Posts for: May, 2014
Some dental procedures that can beautify a smile — orthodontics or implants, for example — take months. Others take only minutes! Tooth contouring and reshaping is one of them. So just what is this remedy, and why would you need it?
Tooth contouring involves removing a tiny amount of enamel (the tooth’s outer covering) with a dental drill to sculpt a more pleasing shape and make the tooth fit in better with its neighbors. It is most often used on highly visible teeth that have minor yet noticeable cosmetic flaws.
For example, you may have a tiny chip in a front tooth, a slight size discrepancy among adjacent teeth, or extra-pointy canines. None of these issues are as serious as, say, a misaligned bite or a tooth that’s missing altogether — but they can be annoying nonetheless. If you find yourself staring in the mirror at any of these subtle yet distracting imperfections in your own smile, you may want to consider having us reshape a specific tooth or teeth.
Contouring can correct small chips, uneven tooth length, slight overlaps, and tooth edges that are too flat or pointy. We can also give teeth a more “feminine” or “masculine” appearance, simply by rounding or squaring the edges. Contouring also has a non-cosmetic use: It can be employed to adjust the bite so that the teeth come together more evenly. For example, if one tooth is just a little higher than the others, it might be subjected to more than its share of stress during chewing. This brings up another important point: We would not recommend tooth contouring if any bite imbalances could result from the procedure. And if we do determine that tooth contouring would not be the best way to go in your particular case, don’t worry — we can come up with a solution for any cosmetic issues that are of concern to you.
If you have any questions about tooth contouring and reshaping — or any other cosmetic dentistry procedures — please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How and Why Teeth Wear.”
When it comes to dental procedures, not everybody has the same comfort level; what’s easily tolerated by some can be a major source of anxiety and stress for others. In fact, by some estimates perhaps 10 to 15 percent of Americans avoid visiting the dentist entirely because of the fear factor — and this applies to kids as well as adults. So what should you do if your child needs dental work but is seriously scared of the chair? Here are the top five reasons for considering conscious sedation to relieve your child's dental anxiety.
- It allows dentists to treat children and teens who would otherwise be too fearful to come in. This can be especially useful when invasive treatments like root canals or extractions are needed. When problems are treated at an early stage, it’s often possible to prevent more extensive work from being required later; this can reduce the overall cost of treatment — and also help to preserve the natural teeth!
- Dentists who use pediatric conscious sedation are specially qualified to do so. Advanced training and continuing education are part of the qualification process. In addition, emergency life support equipment is kept on hand, and practitioners are familiar with its use.
- The medications used are safe and effective. New, fast-acting drugs get the job done and then leave the body quickly. They are commonly administered by mouth (orally), so there is no need to fear the needle. While any type of sedation comes with a slight risk, minimal conscious sedation is a lower-risk alternative to deeper levels of sedation, or general anesthesia.
- A designated staff member monitors your child at all times. Vital signs such as heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, blood pressure and temperature are constantly under observation. This helps ensure that the level of sedation remains effective, yet safe.
- It can form a foundation for stress-free dental treatment in the years to come. No one wants to put their child through a terrifying experience — especially when the fearful memories could prevent them from getting necessary treatment in the future. With conscious sedation, that’s not an issue. In fact, with many of the medications currently in use, your child may not even remember the procedure when it’s over.
Dental anxiety can be a serious problem — but it’s good to know there are ways to control it. If you would like more information, call our office to arrange a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sedation Dentistry for Kids.”
While our children are small, we want to make sure they receive the best (and safest) care — that’s why a parent’s job can include finding the most comfortable stroller, picking out the best-rated car seat… and making sure kids get top-quality health care. When it comes to dental care, some parents are surprised to learn that a child’s first visit to the dentist should take place before his or her first birthday. If that seems too soon, keep in mind that recent evidence-based studies show that starting dental visits prior to age one not only reduces oral health costs, but also ensures that kids will have more pleasant dental experiences in the future.
What are the top five ways to help ease young kids through their earliest trips to the dental office? We’re glad you asked.
- Stay calm — even if dental visits make you a little nervous yourself. Kids pick up almost instantly on non-verbal cues, positive or negative. A few soothing words and a gentle touch can go a long way toward calming any worries they may have.
- Explain — but not too much. Let them know what to expect in the most basic terms, but leave talking about the nuts-and-bolts of it to us. We pediatric dentists go to great lengths to make children feel safe and comfortable in our care, and we can tell kids all they need to know in age-appropriate terms they can easily understand.
- Model healthy behavior — both in and out of the home. In the early years (and later, too), parents are the primary role models for their kids. Don’t just tell your kids — show them how you brush and floss your teeth regularly, and let them know why you avoid soda and “energy” drinks, and limit sugary snacks to after mealtimes.
- Learn how to maintain good oral hygiene — Did you know that tooth decay is the second most common disease in humans, after the common cold? Babies aren’t born with decay-causing bacteria — but one in four picks up oral bacteria from their caregivers! You can help prevent cavities by developing healthy habits. Where can you learn more? From us, of course! Next time you come in, ask us how to keep teeth sparkling clean and decay-free. And, of course, look for more tips in our blog posts.
- Get it done in Year One — We can’t say it enough: Starting children out right, with appropriate early dental care, can help set them up for a lifetime of good checkups and healthy teeth. And isn’t that something we all want for our kids?
If you would like more information about children’s dental visits, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids” and “Age One Dental Visit.”
Your children’s health is a major concern for you, even before they’re born. That concern should include their dental health and, yes, even before they’re born — a baby’s primary teeth are already forming just a few weeks into pregnancy.
Here, then, are some important tips for keeping your child’s dental health, before and after birth, on track.
Eat healthy during pregnancy. Your baby’s teeth actually begin to mineralize around the third or fourth month of your pregnancy. You can aid this process by eating a diet rich in calcium, phosphorous and protein.
Fight tooth decay by limiting sugar. Sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay, especially in primary teeth. To reduce this risk, limit sugary snacks as much as possible, and avoid bottles filled with sugar-filled liquids (including breast milk) during your baby’s sleeping hours.
Begin good hygiene early. When teeth first appear in the mouth you should begin to wipe around the teeth and gums with a water-soaked gauze pad right after feeding. As teeth develop, begin to gently brush them with a soft-bristled brush with just a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Teach your child beginning around age 2 to brush for themselves with a pea-sized amount of paste on the brush. By age 6, they should be able to brush on their own and ready to learn flossing.
Schedule regular dental visits and cleanings. Dental checkups should begin around their first birthday and continue semi-annually. Your dentist is a key resource in monitoring tooth development, preventing disease and developing future treatment strategies.
Make your home “tooth-friendly.” Your home environment can be a danger to your child’s mouth. Check for hard or sharp surfaces your child could fall on and eliminate the danger — it’s estimated half of dental injuries to children under seven occur near home furniture. Check your drinking water as well — does your system add fluoride, a proven cavity fighter, or do you need to find other sources?
Taking a few precautions and establishing good life-long dental habits will help ensure your child’s teeth and gums remain healthy right into adulthood.
If you would like more information on oral health for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”