Using Mouthrinses in Kids: Top Considerations

When it comes to their kids’ oral health, parents must always be looking for ways to help improve care of their kid’s teeth and gums.

Needless to say, brushing and flossing are still the best ways to avoid of tooth decay and gum disease, but some kids – especially the older ones – may start to show some interest in incorporating mouthrinse as part of their oral hygiene routine.

For parents, here are some things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to let your kid use a mouthrinse.

Proper Age for Using Mouthrinses in kids

In general, kids younger than six years old must not be allowed to use a mouthrinse to avoid the risk of swallowing the product. It can be quite tricky and challenging for young kids to learn to swish the liquid instead of swallowing it like a drink.

Meanwhile, those aged six to twelve may use mouthrinse, but only under close adult supervision.

One good way to determine if your kid is ready to use a mouthrinse is to ask him or her to take a sip of water, gargle it around his or her mouth for a few seconds, then spit it out. If your kid can handle rinsing with water, they are more likely to do the same with mouthrinse.

Choosing between Alcohol-Containing vs. Alcohol-free Mouthrinses

Many different types of mouthrinses are available on the market, and the two varieties include the alcohol-containing and alcohol-free. Alcohol-free products are recommended because they can be just as effective as the alcohol-containing variety, but much more pleasant to use. When it comes to fluoride mouthrinses, parents are advised to avoid them for now, as fluoride can result in fluorosis of the kids’ developing teeth.

Fluorosis is a harmless condition, but it can be unsightly due to the changes it can cause to the teeth’s color and texture. It can cause formation of white spots or brown streaks on the tooth enamel, or make the tooth surfaces uneven and bumpy.

Using Mouthrinses while on Orthodontic Treatment

Kids who have dental braces can benefit the most from using  mouthrinse, because mechanical cleaning via toothbrush and floss is often not enough in removing plaque buildup underneath the wires and brackets.

Mouthrinses can be a good adjunct to loosen debris and neutralize the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. With this three-pronged attack – brush, floss, and using mouthrinse – against plaque, kids should be able to adequately protect their teeth from tooth decay and gum disease while wearing braces. This, in turn, helps to ensure a successful orthodontic treatment that will result to straighter teeth in the end.

Mouthrinses as an Adjunct to Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

Regardless of the type of mouthrinse your kid uses, be sure to constantly remind him or her that they should not, in any way, replace the good old twice-daily toothbrushing and flossing. While it is true that mouthrinses offers great benefits against plaque, it cannot match the benefits provided by mechanical cleaning.

Follow the Advice of Your kid’s Dentist

Because mouthrinses is not advisable for every kid, consult with your kid’s dentist first. He or she will help determine if using a mouthrinse will indeed be beneficial for your kid’s teeth.

All about Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and/or palate are among the most common birth defects worldwide. In the United States alone, more than 4000 babies are born with cleft lip every year, while as much as 3000 have cleft palate. These developmental defects occur when the structures that form the lip and/or roof of the mouth fail to fuse properly during embryonic development.

Risk Factors for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Risk factors that could lead to the development of cleft lip and palate include diabetes, smoking, alcohol abuse, and anti-seizure medications to name a few. Not taking enough folic acid may also be contributing factor.

Genetics and race may also play a role, as it has been found that babies of Asian, Native American, and Latin American descent are more likely to develop cleft lip and/or palate than everyone else.

Diagnosis of Cleft and Lip Palate:

Cleft lip can easily be diagnosed during pregnancy via routine ultrasound, while cleft palate may only be diagnosed after the baby is born. Some forms of cleft palate are diagnosed later in life.

Types of Cleft Lip and Palate:

There are two major types of cleft – cleft lip and cleft palate. Some babies are born with either cleft lip or cleft palate, but there are also those who have both.

A cleft lip appears like an opening on the edge of the upper lip, but in severe cases, it may extend up to the nose. It may be a partial or complete, unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both sides) cleft.

On the other hand, a cleft palate pertains to the split in the floor of the mouth, which results to communication between the nasal and oral cavity. The cleft usually involves the soft palate, or it may also extend into the bony hard palate.

