Pediatric Dentist

General & Cosmetic Dentistry - Pediatric Dentist - Crofton and Olney, MD

PLAQUE:

Plaque is a sticky film that sits on your teeth and contains bacteria and food debris. After eating a meal or snack containing sugar, the bacteria in plaque releases acids that attack your teeth and cause the tooth to break down, resulting in cavities. Plaque can be removed with daily brushing and flossing. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into calculus (also known as tartar). Calculus can only be removed by a professional cleaning.

When calculus collects above the gum line, the gum tissue can become swollen and may bleed easily. This is called gingivitis and is the first stage of gum disease.

FLOSSING:

Flossing is essential for good oral health.

- Floss your teeth at least once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing helps prevent cavities and gum disease.
- Pick a time of day that works for you. People who are too tired at the end of the day should try flossing in the morning or after lunch.
- Children need to floss too! As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you should begin flossing their teeth.
- You may feel discomfort or experience bleeding gums when you start flossing, but don’t give up. With daily brushing and flossing, that should ease within a week or two. If it persists, talk to your dentist.

BRUSHING:

- Brushing your teeth is extremely important to maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. Brush your teeth at least 2x a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or sooner if your bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth. And make sure to use ADA-accepted FLUORIDE toothpaste.

- Brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue!

CAVITIES:

- Tooth decay is the destruction of the tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat/drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that break down the tooth enamel. When the enamel breaks down, cavities – or little holes – in your teeth can form.

- Cavities are more common among children, but changes can occur with aging that make cavities an adult problem too. Recession of the gums away from the teeth and increased incidence of gum disease can expose tooth roots to plaque. Tooth roots are covered with cementum, which is a material that is much softer than enamel. They are more susceptible to decay and more sensitive to touch, hot and cold.

- Decay around the edges or margins of fillings is also common. Over the years, fillings may weaken and tend to fracture and leak around the edges. Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices causing acid to build up which leads to decay.

GUM DISEASE:

- GINGIVITIS: the first stage of gum disease, and it is the only stage that is reversible! It literally means “inflammation of the gingival” or inflammation of the gums. Your gums may appear puffy and red, tender, and bleed easily. This can usually be treated by professional cleanings and daily brushing and flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis may lead to periodontitis.

- PERIODONTITIS: more severe, destructive form of gum disease. This literally means “inflammation of the periodontium” which means the supporting structures of the teeth, including the bone. When you have periodontitis, you have lost bone around the teeth. If left untreated, bone loss can continue, your teeth will become loose, and can eventually fall out. Periodontitis is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.

- Warning signs of gum disease include:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that have moved away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Permanent teeth that are loose
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when biting
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures
  • - Factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Genetics
  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Medications including steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives.
  • - The sooner you treat gum disease, the better. See your dentist as soon as possible.

    BAD BREATH:

    If you are concerned about bad breath, see your dentist. Bad breath can be caused by a number or sources, and she can help identify the cause and determine the best treatment.

    - Possible causes include:

  • Food: if you don’t brush and floss daily, particles of food can remain in the mouth and collect bacteria, which causes bad breath. Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating
  • Gum disease
  • Dry mouth: without enough saliva, food particles are not being cleaned away.
  • Smoking and tobacco: In addition to staining teeth and being bad for overall health, tobacco can add to bad breath. It also irritates the gums and reduces your ability to taste foods.
  • Medical conditions: some diseases have symptoms related to bad breath – sinus or lung infections, bronchitis, diabetes, and some liver or kidney diseases can be associated with bad breath.
  • - Maintaining oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease, and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath.

    SENSITIVITY:

    - Teeth can be sensitive due to several factors:

  • Tooth decay(cavities)
  • Fractured Teeth
  • Worn/old fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Exposed tooth root
  • - Sensitive teeth can be treated. Your dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste or an alternative treatment based on the cause of your sensitivity. Proper oral hygiene is key to preventing sensitive tooth pain.

    DRY MOUTH:

    - Medications and certain health conditions can lead to dry mouth. Decreased salivary flow can lead to increased tooth decay and other oral health problems. Tell your dentist what medications you are taking and any other information about your health that may help identify the cause of your dry mouth. Your dentist may recommend a salivary substitute, as well as drinking water. If you choose to consume hard candies, make sure they are sugar-free!

    TEETH GRINDING:

    - Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, usually occurs unconsciously while you are sleeping. It can cause serious damage to your teeth and jaw. Your dentist may recommend a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

    TMJ:

    - The TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint, is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. Some people have a disorder of the TMJ and have symptoms that may include:
  • Pain in or around the ear
  • Tenderness of the jaw
  • Clicking/popping noises when opening the mouth
  • Headaches
  • - The exact cause of a TMJ disorder is unclear, but possible causes can include arthritis, dislocation, injury and/or problems related to alignment or teeth grinding. If you are regularly experiencing facial or jaw pain, see your dentist. She may recommend exercise, muscle relaxants, or physical therapy.

    MISSSING TEETH:

    Missing teeth can:

  • Affect the way you speak or eat
  • Change your appearance
  • Cause remaining teeth to shift
  • Cause bone loss around the area
  • - There are several options to replace missing teeth. Talk to your dentist to see which option is best for you:

  • Bridges: anchored to your adjacent teeth
  • Dentures: a good option if you have lost most or all of your teeth
  • Implants: most similar to a natural tooth
  • WHITENING:

    Many people are interested in brightening their smile by whitening their teeth. Before using whitening products, talk to your dentist to determine the most appropriate treatment for you and if your teeth and gums are healthy enough to undergo a whitening procedure. This is especially important if you have fillings, crowns and/or extremely dark stains on your teeth

    Some popular whitening methods include:

  • In-office bleaching. A bleaching agent is applied to teeth and a light may be used to enhance the action of the agent. In-office bleaching products typically contain a higher percentage of peroxide than at-home formulations. The procedure is usually completed in less than two hours.
  • At-home bleaching. Peroxide-containing whiteners that bleach the tooth enamel. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a custom mouth tray. The bleaching trays are worn for short periods of time over a few days to gradually whiten the teeth.
  • Whitening toothpastes. Although all toothpastes help remove surface stains “whitening” toothpastes that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. They do not alter the intrinsic color of teeth like bleaching agents do.
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    Pediatric Dentist