Posts for: December, 2017
A lot happens in your child’s mouth from infancy to early adulthood. Not surprisingly, it’s the most active period for development of teeth, gums and jaw structure. Our primary goal as care providers is to keep that development on track.
One of our main concerns, therefore, is to protect their teeth as much as possible from tooth decay. This includes their primary (“baby”) teeth: although your child will eventually lose them, a premature loss of a primary tooth to decay could cause the incoming permanent tooth to erupt out of proper position. And we of course want to protect permanent teeth from decay during these developmental years as well.
That’s why we may recommend applying topical fluoride to your child’s teeth. A naturally occurring chemical, fluoride helps strengthen the mineral content of enamel. While fluoride can help prevent tooth decay all through life, it’s especially important to enamel during this growth period.
Although your child may be receiving fluoride through toothpaste or drinking water, in that form it first passes through the digestive system into the bloodstream and then to the teeth. A topical application is more direct and allows greater absorption into the enamel.
We’ll typically apply fluoride in a gel, foam or varnish form right after a professional cleaning. The fluoride is a much higher dose than what your child may encounter in toothpaste and although not dangerous it can cause temporary vomiting, headache or stomach pain if accidentally swallowed. That’s why we take extra precautions such as a mouth tray (similar to a mouth guard) to catch excess solution.
The benefits, though, outweigh this risk of unpleasant side effects, especially for children six years or older. Several studies over the years with thousands of young patients have shown an average 28% reduction in decayed, missing or filled teeth in children who received a fluoride application.
Topical fluoride, along with a comprehensive dental care program, can make a big difference in your child’s dental care. Not only is it possible for them to enjoy healthier teeth and gums now, but it could also help ensure their future dental health.
If you would like more information on topical fluoride and other dental disease prevention measures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Fluoride Gels Reduce Decay.”
Jaw pain can be incredibly uncomfortable and make it difficult to focus at work or school. Our Clarks Summit, PA, dentists, Dr. Jeffrey Bell, Dr. Dale Collins and Dr. Amy Cravath, discuss a few possible causes for your pain.
A bad bite
Bite problems are one potential cause of an aching jaw. If you have a bad bite, your teeth don't meet together properly when you close your mouth. The problem can stress your jaw, causing your painful symptoms.
Your sleeping position
Do you automatically curl yourself into the fetal position when you sleep on your side? If you do, you probably place your fists under your jaw. Sleeping in this position for several hours puts pressure on your jaw, resulting in pain when you wake.
Grinding and clenching
Grinding or clenching your teeth stresses your jaw and may also damage your teeth or dental restorations.
A dental abscess or osteomyelitis
Bacterial infections can cause abscesses or osteomyelitis, an infection of your jawbone. If you have jaw pain, a fever or facial swelling, call our Clarks Summit office immediately. Both infections are dental emergencies and require prompt treatment.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
TMD affects the bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles in nerves in the hinged jaw joints on either side of your face. Symptoms of TMD may include pain and clicking sounds when opening and closing your mouth, jaw locking, a change in your bite, headaches, dizziness, ear pain and pain that radiates to your face, shoulder and neck. Although an injury or arthritis can cause the condition, it's often impossible to determine a specific cause for TMD symptoms.
How is jaw pain treated?
Ice and over-the-counter pain medication can relieve pain caused by your sleeping position. A custom-made nightguard is a good option if you grind or clench your teeth at night, while orthodontic treatment offers an effective way to correct bite problems. You'll need antibiotics if you have a dental abscess and may also require a root canal. Antibiotics are also needed to treat osteomyelitis. If bone death has occurred, surgery to remove the dead portion of the bone may also be required.
Ice packs, stretching exercises and stress relief techniques can be helpful in relieving TMD pain. If those conservative methods aren't effective, you may benefit by wearing an oral appliance that reduces stress on your hinge joints.
Are you concerned about jaw pain? Call our Clarks Summit, PA, dentists, Dr. Bell, Dr. Collins and Dr. Cravath, at (570) 586-1411 to schedule an appointment.
Have you ever felt a hot, burning sensation in your mouth—like it had been scalded—but you didn't eat or drink anything that could have caused it?
While you may think you’re hallucinating, there’s another possibility: Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS). This condition, which can last for years, produces sensations in the mouth of not only scalding or burning, but also tingling, numbness and a decline in your ability to taste. Patients may feel it throughout their mouth or only in localized areas like the lips, tongue or inside the cheeks.
The exact cause of BMS is also something of a mystery. It’s been theoretically linked to diabetes, vitamin or mineral deficiencies and psychological problems. Because it’s most common among women of menopausal age hormonal changes have been proposed as a factor, although hormone replacement therapy often doesn’t produce any symptomatic relief for BMS.
To complicate matters, other conditions often share the condition’s effects, which need to be ruled out first to arrive at a BMS diagnosis. A feeling of scalding could be the result of mouth dryness, caused by medications or systemic conditions that inhibit saliva flow. Some denture wearers may display some of the symptoms of BMS due to an allergic reaction to denture materials; others may have a similar reaction to the foaming agent sodium lauryl sulfate found in some toothpaste that can irritate the skin inside the mouth.
If these other possibilities can be ruled out, then you may have BMS. While unfortunately there’s no cure for the condition, there are ways to lessen its impact. There’s even the possibility that it will resolve itself over time.
Until then, keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water or using saliva-stimulating products, limiting alcohol, caffeinated drinks or spicy foods and refraining from smoking. If you’re taking medications that could cause dry mouth, speak with your physician about changing to an alternative. And try to reduce stress in your life through exercise, mindfulness practices or support groups.
While BMS isn’t considered harmful to your physical health it can make life less enjoyable. Careful symptom management may help improve your quality of life.
If you would like more information on Burning Mouth Syndrome, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Burning Mouth Syndrome: A Painful Puzzle.”