Back to Basics

Back to Basics:

As dentists, our job is to properly communicate various dental issues and recommendations with our patients.  To improve our communication, it helps you to know some of the terms we use in describing some of the anatomy of the oral cavity, the problems that candevelop, and the steps you need to take to fix them.

Dr. Aanenson

The Anatomy of a Tooth:

 

  • Enamel – Enamel is the hardest structure in the human body, and it covers the external surface of each tooth.
  • Dentin – Dentin is the structure that lies between the enamel and the pulp.  It forms the core substance of the tooth.  It is softer than enamel and darker yellow in color.  Dentin is responsible for giving teeth their color, and every person’s is different.
  • Pulp – Pulp is the collection of blood vessels and nerves inside the hollow chamber of a tooth.
  • Crown – The crown is the portion of the tooth that protrudes out of the gums.  You could also describe the crown by stating that it is the part of the tooth that you can see.  Enamel is only found on the crown of a tooth.
  • RootThe root of the tooth is the portion anchored into the jawbone.  Each tooth has a different shaped root.  Molars have multiple roots, and the shape of the root is important in the tooth’s stability in the bone.

 

Dr. Aanenson

Other Dental Terms Defined:

What is a cavity?  A cavity, or tooth decay, is the destruction of enamel and dentin by bacteria in your mouth.  The bacteria in your mouth eat sugar and produce acid as a by-product.  When the acid is allowed to stay in contact with the tooth surface for an extended period of time, it begins to eat its way through the enamel.  Once it passes through the enamel layer, it begins to spread through the dentin.  If the decay isn’t stopped, it will extend all the way to the pulp.  Once it reaches the pulp, the nerves and blood vessels become infected.

What is a filling?  When a cavity is removed from a tooth, the dentist ensures that he has removed all unhealthy enamel and dentist, leaving only solid, healthy enamel and dentin.  This cavity removal process creates a hole in the tooth.  The dentist repairs this hole by filling it with a dental restorative material to restore the normal shape, size and contour of a tooth.  This allows you to use the tooth for normal function again.

What is a composite?  Composite is a type of dental filling material.  It is a resin polymer that forms a bond to the tooth structure.  Composite requires a blue light to “cure” it (harden it after it has been formed to the proper shape).

What is plaque?  Plaque is a soft material that accumulates on the teeth every single day.  Plaque is made up of food particles, bacteria, and minerals present in your saliva.  Plaque is easily removed with a SOFT toothbrush and floss, and it is attracted to rough surfaces.

What is tartar?  Tartar, also called calculus, is a hard material that forms on the teeth from plaque that is not adequately removed.  When plaque stays on a tooth surface for more than 24 hours, it begins to calcify or harden.  This hardened substance is impossible to remove with a toothbrush or floss.  It can only be removed by being scraped off by a dental hygienist or dentist.  Tartar that is not removed causes periodontal disease.

What is gingivitis?  Gingivitis, also called gum disease, is an inflammation of the gums, and it is almost always caused by plaque and/or tartar buildup at the gumline of the teeth.  Gingivitis is characterized by swollen, red, painful or bleeding gums. 

Dr. Aanenson

  What is periodontal disease?Periodontal disease, if left untreated, will cause you to lose your teeth.  When tartar accumulates on the teeth, it irritates the gum tissue and bone that help hold the tooth in place.  This irritation, over time, causes destruction of the bone, which results in a lack of stability for the tooth.  If periodontal disease is caught in its early stages, it can usually be easily treated in your dentist’s office.  More advanced stages may need to be treated by a specialist called a periodontist.  Periodontal disease can be “silent”, not causing any pain or discomfort, so it is important to see your dentist regularly. 

What is bruxism?  Bruxism is the term dentists use to describe the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth.  It can occur at night or during the daytime, and it leaves noticeable signs inside your mouth.  Your dentist can tell if you have this habit.

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung!  This time of year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts.  Trees are budding, and flowers are in bloom.  Most people are familiar with the concept of spring-cleaning.  We clean out our closets and our flowerbeds.  We throw out things we do not use anymore. 

Obviously, spring-cleaning carries with it the idea of cleaning up the things to keep.  It also implies cleaning out things that are past their usefulness. 

When you spring-clean, you strive for a clean slate, bringing things back to a state that is more easily maintained so that they stay cleaner for longer.

As your dentists, of course we want you to apply this concept to your mouth!

Spring Cleaning for Your Mouth

Cleaning Up the Things to Keep

We want you to keep your teeth.  Forever.  We want your teeth to outlast you!  In order to keep your teeth for the rest of your life, they must have healthy gums and supporting bone.  They also need to stay cavity free.

The key to keeping teeth free of decay with healthy gums and bones is keeping them as clean as possible.  There are two essential steps you must take to keep your mouth clean.

Professional Teeth Cleanings – To achieve a perfectly healthy mouth, it is absolutely necessary for you to have professional teeth cleanings on a consistent basis.  Our wonderful dental hygienists are masters at removing every trace of bacteria from your teeth and gums.  No matter how diligent you are, you can never clean every bit of plaque and tartar on your own at home.  Professional teeth cleanings are a must for a clean mouth.

  • Interval of Teeth Cleanings – All men are not created equally when it comes to plaque and tartar buildup. We are all unique, with specific risks and needs. For this reason, some people need to have professional teeth cleanings at different intervals than the average of six months. Ask your dentist and dental hygienist which interval will give you the healthiest outcome!

Great Home Care – As amazing as our hygienists are, they cannot do all of the work for you.  Their job stops when you walk out of our doors, and the ball is then in your court.  They leave you with a clean slate and all the information you need to keep it clean.  If you have a particularly difficult area to clean on your own, ask your dental hygienist.  They each have customized ways of teaching you how to clean your teeth to the best of your ability.  Follow this regimen for great home care.

  • Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste after breakfast and before bedtime. If possible, use an electric toothbrush, which is proven to remove more plaque buildup than a manual toothbrush.

  • Floss every night before bed. Brushing alone does not get the job done. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.

  • Add a mouthwash to your daily routine. There are so many different types of mouthwash available today, and they have different purposes. Ask your hygienist which type is best for your specific needs.

 

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 Cleaning Out Useless or Obsolete Things

Okay, this may seem like a strange concept when applying it to your oral health.  We have two ways that you should “clean out” things related to your mouth.

  1. Throw Out Your Toothbrush – Toothbrushes are wonderful tools that have greatly improved dental healthcare. But they do not last forever. If yours is frayed or splayed or otherwise “worn out”, toss it. For electric toothbrush users, buy the replacement heads, and throw this one out. Old toothbrushes can harbor bacteria and even grow mold. Once the bristles are worn out, they may not even touch the tooth surface as they should.

  2. Take a Tip from Marie Kondo – The bestselling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has a unique tactic for cleaning out your closet. Hold up an item and think about how it makes you feel. If it does not bring you joy, get rid of it. If we were to apply that tactic to your mouth, what would you get rid of? Is there an old discolored filling that you hate? Do you have a tooth that you try to hide when you smile? If there is something in your smile that does not bring you joy, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena to discuss how we can change that for you.

 

Maintaining a Clean Mouth

Have you noticed the phenomenon that it is much easier to keep something clean once it is clean?  The fact that the countertops are free of clutter makes you want to keep any clutter from building up. 

The same is true for your teeth.  The feeling of a perfectly clean mouth just after your professional teeth cleaning is so good that you are more motivated to follow a great home care regimen.  Don’t let that momentum fizzle out.  Commit to keeping up that great home care routine so that your “spring clean” lasts all year!

Do You Need a “Spring Cleaning”?

It is time for a fresh start!  Call our offices at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) today to schedule your professional teeth cleaning with our fabulous hygienists or a consultation with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell.

Sparkling water

Sparkling Water: A Surprising Cause of Cavities

 

Most people know that foods and drinks high in sugar can cause cavities.  It is common knowledge that sodas and candy are bad for your teeth. What many people are unaware of is that sparkling water can also damage the teeth.

Due to an increase in its popularity in recent years, we are frequently asked about sparkling water (carbonated water) and whether it can damage your teeth.  Although most sparkling water contains nothing more than carbonated water (perhaps with a few minerals) and natural flavors, most people do not expect it to be as acidic as soda, which typically contains phosphoric acid. Unfortunately, sparkling water is very acidic due to the carbonation process, which forms carbonic acid.

Yes, Sparkling Water Can Harm Your Teeth!

A group of researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom wanted to find out if sparkling water could cause enamel erosion.

First, they measured the pH of various sparkling waters and found a pH of around three (ranging from 2.7-3.4). This pH level is just as low as most sodas!

This research group took some extracted teeth and placed them in glasses filled with different types of flavored carbonated waters. They found that the sparkling water does erode away tooth enamel.  In fact, they found that flavored sparkling water has as much or more of an erosive effect on teeth as orange juice, which is known to be very damaging to teeth.

The following is what this group of researchers concluded:

"Flavored sparkling waters should be considered as potentially erosive, and preventive advice on their consumption should recognize them as potentially acidic drinks rather than water with flavoring."

In other words, sparkling water can erode your tooth enamel and should not be considered “water” at all. Rather, it is more appropriately classified as an “acidic drink”. 

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 What does this mean for your teeth?

Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.  It is a protective coating over the core nerves and blood vessels in our teeth.  The purpose of our teeth is to chew food; the enamel serves to withstand the mechanical and chemical forces that teeth are subjected to as they do that job.  Anything that softens, erodes, or breaks enamel is bad because it weakens the tooth.  Enamel erosion makes it easier for the bacteria in our mouths to cause cavities and can cause major breakdown of your teeth, which causes the need for more dental work in your future.

