Sadly, the shorter daylight hours and cooler northern winds sweeping our valley signal that summer is coming to an end. This means that our children will be heading back to school and getting back into routine. For most families, this means a more structured bedtime, less beach visits and making calls to the family doctor and dentist for routine check-ups.
Health Canada reports that 45% of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 have had to miss school because of dental problems. As dentists, we encourage parents to have their children get their teeth examined regularly by a dentist. Just because a child does not complain that his or her teeth hurt, does not mean that everything is healthy in the mouth. Often, tooth decay will not cause any pain until it is fairly advanced and close to the dental pulp (nerve and blood vessels of a tooth).
School age children are in the phase of their mouth development when baby teeth co-exist with adult teeth. A dentist will examine this situation and make sure that this is proceeding properly, in the correct sequence, and that there is enough space for the incoming adult teeth.
Dental problems will interfere with a child’s concentration in school and ability to enjoy extra-curricular activities. It is important to maintain a healthy mouth so that children can focus on what is important- playing and learning.
Here are some tips parents to get your children back into a routine:
Children must brush their teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once right before bedtime. They should also be encouraged to floss regularly in order to clean the areas in between the teeth that toothbrushes cannot access.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or after an illness.
Try to decrease the amount of sugar in your child’s diet. Replace sugar filled or high carbohydrate snacks with healthy options such as veggie sticks or nuts. Replace juices and sodas with milk or water. High exposure to sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay.
Observe your children while they brush and ensure that they are doing a proper job. Time them or buy them a timer and make sure that they are covering all surfaces. A thorough brushing session should take two minutes.
As a family dentist, I encourage parents to make a dental appointment for their children to help ensure a healthy mouth and a healthy, happy child.
Parents commonly wonder when their child should start wearing braces and the simple answer is that we almost always wait until all the primary (baby) teeth are lost and the adult teeth grow in. Once the adult teeth have grown in (usually by age 11-12 for girls and 12-13 for boys), we can assess if crowding or incorrect growth of the jaw warrants braces.
Children can be screened for orthodontic treatment by the age of 7 in order to assess if orthodontic treatment will be required. Early diagnosis can help dentists proactively guide erupting adult teeth into a more ideal position; it can also preserve or create space for permanent teeth and help reduce the chance of protruding front teeth. Early treatment is also advantageous for guiding the width of the upper and lower dental arches and reducing the likelihood of other problems such as impacted teeth. Early treatment can help correct significant problems and simplify future treatment but does not always mean that a second phase (full braces) of treatment will not be required.
Early treatment is not beneficial for all patients and a must be evaluated on an individual case basis. Some orthodontic problems are best corrected in teenage years when all adult teeth are erupted and skeletal growth almost complete. If your child is not ready for treatment but has problems that must be corrected, he or she should be placed on an orthodontic observation program. Come see our dentist for more information.
I confess, as a dentist, I love talking about teeth and educating patients about the anatomy and health of their teeth. Unfortunately, throughout many people’s lives, they will encounter progression of disease in their hard tissue (teeth) or soft tissue (gums). Fortunately, oral disease does not have to be an unstoppable progression towards cavity after cavity. A pro-active dental team can help patients reverse and control the dental caries process through regular hygiene appointments and by promoting diligent brushing and cleaning and a healthy diet.
Dental caries, also known as cavities, can be explained in laymen’s terms as a multifactorial disease caused by the interaction between a person’s dental tissue, dietary sugars, and sugar eating plaque (biofilm). Basically, a constant process of demineralization and remineralization occurs at the interface between a tooth’s surface and the plaque covering the tooth. Oral bacteria excrete acid after consuming sugar and this leads to demineralization. Over time, as bacteria in the biofilm consumes sugar and produces acid, plaque pH falls and minerals in the saliva change making an environment that is more hospitable to caries. Fluoride can be used to minimize this process by reducing demineralization and assisting in remineralization.
The use of fluoride is a controversial topic. Some people are apprehensive towards fluoride due to personal experience, research or media. While the Canadian Dental Association recommends the use of fluoride in cavity prevention, when speaking with your dentist in Kelowna, it is always within a patient’s right to refuse it.
Discuss with us the most effective ways of combating dental decay, with or without fluoride.
Unfortunately, humans are by nature, procrastinators when it comes to addressing health concerns. Despite how uncomfortable, and even agonizing dental pain can be, many people take the approach of hiding symptoms with Tylenol and hoping that the problem/pain will go away. This approach is analogous to seeing your engine light go on, topping up the oil, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best. Dental pain should not be ignored. It is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong in your mouth.
Dental pain can be indicative of many things such as dental decay, a fracture, pulp or nerve damage, grinding and clenching or an infection. Dental pain is generally categorized in four ways: pain on stimulation (pressure, hot/cold, sweet); intermittent or fluctuating pain; continuous and severe pain, and lastly, soft tissue pain. Treatment for dental pain will depend entirely on the root cause of the pain. You should see your dentist if the pain persists for more than two days, if the pain is severe, if the pain is accompanied by a fever, if it is painful to chew or function properly or if there is a foul taste in your mouth. Understanding the history of a particular pain is very useful in helping a dentist diagnose the source of the pain – so do your best to make a note of where the focal point of the pain is, what sets it off, and how long the pain lasts. Please do not ignore your dental pain or the problem can become more severe and the treatment may be more invasive as time goes on.
The best way to prevent dental pain is to maintain excellent oral health habits, such as brushing and flossing daily, minimizing sugar intake, and visiting your dentist and hygienists regularly.