Saving Space for Permanent Teeth with a Space Maintainer

Nov 16th, 2016
Easton Dentists Mar 1st, 2017

space_maintainer

If your little one’s teeth have begun to fall out, and their permanent replacements appear to be lagging far behind, you may wish to consider a space maintainer to minimize future orthodontic work. Believe it or not, the absence of your child’s teeth might seem cute now, but those tiny little gaps can cause deep gouges in your pocketbook as you watch them fill up with teeth that don’t belong there. Space maintainers are simple to use, kids get along fine with them, and they have become the de-facto standard for protecting the cosmetic and functional aspects of your growing child’s mouth.

 

Why Your Child Might Need a Space Maintainer

When a child’s tooth is lost early due to trauma, tooth decay, or nature’s insistence that it drop out before its permanent replacement is due, a space maintainer can be used to hold back the natural inclination of teeth to move forward. Without preventing this movement, teeth that should be in the rear of our mouths end up along the sides, and take up precious real estate destined for another tenant. The result is overcrowding, and in some cases impacted teeth. In the end, it’s always easier to save the space now, then create it later.

 

How They Work

Space maintainers are very similar in purpose and design to an adult “bridge,” but instead of placing artificial teeth over the gap, the space is kept open to accommodate its future resident. At The Dental Center, we make most space maintainers out of metal, (sometimes both metal and plastic), and custom-mold them to the shape of your child’s mouth. In most cases, the maintainer is made up of a metal band attached to a rectangular-shaped wire that butts up against the tooth across the gap. This acts to temporarily preserve the space where the baby tooth once was, so its replacement can erupt without obstruction. To some, the final product looks like an old Radio Flyer® snow sled, or a shoe horn you might use to maintain the shape of unworn shoes.

 

Does My Child Need One?

It’s important to note that dental space maintainers are not required for all childhood tooth loss, and that we’re not going to suggest you create a decade worth of space maintainers as each tooth falls out of your child’s mouth. Our bodies are quite effective at saving space for the loss of our front teeth as well as our incisors – it’s the teeth along the sides of our mouths that tend to cause the majority of complications. Of course, each mouth is different, so be sure to discuss with us the best course of action for you and your child. If your child has recently lost a tooth, or several teeth, and it’ll be awhile before they’re scheduled to see Dr. Gilmer, give us a call at (614) 414-0111 to see if you should come in a little earlier.

Using a space maintainer is an affordable and effective way to ensure your child’s teeth come in where they are supposed to, and when they’re ready. It can have a positive effect on your wallet, reduce the amount of time your child needs to wear braces, and control the cosmetic appearance of your child’s teeth and mouth.

Energy Drinks and Your Child’s Teeth. Should You Worry?

Nov 14th, 2016
Easton Dentists Mar 1st, 2017

Energy Drink

The hard clack of cleats echo about as your “little” sports hero rushes to get out of the house … soon to be late for practice. Armed with all they’ll need for a day in the sun, their equipment bag is packed and slung awkwardly over one shoulder, bursting at the seams with untold numbers of pads and dirty gear. And after making a final beeline through the kitchen to raid your refrigerator of a 64oz bottle or two of rainbow-colored sustenance, they’re off for what will no doubt be another grueling practice session. You’re proud of your kids – they’re growing up. And yet you wonder as you stare at the door that just shut behind them. Are those techni-colored drinks they’re drinking every day hurting them?

The truth, unfortunately, is yes. While they may keep your children energized and awake for the next few hours, the bad news is, they’re secretly eating away at their teeth – and fast.

Why Are Energy Drinks Such a Threat to Teeth?

The crux of the problem is the double-whammy that comes from an exceedingly high sugar content and citric acid pH that can be as low as 2.9. Now, we understand pH can be a tricky thing to understand, so to help put that number in perspective, a bit, consider this: battery acid has a pH of 0.0 (so, a lower number means a higher acid content). Stomach acid (which we can imagine as being quite acidic, at least!) has a pH that fluctuates between 1.0 and 3.0.  A lemon, in contrast, comes in at around 2.0, a grapefruit at 3.0, and tomato juice at 4.0.

The real distinction though is in knowing that with each increase in numerical value, the acid intensity increases 10-fold. So, in the example above, a lemon ends up being 10 times more acidic than a grapefruit, and 100 times more acidic than tomato juice – a sensation you can certainly taste if you bite into one!  In contrast, milk and water have a pH of 7.0, so, it’s easy to see the difference in the numbers – they’re huge.

