Children can be at risk for developing cavities even if they practice good brushing habits. The back teeth, or molars, are especially susceptible. The chewing surfaces of those teeth contain numerous tiny grooves called pits and fissures. Bacteria and food particles can easily become trapped in these grooves and lead to cavities. An easy and effective way to protect these teeth and prevent cavities is with sealants. Dr. John Kelly, the experienced family dentist at Bethesda Row Dental in Bethesda, MD, can protect your child’s teeth with dental sealants.
How Sealants Help
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that sealants are effective at preventing the majority of cavities that would normally develop in the back teeth of children. These teeth have a higher risk for cavities because they have a large surface area with many places for bacteria and food particles to become trapped. Brushing thoroughly does not always completely remove bacteria hiding in the pits and fissures. Sealants help prevent cavities by forming a protective barrier over the chewing surfaces of teeth, which stops food particles and bacteria from getting trapped inside the small grooves.
The skilled family dentist at our office in Bethesda, MD, can quickly and easily apply sealants to your child’s teeth in just one dental appointment. There are a few steps to placing sealants. The teeth are first cleaned and dried. Next, a solution is applied to the teeth that gently etches the surface to help the sealant adhere better. The teeth are then rinsed and dried one more time Finally, a liquid sealant material is brushed on the teeth, then dried with a special curing light. The hardened sealants provide a protective barrier to keep cavity-causing bacteria out.
Caring for Sealants
The best way to care for sealants is by maintaining good oral hygiene habits. Kids should continue brushing and flossing daily. Avoiding hard candies and similar food items is also a good idea. Additionally, scheduling regular dental checkups with cleanings is important and provides an opportunity for the dentist to examine the sealants for wear and tear. Sealants usually last for several years, but can slowly wear down over time. Regular dental visits make it easy to reapply sealants when needed so your child’s teeth remain protected from cavities.
Sealants can substantially reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities in the back teeth, which are especially vulnerable. To have sealants placed on your child’s teeth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kelly, our exceptional family dentist, call Bethesda Row Dental in Bethesda, MD, at (301) 657-3220.
Even though coronavirus lockdowns have prevented TV hosts from taping live shows, they're still giving us something to watch via virtual interviews. In the process, we're given occasional glimpses into their home life. During a Tonight Show interview with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, R & B performer Ciara, Jimmy Fallon's daughter Winnie interrupted with breaking news: She had just lost a tooth.
It was an exciting and endearing moment, as well as good television. But with 70 million American kids under 18, each with about 20 primary teeth to lose, it's not an uncommon experience. Nevertheless, it's still good to be prepared if your six-year-old is on the verge of losing that first tooth.
Primary teeth may be smaller than their successors, but they're not inconsequential. Besides providing young children with the means to chew solid food and develop speech skills, primary teeth also serve as placeholders for the corresponding permanent teeth as they develop deep in the gums. That's why it's optimal for baby teeth to remain intact until they're ready to come out.
When that time comes, the tooth's roots will begin to dissolve and the tooth will gradually loosen in the socket. Looseness, though, doesn't automatically signal a baby tooth's imminent end. But come out it will, so be patient.
Then again, if your child, dreaming of a few coins from the tooth fairy, is antsy to move things along, you might feel tempted to use some old folk method for dispatching the tooth—like attaching the tooth to a door handle with string and slamming the door, or maybe using a pair of pliers (yikes!). One young fellow in an online video tied his tooth to a football with a string and let it fly with a forward pass.
Here's some advice from your dentist: Don't. Trying to pull a tooth whose root hasn't sufficiently dissolved could damage your child's gum tissues and increase the risk of infection. It could also cause needless pain.
Left alone, the tooth will normally fall out on its own. If you think, though, that it's truly on the verge (meaning it moves quite freely in the socket), you can pinch the tooth between your thumb and middle finger with a clean tissue and give it a gentle tug. If it's ready, it should pop out. If it doesn't, leave it be for another day or two before trying again.
Your child losing a tooth is an exciting moment, even if it isn't being broadcast on national television. It will be more enjoyable for everyone if you let that moment come naturally.
If you would like more information on the importance and care of primary teeth, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”
Most dental problems are caused by tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease, easily preventable with dedicated daily hygiene and regular dental care. But there are a few other rare conditions to be on alert for that could pose just as serious a threat to your dental health.
One of these is a phenomenon called root resorption. Put simply, certain cells arise within a tooth root that eat away and dissolve (resorb) tooth structure. Left unchecked, it could eventually lead to the tooth's demise.
Although its exact cause remains elusive, we suspect root resorption is associated with trauma to the gum ligaments earlier in life, perhaps from an injury or too much force applied during orthodontics. Other possible contributing factors include teeth-grinding habits or internal tooth bleaching procedures.
Root resorption in adults isn't that common, so your chances of experiencing it are low. But it is still possible, so you should be on the lookout for potential signs: Early on, it may appear as faint pink spots on teeth where the enamel has filled with the destructive cells eating away at the tooth. In time, these spots can increase to form cavities.
More than likely, though, your dentist may detect the problem during a dental exam. That's why regular dental cleanings and checkups are essential—a routine exam is a prime opportunity to uncover conditions like root resorption that silently undermine your teeth.
If found early, we can often treat root resorption effectively. We can often expose a small affected area with minor gum surgery, remove the harmful cells and fill any cavities with a tooth-colored filling. In some cases, we may recommend orthodontics beforehand to encourage a buildup of bone around the root by moving the affected tooth outward from the jawbone. If the resorption has affected the tooth pulp, you may also need a root canal treatment.
There is also the possibility with advanced resorption that the best course of action is to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. So, keep up your regular dental visits—early detection and intervention can stop this destructive dental condition from destroying your tooth.
If you would like more information on root resorption, 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 “Root Resorption: An Unusual Phenomenon.”
Keeping your teeth healthy for life means brushing, flossing, and healthy eating. You've probably been practicing these habits to prevent cavities, but oral hygiene is also crucial for keeping periodontal disease at bay.
Caused by bacteria that damage the gum tissue and can result in bone and teeth loss, periodontal disease can impair your oral and total body health, making prevention and intervention crucial.
Dr. John Kelly of Bethesda Row Dental in Bethesda can help you detect the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, and provide the necessary treatment.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
- Red or swollen gums
- Persistent bad breathe
- Receding gums and exposed tooth roots
- Loose teeth
- Gums which bleed while brushing, eating, or without cause
- Tooth sensitivity, especially when consuming hot or cold foods or drinks
- Periodontal abscesses (painful pockets of pus in the gum tissue)
What can cause periodontal disease?
Poor oral hygiene, smoking, health conditions such as diabetes, medications which cause dry mouth, and genetics can all be factors in developing periodontal disease. Make sure to tell your family dentist at our Bethesda office if you have any preexisting health conditions or a family history of oral disease.
How can I treat my periodontal disease?
Your family dentist at our Bethesda office will examine your mouth thoroughly and perform a deep cleaning, scraping away plaque and tartar and applying antibiotic or antimicrobial substances if necessary to promote faster healing. Severe cases of periodontal disease may require surgery to repair deep abscesses.
How can I help prevent periodontal disease?
To reduce your risk of periodontal disease, make sure to brush frequently and thoroughly, floss daily, avoid smoking, and visit your family dentist at our Bethesda office regularly for professional cleanings and examinations.
Take great care of your teeth with the help of Bethesda Row Dental. Call us today at 301-657-3220!
You know you should see the dentist about that nagging tooth or gum problem, but you keep putting it off. Truth be told, you're a little nervous that your treatment visit might be unpleasant.
In one sense, your concern isn't unreasonable: The teeth and gums abound in nerves that are more than effective in signaling pain. Even minor dental procedures can trigger discomfort. In another sense, though, there's no need to worry, thanks to pain-numbing techniques using local anesthesia.
The term “local” is used because the applied anesthetic only affects the area and surrounding tissues needing treatment. The anesthetic drugs temporarily block nerve electrical impulses from transmitting pain signals to the brain. Unlike general anesthesia, which requires placing a patient in an unconscious state, a patient can be awake, yet feel no sensation around the anesthetized tissue.
Dentists typically use a two-step method to prevent patients from feeling any pain during a procedure. First, they apply a topical local anesthetic to the surface of the gums. Once these top layers have been numbed, they numb the underlying tissues by injecting the anesthetic with a needle. The goal of a topical application is to ensure the patient doesn't feel the prick of the needle used for deep tissue anesthesia.
Dentists follow strict protocols using anesthesia that have been developed over several decades. As a result, local anesthesia has revolutionized dental care and greatly reduced patient discomfort safely and effectively. Its effectiveness has in fact led to a common complaint that the numbness may linger long afterwards. But that also has been addressed with better combinations of anesthetic drugs to reduce the duration of the numbing effect.
And not only does local anesthesia make for a more relaxing and pleasant experience, it also benefits the dental provider. Dentists tend to work more efficiently when they know their patients aren't in discomfort, which can result in better treatment outcomes.
If you've been putting off a trip to the dentist because you think it might be painful or uncomfortable, put those concerns to rest. With the help of local anesthesia, dental treatment can be relaxing and pain-free.
If you would like more information on having a pain-free experience at the dentist, 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 “Local Anesthesia for Pain-Free Dentistry.”
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