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What Your Dentist Checks During a Checkup

June 20th, 2024

You’ve been going to Kanawha City Pediatric Dentistry for a while now, so you pretty much know what to expect when you get to our Charleston office.

You’ll see Drs. Don and Mindy, your hygienist, and all the other members of your friendly dental team again. You’ll sit in a comfortable chair just your size. And you’ll have a checkup to make sure your teeth are healthy.

But once you’re sitting back in that comfortable chair, you might be wondering just what exactly gets checked during your checkup. The answer is, a lot!

  • Checking Your Tooth and Gum Health

It’s important to have regular checkups because finding a small problem right away, like a weak spot in your tooth enamel, means your dentist can prevent it from becoming a bigger problem, like a cavity, later!

So your dentist will carefully examine each tooth for signs of tooth decay, using a little mirror to see behind your front teeth and around those hard-to-see teeth in the back of your mouth. The visible part of your smile doesn’t always tell everything about your dental health, though. At some checkups, you might need X-rays to make sure the insides of your teeth and their roots are healthy.

Oral health means more than just your teeth. That’s why your dentist will examine your gums and the inside of your mouth, too.

  • Checking Your Bite

Drs. Don and Mindy will check the way your teeth fit together when you bite, and can take X-ray images to show the size and shape of your jaw bones and the size and position of your permanent teeth before they even come in.

If your teeth and jaws fit don’t together just right, or if it looks like there might not be enough room for all your adult teeth to come in without crowding, your dentist might recommend pre-orthodontic or orthodontic treatment. 

  • Cleaning Your Teeth

Plaque can hide in hard-to-reach places between your teeth and around your gums. You might know that plaque can cause cavities if it’s not brushed away, but did you know that plaque can also hurt your gums? That’s why an expert cleaning is usually part of every checkup.

Your hygienist will use special dental tools and carefully remove any plaque you might have missed or any tartar (hardened plaque) that’s built up over time. Then after flossing and rinsing, you’ll have a clean, sparkling, plaque-free smile.

Bonus: Your dental hygienist can teach you how to brush and floss better if you’ve been missing a few spots!

  • Can Your Teeth Use Extra Protection?

Once your teeth are cleaned and examined, your dentist might use a fluoride treatment or sealants to give your teeth extra protection against cavities.

Fluoride treatments help make your tooth enamel stronger. If your dentist thinks you need this kind of fluoride protection, your teeth will be coated with a special fluoride gel or varnish or foam. This treatment doesn’t take long and will strengthen your enamel for months afterward.

People’s molars get the most cavities because their uneven surfaces make good places for plaque and bits of food to hide from brushes. A sealant is a thin coating which is brushed on the top of your molars to prevent plaque from hurting your enamel.

  • Checking In with You!

Part of your checkup is talking to your dentist about how you can protect and even improve your dental health.

  • Find out whether the foods you eat make your tooth enamel stronger—or weaker.
  • Discover how brushing and flossing help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and see if your brushing and flossing skills need any work.
  • Learn how to protect your teeth during active sports (hint: wear a mouthguard).
  • If you have habits which can hurt your teeth, like nail biting, get advice on how to quit.
  • Don’t forget to ask any questions you might have!

Your checkup might be a little different, because your exam is designed just for you, but there’s one thing which all of us can expect. Visit our Charleston pediatric dental office for regular checkups, work together with your dental team, and you can expect a healthier, happier smile!

Shark Teeth

June 13th, 2024

It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in a dental blog?

Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.

One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.

An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?

After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.

Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.

Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally cause concerns about crowding and misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. Fortunately, treatment is generally uncomplicated.

If the baby tooth is loose, time (and wiggling) might take care of the problem. But if the primary tooth or teeth just won’t budge, even after several weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Drs. Don and Mindy—especially if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort.

An extraction is often suggested when a baby tooth has overstayed its welcome. Because of its smaller root, extracting a primary tooth is usually a straightforward procedure. Drs. Don and Mindy can let you know all the details, and can discuss sedation options if they’re appropriate for your child.

Whether baby teeth are left to fall out on their own, or given some assistance, most often your child’s permanent tooth will start moving to its proper position as soon as the space is available.

Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call our Charleston office for expert advice.

I brush my teeth regularly. Why do I need to floss?

June 5th, 2024

Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the most crucial parts of maintaining good oral health, and perhaps the most fundamental, however, there are also other elements involved. Flossing, for instance, is also vital; some experts would say, and Drs. Don and Mindy and our team would agree, that it holds just as much importance as brushing your teeth. To give you a better idea of why, here are some reasons that flossing is so vital to your oral health.

Getting in-between the Teeth

While brushing your teeth effectively cleans all of the areas of your teeth that are visible, or otherwise not touching, flossing is vital because it reaches all of the areas between your teeth that you cannot see, and subsequently cannot clean using a toothbrush. These areas are among the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of your mouth because they are most susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup.

Reducing Bad Breath

It is not uncommon for someone who brushes their teeth once or twice a day to still have bad breath. The reason being is that bad breath is often created by smelly bacteria that lives in between your teeth, as well as other areas of your mouth that are not accessible using a toothbrush. And that is why flossing is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath. Still skeptical? Try flossing your teeth with unscented floss, then smell it after, that awful scent is the source of your bad breath. Coupled with frequent brushing of your teeth, you will find that flossing can really help that stinky breath.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is hard enough, add flossing on top and it can be difficult to establish a regular habit. However, doing so is totally worth it; just look at the aforementioned reasons why. Use these for motivation the next time you don’t feel like flossing, and let us know if it worked at your next visit to our Charleston office.

To use or not to use mouthwash; that is the question

May 29th, 2024

A famous mouthwash company chose the marketing slogan, “Better than flossing.” As a consumer, would you believe a high-end commercial that essentially tells you to stop flossing? Just use this brand of mouthwash and the risk of gingivitis, cavities, etc., is gone. What a wonderful idea! Now for the reality: This is simply not true.

The company that made these claims received some negative feedback for making this false claim. Does this mean that all mouthwashes are ineffective? Absolutely not. It takes a little bit of research to know which mouthwashes are most effective and best suited for you. Here are some key points to remember when choosing a mouthwash.

First, think about why you want to use a mouthwash. If you are at high risk for cavities, you would benefit from a fluoride mouthwash. Check the labels to see which ones contain fluoride.

If you have active gingivitis, a mouthwash with some antibacterial properties would be preferable. Read the labels carefully. You do not want a mouthwash containing alcohol. If you have active periodontal disease, an antibacterial mouthwash is appropriate, though you may want to discuss which kind would be best for your individual needs.

Prescription mouthwashes are also an option. You should pay close attention to the directions, such as how much and how long to use them. There is one brand in particular whose effectiveness can steadily diminish if you use it continually. There can also be side effects you should discuss with our office and/or your pharmacist.

Some great mouthwashes for kids change the color of plaque on their teeth to help them see how they are doing with their brushing. This is a great learning tool for the child and the parent! Why not pick up a bottle for yourself next time you’re at the store and evaluate your own performance?

Beware of claims that a mouthwash can loosen plaque. This is not accurate. Beware of any mouthwash that has alcohol. This is worth mentioning twice. Take care of your taste buds. If you are using a strong mouthwash, it can reduce your sense of taste.

These tips should help you choose the right mouthwash for your needs. Please contact Drs. Don and Mindy at our Charleston office with any specific questions!

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