The Science

What all this means to your child’s teeth is the real question, though, and precisely what researchers at Southern Illinois University set out to discover in 2012.  The results, which surprised even the research team, showed considerable damage to tooth enamel after only five days of steady consumption. Five days.

To determine the effect of these drinks on our teeth, the research team looked at 22 popular sports and energy drinks, and exposed artificial tooth enamel to the beverages for 15 minutes at a time, four times daily. This schedule was chosen because it mirrors the consumption habits of many users who drink these beverages every few hours – a particularly common habit among those who consume sports drinks, particularly when your kids are involved in sports.  After each 15-minute exposure, the enamel was then placed into an artificial saliva solution for two hours to mimic what would happen once consumption stopped.  After only five days on this schedule, the enamel showed a 1.5% loss with sports drinks, and a shocking 3% loss with energy drinks.

We have seen to many patients in their younger years already suffering from extensive enamel loss. One case was especially heartbreaking because the patient thought they were doing a great job simply by staying away from soda. The result: it gave that patient more perceived  freedom to consume these sport drinks at a higher rate because they were “better” than soda.

The Critics

While critics in the beverage industry suggest the time used to expose the enamel to the drinks may have been excessive, it’s widely known that snacking, as well as regular sipping of any beverage other than water, creates acidic activity in the mouth that promotes tooth decay. Of course, adults also need to be careful, and if you’re the weekend warrior type, or are pulling shifts and consuming these beverages throughout the day, the time of exposure might actually not be long enough.  The sweet spot is in the middle-ground, and that’s basically the advice we’re going to offer today.

There is no doubt that these beverages are not good for our teeth. They’re also not good for our stomach, and esophagus if one is prone to acid reflux.

The Middle Ground — It’s about being Informed

We’re not asking you to force your kids to give up their sports beverages and energy drinks. However, it is wise to know the risks, and to understand how you can help your kids combat some of their side-effects. Here are two quick tips that will help if they can’t shake the habit:

  • Have them keep water nearby so they sip on it to dilute the acid covering their teeth. This also increases saliva production to help protect tooth enamel.
  • Suggest that they don’t brush immediately after consuming such beverages.  Why? Because in the thirty minutes to an hour after consumption, tooth enamel will be slightly softer, and brushing in this window of time literally ends up spreading the acid around to other parts of the teeth. Not good.  If brushing is desired, save it for an hour or so after.

Lastly, here is the breakdown of most caustic to least caustic drinks as found by the researchers. Remember, the lower the number, the more harmful to your teeth!

Sports Drinks:

  • Filtered Ionozed Alkaline H2O – pH: 10.0
  • Water – pH: 7.o
  • Odwalla Carrot juice – pH: 6.2
  • Odwalla Vanilla Monster – pH: 5.8
  • Unflavored Pedialyte – pH: 5.4
  • Vita coco – pH: 5.2
  • Aquafina,Dasani, Smart water – pH: 4.0
  • GU2O – pH: 4.29
  • Powerade – pH: 3.89
  • Accelerade – pH: 3.86
  • Gatorade Endurance – pH:  3.22
  • Monster – pH:  2.7

Energy Drinks:

  • Red Bull – pH: 3.3
  • AMP Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Monster Energy – pH: 2.7
  • Full Throttle  – pH: 1.45
  • Rock Star – pH: 1.5

P.S. Don’t forget the mouthguard!

The Perfect Road Map For Your Child’s Oral Health

Sep 15th, 2016
Easton Dentists Mar 1st, 2017

Kid Roadmap

On July 3rd, 1806, two years into their journey to chart the uncharted west of America, pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached a challenge of epic proportion – the Rocky Mountains. What next, they wondered? Without a map, they were forced to do what explorers do – explore, and hope for the best. So, that got us thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy map you could use to chart your own dental health? With that in mind, and in honor of our explorers, we at The Dental Center at Easton wanted to share with you a few mile markers you can use to stay on top of your child’s health today, next year, and for years to come!

 

6 to 24 months

When you’re a new parent, life is a whirlwind, and the dental care of your newborn may not be top of mind when you look in their mouths and see no teeth! Here are some things to keep in mind:

Schedule your regular visit: As soon as that first tooth comes in, you’ll want to give us a call at (614) 414-0111 to schedule your regular visit so we can review your next steps and the steps for your child. Also, be aware the ADA recommends fluoridated toothpaste now for all children under the age of three. Don’t wait!

