August 1st, 2015
Wisdom teeth are our third molars, and the last of our teeth to come in. These are the teeth that that are the most distal of our molars. Most of us have 4 wisdom teeth, meaning we have a third molar in each quadrant of our mouth, but in some cases, we have fewer, or even more, in rare cases!
Why the name?
Since the third molars come in much later than our other teeth, we are believed to be much wiser when they come in, and hence the name.
At around age 12, the third molars begin to develop in the back of the mouth, behind the other sets of molars. Around age 14, these teeth continue to develop. When there is not enough room for them to fully emerge, we refer to this as “impacted.” As much as 90 percent of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.
This is why as a young adult, we are watching the status of your teeth as they come in to avoid infection and to be sure that no adjacent teeth are damaged. At around age 17, these third molars are still growing in many people.
Why do so many people get their wisdom teeth removed during the high school years?
It’s actually easier to remove wisdom teeth when someone is younger because the roots are not fully formed and there is less chance of any nerve damage. It’s also preventative to make sure no jaw-related damage happens or any complications occur with adjacent teeth.
There’s something to be said for the “wisdom teeth” name and the timing of when the molars start to come in: research has shown that the brain continues to grow and develop through adolescent years.
Those who named the teeth “wisdom teeth” were spot-on in thinking that the eruption of wisdom teeth coincides with the transition from youth to adulthood.
If they have not been removed yet, your wisdom teeth can be in one of three stages:
- Erupted: Just as it sounds, the wisdom teeth are fully erupted. If there is proper alignment and there is no other reason to remove, they may remain in your mouth.
- Partially Erupted: The wisdom teeth are partially visible at this point.
- Impacted: This is when the wisdom teeth are trapped in the jawbone and cannot erupt.
When people think of wisdom teeth, they often think of getting them removed. That’s because wisdom teeth can sometimes form a cyst and there can be damage to the roots of the nearby teeth, as mentioned. They can also do damage to the alignment of adjacent teeth, cause pain, and cause issues with the jawbone. It’s important to evaluate your wisdom teeth in terms of your overall health when you come in to see us.
For optimal oral health, you will want to prevent the following, which are signals wisdom teeth could be coming in:
- damage to adjacent teeth
- gum disease
- tooth decay
Part of the benefit of seeing us regularly is that we can monitor the status of all your teeth, including your wisdom teeth. Your oral exams and x-rays with us will make sure we know if treatment is your best option.
Ready to learn more? Give Hagen Dental a call today at (513) 251-5500.
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July 29th, 2015
Do you know what the signs of sleep apnea in children are?
Signs of disturbed sleep in our children and toddlers include:
- Long pauses in breathing
- Tossing and turning in bed
- Chronic mouth breathing while asleep
- Night sweats
- Waking up with headaches or irritability
- Daytime hyperactivity
- Difficulty concentrating
Whether it’s a child that just seems much too sleepy throughout the day, or one that always has “bags” under her eyes, there are lots of other subtle signs that some degree of sleep apnea might be occurring in our kids.
Interrupted Sleep is Just as Bad for Adults as it is For Kids
The term “sleep apnea” is actually derived from the Greek word that means “without breath.” Just as it sounds, it is a serious condition! Just think: our children can actually be pausing their breathing cycles as they sleep.
For children between 2 and 8—and even beyond these years—having disturbed or interrupted sleep can have major implications on their health. Some research has even suggested that sleep disordered breathing directly impacts cognitive flexibility, self-monitoring, planning, organization, and self-regulation of affect and arousal in our children. Pediatric sleep disorders not only wreak a heavy toll on our children’s ability to thrive, but it’s not guaranteed that kids will just “outgrow” their sleep disorders.
If you suspect that your child might have sleep apnea or some kind of disturbed sleep, let us know. The signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are actually more common in children than you may realize. Of course, sometimes, it might not mean sleep apnea, but you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Hagen to find out.
The Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea by Dr. Hagen
One solution, whether your child suffers from snoring, sleep apnea, or a combination, is using a custom-fit dental sleep appliance. As recommended by The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, this is a treatment that can greatly help children.
At Hagen Dental, we can diagnose and assess the severity of any form of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. After we take a look at your symptoms as well as risk factors, we can construct the appropriate sleep appliance that is best for you/your child.
The Mandibular Advancement Device, also known as MAD, is comparable to an athletic mouth guard. The Tongue Retraining Device, TRD, is a splint that will hold your child’s tongue in place while they sleep.
You will be able to have a solution that is small, light, and easy to put in and take out—which means children will actually use it. The goal of both devices is to keep the airways open as much as possible throughout the night. More than 90 percent of those who use the sleep appliance have successful improvement.
Over time, these devices are adjusted as needed. Besides seeing an improvement in sleep in many those who wear the small devices, many are also able to reduce or eliminate their snoring altogether! For kids, this can have great effects on their health and quality of sleep for a lifetime.
Ready to learn more? We would be happy to answer any of your questions: give us a call today at (513) 251-5500.
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July 12th, 2015
One thing you shouldn’t see at this year’s All Star game held at Great American Ball Park?
That’s in part because in 2011, Major League Baseball stopped providing their players with smokeless tobacco. Then in 2012, restrictions on smokeless tobacco (which includes chewing tobacco) were implemented for baseball players at many ballparks, including Great American here in Cincinnati.
For years, Major League Baseball has seen the use of tobacco products by its players as a very negative choice for their overall health. They recognized that smokeless tobacco has at least 27 cancer-causing chemicals, and that it is known to directly cause cancer of the mouth, lip, tongue and pancreas. Other effects include oral leukoplakia (white mouth lesions), gum disease, and major gum recession. There is evidence that supports the idea it increases the risks for heart disease and diabetes, among other chronic conditions.
In years past, professional baseball players have been known to use smokeless tobacco. The tie to tobacco in general was strong, even in baseball earliest days: in fact, trading cards were actually produced within cigarette packages. That kind of direct tie to tobacco existed before much was known about the consequences of tobacco.
Thankfully, today’s Major League Baseball players are often more educated about the extremely negative effects of smokeless tobacco, and more often than not, they recognize how they are role models for countless people.
In the early 1900s, Honus Wagner famously said he would not allow tobacco companies to print his trading card. His baseball card is now one of the rarest and most expensive cards in the world! Photo credit: The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Knowing that many people pick up the negative habit by the time they are in high school—when they see their favorite athletes on TV and model their behavior—retired baseball player Sammy Sosa has been strong in his efforts to support tobacco prevention.
Part of that awareness and education was accelerated due to Tony Gwynn, a Major League player who unfortunately died of salivary gland cancer. Before his death, he said he believed it was from years of using chewing tobacco.
His death led to many baseball players, including Stephen Strasburg to quit the habit entirely, and to speak out about it. Strasburg has since said:
“It’s one of those things where I’ve done it for so long it’s just become a habit, a really bad habit…I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it. I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family.”
Despite so many players speaking out and being against the use of tobacco, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) says that children often chew tobacco from a young age because of modeling behavior they see, whether it is baseball or another sport.
It is reported that as much as 20 percent of boys in high school use chewing tobacco, and 1 out of 2 in that group develop pre-cancerous patches in their mouth as a result. Many of those tobacco users are boys who play on youth baseball teams.
A prevailing myth is that just because chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco does not impact the lungs, it is not as bad for you.
This myth could not be further from the truth!
The truth is that smokeless tobacco leads to higher incidences of cavities and oral cancer. Interestingly, out of a group of men in a study who gave up cigarettes for smokeless tobacco, they still had higher death rates from lung cancer after, according to the American Cancer Society.
Do you have a friend or relative who should read this blog post to know about the risks associated with smokeless tobacco? Be sure to send them information that can prevent them from taking on a bad habit.
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July 3rd, 2015
Much of American legend says that George Washington had a set of wooden teeth. The story goes that he lost his first (adult) tooth when he was 22, but by the time he became President, he had just one tooth left! By that time, he was 57 years young.
So how did he actually lose his teeth over the years?
John Adams was said to have claimed it was Brazil nuts that he would crack his teeth on. Today, we know it’s never a good idea to use your teeth as “tools” or to chomp or crunch down on items (food or otherwise) that can traumatize the teeth.
Historians said he could have faced major decay because of mercury oxide as a result of being treated for smallpox and malaria. In all likelihood, it could have been a combination of these factors, as well as a lack of modern oral care and technology.
Although urban myth continues to say he had wooden teeth, he actually had a set of teeth carved likely from dairy cattle, elephant ivory or even hippopotamus. These face-disfiguring dentures were very uncomfortable and apparently were very ill fitting.
When Washington was sworn into office as the first President of the United States, he actually had swollen, burning gums. When his dentures would open and shut, they would clack and creak.
Washington was often in pain due to his oral decay, and it’s believed he would take pain killers (of that age) for this constant pain he experienced. It’s interesting because Presidents of that time were never supposed to show any sort of weakness or signs of pain.
George Washington’s dentures in the collection at Mount Vernon.
But what about the other Founding Fathers’ oral health and habits?
George Washington wasn’t the only one who lost many of his teeth: so did Benjamin Franklin. Franklin is said to have taken mercury pills for an illness, and as a result, he lost several teeth.
As far as daily oral health habits, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and James Monroe would have all likely brushed their teeth each day.
People during the 1700s would use a form of mouthwash, and sometimes a tongue scraper. Toothpowders were made of pumice, borax, roots and herbs and sometimes even burnt bread or tobacco! In actuality, these tooth powders could actually destroy the tooth enamel. For the “mouthwash,” our Founding Fathers may have used a solution that was a mix of herbs, resins of balsam, or myrrh.
And one more myth…
It’s a myth that Patrick Henry, famous for his “Give me Liberty, or give me death!” speech actually died of a toothache. In reality, he may have complained of a toothache, but he did not die of a toothache. He actually died due to cancer.
One thing is for sure: we know much more than we did during the time of our Founding Fathers, and we also have greater access to care and state-of-the-art dental technology to keep our smiles looking great for a lifetime.
Lloyd, John; Mitchinson, John (2006). The Book of General Ignorance. New York: Harmony Books. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-307-39491-0. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
Glover, Barbara (Summer–Fall 1998). “George Washington—A Dental Victim”.The Riversdale Letter. Retrieved June 30, 2006.
Dentures, 1790–1799, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens
Mary V. Thompson, “The Private Life of George Washington’s Slaves”, Frontline, PBS
“The Portrait—George Washington:A National Treasure”. Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
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June 23rd, 2015
Rigorous exercise may affect our teeth and mouth in ways that we would not expect.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2013, examined 278 athletes during the 2012 Summer Olympics, and found that most of them actually had very high levels of tooth decay and gum disease.
“Higher risk for dental erosions, exercise-dependent caries risk, and load-dependent changes in saliva parameters point out the need for risk-adapted preventive dental concepts in the field of sports dentistry,” reported the study.
But what about studies that looked at people who all had a higher degree of access to quality dental care, which some in the Olympic study did not have?
For this kind of information, we turn to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that elite athletes often use “training strategies that coincide with risk factors for dental caries and erosion.” (Source.)
Just what were those habits that were looked at?
The study, which was aimed at identifying specific risk factors for dental caries in elite triathletes, looked at nutrition, to start.
Researchers found that nearly 84 percent of these endurance athletes consumed sports drinks when they trained.
About half of them took small sips, often from a bottle, meaning often the teeth had prolonged exposure to sugar, which feeds bacteria of the mouth. Although that was only part of the story, the study also showed how this kind of nutrition contributed to some of the athletes’ mouth’s having a pH below 5.5. Having that “off balance” pH level in the mouth can contribute to erosion and caries.
Another recent study included 35 triathletes and 35 non-exercising controls. This study found that athletes had an increased risk for dental erosion, but not caries—although their risk for caries also increased as training time each week increased.
In other words, in this research, the more they trained, the higher risk they had for caries.
