Posts for: February, 2016
By now, there is no question that smoking is like playing a game of Russian roulette with your health. When compared to the prospect of heart disease and various forms of cancer, many smokers may be tempted to believe that stained teeth and smoker's breath are the least of their troubles. And while it is true that habitual smoking can also wreak havoc on one's physical appearance, from darkened and stained teeth to premature aging and wrinkles, the oral health risks of tobacco use can go well beyond halitosis and beige teeth.
The Effects of Smoking on Your Gums and Teeth
The dental team at Babcock & Morgan family dental in Prior Lake offer cosmetic dentistry procedures to address everything from the need for teeth whitening, to the effects of tooth decay. Treating tooth discoloration from smoking can be as simple as a few teeth whitening procedures or a set of porcelain veneers, but they ultimately address one part of the problem, the surface of the teeth. And while what our smile looks like to the world at large certainly plays a crucial role in everything from our self esteem to our social and professional interactions with others, smoking can also cause serious oral health problems and complications.
Oral Health and Gum Disease Treatment in Prior Lake
In addition to the well-documented health risks associated with tobacco, smokers are also at greater risk for developing gum (periodontal) disease, which can lead to tooth loss and other general health complications. Gum disease results from a buildup of plaque and bacteria between the teeth and in pockets that form under the gum line, which in turn lead to the deterioration of soft tissue and bone mass in the jaw. Tobacco is believed to help accelerate this process. And that's only part of the bad news.
Once smokers develop gum disease, standard treatment options tend to be less effective. Weakened bone and soft tissue make it more difficult for dentists to perform everything from root planing and scaling, to dental implants if tooth loss has occurred.
In short, if you don't smoke, don't start. If you do, now would be a great time to quit. Your teeth and gums will thank you later.
Family Dentistry in Prior Lake
The first step in keeping the gums and teeth healthy and preventing gum disease is to practice regular oral hygiene and care, including comprehensive oral exams and professional cleanings. Contact Babcock & Morgan Family Dental in Prior Lake at 952-447-4611 to schedule an appointment today.
One of the most frequent concerns parents express to us is their child’s thumb or finger sucking habit. The good news, though, is that thumb sucking is a completely normal activity for babies and young children, and if they stop by age 4 it should have no adverse effects on their future bite.
In fact, there are positive aspects to thumb sucking: it provides babies with a sense of security, as well as a way to learn about the world. As a child grows and becomes more confident with their surroundings, the thumb sucking habit will fade and eventually stop: for most children this occurs between the ages of two and four.
If, however, the habit continues later in childhood, there is a chance the upper front teeth may be influenced to tip toward the lip during eruption and come into an improper position that could also adversely affect jaw development. The same concern exists for pacifier use — we recommend weaning a child off a pacifier by the time they’re eighteen months of age.
If your child still has a thumb or finger sucking habit as they prepare to enter school, it’s quite appropriate to work on getting them to stop. Punishment, shaming or similar negative approaches, however, aren’t the best ways to accomplish this: it’s much more effective to try to modify their behavior through reward, praise or some creative activity.
Another factor that may help is to begin regular dental visits around their first birthday. Regular checkups give us a chance to monitor the development of their bite, especially if thumb sucking continues longer than normal. We can also assist you with strategies to encourage them to stop thumb sucking or pacifier use.
Thumb sucking that continues later than normal isn’t a cause for panic, but it does require attention and action. Helping your child “grow” past this stage in their life will improve their chances of developing a normal and healthy bite.
If you would like more information on thumb sucking, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Thumb Sucking in Children.”
Fans of the primetime TV show The Middle were delighted to see that high school senior Sue, played by Eden Sher, finally got her braces off at the start of Season 6. But since this popular sitcom wouldn’t be complete without some slapstick comedy, this happy event is not without its trials and tribulations: The episode ends with Sue’s whole family diving into a dumpster in search of the teen’s lost retainer. Sue finds it in the garbage and immediately pops it in her mouth. But wait — it doesn’t fit, it’s not even hers!
If you think this scenario is far-fetched, guess again. OK, maybe the part about Sue not washing the retainer upon reclaiming it was just a gag (literally and figuratively), but lost retainers are all too common. Unfortunately, they’re also expensive to replace — so they need to be handled with care. What’s the best way to do that? Retainers should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush and liquid soap (dish soap works well), and then placed immediately back in your mouth or into the case that came with the retainer. When you are eating a meal at a restaurant, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin and leave it on the table — this is a great way to lose it! Instead, take the case with you, and keep the retainer in it while you’re eating. When you get home, brush your teeth and then put the retainer back in your mouth.
If you do lose your retainer though, let us know right away. Retention is the last step of your orthodontic treatment, and it’s extremely important. You’ve worked hard to get a beautiful smile, and no one wants to see that effort wasted. Yet if you neglect to wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth are likely to shift out of position. Why does this happen?
As you’ve seen firsthand, teeth aren’t rigidly fixed in the jaw — they can be moved in response to light and continuous force. That’s what orthodontic appliances do: apply the right amount of force in a carefully controlled manner. But there are other forces at work on your teeth that can move them in less predictable ways. For example, normal biting and chewing can, over time, cause your teeth to shift position. To get teeth to stay where they’ve been moved orthodontically, new bone needs to form around them and anchor them where they are. That will happen over time, but only if they are held in place with a retainer. That’s why it is so important to wear yours as directed — and notify us immediately if it gets lost.
And if ever you do have to dig your retainer out of a dumpster… be sure to wash it before putting in in your mouth!
If you would like more information on retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers” and “Why Orthodontic Retainers?”