Posts for: May, 2018
We’ve all done it. You know you have. You put that new shirt on and see a tag. Instead of going to get the scissors, you just bite the plastic with your teeth. Or, you are sitting down to eat lunch and need to open a bag of chips. What better way to do it than with your teeth? There’s even the old party trick where someone shows everyone how they can pop the top off their bottle with their teeth. It’s true. Our teeth are amazing tools and they can accomplish lots of tasks. But, just because we can use them, does that mean that we should?
The truth is, while your teeth may be the easiest and most convenient tool for getting the job done, they are definitely not the best choice. In fact, doing anything other than chewing food with your teeth, can actually cause permanent damage and lead to long–term problems and costly dental treatments and repairs.
Chewing, chomping and tearing foreign objects with your teeth can chip or crack them. Aside from the aesthetic effects, a cracked tooth can be very painful and may need a root canal or crown. Ultimately, using your teeth as a shortcut can lead to a painful, timely and expensive dental experience.
So, while it may be tempting to use your teeth to tear or open something, reach for the scissors, bottle opener or appropriate tool instead. It’s important to teach your children to do the same. And remember, even chewing on hard food items, such as popcorn kernels, ice and hard candy can crack and damage your teeth.
Save your smile and use your teeth for chewing and smiling, not as tools.
As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants to give everyone Something to Smile About! If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s teeth, or if they are experiencing pain from a chipped or cracked tooth, we encourage you to seek dental help immediately. Contact our office at 864-760-1440.
It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.
“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”
While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)
When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.
Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.
But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.
Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”
Soda. Is it really that bad for your teeth?
The short answer is yes. Sugar in soda, combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form acid, which eats away at your teeth. And diet drinks aren’t necessarily better. They may not contain the sugar, but both regular and diet, or “Sugar-free” sodas contain their own acids which attack the teeth.
Erosion begins when the acids encounter the tooth’s enamel. This is your tooth’s protective covering. Think of it like an eggshell. Once it’s softened or eroded, there’s nothing left to protect the sensitive inside of the tooth, often leading to further damage of the next layer, the dentin, and cavities.
While drinking water is the best option, we aren’t saying that you can’t enjoy an occasional, refreshing soda. But, we are going to give you tips to help lessen the damage.
Don’t Sip All Day –
Each time you drink a sugary beverage, whether it’s soda, lemonade, fruit juice or sports drinks, the acids from the drink and those formed by the sugar and bacteria in your mouth will attack your teeth. With each sip, this attack will begin again and last for about 20 minutes. If you sip sugary drinks all day, your teeth are under constant attack. If you choose to drink a sugary drink, don’t sip it over a long period. Consume it all at once. This means that children should not be drinking sugary drinks, even fruit juice, from a sippy cup or bottle throughout the day.
Limit or Eliminate Sugary Drinks-
Water is your best option, and milk provides the calcium needed to actually strengthen your child’s teeth. While we would love to see all sugary drinks eliminated from your child’s daily diet, we realize that it may not happen immediately. If you can’t eliminate it, at least choose to limit sugary drinks to no more than one soda a day. Aside from empty calories that children don’t need, even one soda a day will do damage.
Use a Straw-
Drinking out of a straw will help to keep the damaging acids and sugars away from your teeth.
Rinse Your Mouth With Water-
Rinsing your mouth with water after drinking soda will help to wash away any excess sugars and acids and stop them from continuing to attack your teeth.
Brush, but NOT Right Away-
While it may seem smart to brush your teeth right after drinking a soda, it can actually do more harm. The teeth that have just been attacked by the acid are vulnerable and the friction from a toothbrush can actually damage the enamel. Rinse with water after drinking a soda and then brush 30-60 minutes later.
Avoid Soft Drinks and Sugary Drinks at Bedtime-
Consuming a soda before bed will allow the sugar and acid to attack your teeth all night long!
Get Regular Dental Cleanings-
Regular check-ups and exams will help to identify and monitor any problems or damage before they worsen or become painful.
Again, water is always best. But, if you are drinking soda, there are some that are “better” than others, or at least, not as bad.
Check out the table below from the Mississippi State Department of Health’s website
Acid and Sugar in Soft Drinks
We hope this information will help you and your family to make informed decisions regarding your child’s diet and oral health. As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is always available to answer your questions and discuss your child’s individual needs. Call us to schedule your appointment today (864-760-1440) and let us give you and your child Something to Smile About!
What You Need to Know About Chlorine
It’s summertime and we are all excited for school to be out and pools to be open! As temperatures climb and summer activities begin, we want to start discussing some summer safety tips for your teeth. That’s right. I said safety tips for your teeth. Chances are, when you head to the pool this summer, you aren’t going to be thinking much about your teeth. You’ll pack your sunscreen, hats, pool floats and flip flops, and your teeth won’t even be on your list of concerns. But maybe they should be!
Pools with too much chlorine contain pH levels that can cause enamel erosion as water occasionally seeps into your mouth during your swim session. When you and/or your children are swimming frequently, this constant exposure can cause long term damage. When the enamel wears downs, teeth can become discolored, the edges can become transparent and you may experience sensitivity to hot and cold.
How can you tell if a pool is over-chlorinated?
Chlorine is not noticeable to the naked eye and only ph testing can reveal accurate results. However, you can look for telltale signs when in a public pool or on vacation. Take notice of pool linings, railings and ladders that are eroded. It’s likely due to acidic water eating away at the surfaces. Pool water that's too acidic may do the same damage to your teeth.
If it’s your home pool, regularly test your ph and make sure to keep water between 7.2 and 7.8 on the pH scale.
How can you prevent chlorine damage to your teeth?
The biggest thing you can do to prevent chlorine damage on your teeth is to keep your mouth shut while you’re in the pool.
While it’s not possible to keep pool water from ever touching your teeth, you should avoid opening your mouth under water as much as possible. Teach your kids not to drink the water, hold it in their mouths or spray it from their mouths. So, when your kid comes up with a mouthful of water and sprays it at you like a sprinkler, remind them that not only does the water likely contain urine (eww!), but it’s also damaging their teeth! The less amount of pool water you get in your mouth, the better!
It may seem like a hard habit to start, but pack your toothbrush and brush your teeth as soon as you get done swimming. Long hours spent poolside are often accompanied by sugary drinks and snacks. Bacteria and sugar, combined with chlorine, is a disaster waiting to happen! Brushing right after you finish swimming will remove the bacteria and sugar, as well as the chlorine, lessening the chances of staining and decay.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants everyone to have a wonderful and safe summer, full of great memories and beautiful smiles. If you notice staining on your child’s teeth after hours of swimming, or if you have any questions about how to keep your child’s smile safe this summer, please give us a call at 864-760-1440.
Like many other families, you may use formula instead of breast milk as a safe and healthy alternative to feed your infant. But, if you use a powdered form that you mix with water your child may be taking in more fluoride than they require.
Fluoride is a natural chemical that can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent decay. After decades of study it's also been shown to pose no serious health risks. Because of fluoride's benefits and safety, many water utilities add tiny amounts to their drinking water supply.
But it can have one side effect called enamel fluorosis. If a child ingests too much fluoride during early development it can cause discoloring mottled spots or streaking in permanent teeth. Although it doesn't affect their health, the teeth can be unattractive and require cosmetic attention.
That's why it's best to keep fluoride consumption to a healthy minimum for children. That, however, is often easier said than done, since we can encounter hidden fluoride in a variety of places. Besides hygiene products and fluoridated drinking water, you may find fluoride in prepared juices and other beverages, bottled water or in foods processed with fluoridated water. There are no labeling requirements for fluoride, so you'll have to research to find out if a product contains fluoride.
There are, however, some things you can do to control your child's fluoride intake. First, know as much as you can about known sources your child may encounter like your water supply. You can find out if your utility adds fluoride and by how much by contacting them or visiting My Water's Fluoride online at https://nccd.cdc.gov/DOH_MWF/.
If you use fluoride toothpaste apply only a “smear” on the end of the brush for children under two and a pea-sized amount for older children. If you have fluoridated drinking water, consider breastfeeding your infant, use ready-to-feed formula or mix powdered formula with bottled water labeled “de-ionized,” “purified,” “demineralized” or “distilled.”
And, do feel free to discuss your concerns with us during your child's regular checkup. We'll help you adjust their diet, water intake and hygiene habits to be sure they're receiving the right amount they need for developing strong teeth — and no more.
If you would like more information on appropriate fluoride levels for children, 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 “Tooth Development and Infant Formula.”