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

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Will the Easter bunny bring your child a basket filled with sweet treats and chocolate-covered goodies? Before the bunny (and basket) arrives, take a look at what you need to know about this spring-time holiday and your child's dental health.

What Easter Candy Should Your Child Avoid?

While you'd happily fill the Easter basket with apples and oranges, your child wouldn't agree. If you plan to add sweet treats to your child's Easter bunny bounty, you can reduce the cavity-causing effects of sugary snacks with a few smart choices.

The first step to a healthy (or healthier) mouth basket is understanding which foods to avoid. Even though all sugar-containing treats can raise the risk of dental decay, these candies top the list of the most notable offenders:

  • Gummy candies. The cute bunny- and chick-shaped gummies can stick on your child's teeth. This adhesive action gives decay-causing bacteria more time to feed and grow. As the bacteria digest the sugar, they release dental enamel-eroding acids.
  • Hard candy. Individually wrapped hard candy bathe your child's teeth in sugar as the sweet treat slowly dissolves. This feeds oral bacteria, increases dental enamel erosion, and raises the cavity risk. These candies can also chip or crack your child's tooth.
  • Lollipops. Like hard candies, hard lollipops also bathe the teeth in a steady stream of bacteria-feeding sugar. Also, like hard candies, lollipops can also cause dental damage such as chips or cracks.
  • Marshmallow treats. Easter Peeps are staples of the bunny's basket. Even though these sugar-coated marshmallow treats are holiday favorites, these sticky treats can increase the risk of dental decay.

If you shouldn't fill your child's Easter basket with gummies, hard candies, lollipops, and peeps, what can you use? Ideally, you'd choose non-food items. But if you want to give your child a holiday treat, you can select from somewhat safer options.

What Easter Candy Is Better to Include?

There is no candy that's good for your child's teeth. Any sugar-containing food or beverage can feed oral bacteria and eventually lead to dental decay. Even though limiting sugar intake can limit cavity formation, a once-in-a-while holiday-time treat isn't likely to ruin your child's smile. If you want to choose better candy options, consider:

  • Chocolate. Chocolate bunnies may have sugar, but they also melt away quickly. This means the sugar won't stay on your child's teeth as long as it would if they ate a gummy treat. Avoid chocolate bunnies, eggs, or other goodies that have sticky, caramel, or marshmallow filling.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum. If your child is old enough to chew gum (without swallowing it), a sugar-free option is the way to go. The chewing action can increase saliva production and wash away decay-causing bacteria.
  • Other sugar-free candy. Gum isn't the only treat that contains sugar alternatives. If you don't want your child to eat real sugar treats, you have options. Even though sugar-free candies don't raise the risk of decay, in excess they can upset your child's stomach.

Even though these holiday picks don't come with the same decay risks gummies, lollipops, and other similar candies do, they are still options to use sparingly. Add a few low or no-sugar treats and balance the basket with a variety of non-candy items.

What Healthy Mouth Items Can You Include?

Candy isn't the only Easter basket filler to add. Limit the sugary selections and create a balanced basket from the bunny with:

  • A toothbrush. Choose a playful toothbrush that features your child's favorite movie, TV, or cartoon character.
  • Flavored toothpaste. Compliment the character brush with a cartoon-covered flavored children's toothpaste product.
  • Milk. If your child will open their basket immediately, add a few individually sized bottles of milk. Avoid flavored or sugar-added products.

Along with these items, fill your child's basket with books, small toys, and other trinkets. Non-food goodies eliminate the sugar issue and won't contribute to dental decay.

Does your child need a routine cleaning or dental office visit? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information.

The Top Ways to Fix Dental Damage and Decay

Does your tooth have visible damage, decay, or enamel erosion? When one tooth makes it uncomfortable to smile, take a look at the healthy mouth options your dentist has to offer.

Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers are small slip-covers for teeth. Unlike the slip-cover on your couch, these are made from a white porcelain tooth-like material. The strong, long-lasting material is shaped to fit around your tooth and isn't removable (by the patient). This option is ideal to correct:

  • Chipped teeth. Did you fall and chip your tooth or bite into something hard? A veneer will cover the jagged shard of a tooth that's leftover and give you an even, full smile.
  • Worn teeth. Do you grind your teeth? If you suffer from excessive wear, veneers can make the surface and structure of your tooth smooth again.
  • Crooked teeth. If braces aren't an option or you only have a few crooked teeth, veneers can reshape your smile without orthodontics. Even though a veneer can change the appearance of your tooth, it won't correct misalignment or serious orthodontic issues.
  • Erosion damage. The pearly white protective coating on your teeth, enamel, can wear away from age, drinking acidic beverages, and excessive care.

To place a veneer the dentist must remove some of the enamel. This makes it important to replace old, worn, or damaged veneers. Due to the enamel loss, it's typically not possible to remove a veneer permanently.

