Tips to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Visit

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It’s important to schedule your child’s first dental visit before their first birthday. At that point, children’s baby teeth are starting to appear and are susceptible to decay and cavities. Although their baby teeth are not permanent, decay in baby teeth can lead to an increase in the risk of decay to their permanent teeth once they start to develop.

Many new parents are surprised by this recommendation, but they also don’t realize that preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. In fact, 25 percent of kids had a cavity by age four in the United States. Cavities are appearing in children as early as two years old.

Why Baby Teeth Are Important

Parents who have never taken their child to the dentist often are surprised to find out that baby teeth (also called primary teeth) need to stay in place until they naturally fall out. Baby teeth are important for a number of reasons:

  • Helping proper chewing
  • Speech development
  • Saving space for permanent teeth
  • Supporting a healthy smile

Preparing for the Initial Visit to the Dentist

Preparation is a key to a successful first dental appointment for your child. Be sure to contact your dentist prior to your child’s first visit to discuss the procedures at the office so you avoid surprises. Have the dental office send you the forms you need to fill out for your child ahead of time. Or if they have online forms, use that option.

Be sure to discuss your child’s first visit to the dentist in a relaxed and positive manner. They will pick up on any negative feeling you have about dental offices, so maintaining a patient and calm approach to their questions is important.

Help your child practice brushing their teeth prior to the first visit so they will be used to the feel in their mouth of a toothbrush. Learn as much as you can about a child’s first dental visit and their oral health before you take them to the dentist for the first time. Delta Dental has a great set of resources on their website at www.mysmilekids.com. It’s filled with fun activities and interesting stories to teach kids about their teeth.

Send a list of any medical issues that affect your child to your dentist, along with a list of medications they take. Keep the phone number for your child’s pediatrician easily accessible in case your dentist asks for additional health information.

Finally, bring your child’s most-loved blanket, toy or stuffed animal so that they feel secure and comforted on their first visit to the dentist. 

What to Expect At Your Child’s First Visit

Make sure to schedule your child’s first dental visit early in the day so that they are alert and feeling fresh. Expect a bit of fussing from your child during the visit, but many parents are surprised how easily their child accepts the dentist’s examination. In fact, many kids like the novelty of the visit and the extra attention.

Your dentist will check the development of your son’s or daughter’s teeth and look for any problems. They will do a thorough – but gentle exam of your child’s teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues.

This first visit is also a great time to chat with your dentist about tips for dental care for your child, including diet’s impact on oral health, risk of cavities, oral hygiene, use of fluoride, oral habits (thumb and finger sucking), and preventing trauma to their mouth.

Developing trust with successful visits to the dentist will provide your child with an important foundation for their future oral health. This will reduce potential anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future. Most experts recommend that children see the dentist about every six months so don’t forget to schedule your child’s second appointment on your way out the door!

Sources: Parents.com, KnowYourTeeth.com, Colgate.com, DeltaDentalIns.com

Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Halloween

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Every year about this time, when spooky ads abound and grocery aisles are fully stocked with individual-sized candy, you might be pondering whether you should stock up on the sugar-laden treats for the neighborhood kids or should you look for healthier alternatives that won’t negatively impact oral health and won't evoke a look of disgust from the children?

You can find tooth-friendly healthy food treats and fun non-food gizmos that will please the most ardent candy-lover – you just have to spend some time looking for the right “healthy Halloween” items. These healthy treats that you drop into trick or treaters’ Halloween buckets can be delicious, good for them and don't have to start with 'c' and end in 'y'.

From the Pantry

Gone are the days when you could bake a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies or popcorn balls and pass them out. Most parents are hesitant to let their kids enjoy anything that is not individually wrapped. But there are plenty of individual portion treats to satisfy even the most discriminating costumed child.

Favorites from the pantry include:

  • Raisins
  • Pretzels
  • Juice boxes
  • Mini water bottles (they need them to help wash down the candy while trick or treating)
  • Plain cookies (graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, vanilla wafers, etc.)
  • Baked chips, baked tortilla chips
  • Popcorn
  • Lowfat granola or cereal bars
  • Sugar-free gum

Believe it or not, a few random non-candy items in the sack are fun to discover for both parents and kids. Moms and dads delight in finding nutritious nibbles that they can borrow to put in Johnny's lunchbox. The kids like the variety and often end up eating or drinking the nutritious treats while trick or treating for respite from all the candy.

