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When should a filling be replaced?

June 13th, 2024

There is no substitution for a natural healthy tooth. Dental fillings are intended to replace tooth structure and restore a tooth damaged by decay (a cavity) back to its normal function and shape. Silver (amalgam) and tooth-colored (composite) fillings last a long time, though they can develop decay when the integrity is compromised by open margins, fracture, or recurrent decay. In this blog, we discuss the signs and symptoms that indicate your filling may need to be replaced in order to prevent further complications.

Amalgam fillings are made of an alloy (mixed metals) that expands and contracts. They have no bonding properties, and so to place an amalgam filling, the hole in the tooth may need to be larger. Because of these two factors, fractures frequently occur. There are three types of cracks that are commonly associated. Craze lines are superficial with no treatment needed. Fractures extend along other parts of the tooth and may require a filling replacement or crown. Cracks extend toward the root and can require a root canal and crown or, if too severe, extraction.

A filing needs to be sealed to the tooth. If the seal between the tooth and the filling breaks down, food debris and bacteria can seep down under the filling and cause recurrent decay. If the decay is treated early, replacing the filling is adequate. If not, a crown and even a root canal may be needed. The biggest mistake you can make is waiting to do something about a broken or unsealed filling until it is painful. Doing this will only make the treatment more involved and often times more expensive.

Regular dental exams and X-rays are used to evaluate dental fillings. You will not be able to tell on your own when your fillings start to fail. Just as a car mechanic will change the oil, correct your alignment, or change your tires, a dental checkup will help you identify small concerns to fix as you go in order to avoid a critical emergency.

Pay attention to any bite or temperature sensitivity in teeth that have fillings. This can be an indicator for some of the problems listed above. You know your teeth better than anyone. Your observations are most valuable when evaluating a filling for replacement. If replacement is needed, know you are doing what is best to prevent future dental calamities and make an appointment to see Drs. Sacro and Quinones.

Dental Tips for Your Summer Vacation

June 5th, 2024

Summer’s here, and it’s time to enjoy a well-deserved break! But even though school’s out, please take a few minutes to learn some tips from Drs. Sacro and Quinones to keep your teeth and mouth healthy for a summer of great smiles.

Hydration

When you are active in warm weather, you need to keep hydrated. So choose your drinks wisely. Sodas and sports drinks can contain a lot of sugar, which encourages cavity-causing bacteria to grow. Water is always a healthy, sugar-free choice. If your tap water contains fluoride, you can even fight cavities while staying hydrated. One other benefit of hydration? It helps with saliva production, and saliva is a natural way to wash away food particles and bacteria while providing substances that help keep teeth strong.

Mouthguards

Biking, skateboarding, baseball, soccer—all great outdoor sports, but one fall or accidental contact can cause serious damage to teeth. If you have a mouthguard for school sports, don’t forget to wear it for summer activities as well. And, if you don’t have a mouthguard, now is a good time to think about getting one. You can use a ready-made guard, or we can custom-fit one especially for you. Talk to us about your favorite sports, and we’ll suggest ways to protect your teeth while you enjoy all the physical activities warm weather brings.

Vacation Plans

If you and your family are going to be traveling this summer, let us know! If you need any procedures at our Ferndale, WA office, we can plan them around your time away. It’s best to get any necessary work done before you travel, and we will be happy to work with your family’s schedule. When you are away, be sure to carry our number with you in case a dental problem comes up, and it’s always a good idea to travel with a dental emergency kit.

Sticking To Your Dental Routine

Unfortunately, the bacteria that lead to increased plaque and cavities never take a vacation. Keep up with your regular schedule of two minutes of careful brushing at least twice a day, and make sure to floss. Come see us if it’s time for an exam or a cleaning, or if you have any dental problems or concerns.

However you spend your summer, we hope it is filled with happy—and healthy—smiles!

Why Is My Child Getting Cavities?

May 29th, 2024

We want our children to have every advantage, including oral health. That’s why you encourage your child to brush twice a day. You keep the sugary treats to a minimum. You schedule dental exams and cleanings at our Ferndale, WA office.

So, how did your child get a cavity? What to do to prevent more tooth decay?

First, don’t feel guilty. Some people are more prone to cavities, even with diligent brushing and flossing. But to make sure children have all the advantages when it comes to preventing cavities, we have some tips which might improve their dental habits.

  • Better Brushing

Even for adults, brushing technique can be haphazard! Brushing’s not as effective without covering all the tooth surfaces (inside, outside, and molar tops), holding the brush at a 45° angle, gently brushing the teeth with small strokes, brushing for at least two minutes, and flossing between the teeth at least once a day.

Until children develop the motor skills to brush by themselves (around age six or seven), you can help by monitoring their brushing and flossing. If you like, you can use these four minutes a day for fun as well as dental care by playing music, awarding stickers, using an app with entertaining timers, or having your child mirror your brushing habits as you brush together.

