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When should my child start using toothpaste and how much should I use?

September 23rd, 2021

As a parent, it is your job to instill good dental habits in your kids, and this starts even earlier than you might realize. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry responds to the “when to start” question with a succinct “The sooner the better!”

From the time your baby is born, you should make sure that your child’s gums are regularly cleaned using water and a toothbrush made for infants. Once the first tooth erupts, you should visit the pediatric dentist for the first time. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our staff often recommend that if your child is a year old, but has yet to get the first tooth, you should bring your son or daughter to our Chicago office for his or her initial dental care appointment.

Once your child’s teeth start to appear, you can begin brushing two times per day, using fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush made specifically for your child’s age group, and one with has soft bristles.

Only a small smear of toothpaste is needed if your child is under two years old. Once the child celebrates his or her second birthday, you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Continue this practice until your child is five.

Of course, it is important that you monitor your child’s tooth brushing closely to help educate about proper techniques. Some young children might try to eat or swallow toothpaste, and this needs to be strongly discouraged. Be sure to teach proper rinsing and spitting behavior to round out your child’s early childhood tooth-care regimen.

For young kids, tooth brushing can be made into a fun event, and you can find a multitude of special toothbrushes that appeal to kids. There are even uniquely flavored and colored toothpastes that might encourage your child to get into the brushing game!

Can my child really avoid tooth decay?

September 22nd, 2021

Great question! Yes, in fact, tooth decay is preventable! Decay, which is caused by sugars left in your child’s mouth, can turn into an acid, which in turn can break down his or her teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits.

So, how can your child prevent tooth decay?

  • Start early. After the age of two, brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. And, if possible, clean between the teeth with dental floss at least once a day, preferably before they go to bed.
  • Don’t allow your little ones to eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime, as salivary flow decreases while they sleep and their teeth become vulnerable to cavities.
  • Do not allow your little ones to nibble food or sip drinks continuously, and keep in mind that a low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay. Allow time between meals for saliva to neutralize acids and repair the teeth.
  • Drinking water frequently throughout the day can also reduce the possibility of new cavities forming.
  • Dental sealants can also protect your children’s teeth from cavities. Sealants, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, act as a shield between the tooth and harmful bacteria.

Finally, make sure your child visits Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd approximately every six months for a checkup and routine cleaning! Please give us a call at our Chicago office.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

September 16th, 2021

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Gum Disease and Your Child

September 15th, 2021

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we know that unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your child’s mouth without you even knowing. In fact, your child may be suffering from the beginning stages of periodontal (gum) disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Since gum disease can be undetectable, it’s critical to watch for the warning signs in order to prevent the disease from growing worse!

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes as soon as possible:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are receding
  • Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose teeth
  • Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If your child is experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away by calling our Chicago office. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team can diagnose the problem and begin treatment to save your child’s teeth!

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd looks forward to seeing you!

How do I handle my child’s dental emergency?

September 9th, 2021

With children undergoing developmental dental changes and engaging in rough-and-tumble activities, dental emergencies can sometimes arise. If your child knocks out a tooth or experiences any type of oral discomfort, call Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd right away so we can provide you with a quick assessment and pain-free treatment.

Before an emergency occurs, it’s a good idea to stay informed about the problems your child may encounter. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about teething pain, loose baby teeth, and other common dental issues.

Teething Pain

Typically occurring in babies that are between four months and two and a half years old, teething may cause excessive drooling, tender gums, and some irritability. Giving your baby a cold teething ring or gently rubbing her gums with wet gauze or your finger may also make her feel better.

Loose Baby Tooth

It is normal for a child’s first set of teeth to become loose and fall out. On the other hand, if your child’s baby tooth is knocked loose, schedule an appointment with our office so we can assess whether any damage has been done.

Issues with Permanent Teeth

Sometimes a child’s permanent teeth will grow in before the baby teeth have fallen out. Even if this condition isn’t causing any discomfort, you should schedule an appointment with our office so we can determine whether your child’s permanent teeth are growing in correctly.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can result from a number of factors, including periodontal disease, rough brushing, or an injury to the gum tissue. If your child’s gums are bleeding heavily, call our office right away so we can address the situation. If you have time before your appointment, wash your child’s mouth with salted water and gently put pressure on the affected area.

Regardless of the type of dental issue your child has, you can always consult Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for further guidance. We make sure our emergency services are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so you have ready access to convenient and professional dental care that will have your child feeling better in no time.

What is a water pick and do I need one?

September 8th, 2021

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Chicago office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next visit!

Happy Labor Day!

September 2nd, 2021

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Chicago community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our dental office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

Celebrate Labor Day by Getting Away

September 1st, 2021

Labor Day honors the contributions that workers have made to this country, and for many Americans, the holiday is a great time to relax at home with family and friends. But there are quite a few people who celebrate the holiday by getting out of town, with an estimated 33 million people traveling more than 50 miles over Labor Day weekend each year. If you’re dreaming of a great Labor Day escape but you’re not quite sure where to go, here are a few ideas from our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd to give you some travel inspiration.

Explore a National Park

On a national holiday like Labor Day, it’s only fitting to experience the beauty of America’s landscapes by heading to the nearest national park. If you’re confined to an office most days of the year, national parks can provide a relaxing and scenic escape, whether you’re by yourself, traveling with a group of friends, or bringing the whole family along. Depending on how close you live to the nearest park, you can stay for an afternoon or for longer than a week. With 58 parks located in 27 states, there are plenty of beautiful areas to choose from.

Chow Down in a BBQ Haven

Barbecuing is a popular Labor Day activity, but instead of sweating over your own grill or oven, try visiting one of the country’s BBQ capitals. U.S. News and World Report names Memphis as the top BBQ destination, with more than 80 BBQ restaurants in the city, most notably Corky’s BBQ and Central BBQ. Kansas City is also known for the sweet taste of its sauces, while central Texas is said to have perfected the technique of smoking tender and flavorful brisket.

Relax on the Beach

Many people think of Labor Day as the unofficial start of fall, which brings cooler temperatures, more rain, and for many people, an end to lazy days at the beach. End your beach days with a bang by taking a trip to one of the coasts or to a lakeside beach. For an added dose of festivity, find a city or town that celebrates the occasion with a fireworks display over the water.

Whether you’re looking to turn your getaway into a full week affair or you simply want to experience a quick escape, make the most of your holiday by changing your surrounding scenery. Happy Labor Day from the dental practice of Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes!

Can children be at risk for periodontal disease?

August 26th, 2021

You want to check all the boxes when you consider your child’s dental health. You make sure your child brushes twice daily to avoid cavities. You’ve made a plan for an orthodontic checkup just in case braces are needed. You insist on a mouthguard for dental protection during sports. One thing you might not have considered? Protecting your child from gum disease.

We often think about gum disease, or periodontitis, as an adult problem. In fact, children and teens can suffer from gingivitis and other gum disease as well. There are several possible reasons your child might develop gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene

Two minutes of brushing twice a day is the recommended amount of time to remove the bacteria and plaque that cause gingivitis (early gum disease). Flossing is also essential for removing bacteria and plaque from hard-to-reach areas around the teeth.

  • Puberty

The hormones that cause puberty can also lead to gums that become irritated more easily when exposed to plaque. This is a time to be especially proactive with dental health.

  • Medical conditions

Medical conditions such as diabetes can bring an increased risk of gum disease. Be sure to give us a complete picture of your child’s health, and we will let you know if there are potential complications for your child’s gums and teeth and how we can respond to and prevent them.

  • Periodontal diseases

More serious periodontal diseases, while relatively uncommon, can affect children and teens as well as adults. Aggressive periodontitis, for example, results in connective and bone tissue loss around the affected teeth, leading to loose teeth and even tooth loss. Let Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes know if you have a family history of gum disease, as that might be a factor in your child’s dental health, and tell us if you have noticed any symptoms of gum disease.

How can we help our children prevent gum disease? Here are some symptoms you should never ignore:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness or puffiness in the gums
  • Gums that are pulling away, or receding, from the teeth
  • Bad breath even after brushing

The best treatment for childhood gum disease is prevention. Careful brushing and flossing and regular visits to our Chicago office for a professional cleaning will stop gingivitis from developing and from becoming a more serious form of gum disease. We will take care to look for any signs of gum problems, and have suggestions for you if your child is at greater risk for periodontitis. Together, we can encourage gentle and proactive gum care, and check off one more goal accomplished on your child’s path to lifelong dental health!

Beat the Brushing Battle

August 25th, 2021

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know it can be a challenge to get our children to brush, brush well, and brush often. Here are some tips that can help you keep those beautiful little teeth healthy.

Make it Fun, Make it a Habit!

We should all brush twice a day. The most important time to brush is at night before bed. When we sleep, our saliva production decreases, and this creates an environment for oral bacteria to cause greater destruction to our teeth and gums. Brushing should last at least two minutes, followed by flossing and mouthwash if you choose.

Here are some ideas to make this nightly ritual more entertaining.

  • Set a good example. Brush your teeth with your children and make it fun! Pick a song to play while brushing.
  • Make it a race to the bathroom to see who can get their toothbrush and floss ready. But don’t make it a race to finish; make sure brushing lasts at least two minutes.
  • Try using a sticker sheet. For every night your children brush well, give them a sticker. (Be sure to check their work.) After a certain number of stickers, they earn a reward. Let them pick the reward! As the child improves at brushing every night without reminders, you can wean her or him from the reward.
  • SPECIAL TIP: Let your child check your brush work!

As parents, we should help our children make health and wellness something to take pride in. Be gentle with your children when they make mistakes, whether forgetting to brush or maybe developing a cavity. Tell them even our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd gets cavities. Thankfully, there is always room for improvement. Happy brushing!

Beat the Brushing Battle

August 25th, 2021

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team know it can be a challenge to get our children to brush, brush well, and brush often. Here are some tips that can help you keep those beautiful little teeth healthy.

Make it Fun, Make it a Habit!

We should all brush twice a day. The most important time to brush is at night before bed. When we sleep, our saliva production decreases, and this creates an environment for oral bacteria to cause greater destruction to our teeth and gums. Brushing should last at least two minutes, followed by flossing and mouthwash if you choose.

Here are some ideas to make this nightly ritual more entertaining.

  • Set a good example. Brush your teeth with your children and make it fun! Pick a song to play while brushing.
  • Make it a race to the bathroom to see who can get their toothbrush and floss ready. But don’t make it a race to finish; make sure brushing lasts at least two minutes.
  • Try using a sticker sheet. For every night your children brush well, give them a sticker. (Be sure to check their work.) After a certain number of stickers, they earn a reward. Let them pick the reward! As the child improves at brushing every night without reminders, you can wean her or him from the reward.
  • SPECIAL TIP: Let your child check your brush work!

As parents, we should help our children make health and wellness something to take pride in. Be gentle with your children when they make mistakes, whether forgetting to brush or maybe developing a cavity. Tell them even our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd gets cavities. Thankfully, there is always room for improvement. Happy brushing!

Is dairy crucial to my child's oral health?

August 19th, 2021

Healthy eating, combined with regular physical activity, plays a vital role in your child’s health and well-being. Dairy foods are naturally nutritious, packed with ten essential nutrients that help your child feel good for life. But did you know that dairy is also great for your child’s dental health? Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd will tell you that, in addition to providing large amounts of much-needed calcium, dairy products also help fight cavities! Dairy products have a specific role to play in dental health as they contain a unique combination of special anti-decay nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and the protein, casein. Cheese is especially useful, as eating a small piece of cheese after consuming sugary foods or drinks can help protect teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

If you’d like to know more about the importance of dairy products in your child’s diet, or about any aspect of your child’s dental health, feel free to ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at your next appointment!

How to Make Brushing Fun

August 18th, 2021

Let’s call it the cranky phase. Let’s call it the “Mom, I don’t want to” stage. When kids are little, getting them to brush can be a challenge. They bite the toothbrush and eat the toothpaste. They make faces in the bathroom mirror, brush for two seconds, and run away. When it’s time to brush, some kids even resort to kicking and screaming, which makes the bedtime chore a lot like, well, pulling teeth.

As a parent, you know the importance of good oral hygiene, so when the dreaded “brushing hour” arrives, if you want to prevent your child from turning into an angry pumpkin, you better have a few tricks up your sleeve to make brushing fun.

Game time

Kids love games, so it’s time to get creative and turn tooth brushing into game time. Whether you’re playing a hide and seek, peek-a-boo game with your child as he or she brushes, or singing the ABC’s as your child brushes for two minutes, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommend turning the process into play. Games are based on a reward system, right? If your child does a good job, put a sticker on the calendar. Tell your son or daughter that five stickers will earn a treat at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

A toothbrush that lights up and blinks when you turn it on is more fun than a traditional toothbrush from the dentist’s office. The same is true of a toothbrush that’s shaped like your child’s favorite animal or features a cartoon character. A fun accessory like a Smurfs or Angry Birds toothbrush might make all the difference. A timer is another fun accessory. Give your child the special responsibility of setting it for two minutes before brushing.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Kids can be notoriously picky eaters, so it stands to reason that they would be picky about their toothpaste flavors too. Little Johnny might like strawberry, whereas Suzie prefers mango. Spend a night experimenting with different flavors (yes, it’s another game). Say something like, “It’s just like sampling different flavors of ice cream, right kids?”

Eventually, your child will develop the healthy habit of brushing on a regular basis, and think nothing of the time it takes to clean his or her teeth. Just remember to make it fun, and it can be a great experience for you both!

To learn more about making brushing fun for your little one, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

When do children usually lose their baby teeth?

August 12th, 2021

Many parents worry that their children’s teeth are not falling out on time. A lot of concerned parents want to know: When will my child lose his or her first baby tooth? At what age should the last tooth fall out? Is there a specific order in which the teeth are lost?

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team explain that a child's 20 baby teeth (primary teeth) typically come in by age three and begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth, which usually appear by the time your child is six. It is important to know that timing may vary, and girls typically lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The last baby teeth will likely fall out by the time your child is 13.

So, which teeth do children lose first? Baby teeth tend to fall out in the order in which they came, which means the lower center incisors are usually the first to go when your child is between six and seven years old. The next teeth your child will lose are his or her top center pair, also called the upper central incisors.

It’s important to note that if a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of decay or an unforeseen accident, his or her permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space. If your child suffers an injury or has tooth decay, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

While we know some children couldn’t be more excited to lose their baby teeth, we know others are anxious about this childhood milestone. When your child starts to lose teeth, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd encourages you to stress the importance of proper dental care on a daily basis.

Remember to:

  • Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
  • Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
  • Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime, especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for your child every six months.
  • Ask about the use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child's next visit with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office, please give us a call today!

What are Sealants?

August 11th, 2021

Sealants offer many benefits, but the best is their ability to protect your molars. Molars are full of small caverns that can be the perfect breeding ground for tooth decay and plaque buildup.

Use of protective sealants prevents this buildup from happening. Although children often receive sealants for routine preventive care, they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this treatment. Sealants can also help adults who have deep canyons or grooves in their teeth.

They are commonly placed on the rear molars that tend to suffer the most decay. Because your molars are used substantially as grinding surfaces, food is more likely to be trapped among them.

Sealant solution consists a composite material that contains bonding agents that seal the top of your teeth. The process is quick and painless, which makes it a great solution for both children and adults who have had trouble with cavities and tooth decay. Sealants also last for several years, and repair is a simple process that can be completed by Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

The process of putting sealants on teeth starts with the tooth getting cleaned. We clean it with a type of baking soda spray called sodium bicarbonate. Then acid is etched onto the teeth to rough up the surface.

We apply an alcohol-based liquid to dry the area where the sealant is supposed to go. After it completely covers the surface of the treated teeth, the sealant is cured with a light that makes it hard and long-lasting.

Getting sealants can prevent the possible restorative costs that come from cavities. Sealants help to protect your tooth’s enamel from harmful acids and prevent decay, which can be an investment in itself. The whole process is quick, so it should be easy to schedule an appointment at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

Feel free to call our Chicago location and we can answer any questions you have about this service.

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

August 5th, 2021

A study conducted in Washington State in 2004 and another conducted in Madrid, Spain in 2012 both reported findings that support a direct relationship between parents’ dental fear and their child’s fear of the dentist.

The Washington study examined dental fear among 421 children ages 0.8 to 12.8 years old. They were patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in western Washington state. The Spanish study observed 183 children between the ages of seven and 12 as well as their parents.

The Washington study used responses from both parents and the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey consisted of 15 questions, which invited answers based on the child’s level of fear. The scale was one to five: one meant the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicated he or she was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those among their kids. The most important new discovery from the Madrid study was that the greater the fear a father had of going to the dentist, the higher the level of fear among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who feared dental procedures appeared to pass those fears along to every member of the family. Parents can still have some control over fear levels in their children. It is best not to express your own concerns in front of kids; instead, explain why going to the dentist is important.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team work hard to make your child’s visit at our Chicago office as comfortable as possible. We understand some patients may be more fearful than others, and will do our best to help ease your child’s anxiety.

Common Emergency Care Visits: Toothaches or abscesses

August 4th, 2021

Dental problems do not always wait for normal office hours. Broken fillings or damaged teeth are common reasons for emergency treatment. Toothaches and abscesses can also require prompt attention. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can provide you with the information and treatment you need to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Emergency dental care is only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Abscess

An abscess is a bacterial infection, and will normally cause pain and swelling around the affected tooth and gum area. Antibiotics are not always necessary, but you should seek treatment quickly. Left untreated, an infection can spread and cause serious complications.

Toothache

There are many reasons that you may develop a sudden toothache. The cause of the pain may be a particle of food lodged between your tooth and gum line. One of the first steps you can take is to rinse your mouth with warm water. You may also try gently flossing the area to dislodge the particle. Do not continue flossing if bleeding occurs.

Toothaches can occur from a carie — a cavity in the tooth — or from a fracture. Sensitivity to heat or cold may also cause tooth pain. You should make an appointment to ensure that a minor problem does not become serious. We may recommend acetaminophen or another pain reliever to reduce the pain before your visit.

Additional tips and treatments:

  • If you have fractured a tooth, rinse the area with warm water to keep the surfaces clean. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your facial area to reduce swelling.
  • A tooth that has been knocked out should be kept moist, in a clean container, until you can receive treatment.
  • Do not apply aspirin directly on a damaged tooth or gum area as it can cause tissue irritation.
  • If you suspect that your jaw has been broken, go to an emergency room immediately.
  • If you have bitten or damaged your lips or tongue, rinse your mouth well with warm water. If bleeding continues, call us or seek other medical attention immediately.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd is ready to assist you when you have an emergency dental need. When you call, please provide us with as much information as possible so we can offer recommendations that will assist you until your appointment. Do not delay; emergency treatment is available and immediate treatment is the best course of action.

Is there a connection between oral health and school performance?

July 29th, 2021

As a parent, you want the best for your children, and that includes doing their best in school. You can support them by taking an interest in their activities, being enthusiastic about attendance, and helping them with homework. There may also be one more way you can help your children succeed at school. Surprisingly, research suggests that children with better oral health are likely to do better in school.

What the Research Says

One study in North Carolina looked at risk factors for poor school performance among school-aged children. As expected, the study found poor school performance linked to low socioeconomic status, low levels of parental education, and poor overall health. However, it also found a strong link between poor oral health and poor school performance, with children classified as having poor oral health 40 percent more likely struggle in school.

These findings are generalizable to the rest of the country. For example, attendance is an important factor in academic achievement, but dental conditions are responsible for a loss 51 million school hours among schoolchildren each year. Dental pain and infection are linked to poorer performance.

School-Based Programs to Promote Oral Health

In light of the apparent benefits of good oral health for school performance, some schools are taking steps to promote better oral care and health. In Maine, for instance, schools in need can apply for grants through School Oral Health Program (SOHP). The SOHP consists of four components:

  1. Oral health education for all children to support healthy behaviors
  2. A weekly fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen teeth
  3. Dental screenings to identify children who may need dental care
  4. Dental sealants, or plastic coatings, on back teeth to guard against decay

The State of Maine also supports an “Annual Sugar Out Day” to raise awareness of the effects of sugar on dental health and to help students choose low-sugar alternatives.

Oral Health Habits to Adopt

You can help your child improve oral health and do better in school by encouraging good oral hygiene. This includes brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and reminding your child to drink water after eating. Also, regular trips to our Chicago office can help prevent serious tooth problems.

Providing the Right Dental Care for your Children

July 28th, 2021

You already know that Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommends you come in for a checkup and cleaning at least every six months, but do you know what your child’s dental needs are? From the time children are babies and growing in their first teeth, their oral health care needs may be different from adults. It’s important to know what they need, and when, to help them grow strong, healthy teeth.

When to See Our Team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd

While dental care (at home) can begin as soon as your baby starts to show signs of that first tooth, most experts do not recommend you see a dentist until your child is at least one year old. The child will likely be too young at this point to have a full dental exam, but we can take a look at your baby’s teeth and give you tips for brushing and flossing properly.

By the time your child has all of his or her baby teeth—usually around 24 to 30 months of age—we can begin scheduling regular checkups and cleanings.

What to Expect on the First Visits

The first visit to our Chicago office for a full exam will mostly involve getting to know Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and staff members, and making your child feel comfortable. Let us know if you would like to sit in the exam room during the appointment, but keep in mind that it may be beneficial to leave your child alone with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes for a portion of the appointment so we can start building trust with your child.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd will likely do some or all of the following during your child's visit:

  • Look for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Examine your child’s bite, checking for misalignment that could lead to problems in the future
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
  • Talk to you about proper oral health care for your children
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your child’s teeth, which may include topics like fluoride needs, nutrition and diet, teething, and the frequency of future checkups

In most cases, we will recommend that you bring your child in every six months for regular checkups, the same as your recommended frequency.

Understanding your child’s unique dental needs is important for providing the best possible care when it becomes necessary. We look forward to building a good relationship with your child so coming to the dentist is a fun, rewarding experience and not a frightening one.

What's on your child's reading list?

July 22nd, 2021

What better way for children to spend their time than cuddled up by the fireplace or out in the yard with a book in hand? Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team encourage you to inspire your child’s mind with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a busy schedule, but reading is vital to kids’ brain development. Plus, reading is always fun!

This week, we thought we’d ask: What are you or your child reading? Do you have any suggestions for must-read books? Out of ideas for great reads? Ask us during your next visit, and Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team would be happy to provide a few suggestions. You may also ask a local librarian here in Chicago for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share your book picks or your all-time favorites with us below or on our Facebook page!

Thumb Sucking

July 21st, 2021

Learning to suck their thumbs is one of the first physical skills babies acquire. In fact, ultrasound images have revealed babies sucking their thumbs in the womb! Babies have a natural sucking reflex, and this activity is a normal way for your baby to soothe herself.

If your toddler still turns to her thumb for comfort, no need to worry. Most children give up this habit as they grow, and generally stop completely between the ages of two and four. But what of the child who doesn’t? Should you encourage your child to stop? And when?

When Thumb Sucking Becomes a Problem

After your child turns five, and certainly when her permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking is something to watch for. This type of vigorous sucking, which puts pressure on the teeth and gums, can lead to a number of problems.

  • Open Bite

Our bites are considered normal when the upper teeth slightly overlap the lower where they touch in the front of the mouth. But with aggressive thumb sucking, teeth are pushed out of alignment. Sometimes this results in a condition called “open bite,” where the upper and lower teeth don’t make contact at all. An open bite almost always requires orthodontic treatment.

  • Jaw Problems

Your child’s palate and jaw are still growing. Aggressive thumb sucking can actually change the shape of the palate and jaw, and even affect facial structure. Again, orthodontic treatment can help, but prevention is always the better option!

  • Speech Difficulties

Prolonged thumb sucking has been suggested as a risk factor for speech disorders such as lisping, the inability to pronounce certain letters, or tongue thrusting.

The consequences from aggressive thumb sucking can be prevented with early intervention. What to do if you are worried?

Talk to Us

First, let us reassure you that most children stop thumb sucking on their own, and with no negative dental effects at all. But if your child is still aggressively sucking her thumb once her permanent teeth have started erupting, or if we see changes in her baby teeth, let’s talk about solutions during an appointment at our Chicago office. We can offer suggestions to help your child break the habit at home. There are also dental appliances available that can discourage thumb sucking if your child finds it especially hard to stop.

Work with your Child

  • Be Positive

Positive reinforcement is always best. Praise her when she remembers not to suck her thumb. Make a chart with stickers to reward every thumb-free day. Pick out a favorite book to read or activity you can share.

  • Identify Triggers

Children associate thumb sucking with comfort and security.  If your child turns to her thumb when she’s anxious, try to discover what is bothering her and how to reassure her. If she automatically sucks her thumb when she is bored, find an activity that will engage her. If she’s hungry, offer a healthy snack.

  • Talk about It!

Depending on her age, it might help your child to understand why stopping this habit is important. We are happy to explain, in a positive, age-appropriate way, just how breaking the thumb sucking habit will help her teeth and her smile.

Again, most children leave thumb sucking behind naturally and easily. But if what is a comfort for your child has become a concern for you, please give us a call. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes will work with you and your child to prevent future orthodontic problems and begin her lifetime of beautiful smiles.

 

Sealants: What are they and how do they help?

July 15th, 2021

Molars are made up of canyons, caves, pits, and seemingly endless caverns that are a breeding ground for decay. The protective solution is a sealant. When done correctly, a sealant from Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes of Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd can be most effective in preventing cavities.

A sealant is made up of composite (a plastic-like) material that contains bonding agents to seal to the edge of the tooth. Sealants placed on the chewing surfaces of back teeth block food from being trapped. The process in which a sealant is placed is quite precise and painless.

First the tooth is cleaned with a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) spray. Then an acid etch is applied to “roughen up” the surface. No saliva is to touch the tooth. This will re-mineralize the area, then a repeat etching is needed. An alcohol-based liquid then dries out the area and it must remain completely dry. The sealant is placed and guided through all the caverns, pits, fissures, and grooves. It is then cured with a special light, which makes it a hard, plastic-like material.

Sealants can last for several years. It is wise to have them examined on a semi-annual basis. If there is a break in the sealant, a high risk for decay is common. If a sealant is damaged, repair is simple, painless, and quick to complete.

Who can benefit from sealants? Anyone! Children often receive sealants as routine preventive care. Adults with deep canyons with stained grooves on their teeth can also benefit from a sealant. The process is quick, painless, and does not require any anesthesia. It is an effective way to lower dental restorative costs.

An investment in dental sealants can reap great benefits as properly cared for teeth will remain cavity free. Our Chicago location is available to answer your questions so give us a call today!

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

July 14th, 2021

Two studies – one conducted in Washington State, and whose findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry in 2004, and another conducted in Madrid, Spain, and whose findings were reported in 2012 in Science Daily, reinforce earlier findings that show a direct relationship between parental dental fear and that of their children.

The Washington study looked at dental fear among 421 children whose ages ranged from 0.8 to 12.8 years. The children were all patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in Western Washington State. The Spanish study looked at 183 children between the ages of seven and 12, and their parents in Madrid.

The Washington study used the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey responses came from either parents, or other parties charged with taking care of the children. The people responsible for each child filled out the survey, which consisted of 15 questions to which answers were given based on the child’s level of fear. The scale used was one to five, with one meaning the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicating the child was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found that like past studies, there is a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those of their kids. The most important new discovery from the study conducted in Madrid, was that the more anxiety and fear a father has of going to the dentist, the higher the fear levels among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who suffer from fear of going to the dentist and fear of dental procedures in general pass those fears on to every member of the family. While parents may not feel like they have control over those fears, the best way to help your child understand the importance of going to the dentist is by not expressing your fears in front of them – or around the rest of the family.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team understand that some patients are more fearful than others when it comes to visitingour Chicago office. We work hard to make our practice as comfortable for our patients, both children and adults.

They're just baby teeth, right?

July 8th, 2021

“But they are only baby teeth; won’t they just fall out?” Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd has had these questions asked many times from parents over the years. Primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” will indeed come out eventually, to be replaced by permanent teeth as the child grows and develops. These teeth serve a great purpose as the child continues to develop and require specific care.

Because baby teeth are temporary, some parents are unenthusiastic about fixing cavities in them. This may be due to the cost or having to force a child undergo the process—especially having to receive an injection. But if a cavity is diagnosed early enough, an injection can often be avoided. More important, failure to fill cavities in primary teeth when they are small and manageable can have lasting consequences in cost and health concerns. Serious illnesses in children have been diagnosed which began as a cavity.

Primary teeth act as a guide for permanent teeth. When decay reaches the nerve and blood supply of a tooth, this can cause an abscess. Severe pain and swelling may result. At that point, the only treatment options are either to remove the tooth or to perform a procedure similar to a baby root canal. When a primary tooth is lost prematurely—to decay or a painful abscess—the adjacent teeth will often shift and block the eruption of a permanent tooth. Braces or spacers become necessary to avoid crowding or impaction of the permanent tooth.

There is nothing more heartbreaking for Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes than to have to treat a child experiencing pain and fear. To all the parents of my little patients our team strongly recommend filling a small cavity and not waiting until it becomes a larger problem such as those described above.

Prevention is the key to a healthy mouth for our smallest patients. Parents should allow the child to brush his or her teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and then take a turn to ensure the plaque gets removed from all surfaces: cheek side, tongue side, and chewing edges of all the teeth.

Summer Dental Health? Get into the Swim of It!

July 7th, 2021

On a sizzling hot day, there’s not much that makes us happier than heading to the water for a quick swim, some gentle laps, or even a rousing game of water polo. And this being a sizzling hot dental blog, we are happy to offer some tips on how to make your summer swim good for your dental health as well as your mental health!

  • Mouthguards

You might use your mouthguard all the time—for biking, or basketball, or skiing. But in the pool? Absolutely! Anyone who has played water polo knows what a physical workout it is. Elbows! Hard tosses! Collisions! And it’s not just pool sports. Water-skiing on the lake, surfing in the ocean—anywhere humans and solid objects are involved, tooth and jaw injuries are possible. Don’t spend valuable summer hours tending to a cracked or broken tooth as a result of sports accidents.

And, unlikely though it seems, even hanging by the pool can be hazardous to your smile. Hard concrete edges wait to greet surfacing divers. Slippery cement and tiles surrounding the pool are the downfall of many a swimmer running to jump back into the water. Be aware of possible dental dangers, and use a mouthguard as a great proactive way to avoid them.

  • Swimming Pools & Chlorine

Ah, the smell of chlorine! We all want to know that swimming pools are as clean as they can be, and one method of keeping them that way is with the addition of antimicrobials to the water. But too much exposure to chemicals can cause enamel erosion, or even a condition called “swimmer’s calculus.” Swimmer’s calculus is recognized by a hard, brownish, tartar deposit that appears on the front teeth of swimmers who spent a lot of hours in the pool. It’s a cosmetic problem, but one that’s difficult to get rid of without a professional cleaning. If you’re a competitive swimmer, or simply someone who spends many hours a week in treated water, give us a call if you notice hard-to-remove discoloration or tooth sensitivity.

  • Retainers

Different people have different opinions on whether or not your retainer should be exposed to the chlorine in pool water. (Or the salt in saltwater or the bacteria in lake water.) Ask us for ours! But you’re best off leaving it in your bag or locker, anyway, because retainers can be easily lost in the water. They might be able to survive a swimming pool, but a lake or ocean rescue is very unlikely. Just remember to put your retainer in a case, in a safe spot, and replace it when you’re out of the water for the day.

Enjoy your time on the water, and don’t forget to schedule an exam with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and a professional cleaning if you haven’t been in the office for a while. If you do have a dental problem or an accident, give our Chicago office a call immediately. We want to make sure you dive in to summer fun with a healthy, beautiful smile!

Happy Fourth of July!

July 1st, 2021

Happy Independence Day from Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and team! The Fourth of July celebrations in America may have changed a lot over the years, but there is no doubt that we Americans love to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence! Today we're devoting the Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd blog to some fun facts about the Fourth!

  • My, how we have grown! This year the United States Census Bureau estimates that our country has 313.9 million residents celebrating the Fourth of July this year, but back in 1776 there were just 2.5 million members of the country.
  • Our country loves to show how proud that we are of our independence. Did you know that there are 31 United States places with the word “Liberty” in their names? The state of Iowa actually has four towns with the word Liberty in the name: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
  • The United States loves Fourth of July food! It is expected that around 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth each year. One of the Fourth's most popular sides, potato salad, goes just perfectly with the hotdogs and hamburgers that are standard Fourth of July fare. Some people choose potato chips instead, but we wouldn't have such a plethora of potatoes if not for the prodigious production of the states of Idaho and Washington -- they provide about half of all the potatoes in the United States today!
  • Americans love celebrating the Fourth outdoors: About 74 million Americans fire up their BBQ grill every Fourth of July.
  • The Chinese contribution: Did you know that Americans have spent more than $211 million on fireworks that were imported from China?

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth, stay safe, take precautions, and don't forget to brush after your fabulous Fourth feast!

Fun Facts for the Fourth

July 1st, 2021

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Chicago, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

Halitosis in Children: Causes and treatment

June 24th, 2021

Halitosis is the scientific name for bad breath. It is one of the most common oral concerns, and it affects a large percentage of the population, including children. Having bad breath can be embarrassing and a nuisance. When considering what to do about halitosis, the team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd highlights that you need to focus on the cause, rather than just masking the problem.

Children commonly have bad breath because of an upper respiratory infection. This includes a common cold, postnasal drip, or allergies. When this is the case, treatment may be complicated if one or more of these issues is chronic.

Another cause of halitosis in children is a condition with their teeth or gums. Just as in adults, gum disease has a distinctive malodor. The quality of brushing and flossing in children directly influences the presence of gum disease. If there is a large untreated cavity, there will be a strong smell causing bad breath. Both of these issues need professional attention, including a visit to the dentist.

Tonsillitis can also cause halitosis in children. It happens because of a constricted airway, resulting in mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is a concern because of how much it dries the tissue in the mouth. This makes any bacterial infection in the mouth worse and causes an increased potency within the bacteria in the mouth.

Treatment of halitosis is as varied as the causes listed above. Beware of ingredients in products that mask bad breath. Sucking on a mint on a regular basis will cause more harm than good because of potential decay. Chew sugarless gum and mints.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call us at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next appointment!

What’s an intraoral camera?

June 23rd, 2021

One of the greatest features our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd offers is the ability to see first-hand how we can help our patients. While X-rays help us detect any problems in your mouth and give us valuable information on what is bothering you, they often don’t give Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes a complete view of everything that is going on inside your mouth. With the use of an intraoral camera, we can see every aspect of your teeth and mouth with incredible detail, uncovering cracked or fractured teeth, excessive wear, carious lesions, cavities, or other issues that may be hidden. When we can discover oral problems early on, your treatment is much less invasive and often saves you money down the road.

An intraoral camera allows Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes to view clear, precise images of your mouth, teeth, and gums and allows us to make an accurate diagnosis.  With clear, defined, enlarged images, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team see details that standard mirror examinations may miss. It’s much easier to understand what is happening in your mouth if you can see the problem on a computer monitor, and it means faster diagnosis and less chair-time for our patients!

Intraoral cameras are small, about the size of a dental mirror, and emit a light onto the tooth. The tooth will emit a color that lets Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes determine if the tooth is healthy or diseased. Intraoral cameras also allow us to save your images on our office computer to provide a permanent record of treatments. These treatments can be printed for you, other specialists, and your lab or insurance companies.

For any questions about the intraoral camera, we encourage you to ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or our team during your or your child’s next visit or by giving us a call at our convenient Chicago office.

Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

June 17th, 2021

In the eyes of most parents, nothing is cuter than their baby’s smile. Did you know your little one’s smile (that is, his or her oral health) actually plays a huge role in determining the child’s overall well-being? In order to keep your youngster healthy and smiling, you need to know when and how to take care of those tiny teeth.

Baby teeth aren’t just temporaries that will fall out eventually. They help your baby chew and talk, and they reserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth later on. Since they’re so important, the right time to start dental care is only a few days after your infant is born.

Take a soft, wet washcloth or piece of gauze and gently wipe your baby’s gums. The earlier you begin, the more accustomed your child will become to a daily dental hygiene routine.

Babies that are put to bed with a bottle may be at greater risk for developing cavities. Milk, juice, and any other drinks that contain sugar instigate tooth decay while the child sleeps.

If your baby must go to bed with something, a bottle of water is the healthiest option. Remember to wipe your little one’s gums after each feeding, whether it’s formula from a bottle or breast milk.

As soon as your infant’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start brushing! Twice a day, take a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and brush your son or daughter’s teeth gently in circular motions. As soon as your toddler has multiple teeth that touch one another, floss up and down the sides of the teeth to remove any plaque between them or below the gumline.

Babies’ teeth are prone to cavities and gingivitis, so you’ll want to be on the lookout for telltale signs. Check regularly for red, swollen gums, because this may be an indication of developing gum disease. Discoloration, white spots, or small pits in the teeth can signal a forming cavity.

As long as you follow these simple guidelines and schedule regular dental checkups with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes at our Chicago office, you can help to ensure your baby has a healthy mouth. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your happy baby’s healthy smile.

Fluorosis: What is it?

June 16th, 2021

Many people think dental fluorosis is a disease, but it’s not; it’s a condition that affects the appearance of your tooth’s enamel, not the function or health of the teeth. These changes may vary from tiny, white, barely noticeable spots to very noticeable staining, discoloration, and brown markings. The spots and stains left by fluorosis are permanent and may darken over time.

Dental fluorosis occurs in children who are excessively exposed to fluoride between 20 and 30 months of age. Only children ages eight years and younger can develop dental fluorosis. Why? That is the period when permanent teeth are still developing under the gums. For kids, fluorosis can cause significant embarrassment and anxiety about the appearance of their teeth. No matter how much they might brush and floss, the fluorosis stains do not go away.

Many well-known sources of fluoride may contribute to overexposure, including:

  • Fluoridated mouth rinse, which young children may swallow
  • Bottled water which is not tested for fluoride content
  • Inappropriate use of fluoride supplements
  • Exposure to water that is naturally or unnaturally fluoridated to levels well above the recommended levels

One way to reduce the risk for enamel fluorosis is to teach your children not to swallow topical fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains fluoride. In fact, kids should use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing, and children under the age of two shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste at all.