Party Store Goodies

If you opt to generate a little more enthusiasm from your neighborhood gang, try the numerous non-food items that kids love. These items will often generate bigger smiles than the typical sugar-laden candy that is the norm on Halloween. Keep your eye out for small inexpensive gadgets and things that kids love to collect such as:

  • Decorative pencils
  • Small rubber balls
  • Erasers
  • Rubber ghosts, goblins, witches
  • Waxed lips
  • Glow sticks
  • Stickers
  • Key chains
  • Marbles
  • Tic-tac-toe or other small games
  • Bubbles
  • Chalk
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons

So How Bad is a Bucket of Candy?

OK, so you decide to wear your parent hat, remembering fondly the thrill of your own childhood when you came home after Halloween night and spilled out all your goodies onto the living room floor. Why would you want to deny kids this same memorable experience? Granted, there is nothing wrong with candy in small doses. The problem is that more kids today are overweight or obese and it is a serious health problem. Is Halloween the time or place to correct this national problem? No, but it sure doesn't hurt to sprinkle a few non-candy items to help reduce the temptation to pig-out on candy.

If candy you must, choose non-chocolate types that contain fewer calories without caffeine-like stimulants. Hard candies, jelly types, licorice are good examples of candy without the extra fat calories of chocolate and sans potential stimulants.

A Dose of Parental Guidance

As a parent, it is best to establish a plan of how all this candy will be consumed. Ideally, the distribution of the candy will be the parent's responsibility, otherwise, you may find meals skipped in preference to candy fests. Dole it out in moderation. If you have a very active child who is of normal weight, you can be more generous but not so much that it affects their appetite. Remember, kids are growing and need lots of nutrients that are not found in candy. Candy needs to be considered a treat, to be consumed after satisfying the body's need for vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

SOURCE: WedMD.com

What You Need to Know About Bruxism

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If you are one of those folks who regularly grind your teeth, then your condition is called bruxism. It can lead to damage to your teeth and other oral health issues.

So why do people grind their teeth? Generally, teeth grinding or clenching is from stress or anxiety and it usually occurs at night when you’re sleeping. You’re more apt to suffer from bruxism if you have an abnormal bite or if you are missing teeth or have crooked teeth.

You probably suffer from bruxism if you have a constant, dull headache or your jaw is regularly sore. Also, your loved one may hear you at night when you are sleeping and grinding your teeth. If you do think that you may have bruxism, consult with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He will examine your jaw and mouth for signs of grinding and look for abnormalities and/or tenderness in your jaw and teeth.

We see some patients at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs who come in with teeth that have been fractured, loosened or are even missing because of a long-term history of grinding their teeth. Sometimes their teeth have been ground down to mere stumps. The solution? Crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, and partial or full dentures.

Additionally, health issues stemming from bruxism’s impact on your jaw can include hearing loss, worsening of TMD and TMJ, and changes in your face’s appearance.

So what can you do to stop grinding your teeth or reduce its impact?

Have your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs fit you with a night mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Find ways to reduce your stress if that is a contributing factor to your bruxism. Depending on your personal situation, counseling for stress, regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription muscle relaxants are some of the options you may consider.

Cut back from your diet– or cut out – foods and drinks that have caffeine. These include colas, coffee and coffee.

Skip the alcohol because you grind your teeth more intensely after consuming alcohol.

Avoid chewing anything that isn’t food – thinks like pencils or pen caps. Chewing gum can also be a problem since it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth.

Teach yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you position the tip of your tongue between your teeth while you’re awake, you’ll train your jaw muscles to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth against your check in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles.

SOURCE: WebMD

Amalgam vs. Composite Resin Fillings

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Your body has an amazing ability to repair and heal itself. As an example, when you break a bone, your body can create new cells that “glue” the broken bone back together. However, the body’s ability to repair itself doesn’t include your teeth. Once you injure a tooth or develop a cavity in it, your body can’t repair the tooth itself.

