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Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Most Common Oral Health Issues in Children

A number of issues can affect the oral health of children. Even though children’s baby teeth are eventually replaced with an adult set, it is still very important to care for and monitor the oral health of children as it is important to their general well being.

The most common oral health issues in children include:

Tooth Decay:

Paediatric dental disease, also known as childhood tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood illness. It is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. Tooth decay can cause pain, infection and even affect your child’s growth. Fortunately, it is a preventable disease. Limiting the consumption of certain foods that can leave sugars on the surface of the teeth such as candy, soft drinks and cookies or brushing the child’s teeth after consumption can prevent tooth decay.

Bottlemouth Syndrome:

This is a special form of tooth decay that occurs in very young children. This syndrome develops due to prolonged exposure to milk or sugary liquids in babies or toddlers. Giving your child a bottle of milk or juice frequently at bedtime puts them at risk of developing Bottlemouth Syndrome. If you notice white marks beginning to appear on your child’s teeth or red or inflamed gums, book an appointment with your dentist who will assess the extent of the problem and suggest treatment options.

Thumb Sucking:

Similar to having a special blanket or toy, many children suck their thumbs as a comfort. In most cases this isn’t cause for concern, as children usually stop sucking their thumbs naturally once they reach an age between two and four. However, if children continue this habit after their first teeth begin to appear, this can affect the alignment of the teeth and jaw. See your dentist for strategies on discouraging your child from this habit.

Grinding (Bruxism):

The grinding of teeth is a common developmental condition occurring in childhood that is often involuntary. Most children tend to stop grinding their teeth as they age, but if they don’t, they can cause wear on their teeth or even crack them. Discuss the issue with your dentist to determine the best treatment.

Over-retained primary (baby) teeth:

If a child’s permanent tooth begins erupting in the same space as their primary tooth that has not fallen out yet, it is important to address this issue as soon as possible. Your dentist will need to remove the primary tooth otherwise the permanent tooth can impact.

The Impact of Stress on Your Mouth

We all encounter stress in our lives, but if we don’t have the strategies to cope with it effectively, it can become debilitating. Stress can not only affect you in a negative way psychologically, but also in a physical sense. In fact, stress also negatively affects your oral health. Researchers have discovered a strong link between depression and anxiety with dental problems.

How does stress affect your mouth?

  • Bruxism (tooth grinding): stress commonly triggers the grinding, clenching or gnashing of teeth during the night. It can lead to jaw disorders, headaches, chipped or damaged teeth and other dental problems.
  • Dry mouth: anxiety and stress often result in a dry mouth, which has a negative impact on oral health. Saliva helps to wash away residual food particles and bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
  • Canker sores: these are small spots with a white or greyish base colouring that have red borders. They appear inside the mouth sometimes in pairs or in larger numbers. While researchers are not sure exactly what causes them, they have been known to be linked to stress. Stay away from foods and drinks with a high acid content such as tomatoes, citrus fruits and chilli. Most canker sores disappear within ten days.
  • Cold sores: the Herpes virus causes these and breakouts are common when you are under stress. Over-the-counter medications can help heal unattractive cold sores.
  • Gum disease and infections: it’s widely known that stress lowers the immune system, putting the body at risk of developing infections. The likelihood of developing gum disease or gum infections is increased when under stress.
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome: this syndrome is characterised by an unpleasant burning sensation on the tongue, lips, gums or palate. It can be caused by psychological factors brought on by stress.
  • Lichen Planus: this condition is characterised by ulcers, sores and white lines appearing in the mouth. It is caused by a viral infection that the body is more susceptible to when stressed.
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder: this painful disorder affects the jaw and is characterised by chronic jaw pain, headaches and stiff movement of the jaw. Stress contributes to the onset of this disorder in a number of ways. Tooth grinding is a common cause as is anxiety and depression.

What should you do?

If you experience any of the conditions that are related to stress above, book an appointment with your dentist. Together you will discuss strategies to reduce or cope with the stress in your life as well as treatment options for the oral health condition you are experiencing.

10 Dental Myths Busted!

#1: Tooth decay is inevitable

Even though tooth decay becomes more common as you age, it is in fact entirely preventable. Practising good oral hygiene habits as well as seeing your dentist regularly will help maintain healthy teeth and keep them free from decay.

#2: White teeth are healthier teeth

Just because teeth are white doesn’t mean they are any healthier than discoloured teeth. As we age, our teeth naturally discolour and certain foods and drinks such as red wine or coffee contribute to this process.

#3: There’s no need to brush milk teeth

Even though your child will lose their milk teeth, it is important to care for them properly. Babies’ teeth need to be brushed twice per day from the moment the first tooth erupts.

#4: Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal is just as effective as brushing

Chewing gum after you eat can assist in neutralising acids as well as freshen your breath, but it should never be used as a substitute for brushing. Brushing twice per day as well as flossing is required to remove dental plague and remnants of food.

#5: Dental procedures should be avoided during pregnancy

While dental surgery and x-rays should be avoided during pregnancy, it is important to continue with regular dental treatments. This is especially because the changes in hormones during pregnancy alters the production of acids in the mouth, which means that a pregnant woman needs to be even more vigilant with her oral health than usual.

#6: It’s too late for braces

Advancements in dental technology and orthodontics mean that braces no longer have to be fitted during adolescence. Adults now have the opportunity to have braces fitted and many opt for the clear variety for a more discreet look. They will soon be able to smile with confidence as their teeth are realigned.

#7: Teeth whitening will damage teeth

If teeth are whitened professionally or by carefully following the instructions on over-the-counter whitening products, you should have nothing to worry about. Developments in whitening technology means that cosmetic teeth whitening is now safer than ever before.

#8: I’ll need false teeth when I’m older

Improvements in dental hygiene now mean that many of us keep our natural teeth well into old age. Approximately 90 % of elderly people these days have retained their natural teeth.

#9: Placing an aspirin directly on am aching tooth will relieve pain

This is an old at-home remedy that is not effective. The only effective way to use aspirin is to swallow it. See your dentist if your toothache is recurrent.

#10: Bad breath means you’re a bad brusher

Bad breath can be caused by a number of different factors, only one of which is poor dental hygiene. The food you consume is one of the major culprits and illnesses such as chest infections also frequently cause bad breath.

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