Dental fluorosis can be treated with tooth bleaching, microabrasion, and conservative composite restorations or porcelain veneers. Please give us a call at our office to learn more or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes.

When Is a “Cavity” Not a Cavity?

June 10th, 2021

Is this a trick question? After all, you and your family probably already know quite a lot about cavities:

  • It all begins when bacteria-filled plaque sticks to teeth and starts to attack enamel. How?
  • Because the bacteria in plaque use the sugars and other foods we eat to produce acids.
  • These acids gradually weaken teeth by dissolving minerals that help make up our enamel (a process called demineralization).
  • Over time, a hole, or cavity, develops in the tooth surface.
  • Left untreated, bacterial decay can spread to the inside of the tooth, creating a more serious cavity.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes might discover an unexpected cavity at a regularly scheduled dental exam at our Chicago office, but there are also some symptoms that should have you calling for an appointment. A cavity can cause sensitivity when eating something hot or cold, or it can be painful, or you might even notice visible discoloration or damage to the tooth surface.

So, if your child has any of these symptoms, it’s a cavity, right? It might be—but it might not. Sometimes, because the symptoms are similar, what we suspect is a cavity is really enamel erosion.

The bacteria-created acids weaken enamel. But it’s not just bacteria that subject our teeth to acids. Acidic foods are one of the leading causes of tooth erosion.

And while we expect damage from a lifetime of acidic foods and beverages to catch up with us as we age, the fact is that erosion is becoming a problem even for young children. How is this possible? Let’s look at some food chemistry.

Our normal saliva pH level is around a 7, which is neutral. Any number lower is acidic; any number higher is alkaline. Acidic foods have a low pH (the pH of lemon juice, for example, measures between 2 and 3), and can reduce our normal, neutral pH level. When saliva pH levels drop to 5.5 or lower, tooth enamel starts to demineralize, just as it does when exposed to the acids from oral bacteria.

Regularly snacking on citrus and other acidic fruits, fruit juices, flavored drinks, sour candies, and other acidic foods can cause enamel erosion. Especially erosive are sports drinks, energy drinks, and colas, because they contain some combination of citric acid, phosphoric acid and/or carbonation.

So, when might you suspect enamel erosion? Your child might be sensitive to hot or cold foods, or feel pain, or even have noticeable enamel loss or pitting. Even though these symptoms may not have been caused by plaque and bacteria, acidic erosion from our diets leaves weakened enamel just as vulnerable to cavities and decay.

How to avoid erosion?

  • Serve acidic foods sparingly, or as part of a meal. This helps our saliva pH stay in the neutral zone.
  • Balance acidic foods with low-acid choices to neutralize acids and restore a normal pH balance. For example, mix those acidic berries with a banana.
  • Use a straw! These are not only fun, but this simple solution keeps erosive drinks from bathing young teeth in acids.
  • Encourage your child to drink water instead of an acidic beverage, or drink it afterward to rinse acids away. The pH of pure water? A perfect, neutral 7. And by using tap water instead of bottled water, you’ll be providing fluoride, which helps strengthen enamel.
  • What about brushing right after eating or drinking something acidic? Ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes if your child should rush for the brush. We may recommend waiting 30 minutes or so after an acidic treat to give the teeth time to remineralize. Otherwise, brushing might cause more wear and tear on enamel.
  • Finally, while foods are often the source of acid erosion, medical conditions can cause erosion as well. Talk to us about ways to minimize erosion while addressing these medical needs.

Be proactive. Ask your Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes about healthy drinks and snacks for healthy teeth. Make sure to keep on top of brushing and flossing, and stick with fluoride toothpastes. And visit our Chicago office regularly for exams and cleanings.

There’s really no trick to it—preventing enamel erosion helps keep your child’s teeth structurally strong and cavity-free for a lifetime of beautiful and healthy adult smiles.

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

June 9th, 2021

So much of parenting is a balancing act. Making sure your child has enough play time and enough nap time. Crafting meals that are both healthy and appealing. Making sure every dental product you use is both effective and safe.

While Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team can’t recommend the perfect bedtime story, or tell you why your child just won’t go for that delicious steamed broccoli, we are more than happy to discuss the very best ways to promote healthy, strong teeth. Should fluoride toothpaste be part of your child’s dental routine? For many good reasons, the answer is yes.

Why Fluoride is Important

Our enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, with the highest concentration of minerals, but it is not indestructible. The bacteria that live in our mouths create acids which attack our enamel. Weakened enamel leads to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel surface more resistant to these acids, and can actually help our enamel repair itself in a process called “remineralization.” Fluoride helps prevent cavities and makes teeth stronger, and those are benefits that will last your child a lifetime.

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Fluorosis is a condition that can sometimes develop when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride while the adult teeth are developing below the gum line. (Around the age of eight, children’s teeth have finished forming and are not at risk.) Fluorosis is not a disease, and doesn’t harm teeth, but can lead to faint streaks in the enamel. While this streaking is usually white and subtle, it can sometimes be darker and more noticeable. Teeth discolored by fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but prevention is always the best option.

Finding the Perfect Balance

Talk to us about using fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s first teeth start arriving. If a very young child is at risk for tooth decay, we might recommend early use of fluoride toothpaste. And for these small children, younger than the age of three, a small smear of paste (about the size of a grain of rice) is sufficient if needed. Swallowing fluoride products increases the risk of fluorosis, so make sure to use a very small amount of paste.

Because young children can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting, you always want to make sure the amount of toothpaste you use is age-appropriate even as they get older.  From ages three to six, a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is enough. Children should not use fluoride rinses or supplements unless recommended, and should be monitored to make sure they spit out fluoride toothpaste or rinses after brushing.

Most drinking water already has natural levels of fluoride, which normally aren’t a problem. If you are concerned about high fluoride levels in your local water, talk to us. If your water has higher levels of fluoride than normal, you can minimize consumption when your baby is young by breastfeeding, using non-fluoridated water for mixing with formula powder or concentrate, or buying prepared formula. If your child is a toddler, don’t add fluoride rinses or supplements unless they are recommended by a dental or medical professional.

Talk to us during your visit to our Chicago office about protecting your child’s teeth. We are happy to help you find just the right amount of fluoride to keep young smiles stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Healthy teeth in a beautiful smile—that’s a perfect balance!

Tips to Help You Beat the Heat This Summer

June 3rd, 2021

The dog days of summer are upon us, and with the temperatures soaring, our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants you to be extra careful about sun safety when you’re out and about. Check out this incredibly helpful article on the Ten Summer Safety Tips for Kids, courtesy of Discovery.

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team also encourage you to always have a bottle of water handy when heading out into the sun.

We hope you’re having a great summer! Let us know what you're up to below or on our Facebook page!

Smile! June marks National Smile Month!

June 2nd, 2021

Can you believe it’s already June? Today, Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd thought we’d let you know that June is National Smile Month, so it’s a good time to remind all our young patients to practice proper oral hygiene between their visits to our office!

Below are a few simple steps your child can take to improve his or her oral health so that your family can celebrate National Smile Month for many, many years to come:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between the teeth
  • Limit the intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit us every six months for regular checkups

If you have questions about any of these tips, we encourage you to give us a call, ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes or our team during your next visit, or ask us on Facebook!

Memorial Day and Getting Ready for Summer

May 27th, 2021

Memorial Day didn't become an official holiday until 1971, but Americans started gathering annually in the spring to remember those who lost their lives in war during the 1860s, right after the Civil War. Celebrated on the last Monday in May, people still decorate the grave sites of war veterans and hold memorial services, but Memorial Day has also evolved into a day that signifies the beginning of summer.

During the summer months, many people take road trips to visit family members. Some head off to the airport to enjoy a long-awaited vacation far away, while others look forward to spending time with friends and family at home. However you spend Memorial Day and the subsequent summer months, there are a few things you can take care of to ensure your summertime is enjoyable.

Checklist for an Enjoyable Summer

  • Have the AC Checked. During the hottest days of summer, many families find themselves sweating it out due to a broken air conditioning system. Be proactive so you can avoid waiting for hours or days because the HVAC repair person is booked solid. Have your air conditioning system checked before or around Memorial Day each year.
  • Ensure Security While You're Away. When you leave for vacation, the last thing you should have to worry about is the security of your home. Install a home security system, if possible, and put a timer on your lights so they go on and off at normal hours. You can also alert your local police department that you'll be gone, and ask them to drive by your house once in a while to make sure everything is okay.
  • Visit Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes Before Vacation. Many people put off exams until after summer vacation. Avoid the crowds and make sure your physical and oral health are in top shape prior to vacation time so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants you to look forward to Memorial Day and the days of summer by preparing to spend the time safely and comfortably. As you plan ahead, take care of your health and secure your home, you can place your focus on creating memories with family members and friends while enjoying your favorite Memorial Day traditions.

Memorial Day: Parades, remembrance, and the unofficial start of summer!

May 26th, 2021

“The purpose of all war is peace.” - Saint Augustine

Fire truck sirens, baton twirlers, marching bands covering patriotic tunes, colorful floats, costumes, and millions of red, white, and blue American flags being waved in the air on a beautiful day in late May, that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a federal holiday celebrated with town parades, remembrance, and a sense of unity and community togetherness.

Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd wants to take this time to wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day, as well as pause for a moment to reflect on what this holiday means and how it has changed over time. No, this is not a history lesson, but just a couple of thoughts and observances for you to take with you on your way to the next barbecue.

On the last Monday in May, America observes Memorial Day as a time to remember and celebrate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country in the Armed Forces. The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter remain the same from year to year, Memorial Day has changed over time, and in the 21st century we observe a far different holiday than what Americans did after the Civil War, or even the World Wars.

While many people place flags at cemeteries and visit national memorials in order to honor those who have passed away serving the country, Memorial Day is also a time for family barbecues, pool parties, trips to the beach, blockbuster movies, long weekend getaways, and fireworks. In America, Memorial Day has come to represent the unofficial start of the summer – a long, sunny, warm weekend devoted to family togetherness, outdoor events, and community.

It is time to load up the potato salad and the apple pie and head over to the neighbor’s house for their annual barbecue. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we do eat sweets, especially homemade apple pie! Everything in moderation, of course.

So whether you’re in the Chicago area or beyond, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours from Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes!

Why Baby Teeth Matter

May 20th, 2021

Sleepless nights, crankiness, drooling—how can such tiny teeth cause such a big fuss? But all those uncomfortable days and nights are forgotten when your baby’s first teeth make their appearance. Why? Well, certainly because your child is happier, but also because you know baby teeth, or primary teeth, are important for your child’s growth in so many different ways.

  • Chewing and Eating

Your baby might enjoy solid foods at an early age, but real chewing doesn’t happen until all the baby molars appear between the ages of one to three years. This is the time to feed children size-appropriate and texture-appropriate foods so they acquire proper chewing and eating habits for healthy digestion. Chewing also helps develop your child’s jaw and facial muscles.

  • Developing Speech

Pronouncing many of the common sounds used in speech often requires tongue and teeth working together. If teeth are missing or there is a bite problem such as an open bite, it might be more difficult to pronounce words properly. This could be only a temporary delay, or it could require speech therapy when your child is older.

  • Setting the Stage for Permanent Teeth

Baby teeth not only help with speech and jaw development, but they serve as space holders for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, a permanent tooth might “drift” into the empty space. The adult tooth will not have the room to fit where it should, and crowding or misalignment can occur. This might cause orthodontic problems in the future.

  • Learning Healthy Dental Habits

You are your baby’s first dental health care provider! Wiping the gums and erupting teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals, gently brushing baby teeth when your toddler is young, teaching how to brush as your child gets older, helping to establish daily routines for brushing—all these practices will prepare your child for lifelong healthy dental habits.

  • Making the Dentist a Regular Part of Your Child’s Life

Your child should visit our Chicago office soon after that first tooth comes in, and definitely by the age of 12 months. Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes can help with suggestions for your brushing and flossing routine, make sure your child’s teeth are healthy and clean, and ensure that teething progress is on track. In later visits, we will examine your child’s primary teeth and gums, and treat any problems, such as cavities, before they can become serious.

It turns out that baby teeth really are a big deal. Talk to us about suggestions for caring for your toddler’s teeth and about any questions you may have about teething progress, jaw and facial structure, speech development, or any other concerns at any time. We want to have a happy relationship with your child from the very start for a lifetime of healthy and confident smiles.

Fluoride Use in Adolescents

May 19th, 2021

Fluoride is a mineral that plays an essential role in oral health. In fact, the significant reduction in American tooth decay in recent decades can be attributed to a greater availability of fluoride in public water supplies, toothpaste, and other resources. When it comes in contact with the teeth, fluoride helps protect the enamel from acid and plaque bacteria. In some cases, it can even reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Despite the benefits of fluoride, tooth decay is still common, especially among teenagers. The Centers for Disease Control reports that cavities can be found in more than half of young teens and two-thirds of older teens over age 16. Many of those teens are deficient in fluoride, either due to a lack of public water fluoridation or the use of bottled water. So how can parents ensure their teens are getting the fluoride they need to facilitate strong, healthy teeth?

Monitor Fluoride Exposure

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes and our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd recommend you start by measuring your teen’s fluoride exposure. Make sure you purchase fluoridated toothpaste for your household, and find out if your tap water is fluoridated. If your teen primarily consumes bottled water, examine the bottle to determine whether fluoride has been added. The majority of bottled waters are not supplemented with fluoride, but those that are will be clearly labeled.

Fluoride Supplementation

Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes may recommend topical fluoride treatments at routine dental exams. These treatments are painless for your teen and may help establish stronger enamel that is more resistant to plaque and tooth decay. If you have a public water supply that is non-fluoridated, we may recommend fluoride supplementation between visits. These can be administered as drops, tablets, or vitamins.

Keep in mind that fluoride is most important for children and teens under the age of 16. Be proactive about your teen’s oral health by speaking with us about your family’s fluoride needs at your next dental visit.

For more information about fluoride, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

The Thumb-Sucking Habit

May 13th, 2021

At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we are often asked “should I be concerned with my child’s thumb sucking?” So, our team thought we’d share what our thoughts are on your child sucking his or her thumb.

Infants Who Suck Their Thumbs

As infants begin experimenting with the basic functions of their mouths, from sucking on a bottle to beginning to speak, it is natural for them to suck their thumbs. Parents with young babies who regularly suck their thumbs probably don’t need to feel overly concerned, so long as fingers are kept clean and the habit is kept in check. For most children, the exploratory stage of thumb sucking ends after just a few short years. Problems with thumb sucking occur when infants grow into young children but the habit has not been resolved.

Dangers of Thumb Sucking

One of the main differences between an infant and a child sucking his thumb is the formation of the mouth and teeth. An infant’s mouth is barely beginning to grow and develop, so sucking a thumb might actually help to stimulate the process. For a child with a mouth full of teeth, however, a thumb-sucking habit might cause some serious problems. As a parent, it can be very important to watch your child carefully to make sure the sucking habit is regulated.

As a child grows and develops, baby teeth begin to fall out. A child sucking his or her thumb during the baby teeth stage may not run any great risks. Our team at Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd often sees that once a child has developed his or her permanent teeth, the problems with thumb sucking can become more serious. KidsHealth.org states that children who suck their thumbs beyond the age of four or five might increase their risk of developing an overbite, infections, and other dental problems.

What You Can Do To Help

Parents who want to prevent possible problems for their child would be wise to begin preventive care early on. While you don’t need to be overly concerned about an infant sucking a thumb, it might be a good idea to help your toddler break the habit before permanent teeth begin to show.

  • Try to use positive rewards for good behavior instead of negativity or threatening behavior.
  • Talk openly with your child about the potential dangers of a thumb-sucking habit.
  • Help your child find other productive things to do with the hands as a means of distraction. Playing a game of blocks, for example, might be a great diversion.
  • Support and encourage your child while he or she is trying to break the habit.

As children develop, they have many things to learn and to think about. By understanding a few simple facts about thumb sucking, you can help your child develop in a healthy and positive way. If you have any other questions, feel to contact us at our Chicago office, or ask Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes during your next appointment!

Top Five Things to Keep Your Dentist Smiling

May 12th, 2021

Come say hello twice a year. The American Dental Association says two times is the charm. Multiple visits a year lets us keep an eye out for any developing issues. It’s important to remember that this goes for the whole family. Children over one year old should be seeing Drs. Joanne Oppenheim, Marilia Montero, and Mary J. Hayes!

Stay fresh. At Pediatric Dental Health Associates, Ltd, we have a virtually unlimited stock of toothbrushes and floss, which means you have no excuse to be using a sad, ineffective toothbrush. As soon as bristles begin to fray, pick up a new one or stop by our Chicago office and we’ll replace yours. On average, you should be opening a new one every two to three months.

For goodness sake, floss! Flossing is an efficient way to keep your whole mouth healthy. It not only protects your teeth by removing aggregated plaque, it keeps your gums happy, too.

And brush. Practicing regular healthy habits is essential to keeping your mouth—and us—happy! When it comes to brushing that means two minutes, two times a day. If your kids need some encouragement, try making a calendar or playing a song like this.

Tell a friend. One way you can help us is by spreading the love. Tell your friends about what a good thing we’ve got going here. The more the merrier. And the healthier.

Four Tips for Soothing a Toothache

March 25th, 2021

Whether it’s a dull and throbbing ache or a sharp pain, toothaches can come in many different forms. Chances are you or your child has had the discomforting experience once or twice in your life. It’s the type of experience that nobody wants to have, because a toothache can be as annoying as fingernails scratching a chalkboard.

What’s a good way to describe a toothache? Let’s see … your mouth feels as if it’s being besieged by one of those Loony Tunes-style jackhammers. As fate would have it, toothaches always seem to occur over the weekend or after-office hours, leaving you to suffer and forcing you to cancel your plans.

Not so fast!

There are numerous tried-and-true home remedies you can use to ease the pain until you can make an appointment with our office. Here’s a look at four ways to soothe a toothache.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of salt water. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will both soothe your toothache and disinfect your mouth. However, make sure the water is warm; cold water can further exacerbate a sensitive tooth. Follow up the saltwater rinse by swishing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Clove oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and vanilla extract are proven to be comforting elixirs. Dip a cotton swab in one of these mixtures and apply it to your tooth and gums. These substances, which you may even have in your kitchen cupboards, are known to have pain-relieving qualities. For the best results, repeat the application throughout the day.
  3. Eating yogurt is good for toothaches and mouth pain. Yogurt is filled with healthy bacteria that combat pain. Afterward, place a cold compress on your jaw.
  4. Try flossing. Your toothache might be throbbing and severe, but there’s always a chance the pain is caused by a piece of food awkwardly lodged in your teeth.

We hope that helps! Give us a call to learn more!

Famous Teeth throughout History

March 12th, 2021

We probably all remember sitting through history lessons during our schooling years. Revolutionary war heroes, English royals, and pop-culture icons filled the pages of our textbooks. Although you may recall a detail or two about their historical significance, how much do you know about their teeth?

Picture England in the mid 1500s. People wore frilly clothes as they hustled along the street, and talked about the latest import from the Indies: sugar. Wealthy Brits did not hesitate to indulge their sweet tooth, and it was no different for the monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

The queen was especially fond of sweets, but not so fond of the dentist. Her teeth rotted; they turned black and gave off a foul odor. Eventually, Elizabeth lost so many teeth that people found it difficult to understand her when she spoke.