Keep in mind that these “extreme” athletes, such as triathletes, are exercising for an average of 9 hours per week. It is less of a surprise, then, that there was a high degree of carbohydrate consumption in these athletes, including sports drinks, gels, and bars.
Many people also tend to breathe heavily through their mouth during exercise. Mouth breathing reduces the flow of saliva and dries out your mouth. This too allows bacteria to thrive—so you can see why for people who train for multiple hours per day, this could affect their dental health.
Based on such findings, it would seem like a smart idea to brush your teeth after prolonged exercise such as cycling, swimming and/or running, especially if you had carbohydrate-rich snacks during the prolonged training period. But it also begs the question: does exercise really do the body—or our teeth/mouth—good?
The answer is yes, it does do the body good! And this research should not suggest that we cut back on our exercise or training regimens.
Just because these studies suggest you are at a heightened risk for dental erosion as an endurance athlete, it does not mean that this risk outweighs the benefits received from these activities. In fact, research has shown time and time again that exercise is the single best preventive measure for many diseases! That should not be forgotten.
Instead of worrying about the potential uptick in risk, we need to make sure our daily habits work to undo any saliva- or nutrition-related issues due to prolonged, intense training regimens.
Be sure to be intentional and consistent with your dental health, just as you would be about your training.
As researchers also pointed out, exercise alone might not be the factor that is affecting the oral health of these participants, as the number of people in the studies was notably low.
What you can do as an endurance athlete to help prevent tooth decay:
- Talk to your Dentist about your rigorous training schedule when you go in for your regular visits.
- Floss your teeth in the morning and at night.
- Drink lots of water, and stay hydrated—which most athletes actually do! Also remember that staying hydrated does not guarantee any kind of change of pH in the mouth.
- Examine the sugar content in your favorite training snacks to make sure you are aware of how much sugar you are consuming.
- Continue to brush your teeth each day, but know that citric acids in sports drinks or gels will soften your tooth enamel, so in some cases, it is not ideal to brush your teeth directly after consuming.
Have questions on anything you are reading? Let us know; after all, this blog is general advice that is not specific to any one person. Find more www.hagendds.com
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June 16th, 2015
Whether dad is health conscious or you’re looking to make sure he steps up his healthy habits, here are 5 gift ideas to give Dad the gift of health.
1. Citrus Zinger Water Bottle
Drinking water will never be boring again with the Citrus Zinger Water Bottle. This water bottle lets you take your favorite fruit, and add some of its flavor to your water. (Of course we’d recommend something such as blueberries or strawberries to keep the citrus to a minimum on you or dad’s teeth.) You will be sure Dad stays hydrated with this gift!
2. Vitamix (or another blender)
One of the great things about blenders is that you can easily make smoothies or other recipes, and the clean up is minimal. Dad certainly knows that sometimes making your own version of your favorite recipe means you are able to make it extra healthy. At the very least, we are more aware of what we are putting in our bodies when we make it ourselves.
With a high-powered blender for dad, he can make healthy and refreshing drinks, guacamole, homemade nut butters such almond butter, smooth soups, pesto, hummus, and lots of other whipped dips and delights. (Sounds like you might just benefit from the gift as well!)
3. Sonicare UV Sanitizer Platinum Electric Toothbrush
Talk about a toothbrush that will have the family talking! You may already know that Sonicare has patented technology that removes 6 times more plaque between teeth compared with a manual brush.
This Sonicare brush has a pressure-sensored handle that lets you know when you are brushing too hard. It also has a timer to encourage Dad to make sure he brushes his teeth thoroughly. Dad will love it, and his teeth will, too!
4. Fitbit Flex
The Fitbit Flex (or another activity tracker) will help Dad track all his activity, reinforcing him and giving him support to meet his step goal each day. The Fitbit Flex allows Dad to see an estimate of how many calories he’s burned, and he can even monitor his sleep. Set him up with the smartphone app and he can sync with his wristband throughout the day, so he won’t even miss a step!
