Kidz Dental Blog - Pediatric Dentistry for Kids

9 Reasons Why You and Your Child Should Visit Kidz Dental Care

Moms and Dads have shared many of their experiences on Web Based Review Sites…Here are 12 Reasons from those Reviews Sites you should give us “A Crack” at being your child’s dentist!

We are extremely grateful for the the high praise our community has showered upon us. Thank you!

1. “Super Comfortable”

kids dentist

A lot of reviews share with us that we make it super comfortable for everyone!

2. “They are very Helpful”

helpful dentist

We’re happy to hear we’ve been helpful!

3. “No Pressure”

We want Mom’s and Dad’s to feel no pressure on any option for their child!

4. “They are very Patient”

Hey we can wait :)

5. “Very Friendly”

Aw shucks :)

6. “My Kids Love their Toys and Prizes”

Yeah…we make everyday a Price is Right Kind of Day for Kids!

7. “TV’s on the Ceiling”

Hey! We’ll watch Frozen 4x a day for you :)

 8. “Attentive”

We’re here for you :)

9. “Very Informative”

Knowledge is Power

MyoBrace is Taking the Orthodontic World (and Braces) By Storm

MyoBrace is the No Braces Approach to Straightening Teeth and Improving Proper Health Functions

 

MyoBrace Result

 

Alternative solutions to child-specific orthodontic issues are also growing in popularity. One such technology is Myobrace, which, rather than correcting tooth problems that are symptomatic of more deeply rooted issues, address the root of the problem itself. Myobrace is ideally used when a child is between the ages of six and twelve years old. The device corrects issues associated with one’s mouth arch and jaw alignment, allowing teeth not only to grow in correctly, but also to stay that way. And there’s a bonus: because kids only need wear the device a few hours daily and overnight, the risk of encountering bullying from their peers owing to their dental corrective devices is nonexistent. – See more at: http://orthodonticreviews.com/popular-alternatives-to-traditional-braces/#sthash.PtzvRy6L.dpuf

5 Important Questions You Might Ask About MyoBrace

Frequently Asked Questions About MyoBrace

MyoBrace Questions

What is MyoBrace?

Let’s start from the top. Myobrace is the no-braces orthodontic treatment to help straighten your teeth and jaws. 

What does MyoBrace do?

MyoBrace addresses the poor oral habits that are the real cause of crooked teeth.

What is the Real Cause of Crooked Teeth

It is a common belief that crowded teeth, incorrect jaw development and other orthodontic problems are caused by either large teeth in small jaws, or other hereditary factors. Modern research has shown that mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and thumb sucking – known as incorrect myofunctional habits – are the real causes of incorrect jaw development. Allergies, asthma and an open mouth posture can also contribute towards the jaws developing incorrectly. Bottle feeding, thumb sucking, and dummies during the early stages of a child’s life can also contribute to the problem.

How does MyoBrace Work?

We think this page best sums that up!

How much will MyoBrace cost?

Generally the cost of Myobrace Treatment is comparable or less to braces.An exact fee structure will be presented upon evaluation and consultation however, treatment fees will vary depending on the number of visits required, the patient’s compliance with the appliance, how well the patient performs the activities prescribed to them, and how quickly the patient responds to the treatment. If treatment is started while the patient is younger, generally treatment will cost less than if it is left until later.

 

 

7 Things You Should Be Doing to Keep Your Kids Teeth Healthy

Keeping your Childs Teeth (and Body Healthy)

CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH

 

1. Keep the diet healthy and nutritious.

You are what you eat.  We know it’s hard for busy parents but this is the most important factor for overall health (and healthy mouths!)

2. Start your Relationship with your Child’s Dentist Early

Kids should have their first dental visit within six months of when their first tooth breaks through the gums, or by age 1, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

3. Make Brushing Exciting and Fun

4. Know your Own Teeth

If you are prone to tooth decay or gum disease, your kids may be at higher risk as well. 

5. Mouthwash

Ask your dentist if an antibacterial mouth rinse is right for you.

6. And Floss!

Learn how to floss your teeth, which is a very important way to keep them healthy.

7. Look at ALL the Options for Orthodontics

Like MyoBrace – which can not only help align teeth – but can also help with Mouth Breathing, ADD, Grinding, Colds and way more!

5 Holiday Foods You Didn’t Know Are Hurting Your Kids Teeth

Protecting Your Kids Teeth During the Holidays

We are probably all aware now about the highly acidic and sugary foods like soft drinks, sport drinks and juicy drinks. But what about some other foods, typically consumed during the holidays?

Be Aware of:

  • Sugar and/or acid content
  • Stickiness (how much food remains on teeth)
  • How long the food is in your mouth

1. Salad Dressing

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Salad Dressing – Highly Acidic – Sugars

2. Meat

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Sticky and Preservatives Sugars

3. Apples

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Hard on Enamel

4. Breads

breads

 

Bacteria, Sticky, Sugar

5. Pickles

pickles kids dentist

Brine, Sticky, Sugar

 

Orthodontics Northridge: 5 Amazing Celeb Teeth Transformations

How the teeth align and appear can change the total look of someone’s face! Check out these amazing Celeb Transformations

Orthodontist Simi Valley

Zaz Effron

porter ranch orthodontist

Niall Horan

 

Orthodontist Porter Ranch

Matthew Lewis

orthodontist northridge ca

Noel Gallagher

Northridge Orthodontics

Tom Cruise – Amazing Teeth Transformation

3 Ultimate Ways to Help Make Brushing Teeth a Habit for Your Kids

Need some help getting your your Child to regularly  start Brushing Teeth?

As your Child’s dental experts – Dr. Hirano and Dr. Roberson know how important it is to get your kids brushing habits off on the right foot. With more than 40% of children developing cavities prior to entering kindergarten these brushing teeth tips might get that number down!

Brushing Teeth

Here are 3 Ultimate “How to Get Your Kidz Brushing Teeth Tips”

1. “The Grand Marshal of Teeth”

We know kids love to feel like they are “large and in charge”. Make learning the habit of brushing teeth fun by naming your child the “Grand Marshal of Teeth”!

Have your child give out rewards to you and other family members when brushing teeth and give out “fines” to those who don’t (hopefully by pretend!)

2. Turn Brushing Teeth into a Dance Party

Bring your mobile player into the bathroom, set up mood lighting and Dance while you brush. Creating this alternate environment will enhance the positive reinforcement of the good behavior. Your children will also look forward to this nightly event.

3. Bribe Them with Brushing Commissions

The oldest trick in the book with a little spin. Get a bell and put up a whiteboard. Every time they brush their teeth have them ring the bell ala stock market style and then have them mark each brushing on the board. Set up goals and rewards to incentive good hygiene.

Is Michelle Obama Ruining Halloween for Kids and their Dentists?

Halloween is for Kids and their Dentists Mrs. President!

DON’T DESTROY HALLOWEEN for kids and their Dentists!!! (joking, although we love treating cavities we love preventing them more) – Tips for a Healthy Halloween with Candy :)

Ok. If anyone knows us and our practice we FULLY support anyone, including the first lady with an initiative to promote health and wellness for children AND adults.

Dr. Hirano and Dr. Roberson are advocates of healthy diets, nutrition, exercise and routine check-ups for complete kids dental care.

But are we going too far?

Recently Mrs. Obama has requested the VA to NOT’s hand out in Halloween Candy. Instead, she has asked the VA to promote other healthy choices.

“The Philadelphia Veterans Affairs office announced Wednesday that it would hold a Halloween parade on Friday for children of VA employees, but warned employees not to hand out any candy or sweets to the kids.”
Instead, the VA said the day care center in the office has “joined First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program,” which means the kids should be given things other than candy.”
Read the article here

We at Kidz Dental know full well that during the course of childhood Kids will be tempted and cave into Sugar Consumption, especially at Halloween. And that is not always a bad thing.

Did you know it’s not the amount of Sugar consumed its the duration and frequency that affect the dental health of your children?

Our suggestions and tips for Halloween include:

1. Limit the Candy and the Type: Candy can, should and will be enjoyed, but moderation is important. Have your child choose 12 or so of their favorites and remove the rest. Limit the sticky stuff or eliminate.
2. Limit the Frequency: Again the frequency of the candy consumed is the major problem for kids dental.
3.. Brush teeth after eating: Or better yet use this as a teaching tool for what types of food and candy will affect the teeth. Use this as a test of good hygiene and best-brushing practices.

kids - dentist -porter-ranch

Kids and their Dentists

Have questions? Email us at kidzdentalcareoffice@gmail.com

 

 

 

What is Xylitol?

AppleIsYumXylitol is a sugar found in fruits and vegetables and even trees like the birch. Like other sugars, xylitol can make food taste sweeter. Unlike most sugars, xylitol has been described as “tooth-friendly.” Why? Because scientists have discovered that xylitol fights cavities.

Like fluoride, xylitol can remineralize teeth. That means it helps rebuild tooth enamel eaten away by bacterial acids. In addition, its sweet taste is literally salivating. Saliva helps neutralize the acids created by the bacteria as well. This makes xylitol a one-two punch against tooth decay.

These are only the beginnings of xylitol’s benefits, however. It’s also unfriendly to the bacteria that causes pneumonia. It even seems to help prevent ear infections in children.

While xylitol looks pretty amazing, it’s not perfect. It’s not as good for your teeth as fluoride, for instance.

Xylitol can be found in some foods, candies, gum, and toothpaste. However, it takes a significant amount of xylitol to do you good. You’ll need between 1 and 20 grams per day. If you’re chewing gum or using toothpaste that measures its content of xylitol in milligrams, it’s probably not going to do you much good. You certainly shouldn’t go gnawing on birch trees like a beaver!

If you’re curious about xylitol and how it can help your teeth, talk to your pediatric dentist. They’ll be able to tell you the latest on what scientists have learned about keeping teeth strong and eating healthy.

Are You Using the Right Toothbrush?

BrushingIsVitalThe toothbrush is a vital tool. If you want to keep your smile bright and healthy, you need to have a good toothbrush. But with so many options, how do you choose the right brush for you?

First, the brush should fit comfortably in your mouth. An adult-sized toothbrush might be too big for you today. You shouldn’t need to strain or stretch your jaw to fit the brush in your mouth.

You don’t want a brush that’s too hard. The American Dental Association suggests you use a soft brush. When you brush your teeth, you should also be massaging your gums with the brush. Hard bristles can hurt your gums.

As you already know, it doesn’t really matter whether your brush is manual or electric. It also doesn’t matter what color it is. But what does matter is that you use it. If an electric brush is more fun, or you look forward to using a brush with sparkles in it, that’s the right one for you.

Your childrens dentist can teach you how to use your brush properly. A good brushing doesn’t just clean your teeth. It also helps keep your gums and your tongue healthy. Brushing regularly and properly will also control the population of bacteria in your mouth.

If your bristles start looking frayed, it may be time to replace your toothbrush. You’ll want a new brush every three to four months.

Whether your brush has your favorite cartoon character on it, or plugs into the wall, or is simple and practical, be sure to use it twice a day, every day.

An Abscess to Obsess About

Streptococcus_mutansHave you ever seen a cartoon character with a toothache whose cheek was all puffy and red? Toothaches and cavities are bad news, but if you don’t get to your childrens dentist, they can get much, much worse.

Bacteria don’t stop when they’ve burned their way to the pulp. They’ll continue making acid. That acid will burn through the tooth. The bacteria could spread into the soft tissue of your cheeks and tongue, into the bone of your jaw, or even into your face. This is called a dental abscess.

If that happens, the infected part will grow hot. It will swell and be tender, or even painful, to the touch. If the swelling gets bad enough, it can make it hard to breath.

Your body will be trying to wash out the bacteria with pus. Pus is your body’s way of dealing with a bacterial infection. Pus means that things are so bad your body is trying to flood out the bad stuff and important cells are dying in the fight.

Just like any other bacterial infection, an abscess can also cause a fever. It might also make you feel nauseous or even vomit.

If things get this bad, it’s important to get in touch with your dentist right away! The bacteria and pus will need to be cleaned out. Something will have to be done about the infected, rotted-out tooth as well. Putting it off will only mean more pain and misery. Your pediatric dentist can save your teeth and get you feeling healthy again.

The best way to treat a dental abscess is to never have one! Lingering toothaches should not be ignored. Seeing your dentist twice a year will stop most issues before they get bad. Brushing and flossing twice a day will keep the bacteria in your mouth, where they belong.

Cracks and Crumbles

CarSeatLast time, you learned what to do if an entire tooth gets knocked out by an accident. Sometimes, teeth get cracked or only part of a tooth is lost. What should you do then?

Even chips or cracks can be bad news. Small cracks can grow into bigger problems. If bacteria is allowed to get past the enamel through a crack, their acid can go to work on the softer core. This can cause a tooth to crumble away from the inside out.

As before, be sure to rinse with water. A cold compress can minimize the swelling from a tooth-shattering impact. If you can find the lost fragment, be sure to bring it to your childrens dentist. Do NOT try to glue it back into place. Only a professional dentist can decide the best action to take.

Contact your dentist IMMEDIATELY! A broken tooth is extremely vulnerable to infection and other problems. Fast action can save the tooth and minimize pain and swelling.

Kids are most likely to suffer a cracked or broken tooth when they’re toddlers and first learning how to walk, and when they’re playing full-contact sports. If there’s a newborn in your home, help your parents baby-proof the house to make it safer for your little sister or brother. You can protect your mouth in sports by wearing the right equipment, like a comfortable, personally-fitted mouthguard.

Even outside of sports, however, it’s important to protect your teeth. Using your special seat in the car, and wearing your seatbelt when your big enough, can save you from all sorts of unpleasant bumps and thumps.

Crash! What to do When a Tooth is Knocked Out

HangingAroundTeeth are meant to last a lifetime. However, accidents do happen. Falling on the jungle-gym, colliding while playing sports, even just tripping and falling can potentially knock out a tooth. If you lose a tooth, let an adult know right away.

If you lost a baby tooth, there’s no need to find it. Your dentist won’t be putting it back. (Trying to do so might be bad for your adult teeth as they grow in.) You should rinse your mouth with water. An adult may put a cold compress on your mouth to limit swelling. You’ll want to see your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. If you ignore it, you could get an infection where the tooth was. Your pediatric dentist will have to decide whether to replace the lost tooth or leave the gap for you adult teeth to grow into.

If you lost an adult tooth, do find it and clean it with water (but don’t use soap or scrub it hard). Get an adult to put the tooth back in place and hold it there with some clean gauze or a wash cloth. If they can’t get it back in, you’ll need to put the tooth in a clean container.

You and your tooth should immediately be taken to your pediatric dentist. Your dentist will inspect your mouth to see how bad the damage is and decide what would be best for a full and quick recovery.

Losing a tooth can be traumatic for both you and your mouth. The best way to take care of your teeth is to avoid injury entirely. While you can’t always predict accidents, you can play safely to avoid the worst. Don’t run around swimming pools or on wet cement. Always wear the appropriate safety gear when riding on wheels, whether its your bike, skateboard, or in the car. If you’re into full-contact sports, get a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Schoolyard fun and healthy smiles can go together like peanut butter and jelly if you use your head, stay aware, and play it safe.

Who Needs Fluoride Supplements?

GlassOfWaterMost public water in the US fluoridated. That means fluoride has been added to the water. That’s good news for teeth. Fluoride not only strengthens the enamel in your teeth, it can even slow the progress of growing cavities.

However, lots of people don’t use public water. Some families get their water from a well. Others use bottled water. That can be bad news for the teeth of growing children.

The proper amount of fluoride is vital for healthy, cavity-free teeth. Growing up without it can mean weaker teeth. These teeth will be more susceptible to cavities or injuries. It’s important that children have the optimal amount of fluoride, especially while their still growing in all their permanent teeth. As with any growing thing, growing teeth that don’t have everything they need to grow properly will never be as healthy or strong as they could be.

Luckily, families can test their well water and bottled water to see how much fluoride is in it already. Water often has at least some naturally-occurring fluoride in it. Some bottled water, especially “nursery water,” already includes extra fluoride for babies and young children.

If the water a family drinks every day is found lacking in fluoride, there are supplements that can be taken. It’s important to consult with a pediatric dentist to make sure children get the right supplements in the right dosage. Often, this fluoride is provided as drops.

Babies less than six months old should not be given fluoride supplements. After that age, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supplements if the family’s drinking water contains less than 0.3 parts per million of fluoride.

Crowns for Kids

NotThatSortOfCrownWe often don’t consider kids getting crowns. After all, baby teeth are meant to fall out. However, it does happen that teeth, due to accidents or cavities or other misfortune, sometimes need crowns. Pediatric crowns pose challenges to dentists that crowns for adults don’t. A child’s crown has to hold as well as an adult’s without impeding the eruption of adult teeth that still need to grow in.

Luckily, a lot of work has been done in the area of pediatric crowns. Among those preferred by dentists are NuSmile’s ZR line. NuSmile has been manufacturing crowns for over 20 years. While many pediatric crowns are made of metal, the ZR crowns are fashioned from high grade monolithic zirconia ceramic. This makes them nine-times stronger than natural teeth. It also gives them a lustre and translucence that mimics natural teeth. In addition, NuSmile also makes try-in crowns for trial fittings. These make sure the final crowns fit well and cement properly.

If your child has cracked, damaged, or discolored teeth, it’s important that you consult a pediatric dentist. Even small issues that might appear to be merely cosmetic can stem from serious problems. Simply waiting for the damaged teeth to fall out and the new ones to grow in can result in harm to the new adult teeth or even the entire mouth. Never forget that, as a child grows so does their entire mouth, teeth, jaw, tongue and palate.

Hopefully, good oral hygiene and wearing the proper protective gear will mean your child will never need crowns. Still, you can take comfort in knowing that professionals have already studied the issues pediatric crowns create. While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, damaged teeth don’t need to mean a damaged smile.

Proper Flossing

flossFlossing is a vital part of keeping your teeth clean. The bristles of your toothbrush simply won’t get all the spots between the teeth. Whether you’re using waxed floss, unwaxed floss, or dental tape, it’s important to use it properly and every day.

Start by getting a foot to 18 inches of dental floss. Wrap the ends around your middle fingers. Pinch the floss between your index finger and your thumb to hold it in place.

Slide the floss between your teeth gently, and use a back-and-forth motion as you work it towards the gums. You should take the floss to the gum line and just a big further. The floss should curve around the side of a tooth on each pass, so that means doing each gap twice, once for each tooth on either side. Try to use a clean bit of floss for each tooth. If it starts to fray or looks grungy, feel free to get some fresh floss.

Don’t snap or force the floss. If you have trouble getting it between your teeth, you may need to use different floss. If you see bleeding from your gums, be sure to talk to your pediatric dentist. Blood from either brushing or flossing is an early sign of gum disease. Your body rushes blood to spots of infection. Blood on your toothbrush means bacteria are attacking your gums.

Like brushing, flossing needs to be done every day. Keep in mind that it only takes 24 hours for plaque to start hardening into tartar. If you let it get hard enough, nothing short of your dentist’s tools will get it off your teeth.

Dental Cakes

Need a cake for the dentist in your life? Check out these bakers and their dental creations. By the way, the staff at Kidz Dental Care loves cake…

teeth-braces-cake--large-msg-123972188482
AZ Cakes

Don’t Put These Flippers on Your Feet

LostToothBaby teeth are meant to fall out. Eventually, they’ll be replaced with adult teeth as you grow up.

If you neglect your teeth, however, your pediatric dentist might have no choice but to pull an infected or decayed tooth. If that happens, it can take some time for the gums and bone underneath to heal. Sometimes, it can take as much a half-a-year!

While you wait for a replacement, you don’t want to leave a gap in your smile. What to do? Dental flippers to the rescue!

Dental flippers don’t go on your feet or help you swim. Instead, they are rubbery replacement teeth. Dental flippers are secured in place with wire clasps that grip your teeth on either side.

Because they are soft, dental flippers are not a long-term solution. They are only temporary. If an adult tooth isn’t growing in to replace the pulled tooth, a replacement tooth will have to be made.

Never pull out an infected or damaged tooth yourself! Your dentist will want to base any dental flippers on your existing teeth. The same is true for any permanent replacements. Always see a pediatric dentist if any of your teeth turn a strange color or hurt, or if they get chipped or cracked.

Usually, damaged teeth don’t need to be pulled out, and dentists can save teeth that have small cavities in them. It’s best if you never have a tooth that needs to be pulled. You can make sure your teeth stay strong and healthy by brushing and flossing every day. If you play full-contact sports, wear a mouthpiece. Your pediatric dentist can even make special mouthguards fitted exactly to your teeth. Dental flippers, unlike swimming flippers, are not something you want to take to the beach.

What is Myobrace?

tongue3Many in your parents’ generation had to wear braces. These contraptions of wire and metal were cemented to the teeth to force them into proper alignment. They were uncomfortable, limited what you could eat, and had to be worn for years.

Luckily, your pediatric dentist has a better option. The Myobrace System can completely replace braces in most cases. If braces are still needed, it’s for a much shorter time.

Myobrace works by correcting the bad habits that result in crooked teeth and other mouth problems. A tongue tag trains your tongue to rest properly behind your teeth with the tip touching the roof of your mouth. A lip bumper puts your lips in proper position as well. With your mouth in proper position, your muscles will naturally pull your mouth into its correct shape with a minimum of pressure against your teeth.

In most cases, you don’t even need to wear it all day. You put it in at night when you sleep. You’ll also wear it for two hours a day and do mouth exercises with it. In the same way an athlete uses special gear to train their arms and legs, you’ll be training your mouth.

Using it when you’re young is best. While it can be effective in adults, Myobrace works best for kids between the ages of six and ten. This is when the mouth is growing into its adult shape.

Because it aims at correcting the problems that cause crooked teeth, Myobrace has other benefits as well. You’ll learn to breath properly, through the nose with your lips closed. You’ll also learn how to swallow properly without thrusting your tongue out past your teeth. It can even cure thumb-sucking!

Hopefully, you won’t need anything like Myobrace. However, if you do have crooked teeth or an underdeveloped jaw, you have options your mother could only dream of when she was your age. To learn more, ask your pediatric dentist. They’ll know all about it.

What is a Pulpotomy?

BrushingIsVitalThe suffix “-otomy” is from a Greek word that means “to cut” or “separate.” Whenever doctors or dentists start using words that end in “-otomy” it means they’re going to remove something that’s causing a problem.

Pulpotomy, as you can guess, means cutting into pulp. But what pulp? In this case, the pulp is the fleshy part of a tooth. Normally, the pulp is safe beneath the hard enamel. If a cavity penetrates the enamel and gets to the pulp, you can feel it! That’s because the pulp has nerve endings in it, just like your skin does. And the feelings you get from a cavity that goes that deep hurt a lot!

After removing the decay from a tooth, a pediatric dentist will then remove the pulp as well. This is not the same as a root canal because the dentist will not go into the roots of the teeth. The tooth will then be capped off.

A pulpotomy is a good way to save a baby tooth that’s suffering from a deep cavity. Usually, once a tooth’s had a pulpotomy, it won’t cause any more trouble so long as it’s kept clean with brushing and flossing.

Of course, the best option is to not let a cavity form in the first place. Seeing your pediatric dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing every day will keep your dentist from ever having to use any “-otomy” words when discussing your teeth.

The Sinister Secrets of Snacking

StrawberrysYou’ve probably been told that sweets and candy are bad for your teeth. That’s true, but it’s only part of the story. Simply avoiding candy won’t keep your teeth safe.

The truth is, the same sugars that are in chocolate and butterscotches are also in bread, crackers, rice and even fruit. While eating a strawberry is much healthier than eating a chocolate bar for most of your body, it can actually be more damaging to your teeth if you don’t take care of them!

What matters to your teeth is how long the food sits on them. Drinking water and having lots of saliva in your mouth keeps the food from settling on your teeth and feeding the acid-making bacteria that live there. But nothing beats regular brushing and flossing. The longer you go between eating and then brushing and flossing, the longer the food has to rest on your teeth. The longer the food is there, the more the bacteria can gorge themselves on it. And the more the bacteria eat, the more acid they can make.

So if you have some chocolate for dessert after dinner, but brush afterwards, that’s actually better for your teeth than eating a whole wheat cracker and letting the crumbs sit on your teeth for hours and hours. This is why snacking between meals can be hazardous for your smile.

You can save your smile a lot of damage by snacking as little as possible. You also want to avoid sipping on sodas, since they not only have sugars that feed acid-causing bacteria, but are also slightly acidic themselves. Wait for mealtimes to enjoy candy and brush afterwards, and your smile will stay bright and healthy. And, as always, see your pediatric dentist twice a year for everything your brush and floss can’t handle.

Amazing X-rays

xray2Your pediatric dentist has probably taken pictures of your teeth.  You may even has have seen them.  The really amazing ones are ghostly white and grey on black.  What’s so amazing about those pictures?  They’re actually pictures of the inside of your teeth and bones!

How can your dentist take pictures of the insides of your teeth?  They use x-rays.

What are x-rays?  X-rays are a form of electromagnetic energy carried by subatomic particles called photons.  Normal photons are how we see with our eyes; the energy bounces off things and enters our eyes, allowing us to see physical objects like cars, trees, and computers.

X-rays are super-charged photons.  They don’t just bounce off anything.  In fact, they have so much energy, they can pass right through most things!  Scientists have created devices that allow us to see with x-rays the same way our eyes see with photons.  But because the x-rays pass all the way through things, they show us what’s inside instead of just the outside like normal photons.

This is incredibly useful for your dentist.  Using x-rays, they can see how your teeth are growing.  They can see past the enamel to the heart of the tooth.  They can see how the roots are nestled into the gums.  X-rays allow dentists to see tiny cavities they wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye, as well as infections inside the tooth.

While incredibly useful, x-rays can also be dangerous.  Your dentist will take special care, only using x-rays as much as is needed and no more.  They may have you wear a special, heavy apron while they take the x-rays.  This apron is specially made to stop the x-rays, keeping you safe.

In addition, modern digital x-ray machines use 50% fewer x-rays than older machines.  Digital x-rays also allow the dentist to see what your teeth look like as soon as the picture is taken.  Traditional x-ray pictures had to be processed in chemical baths before their pictures could be seen.

Learning to use x-rays and lasers are all part of becoming a dentist in the 21st century.  All of this amazing technology allows dentists to keep your teeth brighter, shinier, and healthier than ever before.  But it only works if you show up for them to use it.  Be sure to visit the dentist every six months.

Pew-pew! Lasers at the Dentist’s Office

LaserPointerDentists today have many high-tech gadgets to help them keep your teeth healthy. From x-ray imagery to ultra-sonic descalers, the 21st century has brought a number of useful wonders to dentistry. Probably the most sci-fi are lasers.

The word laser is an acronym that stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Unlike the light you get out of a flashlight, lasers produce a very powerful and extremely focused beam. The military has even experimented with making weapons out of lasers.

The lasers used by your pediatric dentist are not the same sort used by the military. There’s no chance they could accidentally shoot your ear off or anything like that. Instead, your dentist’s lasers are specially made to handle important and special tasks.

One job lasers are really good for is called gingivectomy. It involves getting behind the gums to get at plaque that’s built up underneath them. It’s only used in cases of extremely bad gingivitis.

Some people are born with a really short and thick lingual frenulum. What’s a lingual frenulum? It’s the bit of skin that connects the underside of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. A short and thick lingual frenulum can make it hard to speak or even eat properly. This condition is known as ankyloglossia.

In extreme cases, surgery may be required to correct the condition. This is called a frenectomy and can be performed with a laser to cut back and sculpt the frenulum.

Both of these procedures are unusual and at the cutting-edge of dental technology today. However, as time goes on, we’re likely to see these sorts of advances all over the place. Who knows? Maybe someday you’ll use a laser toothbrush.

Three Big Threats to Your Baby’s Teeth

GiggleBabyTeething can be a trying time for parents. It’s an important time for your child as their first teeth grow in. Keep your baby’s smile bright and healthy by managing these three big threats:

Juice
Fruit has lots of great health benefits, and when babies don’t have all their teeth in yet, juice is a great way for your baby to enjoy them. Still, juice is packed with sugars and other food for the bacteria that lives in your baby’s mouth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you not feed juice to your baby until they are at least six months old. Also, never give your baby more than four to six ounces of juice per day.

The Bedtime Bottle
Whether filled with juice or milk, the bedtime bottle is a big threat to your baby’s smile. Even milk, as full of calcium as it is, has the same sugars and food that the acid-causing bacteria thrive on. Leaving that on your baby’s teeth overnight or, even worse, slowly leaking into the mouth all night long is a recipe for dental disaster.

Brushing your baby’s teeth before bed can go a long way to protecting your baby’s teeth. Speak with your pediatric dentist about the right amount of fluoride to use, and always try to get your baby to spit out the toothpaste.

You!
Believe it or not, your own mouth holds a lot of danger for your baby’s smile. Even before the first teeth erupt, cavity-causing bacteria and germs from your mouth can invade you child’s mouth. This is why it’s important to not share spoons with your baby or use your spit to clean off a pacifier.

It’s also vitally important that you keep your own teeth healthy. Simply brushing and flossing every day has a huge impact on the population of bacteria that live in your mouth.

Having a baby in your life means a lot rests on your shoulders. Give them the best start you can, and avoid future troubles, by meeting with your pediatric dentist to learn what you need to do to make sure your baby’s teeth grow in strong and stay that way.

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

bracesWhen your parents were kids, people thought crooked teeth were caused by having teeth that were too big for your jaw or other genetic factors. The solution was usually braces, bits of metal and wire that were cemented directly to the teeth to force them into the right position. This worked, but even after the braces came off you might have to wear a retainer for the rest of your life. Otherwise, the teeth would go crooked again.

Today, dentists and scientists think they’ve discovered the underlying issues that cause some teeth to go crooked. Instead of genetics, they look to the muscles of the mouth and face.

As a child, your body is constantly growing and reshaping itself into the adult you’ll be someday. The bones of your jaws, upper and lower, are doing the same. As the face grows outward, your cheek muscles pull back. This can cause the crowding that results in crooked teeth.

If your mouth is closed most of the time, and if your tongue naturally rests in the area between the upper teeth, this pulling will be counteracted and your teeth should grow in normally.

However, if you breath through your mouth, or your tongue is constantly slipping past your teeth, you’re not getting the counter push to the muscles’ pull. The muscles of your jaws will pull your teeth closer together and crowd them into crookedness.

Your pediatric dentist understands much more today about all of this. Current techniques aim at the root of the problem: the motion of the tongue and proper mouth posture. Your dentist can often solve the problem without metal wires. They can also solve the problem for life, so that no retainers will be needed. If you or someone you know needs their teeth straightened, be sure to ask about Myobrace.

In the meantime, if you want pretty, straight teeth, chew and swallow with your mouth closed and don’t let your mouth hang open. You’ll catch fewer flies that way, too.

From the First Tooth

Baby DentistWhen should your baby first visit the dentist? Within six months of the arrival of the very first tooth!

The first tooth can tell a dentist a lot about a baby’s dental future. Getting your baby in front of a dentist can help prevent later problems. Most of this prevention comes from educating parents. There’s a lot to learn about caring for your baby’s teeth and gums, from how soon to start brushing to how to handle issues like thumb-sucking and pacifiers.

For instance, did you know it’s possible for babies to “catch” cavities the same way they might catch a cold? Streptococcus mutans, one of the principle cavity-causing bacteria, can be passed from mother to child before the first teeth even erupt.

This is why it’s important to see a pediatric dentist. With an extra two years of study specializing in children’s teeth, a pediatric dentist knows best what to look for and how to protect your child’s smile while it is still in its earliest formative stages.

The most important part of visiting the dentist at such a young age, however, may be in making your child comfortable at the dentist’s office. Early, pleasant associations with the dentist make later visits easier and less anxiety-inducing. A child who isn’t afraid of the dentist is more likely to take care of their teeth. And far less likely to stress out their parents when it comes time for visits later in life.

Who’s in Your Mouth?

microscopeYou know that plaque and cavities are caused by bacteria that live in your mouth. These bacteria feast on the food you eat and create acid that burns through the enamel of your teeth. The slurry of food, saliva, acid, and bacteria create plaque. So why don’t we just get rid of ALL of the bacteria in our mouths?

First, science hasn’t come up with a good way to do that. But more importantly, doing so would be bad. Like a forest where all the animals had been killed, teeth without bacteria would be a rich environment for strange new, and possibly even more dangerous, critters to move into. Fungus, for instance, can live very happily in warm, wet places like your mouth. Luckily, the bacteria that live in your mouth keep the fungus in check.

Scientists believe that there are 1,000 different kinds of bacteria living in our mouths, but only half that number have been actually identified so far. So we don’t know how they all interact or all the different ways these bacteria might also keep us safe and healthy. There’s a lot of science left for biologists to do here. Simply identifying all the different kinds will only be the first step. The ecology of your mouth is as complex and intricate as any rain forest or coral reef.

In the meantime, it’s important to follow your pediatric dentist‘s instructions. If you brush and floss daily, you’ll have 100,000 or fewer bacteria living on each of your teeth. Without that care, the number can jump as high as a billion! Having some bacteria is good and all, but a billion on each tooth sounds pretty crowded, don’t you think?

Teeth or No Teeth?

WhaleLeapingDo whales have teeth? That depends on the whale.

Scientists divide whales up into two groups. The first group are called toothed whales because they have teeth. Among the toothed whales are the orca, or killer whales, the sperm whales, like Moby Dick, and the narwhal with it’s unicorn-like canine.

The other sort of whales are called baleen whales. Instead of teeth, they have what’s called a baleen filter-feeding system. These are not made from specialized bones like our teeth. Rather, baleen plates are more similar to our hair and fingernails.

When a baleen whale sees a bunch of shrimp or krill swimming in the sea, it’ll opens its mouth wide and swim right at them. It’ll take into its mouth the little critters and all the water they were swimming in as well. Then it’ll close it’s baleen plates across its mouth. Pushing its tongue to the roof of its mouth, the whale squeezes the water out through the plates of the baleen. The shrimp and krill are trapped inside the whale’s mouth while all the water is pushed out since they’re too big to fit through the gaps. To help trap the food, the baleen is often “hairy.” Once the water is out of its mouth, the whale can swallow its catch.

Among the baleen whales are the blue whale, the largest known animals currently on the planet. They have to eat a lot of shrimp, krill, small fish, and other food to grow so large. Because of how they eat, baleen whales want food to get caught in their teeth.

Getting food caught in our human teeth is not very pleasant. Luckily, we have brushes and floss to get it unstuck. Baleen whales need gaps between their teeth to expel the water, but gaps in our teeth can be bad news for our smiles and our gums. A pediatric dentist can tell you if a gap is a serious issue or not.

Baleen whales and people have very different ways of eating. Our mouths are perfect for the sort of eating we do, allowing us to eat a huge variety of different things. Plus, you’d look kinda silly with a smile full of baleen plates. People might think you’d replaced your teeth with Venetian blinds!

An Elephant’s Two Front Teeth

ElephantHave you lost your front teeth yet? It’s a big deal to lose those front-most baby teeth and start growing in your adult teeth. But it’s an even bigger deal for elephants.

As you already know, an elephant’s tusks are actually its incisors. The first pair of front teeth an elephant gets, its baby teeth, are not tusks. They stay and live entirely inside the baby elephant’s mouth. When those fall out, though, the next pair they get will grow into tusks.

But for elephants, it doesn’t stop there. Elephants are constantly growing new teeth. They don’t just lose one set, like you and me. They go through the whole process usually six times over the full span of their lives.

Sometimes, however, a tooth will get stuck and refuse to fall out. If that happens, an elephant will chew on something tough, like a tree trunk, to try and work it out.

Elephants need to replace their teeth frequently because they use their teeth like tools. Tusks dig like shovels, scrape like files, or pick things up like a forklift. Elephants use their tusks for so many things that they’ll have a dominant tusk. In the same way you and I are left or right handed, an elephant can be left or right tusked.

Obviously, using teeth like tools puts a lot of wear and tear on them. This is why elephants constantly need to be making new sets. Because you only get one set of adult teeth, it’s very important you not use your teeth as tools. As your pediatric dentist will tell you, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. You won’t grow a new set after your adult teeth, so you need to take special care with them.

Hunting the Black Death in White Teeth

LondonOldandNewBack in the Middle Ages, a terrible disease called the Black Death ravaged Europe. Knights and peasants alike fell to this killer. The horror was so widespread that it forever changed society.

Today, scientists are trying to understand the Black Death. They want to know what made it so very deadly. A clue might be found in the teeth of some of its victims.

While digging for a new London railway line, workers unearthed a medieval burial site that would have been outside the city’s walls. Suspecting that these might be plague victims, scientists immediately went to work investigating the teeth.

The scientists announced just this past Sunday that they found evidence of the bacteria that caused the Black Death in the twelve teeth they took from the skeletons. By studying the DNA of these bacteria, the scientists hope to learn how the Black Death was different from modern diseases.

Teeth tell scientists a lot more than that about the people they came from. The health (or lack thereof) reveal how people lived and what they ate. Teeth reveal how people were raised as children. They can show us what sorts of work they did. They can even tell scientists how long and healthy a person’s life was.

As your pediatric dentist can tell you, healthy teeth are a cornerstone of a healthy body. Problems with your teeth will lead to problems elsewhere. This is why daily brushing and flossing is so important, even beyond having a pretty smile.

The skeletons under London and their teeth still have a lot to tell us about life in the Middle Ages and the disease that killed them. They might even tell us how to prevent future pandemics. Wouldn’t that be something to smile about?

What is Dental Sealant?

DentalCastGuess which part of your mouth is the hardest to brush. If you said, “the back teeth,” you’re absolutely right.

The back teeth are harder to see and harder to reach with your brush. That’s not the end of the challenges they present. They’re also especially irregular in shape.

The parts of your molars that you bite with are heavily textured, with lots of pits, ripples, and fissures. This helps your molars hold your food while they grind it down.

Unfortunately, these pits and ridges are also great places for food to get trapped. Food stuck way down inside a groove can be especially difficult for your brush to reach and sweep away. And as long as the food stays in there, it’s providing food for the acid-making bacteria that live on your teeth.

That’s where your pediatric dentist can come to the rescue. A thin layer of plastic, called a dental sealant, can be applied to your molars. This plastic is transparent and nearly impossible to see without a very close inspection. The sealant fills in the deepest pits and grooves so food can’t get trapped in there. It makes brushing your back teeth much easier.

Even with a dental sealant, you still need to brush and floss daily. The sealant doesn’t make your teeth invulnerable to acid. It only makes the grooves and pits shallower so food can’t get trapped in there. It makes brushing even more effective.

The best time to get your dentist to seal your back teeth is shortly after your adult molars have erupted. They last from five to ten years before they need replacing. Letting your dentist inspect them every year is the best way to make sure your dental sealant is still in good shape and doing its job.

Bringing in Baby

BabySmileHow old should your child be when they first visit the dentist? The consensus is in and it is unanimous: before their first birthday.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend you bring your child to see the dentist before their first birthday. A paper published in *Pediatric Dentistry* in 2006 reported that children who were not brought in to see a dentist until they were two or older, “were more likely to have subsequent preventive, restorative and emergency visits.”

Why is it so important? Partly, it’s to make sure that everything in the baby’s mouth is healthy and ready for their teeth to grow in. It’s also important create a dental history for your child to allow consistent, focused, and personalized care from your pediatric dentist. But more than that, it’s to ensure that parents know what they need to do to keep the teeth of their children healthy.

The life of a baby is fraught with dangers to their teeth. From falls and spills to sticking odd objects in their mouths, to the pains of teething, things we adults take for granted as just part of being a baby can do serious damage to a baby’s teeth. Simply drinking milk from a bottle bathes the bacteria that cause cavities in rich sugars for long periods of time. It’s possible for babies to chip their teeth and get cavities. Even as infants, and even before the first teeth erupt, brushing needs to be a daily habit by the parents until the child is capable of handling that responsibility themselves.

If you have a new baby on the way, today is the time to begin looking for a pediatric dentist. Between diapers and sleepless nights, it’s easy to put off that first visit until far too late. Having a plan and a scheduled visit in place today can make the difference between a healthy smile and painful, pitted, and discolored teeth in your child’s future.

Say, “Cheese, Please.”

CheeseYou know that keeping your teeth healthy has less to do with avoiding foods than it does with daily brushing and flossing. Are there foods that are good for your teeth?

In fact, there are. The best might be cheese.

What makes cheese so good for your smile? Not only does cheese include calcium, it’s also got casein phosphate which makes enamel stronger. But the real power of cheese is how it fights acid.

You know that bacteria in your mouth create acid. Your teeth are constantly under attack by this acid. Saliva helps neutralize that acid. Eating cheese makes you salivate more than most foods. That means there’s lots of saliva to dilute the acid. The cheeses that make you salivate the most are aged cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, and monterey jack.

More than that, though, cheese actively neutralizes some of the acids in your mouth. That means eating cheese gives your teeth a break from the constant fight against the bacteria and their acids.

When’s the best time to get the most from a bite of cheese? Cheese makes a great snack between meals. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry also recommends cheese at the end of meals. After a meal, cheese can help wash away food particles. It also neutralizes the acids made by the bacteria that have been feasting on the crumbs of your meal.

As always, your pediatric dentist will insist the best things to put in your mouth are floss and a brush with a fluoride toothpaste. There’s no magic food that will keep your teeth healthy all by itself. Still, a bit of cheese can make it easier for the brush and floss to do their best job. Next time you’re hungry for a snack, grab a piece of drool-worthy cheese.

Who Gets Cavities?

BrushingTogetherGreat news! 50% of school kids in America have NEVER had a cavity. That’s not a bad start for every kid and pediatric dentist. If you’re one of those who brushes and flosses every day and sees your dentist twice a year, keep up the great work!

Here’s some bad news: 25% of school kids have 80% of the cavities. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, if you start having cavities, you’re likely to have more. Why is that?

Partly, it’s environment. 30% of American communities don’t fluoridate their water. If you emigrated from a part of the world where they don’t take dental care seriously, you might not have gotten the message about how important brushing and flossing daily is.

And that’s the big thing right there. If you haven’t given yourself the brushing-and-flossing habit, if you only brush and floss occasionally, you’re more likely to get cavities. And if you keep not brushing and flossing, you’ll get more cavities. That means pain, lots of visits to doctors, and ugly teeth.

Luckily, you and your parents know the importance of keeping your teeth healthy. Giving yourself the habit of brushing and flossing daily is easy. Just be sure to do it every day and eventually you’ll start to do it automatically. Even if you’ve had a cavity, it’s not too late to make sure you don’t get any more. If you have trouble remembering, ask your parents for help. You can get a calendar for your wall and put a sticker on every day you brush your teeth. Or you can set an alarm for when it’s time to brush. You can even brush with your parents, keeping the whole family’s smiles healthy together.

More important than diet or fluoride in your water or where you’re from are the good habits you’re making today. Every time you brush and floss, you’re making your teeth stronger and keeping them stronger for longer. You’re doing just a little more to have a healthy, strong body. It may seem like a little thing, but little things can add up to big benefits over time. Keep it up!

Give Smiles All Year Long

SmileAtTheGameDid you giving anyone a Valentine’s Day card this year? Getting a valentine is sure to make anyone smile. And maybe that can give them a longer, healthier life.

You probably already know that smiles are contagious. You also may know that smiles can make feeling happy even better, and last longer. But did you know that people who smile more live longer?

Scientists at Wayne State University used the Official Baseball Register from 1952 to study the smiles of professional baseball players. They wanted to see if bigger smiles meant a longer lifespan.

Turns out, a bigger smile does mean a longer life. Players who didn’t smile for their pictures lived on average only 72.9 years. Players with big smiles lived an average of 79.9 years. It wasn’t even close!

So when you share a smile with your friends, you’re not only making each other happier, you could be making each other healthier. Taking care of your smile isn’t just important to you. It’s also important to everyone you meet every day.

The best way to keep your smile bright and bold is to follow the advice of your pediatric dentist. They’re experts at keeping your teeth bright and shiny and your smile beaming. It could make the difference for a longer, happier life.

White as Snow

PolishedSmilesHave you ever had your teeth polished? One of the last steps of a general cleaning involves polishing your teeth with a prophy cup. The cup is a small, soft rubber cup that sits on the end of an electric tool. Your pediatric dentist will scoop up some prophy paste in the cup and then use it to polish your teeth. Sometimes, the paste will come in different flavors. If it does, your dentist might let you pick your favorite.

The motor in the handle moves the prophy cup in tiny circles. The motions of the cup rub the gritty paste across your teeth. It feels like your teeth are getting a massage. Not only does it give your teeth a bright, shiny, smooth appearance, it actually removes nooks and crannies that bacteria can hide in.

“Prophy” is shorthand for “prophylaxis.” That’s a Greek word meaning “to prevent a problem before it starts.” A good polishing does just that. It removes the last traces of plaque and tarter. It keeps gingivitis from even starting.

It also removes stains and marks on your teeth. It can give them a bright, clean, white appearance.

The only place you can get your teeth properly polished is at a dentist’s office. It’s another reason why it’s so important to see your dentist at least twice a year.

Want teeth as white as snow? Ask for a polishing, please!

Would You Chew Army Gum?

GumBubbleDid you know there are dentists in the US Army? Keeping soldiers’ teeth healthy is a vital part of keeping soldiers healthy and ready to fight. But nobody can take a time-out in a real fight for brushing and flossing. Just like you, soldiers need to visit the dentist twice a year to keep their teeth at optimal health. So what happens when army soldiers can’t put everything down to take care of their teeth?

This has been a big problem for the Army. More than one of every ten soldiers evacuated due to disease had a dental problem. One solution they’ve been working on for seven years is a special gum. Soldiers going out in the field for training or operations are instructed to chew the gum for 20 minutes after meals.

Like sugar-free gum approved by the ADA, this Combat Gum increases the flow of saliva in the mouth. This helps wash away small bits of food and neutralize acids created by bacteria in the mouth. Combat Gum goes a step further, actually combating the bacteria themselves.

Even the Army admits that no gum, even Combat Gum, is a replacement for brushing and flossing. If you ever get to chew the peppermint-flavored gum, you’ll still need to visit your pediatric dentist at least twice a year, and brush and floss daily.

What is Gingivitis?

gumsYou might not think about gums much except when you jab them with a potato chip. Your gums are very important to your smile. Giving them the care they need will help keep your adult teeth from falling out.

If you don’t take care of your gums, they could develop gingivitis. Gums suffering from gingivitis get red, puffy, and bleed easily, especially when you’re brushing. Don’t stop brushing! But you may need to see your pediatric dentist to stop things before they get worse.

Gingivitis is caused by bacteria in your plaque. They irritate your gums, making them puffy and soft. If you don’t get this fixed, your gums will start to pull away from your teeth. This is called periodontitis. Bacteria can sneak into the gap left between the teeth and the gums where your brush and floss can’t get at them. Food and dirt can also slip down there, causing infection. Your gums and teeth will become a battleground where your body fights off disease.

This is bad news for your teeth and the bones they are anchored to. If it goes on long enough, your teeth will get holes under the gum line. The bone that’s supposed to hold them in place will weaken or even begin to shrink away. Eventually, your teeth could fall out!

Losing your baby teeth is natural and important. It makes room for your adult teeth to grow in. If you lose your adult teeth, no replacements will grow in. It’s important to take very good care of your teeth. That means also taking good care of your gums.

Do Straws Prevent Cavities?

strawsYou may have heard that using a straw while drinking soda protects your teeth from cavities. Is that really true? The answer is: kinda.

The only way to prevent soda from feeding the bacteria on your teeth is to keep the soda from touching your teeth. So if you position the end of the straw near the back of your mouth and swallow it quickly you can limit how much soda touches your teeth.

Of course, doing that also limits how much of the soda you get to taste. Most people don’t do it that way. If you keep the end of the straw in front of your teeth, of course, it does absolutely nothing to prevent soda from getting on your teeth.

The best way to protect your teeth from soda, and everything else you eat and drink, is to brush and floss daily. Soda and candy can be especially dangerous because sticky, sugary foods are more likely to be left on your teeth where they can feed the acid-making bacteria that cause cavities. But even foods like bread and rice feed the bacteria. If you never ate candy or drank soda, you’d still need to brush and floss every day to keep your smile bright and healthy.

You also need to see your pediatric dentist regularly. Usually that means twice a year, but your dentist may need to see you more often for special treatment. Only your dentist can get hard tartar safely off your teeth. Your dentist can also take x-rays that allow them to actually see what’s going on inside your teeth. No matter how small or hidden the problem, your pediatric dentist can find it before it becomes painful.

So don’t rely on straws alone to protect your teeth. You have to do your part every day with brushing and flossing. And you have to let your dentist do their part. Together, as a team, you can keep your smile bright and pretty.

The Power of Your Smile

BigSmilesHave you ever had a bad day turned around by a smile? Maybe it was a smile from a friend or your mother. Smiles pack a lot of emotional punch, so it’s important to take care of them.

When you get together with someone and they smile, it shows you how happy they are to see you. When you do someone a favor or give them a present and they smile, it shows you how much they appreciate your attention. A warm smile builds trust, happiness, and calm in all who see it.

Smiling can also make you happier when you do it. Studies have shown that wearing a big smile can make a good mood even better. By contrast, if you hide your smile, you dampen your good mood. You won’t enjoy it as much and it might not last as long. And you’re not sharing your happiness with others.

There can be good reasons to hide your smile. You might not want to draw attention to yourself, or send the wrong message during a serious moment or a sad occasion. Being embarrassed of your teeth, however, is not a good reason to hide your smile. A pediatric dentist specializes in fixing teeth that are unhealthy or growing in wrong. If you’re not happy with your smile, your dentist is the perfect person to help you fix it.

The best way to avoid unhealthy or ugly teeth is to keep your teeth healthy in the first place. This means both brushing and flossing every day. If you play a rough sport with a lot of physical contact, you should wear a mouthguard. Your dentist might be able to make you a custom mouthguard designed especially for your mouth.

Laughter can be the best medicine for a case of gloom, but only if you’re willing to let it shine. Your friends and family treasure your smile and you should too. A healthy smile actually makes everyone happier. So turn that frown upside down and flash those pearly whites for the whole world to see.

2014: the Year of Happy Teeth

2014Do you have any resolutions for the new year? While you’re coming up with your list, don’t forget your teeth. Here are some suggestions to keep your teeth happy and your smile bright through the whole year:

  • Brush every day. It only takes 24 hours for the food on your teeth, mixed with the bacteria and their acid, to harden. In 10 days, it becomes tartar, which is so hard you’ll need the help of a dentist to clean it off. Brushing every day keeps the plaque on your teeth soft and easy to remove.
  • Floss every day. Brushes are great, but they don’t do a good job of getting at the plaque between your teeth. That stuff will harden too if you don’t remove it. That’s where floss comes in. Not only does it get at spots your toothbrush can’t, it also massages your gums keeping them happy as well.
  • Brush the right way. Just as there’s a right way to hold and swing a baseball bat to get a strong hit, there’s a right way to hold and use your toothbrush. Not sure how to do it right? Ask your pediatric dentist! They’re experts in getting the most out of brushing. Speaking of pediatric dentists…
  • Visit your pediatric dentist every six months. Just like the rest of you, your teeth are growing. You might even be losing baby teeth and growing new adult ones in. It’s important to keep an eye on your teeth as you grow to make sure they’re growing along with you properly. It’s important to keep an eye on any tartar that might have built up and to remove it before it becomes a serious problem. And twice a year is the minimum. Your dentist may want to see you more often if there’s something they want to keep a close eye on.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to make changes. If you’ve been neglecting your teeth, or if you just haven’t known how to take proper care of them, now’s a great time to change. Habits you create today can last for the rest of your life, so be sure to make good ones.

Santa at the Dentist


Why Do Teeth Chatter When it’s Cold?

iceclesOh, the weather outside is frightful… cold and windy and just unpleasant. Have you noticed how your teeth chatter, clacking together briskly, when you get cold? Have you ever wondered why they do that?

Scientists call mammals like you and me warm-blooded. This means our bodies work to keep an even temperature. There are many mechanisms they use to do this: insulation, digestion, circulation, among others. One way our bodies can stay warm is by using our muscles. Have you noticed that when you run or do jumping-jacks you feel warmer? Exercising our muscles releases heat that our bodies can use to keep us warm. And that’s exactly what happens when our teeth chatter.

In fact, it’s probably happening all over your body. The same thing that makes you shiver makes your teeth chatter. It’s just your jaw shivering that makes your teeth rattle together.

Is this bad for your teeth? Not really. So long as your teeth are healthy and clean, chattering shouldn’t be a problem. If your teeth aren’t healthy, though, or if you have food caught between them, chattering can be uncomfortable or even painful. This is why it’s important to brush and floss daily and visit your pediatric dentist regularly. There’s no reason for your teeth to hurt and if you keep them healthy, a little chattering won’t be something you need to worry about.

Don’t Use Your Teeth!

BeesWaxHave you ever had trouble opening a bottle? You might have been tempted to use your teeth on the cap. This is not a good idea.

While your teeth, especially your molars, are great for gripping, they are not good for twisting. You could damage your teeth, gums, and jaw. Using your teeth as a “third hand” puts unusual stresses on your mouth. This can cause the teeth to come lose in their sockets, damage the enamel, or even crack your teeth.

This may have been what happened to a person 6,500 years ago. Researcher’s found the person’s jaw in a cave in Slovenia back in 1911, just over 100 years ago. The odd thing about this jaw is that it had a lump of beeswax in it. Scientists believe this beeswax was an attempted cure for a cracked tooth.

Beeswax can kinda seal a hole in your teeth, but it’s not much of a fix. It was probably the best they had in the Neolithic era. Luckily for you, today there is a pediatric dentist around that can help you. They have effective tools and techniques to repair your teeth. Still, the best way to have a healthy smile is to not damage it in the first place.

Some jobs and sports, however, can be risky for your teeth. Luckily, dentists can help there, too. They can make special, custom-fit mouthguard for you. These protect your teeth if you play sports with a high risk of impact. Getting banged around is part of the fun of hockey and football, but you want to do it safely and keep all your teeth in your head. If you’re thinking of trying out for the team, you might mention it to your dentist, just to be on the safe side.

Tomorrow’s Toothpaste

BlueToothpasteToothpaste has gone through many changes over the centuries. Today’s toothpaste is healthier, more effective, and, just as important, tastes better than any toothpaste before. But what will future toothpaste be like?

Scientists are already hard at work trying to make toothpaste better. One area for improvement is foaminess. The foamier a toothpaste is, the more effective it ought to be at cleaning between teeth and in hard-to-reach spots.

Another option is smarter toothpaste. Tiny machines, called nanites, could be put into the toothpaste. These tiny machines might have jobs like building new enamel for your teeth out of diamond (one of the hardest substances known) or removing the bacteria that cause tooth decay while ignoring the good bacteria in your mouth.

Tomorrow’s toothpaste may be no toothpaste at all! Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan have been working on a solar-powered toothbrush that uses electrons to break up plaque in the mouth. If you ever get the chance to use a solar-powered toothbrush, your pediatric dentist might still suggest you keep using toothpaste until future toothbrushes can also provide fluoride to your teeth.

Scientists at MIT, however, think toothpaste is still the way to go. They’ve developed a computerized dispenser that changes the toothpaste based on weather reports. If the weather is supposed to be warmer, you get a cinnamon taste. If it’s going to be cooler, you get a minty taste. And if you see a blue stripe in your toothpaste, you’d better take your raincoat.

What’s Fair is Fowl

TurkeyDayWhat will you be having for Thanksgiving?  Have you thought about how the food you eat affects your teeth?

You know that candy can be tough on your teeth, giving the acid-making bacteria that cause cavities lots of food.  And so you might be thinking that passing on the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie would be a good idea.

As your pediatric dentist can tell you, starch is tough on your teeth as well.  Lots of starch makes the plaque on your teeth extra sticky, cementing the bacteria and their acid in place.  This means seemingly safe foods, like rolls and mashed potatoes, are just as bad for your teeth as sweet, sugary stuff.

Other foods that are normally very good when raw become bad for your teeth when cooked.  A raw apple, with its crunchy scouring of your teeth, is very good.  Apple pie?  Not so much.  Without their crunch, apples lose some of what makes them such a smile-friendly food.  Drown them in sugary pie filling and starchy pie crust and they’re just as big a threat to your teeth as candy.

The safest things for you to eat are foods low in starch, sugar, and carbohydrates.  These include certain vegetables, like green beans.  They also include the king of the Thanksgiving table: the turkey.  Most meat is low in carbs, starch, and sugar.

But what’s turkey without stuffing and gravy?  Both of those have lots of starch and carbs in them.  There’s no need to deny yourself yummy food, not so long as you have a toothbrush!  Just as with Halloween, follow a little yummy indulgence with a good brushing and flossing.  Carbs, starch, and sugar can’t do much harm if you don’t let them stay on your teeth.

So have some potatoes and cranberry sauce, and finish up with some pie.  Just don’t neglect the veggies or the turkey.  And never fail to brush and floss, no matter how special the occasion.

Toothy Myths

dentist gamesNow that colder weather is here, do you tell ghost stories around a fire? There are lots of stories and myths about teeth from all over the world. You’re already familiar with the tooth fairy. You probably also know about vampires, and what vampire would be scary without their sharp, pointy canines?

Speaking of canines, have you heard the Norse myths about the wolf Fenrir? This vicious beast was a son of the trickster god Loki. Legend said he would kill Odin, king of the gods. In order to prevent this from happening, the gods forged a powerful chain to hold Fenrir down so he couldn’t bite anybody. Unfortunately (and wisely), the massive wolf refused to put the chain on. Only when the god Tyr put his hand in the wolf’s mouth would the wolf allow himself to be chained. Of course the gods refused to take the chains off once they were on him. And of course Fenrir bit off Tyr’s hand with his sharp teeth!

The Greeks had their own myths about the teeth of wolves. Pliny the Elder recommended rubbing a wolf’s tooth on the gums of babies to prevent pain from teething. Luckily, your parents don’t have to hunt vicious wolves and can just consult a pediatric dentist when your infant brothers and sisters are crying from teething pain.

The most famous teeth from Greek myth are probably the dragon’s teeth sown by Jason. In his quest to win the golden fleece, Jason had to plant dragon’s teeth into the ground. Each tooth sprouted into a fully armored warrior ready to kill Jason. Luckily, the clever Medea convinced Jason to toss a stone among the warriors. One warrior was struck, and thinking another of the dragon-tooth warriors had done it, the two began fighting. The fighting spread, and soon all the dragon-tooth warriors are had slain one another, leaving Jason free and alive to continue his quest for the golden fleece.

Stick Out Your Tongue

fun dentist officeDo you brush your tongue? This isn’t as silly a question as it sounds. Brushing your tongue is an important part of how you brush your teeth.

Have you ever looked at a tongue under a magnifying glass? It’s not as smooth as it looks to the naked eye. Bumps, ridges and valleys cover your tongue, giving it the grip it needs to manipulate food in your mouth and lick up ice cream.

Those bumps and ridges are also perfect places for bacteria to hide. Tiny bits of food can get caught in them. Brushing your tongue knocks them loose so they can be swallowed or spit out when you rinse after brushing.

After you’ve finished brushing your teeth, give the top of your tongue a gentle brushing with you toothbrush. Your pediatric dentist can show you how best to do it.

Knocking the bacteria off your tongue can keep them from getting on your teeth. Knocking the food off your tongue can prevent bad breath. Bits of food trapped in your tongue can make your breath smell funny for days after you’ve eaten something really smelly, like garlic. Brushing knocks it loose so it can be washed away.

Food can also become trapped between your teeth, something you probably know all about if you like eating corn on the cob. If you really want your breath to smell fresh and pleasant, be sure to floss between your teeth to scrape that food loose as well.

The Bravest Dentist

Your pediatric dentistfrom the first tooth might be willing to go back to school or fly into space, but would they swim into a shark’s mouth? That’s exactly what the pilot fish does.

The pilot fish is an extremely brave little fish that will actually swim into a shark’s mouth. Once there, the pilot fish picks bits of food caught on the shark’s teeth. They’ll also eat parasites trying to live in the shark’s mouth.

In exchange for being the shark’s personal dentist, the pilot fish gets many benefits. First, there’s always lots of food to eat. Second, nobody messes with the shark’s best buddy! Any fish that might want to eat the pilot fish has to worry about becoming the shark’s meal. Finally, sharks can swim much faster than pilot fish. However, once the pilot fish is caught up in the shark’s wake, they basically get pulled along close to the shark, allowing them to move much more quickly than they could alone.

The pilot fish is a very social fish. In addition to sharks, they’ll swim alongside turtles, stingrays, or even boats. Sailors noticed this centuries ago and gave the pilot fish its name. The sailors thought the fish were guiding, or “piloting,” their escorts to food or safety, the way a tugboat guides a big ship into harbor.

Another myth was that the fish was poisonous, which is why sharks wouldn’t eat the pilot fish. As it turns out, the pilot fish isn’t poisonous. Nobody knows why sharks don’t eat the pilot fish when they swim into their mouths. Perhaps sharks simply understand the importance of keeping their ghastly smiles clean and healthy.

After the Sugar Rush

JackOLanternIt’s Halloween night. The trick-or-treating is over, the piles of candy have been gone through, favorites have been eaten and the rest sorted for quality and type. Parents and their tiny goblins are pooped, finally having come down from the sugar rush.

It’d be so easy to just crawl into bed and call it another successful Halloween, but don’t do that! All that sticky sweet on your kids teeth feeds the bacteria that create plaque, and it only takes 24 hours for plaque to harden into tartar, or dental calculus. Halloween night is not the night to be lax on dental hygiene.

Be sure to talk with your kids about how they plan to eat the rest of their candy. Encourage them to make candy-time after meals. Constantly feeding or saturating the bacteria in their mouths with food puts the cavity-creating bacteria into overdrive. Combining candy with meals limits the length of time the bacteria get fed.

Finally, take a look at their toothbrushes. If they look worn or frayed, it may be time to replace them. New brushes might be just the thing to encourage the kids to power through their post-sugar droop and brush. Children can be especially rough on their brushes, chewing on them and the like. Be sure your kids know the proper way to brush by discussing it with their pediatric dentist.

The American Dental Association suggests you replace brushes every three to four months. That means if you replace them for Halloween you’ll be on track to replace them again after the sugary treats of Valentine’s Day.

Monstrous Teeth

Halloween is coming!  What are you dressing up as this year?  A dinosaur?  George Washington?  A pediatric dentist in space?

Even the very young like to dress up for Halloween.  From the first tooth, your smile is a very important part of any costume.

Preparing for Candypalooza

fun dentistHalloween means a big bag of sweet treats for the kids. It doesn’t have to mean a mouth full of cavities the next time they see a pediatric dentist. Here are some things you might want to have on hand for your kids when the go trick-or-treating:

  • water: keeping your kids hydrated is always a good idea, especially if they’re going to be running from house to house in costumes. It also keeps their teeth healthier. Not only will water keep the mouth moist, it may also help wash some of the sticky sweet off their teeth. No, it’s not a substitute for brushing, but it can help.
  • full bellies: kids with a good dinner in them before they go trick-or-treating are less likely to snack all night on candies afterward. Of course, no matter how full they are, they’re going to want to eat some of their loot right away. What you want to avoid is having them constantly sucking, eating, or chewing on something. Candy that lingers for along time, like hard candies or gum, can be especially problematic since they bathe the bacteria that cause cavities in nourishment over a prolonged period. As much as possible, associate candy time with right after meals to avoid continual snacking.
  • a sensible costume: not all Halloween dental disasters involve candy. Children can trip and fall in unwieldy costumes or ones that obscure their vision too much. If a costume drags on the ground or is likely to tangle their feet, hem it up or use a belt to secure it so little feet can run unhindered. Likewise, make sure they can see through masks and eye-holes so they won’t run into things or each other.
  • a no-nonsense attitude towards brushing and flossing: the bacteria that live in the mouths of little kids don’t take time off for Halloween. That means your little ghouls and goblins can’t take time off from brushing and flossing. After 24 hours, plaque hardens into tartar which is much harder to get off. Brushing regularly is vital, especially when the sweets are numerous.

There’s no need to deny anyone the fun of Halloween and a bag full of candy. Just be sensible about when and how the candy gets eaten. Take advantage of the chance to explain how lifestyle habits lead to better health and prettier smiles. As much fun as it can be once a year, nobody wants to look like a zombie when it’s not Halloween.

Bobbing for Healthy Teeth

dentist gamesAutumn is the time for apples. You’ll see a lot more, and more kinds, of apples in stores and on tables now that fall is here.

Apples are a great food for your teeth. As you already know, crunchy foods like apples scour your teeth and help knock loose food particles and plaque. They make your mouth salivate, which is also great for your teeth. In addition to your own saliva, apples have a lot of water in them, so your teeth are even more protected by washing and diluting the stuff that feeds the bacteria on your teeth.

On top of that, apples are slight astringent. This helps the scrubbing action of the apple’s fibrous bulk scrape food and even stains off your teeth.

Unpeeled and uncooked apples are the best. There’s lots of good stuff in the apple’s peel, and it’s really good for the scrubbing action on your teeth. In addition, biting through a crisp, crunchy apple gives you some of that massaging action your gums love so much. Soft, mushy cooked or sauced apples might still have lots of good nutrients in them, but they’re not as good for your teeth as a crisp raw apple.

Don’t think apples can replacing brushing. They’re good for your teeth, but like chewing gum, they can only be part of what you do to keep your teeth healthy. Your pediatric dentist will tell you, brushing and flossing need to be daily activities no matter what you eat.

Mercury in Your Mouth

from the first toothIf you have a silver-colored filling, then yes, you have mercury in your mouth. The stuff those fillings are made from, called dental amalgam, is composed of 50% mercury, with silver making up at most 32%.

Mercury is, of course, dangerous to people and the environment, though there’s disagreement about just how dangerous it is in such small amounts and when bound within such a stable alloy. Researchers have come down on both sides of the argument in regards to its effect on humans. When Norway and Denmark banned the use of mercury in dental amalgams, they did so over concerns of industrial waste and pollution, not its effects on the human body. The World Health Organization in 1997 voiced support for the use of dental amalgam and a year later the ADA agreed, saying, “based on available scientific information, amalgam continues to be a safe and effective restorative material.” Still, in 2008, Sweden banned the use of amalgam for both environmental and health reasons.

While scientists struggle to nail down what threat, if any, mercury in fillings poses, other researchers have been busy coming up with alternatives. Composite fillings, composed of a mixture of plastic and glass, not only lack the mercury of amalgam, but can be colored to more closely match the natural color of teeth. Traditionally, composite fillings have been more expensive and less durable than amalgam. For this reason, they are primarily used for small fillings or cosmetic work. However, as the technology improved, composites have come down in price, making them a competitive alternative to amalgam even in larger fillings.

If your child needs a filling, be sure to discuss your options with your pediatric dentist. If they offer white, tooth-colored fillings, that may be an option you want to take advantage of. Kidz Dental Care has completely switched to tooth-colored composite fillings and no longer offers amalgam.

Giving Gums Some Love

dentist gamesWhen brushing your teeth, do you think much about your gums? The gums are a vital part of your mouth. They deserve some attention.

