Dental Treatments & Children

Dental treatments like root canals and tooth-colored bonding aren’t just for adults. In fact, children sometimes require the same dental treatments that adults routinely get — though not always for the same reasons. For example, an adult may need a root canal to save a permanent tooth that’s in danger of being lost due to trauma or extensive decay. But since a primary (baby) tooth will be shed anyway, why go to the same trouble for it? One reason is that the primary teeth function as guides for the permanent teeth, which are forming beneath them. Saving a baby tooth now aids in maintaining proper tooth spacing, and may help prevent a future malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) — which could require costly orthodontic treatment later. Likewise, the application of dental sealants — plastic coatings that fill in tiny pits and crevices in the teeth that are prone to cavities — can prevent decay from gaining a foothold in the mouth. Minor fractures or chips in the teeth, whether they result from sports injuries or simple childhood exuberance, are often repairable with tooth-colored bonding materials. These can be used successfully on primary or permanent teeth and are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth — so there’s no reason to delay treatment. You can learn more today by contacting Dr. Ringo!

Call  (219) 322-7658

Dental Sealants: Why they benefit your child

By age 19, tooth decay affects nearly 70 percent of America’s children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Left untreated, tooth decay, also known as cavities, may result in pain and infection.

One highly effective option to help prevent cavities is dental sealants – a thin plastic film painted on the chewing surface of teeth.

Dental sealants have been proven a safe and cost-efficient dental procedure for patients prone to cavities. Even health care task forces are recognizing the benefits of dental sealants, recommending school-based programs.

However, an article in the February 2006 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), cites several reports that explain dental sealants are still underused, despite their advantages in averting tooth decay for an average of five to seven years.

“Studies show that many children are exceptional candidates for dental sealants.,” says AGD spokesperson Mark Ritz, DDS, MAGD. “Parents should consider sealants as a preventive measure in their child’s oral health and discuss this option with their dentist.”

Surveys show the majority of all cavities occur in the narrow pits and grooves of a child’s newly erupted teeth because food particles and bacteria are not easily cleaned out. A risk assessment by a dentist best determines if a child is a candidate for dental sealants.

Dental sealants act as a barrier to “seal-off” space between the tooth surface and any small food particles or bacteria that may otherwise cause a cavity in an “unsealed” tooth.

Paired with twice-daily brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste, a healthy diet and visiting the dentist twice a year to monitor the sealants’ placement or bond on the tooth, properly applied dental sealants are 100-percent effective in preventing cavities.

“Remember that dental sealants do not protect against gum disease such as gingivitis, oral cancer or many common dental conditions,” says Dr. Ritz. “Regular dental checkups are vital to monitor overall oral health.”

Benefits of dental sealants:

  • Paired with good oral health care, sealants are 100-percent effective against cavities in teeth that are sealed and properly maintained.
  • Minimally invasive, safe and effective preventive procedure.
  • Costs less than getting a cavity filled.

4 Oral Health Issues Seniors Face

Oral health is an important and often overlooked component of an older person’s general health and well-being. Our team knows that for many of our older patients, oral health can become an issue when arthritis or other neurological problems render them unable to brush or floss their teeth as effectively as they once did. Today, we thought we would discuss four common oral health issues our older patients face and how they can avoid them:

Cavities: It’s not just children who get tooth decay—oral decay is a common disease in people 65 and older. Ninety-two percent of seniors 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The risk for tooth decay increases because many older adults don’t go to the dentist as often as they used to, thus cavities go undetected and untreated for longer than they should. Keeping regular appointments with your dentist the key to getting cavities treated in a timely manner.

Difficulty eating: Oral health problems, whether from missing teeth, cavities, dentures that don’t fit, gum disease, or infection, can cause difficulty eating and can force people to adjust the quality, consistency, and balance of their diet.

Dry mouth: Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is a common issue for a lot of seniors. Our friends at the Oral Cancer Foundation estimate that 20 percent of elderly people suffer from dry mouth, which means the reduced flow of saliva (saliva plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay). Many seniors are on multiple medications for a variety of chronic illnesses or conditions. Common medications taken that may cause dry mouth are decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, pain pills, incontinence medications, antidepressants, diuretics, muscle relaxers, and Parkinson’s disease medications. To help counter this, we suggest drinking lots of fluids and limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol. We also encourage you to check with us during your next visit if you think your medications are causing your mouth to feel dry.

Gum Disease: Gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. While gum disease affects people of all ages, it typically becomes worse as people age. In its early stages, gum disease is painless, and most people have no idea that they have it. In more advanced cases, however, gum disease can cause sore gums and pain when chewing.

Gum disease, which can range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease, is usually caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow dental plaque to build up on the teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing simply does not clean. Only a professional cleaning at our office can remove tartar. The two forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and can bleed easily; in periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces that become infected.

Proper brushing, flossing, and visiting our office regularly can prevent gum disease. Seniors with limited dexterity who have trouble gripping a toothbrush should ask contact us for a consult.