The Ways Medicine Affects Oral Health

Park Ridge DentistEVERY MEDICATION COMES with a list of potential side effects. Sometimes those side effects include a negative impact on oral health.

The Chemistry Of Medicine And The Mouth

Certain medications and vitamins can be pretty hard on our teeth, even for the short time they’re in our mouths. As adults, we swallow most of our medicines in pill form, so we don’t have to worry about these problems, but it can be an issue for children. Medicine for kids often comes in the form of sweet syrup and multivitamins, and the sugars in them feeds oral bacteria and leads to tooth decay.

Another culprit is asthma inhalers, which can lead to oral thrush — white patches of fungus on the tongue, inside the cheeks, and other oral tissues. These can be irritating or painful. The best way to prevent this complication from inhaler use is for the patient to rinse with water after every use. Rinsing is a good idea for those sugary cough syrups and multivitamins too.

Oral Side Effects

Just because a pill can’t hurt your mouth directly while you’re swallowing it doesn’t mean it won’t have side effects that impact your mouth later on.

  • Medications containing blood thinning components can lead to bleeding gums after brushing.
  • Several medications have a side effect of causing inflammation in the gum tissue, which increases the risk of gum disease.
  • Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can affect our sense of taste, leaving a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth or causing changes in general. As unpleasant as it can be, this isn’t usually a serious side effect.
  • In rare cases, osteoporosis treatment drugs can compromise the bone tissue in the jaw, increasing the risk of gum recession and tooth loss.

The most common oral side effect of both over-the-counter and prescribed medications is dry mouth. This is a dangerous one because we need saliva to protect our teeth and oral tissues from bacteria. Without saliva, we are much more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.

Make Sure We Know About Your Medications

It’s important to be aware of these side effects and to keep your doctor and your dentist in the loop if any of them occur. Prescriptions can sometimes be adjusted to minimize negative effects, but only if your health care professionals know what’s going on!

The dentist is your best resource for any oral health concerns you have!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How To Choose A Great Dentist

Park Ridge DentistTHERE ARE A NUMBER of reasons why someone might need a new dentist. Maybe their insurance changed, they’re moving to a new area, or they simply haven’t looked for a dentist yet. Whatever the reason, if you don’t already have a dentist, it’s a good idea to choose one now so that you and your family can get regular dental exams and so that you’ll be ready in the event of a dental emergency.

Five Factors To Consider In Your Dentist Search

Many variables play a role when you’re choosing the best dentist for you and your family. How you rank your priorities is up to you, but here are five items that we feel should be on everyone’s list.

  1. The location of the practice is definitely something to consider. How close is it to your home or to your child’s school? Is the distance convenient enough that twice-yearly checkups will be easy? Set up a range based on your answers to these questions and look for dentists inside it.
  2. What is the dentist’s reputation? Within the radius you’re willing to travel, which dentists have the best reputations among their other patients? Find out by checking Yelp and Google, and ask around if you know any of the patients in person. You can also get recommendations from neighbors and friends.
  3. Do you need a dentist with a certain specialization? Do you need a family practice, someone particularly good with kids, someone who specializes in treating gum disease or root canals? Be sure to research different types of dentists to find the one that suits your needs best.
  4. As important as it is to get high quality dental care, cost is an important factor too. What’s your household’s budget for dental care? Do you have dental insurance or can you get it? Keep in mind that preventing dental problems or treating them early will be much cheaper than waiting until they get serious, so slightly greater upfront costs are often well worth the investment.
  5. How comfortable are you around the dentist? It doesn’t matter how affordable and skilled a dentist is if you can’t relax in their practice. Go in for a visit ahead of time to get a sense of the place, the team, and the dentist. Good dentists always prioritize patient comfort!

We Can’t Wait To Meet You And Your Family

Hopefully this list gives you a good place to start in your search for a great dentist, but if you’re still uncertain, come see us! We can answer your questions about our practice and find out if we’re a good fit for you and your family’s dental needs.

We love meeting new patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Pacifiers, Thumb Sucking, And Baby’s Teeth

IT’S NOT ALWAYS easy to know the best thing to do as a parent. Every child is different and there isn’t a handy instruction manual. One question on many new parents’ minds is when to start discouraging a child from sucking their thumbs or using pacifiers. We might not be able to answer all of your parenting questions, but we have this one covered.

Babies And Toddlers Benefit From These Habits

Sucking on anything and everything is a natural reflex for babies. It’s soothing and comforting for them, especially when they’re teething. There’s no reason to discourage thumb sucking or pacifier use for babies and toddlers. It will help them sleep, stay calm when separated from you, and even reduce the risk of SIDS.

When Should Thumb Sucking Stop?

Many parents are anxious to curb a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit behind as soon as possible because they worry it will cause the adult teeth to grow in crooked. This is a valid concern, but not before a child is about four years old, at which point most will stop sucking their thumbs on their own. If they don’t, it’s time to start weaning them off it.

Vigorous thumb sucking beyond age four can change the shape of the palate and cause an open bite in the permanent teeth. An open bite is where the front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the teeth are closed, which causes problems with chewing and speaking clearly.

Strategies For Breaking The Thumb-Sucking Habit

These dental problems are a bigger risk for thumb suckers than pacifier users, because you can simply take the pacifier away if they won’t stop using it on their own. Hopefully you’ll be able to get your child to stop sucking their thumb by age five, but if they’re close to their sixth birthday with no signs of stopping, it’s time to get serious. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Focus on positive reinforcement. Praise successes rather than punishing continued thumb sucking.
  • Make a rewards chart so that they can see what they’re working towards.
  • Keep their hands occupied with activities like arts and crafts.
  • Be careful using topical aids to make their thumbs taste bad, because many don’t work and some are actually harmful.
  • To prevent nighttime thumb sucking, restrict access to their thumbs by putting socks on their hands. (You might need to tape them in place.)

Let Us Know How It’s Going!

If you’re getting worried about your child’s continued pacifier use or thumb-sucking habit, don’t hesitate to talk to us about it. We can answer any questions you may have and help you with your strategies for ensuring that your child’s palate and adult teeth develop the right way.

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user various brennemans used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

A Closer Look At Our Teeth

Park Ridge DentistWE USE OUR TEETH all day, every day, for chewing, talking, and flashing big smiles at friends and family, but what are the structures that allow our teeth to do so much? Let’s take a look at what our teeth are made of.

Layer 1: Tooth Enamel

The portion of each tooth that we can see above our gum tissue is the crown, and it has three different layers. On the outside is a protective layer of enamel, the hardest substance in our entire bodies. It has to be so that we can chew our food effectively. Unlike bone, enamel isn’t made of living cells, so it can’t repair itself as easily. It’s also vulnerable to acid erosion. We can protect it with regular brushing and flossing, dental visits, and by cutting down on acidic and sugary foods and drinks.

Layer 2: Dentin

Underneath that hard layer of enamel is dentin, which is softer and more yellowish. Like bone, dentin is calcified living tissue. Microscopic tubules run through it from the pulp to the enamel, which is how we are able to feel temperature in our teeth. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, your enamel might have worn down enough to expose these tubules.

Layer 3: Dental Pulp

At the very core of each tooth is a chamber containing dental pulp, tissue consisting of nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and give sensation. This includes pain receptors that warn us when something is wrong with the tooth, such as tooth decay reaching the pulp.

Getting Down To The Roots

Like with icebergs, there’s more to teeth than we can see on the surface. The root extends deep into the jawbone, held in place by tiny periodontal ligaments and supported by gum tissue. The roots themselves are hollow. Nerves and blood vessels run through canals in the roots up to the pulp chamber in the crown.

Unlike the crown, the root of the tooth isn’t protected by enamel. Instead, it’s covered in a slightly softer substance called cementum. Cementum and healthy gum tissue work together to protect the root,but gum recession can leave it vulnerable.

Taking Care Of The Whole Tooth

We need all of these components for our teeth to stay strong and healthy, which is why we should keep oral health and hygiene as a high priority. Regular dental appointments and good brushing and flossing habits are essential for taking care of the outside of our teeth, and good nutrition helps keep them strong from the inside out!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Defeating Bad Breath

Park RIdge DentistWE’VE ALL BEEN THERE BEFORE — sitting in the middle of a job interview or a first date and realizing that our breath is far from minty fresh. Even when everything else is going perfectly, bad breath can be enough to ruin your confidence and turn a good experience sour. Why do we get bad breath, and what can we do to stop it?

Oral Bacteria And The Food We Eat

In order to effectively fight bad breath, it’s important to figure out what’s causing it. The simplest and most common cause is leftover food particles stuck between our teeth after a meal. The bacteria in our mouths break down these particles, and the end result doesn’t smell good. We can combat this with a good daily hygiene routine, including daily flossing, twice-daily brushing, scraping our tongues clean, and chewing sugar-free gum.

Causes Of Chronic Bad Breath

Chronic cases of bad breath (also called halitosis) might not be solved by good oral hygiene practices alone. Halitosis may be caused by:

  • Chronic conditions. Sometimes, bad breath is linked to conditions that you wouldn’t think are connected to oral hygiene, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and acid reflux.
  • Medications. A common side-effect of medications is dry mouth. Without saliva to wash away food particles and neutralize acid, the mouth is vulnerable to problems like bad breath.
  • Mouth-breathing. Whether it happens by habit or because breathing through the nose is difficult, mouth-breathing tends to dry out the mouth, leading to the same problems as described above.
  • Mouth, nose, and throat infections. Bad breath can be the result of increased mucous when we have a cold or a sinus infection.
  • Pregnancy. Symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea can cause bad breath, because of the extra acid in the mouth. This is also a problem for people struggling with bulimia.
  • Tobacco products. Tobacco in any form leaves smelly chemicals in the mouth and can also dry it out. In addition, it increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease, which negatively impact breath as well.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease. Poor dental health often goes hand-in-hand with chronic bad breath because cavities and periodontitis are caused by the same bacteria that produces those nasty-smelling chemicals.

Keeping Your Breath Fresh

Even if strict oral hygiene isn’t enough to keep the bad breath completely at bay, it will help to manage it, and treating the underlying cause may be able to eliminate it. If you are a habitual mouth-breather, try breathing through your nose more. Quitting smoking will eliminate a major cause of bad breath. If dry mouth is the problem, chew sugar-free gum and mints to stimulate saliva production, sip water, and use a humidifier to help keep up the moisture.

Your Dentist Can Help

Discovering the underlying cause of bad breath is a crucial step in fighting back, and the dentist is your best ally here. Schedule an appointment so that you can get the answers you need to fight bad breath the best way.

We want all our patients to feel confident about their breath!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Park Ridge DentistWE ALL WANT a perfect, pearly-white smile. Sometimes all it takes is a good brushing and flossing habit and regular dental visits, but not everyone is lucky enough to have naturally strong teeth that are easy to take care of. For some people, a healthy smile is much harder to achieve because of a condition called enamel hypoplasia.

The Importance Of Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel makes up the outermost layer of our teeth. It’s the hardest substance in the human body, and it’s composed of minerals like hydroxyapatite. It forms a barrier to protect the more vulnerable inner layers of the teeth. Even though it is a very hard substance, it’s vulnerable to erosion from acid, and because it isn’t made up of living cells, when it wears away, it doesn’t come back.

 

 

What Is Enamel Hypoplasia?

Enamel hypoplasia is a defect that affects the way the teeth develop, causing them to have poor enamel matrix formation. Symptoms of enamel hypoplasia include:

  • Pits, grooves, depressions, and fissures in the teeth
  • White spots
  • Yellowish-brown stains
  • Temperature and acid sensitivity
  • Irregular wearing of teeth
  • Increased vulnerability to tooth decay and cavities

A similar (but less severe) condition is hypomineralization, in which the enamel has insufficient mineral content and is softer and more translucent. If the hypoplasia only affects a single tooth, it is called Turner’s hypoplasia, which often the result of trauma or infection while the tooth was developing.

Causes Of Enamel Hypoplasia

Hereditary enamel hypoplasia is a genetic defect that impacts odontogenesis (tooth formation). There are several different hereditary conditions that can cause it, but environmental factors are also a culprit.Prenatal conditions, lack of prenatal care, and premature birth or low birth weight can hinder the formation of healthy teeth, as can direct trauma, infection, deficiency in calcium or vitamins A, C, or D, and certain diseases.

Keeping Your Teeth Strong

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for keeping teeth with enamel hypoplasia healthy. Treatment may come in the form of resin-bonded sealant, fillings, crowns, and professional whitening. The goals are to prevent tooth decay, help the patient maintain a good bite, preserve the structure of the teeth, and keep the teeth looking their best.

