Monday, October 3, 2011

Why Baby Teeth are Important.

Let’s say you just found out that your young child has a cavity in his or her baby tooth.  You  might think to yourself, let’s just pull it.  Its just gonna come out anyway right?  I would argue that baby teeth are important and should be maintained until it is time for natural exfoliation.  So to that order, I’ve compiled a list of reasons why baby teeth are important. 

First, baby teeth are for chewing.  It sound simple but the first stage of  digestion happens in the mouth.  We break up the food into smaller pieces not only to swallow them easier, but also to help the chemical breakdown of the food into nutrients go smoother and quicker.  

Second, the primary, or baby teeth, are important in speech development.  Placement of the tongue and lips is guided by the teeth.  Try this – say the word “lisp.”  Normal speech patterns dictate that you start with your tongue on the back of your front teeth to make the “L” sound and then move it away to make the “I” and then bring your teeth together to make the “S”.  Finally your lips pull back to your front teeth and end with a percussive “P”.  These moves are much more difficult to make, much less learn, when those reference points aren’t there. 

Third, these teeth are important for appearance and alignment.  I know what your thinking… well, the kid is gonna have missing teeth sometime!  True enough, but I’m talking about the baby teeth acting as guides to the adult teeth as they come in.  If a child’s tooth is missing too early that guidance will be compromised and the tooth behind the missing one falls forward into the missing tooth’s spot causing a domino effect and crowded adult teeth. 

The best situation of course is prevention of decay and disease in the first place, but if a child has decayed teeth we can still save them.  Let’s turn a bad situation into a good one, instead of turning a bad situation into a worse one.  You can like us on facebook, subscribe to this blog or call Toothbrusher’s Dental at 405 789-6935 to reach us.   

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hygienists and Assistants

Dental assistant Laura with dental hygienist Kala
It has come to my attention that many people get dental hygienists and dental assistants confused.  It’s an understandable mistake.  Both perform supportive roles in the office and see patients independently sometimes.  Furthermore in my office, we have more of a team approach and the hygienist and I will sometimes perform the assistants’ duties too.  But dental assistants and hygienists do have different tasks that they perform in the office and also have differing levels of training.

In my office, Cheryl and Laura are the dental assistants. They prepare the room for treatment, get out all the equipment, and sterilize the room.  They will help the dentist with the procedure, passing instruments and mixing materials and such.  They can take x-rays, impressions, polish teeth, and educate patients on everything from insurance co-payments to oral hygiene.

Kala is our dental hygienist.   She has more specialized in the area of oral care and cleaning teeth.  Kala will remove calculus (or tartar), chart dental conditions, administer local anesthesia, and may work autonomously from the dentist. However, different states have different rules on the level of autonomy. 
Most dental assistants will receive a diploma or certificate from a vocational school and the program will last from 9 – 12 months.  Dental hygienists receive a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.  In Oklahoma, a four year degree is required to be licensed to perform the duties of a dental hygienist.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Blockbuster Deal

Schedule your cleaning with us for the week of June 27th and receive 2 free movie tickets. Make your appointment for the week of June 27-July 1 and mention the deal.

Open to new or existing patients due for a cleaning. Insurance or cash patients welcome.
Limit two tickets per family. 405-789-6935

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why should I get a filling if my tooth doesn’t hurt?

When a tooth has decay, or a cavity, it begins as an incipient lesion barely noticeable.  If you wait until the tooth is sensitive to cold, hot, or sugary foods, the decay in the tooth will be deeper and can affect the nerve of the tooth. That means the tooth may need a root canal or an extraction.  The time to repair the tooth is before the pain.  
Much of dentistry’s focus has been to detect decay earlier and earlier so that we can remove as little tooth structure as possible to make a restoration.  With the bonding agents and resins that we have now, very small fillings are possible and will be sturdy.    

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What is Periodontitis?

Gum disease or more accurately periodontitis is actually a class of diseases affecting the supporting structures of the teeth.  The word periodontitis can be best understood when broken down into its parts.  “Perio-” means around, and “dont” refers to the teeth, and “-itis” means inflammation.  

There are many types of periodontitis including a few rare ones, but for this discussion I will describe the typical path and onset of the disease.  It is worth mentioning here that periodontitis affects much more than your teeth.  There are strong links between periodontitis and cardiac problems and also between expectant mothers with periodontitis and low birth rate of the newborn.  

The first stage is called "gingivitis" and is characterized by gum tissue that is red, puffy, and bleeds easily when touched with a toothbrush, floss or dental instrument.  These are inflamed gingiva or gums.  This inflammation is caused by a buildup of a soft, sticky layer of bacteria called plaque.  It is constantly forming on the teeth. Usually it is invisible to the naked eye, but when a person is not brushing adequately, it can build up to where it appears to be a thick whitish coating on the teeth usually at the gum line.  Treatment of gingivitis is usually very simple.  Remove the plaque with a dental office cleaning, keep the teeth clean and it is completely reversible.  

The second, third, and fourth stages are initial, moderate, and advanced "periodontal disease", respectively. These stages are different from gingivitis because the infection has destroyed the bone supporting the teeth, causing irreversible damage and possible tooth loss.  The treatment is more involved at these stages, usually consisting of a special cleaning with anesthesia and sometimes surgery.  

Periodontitis is, in most cases, a completely preventable disease.  It is one of the things that we always check for at routine visits and why dentists recommend preventative cleanings every six months.