Oral Health and Pacifier Usage

Written on March 31, 2014, by

Since the 1600′s, parents around the world have used pacifiers to relax a child by satisfying the sucking reflex. The original intent was to calm the child during non-feeding periods and to help them fall asleep. Pacifiers are also encouraged to replace thumb sucking because it is a device that can be taken away from a child as they get older.

There are a few concerns to keep in mind when using a pacifier with children. Research suggests that there is a correlation between pacifier use and delayed breastfeeding success. To avoid “nipple confusion” it is recommended to begin introducing a pacifier after the child has become accustomed to breastfeeding.

At what age should children stop using a pacifier? Research from the Journal of Pediatric Nursing suggests that no permanent damage is made to the mouth if a child discontinues pacifier use before 36 months of age. Long-term use can result in damaging effects during tooth development. Additionally long-term pacifier use is linked with speech-impairing malformations of the mouth.

A psychologist recommended technique has been proven effective to help a child separate from their pacifier. The method involves explaining to the child several days in advance that a day has been set for all pacifiers to be thrown away. Giving this advanced notice gives the child more control over the situation and helps them to understand that it is a part of growing up. On this day, all pacifiers must leave the house to avoid a child falling back into their old habits.

To set the stage for a healthy smile, pacifier use should be discontinued by a child’s third birthday. If you have questions about how a pacifier could be affecting your child’s smile, talk with your dentist today.

Related Article: How Long Should a Baby Use a Pacifier?

http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/ColgateNewandNow/Community/2013/December/article/SW-281474979236856.cvsp

Oral Health Problems in HIV-positive Patients

Written on March 15, 2014, by

HPV Oral Bacteria

Many HIV-positive patients are plagued with oral infections, tooth decay and gum disease despite meticulous oral hygiene. The Section of Infectious Diseases at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University set out to find an explanation of why that is and how to improve those patient’s oral health. They joined researchers at Louisiana State University and Ohio State University to collect samples from over 440 HIV positive patients to determine if the problem is the HIV infection, the antiretroviral therapy or both.

By taking census before and after therapy starts, they are able to compare patients with oral complications to those without.  In the process, they are assessing the general health of the teeth and gums. The lab will also be analyzing different types of yeast recovered from patients to find out if HIV patients have more aggressive or treatment-resistant strains.

One of the earliest signs of HIV is often a yeast infection in the mouth. Untreated, it may spread into the esphagus blocking it so that they cannot swallow, eat or drink and then they begin to dehydrate.

HPV was not a significant problem in HIV patients until the onset of antiretroviral therapy. Researchers noted that anyone whose immune system is compromised by disease or treatment may experience similar oral health concerns. Though antiretroviral therapies dramatically improve patient survival, they do not restore normal bacteria in the mouth.

The Georgia researchers continue to follow 1,800 HIV-positive patients adding approximately 15 new patients per month.

To read the full story visit: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/273057.php

A New Candy that is Actually Good For Your Teeth

Written on March 8, 2014, by

Our mouths are inhabited by both good and bad bacteria. We brush our teeth to remove the cavity-causing bacteria while allowing the beneficial oral bacteria to thrive. A team of researchers in Germany, published in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, have now developed a sugar-free candy that contains dead bacteria which bind with bad bacteria. The result is that the candy eats bad bacteria in the mouth which may potentially reduce cavities.

When we eat, bacteria on the surface of the teeth release acid which can dissolve the tooth enamel and lead to cavities. The team of researchers believe that binding M. streptococci with L. paracasei bacteria it will prevent the bad bacteria from reattaching to teeth so it is instead washed away by saliva.

In the study 60 subjects were given candy. A third of the subjects received 1 mg of L. paracasei, another third received 2 mg of L. paracasei and the final group received a placebo candy with no bacteria. Subjects ate a  total of five candies during the day and a half study and were not allowed to perform any dental hygiene activities. They were also not allowed to consume coffee, tea, wine or probiotic foods.

Nearly 75% of participants who ate candies with good bacteria had “significantly lower” levels of bad bacteria in their saliva than before and compared to the control group.

To read the full story, visit: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269685.php

What is Causing Your Bad Breath?

Written on February 19, 2014, by

We have all experienced a moment when you lean in close to tell a friend something and maybe they begin backing away or politely mention your overpowering breath. Maybe you just brushed your teeth not too long ago and yet the smell is still there. So what is causing your bad breath? Here are some common  reasons for bad breath:

Bacteria - All of us have bacteria that hangs out on our tongue multiplying at night, but some of us have more species of malodorous bacteria than others. H. pylori is often responsible for bad breath, stomach ulcers and gum disease. Remember to brush your tongue to help solve this bad breath dilemma.

Respiratory Tract Infections – Ever notice that when you are sick your breath tends to be worse? Bronchitis, sinusitis, colds and tooth or gum infections are a source of bad breath. That is because tissue is being broken down and the flow of cells and mucus feeds bacteria.

Skipping Breakfast – Breakfast doesn’t just give you a good start to the day because of nutritional value, it stimulates saliva production which scrubs bacteria from the tongue.

Diet – Low carb diets burn stored fat which creates toxic-smelling ketones.  Foods high in protein or dairy products generate large amounts of amino acids which fight off bacteria.

Dry Mouth – Open mouth breathing, alcohol consumption and many drugs dry out the mouth. Saliva is necessary to rinse away bacteria that cause bad breath.  Chewing gum can activate saliva production.

Illnesses – Uncontrolled diabetes causes your breath to smell fruity, while kidney failure produces a fishy smell. Bad breath could be a signal  for an ongoing illness.

If you suffer from chronic bad breath, talk to your dentist to find out if there is an underlying cause such as an infection of the mouth or gum disease.

Dark Chocolate, A Not So Guilty Pleasure

Written on February 14, 2014, by

It’s Valentine’s Day so don’t be so hard on yourself for eating delicious chocolate. Chocolate can actually be good for your teeth.

The cocoa bean contains tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids which are strong antioxidants that benefit your teeth and mouth. Tannins are the part of dark chocolate that make is have a slightly bitter taste and are responsible for the dark pigment. They inhibit bacteria from sticking to your teeth which prevents cavities. Polyphenols neutralize the microorganisms that cause bad breath. This prevents infections in your gums and fights tooth decay. Flavonoids slow tooth decay by acting as an antibiotic, disrupting the function of microorganisms. Additionally they can reduce inflammation in an overactive immune system.

Not all chocolate is good for you however due to additives and processing. Dark chocolate is the least processed, and healthiest choice. It contains less sugar than milk chocolate and white chocolate so your waist line will thank you. Chocolate should be around 70% cocoa for best results.  Many brands advertise their cocoa percentage on the packaging to make it easy to make healthy decisions. Here are a few examples:

Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate: 60%

Ghirardelli’s Twilight Delight: 72%

Ghirardelli’s Midnight Reverie: 86%

Lindt’s Cocoa Supreme Dark: 90%

 

If you are giving chocolate this Valentine’s Day, make sure to give the dark variety.

What is Invisalign?

Written on January 31, 2014, by

Did you know that you can straighten your teeth without having to have a mouth full of metal? There is a modern technology called Invisalign which utilizes a series of aligners created to custom fit your teeth. These aligners are made from an invisible plastic that you can wear over your teeth.  The aligners gently shift your teeth into alignment over time. Every two weeks you get a new set of aligners until your treatment is complete. There are no metal brackets or wires to tighten so you can achieve a straighter smile with little interference in your daily life and people won’t even know that you are straightening your teeth.

The process begins with x-rays, pictures and impressions of your teeth which are used to create a 3-D image of your teeth. Your dentist will use these to map out a treatment plan including the exact movements of your teeth through each stage of treatment.

Your custom aligners are made from a smooth, comfortable BPA-free plastic that will not irritate your cheeks and gums. You can even remove them throughout the day to eat or brush and floss your teeth.

Talk with your Dentist to find out if you are a good candidate for Invisalign.

Find out more about Invisalign here: http://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works/treatment-process

Creating a Beautiful Smile

Written on January 23, 2014, by

How do braces straighten teeth? Over the course of one to three years your smile can go from awkward and misaligned to straight and beautiful. There are four main components that make braces work. Brackets are the main metal portion of the braces which are adhered to the teeth with a bonding material. The arch wire is a thin piece of metal that is placed over the brackets and puts pressure on the teeth in order to pull them in the direction needed to become straight and aligned. O-rings are the colored rubber part of the braces that are put around the brackets to hold the wire in place. These are changed out when the braces are tightened. Elastics create added pressure to straighten the teeth in cases of an over bite or an under bite.

While braces are on, the teeth will loosen and move due to pressure created by the wire and elastics. This causes the surrounding membrane to expand on one side and constrict on the other. The teeth then loosen from the gum line. As the teeth become straighter they move less and the bone around the membrane grows to support the new position of the tooth. This process is done slowly over a long period of time so that the patient does not lose their teeth.

After the braces come off the final step is to wear a retainer 24 hours a day, or as determined by the orthodontist. A retainer keeps the teeth in their new position while the bone around the teeth becomes stronger. It is critical to wear the retainer as directed so that you do not risk your teeth moving back into their old position.

Talk to your dentist to learn more about options for a straighter, more confident smile.

What Type of Filling is Going to Work Best for Me?

Written on January 15, 2014, by

A filling essentially restores a tooth that back to its normal function and shape after it has been damaged by decay. The decayed tooth material is first removed and the area is cleaned. The tooth is then filled with the filling material.

Did you know there are four different types of fillings? The right type of filling for you depends on if you have allergies to any materials, where the filling is located in your mouth and the cost.

Gold fillings are well tolerated by gum tissue and tend to last more than 20 years. That is why they are considered to be the best option, however they are also the most expensive choice and do require multiple visits.

Amalgam (silver) fillings are relatively inexpensive and are resistant to wear. These types of fillings are usually not used on front teeth or visible areas due to their dark color.

Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and thus have a natural appearance. Composites may chip or wear over time so they are not ideal for large fillings. they can also stain from coffee, tobacco and other foods. These types of fillings last generally from three to ten years.

Porcelain fillings, also called inlays or onlays, are matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. The cost of porcelain is typically similar to gold.

Only your dentist can determine if you have a cavity that needs to be filled. It is recommended that you visit your dentist bi-annually for a regular cleaning. At this time your dentist will also check your mouth for tooth decay and other problematic issues.

Alternatives to Bleaching

Written on January 10, 2014, by

Everyone wants a white pearly smile, but bleaching might not be the solution for everyone. Bleaching is not recommended for pregnant women and children under the age of 16 or if you have sensitive teeth, allergies, gum disease, worn enamel, cavities , exposed roots, tooth-colored fillings, crowns, caps or bonding on your teeth. That doesn’t mean however, that you are stuck with a stained smile. There are other alternatives to bleaching that will improve your smile.

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic which are glued to the front of your teeth. They create a durable, pleasing smile if you have discolored, chipped or misshapen teeth. Porcelain veneers are created to fit your teeth in a dental laboratory and require two visits to the dentist. Porcelain veneers last from 10 to 15 years. Composite veneers can be done in a single visit, in which the enamel is bonded to your tooth. This procedure lasts 5 to 7 years, but costs significantly less.

Bonding is a processes that uses composite resin to restore teeth that are broken, chipped, misshaped or stained. A mild etching solution is first applied that roughens the surface of the tooth and allows bonding to occur. Then the resin is applied, sculpted and polished.

If you think you might be a good candidate for veneers or bonding, talk to your dentist  for more information.

Related article: Are There Other Alternatives for Improving My Smile?

http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Cosmetic-Dentistry/Tooth-Whitening/Alternatives-to-Tooth-Whitening/article/Are-There-Other-Alternatives-for-Improving-My-Smile.cvsp

Understanding Child X-rays

Written on January 3, 2014, by

Adult mouths are typically X-rayed once a year, however there is no standard timeline for when your child’s mouth should be X-rayed. If your child has a high risk for tooth decay or has many cavities and fillings then a dentist might suggest X-rays every six months. X-rays help dentists to identify and diagnose what’s happening in your child’s mouth including the following:

  • Monitoring how your child’s teeth are growing.
  • See the number, size and position of teeth that our still under the gums
  • Find extra or missing teeth
  • Monitor teeth and mouth injuries
  • Find infections in the teeth and mouth
  • Prepare for orthodontic treatment including braces
  • Identify bone disease
  • Discover problems that cannot be seen in a visual exam

Depending on the goal of an X-ray, there are several types of X-rays a dentist may use for your child.

Bitewing X-rays are used to view areas between teeth that cannot be directly seen.

Periapical X-rays are used to see the entire crown and roots including bone structure of one to three adjacent teeth. This type of X-ray is used to look for abscesses, gum disease and to see permanent teeth growing below the baby teeth.

Panoramic X-rays show all teeth on one film including the upper and lower jaws, the temporomandibular joints and the sinuses above the upper teeth. This type of X-ray does not require a film to be put into the child’s mouth so it is often used for a child who has hurt his or her face, has orthodontic problems or is mentally or physically disabled.

Occlusal X-rays are used to view most of the upper and lower teeth on one film.

Orthodontic X-rays show the head from the side to evaluate the growth of the jaw and bones in the skull.

X-rays are safe for your child when all standard safety precautions are taken. If you have questions and concerns about X-rays and your child, talk with a qualified dentist today.

Find out more at: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/X-Rays/article/X-Rays-for-Children.cvsp