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Posts for category: Oral Health

TestingYourKnowledgeDoYourChildrenHaveGoodOralHealth

Ensuring that your children have good oral health is (or should be) the goal of every parent or caregiver. But how confident are you about this topic? The following true/false quiz will help you evaluate your expertise while learning more about keeping your child's teeth healthy.

Questions

  1. All children older than 6 months should receive a fluoride supplement every day.
  2. Parents should start cleaning their child's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
  3. Parents should start brushing their child's teeth with toothpaste that contains fluoride at age 3.
  4. Children younger than 6 years should use enough toothpaste with fluoride to cover the toothbrush.
  5. Parents should brush their child's teeth twice a day until the child can handle the toothbrush alone.
  6. Young children should always use fluoride mouthrinses after brushing.

Answers

  1. False. Check with your child's physician or dentist about your children's specific fluoride needs. If your drinking water does not have enough fluoride to help prevent cavities, parents of a child older than 6 months should discuss the need for a fluoride supplement with a physician or our office.
  2. True. Start cleaning as soon as the first tooth appears by wiping the tooth every day with a clean, damp cloth. Once more teeth erupt, switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush.
  3. False. Parents should start using toothpaste with fluoride to brush their children’s teeth at age 2. Only use toothpaste with fluoride earlier than age 2 if the child's doctor or our office recommends it.
  4. False. Young children should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is important for fighting cavities, but if children younger than 6 years swallow too much fluoride, their permanent teeth may develop white spots. Using no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride can help prevent this from happening.
  5. True. Because children usually do not have the skill to brush their teeth well until around age 4 or 5, parents should brush their young children's teeth thoroughly twice a day. You should continue doing this until the child can demonstrate a proper brushing technique.
  6. False. Fluoride mouthrinses have a higher concentration of fluoride than toothpaste containing fluoride. Children younger than 6 years of age should not use fluoride mouthrinses unless your child's doctor or our office recommends it. Young children tend to swallow rather than spit it out, and swallowing too much fluoride before age 6 may cause the permanent teeth to have white spots.

Learn More

If you feel you missed too many of the above questions, read the Dear Doctor article, “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”

By Larry Erwich, D.M.D.
October 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring  
FiveFAQsAboutSnoringandSleepApnea

Getting enough sleep is necessary for good health. We all know how energetic we feel when we are sleeping well at night. Yet, many of us do not feel rested, even after seven or eight hours of sleep. Let's answer some common questions about snoring and sleep apnea, problems that are often called sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD).

What is the purpose of sleep?
Scientists know we need sleep, at a particularly deep level, to be rested, but they are not sure why we need sleep. Sleep may have evolved as a way to conserve energy in the body, to conserve food supplies, or to reduce our risk during darkness. Sleep appears to give the brain a chance to store and organize its information and the body a chance to recuperate. Sleep studies have shown that in order to get the full benefits of sleep we need to sleep long and deeply enough to enter into a series of sleep cycles including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep.

What kinds of problems get in the way of the type of sleep we need?
There are eight main categories of sleep disorders, but the ones affecting the largest numbers of people are insomnia, SRBD, and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. SRBDs include snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is a serious health problem.

How do I know if I have OSA or another SRBD?
Often, your bed-partner will tell you that you snore. Chronic loud snoring is an indicator of OSA. To make a diagnosis your physician must take a thorough sleep and medical history. The diagnosis may then be confirmed by a study in a sleep lab.

What causes sleep apnea or OSA?
Snoring and OSA happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block airflow through your upper airway or windpipe. You may briefly awaken as many as 50 times per night because of these breathing lapses. These brief awakenings, called micro-arousals, keep you from reaching the deep stage of sleep your body needs.

What are the treatments for sleep apnea?
Treatments include CPAP therapy, in which patients wear a mask while sleeping. The mask pushes air through the airway, keeping it open. In Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) patients wear a device that moves the lower jaw forward, allowing more room for air to move down the airway. Oral surgical procedures and orthodontic approaches also have the goal of moving the tongue away from the throat. These are all treatments that can be carried out by a dentist who has training and experience in treatment of sleep disorders.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep disorders and their treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions.”

By Larry Erwich, D.M.D.
September 26, 2012
Category: Oral Health
LittleKnownFactsAboutBadBreath

More than 2,000 years ago, an ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine, devised a mouth rinse of herbs and wine to sweeten bad breath. This problem has been around a long time, and it is still a major problem for many people. According to some studies it is one of the three main reasons people seek dental treatment.