If you do develop a cavity in one of your teeth, your dentist can provide you with a range of options to repair and fill the problem tooth. In this blog we’ll just focus on the two most popular common fillings, amalgam and composite resin.

Amalgam Fillings

Most people know amalgam fillings as silver or mercury fillings because they are made from silver, copper, tin, zinc and mercury. They’ve been used by dentists for nearly 200 years. When combined, the metals initially produce a soft material that the dentist uses to fill your tooth. Quite quickly, however, the metals harden as they combine. Multiple studies have shown that amalgam fillings are safe. Although pure mercury is toxic, the mercury found in amalgam fillings is locked inside when the filling hardens and is therefore not harmful.

Composite Fillings

Composite resin fillings are also called white fillings, tooth-colored fillings or direct veneers. They are made my using bits of silica and covering them with a plastic resin compound. This is a newer approach to fillings used by dentists, and the technology is constantly improving. When a dentist fills a tooth with a composite filling, it has the consistency of modeling clay until a bright blue light is shined on the filling by the dentist. A series of chemical reactions hardens the composite resin into a sturdy material that resembles your natural tooth.

How Do You Decide What to Choose?

Here’s a list of nine factors you should consider when deciding on whether you should get an amalgam filling or composite filling.

1 – Amalgam fillings are stronger than composite fillings. Amalgam fillings are often used on the back teeth because of their strength. Your back teeth absorb the most force when you bite down and/or chew.

2 – Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings. If you’re on a tight budget, amalgam may be your best choice.

3 – Amalgam fillings last longer than composite fillings. Eventually, composite fillings will last as long as amalgam. But that time isn’t here yet, so if you want your filling to last a long time, pick amalgam.

4 – Composite fillings are less noticeable than silver amalgam fillings. Most people won’t notice an amalgam filling on your back teeth. But if you don’t like the look of silver, go with composite.

5 – Amalgam fillings contain mercury. It is true – small amounts of mercury are released by amalgam fillings – but it’s less than you get from eating fish. However, if you are allergic to mercury, an amalgam filling could be a problem.

6 – Composite fillings may leak out Bisphenol-A. In large enough doses, the chemical bisphenol-A can be toxic. However, studies have found that the amount of Bisphenol-A released from a filling is unlikely to cause any harm.

7 – Amalgam fillings require the dentist to remove healthy tooth structure. Since amalgam fillings don’t bond to the tooth like composite fillings, the dentist has to make the filling wider at the bottom than it is at the top so that the tooth will hold the filling in place. In order to do this, the dentist usually has to cut away healthy tooth structure. With composite fillings, the dentist can simply remove the decay and then place the filling without cutting away healthy tooth structure to retain the filling.

8 – Composite fillings shrink when they harden. Most composite fillings get somewhere between 2-5% smaller when they harden. Sometimes this can lead to gaps between the filling and the tooth which allow bacteria to enter and start a new cavity. Other times, when a large composite filling shrinks as it hardens, it can put stress on the tooth which results in increased sensitivity of the affected tooth. The effect of the shrinkage can be minimized if the dentist adds the composite in small, incremental layers.

9 – Composite fillings are more technique-sensitive. This means that the dentist has to pay close attention to detail when placing a composite filling. For example, if your dentist doesn’t properly prepare the tooth with an etching solution for a specific amount of time, or if they do, but some of your saliva gets onto the tooth after it is etched, the filling may not attach to the tooth tightly and could end up leaking and ultimately needing to be replaced after only a year or two.  Our dentists have lots of experience doing white fillings and will do a good job.

Give us a call to discuss any questions you may have about amalgam vs. composite resin fillings. We would be happy to answer your questions and give you additional information.

Source: WebMD, DentalFearCentral.com

 

Have You Considered Making Your Own Mouthwash?

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If you regularly use mouthwash that you’ve purchased at the store, then you know it isn’t cheap. But did you also know that store-bought mouthwash often includes alcohol and is loaded with a blend of chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce.

So why not make your own mouthwash at home? Here are five easy recipes that won’t break the bank and will provide you with lots of tasty mouthwashes that use “real” ingredients.