A healthy mouth has a pH level slightly above neutral (7.0).  Anything below neutral is an acid.  Enamel begins to soften or demineralize at a pH of 5.5 or below.  Many of the things we eat and drink are lower than 5.5 pH.  In a normal, healthy mouth, saliva can act as a buffer and bring the pH back up to neutral once the acid is gone (i.e. once you have stopped eating or drinking).

What should you do?

 

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  • Be aware of the sparkling water that you consume. Some sparkling waters are flavored with citrus flavorings such as lemon, lime, orange, etc…, which add citric acid on top of the carbonic acid. 
  • Pay attention to the amount of sparkling water that you consume.  You should never be drinking more sparkling water than regular water.
  • Do not slowly sip on acidic drinks throughout the day. This makes it more difficult for your saliva to keep your mouth at a neutral pH.  Drink it quickly.
  • After drinking a sparkling water, rinse your mouth with water to help quickly return it to a neutral pH.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after drinking something acidic.  This helps to stimulate good saliva flow and return the pH to neutral.

 


Special Considerations:

If you have a high risk for cavities, you should stay away from all acidic drinks.  If you do not know your cavity risk, ask Dr. Aanenson at your next dental visit.

If you have a dry mouth, you do not have the proper amount of saliva to counteract the acid in these drinks, so you should stay away from all acidic drinks.

Would you like more information about how acidic drinks like sparkling water can affect your teeth? 

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They will assess your cavity risk and describe how sparkling water could be specifically harming your teeth.

Dental Trauma

Dental Trauma: What to Do When Your Child Suffers an Injury to the Teeth

Spring is almost here, and children’s sports are going to be in full swing!  This means an increased risk for injuries to your child’s teeth.

As children grow and learn new things, the risk of injury is relatively high.  Toddlers fall down when they are learning to walk.  Children have accidents when learning to ride a bicycle.  Adolescents suffer trauma when learning to play sports.

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Accidents and injuries happen.  In children, often these accidents involve injuries to the mouth and teeth.  This blog highlights what you need to know about trauma to the teeth.

Different Types of Trauma to the Teeth

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

All of these types of trauma can happen to both baby teeth and permanent teeth.  The consequences of trauma to baby teeth are usually less severe than those for permanent teeth, simply because baby teeth fall out. 

The only serious consequence of trauma to a baby tooth occurs when the trauma affects the underlying permanent tooth as it is developing.  The crown (or visible part) of the permanent tooth forms underneath the roots of the baby tooth.  If an injury occurs which forces the baby tooth or its roots into the developing permanent tooth during this formation stage, the permanent tooth can be deformed.

The majority of injuries to teeth occur on the front of the face and affect front teeth.  It is possible for a back tooth to be injured if a child is hit from the side, for instance with a baseball.  The recommendations below apply to both front teeth and back teeth.

Injuries that Move a Tooth

When force from an injury moves a tooth, it needs to be addressed quickly. 

What You Will See:

The tooth looks whole, but it is in a different position.  It could be pushed up into the gums, hanging down out of the gums, or protruding at an unusual angle.  It is very common to have bleeding in the gums around a tooth that has been moved.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

In general, the treatment for this type of injury is the same for baby teeth and permanent teeth.  In severe cases, the baby tooth may be extracted.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Attempt to move the tooth back to its normal position using light finger pressure only.  Whether you are able to reposition it or not, go to the dentist for an x-ray of the tooth to evaluate the health of the root, and the bone around the tooth.

Follow-Up Care:

Your child will need a soft diet for a period of a few days up to two weeks.  The goal is no additional pressure on the injured tooth as it is healing.  You may need to give your child over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin as needed for pain.

Follow-up with your dentist in 3 months.  He will x-ray the tooth to confirm healing and the health of the tooth and its surrounding structures.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

When a tooth moves, it is possible that the nerve supply to the tooth has been broken where it enters at the tip of the root.  In many cases, the nerve supply can reattach, and the tooth heals.  In other cases, the nerve does not reattach, and the tissue inside the tooth dies.  A dead nerve must be removed, and the tooth needs a root canal.

The injury to the surrounding structures may also damage the connection between the tooth and the jaw bone.  A condition called ankylosis often develops, in which the tooth becomes fused to the bone and is unable to move.  This is a major concern in orthodontic treatment, when you desire to move that tooth.

Injuries that Chip or Break a Tooth

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If an injury to a tooth causes a portion of the tooth to chip or break off, the consequences are usually a little milder than a tooth that is moved or knocked out.  In minor cases, the small chip can be filled in to return the tooth to its natural shape.  In severe cases, the chip extends into the nerve of the tooth, and a root canal is needed.

What You Will See:

The tooth looks broken or jagged on the edge.  Look specifically for any pink or red spots in the center of the tooth.  This is the nerve inside the tooth, and large breaks may extend this far. 

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

In general, the treatment for this type of injury is the same for baby teeth and permanent teeth.  Minor cases will be restored with filling material. In severe cases, a permanent tooth will need a root canal, and the baby tooth may be extracted.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Try to locate any fragments of the tooth, and bring them with you.  Whether you are able to find it or not, go to the dentist for an x-ray of the tooth to evaluate the health of the root, and the bone around the tooth.  The dentist will evaluate the depth of the chip and determine whether or not the nerve is affected. 

Follow-Up Care:

If you have the tooth fragment, your dentist can reattach it to the tooth.  If not, he can rebuild the tooth back to its normal shape and size. 

Your child will need a soft diet for a period of a few days.  You may need to give your child over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin as needed for pain.

Follow-up with your dentist in 3 months.  He will x-ray the tooth to confirm healing and the health of the tooth and its surrounding structures.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

The force to the tooth, which chipped it, could also have disrupted the nerve supply, as noted above.  Your dentist will monitor the tooth closely for any signs of a dead nerve.  If a root canal become necessary, your dentist will guide you in the steps involved in treatment.  It is important to know that the nerve inside a tooth could die at any point in the future, even decades later.

The tooth could also become ankylosed

The dental treatment, which restores the broken tooth, may need replacement at any point in the future.  Be careful not to use that tooth for anything besides chewing and speaking (i.e. holding hair pins or cutting fishing line).

Injuries that Knock Out a Tooth

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A tooth that is completely knocked out needs immediate action!  The longer you wait, the less chance the tooth has of surviving.

What You Will See:

The tooth is completely gone from the mouth.  Evaluation of the tooth should show the crown (visible part) of the tooth, as well as the root.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

There is no treatment for knocked out baby teeth.  The child will have a space in that tooth’s site until the permanent tooth comes in.

For a permanent tooth, we make every attempt to save and reattach the natural tooth.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Hold the tooth by the crown ONLY.  Do not touch the root.  If you can, put the tooth back into the socket after very gently rinsing off any dirt or debris.  If you are unable to put the tooth back into the child’s mouth, place it in a cup with milk or saliva.  That’s right: fill up a cup with enough spit to cover the tooth.  Saliva is the best thing to keep the cells and fibers on the knocked-out tooth alive until it can be reimplanted into the mouth.

Whether you are able to reinsert it or not, go immediately to the dentist.  The dentist will clean and reinsert the tooth, using anesthetic if the child is in pain.  The sooner the tooth is reimplanted, the better the chances of its full healing.

Follow-Up Care:

Follow the recommendations for a soft diet and OTC pain relievers noted above.  The dentist will follow-up with you more frequently to confirm healing and reattachment of the tooth.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

The consequences noted above, a dead nerve and ankylosis, are both highly likely when a tooth is completely knocked out.  Another possible consequence is failure of the tooth to reattach.  In this case, it is necessary to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. 

Adhering to your dentist’s prescribed follow-up schedule will keep you informed of any of these consequences as they occur.

Be Prepared for Injuries to Your Child’s Teeth

As you can see from the instructions listed above, getting in to see your dentist as soon as possible is very important!  Save our number in your phone, and call us at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) as soon as an injury happens.  Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell will treat your child’s emergency and give you all the information you need for the right follow-up care. 

Your Child's First Dental Visit

Your Child’s First Dental Visit

At our Dental Centers in Freeman and Parkston our goal is for every dental visit to be a good one.  We understand that setting the right expectations can help us meet that goal.

When it comes to kids, not knowing what to expect can generate fear, anxiety and/or misbehavior.  Here is what to expect from your child’s first dental visit.

When to Make the Appointment

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have a dental evaluation by their first birthday or within 6 months of getting their first tooth, whichever comes first.  The purpose of a dental visit this early in life is not to perform dental treatment.  Education is the main purpose. 

If your child is already past this recommended age, do not worry!  Simply make an appointment as soon as possible.  The visit will vary a little based on the child’s age.  The purpose remains the same.

Educating the Child

If your child is an infant or toddler, the education comes in the form of the experience.  The child learns from the senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.  He will see the smiling face of the dentist and his staff and learn what the dental tools look like.  He will hear the normal sounds of a dental office.  He will taste and smell the toothpaste or dental cleaning paste used by the dental hygienist.  And he will feel the gentle touch of the dentist evaluating his mouth.

It is important for parents to know that it is normal and acceptable for a small child to cry.  The dentist or hygienist may use that as an opportunity to look inside the child’s mouth and see as many teeth as possible. 

Educating the Parent

Even more important than the child’s education is the parents’.  The cause of most preventable problems that arise with children’s teeth is a simple lack of information and education.

