Tackling Childhood Tooth Decay — Fillings, Sealants or Other?
Mommy wars and parent shaming are real — everyone has a different way of doing things, and this can often cause conflict and ruffle feathers. The common link between all parents is wanting to do what’s best for their children, especially when it comes to their medical and dental needs.
As infants grow into toddlers, preschoolers and grade schoolers, their dental care needs increase, too. One thing all parents worry about at one time or another is the best way to prevent decay. There are a number of solutions to help combat tooth decay and cavities in children, but which is truly the best?
New Study Results
The results of a three-year, multi-university study are in: active prevention is the best way of dealing with childhood tooth decay. According to the FiCTION study, the results of which were published in the November 26, 2019, issue of The Journal of Dental Research, the best way to deal with childhood tooth decay is to stop it before it starts. Although this nugget of wisdom is conventionally held as true based on common sense, medical science now backs it as fact.
Study findings concluded that, once decay sets in and treatment is started, there’s not much difference in the outcome. Most children will experience pain and infection regardless. So by default, the best way to treat your child’s teeth for cavities is to make sure they don’t happen in the first place.
How to Prevent Childhood Cavities
Preventing childhood cavities starts with regular dental checkups, starting about six months after infants get their first tooth and continuing at least twice a year. Checkups allow dentists to spot problems before they start and offer preventative treatments. For example, children who lack adequately strong enamel may require fluoride treatments to escape cavities. Starting and maintaining a regular dental visit schedule also ensures that your child’s teeth come in properly and on time — and that they can get early treatment for any spacing issues or abscessed teeth.
Regular checkups also allow dental staff to adequately clean your child’s teeth — something that brushing and flossing alone cannot do. It’s easy for young children to miss spots while brushing or to have trouble flossing because of the small size of their mouths. Dental cleanings give your child a fresh, clean slate to work with.
In addition to making and keeping regular dental appointments for your child, you can help prevent cavities by getting your kids into the habit of taking care of their teeth at home. Kids should brush twice a day for at least two minutes at a time, using a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.
If your child isn’t old enough to avoid swallowing toothpaste, skip those containing fluoride. Once they can spit their toothpaste out, switch to a formula containing the mineral. Flossing, too, should happen at least twice a day. Mouthwashes and rinses are optional but can help — and your dentist may recommend an additional rinse or wash containing fluoride if your drinking water lacks it.
A variety of brush types, styles and sizes exist — while some research suggests that electric toothbrushes may get children’s teeth cleaner, it’s most important to pick one that your child likes and will use regularly. If possible, let your kids help pick out their toothbrushes. Similarly, devices that help kids floss (like GumChucks or branded, shaped single-use flossers) are available to get kids interested in flossing and make it easier.
Treating Cavities — What’s Best?
Even with religiously kept appointments and adequate home care, some children will develop cavities. Whether it’s due to sneaking sweet, sugary candy, genetic factors or spacing issues that can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria between the teeth, cavities that form must be treated to avoid pain and infection.
There are two main ways of dealing with tooth decay in children — drilling it out of the tooth and filling it to prevent further damage, or sealing it under a crown or filling without drilling it to stop its spread to surrounding teeth.
Research suggests that there’s no marked difference in outcomes between children whose decayed teeth are drilled and filled or sealed — the incidence of complications and future cavities was about the same.
Still, every child is different, and your child’s teeth may have factors that make one option or the other better for their unique situation. So it’s important to work with your dentist to choose the treatment option that’s best for your child.
How We Can Help
The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur loves to get kids excited about dental health and hygiene. Our staff is friendly and patient — we want to make sure your kids are happy to come back after their first appointment. We employ a pain-free dentistry approach to our practice, and part of that is reducing the anxiety that often surrounds a trip to the dentist.
Whether you’re booking baby’s first dental appointment, just moved to the area and need a new family dentist or are seeking treatment for a cavity, we’re honored to have you choose us. To book a spot, simply call our office at (201) 560-0606. You can also reach out to us by email by clicking here, and someone will be in touch to confirm your appointment.
Hard to Shop for a Teen? Give the Gift of Good Teeth This Holiday Season
It can be tough to shop for teens during the holidays. With wish lists saturated with high-tech gadgets that will be outdated by Easter to the ubiquitous answers of “I don’t know” or “nothing” when questioned about what they’d like, it’s difficult to give a gift that’s thoughtful, useful and enduring. Although a visit to the dentist may not top every teen’s holiday list, the gift of good teeth is one that keeps on giving throughout their lives — whether they know it or not.
The Social Benefits of Good Teeth
Your teen will have an easier time in life if their teeth are straighter, brighter, whiter and in all-around good shape. It might seem superficial, but studies have proven that people with better teeth are viewed more favorably than their peers. The benefits extend to everything from romance (after all, who wants to kiss someone with bad breath?) to more positive results from job interviews (equating to better financial soundness).
Part of the social benefit of having good teeth comes from within. When your teeth look and feel their best, your self-esteem and self-confidence improve. You’re better able to present yourself as a capable, desirable person, projecting an aura of authority and confidence. Some of the benefits are due to the stigma surrounding bad teeth — the appearance of which is sometimes associated with negative attributes like laziness, poverty or lack of self-care.
For a teen who is worried about their dating life, or one who will soon start the journey on to college, getting their teeth in shape can be the boost they need to feel and be more confident.
The Health Benefits of Good Teeth
Regular checkups and twice-yearly cleanings to keep your teeth healthy don’t just prevent dental problems — they can also prevent major issues in your overall health. The bacteria that cause dental decay can enter the bloodstream and cause issues in many parts of the body. As one notable example, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can contribute to the development of heart disease.
