Category Archives: Children

How Does a Cavity Form?

How Does a Cavity Form?

When you go to the dentist for a checkup, you hate to hear those four dreaded words: You have a cavity. No one wants cavities, but the average person has 13 cavities by the time he or she reaches ages 40-59. That sparks a natural curiosity about tooth decay: How do cavities form? And how fast do cavities appear?

Let’s take a look at the life cycle of a cavity to provide greater insight.

How Does a New Cavity Form?

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in food, which turns into plaque. The plaque builds up on your teeth and begins to attack the enamel. If it’s not removed in a timely fashion, the plaque can eat a hole through the enamel, causing decay and cavities.

There are certain factors that can put you at a greater risk for developing tooth decay, including:

  • Eating high-sugar foods
  • Not producing enough saliva to naturally wash away bacteria in the mouth
  • Smoking
  • Suffering from diabetes
  • Practicing poor oral hygiene

How Long Does It Take for a Cavity to Form?

Cavities form faster for young children, whose teeth have weaker enamel, than for adults. Among kids, cavities can form in just a few months. But it can take up to a year for the cavity to form in adults.

How Long Does It Take for a Cavity to Hurt?

Though the actual hole in the tooth may not form for months, you can develop a toothache from a growing cavity in just a few days. You should contact your dentist when you begin to experience pain.

How Does a Cavity Feel?

It hurts to have a cavity. The hole can increase sensitivity in your tooth, and if it’s left untreated, you are at risk of developing an infection.

Many toothaches are caused by cavities. You may be able to feel a slight hole or indentation in your tooth with your tongue. You may feel pain when you chew, especially when you eat hard foods. Cavities may cause either sharp or dull pain, depending on how advanced they are. A cavity that goes untreated for a long time can cause a huge amount of pain. The decay will eventually attack the tooth’s pulp and nerve, which causes pain.

What Does a Cavity Look Like?

A cavity is a small hole in the tooth, but there can be other symptoms. These include:

  • Foul breath
  • Swelled gums
  • Spots on your teeth

If you have a cavity, there are three main options for treating them: fillings, crowns, and, in extreme cases, root canals.

Preventing Cavities

The smartest thing to do is combat tooth decay before it turns into a cavity. You can do this by practicing good oral hygiene and reducing the amount of sugar you eat.

How safe are X-Rays?

How Safe Are X-Rays?

Getting x-rays is a regular part of many dental visits, but some people have questions about the safety of these x-rays. You may wonder:

  • Should children be getting dental x-rays?
  • Will they have any cumulative effect over your lifetime?
  • Can you get cancer from dental x-rays?
  • Are there safer forms of x-rays?

Let’s take a look at each of these questions one by one.

Should Kids Get Dental X-Rays?

Parents understandably get concerned about exposing their kids to radiation. But as we explain to patients on a regular basis, kids often need more x-rays than adults because their mouths are constantly changing. Their jaws grow, they lose baby teeth and they get new ones.

It’s true that kids’ tissue is a bit more sensitive to radiation because it is still developing. However, the amount of radiation given off by a dental x-ray is minimal. Dental x-rays are safe for kids as long as dentists take proper precautions, such as:

  • Taking one instead of multiple images
  • Using the lowest radiation setting possible
  • Giving x-rays only when dentally necessary

Will Dental X-Rays Affect Me Over my Lifetime?

No. A responsible dentist will not allow you to have more x-rays than your body can handle, and the amount of radiation you are exposed to is very low. The average person is exposed to more radiation from the sun over a year than from an x-ray.

Can You Get Cancer From Dental X-Rays?

Generally no, as long as your dentist is following the current guidelines for dental x-rays. It’s recommended that adults receive dental x-rays every two or three years. In this case, the amount of radiation is minimal and won’t cause any long-term harm.

Are There Safer Forms of Dental X-Rays?

A bitewing x-ray, the most common form of dental x-ray, produces 0.005 millisieverts of radiation, the equivalent of a day in the sun. But you can get twice that dose of radiation from a panoramic X-ray, which goes around your head.

Since bitewings have lower radiation, they may technically be safer — but as long as you aren’t getting any type of x-ray frequently, the increased radiation in panoramic x-rays shouldn’t be cause for concern.

Why Is It Important to Floss Daily?

Why Is It Important to Floss Daily?

A few minutes after you eat sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods, bacteria start to demineralize your dental enamel (outer layer of the tooth). Demineralization means the acidic condition caused by sugar leaches calcium and other important minerals from your teeth dentin and enamel. Bacteria responsible for a host of oral diseases thrive on common dietary sugars such as lactose, glucose, and sucrose. Because these sugars erode your dental enamel so quickly, it is critical for maintaining good oral health that you brush twice a day and floss at least once a day to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease (gingivitis).

Why Should I Floss Daily?

The main purpose of flossing is to remove food particles and bacteria-rich biofilm stuck between your teeth that brushing can’t remove. Dental floss is string-like and thin enough to slide easily between teeth that are not abnormally crowded or crooked. Although unwaxed, waxed or monofilament dental floss is available, studies have revealed that it doesn’t make a difference if dental floss is waxed or unwaxed — both kinds work well to clean in-between your teeth.

