Your Childs First Visit

your childs first visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends your child’s first dental visit is by his/her first birthday. Though this may sound early, we can teach you proper pediatric oral hygiene techniques, ways to check for cavities, and how watch for developmental problems.

Your child’s first visit with our office is essentially an introduction to acquaint your child with their new dentist and our practice. Usually this first interaction includes the introduction of the child to Dr. Michelle Wilkerson (our pediatric dentist), her dental assistant and the instruments used to clean your child’s teeth. They will “take a ride” in our “elevator chair” while Dr. Wilkerson does a gentle, thorough examination, preforms a teeth cleaning, oral cancer screening, takes x-rays (if necessary) and concludes with a fluoride treatment. During this time, Dr. Wilkerson will also go over the proper brushing techniques and home care.

Patience and calm on the part of the parent and reassuring communication with your child are very important during the first visits to the dentist. Short, successive visits are meant to build the child’s trust in the dentist and the dental office, and can prove invaluable if your child needs to be treated later for any dental problem. Most of all, we want to make sure your child has positive experiences at our office and will be a regular visitor for years to come.

Your child won’t keep his or her first set of teeth forever, but that doesn’t mean those tiny pearly whites don’t need conscientious care. Maintaining your child’s dental health now will provide health benefits well into adulthood, as primary (baby) teeth serve some extremely important functions.

For one thing, primary teeth serve as guides for the eruption of permanent (adult) teeth, holding the space into which these new teeth will erupt. The crowns (tops) of the permanent teeth actually push against the roots of the baby teeth, causing them to resorb, or melt away. In this way, the adult teeth can take their proper place.

What’s more, your child’s primary teeth will be there for most of childhood, helping your child to bite, chew and speak. For the first six or so years, he or she will be relying on primary teeth exclusively to perform these important functions. Until around age 12, your child will have a mix of primary and permanent teeth. You will want to make sure those teeth stay healthy and are lost naturally — when it’s time.

Please give the office a call today to schedule your child’s first dental visit. We look forward to meeting you and your family!

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X-Rays.. Safer than they’ve ever been!

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Dental professionals today are increasingly using digital dental radiographs (digital X-rays) to better detect, diagnose, treat, and monitor oral conditions and diseases. Digital radiographs are viewed instantly on a selected computer screen, manipulated to enhance contrast and detail, and transmitted electronically to specialists (if needed) without quality loss.

One of the biggest advantages of digital x-rays is early detection of dental concerns. Digital radiographs reveal small hidden areas of decay between teeth or below existing restorations (fillings), bone infections, gum (periodontal) disease, abscesses or cysts, developmental abnormalities and tumors that cannot be detected with only a visual dental examination. All of these findings can be detected and treated promptly with use of x-rays, in turn saving the patient time, money and discomfort.

There has been controversy and misunderstanding about the level of radiation that patients are exposed to in order to make these images. Cone beam digital images may be made in various sizes with the larger size images requiring more radiation than the smaller images. Digital dental radiographs require very minimal radiation.

As an example, observe the following data from Journal of the American Medical Association; Lancet; and the American College of Radiology (Quoted in TIME June 25, 2012)

One chest x-ray equals the following:

  • 1,400 dental radiographs (These are the small dental radiographs with which you are familiar. Cone beam requires several times more radiation, but it is still very small).
  • 240 five hour flights
  • 70,000 back scatter airport scans
  • 19 years of smoking a pack of cigarettes per day

Dental x-rays, in fact, are one of the lowest radiation dose studies performed. At your dental hygiene appointment, once a year the hygienist updates 4 bite wing x-rays, showing in between the teeth. These 4 radiographs are about 0.005 mSv (radiation released), which is less than one day of natural background radiation. It is also about the same amount of radiation exposure from a short airplane flight (1-2 hours).

Try not to worry so much about the radiation.

Trust your dental practitioner to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of providing a radiograph for you.

Dental Hygiene Month Continues!

Untitled design (1)One of the first things people will notice about you is your smile. We are here to help you achieve the best first impression you can give to others. Healthy teeth affect nearly every aspect of our lives, even our professional image. However, many people are neglecting to take care of their smile during the workday.

The people you work with every day are very likely to notice your smile as one of the first impressions they have of you, and having bad breath can be bad for business! Did you know that most office workers are eating twice or more a day at the workplace, while just a few are brushing or flossing every day at work?

All of the extra meals, snacks and sugary beverages on the job can cause an increase bacteria and plaque. This can increase the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque and food build up needs to be removed periodically throughout the day, especially at times when we are consuming more food and beverages, like when we are at work. If plaque is not removed efficiently or periodically enough then it can build up and harden into tartar leading to gum irritation, gum disease, tooth detachment and ultimately, tooth loss.

Regular dental hygiene visits can help keep you on track. Visiting your hygienist every 3, 4 or 6 months as needed keeps your smile and teeth strong and healthy, catching things early. Another way to stay ahead of the plaque and bacteria build up on your teeth at work is by keeping an extra toothbrush, mouthwash and floss at the office. Keeping them in a handy easy to get to location will help make it easier to remember to brush and floss during the work day. And just think you may inspire one of your coworkers to do the same!

-Teresa & Eileen
Members of the Leicester Dental Hygiene team

National Dental Hygiene Month

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Did you know that this month is National Dental Hygiene Month? As hygienists, we encourage you to pursue your best possible oral health. Promoting good oral health and maintenance is what we’re all about. Poor oral health can lead to pain, difficulty eating, and loss of self-esteem. An unhealthy mouth can contribute to many systemic diseases.  As former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said in 1993, “You are not healthy without good oral health”.

Here’s some great news: it’s not rocket science!  The most common oral diseases, decay and gum disease, are driven by bacterial plaque.  Regular, thorough plaque removal minimizes your risk of oral disease.  There are four important things you should be doing on a daily basis to avoid decay, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (gum disease).

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day, each time for two minutes.  Thirty seconds is not enough to remove plaque build-up.
  2. Floss every day!  Your toothbrush bristles are too large to reach plaque and food debris in between your teeth.
  3. Rinse with an ADA approved antibacterial mouthwash.
  4. Chew sugarless gum after meals.  Why?  The chewing actions helps increase the flow of saliva which reduces plaque acid, thus strengthening the teeth and reducing tooth decay.  DON’T chew gum if you suffer from TMJ or any type of jaw pain!!

We love this quote and wanted to share it with you: “ A well-made turtleneck sweater will keep you warm and cozy and protected from the cold.  Your gums do the same thing for your teeth”. Think you don’t have time?  Think again!  With practice, flossing takes about one minute.  Rinsing takes 30 seconds.  The cost is minimal.  The savings of both time and money can be substantial!  If you have any questions about self-care routines, ask us at your next hygiene visit.  We are happy to provide answers and instruction.  We love talking to you about this stuff!

-Andrea & Rod
Boylston Dental Hygiene Team

Why white fillings? Dental amalgam isn’t safe.

silver vs whiteIt has come to our attention that some insurance companies are not paying for tooth colored composite restorations. Instead, they have been paying for the less expensive silver amalgam restorations and balance billing you the difference. Generally, this has resulted in a 15-20% increase in the cost of the procedure to you our patients. For the following reasons we have not offered silver amalgam restorations for the last 20+ years within our dental practices.

Silver amalgam restorations require us to create mechanical retention in a tooth in order to make them stay in place. After the decay is removed from a cavity we then remove sound tooth structure to create undercuts in the tooth allowing for the retention of the material once it has hardened. With composite filling materials, we need only to remove the decayed tooth structure and then use bonding agents to hold the filling in place. With our current bonding agents, we can restore a tooth to nearly its’ original strength and minimize the removal of healthy tooth structure.

Silver amalgam is a cold condensed metal and neurotoxin. All cold condensed metals expand over time. Expansion of the filling can lead to fracturing of an otherwise healthy tooth structure. At certain levels, this neurotoxin can also cause neurological issues, autoimmune disease, chronic illnesses and mental disorders. Composite restorations exhibit no expansion over time and thus cause no increased risk of tooth fracturing.

Third and most concerning to me is the presence of mercury in silver fillings. Currently there is a bill before Congress, which would require the phasing out of the material over the next five years due to the mercury in the fillings. According to the Center for Disease Control, there is no health risk associated with the silver mercury fillings. According to the EPA, removal of silver fillings from patient’s mouths causes a release of the mercury in the fillings and has made dental offices the third largest producers of mercury waste in our water supply.

It doesn’t seem logical to me that the mouth is a safe area to store this material. A licensed hazardous waste carrier must take any leftover silver amalgam material from a dental procedure away from the office. All silver being removed from the mouth must also be recaptured by special filters and hauled by the hazardous waste carrier.

Finally, the silver amalgam restorations turn black and unsightly in a short amount of time. The composite tooth materials can be made to match your teeth and create a healthy smile for many years.

When silver amalgam fillings were invented in 1866, they represented a great advance in dentistry. We now have many safer alternatives to offer our patients. In fact, Scandinavian countries took action back in 2008 and banned the use of amalgam fillings for environmental and health reasons. It is unfortunate that insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind when they decide what they will pay for. As is typical of corporate America, the bottom line drives decisions. If we can answer any questions regarding this issue, please feel free to ask any of our staff members.

Welcome to the Official blog of Leicester Dental Associates and Boylston Dental Associates!

We at Leicester and Boylston Dental Associates are always thinking baout your smile, but we’ve realized that most people aren’t thinking about their oral health unless they’re experiencing pain or have a dentist appointment coming up!

We started this blog to give you information on how every day activities can have an impact on your teeth, and how you can make small changes to ensure a happy healthy smile at your next cleaning. So please read on and we hope you enjoy!