Fluoride for Kids

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Fluoride for Kids

Remember, kids only need a small portion of toothpaste. 

Remember, kids only need a small portion of toothpaste. 

February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information. 

Historically, fluoride recommendations for children have gone through a few revisions. Every year, the public health experts at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Dental Association (ADA) evaluate the latest research and recalibrate their suggestions on fluoride use. Data on the number of children with cavities, the number of cavities per child and access to fluoridated drinking water all weigh in on the latest guidelines. 

Fortunately, if you live in Los Angeles or Ventura county and get your water from a major utilities provider, your tap water is properly fluoridated. The exact amount of fluoride varies by district, but generally hovers around 0.7 milligrams per liter. This number was recently lowered due to increased access and usage of fluoride toothpastes and varnishes by the general population. As long as you are drinking, cooking or rinsing with tap water, you and your family are getting a therapeutic dose of fluoride. 

Previously, the ADA recommended against using fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of one. This was to combat the risk of fluorosis (fluoride induced discoloration of teeth) of the adult teeth during critical developmental phases. However, modern research shows that using a rice grain sized smear of paste is safe for children of all ages. Once teeth are visible in the mouth, we recommend attempting to brush twice daily. At about three years of age, you can up the amount to a pea sized portion of toothpaste. As with any medication, make sure your child isn't consuming large portions of toothpaste during brushing or otherwise. 

What's off the recommendation list for fluoride? Supplements and vitamins. As it turns out, ingesting fluoride (like with a chewable vitamin) isn't nearly as effective as having the compound physically contact the tooth. In today's dental practice we will apply fluoride as a foam or varnish at periodic cleaning appointments. Allowing the fluoride to sit on the teeth undisturbed for 30 minutes is proven to limit the development of new cavities. Plus it comes in great flavors!

Due to diets and medical conditions, some children have an even higher risk of developing new tooth decay. Products like fluoride rinses, gels and even xylitol anticavity supplements are available to keep teeth healthy and decay free. If you would like to know more about fluoride, preventative dentistry and how to protect your kids' teeth, please give our office a call!

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Crowns for Baby Teeth

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Crowns for Baby Teeth

ThousandOaksFamilyDentistry.com

February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information. 

In some ways, baby teeth aren't that different from their permanent counterparts. When a cavity gets big enough and weakens the overall tooth structure, a crown is often the recommended treatment. However, there are some fundamental differences between the crowns placed on the primary and adult teeth. Read on to catch the full story!

For starters, baby tooth crowns are not made by a dental lab. They usually come from a set of prefabricated stainless steel or polycarbonate crowns that can be adjusted and cut to fit the prepared tooth. For young children, a precise fit between tooth and crown isn't as important as getting something to cover/protect the tooth and minimizing time in the dental chair. In areas where cosmetics may be a concern, "strip" crowns can be used. Here, a clear shell is placed over the tooth and filled with tooth colored filling material. After the material is set, the shell is "stripped" away, leaving behind a natural appearing restoration. 

Many times, a crown on a baby tooth is provided in conjunction with a procedure called a pulpotomy. This is done when a cavity reaches the nerve of a tooth and causes irreversible inflammation. The dentist will remove the inflamed nerve tissue and place a medicated filling before cementing the crown. Many times it is difficult to judge wether a tooth will need a filling, crown and/or pulpotomy before beginning treatment. Don't be surprised if the plan has to change on the fly. 

We typically refer our young patients to pediatric dentists to have crowns placed. The training and expertise of these specialists make the appointments easier and less traumatic for little ones. If you would like to know more about baby tooth crowns, fillings for kids, or any other oral health topics, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Why are baby teeth so white?

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Dental Questions: Why are baby teeth so white?

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February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information. 

One of the most immediately noticeable features of baby teeth is the pearly white shade of their dental enamel. Many times, parents are surprised to find that their child's first adult teeth aren't nearly as bright as their predecessors. Has your child lost their Hollywood smile? Fear not, this is completely normal!

While baby teeth are made of the same enamel and dentin as adult teeth, the ratios and compositions are slightly different. The inner dentin layer of the tooth is generally more opaque than enamel and tends to pick up pigments from the foods we eat or drink. In the baby teeth, the ratio of enamel to dentin is considerably higher. Thus, the teeth appear more white and tend to develop less deep staining. On the flip-side, the overall thickness of dentin and enamel is much less in baby teeth. This means that cavities can reach the nerve much faster than the adult counterparts. 

Primary first molar versus adult first molar. Notice how the enamel is relatively thicker in the baby tooth, while the overall thickness of both layers is much less than the adult tooth. 

Primary first molar versus adult first molar. Notice how the enamel is relatively thicker in the baby tooth, while the overall thickness of both layers is much less than the adult tooth. 

