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The Anatomy Of A Tooth

March 19th, 2018

TEETH ARE A LOT more complicated than they might seem from the outside, which is why we’re using this post to provide a brief dental anatomy lesson. Now let’s dive right into the structure of a tooth! The easiest way to do this will be to divide that anatomy into two main categories: the crown and the root.

Something To Chew On: The Crown
The crown of a tooth is the part that is above the gumline. It consists of three layers. The outermost layer is the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be so that we can chew our food! However, enamel isn’t made of actual cells, which means it can’t repair itself if it wears down. Good brushing and flossing habits, regular dental visits, and avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink will help preserve that enamel for life.

Beneath the enamel is dentin, which is a lot like bone, consisting of living tissue that is calcified. It contains microscopic tubules that run from the pulp at the core of the tooth to the outer enamel. That’s why we can feel temperature in our teeth! If the enamel has worn down, that normal sensation turns into painful tooth sensitivity.

At the very core of each tooth is the dental pulp chamber. The pulp includes the blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and nerves that provide sensation — including pain receptors that let us know when something is wrong. If tooth decay becomes severe enough to reach the dental pulp, you will definitely feel it, and that’s a great time to schedule a dental appointment, if not sooner!

Beneath The Surface: The Root
The root is the long part of the tooth that connects to the jaw bone. Tiny periodontal ligaments hold each tooth in place, and gum tissue provides extra support. The roots are hollow, with canals that link the nerves and blood vessels in the dental pulp to the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

The main difference in the structure of the root compared to the crown is that the root lacks enamel. Instead, it is protected by a thin, hard layer of cementum. As long as the gum tissue is healthy and properly covers the root, the lack of enamel there isn’t a problem, but this is why exposed roots from gum recession are more susceptible to decay.

Let’s Protect Those Teeth!
Every part of a tooth’s anatomy is important to it staying strong and healthy so that you can use it to chew your food and dazzle everyone around you with your smile, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up a strong dental hygiene regimen. Keep on brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily, and make sure to keep scheduling those dental appointments every six months!

Thank you for choosing us to play a role in keeping your children’s teeth healthy!

Childhood Tooth Injuries

March 1st, 2018

Tooth Injuries

WHEN WE PICTURE the ideal childhood, we usually think of children playing on playgrounds and exploring nature with their friends. They discover the world around them, imagine fantastical worlds beyond it, play games, and make friendships that could last a lifetime. As wonderful as that image is, it often comes with bruises and scraped knees — and, sometimes, tooth injuries.
So what can parents do to minimize their children’s risk of tooth injuries while they play? It’s easy enough to remember a mouth guard during actual sporting activities, but sports games and practice aren’t the only situations that can lead to a lost or chipped tooth.

Home And Play Tooth Safety Tips
Here are a few simple tips for keeping your children’s teeth safe around the house and when playing with friends.

With babies and toddlers, the most common culprit for tooth injuries is the bathtub. Never leave a young child unattended in the bathtub, because they could easily slip and hurt their teeth.
When your child is playing with friends and using objects such as frisbees or balls, have a discussion with them about safety. Make sure they know how important it is not to aim for each other’s heads.
Using playground equipment like the monkey bars, jungle gym, and swings can easily lead to tooth injuries. Make sure to talk to your children before they start playing so that they will know to be careful.
Adult supervision and open conversations about safety are the most crucial components of reducing the risk of injury. By utilizing them, you could help your child avoid the need for major dental work. Just as important in that regard are their daily brushing and flossing habits and their regular dental checkups, because healthy teeth are harder to injure.

What To Do When Accidents Happen
While it is possible to reduce the risks of your child injuring a tooth, not all accidents are preventable. In the event a tooth does get knocked out or chipped, don’t panic. If the tooth isn’t already loose when it gets knocked out, and especially if it’s an adult tooth, try to put it back in place and come straight to the dentist. This will give it the best chance for reattachment.

If it isn’t possible to put the tooth back in place, the next best thing is to place it in a glass of milk to keep the root alive. In any case, bring your child to the dentist as quickly as possible. The faster you arrive at the dentist, the better the chances are of saving the tooth. Do not clean the tooth or put it in water! This will kill the root!

They Grow Up So Fast
Childhood never seems to last as long as we, the parents, wish it would. Our practice can’t make it last longer, but we hope this advice will help make it a little safer. If you have any questions for us about child tooth safety, feel free to ask or come see us. If not, we look forward to seeing you and your child at their next regular check-up!