As if keeping your teen’s heart healthy wasn’t enough of a benefit, helping your child attain good teeth can potentially ward off diabetes and lessen the risk of some forms of cancer. Although your teen might not have to worry about fertility issues, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease at this stage in life, helping them attain a healthy mouth now can possibly reduce their risk of encountering these issues in the far-off future.
Dental Care as a Gift
Giving your teen the gift of dental care may earn you the title of “lamest parent ever,” but it’s all in the presentation. Some teens, for example, may be excited to get straighter teeth with the prospect of Invisalign invisible aligners. Others may be stoked to know they’re going to get whiter teeth or veneers like their favorite Instagram influencer.
Booking your teen’s appointment doesn’t look good wrapped up under a tree or handed off around a menorah, though: so giving the gift of dental care in a way that counts can be tricky. Some parents may opt to print out a fancy certificate for their teen. Others might go further and hand their child a novelty trophy. Still others might find a heartfelt card with a personal message written in it best — especially if cosmetic dental procedures are something your teen has been hinting at or asking for.
How We Can Help
How you give the gift of good teeth to your teen is up to you, but when you book their appointment, the delivery is in our hands. The office of Drs. Krieger and Hur utilizes the latest technology to make every aspect of the process pain-free, pleasant and as non-stressful as possible.
To book an appointment for your teen this holiday season, give us a call at (201) 560-0606. One of our staff will be happy to set you up with a time that works. If you’re busy and on-the-go, you can also click here to send us an email and someone will be in touch to get your teen on our schedule.
We’re honored that you’d give a visit with our staff as a gift to your teen, and beyond thrilled to play a part in making sure the smile they have at the holidays is one they’ll have for many years to come.
Cold Weather Got Your Teeth Hurting? Here’s How Sensitive Teeth Work (And How We Can Help!)
Cold weather is a nightmare for those with sensitive teeth. While it’s reasonable for those with extra-sensitive smiles to expect a twinge when biting into something cold or sipping something hot, it’s another thing entirely to feel discomfort or pain from merely walking outdoors in the winter. Although this phenomenon may seem downright disrespectful, it’s something that can be remedied, in most cases, with a trip to your dentist and some self-care steps.
Tooth Anatomy and Pain
Your teeth have nerve endings, which are usually well-protected by the enamel of your teeth. These nerve endings, like others, respond to outside stimuli and send your brain signals accordingly. When exposed to cold weather, those nerve signals can translate to pain.
Eroded enamel can happen from exposure to acidic food or beverages, over-brushing, improper teeth whitening or accidental damage, to name just a few common causes. When the enamel wears down, it exposes the next layer of the tooth: dentin. Dentin is the layer that surrounds the pulp, which holds your teeth’s nerves and blood vessels. Without the hard outer shell of the enamel to shield exposed dentin, cold weather can cause pain to teeth.
Expansion and Contraction
Don’t discount the contraction and expansion of your teeth when exposed to extreme temperatures as a source of pain, either. Teeth can fluctuate up to 120 degrees in their temperature. Like other organic matter, they contract in cold temps and expand in hot ones. As they do this, your teeth may develop minor cracks or fissures to accommodate the changes. Although they don’t typically cause damage to your tooth’s health or integrity, they can cause discomfort. If you’ve had previous dental work with metal amalgam fillings, the discomfort may skyrocket into pain, because metal expands and contracts at a quicker rate than the surrounding tooth.
Sinus Pressure Hurts, Too
Cold and flu viruses make the rounds at the same time as cold weather — not as a result of the weather but because more people are congregating indoors and sharing their germs. It’s no coincidence that tooth pain can occur during these times. Likewise, those with seasonal allergies may find early autumn cold weather difficult on their teeth, too — and it all boils down to sinus pressure.
Our sinus cavities, when full of mucus and other gunk, can put pressure on the roots and nerves that lead to our teeth. If you find your upper teeth hurting more during cold weather, it may not be the temperature at all: it could be your sinuses wreaking havoc on the nerves that serve your mouth.
What You Can Do — And How We Can Help
The only acceptable amount of dental pain is none at all. The first step in figuring out the root of the problem and the most effective solution is to book an appointment with your dentist. With a visual exam and a set of X-rays, your dentist and their team can figure out how best to stop the pain.
Some people with large amounts of exposed dentin may need a protective coating painted onto their teeth to stop the discomfort, pain and sensitivity. Others may need only brush with a toothpaste designed to give relief to those with sensitive teeth. If you have a cavity or another dental problem, this can exacerbate the pain — your dentist will work on that to give you relief.
Self-care of your teeth and gums is important when you’re having cold-related sensitivity or pain. Brush and floss as normal to reduce plaque and lessen decay. Eliminate at-home whitening treatments (which you should be avoiding anyway!), abrasive toothpastes containing charcoal (which you should also be avoiding!) and folk remedies like baking soda, and reduce or avoid acidic foods and drinks like coffee, citrus and tomato-based products, which can make the sensitivity worse.
Taking protective measures to keep your mouth warm when you step outside may also help. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can keep the pain at bay, as can bundling up with a scarf.
Let Us Help You
Although going to the dentist is rarely anyone’s favorite task, the office of Drs. Krieger and Hur does everything we can to make it as pleasant and enjoyable an experience as possible. We use the latest technology to deliver a pain-free experience from the moment you book your appointment to the moment you leave after being seen.
To that end, we’ve made it easy to schedule an appointment. You can snag your spot by giving us a call at (201) 560-0606. Or you can book your appointment by email. To do so, click here and one of our team will reach out to you to firm up your details. We look forward to helping give you the smile you deserve — whether it’s the dead of winter or the height of summer.
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