Pediatric Dentistry, Uncategorized

Is Mouthbreathing Really a Problem?

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Picture this: you are watching your kid as he is playing with his Lego when you notice that his mouth is always opened when he breathes. Is that an issue or just a cute trait, like dimples or a snub nose.

You may be surprised to learn that this apparently benign habit has the potential to lead to numerous oral health problems as well as sleep apnea, speech problems, and improper facial development.

 

Is Mouth Breathing Really That Problematic?

The correct position for proper breathing is with the mouth closed, inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils. Some people, however, keep it in an open resting position and breathe through their mouth instead of through their nose. The reasons for developing this habit may very from swollen tonsils, a tongue tie, allergies and so on.

 

If you noticed that your child is a mouth breather, you should speak with your St. Louis pediatric dentist . This habit can lead to numerous oral health issues.

 

 

It Can Increase the Risk of Dental Issues

 

Because they keep their mouth opened the vast majority of the time, patients suffering from this condition tend to have dry mouth too. And, a dry mouth will increase the risks of oral health problems.

Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining the hygiene of our mouth, washing away food and plaque. A dry mouth, on the other hand, can lead to cavities and gum problems. So much so that the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that dry mouth is the reason for about 30% of cavities in adults.

 

 

It Can Affect Orthodontic Treatment

 

Kids that tend to breathe through their mouth also have a difficult time getting the orthodontic treatment they need. Not only that the treatment lasts longer than usual but because their habit makes it more difficult to fix the space between their teeth, they may need braces again in the future.

 

 

Improper Facial Development

 

It’s odd how simple things like breathing through your nose instead of your mouth can have such a big impact on your development. Mouth breathers tend to have flatter facial features, droopy eyes, a small lower jaw, and narrow palette.

 

 

Speech Issues

 

Chronic mouth breathing often leads to a condition called tongue thrust swallowing pattern. Simply put, the tongue pushes forward during speaking, making it difficult for people to pronounce certain sounds, such as “S.”

 

What to Do About It?

If you notice that your child is a mouth breather, the first thing you should do is find the cause. Maybe they have swollen tonsils and an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist could help.

Don’t forget to let your St. Louis pediatric dentist know as well so that he can examine your child’s oral health and determine if a change in treatment is necessary.

Dental Sedation

Sedation Dentistry for a Root Canal

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A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed. So many people need it at a certain point in their lives, that it’s already notorious for its downsides and became a little scary for many patients.

 

What Is a Root Canal?

You may have heard about getting a root canal and you got the idea that it’s a highly unpleasant procedure, but it is actually a routine one that won’t give you more discomfort than a simple filling, for example.

During a root canal procedure, your tooth’s nerve and pulp are removed, then the empty space is filled with a special sealer. This is done to save infected teeth or teeth that suffer from severe decay. While it’s not such a pleasant situation to be in, the procedure itself is not nearly as bad as it sounds.

 

Solutions for a Painless Root Canal Operation

First of all, any patient who needs a root canal operation will be administered pain controlling medication. Without it, there would be pain involved, but a proper choice of medication and dose will keep the pain away. You will only feel that the dentist is working on your tooth, and it might be a bit weird, but should not be painful. Sometimes, if the nerve of your tooth is already dead, anesthesia might actually not be needed.

Secondly, your St. Louis sedation dentist might administer sedatives to control your anxiety and discomfort during the procedure. Sedation does not control pain, but it will eliminate stressful sensations and emotions, making the entire operation more bearable.

 

Sedation Dentistry for a Root Canal

Sedation dentistry is becoming more widespread as medical providers focus a lot on the patients’ comfort and experience. Most dentists are able to administer at least a light form of sedation, such as laughing gas, but if you are a good candidate for oral or IV sedation, there will be a St. Louis sedation dentist who can handle your case.

You will be given medication that will make you calm or even sleepy in some cases. If you are not comfortable with the idea of dozing off while at the dentist, you can mention it and your doctor will focus on conscious sedation solutions.

Is sedation recommended to anyone? Apart from rare medical conditions and situations that don’t allow sedation to be administered, it is often indeed recommendable to anyone who might have issues during a root canal operation. For example, if you have to get more procedures done at once, or if your root canal is more complex, sedation might be used. Also, patients like small children, people with disabilities, people with a sensitive gag reflex and other categories of patients will benefit from getting sedation before a root canal.

If you are about to go through this procedure and you are worried about it, ask your doctor about getting sedation and what kind of sedatives will work best for you.

Pediatric Dentistry

Can Breastfeeding Cause Dental Cavities?

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One of the most common myths about breastfeeding, especially prolonged breastfeeding, is that it can cause cavities. Since the modern era has introduced formula as a common alternative to mother’s milk, many mothers believe that the same principles apply to both when it comes to their baby’s health.

Let’s discuss breastfeeding, formula and tooth decay, and finally, debunk some myths that are still circulating.

How Could Breast Milk Cause Cavities?

Often, toddlers can get cavities and demineralization, or even experience tooth loss because of extensive decay. Parents hear numerous possible theories about why that has happened, and incorrect theories often lead to improper treatment and unnecessary measures.

Bottle-feeding at night and not washing the baby’s teeth before bed can indeed lead to tooth decay and tooth loss, but exclusively breastfed babies can get cavities too. Unsurprisingly, many people believe that breast milk leads to cavities, although recent studies have shown no direct correlation between the two.

Breastfed babies are often nursing for more than food, ever since they are born: they nurse for comfort, security, to fall asleep easier, to bond with their mom. Sleeping is often tightly connected to breastfeeding, this is why some people (including dentists who are not up to date with recent research or with breastfeeding in general) believe that the horizontal position, combined with the sugars in the breast milk and not brushing the baby’s teeth after nursing lead to cavities.

Breastfeeding May Actually Protects the Child’s Teeth from Cavities

It is not hard to debunk the myths above once you understand how breastfeeding works. When nursing, a breastfed baby creates a vacuum in his mouth. A baby who is latching correctly will not have breast milk pooling in his mouth during breastfeeding, even if he is asleep.

So how are exclusively breastfed babies get cavities? The main cause is the bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which uses sugar to produce acidic compounds that attack the enamel. This bacteria can be transmitted from the mother and other caregivers to the baby through contact with the saliva. Unless really careful, it is highly probable that contamination will occur.

This is why you should still clean your baby’s teeth thoroughly, even if you are not formula feeding them. Paying attention to their diet after weaning is also crucial, as sugar and its many forms hide in various foods, including ones considered healthy.

Even though breast milk contains sugar that can serve as food to the strep mutans, it also contains lactoferrin, which kills the bacteria.

In conclusion, if you are worried about your little one getting cavities, breastfeeding is not to be blamed. Be careful about the baby’s diet, your own dental health and a solid routine of brushing twice a day, starting with the very first baby tooth. And, of course, schedule routine visits with your St. Louis pediatric dentist.

Pediatric Dentistry

What to Look for When Buying a Children’s Toothbrush

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Getting your kids off to a good start in their oral health habits is crucial, even from a young age, when they don’t seem to understand much about what’s going on. Before they get their first teeth, babies need to get their gums cleaned from time to time with a damp cloth or a silicone brush. This habit serves as a great start in oral hygiene, as it gets them used to the process.

Once your baby already has one or more pearly whites, it is time to buy their first toothbrush. With so many options available on the market, it might be intimidating and confusing for new parents. What are you supposed to choose from all those models and functions?

Baby Toothbrush Checklist

While you might find a few toothbrushes that have many added functions and gimmicks, you only need one that meets a few basic criteria:

  • It has a small head
  • It is easy to grip
  • It has soft bristles

Baby toothbrushes should be delicate since the little ones are still teething and may have sore gums. The size should also be adapted to their size, just as their clothes, bathtub or other day to day objects. The head of the toothbrush should be able to fit between their back molars (or the gum that will hold them) and their cheek. The grip of the brush should be soft and big, making the brush easier to handle and grip correctly.

Electric Toothbrushes

One of the most popular choices nowadays for kids is the electric toothbrush. It has many advantages over manual toothbrushes, although they do the exact same thing. Electric toothbrushes can have attractive lights and functions, making brushing more fun and engaging. Some of them have a built-in timer that tells your kid when 2 minutes have passed, educating them about the importance of a thorough brushing session.

Again, the size of the toothbrush should be adapted to the size of your child. Soft or medium bristles are also recommended for their sensitive gums and teeth.

Other Accessories for Cleaning Your Kid’s Teeth

If you want to introduce a good example in your child’s oral hygiene, add floss to their routine as early as necessary (usually it is recommended from the moment they have two teeth touching each other). Be gentle and patient when flossing their teeth, as it can be an unpleasant experience if done hastily.

Replacing Your Child’s Toothbrush

Once you have found the right toothbrush for your child, make sure you can restock. Their toothbrush should be replaced regularly, even more often than an adult’s. Besides replacing it every three months, you need to get rid of their toothbrush whenever they get sick.

Make brushing teeth fun for your kid and you will invest a lot in their oral health for the future. Choosing the right toothbrush is exciting and a great start to a good habit of proper dental hygiene!

Pediatric Dentistry

Is It Safe for Children to Use Whitening Products on Their Teeth?

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As a parent, you do your best to ensure your child is healthy and happy. One of the most important hygiene lessons you must teach them is how to correctly brush their teeth,  how important oral hygiene is, and you must go to the dentist regularly. But, as you may know, even if your child does brush and floss regularly, they might have some tooth problems that are associated with demineralization (which may be genetically determined,) or a problem with their diet.

When the adult teeth come out, you may notice that they look slightly different in color than those baby pearly whites. The enamel layer on adult teeth is thicker than on baby teeth, which makes them less translucent and a bit more ivory in color. That’s why they seem to be yellow and unhealthy. Speak with your St. Louis pediatric dentist to establish if it is indeed an issue you should solve or if it’s just how their adult teeth look like.

Common Reasons for Yellow Teeth in Kids

Some of the most common causes for yellow teeth in children are the consumption of cola drinks, tea, cocoa, coffee or other staining foods and drinks. First of all, insist that your child brushes their teeth after every meal and try to remove staining foods from their diet. If the color of the teeth remains the same, you might consider bleaching products, but only as shown below.

If you notice that just one single tooth is darker in color than the others, it’s likely a sign of injury, cavity or tooth decay, and you should get your child to his St. Louis pediatric dentist for treatment.

Back to Tooth Whitening Products: Are They Safe for Children?

Tooth whitening is a successful industry. There are lots of different products to use at home for making your teeth brighter and whiter, such as strips, tooth paste, and gels. However, there are cautions to be taken, especially when it comes to children’s teeth.

Pediatric dentists recommend that teeth whitening should be postponed at least until all the baby teeth are gone and the adult teeth erupted, which is at about 14 years old. Going to regular check-ups will give your child’s dentist an idea about how strong their teeth are and the general problems are they may be facing.

If your child is old enough and you have approval to use at-home whitening products, choose a mild one with a low dose of bleach, and carefully start to whiten the teeth while keeping an eye on possible side effects. If your child’s gums become irritated or if they complain about tooth sensitivity, stop the treatment right away. Also, be sure to read the instructions carefully and to check the appropriate age for usage on the product you choose.

Conclusion

Children’s teeth are usually naturally white, and if you are concerned about their color, you should ask your St. Louis pediatric dentist about it. The most important thing is that your child’s teeth are healthy. If they don’t have any dental problems, cavities or tartar, and there is no obvious coloration form their diet, then you should embrace their natural beauty.

Keep in mind: oral health is very important for our overall health. If tooth whitening products are safe and don’t compromise it, use them in moderation.