Visits to oral health professionals are strongly recommended within the first year of life, as proper brushing, flossing, nutritional habits, and tooth alignment are of extreme importance after the very first tooth has erupted. While children often become anxious at the prospect of visiting the dentist, their fears can be alleviated with gentle, positive reinforcement and a comfortable environment. Early positive associations with oral health care can mean the difference between frequent dental infections and teeth that are free from unnecessary decay and trauma throughout their lifetime. Here are several tips for promoting habits that will have a positive impact on your child’s oral health.
In celebration of National Men’s Health Month and Father’s Day, Dr. Postol is hoping to educate all Ballwin, MO men and their loved ones about the dangers of periodontal disease. This condition is sadly underdiagnosed and could affect as much as half the population. Worse, most people have no idea that they have it. Even if you have read our gum disease page, there may be more that you don’t know about how this condition affects you and why it is important to both your overall health and the health of your mouth.
May is National Women’s Health Month, and St. Louis Dental wants to celebrate by providing helpful information to all new mothers in Ballwin, MO who may have some questions about their baby’s teeth. We know how stressful being a new mom can be, and that stress can have a toxic effect on your own health. We also know that when you’re not feeling your best, you’re not able to care for your baby in all the ways you would like.
So taking care of baby and taking care of mom are both equally important to us! Until your child is ready for their first dental appointment at around age three, they will need you to manage all of their dental care, so make sure to ask Dr. Postol if you have any questions about their teeth.
By: Lauren Hapeman
The age that children receive their first set of teeth often coincides with a period of time where bottles are provided, often before they are put to bed. Baby bottle syndrome is a dental abnormality that affects children when they are bottle fed milk or fruit juice prior to going to sleep. This condition can be viewed clinically as rampant tooth decay, and is most common on the anterior or front teeth where bottles and the liquids that they contain come in frequent contact with the tooth surfaces. This article will explain baby bottle syndrome in depth and also identify healthy alternatives that will prevent tooth decay. The first set of teeth remains in the oral cavity for the first twelve years of life, and it is important for them to be fully functional and free of decay. Your pediatric or general dentist can work with you to ensure that baby bottle syndrome is prevented throughout your child’s first years of life.
What Causes Baby Bottle Syndrome?
Milk, fruit juices, and other beverages that contain sugar, are the most common causes of “baby bottle syndrome.” This is because each of these beverages has a high sugar content (milk, although nutritious, contains lactose or milk sugar which can be broken down by saliva into simple table sugar). When sugar is left in the oral cavity overnight, the pH of the mouth becomes acidic, and the result is a demineralized, or weakened, tooth surface. This is because bacteria that reside naturally in the oral cavity use sugar for energy, and following their ingestion of simple sugar, they secret acids as a by-product.
The ingestion of sugar, acid secretion, and a low pH in the mouth, are responsible for causing cavitations to develop over time on the enamel, or outer surface of the teeth. The result of repeated milk or juice intake before bed is a condition called “rampant caries,” or numerous dental cavities on all surfaces of multiple teeth. This can be extremely painful for children who need their first set of teeth to eat and speak until they are adolescent. Prevention of baby bottle syndrome is essential, as, without the placement of many crowns on the primary teeth, it is difficult to restore teeth with rampant caries to health.
Prevention of Baby Bottle Syndrome
To prevent your child from developing dental caries or cavities, milk and juice should be given during the day in conjunction with healthy, fibrous snacks (adding food will help to keep the pH within the oral cavity at a neutral level). Before bed, if milk is provided, children’s teeth should be brushed for a minimum of two minutes, even if all of their primary teeth have not yet erupted. During the night, water can be an alternative to milk, and will keep your child hydrated without presenting a risk of tooth decay.
It is important to acclimate your child to the dentist following the eruption of their first tooth (the first tooth to erupt is the mandibular, or bottom, central incisor). This will eliminate their fear of going to the dentist at an early age and will provide you with information regarding how to prevent tooth decay, which teeth should erupt at each age, and ways to ensure that your child has a healthy, functional set of teeth.
For more information on baby bottle syndrome, or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact Dr. Postol at his St. Louis area dental office today.
At St. Louis Dental, we are always looking for new ways to make your life healthier and happier and new studies now prove that dentists can join primary care physicians in fight against diabetes. Dr. Postol and his staff want to do everything possible to help patients live a long and happy life.
You might think that there is no way you could have diabetes, and that this post doesn’t relate to you at all. But did you know that the American Diabetes Association estimates more than 7 million people in our country are living with undiagnosed diabetes?
Everybody knows that they should floss every day. But it just doesn’t always happen that way, does it?
We know that flossing is harder than brushing for a number of reasons, but we also know how important it is to your oral health. Dr. Postol wants all of our patients to floss every day, and we think one of the best ways to encourage you to floss is to give you some great reasons why you should.
Pediatric dentistry is a discipline that treats the dental health of children. These specialists treat children from infancy through adolescence. In some instances, a pediatric dentist will care for the dental hygiene of patients with special needs, such as those who suffer from cerebral palsy or autism. This particular specialty requires additional training.
Pediatric dentists are required to attend a post-doctoral program lasting two to three years after qualifying as a dentist. This additional training prepares professionals for the unique challenges presented in pediatric dentistry. A pediatric dentist learns dental techniques as well as the specifics of childhood growth and development and child psychology. Once the post-doctoral program is complete, the pediatric dentist is eligible for board certification in the United States from the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. When seeking a pediatric dentist, the parent should check for this post-doctoral degree and certification.
A visit to the dentist can be scary to many adults. Imagine being a child and seeing a dentist for the very first time. The additional training helps the pediatric professional choose kid-friendly decorations and teaches them on how to best assist a child throughout a dental visit. Part of the pediatric dental specialty is to educate children on how to care for their own dental health. The extra education trains the pediatric dentist in how to best attend to the specific needs of children and how to advise parents in their child’s dental health.
Dental hygiene for a child begins at birth. The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents should gently wipe their infant’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze after every feeding. Infant toothbrushes are recommended once the baby begins to grow teeth. Follow a pediatric dentist’s advice on whether to introduce toothpaste at this early age. A first dental visit can be scheduled when the child is one year of age, but no later than two years old.
Prepare a child for their first visit by visiting the local library or bookstore and borrow or buy a book about visiting the dentist. The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child initially first visit a pediatric dentist before a problem develops. In this way, the child can get used to the person who will treat them without fear or pain. Some parents do not believe that a child needs to visit a pediatric dentist until permanent teeth are developed. This is not true; a professional can advise a parent on the best practices for dental hygiene. Also, when a child starts visiting a pediatric dentist very young, the child will accept the dental routine as normal and may even welcome visits to the dentist.
Parents can ask for referrals from friends or check the local or state board of dentistry. Certainly, when seeking a pediatric dentist, choose a professional who is understanding and kid-friendly. For example, a professional who is gruff with children or who insists that a parent hold a frightened child down is best avoided. Parents can expect a pediatric dentist to understand and work through a child’s natural fear of the very different experience of visiting a dentist.
For more information on pediatric dentistry, or to schedule an appointment for your child, contact Dr. Postol at his St. Louis area dental office today.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and is working with health care providers around the country to educate people about the causes of this terrible disease and how everyone can lower their risk of contracting it. Approximately 35,000 people will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer this year, and there are many kinds that can affect people.
Is your toothbrush one of your most precious possessions? Could you survive without one? In a recent survey, participants were asked to choose the invention they could not live without and 34 percent of teens and 42 percent of adults chose their toothbrush over a personal computer, automobile, microwave, or a cell phone. Would you choose your toothbrush? Dr. Postol hopes you would!
The prospect of receiving restorative treatment in a dental office can seem intimidating, and anxiety regarding dental treatment is the primary reason for untreated dental caries (tooth decay) and missed appointments. This is especially true when the uses for different types of restorations are unclear, as dental terminology appears murky at best. While an oral health professional has the capability to effectively explain these differences, understanding why different restorations are used, how long they will last, and how they appear in the mouth can afford patients confidence before they arrive at an office for treatment. Fillings, crowns, bridges, and implants are several types of restorative work that can be explained in greater detail.
Dental fillings are usually recommended when treating smaller, more localized areas of tooth decay. They are available in several metallic substances (including gold and amalgam, which last for a long time) or can be made of tooth-colored materials such as glass ionomers (which release fluoride) or composites (which are a translucent white color, and are less resistant to force). The material used when fillings are necessary is a matter of patient preference and can be explained in greater depth by an oral health professional prior to treatment.
Fillings can be placed on one surface, two surfaces, or three surfaces depending on the extent and location of tooth decay. To determine which restoration is best, dental health professionals use a series of assessments including radiographs and an examination with a dental explorer (an instrument which checks to see if any surfaces feel sticky or tacky).
All teeth are comprised of two sides (the interproximal areas), a front and back surface, and the biting or chewing surface (termed the “occlusal”). The most common types of fillings include either one or both interproximal surfaces of the teeth (mesial or distal), the occlusal surface, or all three. Whenever decay encompasses more of a tooth’s structure, crowns are recommended rather than fillings.
Crowns are used when tooth decay infects most of the dentin of a tooth structure. They can be made of silver, gold, and porcelain, but new materials are continuously introduced. An accurate impression of a tooth needs to be made in order for a crown to be comfortable and functional. At the initial appointment, a tooth is drilled to a small, symmetrical “peg” on which the crown can be placed. While an accurate crown is being created in a dental lab, a temporary crown is placed on the tooth in order to assess it for health, determine if the fit is accurate, and, sometimes, to wait until the patient can afford a permanent crown. At the final appointment, the permanent crown is cemented into place. Crowns typically last for years, and, if they do come loose, they can be re-cemented during a regular cleaning.
When several teeth are absent or need to be crowned, a bridge is recommended. A bridge is a succession of crowns (abutment teeth) that can be anchored into place with cement on one specific tooth (the pontic tooth). Crowns can be exclusively made of metal or porcelain or, in many cases, are a mixture of porcelain fused to metal (thus affording patients an attractive appearance while providing the durability of metallic crowns). Like crowns, bridges are also cemented into place and can last patients for a lifetime if meticulous oral hygiene is preformed daily.
Implants are practical for patients who have many teeth extracted and who also possess proper brushing and flossing habits. An implant is a lifelike tooth structure attached to a screw. Implants are placed into the alveolar bone (the bone in the jaw that surrounds the teeth), and consequently, the bone is “tricked” into thinking that real teeth are still present. Ultimately, this results in less alveolar bone loss to the patient, which helps them to avoid the development of periodontal infections. The possibility of implants failing due to poor oral hygiene is taken very seriously by dental health professionals, and accordingly, candidates for implants must take an interest in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Restorative dental work can benefit patients by preventing future tooth decay and restoring the teeth to their normal function. Feeling good about receiving these types of treatments is simply a matter of understanding and feeling familiar with their uses.
For more information about dental restorations, smile design, or general dental issues, contact your Ballwin and St. Louis, MO dentist, Dr. Kevin F. Postol today.