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Dentistry for Children – Keeping Little Mouths Healthy

You can your little ones on the path to good dental habits begins before they even have teeth. Why would you think about dental health before your baby has a single tooth? Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean their teeth aren’t there. Teeth begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy, and by the time your baby is born, he or she will have 20 primary or “baby” teeth, and some of will already be fully developed in his jaw!

It Starts with the Gums

Even before your baby starts teething, get into the habit of running a clean, damp washcloth over her gums to clear away harmful bacteria.

Caring for Tiny Choppers

Once your baby’s teeth start coming in, brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste. (Use a brand that has the ADA seal of approval.) Using a tiny amount is best in case she swallows any saliva while you’re brushing. Brush gently on the inside and outside of each tooth.

As soon as your baby’s teeth touch, you can add flossing in between them to the routine.

Starting around age two, let them brush their teeth themselves, under your supervision. Remind them to spit frequently to avoid swallowing toothpaste. Once they reach age three, let them use a bit more toothpaste — a dab about the size of a pea. Keep supervising the brushing process until they’re around six years old. You want to make sure they have the coordination to do a good job brushing and that they don’t swallow any toothpaste.

Establish Good Feeding Habits

Even a baby can develop tooth decay if he or she goes to sleep with a bottle every night. Sugars from milk or juice that stay on baby’s teeth overnight can eat away at the enamel and cause a condition known as “bottle mouth”. Pitted or discolored front teeth are signs of the condition, and, if severe enough, it can cause cavities and make it necessary to have their front baby teeth pulled out. (Their permanent teeth will replace them eventually.)

Letting your baby or toddler suck on a bottle all day can also do damage, so try to establish regular eating and bottle times rather than letting them have their bottle whenever they want it. Try to switch them to a “sippy” cup by the time they’re six months of age, even if you have to hold it until they develop the motor skills to hold it themselves.

Their First Visit with the Dentist

The ADA recommends that children see a dentist by the time they reach their first birthday. The dentist will likely let you hold your baby on your lap while she does an exam, and will go over proper brushing and flossing techniques with you.

This first visit is important for a couple of reasons:

  1. It gets your child acquainted with going to the dentist so they’ll feel more comfortable during future visits.
  2. Potential problems can be spotted early and fluoride treatments can start even before your baby has all his or her primary teeth.

Prevent Cavities

Limit sugary treats and juices, which can cause cavities. If you establish good habits early, your kids will have an easier time keeping them later on. Taking care of their teeth will become part of their daily routine, thanks to your early diligence!

 

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A New Method for Oral Surgery

If you need oral surgery and you don’t have the time or aren’t comfortable with the idea of being fully sedated, conscious sedation may be just what you need. Moderate (conscious) Sedation, also known as MCS, falls in between a local anesthetic like Novocaine, and general anesthesia, which puts you to “sleep” for a surgical procedure.

A Time-Saving Procedure

Technically speaking, MCS is a “drug induced depression of consciousness”, which is a fancy way of saying that you’re neither fully awake nor fully asleep. The method uses a combination of medicine to help you relax (a sedative) and a medicine to block pain (an anesthetic). You’ll probably stay awake, but may or may not be able to speak. MCS lets you recover more quickly and be back to your everyday activities sooner after your procedure.

Conscious sedation dentistry also saves time because you can respond to the oral surgeon’s directions during the procedure. It’s great for commuters in Fredericksburg and the DC area who are short on time because you can get more than one procedure done in a session.

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How It’s Administered and How You’ll Feel

Your dentist will usually give you a shot, although the medicine can also be administered through an IV. You’ll begin to feel relaxed and even drowsy in a very short time after receiving the injection. Your breathing will slow down and your blood pressure may go down a little, too. You may fall asleep, but it’s such a light sleep that if someone asks you a question, you’ll “wake up” and respond without difficulty.

After the Oral Surgery

As the sedation wears off, you might feel sleepy, have a headache, or be a little queasy. This should pass quickly. Afterwards, take it easy. Avoid driving and skip the evening cocktail or glass of wine with dinner for that day. By the next day, you should be feeling like yourself again, and be ready for new adventures!

 

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What can you do about missing teeth?

Missing teeth can cause a number of inconveniences and issues if not treated. Chewing can be difficult, other teeth may begin to shift because of the open gap, and the adjacent teeth can become more susceptible to cavities and other problems. So what can you do?

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When to seek emergency dental care

Sometimes it’s easy to know you when to seek emergency dental care, and other times it’s not so clear. A sore gum, a cracked tooth or broken tooth aren’t good signs, but are they emergencies? It’s important to know the difference between something that can wait a week, and something that needs immediate attention. Left untreated, seemingly minor problems can quickly turn into major issues.

When you need emergency dental care

Broken or Chipped Tooth – Broken or chipped teeth are usually the result of some sort of trauma — getting hit in the face by a stray ball, a fall that impacts your mouth, etc. Sometimes, a tooth can break or chip by biting down on something hard, such as nuts or a piece of hard candy. Sometimes, they’re a result of tooth decay. Whatever the reason, it’s important to get a broken or chipped tooth taken care of immediately. Left untreated, it may become infected and cause more serious or even irreparable damage to the tooth.

Cracked (Fractured) Tooth – A cracked tooth is also susceptible to infection and should be taken care of immediately. Like a chipped or broken tooth, waiting can lead to much more serious problems, even to the point of needing an extraction. The American Dental Society recommends immediately rinsing your mouth with warm water and placing a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling.

Extreme Pain – Most people suffering the extreme and relentless pain of a “toothache” don’t need to be told they need emergency care — they can’t wait to see the dentist to repair whatever is causing so much misery. Remember that pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong, and it’s not going to go away until you address the cause of the pain.

Knocked Out Tooth – A knocked out tooth is an emergency and it’s important to get to the dentist as soon as possible. If you can get yourself and the tooth to a dentist within a half-hour, the dentist can often re-implant it successfully. Longer than that, and the chances are greatly reduced. According to the American Dental Society, it’s essential to keep the tooth moist by placing it in your mouth between your cheek and gums or submerging it in a jar of milk for the trip to the dentist. If your regular dentist can’t see you, get to a dental clinic immediately!

Abscessed Tooth – An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth and is a dental emergency. Usually by the time the abscess appears, the infection has reached the tooth’s root. The abscess often needs draining before the tooth can be treated, and antibiotics prescribed to knock out the infection.

Jaw Injuries – If you injure your jaw and it swells or you have trouble opening and closing your mouth, you need to see a dentist immediately to make sure it’s not broken. Place a cold compress on your face in the interim to reduce swelling.

When a dental emergency occurs, don’t try to “tough it out” with self-treatments that will only treat and mask the symptoms. Contact your dentist immediately to seek emergency dental care.

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Why is flossing important?

My dentist is always telling me I should floss. It’s a part of their farewell to me as I walk out the door, “Thanks for coming in, don’t forget to floss!” We hear it all the time, but we always wonder–why is flossing important?

Why Does My Dentist Tell Me to Floss?

Earlier this year, there were a lot of questions surrounding the necessity of flossing. When the government neglected to include flossing as a part of their 2015 Dietary Guidelines, many people interpreted that to mean that the government was saying flossing really isn’t important. In reality, The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was just choosing to focus on food and nutrient intake, so they removed the flossing guidelines.
Since these developments, both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the ADA have reaffirmed the importance of flossing in maintaining a healthy mouth. The ADA recommends flossing once per day, in order to get rid of the plaque that avoids your toothbrush and gets left to harden.

When to floss

The ADA says that the most important part of flossing is just taking the time to do it. It doesn’t really matter whether you do it before you brush or after, as long as you do it, and you take the time to do it right.
You should start flossing your child’s teeth when they have two teeth that touch, because they start accumulating plaque as soon as they have teeth, so you need to make sure you get the space between their teeth clean. You may have to help your children floss until they are old enough to have the coordination to do it without hurting themselves.

Now you know why your dentist always reminds you to floss every time you see them. Without cleaning between your teeth everyday, you’re only preventing some of the problems that plaque buildup can cause. You’re neglecting a whole part of your mouth! Remember to floss–your mouth will thank you.

 

 

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How to Find the Right Family Dentist

A family dentist can provide dental care to your whole family. From kids to adults to senior adults, a family dentist is skilled in dental care for all ages. This can be a great convenience for your family because you can get everyone taken care of in the same place. How do you find the one that’s right for you? Here are 7 steps to finding a good family dentist in your area.

7 Steps to Finding the Right Family Dentist

  1. Make a list of the things you’re looking for in a family dentist. Your list may include things like affordability, the types of insurance accepted, flexible hours, range of treatments and specialties (an on-site oral surgeon is a big plus), handling of emergencies, education and the amount of time you have to wait for appointments. Then, use your list as a guide for assessing potential dentists.
  2. Call your dental insurance carrier and ask for a list of providers. Dental care will be cheaper if you choose one of their in-network providers since most insurance companies require a deductible and a co-payment for out-of-network providers.
  3. Look for a dentist that is near either your home or work place, or along a route you frequently travel, so that it’s convenient to get to.
  4. Ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers if they use a family dentist that they would recommend. You can also ask your primary care physician, who might know a good family dentist in the area.
  5. Take your list of referrals and eliminate any that are too far out-of-the-way, don’t accept your dental insurance, or are otherwise not a good match for your original wish list.
  6. Contact the dentists remaining on your list of referrals to see if they are a good match. Ask questions about everything on your list.
  7. Visit the dentist(s) you are considering to see how their office interacts with you and your family.

 

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Dentistry for Children – What You Need to Know

The first year of your child’s life can feel like a whirlwind. Time is flying by so fast, you probably feel like you’re barely keeping up. In the midst of all the craziness, it’s important that you take some time to give a little attention to your baby’s mouth and teeth.

What You Need to Know

  1. When should I take my child to the dentist? – The ADA recommends that you take your child to their first dentist visit before their first birthday.
  2. When should I start brushing my child’s teeth? – The ADA says you should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they appear. This is because “as soon as teeth appear, decay can occur,” according to the ADA.
  3. How often should I brush my child’s teeth? – The ADA recommends that you brush your child’s teeth twice a day. You can start flossing as soon as they have teeth to floss between.
  4. When will I start seeing baby teeth? – You can expect to start seeing those little baby teeth around the 6-month mark.

Having Trouble Getting Your Kids to Brush?

For some kids that are old enough to say no, brushing is just an inconvenience they don’t want to deal with. After all, there are better things to do like racing cars around the room or finding something to climb on. If these are your kids, try coming up with a tooth brushing song! If you can make brushing their teeth something fun and interactive, they are more likely to get into the habit of doing it, and are less likely to put up a fuss about it. Need some ideas? Here are 7 tooth-brushing tunes to get you started.

Good Habits are the Foundation of Dentistry for Children

Building good oral hygiene habits when they are young is essential to making sure your kids grow up with healthy smiles. Brushing twice a day and flossing are two of the most important habits they can get into, and will go a long way towards preventing more serious issues down the road. And of course, regular checkups and cleanings at the dentist will help catch any problems before they become too serious.

 

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Getting a Perfect Smile

Getting that perfect smile you’ve always wanted starts with the basics of good oral hygiene. That means twice daily brushing and once a day flossing. Lots of people skip the flossing, which is a big mistake since food particles left between teeth not only causes bad breath, it can cause plaque and tartar build-up and can even lead to gum disease.

Regular Checkups

You’ve heard it time and again, but it bears repeating — get regular dental checkups and cleanings. This not only helps ward off tooth decay and other problems, but ensures that existing problems are caught early before they get more serious. Regular visits with the dental hygienist also ensure that your teeth look their very best.

Taking Care of Problems

You should take care of any cavities immediately so they don’t get worse and require more extensive work. If you find you must have a tooth removed, discuss options for replacing it with your dentist. Depending on how many teeth are missing and what your budget is like, this may involve a dental implant or a partial denture. Failing to replace missing teeth can cause your remaining teeth to shift position, affecting your bite and potentially causing noticeable gaps between teeth.

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Getting Straight Teeth

Your teeth can’t look their best if they’re not straight and even. Underbites, overbites, crossbites, and gaps can all be corrected with braces. There’s no reason to balk at the idea of wearing braces at any age. Today there are clear options, like Invisalign braces. Invisalign is a set of clear plastic aligners that gently re-position your teeth without the hassle of wires or the visibility of metal braces. Every two weeks, a new aligner is inserted and this process continues until your teeth are in line and straight.

Teeth Whitening

There’s no doubt about it – a key part of a perfect smile is bright white teeth. There are several different methods for getting a brighter smile.

  • Whitening Toothpaste – Will brighten your teeth and remove some surface stains.
  • Whitening Strips – These are applied to your teeth for an allotted amount of time. Some people have problems getting even and complete coverage on the surface of your teeth.
  • Whitening Trays – You can use whitening trays at home, but an even better option is to have your dentist mold the trays to fit your teeth precisely. The dentist can also speed and improve the process by using ultra-violet light while you’re wearing the trays.

Following these steps will help you have a healthy mouth, and a perfect smile.

 

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After-Care Guidelines for Oral Surgery

Just like any other type of surgery, what the patient does in the hours and days following the procedure can make a big difference in their comfort and recovery. That’s why proper after-care for oral surgery is absolutely essential.

Certain symptoms are fairly common after oral surgery and are not necessarily cause for alarm. They include swelling, mild bleeding and mild to moderate pain.

What to Do

  • Bleeding is common following oral surgery. You should reduce your activity level to help keep the bleeding to a minimum. You can also apply pressure to the area for 10 minutes with sterile gauze. If it does not stop on the first try, keep applying pressure for another 10-15 minutes.
  • To reduce swelling and the pain that accompanies it, hold an ice pack on your face for 20 minutes, then remove it for 10 minutes. Repeat this procedure during your waking hours for the first day. Then discontinue icing. If you have had a gingival graft procedure, DO NOT use ice.
  • You can take 600mg of Ibuprofen every 4 hours for the first week after surgery. Make sure to take it with food, which should help avoid indigestion.

Eating and Drinking After Oral Surgery

Eat a soft diet for the first week after surgery, or longer if needed. Avoid crunchy foods, hot or spicy food, and popcorn. DO NOT drink with a straw or smoke during the first 48 hours after surgery.

 

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What Else Do You Need to Know?

  • Continue to brush your teeth as you normally would, but be extra-careful in the area where you had surgery.
  • Take any pain medication or antibiotics prescribed by your doctor exactly as prescribed.
  • Give your body time to rest. Avoid doing any strenuous activity or exercise.
  • Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco. Both will delay healing.

You may need a follow-up appointment after your surgery to have stitches or dressings removed and to ensure that your healing process is progressing as it should. Your dentist will let you know if this is necessary.

With a little extra care following your procedure, you can make your recovery a much more comfortable experience.

 

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So You Want Straight Teeth

So, you’ve just found out that your teeth need straightening, and you’re left thinking “I want straight teeth, but I don’t want braces“.

Well, you’re in luck! Because these days, there are alternatives to metal braces available to many patients.

What Is Invisalign?

Invisalign uses a series of aligner plates that are custom created specifically for your very own teeth. These plates are made out of a plastic that is practically invisible, does not attach to your teeth and gives you a whole lot more freedom to eat than traditional metal braces.

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Straight Teeth with Invisalign

Even if you have heard of Invisalign, you may still have some questions regarding the process. Here’s how it works.

  • Consultation: First, you will want to set up a consultation with a dentist who is experienced in Invisalign treatments. During this visit, you and your dentist will discuss the treatment, whether it’s the best option for your specific situation and how the process will work for you specifically. If you have any questions, jotting them down before the visit is a good way to make sure you don’t forget any of the important ones.
  • Customizing Treatment: Next, your dentist will get x-rays, pictures and impressions of your teeth in order to create a custom treatment.
  • Receiving Your Aligners: You will receive your custom-made clear aligners from your dentist once the order is processed. They are made of a comfortable plastic that is gentle on your gums and comfortable inside your mouth. Your dentist will help you put in the first set of aligners and make sure that everything is just as it should be.
  • Wearing Your Aligners: Once you receive your new aligners, the process of straightening your teeth will begin! You will change to a new aligner every two weeks as your teeth are straightened more and more. You can remove them to eat, brush and floss your teeth. Gradually, your teeth will become realigned and the best part: most people won’t even know you’re wearing them!

Your dentist will want to see you about once every six weeks to make sure things are moving along well and progress in continually being made.

 

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