If your child suddenly begins complaining about a toothache, your average day can immediately turn into something else. It can become even more worrisome as you try to decide what to do.
It doesn't have to. There are definite things you can do to calmly and methodically deal with the situation at hand. Here, then, are action steps you can take when your child has tooth pain.
Find out where and when. To get the big picture, first ask the child where in the mouth it hurts and if they remember when it started. A rough estimate of the latter is usually sufficient to establishing how long it's been going on, which could help determine how soon you should call the dentist.
Take a look inside. You'll want to then look in their mouth for any observable signs of what might be the cause of the pain. Look for spots or small holes (cavities) in the affected tooth, an indication of decay. Also check the gums for swelling, a sign they may be abscessed.
Remove trapped food debris. While checking in the mouth, look for pieces of food like popcorn hulls or candy that might be wedged between the teeth. This could be the cause of the pain, so attempt to remove it by gently flossing between the teeth. If it was the source, their pain should subside soon after.
Ease their discomfort. You can help take the edge off their pain by giving them an appropriate dose for their age of either ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Don't, however, rub aspirin or other pain relievers around the affected tooth or gums—these medications can be acidic, which could severely irritate interior mouth tissues.
Call your dentist. It's always good for a dentist to check your child's mouth after a toothache. The question is when: If your child has responded well to pain medication and has no swelling or fever, you can wait to call the next day. If not, call as soon as possible for an appointment.
A toothache is rarely an emergency, but it can still be disconcerting for you and your child. Knowing what steps to take can help resolve the situation without a lot of discomfort for them and stress for you.
If you would like more information on dealing with a child's tooth pain, 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 “A Child's Toothache.”
Boosting your child's oral health and development should start early—even before their first tooth comes in! Getting off to the right start will pay dividends well into their adult years.
Here are 5 things to do, then, to help your child develop great oral health during their earliest years.
Begin oral hygiene early. To lower your child's risk of tooth decay, begin wiping out their mouth with a clean cloth after nursing to limit bacteria. When teeth do come in, gently brush them with just a dab of toothpaste, which you can gradually increase to a pea-size when they get older. Later, add flossing as well as training them to brush and floss for themselves.
Avoid too much sugar. Carbohydrates like refined sugar feed bacteria that cause tooth decay. To reduce these bacteria, moderate your child's sugar consumption by limiting sweets to meal times and cutting back on sodas, juices, and other types of sweetened drinks. Avoid bedtime bottles filled with these types of beverages including breast milk or formula.
Visit the dentist by age 1. Starting dental visits on or before your child's first birthday will help you stay one step ahead of any developing dental problems. Furthermore, children who get in the routine early for regular dental visits have a better time adjusting to them, and they're less likely to develop long-term anxiety over seeing the dentist.
Take advantage of fluoride. Tiny amounts of fluoride ingestion can give your child an edge over tooth decay. To take advantage of fluoride, use fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water, if your utility adds it. Your dentist can also directly apply fluoride to children's teeth high risk for decay. Be careful, though, because too much fluoride can cause staining. Talk with your dentist, then, about staying within fluoride limits.
Set the example. Children often follow their parents' lead—if you take your own dental care seriously, they will too. Make daily hygiene a family affair by brushing and flossing together. Let them also see that going to the dentist is a snap. By staying calm and relaxed yourself, they'll be less likely to be nervous about dental care.
If you would like more information on dental care 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.”
Braces are well worth the time and effort to gain a more attractive and healthier smile. Ironically, though, the risk for disease increases while wearing braces because they obstruct a wearer's ability to clear away dental plaque, a thin bacterial film most responsible for dental disease.
Because of these difficulties, braces wearers are highly susceptible to gum disease. When the gums become infected, the body triggers an inflammatory response to fight the infection. This results in gums that are red or swollen, or that bleed easily.
The braces themselves can also cause gum problems. The gums may react to the presence of the brackets and wires by overproducing tissue. This overgrowth in turn can interfere with oral hygiene, thus further increasing the risk for infection.
As with gum disease generally, consistent oral hygiene is the best way to prevent an infection while wearing braces. It's difficult, but not impossible! With the help of a few specialized tools like interproximal toothbrushes with narrower heads to get in and around the braces, or water flossers spraying pressurized water between teeth, even braces wearers can do an effective job.
And don't forget about your family dentist. You can still benefit from regular teeth cleanings while wearing braces, even increasing your visit frequency if your dentist recommends it. Your dentist can also prescribe antimicrobial rinses and other products to help reduce bacterial plaque.
Keeping your teeth and gums clean may help with tissue overgrowth, but you may still have issues with the condition for the duration of your orthodontic treatment. As long as the gum tissues remain firmly attached to the teeth, there's little need for concern. But if the condition begins to affect periodontal attachment, you may need the braces removed to allow the gums a chance to heal.
Keeping up daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits are good ideas for everyone, but especially if you're an orthodontic patient. Neither should you hesitate in calling your dentist at the first signs of gum trouble—the sooner you have any issues examined, the less chance you'll experience major gum problems while wearing braces.
If you would like more information on dental care during orthodontics, 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 “Gum Swelling During Orthodontics.”
It's not unusual for serious actors to go above and beyond for their roles. They gain weight (or lose it, like Matthew McConaughey for True Detective). They grow hair—or they shave it off. But perhaps nothing tops what Brad Pitt did to assume the character of Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club—he had his dentist chip his teeth.
While a testament to his dedication to the acting craft, Pitt's move definitely falls into the category of "Kids, don't do this at home." Fortunately, people deliberately chipping their teeth isn't a big problem. On the other hand, accidentally chipping a tooth is.
Chipping a tooth can happen in various ways, like a hard blow to the jaw or biting down on something too hard. Chipping won't necessarily endanger a tooth, but the missing dental structure can put a damper on your smile.
But here's the good news: you don't have to live with a chipped tooth. We have ways to cosmetically repair the damage and upgrade your smile.
One way is to fit a chipped or otherwise flawed tooth with a dental veneer, a thin wafer of dental porcelain bonded to the front of a tooth to mask chips, discolorations, gaps or other defects. They're custom-made by a dental lab to closely match an individual tooth's shape and color.
Gaining a new smile via dental veneers can take a few weeks, as well as two or more dental visits. But if you only have slight to moderate chipping, there's another way that might only take one session in the dentist's chair. Known as composite bonding, it utilizes plastic-based materials known as composite resins that are intermixed with a form of glass.
The initial mixture, color-matched for your tooth, has a putty-like consistency that can be easily applied to the tooth surface. We apply the composite resin to the tooth layer by layer, allowing a bonding agent in the mixture to cure each layer before beginning the next one. After sculpting the composite layers into a life-like appearance, the end result is a "perfect" tooth without visible flaws.
Unlike Brad Pitt, it's pretty unlikely you'll ever find yourself in a situation requiring you to purposely damage your teeth. But chips do happen—and if it happens to you, we have more than one way to make your teeth as good as new.
If you would like more information about repairing dental flaws with veneers or composite bonding, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artistic Repair of Front Teeth With Composite Resin.”
If it seems like your teeth have gotten longer, it's not likely they've magically grown. The changed appearance, often accompanied by tooth sensitivity, may mean you have gum recession—the gums have actually shrunk back or receded from the teeth.
Ordinarily, the gums cover the teeth to the edge of the crown enamel, but if their attachment to the teeth weakens, the gums can shrink back, exposing the tooth below the crown near the roots. Although recession can happen because of overzealous brushing or other forms of trauma, the most common cause is periodontal (gum) disease.
Gum disease usually begins as a bacterial infection in the tissues around the gum line, usually triggered by a thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces called dental plaque. Unfortunately, the infection rarely stays there, but can quickly spread deeper into the gums and eventually impact the roots and supporting bone in the jaw. The infection also weakens the gums' attachment to teeth, resulting in recession.
While your smile can suffer from gum recession, that may be the least of your problems. Receded gums expose portions of a tooth that depend on gum coverage for protection against disease. Gum coverage also muffles sensations in these areas of the tooth, so that without it affected areas can experience a sharp, painful response to sudden hot or cold temperatures.
Fortunately, you may be able to avoid recession if you take steps to minimize your risk of gum disease. Your chances of an infection go down significantly if you gently brush and floss daily to remove dental plaque and you see your dentist regularly for dental cleanings.
If you do develop a gum infection, it's crucial to have it treated as early as possible. A mild occurrence of gum recession might even reverse on its own after comprehensive treatment (more advanced recession can require grafting surgery to encourage regeneration). Be on the lookout, then, for signs of gum disease—swollen, reddened or bleeding gums—and see your dentist as soon as possible if you do.
Protecting your teeth and gums can help you avoid gum recession. And should you experience recession, addressing it as soon as possible may help you regain normal gum coverage.
If you would like more information on gum protection and care, 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 “Gum Recession.”
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