Be careful with those teeth, but don’t forget to have fun!

Dr. Joana Lastres D.M.D
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist

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.

The Big Scoop On Tooth Sensitivity

January 23rd, 2018


IS YOUR CHILD GETTING a painful jolt through their teeth every time they try to enjoy a bite of ice cream or a sip of hot chocolate? If they do, then they’re familiar with the woes of tooth sensitivity, and they aren’t alone. Tooth sensitivity is more commonly a problem that affects adults, but children can have sensitive teeth too.

So why does this happen? Well, to understand tooth sensitivity, it helps to know about the structure of a tooth and how the different layers function.

The Anatomy Of A Tooth
The crown of each tooth is covered in a thin layer of hard enamel. Beneath the enamel is dentin, a bony substance with thousands of microscopic tubules running through it. These tubules are how the nerves in the pulp at the core of each tooth can detect what’s going on at the surface.

Causes Of Sensitivity
Most often, tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel wears away, which could be the result of teeth grinding, erosion from acid, or even improper brushing. Without enamel, the tubules in the dentin become exposed. Once that happens, eating or drinking anything hot or cold — sometimes even sweet or sour — will give the tooth a nasty shock.

Common causes of sensitivity in children are cavities and having a chipped or fractured tooth. Even if they’re keeping up with their brushing, accidents can happen when children play, and sometimes these result in damaged teeth. When that damage exposes the dentin, the teeth become sensitive.

How You Can Protect Your Child’s Teeth
If your child does have sensitive teeth, there are several ways to fight back. First, make sure they’re using a soft-bristled brush, because hard bristles may further damage the enamel. You can also switch them to a toothpaste specifically formulated for children with sensitive teeth. Finally, keep a close eye on their consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks and hard candies.

What Our Practice Can Do
Make sure to come to us if your child is experiencing tooth sensitivity, even if their next regular appointment is months away. We can strengthen their teeth with a fluoride varnish and help you select the right toothpaste to help with the sensitivity. We’ll also make sure there aren’t any other problems with their teeth!

We’re here to make sure your child’s smile stays healthy and strong!

Dr. Joana Lastres D.M.D
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist

Helping Your Child Trust The Dentist

January 3rd, 2018

EVEN THOUGH WE ALL know how important it is to go to the dentist, dental anxiety can make many people avoid crucial dental checkups. For some, dental anxiety starts in childhood and lasts a lifetime. How can we help our children start out with a positive mindset towards the dentist so that they will always seek the professional care and attention their teeth need as adults?

Be Honest But Avoid Negativity
The most important thing you can do for your child is to not make a trip to the dentist into an ordeal. Simply approach it as a perfectly normal part of staying healthy. Tell your child about an upcoming dental visit ahead of time so that it isn’t a surprise, and answer their questions about what dental appointments are like. Try to avoid scary words like “pain” and “shots,” and leave the detailed explanations of dental procedures to us.

One crucial thing to do even when there isn’t an appointment coming up is to never use the dentist as a threat. Saying things like, “If you don’t brush your teeth, you’ll end up at the dentist!” will only make a child think dentist visits are punishments — something to be feared and avoided. You can still encourage good oral hygiene habits without portraying the dentist as the boogeyman, like the way this video does!

Why do we Brush our Teeth?

Address Existing Sources Of Fear
If your child is already afraid of the dentist, you might have a little more of an uphill battle to fight, but it’s still a battle you can win! Communication is key. Talk to your child about why they’re afraid of the dentist and help them understand that it isn’t so scary. Lead by example and show them that you go to the dentist too.

Patience is also crucial. Even for adults, the idea of having a stranger poking and prodding inside our mouths while we’re lying in a vulnerable position can be unsettling, so imagine how that must be for a child who isn’t used to it. Make sure your child understands that dental cleanings will make their teeth feel great and that the dentist is on their team, helping them fight bad germs and tooth decay.

We Are Happy To Help
Sometimes, dental anxiety is too strong for these strategies to completely cure. That’s where we come in. Our team knows how to work with children to make them feel more comfortable, so don’t feel like you have to make them love us without our help!

We’re looking forward to helping your child’s smile stay healthy and bright!

Dr. Joana Lastres D.M.D
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist