Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727

Children often have a hard time understanding that their teeth are not invincible. For example, some parents may find that their children tear open plastic items — such as bags of chips or even toy packages — with their teeth instead of using their hands or a pair of scissors. 

Unfortunately, this type of action can severely damage a child's teeth and cause a multitude of minor to serious dental problems. Fully understanding why children engage in this behavior — and what type of damage it causes — can help a parent take steps to prevent it from recurring. 

Why Kids Tear Items With Their Teeth 

Some kids — and even adults — tear open plastic items with their teeth simply out of impatience. Rather than look for a pair of scissors or a knife to open up a package, the child uses the nearest tearing or cutting object that comes to mind. Some children, however, may tear open objects because they feel uncomfortable handling knives or scissors. 

Unfortunately, tearing open packages in this way can trigger a multitude of dental problems. For example, the stress that tearing puts on the teeth may cause damage to the enamel that could lead to cavities. Even worse, a child could shake a tooth loose in its root and cause development issues or even tooth loss. As a result, parents must take steps to prevent this problem. 

How You Can Prevent This Problem 

Parents concerned about this type of behavior need to take steps to correct their child. This process requires a persistent attitude and a caring and thoughtful temperament. Harsh indignation or mean words could only encourage the child to continue their destructive actions. So make sure to follow the process below to help a child get over tearing with their teeth:

  • Watch your child whenever they have a plastic bag or a new toy.
  • Take the item away from them if they try to use their teeth to open it.
  • Discuss how much damage they can do to their teeth when tearing. 
  • Give them a pair of scissors to open up the plastic item or model the behavior by doing it for them.
  • Regularly visit the dentist to keep your child’s teeth healthy for times when you can't catch them. 

The last step is particularly crucial for this situation. Many situations exist in which, unfortunately, the parent can't stop their child from tearing with their teeth. For example, a kid may tear open a bag of chips with their teeth when at a friend's house. Even worse, the child may tear into new toy packaging after sneaking it off to their room away from their parents.

Keep persisting in the above process, when possible, to impress the importance of this behavior in the child's mind. And model good behavior — such as never opening anything with your teeth — in front of a child. Kids do model their behavior after their parents’ and will follow their example if they see their mother or father opening items with their teeth. 

Who Can Help When Dental Emergencies Occur

By now, parents should have a pretty good idea of why tearing with the teeth is such a harmful activity. However, some may have tried to take corrective steps in the past with their children only to find that their son or daughter persisted. In the worst-case scenario, this child suffered from a dental emergency, such as a broken tooth. 

If your child ever suffers from this kind of emergency, please don't hesitate to call us at Airport Road Dental Associates right away to get the help that you need. Our professionals will work hard to identify the severity of the damage so that we can fix the problem effectively and efficiently. 

During your first visit to the dentist, you answer questions about your medical history. Your answers to these questions help your provider determine the best ways to treat your mouth. Although your oral health and your systemic well-being may not seem to be connected, some systemic diseases may make your teeth more susceptible to decay.
Here are a few conditions that can affect your dental health.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes


More than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. The disease impairs your body's ability to digest sugars properly.
In order to utilize the sugars from the foods that you eat, your body must release enough insulin to help the sugar enter your cells for energy. However, people with diabetes either don't produce enough of this vital hormone or have become insulin-resistant. 
The high levels of blood sugar and the medications that are used to treat diabetes can affect your oral health by:
  • Causing dry mouth. Dry mouth, which is formally called xerostomia, occurs when the salivary glands produce too little saliva. Since saliva helps to neutralize bacterial acids and rinse away leftover particles of food, dry mouth can increase the incidence of decay.
  • Inciting gum inflammation. As blood sugar levels increase, blood vessels may change, making it more difficult for required nutrients to reach the gingival tissues. Additionally, the number of oral bacteria may increase in response to a ready supply of sugars in the mouth. As a result, many people with diabetes develop periodontal disease.
Additionally, smoking can further exacerbate gum problems in people with diabetes. Diabetic patients who smoke and are at least 45 years old have 20 times the risk of developing severe gum disease.

Eating Disorders


Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can also negatively affect the teeth and gums. The conditions restrict the supply of nutrients needed to support the teeth and gingival tissues. 
Additionally, people with bulimia tend to binge and purge. As they binge, they may consume large amounts of unhealthy food that promote tooth decay. 
The bacteria in the mouth feed on simple carbohydrates and release acidic waste that demineralizes the teeth. Thus, sugary and starchy foods incite the most dental decay. 
Also, people who suffer from bulimia subject the teeth to corrosive acids as they vomit to purge the food they have consumed. Like bacterial acids, the stomach acids dissolve the tooth enamel.
Studies indicate that up to 93 percent of patients who have been diagnosed with bulimia display signs of tooth enamel damage. People who vomit most frequently may have the highest risk of enamel dissolution. However, the amount of dental harm is individualized.
People with bulimia may have teeth that display a number of issues, including:
  • Discoloration
  • Chipping
  • Sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Erosion
Bulimic patients may also suffer from enlarged salivary glands and dry mouth. In some cases, their teeth may even die. Nevertheless, a dentist can offer restorative dental services to help repair the mouth.

Sjogren's Sydrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune condition. The symptoms of the disease include dry mouth. Sjogren's syndrome also changes the chemical composition of your saliva. Consequently, many people who suffer from this syndrome have an increased incidence of dental caries. In addition, they may lose a large number of teeth. 
To help minimize the effects of Sjogren's syndrome on their oral health, people with the condition should visit their dentist more often than once every six months. Frequent dental visits can help the dentist monitor and treat the condition of the teeth more effectively.
If you suffer from a systemic condition and are concerned about your oral health, contact Airport Road Dental Associates to schedule an appointment.

Have you had unsightly brown or gray stains on your teeth for as long as you can remember? You may have been given an antibiotic called tetracycline as a child. This antibiotic came into use in the 1950s and was prescribed to patients with acne, Lyme disease, malaria, and numerous other ailments.

Because tetracycline causes serious tooth staining and other side effects, physicians generally don't prescribe tetracycline to children and pregnant women now. However, this was not always the case — and physicians in countries other than the U.S. may still prescribe tetracycline to children and pregnant women.

Here's what you need to know as someone with tooth staining potentially caused by tetracycline.

How Does Tetracycline Stain Teeth?

Most tooth stains, like those caused by coffee or tea, occur on the surface of the enamel. Tetracycline staining is quite different. If you take tetracycline while your teeth are laying down minerals, the medication bonds to the calcium within your tooth structure. Initially, this gives your teeth a fluorescent yellow color, and once they're exposed to light, they become brown or gray.

Because the teeth are mineralized during childhood, tetracycline causes staining if taken by children under the age of 10. You can also develop staining if your mother takes this medication during the second or third trimester.

Must You Avoid Tetracycline to Prevent Additional Staining?

People with tetracycline staining often assume they should avoid this antibiotic to keep their stains from getting any worse. However, as an adult, your teeth are no longer accumulating new minerals. As such, you can safely take tetracycline as an adult, if it is prescribed by your doctor, without worrying about new stains developing.

Are Tetracycline-Stained Teeth Weak?

In most patients, the teeth are simply discolored — they are still healthy and structurally sound. However, in the most severe cases, the teeth may actually have weak enamel and be prone to cracking.

If you suspect you have tetracycline staining on your teeth, your dentist may take x-rays and examine your teeth closely to see how badly they have been affected. 

Will Tooth Whitening Remove the Stains?

Frustratingly, tooth stains caused by tetracycline do not respond to common tooth whitening procedures or to products like whitening toothpaste and whitening strips. Unlike stains caused by coffee and plaque, which sit on the surface of the teeth and can be bleached away, the stains caused by tetracycline are intrinsic to the tooth. Your tooth is brown or gray — it's not just a stain sitting on top.

Conventional whitening treatments won't work because they can't penetrate that deep into the tooth or change its composition. You may do more harm than good by attempting to remove the stains with vigorous brushing or strong whitening products.

How Can You Get Rid of Tetracycline Stains?

Since there's no good way to remove the stains from your teeth, your best bet is to cover the stains up. Your dentist may recommend either veneers or crowns.

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers work well for most patients with tetracycline staining. They are thin pieces of porcelain that are cemented to the fronts of your teeth.

The process of getting veneers is rather simple and painless; you may not even need anesthesia. Your teeth may be a little sensitive after having veneers applied, however.


If your stains are really dark, or if your teeth have been structurally weakened by tetracycline, your dentist may recommend porcelain crowns rather than veneers. Crowns cover the entire tooth — they're like a cap that is placed over the tooth. Not only do they camouflage stains, but they also protect the tooth from chips, decay, and other damage.

If you think your brown or gray tooth stains may be caused by previous tetracycline use, make an appointment with the dentists at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC. We offer veneers and crowns to give you the white, bright smile you've always dreamed of.

No one wants to get a tooth extracted, but in some cases, doing so can be the best way to improve the overall health of your smile. While many procedures can save teeth or strengthen them, if these procedures don't work or if you aren't a good candidate for them, extraction may be necessary. Check out these five common reasons a tooth may need to be pulled.

1. It's Severely Damaged

The most obvious reason to extract a tooth is severe damage. If the tooth has a few cracks or chips, a crown may be enough to protect and strengthen it (in some cases, you may also need root canal therapy, depending on the extent of the damage). Sometimes, even if a large portion of tooth has been lost, the dentist may be able to rebuild the tooth, but this may be best for incisors only.

If the tooth has major damage — for example, if it broke off at the gum line — rebuilding the tooth may be impossible or a waste of time and money. The immense pressure your teeth experience when chewing will destroy the rebuilt tooth. In this case, your best choice is to remove the tooth and choose a replacement option.

