Posts for: August, 2013
Even though they eventually fall out, primary (baby) teeth play several vital roles in your child's development. Among other things, they serve as important guides for the developing permanent teeth that will replace them. If any are lost prematurely, the remaining baby teeth start to shift, migrating forward, decreasing the space necessary for the permanent teeth to erupt into their proper positions. This could result in a need for future orthodontics that may have been unnecessary. So it's important to keep primary teeth healthy and in place until they are ready to come out naturally.
Signs & Symptoms of Teething
Primary (baby) teeth typically begin emerging between six and nine months, though as early as three or as late as 12 months can occur. Usually, but not necessarily, the two lower front teeth appear first. All 20 primary teeth are generally in by the age of three.
Some typical signs of teething include: irritability, gum swelling, gnawing, drooling (due to increased saliva production), chin (facial) rash (due to excessive drooling), disrupted sleeping patterns, ear rubbing, and decreased appetite. Symptoms generally start about four days before a tooth emerges, are most intense during the week when the tooth breaks through the gum, and subside about three days following the event.
You may notice small, bluish, translucent “eruption cysts” on your baby's gum where a tooth is breaking through; sometimes blood mixes with the fluid in a cyst, at which point it's called an eruption hematoma. Both generally disappear on their own when the tooth erupts and pops them.
Suggestions for Soothing
To help keep your teething baby as comfortable as possible, try the following:
- A chilled rubber teething ring, pacifier, or cold wet washcloth
- Gentle gum massage using a clean finger
- Cold foods like popsicles when your child is old enough (just be careful about feeding him or her too much sugar, which can cause decay even in newly emerging/emerged teeth)
- Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen in the appropriate dosage
The onset of teething is the perfect time to begin focusing on your child's pediatric dental care. Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, the quality of their care will have a direct and long-lasting impact on the health of the permanent teeth that follow.
If you would like more information about baby teething, 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 “Teething Troubles.”
Think you already know all about dentures? Answer the following questions, and see whether your understanding of false teeth is more true than false.
True or False: About one-quarter of the U.S. population has none of their own teeth left by the age of 65.
The technical term for the complete loss of all permanent teeth is edentulism, and it's a big issue, affecting 26% of adults between 65 and 74 years of age. Without treatment, many individuals not only suffer a reduced quality of life, but also risk nutritional problems and systemic health disorders. Dentures are a reliable and affordable way to replace their missing teeth.
True or False: Tooth loss has nothing to do with bone loss.
Far from being a fixed, rigid substance, bone is actually growing and changing constantly. In order for it to stay healthy, bone needs constant stimulus. For the alveolar bones of the jaw, this stimulus comes from the teeth; when they are gone, the stimulus goes too, and the bone resorbs or melts away. The missing bone mass can cause changes in facial features, difficulties with eating, speech problems and other undesirable effects.
True or False: Once the teeth are gone, there is little that can be done to mitigate bone loss.
While a certain amount of bone loss is unavoidable, it can be minimized. The techniques of bone grafting may be used to create a “scaffold” on which the body can restore its own bone tissue. Bone loss can also be limited by retaining the roots of teeth that had previous root canal treatment, even when the crowns must be removed. Perhaps the best way to limit long-term bone loss is the use of dental implants, which restores function and prevents excessive resorption from tooth loss. When tooth loss is inevitable, a pre-planned transition to dentures offers the opportunity to retain as much bone as possible, and avoid future problems.
True or False: There are many options available to make wearing dentures a fully functional and comfortable experience.
Fabricating prosthetic teeth is a blend of science and art. Not only must the appearance of the teeth and gums be made to look natural, but the fit has to be exact and the bite must be balanced. After a little practice, most people subconsciously adapt to the slightly different muscular movements required when wearing dentures. For those few who have difficulty, hybrid forms of implant-supported dentures may offer an alternative. In all cases, developing a partnership of trust between a skilled clinician and an informed patient is the best way to ensure that the experience will be a success.
If you would like more information about dentures, 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 “Removable Full Dentures.”
It used to be that the only option for straightening a teenager's teeth involved lots of shiny hardware. Besides the esthetic downside, traditional orthodontic devices (braces) can interfere with the enjoyment of certain favorite foods, irritate the inside of the mouth, trap food particles (potentially another esthetic embarrassment and sustenance for cavity-causing bacteria), and complicate dental hygiene routines.
These aren't causes for concern with clear orthodontic aligners, however, which consist of a series of transparent plastic, removable trays that fit over the teeth and gradually move them into better positioning. About every two weeks, the teen proceeds to the next aligner in the progression (or set of aligners if treatment involves both the upper and lower teeth) until the improved alignment goal is reached. The trays are meant to be worn 22 hours a day, but they can be removed for eating, brushing and flossing, and, on a limited basis, special occasions.
Thanks to relatively recent developments in the design of clear aligner systems, teens who previously were not considered good candidates for this modality may now have this option available to them. This includes:
- Teens whose second molars (the last to come in except for wisdom teeth) haven't fully emerged. Aligners now come with “eruption tabs” that serve as place-holders for teeth that are still growing into position.
- Teens with severely rotated teeth requiring complicated movement. Tooth-colored attachments called “buttons” can be temporarily bonded onto teeth to provide additional leverage, and elastics (rubber bands) can also be used to promote movement.
Compliance is always a concern with any orthodontic treatment — whether it be gum chewing with traditional braces or wearing clear aligners for the requisite period of time each day. Aligners now come with built-in colored “compliance indicators” that fade with use over time. This makes it possible for orthodontists, dentists, parents and teens alike to monitor both compliance and treatment progress.
If you would like more information about clear orthodontic aligners 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 “Clear Aligners for Teens.”