Gums are living tissue and act as shock absorbers and padding for the bones that hold your teeth in. Those bones are not as hard as your teeth. They can’t take the punishment your teeth can. Hard foods like nuts would wear those bones down. The gums protect those bones so they can grip firmly to your teeth and hold them in place.

Healthy gums are usually a coral pink color, though some might be darker or lighter. What you don’t want to see are puffy, red, angry gums. Such gums are being irritated by plaque build up. If it gets worse, your gums may even start to bleed. At that point, they can become sick or infected, and even pass infections on to your teeth. Unhealthy gums can’t do their job of protecting the bone that holds your teeth in place. If the bone is abused, it may start to shrink, or retreat, leaving the teeth with less and less of an anchor. This makes the teeth more likely to fall out. Keeping your gums healthy is an important part of making sure your teeth last a lifetime.

Like your teeth, your gums need a little TLC every day. When you brush properly, the bristles not only scrub your teeth but also massage the tops (or bottoms if we’re talking about your top teeth) of your gums, close to where they meet the teeth. Your gums love this massage, so it’s important you talk to a dentist for children about how to brush your teeth properly. You should also talk about the type of brush you should use. If the bristles are too hard, they could abuse rather than massage your gums. Matching the right technique with the right toothbrush will keep your gums, and your smile, bright and healthy.

King Tut’s Teeth

tut

Only a teenager when he died, King Tut may have the oldest smile in the world. If you see his mummy today, it does look like the teenage pharaoh is grinning at you. That’s because buck teeth and slightly misaligned lower teeth make his upper teeth jut out a bit. This is unusual in mummies, but was a common family trait in Tut’s family.

King Tut’s real name was Tutankhamun. He ruled in Egypt over 3,300 years ago. Dentistry wasn’t then what it is today. The boy king suffered from a slightly cleft palate. He also had an impacted wisdom tooth. That happens when your wisdom teeth grow into your existing teeth, and can be quite painful.

Adding to his dental woes were little stones that would show up in his bread. Why where there stones in his bread? Back then, people used massive wheels of stone to grind wheat into flower. The stones were hard, but daily grinding was tough on them, and bits of the stones would come off and end up in the flour. These stones were sometimes missed by the bakers and would end up in the Pharaoh’s bread. A big piece might chip a tooth, but even small bits would wear at the enamel. And that doesn’t even get into the horrors that were ancient Egyptian toothpaste!

Thankfully for you, dental health for children is much better today than it was in King Tut’s time. Effective toothpastes, skilled dentists, and fun offices can keep your teeth bright and shiny for a long, long time.

Floss, Wax, and Tape

flossDo you floss every day? No matter how advanced your toothbrush, it won’t get between your teeth. The bacteria that create acid and plaque are there, too, so if you don’t floss, you’re leaving them in there.

But which floss should you use? There are more options than ever. Some people like simple floss, good and thin to get between the teeth. Others like waxed, because it slips in easier. The wax acts as a lubricant and holds the floss together better so it doesn’t fray. However, if your teeth are very tightly spaced, the wax can make it too thick to get between your teeth.

People are split on the feeling of waxed floss. Some really like it and others really don’t. You might talk to your parents about giving both kinds a try to see which you like best.

If you have a lot of space between your teeth, you might try dental tape. Unlike floss, which most resembles a thin string, dental tape looks more like a ribbon. Some find it the easiest floss to use and it’s sometimes recommended for beginners.

Whether you use tape or floss, waxed or unwaxed, all of these tools can be flavored. Do you have a favorite? Next time you go to the store for floss, check out the different flavors and see if there’s one you’d like to try.

As with toothbrushes, your childrens dentist will tell you that the best floss is the one you’ll use. If you have questions about dental floss or you’re not sure how to use it properly, ask your dentist. Flossing is a vital part of keeping your teeth clean and healthy.

Dentists in Space

jetsons1On July 21, 1969, the world thrilled to watch Neil Armstrong set his boots down on the Moon. He was the first person to walk on the Moon, but was certainly not the last.

Armstrong passed away just over a year ago. During his life, he was many things: Eagle Scout, Air Force pilot, college professor, and cartoon voice actor. Luckily, he was never called on to be a dentist.

There has never been a dentist in space, but that will likely change in the future. The round trip from the Earth to the Moon and back took Armstrong less than nine days. Today, most tours on the International Space Station last less than six months, which, coincidentally, is how often you should go between visits to the dentist. There are plans for year-long tours to test the effects of living in space on an astronaut’s body. A trip to Mars and back could take as long as two years.

Dental care is very important to astronauts. Tumbling about in zero gravity offers all sorts of unexpected opportunities to bang your teeth into things. In addition, launching into space puts the entire body of an astronaut under extreme stress. The agonies of bad teeth under those conditions would be unbearable!

The ISS carries simple tools for handling small, emergency dental procedures. A trip to Mars might require a full suite of dental tools, along with a dental professional who knows how to use them. Do you think your kids care dentist would be a good astronaut?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate-free Toothpastes

baby dentistSodium lauryl sulfate shows up frequently in toothpaste, as well shampoos, bubble bath, engine degreasers, floor wax and as a lure and poison to kill fruit flies. With such a varied pedigree, it’s easy to understand why people would question the safety of smearing it across their teeth.

First, what is sodium lauryl sulfate? Principle among its properties in industrial use, it is a surfactant. That is, it lowers the surface tension between liquids or between a liquid and a solid, much the way soap does. The technical term for sodium lauryl sulfate’s job in your toothpaste is “foaming agent.” It’s popular in industrial and commercial uses because it can be derived very cheaply from palm and coconut oil.

What it does not do, according to the American Cancer Society and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (among others), is cause cancer. In spite of an email campaign about a decade old now, no actual studies have shown sodium lauryl sulfate to be carcinogenic. It is an irritant, but you’d need to swallow 16 pounds before it could seriously threaten your health.

All that said, sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the reasons you shouldn’t swallow your toothpaste. Like soap, if it gets into your digestive tract it can cause mild diarrhea. You should also avoid getting it in your eyes, just as you would shampoo. It may prolong canker sores, but does not appear to cause them.

Picking the right toothpaste is an important matter in keeping your teeth healthy. If you’re not sure which toothpaste is right for you family, consult your childrens dentist for recommendations. There are a number of toothpastes available that are free of sodium lauryl sulfate, as well as many organic options. A trained professional can guide you to the best options and help you avoid fads and fear-mongering.

Back to School For Dentists Too

fun dentistSummer is ending, which means it’s time to head back to school and childrens dentists attend school for many years. There are so many things to learn, from how to care for teeth to how to examine x-rays.

There are, of course, special schools for dentists where they learn how to help your smile last a lifetime. In America, these schools are approved, or accredited, by the American Dental Association. The first two years of dental school are about the science of teeth and human health. After that, they get another two years of hands-on training, learning how to actually clean teeth, take x-rays, and do all the other things a dentist needs to know how to do.

However, before a dentist can go to dental school, they first need to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree which is another four years of school. It takes dedication to become a dentist.

And the schooling doesn’t end there. Some dentists become specialists in a particular skill. Dr. Hirano spent two additional years earning a Pediatric specialty degree. That means he’s an expert when it comes to children’s teeth. Even after graduation, dentists frequently go to seminars and classes to pick up new skills, learn about new technology and techniques, and to keep their knowledge and skills sharp.

So while you shop for backpacks, new clothes, and the pencils and notebooks you’ll need for school, don’t be surprised if you see your dentist preparing just like you. For dentists, learning how to keep teeth bright and healthy never ends.

What is Tartar?

tartarYou’ve probably heard your dentist mention tartar.  You might use tartar control toothpaste.  Tartar is clearly bad news, but what is it?

The bacteria that live on your mouth secrete acid that burns holes in your teeth.  The bacteria, the acid, the food you eat and other stuff turn into a sticky goop called plaque.  Brushing properly sweeps plaque off your teeth, but if you don’t brush, that plaque will harden into a yellowish crust called tartar.

Once the tartar is on your teeth, it’s very hard to knock off.  Brushing alone won’t get all of it.  You’ll need to spend some time in a kids dentist office where a professional can gently brush, scrape, and polish it off.

How long does it take plaque to harden into tartar? Only 26 hours. This is why it’s important to brush every day. You should floss as well, because tartar can form between your teeth where your brush can’t reach.

It’s also important to brush along the gum line where tartar can build up which is very irritating to them. They might grow red, puffy, and start to bleed if that happens.

Luckily, tartar is easy to fight.  Brush twice a day, floss and see your dentist regularly and the tartar won’t wreak havoc on your teeth.

Meet Your Molars

dentist gamesThe teeth in the back of your mouth are called molars. When it comes to eating, they’re the real workhorses. Molars grind up foods like celery and hamburgers after your incisors cut them down to bite-size. It’s this grinding action that gives them their name. Mola is the Latin word for the big stones used to use to grind wheat into flour.

When your mother tells you to properly chew your food, she’s mostly talking about what the molars do. Chewing is very important. It crushes up the food and saturates it with saliva. This makes it much easier for your tummy to digest. It also helps your body get the most good out of the food.

It’s easy to think molars aren’t important to your smile. After all, they’re hidden in the back, but they are very important to the health of your entire body. From the strength of the hair atop your head to the shine of your toenails and everything in between, your body needs the best it can get from your food to stay healthy and looking good. That requires healthy molars.

Being in the back, molars can be the hardest to care for, but it’s worth the extra effort. Even if you brush regularly, if you don’t properly brush your back teeth, you may risk getting child cavities. Be sure you follow your dentist’s instructions on how to properly brush your teeth every time.

Is Baking Soda Good For Your Teeth?

dentist gamesYou may have seen toothpaste that proudly contains baking soda.  So what’s the big deal?

Baking soda is commonly touted as a cleaning agent.  While it’s abrasive enough to knock stains and gunk off your teeth, it’s actually softer than your enamel which means it won’t scratch or scrape.

Cavities are dug into your teeth by acid created by bacteria.  What’s the opposite of an acid?  Scientists call it a base.  Acids and bases neutralize each other.  That is, if you have a cup of acid and you put a cup of equally strong base into it, it won’t be either acid or base anymore.

Baking soda is a very mild base.  It can help neutralize the acid created by the bacteria in your mouth.  Less acid means less chance for cavities to form.

Baking soda sounds pretty good so far, doesn’t it?  And it is.  However, it’s not perfect.

Baking soda doesn’t replenish lost enamel and isn’t very good at breaking up hardened plaque.  It doesn’t supercharge the minerals rebuilding your tooth enamel the way fluoride does.  While it might be nice to have some baking soda in your toothpaste, it’s not nearly as important as having fluoride.

If you’re not sure which toothpaste would be best for you, ask a childrens dentist.

What is Fluoride?

flourineYou’ve almost certainly heard your dentist discuss fluoride toothpaste.  You may have even heard about fluoridated water.  But what is fluoride?  And what does it have to do with your teeth?

Fluoride is a variation of the basic element fluorine and it’s very important to the dental health of children and adults as teeth require regular replenishment of their minerals.  Fluoride is not only one of these minerals, it’s an especially good one.

As you know, cavities are caused by bacteria that smear acid on your teeth.  Your body uses minerals to repair the damage done by this acid, but unlike other minerals which just shore up the damage done, fluoride goes above and beyond.  Adding fluoride to the enamel of your teeth makes them even stronger!

The best way to use fluoride to strengthen your teeth is to use a toothpaste that has fluoride in it.  Almost all toothpastes today use fluoride.  If you’re not sure which toothpaste is best for you, ask your dentist.

