Posts for: April, 2018
Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.
“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into cavities. How did this happen?
Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.
While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods. Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.
This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”
Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:
- Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
- Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
- Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.
Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.
“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”
If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”
Could you benefit from a visit to the periodontist? Albuquerque, NM, periodontist Dr. Petra Mayer provides treatment options for issues relating to your periodontal health.
Scaling and root planing
Gum disease can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, ranging from bad breath to receding gums to loss of your teeth. Scaling and root planing deep cleans your teeth and reduces bacteria and toxins that damage and infect the gums. During the procedure, dental instruments are used to remove plaque and tartar from teeth above and below the gum line. Root surfaces are also smoothed to prevent bacteria from sticking to them in the future.
Flap surgery may be needed if gum disease is severe. The surgery eliminates pockets, deep spaces that form around the gums. Bacteria reproduce rapidly in pockets and can damage gum tissue, bone and ligaments.
Loose teeth treatment
Teeth can become loose if you have gum disease or grind or clench your teeth. Several treatments are used to address the condition, including reshaping tooth enamel to reduce stress on loose teeth, adding splints for support, or providing a custom-made nightguard to prevent stress on teeth due to grinding or clenching.
Dental implants offer a long-lasting restoration option if you've lost teeth. The titanium implants are added to your jaw during a minor procedure in our Albuquerque office. As soon as the dental implants bond to your jawbone, lifelike dental crowns are added, completing the restoration of your teeth. If your jawbone has shrunk, a common complication of tooth loss, you may need bone grafts before you can replace your missing tooth with an implant.
It may be necessary to remove teeth if they're decayed or damaged or if you're orthodontist recommends extraction of a few teeth to reduce crowding.
Whether you have gum disease, want to replace a lost tooth or would like to improve the appearance of your gums, a periodontist can help you improve your smile. Call Albuquerque, NM, periodontist Dr. Petra Mayer at (505) 881-2400 to schedule your appointment.
Dental implants are best known as restorations for single missing teeth. But there’s more to them than that—they can also be used to support and secure removable dentures or fixed bridges.
That’s because a dental implant is actually a root replacement. A threaded titanium post is inserted directly into the jawbone where, over time, bone cells grow and adhere to it. This accumulated bone growth gives the implant its signature durability and contributes to its long-term success rate (95%-plus after ten years). It can support a single attached crown, or serve as an attachment point for a dental bridge or a connector for a removable denture.
The method and design of implants differentiates it from other restoration options. And there’s one other difference—implants require a minor surgical procedure to insert them into the jawbone.
While this might give you pause, implant surgery is no more complicated than a surgical tooth extraction. In most cases we can perform the procedure using local anesthesia (you’ll be awake the entire time) coupled with sedatives (if you have bouts of anxiety) to help you relax.
We first access the bone through small incisions in the gums and then create a small channel or hole in it. A surgical guide that fits over the teeth may be used to help pinpoint the exact location for the implant.
We then use a drilling sequence to progressively increase the size of the channel until it matches the implant size and shape. We’re then ready to insert the implant, which we remove at this time from its sterile packaging. We may then take a few x-rays to ensure the implant is in the right position, followed by closing the gums with sutures.
There may be a little discomfort for that day, but most patients can manage it with over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen. It’s what goes on over the next few weeks that’s of prime importance as the bone grows and adheres to the implant. Once they’re fully integrated, we’re ready to move to the next step of affixing your crown, bridge or denture to gain what you’ve waited so long for—your new implant-supported smile.
If you would like more information on dental implants, 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 “Dental Implant Surgery: What to Expect Before, During and After.”