Fight For Your Teeth, With The Help Of Your Dentist

There is a lot your dentist can do to help your teeth stay healthy, and there’s a lot you can do too! Your daily oral hygiene routine is crucial, so always remember to brush twice a day with a soft-bristled brush, and use lukewarm water if your teeth are sensitive. Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks when possible, and keep up with your regular dental check-ups!

We’re rooting for our patients’ healthy smiles!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Sleep Apnea And Your Child’s Dental Health

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UP TO 20 PERCENT of habitually snoring children have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in brief but repeated interruptions to normal breathing during sleep. Not only is this a potentially life-threatening disorder, it also has a significant impact on oral health.

The Three Types Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can occur in three different ways. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of a blockage in the airway, typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which in turn collapses against the back of the throat, closing off the airway. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles of the respiratory system to keep breathing. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types.

Each time breath is interrupted, the brain causes the person with sleep apnea to wake up. It happens so quickly that they usually don’t remember it, but the interruptions severely impact the overall quality of sleep, as they can happen as often as hundreds of times in a single night.(

What Does Sleep Apnea Have To Do With Teeth?

In addition to leaving your child with all the usual symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as exhaustion, difficulty concentrating at school, irritability, and hyperactivity, sleep apnea has a number of effects on oral health. There is a significant association between OSA and moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease), but the most common dental health complications are temporomandibular joint disorders(TMJ or TMD).

Studies have shown that the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from becoming blocked when the throat relaxes during a sleep apnea episode. TMD leads to other problems like worn, cracked, or broken teeth, pain when chewing, chronic headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.

How The Dentist Can Help

The dental effects of sleep apnea are so common that the dentist might be the first one to spot the signs and diagnose the disorder. This is just one way your child’s regular dental appointments will benefit their overall health. If they are diagnosed with sleep apnea, common treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and nighttime dental devices that push the tongue or the lower jaw forward.

Healthier Sleep For Healthier Smiles

If your child has been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, there’s no reason for them to continue living with interrupted sleep and the health and cognitive problems that come with sleep apnea. Give us a call or drop by our practice today to schedule an appointment so that we can see if sleep apnea is the cause and get your child on the path to more restful sleep and better oral health.

Wishing all our patients a good night’s sleep!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user originallittlehellraiser used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Train Your Child To Be A Flossing Ninja

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BEING A GOOD NINJA isn’t just about mastering the nunchaku and learning to move about completely undetected; it’s also about keeping one’s teeth and gums healthy and strong. One of our greatest weapons against gum disease and tooth decay is a good flossing habit.

The Importance Of Flossing To The Path Of The Ninja

You might wonder why it’s so important for a young ninja-in-training to floss. If baby teeth are only temporary, then why does it matter to keep them healthy, and does flossing really make a difference? While it is true that baby teeth will soon be replaced by adult teeth, it is still critical to keep them healthy and strong so that the adult teeth can come in where they should. A toothbrush isn’t enough to keep them clean, which is where flossing comes in.

When To Begin Flossing Training

It takes time for all shinobi to develop good dexterity and hand-eye coordination, so we recommend that you start flossing for them around age two and a half. If you make it into a daily habit, they will be ready to learn how to floss on their own by about age five. The most important thing is consistency. They will be much more likely to maintain a good flossing habit on their own if they are already used to it being a part of their day.

The Way Of The Flossing Master

Here are a few tips to help parents pass on the noble technique of flossing to children who are ready to learn, because what is second-nature to an adult may not be so easy for a child:

  • Explain the importance of flossing. If they understand why it matters, they will be more motivated to do it.
  • Emphasize that flossing is a Big Kid skill. Like learning to tie their shoes and ride a bike without training wheels, they’ll be eager to prove how grown up they are by flossing their own teeth.
  • Use flossers or floss picks if traditional floss is too tricky.
  • If you’re sticking with traditional floss, show them how to pull out the right amount (a foot and a half) and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers, leaving just an inch or two to slide between the teeth.
  • Show them how to effectively clean by using a back-and-forth motionwithout snapping their gums. Curve the floss around each tooth in a C-shape to make it more gentle.
  • Teach them how to move down the strand so they use clean floss on each tooth. We want to get rid of the plaque, not move it around!

