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Dental X-rays and Your Child

June 20th, 2024

You’re parents, so you worry. It comes with the job description! That’s why you make regular appointments with your children’s doctors and dentists for preventive care and examinations. That’s why you make sure your kids wear mouth guards and other protective gear when playing sports. And that’s why you want to know all about the X-rays that are used when your children need dental treatment.

First of all, it’s reassuring to know that the amount of radiation we are exposed to from a single dental X-ray is very small. A set of bitewing X-rays, for example, exposes us to an amount of radiation that is approximately the same as the amount of radiation we receive from our natural surroundings in a single day.

Even so, doctors are especially careful when children need X-rays, because their bodies are still growing and their cells are developing more rapidly than adults. And children often have different oral and dental needs than adults, which can require different types of imaging.

In addition to the usual X-rays that are taken to discover cavities, fractures, or other problems, young patients might need X-rays from their dentists or orthodontists:

  • To confirm that their teeth and jaws are developing properly.
  • To make sure, as permanent teeth come in, that baby teeth aren’t interfering with the arrival and position of adult teeth, and that there’s enough space in the jaw to accommodate them.
  • To plan orthodontic treatment.

And if your child has any dental or medical conditions that can best be treated by an oral surgeon, diagnostic X-rays might be needed. Dental X-rays are used, for example, in order to:

  • Check the progress and placement of wisdom teeth before they are extracted.
  • Locate fractures, breaks, or other damage to the teeth and jaws after an accident or injury.
  • Discover and treat damage or infection which recurs after root canal work.
  • Diagnose and plan treatment for conditions which might require corrective jaw surgery.
  • Facilitate the placement of dental implants when children have lost or missing teeth. Because young jaws are still growing, this placement requires special care.

So, how do oral surgeons and radiologists make sure your child’s radiation exposure during any X-ray procedure is as minimal as possible?

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

Moreover, radiologists are devoted to raising awareness about the latest advances in imaging safety not only for dental and medical practitioners, but for the public, as well. With children in mind, pediatric radiologists from a number of professional associations have joined together to create the Image Gently Alliance, offering specific guidelines for the specific needs of young patients.

And because we are always concerned about the safety of our patients, medical and dental associations around the world, including the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, are Image Gently Alliance member organizations.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging for young people have been designed to make sure all children have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. As oral surgical specialists, Doctors Bauer, Lawrenz, and Stark and our team work to restore children’s smiles through many different procedures, and we ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age, using the fastest film or digital image receptors.

We know your child’s health and safety are always on your mind, so you’re proactive about medical and dental care. And your child’s health and safety are always on our minds, too, so we’re proactive when it comes to all of our medical and dental procedures.

Please free to talk with our Champlin, MN team about X-rays and any other imaging we recommend for your child. We want to put your mind at ease, knowing that X-rays will be taken only when necessary, will be geared to your child’s age and weight, and will be used with protective equipment in place. Because ensuring your child’s health and safety? That comes with our job description!

Sports and Energy Drink Consumption Damages Tooth Enamel

June 13th, 2024

While they may sound refreshing, especially after participating in sports activities or after a jog, recent studies suggest that energy and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, thus elevating your cavity risk. These drinks are especially popular among our younger patients.

In the study, researchers analyzed the fluoride content and pH levels of 13 sports and nine energy drinks by soaking tooth enamel samples in the aforementioned drinks. The samples were soaked for 15 minutes in each drink, and then were soaked for two hours in artificial saliva four times a day for five days.

As much as sports drinks are harmful to your teeth, researchers found that exposure to energy drinks such as Rockstar, Monster®, and Red Bull® resulted in twice as much enamel loss as exposure to sports drinks such as Powerade®, Gatorade®, and Propel® (3.1 percent to 1.5 percent).