What if your child doesn't have perfectly white teeth? That's a tough question to answer without a complete dental exam, but it can be due to a number of reasons. Cavities, congenital defects in tooth structure and certain types of plaque and tartar can all stain baby teeth. Your best bet is to bring your child in for regular dental checkups. To schedule an appointment today, or to learn more about baby teeth and oral health, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Can I put my baby to sleep with a bottle?

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Dental Questions: Can I put my baby to sleep with a bottle?

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February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information. 

Putting your baby to sleep with a bottle is an idea that has crossed every parent's mind. A bottle of formula, warm milk or juice may sooth fussy sleepers and make bedtime a much easier task. You have probably heard that making a routine of sleeping with a bottle can lead to tooth decay, but could a few nights a month or week be fine? At our office, we recommend avoiding putting infants to sleep with a bottle all together. Take a look!

For starters, putting your baby to sleep with anything that contains carbs or sugars will eventually cause enamel decalcification and tooth decay. Even drinks that aren't normally considered sweet, like milk, contain enough carbohydrates to start the decay process. This problem is so common that it even has its own name, baby bottle tooth decay, where the front teeth develop cavities in a telltale fashion. The problem with using a bottle only once or twice a month is that it can create a habit that is hard to break. Difficult sleepers and tired parents can lead to a slippery slope!

What about water? While water does nothing harmful to the teeth, its still not a great idea. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle of any liquid increases their risk of ear infection. As fluids pool at the eustachian tubes in the throat, it creates a more ideal environment for bacterial growth. Again, your best bet it to avoid sleeping with bottles all together. 

We know that raising and caring for a newborn is a monumental task. At Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry, we are here to answer any dental questions you may have. If you would like to know more about children's teeth. tooth decay or good oral health, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Can I eat with my Invisalign trays on?

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Dental Questions: Can I eat with my Invisalign trays on?

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One of the most unexpected (but often appreciated) side effects of Invisalign treatment is weight loss. Because the trays have to be worn 22+ hours a day and can only be used on clean teeth, many patients forgo snacks and extra sugary drinks in the name of convenience. But, if you really need that afternoon pastry pick-me-up, do you actually have to take your trays out, then eat, then brush before putting them back in? The answer is yes, absolutely!

Anytime we eat or drink anything other than water, the pH balance in the mouth turns acidic. Usually, this is slowly buffered back to normal by the compounds in our saliva. However, Invisalign trays can trap food and liquids around the teeth and keep the protective saliva out. This effectively allows the teeth to soak in acid, leading to decay and decalcification spots. You don't want to finish your Invisalign treatment only to find out you need fillings! Furthermore, extreme temperatures and unexpected forces can deform the thin plastic trays. Clear aligners are designed with extreme precision, and even the smallest changes can negate their orthodontic abilities. 

Invisalign is a great treatment option for many patients, but it is not without it's limitations. If you cannot leave the trays in for nearly 24 hours every day, you may need to consider other options. To learn more about Invisalign trays, braces or other cosmetic dental procedures, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Can all teeth be saved with crowns?

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Dental Questions: Can all teeth be saved with crowns?

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Its easy to think of crowns as a save-all for cavities, cracked teeth and other dental disasters. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many situations where a crown will simply not improve the condition or longevity of a damaged tooth. The main benefit of crowns is that they restore strength to broken down teeth by creating a full coverage "cap" around the remaining structure. However, this means the tooth needs to have good gum and bone support along with some (minimal) amount of remaining tooth to hold on to. 

Firstly, a crown will do nothing to benefit a tooth with severe bone loss or gum disease. Splinting a tooth with periodontal disease to a healthy tooth may seem like a great way to stabilize roots and create a more sturdy anchor. However, research shows this is not the case and splinting teeth can actually create plaque traps that accelerate bone loss. In most instances, placing a crown on a tooth with poor bone support is ill advised and can further hinder its longevity in your mouth. 

In terms of restoring severe tooth decay or fractured teeth, crowns still have certain limitations. There needs to be a minimal amount of dental enamel and dentin above the gum line for the crown to be cemented upon. Procedures like root canals/posts, crown lengthening and orthodontics allow dentists to create more structure for the crown. However, there is a limit to how much can be done for a specific tooth. Generally speaking, teeth that are broken off at or below the gum line are usually impossible to save with a crown. If saving them is an option, it is almost always more economical and predictable to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant

Overall, crowns are an excellent way to recreate the bulk or body of a damaged tooth. Still, it is important to acknowledge their limitations. In some circumstances, removing the tooth in question and replacing it with a bridge or implant is the more favorable option. If you would like to know more about crowns, implants, bridges or other tooth replacement procedures, please give our office a call!

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Case Presentation: Anterior Crowns

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Case Presentation: Anterior Crowns

ThousandOaksFamilyDentistry.com

Just like our skin and hair, teeth age with time. Enamel becomes discolored, the gum lines recede and years of tiny chips and wear all create the appearance of an older smile. For today's patient, the six front (anterior) teeth showed signs of recession, crowding and staining along the gum line. After preparing the teeth, six Emax lithium disilicate units were bonded to the teeth. The new crowns straightened the teeth while creating a natural and desirable contour. The slight color gradient from the gum line to the tooth edges also established the appearance of younger dental enamel. Overall, a fantastic transformation!

If you would like to know more about the cosmetic services we offer, please give our office a call. No two smiles are the same, and we approach each patent's needs individually. Contact us today to set up an examination or consultation appointment!

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Nail biting and teeth

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Nail biting and teeth

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You've probably heard you mom say it a hundred (or more) times: biting you nails is bad for your teeth! Still, slightly less than half of all adults report some regular nail biting. Beyond the disease potential from putting your hands in your mouth, nail biting poses specific risks to the teeth. Read on to learn why this common habit is detrimental to your oral health and how to prevent it!

Nail biting requires you to use your teeth in ways that they were never designed. Using the front teeth to mash through the thick keratin on the nails wears away at the thin enamel on the ends of the incisors. These teeth were designed for tearing and cutting, not puncturing hard objects. Chipped enamel, irregular wear patterns and even tooth movement can all occur with prolonged nail biting. Some studies also report an increased frequency of TMJ pain in nail biters. The constant pressure on the jaw joints and muscles can be enough to cause soreness or even trigger headaches. 

At the core, nail biting is usually tied to stress or emotional strain. Mindfulness, stress reduction techniques and meditation can help cut out nail biting at the source. Keeping nails short and trimmed can also limit access for the teeth and thus prevent chewing as well. Some patients also use nail polish as a bad taste-deterrent, with certain brands of polish containing flavor additives specifically to stop nail biting. Finally, strong tasting/smelling ointments such as tea tree oil have been used for years to remind us to keep our fingers out of our mouths. 

All in all, you should never use your teeth for anything other than eating and chewing. Nail biting, opening packages or holding objects with your teeth can all result in cosmetic or structural damage. If you would like to know more about how to manage nail biting, repairing chipped enamel or educating children on protecting their teeth, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Flossing around implants

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Dental Questions: Flossing around implants

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Dental implants are a new and exiting technology that has changed the way dentistry is practiced. The ability to add single teeth (or spans of teeth) back to the mouth in a non-removable fashion is a miracle for many patients. However, implants must be maintained with the same hygiene routines as natural teeth, if not more rigorously. Flossing is a particularly important step, as it directly targets the leading cause of implant failure. 

A dental implant is essentially a titanium screw that is placed beneath the gums and into the jaw bone. A crown is either cemented or screwed on to the implant, allowing the gum tissue to heal around it and create the appearance of a natural tooth. While the bones will eventually integrate with the titanium in the screw, the gums never truly "attach" to the sides of the implant crown. The result is a deeper pocket than a natural tooth, with much more potential for food collection and inflammation. Flossing is an essential part of cleaning the sides of the implant and removing irritants and plaque from its pockets. Much like the progression of natural gum disease, unclean implants can develop gum irritation and accelerated bone loss. When used correctly, floss reaches areas that the toothbrush cannot reach and keeps inflammation to a minimum. Don't worry- the floss won't damage the implant crown or the screw underneath!

Implants are an investment that begs to be protected. Regular brushing, flossing and dental cleanings are the only way to ensure your new teeth for many years to come. If you have any more questions about cleaning implants, brushing your teeth or using dental floss, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

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Dental Questions: Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

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Chewing gum is often touted as a great way to freshen your breath and remove strong tastes. You may have even heard that it can protect teeth or the dental enamel. While there is some truth to this statement, you have to be careful of what type of gum you use. Additionally, no matter what any advertising agency says, chewing gum is no replacement for daily brushing or flossing. However, it is an easy way to add a protective factor to your daily routine. Take a look!

First and foremost, for a gum to be "good" for your teeth, it absolutely has to be sugar free. Any products flavored with fructose, sucrose or HFCS are capable of fueling bacteria and starting the tooth decay process. Sugary gum is particularly harmful, since it is kept in the mouth and not swallowed. Gums flavored with sucralose, stevia, aspartame or xylitol are much safer options. Notably, xylitol provides the secondary benefits of stimulating salivation and inhibiting bacterial growth. You can find specific xylitol flavored gums at health food stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods. 

The physical act of chewing gum also has some benefits to the teeth. Chewing activates the salivary glands, keeping your teeth moist and mineralized. Additionally, gum can dislodge food stuck in the biting surfaces. However, gum overuse is a real problem that can lead to sore jaw muscles and headaches. Like anything, use gum with moderation and listen to your body. 

Chewing sugar free gum is an easy way to add extra protection against cavities and tooth decay. If you would like to know more about preventing cavities, brushing or flossing, please give our office a call!

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