2. It Didn't Fully Erupt

The term erupting refers to when teeth break through the gum line. Healthy teeth should completely erupt so that the entire tooth's crown is visible. Many teeth, however, don't fully erupt for various reasons. One common reason is there simply isn't enough room. This is common with wisdom teeth, which is why most patients have them removed.

Another reason a tooth may not fully erupt is that it is growing at an angle. These teeth are known as impacted teeth. Another problem with impacted teeth is they may grow into other teeth. Any tooth that doesn’t fully erupt is at greater risk of infection.

3. It's Underdeveloped

In some cases, your tooth doesn't fully develop, resulting in a small partial tooth or a tooth with minimal enamel. Underdeveloped teeth usually need to be removed because they are in the way. Plus, many underdeveloped teeth cannot fully erupt, making them more likely to become infected or develop a cyst.

Underdeveloped teeth can happen with normal primary and secondary teeth, and they can also happen if you have supernumerary teeth. Supernumerary teeth are extra teeth which start growing after your permanent teeth have developed, which can cause damage.

4. It Prevents a Straight Smile

Sometimes, a completely healthy tooth needs to be removed in order to improve the overall appearance of the smile. This is more common in adults because the palate is already fixed into position. Therefore, the only way to make more room for teeth to straighten is to remove some teeth. For children, expanders can be used to widen the palate.

If you don't have some teeth extracted before getting braces and you have limited space in your mouth, your smile may still not look great after treatment. Teeth may be rotated or overcrowded because of the limited space. Simply removing a few teeth actually makes your finished smile look more natural and beautiful.

5. It Keeps Getting Infected

Ideally, if you get a tooth infection, you get root canal therapy because it eliminates the infection without destroying the tooth. However, some people can't afford root canal therapy, especially if it isn't covered by their dental insurance or if they don't have dental insurance. In this case, an extraction may be necessary to treat the infection.

Even if you choose root canal treatment, however, the tooth can get infected again. If this happens, the tooth roots may have underlying damage, and if the dentist can't correct the problem, extraction may be the only way to prevent future infection and complications.

At Airport Road Dental Associations, we'll do everything we can to protect, strengthen, and improve your smile, including performing an extraction. While extractions aren't ideal, they can be the best way to save your smile. For more information about extraction, contact us today.

Although temporary, your child's baby teeth are always important to take care of. For example, baby teeth can get cavities just like adult teeth. Cavities in baby teeth can cause a host of problems, so parents should be proactive in caring for the cavities. One of the main sources of cavities in small children's baby teeth actually comes from baby bottles.

Also known as baby bottle tooth decay, these cavities that form from bottle overuse can damage the teeth and prevent adult teeth from properly forming. If you have a baby or young child who still drinks from a bottle, know about the risk of decay and learn what you can do to prevent this from happening.

What Is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is a dental disease that affects young children. You generally find this decay on the top front teeth. This decay also often affects other teeth. The decay occurs in this primary area because of consistent formula, juice, or another substance containing sugar on the teeth. The decay is especially prevalent in children who go to bed with a bottle as a soothing mechanism.

When a child goes to sleep with a bottle, parents do not have an opportunity to clean the teeth before the child is asleep. The liquid then sits on the teeth for a long time. Over time, decay can occur on the teeth where the liquid primarily touches.

How Can You Tell If the Teeth Have Decay?

If you notice any spots or discoloration of the teeth and the color does not come off the teeth during brushing, chances are the child has decay. Early indicators are light or white spots on the teeth. As time goes on, the discoloration will become darker brown or black if the decay does not receive attention.

Other symptoms include swollen or bleeding gums, poor breath, and fever from the infection. If any of the more severe symptoms occur, get your child to the dentist as soon as possible. Without treatment, your child could need significant restoration work or could lose the teeth altogether.

How Can You Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

The best way to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to avoid using a bottle for long periods. If your child needs to eat before bedtime, feed and then immediately brush the teeth. If the bottle at bedtime is a source of comfort for your child, consider implementing new soothing techniques so you can take the bottle away.

Another easy way to prevent the decay is good oral hygiene. Brush your child's teeth after every meal and after each bottle. Use a child's toothpaste and a small toothbrush, or you can simply wipe the teeth with a clean wet cloth.

Also, only use bottles for formula or breast milk. If your child drinks milk, juice, or water, offer these liquids in a sippy cup. Not only will a cup prevent the liquid sitting on the teeth, but cup use will also help get your child away from the bottle once they no longer need it for feeding.

How Do You Treat Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

To treating the decay, this will depend on how severe the problem is. Treatment will also depend on your child's age. The dentist may want to fill the cavities or pull the tooth if the decay is severe. Other dentists may leave the affected teeth alone if the decay is not severe and the tooth will soon fall out. You and your dentist will need to work together to figure out what is best for your child.

Prevention is the best medicine when dealing with decay. If you have concerns your child may have baby bottle tooth decay, please contact us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for an appointment.

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