A Child’s Oral Hygiene

At this dental visit, every parent receives instruction on proper oral hygiene of the child’s teeth and tips on various ways to accomplish this.  Keep in mind that not every technique or trick works on every child.  You may have to try several different approaches before you find the one that works best for you and your child. 

An example of a unique approach to flossing a toddler’s teeth is this:  Sit on the floor cross-legged.  Have your child lay down with his head in your lap and look straight up at you.  When the child opens his mouth, you will be able to easily see and access the teeth for flossing. 

This technique also works well with brushing.  If you use this technique for brushing, use only a pea-sized dot of toothpaste and no water.

Oral hygiene for baby teeth is just as important as it is for permanent teeth.  Do not make it an optional part of the bedtime routine.  This link has some great songs to sing while brushing and flossing your child’s teeth.  We know it can be a chore; do your best to make it a fun one.

A Child’s Nutrition

At the first dental visit, parents are taught how to help prevent cavities with good nutritional choices.  Your dentist will ask questions about current nutritional habits and eating patterns.  The most common error parents make is sending their child to bed with a sippy cup full of juice or milk.  The only thing a child should have access to overnight is water.

A Child’s Habits

Your dentist will assess risk for damage to the teeth and developing jaws by any habits like thumb-sucking or pacifier use.  For more information on these habits, please read our previous blog.

A Child’s Growth and Development

At this visit, the dentist evaluates the teeth and jaws for proper growth and development.  There is a pretty wide range of “normal” when it comes to teeth coming into the mouth.  The dentist’s objective is to detect any abnormalities in a child’s development as early as possible so that you can plan for the future.

For example, your dentist would inform you if there appears to be a deficiency in the growth of the jaws that would require early orthodontic treatment.  We want you to be as prepared as possible for any future dental work.

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 Dental X-rays

Dental x-rays are only taken on children under the age of 5 if there is evidence of a problem.  An x-ray is necessary if a large cavity is present with the risk of spreading infection into the jawbone.  Any injury to the teeth also requires an x-ray.

Around age 5-6 years, we take dental x-rays to evaluate the proper development of permanent teeth underneath the baby tooth roots.

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Fluoride

Professional fluoride treatments are proven to reduce a child’s risk for developing cavities.  We recommend fluoride as a preventive treatment for most children because we strongly believe in prevention.

If you have questions about professional fluoride treatments, please ask Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex, Dr. Serena or your dental hygienist at your next visit.  We are more than happy to discuss the benefits of fluoride and the reasons we strongly recommend it for children.

Is it Time for Your Child’s First Dental Visit?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to set up a happy visit for your child with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell and our fabulous dental hygienists.  They will get you and your child started with a great dental experience.

Are Baby Teeth Really That Important?

Are Baby Teeth Really That Important?

Yes!

We hear this question a lot.  Some parents tend to be less concerned about a child’s baby teeth because they know these teeth will eventually fall out.  This blog will explore all of the reasons baby teeth DO matter and need to be healthy for the years they are in your child’s mouth.

What are Baby Teeth?

Also called primary teeth, baby teeth are the first set of teeth a child gets in his or her mouth.  Other names for baby teeth include deciduous teeth and milk teeth.  There are 20 baby teeth in all, and they enter the mouth from age 6 months through 2 years. 

Baby teeth are fully developed teeth, with the same physical makeup as permanent teeth.  They have nerves and blood vessels on the inside, and they are covered in enamel.

Baby teeth can feel pain, they can get cavities, and they show damage from teeth grinding.

Why Do Humans Have Baby Teeth?

It is all about growth.  A baby’s jaws are too small to hold the full set of permanent teeth.  This initial set of teeth allows a baby to begin chewing and speaking as the jaw continues to grow.

Without baby teeth, a child would not be able to obtain the nutrition necessary for his or her overall growth.  Baby teeth also help in guiding the growth of the jaws.

What are the Purposes of Baby Teeth?

Baby teeth are important for all of the following reasons. Even just one of these functions is reason enough to take great care of your child’s baby teeth. 

 

  • Chewing – A child can only live on milk, formula, and baby food for so long.  In order to receive the proper nutrition, he or she has to begin eating solid foods.  This is only possible with healthy teeth to chew those foods.
  • Speaking – Many of the letter sounds required for speaking involve interactions between the tongue, lips and teeth.  Without teeth, a child cannot learn to make these sounds.  Often, the speech habits formed in early childhood persist for many years and require speech therapy to correct.
  • Jaw Growth – A proper bite relationship between the upper and lower teeth is vital to normal, healthy growth of the upper and lower jaws.  When teeth are lost and shift into inappropriate positions, it can negatively influence how the jaws grow.
  • Formation of Permanent Teeth – Permanent form from the cells in baby teeth.  If a baby tooth is missing, the permanent tooth will not develop.  If a baby tooth is infected or injured, the developing permanent tooth is often damaged.  This damage may result in an abnormal shape or weakened enamel on the growing permanent tooth, which would cause an unsightly appearance and a higher risk for cavities.
  • Holding Space for Permanent Teeth – Healthy baby teeth maintain the health of the jawbone and keep space available for permanent teeth to come in.  If a baby tooth is lost from infection or injury, the teeth around it begin to shift into that space.  This results in a lack of space for the underlying permanent tooth to come into its correct position in the jaw.  It leads to crooked, crowded teeth, which will require years of braces to fix.

 

How are Baby Teeth Different from Permanent Teeth?

Baby teeth are not meant to last forever.  Their purposes are temporary, lasting only until the permanent teeth replace them in the arch.  Because they are only temporary, they are slightly different from permanent teeth.

Baby teeth have thinner enamel.  The layer of enamel covering a baby tooth is about half the thickness of that covering a permanent tooth.  Thin enamel makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate through and cause cavities to spread very quickly.

Baby teeth roots dissolve under pressure.  The baby teeth fall out at just the right time by this mechanism.  The underlying permanent tooth begins to push toward the oral cavity and put pressure on the roots of the baby tooth.  As the roots dissolve, there is nothing holding the baby tooth in the jawbone, and it becomes loose. 

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Other Reasons to Keep Baby Teeth Healthy

Big cavities on baby teeth cause toothaches.  Babies and young children may experience or communicate that they are experiencing pain differently than an adult does.  You should never assume that a decayed baby tooth is not painful.

Infections on baby teeth can spread to the brain or bloodstream!  These can be extremely dangerous situations.  If there is visible swelling in or near your child’s mouth, seek emergency care immediately!

Baby teeth with dental problems require dental treatment.  By keeping them healthy, you can prevent the need for expensive and traumatic dental visits for your child.

Do You Have More Questions about Baby Teeth?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to set up a consultation with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell for an evaluation of your child’s baby teeth.  They will discuss with you all you should know about caring for your child and his or her teeth.

Sugar and Its Effects on Teeth

Sugar and Its Effects on Teeth

It is commonly known and well supported by scientific research that sugar is bad for teeth.  When dentists say “sugar”, most people think of soft drinks and candy.  There are many other sources of sugar that are damaging to teeth, which often get overlooked.  This blog will address why sugar is bad for teeth, which specific sugars are especially dangerous, and how you can fight sugar’s effects on your child’s teeth.

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Why is Sugar Bad for Teeth?

Our mouths are full of bacteria.  Some bacteria are good, and some are bad.  The bad bacteria are those which feed on sugar to produce dangerous acids. (Some people have higher levels of bad bacteria, which gives them a higher risk for cavities!)

Bad Bacteria + Sugar = Acid --> Enamel Damage --> Cavities

Which Specific Sugars are Bad for Teeth?

If you have taken part in any low-carb or no-carb diets, you probably know the important differences between simple and complex carbohydrates.  Nutrition experts emphasize the way these carbs are digested and how they affect your metabolism.

The distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates is also important for your teeth. 

Simple carbohydrates are short-chain sugars that bad bacteria in the mouth quickly and easily break down.  Complex carbohydrates are long, complex chains of sugar molecules that are more difficult for bacteria to break down.

Simple carbohydrates make it easy for bacteria to cause cavities.  Complex carbs are also a sugar source for bacteria, but they take longer to digest, slowing the cavity process down enough for you to intervene and stop them. 

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Examples of simple carbs include the sugar in soft drinks, candy, cookies and other baked sweets, cereal, fruit juices and milk.  Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables (like potatoes), green vegetables, and beans/peas.

Complex carbs are better for your teeth than simple carbs, but there is still a risk for cavities.  Often, complex carbs are sticky and become stuck in or between the teeth.  If they are not quickly cleaned from the teeth, the bacteria have more time to break them down into simple sugars and cause cavities.

How You Can Fight Sugar’s Effects on Teeth

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1. Limit intake of simple carbohydrates – Cutting simple sugars from your or your child’s diet is a sure way to lower cavity risk.  Sodas have zero nutritional value, so eliminate them completely.  Instead of sticky candies, switch to chocolate.  Chocolate’s fat content gives it a lower risk of causing cavities.

2. Stimulate saliva – Saliva is our body’s best defense against cavities!  Saliva has a slightly basic pH, which neutralizes the acid produced by bad bacteria.  There are two great ways to stimulate saliva to fight sugar:

  • Limit simple sugars to mealtime only! When you eat a meal, saliva production increases. A soda with lunch is less likely to cause a cavity than a soda sipped throughout the afternoon.

  • Chew sugar-free gum. By chewing gum after eating or drinking sugar, you stimulate saliva. Ice Cubes is our favorite cavity-fighting gum. Give a piece to your child after any sugary snack to lower cavity risk.

 

3. Practice great oral hygiene.  Do not let any sugars stay on the teeth.  You can greatly reduce cavity risk by removing any sugary food debris from your tooth surfaces. 

  • Brush after sticky and/or sugary snacks.

  • Floss, if possible, after snacking. If not, floss every night before bed.

  • Use a fluoride containing mouthrinse after brushing and flossing.

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Teaching Your Children to Take Care of Their Teeth

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Teaching Your Children to Take Care of Their Teeth

One of the most important aspects of parenting is teaching your children how to take care of themselves. You teach them to make good choices so that they can be healthy.  In the beginning, you do a task for them until they can do it themselves.  Then you supervise their efforts until you trust that they are competent and consistent in accomplishing the task.  At that point, you can give them the independence to take care of themselves without your intervention.

As with all issues in child development, every child grows and matures at his or her own unique pace.  Rather than looking for your child to perform certain tasks at a certain age, use milestones to tell you when it is time to move from demonstration to supervision and from supervision to delegation of independence.

In dentistry, our most common example of using a milestone is this: your child should not brush his teeth alone until he can easily tie his own shoes.

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Start Early

In order to set the right expectations for your child and oral hygiene, start early. 

How early?  As soon as the first tooth appears in your baby’s mouth!

Begin brushing each tooth with an infant toothbrush or a soft washcloth.  Cleaning your child’s teeth is something he or she should expect as part of your daily routine.  The earlier you start, the easier it is for the child to accept.  The earlier you begin brushing and flossing your child’s teeth, the less likely they are to fight you and resist the process.

Easy Oral Hygiene Techniques:

One of the easiest ways to brush and floss a child’s teeth is to sit cross-legged on the floor and have the child lay down with his head in your lap.  You should be able to look straight down into the child’s open mouth.  Using a very small amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste and NO water, gently brush every exposed surface of his teeth. 

An alternative technique is to have your child stand on a small stool so that their head is just above your waist.  With both of you facing the bathroom mirror, stand behind the child and have her look up and rest her head against your stomach.  Again, you should be able to look straight down into the child’s mouth and visualize all of the teeth.

Use either of these positions to floss any of your child’s teeth that touch each other.  Teeth with small gaps do not have to be flossed. 

Make It Fun

While you are brushing or flossing, it helps to count or sing a song to entertain and/or distract the child.  The American Dental Association has several fun tooth brushing songs here.

If you have multiple children, you can make the oral hygiene routine your special one-on-one time with each child. 

With multiple children, games or competitions can make it fun.  Use plaque disclosing tablets to have a contest of who does the best job brushing.

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Set a Good Example

Brush and floss your own teeth in front of your children as often as possible.  Show them that it is a normal part of your bedtime routine.  Kids are much better at following examples than strictly doing as they are told. 

It is important to teach your children to have an overall attitude toward oral hygiene that is positive and healthy.  One of the best and easiest ways to train this attitude is to model it in your actions and attitudes toward your own oral hygiene.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  If your children see that you do not value your own oral hygiene, they will not believe that it is important for them either.

Don’t Make It Optional

Make every effort to never miss brushing and flossing your child’s teeth.  It is not optional.  Do not ever give your child the impression that they have a choice on whether or not to brush before bedtime. 

The problems that occur from improper oral hygiene in a child can be serious. They can also be prevented with good oral hygiene and good food and drink choices.

Need Help?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or 605-928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule a consultation with one of our fabulous dental hygienists.  She will show you tips and techniques on brushing and flossing your child's teeth as easily as possible.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Also known as bottle rot or early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay is a condition in which very young children experience moderate to severe cavities in their baby teeth.  As the name implies, this condition is caused by an improper use of baby bottles.

How Does a Baby Get Cavities?

Cavities are caused by bacteria.  Most children acquire cavity-causing bacteria from their parents.  Bacteria are transmitted from the parents’ mouths to the child’s by sharing a spoon and kissing.

The real danger occurs when these bacteria are exposed to sugar.  Baby bottle tooth decay arises when the baby drinks a bottle of any liquid which contains sugar.  The most common culprits are fruit juices and milk.  Even milk contains sugar.

As the teeth are exposed to sugar-containing liquids, the bacteria ingest the sugar and create a by-product that is very acidic.  The acid by-product weakens and softens baby teeth enamel.  The enamel on baby teeth is much thinner than that on permanent teeth.  This allows cavities to spread much more quickly on a baby tooth than on a permanent tooth. 

There are two important factors in the cavity process: 1) the amount of sugar the teeth are exposed to, and2) the amount of time the teeth are exposed to sugar

  1. Amount of Sugar - Fruit juice contains the highest quantity of sugar (besides sodas) and is very damaging to baby teeth.  Soft drinks and sodas should NEVER be given to a child.  Milk contains small amounts of sugar, too.  If left in contact with the teeth long enough, even plain milk will cause tooth decay.
  2. Amount of Time - Even a small amount of sugar can cause a cavity if it stays in contact with the teeth for a prolonged period of time.  Any sugar-containing drink to which the child has continuous access (such as an overnight bottle) creates a higher risk for cavities.  

 

Upper front teeth are at the highest risk for baby bottle tooth decay because they are continually bathed in the liquid as the child drinks.  Other teeth may be affected as well.  The cavities initially appear as dark spots, small holes, or chips in the teeth. 

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How Do I Prevent Cavities for My Baby?

  • Limit bottle time - A bottle’s purpose is to provide nutrition for your baby.  It is not a pacifier or soothing device.  
  • It should never be used to put a baby to sleep.  If a baby falls asleep while drinking from a bottle, remove the bottle and replace it with a pacifier.
  • Limit bottle contents – Baby bottles should contain onlybaby formula, breast milk, or water.  A baby bottle should NEVER be filled with fruit juice, soda, sugar water, or milk.  Not only do they all contain sugar; they do not provide the baby with any proper nutrition.
  • Water only overnight – If a bottle is given to the child overnight, water is the only liquid that will not increase the risk for cavities.  Water is the only thing that contains zero sugar and zero acid.  This rule goes for sippy cups, too.  Toddlers should never go to bed with anything except water!
  • Oral hygiene – Even babies need oral hygiene.  As soon as a tooth is visible, you should clean it with an extra-soft baby toothbrush or a washcloth.  Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice.  The brushing routine teaches your child good oral hygiene practices as they learn and grow.  The fluoride strengthens their baby teeth to resist cavities.

 

 

    What if My Baby Already Has Cavities?

    Baby teeth have many important functions.  If they get cavities, they need to be treated so that your child can chew and speak properly.  Cavities in baby teeth, if not treated, will progress to abscesses, which are serious dental infections that can spread.  These infections can put your baby’s life in danger!

    If you see cavities in your baby’s teeth, the first step is to schedule a dental appointment.  Your dentist will evaluate the teeth and prescribe the appropriate treatment.  Most small children with extensive decay are treated by pediatric dentists with the use of sedation. 

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    The most important part of this dental visit is the tips and instructions you, as the parent, will receive to help prevent any future cavities from developing.

    More Questions about Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They can answer all of your questions about cavities in young children and advise you on how to proceed.

    Whitening Options

    Whitening Options

    A 2013 survey of 5,500 unmarried adults asked them to rank the qualities by which they judge the opposite sex on first meeting someone new.  Teeth was the highest ranked characteristic by a long shot (58% of men and 71% of women ranked it the #1 feature by which they judge a member of the opposite sex for attractiveness).  Americans spend $1.4 billion on teeth whitening products.  (Click here to see this and other interesting statistics about teeth whitening from research conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.)  Globally, teeth whitening is a $3.2 billion industry.  If you are on social media, you have probably seen at least one DIY whitening trend.  Teeth whitening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve a smile.

    What is Teeth Whitening?

    Teeth whitening is any process that causes the teeth to appear whiter in color.  This can involve two different processes: 1) the removal of surface stains and polishing of the teeth and 2) chemically bleaching the teeth with peroxide agents.  The removal of surface stains and polishing of the teeth is the mechanism of action used by whitening toothpastes and all of the DIY whitening trends you see on Instagram and Pinterest.  This is accomplished by the use of abrasive compounds to polish the outer surface of enamel and remove superficial stains like coffee, tea and red wine. 

    The risks associated with this type of teeth whitening is the removal of enamel or exposed root surfaces.  This risk is the main concern that dentists have with DIY whitening trends: they can cause irreversible loss of tooth structure.  Teeth will initially appear whiter, and as the abrasion continues and enamel becomes thinner, the underlying dentin will begin to show through, making the teeth look darker over time. 

    The best way to lessen this risk is to use whitening toothpastes with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval because their abrasivity has been tested and confirmed to be safe for tooth structure.  Also, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a whitening toothpaste.  

    Teeth whitening can also involve bleaching the enamel and underlying dentin tooth structure with chemical compounds containing peroxides.  Because bleaching the teeth does not remove any tooth structure, it can actually be safer for your teeth.  Many over-the-counter products contain peroxide chemicals for bleaching and are safe when used as instructed.  This blog will address the professional whitening options offered at Prosper Family Dentistry, all of which are bleaching agents containing peroxides.

    Hydrogen Peroxide vs. Carbamide Peroxide

    The two possible whitening ingredients in professional teeth bleaching agents are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.  Because carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, they are virtually the same.  There are two minor differences that may factor into the decision on which product to use: 1) Hydrogen peroxide shows an initially quicker whitening effect, which then plateaus so that the final whitening result is the same for both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.  2)  Carbamide peroxide has a slightly longer shelf life.  This is important for take-home whitening gels that you may use on a less frequent basis.

     

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    Option #1: Professional Whitening Gel in Custom Trays

    Teeth whitening using custom trays and a bleaching gel is considered the “gold standard” in teeth whitening.  It is the most customizable and controlled option available in teeth whitening.  Professional Teeth Whitening Gel is available in many concentrations; we offer various concentrations in our practice.

    Pros:

    • Once made, the custom trays will last for years.  The only reason you would need new ones is a major change in the shape of your teeth (for example, significant dental work or orthodontics).  This allows you to purchase refill kits of bleaching gel for continued whitening at a much lower cost than the initial investment.
    • You choose which teeth to whiten and when.  Easily customized to get the best result with the least amount of gel.
    • Greater variety of concentrations of the gels = greater versatility of whitening (anywhere from 15 minutes to 9 hours/overnight).
    • Whitening can be done any time for maintenance of a bright, white smile.
    • Carbamide peroxide is the main ingredient, which increases its shelf life.
    • Contains potassium nitrate (desensitizes the teeth) and fluoride (strengthens enamel).
    • Very inexpensive after the initial investment for the custom trays.

    Cons:

    • Impressions of your mouth are necessary to fabricate a mold of your teeth, on which the custom tray is made.
    • About 1 week lab time before you can begin whitening.
    • Results are not immediate; typically, whiter teeth are noticed after 3-4 days of whitening.
    • Properly loading the gel into the trays requires some manual dexterity.

    Option #2: In-Office Whitening

    In-Office Whitening is the way to go for an instantly whiter and brighter smile.  This option gives you instant gratification and is perfect for an upcoming special event or for those people who just do not have time for at-home whitening.  In one session of in-office whitening, you will achieve the same results you would get with multiple days of whitening your teeth through the first two methods of at-home whitening.  Basically, we do all the work for you!  Most in-office whitening treatments are a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide gel, which means it is strong and works fast.

    Pros:

    • Instant results!  Your teeth are visibly whiter in one hour.
    • Customizable: Your dentist or hygienist can apply different amounts of gel to different teeth, if they are not all the same color.  They can also protect sensitive areas of gum recession and avoid using the gel on dental work.
    • Chemically activated: no light needed.

    Cons:

    • Most expensive option.
    • Requires a scheduled appointment with your dentist or hygienist.
    • Increased risk of irritation of the gums or tooth sensitivity due to its high concentration.
    • Some maintenance may be required if you frequently drink beverages with a high probability of staining your teeth (coffee, tea, red wine).

    Interested in whitening your teeth?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell to set up a teeth whitening consultation.  They will discuss the various options available and help you decide which is right for you!

    Is Flossing Really That Important

    Is Flossing Really That Important?

    Let’s talk about flossing.

    We know.  No one wants to floss.  Recent statistics show that Americans can be roughly divided into thirds when it comes to flossing habits.  Just under 1/3 of the population floss every day.  Just over 1/3 of the population floss sometimes.  And the rest admit to never flossing.  Never.  That hurts our dentist-hearts.

    Many of our patients have shared that they feel guilty when we ask about flossing.  We do not ever want to make anyone feel guilty.  We simply want to know where you stand on the flossing issue so that we can point you in the right direction.  Our goal is to encourage you to have great oral hygiene habits so that your visits to see us consist of maintenance only, not repair.

    What does flossing accomplish?

    A toothbrush mechanically removes soft buildup on the exposed surfaces of teeth.  The bristles have to touch the tooth to be effective.  Many areas of tooth structure are not accessible with a toothbrush, namely in between the teeth.  A toothbrush can effectively clean the cheek side, the tongue side, and the biting surface of teeth.  It simply cannot reach the side of a tooth that faces an adjacent tooth (called the interproximal surface). 

    Flossing removes plaque and food debris that your toothbrush leaves behind.  By physically touching the interproximal surfaces of the teeth, floss does the job that a toothbrush cannot.

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    Benefits:

    Increased life expectancy – Some studies claim an increase of 6.4 years for people who floss daily over those who do not.  This is likely an assumed benefit based on the reduced risk of other diseases, which itself is another benefit of flossing.

    Reduces risk of heart disease, cavities, gum disease – It is no surprise that flossing reduces the risk of dental disease.  Anything that keeps the teeth and gums free from harmful bacteria will lower the risk of cavities and gum disease.

    Over the last 20 years, new research has shown a significant link between oral health and systemic health.  Patients with periodontal disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease.  People who suffer from severe dental disease are more likely to develop oral cancer.  There is a proven connection between diabetes and gum disease.  All of these associations make it clear that keeping your mouth healthy is beneficial for the whole body.

    Improves bad breath – Bad breath is the product of bacteria and food debris that is left in the warm, moist environment of the mouth.  A good, but gross, analogy is that the mouth is like a kitchen trash can.  Flossing is like taking out the trash.  When you neglect it, it starts to stink.

    Gives gums healthy pink appearance – A beautiful smile involves more than just the teeth.  Straight, white teeth surrounded by swollen, red, or receding gums cannot be considered beautiful or healthy.  Flossing removes the source of gum inflammation (called gingivitis), which keeps them healthy.  Healthy gum tissue is light pink in color, flat (not swollen, bulbous, or rounded), and does not bleed when brushed or flossed. 

    Proper technique:

    Not just any old flossing will do.  In order for the floss to actually remove buildup from the teeth, it must touch the teeth.  Simply snapping floss in between each tooth contact and hitting the gums can miss a large portion of the tooth.  For effective flossing, envision the following diagram with a triangle between each tooth.

     

    1. Holding an end of the floss in each hand, first press back with both hands to wrap the floss around the rear tooth.  Using an up and down motion, rub the floss against the side of the tooth labeled on the diagram as side #1 of the yellow triangle.
    2. Then pull forward with both hands to wrap it around the forward tooth.  Using the same up and down motion, clean side #2 of the yellow triangle.
    3. Before pulling the floss out, use a gentle sweeping motion along the bottom of the triangle (side #3 on the yellow triangle) if there is any open space between the teeth to remove large pieces of debris that may have become lodged there.  This step is necessary when the gum tissue does not completely fill in the triangular area.  If you do not have gum recession or areas between the teeth called black triangles (described below), you may omit this step.

     

    Adjuncts:

    In some cases of overlapped teeth or teeth with large gaps, it is necessary to use additional tools to properly clean between the teeth. 

    Waterpik – A Waterpik is a tool that uses water or mouthwash at high pressure to flush out the areas between the teeth.  This is a great tool for patients with braces, large areas of “black triangles”, or problems with handling floss (such as arthritis).  Black triangles develop when the gums no longer completely fill the space between two teeth, as shown in the diagram.  This open space allows food and bacteria to collect and presents an additional cleaning challenge.  A Waterpik creates a power wash for these hard-to-clean areas.  It is not a replacement for flossing.

    Interproximal brushes – Another great tool for black triangles is a small angled brush called an interproximal brush.  Brand names include Proxabrush, Go-Betweens, and Interdental brushes.  They look like tiny pipe cleaners or bottle brushes and are made to fit between the teeth and gently scrub the side of each tooth.  Please use caution with these tools.  Aggressive use of an interproximal brush could create black triangles and gum recession.  Only a light, gentle touch is necessary to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.

    Do you have more questions about flossing?

    If you have questions this blog did not answer or would like an in-person demonstration of the proper flossing technique, please call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell and our dental hygienists.  They will create a customized hygiene plan for you to keep your teeth as clean as possible.

     

    Interdisciplinary Dentistry

    Interdisciplinary Dentistry

    You’ve probably heard the saying, “Jack of all trades”; maybe you didn’t know that the rest of that phrase is “ . . . master of none”.  The theory behind this phrase is that a person can be competent in many tasks, but is usually limited to excellence in just a few.  At our dental centers in Freeman, Parkston, and Viborg, we believe that this phrase applies to dentistry.  Because our goal is for each patient to receive excellent care in every realm, we cooperate with medical and dental specialists to accomplish interdisciplinary dentistry. 

    We understand that, as a patient, it is more convenient to have all of your dental care performed in one location.  However, when it comes to a choice between convenience and excellence, we will always choose excellence.  When Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena create a customized treatment plan for their patients, they considers what type of practitioner will best perform each individual procedure.  These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, much like a primary care physician may treat a case of high blood pressure in his or her office, but refer out a complicated cardiovascular issue to a cardiologist.

    Dental Specialties

    The American Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties in dentistry.  These specialties are characterized by residency programs, which add several years to their education, and certifying boards, which recognize their limitation of practice to a specific specialty.  The nine recognized dental specialties are:

    1. Dental Public Health – promotion of oral health and disease prevention

    2. Endodontics – root canals and surgeries related to infections originating within the tooth

    3. Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology – diagnosis of abnormal lesions and diseases of the oral cavity

    4. Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology – interpretation of images of the head & neck complex, including x-rays and cone beam computed tomography

    5. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery – surgical intervention ranging from simple extraction of teeth to complex realignment of the upper and lower jaws

    6. Orthodontics – realignment of teeth and bite relationships

    7. Pediatric Dentistry – dentistry for children

    8. Periodontics – treatment of diseases and conditions of the supporting structures of the teeth: bones, ligaments, and gum tissue

    9. Prosthodontics – restoration of missing tooth and jaw structures

    Many people are surprised to learn that there are currently no recognized specialties for TMJ, cosmetic dentistry, and dental implants.  Advertising claims can be misleading in these areas. 

    Why Do Some Dentists Pull Wisdom Teeth, Place Implants or Do Root Canals?

