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How To Find A Great Pediatric Dentist Near You

When you have a growing family, you want to know that you have the best dental care available for them.  Each stage in your child’s development will come with a new set of dental needs and challenges. Parents, especially new ones, may wonder if they need to change providers to get a family or pediatric specialist. This can be particularly troublesome when the difference between the two isn’t clearly understood. We’re going to provide some information about what each specialty does and prepare you to make an educated decision for your family’s dental care.

Do You Really Need A Family Or Pediatric Dentist?

It’s important to know that every dentist can provide general dental care, even specialists. However, as you might imagine, specialists are particularly skilled in their focus. Three types of dentists provide general care for families and children.  General dentists, as the name implies, are true generalists. Family dentists specialize in providing care for minors and their parents alike. Pediatric dentists have a particular focus on providing dental care for those in their developmental years. 

Understanding the care that these two specialists provide is essential in knowing which is right for your family. Each of them emphasizes preventative care as a core principle of their practice. They’re also dedicated to providing beautiful and healthy smiles for their patients. However, these two specialties aren’t the same.

  • Family Dentists: These “specialists” can also be thought of as a particular kind of generalist. They dedicate their practice to providing care for families at all stages of life. They provide care for those just starting out, to new parents, their children, and of course the elderly. They provide the benefit of being a ‘lifetime’ dentist and making it possible for all members of a family to be seen at the same location. Being treated by a family dentist means your child will be able to stick with the same dentist their whole lives.
  • Pediatric Dentists: These specialists focus on the needs of children and teenagers. This makes them excellent for treating those with special needs, dental anxiety, and complex pediatric dental health concerns.  They’re experts at handling the kinds of issues that can occur during childhood, and ensuring that issues such as improper bite and overcrowding are corrected before the adult teeth come in. The major drawback with these specialists is that they don’t see patients over 18.

As you can see there are reasons you may want to select either of these specialists.  The generalized care for entire families can make family dentists an attractive choice. However, pediatric dentists, if your child has special dental needs of any kind, a pediatric dentist may be your best choice.

Consult With Your Family Dentist Today!

Consulting with your current dentist is an excellent way of determining if you need specialized care for your family. They’ll be best acquainted with the dental health concerns of you and your family, and whether or not a specialist is necessary.  One last benefit to mention. Family dentists will become acquainted with your family oral history. Genetic heritage has been shown to play a role in what oral health concerns we’ll develop. This puts them in a perfect position to know what to expect and catch it early.

There are a lot of elements that determine our oral health. Like many aspects of our health, genetic factors and family history have a clear role to play. Ongoing research shows that our genetic heritage can reveal clues to our oral health future. While this was anticipated, one surprising outcome is the degree to which it can impact our oral health. The alignment, shape, and size of our teeth can all be determined by genetic factors. However, the resilience of our enamel and how it responds to acid and bacteria are also affected. We’re going to further explore the impact of family genetics on oral health.

The Genetic Influence On Our Dental Health

Deoxyribonucleic acid, most commonly known as DNA, is the storehouse for the blueprints of our body. This string of amino acids holds the patterns of genes that describe every aspect of our body. The shape of our face, the color of our eyes, and the alignment of our teeth are all defined by our DNA. We obtain half of our DNA from each of our parents, and with them, much of their appearance and health concerns. This is the underpinning reason that our oral health trends within family lines. DNA impacts our oral health concerns in the following ways:

  • Teeth having gaps from misalignment
  • Overcrowding of teeth
  • Shape and size of our jaw
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

No matter what issues we face due to our genetic heritage, there’s one part of our oral health that we can manage. One benefit we get from knowing our family heritage is which parts of our oral health we need to focus on. Regardless, maintaining a steady routine of brushing and flossing ensures that we can keep our concerns with oral health at a minimum. Knowing what troubles our ancestors faced with oral health can let us know what products and treatments can benefit us to prevent issues. Some concerns that are impacted by oral health include:

  • Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) – Even those who don’t have a predisposition to gum disease will frequently develop it. Nearly 33% of all Americans will develop gingivitis at some point in their lives. Inflammation, bleeding gums, and sensitivity can all indicate its presence.
  • Tooth Decay – Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of tooth decay, but it isn’t the only cause. Our genetic heritage can make our enamel softer than average, making it more susceptible to wear and tear. It’s even possible that only certain teeth will be more vulnerable than others due to genetic background.
  • Misaligned Teeth – It can be easy to spot teeth that aren’t situated as they should be. This ease of identification makes it one of the most commonly spotted genetic oral health concerns. If you know this runs in your family, it can be identified even before your children’s teeth erupt. This will allow planning future orthodontic care to prevent problems.

Speak With Your Dentist To Get Further Advice

Your dentist will provide you with all you need to know about how genetics can impact your oral health. Let them know what problems run in your family, and they’ll provide options for addressing them.

 Ensuring that our children maintain good oral health requires establishing proper habits early. There’s a lot involved in teaching them proper oral hygiene rather than using floss and brushing regularly. It’s essential to be confident that they’re doing more than brushing and flossing, but that they are doing so properly. Improper oral hygiene means incomplete protection from decay and gingivitis. It’s essential to start teaching them proper techniques as early as possible.

Getting Your Child Engaged With Their Oral Hygiene

Anyone who’s a parent knows how tricky it can be to get a child invested in anything. It gets even harder when it’s something as “boring” and “mundane” as oral hygiene. Dentists get a few common questions when parents start asking how to get their children engaged in their oral hygiene. These include:

  • When to start education on oral health?
  • What should your focus points be?
  • What can be done to prevent the causes of cavities?
  • How do I get my child to retain oral hygiene behaviors?

The answer to the first is simple. Teaching your child about oral health should begin as early as possible. It’s possible to start teaching your child about oral hygiene as soon as they’re born. You do this by brushing their gums regularly with a pinpoint-sized dollop of toothpaste and a soft cloth. Their first appointment should happen by the time they turn one. However, if they start having teeth erupt before this, it’s time to see their dentist. This will give them the best chance of avoiding cavities and other oral health concerns. It will also help begin a positive lifelong relationship with receiving dental care.

Our children are at their most impressionable at young ages. Introducing new information and new habits to them at this stage will help them stick. You can also encourage the idea that “big kids” take proper care of their teeth. This can be very motivational for a lot of young children as many desire to be seen as ‘grown-up.’ Using this technique can help encourage them to take proper care of their teeth.

Some parents worry about providing their children with too much information. This is generally impossible. Children are often eager to learn and absorb what you present them with. What’s important is ensuring that you don’t push beyond their ability to focus. Little droplets of information can help establish the habits and understanding you’re shooting for over a long time.’

A Basic Guide To Oral Hygiene Education

The primary thing your child needs to know is why oral hygiene is important. You can start by describing tooth decay and gum disease and how they can hurt their mouths. As they get age, you’ll explain that their adult teeth rely on their baby teeth to grow into the right place. Eventually, you can introduce the fine details about fresh breath, tooth staining, the expense of dental care, and other details. Involving your dentist in this process is going to be an important part of the process.

When you have a growing family, you want to know that you have the best dental care available for them.  Each stage in your child’s development will come with a new set of dental needs and challenges. Parents, especially new ones, may wonder if they need to change providers to get a family or pediatric specialist. This can be particularly troublesome when the difference between the two isn’t clearly understood. We’re going to provide some information about what each specialty does and prepare you to make an educated decision for your family’s dental care.

Do You Really Need A Family Or Pediatric Dentist?

It’s important to know that every dentist can provide general dental care, even specialists. However, as you might imagine, specialists are particularly skilled in their focus. Three types of dentists provide general care for families and children.  General dentists, as the name implies, are true generalists. Family dentists specialize in providing care for minors and their parents alike. Pediatric dentists have a particular focus on providing dental care for those in their developmental years. 

Understanding the care that these two specialists provide is essential in knowing which is right for your family. Each of them emphasizes preventative care as a core principle of their practice. They’re also dedicated to providing beautiful and healthy smiles for their patients. However, these two specialties aren’t the same.

  • Family Dentists: These “specialists” can also be thought of as a particular kind of generalist. They dedicate their practice to providing care for families at all stages of life. They provide care for those just starting out, to new parents, their children, and of course the elderly. They provide the benefit of being a ‘lifetime’ dentist and making it possible for all members of a family to be seen at the same location. Being treated by a family dentist means your child will be able to stick with the same dentist their whole lives.
  • Pediatric Dentists: These specialists focus on the needs of children and teenagers. This makes them excellent for treating those with special needs, dental anxiety, and complex pediatric dental health concerns.  They’re experts at handling the kinds of issues that can occur during childhood, and ensuring that issues such as improper bite and overcrowding are corrected before the adult teeth come in. The major drawback with these specialists is that they don’t see patients over 18.

As you can see there are reasons you may want to select either of these specialists.  The generalized care for entire families can make family dentists an attractive choice. However, pediatric dentists, if your child has special dental needs of any kind, a pediatric dentist may be your best choice.

Consult With Your Family Dentist Today!

Consulting with your current dentist is an excellent way of determining if you need specialized care for your family. They’ll be best acquainted with the dental health concerns of you and your family, and whether or not a specialist is necessary.  One last benefit to mention. Family dentists will become acquainted with your family oral history. Genetic heritage has been shown to play a role in what oral health concerns we’ll develop. This puts them in a perfect position to know what to expect and catch it early.

For many children, dental procedures can be scary occurrences. Despite explaining procedures and providing assurance, children can still be uncooperative during procedures. This may make it harder for the dentist to do the procedure quickly and efficiently, and can also increase the child’s anxiety levels. One solution to this problem is using dental sedation to relax the child during the procedure.

Dental sedation is not anesthesia. Anesthesia renders a patient completely unconscious and unresponsive, while sedation simply makes a child drowsy and relaxed. In this relaxed state, the child becomes more cooperative so that Dr. Atabaki can complete the procedure quickly and correctly. It makes the procedure safer for both dentist and patient since excess struggling on behalf of the child could lead to injury. Sedation will also decrease the child’s anxiety level allowing them to relax and not fear the procedure.

There are different types of sedation that Dr. Atabaki may offer including oral sedation, nitrous oxide, and intravenous (IV) sedation. Oral sedation is a liquid that your child swallows at the start of the appointment. Oral sedation generally needs at least twenty minutes before the sedation is effective. Nitrous oxide is commonly referred to as laughing gas and is delivered through a mask placed over the child’s mouth and nose. Nitrous oxide takes only about five minutes before it is effective. Finally, IV sedation is administered via a needle inserted into the patient’s vein on the back of the hand. The effect is immediate. Most dentists will use nitrous oxide to put the patient in a calm state before inserting the IV and will remove it before the child even realizes it’s there.

If sedation is recommended for your child’s procedure, there are a few guidelines that must be followed prior to the procedure. Depending on the type of procedure and sedation being used, Dr. Atabaki may want your child to visit their pediatrician for a medical evaluation. You may then need to bring proof of this evaluation to the dental appointment. Also, no matter what type of sedation, you will most likely be told to not let your child eat or drink anything after midnight. Sometimes, if the procedure is later in the day clear liquids may be permitted, but you must always consult with your dentist. If you do not follow the instructions Dr. Atabaki gives you, the appointment will be canceled for the safety of your child.

You will also want to make sure that your child is comfortable during the procedure. Dressing them appropriately is one way to accomplish this. For dental procedures, you will want to avoid shirts with buttons and flip-flops. Instead, dress them in comfortable pants, closed toed and flat shoes, and a loose-fitting shirt. You may want to bring extra clothes as well. Another way to keep them comfortable is to bring their favorite blanket and/or stuffed toy. This will give them something familiar to hold onto as a distraction during the procedure and will reduce their anxiety.

