Posts for: October, 2012

TestingYourKnowledgeDoYourChildrenHaveGoodOralHealth

Ensuring that your children have good oral health is (or should be) the goal of every parent or caregiver. But how confident are you about this topic? The following true/false quiz will help you evaluate your expertise while learning more about keeping your child's teeth healthy.

Questions

  1. All children older than 6 months should receive a fluoride supplement every day.
  2. Parents should start cleaning their child's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
  3. Parents should start brushing their child's teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride at age 3.
  4. Children younger than 6 years should use enough toothpaste with fluoride to cover the toothbrush.
  5. Parents should brush their child's teeth twice a day until the child can handle the toothbrush alone.
  6. Young children should always use fluoride mouthrinses after brushing.

Answers

  1. False. Check with your child's physician or dentist about your children's specific fluoride needs. If your drinking water does not have enough fluoride to help prevent cavities, parents of a child older than 6 months should discuss the need for a fluoride supplement with a physician or our office.
  2. True. Start cleaning as soon as the first tooth appears by wiping the tooth every day with a clean, damp cloth. Once more teeth erupt, switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush.
  3. False. Parents should start using toothpaste with fluoride to brush their children’s teeth at age 2. Only use toothpaste with fluoride earlier than age 2 if the child's doctor or our office recommends it.
  4. False. Young children should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is important for fighting cavities, but if children younger than 6 years swallow too much fluoride, their permanent teeth may develop white spots. Using no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride can help prevent this from happening.
  5. True. Because children usually do not have the skill to brush their teeth well until around age 4 or 5, parents should brush their young children's teeth thoroughly twice a day. You should continue doing this until the child can demonstrate a proper brushing technique.
  6. False. Fluoride mouthrinses have a higher concentration of fluoride than toothpaste containing fluoride. Children younger than 6 years of age should not use fluoride mouthrinses unless your child's doctor or our office recommends it. Young children tend to swallow rather than spit it out, and swallowing too much fluoride before age 6 may cause the permanent teeth to have white spots.

Learn More

If you feel you missed too many of the above questions, read the Dear Doctor article, “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
October 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene   tooth decay   cambra  
KeepingToothDecayAtBay

CAMBRA — Caries Management By Risk Assessment

Worried about tooth decay? Dental Decay is one of the most common and infectious diseases known to man, but it is also very preventable. Today, it is even possible to determine your risk for getting tooth decay. There are disease indicators and risk indicators that can be assessed and used to determine your chances of getting tooth decay. And more importantly, they can be used to prevent and reverse early decay.

Essentially, the difference between healthy teeth and tooth decay is a matter of balance and keeping the balance tipped toward health. That means controlling the factors that tip it toward health and away from disease. Here's a little about how it works:

Disease indicators, as the name implies, are indicators of disease. For example, the presence of white spots on the enamel of your teeth, early signs of decay, which can be detected by your dentist, your past experience of cavities, and whether you currently have tooth decay.

Today, with a “simple saliva sample,” we can test the bacteria in your mouth to determine your decay risk with a simple meter reading.

There are also certain risk factors for tooth decay that you can change by modifying what you do. The ways in which you can help yourself include:

  • Reduce the amount of bacterial plaque (biofilm) build-up on your teeth. If plaque is actually visible on your teeth with the naked eye, it means there is a large amount that needs to be removed professionally. High levels of bacteria leave teeth more susceptible to attack from acid-producing bacteria that cause decay.
  • Stop snacking on foods containing sugar between meals. Reducing the number of times your teeth are exposed to sugary snacks, and those that contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates, will help lower your risk of tooth decay. Stop feeding the bacteria sugar, which is turned into acid.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste. This toothpaste will help strengthen your teeth, making them more resistant to acid attack. Deep grooves in the biting surfaces of your teeth, which we call pits and fissures, increase the likelihood of tooth decay making it impossible to reach with just a toothbrush. However, sealing these areas with “sealants” will prevent these areas from decaying.
  • Always ask your doctors about the potential side effects of all medications. Certain drugs reduce the production of saliva and lead to dry mouth, which is one of the main contributors to tooth decay. Saliva has important buffering properties, neutralizing acids in the mouth, helping to reduce risk of decay.
  • If you have an eating disorder, get professional help. People suffering from both bulimia and anorexia frequently vomit after meals, which creates a highly acidic condition in the mouth. Getting control over these conditions can help you also gain control over your risk for tooth decay.

We can further help assess your risk for tooth decay by using low dosage x-rays, microscopes, innovative laser technology, and other modern means. Call our office today to schedule a screening. To learn more about the diagnosis and prognosis of tooth decay, read the exclusive Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
October 11, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tmd   tmj  
CommonWaysWeCanTreatYourTemporomandibularDisorderTMD

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which was formerly known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), is an interesting condition because it can be hard to diagnose and often mimics many other conditions. It arises when there are problems inside the temporomandibular joint, and the muscles attached to it, causing pain. When treating TMD, we typically start by relieving the symptoms of pain and discomfort with heat, mild pain medications, a diet of soft foods, and some simple jaw exercises. We feel that it is critical to address your pain issues as soon as possible before preceding any further with treatment.

Once we have provided some pain relief and after having completed a thorough history and examination, we can move to the next phase of treatment. This may include the introduction of a bite guard or some form of oral appliance therapy. A bite guard is an unobtrusive yet rigid plastic horseshoe-shaped appliance that fits snuggly over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth. When in place and properly adjusted, this custom-made appliance allows your muscles and therefore jaw joints to relax. And it will prevent you from grinding your teeth, another contributing factor to TMD. We will probably ask you to wear it when sleeping or in times when you are feeling stressed when clenching or grinding habits may be active. We may also suggest that you obtain some relaxation therapy and/or biofeedback from a licensed therapist, as this can prove helpful in treating TMD.

If you have suffered from frequent jaw pain in the past and suspect that you may have TMD, please let us know so that we can address it at your next appointment. Or if you are currently in constant or severe pain, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for TMD by reading “TMD — Understanding The Great Imposter.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
October 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TakeOurQuizAreYouAtRiskForToothDecay

Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.

Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.

Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.

To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:

  1. Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
  2. Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
  3. Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
  4. Do you floss daily?

Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!

Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:

  1. Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
  2. Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
  3. Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
  4. Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
  5. Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
  6. Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!

Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!

Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!

To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”




Gina Piccioni, D.M.D. and John G. Hartmann, D.D.S.

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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