Flash forward to the Revolutionary-era colonies in the 1770s and we encounter the famous dentures of George Washington. They were not made of wood, but rather a combination of ivory and human teeth, some of which were his own pulled teeth and some he purchased from slaves.

Washington did not practice proper dental hygiene throughout his life. He began to suffer dental problems as early as age 24, when he had his first tooth pulled. By the time he was inaugurated in as the first president in 1789, he had only one tooth remaining in his mouth, which was pulled in 1796.

Washington’s dentures were made too wide and never quite fit his mouth properly. He complained that they were painful to wear and caused his jaw to protrude visibly outward.

If you’ve heard of Doc Holliday, you know him as the gun-toting, mustached criminal that ran the Wild West in the late 1800s. You might be surprised to learn that John Henry “Doc” Holliday actually had a career as a dentist.

He graduated from dental school in 1872 and began to practice in Griffin, Georgia. Holliday was later diagnosed with tuberculosis and his violent coughing fits during exams drove patients away. Jobless, he packed his bags for Texas and spent the rest of his days running from town to town as a criminal.

The Beatles brought pop music and British culture to their fans, as well as … teeth? In the mid-1960s, John Lennon had a molar removed that he presented as a gift to his housekeeper, Dorothy. Dorothy’s daughter was a huge fan of the Beatles and he thought she might like to a keepsake. Her family held onto the tooth until 2011, when they auctioned it off to a Canadian dentist for $31,000.

These historical figures had very different experiences with their teeth, but it’s safe to say a bit of extra brushing and flossing could’ve saved them a lot of trouble. Whether you’re queen, president, or an average citizen, it’s up to you to practice good dental hygiene!

Ask a member of our team at our office if you have any questions about how to keep your teeth in top shape!

My toothbrush did what?

February 25th, 2021

If you were to put your toothbrush bristles under a high-powered microscope, what you would see might give you nightmares: millions of bacteria, busily crawling up and down your toothbrush bristles, consuming proteins that came from your mouth, and still clinging to the bristles even after you’ve rinsed them with water.

Rinsing your toothbrush after brushing removes some of those ferociously hungry bacteria, but not all. The American Dental Association says that bacterial infestations develop on toothbrushes within a month of daily use. The ADA also states that unless a toothbrush is sterilized before being packaged, it’s going to come with bacteria – free of charge!

Germs and Frayed Bristles: the Demise of a Toothbrush

Our staff recommends that you toss your old toothbrush in the trash and purchase a new one every three months. Children tend to bite on their toothbrushes, which makes the bristles degrade and fray faster. Chances are kids may need to have their toothbrushes changed more frequently.

Where do they hide?

Bacteria are tenacious little germs that head for those concealed areas between toothbrush bristles. They are highly adaptable and exist in every type of extreme environment. Some people actually go so far as to put their toothbrush in a microwave for a few seconds to kill germs, but this doesn't always work either. In fact, you may only end up with a toothbrush that’s as bendable as a Gumby doll – and still covered with germs.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever, and Get Rid of Your Toothbrush

When you have a head cold, your mouth is teeming with bacteria gleefully roaming around, and gobbling mucus and dead skin cells. If you brush your teeth while suffering a sinus condition, the brush will act like a magnet for ravenous bacteria. Use your old toothbrush while you are sick, but as soon as you feel better, throw it away and get a new one. Otherwise you could possibly re-infect yourself with the same cold germs!

How to Properly Store Your Toothbrush

February 4th, 2021

Have you ever thought about how you're cleaning and storing your toothbrush when you're not using it? Did you know that the way you store your toothbrush could have an affect on your oral health? In this post, we'll look at some steps you can take to maximize toothbrush cleanliness and minimize bacteria.

Below are some tips for toothbrush use and storage:

  • Don't share your toothbrush – This may seem obvious, but sharing a toothbrush exposes both users to bacteria and microorganisms from the other user, which can increase chances of infection. You should also avoid storing your toothbrush in the same container as other people’s toothbrushes.
  • Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after each use – Rinsing your toothbrush well under running water will help remove food particles, toothpaste, and other debris from the bristles of your brush.
  • Store your toothbrush in an open-air container not a sealed one – Putting a wet toothbrush in a sealed container creates a favorable environment for microorganisms and bacteria.
  • Soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash after use – There is some evidence to suggest that soaking your toothbrush in an antibacterial solution may reduce the amount of bacteria present on the toothbrush.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months – The bristles of your toothbrush become less effective and frayed after repeated use so it's a good idea to replace it on a regular basis. It's also wise to replace it after you've been sick.

There are many simple things you can do to make your oral-care regimen as clean as possible. Use common sense when storing your toothbrush—don't put it in a dirty place like the edge of your sink or in the shower (please, not by the toilet!), and keep it upright in a cool dry place—and you're usually good to go. If your toothbrush is looking a little worse for wear, drop by our office and we'll be glad to provide you with a new one!

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

January 14th, 2021

Our team hears this question a lot. While many people believe periodontal disease is an adult problem, studies have indicated that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, as well as other serious infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are prevalent among kids and adolescents. First, let’s identify the differences between gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your child’s gums are affected. Characterized by swollen and red gums that bleed easily, gingivitis causes an inflammation of the gums, and is the first stage and mildest form of periodontal disease. The good news is that gingivitis is often reversible. Treatment for gingivitis includes having your child come in for a professional teeth cleaning. It also includes daily brushing, which will help eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your child’s teeth. Your child should also get in the habit of flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles wedged in the crevices between his or her teeth.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease that can not only damage your child’s gum tissue, but also destroy the underlying bone which supports the teeth. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. In some cases, the bacteria from the ensuing infection may also be distributed to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, periodontal ligament, and bone that surround and support your child’s teeth. Periodontal disease causes gums to become red, swollen, and tender, and can even cause the gums to recede (pull away) from the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

Having persistent at-home oral care regimen is a critical step in your child’s fight against periodontal disease. But sometimes brushing and flossing are simply not enough. Having your child’s teeth cleaned twice a year, or as recommended, is crucial.

Early diagnosis of gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease can give you and your child peace of mind. If you are concerned your child is suffering from gum disease, we recommend that you give us a call at our office. We look forward to working with you and giving your child a smile to last a lifetime!

My child has canker sores! How can I help?

December 17th, 2020

According to the American Association of Pediatric Density, roughly one in five children suffers from canker sores. Canker sores are small sores that appear inside the cheeks, on the lips, on the surface of the gums, and under the tongue.

Even though, canker sores are not contagious, they do tend to run in families. There are several reasons your child may be suffering from canker sores including:

  • Children who have Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid deficiencies tend to get canker sores more often than children who have normal levels of these vitamins and minerals.
  • Children who suffer from food allergies are also at a higher risk for developing canker sores. It’s difficult to determine what your child may be allergic to. If you feel strongly that the canker sores are related to an allergy, then a visit to an allergist is highly recommended.
  • Biting their lip or cheek can also result in a canker sore.
  • Any injury to mouth, where the skin breaks can cause a canker sore.
  • Brushing their teeth too hard can also be a problem.
  • Your child may be sensitive to an ingredient in their toothpaste. Try switching toothpastes and see if it makes a difference.
  • Emotional disturbances and stress are also factors to consider.

If your child has frequent canker sores a visit to our office will be beneficial. Canker sores are painful and usually last about 14 days. We may recommend one or a few of the following treatment options:

  • Avoid food that is acidic, salty, and spicy.
  • A toothbrush with soft bristles may be helpful.
  • Avoid mouthwash and toothpaste that contain SLS.
  • Do not feed your child foods that they may be allergic to.

Canker Sore Remedies

  • Eating yogurt that contains Acidophilus will relieve the pain and help the canker sore heal faster.
  • Put one teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of lukewarm water. Have your child gargle and swish it around his or her mouth several times a day. Not only does this remedy relieve the pain, the canker sore could be gone in as little as 24 hours.
  • Place a wet tea bag on the sore and hold it there for a few minutes several times a day. This remedy will help with the pain and quickly heal the sore.
  • Camphor, Benzocaine, Lidocaine, and Orajel are over-the-counter medications that can help.

If you have questions about your child’s canker sore, contact us to schedule an appointment.

A History of Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2020

Thanksgiving is a great occasion; one we look forward to at our office--although this year probably looks quite a bit different for many. It’s a time to be with loved ones if possible (wearing a mask), give thanks, indulge in over-the-top dining, and best of all, welcome the start of the holiday season.

Unlike most holidays, though, Thanksgiving isn’t linked to any particular religion. And, though it may seem like an essential holiday, the United States and Canada are two of only a handful of countries that officially celebrate it.

North American Origins

In the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated every fourth Thursday in November. Canada observes it on the second Monday of October, however. Appropriately, this is much closer to the time when harvests were likely to be gathered.

In addition to being celebrated on different days, the origins of the holiday also differ. In Canada, an explorer named Martin Frobisher takes most of the credit. Frobisher took on a grueling journey when he traveled from England to Nunavut. He survived through difficult weather and tough terrain, so after his voyage, he decided to hold a ceremony to celebrate his good fortune.

As the years passed and more settlers populated the area, the ceremony became a yearly tradition. Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, has also been linked to the first Thanksgiving celebration in Canada, after other settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the good harvest with a feast.

The US celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the Plymouth, Massachusetts Colony, in 1621. The story goes that the colony at Plymouth didn’t have enough food to sustain everyone that winter until the Native Americans helped out by teaching them to fish and providing seeds to plant. Soon, the colonists were able to hold a feast worthy of the Thanksgiving name. By the 1660s, the tradition had spread and people all over New England were hosting feasts to honor the harvest.

Thanksgiving Today

Thanksgiving is celebrated in many ways these days. Everything from football games to casual dinners to lavish feasts occurs over the long weekend. What you’ll almost always find, though, is a group of people being thankful for the people around them. And probably some kind of green bean casserole!

However you choose to celebrate this year, we wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings!

Proper Brushing Techniques

October 29th, 2020

Brushing your teeth properly removes the food particles and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. However, you do not want to scrub your teeth or gums heavily. A heavy hand can lead to tooth and gum erosion, as our staff sees all too often.

You should also use a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid damaging the surface of your teeth. Make sure the head of the brush fits in your mouth, because if it is too large you will not be able to reach all tooth surfaces. Follow these steps to ensure you are brushing properly.

  1. Use a small amount of toothpaste on your brush. The recommendation is a pea-sized amount or thin strip on the bristles.
  2. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the surface of your teeth, angling towards your gums. Use a circular motion on all exterior tooth surfaces, and avoid back-and-forth “scrub” brushing.
  3. Once you have cleaned the outer surfaces, hold the brush vertically and clean the inner teeth surfaces — the side of your teeth that face your tongue. Do not forget the inner surfaces of your front teeth.
  4. Finally, finish by cleaning all the chewing surfaces of your teeth. You need to maintain a gentle touch, but make sure you get into the full depth of your molars. The entire process should take about two minutes.

We recommend changing your toothbrush every three to four months for best results. Do not forget to clean your tongue, which helps remove excess bacteria from your mouth. Special brushes are available just for cleaning your tongue, and they are easy to use.

Proper care of your teeth also requires flossing on a regular basis. Flossing can be performed before or after you brush. Following up with a quality mouthwash will provide you with even more protection. Do not be afraid to ask our team for tips on proper brushing and flossing at your next visit!

Should Children Use Whitening Products?

October 1st, 2020

As adults, we often wish our teeth could be as white as they were when we were small children. Baby teeth have thinner and whiter enamel than adult teeth, and those brilliant smiles are a result! But occasionally, you may be surprised to discover some staining or discoloration on those lovely first teeth. You might be tempted to apply a whitening product to your child’s teeth, but, please—read on!

Causes of Staining

  • Improper Brushing—Often, a loss of tooth whiteness means that plaque has built up on the tooth surface. Careful brushing is needed to remove bacteria and plaque, and if your child isn’t brushing at least twice a day for two minutes, discoloration can be the result.
  • Medications—When given in liquid form, or when added to formula or food, iron supplements can cause dark grey staining on the teeth. Medications taken by a mother while pregnant or breast feeding, such as tetracycline, can also lead to discoloration.
  • Injury—If a tooth suffers a serious injury, the tooth can darken because of changes inside the enamel.
  • Health conditions—Certain health problems can cause tooth discoloration, or sometimes children are born with weaker enamel that is more likely to stain.

If you have noticed any staining on your child’s primary teeth, call our office. Simple stains can often be removed with better brushing techniques, and we can clean other surface stains in the office. Staining caused by an injury or a health condition is something we can discuss in detail with you. We can even use some professional whitening methods if those are indicated.

Why not just buy a home whitening kit for your child? There are several important reasons to leave these products on the shelf while your child is young.

  • Whitening kits are designed for adults. They have been tested for adult teeth in adult trials. Check the box for age appropriate use. Most products are not recommended for pre-teen children.
  • Remember that thinner enamel we mentioned earlier? Add to that the delicate skin of young children, and it’s sensible to be cautious about using a bleaching agent that can cause mouth and tooth sensitivity even in adults.
  • There is no body of evidence available as to the short and long term effects of using these products on children.

If you are concerned about the brightness of your child’s smile, please talk to us. We can recommend better ways to brush at home, clean your child’s teeth in the office, or suggest professional methods of whitening if there are physical or psychological reasons that it would be valuable. But while your child is young, those off-the-shelf whitening products can wait a few more years.

Which type of mouthwash is best?

September 17th, 2020

Taking care of your oral health involves a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing to prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections. Though you may have asked us which toothbrush to use, few patients ask about mouthwash.

However, different mouthwashes you might choose will have varying effects on your oral health. So which type is best for you?

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce the majority of bacteria on and near the gum line. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can help decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. If possible, look for a mouthwash with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients.

Fluoride

Fluoride is beneficial for oral health and can help prevent tooth decay. If you drink a lot of bottled water without fluoride, we may recommend that you purchase a rinse with fluoride in it.

Bad Breath

Although mouthwash is designed to prevent bacterial build-up within the mouth, many people use it to combat bad breath. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, and some are specifically designed to do so.

However, if bad breath is a chronic problem that requires daily treatment with a mouth rinse, contact us to discuss you or your child's symptoms.

American Dental Association Approval

The ADA reviews mouth rinses for safety and effectiveness. A mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Approval will meet strict criteria, and will have scientific evidence or clinical studies that support the claims of the manufacturer. If possible, select a mouthwash that bears the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure you are using a quality rinse.

Considerations

If you are unsure as to which mouthwash is right for you, contact our office or ask during your next visit. Also, be sure to keep mouthwash out of the reach of children, as it contains alcohol and other substances that could be harmful to them. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and discontinue use if you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth.

Can my child really avoid tooth decay?

August 31st, 2020

Great question! Yes, in fact, tooth decay is preventable! Decay, which is caused by sugars left in your child’s mouth, can turn into an acid, which in turn can break down his or her teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits.

So, how can your child prevent tooth decay?

  • Start early. After the age of two, brush your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. And, if possible, clean between the teeth with dental floss at least once a day, preferably before they go to bed.
  • Don’t allow your little ones to eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime, as salivary flow decreases while they sleep and their teeth become vulnerable to cavities.
  • Do not allow your little ones to nibble food or sip drinks continuously, and keep in mind that a low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay. Allow time between meals for saliva to neutralize acids and repair the teeth.
  • Drinking water frequently throughout the day can also reduce the possibility of new cavities forming.
  • Dental sealants can also protect your children’s teeth from cavities. Sealants, which are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars, act as a shield between the tooth and harmful bacteria.

Finally, make sure your child visits us approximately every six months for a checkup and routine cleaning! Please give us a call at our office to set up an appointment!

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

July 21st, 2020

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. We hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Summer Treats for Healthy Teeth

June 26th, 2020

School’s out for the summer. While most children have been home for months now, it's officially summer vacation. And you want to keep their vacation happy, relaxing, and fun—without letting them spend those summer months cooling off with sugary treats. What are some of your options for healthy hot weather snacks?

  • Naturally Sweet Treats

Keep a supply of fresh fruit handy for summer snacking. Crispy fruits like apples and Bosc pears actually provide a little scrubbing action for the teeth with their vitamins, and softer fruits such as bananas, berries, and, of course, watermelon, provide natural sweetness along with vitamins and minerals. Yogurt has valuable calcium for strong teeth and the vitamin D our bodies need to use that calcium. Add some fresh fruit to Greek yogurt for added flavor and sweetness—and even more vitamins.

  • Savory Snacks

Cheese is a calcium-rich snack, and crunchy carrots and celery help scrub teeth while providing vitamins and minerals. Do a little mixing and matching by adding some cream cheese to that celery for extra flavor. Serve up hummus and pita chips or cheese with whole grain crackers. They’re great nutritious alternatives to chips and dip.

  • Blender Blast

Summer’s the perfect time to use your culinary creativity and expand your child’s palate with vitamin-rich smoothies. Toss your favorite fruits in the blender with a little juice, non-fat yogurt, milk, or honey, whirl away, and you have a delicious, healthy snack. You can add a few leafy greens for even more nutritional value. There are many easy recipes online for creating homemade smoothies that will please any picky palate.

  • Freezer Favorites

Ice cream is a favorite summer treat, but it can also provide quite a sugar punch. There are many homemade frozen yogurt recipes available online which combine frozen fruit, yogurt, and honey for your own summer celebration, without adding large amounts of sugar. Or choose to stock your freezer shelves with low-sugar fruit pops, store bought or homemade.

  • On Tap

A soda or a sports drink are often the go-to hydration choices in the summer. You might already be careful about handing these drinks out because they can have such a high sugar content. But they can also create a very acidic environment in the mouth, which is harmful to tooth enamel. Water is the safest, healthiest option for hydrating in hot weather, and can even provide some of the fluoride which helps keep enamel strong.

Whatever is on your child’s summer menu, keep up with all those great dental habits you’ve already established. A limited number of snacks—even healthy ones—is best, and be sure to brush after snacking, or rinse with water if brushing’s not an option. And don’t forget to maintain your child’s normal schedule of brushing and flossing, and regular visits with us at our office when possible.

Have a great summer, and send your kids back to school rested, relaxed, and with a healthy, happy smile. Then take a moment, relax, and sip that smoothie—after all, you deserve a break after all your hard work!

I brush my teeth regularly. Why do I need to floss?

May 28th, 2020

Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the most crucial parts of maintaining good oral health, and perhaps the most fundamental, however, there are also other elements involved. Flossing, for instance, is also vital; some experts would say, and our team would agree, that it holds just as much importance as brushing your teeth. To give you a better idea of why, here are some reasons that flossing is so vital to your oral health.

Getting in-between the Teeth

While brushing your teeth effectively cleans all of the areas of your teeth that are visible, or otherwise not touching, flossing is vital because it reaches all of the areas between your teeth that you cannot see, and subsequently cannot clean using a toothbrush. These areas are among the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of your mouth because they are most susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup.

