E: brandermilldentistry@gmail.com | T: (804) 639-8338

Posts by alex

Dental Emergency Preparedness

HAVING A PLAN already in place can make a huge difference if an emergency comes up, and that definitely applies to dental emergencies like oral injuries. How do we plan ahead for unexpected injuries? That will depend on the particular situation.

A Baby Tooth Gets Knocked Out

In most cases, a baby tooth getting knocked out isn’t an emergency. We usually wouldn’t attempt to replant a baby tooth because doing so could create problems for the permanent tooth on its way. However, if the tooth wasn’t at all loose beforehand, it’s a good idea to at least give the dentist a call to get advice, and there might be other damage besides to the tooth.

An Adult Tooth Gets Knocked Out

If an adult tooth is knocked out in one intact piece, there is limited time (not much longer than an hour) for it to be successfully replanted by the dentist before the tooth dies. The faster you can get to the dentist, the better. You can give a knocked-out tooth its best shot by placing it back in its socket for the trip to the dentist’s office and holding it in place with a washcloth or gauze. If it won’t go back into the socket, you can store it in cold milk.

Make sure NOT to do any of these things with a knocked-out tooth:

  • Touching the root.
  • Letting it dry out.
  • Scrubbing it clean with soap, alcohol, or peroxide.

Doing any of these will kill the root and make the tooth impossible to replant.

A Tooth Breaks

If a tooth breaks, chips, or cracks in an accident, you should get straight to the dentist. Try to find all of the broken pieces and bring them with you in a glass of cold milk. It’s also safe to rinse your mouth with water.

No matter how minor a crack or chip seems, don’t just ignore it. A crack can function the same way as a cavity, giving bacteria space to grow until it reaches the pulp. The damage could reach the pulp chamber over time and lead to a tooth infection, abscess, loss of bone tissue in the jaw, and even risk an infection spreading to the bloodstream, which is life-threatening.

The Dentist Is Prepared for Patient Emergencies Too

Besides knowing what to do with a broken or knocked-out tooth, it’s also important to know where to go for help in a dental emergency. Give us a call to learn how our practice can help. We hope that you won’t ever be in a situation where you have to make use of this information, but it’s always wise to be prepared.

We appreciate the trust you place in our practice!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
When a Child Gets a Toothache

TOOTHACHES ARE NEVER fun, particularly for little kids who might not know what’s happening. They can be caused by a variety of things and are usually worth a visit to the dentist, especially if it’s still hurting after a couple of days, but what can parents do when a toothache comes during the holidays or after hours?

What Causes Toothaches?

For children, a toothache could simply be teething from a new baby tooth or adult tooth. This is a normal part of development. Otherwise, the most common reason for initial tooth pain is decay, but it can also happen with gum disease, dental abscess, inflamed pulp, or a cracked tooth. Impacted teeth can be painful as well, and tooth sensitivity can be very uncomfortable.

Toothache Remedies

It’s usually best to bring a child with a toothache to the dentist. If that isn’t possible at first, there are a few things that can help manage their discomfort until then:

  1. Rinsing and spitting with warm salt water will reduce inflammation.
  2. Applying a cold compress to their cheek near where it’s sore.
  3. Giving them children’s over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

How to prevent future toothaches? Brush and floss daily and schedule regular dental visits!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
What Is Toothpaste Made Of?

PEOPLE HAVE USED some form of paste to help keep their teeth clean since at least 3000 BC in ancient Egypt. Modern toothpaste first appeared in the 1700s and was usually homemade. A dentist first added soap to dental paste in 1824, and John Harris added chalk in the 1850s. 20 years later, Colgate began mass-producing toothpaste in jars.

A Little More Toothpaste History

In 1920, Dr. Washington Sheffield realized it was pretty unsanitary for a whole family to dip their toothbrushes into the same jar over and over, so he developed the collapsible toothpaste tube, inspired by artists’ paint tubes. After WWII, further improvements included emulsifying agents to replace soap, introducing fluoride, adding stripes, and adding whitening agents. Let’s take a closer look at the common ingredients in modern toothpaste.

Active Ingredient: Fluoride

The toothpaste ingredient we spend most of our time talking about is fluoride since it’s the active ingredient. It helps remineralize tooth enamel and protects against tooth decay. Toothpaste must contain it to receive the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Fluoride in Children’s Toothpaste?

