Category: Children

Keep your athlete smiling!

mouthguards 1
Mouthgaurds protect teeth and can even prevent concussions!

It’s that time of year – soccer fields are full and spring training has given way to games on the baseball diamond.  Unfortunately, many young athletes are playing without mouthguards and putting their teeth at risk for injuries.

In recent years, there has been a groundswell of awareness around concussions and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  t’s easy to forget that mouth injuries are more common than brain trauma in young athletes. Data from recent studies show that there are between 1.5 and 3 million sports-related concussions annually. Sad bonus fact: only around half of all incidents are reported and treated. But those numbers pale in comparison to the estimated five million teeth that are avulsed (see last month’s blog) each year. The majority of these incidents are related to sports activities, according to a study published on Crest’s DentalCare.com website.mouthguards protect teeth

Since we last told you about mouthguards for young athletes, there haven’t been any significant design or technological breakthroughs. However, with the continued progression of online and mail order options, new companies have entered the market and there are many more choices available today. Science Daily has even reported that some custom mouthguards have been shown to reduce the chances of concussions.

Which Mouthguard is Best?

The simple answer is — the one your athlete is most comfortable wearing. If they hate the feel of it, most likely it will end up unused in their gear bag. You obviously want the most inexpensive option, so start with lower-priced models. If they are uncomfortable or unusable, you can work your way up until you find the best fit. However, your athlete may have special needs like braces or a pronounced over/under-bite. Many younger kids may also just be fussy about “how things feel” in their mouth. In those instances, we suggest buying up to a more advanced guard with a balance of comfort and protection. The news and information website Heavy.com recently profiled its Top 10 mouthguards. While it’s hardly a comprehensive list of all options, it does give a good overview of brands, types, and features of each.

If you have questions about sports mouth protection — either for your child or yourself — ask us at your next appointment.

Dental Emergencies

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Do you know what to do in a dental emergency?

Spring is in the air, and kids are competing in outdoor sports, riding bikes, or maybe just playing outside. This burst of activity is great for growing bodies, but oftentimes the enthusiasm outpaces their abilities. Despite improvements in protective devices – such as advanced football facemasks, full-face bicycle helmets, and fitted mouthguards – dental injuries are still too common in active youths. If your child collides with someone or takes a tumble, and comes up clutching their mouth, would you know what to do?

There are several standard classifications of tooth damage that you should be aware of:

  • Avulsed– Completely knocked out, with tooth roots intact
  • Displaced– Tooth is intact, but has been knocked loose and is crooked or pushed deeper into the gumline
  • Chipped/Broken– A small or large piece is detached and separated from the main tooth body
  • Cracked/Fractured– A fissure is present and visible, possibly extending the width, depth, or length of the entire tooth

 

What To Do

If you or your child experiences any of these injuries, call us immediately and we will see them as soon as you can visit our office. However, by taking appropriate “First Aid” steps, you can increase the chances of saving a damaged tooth.

Avulsed Tooth

For permanent/adult teeth, the best chance to salvage the tooth is by replanting it within 5 minutes of the incident. Within that window, the body still recognizes the tooth and the ligaments surrounding bone are present on the root surface and can naturally re-attach.

Action: Rinse the tooth, holding the tooth by the crown and avoiding touching the root surface. Push the tooth firmly back into its socket, and keep pressure on the tooth so it stays in place. If it will not stay in the socket, keep it moist in the patient’s saliva (between a cheek and gum), or soak it in cold milk or water to preserve it until you get to our office.

With primary or “baby teeth”, do not attempt to replant, as this could damage the emerging adult tooth. Use direct pressure to control the bleeding, and call us ASAP so that we can assess the situation and offer prudent treatment, if necessary.

Displaced Tooth

If a primary or permanent tooth has been pushed out of place or deeper into the jaw, do NOT attempt to reposition it. Call Meyer & Johns Dental as soon as possible, since the longer a tooth is left out of alignment, the more difficult it will be to return to its original position.

Chipped/Broken Tooth

This is the most frequent tooth damage for both children and adults. If possible, locate and preserve the the tooth fragment (see above), since tooth-colored bonding materials are available that allow seamless reattachment in some cases.

Damaged teeth can sometimes be salvaged, if you know what steps to take.

Cracked/Fractured Tooth

Similar to a chip or break, these types of injuries generally result in more extensive damage. Don’t try to wiggle or remove any portion of the tooth, and avoid direct biting pressure. If tooth pulp is left exposed by the damage, there may be pain or sensitivity to contact and temperature changes. An examination by Drs. Meyer or Johns can determine whether the tooth can be saved, or other possible repair options.

 

As always, if you have problems with your teeth — sports-related or other — don’t wait until your next appointment. Letting us know early is very important to maximizing your options and avoiding further damage and/or unnecessary repair work.

 

Focus on Kids’ Healthy Smiles!

Children's Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. To celebrate the American Dental Association is encouraging good brushing habits activity and coloring pages, including a downloadable Brushing Calendar to help your little ones track the good habits they are developing.

We talk about it every year, but lifelong habits start early. The following guidelines can help parents make sure kids’ brushing habits are on track:

Babies – Under 1 Year

Babies don’t usually get their first teeth until around eight months, but they still need a clean mouth! Gently cleaning gums with a soft cloth, gauze, or a super-soft fingertip baby toothbrush can help remove food particles. But don’t press too hard – a very light pressure will keep from irritating sensitive gums.

 

Toddlers – 1 to 2 Years

When baby’s first tooth erupts, it’s time to begin to use a toddler-sized toothbrush for cleaning their mouth. Look for a brush that has very soft, rounded bristles that easily fits in their little mouth. As soon as they have more than one tooth and the teeth edges touch, you can begin using wide, flat floss. Again, make sure to only apply gentle pressure while cleaning all sides of the tooth. Making oral hygiene part of their regular bedtime routine is the first step in a lifetime’s good habits.

 

Preschoolers – 2 to 4 years

As their independence, mobility, and language begin to develop, so will their teeth. They’ll already be familiar with brushing and flossing, and the next step is brushing for themselves. You should tart by empowering them them to choose their own toothbrush. Making a big decision for themselves will excite them, and they’ll have their pick from a huge array of cartoon characters, TV show themes, and movie heroes. You will, however, need to make sure they’re choosing one that fits easily in their mouth and has soft bristles to protect their gums. Since they lack hand dexterity at this age, their toothbrushes are shorter and equipped with larger handles. You should still be supervising their brushing at this stage.

 

School-aged Children – 5 to 8 years

At this age, a good brushing routine and technique should be established. They’ll need to upgrade to a longer-necked brush with a larger head that still fits comfortably in their mouth while brushing. And they’ll still be choosing a style with bright colors and familiar characters. At this stage they can begin flossing on their own, but again with supervision. By the time they’re in 2ndor 3rdgrade, they should be able to brush and floss independently.

 

Beyond basic hygiene, dentist visits are something that should also begin at a young age. If your baby has older siblings, it’s a perfect time to get them used to the idea of visiting Meyer & Johns twice a year. We can do a pretend “Mouth Check” of toddlers, even if they don’t have enough teeth to clean! If haven’t already introduced your child to our friendly office staff, bring them to your next appointment.

America’s Favorite Halloween Candy Is…

candystore.com
www.candystore.com features an interactive map of favorite Halloween candy.

Even though it’s many people’s favorite holiday, Halloween might seem like a nightmare for dentists. Actually, at Meyer & Johns we LOVE Halloween — our staff is in the spirit all month long. It’s just the after-effects of all that candy we don’t like.  We talk about it every year, but sensible consumption and good brushing habits are key to winning the candy battle. We trust that you know what strategy works best with each of your children. If you’re still not sure, check out our blog post HERE for age and developmentally-appropriate approaches. 

 

We trust that you know what to do, so enough about teeth – let’s talk about the candy! Confectionary information and shopping website candystore.com has compiled a mountain of data on candy sales and consumption. They recently published an interactive map that lists the favorite Halloween candy for each of the 50 U.S. states, including pounds sold, as well as 2nd and 3rd-place choices by state. 

 

Missouri’s fave? The Milky Way bar, a preference we share with Maryland and Vermont. Some of the interesting tidbits include:

  • Corn Rules! Candy Corn is the most popular nationwide, taking the top spot in seven of the 50 states. Somewhat surprisingly, Skittles came in at #2, with five. 
  • Cowboy Candy?  Dubble Bubble gum was the favorite Halloween candy in Oklahoma and Montana. Don’t they know what they’re missing?
  • Location, location… Not surprisingly, the extreme Northeast and Northwest favor salt water taffy. 
  • Marketing wisely? Two of the most-recognizable and highly-promoted products – Twix and Kit-Kat – only ranked 1st in one state apiece. 
  • Sour in the South – Lemonheads were the top pick in Louisiana. 

 

Happy Halloween from your friends at Meyer & Johns Dental – Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to brush!