Posts for category: Oral Health
It’s a common conversation in a pediatric dentist’s office. “I don’t know what to do. My whole family has bad teeth.” Or, “I just don’t understand, we brush twice a day, everyday and she doesn’t drink soda. How can she have cavities?”
So, if the children that are receiving proper dental care are getting cavities, as well as the ones that aren’t brushing and flossing, we have to ask: Is there a such thing as bad teeth? Soft enamel?
Can your child’s, and your very own, dental problems be blamed on genetics, rather than poor dental hygiene? And if so, is this the ultimate excuse or are there ways to avoid these so-called, “bad teeth?”
In recent years, medical progress is being made on so many levels. Genetics are being studied on all levels to see just what role our genes play in our overall health and what we can do to overcome any genetic shortcomings. Because our dental health is so closely tied to our overall health and well-being (remember how dental disease and inflammation is linked to heart disease?), it makes complete sense that scientists are also studying the link between genetics and dental health.
So, is dental health genetic? The answer is yes. . . and no. Sometimes? It’s complicated. While scientists are finding genetic factors that affect some aspects of oral health, they are also confirming many environmental factors that play key roles in dental health- factors we can control.
Tooth decay, Bacteria and Sugar
Sugar in the food we eat feeds communities of hundreds of different types of bacteria that live on our teeth. The acid produced by these bacteria erodes the hard, outer layer of our teeth (the enamel) to cause cavities (tooth decay).
These bacteria in our mouth, the ones that cause tooth decay, aren’t present at birth. We normally acquire them shortly after birth, probably from other family members- think kisses on the mouth, pacifiers, teething items. Recent studies have been able to pinpoint which groups of bacteria are responsible for damaging our teeth. And it turns out that it’s not the genetic (inheritable) bacteria that are causing the tooth decay.
Want to take a stab at what types of bacteria can form cavities? You guessed it! The ones influenced by environmental factors like sugary foods! In fact, sugary drinks may be the very worst for your teeth! They are particularly adept at spreading sugar to every corner of your mouth, feeding the bacteria that cause decay. The good news is that the same types of bacteria in sugary foods that can form cavities, can also be brushed off your teeth!
But the story isn’t that simple.
While tooth decay is largely preventable, some people are more at risk of it than others. And genetics do play a role. Genes can affect how teeth develop and if teeth do not form properly, their enamel can actually be less resistant to bacteria. Genes can also affect whether your teeth will come in crooked or straight. Teeth that are crooked and overcrowded provide more areas for bacteria to hide and grow in, as they are more difficult to completely clean. Brushing and flossing become even more important in these situations, as a constant presence of these bacteria can cause cavities to form.
The color of your teeth is another area that is determined by both genetic and environmental factors. The way in which the white enamel (and the underlying yellow dentine) forms during development is mainly due to our genes. Those whose teeth develop naturally with thinner enamel will have teeth that appear more yellow. Environmental factors that affect the teeth can be broken up into intrinsic factors (those that affect the teeth as they are developing) and extrinsic (those affecting the tooth after it develops). Intrinsic factors could include exposure to antibiotic tetracycline in the womb or excess fluoride as a child. Extrinsic factors affecting tooth color would be drinking coffee or tea and smoking.
So, tooth color, like tooth health, can be affected by both genetics and environmental. And while we can’t control the genetic factors, we can make changes to the environmental factors.
The message is still the same. Your teeth may be inherited, but bad oral health habits do not have to be. Everyone needs to take care of their teeth. Some people may have to work a little harder than others. But we can all take simple steps to ensure proper oral health. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, brush your teeth and have regular check-ups.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry can help you take care of your child’s smile. Give us a call today at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
With all that the President has on his plate, you can imagine it would be hard to schedule a regular six-month dental cleaning and check-up. But, just because you become President, doesn’t mean you can stop caring for your teeth! Apparently, President Hoover agreed. During his administration in the 1930s, an official dental office was installed in the White House basement. Prior to that, Presidents had already had an official Presidential Dentist, but now they have a place to work, right in the White House.