Yes, there are health benefits to consuming orange juice, fruit juices, sports drinks, and flavored waters, which can contain valuable ingredients such as vitamin C and other antioxidants; these drinks can also replenish nutrients lost during a sporting event and lower the chance of heart disease and cancer. But, if not consumed carefully, these beverages can harm your teeth. They are full of sugar, which converts to acid and wears away at your teeth, causing cavities, sensitivity, and eventually tooth loss.

Even one drink a day is potentially harmful, but if you are absolutely unable to give up that sports or energy drink habit, we encourage you to minimize their use and rinse with water afterward or chew a sugar-free piece of gum. Do not brush immediately after drinking them; softened enamel due to acid is easier to damage, even when brushing. Remember, it takes your mouth approximately 30 minutes to bring its pH level back to normal. The best thing to do is to wait an hour, then brush to remove sugar that lingers on your teeth and gums.

There are many sports drinks, energy drinks, and flavored waters out there today. Doctors Bauer, Lawrenz, and Stark and our team recommend you take the time to read the labels. Check for sugar content and citric acid in the ingredients. If you have any questions, or would like suggestions on the best sports drink options, please give us a call at our Champlin, MN office or ask us during your next visit!

Floss? Sticks? Picks? Which Should You Choose?

June 13th, 2024

You might have noticed that the dental aisle of your drugstore is larger than ever, with more options than ever for getting the spaces between your teeth their cleanest. Flosses made with different shapes, materials, and coatings. Wooden dental sticks. Flexible plastic picks. Tiny interproximal brushes. Water flossers. With all these choices, what’s a conscientious person to do?

  • Find What Works Best for You!

We’ve come a long way from the one-size-fits-all floss of our grandparents. Today’s plaque-removing tools are designed to make interdental cleaning easier and more efficient for users with a variety of different needs.

  • Floss Choices

Flossing properly is a very effective way to get rid of the plaque that builds up between your teeth and along your gum line—not to mention the food particles which your brush may have missed. And now there are options to suit both your needs and your preferences.

Modern flosses come waxed or unwaxed, flat or rounded, made of natural or synthetic material, flavored or unflavored. There are flosses designed for specifically for braces and eco-friendly, biodegradable flosses. If you’re not happy with your regular floss, a different size, material, or texture might make all the difference.

Even with all these choices, though, flosses don’t always suit everyone. Luckily, if you’ve had trouble with floss, you have many other options available for interdental cleaning:

  • Floss Picks

These tiny, handled tools hold a piece of dental floss in their curved end. You can direct the floss to the perfect spot, which is especially useful if you’re having trouble reaching your back teeth or have mobility issues.  Floss picks can be disposable or refillable, and come in different sizes to accommodate adults and children.

  • Dental Picks

Back in the day, toothpicks were the go-to for dislodging food particles. But they weren’t designed for gum health and safety. Today, we have gentler, more efficient options for those of us who like the ease of using a pick and the convenience of being able to clean our teeth at work, at school, or on the go.

Triangular wooden picks are tapered to fit between the teeth and massage the gum line as they scour plaque from tooth enamel. Soft plastic picks are popular because their flexible tips fit easily in between the teeth, while their texture provides gentle scrubbing for your tooth enamel.

  • Interproximal Brushes

Big name; tiny brush. These little cone-shaped brushes come in various sizes so they can fit snugly and comfortably between teeth whether widely or narrowly spaced. They’re especially handy for getting around wires if you wear braces.

  • Water Flossers

These high-tech tools provide a pulsing stream of water to clean between the teeth. They’re particularly helpful for those with mobility issues and those with traditional or lingual braces. To make sure you’re getting the job done, choose a model with a dental seal of approval, which means it has been tested for safety and effectiveness.                                                                                                                                                                  

With so many options, you can sample different flossing alternatives until you find the one which works best for you.

  • Technique Is Key

No matter which product you choose, the key to effective plaque removal is your technique. You need to be thorough. You need to be gentle enough to protect your delicate gums, but not so gentle that you don’t remove any plaque.

Whichever method you choose, carefully follow directions to get optimal cleaning benefits while protecting tooth enamel and gum tissue. And remember, you have an expert ally in your corner—Doctors Bauer, Lawrenz, and Stark! If your periodontist is seeing a lot of plaque buildup at your next exam, ask for tips to improve your interdental cleaning technique and suggestions for the best products to accommodate your specific needs.

  • Choose It—Then Use It!

Even after deciding on the best tool and technique, your teeth and gums won’t benefit from your research if your floss or pick or brush or water flosser is languishing in the medicine cabinet. While dentists recommend flossing at least once each day, if you have braces or a tendency toward cavities or gum disease, your periodontist might recommend flossing more often.

Why is flossing so important? Even with the best brushing technique, it can be hard to reach plaque and food particles caught between the teeth and near the gum line. Removing plaque from between teeth can help prevent cavities, and it’s especially important for gum health.

Plaque and tartar are extremely irritating to gum tissue. This irritation causes inflammation, and you’ll soon start to see the first signs of gingivitis (early gum disease)—swelling, redness, bleeding, bad breath—when flossing is hit or miss. Over time, left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease which can cause tooth and bone loss.

When caught early, you can often reverse the irritation, inflammation, and unpleasant symptoms of gingivitis with a week or two of careful brushing and flossing. If your gums are bothering you despite your careful cleaning, it’s time to visit our Champlin, MN periodontal office. There are lots of options available for getting your teeth their cleanest—but you have only one smile!

Caring for Your Dog’s Teeth

June 5th, 2024

It may come as a surprise to learn that dogs, like humans, have both baby and adult teeth. Most dogs, unlike humans, have all of their adult teeth by the time they are seven months old, so it’s time to start looking after their dental health when they are still puppies.

While dogs generally don’t develop cavities, periodontal disease is the one of the most common diseases affecting dogs. Periodontal disease starts when the bacteria in your pet’s mouth form plaque. The plaque can harden into tartar, and, if plaque and tartar spread under the gum line, can be responsible for a number of serious problems. Veterinarians warn that tooth loss, tissue damage, bone loss and infection can be the result of periodontal disease. Professional dental treatment is important if your dog is suffering from periodontal disease, and your vet can describe the options available to you. But the time to act is before disease develops. Let’s bone up on some preventative care!

Brushing

There are brushes and toothpastes designed especially for your dog. Train your puppy from an early age to open his mouth to allow you to examine his teeth and gums. (This will also come in handy if you ever need to give him medicine.) Most dogs will accept brushing, and toothpastes come in dog-friendly flavors. Human toothpaste should never be used because it contains cleaners and abrasives that should not be swallowed by your pet. There are also dental wipes available that can be used once and thrown away. Your vet can advise you how to ease your pet into a brushing routine.

Gels and Rinses

Whether you rub an antiseptic gel on your dog’s teeth or squirt an antiseptic rinse into his mouth, these formulas can reduce the build-up of plaque. Not all dogs take to the taste of these solutions, but in general they are safe and effective. Ask your vet for recommendations if you would like to try this method.

Diet

Several dietary products offer anti-plaque ingredients or a kibble shape designed to reduce the formation of plaque. Talk to your vet for the best possible diet and nutrition suggestions for your unique pet.

Chew Toys

Chewing can help reduce plaque build-up if done consistently, and chew toys should be chosen for tooth and digestive safety. Some animal-based products and hard plastic toys are so rigid that they can cause damage to teeth or gums, so be sure to look for safe toys.  Dogs shouldn’t be left alone with toys due to choking or swallowing hazards—if the chew toy becomes small enough to cause choking, or your dog is swallowing large chunks that might not be digestible, time to replace it.

Your veterinarian is the best resource for maintaining your dog’s health and developing a dental routine both you and your pet can live with. When your four-legged friend goes for his next check-up, ask your vet what you can do to keep him and his smile fetching for a long, long time.

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