Posts for: February, 2019
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!
Some children are born with lip or tongue tie disorder that may be related to the teeth, and in some cases, may be caused by an orthodontic problem. Led by Drs. Kevin Nietzer and Kathleen Monn, the dental team here at Anderson Pediatric Dentistry in Anderson, SC, provides corrective treatment for tongue lip-tie issues. Read on to learn more!
What Is a Lip or Tongue Tie?
There are some dental cases where the muscles in the child’s mouth interfere with the function of their lips and tongue. It can cause them to have a verbal impairment (such as a lisp), trouble nursing as an infant, or general dental discomfort. A lip tie is caused by an enlarged muscle connector called the labial frenum. The labial frenum creates a connection between the upper lip and the area between the front teeth and it can create a large gap. A tongue tie is caused by an abnormality of the lingual frenum, which is the connective tissue between the tongue and the bottom of the mouth. It causes difficulty when speaking and eating.
A frenectomy is a dental surgery to remove or reduce the frenum muscle to alleviate issues with tongue lip-tie. In some cases, orthodontic treatment with metal braces can resolve issues with lip ties and large front-tooth gaps in children. When visiting our Anderson office, either Dr. Nietzer or Dr. Monn will likely recommend that you have these matters corrected as early as possible. They can have a significant effect on their quality of life.
Additional Tips for Your Child's Smile
Maintaining your child’s orthodontic and general dental health is important both to their overall wellness as well as their self-esteem. Here are a few tips for how to keep your child’s smile in tip-top condition:
- Like adults, children should visit the dentist at least twice per year for checkups.
- If an orthodontic treatment is needed, explain the benefits your child will enjoy after the required period of wearing braces.
- After orthodontic treatment, encourage the use of retainers. Mouthguards are essential if your child is an athlete.
Call for an Appointment
The look and quality of your child’s smile will become more and more important as the years progress. Do everything you can to ensure that their teeth, lips, and tongue look right and feel comfortable. Call (864) 760-1440 today to schedule a tongue lip-tie appointment with Dr. Kevin Nietzer or Dr. Kathleen Monn at Anderson Pediatric Dentistry in Anderson, SC, today!