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

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Proper dental care should begin as soon as the first teeth erupt. If a child's teeth don't receive proper care, the resulting oral health issues could continue to affect the youngster into adulthood.

Still, children often develop habits that are detrimental to their dental health. Discover two childhood habits that could be problematic for your child's teeth.

1. Thumb-Sucking

Thumb-sucking may appear harmless. However, the habit can impair the alignment of the teeth.

As a child sucks their thumb, the appendage presses against the roof of the mouth and places pressure on the upper and lower central incisors. The pressure can narrow the upper palate, resulting in a crossbite, where the side teeth of the upper jaw do not properly meet those of the lower jaw when the child's mouth is closed.

In addition, the pressure on the front teeth may cause an overbite. The upper front teeth may overlap those of the lower palate when the mouth is closed.

For some children, thumb-sucking begins while they are still in the womb and continues as a soothing mechanism after their birth. Many children outgrow the habit. However, others may need assistance to find alternative soothing methods.

If your child sucks their thumb, discover a few measures that you can take to help them overcome the habit:

  • Coating the thumb with a distasteful substance. Children often avoid placing unpalatable substances in their mouths. Consequently, parents can coat their child's thumb with a bit of vinegar or other edible but distasteful substances.
  • Covering the thumb with fabric. Parents can also consider covering the child's thumb with a physical barrier, such as a glove. The child is less likely to enjoy the texture or taste of fabric in their mouth.
  • Offering a distracting or soothing toy. The child's thumb is less likely to be in their mouth if it is occupied playing with a toy. A toy may also help soothe a child who is feeling a bit anxious.

The earlier that a child stops the habit of thumb-sucking, the less damage the habit will likely cause. Children who stop sucking their thumbs before toddlerhood often suffer no damaging effects.

2. Bottle Drinking

Babies frequently consume milk and juice through bottles. However, parents should attempt to wean their children as soon as possible because of the potential for baby bottle decay.

Baby bottle decay occurs as the contents of a bottle rest on the teeth of a child. Unlike cup drinking, bottle drinking promotes the liquid resting in the mouth for longer periods.

Milk, juice, and other popular bottle contents include sugars. As a result, the bacteria in a child's mouth feed on the simple carbohydrates and release acidic waste that causes tooth decay.

Baby bottle decay can be so severe that it causes the child's teeth to blacken. Nevertheless, the transition to cup drinking can lessen the likelihood of the condition. Discover a few measures that parents can take to help wean their youngsters from the bottle:

  • Only place water in the bottle. Unlike milk and juice, water contains no simple sugars, and it can promote better oral health. Thus, parents should restrict bottle usage to water only.
  • Avoid giving the child a bottle as a soothing mechanism. Some parents offer their children bottles to help soothe them, especially during periods of rest. Instead, parents may offer a favorite stuffed animal or blanket to decrease the child's dependency on the bottle.
  • Offer favorite beverages in a cup. If a child's favorite beverages are offered in a cup, they are more likely to embrace the cup's usage.

Once a child is weaned from the bottle, they are unlikely to desire to return to it. Most children can drink from a cup when they reach eight to ten months of age.

If your child suffers from a habit that is detrimental to their oral health, contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, to schedule a consultation.

Have you ever wondered how chewing gum affects your oral health? Take a look at some benefits and a few things to remember.

The Benefits

Chewing gum benefits your oral health in multiple ways. Below are some of the benefits.

It Stimulates Saliva Production

The mechanical action of chewing gum stimulates saliva production in your mouth. Increased saliva production has multiple oral health benefits. For example, the saliva:

  • Helps to clean food remnants that would otherwise feed dangerous bacteria on your teeth
  • Cleans acid from your teeth that would otherwise erode your enamel
  • Reduces acid in your esophagus that might otherwise reach your mouth (think gastroesophageal reflux disease) and harm your teeth
  • Contain minerals that strengthen your enamel and enhance its defense against acid or bacterial attack
  • Limits the negative effects of dry mouth, such as bad breath

The more you chew gum, the more saliva you may have in your mouth.

Xylitol

Some gums contain xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener that is also good for your teeth. Xylitol helps to reduce the volume of bacteria that stick to your teeth. The sweetener also neutralizes acids in your mouth and reduces their damaging effect on your teeth.

Recaldent

Lastly, some gums also have Recaldent, which contains calcium and phosphorus. The minerals remineralize the teeth and minimize the effects of acids on your teeth.

Tips for Maximum Benefits

Not everyone who chews gums reaps the benefits of the practice. Below are some tips to help you protect your teeth as you chew gum.

Chew Sugarless Gum

Some gums contain sugar, and these types don't protect your oral health. In fact, sugary gum can even harm your oral health. The gum feeds bacteria in your mouth, and the bacteria turns the sugar into acids that erode your enamel and make them susceptible to further damage. Too much sugar intake is also bad for your overall health.

Stick to sugarless gum if you want to maximize the health benefits. You can also chew gum fortified with artificial sweaters.

Mind the Acid Levels

Some chewing gum also contains acid, which may be bad for your teeth in large quantities. Remember you want to chew gum to reduce acid in your mouth, not to increase it. According to ada.org, the gum pH should not be lower than 5.5 if it is not to erode your teeth.

Chew After Eating

Bacteria start to act on bits of food in your mouth as soon as you eat. Therefore, you should chew gum after your meal. That way, you can limit the bacteria's actions and help demineralize the teeth.

Chew for at Least 20 Minutes

The more you chew gum, the more it will clean and protect your teeth. Chew gum for at least 20 minutes to reap the maximum benefits.

Look for the ADA Seal

Many people struggle to choose the right chewing gum. Look for ADA (American Dental Association) seals that certify that chewing gum is good for your oral health.

Caveat

Lastly, take care and only chew gum if it is safe for you to do so. For example, you should not chew gum with dental appliances such as braces or dentures since it might stick on them. You should also not chew gum with Recaldent if you are allergic to milk.

In addition, note that chewing gum is not a substitute for flossing and brushing. These two oral hygiene habits are always necessary if you want to protect your teeth.

Airport Road Dental Associates has several decades of combined experience in dental care. We provide both preventive and curative dental services. Contact us for a dental appointment whether you want a routine examination or have a dental problem.

Natural products are everywhere, but they're especially popular with personal care items. Organic, natural, or fluoride-free toothpastes have made their way from natural food stores to the shelves of your local supermarket. These products claim to perform as well as traditional toothpastes, but without some of the seemingly harsh chemicals that typical toothpastes have. 

Assertions from natural toothpaste companies about their efficacy are not all wrong, but they're not all correct, either. Learn more information regarding the differences between regular and natural toothpaste — and which you should pick up at the store the next time you run out at home. 

Focus on Fluoride

Perhaps the most significant difference between many natural and regular toothpaste is the presence or lack of fluoride. Concerns around the safety of fluoride have become more widespread, but its benefits are many. Fluoride is a powerful mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and prevents decay, which helps to remineralize your teeth and protects them from damage.

Too much fluoride, however, can be dangerous. An excess of fluoride on your teeth, especially those of young children, can cause mottling or dark spots. Ingesting large amounts of fluoride can also cause gastrointestinal problems. 

Fortunately, toothpastes contain a safe amount of fluoride, and an excess of the mineral is very rare. Many who opt for natural and fluoride-free toothpastes can still use a mouthwash with fluoride to reap some benefits but ensure they only use low levels of fluoride.

Check the Ingredients

Thanks to modern research, many chemicals have been discovered to be harmful, or at least not beneficial, both to human health and to the environment. Some of these chemicals, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (or SLS), are irritating to soft tissues, while the microplastics in some regular toothpastes have been linked with negative environmental outcomes. 

Though many believe the naturally derived ingredients in natural toothpastes are superior, they're not always safer or more beneficial for your teeth. Scan the ingredient list in both natural and regular toothpastes for these additives, and note their advantages and disadvantages here.

Cleansing Agents

Traditional toothpaste contains chemicals, like SLS, that are designed to foam when agitated, which is why some natural, SLS-free toothpastes lack the lather of regular pastes. In some people, the foaming agents and detergents of traditional toothpaste cause canker sores, gum irritation, or mouth ulcers. Natural pastes, on the other hand, rely on naturally antimicrobial ingredients and the mechanical action of the toothbrush to scrub plaque from your teeth.

Flavors

Traditional toothpastes utilize flavorings to mask the taste of detergents, but artificial flavors are known to be harmful to human health, at least in larger doses. Natural toothpaste often uses nature-derived flavors, but you should still exercise some caution. Some essential oils, such as cinnamon, spearmint, and peppermint, may be irritating or cause allergic reactions in some people.

Preservatives

Natural toothpastes are usually free from parabens and sodium benzoate, preservatives found in regular toothpastes that extend the shelf life and prevent spoilage due to the high water content. Instead, citric acid is used to maintain its freshness, which is known to be less irritating in the long run than other common preservatives. 

Sweeteners

In most toothpastes, sweeteners are only included to enhance the taste of the product. However, natural toothpastes often include natural sweeteners, including xylitol, which can help to reduce oral bacteria. 

Whitening Agents

From chemical whiteners to physically abrasive ingredients, natural and regular toothpastes each have their strengths with whitening properties. Be wary of many of the whitening methods in natural toothpastes, as they can be far too caustic to your enamel. Chemical whiteners such as peroxide can too, but typically only those with teeth sensitivity issues need to be concerned.

Conclusion

Above all, practice good oral hygiene as a whole. Good brushing habits with toothpastes containing research-backed ingredients, as well as consistency in your routine, will ensure your smile is white and bright for years to come. For more information, or to speak with a dentist about which toothpaste is right for you, call Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, today. 

Many people experience increasing dental problems as they age, and these dental problems can sometimes make you look older than you are. Fortunately, keeping your teeth healthy and attractive can dispel the confusion. Below are practical measures you can follow to keep your teeth looking younger even as you age.

Whiten Discolored Teeth

Teeth tend to discolor with age. Some contributing factors that lead to this discoloration include:

  • Past dental problems and injuries
  • Years of consuming food and beverages that discolor teeth
  • Years of enamel wear

Luckily, you can whiten your teeth to minimize the discoloration trend. Whitening options include special whitening toothpastes, gels, rinses, strips, and trays. You can also schedule in-office whitening from your dentist.

However, you should consult a dentist before beginning the treatments — regardless of if you use DIY or in-office methods. The dentist will examine your teeth and advise you on the best whitening technique for your case. Your dental health, type of discoloration, and extent of discoloration may determine the most suitable whitening treatment.

Replace Lost Teeth

Age-related teeth loss has multiple causes. Examples include:

  • A lifetime of dental problems
  • Medications that erode and weaken the teeth
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Dental treatment delay, for example, because of reduced teeth sensitivity

You should replace your lost teeth as soon as possible. Apart from making you look older, living with missing teeth also increases the risk of teeth misalignment, jawbone deterioration, and further tooth loss.

Luckily, you have several teeth replacement options including dentures, dental bridges, and dental implants. All these options have their pros and cons, and your dentist can help you make an informed decision based on your budget, number of missing teeth, and health.

Keep Your Mouth Moist

Many people also experience dry mouth in old age. Typical causes include reduced activities of the salivary glands, side effects of medications (for age-related ailments), and chronic health conditions.

The reduced saliva allows bacteria to accumulate in your mouth. The bacteria can trigger a range of dental problems, including gum diseases and dental caries. Both problems interfere with your teeth's appearance.

Keep your mouth moist to preempt such problems. You can do this by:

  • Sipping water throughout the day
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Using oral moisturizers
  • Asking your physician for alternative medication that doesn't dry the mouth.

These tips can help keep gum disease and cavities at bay and maintain younger-looking teeth.

Manage Your Health

Your mouth and general health have a stronger connection than you may realize. And some chronic health conditions, which usually creep up in old age, can affect your mouth and teeth.

