The Fighting Features of Fluoride

Dozens of studies by universities, government and public health organizations have concluded that the regular use of fluoride, whether ingested through local drinking water or fluoride supplements, or applied topically through toothpastes, gels or mouth rinses containing fluoride, reduces the likelihood that your child’s teeth will develop cavities.

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in various foods and water supplies to help defend teeth against decay. It is added to the water supplies in many communities across North America as a cost efficient way to provide fluoride protection to large numbers of people. If your community does not include fluoride in its water supply you should ensure that you and your children brush twice a day with a toothpaste containing fluoride, and use a fluoride rinse at bedtime. For those at high risk of developing cavities we may also recommend additional fluoride supplements through our office.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the outer layer – the enamel – on teeth against the harmful effects of the acids that are produced by the bacteria in the mouth. The fluoride then goes on to remineralize, or repair, any damage caused by the bacteria’s acid to the microscopic crystals that make up the structure of teeth.

While various studies have shown a marked decline in tooth decay rates due to fluoride use – up to 50 percent in children specifically – be aware that like anything else, you can have “too much of a good thing” with fluoride. Dental fluorosis is a non-health threatening condition that is a result of a child getting too much fluoride, and it shows up as white specks on a child’s teeth. The child may be getting too much fluoride because of the combination of fluoridated water plus fluoride toothpaste, rinses or supplements in the household. If you notice spots on your child’s teeth, please talk to us about possible causes for this condition in your child and the treatment available.

Talk to us about if you have well water, it may not contain the right amount of fluoride for your teeth, or if you and your family may require fluoride supplements.  734.485.2200  We’d love to hear from you with any questions you have!

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Brushing Up on a Healthy Smile!

Most of us don’t think too much about brushing – it’s just something that we do automatically. When it comes time to teach our kids how to brush though, it’s worth taking a refresher course by sitting in on his or her dental visit while we show them, step-by-step, what the proper procedure is.

The first thing to do is to ensure that your child has the proper toothbrush – one with soft, rounded bristles. Whether they prefer a manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush, the selection of toothbrushes these days can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask us for suggestions on the one that would be best for your child. In fact, the choice of a toothbrush, especially a toothbrush with a bright pattern or picture of a popular cartoon character, can encourage the child to brush just for the novelty of the toothbrush design.

When you’re comfortable with your child’s choice of toothbrush, you’ll want to review these simple brushing guidelines:

    1. Start cleaning teeth early: “Early” means cleaning the very first baby teeth with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush; you won’t need toothpaste at first, especially if the child can’t yet spit it out.
    1. Don’t overdo the toothpaste: After about age 2, your child can start using a small amount of training fluoride free toothpaste. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient. While fluoride in toothpaste is important for fighting cavities, too much exposure at too young an age can cause white spots in a child’s permanent teeth.  Once a child can spit out the toothpaste, then switch to a child’s toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Child toothpaste has a lower amount of fluoride, as children will still swallow a little of it and, as we said before, too much fluoride will cause white spots on the adult teeth.
  1. Supervise brushing. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day until your child can confidently and properly do it alone, generally children can properly brush all their teeth by 3rd grade.  Before 3rd grade- parents should do a final sweep 1 or 2x a day depending on the child.  It’s great to let the child take turns with you brushing.  They’ll enjoy their independence and take pride in doing a task themselves!  Sticker charts help them remember (and parents too!).

Regular, thorough brushing is a simple, yet effective way to remove the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Take care of your child’s teeth, and they’ll reward you with a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Baby Bottle Blues

Baby bottles filled with milk or juice provide both nutrition and comfort to most babies. However, you need to be aware that your baby’s ritual of falling asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth could lead to a dental condition known as “baby bottle tooth decay” that could destroy your child’s teeth.

The most common cause of tooth decay in babies and toddlers results from the frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugar, including milk, formula and fruit drinks. Saliva helps to wash some of this sugar away, but when the child falls asleep, saliva production decreases. Bacteria in the mouth convert the sugars to acids that then etch and subsequently damage the enamel of the teeth, leading to decay.

Baby bottle tooth decay can cause painful toothaches that can not only hinder eating, but can develop into infections and the need to extract baby teeth. If your child’s teeth are damaged or lost too early, he or she may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and damaged or discolored adult (permanent) teeth.

 

So how best to prevent baby bottle tooth decay? Awareness of the problem is an important first step, followed by these preventative tips:

  1. After each feeding, wipe your child’s teeth and gums with a damp washcloth or a clean gauze pad.
  2. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or any sweetened liquids. If your child refuses to fall asleep without a bottle, fill it with water, and then remove it from his mouth when he falls asleep.
  3. Plan on scheduling your child’s first dental appointment around his or her first birthday, or earlier if you think your child may have dental problems.

The process of tooth decay is quite gradual, and no one may notice anything until the damage is done. Follow the simple steps above to ensure a good start to your child’s dental health.

Don’t be a dental turkey!

When the pilgrims left England on the Mayflower, they were looking for a land free of persecution.  By the time they landed in Massachusetts 66 days later, they found the journey to be a lot more grueling than they originally planned.

Among the many health issues they encountered was “scurvy”- caused by a deficiency of vitamin C.  The lack of fresh food on board, especially fruits, caused horrible symptoms, including spots on the skin, weakness, extreme drowsiness, spontaneous bleeding and eventually death.  Oh yes- this disease also caused the pilgrims to have bleeding gums and tooth loss!

This Thanksgiving, be sure to prepare a meal that is not only delicious but healthy for your teeth and gums too!  Some vitamins and nutrients which are good for your oral health are vitamins A, C and D, phosophorous and calcium.  A delicious Thanksgiving dinner can include them all!

Here are a few things that will make your chompers thank you.

– Turkey is high in phosphorous, which is not only healthy for developing teeth but can actually help rebuild tooth enamel.

– Sweet pototoes are loaded with nutrients including vitamins A and C which are both excellent for gum health.

-Cranberries contain flavonoids which can prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth and forming plaque.

-Pumpkin pies are loaded with vitamin C and calcium- important for gum health and developing teeth.

“Just like our bodies, our teeth and gums need many essential vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy,” says Dr David Schmidt.  “In fact, to ensure proper tooth development and strength, adults, children and seniors alike need a lot of calcium, vitamins and minerals.”

Dr Schmidt goes on to say “Many take oral health for granted, but countless studies have shown that there is a strong association between good oral health and good body health.  Spending time with your loved ones at Thanksgiving is even better when everyone is healthy and happy.”

Thanksgiving is a great holiday, and it can bea  healthy one for you teeth, gums and body as well! Here at Dr David Schmidt’s dental practice, we want you to be healthy! Remember that prevention is key, so be sure to stick with your recommended dental care schedule for the best health of all!  Call (734) 485-2200 to schedule your appointment today!  Enjoy a fantastic holiday and even though your schedule may be hectic this time of year, don’t forget to take care of your teeth, gums and entire body!

Why the heck do you need to know that?

When you come in for your dental visit, you may notice that we do a lot more than examine your teeth and gums.

One of the most important parts of your visit is when we ask you questions about your general health. But many people have said to us:

“What does that have to do with my dental check up?”

The answer…a lot!

More and more research is being published linking dental health to overall health, and at Dr David Schmidt’s Family Dental Practice we are concerned about both!

Did you know that diabetes, especially when it is undiagnosed, can be a huge factor in gum disease and eventually cause tooth loss?

A recent study by Columbia University concluded:

“Gum disease is an early complication of diabetes.” It continues:

“Since 70% of adults se a dentist at least once per year this is a perfect opportunity to screen for diabetes and other diseases.

According to a recent article in The British Dental Journal, it works the other way around too, as gum disease can be a contributing factor in heart disease, oral cancer and other illnesses.

Are you taking any medications, either prescription or over the counter? Many of these can lead to dry mouth, gum inflammation and other dental problems.

And it’s even more complicated for women, as hormonal changes, pregnancy and oral contraceptives can cause many changes in dental health. (Isn’t everything more complicated for women?)

So the good news is, unlike a visit to your physician- you get to keep your clothes on and you won’t be poked and prodded anywhere other than your mouth! But as you can see, it is extremely important that we know about your total physical health and any medications you are taking. Not only can we save your teeth – we may actually save your life!

If you want to know more about your dental health and how it relates to your overall health, please let us know. If you have any questions or want to schedule your next appointment, just give us a call at (734) 485.2200. We are here for you!