Tag Archives: dental care for kids

Do I Really Need to Use Mouthwash? | Riverside Dentist

Two of the most common dental problems for patients is tooth decay (cavities) and periodontal disease (gum disease). While they sound very different, they both have a common cause: bacteria within the mouth. While many people realize that mouthwash is effective as a breath-freshener, it can also save your teeth and gums.

Tooth decay is typically caused by acid produced when bacteria consumes food particles and sugars within the mouth. Similarly, periodontal disease occurs when bacterial colonies make their way beneath the gum line, causing damage to tooth roots and gum tissue, and eventual bone loss and tooth loss. In both cases, regular brushing and flossing can help remove plaque before it hardens into tartar. Mouthwash helps maintain oral health by assisting in the process of killing bacteria that isn’t physically removed by the toothbrush or floss and minimizing bacteria on the insides of your cheek and the gum tissue near your teeth.

Mouthwash has other benefits as well. Physically swishing mouthwash within your mouth can wash leftover food particles. While brushing and flossing will help remove food stuck on the surfaces of the teeth, mouthwash may dislodge food particles throughout the mouth, which reduces the available food for bacteria that eventually cause tooth decay. For this reason, it’s often advisable to use mouthwash prior to brushing – mouthwash may help loosen food particles that can be fully removed with the toothbrush.  Finally, some mouthwash contains fluoride to help strengthen tooth enamel, which will help resist cavities and minimize the chances of cracked or broken teeth.

To set up an appointment, call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton proudly accepts patients from Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.

Everyone Needs Prophylaxis Once in a While | Riverside Dentist

Dentists recommend you brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, and have regular professional cleanings. While brushing and flossing help remove food and plaque at home, professional cleanings are necessary to clean surfaces you’re unable to reach effectively, and to remove substances you’re unable to remove safely.

The term for professional cleaning is prophylaxis – it involves the removal of dental plaque, dental calculus, and stains from both the exposed and unexposed surfaces of the teeth. The goal of dental prophylaxis is prevention of disease by removing bacteria.

During the cleaning procedure itself, the dentist will use techniques such as scaling (where a physical instrument will be used to physically scrape tartar from teeth above and below the gum-line) and polishing (where a high-speed tool will be used to clean the surface of the teeth, removing plaque and making the surface less likely to accumulate plaque in the future). Finally, the dentist will also inspect teeth for signs of decay, disease, or damage, and will help identify minor problems before they grow into larger problems.

Professional cleanings are important – not only does it provide the dentist with an opportunity to check on your dental health, it helps remove calcified tartar before it has a chance to contribute to tooth decay. While brushing and flossing are vital to oral health, they are imperfect, and professional cleaning is just as important. If you have questions about the cleaning procedure, cost, or scheduling, contact your dentist’s office and ask.

 

Teaching Tiny Humans to Brush | Riverside Dentist

Boy brushing his teethParenting is never an easy job. We need to keep our tiny humans safe while we teach them how to navigate life in the best way they can, and this will generally come along with a struggle as they grow up. After all, they are figuring things out and when something like dental hygiene come up, the last thing they want to do is learn to do it. But when it comes to things like oral hygiene, consistency is key. However, we often find ourselves stuck in a constant struggle with children to get them to brush their teeth. If this is something that occurs whenever you try to help your little one, here are some tips that can make the process of teeth cleaning fun:

Start earlier. Timing can be a huge thing in helping your child adjust to a normal cleaning routine. Sometimes children get crankier as time goes on. With that in mind, try to start your routine earlier in the day, perhaps a little bit after dinner. This will definitely improve their mood.

Brushing together. Younger children love mimic what their parents do, so, take advantage of that habit by brushing your teeth alongside them.

Cleaning teeth to music. Music may play an important role in allowing your child to not only enjoy brushing their teeth, but sufficiently brush their teeth. Choose a song that is at least two minutes long, to ensure the brushing process is done in its full time, and then choose a song that your kid enjoys!

To set up an appointment, call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton proudly accepts patients from Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.

Baby’s First Dental Appointment | Riverside Dentist

Boy brushing his teethAs a new parent, you are constantly wondering if you’re doing the job right. One of these overlooked details is a child’s dental health. Children should start visiting the dentist any time between first tooth and their first birthday to alleviate issues for any future anxieties. It’s also beneficial to get some basic knowledge as to how your child’s dental health should be handled at home so there aren’t problems growing up.

It’s important to prepare your little one for this new adventure. Learning about what will happen through books and other resources is fantastic help, but another is to give them a bit of a preview. Take turns roleplaying what the dentist will be doing poking around in their mouths. Having a dentist poking around with sharp tools is always going to be a scary thing for a tiny human. The more preparation, the smoother the experience.

On the day of your child’s first visit, the dentist will go over your child’s history and give you a crash course as to what you can expect in the future. A thorough examination     will distinguish any issues that may arise due to habits like thumb sucking, poor hygienic practice or diet.

Making sure your little one is comfortable is your first priority so be sure to bring things that soothe them, whether it be a little snack, a favorite toy or blanket. Keeping them happy will ensure you leave that first appointment ready and able to tackle any surprises that may hinder that sweet baby smile you love so much.

To set up an appointment, call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton proudly accepts patients from Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.

My Child Has Shark Teeth? | Riverside Dentist

Pediatric DentistryIt doesn’t happen to everyone, but from time to time, the permanent set of teeth comes in before the baby teeth falls out. If it’s your child’s teeth, you may think there is cause of concern. Don’t worry, it may seem strange, but it isn’t abnormal. It is okay for the permanent teeth to erupt before the baby tooth falls out. The permanent tooth will slowly make the roots of the baby teeth weaker, eventually leading them to fall off on their own. Eventually, the permanent tooth will move into the space that was once occupied by the permanent teeth.

There are a couple of age groups affected by this dental issue, often referred to as shark teeth – it happens mostly in the lower front teeth for kids who are six years old. This may also happen to the upper molars, usually in children aged 11. There’s not an exact explanation as to explain why shark teeth happens. Sometimes the roots of the baby teeth don’t dissolve normally like the permanent teeth do. Sometimes overcrowding that takes place in the jaws. And since the baby teeth eventually fall in time, there’s little need for professional intervention.

What’s important is that you check your child’s shark teeth and monitor it closely. If the baby teeth fall out on their own, which usually happens after a few days or weeks, then it’s all good and the permanent tooth should slowly shift forward to its properly place.

To set up an appointment, call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton proudly accepts patients from Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.

How to Whiten Your Teeth at Home | Riverside Dentist

489195623If there is anything that we correlate with a good smile, it’s the color of the teeth. After all, we call them pearly whites for a reason. The problem with white teeth really lies in the degree you take your oral hygiene. You can brush & floss every day, but your teeth may not keep its natural sheen. You can make appointments for teeth whitening sessions, but that can get pricey. Here are six ways to DIY your smile back to brilliant:

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. You can find a lot of toothpastes with these ingredients, or a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into a little bit of baking soda. Apply it as you would regular toothpaste.

Strawberries and banana peels. Having these fruits handy will help brighten your smile in the most delicious way possible. Strawberries contain malic acid, fantastic at breaking down stains. So, grab a couple berries, add about a teaspoon of baking soda & rub on your teeth for 5-7 minutes. As for the banana, it’s the peel. After you brush your teeth, rub a piece of banana peel on the inside on your teeth for two minutes.

Pantry items. If you have apple cider vinegar, dilute it with water and mix it with an all-natural toothpaste. If you have discovered the many uses for coconut oil, you may also know that swishing it around in your mouth for 20 minutes helps dingy teeth; or heat a cup of coconut oil, add two teaspoons of baking soda & five to ten drops of natural spearmint essential oil. Coconut oil turns into teeth whitening enzyme when mixed with saliva, and the spearmint adds antimicrobial benefits for your gums.

For more information about DIY teeth whitening, call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton proudly accepts patients from Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.

Halloween Candy: Treats or Tricks? | Riverside Dentist

Enjoying sweetsAs parents, we want to give our children the world. Thankfully, we as parents have the good sense to restrict things we know aren’t good for them. Things become a bit trickier when it comes to things like Halloween. Ghosts, goblins and gooey sweets is the name of the game on this scary holiday. It is tough to impose good health when you’re surrounded by treats. Depriving your child of everything that this scary holiday celebrates won’t score you any parenting points, so it’s important to keep a balance between having spooky fun and staying good health.

Trick or treating is hands down the best part of Halloween for a child. And let’s face it, you know candy is delicious. So what is a parent to do? Many parents try to limit their child’s candy intake by having them choose a certain amount of candy, some reserve candy to certain times of the day, or as reward for good behavior. All of these are great ideas, but it’s important that you know some candy is better than others. Instead of stopping them from sweets completely, why not just weed out all of the really bad ones? Here are the top four sweetest enemies:

Skittles. Skittles may want you to taste rainbows, but they are also letting you ruin your teeth’s enamel by combining sweet and sour for a pH level of 2.5, levels so high they can cause serious damage to your little one’s teeth. Some are sweet, some are sour; both are going to give them a toothache if over-consumed.

Caramel. Sticky candy is some of the worst for teeth and caramels are at the top of the list. Not only does the sticky texture stick to your teeth’s surface and loves to get deep into the crevices, but it can also loosen dental fixtures, like braces or fillings, making it especially harmful for those with dental work. Keep them away from caramel apples too. They may have a healthy treat underneath, but eating through the sweet candy is first.

Gummy Bears. Similar to caramels and other sticky candies, gummy candies could be considered the same type of animal, only fruity. The gelatin used to make the gummy candy gummy, also sticks to the crevices of your teeth, making it difficult to remove, even with a brushing or a quick rinse of water.

Jolly Ranchers. Arguably the most addicting candies ever created, Jolly Ranchers are probably enemy #1 for your teeth. Not only are they a hard candy that can damage teeth when bitten, but sucking on hard candy isn’t a quick process. It takes a while for hard candy to dissolve in the mouth, and the sugar wastes no time working their way into a tooth, causing cavity-forming bacteria to haunt your child’s healthy teeth. They may be a definite favorite, but for the sake of your child’s teeth, keep hard candy away from your little one’s precious smile.

It isn’t difficult to keep your child’s teeth healthy, even when holidays like Halloween come around. Practice good dental hygiene and keep a healthy diet and that smile you love so much will be just fine. Happy Halloween!

For more information about dental fillings or other aspects of general dentistry call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton proudly accepts patients from Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.

How Old Should My Child Be to Visit the Dentist? | Riverside Dentist

Boy brushing his teethAs a new parent, you are constantly wondering if you’re doing the job right. The last thing you ever want is to have something happen to your child because X, Y, or Z slipped through the proverbial cracks. One of these overlooked details is a child’s dental health. A survey commissioned by the Delta Dental Plans Association revealed that the average age children had their first dental visit was 2.6 years and 34% of children hadn’t seen the dentist at all. Oftentimes, we as parents think our child is too young or doesn’t have enough teeth to make it much of an issue. In actuality, children should start visiting the dentist any time between first tooth and their first birthday. Why, you ask? Well, an early start with a dentist will help alleviate any trepidation they may have about these visits throughout their lives. It can also be beneficial to get some basic knowledge as to how your child’s dental health should be handled at home so that there aren’t problems growing up.
So, what is the first step to getting your munchkin’s oral health in order? First, find a dentist. You can use your personal dentist or look for a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist is everything your dentist is, but has a couple more years of school so they are fully-equipped to focus on the specific needs of children. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when making the appointment? Setting it after your child has a good rest under their belt is ideal; fussiness is at a minimum and they are much more willing to be cooperative.
Once you have made their first dental appointment, the next step is to get your child into the idea of going. There are lot of ways to prepare your little one for this adventure. Learning about what will happen through books and other resources is fantastic help, but it is also great to give them a bit of a preview. Take them next time you have an appointment, or take turns roleplaying what the dentist will be doing poking around in their mouths. Having a dentist poking around with sharp tools is always going to be a scary thing for a tiny human. The more preparation you do, the smoother the experience will be.
On the day of your child’s first visit, expect to have lots of opportunity to ask any questions you may have. The dentist will go over your child’s history and give you a crash course as to what you can expect in upcoming months. A thorough examination of your child’s mouth will be done so the dentist can clearly distinguish any issues that may arise due to habits like thumb sucking, poor hygienic practice or diet. And, if necessary, your dentist or hygienist may clean your child’s teeth if stains are apparent and/or apply fluoride to prevent future cavities. Making sure your little one is comfortable is your first priority so be sure to bring things that soothe them, whether it be a little snack, a favorite toy or blanket. Keeping them happy will ensure you leave that first appointment ready and able to tackle any surprises that may hinder that sweet baby smile you love so much.

Riverside CA Dentist | Let’s Make Teeth Cleaning Fun!

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When it comes to general oral hygiene, always remember that consistency is key! However, we oftentimes find ourselves stuck in a constant struggle with children to get them to brush their teeth. If this is something that occurs whenever you try to help your little one, here are some tips that can make the process of teeth cleaning fun.

Start Earlier

Timing can be a huge thing in helping your child adjust to a normal cleaning routine. Sometimes children get crankier as time goes on. With that in mind, try to start your routine earlier in the day, perhaps a little bit after dinner. This will definitely improve their mood.

Brushing Together

Younger children love mimic what their parents do, so, take advantage of that habit by brushing your teeth alongside them.

Cleaning Teeth to Music

Music may play an important role in allowing your child to not only enjoy brushing their teeth, but sufficiently brush their teeth. Choose a song that is at least two minutes long, to ensure the brushing process is done in its full time, and then choose a song that your kid enjoys!

For more information about how to get your child to follow a teeth cleaning routine in order to prevent dental problems call Dr. Middleton in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 or visit www.gmdental.com.

Dr. Middleton of Riverside, CA also proudly accepts patients from Norco, Ontario, Eastvale, Murrieta, Fontana, and surrounding areas.

Dr. Oz Is Worried About Your Teeth. Should You Worry Too?

Mercury fillings have been a popular and controversial subject within the field of dentistry for a number of years. At our office, we rarely use amalgam (mercury) fillings on our patients. This is mainly due to cosmetic appearance and patient choice. However, using amalgam is a viable alternative for some people, and it does not pose a health threat. We found this interesting article, which appeared in Forbes magazine earlier this month, criticizing Dr. Oz’s ignorance of the underlying science of amalgam in dental fillings:

Mehmet Oz hosts a popular TV show that reaches millions of people.  He offers a constant stream of medical advice, and he is popular because he makes his topics sound dramatic, or exciting, or surprising, or all three.

US actor Mehmet Oz poses during a photocall fo...Dr. Mehmet Oz at the 52nd Monte-Carlo Television Festival on June 13, 2012 in Monaco. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

Unfortunately, Dr. Oz sometimes demonstrates a poor understanding of science.  At least I hope so, because he promotes so many outrageous treatments, with such enthusiasm, that the only other explanation I can think of is that he is simply a fraud. I don’t think that’s true, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that when he makes a mistake, he is simply ignorant of the truth.  His latest startling revelation is that the metal fillings in your teeth are very, very bad for you.  Or are they?

Last week, Dr. Oz hosted a show called “Toxic Teeth: Are Mercury Fillings Making you Sick?  The show looked at silver amalgam fillings, which contain a small amount of mercury chemically bound within them.  Mercury is indeed a toxin.  Should you worry?

One problem with taking a skeptical look at a Dr. Oz show is that he packs each episode with scientific claims, coming at you thick and fast, and it would take hours to critique them all.  Instead, I’ll just pick a few, which illustrate Oz’s lack of concern for accuracy, and his apparent ignorance of the underlying science about dental fillings.

Dr. Oz opens his show with a dramatic claim about mercury:

“This thermometer contains mercury,” he says, holding up a very small thermometer. “If I were to drop it, we would have to evacuate this entire studio immediately!”

Now, this is complete nonsense.  If you drop a mercury thermometer, you should carefully clean up the mercury, which beads up into nice little silver-colored balls.  No one in the room is in danger, unless perhaps they try to inhale it.*

This opening salvo should set off anyone’s skeptical alarm bells.  Here’s a guy who doesn’t seem to mind exaggerating to make a point.  Why trust anything he says in the rest of the show?  I suspect, though, that after watching this episode, thousands of Oz’s loyal viewers raced to the phone and made appointments to have the silver fillings in their teeth removed.

Dr. Oz continues his introduction by explaining that mercury is contained in silver tooth fillings.  No one knew, he claims, that mercury vapor could be released from these fillings, but this news:

“sparked a firestorm 30 years ago [here the show cuts to a graphic of a fireball exploding] when major news reports brought to light the potential TOXICITY of mercury fillings.  … Now there’s mounting new evidence showing mercury is released when you eat, and even when you brush your teeth.”

Quick, run to the dentist!  Get this toxic mess out of my mouth!

But hang on a minute.  Why aren’t people dropping like flies from the fillings in their teeth?  With little effort, I determined that, contrary to Dr. Oz’s statements, nothing new has been discovered lately about silver tooth fillings.  I found studies going back to the 1970s that shown that we’ve long known for decades that mercury is released from these fillings. But Oz ignores all these.  He even announces, a few minutes into the show, that

“for the first time ever, I’m going to show you what happens when you brush your teeth with mercury fillings.”

No, this is not the “first time ever.”  As a scientist, I find it worrisome that Oz seems quite comfortable claiming, incorrectly, that he’s the first person ever to tell the world about this.

Perhaps the most outrageous – and unintentionally funny – segment of the show is the “demonstration,” where Oz introduces an Oz-certified expert on mercury vapor, David Wentz, who has a gizmo that looks like it was built by a sideshow huckster.  The device is a plexiglass box that looks like it was meant to handle biohazards, with black rubber gloves that let you manipulate its contents.  In the box: a set of fake teeth containing… silver fillings!  And a toothbrush!

As he walks over to the device, Oz says “I work with Dave Wentz and his Ph.D. dad.”  This goes by really fast, so you would be excused for not realizing that Dave Wentz himself doesn’t have a Ph.D., and for not knowing whether he has any credentials at all.  Dr. Oz conveniently omits the fact that Wentz and his father run a highly profitable nutritional supplements company, USANA http://www.usana.com/dotCom/about/index, which happens also to donate money to Oz’s nonprofit corporation, HealthCorps.  Hmm.

Dr. Oz then reaches into the box, and while the audience watches in hushed excitement, he brushes the teeth, right on top of those silver fillings!  Right on cue, Wentz proclaims that the mercury vapor reading hits 61 in just a few seconds.

“Anything over zero is toxic,” Wentz proclaims.  “And we’re at 61.”
“Oh my goodness, 61!” Dr. Oz exclaims.
“That mercury is coming off the fillings, into your mouth, going across the blood-brain barrier, into your brain,” says Wentz dramatically.

Wow.  I’ve been brushing my teeth (which have several fillings) for years.  How can I not be dead?

As Dr. Oz should know, “the dose makes the poison.”  Even water can kill you if you drink too much of it.   Wentz is clearly wrong to say that “anything over zero is toxic.”

How much mercury is safe, then?

Teeth, a poemTeeth, a poem (Photo credit: Shakespearesmonkey)

According to the EPA, 0.1 micrograms of mercury per kilogram of body weight per day is safe.  For an adult who weighs around 150 pounds, that’s about 7 micrograms.  A 6-ounce can of tuna has about 20 micrograms of mercury, about 3 times the safe amount per day.  Scientists do have real concerns that mercury in tuna and other fatty fish might present a health hazard.

Dr. Oz’s device seemed to show that 61 micrograms of mercury were released from brushing teeth, which would be about 9 times the exposure that is considered safe.  Is there really a risk here?

Well, no.  The EPA has found that “nearly all methylmercury exposures in the U.S. occur through eating fish and shellfish.”  (Admittedly, though, this is not mercury vapor.)  The precise question that Oz claims to be explaining “for the first time” has been examined in multiple studies, and the evidence is that silver fillings are harmless.  (See the FDA summary here.)

A thorough scientific review in 2004 concluded that:

“The current data are insufficient to support an association between mercury release from dental amalgam and the various complaints that have been attributed to this restoration material. … Individuals with dental amalgam-attributed complaints had neither elevated HgU nor increased prevalence of hypersensitivity to dental amalgam or mercury when compared with controls. The findings of these studies suggested that individuals with complaints self-attributed to dental amalgam should be screened for underlying dental, physical, and psychiatric conditions.”

So no, there’s no evidence that mercury from silver fillings causes any health problems.  None.

But what about that device on Dr. Oz’s show, which showed 61 micrograms being released in just a few seconds of brushing the teeth?  My conclusion is that the device in Dr. Oz’s studio was either wildly inaccurate or simply fraudulent.  The setup was almost a parody of what real scientific instruments look like, and nothing about it gave me any confidence that it was reliable.  I would suggest to Oz that before making a claim like this, he should ask rigorously trained scientists to make the measurements using properly calibrated equipment.  A TV studio is no substitute for a real lab.

But wait: Mehmet Oz is a Professor of Surgery at Columbia University – he must know his science!  Plus he has an M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and he did his undergrad studies at Harvard.  By all appearances, he is a very smart guy.  If his show were about heart surgery – his specialty – it would no doubt be professional, accurate, and probably far too technical to attract an audience.

Here’s the rub: despite his credentials, Oz is not an expert on mercury amalgam fillings.  He probably could have read and understood the science, but he appears to be unaware, or too busy to  be bothered by, the many scientific studies on this subject. Had he done his homework, he might not have presented such a spectacularly overblown episode that seems intended to scare people into removing the silver fillings from their teeth.

So there’s no need to go out and get your silver fillings replaced.  It’s too bad that a highly educated surgeon like Mehmet Oz, with such a big audience, prefers to present wild exaggerations rather than telling people the truth.  Perhaps, though, the truth just isn’t that exciting.

*Note added on followup: Even swallowing is rarely harmful.  From J. Dodes: “Acute toxic exposures to  elemental mercury are rare but there have been cases of elemental mercury being accidentally released directly into the  bloodstream from broken rectal thermometers and when elemental mercury had been swallowed intentionally in an attempt at suicide.  In all these cases there was no long-term effects from the mercury.”  Dodes, JE.  The Amalgam Controversy:an evidence-based analysis.  JADA, 132:348-56, 2001.

The original article can be found at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2013/04/08/dr-oz-takes-a-big-bite-of-pseudoscience/2/