    Many general dentists have practiced long enough to determine which procedures they are able to perform with excellence, rather than just being competent.  They will spend more time in continuing education learning the procedures that they love, and will consistently improve their skill in specific techniques.  This is why some general dentists are able to provide excellent treatment in areas another general dentist would refer to a specialist.

    On the other hand, you may find that a dentist who used to do root canals in his office no longer does.  It is likely that this dentist has found he is not able to efficiently provide the very best root canal for his patients, and they will receive a more positive long-term success rate by seeing an endodontist for that specific procedure. 

    Medical Specialists

    As we discussed in a previous blog on how oral health affects your overall health, there are many connections between the mouth and the rest of the body.  As we continue to gather more information about your head & neck with the 3D imaging and continued learning in dentistry, we are better able to recognize these connections and advise you to see the appropriate medical specialist.

    The Importance of the General Dentist

    In cases where interdisciplinary dentistry is necessary, the general dentist plays an important role.  In addition to performing certain procedures in the care of the patient, the general dentist is instrumental in organizing and coordinating the flow of communication and treatment among the various specialists.  

    If you have a complicated dental history and think you need interdisciplinary dentistry, call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! Their commitment to excellent care will ensure you see the proper doctor for each individual procedure your treatment requires.

    Energy Drinks

    Energy Drinks

    Are Energy Drinks Bad For Your Teeth?

    Red Bull gives you wings, but it may also give you cavities.  Energy drinks are defined as “any of various types of beverage that are considered a source of energy, especially a soft drink containing a high percentage of sugar and/or caffeine or other stimulant”.  The most common brands of energy drinks sold in the U.S. are Red Bull, Monster, and RockStar.  In 2015, Red Bull had $4.55 billion in sales.  While the soda industry is noticing a slow, steady decline in sales, the energy drink industry is steadily climbing.  

    What is in an Energy Drink?

     

    • Caffeine – Energy drinks contain a varying amount of caffeine, some as high as 160mg, which is equivalent to a Starbucks coffee. If you would not let your child drinks a strong coffee at Starbucks, you should not let them drink energy drinks.

    • Taurine – Taurine is an amino acid, present in most energy drinks, that shows no actual evidence of providing any energy at all.

    • Guarana – A plant native to the Amazon region, guarana berries contain a very high concentration of caffeine. Guarana is an ingredient in both Monster and Rockstar energy drinks. If you see both caffeine and guarana listed as ingredients in your energy drink, it’s a double whammy, and you should proceed with caution.

    • Lots and lots of sugar - An 8-oz serving of Monster energy drink contains 27g of sugar, which is the exact amount of sugar in an 8-oz serving of CocaCola. The important thing to remember is that most people buy both energy drinks and sodas in 16-oz bottles or cans. If you drink a 16-oz energy drink, the amount of sugar is doubled to 54g, which is far higher than anyone’s recommended daily allowance.

     

    How Do Energy Drinks Cause Cavities?

    Energy drinks cause cavities in the same way sodas cause cavities: high sugar content, and very acidic pH.  It is important for both parents and children to understand that energy drinks offer no health advantages over sodas; in fact, they are more harmful due to the high levels of caffeine they provide.

    1. Sugar – The bacteria which is naturally present in mouths ingests (eats) sugar, and the by-product is an acid. When this acid stays in contact with the enamel surface, it begins to etch or weaken the outer layer of enamel. This process is the beginning of a cavity. The more sugar you drink, the more you are feeding the bacteria in your mouth, enabling them to cause damage to your enamel.

    2. pH – All energy drinks, even the sugar-free versions, have a very low pH. Rockstar Sugar Free has a pH of 3.15, Red Bull Sugar Free is 3.39, and Monster Low Carb is 3.60. These pH measurements are well below (more acidic than) the threshold of 5.5, at which enamel begins to soften and become susceptible to decay. Consistently drinking very acidic drinks predisposes you to a high risk for cavities.

     

     

    What if I Can’t Give Up My Energy Drink?

    As with sodas and sparkling waters, you can minimize the damage to your teeth by high sugar, acidic drinks if youlimit them to mealtime only.  Drink them quickly and while you are eating.  The saliva stimulated by your chewing and tasting food will counteract the acid in the energy drink. 

    If you have a dry mouth, you are at a much higher risk for developing cavities from energy drinks.  Please ask Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena how you can address your dry mouth issues and still enjoy an energy drink from time to time.

    After having your energy drink, chew sugar-free, xylitol gum for 20 minutes.  Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and can bring the pH in your mouth back up to neutral more quickly than it can without chewing gum.

    Know your cavity risk.  Unfortunately, some people are much more prone to cavities than others.  You should know your risk and take the necessary steps to lower that risk as much as possible.  If you do not know your level of cavity risk, call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

    New Year, New Smile

    New Year, New Smile

     

    It is that time of year when people around the world are resolving to make changes for the better.  A common theme in many New Year’s resolutions is improved health.  One of the great perks of improving your health is that it usually involves improving your appearance, too!  If you are exercising to enhance your health, you may also be losing weight or toning muscles.  If you resolve to get more sleep, you will lose those dark circles under your eyes.

    The same applies to taking care of your teeth.  The steps you take to make your mouth healthier will make your smile prettier.  Here are a few ways you can improve the health and appearance of your smile.

    Brush Up on Your Oral Hygiene Regimen

     

    Keeping your teeth free from plaque reduces your risk of unsightly cavities and gum disease.  Here is the most effective way to keep your pearly whites pearly and white.

    Brush twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bed.  Make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the gums.  Make sure you touch every surface of every tooth.  This should include the cheek side, tongue side, and biting surface.  The most commonly missed area is the inside (tongue side) of the lower teeth.  Do not go to bed without brushing!

    Floss nightly!  Brushing alone is not enough to ensure proper plaque removal.  The toothbrush bristles cannot reach in between the teeth; therefore, they leave harmful plaque, bacteria, and food debris on the teeth.  Flossing is absolutely mandatory to keep your teeth and gums healthy and beautiful.

    Use a mouthwash.  Swishing mouthwash is a great way to flush out unhealthy bacteria from the various nooks and crannies of the oral cavity.  If you are cavity prone, use a mouthwash containing fluoride to strengthen your enamel and fight cavities.  If you have a dry mouth, stay away from mouthrinses containing alcohol.  For someone with red, swollen gums, a whitening mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide is a great tool for reducing gum inflammation.

    Treat Yourself to Teeth Whitening

    There are many ways to improving your smile.  Whitening your teeth is one of the quickest ways to give your smile a boost.  At the dental centers in Freeman, Viborg and Parkston, we are proud to offer KöR professional teeth whitening.  With both in-office and at-home whitening products, we can help you find the type of whitening that most easily and quickly meets your needs. 

    Another way you can achieve a brighter smile is by using an electric toothbrush and whitening toothpaste.  This works to polish off surface stains accumulated by years of drinking coffee or tea and using tobacco products.  Ask our dental hygienists about the other benefits of an electric toothbrush.  Most patients find that once they begin using an electric toothbrush, they cannot return to a manual toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes truly give a cleaner, smoother, shinier appearance to the teeth.

    Straight Teeth are Healthy Teeth

    Many people consider crooked teeth to be a cosmetic issue.  In addition to an improved appearance, straightening your teeth actually creates a healthier oral environment.  A research experiment was conducted in which plaque was collected from both patients with straight teeth and those with crowded teeth.  This study concluded that not only do crooked and crowded teeth harbor a greater quantity of plaque; they actually harbor more dangerous bacteria than straight teeth.

    Closing gaps between the teeth helps prevent food impaction, which leads to cavities and periodontal disease.  Aligning crooked teeth makes brushing flossing easier to accomplish.  Ask us how Invisalign® can make your mouth healthier!

    Full Smile Makeover

    Perhaps you have always wanted a full smile makeover, and 2018 is your year.  Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.  Broken teeth can be restored crowns.  Cavities can be repaired with cosmetic tooth-colored fillings.  

    You can even get a beautiful, straight, white smile with veneers.  A veneer is a covering of at least one full surface of the tooth.  Veneers are made from porcelain or composite (an in-office dental restoration).  They can be contact lens thin for minor corrections and refinements.  Or they can be several millimeters thick to correct misalignments and dark discolorations.

    The possibilities are almost endless!  To get started on your full smile makeover, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena.  They will evaluate your current situation and discuss the treatment options available to meet your cosmetic goals.

    Happy New Year!

    Whether 2018 is the year for minor improvements or major life changes for you, there are two things that will always be a great idea: 1) Make healthy choices.  2) Smile! 

    If you’d like help improving that smile, we are here for you. Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

    Can A Sinus Infection Make My Teeth Hurt?

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    Can a sinus infection make my teeth hurt?

    Winter is here.  And with it come colds, sinus infections, and the flu.  It is very common for dentists to see an increase in “toothaches” during this season.  We put “toothaches” in quotes because while the tooth definitely aches, it is not a tooth problem.  Many patients will call us with a toothache and come in for an evaluation, only to be told that the tooth is perfectly fine. 

    Why does sinus pressure make my teeth hurt?

    The natural anatomy of our upper teeth, jawbones and sinus cavities predisposes us to this problem.  The maxillary sinus cavities are large, air-filled spaces located just inside our cheekbones.  They extend inward toward the nose and downward toward the upper teeth.  Often the jawbone separating our upper teeth from the above sinus cavity is extremely thin. 

    The sinus cavities are supposed to be empty.  These air-filled spaces allow for the passage of air as we breathe and lighten the weight of our skull so that we can hold our heads up.  Anyone who has ever experienced sinus congestion knows that it can be hard to breathe and make your head feel heavy.

    When the sinuses are filled instead of empty, pressure is created in that bone-encased space.  Many people feel this pressure inside their cheekbones or under their eyes.  Many also feel this pressure on their upper molars and premolars.  The nerves that supply sensation and feeling to our teeth enter the tooth at the very tip of its root.  Many upper molars’ roots protrude up into the sinus cavity.  When there is an increase in pressure in the sinus, it can cause sensitivity, soreness or just a plain old toothache.

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    What symptoms are commonly associated with sinus pressure toothaches?

     

    • Because the toothaches associated with sinus cavities are caused by an increase in pressure, anything that changes the pressure would change the pain in the tooth.  Things like the impact of running or jumping and tossing your head upside down to blow-dry your hair will affect the pain of a toothache caused by sinus pressure. 
    • Because of the pressure on the tooth’s nerves, the teeth may be more sensitive to cold air or liquids. 
    • The increase in pressure on the roots of the teeth also causes a soreness or tenderness when chewing, grinding, or tapping on the side of the tooth. 

     

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    What can I do about it?

    First of all, you should rule out any problems with your teeth.  If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit to have the tooth or teeth evaluated. 

    If you have been seen regularly by your dentist and know that you have no cavities or other problems with your teeth, you may want to begin by treating your sinus pressure.  Take over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines.  If these do not help, you should see your medical doctor to treat your sinus condition, allergies, cold or flu. 

    Many patients have experienced this multiple times and are able to recognize it as a sinus problem and not a tooth problem.  If you’re not sure, come see us anyway.  When in doubt, rule a real toothache out!

    Have a toothache that could be from sinus pressure?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!. They will do a thorough evaluation of the area that is bothering you and distinguish between a tooth problem and a sinus problem.

    Is Your Mouth Making You Sick?

    Is your mouth making you sick?

    How Oral Health Impacts Systemic Health

    At our Dental Centers in Freeman, Parkston and Viborg, we take healthcare seriously.  While we are specifically concerned with our patients’ oral health, we acknowledge its role in a person’s overall health.  Unfortunately, the mouth has always been treated by a realm of healthcare (dentistry), which has historically been kept separate from general medicine.  For this reason, some people are under the impression that the mouth is therefore independent and unrelated to the rest of the body. 

    This is a dangerous myth!

    What systemic issues are connected with the mouth?

    In 2000, the surgeon general released a report called “Oral Health in America”.  The purpose of this report was to inform and educate the nation about oral health, its prevalence in our nation, and how it affects a person’s overall health.  This report was based on a review of published scientific literature and is still considered the authority on the link between oral health and systemic health.

    There are many links between the mouth and the rest of the body.  In this article, we will limit the discussion to the most harmful health conditions that are affected by the health of your mouth.

    • Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone density and often brings to mind a picture of a frail old lady whose bones break easily.  Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, even the jawbones.  This is especially important in patients who have lost teeth and wear dentures.  The jawbones in a patient with osteoporosis will diminish much more rapidly than in a patient with healthy bones, causing the denture to become loose and uncomfortable.  
    • In a patient with all of their teeth, osteoporosis causes an increased risk for periodontal bone loss.  It has even been suggested that bone loss around the teeth could be a warning sign of osteoporosis.
    • Immunosuppression – There are many different diseases, disorders, and conditions that suppress the immune system, including HIV, autoimmune diseases, organ transplants and cancer treatments.  A suppressed immune system makes any type of infection worse because your body cannot fight it naturally.  This puts a person at higher risk for periodontal disease and dental abscesses.  Because these infections also affect other areas of the body, the impact on the overall health is much greater in an immunocompromised patient.  
    • Anyone who has a problem with their immune system should keep to a strict oral hygiene routine and continuing care schedule with their  dentist.
    • Some people with a weakened immune system will suffer from persistent mouth sores and ulcers that do not heal.  Often a dentist is the first  person to catch these signs of a suppressed immune system.
    • Pulmonary Disease – Because the bacteria in the mouth have a quick pathway to the lungs, there is a link between oral disease and pulmonary disease.  COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is associated with poor oral health, and patients with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.
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    • Diabetes – The link between periodontal disease and diabetes is considered a two-way connection: meaning diabetes makes periodontal disease worse, and periodontal disease makes diabetes worse.  Diabetes worsens periodontal disease through its affect on blood flow, inflammation and healing ability.  Periodontal disease worsens diabetes by contributing to hyperglycemia and complicated metabolic controls.  This association is thought to be true of diabetes with any chronic infection in the body
    • Heart Disease – The bacteria present in the mouth of a patient with periodontal disease can contribute to heart disease through a few different mechanisms of action: 1) small localized infections of blood vessel walls, which leads to plaque formation, atherosclerosis, and in severe cases, a heart attack,  2) an influence on platelets causing them to aggregate and form clots in the bloodstream, which could block a coronary artery, leading to heart attack.  People with periodontal disease have a 25% higher risk of heart disease than people with healthy gums.

     

    • Stroke – The increased risk of a stroke in patients with periodontal disease is based on the same mechanism of action noted above: increased risk for clot formation, which can travel to the brain and occlude a cerebral artery, blocking blood flow to brain tissues.
    • Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes – There is a correlation between periodontal disease and low birth weight infants.  The mechanism is in need of more scientific research.  At this time, it is thought to arise from two possible consequences of periodontal disease:  1) The bacteria present in periodontal disease produce toxins that could enter the blood stream, cross the placenta, and cause damage to the fetus.  2) The maternal inflammatory response to these toxins could interfere with fetal growth.

     

    How do I reduce my risk of health problems?

    All people should be aware of the health risks associated with dental diseases.  Because most oral health problems are preventable, you can be instrumental in lowering your risk for systemic health problems.

     

    1. See your dentist and dental hygienist at their recommended intervals for cleanings and oral evaluations.
    2. Practice good oral home care with regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with the proper mouthwash.
    3. Treat dental problems as they arise.  Do not wait until something hurts!  Periodontal disease is often called a “silent” disease because it rarely causes pain.
    4. See your medical doctor to be as preventive as possible with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

     

    I am concerned that my mouth is affecting my overall health.  What now?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!They will discuss your medical history with you and outline how it can affect your oral health and vice versa.  

    Silver Diamine Fluoride

    Silver Diamine Fluoride

    What is SDF?

    Last June, the New York Times published an article on a new dental material called Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) that excited all of its readers and everyone who saw it shared on Facebook!  (New York Times article) Correction: it is not new.  SDF has been used in Japan for decades (approved by their ministry of health in the 1960's), but it is new to the United States. 

    This material, which is a clear liquid that looks like water, can stop tooth decay in its tracks.  That is an exciting material!

    The Food & Drug Administration has classified SDF as a fluoride treatment and has only cleared it for use as a desensitizing agent.  This means that when dentists use it to stop cavities, it is being used "off-label".  The evidence is compelling enough that Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena have begun offering this "caries arrest" treatment to its applicable patients. 

    Caries arrest, simply put, means stopping a cavity.  Caries is the scientific word for tooth decay or cavities.

    Who is a candidate for SDF? 

    The most common application of SDF is in young children because it prevents them from having a dental appointment involving local anesthetic, drilling and filling.  It takes about 5 minutes to isolate the affected tooth and apply the colorless liquid SDF to the site.  It is also a great option for treating cavities on elderly patients with a very high risk for decay, patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, and patients with special needs.  It can be used to stop the progression of decay for a patient who has need of extensive dental treatment and is unable to proceed for financial or medical reasons. 

    Basically, SDF can be used to buy some time when it comes to "fixing" your teeth.

    What are the pros?

    • No local anesthetic = no injections

    • No drilling

    • No filling

    • Much shorter treatment (about 5 minutes compared to 30+ minutes)

    • Decreased cost (about 10% of the cost of a filling)

     

     What are the cons?

    • The biggest con is that the silver particles in SDF stain the tooth black in areas of decay. The amount of staining depends on the amount of decay in the affected tooth. There will be some temporary staining of the gums near the treatment area, which will resolve over a few days. The gum staining is similar to a henna tattoo, reddish brown in color and lasting for several days.

    • It tastes awful. We do our best to keep it away from your tongue, but we cannot guarantee you won't taste it.

    • SDF is not 100% effective. There are some cavities SDF will not stop. So it requires follow-up x-rays to confirm that the SDF did its job and that the cavities have not grown since being treated with SDF.

    • It must be reapplied at your next cleaning appointment for maximum efficacy.

    • It does not fill in any holes created by the cavity, so you still get food impaction in the treated area, which can lead to gum disease or decay on other teeth. This means it is not a good option for normal permanent teeth on a healthy adult.

     

    Is SDF Right for You or Your Loved One?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!  They can discuss the treatment options for each tooth, including which ones could benefit from SDF. 

    Pediatric Sleep Apnea

    Pediatric Sleep Apnea

    Why Is My Dentist Asking If My Child Snores?

    Some of you may have noticed that when you bring your child in for their professional cleaning and periodic evaluation, Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena asks questions about your child’s sleep patterns.  “Does your child snore?  Does he grind his teeth?  Does she wake up with a raspy voice or a sour stomach?”  We treat adults who have obstructive sleep apnea with an oral appliance.  After much study and continuing education on the subject, it was only natural that we continue our learning with research into pediatric sleep apnea.  Because we have a chance to look inside their mouths (and inevitably, down their throats) a few times a year, we are in a perfect position to evaluate their airway on a regular basis. 

    Refresher: What is Sleep Apnea?

    An apnea occurs when breathing stops for a period of time.  It is generally caused by an obstruction or blockage in the airway, which causes a disruption of normal breathing.  Snoring is an important warning sign because it indicates that there are excess tissues vibrating in the airway.  These same excess tissues can collapse and block the airway, causing apneas to occur.

    Why Is Pediatric Sleep Apnea an Important Issue?

    According to a 2002 study, children with obstructive sleep apnea consume 226% more health care services than children without.  According to a 2007 study, these children have 40% more visits to the hospital than children without OSA, as well as higher consumption of anti-infective and respiratory system drugs.  The risks of undiagnosed sleep apnea include problems with behavior, learning and development, and in severe cases, failure to grow, heart problems and high blood pressure.

     What Causes Pediatric Sleep Apnea?

    Obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by anything that makes the opening of the airway (through either the nose or the mouth) smaller than it should be.  Some children have very large tonsils or an enlarged tongue that blocks the opening at the back of the throat.  Some may have a jaw that is smaller than normal or a palate (roof of the mouth) that is very long and hangs down into the back of the throat.  Even a deviated nasal septum or an enlarged turbinate can cause a decreased amount of airflow.  The shape of the upper and lower jaws are important in shaping the airway.  Certain growth patterns make some children more susceptible to airway problems than others. 

    What Warning Signs Should I Look For?

    • Snoring, snorting, gasping or squeaking sounds during sleep

    • Restless sleep, nightmares, sleep walking or bedwetting

    • Sleeping in abnormal positions with the head in unusual positions

    • Heavy, irregular breathing or mouth breathing

    • Grinding teeth

    • Difficulty waking up in the morning

     

    Where Do We Go From Here?

    If your child exhibits several of the warning signs and has any narrow airway risk factors, Dr. Chowning will discuss the next step in diagnosis of sleep apnea.  It may involve treatment in our office as well as referral to several different doctors, including a sleep physician, an ENT, an orthodontist, an allergist and possibly 3D imaging to visualize the child’s airway.  In certain cases, your child may be treated with an oral appliance that opens and shapes the airway as the child sleeps.  A sleep physician conducts a sleep study to gather all the data needed to diagnose or rule out a sleep-disordered breathing problem.  If your child is diagnosed with pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, it is possible that an adenotonsillectomy (surgery to remove the adenoids and tonsils) could be recommended, and you would be referred to an ENT for that procedure.  Because the shape of the jaws can affect the breathing space, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to change the shape of the jaws, thereby increasing the airway space.  An allergist can be helpful in decreasing the size of inflamed tissues through allergy therapy.

     Do you think your child may have sleep apnea?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They will discuss the risk factors your child exhibits and the various treatment options available.

    Caring for Your Teeth While in Braces

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    Caring for Your Teeth While in Braces

    Best Day Ever

    The day you get your braces off should be the best day ever. After months, maybe even years, of hiding your metal mouth and constantly digging food out of the brackets and wires, you will feel a newfound sense of freedom and won’t be able to pass a mirror without smiling at yourself. The end result of orthodontics is always worth the time, money, and effort you put into it. Not only are straight teeth beautiful; they are actually healthier than crooked teeth.

    There are two reasons straight teeth are healthy teeth: 1) Many people understand that crowded and crooked teeth allow more plaque accumulation because of the various nooks and crannies created by overlapping and rotated teeth. 2) Research studies have shown that the types of bacteria collecting on crooked teeth are different than the bacteria typically found on straight teeth. They are more periodontopathogenic - more likely to cause periodontal disease!

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    How the Best Day can become the Worst Day

    If the braces come off, and instead of exposing a beautiful, straight smile, a mouth full of discolored and decayed teeth is revealed, the Best Day has now become the Worst Day. Braces create a dental hygiene challenge that many people, especially preteens and teenagers are not aware of or prepared for. The extra apparatuses on the teeth are havens for plaque, bacteria, and food debris, causing a person’s risk for gum disease and cavities to sky-rocket.  The most common problem we see after braces is a phenomenon called "white spot lesions" that outline where the bracket was.  The white spots are areas of demineralization or weakening of the surface enamel where plaque was allowed to linger for too long and damaged the tooth structure surrounding the bracket.

     

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    How to Lower Your Risk for Cavities & Gingivitis

    • Don’t miss a single dental visit! While you are busy seeing your orthodontist every 4-6 weeks, it is easy to forget your need for dental cleanings and checkups while in braces. Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will be able to reassess your risk for both gum disease and cavities and make recommendations to help you lower your risk. This may include more frequent dental cleanings, a prescription toothpaste, a professional fluoride application, and adjunctive oral hygiene tools for you to use at home.

    • Additional oral hygiene tools - Braces take cleaning your teeth to a whole new dimension. A manual toothbrush usually will not adequately do the job, and traditional floss is virtually impossible to use alone.

      • Brushing - An electric toothbrush is a must because it can remove more plaque and bacteria around the brackets more effectively than a manual toothbrush.

      • Flossing - Using traditional floss requires the addition of something called a floss-threader, which is like a large plastic needle that can be inserted underneath the wire in order to floss between the teeth. An alternative to this is using small pre-threaded floss picks that will fit underneath the wires, called Platypus flossers.

      • Waterpik - Some people choose to add a Waterpik tool to their oral hygiene regimen. It is an effective way to remove food debris from underneath the orthodontic wires.

    • Additional oral hygiene products - The specific type of oral hygiene products you use matters when you have orthodontic appliances. There are many products available that can strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to damage from plaque and bacteria.

    • A prescription fluoride toothpaste or gel - Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will give you recommendations based on your specific risk levels. If they determine that you are high risk for cavities, you may be given a prescription for a special toothpaste or gel to use on your teeth. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions and store any of these products out of the reach of small children.

    • Mouthwash - A mouthwash is a great way to flush out food debris from around the brackets and wires before you begin the flossing and brushing process. Any alcohol-free mouthwash is appropriate for pre-brush rinsing. Before bed and after brushing and flossing, you should swish with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Do not rinse your mouth after using this one because the fluoride should stay in contact with your teeth for as long as possible. Our favorite fluoride mouthwash for patients in braces is Phos-Flur.

    Questions about Your Risk (or Your Child’s Risk) While in Braces?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They will assess your risk for gingivitis and cavities while in braces and make the appropriate recommendations for your specific risk.

    Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

    Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

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    What is Morning Sickness?

    Morning sickness is a commonly used term to describe the nausea and vomiting that affects many women during pregnancy.  It’s a bit of a misnomer, as most women who experience this phenomenon say it actually happens throughout the entire day and not just in the mornings.  Morning sickness affects between 70-85 percent of pregnant women!  While most women experience morning sickness in the first 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, some of the unlucky ones have symptoms throughout the entire pregnancy. 

    Morning sickness affects a person’s ability to work, perform necessary tasks around the home, and/or care for children or other dependents in the household.  Many women state that morning sickness forced them to reveal their pregnancy earlier than they would have preferred. 

    How Does Morning Sickness Affect My Teeth?

    The reason morning sickness is damaging to teeth is that the nausea and vomiting brings acid from the stomach up into the mouth.  Healthy stomachs are filled with acid, which breaks down food as an important part of the digestion process.  However, that acid is supposed to stay in the stomach.  Stomach acid has a pH of 1.5-3.5. 

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    In contrast, a healthy mouth has a pH that is slightly above neutral, in the range of 7.1-7.5.  Teeth can stay strong at this pH.  The enamel covering our teeth begins to weaken when the pH drops to 5.5 or below.

     

    When someone vomits, the acid in the stomach is pulled up the esophagus and into the mouth.  This stomach acid is far below the pH threshold for enamel damage.  When the mouth is subjected to this strong acid with such a low pH repeatedly, the enamel is weakened and may begin to erode. 

    Enamel erosion is the gradual degradation of the enamel surface of teeth caused by exposure to acids.  This includes any acid, like sodas, lemon juice, and any carbonated drink.  Because stomach acid is more acidic than these things, it can cause more damage in a shorter amount of time.  The photos below show examples of severe enamel erosion.  The enamel becomes thinner and is even missing in some areas.  On front teeth, this can cause the teeth to appear translucent or “see-through”.  On back teeth, the enamel can erode away from a filling, leaving the filling taller than the tooth surface. 

    Because enamel is a tooth’s defense against decay, anything that weakens enamel makes a tooth more likely to get a cavity.  Loss of enamel also causes tooth sensitivity. 

      

    How Do I Protect My Teeth From Morning Sickness?

    There are several steps you can take to protect your teeth if you are suffering from morning sickness.

     

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    1.  After vomiting, do not immediately brush your teeth.  Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water, wait 30 minutes and then brush.
    2. Use an over-the-counter mouthrinse that contains fluoride before bed each night.  Fluoride can strengthen the enamel and protect it against acid.
    3. Chew sugar-free gum throughout the day.  This stimulates your natural saliva production, which raises the pH in your mouth.
    4. See your dentist.  If you are suffering from morning sickness, let Dr. Aanenson and Dr. Kuiper know.  They can assess your risk for enamel erosion and make specific recommendations for you.

     

    What Else Can Cause Acid Erosion of Teeth?

    GERD – Severe acid reflux can keep the pH in the mouth much lower than normal.

    Bulimia – As with morning sickness, consistent vomiting causes enamel erosion.

    Lemon juice cleanses – Lemon juice is as acidic as stomach acid and should never touch the teeth.

    Are You Suffering With Morning Sickness?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They can help you manage the risks associated with morning sickness and help you protect your teeth.