Posts for: October, 2017
Watching your newborn develop into a toddler, then an elementary schooler, a teenager, and finally an adult is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences there is. Throughout the years, you’ll note the passing of many physical milestones — including changes that involve the coming and going of primary and permanent teeth. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about children’s dental development.
When will I see my baby’s first tooth come in?
The two lower front teeth usually erupt (emerge from the gums) together, between the ages of 6 and 10 months. But your baby’s teeth may come earlier or later. Some babies are even born with teeth! You will know the first tooth is about to come in if you see signs of teething, such as irritability and a lot of drooling. The last of the 20 baby teeth to come in are the 2-year molars, so named for the age at which they erupt.
When do kids start to lose their baby teeth?
Baby teeth are generally lost in the same order in which they appeared, starting with the lower front teeth around age 6. Children will continue to lose their primary teeth until around age 12.
What makes baby teeth fall out?
Pressure from the emerging permanent tooth below the gum will cause the roots of the baby tooth to break down or “resorb” little by little. As more of the root structure disappears, the primary tooth loses its anchorage in the jawbone and falls out.
When will I know if my child needs braces?
Bite problems (malocclusions) usually become apparent when a child has a mixture of primary and permanent teeth, around age 6-8. Certain malocclusions are easier to treat while a child’s jaw is still growing, before puberty is reached. Using appliances designed for this purpose, orthodontists can actually influence the growth and development of a child’s jaw — to make more room for crowded teeth, for example. We can discuss interceptive orthodontics more fully with you at your child’s next appointment.
When do wisdom teeth come in and why do they cause problems?
Wisdom teeth (also called third molars) usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25. By that time, there may not be enough room in the jaw to accommodate them — or they may be positioned to come in at an angle instead of vertically. Either of these situations can cause them to push against the roots of a neighboring tooth and become trapped beneath the gum, which is known as impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth may lead to an infection or damage to adjacent healthy teeth. That it is why it is important for developing wisdom teeth to be monitored regularly at the dental office.
If you have additional questions about your child’s dental development, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Losing a Baby Tooth” and “The Importance of Baby Teeth.”
Root canal treatment can help save teeth that have become infected or inflamed. Our Billerica, MA, dentist, Dr. Kunio Chan of One Dental Care, discusses a few signs and symptoms that may occur if you need a root canal and explains what happens during the therapy.
Signs of infected or inflamed teeth
When an infection or inflammation develops in the soft pulp in the center of your tooth, you may notice that:
- Pressure causes pain. Pressing on the tooth or chewing on it can trigger pain.
- Pain never goes away. Whether you have constant or intermittent pain, pain may have become an unwelcome part of your life.
- Severe pain occurs suddenly. Sudden, severe pain may be a sign of an abscess, a bacterial infection in your pulp. Pain is often accompanied by a fever, swollen lymph nodes and facial swelling. In addition to a root canal, you'll also need antibiotics to ensure that the infection doesn't spread to other parts of your body.
- Temperature changes cause pain. Infected or inflamed teeth are often very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Your morning cup of coffee or nightly bowl of ice cream can cause pain that lingers for about a half hour.
- Your gums are swollen. Swelling in the gums around your tooth may occur if you need a root canal. If a small pimple forms on the gum, you may have an abscess.
- Your tooth has darkened. A color change may occur if you experience inflammation or infection in your tooth pulp.
How do root canal treatments help?
Root canal therapy eliminates the source of your pain by removing the pulp. Luckily, your tooth can function normally even if the pulp has been removed. After you receive a local anesthetic, your tooth will be opened to reveal the pulp. In addition to removing the pulp, the inside of the tooth and the root canals will be cleaned and shaped with a tiny file. After the tooth drains, you'll receive a flexible, rubber-based filling. In most cases, you'll need to return to our Billerica office a few weeks after your root canal therapy to receive a crown that will help protect your tooth.
Are you concerned about pain or symptoms? Call our Billerica, MA, dentist, Dr. Chan of One Dental Care, at (978) 667-0691 to schedule an appointment.
While lasers still seem like science fiction, they’ve been used commercially (and medically) for decades. But there’s still room for growth in practical applications with this developing technology. One promising area is in the treatment of periodontal (gum) disease.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection triggered by plaque, a thin film of bacteria and food particles caused by inadequate oral hygiene. The disease is highly destructive and can eventually lead to both tooth and bone loss. Treatment procedures vary widely, but they all have the same goal: remove the offending plaque and calculus (tartar) from tooth and gum surfaces. Without plaque the infection subsides and the gums can heal.
For decades now, dentists have removed plaque and calculus manually with special hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment. If the disease has advanced below the gum line or formed deep voids filled with infection called periodontal pockets, the dentist may also employ surgical techniques to access the infected areas.
While all these techniques have a long track record for effectiveness, they can cause the inadvertent destruction of healthy tissue, as well as create discomfort for some patients afterward. This is where a new protocol called Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP®) may be able to make a difference in the future.
With the LANAP® protocol, surgeons direct a laser beam of light through a fiber optic the width of three human hairs onto diseased tissue. The particular color of light interacts with the tissue, which contains the darkly-pigmented bacteria causing the disease, and “vaporizes” it. The beam, however, passes harmlessly through lighter-pigmented healthy tissue; as a result diseased tissue is eradicated with little to no harm to adjacent healthy tissue.
With these capabilities, trained dentists using LANAP® for gum disease treatment might be able to achieve conventional results with less tissue removal and bleeding, less discomfort for patients, and less tissue shrinkage than traditional procedures — and without scalpels or sutures. And some post-surgical studies have indicated LANAP® might also encourage gum tissue regeneration in the months following.
LANAP®, however, is still developing and requires further research. Thus far, though, the results have been encouraging. As laser technology advances, it’s quite possible tomorrow’s patient may experience less discomfort and more effective healing with their gum disease treatment.
If you would like more information on gum disease treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Gum Disease with Lasers.”