Friday, October 23, 2015

Dental Care For Our Children

Dental Care For Children

I would like to talk a little today about the oral health of our children.

The American Pediatric Dentist Association recommends that the first visit should be when they are one year old.
At the first visit the dentist will examine the mouth to determine:

•    If there are caries present
•    Check that the bite is developing normally
•    Show the parents how to care for the child's mouth 

Let me give you an example why it is important to take your child early to the dentist.
In our community, it is not uncommon to see a family with three or four children.  The young mother tries to take care of all of them equally, but many times it is difficult.  Also she sometimes gets advise from friends or family that may not be good advice.  Take for example the same young mother with four children and the baby starts to cry.  The mother gives the baby the bottle with some juice, milk or sweetened liquid, and the baby soon quiets down and goes to sleep with the bottle still in his mouth.  What happens now?  Yes, mom solved the problem of the crying baby, but if this happens often, the child will be in trouble with his teeth. When the baby falls asleep with the bottle often, he holds that liquid in his mouth for long periods of time, and the sugar that it contains causes the baby's teeth to be destroyed by caries. This is seen so often that it has been given the name of "Baby Bottle Syndrome".

The child's nutrition is also very important in order for the teeth to grow healthy and strong.  Children need calcium for the teeth and bones during their development.  Milk, cheese and yogurt are examples of good sources of calcium in the diet.  Sugar, candy and other sweets are used by bacteria to form decay in teeth, and should be reduced or avoided to prevent cavities.
One question that I get asked often is "Is there a pill that I can take to prevent decay?  Well, the answer is no sorry, but there are a couple of chemical compounds that come pretty close.
The first one is fluoride.  Fluoride gets incorporated in the enamel of the teeth and makes them more resistant to cavities. Research has shown that children that grow in communities with fluoride in the water, grow to have very few cavities.  Pediatricians often prescribe vitamins with fluoride to children living in communities without fluoride in the water.  Fluoride is also present in the toothpaste that we use every day.
The other compound is xylitol.  Xylitol is a sugar substitute that bacteria cannot use to produce acids that cause decay.  There are European countries that have laws requiring all candies to be made with xylitol.  In the United States you can find xylitol in some chewing gum, mints and in powder form as a sugar substitute that is ok to use even in diabetic patients.

Another common question I get is this:  My child sucks his thumb or a pacifier.  Will this hurt him in any way?  The instinct to suck is normal in children and is seen as early as children two to three months old.  Neither the thumb nor the pacifier cause problems as long as their use is discontinued before the permanent teeth come out, at about five or six years of age.
There are many other questions that come to mind, but for the sake of brevity, they will be answered in future posts.  I hope this was informative.
Thank you for reading.

West Palm Beach Dentist
Carlos Boudet, DDS DICOI

Implant Blog:
Spanish website:  http://palmbeachdentist.net

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Talking About Gum Disease And Periodontitis

Talking About Gum Disease And Periodontitis

One of the biggest obstacles to dental health care is the cost of dental services.  But the second mayor obstacle is the lack of information about oral health.  I should rephrase this last statement and say, it is the lack of adequate dental education .

Today I would like to talk a little bit about gum disease or periodontitis.

In the Unites States approximately 70% of adults have some form of gum disease.  Many of these problems have simple solutions, but many also can cause a lot of damage.  This damage affects the gums and the bone around the roots of the teeth,  and can result in the loss of the affected teeth.

Periodontitis is caused by the bacteria that we have in our mouths.  We cannot sterilize our mouths, so we will always have bacteria in it.  Some bacteria is harmless and some is pathogenic and will cause problems.  When we brush our teeth daily, we are reducing the amount of bacteria in our mouth, and if this number is low enough, our body's  defensive mechanisms can keep everything under control and healthy.  Now,,, if I neglect the cleaning of my mouth and teeth for a while, the number of bacteria increase to the point that my body's defenses cannot keep them under control and an unhealthy or disease state develops.

Periodontitis is a silent disease, which means it does not give you a lot of signs that it is present.  There is usually no fever, pain or discomfort associated with it. 
If you brush your teeth and see a little blood on the toothbrush what do you think that means?  Do you think that it is an indication that you are brushing to hard and might be hurting your gums?  In reality, healthy gums don't bleed, and bleeding from the gums usually is a sign of inflamation.  Well, inflamation is the first sign of gum problems.

Inflamation of the gums is called gingivitis, and is the first step towards gum disease or periodontitis.   Gingivitis is many times completely reversible, which means that if you clean your teeth very well daily  and get rid of all the bacterial plaque on them, after a few days, the inflamation will be gone.  This all sounds very good, but bacterial plaque presents another problem.  When I neglect to clean my teeth and plaque builds up, after a few days, that plaque starts calcifying and hardening into something we call calculus or tartar, and then neither the brush nor the floss will be able to remove it.

Another thing that happens with time is that the gums start hardening  and they stop bleeding, causing you to think that everything is ok.  You may think that everything is ok because you are making an effort to clean well every day, but in reality the gums toughen up after  some time and they may stop bleeding.  The hard deposits continue to build up and the bacteria that is present there starts to cause bone loss around the roots of the teeth.  If this bone loss advances enough, the teeth can loosen, drift and eventually even need to be extracted.  A person that looses many teeth in this manner will have to  replace them with a removable denture and will have difficulty chewing normal food for the rest of his or her life unless able to afford costly reconstructions.

It's time to finish this article, but I would like to make sure that the message that I am trying to send is coming  across.

Dentists today are trained in detecting gum problems early, when they are easy to treat with something as simple as a good prophylaxis (cleaning).  Unfortunately, many individuals do not go to the dentist until they feel pain or some type of discomfort, and by then, the damage has advanced to the point that the treatment may require surgery which can be costly and uncomfortable.

The best service that I and other dentists like myself can offer our patients are preventive services.  Even if a person does not have dental insurance and cannot go regularly to the dentist, do not let years go by without an examination and cleaning.  The small cost that you will incur is nothing compared to the cost of treatment when the damage has advanced.

I hope that you have found something useful and somehow benefited from reading this information.
Thank you for reading!

West Palm Beach Dentist
Carlos Boudet, DDS DICOI
Implant Blog:
Spanish website: