Childhood Dental Questions
Do I have to fix a decayed baby tooth since it will be replaced?
Yes. The primary teeth are very important for maintaining the space necessary for the adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the adult tooth that will come in later, may not have enough room to come in. Also, an abscess associated with a decayed baby tooth could damage the developing adult tooth under it, resulting in weakened enamel, staining or spots.
At what age should my child start braces?
Each case is different. Sometimes early orthodontic treatment(called stage 1 Treatment), is utilized when the child is 7-8 years old in order to make the final(stage 2) treatment easier, and potentially shorter in duration.
When should I start to brush my babies teeth?
A wet washcloth or finger brush should be used to clean your babies gums even before the first tooth comes in. Once the first teeth appear, a small child’s toothbrush should be used.
When will my child loose their teeth?
On average, a child begins to lose their first teeth at approximately 5years of age. Usually the font teeth are lost first. It is not uncommon for the adult tooth to start to erupt before the baby tooth is lost. They will continue to lose teeth until the age of 12-13.
Why do my child’s adult teeth look darker than their baby teeth?
This is normal. Primary teeth are usually very light in color. The adult teeth that are erupting look usually darker or yellow when compared side-by-side to the baby teeth. Do not worry- when all of the adult teeth erupt, their color will look normal when not compared to the other teeth.
Cleaning and Oral Hygiene
Do I have to floss?
Yes! Flossing removes the bacterial plaque which accumulates between your teeth. Brushing alone cannot remove this. Over time this un-cleaned bacteria can cause decay between your teeth.
How long should I brush my teeth?
You should brush your teeth at least 2-3 minutes twice a day. Get into a routine using a circular motion with your soft toothbrush, concentrating on the gumline and always start and end in the same place. That way you will make sure not to miss any parts of your mouth. Unfortunately, most Americans only brush for 45-60 seconds twice a day, and that is just not enough. Many new mechanical toothbrushes have built in timers to help you brush the proper length of time.
Should I rinse with a mouthwash?
The use of a mouthwash is fine to give yourself a fresh feeling. Try to use an alcohol free mouthwash if possible. Mouthwashes which contain alcohol can dry out the lining of your mouth and decrease saliva flow. Both of these symptoms can contribute to increased bacterial growth and lessen the mouths natural defenses.
What toothpaste should I use?
It does not matter what brand of toothpaste you use as long as it contains Fluoride. Just choose a toothpaste that has a pleasant flavor for you.
When I cannot brush my teeth, is there anything that I can do to slow down acid production?
Rinse your mouth with water after a meal or snack to neutralize acid and reduce bacteria by 30%. Also chewing sugarless gum or gum containing Xylotol has been shown to decrease the incidence of decay.
Will a whitening toothpaste really whiten my teeth?
Not entirely. Whitening toothpastes will reverse the effects of some surface stains, but not change the shade of the teeth themselves. The change is usually minimal.
Common Dental Problems
Do over-the-counter bleaching products work?
There is some evidence that over-the-counter bleaching products do whiten teeth, however these products are not used under the supervision of your dentist and there may be potential problems which may need attention prior to whitening in this way. Also, the trays usually sold with these products do not fit as well as those that are custom made by your dentist. As a result, damage to your gums and teeth is possible.
What can be done for ulcers or canker sores in the mouth?
Ulcers are very difficult to treat. There is no proven technique that will eliminate ulcers. They can occur as a result of trauma or due to a viral source. Depending On their cause there are specific medications that can shorten their duration. Left alone, ulcers will generally diminish and disappear in two weeks.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath or halitosis, can be caused by many things. The most common cause is the presence of bacteria in your mouth and on your tongue. These bacteria produce odorous compounds. In some cases, the cause of bad breath can be from gastrointestinal origin.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria (plaque) in your mouth which react with sugary and starchy deposits from food you eat. This reaction produces acid which damages the enamel over time and weakens the tooth.
Why are my teeth sensitive to cold?
Cold sensitivity can be due a number of reasons. Some people are just generally more sensitive to temperature changes. Other causes may be due to recession of the gum tissue, abrasions of the teeth, large metal restorations or decay. Treatments for this condition can include fillings, fluoride applications or the use of desensitizing toothpastes.
Why do my gums bleed?
Your gums bleed as a result of inflammation caused by the presence of bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria when not properly cleaned off your teeth will result in an irritation of the gum tissue. This irritation called gingivitis, will result in red, puffy and bleeding gums. Gone untreated, it can progress into periodontal disease.
Are X-rays safe? Are they necessary?
The radiation exposure from dental x-rays is much less than the exposure you would get from the X-rays taken by your physician. In fact, you will absorb more radiation by spending a day out in the summer sun. Dental radiographs or X-rays expose the patient to very small amounts of radiation. New digital X-rays can cut that amount down by close to 90% over traditional film X-rays. Your doctor uses these images to detect pathology such as decay, tumors, cysts or other abnormalities not evident to the naked eye. They are an integral part of a complete dental examination.
Can I do anything about the black line on my crown?
Yes. Your crown is more than likely a porcelain fused to metal crown. The black line you see is the area where the metal and the porcelain meet. Replacing this crown with a full porcelain crown will alleviate that line.
Is it better to drink diet soda rather than regular soda?
Diet sodas are better only in the fact that they do not have sugar in them. Even diet soda can be bad for your teeth due to the acidity caused by the carbonation. It is OK to drink sodas in moderation. The damage that they can cause is directly related to the time your teeth are exposed to the liquid. Therefore, do not drink sodas all day long. Try to rinse or brush afterward, and limit the number of sodas you consume each day.
Should I change my silver fillings? Are they safe?
If you silver fillings are in good condition, there is no need to replace them. But, if you would like to not see those dark fillings, they can be replaced with tooth colored composite fillings. Silver fillings are safe. These restorations are composed of mercury, silver, tin and copper. The amount of mercury released by these fillings is much less than what you are exposed to through air, food and water. There has been no evidence that these types of fillings pose a health risk.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a titanium fixture placed in the bone of your jaw to replace a missing tooth. The implant replaces the root structure and then a crown can placed on top of it to replace the tooth.
What can I do if my dentures are loose?
Loose dentures, are ill fitting dentures. Many times a reline can make them fit again. Sometimes the bony support under the dentures is not sufficient anymore and implants can be used to stabilize the denture.
What does Fluoride do?
Fluoride acts to make teeth more resistant to decay. In children, this is important for the development of their adult teeth. In adults, Fluoride acts to strengthen and in some cases reverse small areas of decay. If you do not live in an area which has fluoridated water, ask your dentist about fluoride rinses or supplements.
What is a veneer?
A veneer is a thin ceramic facing that is bonded to the front of your tooth. Veneers can be used to close spaces, straighten crooked teeth and change the color of yellow or stained teeth.
What is Invisalign?
Invisalign is a revolutionary orthodontic treatment without the use of conventional metal braces. A series of computer generated, clear plastic aligners are used to move teeth. They are removable and very comfortable to wear. They do not interfere with speech or your everyday activities. This type of treatment does have some limitations and your dentist can evaluate you to see if you are a good candidate for this type of treatment.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a condition where due to the accumulation of bacteria, tartar and stain, a low grade infection has occurred. This infection results in the loss of bone around the teeth. This loss of bone can result in the instability and eventual loss of those teeth. Your dentist can treat this disease and halt its progression.