Reducing Bad Breath

It is not uncommon for someone who brushes their teeth once or twice a day to still have bad breath. The reason being is that bad breath is often created by smelly bacteria that lives in between your teeth, as well as other areas of your mouth that are not accessible using a toothbrush. And that is why flossing is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath. Still skeptical? Try flossing your teeth with unscented floss, then smell it after, that awful scent is the source of your bad breath. Coupled with frequent brushing of your teeth, you will find that flossing can really help that stinky breath.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is hard enough, add flossing on top and it can be difficult to establish a regular habit. However, doing so is totally worth it; just look at the aforementioned reasons why. Use these for motivation the next time you don’t feel like flossing, and let us know if it worked at your next visit to our office.

Smile! It’s Time for Arts & Crafts!

May 7th, 2020

If you have a child who loves arts and crafts, try some of these creative projects with a dental twist. One of these activities is sure to give your child something to smile about!

Toothbrush Art

Why throw away that used toothbrush when you can help your young child make art with it? Give it one more cleaning and a second life. The easy-to-grip handle and the wide bristles make a toothbrush easy for young hands to hold and paint with. If you are in an adventurous mood, use the brush to make splatter art. Your child can splatter an entire sheet of paper for an abstract effect, make a sky full of stars with a flick of the brush, or add splatter leaves to a tree scene. Cut out a stencil with a favorite shape (an animal, a flower, a toy), place it on a sheet of paper, splatter around it, remove the cutout, and—instant silhouette!

Paper Crafts

If your child is an origami enthusiast, there are some challenging dental-themed examples available online. These might be too advanced for beginners, but more experienced origami fans can make molars with roots and even molars lined with pink paper to symbolize the interior pulp. Younger paper artists might enjoy making construction paper models of an actual tooth, with white enamel, yellow dentin, and pink pulp layered in their proper order.

Sculpting Fun

For the scientifically minded young artist, clay can be used to make a 3D model of a tooth, with different colored clays representing the different layers of the tooth. Younger children learning about their teeth might enjoy fitting little white clay teeth into a pink clay crescent to show how baby (or adult) teeth fit into the gums. And for non-dental inspiration, old, clean toothbrushes can once again help out if your child likes sculpting art work with modeling clay. Add interesting texture by using the brush bristles on damp clay to create grooves, lines, or indentations.

Welcome the Tooth Fairy

If the Tooth Fairy is a regular visitor, make her welcome with a box decorated with paint or fabric to hold that special baby tooth. Or craft a pouch or a bag with fabrics scraps, and add a fabric tooth so that the Tooth Fairy will know she has come to the right spot. If you use felt and fabric glue, no sewing necessary! If your Tooth Fairy is an under-the-pillow traditionalist, decorate an envelope with a letter to the Tooth Fairy inside.

If some of these projects sound just right for your child, check out online craft sites for even more ideas. And, please be sure to have your children show and tell the next time they are able to visit our office. That will put a smile on our faces!

Dental Emergencies in Children

April 22nd, 2020

Dental emergencies are bound to come up when you have young children. Our team wants you to be prepared in case you run into a difficult situation. Problems can vary, from minor gum irritation to knocked-out teeth. Take a look at the different possibilities and how you can handle them.

Teething

Depending on the age of your child, there are common things to watch for when it comes to his or her teeth. Starting from a young age, your son or daughter may experience teething pain. This starts at about four months and can last up to three years.

Teething may cause your little one to become irritable and more prone to drooling due to tender gums. This is very common in young children who are teething, and can be alleviated by giving them a cold teething ring or by rubbing their gums with your finger.

Teething pain is as normal as your child’s first set of teeth falling out. On the other hand, if a baby tooth is knocked out in a forceful accident, make sure you bring him or her into our office to check that other damage hasn’t occurred in the mouth. On occasion, permanent teeth may grow in before baby teeth have fallen out. This may not cause any discomfort, but we should make sure the teeth are growing in properly. Catching teeth that are coming in incorrectly can prevent issues from arising in adulthood.

Gum Issues

If you’ve noticed your child’s gums bleeding often, this could result from a number of things. Bleeding gums may be an early sign of periodontal disease, which is caused by poor oral hygiene when it appears in children. Excessive gum bleeding can also occur when children brush their teeth too hard, or suffer an injury to their gum tissue.

If bleeding is continuous, rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water and apply light pressure to the area. If you become concerned about the amount of blood, contact our office and we will schedule an appointment for your youngster as soon as possible.

Depending on what type of dental issue your child is experiencing, you should make sure to treat it quickly and properly. If you have questions or concerns about what you can do to help your son or daughter develop better oral hygiene habits, ask for tips during your next appointment.

Don’t forget: As a parent, you can provide the best education to your children on the importance of proper oral hygiene by setting a good example. 

Keeping Your Teeth Strong and Healthy

March 26th, 2020

What is the strongest part of our bodies? Do you think it might be our bones, which help us move and protect our brains, hearts and other organs? Or could it be those tough fingernails and toenails that guard our fingertips and toes? Nope! You might be surprised to learn that the hardest thing in our bodies is the enamel which covers our teeth!

Our bones grow with us and can even knit back together in case we have a broken arm or leg. Our toenails grow more slowly, and our fingernails grow more quickly, so regularly trimming is required for both. But our enamel doesn’t grow or repair itself when it is damaged, so it needs to last us a lifetime. How can such a strong part of our bodies be damaged? And can we do anything to protect our teeth? Luckily, we can!

Prevent Chips and Cracks

You might be the fastest on your bike, or the highest scorer on your basketball team, or able to do the most amazing tricks on your skateboard. But even the strongest teeth can’t win against a paved road, or an elbow under the basket, or a cement skate park. If you’re physically active, talk to us about a mouthguard. This removable appliance fits closely around the teeth and can protect your teeth and jaw in case of accident. And protect your enamel even when you’re not being adventurous! Don’t bite down on ice cubes or hard candy, and save your pens and pencils for writing, not chewing.

Guard Your Teeth from Tooth Grinding

If you grind your teeth, you’re not alone! Many other young people do, too—mostly in their sleep. In fact, it might be a parent or sibling who lets you know you are grinding at night. But constant pressure on your enamel can lead to cracked enamel, sensitivity, and even worn down teeth. How can you protect them? Once again, a mouth guard can be a great solution. We can custom fit one to allow you to sleep comfortably while protecting your teeth.

Eat Healthy Foods & Brush Regularly

We all have bacteria in our mouths. Some are helpful, and some are not. The bacteria in plaque can change food products like sugar and starches into acids. These acids actually break down our enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and decay. Making sugars and carbs a small part of your regular diet, and eating meals rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, will help stop acids from attacking your enamel. And careful brushing and flossing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can help keep those minerals in enamel from breaking down and even help restore them.

Your enamel is the strongest part of your body, and you can help it stay that way. Protect your teeth from accidents, let our team know if you or a parent suspect you are grinding your teeth, eat healthy foods, and keep up your regular brushing. And remember, we are here to help keep your family’s teeth and mouth their healthiest for your strongest, most beautiful smile.

Let’s Talk About Fluoride

March 12th, 2020

So much of parenting is a balancing act. Making sure your child has enough play time and enough nap time. Crafting meals that are both healthy and appealing. Making sure every dental product you use is both effective and safe.

While our team can’t recommend the perfect bedtime story, or tell you why your child just won’t go for that delicious steamed broccoli, we are more than happy to discuss the very best ways to promote healthy, strong teeth. Should fluoride toothpaste be part of your child’s dental routine? For many good reasons, the answer is yes.

Why Fluoride is Important

Our enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies, with the highest concentration of minerals, but it is not indestructible. The bacteria that live in our mouths create acids which attack our enamel. Weakened enamel leads to cavities. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel surface more resistant to these acids, and can actually help our enamel repair itself in a process called “remineralization.” Fluoride helps prevent cavities and makes teeth stronger, and those are benefits that will last your child a lifetime.

Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Fluorosis is a condition that can sometimes develop when a child has been exposed to too much fluoride while the adult teeth are developing below the gum line. (Around the age of eight, children’s teeth have finished forming and are not at risk.) Fluorosis is not a disease, and doesn’t harm teeth, but can lead to faint streaks in the enamel. While this streaking is usually white and subtle, it can sometimes be darker and more noticeable. Teeth discolored by fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but prevention is always the best option.

Finding the Perfect Balance

Talk to us about using fluoride toothpaste when your baby’s first teeth start arriving. If a very young child is at risk for tooth decay, we might recommend early use of fluoride toothpaste. And for these small children, younger than the age of three, a small smear of paste (about the size of a grain of rice) is sufficient if needed. Swallowing fluoride products increases the risk of fluorosis, so make sure to use a very small amount of paste.

Because young children can’t understand the concept of rinsing and spitting, you always want to make sure the amount of toothpaste you use is age-appropriate even as they get older.  From ages three to six, a pea-sized dab of toothpaste is enough. Children should not use fluoride rinses or supplements unless recommended, and should be monitored to make sure they spit out fluoride toothpaste or rinses after brushing.

Most drinking water already has natural levels of fluoride, which normally aren’t a problem. If you are concerned about high fluoride levels in your local water, talk to us. If your water has higher levels of fluoride than normal, you can minimize consumption when your baby is young by breastfeeding, using non-fluoridated water for mixing with formula powder or concentrate, or buying prepared formula. If your child is a toddler, don’t add fluoride rinses or supplements unless they are recommended by a dental or medical professional.

Talk to us during your visit to our office about protecting your child’s teeth. We are happy to help you find just the right amount of fluoride to keep young smiles stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Healthy teeth in a beautiful smile—that’s a perfect balance!

Ease up on your gums — don’t brush your teeth too hard!

February 4th, 2020

A lot of patients go at their teeth like they were sanding an old floor—that is to say, way too hard! Brushing too hard is probably the most common mistake patients make in their oral care routine, and it can be detrimental to the gums and teeth.

What can brushing too hard cause?

  • Receding gums
  • Bone loss around teeth
  • Loss of teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold
  • Worn down enamel

Brushing too hard wears away at your gums, which can lead to the neck of the teeth being exposed. This part of the tooth isn't covered by hard enamel like the rest of the tooth and hence the soft inner layer, or dentin, is exposed. Dentin is very sensitive to hot and cold and much more susceptible to bacterial decay. Once the gums recede due to improper brushing, it’s usually irreversible.

How to brush teeth properly

You know you're supposed to brush your teeth twice a day, so why not do it right? First and foremost, you should only ever brush with a soft bristled brush—not medium or hard—unless directed otherwise by our office. Unless you have braces or specific oral health issues, brushing twice a day for two minutes is usually plenty.

The main purpose of brushing is to remove plaque from your teeth and gums. Plaque is actually soft and is a buildup of bacteria, saliva, and food debris. You really don't need to brush hard to remove it, just make sure you aim your toothbrush at the gum line (where plaque grows) and brush in small circular motions, never a back-and-forth motion.

It's also wise to hold your toothbrush gently. People tend to brush harder the tighter they hold their toothbrush.

Still have questions about proper tooth brushing technique or gum health? Ask any staff member during your next visit to our office; we'd be happy to help!

Treatment and Diagnosis for Your Child’s Teeth Grinding

January 22nd, 2020

The habit of grinding teeth can be both painful and harmful for your children. If you discover that they are frequently grinding their teeth—a condition called bruxism—here is some helpful information on the problem, and how you can find help to put a halt to it.

How to Know if Your Child is Grinding

Sometimes, identifying a child that grinds teeth is as simple as checking in while he or she is asleep. At other times, you may not be able to readily identify the grinding problem. A few of the most common symptoms associated with bruxism include:

  • Frequent teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw (in some cases it may be more subtle; in others it may be loud enough that you can hear it)
  • Teeth that are worn down
  • Complaints of sensitive teeth
  • Pain or tightness in the jaw muscles, or an earache or other jaw pain
  • Frequent unexplained headaches

In most cases, if your children are grinding their teeth, they will do it at night. If the teeth grinding is a result of excessive amounts of stress, it may also happen during the daytime. Some of the most common reasons children grind their teeth involve:

  • Improper alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • As a response to pain, especially for tooth, jaw, or gum pain
  • Excessive stress, tension, or anger

Treatment Options for Bruxism

In many cases, children will grow out of the teeth grinding as their permanent teeth develop, replacing poorly aligned or painful baby teeth. If your child grinds his or her teeth more frequently, or you begin to notice significant damage, it may be more serious and need to be addressed before it causes more permanent pain or problems.

In some cases, our team may recommend that your child wears a protective mouthguard to prevent grinding, or work with a therapist or other specialist to develop awareness of the grinding. If the grinding is caused by stress or anxiety, it may be helpful for you to sit down and talk to your child each day about how she is feeling, and why, to help her work through the stress.

Teeth grinding can be a painful, problematic condition for some children. However, a combination of parental vigilance and frequent visits for regular checkups at our office can help. If you are concerned that your child may be grinding his or her teeth, and it could cause permanent damage before the child grows out of it, come talk to us about strategies for dealing with bruxism, and ways for you to help your child.

Can children be at risk for periodontal disease?

January 3rd, 2020

You want to check all the boxes when you consider your child’s dental health. You make sure your child brushes twice daily to avoid cavities. You’ve made a plan for an orthodontic checkup just in case braces are needed. You insist on a mouthguard for dental protection during sports. One thing you might not have considered? Protecting your child from gum disease.

We often think about gum disease, or periodontitis, as an adult problem. In fact, children and teens can suffer from gingivitis and other gum disease as well. There are several possible reasons your child might develop gum disease:

Poor dental hygiene

Two minutes of brushing twice a day is the recommended amount of time to remove the bacteria and plaque that cause gingivitis (early gum disease). Flossing is also essential for removing bacteria and plaque from hard-to-reach areas around the teeth.

Puberty

The hormones that cause puberty can also lead to gums that become irritated more easily when exposed to plaque. This is a time to be especially proactive with dental health.

Medical conditions

Medical conditions such as diabetes can bring an increased risk of gum disease. Be sure to give us a complete picture of your child’s health, and we will let you know if there are potential complications for your child’s gums and teeth and how we can respond to and prevent them.

Periodontal diseases

More serious periodontal diseases, while relatively uncommon, can affect children and teens as well as adults. Aggressive periodontitis, for example, results in connective and bone tissue loss around the affected teeth, leading to loose teeth and even tooth loss. Let us know if you have a family history of gum disease, as that might be a factor in your child’s dental health, and tell us if you have noticed any symptoms of gum disease.

How can we help our children prevent gum disease? Here are some symptoms you should never ignore:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Redness or puffiness in the gums
  • Gums that are pulling away, or receding, from the teeth
  • Bad breath even after brushing

The best treatment for childhood gum disease is prevention. Careful brushing and flossing and regular visits to our office for a professional cleaning will stop gingivitis from developing and from becoming a more serious form of gum disease. We will take care to look for any signs of gum problems, and have suggestions for you if your child is at greater risk for periodontitis. Together, we can encourage gentle and proactive gum care, and check off one more goal accomplished on your child’s path to lifelong dental health!

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

December 19th, 2019

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. We hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

How to Care for a Teething Baby

November 19th, 2019

Every moment of your baby’s first year of life is precious, since every day your child grows a little, develops new skills, and discovers new things. Most of it is wonderful, but parents don’t like to see their babies in pain. That’s why teething can be such a hard experience. However, you can take steps to make it easier for you and your baby.

What to Expect

Most babies begin teething around the age of six months, when the lower central incisors start to appear. Shortly after this time, the upper central incisors poke through, followed by the lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and second molars. Unfortunately, you’ll probably know that your baby is teething not because you see these teeth come in, but because your baby will be in discomfort. These are some of the signs to watch for when you’re expecting your baby to begin teething.

  • Tender and sore gums

  • More drooling than before

  • Being crankier than usual

  • Chewing on hard objects

What You Can Do

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to make your child more comfortable. These are some approaches that our team recommends:

  • Take a clean moistened wash cloth or use your own washed finger to rub your baby’s gums and provide relief due to the pressure.

  • Provide a firm rubber teething ring for your baby to use, but don't use the type that is filled with liquid.

  • Use a bottle. A bottle filled with cold water can be soothing. Don’t give your baby formula, milk, or juice constantly because the sugar can cause tooth decay.

  • Medications can help for extreme crankiness. Infant Tylenol is an example, but it’s best to check with your pediatrician before giving your baby medications.

You might also want to take special care to dry the drool. It’s not just to keep yourself and your baby dry. Keeping your baby’s skin dry can help prevent irritation.

When to Visit Us

Once your child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start thinking about your baby’s first trip to our office. The American Dental Association suggests that you bring your child to the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, or at about one year of age. We can do a quick check for tooth decay, and we’ll make sure you know how to take care of your child’s new teeth.

 

Fresh Breath All Day Long: 5 Ways to Help Your Child to Avoid Bad Breath

October 21st, 2019

Kids love getting dirty: finger food, playing in puddles, creating mud pies, and clothes riddled with marker stains. Messes are part of childhood, but when it comes to oral hygiene, it is super important to keep teeth clean! In addition to brushing and flossing, here are some tips to keep your child’s breath smelling fresh all day long:

  1. Drink lots of water: The leading cause of bad breath is a dry mouth. Water washes away leftover food particles and can dilute any stinky chemicals or bacteria that may be sitting around.

  1. Snack on fruits and vegetables: The abrasive quality of fibrous fruits and veggies like apples, celery, pineapple, and carrots, helps to clean teeth and naturally scrub away bacteria. 

  1. Yogurt or cheese: The active bacteria found in cultured dairy, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, reduce bacterial compounds that cause bad breath! (Make sure to have unsweetened yogurt, because added sugars can have the opposite effect!)

  1. Herbs: Home garden? Let your child chew on herbs like mint, dill, or sage. Essential oils in the leaves naturally freshen breath.

  1. Sugar free gum: Any snack that increases the amount of saliva in your mouth acts as a natural mouthwash. Sugar free gum and candy contain xylitol, an artificial sugar, which the bad bacteria will cling to.

Pro tip: When deciding between mint or cinnamon, go with the latter! Although mint is good at masking smells, the essential oils in cinnamon are known to fight pesky bacteria!

Adding these habits to your child's daily routine will be a sure way of keeping bad breath away! Creating a daily oral health routine for your child is immensely important, because an achievable oral hygiene routine goes hand in hand with fresh breath and a healthy smile. 

Have any tips yourself? We'd love for you to share them with us next time you're in the office! 

 

Infant Teething Remedies: What Might Help—And What to Avoid

September 19th, 2019

Some lucky babies wake one morning displaying a brand new tooth to the complete surprise of their unsuspecting parents! But your happy baby is irritable and drooling. Or your hearty eater doesn’t feel like finishing her food. Perhaps she finds it hard to go to sleep when she’s usually nodded off before you finish the first lullaby. A small number of children suffer little or no discomfort teething, but for the majority of babies who do, here are some helpful ways to ease their teething pain.

  • Massage--Rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or piece of gauze—gentle pressure is all you need. And do be careful of your fingers once those teeth start coming in!
  • Chewing—there are many colorful and easy to grasp teething toys available, including BPA-free models.
  • Cool Relief—Cool a solid teether in the refrigerator to help ease discomfort. Placing a teething ring in the freezer is not recommended, as extreme cold can be damaging to little mouths and gums.
  • Comfort Food—If your baby is eating solid foods, try cold applesauce or other purees.
  • Skin Care—Drooling is often part of the teething process, but try to keep your child’s face free from rash and chaffing by wiping with a clean cloth when necessary.

