Does Your Child Need a Space Maintainer?

space maintainer, dental space maintainerTooth decay can adversely impact your child’s dental development. To promote healthy growth of permanent teeth, your dentist may recommend a space maintainer. Here’s how this device works and why it’s important for the development of healthy teeth.

What Is a Space Maintainer?

A dental space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance made of metal or acrylic. The material may be removable or fixed to the teeth. It’s installed in the area where a baby tooth is lost prematurely. As suggested in its name, a space maintainer keeps the area of the lost tooth open. It prevents adjacent teeth from crowding into the gap, which can adversely impact the development of permanent teeth.

Due to the implications of shifting teeth, an endodontist may suggest a space maintainer for your little one. This can prevent the need for a major oral surgery a few years down the road. Continue Reading →

Gum Disease, Pregnancy & Birth Defects: What’s the Connection?

gum disease birth defects, gum disease pregnancy, gum disease birth complicationsGingivitis is a form of gum inflammation that eventually leads to periodontitis that affects bones and gums. Aside from the dental ramifications, periodontitis has also been linked to birth complications. What exactly is the correlation between gum disease, pregnancy and birth defects?

Gum Disease, Pregnancy and Birth Defects: The Facts

Roughly three-quarters of women develop gingivitis at some point during pregnancy. This is in large part due to hormonal changes. Additional factors like a higher maternal age and lower socioeconomical status increase your risk of gum disease during pregnancy.

Researchers have linked gum disease to birth complications, such as pre-term birth and low birth weight. This has been confirmed in a study published in the US National Library of Medicine.

Babies born below 5.5-pounds are at an increased risk of slow development later in life. This includes slower physical growth, slower cognitive ability, and delayed emotional maturity.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is important no matter who you are. However, it’s even more important for pregnant women since the disease is affecting an additional person inside them.

As always, maintain daily hygiene habits at home. This means the usual rounds of brushing and flossing. You should also watch what you consume; limit intake of refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. Continue Reading →

How to Stop Bad Breath in Its Tracks

stop bad breath, bad breath, halitosisStinky breath (halitosis) is embarrassing and is especially problematic if you have to talk to people up close. Why does your breath smell like the pits of hell and what can you do about it? Learn how to stop bad breath naturally.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Some causes are obvious. You know why a smoker would have foul breath. The same goes for someone who just ate garlic. Other causes, though, are less apparent and may also be an indicator of more serious dental issues.

One cause is dry mouth. Lack of saliva production, known as xerostomia, prevents the breakdown of food particles. It also allows odor-producing bacteria to proliferate.

Other causes include a high-sugar diet, drinking too much coffee, digestive issues, and even prescription medication. Continue Reading →

Epilepsy and Oral Health: What’s the Connection?

epilepsy oral healthEpilepsy is a complex neural disorder that causes seizures whose health ramifications are far-reaching, to include having an indirect impact on your teeth and gums. Here’s some important information about the connection between epilepsy and oral health.

The Link Between Epilepsy and Oral Health

When epileptics go into convulsion, they are at risk of damaging their teeth. How so? Seizures often cause epileptics to grind and gnash their teeth. This can result in chipped or cracked teeth. In severe instances, this can cause a tooth to loosen or dislodge from its socket. It may also lead to a fractured jaw or TMJ disc displacement.

Unfortunately, some anti-convulsion medications can also cause side effects that impact dental health, including diminished vitamin D absorption, which affects teeth remineralization. Another side effect is overgrown gums, which increases plaque buildup. Continue Reading →

What’s the Connection Between Diabetes and Oral Health?

diabetes oral health, oral health, diabetesAccording to the World Health Organization, 422 million people worldwide lived with type II diabetes in 2014. If you have diabetes, or are at risk, then you may also be at risk of periodontal disease. To know for sure, let’s explore the connection between diabetes and oral health.

Diabetes and Oral Health: What’s the Link?

Diabetes is a condition that adversely affects your body’s ability to regulate blood glucose. This condition also comes with a plethora of side effects, one of which is dry mouth. This means that you produce less saliva. Without saliva, bacteria settle in the mouth, eventually causing teeth to decay and rot.

Diabetes patients are at greater risk of developing cavities. In addition, they are also more prone to mouth soreness, ulcers, and overall poorer dental health.

That’s not all; diabetes also slows the body’s ability to heal from wounds. This may slow recovery time after a major oral surgery, such as a dental implant. Having diabetes might even make you ineligible for such treatments. You would need to speak with your endodontist to find out what your options are. Some dentists will test your blood sugar beforehand to determine whether you’re eligible for certain operations. Continue Reading →

Conquering Your Fear of the Dentist

Conquering Your Fear of the Dentist

Do you fear dental appointments? Being nervous about going to the dentist is fairly common, but

some people are so anxious that they cancel appointments or avoid going altogether. Unfortunately,

this can lead to easily treatable problems becoming issues that are costly and painful to address.

Why do people develop dental phobias? They may have had a bad experience before, either with a

dentist who was insensitive, a procedure that caused pain, or complications after treatment. They

may simply be fearful of what might happen, or dislike the feeling of vulnerability that comes with

going in for dental treatment. Whatever the cause, it is important to try to reduce those fears.

Neglected oral health only makes it likely that someone will have to spend more time in a dentist’s

chair, not less. Here are 5 tips to help overcome your dread of going to the dentist:

1. Talk to your dental specialist

Always tell your dentist if you’re feeling anxious about treatment. While they might have already

noticed if you’re on edge, they’re not telepathic—they won’t know that you’re having a serious

problem unless you say so. When you communicate your qualms, your dentist has the opportunity

to modify their approach to put you at ease.

2. Decide on a “stop” sign together

One issue that causes dental phobia is the feeling of having a treatment be out of your control. If this

is an element of your fear, talk with your dental specialist and come up with a stop signal that will let

them know when you’re uncomfortable or simply need a break. Knowing that you have the ability to

stop at any moment may help you be more comfortable with the overall process, no matter how

long it takes.

3. Don’t hesitate to ask questions

Not knowing what to expect when you go in for treatment can amp up anxiety. Your dentist should

be willing and able to answer any question you have about the length, purpose, and steps involved

in any proposed procedure, whether it’s a simple cleaning or a full root canal. A good dentist will

take the time to ensure that you are comfortable and fully informed.

4. Visit your dentist regularly

Making sure you keep your regular dental appointments serves two important functions in fighting

dental phobia. First, getting regular cleanings helps to avert dental problems that lead to painful,

complicated procedures to address decay and neglect. Second, the repetition of short, positive

experiences at the dentist will help to combat previous negative impressions. Over time, it will

become easier to go to the dentist as you build up a history of good visits, and your teeth will be

better off for it!

5. Use mindful strategies to reduce stress

Anxiety causes a physical reaction, even when logically we know there is no reason to be afraid. You

can counteract this reaction with deep breathing or similar mindfulness techniques both before your

appointment and while you’re in the chair. Also, if the anticipation of a dental visit provokes stress,

make your appointments early in the day, so you don’t have time for pressure to build up.

Many dentists, both here in Northridge and elsewhere, know that fear of the dentist can pose a

significant obstacle to getting the dental care you need, and they want to help. Letting a prospective

dentist know about your anxiety can help you work toward overcoming your fear, so that you can

leave the office feeling wonderful instead of stressed.

The Dental Effects of Thumb Sucking

thumb suckingParents need not be concerned about how much their children suck their thumbs. This is a natural behavior. However, if a child continues to do it well after it’s appropriate for their age, that can be bad. Thumb sucking can have long-term dental ramifications.

Why Children Suck Their Thumbs

Babies suck their thumbs because it releases endorphins. The released neurotransmitters help children relax, much the same way holding a stuffed animal or blanket makes them feel safe. Aside from their thumbs, they may also suck other fingers, a pacifier, or a sippy cup.

The Problem with Prolonged Thumb Sucking

Unfortunately, too much thumb sucking can have long-term consequences. Children may develop thumb callouses or a speech impediment. From a dental standpoint, our endodontists warn that it may lead to abnormal teeth alignment and premature teeth eruption. It may also lead to palatal narrowing. This occurs when the roof of the mouth does not develop to full size. Other issues include an open bite and malocclusion. Continue Reading →

Improve Dental Health with Oil Pulling

oil pulling, oral hygieneMore people are exploring alternative forms of dental care. One such method is called “oil pulling,” which some people swear by. What exactly is this method and is it a legitimate form of oral hygiene?

What Is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a form of Ayurvedic medicine that originated in India. Basically, the idea is to rinse your mouth using some form of oil, such as coconut oil. Because of oil’s viscous quality, it supposedly helps loosen bacteria especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Does Oil Pulling Work?

Some people claim oil pulling has cured teeth that might otherwise need root canals. Their oral surgeons were astonished that previous signs of tooth rot had vanished. While we believe oil pulling may have positive effects, we are naturally wary of such claims.

Admittingly, preliminary studies do show that the method might indeed reduce plaque. However, no studies suggest oil pulling is a cure-all that reverses dental caries, root canal procedures, or dental pockets. Continue Reading →

How to Prevent Dry Mouth When You Sleep

dry mouth sleep“Dry mouth” is a common symptom most people can attest to experiencing at one point or another. This often occurs during slumber. Why is dry mouth during sleep bad? The answer is simple: lack of saliva creates a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Read on to learn about the causes and how to prevent it.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth isn’t a disease; it’s often a symptom of other medical conditions. Factors such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or natural aging can increase instances. Smokers and heavy drinkers are also at risk.

Consequences of dry mouth include bad breath, sore throat, and difficulty chewing and swallowing. You might also notice frequent cracking and splitting on the surface of your lips.

Why Is Dry Mouth Bad?

As mentioned, having a dry mouth means that your saliva production is low. Low saliva leads to the prevalence of more bacteria. Without treatment, this eventually leads to gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. Our oral surgeons warn of the dangers of dry mouth; seek treatment if you experience the sensation frequently. Continue Reading →

Four Dental New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

dental resolutions, New Year’s resolutions2019 is upon us. What are some of your resolutions? If you’re like most people, you probably plan to lose some weight or get that long-due job promotion. Here’s another thought: how about some dental New Year’s resolutions? Better health, after all, includes your teeth and gums.

1. Clean Up Your Diet

Making better food choices is beneficial because it kills multiple birds with one stone. You’ll lose weight, have more energy, and improve your dental health. People often overlook the last point. Eating healthier means less refined carbs and sugar that lead to tooth decay and caries.

2. Kick the Habit

Now is a good time to quit if you’re a smoker. We know this is easier said than done. However, smoking not only drastically increases lung cancer risk but you also double the risk of gum disease. As an aside, smoking also stains your teeth. Our cosmetic dentists often treat patients with teeth that are brown because of years of lighting up. Continue Reading →