Dental Care for Children: When to Start?

Dentist examining little boy's teeth in clinic

Good dental care for children begins the moment they’re born. 

Every stage of a child’s development is important, including their teeth. But as milk teeth don’t often appear for quite some time, and then take a while to develop, you might wonder when is the best time to make an appointment with the dentist and start dental care for children. And you might think there’s no real point in going to a children’s dentist during the early stages of tooth development, when baby teeth appear, since their teeth are going to fall out anyway, and be replaced by permanent teeth. 

Many parents don’t realise the importance of baby, or primary, teeth, in ensuring that a child is able to chew properly and so gets the nutrition they need, as well as helping with their speech development and making space for the permanent teeth that will eventually come. They’re also important for a child’s sense of how they look and feel about themselves. Baby teeth start to appear around six months after birth and can last for many years as permanent ones appear, and so children often have both types at the same time. 

This is why it’s vital to start good dental care for children at an early age, and it’s now recommended by dental authorities that parents take their child to a children’s dentist around age one but certainly no later than two years old, so that any potential problems with the development of teeth can be identified and rectified, before they become worse. 

First Trip to the Dentist

You don’t even have to wait until a child’s first or second birthday to take them to a children’s dentist — you can do it almost as soon as they are born and have no teeth at all. The dentist will examine the child’s mouth and advise on how to care for their teeth as they start to show — and how to deal with teething, which can be both distressing and painful for the child and their parents, as they might not know how to help their distressed infant. 

Generally, the bottom front teeth are the first to come through, typically anywhere from five to seven months, and are followed by the top front teeth a month or two later. The teeth either side of the top front teeth start to make an appearance at between nine and 11 months while those either side of the bottom front teeth begin to ascend around a month later. At around 12-16 months it’s the turn of the molars, or back teeth, while the canines, near the middle area , come through around 16-20 months and, finally, the second molars, between 20-30 months. 

That’s a lot of teeth to look after, and ensure they’re all coming in the right way and not causing problems. Perhaps surprisingly, though, many parents don’t take their young children to the dentist at all, according to one survey at least, and this puts them at risk for dental development problems and also tooth decay, given the high number of sugary foods and drinks many children regularly consume. 

Good Dental Care for Children at Home

Dental care for children starts with encouraging them to brush their teeth as soon as they are able, and making sure you have a child’s toothbrush, which will be smaller and have softer bristles, and a children’s toothpaste with a flavour they might like. As soon as the back molars emerge you can gently brush your child’s teeth with tap water; by the time they are two, fluoride toothpaste should be used, as this will help to prevent tooth decay from occurring. In some cases, your dentist might recommend that your child brushes with fluoride toothpaste before they reach their second birthday. 

Like everything with children, setting a routine is important and they should get into the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day — after breakfast and just before they go to bed. After they spit out the toothpaste, it’s advised that they should just leave it at that and not rinse with water, as it will wash away the fluoride and reduce the benefits of using it to help protect the teeth against tooth decay. 

Along the way, as your child grows, they will surely have lots of cuts and scrapes, as well as possible damage to their front teeth from falls. You can also talk to your dentist about children’s cosmetic dentistry to fix any issues that arise so their adult teeth look great and your child has a healthy sense of wellbeing.

If you’d like to talk about dental care for your child, our friendly dentists at The James Clinic are available for consultation. Make an appointment now and put your child’s dental health first. 

 

Laser Teeth Whitening and How It Works

Close-up portrait of a female patient getting a bleach treatment in clinic

We all want whiter teeth, and a dazzling smile, and teeth whitening using laser light is a great way to get it.

Teeth whitening is incredibly popular right now, as your teeth are one of the first things that people notice about you, and these days, many of us are doing all we can to make sure our teeth are as clean and white as possible, including getting laser and other treatments that will remove stains and give us a dazzling smile. But how does laser teeth whitening work, and is it something you could consider so that you get those amazing pearly whites you so desire?

Before teeth whitening in Ireland and many other places came along, people used a weak solution containing hydrogen peroxide to remove stains caused by foods like curries and drinks such as tea, coffee and red wine, and especially heavily staining cigarettes. Or they went to the dentist, where a stronger hydrogen peroxide solution was available. 

And indeed, today, you can get a professional teeth whitening kit from your dentist, such as that which The James Clinic provides, and use it at home with a mould that’s been specially aligned with your teeth and gums so that the fit is perfect and you get maximum results. If you have your teeth whitened at the dentist, they may use a special laser light to speed up the whitening process and achieve longer-lasting results. 

The Benefits of Laser Teeth Whitening

One of the primary benefits of laser teeth whitening is that, despite the name, it’s actually incredibly non-invasive, and apart from the whitening gel or other type of solution and the laser, nothing else is required and it doesn’t result in any irritation to the teeth or gums, or any bleeding. It’s a teeth whitening treatment that, with a qualified and experienced dentist, is both effective and incredibly safe to have done. 

The results of teeth whitening using a laser are almost immediate and noticeable after just one session, especially when compared to strips (which can be hazardous) or other methods that might take several weeks before you notice the whitening effect. If the teeth are badly stained and yellow, however, especially from years of heavy smoking that has left them coated with lots of tar, several sessions with a teeth whitening specialist may be required so they turn to a shade of white you’re happy with. 

Quick and Easy Teeth Whitening

Laser teeth whitening is also a painless procedure, and you won’t feel anything much while it’s being done. Plus, it’s quick, so you won’t be in the dentist’s chair all that long — most likely less than an hour. And because the laser light interacts with the hydrogen peroxide at the molecular level, making the process more powerful, it’s also a great way to deal with teeth that have yellowed due to age, making them much whiter and brighter and helping you to look younger. 

Once your teeth whitening specialist examines you after the procedure, to make sure your teeth and gums are fine, you’re ready to go and no special care or attention is needed — apart from your usual oral hygiene routine, which should include brushing your teeth at least twice a day and using mouthwash to prevent the buildup of plaque. You may have some mild sensitivity in the days after your teeth whitening session, but it’s also possible that you’ll have none at all. 

The results of your laser teeth whitening will be long-lasting compared to other methods — up to several years in some cases, if you look after your teeth well — and you can enjoy a great smile and increased self-confidence from knowing you look amazing. 

If you’re after a dazzling smile and would like to have much whiter teeth, contact The James Clinic today and we will be happy to discuss options that might be suitable for you.

What Are Wisdom Teeth Warning Signs?

Man with swollen jaw after professional removal of wisdom teeth

There are a number of wisdom teeth warning signs to look out for so that you can take immediate action and help prevent a painful episode. 

It’s believed wisdom teeth are something of an “evolutionary relic” from a time when our distant ancestors had much larger jaws and ate far rougher foods than we do, like roots and nuts that need a lot of chewing, and most of us have four of them at the back of our mouths, in the upper and lower jaws. They get their name from the fact that they’re usually the last teeth to come in and so you’re older by that time, and presumably a bit wiser too. 

It’s possible you have evolved to the stage where you might not have wisdom teeth at all, but most people’s genetics dictate that they will have them. And because we’ve all evolved to have much smaller jaws than our early ancestors, there’s less room in there for all our teeth, and wisdom teeth often come in at awkward angles and can cause a number of problems. This can give rise to several wisdom teeth symptoms that can be painful and distressing. 

If you suspect you may be having these symptoms, you’ll need to see your dentist straight away — and there’s no point worrying about the wisdom teeth removal cost, as it’s not all that much anyway, and may even be covered under your health insurance or other schemes. The priority is to ensure that wisdom teeth symptoms do not impact on your other teeth and lead to serious dental health problems. 

Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

As your wisdom teeth are coming in and pushing through the jaw, in a process known as “erupting“, you may notice some pain in the area. It’s possible it might go away, but if there’s not enough space for the teeth to come in and settle properly, the pain can increase. This is especially the case if they start pushing on other teeth because of a sideways angle they’re coming from or just because there’s no available place for them to grow into. If this happens, misaligned wisdom teeth can also press on bone and nerves and cause additional levels of discomfort and pain. 

It’s also possible that as wisdom teeth are erupting, infection occurs where they are breaking through the surface of the gums as bacteria get into the opening. This can result in tenderness and swelling in the area, as well as pain. Wisdom teeth themselves can become impacted, as existing teeth or the jaw bone block them from coming through; this results in a situation where they remain under the gums while continuing to develop, which includes the roots growing longer. An X-ray will show if this is the case, and it may be necessary to have an impacted wisdom tooth removed

Other Wisdom Teeth Symptoms

In general, you may suspect you’re having wisdom teeth symptoms if you not only have pain at the back of your mouth — either in the upper or lower jaw — but also have a bad taste in your mouth, which could be caused by food trapped by an impacted wisdom tooth because it’s difficult to clean. This can also cause bad breath, and additionally, if you have problems with your wisdom teeth, you may experience difficulty opening your mouth due to swelling of the gums or other issues. 

It’s important to get dental attention if you’re having any of these symptoms because if left untreated, they can result in damage to other teeth and additional infections, as well as cysts forming in the wisdom tooth sac in the jawbone. Wisdom teeth are at particular risk of decay, probably because they’re often harder to reach and clean, and this can additionally lead to gum disease due to a buildup of bacteria at the site.

Even if you’re not experiencing any wisdom teeth symptoms, you can help to prevent any from occurring by having regular, six-monthly checkups at the dentist and cleaning done so your dentist can spot any problems before they arise. 

If you have wisdom teeth concerns, the friendly dentists at The James Clinic can talk to you about them and schedule an examination to see if there are any difficulties. Contact us now and find out.

Common Causes and Solutions for Bad Breath

causes of bad breath

There are many causes of bad breath — here’s how to ensure yours is fresh and healthy.

Bad breath can be really problematic because you might not know you have it — how to smell your own breath? — but others surely might and may be too polite to tell you. It can linger on for ages, with you having no idea of your halitosis until someone finally dares to speak up and you’re mortally embarrassed.

Bad breath is such a widespread and persistent problem that it’s not unusual for most of us to have it, at any time and stage in our lives — the HSE estimates that up to 50% of people have halitosis for prolonged periods. If you want to know if your breath smells or not, there’s one simple thing you can do: just lick the underside of your wrist and after the saliva has dried, smell the area. If there’s no real smell, you’re fine, but if there’s an unpleasant odour, it’s a sure sign that your breath is not all that fresh and you may need to look at your dental care and hygiene

What Are the Causes of Bad Breath?

It’s obvious, but definitely worth saying: bad oral hygiene will almost certainly result in bad breath. With its warm and moist environment, the mouth is the perfect place for bacteria to thrive. If you’re not at least brushing your teeth regularly, you’re going to have a buildup of these microorganisms, which coat our teeth and love to feast on food particles — and release foul-smelling gas that’s noticeable to everyone as a bad case of halitosis.

It’s pretty common when you wake up in the morning to not have the freshest of breath, and for good reason: the mouth has dried out during the night because there isn’t all that much saliva, as you weren’t eating, and there’s nothing to wash away the bacteria that may be breaking down any tiny food particles and their unpleasant-smelling gas is produced and lingers. Many food and drinks can cause bad breath, too, as many of us who love pungent garlic and alcoholic drinks can attest. Smokers know the cause of their offputting breath. 

Other causes of bad breath include a number of medical conditions, including diabetes, bronchitis and sinusitis, as well as various medications, such as tranquillizers, nitrates used for heart conditions and chemotherapy. And it’s possible that if you’re on a low-carb diet or are fasting or crash dieting, you may also have bad breath because the body releases ketones during the process of breaking down fat, and they don’t smell all that great. 

What You Can Do About Bad Breath

The good news about bad breath is that it’s easy to treat and get rid of. It starts with ensuring you’re getting good dental care and hygiene, and if you’re not, you can always look online or elsewhere for your nearest dental hygiene services. Also, examine your teeth-brushing routine and see how long you’re doing it for, and how exactly you’re doing it. You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes — not just a quick brush that lasts a few seconds — and you should be using a toothpaste that has fluoride in it, as it will help prevent a buildup of certain bacteria. 

Don’t hold onto your toothbrush until the bristles are all bent over, on their last legs and really not effective at cleaning your teeth and perhaps harbouring bacteria too. You should aim to have a new toothbrush every two or three months. Mouthwashes can be antibacterial and also have anti-odour properties, so you may want to consider one of those — or your dentist might recommend one. A tongue scraper is also a good idea, as bacteria also reside on the rough surface of the tongue. Dentures should be taken out at night and cleaned once or twice during the day.

A solid oral hygiene routine will usually blast bad breath right away. 

Book an appointment at one of the three James Clinics today and benefit from top-level dental hygiene services that will have your mouth and teeth sparkling and leave no room for bad breath to develop at all. Make your appointment now