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Should Your Child Get Dental Sealants?

Should Your Child Get Dental Sealants?

Children may be at a much higher risk of cavities in the deep grooves of the biting surfaces of their molars. Anatomically speaking, some children will have deeper grooves that are more prone to cavities, and some will have shallower grooves that are less prone to cavities. Unfortunately, sometimes brushing and flossing aren’t enough to prevent cavities in teeth with deeper grooves. These teeth benefit from further cavity prevention in the form of dental sealants. 

What Are Dental Sealants? 

You can think of dental sealants as similar to fillings, but no tooth structure is removed to place the sealant. They are plastic coatings placed on top of the tooth structure to prevent bacteria from entering and causing a cavity. They are most frequently placed on molars and premolars where deep grooves are difficult to clean. These grooves can be so narrow that even a single toothbrush bristles cannot enter. The ultimate goal of sealants is to prevent the formation of cavities. 

When Are Dental Sealants Recommended?

Dental sealants will look like a tooth, either clear or white. Dental sealants can be placed at any point throughout life on baby and adult teeth. It is best to set them as soon as the adult teeth erupt when they are clean. In addition to the biting surfaces of teeth, sealants can be placed on the main pit on molars’ front or back surfaces and even on front teeth. Dental sealants can be used on any surface that may be more susceptible to decay.  

How Are Dental Sealants Placed?

Dental sealants are easy because no tooth structure needs to be removed before they are placed. Multiple sealants can be placed at the same time. The teeth are cleaned and polished, and then dried. Next, an acidic solution called “etch” is placed to allow the sealants to adequately bond to the tooth structure. Once etch is washed off and the tooth is dried again, the dental sealants can be placed and then hardened using a curing light. The bite will be checked to ensure there is no sealant material interfering with natural biting, and then the tooth/teeth are ready to be used for biting and chewing just like usual! 

If you have any questions about dental sealants and if your child might benefit from them, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Do You Need A Frenectomy?

Do You Need A Frenectomy?

A frenum is a small attachment of soft tissue that connects two areas of the mouth. The main locations of the frenum are:

  • The tongue to the floor of the mouth.
  • The lower lip to the lower jaw.
  • The upper lip to the upper jaw.

You can view these small tissue patches if you pull your lips out of the way or look underneath your tongue. The frenum under your tongue is called a lingual frenum, and the frenum connecting your lips is called the labial frenum. If these tissues are too large or thick, they can contribute to oral problems and must be addressed. 

Oral conditions associated with large frenum

  • Speech impediment and difficulty pronouncing certain words and sounds 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • A gap between the upper or lower two front teeth 
  • Recession of the gum tissue near the attachment of the frenum 
  • Thin or inadequate gum tissue near the attachment of the frenum 
  • Snoring and mouth breathing 
  • Inability to extend the tongue 

Frenectomy procedure 

A frenectomy is performed when the frenum tissue needs to be cut to prevent pulling on other tissues. It reduces the adverse effects of a large frenum. Frenectomies are recommended in childhood when a large frenum is detected. Frenectomies are usually performed for the “lingual frenum” to prevent a tongue-tie condition and help with the child’s speech. A frenectomy will also be recommended for adults of any age when ill effects of a frenum are noted.

The frenectomy procedure is relatively easy, quick and straightforward. The process is performed under local anesthetic and the recovery time is just a day or two. The procedure may be slightly more complicated if the patient is young and it is to correct the lingual frenum. Some stitches may or may not need to be placed at the frenectomy site. 

If you believe you or your child may have a large or tight frenum and may benefit from a frenectomy, or if you have any questions about the procedure, we encourage you to contact us to book an appointment

How Can You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

How Can You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

​The alternative name for baby bottle tooth decay is “early childhood caries,” which means cavities that form on baby teeth at a young age.

We know that healthy baby teeth lead to healthy adult teeth. They are space holders for the adult teeth and provide a healthy environment for the future adult teeth. Tooth decay in baby teeth can lead to pain, infections, missing teeth, difficulty chewing and speech and unnecessary stress.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay? 

This condition occurs when your child’s baby teeth are exposed to sugars, usually in the form of milk from a bottle or sweet drinks, and start to decay. The decay will typically present on the upper front teeth but can extend to any tooth in the mouth. This condition is most common when a bottle is used as a pacifier or when a baby is left with a bottle of milk overnight.

This is because their teeth will be bathed in sugary liquid for an extended time, increasing the risk for decay. Pediatricians recommend that the only liquid given at night in a bottle is water. Inadequate intake of fluoride can also lead to baby bottle tooth decay. Fluoride helps protect the baby teeth from decay and should be ingested by drinking tap water and using a small amount of toothpaste containing fluoride by the age of 3.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and, therefore, can also be passed from mother/father to baby by passing bacteria contacting saliva. This means that sharing a spoon or utensil should be avoided.

Signs & Symptoms of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay 

Tooth decay may occur in its early stages without presenting any signs or symptoms. Small cavities between teeth may not show at all. They may show minor white or brown-stained patches between teeth as they progress and get larger. More advanced decay will look like chips or fractures between teeth and may be yellow, brown or black.

Your baby may also be experiencing pain or discomfort due to the decay. They may show this by being fussy, crying, or presenting with swelling and a fever. Taking your toddler to the dentist at an early age is vital at the onset of the first teeth. Your dentist can check areas of your toddlers’ teeth that you can’t access. If baby bottle tooth decay is left untreated, it can lead to pain, infection, loss of teeth, problems with the adult teeth and very costly dental treatment.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay 

Reducing the amount of sugar your baby consumes plays a vital role in reducing their risk. Try not to give your baby anything else to drink but water or milk. Make sure you do not leave them to sleep at night with a milk bottle, and do not use a bottle of milk as a pacifier.

Be sure to avoid sharing your own saliva with your baby. After feeding, clean your baby’s teeth and gums with a gauze and a small toothbrush. When your baby sleeps, their mouth must be clear from any sugars. Also, be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay.

Treatment of Baby Bottle Tooth Decay 

If the decay is still tiny and in the early stages, your dentist can use fluoride treatment to remineralize the areas and prevent the decay from growing. Stronger fluoride such as silver diamine fluoride may be applied to areas of decay. Filling and dental crowns are possible solutions if the decay is more extensive and cannot be treated with fluoride. The decay will be removed and filled, and a crown will protect the tooth until it is ready to fall out.

The last resort is to have a severely decayed tooth extracted when there is no other option. In this case, a space maintainer may be used to hold the proper space for the future adult tooth. Treatment of decay on baby teeth, as mentioned earlier, is vital to the health of the future adult teeth and your child’s overall wellbeing.

Please contact us if you have any questions about baby bottle tooth decay. 

How to Pick the Right Toothbrush for You

How to Pick the Right Toothbrush for You

There are many factors involved in choosing the right toothbrush for your needs, and the toothbrush aisle can sometimes be overwhelming with all the options. Let us break down all the functions of a toothbrush to help you choose the one that will work best for you. 

Electric 

If used correctly, electric toothbrushes generally do a superior job over manual toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes do the work for you by either an oscillating or using a sweeping motion back and forth. Electric toothbrushes come in either circular or oval heads and can be adult or kids-sized. 

  • If you have gum recession, try an electric toothbrush with a pressure indicator to let you know when you’re brushing too hard. 
  • For children, you can buy an electric toothbrush with a timer to let them know when they’ve reached two minutes
  • For adults and children, you can buy an electric toothbrush with a beep indicator that indicates when to move on to the next quadrant. 

Manual 

Manual toothbrushes can work well if used correctly with a proper brushing technique. There are several brushing techniques, and the technique should be selected based on needs. Manual toothbrushes come in super-soft, soft, medium and hard. A super-soft toothbrush should be chosen when there is a history of aggressive tooth brushing and recession. Medium and hard toothbrushes should never be used, as they are too abrasive for the gum tissue. 

  • To clean your tongue, select a toothbrush with a tongue cleaner on the backside 
  • If you have recession, select a super soft or soft toothbrush with just bristles and no rubber 
  • If you have problems with hand dexterity, select a toothbrush with a more oversized handle 
  • Toothbrushes made from bamboo are better for the environment 
  • Make sure to change your toothbrush every three months, or when the bristles begin to wear and the colour changes 
  • If your bristles are splaying, it is an indication you are brushing too aggressively 

If you have any questions about toothbrushes and which toothbrushes will work best for you, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment

Is Dental Fluoride Beneficial For You?

Is Dental Fluoride Beneficial For You?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in salt and fresh water. It has been studied over decades and has been found to help reduce the likelihood of dental decay, slow the process of current decay and even halt and reverse it. It is a highly successful preventative measure used in dentistry that is fully supported by the CDA (Canadian Dental Association.) Through the last 50 years, dental fluoride has continued to be an effective and safe tool for all ages. It can be applied in a controlled environment topically, such as at the dentist, and used at home through products such as toothpaste and mouthwash, as well as systemically in tap water. 

Do you Need fluoride?

Fluoride is recommended for children, as well as higher cavity risk adults. Children benefit from fluoride as it supports the health of the adult teeth forming underneath their baby teeth and when the adult teeth erupt into the mouth. Older individuals and people who suffer from a dry mouth also greatly benefit from fluoride as it reduces the risk of root cavities. The CDA recommends a professional topical fluoride treatment at routine dental visits, as needed. 

How is Fluoride Applied?

At your dental office, fluoride may be professionally applied to your teeth in a variety of different ways, depending on your needs. It comes in various forms, such as liquid, gel, foam and varnish, and varies in strength, from 1-5%. Vanish fluoride with a higher percentage is best suited for spot treatments at increased risk for cavities. Fluoride can also help reduce tooth sensitivity. 

Side Effects 

Like many medications, fluoride also has side effects, but only when too much is ingested. Signs of fluoride over ingestion are white spots on teeth called “fluorosis,” pitted or notched enamel and brittle bones. Fluoride in the water is in such a low dose that these symptoms will not occur. Fluoride poisoning is extremely rare but still possible. When it comes to toothpaste, make sure never to swallow it and monitor your child/children while brushing. 

If you have questions about dental fluoride and why you might need it, we encourage you to book an appointment with us today