April 2015 Entries

Stress free trips to the dentist with children


When taking children to the dentist it can be very stressful for both the children and the parents. From dealing with the fear of the dentist to challenging behavior there is lots to consider before you go and when you get there. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to make the whole experience less stressful for both you and your child or children.


The first step ideally occurs as soon as your child is likely to go to their first dental appointment. By making teeth cleaning and visits to the dentist part of the routine of your life it is less likely to be challenged when the time comes to go. By educating your child about the reasons why dental hygiene and visiting the dentist is so important you will encourage them to maintain healthy teeth for life.


Of course, you should practice what you preach and so you must maintain your teeth and visit the dentist regularly too. This is a family routine not just one for children and if you don’t like going to the dentist your children are a great motivation to overcome that anxiety yourself.


It is not uncommon for there to be some waiting time at a dentist surgery whilst you wait for your appointment and therefore it is a good idea to take something for your child to do whilst they wait. Of course, you must ensure that it is a quiet activity so as to not disturb or upset anyone else who is waiting in the surgery.


This serves two purposes – the first is to distract your child from the fact they are visiting the dentist. We all know how you can overthink things when you have too much time on your hands. The second purpose is to amuse them so that they are less likely to demonstrate challenging behavior particularly as most of the time in this situation the behavior would be out of fear or apprehension.


It is important to be honest but sensitive when discussing any dental treatments with children. For the most part the appointment will simply be a clean, check-up and giving out advice to your child about looking after their teeth. In this case you can simply let your child know that the dentist has the equipment to clean their teeth more effectively than you do at home.


However, they should be forewarned of the noise that some dental machinery makes and if anxious be able to hear the noise before the cleaning or other procedure is started. What is going to happen should also be explained as well as the reasons why it is happening. This will help your child make sense of the appointment and lower any anxieties they may have.

Reasons why you should visit a dentist


Having a fear or phobia of going to the dentist is one of many reasons why you may avoid going. For some people the cost may put you off going as dental treatments can become very expensive if a lot of work is required. Other people just do not see regular dental visits as high priority and feel that they can maintain their teeth without the need to see a dentist at all.


All of these are of course valid reasons for not going to the dentist regularly. However, there are lots of good reasons why you should maintain regular check-ups with your dentist even if it is something you do not enjoy or maybe even have a phobia of doing.


First of all, in the longer term not looking after your teeth may be more expensive than not doing so. Whilst a regular dental check-up may be relatively inexpensive if you let your teeth get into a poor state of health then the cost of treatment may escalate very quickly and you may not be able to afford the treatment you require.


In addition, if you are looking to purchase a dental insurance plan most will not pay out for pre-existing treatments. If you have regular dental check-ups and look after your teeth on a day-by-day basis then should you need expensive treatment after purchasing a dental plan much of the cost will be absorbed by the dental plan company.


If fear is preventing you from going to the dentist there is help and support available to you. If you are not comfortable going on your own then ask a close friend or family member to go with you. Maybe hypnotherapy is a possible solution or a specialized course for people who share similar anxieties.


You can also help yourself by explaining to the dentist or dental nurse that you are anxious. Dentists fully understand this fear and deal with it day in, day out. You are certainly not alone in your fear even though it may feel like it at times.


If you have not been to the dentist for a long time then it would be worthwhile to make an appointment just to establish what treatment would be required and the possible cost implications of the treatment. This way you can go to the dentist knowing that no treatment is going to happen during that visit, meet your dentist and discuss your concerns and begin to feel comfortable with the situation. You also have the option to leave the appointment, understand fully what is proposed and it gives you time to get your head around it and make a decision on what to do next. 


Do Dental X-rays Pose a Health Risk?


The Dental X-ray is the most commonly used preventative and diagnostic test that dentists utilize to check for tooth issues in their patients.  It is the standard when going in for your six month to 1 year checkup.  Your dentist may perform Bite Wing X-rays amongst many other types of X-ray scans.  X-rays are taken to identify any indications of harm or oral infection not noticeable amid a standard dental visual exam.  This technique will enable your dental expert to make a benchmark of your  oral wellbeing, which allows them to plan a more exact strategy to manage any continuous or potential issues.  But, should patients fear the X-ray?  Do X-rays pose health risks?


The reason why people may think X-rays can be a cause for concern is due to radiation that is given off at the time of the test.  Dentists, or the X-ray technician will require that the patient wear a protective vest during the examination.  That may cause fear and concern on the part of the patient and wonder as to what exactly is happening and is the patient at a health risk.


To understand if an X-ray is dangerous we should explore what an X-ray scan encompasses.  The scan was developed in the latter part of the nineteenth century and is a type of electromagnetic radiation that has the capability to breach the outer layers of the human body, namely the skin, and fat/muscle tissue.  Images of the bones and large organs are transmitted onto either film or a digital format.  Medical professionals can view the images produced from the scan rather than actually having to perform intrusive medical procedures. 


So now that we know what an X-ray encompasses, and that it does give off radiation, lets explore the possibility of health risks associated with X-rays.  The major player here is how much radiation an X-ray gives off and is that amount substantial enough to warrant concern.  Luckily, the amount of radiation an X-ray produces is negligible.  Radiation is in it of itself harmful and dangerous.  But just like many things in the world, if the amount of radiation enacted on the person is minimal, then there should not be cause for concern. 