After sedation, you will want to be present when your child comes out of sedation. Dr. Atabaki will have you wait in the office until the sedation wears off and it is safe to take your child home. While most of the sedation should wear off at the office, your child will most likely experience lingering drowsiness for the remainder of the day. You will want to keep a close eye on them throughout the day since sedation can make them clumsy and possibly nauseous. It is also important to encourage them to drink water to flush out the remaining sedation.

All of us have seen a child cry in fear when they lose their first tooth. And if we have not, then we must remember our own time when we were afraid we would look like our grandparents without teeth. What a relief it was when we were assured it is an absolutely natural process. Few parents really know, however, how significant this whole development is. A little understanding of the underlying dental science behind it may help their child tremendously. Let’s see how it happens and why primary teeth so important.

To put it simply, teeth help your child eat. The process of chewing is a part of our natural reflexes. A child may need encouragement to chew more by their parents, but no one needs to teach them how to bites into the food, and then how to grind the food in their mount. All of this apparently is a part of our natural reactions much like sucking on the breasts or our mothers and breathing. Initial teeth provide the children the exercise they need with this practice for the strengthening of the muscles in the mouth that will stay with them for the rest of their adult life and is facilitated by the milk teeth they have. Children learn to use their teeth at the early stages of life, but why do milk teeth fall out after all?

During the early stages of the physical development of the human body, the jaw bones, and the related muscles develop according to the lifestyle the child is living. For example, other than the regular baby food, eating a little fleshier food – like a small piece of apple once in a while – may help them practice the act of chewing. This little bit of chewing helps the muscles connected to the jaw bones that are involved with the chewing get the required exercise and strengthen. Primary teeth are an important part of this. At this stage, however, the jaw is too small and weak to support the roots of the comparatively bulkier and stronger permanent teeth, and hence nature’s genius solution is baby teeth. They are small and act precisely like permanent teeth but only till enough room and strength are available for permanent teeth to take their place.

Once the jaw is strong enough, the roots of the baby teeth naturally start dissolving and each tooth starts to lose one by one. That is why there is no pain or inconvenience when it falls out.

The initial teeth hold the space for the permanent teeth and make sure your child develops a proper set later on. These primary teeth also guide the permanent teeth in the right direction.

Many parents believe that that since the child is going to eat only pulpy, and soft food for the first few years of life, milk teeth may not be playing any important roles in the initial stages of their child’s development. However, this understanding is far from reality.

When a child gets orthodontic care will depend a lot of what the condition of their teeth is. Children should start regularly seeing a dentist as soon as they get their first tooth. They should then see the dentist twice a year every year after that. With that in mind, regular visits will ensure your child is being monitored. Any changes that require orthodontic care will be caught and addressed in a timely manner because of this.

If children don’t have braces yet, we might suggest the use of orthodontic appliances that help to get teeth to a place where, once all have come in, they can be fit for braces. When we use this approach to orthodontics, the latter phase that includes braces is much shorter than the initial phase. It can also prove to be more affordable for the family.

Why can’t we just get braces?

Children under 10 years old aren’t always a candidate for braces. This is particularly applicable to children who have an overbite. This is caused when new teeth will still grow over the lower jaw. An overbite can be corrected around 12 years of age.

Common signs a child might need braces include:

  • unnatural tooth loss that has occurred too early or too late
  • crowded teeth
  • difficulties biting or chewing

Why does my child need braces?

Children need braces for a variety of reasons. Some might be because of genetics, while others could be the result of an accident. Common reasons for needing braces include:

  • thumb sucking
  • poor nutrition
  • tooth decay

At OC Kids Dental, we offer a variety of options available to children in need of orthodontic care. This includes traditional steel braces and plastic braces.

We also offer retainers, Invisalign (great for fixing small problems), and palate expanders to help make room for orthodontic treament to be successful.

