Monday, March 30, 2009

Which Foods Are Actually Healthy For My Teeth? Dr. Planells Shares Her Insight

With so much marketing out there telling us what is good and not good for our teeth, it can be a bit confusing. So we asked Dr. Ana Planells to explain.

Which foods and drinks are actually healthy for my teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends that for good general and dental health you eat a diet rich in nutritious foods from the five food groups: breads and cereals and other grains; fruits; vegetables; meat, fish and protein alternatives and milk, yogurt and cheese. Limit excess snacking of foods that are starchy or sweet (crackers, cookies) and sweetened foods/drinks (chips, donuts, juices, carbonated soft drinks) which can lead to dental cavities.

Can hard candies or hard mints cause damage to my teeth?

Hard candies or hard mints can cause damage to your teeth. These hard foods can cause the enamel to crack or chip. They can also cause sealants or fillings to break. Also, unless they are sugar-free, they can cause an increase in cavities.

Are spicy or acidic foods bad for my teeth?

Acidic foods such as sodas/diet sodas can cause dental erosion due to the low pH of these foods/drinks. We recommend that for the prevention of dental cavities you avoid the consumption of carbonated soft drinks (including diet soft drinks).
Acidic and spicy foods can be irritants and should be avoided if you have a “canker sore”.

Does alcohol have an effect on the health of my teeth?

Alcohol consumption is not recommended for children!
Alcohol can have many harmful effects on the mouth. Alcohol consumption dries the mucous membranes (the lining of the mouth), and can increase the rate of cavities and gum disease. Alcohol consumption has also been shown to increase the risk of developing cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus

Stay tuned for next week, Dr. Planells will share even more of her wisdom, perhaps she'll talk about wisdom teeth!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pediatric Dental Specialists

With Summer rapidly approaching, we at Pediatric Dental Specialists understand the importance of being outside. So we are starting a series on outdoor activities and how to be safe while having fun in the sun. This week we talk about mouth guards, what they are, when to use them, the works. If you have any additional questions, give us a call at Pediatric Dental Specialists. We'd love to hear from you!

Q: What are athletic mouth protectors?

A: Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic. They are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth.

Q: Why are mouth guards important?

A: Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

Q: When should my child wear a mouth guard?

A: Whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

Q: How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?

A: Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. So, choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room.

You can select from several options in mouth guards. First, preformed or "boil-to-fit" mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection, and cost. Second, customized mouth guards are provided through your pediatric dentist. They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries. Your pediatric dentist can advise you on what type of mouth guard is best for your child.

Copyright © 2002-2008 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 16, 2009

What to do in an emergency from Pediatric Dental Specialists

Emergency Care
When your child needs urgent dental treatment, your pediatric dentist stands ready to help. Please keep the emergency number available and convenient.

Q: What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?

A: Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

Q: What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?

A: Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap -- use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it's after hours.) The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

Q: What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?

A: Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist.

Q: What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?

A: Go immediately to the emergency room of your local hospital. A blow to the head can be life threatening.

Q: What if my child has a toothache?

A: Call your pediatric dentist and visit the office promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.

Q: Can dental injuries be prevented?

A: Absolutely! First, reduce oral injury in sports by wearing mouth guards. Second, always use a car seat for young children. Require seat belts for everyone else in the car. Third, child-proof your home to prevent falls, electrical injuries, and choking on small objects. Fourth, protect your child from unnecessary toothaches with regular dental visits to Pediatric Dental Specialists.

Monday, March 9, 2009

All About Fluoride From Pediatric Dental Specialists

Scientific research in the United States on Fluoride has been ongoing for over 60 years.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in well water, streams and lakes to one extent or another.

In the early 50’s, fluoride was found to be beneficial for developing permanent teeth in children. Children in communities that had higher amounts (around 1 part per million [1ppm] of water) showed lower or no cavities, whereas, children in communities with very little fluoride in the water had a higher incidence of tooth decay. Fluoride has been closely studied since then.

The proper (optimal-1PPM) amount of fluoride is deemed to be beneficial and amounts over 1.4 may cause an enamel condition called mild Fluorosis.

Some areas of the country such as Colorado and Texas have higher concentration of naturally occurring fluoride and children may get the “chalky” white spots or even some brown staining. There is a different condition that looks the same as Fluorosis but is Enamel Hypoplasia (Incomplete development of enamel).

Fluoride may be given systemically (supplements or drinking water with fluoride) or topically, such as at dental visits or toothpaste with fluoride.

Supplementation is provided by prescription by a physician or dentist after an assessment of how much fluoride may already be ingested, is completed.

In our practice, supplementation by fluoride tabs is generally discontinued after age 8. Of course the need for supplementation, its use and disuse is prescribed by the treating dentist on a case-by-case basis.

In 2007, the Metropolitan Water Company has fluoridated the drinking water so that clients from Los Angeles south to San Diego benefit form the use of fluoridated drinking water (Tap).

Frequently asked questions about fluoride:
1. Is fluoride good for my teeth, or bad for my teeth?

The proper amount of fluoride has been found to be beneficial for developing permanent teeth (in children).

2. When I was younger my dentist told me to use fluoride, do I still need to use it as a teen? As an adult?

No harmful effects will occur if we drink fluoridated water as a teen or as an adult.

3. How much fluoride should I be using each day?

The optimal amount of fluoride is 1part per million of water with 10-15 oz of water ingestion per day for children 5 and under and approximately 20-30 oz. for children 5-10 years old.

4. Many toothpaste says that fluoride is an ingredient, is this enough or do I still need a rinse in addition to brushing and flossing?

It is recommended that starting at age 2, a fluoridated toothpaste (a smear or pea-size amount) be placed by the supervising adult be used twice daily for oral hygiene. Unless prescribed by a dental professional, No other over-the-counter (OTC) fluoride rinse needs to be done.

5. Are there any at-home remedies (such as baking soda and peroxide) that I can use instead of fluoride?

There is no substitute for fluoride. The use of baking soda or peroxide is generally not recommended for children unless recommended by the treating dentist.

6. I’ve heard that fluoride can actually stain teeth or leave behind spots. Is this true? How can I avoid staining my teeth but still keep them healthy? If my teeth become stained or spotted, how can I fix this?

Fluoride will not spot teeth nor produce brown spots unless it is ingested in excessive amounts for a prolonged period of time and only on developing teeth. Staining of teeth may be caused by different factors. See the dentist for a diagnosis and treatment.

7. Should I drink water with fluoride or without? How much fluoride should there be in the water I drink? How can I tell if there is enough fluoride in my water?

If no supplementation has been prescribed by the pediatrician or dentist, drinking fluoridated water is recommended for children. No harmful effects have been noted for adults who drink fluoridated water.

8. Do you recommend fluoride for all your patients? Should certain people avoid using fluoride?

Ingestion of fluoride is recommended for the proper development of permanent teeth and topical (on surfaces of erupted teeth) fluoride for children and adult patients who may be susceptible to tooth decay or who have sensitivity of the roots of teeth. There is no known allergy to fluoride and it will not be harmful for people who ingest the recommended amount of it.

9. Is it best to use over-the-counter fluoride or to have a prescription? If I use over-the-counter fluoride, what brand do you recommend?

Fluoride is prescribed by a physician or dentist and is not sold over the counter in therapeutic dosages. There are over the counter products, such as many toothpastes that have fluoride in them but will always be at lower levels than the prescribed fluoride. For children over 2 years old, a fluoridated toothpaste under supervision of a responsible caretaker may be given. Only a “smear” or “pea-size” amount should be placed on the toothbrush.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bottled Water, What's It Missing? -- Pediatric Dental Specialists

As more families turn to bottled water and away from the tap, they may be missing out on one important ingredient that most brands of bottled water fail to include: fluoride.

As of 2005, bottled water is second only to soft drinks as the most popular drink in the United States, beating out milk, juice, and – more significantly – tap water. Between 2001 and 2006, the amount of bottled water sold in the U.S. rose an average of 10% per year. And many dental health specialists point to bottled water’s increased popularity as the culprit behind rising rates of cavities.

Because fluoride helps strengthen teeth, it is an important component of maintaining good oral health. The benefits of fluoride were noticed in the early part of the twentieth century, when researchers found communities with low levels of tooth decay. It turned out that these towns had measurable levels (around 1 part per million) of fluoride in their drinking water.

Beginning in the 1940s, communities have fluoridated their water supplies, and dentists have seen a significant decline in cavities ever since. The American Dental Association endorses both community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride-containing products as a safe means of preventing tooth decay. Between tap water and toothpaste, most of us get sufficient amounts of fluoride.

But if your family avoids fluoridated tap water in favor of ever-more-popular bottled water, you could be missing out on the levels of fluoride necessary to make a difference in your oral health.

If bottled water is your water of choice, check the label to make sure that your brand contains fluoride. As of a 2006 decision, the FDA allows bottled water containing .6 to 1.0 milligrams per liter of fluoride to carry a label stating that fluoridated water may reduce the risk of dental cavities or tooth decay. The ADA has backed this decision.

Of course, simply drinking fluoridated water is not a magic ticket to perfect teeth. To keep your choppers in tip-top shape, it’s important to brush and floss daily and avoid sugary sweets, in addition to maintaining your fluoride intake. And come see us at Pediatric Dental Specialists every six months for a professional cleaning and exam.