Complications of Cleft Lip and Palate:

The most common problems associated with clefts are feeding difficulties, especially in the case of a cleft palate. The gap in the roof of the mouth prevents proper suction, and thus necessitates the use of special feeders that aid parents in feeding their babies.

Other complications that may arise include speech difficulties, ear infections and possible hearing loss, and dental problems such as misshapen, missing, or misaligned teeth. There may also be increased risk for tooth decay since the enamel of the teeth tends to be weaker, and the salivary flow is often decreased and less effective.

Treatment for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Cleft lip and palate is a complicated problem that requires team effort to manage. Treatment depends on the severity of the cleft. Some patients may only need orthodontic treatment, but surgery is required most of the time. Surgical treatment is often planned and executed by a team of specialists which usually include an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, a pediatrician, an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist), and a speech therapist. The initial surgery will take place in as early as eight weeks.

Successful treatment shall help the patient achieve normal appearance and function.

The Oral Health Effects of E-Cigarettes

In the recent years, electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes for short), have become increasingly popular due to their look and feel that match that of real cigarettes. They are even being endorsed as the safer alternative to your conventional smoking, as these e-cigarettes can give smokers their nicotine fix without the adverse effects associated with tobacco use.

Nonetheless, studies have found that this supposedly safer alternative is actually posing more dangers to its users, particularly in their oral health.

Listed below are some surprising adverse reactions of e-cigarettes that you should watch out for:

Decreased Salivary Flow:

One of the most common side effects of e-cigarettes is decreased salivary flow, which occurs as a result of nicotine constricting or narrowing the blood vessels. Without enough saliva, there will be other problems like mouth and throat dryness which, in turn, can lead to tooth decay and bad breath.

Mucosal Irritation:

The nicotine in the e-cigarettes, or even tobacco smoking for that matter, gets absorbed by the oral mucosa. This, in turn, may cause irritation particularly of the mucosa of the cheeks and pharynx. Such irritation may manifest as redness, mouth sores and blisters.

Gum Recession:

Nicotine, being a vasoconstrictor, can also reduce the amount of blood flow to the gum tissues. Without enough blood, the gums do not receive the right amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for them to survive and stay healthy; hence, they shrink or recede.

Gum recession, in turn, exposes tooth roots and thus cause sensitivity.

Hides Symptoms of Gum Disease:

This effect is also related to the vasoconstrictive effects of nicotine. Bleeding is the main symptom of gum disease, which dentists use to determine the severity of gum inflammation.

Since nicotine can cause decreased blood flow to the gums, bleeding will be minimal to none, thus giving that false impression that the gum tissue is healthy even when you actually have gum disease. This makes it hard to diagnose the disease and by the time it is detected, the disease has progressed and is in a worse state already. More severe gum disease means more complicated treatment required.

Furthermore, the constriction caused by nicotine does not go away upon cessation of smoking – it lasts long after you quit.

Grinding:

Nicotine can also fire up the muscles, especially during sleep. The increased muscle activity may cause you to start grinding your teeth, or if you already are a grinder, then the grinding habit will be more intense than before.

Studies say that those who are exposed to nicotine, whether through electronic or conventional cigarettes, are five times more likely to develop teeth grinding habits that those who aren’t.

There are many other possible impact of e-cigarettes not only on oral health, but on overall health as well.

Although manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional cigarettes, more studies must be conducted to provide more solid evidences for such claim. Until then, the best thing to do is to stay away from both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

Botox and Dermal Fillers in Dentistry: Say Whaaat?

Botox and dermal fillers are very popular cosmetic treatments known for their great ability in diminishing the signs of aging in the skin. Botox works by relaxing the facial muscles, while dermal fillers restore lost volume in the face, especially in areas around the mouth. But aside from eliminating those fine lines and wrinkles, did you know that these two beauty treatments have also found their way in cosmetic dentistry?

Today, dentists can use them not only for esthetic purposes, but for functional purposes as well. In fact, they can help solve some of the most difficult and frustrating clinical situations dentists confront.

Can’t believe it? Well, here are a few examples of oral health issues that can be addressed by using Botox and dermal fillers.