The White House dental office may not have been very sophisticated when it was first built, but these days it boasts state-of-the-art equipment and a fully functional operatory. When a President or his family visits the dental office, they can receive treatment, much the same as you. The White House dentist performs regular check-ups, cleanings and X-rays, as well as any dental procedures that may be needed. He is expected to educate his patient on proper oral health and brushing techniques. Yes, even the President has to learn!
Of course, even a basement dental office and personal dentist can’t do all the worth. The President still has to brush and floss!
If you are not the President and can’t have a dental office in your basement, we would love to be your dentist. Call Anderson Pediatric Dentistry today at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
There’s nothing sweeter than a sleeping child. The peaceful look of contentment, the gentle breathing, a small smile as they enjoy a happy dream – it all seems perfect. Until you hear it. A loud grinding and gnashing noise that comes from their small mouth? What is that? And is it as bad as it sounds?
Bruxism- What Is It?
Bruxism is the medical term from grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth. For children, it’s more common for these behaviors to be displayed during sleep, rather than while they are awake. Sleep Bruxism is actually considered a sleep-related movement disorder. The disorder is also called nocturnal bruxism, nocturnal tooth-grinding and nocturnal tooth-clenching.
While bruxism in children is fairly common, the exact cause of sleep bruxism is unknown. It has been linked to improperly aligned teeth or irregular contact between upper and lower teeth, stress, anxiety, a response to pain, such as an earache or teething and other medical conditions.
Because most children display these behaviors only when sleeping, it’s nearly impossible for them to know that they do it. You will need to observe your child while he or she sleeps. Symptoms that your child is suffering from sleep bruxism include:
- Abnormal wear of the teeth
- Sounds associated with bruxism (Think loud chomping and grinding noises in their mouth!)
- Jaw muscle discomfort
- Complaining of headaches
- Tooth sensitivity
Impact of Bruxism on Child’s Health:
Most children will outgrow bruxism, and sometimes, it may go totally undetected. However, even if they don’t complain of jaw pain or other symptoms, bruxism can still have negative effects on your child’s teeth and general health. The grinding and gnashing can cause headaches and earaches. Over time, it can also wear down the tooth enamel, chip teeth and cause temperature sensitivity. Children that exhibit more severe bruxism may even have TMJ problems.
What Can You Do?
While there may not be a lot you can do to stop your child from clenching or grinding in their sleep, there are ways you can help lessen the frequency and intensity of incidences. If stress or anxiety is the cause of the bruxism, encourage your child to relax before bedtime with warm baths, soothing music, relaxing books and stories. Try to identify the areas causing stress and anxiety and help your child through it.
If you think your child is grinding his or her teeth, schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist, who will examine the teeth for chipped enamel and unusual wear and tear. They may spray air and water on the teeth to check for unusual sensitivity. In severe cases, your pediatric dentist may recommend a nighttime mouth guard for your child to wear while he or she sleeps. Since most children won’t be excited to keep this in their mouth, it’s not likely that your pediatric dentist would recommend this for very young children. For young children, relieving stress and anxiety, encouraging relaxation at bedtime and monitoring damage are the best options. Eliminating afternoon caffeine and turning electronics off two hours before bedtime may also help them sleep better.
If you are looking for a dental home for your child, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry would love to be your trusted partner in your child’s oral health. Call us today at 864-760-1440. Let us give you Something to Smile About!
This month, our family will celebrate our youngest daughter turning two. It’s a bit ironic to celebrate a toddler turning two, as we all know that the terrible twos are anything but something to celebrate! But, along with the tantrums, defiance and unpredictability, two-year-olds also have some major milestones to look forward to. Getting their two-year-old molars is just one milestone that comes during this crazy year!
So, when will your child get his or her two-year-old molars? Do these teeth serve a purpose? And how can you care for your child during the teething and their new teeth once they arrive? Let’s find out!
The two-year-old molars are also referred to as second molars. They are the large, flat teeth at the very back of your child’s mouth. Their primary use is for grinding food. As your child grows and begins to eat more types of foods, these teeth are especially helpful for chewing and digestion.
Two-year molars usually arrive sometime between 23 and 33 months. Typically, the lower set will arrive fist, around 23 to 31 months, with the upper set following closely after around 25 to 33 months.
While I would love to tell you that they will arrive unnoticed, chances are, your child will experience some sort of teething symptoms, such as pain/ tenderness, irritability and crankiness. They may even have a low-grade fever. This is normal and to be expected, as these molars are large, and must force their way up through the gums, which is not always a pleasant experience.
Most two-year-olds are not able to identify the pain as “teething” and won’t be able to tell you what is wrong. You can help your child during this time by being aware of the symptoms and ready to help your child cope. Signs that your child is getting his or her second molars include:
- Increased chewing on toys, fingers or clothing
- Drooling more than normal
- Irritability and crankiness
- More nighttime fussiness, as they are less distracted and more focused on the pain
- Low grade rectal temperature
(Please note that teething will not cause a high fever. If your child experiences a high fever, you should seek medical attention, as this is not caused by teething.)
Just like when your child got his or her first tooth, there are ways to help alleviate the pain and fussiness. Once you recognize the symptoms of teething, help your child through a rough few days by using these simple soothers:
- Give the child a cold, wet wash cloth soaked in ice water
- Offer teething toys for chewing
- Distract your child with singing, coloring, building, dancing, etc.
- Administer children’s Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen to help reduce discomfort for 1 or 2 days.
(pain that lasts longer than a couple of days needs to be evaluated by your pediatrician.)
- Apply moisturizers to the skin around the mouth to prevent dryness caused by drooling.
Remember, teething only lasts a few days and your child will be back to his or her happy, active self. Once those two-year-old molars are in, be sure to take care of them with daily care!
If you have questions about your child’s oral development or you are looking for a dentist for your child, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry would love top be your dental home! Call our office at 864-760-1440 and let is give you Something to Smile About!
Did you know that what happens in your mouth effect other areas of our body and overall health? Its true. Your oral health and the condition of your teeth and gums can impact your entire health.
How is this possible? Great question. Just like studies are now proving that your gut bacteria affect your health, the mouth’s bacteria do too. Bacteria in your mouth? Oh, yeah- tons of them! Most of these bacteria are pretty harmless, as our body’s normal defenses, combined with good oral health care (daily brushing in flossing), keep them under control. However, if a person does not have good oral hygiene, the bacteria may be allowed to reach levels high enough to produce oral infections, tooth decay and gum disease.
How does tooth decay or gum disease impact your entire body? Studies suggest that oral bacteria, and the inflammation associated with periodontitis, might actually play a role in some diseases.
- Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. It typically occurs with bacteria and other germs from another part of your body spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart. You guessed it. Bacteria from your mouth can enter the bloodstream and go to your heart.
-Cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke are now believed to be linked to inflammation and infections that can be caused by oral bacteria.
-Poor oral health leading to periodontitis during pregnancy has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
The connection between oral health and your overall health goes both ways. Just as your oral health can cause problems for your overall health, health issues in your body can affect the health of your mouth.
Certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, antidepressants and some inhalers, can reduce saliva flow. Since saliva is your body’s natural defense and method for washing away food and bacteria and neutralizing acids in the mouth, this can impact the amounts of bacteria in the mouth.
Other studies have found that some diseases that lower the body’s resistance to infection, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can make oral health problems more severe, too.
The human body is an amazing thing. But it’s important to remember that we have to take care of all of its parts- even the mouth. It’s not enough to diet, exercise and meditate. You have to brush and floss, too. Remember, your teeth are more than just a pretty smile. They aid in speech, development, eating and nutrition, face shape and appearance and so much more. You can hide a belly or other area you may not love, but you can’t hide your teeth!
This year, make a resolution to get in better oral health! Commit to brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Your teeth will thank you and so will your whole body.
If you need help getting your child’s mouth in shape this year, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry would love to help. Call our office at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!