Posts for: March, 2018
Ah, the baby teeth: those cute little pearl buttons that start to appear in a child’s mouth at around 6 to 9 months of age. Like pacifiers and bedtime stories, they’ll be gone before you know it — the last usually disappear by age 10-13. So if the dentist tells you that your young child needs a root canal, you might wonder why — isn’t that tooth going to be lost anyway?
The answer is yes, it is — but while it’s here, it has some important roles to play in your child’s development. For one thing, baby teeth perform the same functions in kids as they do in adults: Namely, they enable us to chew, bite, and speak properly. The primary teeth also have a valuable social purpose: they allow us to smile properly. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely at age 6, the child may suffer detrimental effects for five years or more — and that’s a long time for someone so young!
Even more important, baby teeth have a critical function in the developing mouth and jaw: Each one holds a space open for the permanent tooth that will eventually replace it — and it doesn’t “let go” until the new tooth is ready to come in. If a primary (baby) tooth is lost too soon, other teeth adjacent to the opening may drift into the empty space. This often means that the permanent teeth may erupt (emerge above the gum line) in the wrong place — or sometimes, not at all.
The condition that occurs when teeth aren’t in their proper positions is called malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite). It can cause problems with eating and speaking, and often results in a less-than-perfect-looking smile. It’s the primary reason why kids get orthodontic treatment — which can be expensive and time-consuming. So it makes sense to try and save baby teeth whenever possible.
Procedures like a root canal — or the similar but less-invasive pulpotomy — are often effective at preserving a baby tooth that would otherwise be lost. But if it isn’t possible to save the tooth, an appliance called a space maintainer may help. This is a small metal appliance that is attached to one tooth; its purpose is to keep a space open where the permanent tooth can come in.
If your child is facing the premature loss of a primary tooth, we will be sure to discuss all the options with you. It may turn out that preserving the tooth is the most cost-effective alternative in the long run. If you have questions about your child’s baby teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.
March is national nutrition month—a good time to look at the connection between diet and oral health. You probably know that sugar is a major culprit in dental problems. This is because bacteria feed on sugars and create acid that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks as much as possible is a good rule of thumb, but there are some food choices that actually benefit your oral health. Here are nutrition tips that will help keep your smile healthy for life:
Say cheese. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain calcium and phosphorus to build teeth and strengthen the supporting bone. And cheese neutralizes acid in the mouth to help fight cavities and gum disease.
Choose lean proteins. Lean meats, poultry, fish, milk and eggs help strengthen teeth. They are rich in protein and phosphorous, which is essential for building strong bones and teeth.
Eat a rainbow. Fruits and vegetables provide many key nutrients, including vitamins necessary for healing, bone strength, and healthy gums. Besides being nutritious, fruits and veggies scrub your teeth while you chew and stimulate the production of saliva, which is necessary for neutralizing acid and rebuilding enamel.
Nibble on nuts. Nuts contain protein, fiber and healthy fats. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals to keep teeth strong and gums healthy. Further, chewing nuts stimulates saliva production, lowering the risk of tooth decay.
Go for the grains. Studies have shown that eating too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sweet bakery items can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a factor in gum disease, heart disease, stroke and other conditions. In contrast, eating complex carbohydrates such as whole grains may reduce inflammation in the body.
What you put in your body can play a big role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease, so choose foods that provide the right building blocks for optimal dental and overall health.
Dentures offer important oral health benefits. Our Chattanooga, TN, dentist, Dr. Joel Bookout, discusses a few reasons you may want to consider dentures.
Feeling good about the way you look can become challenging after tooth loss. A loss of confidence can affect your personal relationships and even limit your career prospects if you're employed. Dentures don't just restore your full smile, but can also help boost your self-esteem.
Does a diet of pudding and soup sound appetizing to you? Although a soft diet may be fine for a few days, it quickly loses its appeal. Unfortunately, if you don't have teeth, you won't be able to tear, shred, and chew foods. Soft diets may not contain all of the nutrients you need, but swallowing foods whole might cause gastrointestinal issues you don't need. Restoring your teeth with full, partial, or implant-supported dentures makes eating enjoyable again.
Protection for your remaining teeth
If you happen to have a few remaining teeth, it's only natural to want to protect them. Those teeth can quickly become worn down if they have to handle the entire burden of chewing. Partial dentures will help restore your smile and protect your teeth from wear and tear.
When you visit our Chattanooga office, we'll help you choose the dentures that are right for you. Options include:
- Full Dentures: Full dentures are created using an impression of your mouth to ensure a proper fit and reduce slipping or irritation.
- Immediate Dentures: You'll receive immediate dentures immediately after your teeth are pulled. Placing the dentures in your mouth immediately helps in wound healing and also eases the adjustment process. The dentures will need to be relined or rebased as your mouth heals or eventually replaced with full dentures.
- Partial Dentures: These dentures hook over your teeth to fill gaps in your smile.
- Implant-Supported Dentures: The latest denture option consists of a fixed or removable denture attached to dental implants placed in your jawbone. Implant-supported dentures offer improved comfort and don't decrease your biting power.
Restore your smile with dentures! Call Chattanooga, TN, dentist, Dr. Bookout, at (423) 698-3607 to schedule an appointment.