TMJ Disorders and Facial Pain:

According to most dentists, these two are by far among the most challenging cases to deal with. More than 80% of cases are muscle-related, while the remaining is related to the teeth and occlusion.

Using Botox injections helps your dentist identify any muscle-related problems first and determine how much of it a factor is. After that, he or she can now proceed on treating the teeth- and occlusion-related problems easier and more accurately than ever before.

Bruxism and Clenching:

Botox injections have also shown promise in alleviating the symptoms of bruxism. The earliest study on the use of Botox for such purpose was done in a brain-injured patient with severe bruxism. The injection was given to paralyze the temporalis and masseter muscles. These two are the muscles on your temple and cheeks areas, respectively.

Botox have the same application in clenching, as most chronic cases are characterized by a hyperactive masseter, causing this muscle to increase in size. This increased size makes the jaw appear swollen and misshapen. Botox injections decrease the hyperactivity of the masseter, and subsequently its size.

Gummy Smile

Gummy smile pertains to the excessive display of gum tissue upon smiling. It is mostly an esthetic issue that is attributable to the over-contraction of the muscles that make up the upper lip. The proposed treatment before was surgery. Today, Botox injections can be given in small doses to limit the contraction of the upper lip.

Black Triangles:

These so-called “black triangles” are the two big black holes on each side of the teeth that often result from periodontal treatment, implant therapy, and restoration with crowns and bridges. It occurs when the interdental papilla, or gum tissue below the contact points of teeth, are not preserved.

For most patients, it is a major esthetic concern that causes them to feel embarrassed about their smile. But esthetics aside there may also be some functional problems like the accumulation of food debris and the patient spitting through these holes when speaking.

Luckily, your dentist may now use dermal fillers to plump up the papilla, fill up the holes, and create proper gum contours. The effects last for about eight months, after which it may have to be redone again. Although temporary, patients are often very satisfied with the results.

Dentofacial Esthetics:

Dermal fillers can restore volume to the various areas around the mouth, such as the lips, nasolabial folds, and the so-called marionette lines. They work by literally filling out all those static folds in the face brought about by decreased amounts of collagen and fat.

Orthodontic Relapse:

Botox can also be used to prevent orthodontic relapse in patient’s overactive mentalis muscle. Mentalis is the main muscle that makes up the chin. As with the temporalis and masseter muscle, Botox injections also work to decrease the activity of this muscle and retrain it into more physiologic movement.

While both Botox and dermal fillers are only temporary solutions that will have to be redone over time, the results they produce are nonetheless very satisfying for most patients.

What is Accelerated Orthodontics?

Accelerated orthodontics is a relatively new approach in orthodontics that works in pretty much the same way as your traditional braces, but requires much less time to produce the desired tooth movement. This new form of treatment is becoming increasingly popular in adults, as it promises to straighten teeth in just a couple of months instead of several years with regular orthodontics.

If you have crooked teeth and are suffering from the difficult consequence of such, then this speedier way of straightening your teeth may very well be the solution you’re looking for. Find out more about this treatment below.

Duration of Treatment

Traditional orthodontics requires a patient to wear braces for at least two years. With accelerated orthodontics, however, this period is shortened to as little as three months to a maximum of eight months. The end result is just the same – you get a more perfect smile and an overall improved dental health.

Dental Braces:

Just like traditional orthodontics, accelerated orthodontics also makes use of braces to force the teeth to shift into their desired position. There are three types of orthodontic braces – metal, ceramic, and lingual. Any one of these may be utilized in accelerated orthodontics.

Metal and ceramic braces tend to work better than lingual braces. Lingual braces, however, is the most esthetic of the three, as they are placed at the back of the teeth and thus hidden from plain view. Ceramic braces are not as esthetic as lingual braces, but it isn’t as noticeable as metal braces either.

Surgery Required:

While it has the upper hand when it comes to treatment duration, the main disadvantage of accelerated orthodontics is that it may require some minor surgical procedure. The surgery may be performed by the orthodontist himself, an oral surgeon, or a periodontist (a gum specialist). It is usually done in clinic setting, about a week after the braces are installed. It involves altering the bone and gum tissue that supports the teeth to be moved. Such alteration decreases the amount supporting bone, thus allowing the teeth to shift into their desired positions more quickly.

