Parents and dental fears
People share fears and absorb anxieties from each other. Children naturally fear the unknown and it is the job of parents to be calm and demonstrate confidence when children become scared.
The anticipation of a medical or dental appointment sends some children into a panic and research has shown that parental feelings and attitudes about going to the dentist can magnify in children.
A 2012 study identified the influence of fathers in transferring dental fear from parents to children. Researchers surveyed 183 Madrid children between age 7 and 12 years old and found that they pay special attention to emotional cues from their fathers when deciding how to feel about going to the dentist. In addition, children looked to their fathers when interpreting their mother’s feelings of fear and anxiety. The findings suggested that parents should be involved with their children in reducing fear of going to the dentist and that they should lead by example by becoming informed and going to the dentist themselves while not showing any fear or anxiety.
A model of dental fear in children published in a British journal attributed anxiety to the following causes: a fear of pain or anticipation of pain, a lack of trust or the fear of betrayal, a fear of loss of control, a fear of the unknown, and a fear of intrusion. While talking to children, parents should discuss with their children the source of their fears and address that fear at a level that they can understand.
In order to help your child’s dental visit be pleasant, choose a friendly dentist who is good with children. WebMD advises that parents recognize that it is normal for children to be fearful. At the following link is some other advice on how to ease children’s fears of going to the dentist.
Sugar-Free Gum and Cavities
The gum balls, chewing gum and bubble gum that most Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers remember from their youth were a recipe for cavities.
While sugar-laden products are still widely available, far better sugar-free alternatives are available today with the best being those containing the ingredient Xylitol.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can be extracted from many different fruits, vegetables, and most commonly from the birch tree. Some research suggests that Xylitol sugar serves as an anti-microbial and may not raise insulin levels, may reduce the likelihood of ear and sinus infections, may prevent cavities, and may reverse tooth decay. Reports of Xylitol’s alleged cavity-fighting properties led to the production and sale of a number of products these benefits including Xylitol toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, mints and candy.
Some recent research calls into question the effectiveness of Xylitol in preventing or reducing cavities but suggests there may be other benefits to chewing gum sweetened by Xylitol. In January of this year, Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times reported on research that suggested that Xylitol offered “no statistically significant reduction in cavities.” According to lead researcher in the study, Dr. James D. Bader noted in an interview that sugar-free gum with Xylitol had no direct effect but that the increase in salivary flow from chewing Xylitol gum rinses the teeth and the cavity causing plaque and acid.
Many sugarless gums also include another sugar alcohol called Sorbitol which may be better than sugar but studies suggest may not be as effective as Xylitol. Both Xylitol and Sorbitol have potential side effects including abdominal discomfort, allergic reactions, diarrhea, and cramping.
While there may be some conflicting research as to the actual ability of the Xylitol sugar to combat tooth decay, there are benefits for chewing this gum if you regularly chew gum. In addition, as salivary flow is the primary benefit, be sure to also remember to drink plenty of water on a regular basis in addition to brushing and flossing.
A natural way to better breath
Mouthwashes, gums, breath strips, mints and sprays are big sellers but the best breath fresheners are not in the aisle with the toothbrushes or by the cash registers.
While many of these artificial breath products kill germs or cover up offensive breath smells, all natural foods and herbs are healthier and some do more to remedy the source of bad breath than covering odors with artificial aromas. Most mouthwashes contain alcohol that can dry out the saliva glands that your mouth uses to rid the mouth of bacteria. Gums and mints can include either sugar or sugar substitutes that may contain possible carcinogens. Gum also can damage dental work including fillings or braces.
Following are some ways you can fight halitosis and freshen your breath:
Eat or chew plants and herbs: The oils from parsley, basil, rosemary, cilantro, eucalyptus, dill, spearmint and others kill certain odor causing bacteria, aid digestion, and leave your breath smelling pleasant.
Drink green tea, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, or red wine. These are rich in polyphenol antioxidants that benefit the body in a number of different ways including combating plaque and sulfur producing bacteria.
Eat probiotic yogurt with active cultures. Introducing good bacteria from yogurt is a good way to overpower the bacteria that causes bad breath.
Eat citrus and other fruits. Lemons, oranges, grapefruit, berries, melons and other vitamin C rich fruits breakdown bacteria that causes bad breath.
Chew on cinnamon sticks, mint leaves or slices of ginger root. These can be chewed and discarded or added to tea.
Drink plenty of water. Not only does drinking water support general health, it helps to wash the mouth of bacteria and particles that cause bad breath. Be sure to drink six to eight glasses and take a few moments once a day to gargle, swish and flush your mouth.
Try adding some of these approaches to your daily brushing and flossing routine and decide which ones make a difference for you.
Overbrushing can be overkill
“Brush your teeth every day to prevent tooth decay” is standard advice that we’ve all heard since we were children. But as with most things, too much of a good thing is not good. Brushing too much, too vigorously, and using too much toothpaste can cause the very problems you are trying to prevent.
Several academic studies are lending evidence to the dangers of overbrushing. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology and conducted by researchers at the University of Newcastle in the United Kingdom challenged the notion that brushing longer and harder cleans teeth better. They found that the bacteria removed when brushing longer and harder was minimal compared to moderate brushing and moderate pressure. They found that longer and harder brushing also caused abrasion of the tooth enamel and damaged the gums. In summary, they found that the very small benefit is canceled by the long term harm caused by overenthusiastic brushing.
In the United States, Dr. Thomas Abrahamsen published a study in the International Dental Journal in 2008 suggesting that the abrasives in toothpaste coupled with vigorous brushing is causing a “sandblasted” effect on tooth enamel. Toothpaste appeared to be the primary cause of abrasion which in some cases wore away the enamel causing tooth discoloration and increased sensitivity.
We recommend that you use toothpaste but when you brush limit your toothpaste use to a pea-sized quantity instead of covering the length of the brush. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Electronic toothbrushes with rotating-oscillating bristles have shown good results in studies but manual toothbrushes when used correctly are sufficient.
Is pulling your wisdom teeth really necessary?
Having wisdom teeth removed is one of the least popular dental procedures. Recovery can be slow and it often involves discomfort, bleeding, swelling, and inability to eat solid foods.
While removal is sometimes necessary, some dentists and researchers have challenged the removal of healthy wisdom teeth saying that like the appendix the third molars should be left alone unless there is a proven problem.
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars that typically emerge during the late teens or early twenties, are often removed when they don’t grow straight, when they cause chronic pain, when trapped beneath the gum line, when a cyst grows around the tooth, and when they threaten the development of the second molars.
A Dutch research team led by Dr. Dirk Mettes published a study in 2005 that argued “watchful monitoring” of impacted wisdom teeth might be a better approach than the immediate removal. A New York Times article listed other dissent against the current practices of removing impacted but healthy teeth:
- Britain’s National Health Service stopped paying for the procedure after a scientific panel found no evidence to support the practice.
- The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh commented that extraction is “not advisable.”
- American Public Health Association warned that the risks of surgery were greater than those posed by impacted teeth or trapped bacteria.
If you or a family member is experiencing pain or discomfort in the molar area, schedule an appointment to with Carmel West Dentistry team. Sometimes the removal of third molars is necessary and we will be happy to discuss your options including removal or keeping your wisdom teeth.
Teeth, The Workplace, and Career Success
The impression you make on other people — the first one and the one cultivated over time — is pivotal to career success. Physical appearance, while not the only component of the impression you project, can in the competitive job market and workplace impact salary and can influence to some degree whether you are hired, promoted, or survive job cuts.
Your smile is a very important part of your physical appearance and studies have shown that bad teeth may prevent otherwise qualified candidates from advancing in their careers. A smile expresses pride, confidence, warmth, trustworthiness, and personal well-being. A smile heals and communicates feelings of liking, acceptance, and recognition. A smile says hello, welcome, I am happy because you are here. A smile is critical to opening a relationship and closing a sale. In sum, a confident smile is one of your most valuable career assets.
Modern dentistry can help you improve your teeth so that your smile adds to your true inner beauty and improves the odds of achieving your career and life goals. Routine cleaning at home and regular checkups will protect and guard your teeth to ensure lifelong health. Teeth whitening can brighten teeth that have yellowed or dulled over the years and reverse teeth stains. A number of orthodontic approaches from clear aligners to modern braces can straighten your teeth and give you the smile you’ve always wanted. Veneers, or thin layers of porcelain bonded to teeth, can correct chips and cracks, gaps and spaces, stains, discoloration, misalignment and misshapen teeth.
Some approaches for correcting teeth may interest you while others may not. Dr. Halsema can explain the various dental options and advise on how you can best proceed.
Here is a link to a study with more information.
Dentures: The Problems and Their Solutions
Following are several common issues faced by denture wearers and a number of things you can do to resolve pain, movement, discoloration and bad breath.
Pain and mouth infection: Pain is a common experience for denture wearers and that discomfort can have a number of different sources. Patients who are new to dentures will likely develop a few sore spots during the first 24 hours and sometimes simply waiting to adjust to the new prosthesis resolves this pain. Continuing pain and new pain can be caused by poor fit, development of canker sores, injury to the joints that connect the lower jaw to your skull, pressure on nerves between your jaw and skull, an overgrowth of tissue beneath dentures, and yeast infections, cheilitis and stomatitis. We first recommend a thorough cleaning of your mouth and dentures and use of a topical oral pain-relieving ointment on your gums. If pain persists, make an appointment with Carmel West Dentistry and Dr. Halsema can diagnose and treat the source of your pain. Regular dental visits allow denture wearers to prevent problems and quickly address existing issues.
Denture movement: Changes to your mouth and to your dentures over time can lead to a loosening and shifting of the dentures. Your bones can shrink daily wear on dentures changes the shape of the prosthesis. Excess movement can result in irritation and sores in the mouth or on the gums, changes in your facial features, and lessen your ability to chew your food well. Schedule a visit to Carmel West Dentistry when your dentures don’t fit snugly. Dr. Halsema has special tools made specifically for repairing dentures. As do-it-yourself repair kits may harm your dentures and glues may contain chemicals that are harmful, we advise that you never attempt to adjust or repair your dentures. Denture relining can correct movement and after five to seven years we recommend relining or replacement.
Stained dentures: Just like healthy teeth, you should brush your dentures daily to prevent accumulation of food and plaque. Soak your dentures in an ADA approved soaking solution or water at night and during the day when you are not wearing your dentures. In addition to cleaning, soaking keeps dentures moist and maintains the shape of the prosthesis. Never soak dentures in hot water as this can cause disfiguration. Daily cleaning in ultrasonic cleaners is another way to prevent staining employing high frequency sound waves. If stains persist after using ADA approved denture cleansing creams, pastes, gels and solutions, try washing with mild dish soap. The Carmel West Dentistry team may be able to help remove or fade stubborn stains. Dr. Halsema advises against using other household cleaners like alcohol, bathroom and sink cleaners, bleaches, whiteners that may damage your dentures or blanch the pink areas of your prosthesis.
Bad Breath: A regular mouth and denture-cleaning regimen is the best defense against bad breath, the accumulation of bacteria also known as halitosis. Bacteria, plaque, and even mold can build up in your mouth and on your dentures. Remember to rinse food particles from your dentures after mealtimes and brush your dentures and gums once a day with a toothbrush. Do not wear your dentures at night and soak the prosthesis in water or denture cleansing solution when removed. Use an over-the-counter antiseptic mouthwash or a prescribed antibacterial mouthrinse to fight general mouth bacteria. White or yellow deposits lodged in tonsils may also cause bad breath and may require more advanced medical attention. Visit Carmel West Dentistry to have your dentures and mouth professionally checked and cleaned.
Tips for Avoiding Mouth/Tooth Injuries in Sports
Playing sports can make you more vulnerable to damaging your mouth and teeth. Approximately 80% of dental injuries are related to damage to the tongue, lips, cheeks and teeth. About 40% of dental injuries in adults happen when playing sports. Besides being quite painful, these injuries can also be a hassle to fix. Here are some easy general tips to follow to help prevent injury like these while playing sports.
The best way to protect teeth during sports is by wearing a mouth guard. A mouth guard is easy to insert and is often custom fit to your mouth to be worn over your teeth. Mouth guards are easy to take in and out, and most people forget they are there during the game. Mouth guards protect your cheeks if you have braces as well. To ensure the highest protection possible, make sure the mouth guard fits correctly so it will not slide around and potentially cause injury during contact.
Dentists recommend also wearing a helmet or a face cage during contact sports. This protects against trauma to your head and face. Helmets might not always protect your mouth, but can make it more difficult to injure your teeth. The face mask and helmet should custom fit you and your sport. Face cages are very important during sports where the game ball might come straight for your mouth, like baseball or hockey.
Regular care check ups will help keep teeth and gums healthy. You should see the dentist every six months for a regular cleaning and examination. This keeps gums and teeth healthy and allows the dentist to detect any problems. Cavities and gum disease over time can cause your teeth to lose strength. Your dentist can also fit you with a custom mouth guard during a regular check up.
Keeping your teeth strong means also staying away from popular sports drinks even when playing sports. The high sugar content can erode your teeth over time making them more susceptible to cavities, which can lead to decay and injury. Some say to brush your teeth immediately if you do have a sports drink, but this will only spread the acid over your entire mouth encouraging the erosion of your teeth and gums.
The “Baby Bottle” Tooth Decay Topic- Concern or Hype?
If you have children then you have probably heard the topic of “baby bottle” tooth decay come up at least once in conversation. Oftentimes the idea gets ignored and written off as a silly myth. However, there may be some cause for concern for parents with young children. Professionals who work in family dentistry may warn you of the dangers of infant or young child tooth decay. However, it is up to you to do your own research and decide what are the facts and the myths on the subject of “baby bottle” tooth decay.
“Baby bottle” tooth decay simply refers to tooth decay in infants and children. This tooth decay happens with sweetened or natural sugar liquids cling to the teeth for a long period of time. Acid is produced through bacteria in baby’s mouth and begins to decay the teeth.
Here are a few myths about baby bottle tooth decay.
- Baby bottle tooth decay only affects upper front teeth- Other teeth can be affected by tooth decay due to drinks pooling all over the mouth for extended period of time.
- Baby teeth are useless- this statement is very far from the truth. Baby teeth are placeholders for adult teeth. They also aid in chewing, speaking, and smiling.
- Tooth decay won’t cause discomfort to your child- Baby bottle tooth decay will cause pain for your child. If the condition goes untreated, infection can set in.
Surprised? Well here are a few facts about baby bottle tooth decay.
- Some of the crippling affects to a child who suffered tooth decay include speech problems and bad eating habits.
- Adult teeth have a significantly increased risked of coming in crooked.
- Baby bottle tooth decay may eventually cause middle ear infections.
There are easy ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay that include;
- Wipe your baby’s gums with a damp cloth after feedings
- Don’t allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth
- Start brushing your child’s teeth with water once the first tooth comes in
- Don’t dip a pacifier in sugar, syrup, or anything sweet
- Limit your child’s sugar intake
For more information on baby bottle tooth decay, talk to your family dentistry professional or visit Webmd.com and Dr-v.org. It’s never too late to end bad habits and have your child on the road to better oral health for now and for the future.
Energy Drinks and How They Can Affect Your Teeth
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Energy drinks are both all the rage among young people, and it some circles they are causing concern and debate about their potential health hazards.
With all positive and negative points aside, energy drinks can have a harmful affect on your teeth with excessive exposure.
To speak simply, regular routine care of your teeth includes taking a step beyond simple brushing, flossing and rinsing. Routine care also involves paying attention to what may be coming in contact with your teeth in the first place. We all know it is a good idea to brush after meals, and it is definitely a smart move to brush or at least swish with water after drinking a sugary soda. Many people fail to realize just how much sugar is lurking in those energy drinks.
You would never slurp down a can or two of soda and think you weren’t essentially bathing your teeth in sugar — everyone knows carbonated beverages taste great, but can impact the health of enamel on your teeth. And you certainly would never eat sugar by the spoonful without then brushing it off those pearly whites, right? Well then think about this little statistic: an average energy drink contains around 50 grams of sugar. That is just about the equivalent of FOURTEEN SPOONFULS of PURE SUGAR!
So if energy drinks are a part of your daily routine, make sure you take the routine care of your teeth up a notch. It is imperative that you at least swish with water after finishing off an energy drink, and make sure to brush as soon as you can. There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying these types of beverages from time to time, but you have to know that your teeth might not be enjoying them quite as much as your tongue!