Life Before Toothpaste

toothpasteWhat was life like before toothpaste?  You might want to ask the dinosaurs.  Humans have been using something like toothpaste for maybe 7000 years!

The earliest toothpaste-like stuff archeologists have found is from ancient Egypt.  The Egyptians used a mixture of ox hoof, myrrh, egg shells and pumice that was burned to ashes.  They mixed these ashes with water. Then they rubbed this mess across their teeth with their fingers.

By the time toothpaste came to ancient Rome, they had an early version of the toothbrush.  It was more a soft stick with a chewed end dipped in the “toothpaste.”  They would then brush the paste on their teeth.  Very rich people had sticks tipped with boar bristles.

The Romans didn’t enjoy the taste of the Egyptian formula.  It’s easy to see why.  What’s hard to understand is why they thought adding charcoal and bark would make it taste better.  The ancient Chinese used ginseng and mint.  That must have been yummier.

For the next thousand years, toothpaste changed very little.  George Washington probably used toothpaste that was like Julius Caeser’s.  In the 1800’s, toothpaste was mass-produced and sold in jars.

The familiar plastic squeeze tube wasn’t created until World War II which also saw everyone brushing.  Before then, only rich people got the (questionable) benefit of toothpaste.  The United States military gave toothbrushes and toothpaste to their men and women who were serving.  They knew healthy teeth were important for healthy bodies.  After the war, the veterans took the habit home and taught it to their children.  Now everybody brushes their teeth.

Soon after, fluoride was added to toothpaste.  This was a big boost for dental health in children and adults.  If you want to find the best toothpaste for you, be sure to ask your dentist.

Have a Happy 4th of July!

Here are some fireworks courtesy of our neighbors to the east, the United Kingdom.
Have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July!
Kidz Dental Care

Your Eye Teeth Don’t Blink

from the first toothOn either side of your incisors, both and top and bottom, you will have one tooth that is longer and pointier than the others.  What are these teeth called?  They have many names.  They are called eye teeth because they’re just below your two eyes.  They’re also called cuspids, dogteeth, and fangs.  In animals like dogs these teeth are very long.  They use these teeth to hold and tear their food.  For this reason, these teeth are most commonly called canines.

Human canines are much smaller than a dog’s.  You’ll still use yours to pull food apart just like a dog does.  This is very handy when eating food like drumsticks and ribs.  Just be sure you don’t pull off more than your mouth can hold!

The longest canines belong to the narwhale.  The left canine of male narwhales grows into a long, spiral tusk.  It looks just like the horn of a unicorn.  This tusk can grow over ten feet in length.  Nobody knows what the tusk is for.  It’s not used to eat or fight.  Some think it might be a special sense organ.  Others think male narwhales grow these long, beautiful tusks to impress female narwhales.

Being near the front, your canines are an important part of your smile.  Even if your kid teeth don’t include all four canines yet, visiting your dentist can make sure your canines grow in straight and pretty.  Just like the male narwhales, you’ll want your smile to be impressive when you grow up.  But don’t use your teeth to hold your food.  Your mother will prefer it if you use your fork and spoon.

Why Do Teeth Get Cold?

icecreamOn June 13, 1789, Abigail Adams served ice cream to George Washington. This may have been a thank-you to the Washingtons. George’s wife liked to serve ice cream and lemonade at weekly parties in the White House. The Washingtons were big fans of ice cream, having acquired a “cream machine for ice” back in 1784.

George, at least, never had to worry about ice cream making his teeth ache. Do your teeth feel the cold of ice cream? Why does that happen?

Your tooth isn’t just solid bone. In the center of every tooth is a core of soft, living tissue that includes nerve endings. This core is called the pulp. It brings nutrients and minerals to your teeth to keep them healthy and make them grow. When you eat something cold and you feel it in your teeth, it’s the pulp that’s actually feeling the cold that penetrates the enamel of your teeth.

Most people have some sensitivity to temperature in their teeth. Some people can feel it more than others. If your teeth are extremely sensitive to cold, or if they suddenly become more sensitive, this could be a warning. Grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel that protects the pulp. A cavity or gingivitis can also expose more of your tooth to cold.

From the first tooth, the pulp monitors the health of your teeth. If a cavity drills all the way down to the pulp, you’ll get a toothache. These toothaches can be very painful! Visiting your dentist regularly will keep any cavities from getting that deep.

What Would a Dog Look Like in Dentures?

Every once in awhile, I like to take a break and look at some funny photos to bring a smile to my face. We hope you like these photos too!

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My Two Front Teeth

dentist funYour incisors are the front-most teeth in your mouth. They’re great for eating corn on the cob and biting through sandwiches and hotdogs. They’re flat and sharp. This makes them perfect for cutting through food. That’s why they’re named after the latin word incidere, which means “to cut.”

If you take care of your teeth with the help of a childrens dentist, you’ll have eight incisors when you grow up. You’ll have four on top and four on the bottom. These eight teeth work together to cut through food so you can chew and swallow it.

Rodents like mice and rabbits use their incisors to gnaw. They can chew up tough roots or even through wood. The incisors of some rodents never stop growing. If they don’t wear them down through gnawing, their teeth will grow so big they won’t be able to close their mouths.

Incisors are very important to elephants. That’s because their front teeth are their tusks. Elephants use their giant incisors to dig for water, to push aside trees, and as weapons.

Because your incisors are up front, you need to take good care of them. While they are easy to brush and floss, they’re also most likely to get whacked by hockey pucks and pop flies.

Your incisors are the teeth most prominent in your smile. Giving them some love will give you a smile everyone will love.

Don’t Freeze Your Teeth Off

dds for kidsOn May 27th, 1997, the first all-female team reached the North Pole, proudly planting Britain’s flag in the ice. They faced many dangers on their trip. Shifting ice and bitter cold threatened them. Luckily, they knew how to prevent scurvy.

Ever hear pirates referred to as “scurvy dogs?” It’s a reference to a nasty disease that used to plague sailors and explorers. Scurvy causes the body to feel weak and tired. Even worse, it can make your gums bleed and your teeth fall out!

You get scurvy by not having enough vitamin C. Vitamin C is found mostly in fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, like oranges and lemons, are especially rich in vitamin C. Those fruits were hard to pack for long expeditions. Sailors and arctic explorers used to eat mostly hard, dried bread and salted meat. Without fresh fruits and veggies, they were susceptible to many diseases, but most especially scurvy.

Both of Robert Falcon Scott’s expeditions to Antarctica were plagued by scurvy. Sir Shackleton faced the same problem in Antarctica. But in 1932, American scientist Charles Glen King discovered the link between vitamin C and scurvy. Sailors and polar explorers ever since have been able to avoid the nasty disease and keep their teeth strong and healthy no matter where they go.

Healthy teeth are important to explorers. Eating right keeps explorers strong and hearty. If your teeth fall out, it becomes harder to eat a wide range of food. If you think you’d like to be an explorer some day, talk to your childrens dentist about ways to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

Dinosaur Dental Disasters

dds for kidsTwo hundred sixty million years ago there were no dentists in Texas. This was especially unfortunate for a lipped lizard (Labidosaurus hamatus) suffering from a really bad toothache.

Unable to brush or floss its teeth, the dinosaur was in trouble. Scientists are studying the lipped lizard’s fossils. They’ve found not just tooth loss but a bad tooth infection. The infection spread into the poor dinosaur’s jaw. Scientists call it the oldest toothache found so far.

Lipped lizard wasn’t alone in needing a good dentist. One poor Gorgosaurus may have been the unluckiest dinosaur ever.

Living “only” 75 million years ago or so, Gorgosaurus looked like their bigger cousins, Tyrannosaurus Rex. They lived a rough-and-tumble life, killing other dinosaurs for food.

You can see a Gorgosaurus skeleton at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This particular Gorgosaurus had a brain tumor that made it clumsy. It had many broken bones, including both legs! It’s most painful problem was probably tooth decay. The infection in its mouth was so bad it lost some of its teeth. When you survive by catching food with your teeth, that’s bad news.

But you can’t keep a tough Gorgosaurus down. It kept hunting in spite of it all. It probably lived to a ripe old age for a Gorgosaurus, into its early 20s.

Dinosaur cavities are just like children cavities, only bigger. Luckily, you have a dentist. If you get a cavity, it can be fixed. Otherwise, you might end up with a smile so scary a dinosaur would run away!

Your Mother’s Dental Work

powdersDid you do something special for your mom on Mother’s Day this year? Moms deserve it! Have you ever considered what it was like to visit the dentist when your mom was a little girl?

There were no foosball tables or Playstations at the dentist’s office. TVs were big, bulky cubes. Nobody put them on the ceiling. Mom had nothing to watch while her teeth were cleaned. She could only stare at the ceiling. Talk about boring! If she was very lucky, she got to listen to music.

If Mom’s teeth were crooked, her childrens dentist could only use metal braces. They didn’t have the clear plastic trays used today.

X-rays were very different. The dentist turned them into photographs. This was a messy process that required hazardous chemicals. The x-ray photographs had to be stored in filing cabinets. They were a pain to find if Mom’s dentist wanted to see how her teeth were growing. Your dentist looks at big, bright screens. The x-rays are huge. This makes it easy for your dentist to see problems early. Your dentist can also pull up old x-rays with a click of the mouse.

Grandmother had it even worse! She didn’t have electric toothbrushes. Nobody put fluoride in her water. This meant she was more likely to get cavities. Even Grandmother’s dentist assumed she’d lose some, or even all, of her teeth. You and Mom will get to keep all your teeth, if you take proper care of them.

Things have changed a lot since poor George Washington had all his teeth pulled out. Dentists’ offices are more fun. Teeth are healthier. Cavities are rarer. Give Mom a hug and ask her what it was like to visit the dentist when she was your age. You’ll learn things were very different back then.

Nail Biting Experience

dds for kidsBiting your nails isn’t just rude and crude, it’s also bad for your teeth. Your nails may be softer, but they’re harder than just about anything else you eat. Over time all that nail chomping wears down the enamel, especially when your teeth slip and slam into each other hard. All this wear-and-tear makes your teeth unhealthy all over, weakening the roots and making your teeth loose in your gums.

Speaking of gums, nail biting can be really rough on them. With the teeth being wiggled about and weakened, the gums won’t hold as tightly to your teeth. You could get gingivitis which makes your gums swell up and turn an angry shade of red, makes them tender and sensitive to the point where they’ll bleed when you brush, and even give you nasty-smelling breath). If you leave it untreated, it can turn into periodontitis, an even less pleasant disease that can be more dangerous to kid teeth than even cavities. Periodontitis can make your teeth fall right out of your head!

Things can get worse from there. Because you use your hands for just about everything you do, you get all sorts of interesting grit, grime, bacteria, and germs under your nails. From playing with your pets to throwing around a ball to handling a game controller at your friend’s house, your hands and nails come into contact with a huge array of unpleasant stuff and will stay on your skin until you wash it off. Your skin is very good at keeping nasty things outside of your body.

But if you put your nails into your mouth, you’re just inviting all that stuff inside. Broken nails and nail-fragments can cut and tear your gums which can lead to more unpleasant infections.

If your child has a nail-biting habit, you can talk to a dentist about ways to protect your teeth. If they bite your nails due to fear or anxiety, talk to a mental health representative about ways to remove stress from their lives. Your teeth will thank you for it.