What Is the Correct Flossing Method?

Here are five tips for how to floss your teeth correctly:

  • Wind about 18 or 19 inches of dental floss around the middle fingers of both your hands. Pinch the strand of floss between your index fingers and thumbs, leaving one or two inches between those two fingers. Guide the direction of dental floss using your thumbs when flossing your upper teeth.
  • Use your index fingers to direct dental floss properly when you are flossing your lower teeth.
  • Glide (don’t pull) floss between your teeth in a zigzag motion. Do not snap or pull floss upward when it is between teeth.
  • Floss teeth gently and thoroughly, making sure to use clean dental floss each time you move on to another pair of teeth.
  • Discard used floss. Never try to “clean” old floss for reuse. Once used, dental floss loses its strength and remains coated with oral bacteria that negate the purpose of flossing.

Is Using a Water Pik Better Than Using Dental Floss?

Water piks, or oral irrigators, are hand-held devices that shoot streams of water at your teeth and gums. Although water piks can help wash food particles off enamel and reduce the risk of gingivitis, they should not be used as substitutes for flossing. The force of the water stream is simply not powerful enough to push microscopic bacteria out from between teeth. Only dental floss can remove debris stuck between your teeth.

Do I Still Need Professional Dental Cleanings If I Floss Regularly?

Preventing tooth decay not only includes brushing and flossing every day but also receiving professional dental cleanings and fluoride treatments every six months. Keeping your dental cleaning appointment minimizes your risk of tooth decay caused by unchecked demineralization while allowing your dentist to check for signs of oral diseases in their early stages.

Don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any concerns about flossing or would like more information about the correct flossing method.

I Haven’t Visited the Dentist in a While: What Procedure Should I Start With?

I Haven’t Visited the Dentist in a While: What Procedure Should I Start With?

In an ideal world, everyone would visit the dentist for their regular checkups twice a year. But dentists understand sometimes life gets in the way. Things get busy, and you skip an appointment — and then suddenly it’s been a few years since your child’s last dental visit.

If your child hasn’t been to the dentist in a while, you may be wondering what dental procedures to prioritize. We often hear from patients who have gone years between cleanings, and they’re a bit nervous about coming in.

We completely understand your worries. Here’s a guide to what to expect at the first dental appointment in years and how to get your dental care up to speed.

What Procedure Does My Child Need at Their First Dental Visit in a While?

Your child’s first appointment after a long break from the dentist should be an initial exam. This will include:

  • Taking X-rays of their teeth.
  • Checking for cavities.
  • Discussing any discomfort or pain in their mouth.
  • Examining gums for signs of disease.

The assistant and dentist will confer to discuss what further procedures your child may need after this initial checkup. You may need to schedule fillings for cavities, crowns, extractions, or sealants, depending what shape your child’s teeth are in.

Realize There May Be Some Discomfort

When your child has had a long layoff from dental cleanings, they will accumulate a lot of plaque and tartar that will need to be cleaned away. This involves a combination of scraping and using other dental instruments to clean the teeth. In the event that they need a deep cleaning, often referred to as SRP, we will schedule two appointments.

Ask the assistant or dentist to explain everything first, which will help put you or your child at ease. However, also realize there may be some discomfort. You may want to ask about bringing music or a podcast to listen to and keep them distracted while the work is done.

Make Your First Dental Visit in a While at Just Kids Dental

At Just Kids Dental, we know it can be scary to visit the dentist after a long layoff. We’ll work with you and your child to make everyone as comfortable as possible and explain everything we do during your visit. Contact us to make an appointment today.

How to Help Your Child Get Over Dental Phobia

How to Help Your Child Get Over Dental Phobia

Kids are scared of the dentist. In fact,  thirty percent of kids say they are scared to visit the dentist.

You can help your child deal with a fear of the dentist by using these strategies.

  • Don’t Pass on Your Fears to Your Kids

The above survey found that kids whose parents are afraid of the dentist are much more likely to be scared of visiting the dentist than kids of parents who are not afraid of the dentist. While dental phobia isn’t easy to deal with, try not to expose your kids to your fears. Let them make up their own minds about the dentist.

  • Play Dentist at Home

Get your child ready for a dentist visit by trying a game of make-believe: Have your child play the patient while you play the dentist. Pretend to clean their teeth and check for cavities, and answer any questions they might have about the process.

  • Talk About Their Fears

Show your child that their fear of the dentist is nothing to be ashamed about. Discuss their concerns, and try to alleviate them if you can. Most importantly, listen. Kids appreciate being treated respectfully and allowed to talk. Resist the urge to tell them their fears are silly or that they shouldn’t worry. Be a good listener, and you’ll be amazed at how the issue begins to resolve itself.

  • Begin Visiting the Dentist While They’re Young

Fear of the dentist can be a learned behavior. If your child is old enough to talk to other kids at school about the dentist, they may notice others are scared and become fearful themselves. Don’t allow that to happen. Start bringing your child to the dentist as soon as they get their baby teeth — they’ll become comfortable with cleaning and familiar with your dentist.