And do make your child’s life easier with the right tools. Brush heads should be small enough to fit in little mouths comfortably, and bristles should always be soft. Floss, too, should be soft and flexible. Don’t forget to retire your child’s brush after three or four months—bristles start to fray and won’t clean effectively.

  • Sealing the Deal

Ask about dental sealants. This treatment provides a protective coating for your child’s molars. Cavities are so common in molars because the tops of these teeth are quite uneven. Food particles and plaque are trapped in grooves where brushes have a hard time reaching.

The sealant process is a simple and safe one. Healthy teeth are cleaned and dried, an etching solution prepares the tooth surface, a thin coat of sealant is applied, and the coating is hardened under a curing light.

Drs. Sacro and Quinones might recommend sealants when your child’s first adult molars erupt. Enamel takes a while to develop its full strength, so new molars are especially vulnerable to cavities. Sealants typically last from three to five years, and studies have shown a dramatic reduction in cavities when teeth are treated with sealants.

  • Fluoride Helps Prevent Cavities—in Two Ways!

Fluoride helps strengthen enamel in developing teeth. Because many communities have fluoride available in their water systems, your child gets the benefit of this natural mineral.

If you’re providing your child with fluoride toothpaste, you’re helping prevent cavities in the teeth, which have already erupted. The acids from oral bacteria weaken the mineral structure of enamel, which is the first step in forming a cavity. Fluoride helps repair weakened enamel in a process known as “remineralization.”

Drs. Sacro and Quinones can let you know the amount of fluoride that is right for your child, including how much or how little fluoride toothpaste to use, a prescription supplement if your water doesn’t contain fluoride, or the application of a fluoride treatment directly to your child’s teeth.

  • Avoid Tricky Treats

Some treats are much better than others. We’re not talking taste, though. When it comes to dental health, texture and time are more important.

When your child enjoys a plain chocolate bar, saliva helps wash away sugary food particles. Sticky candies and starches, like caramels and potato chips, are a “stickier” problem. They cling to enamel, providing lots of sugar as fuel for cavity-creating bacteria. Similarly, drinking a soda with lunch (not every day, of course!) provides a short exposure to sugars. Sipping sodas throughout the day is like bathing teeth in sugar for hours at a time.

To eliminate some of the treats bacteria love, choose snacks with an eye to how they affect teeth throughout the day, and teach your child to brush or rinse with water after eating.

  • Schedule Regular Dental Exams and Cleanings

Most children should be visiting Ferndale Family Dental twice a year, even during the baby teeth years. Drs. Sacro and Quinones will monitor your child’s primary teeth and developing teeth and bite. And a professional cleaning removes built up plaque that even the most dedicated brusher might miss.

If you have any concerns about cavities and their prevention, Drs. Sacro and Quinones will have suggestions tailored to your child’s individual needs. Us working together to make sure your child has a healthy, confident smile? That’s a partnership that will provide lifelong advantages!

Taking Care of Your Toothbrush

May 28th, 2024

One of the best ways to take care of your teeth is to brush them twice each day for two minutes each time. And brushing works even better when you take care of your toothbrush! Let’s look at some easy toothbrush rules to keep yourself, your teeth, and your brush healthy.

  • Don’t Share

You can share toys, or share games, or share stories—but don’t share your toothbrush! Germs can hide on your brush. If you have a cold, you don’t want to give it to others. And if your family member or friend has a cold, you don’t want to catch it! This also means that toothbrushes shouldn’t touch each other while they’re drying. Separate brushes are healthy brushes.

  • Keep Your Brush Clean

After you finished brushing your teeth, you might notice some toothpaste suds sticking to your brush—or even bits of the food you’ve just brushed off your teeth. Keep your brush clean by rinsing off all the toothpaste and food crumbs before you put it away. And it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before you brush to get rid of any germs which you don’t want to share with your brush—or your mouth.

  • Stand (It) Up Straight

Let your toothbrush dry standing up, with the bristle end on top. That way your brush can air-dry quickly.  Germs like to grow in dark, damp spaces, so don’t put your toothbrush in a case while it’s wet. If you take your brush to school or on a trip, make sure your brush is dry before you pack it away.

  • Don’t Keep Your Brush Too Long

After about three months, no matter how well you take care of your toothbrush, you’ll be needing a replacement. Bristles get worn out after weeks and weeks of brushing twice a day, and just can’t clean as well as they did when they were new.

  • Don’t Forget Regular Checkups

Regular cleanings at our Ferndale, WA pediatric dental office and exams with Drs. Sacro and Quinones will remove any plaque you missed and keep your smile clean and bright.

Keep your toothbrush to yourself, keep it clean, keep it dry, and don’t keep it too long—and you’ll help keep yourself, your teeth and your toothbrush in good health!

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