Consider diabetes, which increases blood sugar. With poor management of diabetes, elevated sugar levels damage blood vessels that nourish the gums, leaving you susceptible to gum disease, which triggers gum recession and can leave you with long, unsightly teeth.

The solution is to care for your overall health. Get treatments for all health problems as soon as possible, take your medications as prescribed, and follow your doctor's orders to the letter.

Straighten Crooked Teeth

Lastly, crooked teeth can also make you appear older than you are. Causes of dental misalignment in old age include:

  • Missing teeth
  • Overcrowded teeth due to jawbone changes
  • Misalignment that has existed from early ages

Get orthodontic treatment to straighten your crooked teeth. According to WebMD, old age is not a barrier to orthodontic treatment, including dental braces.

Contact Airport Road Dental Associates for all your cosmetic dentistry needs. We have practiced family dentistry for decades and have invested in the latest dental technologies. We promise to help you keep your teeth attractive well into your sunset years.

Alternatives to Bone Grafts for Dental Implants

Dental implant treatment is one of the best ways of replacing a lost tooth. The treatment requires you to have adequate jawbone density and thickness. The common way of dealing with inadequate jawbone is to get a bone graft. However, alternatives to bone grafts exist. Below are some of these alternatives.

Full Arch Support

In a conventional dental implant, the implant goes into the jawbone directly under the missing teeth. Thus, you need a bone graft if you want a single-tooth implant and the jawbone under it isn't adequate. However, the situation is different if you need multiple-teeth replacements.

For one, jawbone deterioration is rarely uniform. In most cases, dental examination shows some parts of the bone are denser than others. Secondly, dentists don't use an implant for every missing tooth for those who want to replace multiple teeth. Instead, the dentist can use four to six implants to support a full arch of teeth.

Thus, you don't need a bone graft if you need multiple teeth implants and some parts of your jawbone are dense enough. The dentist will just place the necessary implants in the dense parts of your jawbone and use them to support the rest of your teeth. That way, even the implants above the deteriorated parts of the bone will be strong.

Zygomatic Implants

Traditional dental implants go into the jawbone. However, the cheekbone is also dense enough to accommodate an implant. The dental industry has created zygomatic implants that go into the zygoma in case the jawbone has deteriorated. The zygomatic implant comes with a tilt and an extended design that affords it a strong anchor into the cheekbone.

Note that zygomatic implants can work for a single tooth, multiple teeth, or a full arch. The implants also have a high success rate — so you need not worry about implant failure because the dentist hasn't used the jawbone.

Pterygoid Implants

Pterygoid implants can also help if you are missing a tooth or teeth in the upper jaw. In this case, the dentist inserts the implant deep into the pterygoid plates, which attach to the sphenoid bones. The sphenoid bones sit on the lower edge of the cranium (skull).

The pterygoid plates sit a considerable distance from the jawbone. Thus, pterygoid implants are unusually longer so that they can reach the pterygoid plates. The plates are dense and sturdy enough to support dental implants without further modifications, such as sinus lift.

Ridge Expansion

Jawbone deterioration can lead to the collapse of bone tissues surrounding a lost tooth socket. The collapse reduces the horizontal width of the jawbone, and the remaining horizontal width might not be adequate for a dental implant. Vertical deterioration also reduces the available bone depth for implant treatment.

Ridge expansion treatment can help with both situations. During the expansion, the dentist divides the remaining ridge bone and uses a wedge to keep them apart. You may or may not need a bone graft alongside the expansion, depending on the available ridge size. The dentist may place the implant on the same day if you don't need the grafting.

Alveoplasty

Alveoplasty involves reshaping and smoothing the jawbone after tooth loss. The treatment may be necessary if the top part of the dental ridge is narrow or uneven and cannot support an implant, but the bottom part is adequately thick. In such a case, the dentist may smooth and reshape the top of the ridge to allow for dental implant insertion.

Your circumstances determine whether you need a bone graft or any of the alternatives. Consult Airport Road Dental Associates for your dental implant, and let us determine the treatments you need.