Seek Wisdom From Your Dentist

Teaching your child good dental hygiene habits is as much about giving them the right perspective as it is about the proper technique. Ideally, they’ll see tasks like brushing and flossing as quick and easy ways to keep their teeth feeling great, rather than unpleasant chores. If you need help or advice on how to convince your young ninja that dental hygiene matters, we are always happy to provide a demonstration at our practice!

Keep up the great work training a new generation of flossing ninjas!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

When Your Child Has A Toothache…

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A TOOTHACHE IS never fun to deal with for anyone, and they can happen for a variety of reasons. Do you know what to do if your child has one, especially if it happens over the holidays or at the beginning of the weekend and you can’t get quick access to professional dental care?

Toothache Causes

The most common reason a tooth might initially feel painful is tooth decay, but it isn’t the only reason. Tooth pain can also be the result of pulp inflammation, an dental abscess, a cracked tooth, or even gum disease. Impacted teeth (teeth that are blocked from coming in where they should by bone, gum tissue, or other teeth) can also be painful.

Tooth sensitivity can lead to discomfort as well, and sometimes the cause of a toothache is merely a sinus infection or congestion. For children, it could be as simple as teething discomfort or a sore loose tooth, in which case it’s usually just a normal part of development.

Reducing Dental Pain Before The Appointment

The best thing to do when your child has a toothache is to come see us right away. If for some reason that isn’t possible, there are a few things you can do to manage your child’s dental pain in the meantime.

  • Have them rinse and spit with warm saltwater to reduce inflammation
  • Apply a cold compress to their cheek near the sore area
  • Give them anti-inflammatory medication
  • Use an over-the-counter topical medication meant for children


Preventing Future Toothaches

If your child has had or currently has a toothache, you probably want it to be their last. Obviously some of the causes can’t be prevented, such as sinus infections, teething, sore loose teeth, and a tooth being damaged in an accident, but there’s a lot you can do to protect their teeth from the aches and pains that come from poor dental health.

Teaching them to brush twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, encouraging them to floss daily, and scheduling regular dental appointments for them will keep their teeth healthy. You can also help their teeth out by cutting down on sugary foods and drinks they consume.

Bring That Tooth Pain To Us As Soon As You Can

Pain is the body’s alert system to let us know when there’s a problem, and it’s important not to ignore it. No matter what you think might be causing your child’s toothache, schedule an appointment with us to get it taken care of before the underlying problem has a chance to get worse. We’ll be able to take a look and get their tooth the treatment it needs!

Let’s fight that toothache together!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Kids, Teens, And Gum Disease

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YOU MIGHT THINK that gum disease is a dental health problem that only adults have to deal with. Unfortunately, teenagers and children are also at risk of developing gingivitis and more severe forms of periodontal disease.

Causes Of Gum Disease

The causes of gum disease are different for teenagers than for younger children. The flood of hormones from puberty can increase blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive. This is more of a problem for girls than for boys, but more than half of teens have some form of gum disease.

For younger children, the main cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and harden into tartar, the gums become vulnerable to irritation and inflammation.

Signs Parents Can Watch For

Children don’t always recognize when something is wrong, so they may not come to you with a detailed description of their gum disease symptoms. However, because gum disease worsens over time, we shouldn’t wait for them to notice a problem anyway. Here are a few signs of gum disease that you can be on the watch for:

  • constant bad breath that does not improve with brushing and flossing
  • swollen and unusually red gums
  • bleeding gums during brushing or flossing
  • gum recession

Gum Disease Prevention And Treatment

If your child doesn’t have gum disease, wonderful! However, there are still important steps you can take to keep their gums healthy. The most essential is to encourage good dental hygiene habits. Set an example by brushing twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure they’re following that example. Regular dental checkups are also critical for detecting problems early and giving your child professional cleanings to keep their dental health on track.

It is always better to prevent a dental health problem before it can develop, but if your child does have gum disease, you can still fight back by persevering with those good oral hygiene habits and regular dental checkups.

Together, We Can Keep Those Gums Healthy!

Childhood is an important time for oral health, because it’s when we learn the habits that will determine how healthy our teeth and gums will be for the rest of our lives. When parents and dentists work together to give kids a headstart on their oral health, they won’t just help them defeat gum disease; they’ll give them all the tools they need to enjoy lifelong healthy smiles!

We look forward to seeing your child again soon!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.