Posts for: June, 2018
Your child’s teeth and gum development is truly a wonder. In just a little more than two decades they’ll gain and lose one set of teeth, while the subsequent permanent set will grow in coordination with other facial and oral structures. All of these structures will finally reach maturity sometime in early adulthood.
Sometimes, though, obstacles can arise: disease, trauma or even genetics can derail normal development and endanger future health. So although nature does most of the heavy lifting, there are things you should do to keep your child’s dental development on track.
For instance, begin oral hygiene practices before their first teeth come in. By wiping their gums after feeding with a clean damp cloth, you can help reduce the numbers of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth. Once teeth appear switch to brushing.
There are also habits to avoid. Don’t kiss your baby directly on the lips—you may transfer to them your own mouth bacteria, which their young immune system can’t yet adequately handle. Also, avoid putting them to bed with a sleep-time bottle filled with sugary fluids (including milk or formula) because the constant contact between the sugar and their teeth could increase their risk for tooth decay, the number one dental disease in young children.
Of course, not all prevention efforts depend on you alone—we’re your partner in helping to keep your child’s dental development progressing normally. We can provide preventive treatments like sealants or topical fluoride to reduce the risk of tooth decay, while continually monitoring for signs of the disease that may require treatment. We also look for signs of emerging bite problems that may require intervention before their effects worsen.
This is all part of regular dental visits, usually at six-month intervals, which are best begun around your child’s first birthday. Not only does this enable us to stay ahead of dental problems, it also helps your child become more comfortable with dental visits and increase the likelihood they’ll continue the habit in adulthood.
As we said, nature is responsible for most of this amazing development without any help from us. But we can assist development and hopefully prevent issues that could diminish their dental health in years to come.
It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.
“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”
While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)
When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.
Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.
But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.
Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”
Should you extract a cracked tooth, or try to save it? By all means, save it, and avoid the many downsides of tooth loss. At Stiles Family Dentistry in Salem, NH, your dentists, Dr. Nicholas Papapetros, Dr. Paul Masterson, and Dr. Jhon Giraldo offer realistic porcelain crowns to shore up failing teeth, extending their lives and service. Learn more here about these predictable dental restorations.
What happens if you lose a tooth?
A lot of things happen, and none of them are good. Smile gaps cause:
- Problems with personal appearance and self-confidence
- Bone loss and gum recession at the extraction site
- Tooth drift (adjoining teeth move toward the gap)
- Impaired biting, chewing, and speaking
- Need for expensive tooth replacement procedures
So, whenever possible, the team at Stiles Family Dentistry works to save teeth damaged by:
- Deep decay
- Gum disease
- Congenital malformation
The dental crown
It's been around in various forms for generations. Today's material of choice for this tooth-shaped cap is porcelain. Realistic in color and sheen, dental-grade ceramic closely mimics natural tooth enamel.
Crowns cover damaged teeth from the gums on up. By visual inspection and digital X-ray imaging, your Salem, NH, dentist determines when these customized restorations are the proper treatments.
If you receive a dental crown, expect the procedure to be comfortable as your dentist numbs your tooth, removes the damaged portions and shapes the remaining structure. Digital impressions quickly provide the three-dimensional information the dental lab requires to craft the crown from a color-matched block of fine porcelain.
At a subsequent dental appointment, your dentist will remove your temporary cap and bond the new one in place. Modern dental adhesives are exceptionally reliable as are today's milling processes which ensure great fit and bite.
Other uses for crowns
Crowns spare teeth that are simply worn down from years of use. They improve the appearance and color of chipped, stained and oddly-shaped teeth, and they frequently finish more complex restorative treatments such as root canal therapy or dental implants. Crowns stabilize fixed bridgework, too.
Caring for dental crowns
It's as easy as brush and floss--really no different than your other teeth. Avoid eating excessively hard foods as these may crack your crown or wear it down prematurely. If you clench your teeth, ask your dentist about a bruxism guard. Of course, come in for a six-month cleaning and check-up.
How can we help?
If you worry about the longevity, appearance, and health of a particular tooth, contact Stiles Family Dentistry for a consultation with one of our dentists. Dental crowns save teeth! Call today for an appointment in Salem, NH, at (603) 893-4538.