And while you are trying to keep your baby comfortable, also be sure to keep them safe!

  • Know what your baby is putting into their mouth. All teething items should be non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals. Teethers filled with fluids may break or leak, so a solid toy is best.
  • Make teething items size-appropriate. Avoid anything small or breakable that might present a choking hazard.
  • Over-the-counter gels and liquids containing benzocaine, meant to reduce pain in the gums and mouth, may on rare occasion lead to serious health conditions in small children. Always check with us or your pediatrician before buying an over-the-counter teething medication for your baby.

For many babies, teething can be a long and sometimes difficult process. If there is anything we can do to help you and your baby in this journey, please give our office a call!

Why should I have my child’s wisdom teeth removed?

August 29th, 2019

The wisdom teeth are the last of the permanent molars to emerge from the gums. This can occur as early as age 17 or as late as 21. Though some teens and young adults experience a completely normal tooth eruption with ideally aligned molars that pose no health threat, this is not the case for everyone.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), wisdom teeth must meet specific criteria to avoid a required extraction. These guidelines include:

  • Completely erupted and non-impacted
  • Completely functional
  • Painless
  • Free of decay
  • Disease-free
  • Capable of being properly cleaned

If one or more of your child’s wisdom teeth do not meet these conditions, we recommend scheduling an appointment with us; an extraction may be necessary.

Impacted wisdom teeth

One of the most common reasons for extracting a wisdom tooth is due to impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that has not erupted and will not fully erupt from the gums. Usually this occurs because there is not enough room for the tooth to emerge. Impaction can be painful and can also lead to infection if left untreated. According to the AAOMS, roughly 90 percent of the teen and adult population has at least one impacted tooth. Extracting an impacted wisdom tooth early can help prevent future complications, such as periodontal disease, infections, and damage to neighboring teeth.

Extracting fully erupted wisdom teeth

Even if your child’s wisdom teeth are fully erupted, our team may recommend removing them as a preventive measure. Fully-erupted third molars often interfere with a healthy bite. This can lead to problems with tooth and jaw alignment and may also contribute to the development of headaches. Your child’s wisdom teeth may also be more prone to tooth decay and gum disease, because their location in the back of the mouth makes them more difficult to reach for brushing and flossing.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, or to schedule an appointment with us, please give us a call!

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

August 12th, 2019

Our team hears this question a lot. While many people believe periodontal disease is an adult problem, studies have indicated that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, as well as other serious infections such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are prevalent among kids and adolescents. First, let’s identify the differences between gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your child’s gums are affected. Characterized by swollen and red gums that bleed easily, gingivitis causes an inflammation of the gums, and is the first stage and mildest form of periodontal disease. The good news is that gingivitis is often reversible. Treatment for gingivitis includes having your child come in for a professional teeth cleaning. It also includes daily brushing, which will help eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your child’s teeth. Your child should also get in the habit of flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles wedged in the crevices between his or her teeth.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease that can not only damage your child’s gum tissue, but also destroy the underlying bone which supports the teeth. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. In some cases, the bacteria from the ensuing infection may also be distributed to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, periodontal ligament, and bone that surround and support your child’s teeth. Periodontal disease causes gums to become red, swollen, and tender, and can even cause the gums to recede (pull away) from the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

Having persistent at-home oral care regimen is a critical step in your child’s fight against periodontal disease. But sometimes brushing and flossing are simply not enough. Having your child’s teeth cleaned twice a year, or as recommended, is crucial.

Early diagnosis of gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease can give you and your child peace of mind. If you are concerned your child is suffering from gum disease, we recommend that you give us a call. We look forward to working with you and giving your child a smile to last a lifetime!

5 Food Swaps for Healthy Teeth

July 25th, 2019

When it comes to taking care of our teeth, striving for perfection is unrealistic. Rather than completely cutting out foods that may harm your smile, try swapping them for less damaging alternatives. 

Below are 5 easy food swaps you can make for clean, shiny teeth!

 

  1. Swap sticky candies or dried fruit for the fresh stuff. It’s no surprise that sour gummies and caramel are not dentist approved snacks, but did you know that dried fruits are also concentrated with sugars that get stuck in your teeth? Curb that sugar craving with fresh fruits instead. Because the fruit fibers are less likely to stick to your teeth, they are also less likely to invite bacteria to sit in your mouth. Really craving candy? Choose chocolate instead, which easily melts or washes away.

  1. Drink carbonated water instead of soda. Soda and sports drinks are loaded with sugar and often contain phosphoric and citric acids that wear away tooth enamel. If you can’t give up carbonated beverages or sweet drinks, opt for fresh fruit juice (with as few ingredients as possible) or sparkling waters with natural flavoring!

  1. Cut back on citrus fruits. - You may be thinking, “What? I thought fruits were good for me?”They are in moderation, but the acid in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges can wear down tooth enamel over time, so be careful how much you eat and drink. Keep in mind, also, that all citrus is not created equal. Grapefruit for example tends to cause more damage, while orange causes the least.

  1. Chew sugar-free gum. When chewing gum, saliva spreads sugars around your teeth and gums and bacteria can build up. However, sugar-free gum can actually help to clean your teeth. The saliva it produces can naturally wash away bacteria.  Plus, many sugarless gum brands are sweetened with xylitol, an alcohol that reduces bacteria. Double whammy!

  1. Eat anything but white bread! You know the feeling: you take a bite of a sandwich and the bread sticks to the roof of your mouth or between your molars. When this happens, sugar (and cavity causing bacteria) are sticking too. All bread contains sugars that can be harmful to teeth, but white bread has the highest sugar content of all breads. We suggest choosing whole grain bread instead. The tougher consistency makes it less likely for sticking to occur.

Your child’s oral hygiene habits are being created right now! Making small changes like those suggested above can have a big effect on their long term oral health.

 

Summer Sports and Mouthguards

June 17th, 2019

School’s out and you’ve emptied your gym locker until next fall. But while you’re stowing away the football gear, the basketball warm-ups, the field hockey sticks, and all the other equipment you’ve collected over the school year (that’s where that other shoe went!), be sure to keep one item handy: your mouthguard.

Team and contact sports like football, basketball, and wrestling aren’t the only potential dental dangers. In fact, almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard.  While you’re keeping active and fit in the summer months, remember to look out for your smile.

  • Sports on wheels

Biking, skateboarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.

  • Court sports

Handball and tennis are not what we consider contact sports, but an unexpected bounce from a ball, or a completely unexpected backhand from your partner, can lead to dental injuries. Ace your workout and wear a mouthguard.

  • Water sports

A fall in the water can lead to a collision with your surfboard or water skis, and water polo often seems to be a game of stamina, accuracy and elbows. Wear your mouthguard on land and sea, and help reduce your chance of dental injury.

  • Team sports

Anyone who has played summer league baseball, softball or soccer knows that occasional contact with other players is pretty much a given. Cushioning your head, mouth, and teeth with a mouthguard will not only protect you, but keep you in the game—and your teammates will appreciate that!

If you already use a mouthguard, keep up the good work! If you don’t, talk to us about the importance of protecting your smile with a mouthguard. There are ready-made options available at drug stores and sporting goods shops. These will provide protection to your mouth and teeth, but can sometimes be bulky and uncomfortable and should never be used with braces. If you would like a mouth protector that provides the best fit and comfort, or if you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard in our office that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.

Whatever activity you choose, play it smart! Don’t gear up without your mouthguard, and you’ll greet next year’s classes energized, fit, and sporting a beautiful smile!

Are My Child’s Baby Teeth on Schedule?

May 31st, 2019

 

Your darling three-month old is crying and fussy—can she be teething already? Or, your happy baby boy has just celebrated his first birthday—with only one tooth in that beautiful, gummy smile. Is this normal? Probably! While baby teeth do typically erupt (come in) in the same order for all babies, and around the same time, there is still a lot of flexibility in the time it takes for a full, healthy smile to develop.

Baby teeth actually form before your baby is born, and those 20 teeth are there under the gums waiting to come out and shine. And even though there are no firm and fast dates for each of these primary teeth to erupt, it’s helpful to have a general overview of typical teething patterns so you know what to look forward to.

Incisors

These little teeth create a charming baby smile, and, if your finger has been in the wrong place at the wrong time, a very sharp one as well! That is because these tiny incisors are made to bite into foods. You might notice this when you introduce solid foods, even if the majority of your child’s “chewing” is done with her back gums. These teeth are the earliest to arrive.

  • Six to ten months old: The lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) are often the first to come in.

  • Eight to 12 months old: The upper incisors (8-12 months) are the next to show.

  • Nine to 13 months old: The upper lateral incisors on each side of the front teeth arrive.

  • Ten to 16 months old: The lower lateral incisors appear.

First Molars

Because these are larger teeth, babies often experience another bout of teething pain at this time. The large flat surface of each molar helps your child to chew and grind food, so he can handle a wider variety of foods and develop his chewing skills.

  • 13 to 19 months old: You can generally expect to see the upper first molars arrive.

  • 14 to 18 months old: The lower first molars appear.

Canines (Cuspids)

Fitting between the first molars and the incisors, the strong, pointed shape of the canine teeth allows your child to grip food and break it apart more easily.

  • 16 to 22 months old: The upper two canines make their way into the space between the incisors and the first molars.

  • 17 to 23 months old: The two lower canines appear.

Second Molars

By the age of three, most children have a full set of baby teeth.

  • 23 to 31 months old: The second pair of bottom molars start erupting—you are in the home stretch!

  • 25 to 33 months old: The upper second molars come in—completing that beautiful set of 20 teeth!

Baby teeth are extremely important, as our will tell you when you visit our office. They help your child eat and chew, develop face and jaw muscles, assist proper speech formation, and provide space for the adult teeth to come in properly. Now that your child’s smile is complete, keep providing him with the same care and attention you have been giving those little teeth since the arrival of the very first incisor.

It seems that so much of new parenthood is scheduling—when to feed her, when to put her to bed, how many hours between naps. But we soon find out that every baby is not on the same schedule, and the same is true for the arrival of their teeth. We should see your baby when that first tooth comes in, or by his or her first birthday. And if you ever have concerns at any time about your child’s teething schedule or teething delays, always feel free to give us a call.

Pediatric Dentistry Q&A

May 16th, 2019

Today, our team thought we would answer some of the most frequent questions about pediatric dentistry and oral health we hear from parents.

What constitutes a “healthy, balanced diet” for my child?

A healthy, balanced diet contains all the nutrients your child needs to grow, including one serving each of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs per day. Make sure your child limits snacking in between meals and limits how frequently they consume food or beverages that contain sugar, which is known to cause tooth decay. Besides pastries, cookies, and candy, sugars are usually found in processed foods such as crackers, cereals, and soda, as well as in condiments like ketchup.

Should my kid give up all foods that contain sugar?

Absolutely not, we simply recommend choosing and serving sugars sparingly. A food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. When your child chews during his or her meal, the saliva produced helps neutralize the acids that are found in sugary and starchy foods. Foods that are not easily washed away from your child’s teeth by saliva, water, or milk have more cavity-causing potential.

What causes cavities?

Many types of bacteria live in our mouths—some good, some bad. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on your child’s teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids then attack the enamel, and eventually eat through the enamel and create holes in the teeth, which our team call cavities, or caries.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

This is a great question that we hear a lot. Make sure that your child brushes his teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing simply can’t. And finally, we encourage you to schedule regular appointments with us so that we can check the state of your child’s teeth and gums, as well as provide a professional cleaning to protect him or her from cavities and gum disease.

What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

We recommend you clean your baby’s gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. This is even before your baby’s first tooth appears. As soon as his or her first tooth does appear, you may begin using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore or ask us for one during your next visit.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, we recommend rinsing the irritated area with warm salt water and placing a cold compress on his or her face if it is swollen. If you have any at home, give your child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the affected teeth or gums. Finally, give us a call as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

We hope that helps! Please give us a call if you have any questions or ask us next time you visit our office for your child’s appointment! If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

 

Can This Sweetener Promote Healthy Teeth?

April 25th, 2019

Eating too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, but it can be difficult to find snacks or cook without sugar. However, there is an all-natural sweetener that can help clean teeth and still satisfy your sweet tooth. Here’s how sugar can lead to cavities, and why xylitol is a sugar substitute you should know about. 

Sugar Fuels Cavities 

Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria on your teeth, and creates acid that erodes enamel. This causes plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. 

Before buying your children snacks, check the back of the package for the amount of sugar contained in the snack. Try to avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, all of which are notoriously high in sugar. It can be hard to find packaged snacks without a lot of sugar, so you may consider adding more fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet. This can help cut a lot of sugar out of your overall diet, and improve your oral health. 

Xylitol is a Sweetener, but Not Sugar 

Xylitol is a lot like sugar, but it’s actually very different in some very important ways. In fact, Xylitol has the sweet benefits of traditional sugar, but it doesn’t have the negative effects on teeth like sugar. 

Microscopic Differences 

Sugar comes from the sugar cane plant, and is genetically different from xylitol. Xylitol naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables, and its genetic makeup is much healthier for teeth than traditional sugar. The proteins and carbohydrates in traditional sugar fuel cavities, while the genetic makeup of xylitol prevents this from occurring.  By preventing acidic attacks on teeth, xylitol can actually help strengthen enamel and prevent future tooth decay.

Xylitol Stimulates Saliva Production  

One way the mouth fights cavities is by producing saliva to wash away food debris, and restore its proper Ph balance. Xylitol naturally stimulates saliva that aids in overall oral health. Increased saliva can help prevent bad breath by eliminating dry mouth, and prevent prolonged exposure to acid and sugar caused by food debris.

Try Xylitol

Xylitol comes in granules that resemble traditional sugar, and it is incredibly easy to substitute in place of sugar. You can buy xylitol “sugar” from health food stores and natural grocers, usually in the baking aisle. Try substituting xylitol for sugar in your recipes, and see if the taste is affected. By incorporating more xylitol – and reducing your sugar intake – you can gain vital oral health benefits. 

 

A good way to try xylitol is by getting gum sweetened with xylitol. Try chewing it 15 minutes after a meal to improve your saliva production, and naturally clean your teeth. Xylitol gum with help you rid your mouth of food debris, and combat bad breath. You can find xylitol gum in most pharmacieshealth food stores, or online.  

 

Visit Our Office

By maintaining a healthier diet, you can help your child prevent cavities and promote a healthier smile. You should also encourage them to brush twice per day for two minutes at a time, and floss once daily. Additionallyit’s important to visit our office every six months so that we can keep an eye on the state of your child’s smile and determine a treatment plan that keeps them cavity-free. 

Kids and Starbucks – Should Parents be Concerned?

February 22nd, 2018

As a parent, you have the world on your mind when it comes to raising your child. A healthy diet is one of the primary concerns of most parents, and can go a long way in helping children get healthy teeth. Unfortunately, some of your child’s favorite drinks at Starbucks are packed with sugar, and terrible for their teeth.

Sugar is the Enemy

Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria on teeth, and creates acid that erodes enamel. This causes plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. Unfortunately, most of your kid’s favorite drinks from Starbucks are absolutely LOADED with sugar. 

Top 3 Worst Starbucks Drinks for Kids Teeth

The American Heart Association recommends children limit their daily sugar intake to less than 26 grams per day, and adults should have less than 36 grams per day. Unfortunately, most of the items on Starbucks’ menu far exceed 30 grams of sugar – even if the drink is a “small” (tall) on the menu.

1 - Any Frappuccino

One of the most popular drinks aimed at kids, Frappuccinos, are absolutely loaded with sugar - each of which contains AT LEAST 50 grams of sugar per drink. Frappuccinos come in a variety of flavors, but each of them contains far more sugar than your child needs to consume in one day.

2 – Iced White Chocolate Mocha

Another iced drink, the Iced White Chocolate Mocha contains 54 grams of sugar per drink, which is far too much sugar for one drink to contain. That’s because white chocolate is made with vanilla, and sweetened with sugar when it’s processed.

3 - Cinnamon Dolce Crème

Here’s an item from the kid’s menu that is terrible for teeth. The Cinnamon Dolce Crème doesn’t have caffeine, but it is loaded with sugar at 28 grams of sugar in a tall drink, and 37 grams in a grande.

Don’t be Fooled by the Kids Menu

Starbucks has a kid’s menu that features drinks with less sugar and caffeine than their other beverages. But, don’t be fooled: each drink contains at least 25 grams of sugar, and the steamed apple juice has a whopping 50 grams of sugar. If you choose to get your child a beverage from Starbucks, go with a hot, decaffeinated tea and a little bit of honey.

Visit Our Office

We suggest that your child avoids visiting Starbucks, and instead focuses on drinking more water and real fruit juices. Drinks from Starbucks are loaded with sugar that can cause cavities, and lead to other oral health issues.   

Visit our office for more information about a mouth-healthy diet that can help your child grow a healthy smile.

Kids and Starbucks – Should Parents be Concerned?

February 22nd, 2018

As a parent, you have the world on your mind when it comes to raising your child. A healthy diet is one of the primary concerns of most parents, and can go a long way in helping children get healthy teeth. Unfortunately, some of your child’s favorite drinks at Starbucks are packed with sugar, and terrible for their teeth.

Sugar is the Enemy

Sugar feeds the harmful bacteria on teeth, and creates acid that erodes enamel. This causes plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. Unfortunately, most of your kid’s favorite drinks from Starbucks are absolutely LOADED with sugar. 

Top 3 Worst Starbucks Drinks for Kids Teeth

The American Heart Association recommends children limit their daily sugar intake to less than 26 grams per day, and adults should have less than 36 grams per day. Unfortunately, most of the items on Starbucks’ menu far exceed 30 grams of sugar – even if the drink is a “small” (tall) on the menu.

1 - Any Frappuccino

One of the most popular drinks aimed at kids, Frappuccinos, are absolutely loaded with sugar - each of which contains AT LEAST 50 grams of sugar per drink. Frappuccinos come in a variety of flavors, but each of them contains far more sugar than your child needs to consume in one day.

2 – Iced White Chocolate Mocha

Another iced drink, the Iced White Chocolate Mocha contains 54 grams of sugar per drink, which is far too much sugar for one drink to contain. That’s because white chocolate is made with vanilla, and sweetened with sugar when it’s processed.

3 - Cinnamon Dolce Crème

Here’s an item from the kid’s menu that is terrible for teeth. The Cinnamon Dolce Crème doesn’t have caffeine, but it is loaded with sugar at 28 grams of sugar in a tall drink, and 37 grams in a grande.

Don’t be Fooled by the Kids Menu

Starbucks has a kid’s menu that features drinks with less sugar and caffeine than their other beverages. But, don’t be fooled: each drink contains at least 25 grams of sugar, and the steamed apple juice has a whopping 50 grams of sugar. If you choose to get your child a beverage from Starbucks, go with a hot, decaffeinated tea and a little bit of honey.

Visit Our Office

We suggest that your child avoids visiting Starbucks, and instead focuses on drinking more water and real fruit juices. Drinks from Starbucks are loaded with sugar that can cause cavities, and lead to other oral health issues.   

Visit our office for more information about a mouth-healthy diet that can help your child grow a healthy smile.

2017 Candy Buy Back!

October 19th, 2017

Halloween can be a fantastic time for families to dress up in spooky costumes, and inherit quite a lot of candy! While candy can be really tasty, it is terrible for teeth, and much of it goes uneaten every year. Our dental office is trying to help out by hosting our annual candy buy back campaign, which rewards children with cash for exchanging their candy. Even better is that the majority of the candy will be donated to Operation Gratitude, which gives troops serving abroad a taste of home.

Operation Gratitude annually sends upwards of 200,000 care packages filled with food, entertainment, hygiene, and handmade items, plus personal letters of appreciation to members of our armed forces. It’s an amazing way to say “Thank You” to all who serve, and help them feel more at home while they’re serving.

Each Halloween, we offer our young patients a chance to trade in their hard earned trick-or-treat candy for a little bit of money. For each pound of candy that they donate, we give them 1 dollar in cash. Then, we take the candy and send it to Operation Gratitude to help give our armed service men and women a little slice of home.

Contact our office if you would like to participate in our candy buy back, and support our troops with the help of Operation Gratitude.

Healthy Habits for your Kids

October 15th, 2014

Your kids’ teeth problems are usually quite common, and usually not serious. Most importantly, according to Colgate, all children’s teeth and gum issues are fixable.

You may have the toughest kid on the block, but even if your little boy or girl is able to handle themselves in the playground, your dentist will tell you that the enamel on their teeth isn’t nearly as strong.

Because the enamel on your kids teeth is fifty percent thinner than what coats your teeth, sugar can attack more readily leading to tooth decay. If the decay is not taken care of as soon as possible, cavities will develop. Regular dental checkups will solve the problem allowing your pediatric dentist to address the issue before it develops any further.

Dental Sealants are another way to prevent cavities from developing in your child’s molars. Those back teeth have tiny grooves and fissures that are impossible to brush. Dental Sealants are actually painted on to the teeth helping prevent tooth decay.

These days more kids are drinking bottled water. Unfortunately, bottled water does not contain fluoride, which is essential for replacing mineral loss in the enamel on your kid’s teeth. Fluoride can also help prevent dental caries. Ask your dentist about fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses for kids if you and your family do not drink tap water.

Although the holidays are just around the corner, and your kids are probably still enjoying their Halloween candy, it is imperative that you keep those treats to a minimum. If your son or daughter got into the trick or treat bag a few times too many, make sure they rinse well with water. Better yet, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist just to be safe.

Diet is imperative to a healthy mouth. Show your kids the importance of healthy foods and make sure that you incorporate healthy choices at mealtime. Avoid sugary treats, especially soft drinks and candy, and keep those chips and other starchy foods out of the house.

When it comes to your kid’s teeth common sense prevails. Watch what your children eat, teach them healthy brushing and flossing habits, and make sure to schedule regular dental checkups with your pediatric dentist.

Remember the oral hygiene habits that you teach your kids today will help them keep their teeth for the rest of their lives.

Bruxism Could Be To Blame for Your Childs Earaches

October 1st, 2014

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is a condition caused by stress and anxiety, but bruxism can also occur in children.

According to the American Dental Association, bruxism is common in children. Experts say that three out of every ten kids will clench or grind their teeth. Bruxism has been reported in about twenty percent of kids up until they the age of 11. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding occurs when kids are in a deep sleep or under stress. However, because kid’s jaws and teeth change and grow quickly, it is usually outgrown by adolescence.

When your kids are asleep, the last thing you want to hear is grinding and tooth gnashing. Although there have been several studies conducted, no one really knows for sure why bruxism occurs. Some possible causes include misaligned teeth, allergies, or mouth irritations. Your dentist explains that kids may also grind teeth to ease pain from teething or an earache. Anger or nervous tension can also be a possible cause, especially if there has been a change to his or her normal routine. Arguing family members can also cause jaw clenching or tooth grinding because of additional stress. Hyperactivity could also be another cause of bruxism.

Most cases of bruxism often go undetected. Unless your child is experiencing earaches or headaches, there may not be any adverse effects. Usually it is the family members who are most bothered by bruxism because of the sound of tooth grinding and gnashing.

Depending on the child, your dentist will tell you that teeth clenching and grinding can actually wear down the enamel on the teeth, cause chipping, or tooth breakage. Other effects that may occur from bruxism include temperature sensitivity, jaw problems, and severe facial pain. Although it is not common in children, problems with the temporomandibular joint or TMJ may be to blame, especially if clenching and grinding is chronic.

Bruxism episodes last about four seconds and can happen about six times in an hour. In a recent study, it was found that bruxism episodes occur in stage two and REM sleep and in clusters.

If you suspect that your child may be suffering from bruxism, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist who can help determine the cause of your kids clenching and grinding.

What You and Your Kids Should Know about Tooth Decay

September 15th, 2014

According to your Web MD, quite a few things can cause tooth decay, and if you want your kids to grow up with less fillings than you did, pay close attention to the list below.

If your children have had lots of cavities in the past, chances are, they will have them in the future. Make sure that your kids practice good oral hygiene, and if you are unsure, schedule an appointment with your dentist who may be able to improve the way your kids brush and floss.

Every mouth is loaded with bacteria. Combine that with food it is like smearing acid on the tooth or teeth. Eventually acid will eat away at the enamel causing tooth decay. Keep your kids away from sugar and sticky dried fruits and make sure they rinse after eating.

These days it seems like sugar is added to everything, even so called healthy fruit juices. When you shop for groceries read the labels and try to stay away from starchy foods such as white bread that are loaded with sugar.

If your teenager has had fillings in the past, make sure that your dentist checks all old dental restorations. Poor quality fillings can leak causing plaque to form in the cracks and crevices.

Fruit is good for kids, but try to include citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits as part of a meal. If your children do eat citrus fruits make sure that they rinse after eating.

If your kids drink bottled water, they are not getting the fluoride that they need. Ask your dentist to recommend a good fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse as bottled water does not contain fluoride.

Nursing your baby too long will put your kids at risk. Recent research has indicated that prolonged breast and bottle-feeding could put children in the high-risk category when it comes to cavities.

Cavities under existing fillings can be a problem at any age, and if your teens have dental restorations, make sure that your dentist checks for fractures and breakages.

If your kids have braces, their risk of cavities is much greater. Metal mouth appliances make it difficult to brush and almost impossible to floss. Ask your dentist about floss threaders, which help the floss, get under the wires.

For more information on oral hygiene and tooth decay, schedule an appointment with your kid’s dentist today.

Seven Tips for a Healthy Mouth

September 1st, 2014

According to the American Dental Association and your dentist, taking your son or daughter to the dentist doesn’t have to be a nightmare, in fact, when you visit a dentist who specializes in pediatric dentistry it can actually be a fun experience.

The most important thing to remember is to prepare your child before each dental appointment. Give your son or daughter a general overview so that they know what to expect. Say things like, “The dentist is going to look at your gums and your teeth, take a few pictures, and use a special toothbrush to clean your teeth.”

Make sure that you do not pass your own dental visit fears on to your kids. Even if you have a real dental phobia, it is imperative that you make sure that you tell your children that the dentist is there to help keep their teeth healthy so that they can have a pretty smile.

Your dentist recommends that you follow the procedures below in order to keep fillings and other dental procedures to a minimum.

Teach your kids to brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice each day, especially after dinner. Fluoride toothpaste should be kept to the size of a pea for children under three.

Make sure that your kids are brushing correctly. If you are unsure that your son or daughter has the brushing down pat, you may want to do it yourself until your child is about seven or eight years old, and make sure that you watch as they brush.

As soon as your kids have teeth that touch together start flossing. Bacteria and food can be lodged between the teeth and as your dentist will tell you, flossing is the best way to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Keep candy and sticky foods to a minimum. Because dried fruit and chewy treats can stick to the grooves and fissure, rinsing and even brushing may not get rid of the sugar.

Those sippy cups could be causing problems for your kid’s teeth. If your son or daughter must sip on something, go with water. Fruit juices and other sugary drinks when sipped are like bathing teeth in sugar.

Never send your child to bed with juice or milk unless brushing is planned before they go to sleep. If they are thirsty, water is your best bet.

Teach your kids to eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Your dentist will tell you that diet plays a huge roll in dental health.

If you would like more information regarding dental health for kids, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist today.

Oral Piercings Can Cause Problems for Teeth and Gums

August 15th, 2014

These days teens are fascinated with tattoos and body piercings, and while these 21st century fads seem to be all the rage, but your dentist will tell you that there are some things that both you and your teen should be aware of, especially if your son or daughter has been considering oral piercing.

According to the American Dental Association, tongue splitting and oral piercing can cause serious health issues, and although it is a popular way of expressing oneself, it can be dangerous.

Your mouth is full of bacteria, and when you or your teens pierce your tongue, or cheek, swelling can occur. Reported cases even include an emergency tracheotomy because the person’s tongue swelled so much that it cut of the airway.

Your dentist has seen other problems with oral piercings and tongue splitting including choking, endocarditis and even hepatitis. Bite down too hard on the jewelry and you risk a cracked tooth not to mention the jewelry constantly clicking up against your teeth.

Pierced lips, cheeks, tongues, and uvulas, which are the tissue that hangs at the back of your throat, will interfere with swallowing, eating, and talking. Oral piercing can also cause swelling, pain and infection, as your mouth is moist and a breeding ground for bacteria. Infections can be life threatening, and if not treated immediately could cause serious problems.

Because people with mouth jewelry constantly play or bite on the ring or post, it can cause damage to gums eventually leading to sensitive and cracked teeth. Oral piercings can also cause damage to existing dental fillings.

Teens and adults who have oral piercings may not realize that they could be hypersensitive to metals causing allergic reactions. Nerve damage can also occur, and that numb tongue that you had right after the piercing occurred, could become permanent. If this happens it will affect how your mouth moves and your sense of taste. If the blood vessels in your tongue have been damaged you could be susceptible to excessive blood loss. Because tongue piercing increases your saliva flow, you could be subjected to excessive drooling.

Oral piercings and tongue splitting may be cool, but getting sick isn’t. Before you or your teens take the leap, talk to your dentist who can share some of the risks and dangers of oral piercing and tongue splitting.

Put Dental Check Up On Your To Do List Before School Starts

August 1st, 2014

It won’t be long before the kids are back in school, but if you neglected to schedule an appointment with your kid’s dentist in Chicago, do it today.

Not all tooth decay causes pain. In fact, if your son or daughter has older fillings, dental caries could be hiding underneath.

Children of all ages can get cavities and it’s not always because of poor oral hygiene. According to recent studies, about four million preschoolers are dealing with tooth decay with that number rising by over 600,000 kids in the past decade. Sugar could be to blame as packaged foods, fruit juice and other snacks contain far more sugar than they did when you were a child. Bottled water could be another reason for the rise in tooth decay, as bottle water does not contain fluoride.

Tooth decay can also be hereditary, and if you had cavities when you were a kid, your children will most likely suffer as well. Soft teeth do not run in the family, but decay-causing bacteria do.

If your teeth have caused you problems over the years, it is imperative that you take action where your kid’s dental health is concerned. The American Academy of Pediatrics and your Chicago Kids Dentist recommends that you speak with your pediatric dentist making him or her aware of your own dental history. This will enable your dentist to take extra precautions such as dental sealants if your kids are in the high-risk category.

If your kids grind or clench their teeth while sleeping, dental fillings could be at risk. Constant pressure on tooth colored and amalgam fillings will cause them to crack, chip, or wear down. The only way to determine if the seals on your children’s fillings have broken down is to schedule an appointment with your kids dentist to avoid additional decay to a tooth that has been damaged in the past. If the decay is left untreated, it could damage the pulp leading to a dangerous abscess and an eventual root canal.

Get your kids ready for school this year and schedule a dental check up with your pediatric dentist in Chicago. After all, new clothes and school supplies shouldn’t be the only items on your to do list.

Teaching Your Kids the Dangers of Smoking

July 15th, 2014

As hard as it may seem to believe, kids are still taking up smoking. In fact, your Pediatric Dentist will tell you that tweens and teens are puffing cigarettes and chewing smokeless tobacco products more than ever. Hookah pipes are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and are just as dangerous as other tobacco products.

Although smoking is glamorized thanks to the tobacco industry, you still have more influence on your kids than the celebrities that smoke in the movies or on television.

If you suspect that your kids have started to smoke, sit down and have a heart to heart talk. Tell them how smoking can affect their bodies, including their teeth and gums. Explain to your sons and daughters that you do not want them to smoke. Consistent messages will get your point across making smoking less likely.

It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking and smokeless tobacco products. Not only does smoking affect your children’s health, but it can also cause serious issues to their teeth and gums. Gum disease, horrible staining, and receding gums are just a few of the problems that can occur with smoking. Start giving your children powerful messages about the dangers of smoking as early as five years old. Those early warnings may prevent them from taking up the habit, which can begin as early as 10 or 11 years old. Kids that have started before the teen years will become addicted to smoking or smokeless tobacco products by the time they reach the tender age of 14.

If you smoke, kick the habit. According to NBC News, parents who smoke or use smokeless tobacco or more likely to produce children who develop the habit at an early age. Let your kids know how difficult it is to stop smoking and how much you wish you had never started.

Keep a smoke free policy in your home and if you have friends or family members who indulge, make sure that it is never allowed inside or near your children.

Know your kids friends and find out if they smoke. Peer pressure can result in your son or daughter taking their first puff leading to a dangerous addiction.

If you catch your kids smoking, avoid ultimatums, threats, and punishment. Your Pediatric Dentist advises that you ask your son or daughter what the attraction to smoking is and what can be done to help kick the habit.

Point out to your kids that the tobacco industry spends billions of dollars in order to make their products appealing. Kids, especially teens that smoke may become angry helping to motivate them into quitting all together.

If you would like more information regarding smoking and oral health, schedule an appointment with your Dentist who may be able to help you and your kids stop smoking.

Root Canal Therapy Is Not Just for Adults

July 1st, 2014

Your kids can get tooth decay. Mild tooth decay may need to be filled with severe decay requiring a root canal, or a crown. It is imperative that you schedule a dental appointment with your Kids Dentist in Chicago when the first tooth erupts, usually at around six months.

Fillings are used to repair decayed or broken tooth. Common materials used include alloy, metal, porcelain, plastic, or a combination of materials. If you have toddler that has a cavity in a front tooth, your dentist will use a tooth colored resin.

Root canals are not just for adults. According to Colgate, kids may require a root canal if the cavity is too big and a filling isn’t enough to repair the damage. Root canal therapy is safe and effective, and may be necessary, even in baby teeth.

Your dentist explains that primary teeth are lost between six and twelve years of age, but if there is an infection or trauma, a root canal may be required.

Baby teeth function just like adult teeth. Missing teeth can cause problems regardless of how old your child is and can affect eating and talking.

Primary teeth serve as a guide when it comes to the proper placement of permanent teeth. If baby teeth are missing and lost before their time, primary teeth could become crowded or crooked. Without adequate space, adult teeth may be tilted or cause bite problems, which could lead to orthodontic treatment once your son or daughter gets older.

Because the inside of the tooth, or the pulp, is loaded with nerves and blood vessels problems could develop including pain and sensitivity. If the pulp is dying or diseased, root canal therapy may be needed before infection or a dangerous abscess develops.

Your Pediatric Dentist may use indirect pulp therapy by applying an antibiotic to the decay before sealing the damaged tooth. A pulpotomy may also be used to remove the damaged pulp while stabilizing the healthy portion of the pulp. Also called a partial root canal this treatment has been proven successful in many cases.

Of course, the only way to determine if your son or daughter requires a filling or a root canal is to schedule an appointment with your Pediatric Dentist.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

June 15th, 2014

Baby bottle tooth decay, commonly known as nursing bottle syndrome, and nursing carries, happens when your child’s teeth are constantly in contact with beverages loaded with sugar. Formula, milk, fruit juice, and even fruit juice that you have diluted with water, can cause early childhood carries. Even if you breastfeed, your baby could still be susceptible to baby bottle tooth decay. Once any of these liquids begin to break down inside your child’s mouth, bacteria begins to feed on the sugars causing cavities and dental caries.

If your kids love to drink sugary beverages, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist as baby bottle tooth decay can make it tough to eat and can cause pain.

Baby teeth act as space savers for your children’s adult teeth. Unfortunately if your kids baby teeth are damaged it could result in improper positioning. This could also result in crooked permanent teeth or overcrowding. If your kid’s teeth are decayed, an abscess could occur spreading the infection to other parts of the body.

According to Medicine Net, there are some things that you can do to help prevent nursing caries.

Substitute juices, milk and sugary liquids with water. If your child must have a watered down juice drink, follow with a baby bottle filled with water.

If your kids use pacifiers, never dip them in sugary liquids, honey, fruit juice, or plain sugar.

When you put your child down for bedtime or naptime, resist the urge to fill his or her baby bottle with sugary liquids or milk. Even watered down juice can increase the risk of tooth decay. Again, water is the best and will keep your kids hydrated while sleeping.

Because human breast milk can also cause dental caries, never allow your child to nurse while sleeping. Fill the bottle with water or give your child a pacifier.

Resist the urge to add sugar to your finicky eater’s food. Doing so will cause the bacteria in your child’s mouth to feed on the sugar eventually causing tooth decay.

Your dentist recommends that you wipe your baby’s mouth with a wet cloth even if your child does not have teeth. After each feeding, wipe the gums and any teeth that have erupted as this can help remove sugars and plaque.

Be sure and ask your pediatric dentist about fluoride. Too much can cause spots and permanent damage to your kids teeth. Not enough will cause tooth decay. If your water is not fluoridated your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments.

Lastly, teach your kids to use a sippy cup by the time they reach the age of one. Sippy cups help reduce sugar exposure. Have your son or daughter drink water, as sugary drinks, including milk, will cause tooth decay.

For more information regarding baby bottle tooth decay, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist who can help your kids keep their teeth for the rest of their lives.

Tooth Decay Could Be Genetic

June 1st, 2014

All people are susceptible to tooth decay, but infants, toddlers, adolescents, teens and tweens can be prone to cavities. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 19 percent of children between two and nineteen live with cavities that are left untreated.

Children are twice as likely to get cavities because they do not brush and floss as they should. Dental caries, which can be passed from one to another, are actually communicable diseases that one family member can give to another because of cup and utensil sharing.

According to a Pediatric Dentist, there are a number of factors that could be contributing to your children’s tooth decay. Cavities form thanks to bacteria, sugars, and starches that accumulate on the teeth and gums. This dangerous mix creates acids that will deplete calcium, which is needed to keep your tooth enamel strong. The mouth germ, technically called mutans streptococcus is a germ causes plaque. Plaque coats your teeth with even more acid that adds to the tooth decay that has already started to form. Twenty seconds is all it takes for the bacteria to covert to acid after a sugary snack has been enjoyed. This happens several times during a meal. How you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Sucking on a hard candy all day is actually more detrimental than eating an entire bag of candy for lunch.

If you have been reading the Chicago Kids Dentist blog you will know how damaging sugar is to your kids teeth, but so are food items that most consider healthy. Fruit juice is highly acidic as is certain types of fish and bread. Carbonated drinks can also hurt teeth.

