Composite Fillings

Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. They are a good choice for people who prefer that their fillings look more natural.

Composites cost more than amalgam and occasionally are not covered by some insurance plans. Also, no dental filling lasts forever. Some studies show that composite fillings can be less durable and need to be replaced more often than amalgam fillings.

It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth be kept clean and dry while the cavity is being filled. Tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam or gold fillings, probably due to cosmetics. In a society focused on a white, bright smile, people tend to want fillings that blend with the natural color of their teeth.

Ultimately, the best dental filling is no dental filling. Prevention is the best medicine. You can dramatically decrease your risk of cavities and other dental diseases simply by:

  • brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • flossing daily
  • eating a balanced diet
  • visiting the dentist regularly.

DIY Dental Treatments: What Your Dentist Thinks

Dentist talking to patient

Do-it-yourself (DIY) trends that claim a few simple steps will lead to a dramatic impact may work well for some home improvement dreams, but what about DIY when it comes to your dental health?

“Some DIY dental health fads, like oil pulling for example, are just not effective,” said ADA dentist Dr. Matthew Messina. Others, however, could cause damage. DIY whitening with charcoal – a popular trend on social media – can cause more harm than good, Messina warned. There is no evidence that shows dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth, according to the September 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Before you take your dental health into your own hands based on the promises and ease of any DIY treatments, it’s critical to talk to the expert – your ADA dentist.

The benefits of an office visit

People may seek DIY services for dental treatments like teeth straightening because they feel they can’t fit office visits into their schedule or think that it will cost less than in-person treatment, said Dr. Maria Lopez-Howell, another ADA dentist. Products such as at-home aligners are also called direct-to-consumer, or DTC, products. However, working with a dentist can actually offer more options for your unique case.

“Additional choices or services may be offered once your dentist can assess what’s happening in your mouth,” Dr. Lopez-Howell said. “Alternative treatment plans and options that address budgetary concerns are more easily developed.”

Visiting a dentist can also catch issues beforehand and ensure treatment doesn’t cause more problems than it cures, said ADA dentist Dr. Ruchi Sahota.

“When my patients come in to see me, my goal is to evaluate their overall dental health picture,” Dr. Sahota said. “A dentist’s office is a safe place where a doctor is ensuring you’re not only getting safe care but also care that will actually treat the root of your problem. We want to make sure that if you utilize aligners to straighten teeth, that the teeth you’re straightening are healthy and sound.”

Getting the right treatment for your smile

Before you start any DIY dental treatment, it’s important to speak with your dentist about the potential risks and benefits.

“People who consider DIY are usually looking for answers but don’t have a dentist they can speak with,” Messina said. “Before considering any dental DIY service, people should seek out answers from a local dentist who can examine their mouth and offer suggestions.”

Prepare for your office visit by researching the DIY treatment you’re considering and asking yourself these questions.

“Talk to your dentist. We’re always here for you and open to discussing new trends that you may have seen in the news or on social media,” Dr. Sahota said. “Let us know what you are thinking so we can think it through with you!”

5 Weight Loss Tips That Are Also Good for Your Teeth

If you’ve decided to lose a few pounds after the New Year’s Eve ball drop, you’re not alone. Weight loss is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions made every year.

Making smart food choices, paying attention to portion size and exercising are the steps you can take to shed pounds, and these changes can benefit more than just your waistline. They can also be good for your teeth. Read on for small swaps that can make a big difference on the scale and in your smile.

ChooseMyPlate.gov plate

When You’re Planning Meals

Then:
You may have favored fatty foods, indulged in too much takeout or didn’t spend much time planning what should be on your plate.

Now:
You’re learning how much lean protein, vegetables, grains and dairy to have each day

Why:
Food is fuel for your body, and the right kinds of food will help you look, feel and function better. ChooseMyPlate.gov is a resource to help jump start new, healthy habits and figure out what and how much you should be eating each day.

An easy way to start is to think about what your plate should look like, using the image above:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These should cover half your plate at meals. They are high in water and fiber, which balance the sugars they contain and help to clean your teeth. These foods also help stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from teeth and helps neutralize acid, protecting teeth from cavities.
  • Grains: At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains or low-sugar breads and cereals, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
  • Protein: Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Vary your protein choices to also include eggs, beans, peas and legumes. These phosphorus-rich foods help to keep your mouth healthy and contain valuable protein, which help keep you feel fuller for longer amounts of time.
  • Dairy: When it comes to dairy, choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, are low in sugar, which is a good thing for your dental health. Plus, they contain protein and are full of calcium, which are good for healthy teeth and gums.

Glass filling with water from a tap

When You Need Something to Drink

Then:
You reached for a soda.

Now:
You quench your thirst with water.

Why:
Two out of three adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and 1 in 4 Americans get at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda. Since a 20-ounce regular soda has an average of 227 calories, cutting soda from your diet is an easy way to save on calories.

The calories in regular soda are bad enough but it is even worse than that for your teeth because those calories come from added sugar. A regular can of soda also contains about 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar, which is how much added sugar the FDA says people over the age of 3 should have throughout an entire day!

The swap is simple: Water. (Even better if it’s fluoridated!) Water contains no calories, no sugars and helps keep cavities away by washing away leftover food and keeping dry mouth at bay.

Woman chewing gum

When You’re Craving Dessert

Then:
You grabbed a cookie after dinner to feed your sweet tooth.

Now:
You reach for a piece of sugarless gum.

Why:
It’s a win-win: You can prevent dessert remorse and clean your teeth at the same time. Waiting about 20 minutes after a meal helps your body determine if it’s really still hungry. Studies also show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can reduce your risk of cavities. (Look for a sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.)

Gym shoes

When You’re Working Out

Then:
You rehydrated with a sports drink after exercising, which you might not have realized is loaded with sugar.

Now:
When you work out this year, fill a sports bottle with water from the tap.

Why:
Adults should aim for two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week. Staying hydrated is key when you’re exercising, but sports drinks also often add extra calories because they are full of sugar and can be acidic. That’s why, hands down, water is the best beverage for your body and your teeth. And while you’re strengthening your body with a workout, you can strengthen your teeth by drinking tap water. Community water with fluoride can actually help rebuild weak spots on the outer shell of your teeth.

Yogurt and berries

When You Could Really Go for a Snack

Then:
When hunger strikes, you reach for the first food at hand.

Now:
You’re better prepared and choose healthy foods.

Why:
Picking up chips, crackers or whatever is around is an easy way for calories to sneak up on you. Limiting your snacking and making better choices can help control your calorie intake and give cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth less leftover food to snack on as well. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables or nuts—to feel fuller, longer and help your overall and dental health at the same time.

If you tend to snack at night, try moving your evening brushing time up a bit. A clean mouth just might motivate you to say no to that midnight snack.

Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is an important part of your dental care routine. For a healthy mouth and smile the ADA recommends you:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
  • Make sure to use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.

The proper brushing technique is to:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.

Check out this handy infographic on brushing!

Toothbrushing Quick Facts Infographic

Of course, brushing your teeth is only a part of a complete dental care routine. You should also make sure to:

  • Clean between teeth daily once a day. Tooth decay-causing bacteria still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Eat a balanced diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks.
  • See your dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease.

Download the How to Brush PDF:

How to Brush (PDF)

Talk to your dentist about what types of dental products will be most effective for you. The ADA Seal lets you know the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Look for the ADA Seal on fluoride toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, oral irrigators, mouth rinses and other oral hygiene products.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Toothbrush

We know and love our toothbrushes as the tools that kick plaque to the curb, help keep cavities at bay (with the help of fluoride toothpaste, of course) and freshen our breath. But what else can we learn about them? Read on for some toothbrush facts.

  1. When selecting your toothbrush, look for the ADA Seal.
    The ADA Seal of Acceptance is the gold standard for toothbrush quality. It’s how you’ll know an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, evaluated your toothbrush to make sure bristles won’t fall out with normal use, the handle will stay strong and the toothbrush will help reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease.
  2. The toothbrush is 5,000 years old.
    In various forms, that is. Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end, to remove food from their teeth. Over time, toothbrushes evolved and were made from bone, wood or ivory handles and stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals. The modern nylon-bristled toothbrush we use today was invented in 1938.
  3. The first mass-produced toothbrush was invented in prison.
    In 1770, an Englishman named William Addis was jailed for inciting a riot. He saw fellow prisoners using a rag covered in soot or salt to clean their teeth. Addis saved an animal bone from dinner and received bristles from a guard. Accounts state he bored tiny holes into the bone, inserted the bristles and sealed them with glue. After his release, he modified his prototype, started a company and manufactured his toothbrush. That company, Wisdom Toothbrushes, still exists in the United Kingdom today.
  4. Manual or powered? Your teeth don’t care.
    In the manual and powered toothbrush debate, it’s a wash. You just need to brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. (If your toothpaste has the ADA Seal, you’ll know it has fluoride.) Both types of toothbrush can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth. It all depends on which one you prefer. People who find it difficult to use a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush more comfortable. Talk to your dentist about which kind is best for you.
  5. There is no “correct” order for brushing and flossing.
    Brushing before flossing, flossing before brushing—it doesn’t matter to your teeth, as long as you do both.
  6.  Toothbrushes like to be left out in the open.
    Cleaning your toothbrush is easy: Rinse it with tap water to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store it upright and allow it to air dry. If you store your toothbrush with other toothbrushes, make sure they are separated to prevent cross contamination. And do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of unwanted bacteria than the open air.
  7. Lifespan = 3-4 Months
    Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do as good of a job cleaning your teeth.
  8. When it comes to choosing a brush, go soft.
    Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled brush. Firm or even medium-strength bristles may cause damage to your gums and enamel. When brushing your teeth, don’t scrub vigorously—only brush hard enough to clean the film off your teeth. Your fluoride toothpaste will do the rest of the work.
  9. Remember: 2 minutes, 2 times a day.
    4 minutes a day goes a long way for your dental health. Put the time in each day to keep your smile healthy and keep up this twice-a-day habit.
  10. Sharing is caring, but not for toothbrushes.
    Sharing a toothbrush can mean you’re also sharing germs and bacteria. This could be a particular concern if you have a cold or flu to spread, or you have a condition that leaves your immune system compromised.

Cold and Flu Season: 5 Ways to Care for Your Mouth When You’re Sick

When he’s feeling under the weather, ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo says one thing always helps him feel a little more like himself. “Brushing my teeth when I’m sick actually makes me feel better,” he says. “My mouth feels clean, and in a way, I feel like my health is starting to improve.”

When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority—and that includes your mouth. “It’s important to take care of your dental health all year round, but especially when you’re sick,” Dr. Romo says.

Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:

Practice Good Hygiene

When you’re sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.

According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. “The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, but especially when you are sick,” Dr. Romo says.

You also probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of reinfecting yourself are very low. “But if you’re still in doubt, throw it out,” says Dr. Romo. “Especially if you’ve had your toothbrush for 3-4 months, when it’s time to replace it anyway.”

Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops

Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drug store with an eye to avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. “Many cough drops contain sugar, and it is like sucking on candy,” says Dr. Romo. “Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities.” The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can leave holes in your teeth.

Swish and Spit After Vomiting

One unfortunate side effect of a stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but Dr. Romo says it’s actually better to wait. “When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them,” he says. “If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.”

Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away. Spit, and brush about 30 minutes later.

Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth

When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable—dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu—such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers—can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.

Choose the Right Fluids

When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. “The safest thing to drink is water,” Dr. Romo says. “Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar free version, they contain a lot of sugar.”

You might also want something to warm you up. “When you have a cold or the flu, you may want something comforting to get through it, like tea,” he says. “Try not to add sugar or lemon if you can avoid it. Sugar can helps to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling 100% again, as well.”

Charcoal Whitening: Does it work and is it safe?

You see it everywhere now – advertised on Facebook and Instagram, in the beauty aisle at Target and Walgreens. Activated charcoal can be found in pill form, facemasks, you name it. There are even charcoal teeth whitening products on the market. Reviews on social media urge consumers to join the trend. But does charcoal actually whiten teeth, and is it even safe?

First off, you may be asking, “What is charcoal exactly?” It has often been used for poison control and to prevent overdoses, due to its toxin-binding properties. Though commonly seen in the health and beauty world today, activated charcoal is a little different than the charcoal or coal from your outside grill. Activated charcoal is finely ground bits of coconut shells, coal, peat, bone char, even sawdust, and more. Then, it is heated, thus making it more porous.

Charcoal teeth whitening instructions

  1. Open an activated charcoal capsule, and empty contents into a small bowl.
  2. Take a wet toothbrush, and dip it into the activated charcoal powder.
  3. Brush your teeth gently for 2 to 5 minutes.

Also, there are actual toothpastes with activated charcoal as an ingredient. If you decide to brush with those, follow the package directions or simply brush as you would with any other toothpaste. Make sure not to use activated charcoal toothpaste as a replacement for your regular toothpaste. It should just be a very occasional supplement if used at all.

Does charcoal teeth whitening work?

Activated charcoal, when brushed on your teeth, attracts dirt and tartar like a magnet. Then, when you rinse your mouth, your teeth look whiter because some of the stains have been removed. Does that mean your teeth made whiter? Not necessarily. This is because the charcoal is simply showing how white your teeth are without stains. It isn’t progressively whitening your teeth like at-home teeth trays or in office whitening treatments. If anything, it’s simply just cleaning the teeth.

Is activated charcoal teeth whitening safe?

There doesn’t seem to be enough studies and proven evidence to definitively state whether or not charcoal teeth whitening is safe. While the FDA has approved many activated charcoal products, the ADA has yet to give their seal of approval.

If taking the leap and trying charcoal teeth whitening, please be cautious. That being said, there are many professional teeth whitening services to choose, which are actually proven to be safe. Talk to your dentist about your options today!

Charcoal teeth whitening dangers

Though not stamped unsafe or safe, there are still potential dangers. If you are only using charcoal toothpaste when brushing your teeth, then you may have issues with the levels of fluoride for your teeth. Most regular toothpastes have enough fluoride in them to protect teeth from decay. Charcoal toothpastes do not.

Some dentists worry about charcoal affecting the enamel and leading to tooth erosion. The abrasiveness of activated charcoal powder is still unknown. Further, teeth cannot heal themselves. Once erosion occurs, there is no turning back. And though there haven’t been studies to prove charcoal harms your teeth, the issue is that there has yet to be any formal testing to prove it won’t hurt your teeth.

Additionally, as previously mentioned, activated charcoal is like a magnet. So if it is ingested, it could also absorb the effectiveness of medication you may have taken. Be careful if deciding to orally use charcoal for any reason.

What’s the verdict on charcoal teeth whitening?

At the end of the day, charcoal whitening is not really whitening your teeth. It does seem to do a decent job at removing tougher stains from coffee, dark soda, and wine consumption.

Are Juuls, Vapes and E-cigs bad for teeth?

Do you remember the days of restaurants with smoking and nonsmoking sections? Those days are practically long gone across the country. It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes and use of other tobacco products can have lasting negative effects on the mouth. That being said, there are new trends popping up every year cited as healthy alternatives to this and that. One of those trends to combat the lack of smoking-friendly establishments is using juuls, vapes, and e-cigs.

You have most likely seen one in a corner store or gas station – vape pens, juuls, and electronic cigarettes became a fad rather quickly in the mid-2000s. They are made to produce water vapor, which gives the illusion of smoke. A liquid mixture containing nicotine is smoked and exhaled as an aerosol, or vapor cloud.

What’s the difference between vaping and smoking?

Because they are “smokeless,” switching over from smoking cigarettes to vape pens and e-cigs was originally thought of (and is still marketed) as having two major benefits:

  1. It is not as unhealthy as smoking, and…
  2. You can once again smoke indoors.

While it initially seems to make sense that using e-cigs is a supposedly better alternative to actually smoking a cigarette… both of the proposed e-cig benefits did not soundly hold up after extensive research was found.

study from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that while vaping, the heated coils in e-cigs can leak unsafe amounts of toxic metals. If these toxic metals are consistently inhaled into the body via vape pens, you could experience anything from lung disease to brain damage. This has also been linked to cancer!

What are common symptoms from using Juuls, Vapes, and E-Cigs?

Many vapes, juuls, and e-cigs still use nicotine. This is not good for any part of the body, including the mouth. Nicotine causes damage in the form of receding gums due to decreased blood flow to gums, leading to periodontal disease. Yikes!

Additionally, because there is less oxygen and blood flow to the vessels, your mouth has a much harder time fighting bacteria. A weaker mouth can more easily invite decay and infections at increased rates.

Dry mouth is one of the biggest culprits from using smokeless vape devices. This is because there is a chemical, Propylene Glycol, which pulls the moisture from inside your mouth. With dry mouth often comes tooth decay.

Known as a sore or inflamed mouth, stomatitis affects your mouth’s lining and can lead to lesions anywhere orally – the palate, inner cheek, gums, etc – yet in this case,  sores primarily linked to vaping are generally found on the palate. Stomatitis tends to be rather painful. Any high concentration of heat entering the mouth can lead to irritation, as can chemicals such as nicotine.

Other side effects of vaping include:

  • dizziness
  • dry eyes and skin
  • nose bleeds
  • smoker’s cough
  • canker sores
  • nausea

Does vaping have any benefits?

If anything, vaping around others is marginally better than smoking because it lacks the secondhand smoke. Regardless, many nonsmokers still do not care for vapor clouds or the smell from scented or flavored vapor. In addition, many establishments do not allow vaping indoors.

Vaping is Bad for Your Teeth and Mouth

The most honest conclusion is that yes, using juuls, e-cigs, and vapes are just not good for your health, especially when pertaining to your mouth. While not everyone who uses a vape, juul, or e-cig will have dental issues, it is best to recognize symptoms, while knowing how to better protect your teeth and gums. Do your oral health a favor and kick any smokingrelated habits and be a happier, healthier you.

Use It Or Lose It: Guide for Getting the Most Out of Your Dental Benefits Before the End of the Year

According to the National Association of Dental Plans, only 2.8% of people with Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Dental Plan reach or exceed their annual plan’s maximum. That is an alarmingly low number. The National Association of Dental Plans states that roughly 64% of the population has dental coverage.

If your dental plan is on a calendar year, the plan resets on January 1, 2019. If you do not use up the amount in your plan, the maximum does not roll over and you lose it. This means that whatever money you have not used in your plan before December 31, 2018, you are eligible to use before the end of the year.

There are two types of dental insurances that you can either buy privately or your company provides for you through their benefit plan.

  • HMO gives you access to certain dentists and dentist office within its network. The dentist has to be signed up to be a HMO provider.
  • PPO gives you the opportunity to go to any PPO dentist of your choice. You are not assigned a dentist. The dentist is in contracted rates with insurance companies, therefore, this plan offers a balance of lowered cost fees and you typically pay a certain percentage of the reduced rate. The plan pays the rest.

Additionally, many people also get FSA and HSA benefits. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are accounts set up by employers to allow their employees to obtain reimbursement for various medical expenses. Typically they reimburse employees through paychecks or provide them with a debit card that is strictly just used for medical purposes. Health Savings Account (HSA) are funds you withdraw tax-free from your paycheck when used to pay for qualified medical expenses.

On average, most dental plans provide the patient with an average of $1,000 of maximum spending per the calendar year. They typically cover preventative work at a 100 percent. Basic work at 80 percent and major work at 50 percent. That said, it is important to know and understand your specific dental plan and what it offers.

Tips For Using Your Dental Plan

  • Preventative Care
    • Most dental insurance companies will cover this at 100 percent
    • Allows two routine check-ups and cleanings per year
    • Get the work done to prevent cavities or other dental work
    • Many include bitewings and x-rays
    • Does not use deductible or co-pay
  • Basic Work/Major Work (Large Treatments)
    • Have to pay a deductible – if you paid it for that year, why pay it again next year
    • Plan pays for most of the work, but could change the following year
    • Basic work includes fillings for cavities
    • Major work includes crownsroot canals, and bridges (does not include cosmetic dentistry)
  • Plan Could Change Following Year
    • If your employer gets a different insurance company the following year, your coverage, deductibles and maximums can change
    • Insurance companies can change the negotiated fees due to cost of living, equipment, and materials needed
  • Dental Problems Can Worsen
    • Have a cavity? This can turn into a root canal
    • Chipped tooth turns into a cracked tooth that leads to pain and requires a crown
    • If you wait last minute to seek treatment, dentist could be booked through the holidays or the office will be closed
  • Start Thinking of Coverage Early
    • Talk to your dentist about treatments they recommend throughout the year. This way you can budget and plan out your FSA, or HSA.
    • Make your your checkup early in the year, this way any major work can be caught and fixed before it worsens

Talk to your local Jefferson Dental office about your dental plan. They will consult and advise you on the best way to use your plan for the calendar year. If you are unclear on how your plan works, or what your benefits entail, our staff will always contact the insurance company about the break down of your plan’s benefits. Your employer will have copies of your plan as well.

Always plan carefully; do not forget to include routine check-ups (they are free after all), cleanings, and back-to-school visits. Make sure to schedule your six-month routine check-up while at the dentist to ensure you do not forget or skip it. Also, if you wait last minute and book it in December, there is a good chance your dentist will be booked for the remainder of the year.

The Effects of Gum Disease on Children

Periodontal (gum) Disease  is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place destroying the gums of the mouth. It is caused when there is a buildup of plaque on the teeth from lack of brushing, flushing, and proper dental hygiene. When you do not treat the plaque with proper dental care, it hardens and turns into tarter. The plaque grows in the mouth if it is not removed.

There are three main types of gum disease that occur in children the most.

  • Gingivitis: This causes the gums to be swollen, sensitive and be prone to bleeding.
    • Target Age: All ages
  • Aggressive Periodontitis: If the gingivitis goes untreated, it can get more aggressive and target the molars and incisors. This can lead to bone loss in the mouth, which is very serious because bone loss leads to loose teeth.
    • Target Age: Young adults and teens
  • Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis: This involves excessive plaque buildup. This can result in gum loss and teeth loss.
    • Target Age: Children after puberty

The good news about gum disease is that the symptoms are usually obvious with the child and the parent. If you notice excessive bleeding, or if they say they are in pain from brushing or eating, these can be early signs of gum problems. A lot of times if your child fights you on the idea of brushing their teeth, it usually is a red flag that there is something wrong.

Here are the symptoms you can look out for with your children:

  • Bad breath that will not go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or sensitive gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing and sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gum lines
  • Pus between teeth

Unfortunately, some children are at risk of periodontal disease more than others. For example, certain genes lead to higher risk of gum disease. Children who breathe heavily through their mouths are also at higher risk. Mouth breathing leads to dry mouth, which can lead to severe drying of the gums and teeth in the front of the mouth. Children with diabetes or autoimmune diseases are also higher at risk of infections in the gums. Hormonal changes during puberty can also be a risk factor. Lastly, certain medicines can cause an overgrowth of gums, so always make sure to look into the side effects of medications before giving them to your child.

 

Advice for Parents

As a parent, it is important to be a good role model for your children. The best advice to give to parents is to set up good preventative care with your child and establish oral hygiene habits early.

  • Stress importance of oral hygiene to children. Talk about what that means for their health and why it is important.
  • Make sure your child brushes his or her teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Make sure your child flosses daily, this gets out trapped food between teeth and gums that toothbrushes cannot reach. Trapped food leads to decay, which leads to plaque.
  • See your Jefferson Dental dentist for regular comprehensive periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits.
  • Ensure the child eats a healthy and balanced diet that is low in sugar and starchy carbs.

The most important takeaway is that it is always important to be a good role model for your child and set good dental hygiene examples. If a child sees your routine, they are much more likely to follow. Periodontal disease can be severe, so it is important to watch for early signs of symptoms in your child. You and your child can prevent gum disease simply through good dental care. However, if you see early signs or notice anything different in your child’s mouth, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner it is caught, the easier it is to treat.