5. Weber Grill Basket
Dad likes to grill? Check. Dad likes his vegetables? Check. Would Dad like to grill his veggies? The answer is mostly likely yes! Now he can with the Weber Stainless Steel Grill Basket. Before this basket, it could be a bit hard to put vegetables (or even fruit) on the grill, but now it is easier than ever.
At Hagen Dental, we support your total health—including your oral health. Visit us online at http://hagendds.com/ to learn more about Dr. Hagen, DDS and the Hagen Dental team.
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June 5th, 2015
You may know of the phrase the “London Look,” thanks to the Rimmel London ads often on TV featuring Georgia May Jagger, the daughter of Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger. The slogan is meant to feature Jagger’s makeup, but for those who have seen the ads, they cannot help but think it represents another part of her appearance: her gap between her two front teeth!
What is the term for gaps in our teeth?
This term, formally known as diastema, is the term given to the space between teeth, in this case, the two front teeth.
Jagger is one of several celebrities that notoriously embrace this gap including Anna Paquin, Michael Strahan, Woody Harrelson, Madonna and Samuel L. Jackson.
Reasons why gaps in our teeth can occur include:
- Gum disease that results in bone loss, or movement between front teeth
- Oversized tissue that extending from inside of your upper lip to the gum just above 2 upper teeth
- Habits such as thumb sucking that have affected teeth
- Spaces causes by swallowing reflex over time
For many, the look can be a signature to them—meaning they have come to embrace the look in some ways…but what if, for a number of reasons, you want to fix the space that exists in your teeth?
Snap-On SmileTM Can Fix Gaps Between Your Teeth
Snap-On SmileTM gives you the ability to lose the gap or keep it when you want to. Featured previously in one of our blog posts, this custom-made, removable insert improves the cosmetic appearance of your teeth without any adhesives or glue. You can use it to hide diastema, missing teeth, chipped teeth or even discoloration. All you have to do is snap it over your teeth! This option avoids tooth drilling, shots, bonding, and best of all, it is affordable. Other benefits of Snap-On SmileTM include:
- Painless procedure
- An easy process
- Not invasive
- You have choice over style and shade of your new smile—all of which will give you a natural look
- Suitable for those who have an old-fashioned, removal partial denture
Ask us to learn more about achieving a great smile that you can have the ultimate confidence in with Snap-On SmileTM ! Thousands of people have used Snap-On SmileTM to do just that!
To learn more about this option, you can check out our previous post or you can set up an appointment with us today at Hagen Dental.
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May 28th, 2015
Dentists use x-rays as a diagnostic tool for in-depth demonstration of your entire oral health.
Everyone’s mouth and state of oral health is different, but that’s why typically you have bitewing X-rays done once a year, and Panorex X-rays once every three years. (See more on that here.) If you have decay or periodontal disease that is detected or another known issue or risk factor, that might affect frequency of your x-rays.
Then what do the results of your x-rays really mean or show?
1. We have a baseline for the state of your oral health.
X-rays provide us with a complete demonstration of everything going on in your mouth. Remember x-rays allow us to see how decay and infections below the surface. This can help us as we work together to see a plan that ensures you are comfortable, and have confidence with all aspects of your oral health and smile.
If we can precisely determine and detect the amount of tooth decay you have, we are also able to watch that change over time. Digital X-rays will capture images of your entire mouth and those images are immediately available on our computer screen. With no development necessary, we can compare current images to older images, meaning we can see even the smallest changes that have occurred in your mouth.
2. We can see what the eye can’t always see.
Yes, we look at your tongue, teeth and gum when you visit us, but a clinical exam does not have the full power of a dental radiograph. When we use x-rays, we can better determine decay or cavities before they are visible to the naked eye. Here is a list of what x-rays allow us to better evaluate or uncover:
- Developing or missing (or extra!) teeth
- Abnormalities to the teeth
- Tumors or cysts
- Jaw issues
- Hidden dental decay
- Dental abscesses
- Any bone loss from periodontal disease
- Tarter build-up
- The state of current fillings, crowns, etc.
- Determine if there is enough bone for any necessary dental implants
What you could call a “normal” x-ray can show us that someone has no tooth decay, no damage to their bones, and no injuries to their teeth. Additional “normal” results show no cysts or signs of growths or anything such as an abscess. If we see tooth decay, signs of bone loss, cavities, any sort of damage to the bone, jaw fractures, changed in teeth placement, or any growths, we will be sure to talk about it with you. X-rays can save much time and unnecessary discomfort by seeing changes or problems early.
Want to learn more about our digital X-rays to make sure the pictures of your teeth, bones and soft tissues are up-to-date? Give us a call at (513) 251-5500 or visit our website here.
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May 11th, 2015
Did you know that having good dental hygiene habits during your pregnancy contributes to your baby’s health?
It’s true: oral care for expectant mothers is important for both you and your baby. With so much to think about during pregnancy, here is a guide detailing what you should know during your pregnancy.
1. Tell Dr. Hagen you are pregnant!
When you come to visit us, let us know the great news that you are expecting. When you let us know that you are pregnant, we’re able to walk you through the optimal oral care for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Typically, as a precautionary measure, specific dental treatments are adjusted, or altogether avoided, during your first trimester and the second half of your third trimester. Depending on the nature of the dental work, certain procedures may be recommended during points of your pregnancy if it will reduce the chance of an infection that can negatively affect your baby’s health or your pregnancy. Elective dental procedures, such as teeth whitening, should be postponed until after you have your baby.
2. Don’t skip your regular dentist check-ups with us.
Preventative dental care during pregnancy has been proven to protect you and you’re your baby’s health. If possible, come in to see us during your first trimester—but do not worry if that period has passed—it is still worth it to come in and see us!
Your dental visit will allow you to ask us any questions you have on how to handle tender gums, and we will also make sure you are working to prevent the plaque bacteria that can be a problem during this time.
3. “Pregnancy Gingivitis” is not a myth—but it is preventable.
You are well aware that there are hormone level changes during pregnancy. Your changing hormones often cause gums to swell or bleed abnormally, which is why the condition even has been termed Pregnancy Gingivitis. As much as 40 percent of women will develop gingivitis at some point during pregnancy.
For those that have gingivitis going into their pregnancy, they may also find that gums become even more tender and swollen. In some cases there can be severe bleeding that comes with Pregnancy Gingivitis.
Another possibility is “tooth mobility” during pregnancy, where bone and ligaments that support your teeth can be temporarily loosened. Several studies have suggested there a link between gum disease and premature birth, so when in doubt, come in and see us. When you do come in to see us for preventive dental work, it helps you avoid problems associated with gum disease, or any oral infections.
4. Don’t forget good daily care.
It goes without saying that brushing and flossing are important during this time, especially with the increased risk of gum irritation and/or inflammation. Talk to us about solutions that can help if you have trouble with morning sickness. Depending on your specific challenge, one solution might be a bland toothpaste during your pregnancy. We can recommend the ideal brand for you based on your entire oral health!
5. Don’t neglect your nutrition.
Phosphorus, Vitamins A, C, D, calcium, protein, and more… these are just a few of the vitamins and nutrients that are important to a health smile for your baby!
It’s no secret that during pregnancy you are eating nutritious meals. The principles of great nutrition are the same during your pregnancy, and absorption of those nutrients translates into positive growth and development for your baby. Your baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth month of your pregnancy, so eating a nutrient-filled diet is inherently good for your teeth, and also important for your baby.
6. After your baby is born, continue your good habits.
Continue your good oral health habits after you give birth. Because tooth erosion or an inflammatory response may have occurred during your pregnancy, oral health habits after you give birth are just as important. If you had any problems during pregnancy or if any treatments were delayed due to your pregnancy, be sure to come back and see us as scheduled.
Have any questions? Keep in mind you should ask us if you have any specific questions so that we can have your unique periodontal health evaluated. Schedule an appointment with us today.
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April 29th, 2015
The number one chronic childhood illness today is tooth decay in children, or as we might call it, pediatric dental disease.