Radiation is present in our everyday lives.  We experience radiation from the sun.  We experience it through minerals and the rocks and soil around us.  At all times there are cosmic rays passing through our bodies and seemingly ignored.  We as a species have developed a tolerance for these types of radiation and the damage caused, if any, is non-threatening if taken in small doses.  The same goes for the radiation produced from dental X-Rays.   For the very short time that the electromagnetic rays pass through our bodies, the radiation is not enough to pose a health risk.  The vest given to us to wear over our chest during the administration of the dental X-rays serves as an added bonus, furthering the protection from radiation on our organs and bodies as a whole.


Besides radiation, dental x-rays pose no other serious health risks.  You should feel confident in your decision to follow your dental professionals advice and have these X-rays done every six months to a year.  

What is a Root Canal Procedure?


The root canal; you may have heard of this eerie and ominous procedure.  If you have never had a root canal procedure, aka Endodontic Treatment, performed and need one, then you may be freaking out!  Your dentist warns you to brush your teeth and floss regularly to avoid it.  Maybe a friend of yours has had one done and have heard that they can be painful.  If you are about to have one or just curious to know what a root canal is, this article will break down what a root canal procedure entails and the steps involved in the process are.


Before the procedure your dentist will have to determine if a root canal procedure is actually necessary.  The dental professional will administer X-rays of the affected area.  This helps the dentist assess the damage and help make his determination clearer.  If they decide that a root canal is necessary your dentist will begin the procedure by numbing the affected area using a local anesthetic, most likely Lidocaine.  Once the area is numb the dentist will put a plastic sheet called a “dam” around the tooth.  This serves to repel saliva, and prevent the patient from inhaling any harmful chemicals used in the procedure. 


Once the dam is applied the dentist will open the patient’s tooth at the top of the tooth or the “crown”.  Once the crown is removed the dentist can work on the affected area, the pulp. The dentist will remove any infected pulp.  The dentist will be able to determine how much to remove based on the X-rays.  They will also drain any abscesses.  Abscesses are infected areas filled with pus.


Once the infected areas are drained and the pulp removed the dentist can begin to enlarge root canal to make filling it easier.  In some cases, and depending on the size and location of the tooth, the enlargement process may take several visits spread out over the course of a few days.  Temporary fillings are placed in the open areas as well as an anti-bacteria ointment to prevent infection. 


Once the dentist is able to enlarge the root canal to a level they feel confident they can fill appropriately, the dentist will apply the permanent sealant.  This will allow the tooth to operate normally and prevent food particles and other foreign objects to enter the recently opened tooth.  The most commonly used filling material is gutta-percha.  Gutta-Percha is a natural polymer prepared from latex from the percha tree.


The final step in the root canal procedure is to place a new crown on top of the filling.  The new crown is usually made of either ceramic, porcelain, or metal.  It is necessary to have a crown to prevent fracturing or further damage.  A mold of your tooth is made and a crown is modeled after it.  After the crown is made the dentist will cement the new crown to the tooth which will permanently seal the crown to the tooth. 


After the procedure is complete your dentist will review do’s and don’t’s to make sure you crown and your fillings last a long time.  If however, a fill is necessary or the crown cracks, that’s ok.  It happens!  Your dentist will repair it back, and at least this time you will be familiar with the process.


Helping Your Child Cope with Braces


Unfortunately for some children and young adults the formation of teeth from birth, coupled with the usage and the environmental effects throughout their lives, may cause the need for braces.  While your kids may loathe the thought of having braces and groan at the parents who are recommending it, they will thank you later on! 


For children and young teens, getting braces can cause a lot of mental anguish.  They may have self-confidence issues by wearing braces.   Braces affect appearance and children and teens are at the point in their lives where appearances mean an awful lot.  Although there are braces that can be fitted into the mouth that aren’t as noticeable or fit behind the teeth, most orthodontists still recommend the metal wire braces as the best method to fast and efficient teeth correction.


So, what to say or do to a child who is about to get braces?  While each child is different and should be approached as such there are a few tips to keep in mind as a parent or guardian that may ease their minds and quell fears.  The most important factor in this is endeavor is to keep a positive attitude and a positive vibe going throughout the entire process from beginning to end.  If you keep a positive outlook on things, your child will hopefully adapt your attitude and feel confident in their decision to get braces.  Attitude and morale are contagious, be sure to keep up a positive vibe. 


A way to keep your child positive about getting braces is to make sure they understand the benefits in the future that they will receive by doing this right now.  Explain to your child each of the health benefits they are achieving by wearing braces, such as straighter teeth, less prone to infection and damage, and a beautiful smile.  Ask your dental professional to explain to your child the benefits of having the braces now.  Sometimes hearing it from someone else is just as or more important than hearing it from their parents.


Another way to keep your child positive about wearing braces is to reward your child for making the investment in braces.  If they haven’t gotten braces yet let them splurge on candies and sweets and other foods they won’t be able to eat during the time they wear braces.  If your child already has braces purchase a new toy or take them to a movie or throw a party with their friends.


Finally, make a concerted effort as a family to deal with your child’s braces together.  Try not to eat the foods that your child can’t eat for dinner or in front of them.  Eliminate any of the foods for you and the rest of the family and the temptation won’t be there for your child to indulge in an un-recommended food that can seriously damage or harm the teeth and braces.  Your child depends on you to help them through the process.  Be a good role model and your child will have a much easier time with these braces.