Toothpaste containing fluoride is safe for young children if used in the correct amounts (a smear the size of a grain of rice up to age 3, the size of a pea from ages 3-6) and with parental supervision to make sure they spit it out.

Flavoring and Sweeteners

Flavors are the ingredients that make toothpaste taste good. They include sugar-free sweeteners like saccharin or sorbitol. The ADA won’t give its Seal of Acceptance to any toothpaste containing sugar. Children’s toothpaste is often fruity or candy-flavored, unlike the strong mint flavors we tend to prefer as adults.

Abrasives for Scrubbing

Abrasive ingredients (like calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, and dehydrated silica gels) help to scrub away surface stains and food debris. Abrasive ingredients are effective with soft-bristled brushes and gentle brushing, so make sure not to brush too hard because overbrushing can cause significant damage to teeth and gum tissue.

Detergents for Foaming

Detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate make the toothpaste foam while brushing so that the ingredients can effectively reach every tooth. (This one is why you rarely see actors brushing with real toothpaste on TV! It would foam and get too messy for their scenes.)

Humectants for Texture

Finally, humectants (including glycol, glycerol, and sorbitol) trap water inside toothpaste so that it doesn’t become crumbly and dry. It also helps it come out of the tube onto your toothbrush in a nice, smooth piece.

What about the actual toothpaste mixing process?

Let’s Find the Right Toothpaste for Your Child!

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for an effective toothpaste for your child, we’re happy to offer suggestions. We look forward to seeing their smile (and yours!) the next time it’s time for a checkup at our practice.

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
How Does Diabetes Impact Oral Health?

DIABETES (ANY TYPE) tends to make good dental health a much more difficult goal to achieve, and poor oral health also makes diabetes harder to control. More than one in five diabetics will develop a form of gum disease, which can take a toll on overall health if untreated and even become life-threatening if the bacteria reach the bloodstream.

Diabetes and Gum Disease

Symptoms of gum disease to watch for include swollen, red gums, chronic bad breath, gum recession, loosening teeth, and gums prone to bleeding. Diabetes makes these more likely as well as other problems like slower healing, dry mouth, enlarged salivary glands, fungal infections, burning mouth syndrome, and worse and more frequent infections.

What About Diabetes and Braces?

Gum disease can also be a challenge for orthodontic treatment, no matter what’s causing it. Parents of type 1 diabetic kids should be extra careful about controlling their diabetes and promoting good oral health habits. If they eventually need braces, they will then be in a good position to be able to go forward with orthodontic treatment.

Patients and Dentists Work Together for Oral Health

Diabetes makes it harder to maintain oral health, but not impossible. Good oral hygiene habits are essential, including daily flossing and twice-daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Regular dental checkups and cutting out excess sugar are also key!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
We’re Observing TMJ Awareness Month

AROUND 35 MILLION people in the US are affected by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ), which is why we’re observing TMJ Awareness Month. Our jaws get an almost constant workout throughout the day. We open and close our mouths over and over to talk, chew, and yawn. For most people, all of the anatomy in the joint works the way it should and these are all easy tasks to perform, but sometimes something can go wrong.

The Anatomy of the Jaw Joints

The hinge joint on either side of the jaw, located between the cheekbone and ear, has three components: the socket in the temporal bone, the ball at the top of the jawbone, and a small fibrous disk acting as a cushion between the two. The ball and socket are each covered in cartilage to make the movement comfortable and smooth.

If the fibrous disk shifts out of its correct alignment or erodes, if arthritis wears away the cartilage, or if the joint is damaged in a traumatic injury, the result could be TMD.

Common Symptoms of TMD

The symptoms of a problem with the temporomandibular joint often include:

  • A grating sensation when chewing, or clicking and popping sounds in the joint
  • Tenderness or pain in the jaw
  • Pain in one or both jaw joints
  • Painful or difficult chewing
  • Aching pain around the face
  • Pain in and around the ear
  • Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth

Quick Tips for TMD Relief

There are several things we can do at home to relieve TMJ discomfort:

  • Avoid extreme jaw movements when singing or yelling, when possible
  • Control yawns by pressing a fist beneath your chin
  • Stick to small movements while chewing
  • When resting, hold your teeth a little apart instead of fully closing your jaws. (This is the natural resting position of the jaw, whether lips are open or closed.)

How TMD Is Treated

Most cases of TMD are temporary and resolve on their own after a week or so, but not always. If your symptoms persist, and particularly if they get worse, then your jaw likely needs treatment. Treatments we may recommend include ice packs, exercise, moist heat, medication, and splints. If none of these helps, ultrasound treatment, trigger-point injections, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) would likely be the next steps. Extreme cases can be treated with jaw surgery.

Let Us Know About Your TMD Symptoms

If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed above, don’t leave the dentist out of the loop! Make sure to tell us about your symptoms when you come in for your regular appointment, and if that’s too far away, schedule one specifically to discuss them with us! We can discover what’s causing the problem and recommend the best steps to take next.

Let’s defeat TMD together!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Happy Halloween From the Dentist!

WHY IS SUGAR so bad for our teeth? Because harmful oral bacteria love to eat it, then excrete acid onto our teeth. Even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is very vulnerable to erosion by acid. That’s why dentists aren’t huge fans of sour, sticky, and hard Halloween candies.

The Worst Candy for Our Teeth

Hard candy is basically a slow sugar delivery system, bathing our teeth in sugar over time. Sticky candy brings the sugar directly to the bacteria on our teeth and gums. Sour candy eliminates the middleman by being acidic on its own!

Is There Any Mouth-Healthy Candy?

So what’s the good news? Chocolate! It contains flavonoids and polyphenols — compounds that slow tooth decay, limit oral bacteria, and combat bad breath. However, the more sugar in the chocolate, the more it cancels out the benefits. That’s why dentists like dark chocolate best.

If it’s a candy sweetened by xylitol instead of sugar, it’s definitely better for our teeth. This sugar-free sweetener actually hurts harmful oral bacteria! Candies containing xylitol are far from the norm now, but maybe that will change in future Halloweens!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
What’s Causing Caries in Childhood?

TWO OUT OF every five kids develop one or more cavity by the time they turn eleven. That makes dental caries the most common disease of childhood. The good news is that it’s very preventable when parents prioritize their kids’ dental health. We’re here to help you do that for your children by identifying the main culprits of childhood tooth decay.

Oral Bacteria Love Sugar

As much as kids love sugary treats, harmful bacteria living on the surfaces of their teeth love them even more. Oral bacteria eat any sugar that remains stuck to the teeth and excrete acid as a waste product. It takes about thirty minutes for saliva to neutralize these acids, so if a child is constantly snacking on something sweet, they’re giving their teeth a never-ending acid bath!

Parents can fight back by swapping some of those sugary snacks for options like sliced fruits and veggies or cheese. This isn’t just healthier for their teeth, but for their whole bodies!

Bottles and Sippy Cups Versus Oral Health

Sugary snacks aren’t the only problem; juice and soda are full of sugar and very acidic. Even milk isn’t sugar-free. Sugary drinks are particularly dangerous to a child’s oral health when they are able to sip on them over a long period of time, as that prevents their saliva from neutralizing the acid and washing away the sugar.

The risk of tooth decay from bottles and sippy cups is so high that it’s earned a few scary nicknames like “baby bottle tooth decay” and “bottle rot.” As with sugary snacks, we encourage parents to limit sugary drinks. We particularly recommend keeping them to mealtimes instead of letting your child carry them around in a bottle or sippy cup for hours. Water is a much better option for that.

Other Great Strategies for Parents

There are plenty of other ways to help your child keep their smile cavity-free aside from cutting back on sugar and limiting it to mealtimes. One is modeling good dental hygiene habits for them with your own brushing and flossing. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are also great, as is giving them an explanation about why brushing and flossing matter so much. You can also help make it fun for them by letting them choose a toothbrush they like.

One last tip is to avoid spreading oral bacteria by kissing on the mouth, sharing the same spoon, or cleaning off a dropped pacifier with your mouth. Any of these will introduce more types of bacteria into your child’s mouth.

The Dentist Is the Number 1 Fan of Your Child’s Smile!

Even when we do all the right things, kids are sometimes prone to dental health troubles for less controllable reasons like genetics or injuries. That’s why it’s so important to include the dentist when fighting for their cavity-free smile. Dentists have the training and experience to identify oral health problems early on and start fighting back.

We’re here to help you keep that sweet little smile healthy and bright!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
How Can We Guard Against Gum Recession?

MANY PEOPLE HAVE the idea that gum recession is only a concern for older people (that’s where the saying “long in the tooth” came from), but it can start at any age. While we can’t do anything about a risk factor like genetics, there are many we can control.

1. Avoid Overbrushing

Overbrushing is a major risk factor for both enamel erosion and gum recession. Brushing too hard can damage the teeth and the gums. It’s time to ease up if it only takes a few months of using a toothbrush before all the bristles are bent outward. Overbrushing is why we recommend soft-bristled brushes. It’s also important to floss gently instead of snapping the floss directly onto the gums.

2. Fight Back Against Gum Disease

Gum disease can destroy supporting gum tissue and bone around teeth as it progresses, which is what makes it the main cause of gum recession. Dental hygiene habits and limited sugar intake are the best ways to maintain good gum health. That means (gentle) daily brushing and flossing, along with prioritizing regular dental appointments.

3. Break the Bruxism Habit (or Protect Against It)

People with a bruxism habit are more likely to have gum recession, as the constant harsh friction from their teeth puts too much pressure on the gum tissue and can damage it over time. Kids are also vulnerable to many of these gum recession causes, as well as oral injuries.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
TikTok Is Full of Dangerous Dental Advice

TIKTOK ISN’T THE best place to go for dental health advice — unless your dentist is active on the app. We’ve seen a lot of worrying DIY dental procedures popping up recently, so now is a great time to nip those in the bud.

“Healthy Soda” Trend

There is no such thing as teeth-healthy soda. Even sugar-free soda is still full of acid (that’s where the bubbles come from), and our tooth enamel is highly vulnerable to erosion by acid. A recent trend on TikTok is the “healthy soda” trend, where people are mixing flavored sparkling water with balsamic vinegar to make a “healthier” soda alternative. In reality, they’re just mixing two acids together and bathing their teeth in them! That’s not something dentists can get behind.

Filing Down Teeth

Some TikTok videos show teenagers and young adults attempting to even out their smiles by taking a nail file to the chewing surfaces of longer teeth. This is a terrible idea because tooth enamel does not come back once it’s gone. Amateur tooth filing can end in fractures, tooth sensitivity, or infection, and the process itself will likely be very painful. As dental health professionals, we sometimes file teeth, but we have the training and tools to do it safely and not overdo it.

The “Veneers Check” Trend

An even worse trend in the same vein involves TikTok users filing their own teeth all the way down to pegs before getting crown restorations. This is extremely dangerous. It can lead to nerve damage and the need for root canal therapy or even cause tooth loss of previously healthy teeth. Even the name of this trend is part of the problem, as this kind of filing only happens before crown restorations, not veneers.

Home Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening

Some TikTokers have filmed themselves swishing 3% hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening. This is not a safe way to get professional whitening results on a budget, because it can cause gum irritation and long-lasting sensitivity. Anyone interested in whitening should ask the dentist for recommendations, which could be toothpaste, whitening strips, take-home trays, or professional in-office whitening.

DIY Braces

Another very dangerous TikTok trend is teens who try to correct their own crowding or bite issues using things like rubber bands. NEVER DO THIS. The best case scenario is that it won’t work. The worst is what happened to David Campbell, who unwittingly killed the roots of his two front teeth and had to get them removed when he tried to close the gap between them with rubber bands. We hope anyone tempted to try this will enroll in dental school to become an orthodontist instead (and get real braces for themselves in the meantime)!

Dental Health Is More Than a Trend

Anyone unhappy with the appearance of their smile (especially when their teeth are healthy) should speak to a dentist about professional cosmetic treatment instead of irreversibly damaging their own teeth. In the meantime, keep up with good dental hygiene habits like daily brushing and flossing.

Leave the cosmetic dentistry to the professionals!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Attention Parents: Follow These Teeth Tips

PARENTS CAN DO a few different things to give their kids’ smiles a healthy start.

1. Find an Effective Toothbrush They Like

It should have soft, polished bristles and be the right size for their hands and mouths, but otherwise, they might like one with their favorite cartoon character on it. Make sure to replace it when the bristles fray!

2. Prevent Cavities With Sealants

Sealants are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, particularly for kids with a history of tooth decay already. They greatly reduce the risk of childhood tooth decay.

3. Provide Teeth-Friendly Snacks Like Fruit and Cheese

Whole or sliced fruit is a great mouth-healthy snack because the fibers help scrub the teeth clean. Cheese is a good source of calcium and stimulates saliva production. (We need saliva for neutralizing harmful acids and clearing away food debris.)

4. Manage Expectations for Whitening Toothpaste

As much as we would all love having pearly-white teeth, make sure the teens know that whitening toothpaste only contains abrasives and polishing agents to remove surface stains, not deeper ones or white spots.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
123458Next