Decay in our children’s teeth can cause issues with eating, speaking, and even learning. It also can result in bacterial infections or in certain cases, malnourishment. We probably don’t have to tell you that pediatric disease can negatively impact kids’ confidence and self esteem, their growth, and of course their quality of life.
Here we explain two major mistakes parents may accidentally be making when it comes to helping support kids’ teeth health and development.
1. Giving a baby a bottle overnight—or right before bed!
Baby’s first teeth are important because they help ensure adult teeth come in as correctly as possible.
You may be surprised to learn that when a baby takes a bottle to bed, the milk sugars can cause serious tooth decay. The upper teeth can be affected, but also other teeth as well. This can be a major problem at any time, but is often seen in toddlers between one and two. It can be an even trickier problem with those who refuse to give up their coveted nighttime bottle!
The good news is that early childhood caries is preventable.
The first step to take is to no longer let baby fall asleep with her bottle. Consider this: the protective coating of baby teeth is only half the thickness of an eggshell! Even if you do not notice any signs of tooth decay, there may be issues occurring along the gum line.
Even if a baby does not take her bottle to bed, but simply goes to sleep after her bedtime bottle, there can still be tooth decay that occurs. That’s because of two contributing factors. One, there is reduced saliva while the baby sleeps, which is our body’s natural way of “rinsing” the mouth. Second, the milk sugars, even if she isn’t sleeping with the bottle in her mouth, can still be settled on the teeth, all night long.
To help cut down on the sugar being exposed to your baby’s teeth, consider watering down the formula a bit with water. Over time, more and more of the drink can be water. In some cases, parents will actually have the baby get used a drink that is made up of more and more water, mixed with the formula, before bedtime. In those cases, the “regular” formula can be given a bit earlier in the evening. If you have no luck with doing so, at least try to give your baby a bit of water after she drinks her normal bottle. Water does not hurt the teeth enamel and will help cleanse the teeth!
Another possibility is to take a small piece of gauze in your hand, and very gently “wipe” the baby’s teeth with your finger holding the gauze. Then, you can brush her teeth in the morning after the first feeding of the day. It might not always be practical, but it can surely cut down on so-called “bottle mouth.”
2. Too many sports or energy drinks—even if they claim to be healthy!
Especially during the spring and summer months, we want to make sure our kids stay hydrated, whether they are playing outside, or on a sports team. Most of us would not give our young children a Coke while they play sports, but surprisingly, some of the most common sports drinks we do give them can be just as sugar-filled, and just as harmful to their oral health.
Harvard School of Public Health compared a can of cola to an energy drink brand and found that the energy drink brand still had a whopping 21 grams of sugar. The leading brand of cola had 42 grams of sugar. Many nutritionists recommend no more than 16-17 grams of sugar per day for a child.
Another way of looking at it: 40 grams of sugar is about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
When our kids consume these beverages, often times, the sugar settles on their teeth for hours after. If they really are a bit dehydrated, this short-term dry mouth can further accelerate the impact sugar has on their teeth. Even though it can be difficult, check out the label when in doubt so you can choose hydrating options that have little or no sugar in them.
Instead of cutting out all sports, juice, or “energy” drinks suddenly, try to slowly encourage the switch, and pack water for kids so that they don’t see the transition as so sudden or as “boring.”
Here is a breakdown of some other common drinks—not just sports drinks—and how much sugar they have:
- Coca-Cola: 10 teaspoons
- Pepsi: 10 teaspoons
- Mountain Dew: 11 teaspoons
- Welch’s 100% Grape Juice: 15 teaspoons
- Minute Maid Orange Juice: 10 teaspoons
- Capri Sun-Fruit Juicy Red: 11 teaspoons
- Snapple Iced Tea Peach: 8 teaspoons
- Glaceau Vitamin Water Essential: 5 teaspoons
- Odwalla Serious Focus-Apple Raspberry: 14 teaspoons
- Starbucks Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream: 14 teaspoons
(Source: The Nutrition Source.)
Looking for more information on your children’s health, including their oral health? Set up your next dentist appointment with us today—we can’t wait to meet you and your family.
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