, in which the dental hygienist or dentist removes tartar from both above and below the gum line and smooth’s rough spots on tooth roots where plaque-causing bacteria tend to gather.

Be sure to follow your dental hygienists or dentist’s instructions for regular oral care at home in order to get the most benefit out of your periodontal disease treatment. That means twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, plus regular visits to the dentist for follow-up and professional cleaning. If you have problems following a regular oral care routine, ask your dental hygienist or dentist to recommend products that can make your routine easier, such as electric toothbrushes or pre-measured dental floss.

Be sure to continue to check your mouth daily for any signs of recurring infection.


Tooth Abscess

If you have a toothache that goes beyond mild to moderate tooth pain and reaches a level of severe, throbbing pain, it could be a sign of a tooth abscess. A tooth abscess is a pus-filled lesion at the roots of a tooth, and is caused by an infection. The first sign is a throbbing toothache that won’t go away.

At first, the tooth will likely be sensitive to chewing and biting, as well as to heat and cold. You also may develop a fever, swollen lymph nodes in your jaw or neck, or swelling on your face.

If the abscess ruptures, you’ll know because of the nasty-tasting discharge in your mouth. Although the pain may recede if the abscess ruptures, you still need to be treated by a dentist in order to get rid of the infection, save the tooth and avoid complications. If the abscess doesn’t rupture, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. This is not a problem to ignore.

Treatment will likely include draining the abscess if it hasn’t ruptured. Your dentist also may recommend that you take over-the-counter pain relievers, rinse your mouth with warm salt water, and take antibiotics. More severe abscesses may require a root canal to remove infected tissue, and the worst cases require extraction of the tooth.

A tooth abscess can get its start as an untreated tooth cavity, so the best way to prevent an abscess is to prevent the cavity in the first place by following a consistent oral health routine of twice daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Regular visits to your dentist are important too, especially if you’ve been treated for an abscess. This allows your dentist to confirm that the infection has cleared.


Toothaches and Sensitivity

Toothaches have many causes, from gum disease to jaw clenching, but tooth root sensitivity can also cause a tooth to ache.

The tooth root includes the lower two-thirds of the tooth, and it is usually buried in the jawbone. But when gum disease develops, the bacteria that cause the disease can also dissolve the bone around the tooth root. The combination of dissolved bone and receding gums means that more of the tooth root is exposed. Without protection from healthy gums and healthy bone, the root often becomes sensitive to hot and cold and to sour foods. In some cases, the sensitivity is so severe that you may avoid very hot, cold or sour foods.

If the root exposure is not severe, try using a special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth that contains fluoride and other minerals. The extra fluoride and minerals will help to strengthen the exposed root and make it less sensitive. The best way to manage root sensitivity and to prevent gum disease with a consistent oral health care program of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Try a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid irritating your gums, which can increase the risk of root exposure and sensitivity.


What is a Cavity?

You hear about them at the dentist’s office, and maybe you’ve even had one or two in your lifetime. But do you really know what cavities are all about?

A cavity is the space inside a tooth that remains once tooth decay is removed. Plaque, a colorless, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth, is one of the main causes of tooth decay. The reason we brush and floss every day is to remove plaque, because bacteria in plaque reacts with sugar in the foods we eat to produce acids that can attack and weaken tooth enamel—the hard, protective covering on our teeth. Eroding enamel leaves the teeth unprotected, allowing for cavities to develop more easily.


The Three Different Places where a Tooth can experience Decay and Cavities:

On the biting surfaces of the teeth. This occurs when plaque becomes trapped in the grooves or crevices of the teeth. This is most common in children, because they often miss these areas when brushing.

Between teeth. This occurs when plaque is left to build up on the hard-to-reach surfaces. These areas cannot be reached by a toothbrush alone and may be susceptible to decay if you don’t floss or clean between your teeth, regularly.

On the root surfaces of the teeth. This is common if you have suffered gum recession or bone loss, often associated with gum disease, or periodontitis. It’s also more common to find decay here as you get older if your gums recede. If plaque is left to build up on the exposed roots of the teeth, then a cavity can quickly develop because roots do not have the same hard enamel covering.


What Causes Cavities

Cavities are a common dental problem, but this early form of tooth decay may be prevented easily if you brush your teeth and floss properly every day. Certain factors can increase your risk for developing tooth decay. Not brushing and flossing your teeth to remove plaque is a top risk factor

Risk Factors of Cavities

Specific foods and drinks. Foods that cling to your teeth are the most likely to promote tooth decay. All sugars and most cooked starchy foods are major plaque promoters, including milk, honey, raisins, hard candy, dry cereal and bread.

Frequent snacking. Some diets suggest eating several small meals each day to help lose weight or maintain weight loss. But remember that if you snack frequently, no matter what type of food, the acid in the food has more time to damage your teeth. Here’s another tip: Brushing your teeth after eating not only removes plaque, it can also help you stick to your diet by making your mouth feel cleaner so you’ll be less likely to snack.

Bottled water instead of tap. Many people are concerned about the quality of their local tap water, but public water supplies contain fluoride, which promotes oral health by helping to protect tooth enamel from plaque buildup. Check the labels on your bottled water—some have added fluoride. And if you have children, check with your dentist about the correct amount of fluoride that they should get to help control plaque and promote oral health.

Receding gums. If your gums are receding, plaque can form near the roots of the teeth, which are not protected by tooth enamel and are more vulnerable to decay.


How Can I Prevent a Cavity From Developing?

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help prevent the formation of a cavity. Try this dentist-recommended oral care routine:

  • Brush twice a day
  • Use toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride, an agent that strengthens teeth and helps prevent cavities.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss to help remove the plaque your toothbrush is unable to reach
  • Follow a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • Schedule regular visits with your dentist, approximately every six months, for a routine cleaning and exam
  • Remember to change your toothbrush when it looks worn, or every three months, because the newer the bristles, the more plaque the brush is able to remove
How Often Should My Teeth Be Checked For Cavities?

You should plan on seeing your dentist twice a year for checkups. While checkups can vary, your dentist will most likely examine your teeth and gums for any visible problems, including the development of a cavity. He or she may also take X-rays to make sure there aren’t any problems that aren’t yet visible. Your dentist may also professionally clean your teeth to remove hardened plaque from above and below

the gum line, as well as polish them to remove plaque and stains from the tooth surface. And don’t forget—your dentist can also provide expert instruction on brushing and flossing.


The Heart and Mouth Connection: How Heart Disease and Oral Health Link

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease will claim an estimated 600,000 lives this year, making it America’s number one killer.

Did you know that heart disease and oral health are linked? There are two different connections between heart disease and your oral health:

1. Studies have shown that people with moderate or advanced gum (periodontal) disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.

2. Oral health holds clues to overall health. Studies have shown that oral health can provide warning signs for other diseases or conditions, including heart disease.

How gum disease increases risk of heart attacks

Because the mouth is a pathway to the body, people who have chronic gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Gum disease (called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages) is caused by plaque buildup.

Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Risk factors

Studies have not established that either heart disease or gum disease actually causes the other. This is a difficult task because many of the risk factors for gum disease are the same as those for heart disease:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Being male

How oral health warns about heart disease

More than 90 percent of all systemic diseases — including heart disease — have oral symptoms, research suggests. In addition, dentists can help patients with a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. According to the AGD, proper diagnosis and treatment of tooth and gum infections in some of these patients have led to a decrease in blood pressure medications and improved overall health.

Warning signs for gum disease

Gum disease affects 80 percent of American adults, according to the AGD. Warning signs that you may have gum disease include:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
  • Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Teeth that are loose or are separating from each other

Prevention is the best medicine

Although gum disease seems to be associated with heart disease, more studies are needed before we can say with certainty what the relationship is. Research has not shown that treatment for one of these diseases will help control the other, but we do know that regular dental checkups, professional cleanings and good oral hygiene practices can improve oral health and that good oral health contributes to good overall health.

While regular dental exams and cleanings are necessary to remove bacteria, plaque and tartar and detect early signs of gum disease, you can play a major role in preventing gum disease:

  • Brush for two to three minutes, twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure to brush along the gumline.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Use a mouth rinse to reduce plaque up to 20 percent.
  • Eat a healthy diet to provide essential nutrients (vitamins A and C, in particular).
  • Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

If you have heart disease…

  • Establish and maintain a healthy mouth. This means brushing and flossing daily and visiting your dentist regularly.
  • Make sure your dentist knows you have a heart problem, and share your complete medical history, including any medications you are currently taking.
  • Carefully follow your physician’s and dentist’s instructions about health care, including using prescription medications, such as antibiotics, as directed.

This article was originally posted and retrieved from the dental dental website

http://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/heart.html

Some information courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry.

The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

iabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications.

People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Those people who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.

Research has suggested that the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.

Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.

This article was originally posted and retrieved from the website of American Academy of Periodontology: Diabetes and Periodontal Disease/Perio.org

http://www.perio.org/consumer/diabetes.htm


Oral Cancer

Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells that invade and cause damage to surrounding tissue.Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (throat), can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

The most common symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Swellings/thickenings, lumps or bumps, rough spots/crusts/or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth
  • The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  • Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within 2 weeks
  • A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice
  • Ear pain
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together
  • Dramatic weight loss

If you notice any of these changes, contact your dentist or health care professional immediately.

Who Gets Oral Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. It’s estimated that over 35,000 people in the U.S. received a diagnosis of oral cancer in 2008.

Risk factors for the development of oral cancer include:

  • Smoking. Cigarette, cigar, or pipe smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancers.
  • Smokeless tobacco users. Users of dip, snuff, or chewing tobacco products are 50 times more likely to develop cancers of the cheek, gums, and lining of the lips.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol. Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers.
  • Family history of cancer.
  • Excessive sun exposure, especially at a young age.

It is important to note that over 25% of all oral cancers occur in people who do not smoke and who only drink alcohol occasionally.

What Is the Outlook for People With Oral Cancer?

The overall 1-year survival rate for patients with all stages of oral cavity and pharynx cancers is 81%. The 5- and 10-year survival rates are 56% and 41%, respectively.

How Is Oral Cancer Diagnosed?

As part of your routine dental exam, your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening exam. More specifically, your dentist will feel for any lumps or irregular tissue changes in your neck, head, face, and oral cavity. When examining your mouth, your dentist will look for any sores or discolored tissue as well as check for any signs and symptoms mentioned above.

Your dentist may perform an oral brush biopsy if he or she sees tissue in your mouth that looks suspicious. This test is painless and involves taking a small sample of the tissue and analyzing it for abnormal cells. Alternatively, if the tissue looks more suspicious, your dentist may recommend a scalpel biopsy. This procedure usually requires local anesthesia and may be performed by your dentist or a specialist. These tests are necessary to detect oral cancer early, before it has had a chance to progress and spread.

How Is Oral Cancer Treated?

Oral cancer is treated the same way many other cancers are treated — with surgery to remove the cancerous growth, followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy (drug treatments) to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

What Can I Do to Prevent Oral Cancer?

To prevent oral cancer:

  • Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products and drink alcohol in moderation (and refrain from binge drinking).
  • Eat a well balanced diet.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lip, especially the lower lip. When in the sun, use UV-A/B-blocking sun protective lotions on your skin, as well as your lips.

You can take an active role in detecting oral cancer early, by doing the following:

Conduct a self exam at least once a month. Using a bright light and a mirror, look and feel your lips and front of your gums. Tilt your head back and look at and feel the roof of your mouth. Pull your checks out to view the inside of your mouth, the lining of your cheeks, and the back gums. Pull out your tongue and look at all surfaces; examine the floor of your mouth. Look at the back of your throat. Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes in both sides of your neck and under your lower jaw. Call your dentist’s office immediately if you notice any changes in the appearance of your mouth or any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above.

See your dentist on a regular schedule. Even though you may be conducting frequent self exams, sometimes dangerous spots or sores in the mouth can be very tiny and difficult to see on your own. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every 3 years for persons over age 20 and annually for those over age 40. During your next dental appointment, ask your dentist to perform an oral exam. Early detection can improve the chance of successful treatment.

This article was retrieved from the webMD website for Oral Care

Article Link: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/oral-cancer