If you believe your child might need braces, give us a call. We’d be happy to talk through available options and discuss whether your child is at the right age to even be considered for orthodontic treatment.

We understand that orthodontic treatment can be expensive, that’s why we accept a range of insurances and offer helpful payment options like Care Credit. Through Care Credit you can easily finance your child’s dental care and make easy, affordable payments. We know that your child is your number one priority, which is why we are proud to help our patients find the best option for their needs.

There’s been an ongoing conversation in the scientific and health community regarding the nature of sugar, with many claiming that a substance that is found in almost everything is nearly as addictive as cocaine. Whether or not this is true has been in hot debate, but what is known is that sugar is a major contributor to dental issues like cavity, plaque, tartar, and gum disease. But is it also an addictive substance?

What Defines An Addictive Substance?
The best place to start answering that question is by defining what makes a substance ‘addictive’. According to the DSM 5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, defines an addictive substance as one that causes craving, that continues to be used in spite of unpleasant consequences, is difficult to stop using, that we can develop a tolerance to, and yet leaves to withdrawals when we cease using it. Does all of that apply to sugar?

Sweet Temptations
Within the brain dopamine is a vital substance, one that helps direct us towards those things we like and that provides us with a sense of reward when we get them. This system begins to fire when we even anticipate positive feelings. Cakes, candies, sugary drinks, chocolate, and in fact all things that contain sugar can fire off our dopamine system at the mere thought of having them. Sugar can be found in some unexpected places as well, including chips, crackers, and bread.

Increasing Tolerance
The more our system gets activated by sugar, the less it responds to it. This doesn’t cease the craving, mind you, instead it makes us crave the substance even more so we can experience that feeling of reward. What does this mean? A constantly rising need for sugar to get the same positive feeling we received with less. Clearly sugar meets the requirements of a substance we can gain a tolerance to.

Withdrawals
Surely this substance that we use every day doesn’t also cause withdrawal, does it? It actually appears that if we were to cut off our supply of sugar “cold-turkey”, we clearly start experiencing withdrawals. Reduced energy levels, depression, cravings, even agitation caused by the presence of what we crave and our inability to use it.

Negative Effects
As we mentioned above, there are decidedly negative consequences to consuming sugar, especially in large quantities. The consumption of sugar leads to obesity, tooth decay, diabetes, just to name a few of the negative consequences. Yet we still continue to consume it in unhealthy quantities in spite of this.

So Should I Quit Sugar?
We won’t tell you that you should avoid eating sugar entirely, most of us simply wouldn’t be able to achieve that goal, or truly desire to. Reducing your sugar consumption, however, can aid not just in good dental health, but in good overall health. By limiting how much sugar you consume you can slow damage to your teeth, reduce acne, aid in the loss of unwanted weight, and even help you sleep better and experience overall better moods. With benefits like that, we could all benefit from a little less sugar in our diet.

So we have a terrible secret for you, something that you should probably have divined on your own but have likely never given a passing thought. This secret? The number of germs that live on your toothbrush regardless of how careful you are about maintaining it. The number? There are more bacteria on your toothbrush than there are people in New York City, an entire megametropolis of germs living there every day.

Relax, they aren’t that much of a threat to your teeth, and your toothpaste is designed to eliminate germs so you’re at constant warfare with them. It is important, however, to make sure your toothbrush dries out between brushings, and every 3-6 months it needs to simply be replaced. In part because wear and tear creates new places for germ to hide, and in part because that same wear and tear reduces the effectiveness of your toothbrush.

When To Replace Your Toothbrush

The ADA, the American Dental Association, emphasizes that replacing your toothbrush every 3 months is ideal, in some cases the toothbrush may last as long as 6 months. What determines the perfect time? Two things, the ferocity of the brusher and the quality of the toothbrush. Those with a heavy hand are going to find that their toothbrushes wear out much faster than those who are gentler with their toothbrush. Of course, the counter-argument is that a more vigorous brushing tends to be more effective, so maybe the increased replacement time is worth it.

The other has to do with the quality of the toothbrush, higher quality toothbrushes are made with more extensive testing of the materials and design, and of course, use better quality materials that simply last longer under the strain. Our personal favorites are those that have colored bristles that let you know when it’s time to replace them with a clear visual indicator, it just doesn’t get easier than your brush telling you when it’s time.

Simple Reminders Make Life Easier

The simple fact of the matter is you should be replacing your toothbrushes on a regular schedule, preferably every 3-6 months for maximum effectiveness. Obviously, the aforementioned colored bristles will let you know without fail, but the easiest way and the simplest reminder is to just pick up a new toothbrush every time you see your dentist for a check-up as a bare minimum. It would be kind of impossible to forget this little combination “See Dentist? Get Toothbrush.”

However, if you’re looking to be truly on top of things, set yourself an appointment on your calendar to replace your toothbrush at the halfway point between appointments. A 3-month rotation of replacing your toothbrush will ensure that you have fresh, effective toothbrushes throughout the year. Want to make sure that you’re really making the most of your brushing? Take the time and money to invest in an electric toothbrush, they’re far more effective than a manual toothbrush and come with easily replaced heads. Why replace the whole thing when you only have to replace the tip?

Replace Your Toothbrush… It’s as simple as that.

The whole point of this article can be refined down to one point: Replace your toothbrush. Replacing your toothbrush is an important part of making sure your teeth serve you for the duration of your life. Isn’t a great smile worth it?

 

Amalgam fillings are the most recognizable fillings out. They’re commonly referred to as silver fillings, although they’re a combination of mercury, tin, silver, and copper. About 50 percent of the mixture is mercury because it helps to create a strong, durable filling that binds well with the other metals. Mercury has proven to be the only element that binds the elements together in a way that makes it easy to fill a tooth cavity.

Is the mercury in an amalgam filling safe?

The mercury in a dental filling is safe. When it is combined with the other metals during the amalgamation process its chemical makeup changes and renders it essentially harmless. Even when a patient is chewing the amount of mercury released is so miniscule it causes no reason for concern. A patient is exposed to more mercury in food, air, and water.

Studies have shown that amalgam fillings are not harmful and that any diseases related to mercury in fillings are based on random claims, not scientific evidence.

Why would a dentist use amalgam fillings?

Amalgam filling shave been used for over 150 fifty years and have been proven to be some of the safest, most affordable, and most durable solutions to filling a cavity. Current estimates believe there are over 1 billion amalgam fillings placed every year.

Dentists prefer this solution because it is easy to work with, safe, can be quickly placed in a cavity, and is affordable for patients.

Why wouldn’t a dentist use an alternative to amalgams?

The dentist will choose the best option for the patient. This means that if a patient can afford a composite filling and wants one, the dentist will use this option (as long as there isn’t a medical reason not to). Filling materials like gold and porcelain are often quite expensive and can require two visits to complete. Additionally, porcelain and composite fillings are not as durable as amalgam fillings. The only material that is as strong as an amalgam is gold.

How do you treat a patient that is allergic to mercury?

Mercury allergies are quite uncommon and impact less than a percent of the population. If a person is thought to have an allergy to mercury, they should undergo testing and, if they test positive, be treated with an alternative filling material.

I have an amalgam filling, should I have it removed?

No. Amalgam fillings have not proven to be dangerous in the least. In fact, the process of removing and replacing the filling would cause unnecessary discomfort to patients as well as additional expense and increase the risk of further damaging the tooth.

Does working as a dentist expose a person to mercury?

The mercury used in amalgam fillings is contained in a premixed capsule, which greatly reduces the probability of a mercury spill. Additionally, today’s mixture contains the least amount of mercury possible, so exposure is unlikely to cause harm.

Mercury in the food you consume, air you breath, and water you drink is likely to be at a higher level that what you would find in a dental lab.

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