Ask us about:

  • Home hygiene basics: Things like, tips and tricks on brushing and other care. There’s nothing better than having our hygienists give brushing tutorials – they’re experts!
  • Preventative dentistry: The possible need for fluoride supplements
  • Dietary strategies: Achieving a balanced diet early in life for good oral health later
  • Feeding practice awareness: Bottle, breastfeeding, and no-spill training cups
  • Non-nutritive oral habits: Thumb sucking, pacifiers
  • Making Dental Visits Normal: Even from a young age, your child should be very comfortable visiting the dentists. He or she should build that regular habit while young to keep a strong sense of normalcy.

 

2 to 12 years old

Ah, the little ones are growing up. Teeth are coming in at all sorts of crazy angles, and you’re going crazy from the rise in obligations. Here’s a quick list of what to consider during this time frame:

  • Preventative dentistry: Pit and fissure sealants can do wonders for keeping your child’s dental bills down, and their teeth in their head until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Ask us about them. They’re affordable AND useful. And, super-fast, you’ll be in and out in no time.
  • Orthodontic Consultation: Visiting an orthodontist for an early consultation is best done around your child’s seventh birthday. With today’s technology, early intervention can reduce the cost and duration of braces when your child gets older.

 

The Teen Years

The years “everything” happens! As children start to come into their own, new habits and desires begin to unfold as well. You’ll have to address every imaginable concern during these years, from piercings, to calls for whitening, braces, and the need to refer yourself away from your pediatric dentist and to a general dentist for continuing oral care. So, speak with us about:

  • Cosmetic Dentistry: What solutions are advisable now, and what things should be avoided.
  • Teen social pressures: Smoking, alcohol, intraoral/perioral piercings and the like. Believe it or not, we can help a lot with this. Does your teen have a favorite Dental Center hygienist? We might be able to arrange for that person to help when your teen comes in so they can address these concerns with an intermediary they trust. Give us a call at (614) 414-0111 to see how we can help!
  • Orthodontics: Options for minimizing appearance and health problems later in life.
  • Home hygiene tips: Brushing, flossing, choosing the right mouthwash.
  • Craniofacial injury prevention: With your children’s possible participation in sports, you’ll want to get them a mouthguard. Hands down it’ll be one of your best investments in a healthy mouth. And we make great ones here at The Dental Center!
  • Positive Reinforcement: Your teen hears lots of feedback from every direction, but it can be very helpful to hear the benefits of good oral health from a different voice then they hear everything else. We will work hard to reinforce this necessary message with you to your teen!

Staying on top of your child’s oral health isn’t as hard as you think, and if you keep this schedule handy, you’ll be ahead of most of your neighbor’s kids when it comes to a healthy mouth and body. Come to think of it … why not share it with them as well? They’ll thank you for the help.

Preparing Your Child for their First Dental Appointment

Oct 8th, 2014
Easton Dentists Mar 1st, 2017

For a parent, not much is more stressful than watching your child attempt a difficult challenge for the first time.  That first step, the first word, that first round of shots and even that first dental appointment.  Here at Easton Dentist, we want to make that first appointment as stress-free as possible.  Below are some tips to prepare your child (and you!) for that first appointment.

  1. Talk about it…

…and talk about it often!  New experiences are significantly less frightening when a child has been familiarized with what is going to happen.

  1. Be Calm!

Children take their cues from their parents.  If you’re calm, it will help them be calm, too.

  1. Answer Questions Positively

Your child is guaranteed to have questions.  Explaining what to expect in positive terms will lead to a familiarity that will carry over.

  1. Beware of Your Word Choice

The majority of dental check-ups don’t hurt so be very careful not to use that word!  Even saying “it won’t hurt” will place the word in a child’s mind when they may not have even thought of that at all!

  1. Read a book with a positive dental experience

Again, familiarity is key.  A picture book that takes a friendly character through a standard dental appointment will introduce your child to the procedures they’re likely to encounter and help alleviate their fears.

New experiences can be scary for anyone.  The dentists at Easton Dentist want your child to have a smooth and fearless first visit.  Contact us today when you need a pediatric dentist and we’ll help you get your child on the path to great dental health.