Is my child’s thumb sucking a problem?

For babies and young children sucking is a natural reflex when teeth begin to develop both thumb sucking and using a pacifier can lead to dental problems for these children. Vigorous thumb sucking can cause a child’s baby teeth to shift. The proper growth of the mouth and alignment of a child’s permanent teeth may be affected if thumb sucking persists. Children should have stopped thumb sucking and using pacifiers when the permanent front teeth are ready to come in. Most children will naturally stop. If a child persists, a dentist, a pediatric dentist or an orthodontist may use different dental procedures to stop thumb sucking.

Why are wisdom teeth often removed?

Many of us would assume extra teeth in our mouths would be helpful for chewing; however this is usually not the case. When the wisdom teeth appear they sometimes need to be removed as they are often impacted. This means that the jaw is not big enough to accommodate the extra teeth causing the wisdom teeth to push against the other teeth. Wisdom teeth may need to be extracted by a dentist if they are easy to remove or you may be referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon if extraction is difficult. When wisdom teeth only partially come through the gums, bacteria can enter around the teeth causing infection. Results can include pain swelling and illness. If impacted wisdom teeth continue to grow, other teeth may be forced to shift positions or suffer damage. Cysts or tumors may form from the pressure of wisdom teeth and damage the surrounding bone or tooth roots. If you are experiencing pain, continuously biting your cheek or having problems cleaning your wisdom teeth, discuss the matter with your dentist.

Do tongue and mouth piercing have any affect on my dental health?

With more young people piercing their tongues and lips they are also risking numerous dental problems. Tongue piercing, at the time of placement of the metal stud can often result in severe swelling and pain due to the numerous nerve endings. This can make eating and talking very difficult. A severely swollen tongue may actually block a person’s airway. Infection is a real danger with tongue piercing. Allergic reactions may occur if the stud is not pure metal. Blood poisoning and blood clots are other potential concerns. As the tongue is constantly moving, healing from tongue piercing is slow and can take up to a month. Teeth and gums are also affected by tongue and lip piercing. Teeth can often become cracked or chipped from the barbell moving in the mouth. Gum tissue may also be damaged by continuous contact with the metal ball. Extra dental care needs to be taken with pierced tongues. When brushing your teeth you should also brush your tongue. The ball should be removed and thoroughly cleaned, although not with a jewelry cleaner. The hole in the tongue should also be rinsed with a small stream of water. Ask your dentist if you have questions or problems.

As an expectant mother, is their anything special I should know?

Due to hormone changes, pregnant women are susceptible to different dental problems. Special precautions are taken when treating pregnant patients for dental care. Even with good oral hygiene before pregnancy, hormone changes can irritate the gums, making them red and inflamed and will often bleed during brushing. This causes the gums to recede and makes it easier for bacteria to get at the roots of the teeth and may even enter the blood stream causing a more serious infection. X-rays are not generally recommended during pregnancy. Good oral care is the best means to prevent any dental problems while pregnant. If already pregnant, a woman should get the dental treatment done that is necessary at the time. This may include cleanings, especially with pregnancy gingivitis. If possible, major dental treatment should be postponed until after delivery.

What is air abrasion and how does it work?

Air abrasion is a unique, gentle alternative to the dental drill. In other words, it is a great, new way to treat small cavities.

Microabrasive particles, virtually invisible to the naked eye, propelled by a gentle air stream, quickly and gently remove decay. Many types of cavities can be treated with air abrasion.