Dental Bonding

Veneers aren't always necessary to fix minor chips, damage, or cracks. If you don't need a full veneer or can't invest in this option, dental bonding is another option to:

  • Repair damage. The dentist will apply a tooth-colored composite material to the tooth and sculpt it. After the material hardens, the dentist will polish it to match the shape of the tooth.
  • Change the size. A tooth that is slightly smaller than its neighbors or causes a gap can benefit from bonding.
  • Change the shape. Damage or wear can alter the overall shape of the tooth. Dental bonding can create a smooth surface or add length to the tooth.

While dental bonding is typically less expensive than veneers, and may require less time in the dentist's chair, it's not as durable and won't resist stains as easily. Your dentist can help you to decide which option is best for your individual dental needs.

Dental Fillings

Dental decay can destroy your tooth and lead to an invasive oral infection. If decay progresses further, additional procedures may be necessary such as a root canal or even tooth loss. All things that can add to the expense of your visits! If you visit the dentist regularly for exams and checkups, decay can be caught early when it is easiest to repair. 

To treat a cavity the dentist must remove the decayed part of your tooth. After cleaning the area completely, the dentist will repair the tooth with a filling. The most common types of fillings include:

  • Ceramic. Porcelain fillings look and feel like real teeth. While these are sometimes more expensive than other types of fillings, they are durable and fairly stain-resistant.
  • Silver Colored. Silver colored amalgam fillings include a mix of metals. Even though these fillings are durable and inexpensive, the silver color is noticeable.
  • Composite. These fillings are made from plastic and resin material. Like ceramic fillings, these are tooth-colored and look natural.
  • Gold. This sturdy type of filling is extremely noticeable and expensive.

If you're not sure which type of filling is right for your dental decay or damage, talk to the dentist. The professional can help you to choose the product with the best color match, durability, and price for your needs.

Do you have dental damage or decay? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates for more information.

Brushing your teeth is the best way to keep your teeth healthy and reduce the risk of ailments like cavities and gum disease. The idea of tooth brushing is pretty simple at its core, but actually, many patients do have a few lingering questions about this care. The following are some of the most common questions asked.

1. What Is the Best Toothpaste?

There is no single toothpaste that works best for everyone, and many great toothpastes on the market do a good job of cleaning your teeth and preventing decay. Don't worry too much about the brand, and instead, look for the ADA seal.

The ADA seal indicates that the American Dental Association has approved the toothpaste as being safe, effective, and free from sugar and other flavoring agents that might contribute to tooth decay. It also indicates that the toothpaste contains fluoride, which is an essential ingredient for strengthening tooth enamel and preventing cavities.

If you have sensitive teeth, look for a toothpaste designed to reduce sensitivity. Your dentist can prescribe a stronger one if the over-the-counter options are not helping enough. If you want whiter teeth, a whitening toothpaste that caries the ADA seal may help gently whiten your teeth. These toothpastes generally contain mild abrasives, so they're better at scrubbing stains from the surface of your teeth.

2. Should You Brush Before or After Breakfast?

Although instinct may tell you that you should brush your teeth immediately after eating, you're actually better off brushing as soon as you wake up — and then eating breakfast. If you brush too soon after eating anything acidic or sugary, the abrasive action of brushing may actually do more damage to your tooth enamel.

By brushing immediately upon waking, you're removing bacteria and acids that accumulated on your teeth overnight. After you eat, rinse your mouth well with water or mouthwash to remove food particles and sugar.

3. How Long Do You Need to Brush?

Many people rush through brushing their teeth, and as a result, they miss spots and leave plaque in some areas. When you rush, you're also more likely to brush too hard, which can cause enamel damage and tooth sensitivity.

Brushing for two minutes twice per day is sufficient, but if you can manage to spend three minutes brushing your teeth, that's even better. Focus on spending at least 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth so you can be sure all of your teeth get equal attention. Setting a timer to buzz every 30 seconds, reminding you to move onto the next quadrant, can help you develop better brushing habits if you tend to rush.

If you tend to apply too much pressure when brushing, another tip is to brush with your nondominant hand. You'll automatically brush more gently.

4. Why Do Your Teeth Hurt After Brushing?

Sometimes patients avoid brushing their teeth because of pain experienced after brushing. Your teeth should not hurt after brushing. This is a sign that something is wrong — either with your teeth, your gums, or your brushing technique.

If your teeth are sensitive after brushing, this could indicate tooth decay, weak enamel, or gum disease. If your gums are sore, this is also an indicator of gum disease, which is an infection of the gum tissue.

Have your dentist take a look at your teeth and gums to see what is amiss. If everything looks normal, you are probably just using too stiff of a toothbrush. Switch to a soft-bristled brush, and be gentler when brushing; the pain should subside.

Hopefully you now know a little more about brushing your teeth. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a professional cleaning appointment, contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC.

 

Is your child about to lose their first tooth? If your child is in kindergarten or early elementary school, chances are a few of their baby teeth are loose and ready to fall out. Take a look at the top questions that parents often have about childhood tooth loss.

Which Teeth Fall Out First?

Like every other physical milestone your child goes through, tooth loss also happens in a regular pattern. For most children, the front bottom teeth are the first to go. The top front teeth typically follow behind closely.

Not only will your child lose their teeth in a regular pattern, but the new ones will typically erupt in the same way. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the permanent lower central incisors (bottom front) break through the gums around six to seven years of age and the top incisors come in from seven to eight years.

Should a Child Pull a Loose Tooth Out?

Your child's wiggly tooth looks like it's about to fall out. Should you grab it, twist, or pull? Before you pull:

  • Test the tooth. According to the ADA, you can gently squeeze a tooth that's about to fall out (place a tissue around the tooth first) — if it bothers your child. Never attempt to pull a tooth that isn't ready to fall out or causes your child pain.
  • Talk to the dentist. If you're in doubt, consult the professional first. The dentist can help you to determine what the next step is or provide information about your child's individual dental needs.
  • Put the string away. Never tie a string around your child's tooth and pull. The same goes for any other potentially traumatic or painful method.
  • Wash your hands. Even if you use a tissue wrapped around the tooth to pull it out, you still need clean hands too. This reduces the risk of infection.

If your child is apprehensive or anxious about their loose tooth, don't attempt to remove it yourself — even if the tooth is about to fall out. 

What Happens If the Gums Bleed?

Whether your child's tooth falls out naturally or they wiggle it out themselves, you may notice some blood around the gums. A small amount of bleeding is normal. If your child's gums gush, the bleeding persists, or they have unexplained pain, contact the dentist as soon as possible.

Comfort your child, and use a clean piece of gauze or towel to stop the flow from their gums. Ask your child to bite down on the gauze or towel gently until the bleeding stops.

What Happens If the Child Swallows the Tooth?

Whether the tooth fell out mid-meal or your child just couldn't catch it in time, some kids accidentally swallow their own baby teeth. In most cases, this won't cause a serious problem. Again, if in doubt, contact the dentist immediately.

How Much Money Should the Tooth Fairy Leave?

This is often the most important question for your child. The answer depends on your beliefs, values, and financial situation.

While the going Tooth Fairy rate was probably close to a quarter when you were young, your child likely expects more. Many parents choose to leave more money for the first lost tooth or if the lost tooth has a special circumstance.

According to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, in 2018 the average payout was $3.70 per tooth. Even though this is the national average, you can choose another amount or to give something else entirely. The Tooth Fairy can leave behind a gift or even a sweet note.

Does your child need a check-up or cleaning? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information.

While most people know that poor oral hygiene can cause gingivitis and cavities, many are unaware that systemic diseases can also have an effect on the oral cavity.

While oral manifestations of chronic illness or systemic diseases typically occur with poorly managed or long-standing illnesses, they can develop early on in the progression of diseases and may also occur when illnesses are well-managed. Here are some systemic diseases that can affect your mouth and what you can do about them.

Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that can cause dry eyes and a dry mouth, as well as painful and swollen salivary glands. According to the Mayo Clinic, the causes of Sjogren's syndrome are not fully understood; however, an infection may trigger this autoimmune disorder.

Sjogren's syndrome is more common in women, but it can also occur in men. When your salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva to wash away infection-causing oral bacteria, you may be at a higher risk for gum disease and cavities.

In addition, Sjogren's syndrome can also raise your risk for oral yeast or fungal infections such as candida, or thrush, which can cause white patches to develop inside your mouth. Oral fungal infections can also cause burning sensations inside your mouth, difficulty swallowing, and a bad taste inside your mouth.

Your dentist can prescribe an oral antifungal medication to treat your thrush infection, which should resolve in a couple weeks or so. If you have Sjogren's syndrome, work with both your primary physician and your dentist. When your autoimmune disorder is well-managed by your physician, you may be less likely to develop oral problems related to dry mouth or thrush infections.

Diabetes

Diabetes is another systemic medical condition that can cause oral problems. It can raise your risk for periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, which can cause excessive plaque buildup on your teeth, bleeding and inflamed gums, pain when eating, gum recession, and tooth loss.

If you don’t manage your diabetes well, your risk for gum disease may be especially high. If you have periodontal disease as a result of high blood glucose levels, maintain a strict regimen of brushing and flossing and see your dentist on a regular basis for routine examinations and professional cleanings.

These interventions will help heal your gum tissue and reduce your risk for oral infections, however, you will still need to get your blood sugar levels under control by taking your prescribed medication, maintaining a healthy weight, managing your stress levels, and getting enough exercise.

Acid Reflux Disease

Acid Reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can cause heartburn, a dry cough, frequent throat clearing, feeling as though acid is rising up in your throat, and a bad taste inside your mouth. If you have acid reflux disease, you may be at risk for acid erosion, especially of your back molars.

Stomach acid is very irritating and can dissolve or weaken your tooth enamel, which may raise your risk for cavities. When your enamel thins as a result of acid erosion, bacteria can get inside your tooth, causing an infection or cavity.

After a reflux episode, rinse your mouth out with water to help dilute the acid so that it is less likely to cause enamel erosion. Also, if you have acid reflux, visit your dentist regularly so that he or she can closely monitor the condition of your dental enamel.

Management of acid reflux disease includes avoiding your trigger foods, not smoking, sleeping with the head of your bed elevated, taking antacids or acid blocking medications, and losing excess weight.

To learn more about how systemic diseases such as autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and acid reflux can affect your oral health, today.