Here are some facts you may not know about bad breath:

  • Bad breath is sometimes called halitosis, which comes from the Latin halitus (exhalation) and the Greek osis (a condition or disease-causing process).
  • Chronic bad breath is usually caused by certain types of oral bacteria. These particular bacteria are present in about 25% of the population.
  • Bad breath has spawned a major industry in the United States. Americans spend nearly three billion dollars a year on gum, mints, and mouth rinses to sweeten their breath. About 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products.
  • Diseases in the oral cavity such as tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease can often cause bad breath. If either of these diseases are your cause for bad breath, treatment would be necessary to eliminate this problem.
  • The tongue is the most common location for bad breath. Bacteria are relatively sheltered on the back of the tongue, where they live on remnants of food, dead skin cells and post-nasal drip. These bacteria can generate volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are also found in decaying animal or vegetable matter. VSCs are known by an unpleasant rotten egg smell.
  • Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth (xerostomia). This condition affects millions of people and can result from smoking, alcohol or coffee drinking, and it is sometimes a side effect of medications. Another cause may be mouth breathing.
  • Halitosis can also originate in other parts of the mouth besides the tongue. These include inter-dental (between teeth) and sub-gingival (under the gums) areas.
  • When people are starving (and sometimes when they are dieting to lose weight), their bodies begin burning their fats causing their breath to develop the smell of ketones — which smell like acetone, similar to nail polish remover. If people are not eating or drinking the coating on their tongue increases as well, making VSCs more prominent.

At our office, we want to fight bad breath or halitosis by making sure our patients understand how to clean their teeth, gums, the back of the tongue, and dentures.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than just embarrassing.”

By Larry Erwich, D.M.D.
September 10, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tongue scraper   bad breath  
BadBreathTryaTongueScraper

Bad breath can have a serious impact on a person's social and business life. Americans are well aware of this fact, and spend nearly $3 billion each year on gums, mints, and mouth rinses in order to make their breath “minty fresh.”

Bad breath or halitosis (from the Latin halitus, meaning exhalation, and the Greek osis, meaning a condition or disease-causing process) can originate from a number of causes; but oral bacteria are the most common source. About 600 types of bacteria grow in the average mouth. If bacteria act on materials that have been trapped in your mouth, many of them produce unpleasant odors.

Most often, bad breath starts on the back of the tongue, the largest place in the mouth for a build-up of bacteria. In this area bacteria can flourish on remnants of food, dead skin cells, and post-nasal drip. As they grow and multiply these bacteria produce chemical products called volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs. These compounds emit smells of decay reminiscent of rotten eggs.

In addition to bacteria on the tongue, halitosis may come from periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, or other dental problems. If you have halitosis, it is thus important to have a dental examination and assessment, and to treat any such problems that are found. Treating bacteria on the tongue without treating underlying periodontal disease will only temporarily cure bad breath.

The next step is to take control of tongue bacteria by brushing or scraping your tongue, with possible addition of antiseptic mouth rinses. People who have bad breath have more coating on their tongues than those who don't, and regularly cleaning the surface of the tongue has been demonstrated to reduce bad breath.

Implements have been designed specifically for the purpose of scraping or brushing the surface of the tongue. Using a toothbrush is not as effective because it is designed to clean the hard tooth surface, rather than the spongy surface of the tongue. To keep your breath fresh, you must regularly remove the coating from your tongue. This means acquiring a tongue scraper or brush and using it every day.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tongue cleaning and bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tongue Scraping” and “Bad Breath.”

By Larry Erwich, D.M.D.
August 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
EndYourFearsandRelaxwithOralSedationDentistry

Studies have shown that as many as 75 out of every 100 people fear dental visits; and for 10 to 15 of them, the fear is so great that they never get treatment — leading to serious dental problems and worse. Untreated disease in your teeth and gums can negatively affect the health of your entire body.

How can you conquer your fears so you can get the treatment you need? The answer includes (a) working with us to overcome your fears and have a positive experience while undergoing dental treatment, and (b) using oral sedation or anti-anxiety medication to help you quell your fears and relax.

Overcoming Your Fears

People develop fear of the dentist when they have a bad dental experience themselves, or sometimes when they hear of a bad experience someone else has had. The more you are afraid, the more you feel the symptoms of fear, and the more you connect those symptoms with the experience. You need to stop this negative memory sequence and replace the feelings of fear and loss of control with memories of good experiences and feelings of being in control.

It helps to know that you are not alone in your fears and that you can do something positive about them. First, make an appointment to discuss your fears with us, your dental professionals. Start with small procedures that cause only mild anxiety, and give yourself adequate time to get over your fears.

Using Oral Sedation

You have already gradually reduced your fear through your discussions and previous appointments. When you are ready to go to the next step, consider using oral sedatives or “anxiolytics” (meaning that they dissolve anxiety) to help you feel relaxed and comfortable.

Oral sedation — so called because you take it by mouth — allows you to let your guard down and focus on feeling peaceful, yet you remain awake and in control. The medication is either placed under your tongue and dissolved there (sublingual) or swallowed whole. Since it is taken by mouth, it does not require an injection, so it is easily taken by people who are afraid of injections.

The oral sedative and anxiolytic medications dentists use have been subjected to rigorous research and testing and have a long safety record after decades of use.

By using this two-step process you can reduce your fears and begin to get the care you need. And we, your dental professionals, are able to work more efficiently because we can focus on the work at hand, knowing that you are comfortable and relaxed.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to talk about any fears you may have. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety” and “Oral Sedation Dentistry.”