Of course, your kids don’t have to give these treats up completely. Ask your Pediatric Dentist about snacks that help produce saliva to wash away some of the dangerous acids. Keep snacking before bed to a minimum, and never give your son or daughter anything acidic before bedtime. Try giving your kids cheese following an acidic meal as it helps to neutralize the acids.

Before brushing, teach your kids to rinse after a meal. Wait approximately thirty minutes and then have them brush, as the acid works quickly making the enamel on your teeth more vulnerable if you or your kids brush immediately after eating.

These days, dentists understand how genetics affect teeth and gums. Just as your genes determine the color of your eyes, height and hair color, genes also affect teeth and gums right down to the hardness of the enamel. This explains why people who have impeccable oral hygiene habits find themselves sitting in the dentist’s chair more often than they would like.

If you would like more information on keeping your kids teeth healthy through adulthood, contact a Pediatric Dentist in your area who can help your kids keep their teeth well into the senior years.

Finding the Perfect Kids Dentist on the World Wide Web

May 15th, 2014

Finding the perfect dentist for the newest member of your family can be tough, especially if you have just moved the family across the country. Go online and you will see dozens of dentists in your area, but how do you know where to start? Pediatric Dentistry is a specialty, and if you don’t know anyone in the area and forgot to ask your old dentist for a recommendation, don’t panic.

Head to the web and do a search for dentists. Type in your city and zip code. If you are searching for a pediatric dentist on Google, include infant, toddler, or teen in the city name search. Once you have found a few suitable dentists in your new community start a list. Be sure to highlight the things you liked about the dentist and number your list in order of preference.

Check your list against the online review sites and see how each dentist ranks. Honest reviews are important, especially if you do not have any personal recommendations. If the reviews are mixed, keep looking. You want to find a dentist who ranks consistently with at least four stars.

Go through each dentist’s website with a fine tooth comb. Read the products and services page and don’t forget to check the dental teams about us page. You’ll want to find a dentist who provides you with his or her training and schooling and one who is continually furthering his or her dental education with classes, seminars and workshops.

The interior of the dentist’s office should be clean, comfortable, and inviting. Kids need to be kept busy, especially if they have had a bad experience with a dentist. First timers will appreciate games that will keep busy minds occupied before they meet with the pediatric dentist. A good pediatric dentist will have educational toys for the kids, updated magazines, and a television for you.

Call ahead. If you have narrowed down your search to three final candidates, call the office. Talk to the receptionist and see what kind of vibe you get. If your call was answered with a friendly hello and how can I help you, you are on the right track.

Ask questions. If the office is only open 3 days a week, you may want to rethink your number one choice. Fees, insurance plans, and payment options need to be discussed before you book a dental appointment as well.

Accidents happen and if your son has a dental emergency on the baseball field, it is vital that you have a pediatric dentist who is available 24 hours 7 days a week. Most dentists have a referral dentist whom they trust in the event of a dental emergency.

Trust your instincts. If you have a good feeling about a new dentist, schedule an appointment. You’ll know if the two of you are a good fit the first time you or any member of your family sits in the chair.

A Chicago Pediatric Dentist You Can Count on

May 1st, 2014

You may have had a fear of the dentist when you were young, and may still be afraid to sit in the dental chair however, it is vital that you do not pass that fear on to your kids. Your kids do not have to fear the dentist, in fact, not all kids are afraid of the dentist; especially if you make sure that your children understand how important dental hygiene and dental health is. According to the Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago, there are a few things you can do to put your kids at ease.

Before making an appointment with a Chicago Pediatric Dentist do your research. You want to make sure that the dentist you choose for your kids is specially trained to work with kids.

Ask your friends and family members whom they take their kids to. If they have had the same Pediatric Dentist for years, it’s a good bet that your new dentist will be the perfect fit for your family.

Before you take your child to the dentist, pay a visit to the office. If all you see is a few metal chairs and some outdated magazines, keep looking. You want to be sure that your new Pediatric Dentist have plenty of toys, games, books and videos to keep your children occupied. The staff from Chicago Kids DDS has created a welcoming environment that is fun for both parents and kids.

The team of pediatric dentists that you choose for your kids will need to be well versed on the latest technologies continuing their own education with workshops and seminars. Choose a pediatric dentist or a team of dentists who can meet with parents and kids in order to teach them good oral hygiene. This includes teaching your kids how to brush and floss, proper diet, and the importance of regular checkups.

If you would like more information regarding pediatric dentistry, schedule an appointment with the best team of Kids Dentists in Chicago, after all the health and well being of your kids and their teeth and gums depends on it.

When to Schedule an Appointment with a Pediatric Dentist

April 1st, 2014

Pediatric Dentistry in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago is imperative when it comes to your kids teeth and gums, and if your child is six months or older and has never been to the dentist, it is time to schedule an appointment for a dental check up.

If your children have never been to the dentist, or if it is your first time taking your son or daughter to the dentist, it is important to remember that a pediatric dentist has been specially trained. According to Colgate, a good pediatric dentist will know what to look for when it comes to dental development. Problems can often occur quite early because of baby bottle decay, thumb sucking, and teething irritations.

When you schedule the first office visit with your Chicago Kids Dentist, your children’s teeth will be evaluated in order to determine the next steps necessary for the development of healthy teeth and gums.

During the exam, your pediatric dentist will review the health history of your kids and take x-rays that are necessary in order to determine what, if any, problems are present. The examination will also include a thorough examination of your son or daughters gums, palate, teeth, and tongue. Your Chicago Kids Dentist will also teach your children about healthy food choices, and most importantly, the correct way to brush and the right way to floss.

After your Childs first dental exam, your pediatric dentist will also give you the information you need to help your kids develop healthy teeth and gums including evaluations and assessments when it comes to bite, dental growth, and risk of tooth decay.

Pediatric dentists understand that some adults still have anxiety when it comes to the dentist, and unfortunately those fears can sometimes be passed on to your children. Because young kids do not have a real sense of time, do not tell your son or daughter about the visit to the, “Tooth Doctor,” until the day of their first check up.

Your pediatric dentist in Chicago has plenty of videos, books, and toys that will keep your kids occupied before the initial examination. Click here and show your kids what the dental office looks like in order to alleviate any fears that they may have.

Get your kids started on the right track, and schedule an appointment for your infants, toddlers, or adolescents today.

Talk to Your Chicago Kids Dentist about Pacifiers

March 15th, 2014

The debate continues over whether or not baby pacifiers are good for your kids. According to your Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago, there are few things to consider before you put that pacifier into your infants mouth.

The Academy of General Dentistry, or the AGD, says that there are pros and cons when it comes to baby pacifiers. The positives give babies a sense of comfort and can help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Infants who sleep with pacifiers do not sleep as deeply as those who sleep without a pacifier in their mouth.

According to the AGD, pacifiers can affect the development and growth of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Over time, constant pacifier use can prevent mouth growth and change the shape of the roof of their mouth. Constant pacifier use can also cause tooth alignment problems.

Your 60611 Kids Dentist in Chicago recommends restricting the use of your pacifier if your baby needs a nap. Be sure to look for a baby pacifier that has ventilation holes as it permits proper airflow. This is also vital as it can prevent the pacifier from become lodged inside your infant or toddlers throat.

Always clean your pacifier before use and make sure that you do your best to stop pacifier use by the time your son or daughter turns two. According to your Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile District in Chicago, any developing bone or alignment problems are usually corrected about six months after pacifier use has ceased. Your Chicago Kids Dentist understands that is not always easy to break the pacifier habit, but there are some things you can do to wean your child:

  • White vinegar works well if you dip the pacifier before use
  • Pierce the pacifier or cut it, which will reduce the sucking satisfaction
  • Leave it behind

Remember to throw out your used pacifiers, as it is unsanitary to allow another child to save or use.

If you would like more information regarding your child's dental care, schedule a check up with your Kids 60611 Dentist in Chicago today.

Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist Tips for Healthy Teeth and Gums

February 15th, 2014

Healthy teeth and gums are much easier than they used to be, and thanks to the advancements from your Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist, your children can keep their teeth for the rest of their lives, as long as you and your kids practice good oral hygiene.

Start your kids early, as you will be creating good dental habits that will last for the rest of their lives. The minute the first tooth erupts, usually around the age of 6 months, wash with a damp cloth, or brush with a soft bristled baby toothbrush. Once your child reaches the age of two, they can begin brushing their own teeth with supervision.

Your Kids Dentist in Downtown Chicago can also paint your kids molars with dental sealants. Dental sealants prevent tooth decay and can last for quite some time. Ask your Chicago Miracle Mile Chicago Kids Dentist about dental sealants for your children.

Teaching your kids how to brush is important, but so is teaching them how often to brush. Brushing twice, and flossing once a day can greatly improve your kids teeth and gums.

Start your children off right with a healthy diet. Not only is it important for their overall physical health, but it is vital for oral health. Feed your kids whole foods, nuts, grains, dairy products, fish, and fruits and vegetables and their teeth and gums will thank you for it.

Once your kids start becoming involved in sports and recreational activities talk to your Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist about custom fitted mouth guards. Football, basketball, soccer, and wrestling are just a few of the contact sports that require custom fitted mouth guards. Other activities where you might want to consider mouth guards include all types of skating, water polo, hockey, baseball or any other activity that could hurt their mouth and gums if an accident should occur.

It is imperative that you schedule regular checkups for your kids. Teaching your sons and daughters about regular dental visits is vital if you want your children to learn good oral health habits. Contact your Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist today for a dental appointment for your kids today.

Teach Your Kids Good Oral Hygiene

February 1st, 2014

Maintaining your children’s dental health can be problematic, but not if you start your kids off on the right foot. Introducing your sons and daughters to good oral hygiene in the beginning will help create a good habit that will last for the rest of their lives.

According to your Chicago Kids Dentist, what you teach your kids about oral hygiene in the beginning will help them avoid complicated dental appointments later on. By instilling good oral health habits in your kids at an early age, you can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

When you teach your kids why oral hygiene is important, you can help to prevent those tearful dental checkups that usually end with a filling or two.

It is important that you watch what you say after you have been to the dentist. Avoid words like shot, pain, and drill. Your Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist has seen its fair share of terrified children who have listened to Aunt Jane’s horror stories about the Kids Dentist in Downtown Chicago. It is imperative that you create an environment at home that will set a positive example when it comes to oral hygiene and dental care. By doing this you can make your kids dental appointments stress free, and maybe even enjoyable.

Poor dental hygiene can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay, but it can also put your kids at risk when it comes to disease later on. Recent research has indicated that poor oral health can result in heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.

Your budget will notice dramatic affects if you do not schedule regular appointments with your Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist. Lack of care will cause cavities and could lead to more expensive procedures such as root canals.

Thanks to modern dental technology, some new treatments that your Kids Dentist in Downtown Chicago can use will help keep your children’s teeth protected. Fluoridated toothpastes, regular cleanings, and special sealants will go a long way in protecting your kid’s teeth.

It is never too early to begin a routine that will last for the rest of your kid’s lives. Start them off on the right foot, and schedule a check up with your Downtown Chicago Kids Dentist today.

Does Your Child Fear the Dentist?

January 15th, 2014

If your toddler screams at the top of his or her lungs every time you mention the word, “Kids Dentist,” it may be time to consider an informative search for a new Kids Downtown Chicago Dentist. Even if your other children are happy with your Chicago Kids Dentist, your 2-year old may be less than thrilled.

Finding a Pediatric Dentist in the Downtown Miracle Mile District in Chicago can be a daunting task, especially if you go online and do a search. If you don’t know what to look for, you could be bombarded with listings, but there are some things you can do to improve your search results.

Before you go online, ask family members, and don’t forget to solicit the advice of friends. Post an update on facebook and twitter and see what others have to say about their favorite Kids Dentist Downtown Miracle Mile District Chicago.

Instead of a search on Kids Dentist Chicago, focus on websites that are devoted to kids teeth and gums. She Knows is a wonderful online publication that gives great health advice for children and parents. The internet is a wonderful source for articles devoted to oral health and hygiene for kids.

Your pediatrician is another good source if you are on the hunt for a new Downtown Miracle Mile District Chicago Kids Dentist.

Before you schedule an appointment with a Kids Dentist in Chicago, ask questions. Make sure that your kids potential Pediatric Dentist in Chicago has had the two years of additional residency required to work with babies, toddlers, kids and teens and kids that have special needs.

The first time you visit your new Chicago Kids Dentist check out the environment. If the waiting room doesn’t have a toy in sight and CNN is on television, it could be a sign.

A good Pediatric Kids Dentist in Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago will have a waiting room that is fully equipped to handle idle hands and busy minds. Your new Kids Dentist should be kid friendly, and if it isn’t, it is time to go back to the drawing board.

During your child’s first visit, observe the interaction between the dentist and your son or daughter. Did the dentist answer any questions that you or your child had? Was everything explained in a way that everyone could understand? Glance around the room and see if the tools are the right size for your child’s mouth, and don’t forget to check out the demeanor of the dental assistants.

Make a trip to a Kids Dentist in Miracle Mile Downtown Chicago a fun adventure and schedule a check-up with Chicago Kids DDS. After just one visit, your kids are going to be thrilled the next time they find themselves in the Kids Chicago Dentists office.

Now’s the Perfect Time for a Kids Checkup

January 1st, 2014

Now that the holidays have come and gone, you can sit down and take stock of your kid’s health. That means scheduling doctor’s appointment with the family pediatrician and a trip to your Dentist in Magnificent Mile Downtown in Chicago.

Chances are you didn’t see everything your kids ate over the holidays. Aunt Sally and Uncle John didn’t waste any time passing out the homemade fudge and your best friend Jennifer couldn’t wait to share her award winning petit fours. Little hands were probably the first to snatch up the goodies that only come around once a year. However, it’s more than tummy aches that your kids will have to deal with. Over the next few weeks those cakes, cookies, pies and will have built up on your kids teeth making it harder to brush and floss. Schedule an appointment with. It’s bad enough when adults get peanut brittle stuck in their teeth, but it’s even worse for kids.

Go online or pick up the phone and schedule a check up for your kids. Your 12-year-old son may think his teeth are perfectly fine but if it’s been about 6 months since the last checkup, it’s time to call your Kids Dentist in Chicago.

Tooth decay can strike at any time, but especially after holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween. Even if your tried to give your kids healthy treats by making everything yourself, those caramel apples that you made for Halloween and the pecan fudge that you surprised everyone with for Christmas is still loaded with sugar.

This year start the year off right with a New Year’s resolution list that includes dental appointments for the whole family starting with Chicago Kids. Those healthy oral hygiene habits that you show your kids now, will definitely pay off in the future.

Don’t let another month go by without scheduling an appointment with the Best Kids Dentist in downtown Chicago Kids Dentist.

Taking Care of Your Kids Teeth During the Holidays

December 15th, 2013

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most dangerous when it comes to your kids teeth. Most folks over-indulge from November to the end of December making promises to the mirror that it will be diet time come January, but your kids teeth are an entirely different story.

Cookies, candies, cakes, gingerbread, candy canes, peanut brittle, and all of those sweet treats could mean that you will be spending most of January with your Chicago 60611 Kids Dentist, but it does not have to be that way.

Even if you do try to limit the amount of sugar your children consume, it is tough during the holidays, and it can be just as difficult to monitor everything your kids put into their mouths, especially when Grandma and Aunt Susie are in town.

While sweets are fine in moderation your Magnificent Mile Kids Dentist will tell you that sugar has been linked to tooth decay, pediatric obesity, and even heart disease. Some research has indicated that it can also be a trigger for Type 2 diabetes in children. According to your Kids Dentist in Chicago, it will not take long for tooth decay to set in, and if your kid’s teeth are problematic as it is, you could be asking for trouble.

Sugar produces an over abundance of bacteria, which feeds on the sweet treats that are eaten. Those harmful acids start to form and will begin to wear down the enamel on your kids teeth. Once the enamel starts to weaken, your children will be a target for gingivitis and cavities.

Those holiday parties and family gatherings can be tough, but it is possible for you and the rest of the clan to set up some reasonable limits. If a buffet is on the menu for Christmas dinner, make sure that you show your kids what sweets are allowed and how many they can have. Include lots of fruits and veggies and tell your children that they have to eat the good stuff before they can eat any sweet treats.

Your Kids Dentist in the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago also recommends that you carry a couple of travel-sized toothbrush kits in your bag and encourage your children to eat cookies, candies, cakes, and other treats along with a healthy meal. Carbs, fruits and veggies produce saliva, which helps to digest the food more quickly.

It is nearly impossible to avoid those delicious sweet treats during the holidays, but you can be ahead of the game if you schedule an appointment with the best Kids Dentist in Magnificent Mile, Chicago Kids DDS.

Can Gummy Vitamins Harm Teeth?

November 28th, 2013

gummy_bears

Gummy vitamins have become very popular in the last several years and even adults now have the option of getting essential vitamins and nutrients through a tasty gummy treat.  But while this can be a great way to get children to take their vitamins, gummy vitamins can harm your teeth.  Yes, they are enhanced with vitamins, but also often contain ingredients that can be found in traditional candy, such as glucose syrup (sugar).  Even sugar free gummies can also contain sticky gelatin and enamel eating citric acid.

Deciding whether or not to use gummy vitamins may come down to what you or your children are most likely to actually use as well as what your own dietary requirements.  If it’s difficult to encourage children to take a regular vitamin, or if you don’t like the taste yourself, then considering a gummy vitamin might not be all bad.  Simply make sure that teeth are brushed shortly after taking them so that these “almost candies” don’t sit on your teeth for long periods of time.

How Can I Protect My Child’s Tooth Enamel? Here Are 5 Sure-Fire Steps.

November 21st, 2013

Water to protect tooth enamel

 

The first line of protection for your child’s teeth is the enamel, which is the white, visible part of the tooth.  It’s also hardest substance in the human body, and yet it takes a lot of abuse.  Enamel can crack, chip and wear away.  What steps can you take to protect your child’s enamel?

Use a soft toothbrush.  While we may be tempted to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, thinking that a stiff bristle will be better and cleaning teeth, the best choice is one that provides more gentle care.  Additionally, children often use more force than needed when brushing their teeth.  This can be damaging to sensitive gum tissue and only serves to wear down precious enamel.

Limit starchy foods.  While we all understand that certain starchy foods like potato chips and french fries aren’t always the healthiest choices, we don’t often associate these foods as being bad for teeth.  Interestingly, starch turns to sugar so quickly that it raises blood glucose levels even faster than table sugar.  The sugar produced by starchy foods feeds bacteria that act as microscopic jack-hammers on your child’s enamel.

Don’t forget the cheese.  Cheese truly is a dental powerhouse.  Dairy neutralizes acid, contains calcium and a protein called casein which acts as an enamel protector.  Cheese is a great choice for an afterschool snack.

Drink water after meals.  Drinking water shortly after eating is an excellent way to quickly wash away some of the food that lingers on and between the teeth.  Even having children simply rinse their mouths with water after meals has been shown to be an effective way to protect enamel.

Avoid “whitening” toothpastes.  Toothpaste made specifically for children if often the best choice when deciding what they should brush with.  Not only are flavors often more kid friendly, but they generally don’t carry the harsh abrasives that many whitening toothpastes have.  These abrasives can act line sandpaper by wearing down the enamel on young teeth.  Remember, any toothpaste you choose should always carry the ADA’s seal of approval.