Family and Cosmetic Dentist - Livonia
31574 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, MI 48150
Establishing good dental hygiene habits should start as soon as the very first baby tooth pops out of a child's gums. Babies' first teeth can be brushed with a soft "baby" toothbrush and water or simply wiped with cotton swabs - at this age they don't need to use toothpaste. As soon as there are two adjacent teeth in the mouth, a nightly flossing ritual needs to be introduced to the dental routine too. Good dental habits are easier to maintain if they are established early, as part of a normal daily routine.
When a child's first permanent molars erupt into the mouth at about 6 years of age, you will want to talk to us about applying a plastic coating, or "sealant" on those back teeth. We simply paint the sealant on the chewing surfaces of the molars to provide a safe and effective barrier to food getting trapped in the grooves of the teeth, which could eventually lead to the formation of cavities. A second application of sealant should be applied at about 12 years, when the second permanent molars arrive.
The teenaged years sometimes bring with them eating disorders, including bulimia (self-induced vomiting). Patients suffering from this disorder will experience erosion on the back of their upper front teeth due to the acid in the vomit, and may also develop sores at the corners of their mouth. Tongue and mouth piercings are popular with the teenage set, but they have their own set of problems, from oral hygiene issues and infections to fractured, cracked or chipped teeth. As the adult years approach, some gender differences start to emerge. While both men and women need to be vigilant with their dental hygiene, studies show that men are less likely to seek preventive dental care and often neglect their oral health until a problem arises. Problems can range from bad breath to gum disease and tooth loss to oral cancer - all problems that are treatable if identified early.
Women's oral health can be linked to different stages of life, and fluctuating levels of hormones. For example, pregnant women have a risk of increased inflammation of the gums because of a surge in estrogen and progesterone. Rigid attention to dental hygiene and regular cleanings at the dentist are a must in order to keep teeth and gums clean, and to prevent plaque from forming, If plaque isn't removed, it may lead to gingivitis and subsequently to more serious periodontal diseases, which have been linked to pre-term, low-weight babies.
Menopause brings its own set of dental concerns. During this time some women can experience dry mouth, burning sensations and changes in taste. Hormone replacement therapy may cause gums to bleed, swell and become red.
As your dental professional, we're here to help you and your family through each life stage. Regular visits and open communication about health or medication changes will allow us to monitor any changes in your oral health, and make each stage as healthy and comfortable as possible.
Here are a few of some of the more common foods and vitamins you should pay special attention to:
Because your teeth and jaws are made mostly of calcium, it's important to get enough of this mineral in your daily diet. Even if you don't like milk, remember that cheese, yogurt, almonds, leafy green vegetables, broccoli, beans and tofu are also great sources of calcium. Have a look in your grocery store's juice aisle for calcium-enriched juices too, and remember to include vitamin D in your diet: it helps to absorb any calcium you consume.
Iron, found in red meat, liver, egg yolks and bran cereal, to name a few sources, is important in preventing sores from forming in your mouth, and your tongue from becoming inflamed.
A lack of vitamin B3 (found in chicken and fish) can cause bad breath and canker sores, while mouth sores can also develop in those who don't consume enough vitamin B12 and B2.
We think of vitamin C to fight a cold, but did you know that a lack of this important vitamin can lead to bleeding gums and loose teeth? Oranges, raw red peppers and sweet potatoes are delicious sources of vitamin C.
We know that smoking, and consuming an abundance of certain berries, coffee, tea, red wine and other staining foods and drinks can affect the color of our teeth, but there are a number of other common things we consume on a daily basis that can also adversely affect our teeth.
For example, apple juice sounds healthier than soda pop, but did you know it can have more sugar than soda? All acidic drinks - including regular and diet soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices - can pose another threat to teeth: "dental erosion," the loss of the protective enamel on your teeth. By sipping on acidic drinks over a long period of time, you are continually bathing the teeth in acid. Try to finish drinking these beverages within a few minutes instead of sipping them throughout a longer period, and if possible, rinse your mouth out with plain water after finishing your drink to help to wash away any remaining sugar and acid.
Remember, too, that teeth are not tools, and should therefore not be used to open bottles, tear away packaging or gnaw on pens. Avoid chewing on ice too: you can crack your teeth!
Carbohydrates: Did you know that carbohydrates can be just as bad for teeth as candy? The reason for this is that bacteria feed on leftover foods in the mouth and produce acid, which causes decay.
Hidden Sugars: Watch out for sugars in unlikely places, like cough syrup, and sugars that appear naturally in many foods - even milk! We recommend that parents don't put their babies to sleep with a bottle of milk, because as milk pools in a child's mouth, the sugars mix with bacteria in the mouth to make a mild acid, which can then attack the tooth enamel to produce cavities.
Finally, you may think that all gum and candy is frowned upon by dentists, but sometimes candy can be dandy, especially in the form of sugarless gum. In fact, because gum stimulates the creation of saliva in the mouth, many dentists recommend chewing on a piece of sugarless gum after a meal if you can't brush right away.
Talk to us about the important connection between what you put in your mouth, and your good dental and overall health.
If you have medical conditions, or if you are taking any medications, please make sure that your dentist is aware of them before starting any dental work in your mouth.
People with certain medical conditions may require special consideration in the dental chair. For example, asthma medications can lead to dry mouth and possible oral fungal infections. Patients with low blood pressure may require a more upright positioning in the dental chair. In fact, high consumption of herbal teas can lower blood pressure and put people at risk of fainting in the dental chair. Most people don't realize that multivitamins, ginseng tablets and herbal teas are also considered drugs, so make sure that you keep us advised of any herbal remedies or alternative medicines you may be taking too.
If you've had heart surgery or joint replacement, or are immunosupressed due to illness, radiation treatment or a drug you are taking, please let us know. Sometimes we need to prescribe antibiotics before we even start dental work, in order to avoid possible infection or complications in the event you bleed during your dental procedure.
In short, please keep us aware of your medical conditions and the drugs you are on. Some drugs can interact with medications that we may need to prescribe for your dental work, so it's important that we know which drugs you are taking and in what doses.
If you're reading this article before the children's eagerly anticipated ritual of Halloween, or after the windfall of candy has already descended into your household, you'll want to know how best to minimize the damage that candy can have on your little ghosts' and goblins' teeth. Here are some tips to help put the bite on cavities.
It's important to remember that sticky treats such as toffee, caramels and jujubes are the worst for teeth as the remnants from these soft candies stick to teeth and are difficult to remove. Interestingly, it's not actually the amount of sugar in candy that can cause decay, but the amount of time that the candy stays in the mouth, which is why hard candies like suckers that take a long time to eat are also a poor choice.
Candy that is present in the mouth for an extended time offers a sustained food source for bacteria, which feeds off the sugars in the candy to form an acid that then attacks the tooth enamel to initiate the decay process. Popping a solid chocolate bar in your mouth is a better choice than munching on one filled with a gooey center, as the candy filling may stick to the teeth and provide a longer-lasting food source for the natural bacteria to feed from in the mouth.
Try to limit any big candy bonanzas to meals so that sugar consumption isn't spread out over the full course of a day. After the children have had their limit, it's crucial that they immediately floss and brush thoroughly, especially before they go to bed.
If you're currently congratulating yourself for surviving the nutritional nightmare of this year's Halloween, remember that the holiday season is coming up, and all the same rules apply to sweet treats then as well.
"Look Ma, no cavities!"
That famous line from an old toothpaste commercial certainly did the general population good by encouraging people to brush regularly in order to prevent dental decay. In fact, brushing one's teeth as a daily habit was actually a foreign concept until as late as after World War II, when soldiers brought the Army-enforced habit back home.
While your teeth may be cavity-free, they may not be as white or even as you would like. And that's where our cosmetic "smile solutions" come in.
Our goal is to enhance a patient's smile by creating the proper shape, color and harmony of all your teeth together.
Some of our smile improvement services include:
Ask us about our many other smile options too. We have the tools to give you the smile of your dreams, to help you look and feel better about yourself.