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Shark Teeth

September 21st, 2022

It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in a dental blog?

Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.

One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.

An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?

After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.

Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.

Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally cause concerns about crowding and misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. Fortunately, treatment is generally uncomplicated.

If the baby tooth is loose, time (and wiggling) might take care of the problem. But if the primary tooth or teeth just won’t budge, even after several weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy—especially if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort.

An extraction is often suggested when a baby tooth has overstayed its welcome. Because of its smaller root, extracting a primary tooth is usually a straightforward procedure. Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy can let you know all the details, and can discuss sedation options if they’re appropriate for your child.

Whether baby teeth are left to fall out on their own, or given some assistance, most often your child’s permanent tooth will start moving to its proper position as soon as the space is available.

Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call our Surrey, BC office for expert advice.

Oral Health Tips: Travel Edition

September 14th, 2022

When you leave on a trip, you probably double-check that evrything’s ready: your clothes are packed, your ticket is handy, and your passport waits patiently on top of your bag or in a special pocket.

The same level of preparedness should apply with regard to caring for your oral health when you’re about to leave home for a while. Whether you’re jumping in the car for a weekend camping trip or flying halfway across the globe for a longer stint, the tips below will help you keep your teeth healthy whil you’re away.

Prepare Ahead of Time

The key to maintaining good oral hygiene during travel is preparation. Schedule a regular dental appointment so your teeth are freshly cleaned and ready before you leave. This can identify potential issues that might cause problems while you’re away.

If you have any items on a dental “to-do” list, such as wisdom tooth removal, replacement of a filling, or orthodontic adjustment, it’s a good idea to get those procedures completed before your trip.

En Route

If you’re stuck on a long flight or trekking far into the woods, you might find yourself where there’s no sink or even a toothbrush at hand. We speak for everyone when we say that nothing is worse than a mouth that feels, shall we say, less than fresh.

A lemon wedge or Granny Smith apple slice can help freshen up your breath when you’re in need of a quick fix. Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water can help to wash away bacteria that causes cavities and reduce that gritty sensation. If you’ve got toothpaste, put a dot on your finger or a damp washcloth to serve as a makeshift toothbrush.

Nowadays, travel-sized dental products are available at most grocery stores and pharmacies. You can find travel toothbrushes, mini mouthwashes, and pocket-sized floss to slip into your travel bag.

Colgate makes disposable mini-toothbrushes called Wisps that can help you freshen up when you may not have access to a regular toothbrush. Packing a few extra dental supplies may also be a good idea in case one gets damaged or lost.

At Your Destination

Traveling abroad can expose you to unfamiliar conditions. Some countries have compromised water sources that will make you extremely ill if ingested, even from the tiny amount of water with which you wet your toothbrush.

Minimize that risk and keep bottles of water on hand instead for rinsing your mouth and toothbrush. If your toothbrush comes in contact with contaminated water, swapping it out for a new one is the safest option.

Storing your toothbrush properly is necessary to prevent bacteria from growing on it. Place your brush in a Ziploc bag when you’re on the go and allow it to breathe once you get to a temporary destination.

Traveling near or far should be an enjoyable experience. Dental issues shouldn’t be a source of worry on your vacation. As long as you’re prepared and take precautions, your teeth can stay healthy even when they’re out of the country!

Of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Surrey, BC office.

Wrong Time/Wrong Place?

September 7th, 2022

In a perfectly predictable world, your child’s teeth would come in—and fall out—right on schedule, right in place. But life isn’t perfectly predictable, and teeth can erupt—or fail to erupt—in their own time and in unexpected places. Let’s look at a few of the ways your child’s teething development can differ from “typical” schedules.

  • Leaving So Soon?

Sometimes a baby tooth is lost early because of injury or decay. And baby teeth are important for more than creating an adorable smile. These little teeth help your child with eating, speech, and jaw development. And they serve another purpose as well—they are essential place holders for your child’s adult teeth.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, the neighboring teeth can drift into the open space. Adult teeth waiting to arrive will tend to erupt in any space left available, whether it’s the right space or not. This can lead to bite problems and misaligned and/or crooked teeth. Depending on your child’s age, and which and how many teeth are affected, your dentist might recommend a space maintainer.

Fixed space maintainers are attached to the lost tooth’s neighboring teeth to keep them in place. Removeable space maintainers resemble retainers, and are usually recommended for older children. Both fixed and removable appliances serve to keep the baby teeth spaced apart just as they should be, preventing neighboring teeth from shifting to fill the empty spot, and making sure there’s enough room for the adult tooth to arrive right on schedule and right where it belongs.

  • Hangers-On

Losing baby teeth too early isn’t the only punctuality problem that can arise with little teeth—sometimes baby teeth don’t seem to realize when they’ve worn out their welcome.

The roots of baby teeth are much smaller than those of adult teeth. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure breaks down the root of the primary tooth, leaving the tooth loose and just waiting to fall out.

Sometimes primary roots don’t dissolve, though, which means the permanent teeth will erupt beside those lingering baby teeth. The result is a double row of teeth. Because all these teeth in one small jaw can cause crowding and misalignment, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy when you see two sets of teeth where only one is welcome! This is especially true for older children, when the molars start erupting.

  • No-Shows

When a tooth fails to erupt at all, it’s called an embedded tooth. When a tooth is blocked from erupting, it’s called an impacted tooth. Factors like the jaw size, tooth size, genetics, trauma, and medical conditions can affect eruption.

There’s no perfect eruption schedule for every child. Even typical eruption charts provide a range of several months to several years during which baby teeth arrive, baby teeth are lost, and adult teeth appear.  But any time you have any concerns about your child’s tooth development, talk to Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy to see whether the situation will correct itself in time or whether treatment is recommended.

If the unpredictable occurs in your child’s teething schedule, working proactively with our Surrey, BC  dental team is the best way to create a lifetime of predictably happy, healthy smiles.

Why Is My Child Getting Cavities?

August 31st, 2022

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 Surrey, BC 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.

Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy 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.”

Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy 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 Just 4 Kids Pediatric Dentistry twice a year, even during the baby teeth years. Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy 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, Dr. Wendy Tang and Dr. Amy Bellamy 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!

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