The surgery is done under local anesthesia, and causes just about the same level of discomfort as your typical dental cleaning. Some patients report an itching sensation because of the faster movement of the teeth.

Post-Treatment:

Once your teeth are in their desired alignment, you’ll also be required to use a retainer to prevent the teeth from moving back to their pre-treatment position.

Treatment Cost:

Although the duration of treatment is much shorter, the total cost for accelerated orthodontics is almost the same (or even higher) as that of traditional orthodontic treatment. This is because of the surgery required to produce faster tooth movement. Expect the price to be at least $2,000. This already includes the fee for the periodontist who will perform the surgery.

Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not cover accelerated orthodontics, but there are orthodontists who offer flexible payment terms.

To sum it up, accelerated orthodontics is a very promising option if you want to have your teeth straightened yet you dread the idea of wearing braces for several years.

To learn more about this treatment and find out if you are suitable for it, consult your orthodontist now for proper assessment.

Antibiotic Prophylaxis 101 – How Antibiotics Prevent Infections?

You most likely know what antibiotics are used for – they are for treating infections caused by bacteria. But did you know that your dentist may also suggest that you take them before a dental procedure to prevent the chance of infection? Such method of use is called antibiotic prophylaxis, and you will learn more about it in this article.

Why is antibiotic prophylaxis done?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is a protective measure taken by your dental professional to prevent bacteria from spreading from the mouth to the other parts of the body through the bloodstream. It is given prior to dental treatment in especially susceptible patients.

Who might benefit for antibiotic prophylaxis?

Not all patients require antibiotic prophylaxis. It is only used in susceptible individuals and these include, among others, patients who have or have had heart disease. These patients are at increased risk of developing this so-called endocarditis, which pertain to the inflammation of the tissue that lines the heart.

To limit the chances developing this disease, the American Heart Association released a guideline stating that antibiotic prophylaxis must be considered in the following individuals who have:

1) An artificial heart valve or have had a heart valve repaired with a prosthetic material.

2) A history of infective endocarditis.

3) A heart transplant that developed a valve problem.

4) Congenital heart conditions (i.e. unrepaired or incompletely-repaired congenital heart disease, completely-repaired heart defect within six months after the intervention, and repaired congenital heart disease but with residual defects).

Antibiotic prophylaxis was also once recommended for individuals who have had joint replacements, as these individuals have a compromised immune system that makes them less able to fight infections. But such recommendation is no longer followed.

Other conditions that may warrant antibiotic prophylaxis include uncontrolled or poorly-controlled diabetes, HIV infection or AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis. Individuals who have had chemotherapy or organ transplant may also need antibiotic prophylaxis.

Will I need antibiotic prophylaxis even if I’m systemically healthy?

Yes, there will be some instance where antibiotic prophylaxis may be needed. Such instances include:

1) Undergoing an extensive procedure that carries a great risk of infection.

2) Undergoing a procedure that will be performed in an environment where the risk of developing an infection is very likely.

3) When there is a coexisting oral infection.

Which dental procedures may require antibiotic prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is required for any dental procedure where bleeding is anticipated. These include extractions, periodontal treatment (cleaning), implant surgery, root canal therapy, and placement of orthodontic bands. Restorative and prosthodontic procedures generally do not warrant the use of prophylactic antibiotics.

Why can’t all everyone be given antibiotic prophylaxis?

Antibiotic prophylaxis is only used in instances where potential benefits outweigh the risks. If antibiotics are used when they’re not supposed to, there can be side effects that are mostly gastrointestinal in nature. There may also be allergic reactions that can be life-threatening.

Furthermore, frequent use of antibiotics when they are not really needed can render the bacteria more resistant to these medications. With that, antibiotic prophylaxis are reserved only for those at greatest risk getting infected during dental treatment.

When asking for your medical history, be sure to tell your dentist every bit he or she has to know, especially about your medical problems and the medications you are taking for them. These information should help your dentist and physician determine whether or not you could benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis.