Posts for: April, 2022
Primary ("baby") teeth may look cute and adorable, but they're a big player in your child's dental health. A primary tooth lost prematurely could eventually lead to a major bite problem.
Primary teeth fulfill a number of functions, most notably enabling young children to eat solid foods, speak and relate to people with a normal smile. But they also serve as placeholders and guides for future permanent teeth developing within the gums.
Problems arise, though, when a child loses a primary tooth early due to disease or trauma, leaving an open space on the jaw. Nearby teeth tend to drift in to fill the space intended for the permanent tooth, leaving little to no room for it when it's time to erupt. This can cause it to erupt out of position, which in turn could force other teeth out of alignment. The end result is a poor bite.
You can, however, avoid this costly outcome by either treating and preserving a decayed baby tooth, or preventing other teeth from drifting into a vacancy left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth comes in.
Depending on the level of decay, treating a diseased primary tooth can include fillings, crowns or modified root canal therapy. For children at high risk for decay, a dentist may also apply sealant to the teeth to inhibit plaque buildup. Although some of these procedures can be extensive, they're often worth the time and effort to prevent a poor bite.
If, on the other hand, we eventually lose the tooth, we can still intervene by installing a space maintainer. This is essentially a loop of wire securely attached to a tooth on one side of a gap, while the other end of the loop butts up against the tooth on the other side. This prevents either tooth from migrating into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.
Primary teeth may not seem all that important, but in the greater picture, they truly are. By taking care of them, you'll be doing your child's soon arriving permanent teeth a favor.
If you would like more information on pediatric dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”
Although your dentist plays an important supporting role, you are actually the starring actor in your dental care. What you do daily at home makes the greatest impact on the dynamic state of your oral health.
The more you can become a "master" in your own dental care, the more likely your teeth and gums will remain healthy. It's also less likely you'll have much of a need to see the dentist beyond your regular cleanings and checkups.
Here, then, are 3 things you can do to improve personal teeth and gum care.
Improve your brushing. Brushing your teeth is primarily a physical skill. The more you do it, the better at it you'll likely become. And, the better you are, the more effective you'll be with removing disease-causing dental plaque. It begins with the right equipment: preferably a soft-bristled, multi-tufted toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand. Technique-wise, focus on being thorough but gentle to avoid damaging your enamel and gums.
Floss daily. Although a lot of people think of brushing and flossing as two different tasks (with many doing the former while neglecting the latter), it's better to think of them as two parts of the same goal of removing dental plaque. While brushing clears away plaque from broad surfaces, flossing removes it from between teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. If flossing isn't your thing, try floss picks or water flossers.
Put the brakes on sugar. Of all the things you eat, refined sugar is probably the most detrimental to your dental health. The oral bacteria that cause disease readily consume any sugar lingering in the mouth, which fuels their growth. It's especially problematic when constant snacking on sweets (or drinking sweetened beverages) provides a continuous supply. So, cut back as much as possible on sweets, or limit your consumption of sugary foods to meal times.
As we said before, your dentist does have a role to play in your oral health, so be sure you're paying them a visit at least every six months. These visits plus your due diligence at home will help ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy.
If you would like more information on personal dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Tips For Daily Oral Care at Home.”
Replacing missing teeth can do wonders for a smile. And you have solid options for doing so, from a partial denture to state-of-the-art dental implants. But there might be a roadblock to your restoration plan—literally. Some of your other teeth may be in the way.
When a tooth has been missing for a while, the teeth on either side of a tooth gap will naturally begin to move or “drift” into the space. This could result in an inadequate amount of available space for a prosthetic (false) tooth.
If that happens, we'll first need to move the errant teeth back to where they belong, either with traditional braces or removable clear aligners. If we're successful, we can then proceed with the missing tooth restoration.
But before starting orthodontic treatment, there may be another problem that needs our attention first. If your missing teeth are the result of periodontal (gum) disease, your gums and supporting bone may not be as healthy as they need to be. This can interfere with orthodontics, which often depends on the gums and bone around a tooth being healthy enough to reform as the tooth moves. That may not be possible if they're still infected with gum disease or you've suffered significant bone loss.
If that's the case, it may be necessary to first treat any gum disease present and rebuild the bone. The latter can often be done by grafting bone material to the area of loss. The graft then serves as a scaffold of sorts upon which new bone can grow and accumulate. And reducing gum disease, mainly by removing bacterial plaque, allows the gums to heal and regain attachment with the teeth.
Once your gums and bone are healthy again, we can then proceed with orthodontics. After the teeth are reasonably aligned, we can then complete the restoration for replacing your missing teeth, and any other cosmetic enhancements for your remaining teeth like veneers or crowns.
The entire process may take some time and multiple treatment visits. But gaining a more attractive smile in the end is well worth it.