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Losing a Baby Tooth

June 19th, 2024

It seems like yesterday. There you were, comforting your baby through sleepless nights, soothing her with a dentist-approved teether, celebrating as that first tiny tooth poked through her gums. And now here she is running to show you that same tooth, wiggly, loose, and almost ready for the Tooth Fairy. Now what?

Be Prepared

Children normally lose that first tooth somewhere around the age of six, but a year or two earlier or later is not uncommon. If you ever took a business class, you might have heard of the inventory method called “First In, First Out.” Baby teeth operate much the same way! The two bottom front teeth, followed by the two upper front teeth, will probably be the first teeth your child loses. Once you notice some wiggling, let your child know what is going on and reassure her that it is a normal part of growing up.

What to Expect with that First Loose Tooth

Normally, baby teeth become loose when the pressure from the permanent tooth below gradually breaks down the roots of the primary tooth. If your child has a loose tooth, encourage him to wiggle, not pull. Typically, gentle wiggling is all that is needed to free a tooth that has lost most of its root and is ready to be replaced. Avoid pulling or forcing the tooth, because that can cause injury to the root area if the baby tooth isn’t ready to come out. Call our Los Gatos, CA office if you have any questions about loose teeth. Dr. Werner and our team also have suggestions if the baby teeth don’t become loose on schedule, or if they stubbornly remain in place even after the adult teeth have started to show up. One important note—if your child ever loses a tooth through accident or injury, call us at once. We might need to provide a spacer to give your child’s permanent teeth the proper time and space to come in.

Celebrate this Milestone with Your Child

The arrival of the Tooth Fairy is a familiar way to mark the occasion, and she can leave your child a note, a small gift, even a brand new toothbrush. Or explore other options!

If your child is fascinated by stories and traditions, learn about El Ratón Pérez (Perez the Mouse), a familiar tooth-collector in many Spanish speaking countries, or his French cousin, La Petite Souris (the Little Mouse). In other parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, children throw teeth on the roof, drop them in a glass of water, or hide them in a slipper. This is a great opportunity for you and your child to explore the world!

If your child likes science, look into books that explain the biology of baby and adult teeth in an age-appropriate way. You could print a chart of the primary teeth and take notes on each lost tooth as it makes way for the permanent tooth below. Or track her progress with photos showing the baby tooth, the gap left by the tooth, and the adult tooth as it comes in.

Losing that first tooth is an important moment for your child—and for you. Be prepared to celebrate another milestone together, and always feel free to talk to Dr. Werner if you have any questions about this new stage in your child’s life.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy While You Keep Fit!

June 19th, 2024

Whether you’re defending the goal, shooting hoops, or practicing tricks on your skateboard, sports and exercise are a great way to keep fit and healthy. Let’s make sure you keep your smile fit and healthy, too, with a few easy ideas you can use whenever you work out.

  • Eat Tooth-Friendly Snacks

Most activities use lots of energy. One simple way to keep up your energy when you’re on the go is with snacks.

And one simple way to protect your teeth from cavities when you’re working out? Cut down on snacks like dried fruits, granola bars, and chips that can have a lot of sugar and/or stick to your teeth. Sugary and sticky foods feed the bacteria in plaque, and plaque causes cavities.

There are lots of tooth-friendly choices when it comes to recharging your energy levels. Fresh fruit slices and vegetable sticks are an easy-to-carry, vitamin- and mineral-packed snack. Bring some peanut butter for dipping or add some plain nuts for protein and crunch. Whole grain crackers and hard cheeses are another tasty choice. And drink some water after snacking to rinse away food particles.

  • Drink Water When You Exercise

And, speaking of water, our bodies can’t work without it! Healthy hydration means drinking the right amount of water every day—not too little, not too much—to help every cell in your body keep going strong.

But when you’re working out, breathing harder, and sweating, your body is losing water. That’s why athletes always keep a water bottle handy.

Of course, you can hydrate with other liquids besides water, and flavored sports drinks and energy drinks are popular with a lot of people—but not with dentists! If you look at their labels, you’ll often discover lots of sugar in these drinks. And they can also be very acidic, which can make your tooth enamel weaker.  

Bring your own water, and you’ll be hydrating, protecting your teeth, and helping to keep the planet healthy with your reusable bottle.

  • Wear Your Mouthguard

You don’t play contact sports without protective gear—and part of that gear should be a mouthguard. Sports like hockey and football are obvious contact sports, but, if you think about it, baseball, soccer, biking, skateboarding, and many other activities can bring you into contact with another person, a piece of equipment, or the hard ground!

One way to make sure that any contact is easier on your teeth and mouth is to wear a mouthguard. You can get these ready-made, or in a kit which lets you mold the mouthguard around your teeth, or you can have one made at our Los Gatos, CA office, which will fit your teeth perfectly and provide the best protection (especially if you wear braces).

Keep your smile strong and healthy while you keep fit with these simple additions to your work out routine. And for even more good ideas for taking care of your smile, ask an expert—Dr. Werner!

Preventing Toddler Tooth Decay

June 12th, 2024

You do everything you can to protect your toddler with safeguards large and small. Installing that complicated car seat. Figuring out which sunscreen is best for delicate skin. Spending weeks childproofing your home. But all the work protecting your child is more than worth it because the rewards are so great. And one more everyday precaution that brings great rewards is protecting your toddler from tooth decay.

  • Start Early

The time to start your baby’s dental care is even before that first tooth arrives. Carefully wiping the gums with a clean, damp cloth after feeding gets your child used to the idea of brushing and removes bacteria that might irritate the gums as the teeth begin to erupt. As soon as those teeth arrive, gentle brushing with soft bristles will keep bacteria and plaque from causing tooth decay and gingivitis. We can recommend toothpastes formulated especially for toddlers and suggest the best ways to brush.

  • Mind The Menu

We know that sugary foods aren’t healthy for your toddler’s teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugar, and a sugar-heavy diet results in more of the bacteria and plaque which cause cavities. But sugar is not the only food that is not tooth-friendly. For example, foods like citrus fruits and juices can also be a problem. Acidic foods can actually weaken enamel after eating and leave teeth more vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria and plaque. We have suggestions for tooth-healthy snacks and the best times to brush after eating if you and your child indulge in a treat.

  • Don’t Misuse Bottles & Sippy Cups

Your toddler might still use a bottle at night or a sippy cup throughout the day. Juices and even milk contain sugar that increases the risk of cavities, and if your child goes to sleep with a bottle or cup, these liquids pool in the mouth overnight allowing bacteria to flourish.  If your toddler wants a drink at night or between meals, water is a much better option.

Those tiny teeth are important for so many reasons. They enable children to bite and chew efficiently, to pronounce sounds properly for speech development, and to save space for adult teeth so they erupt in the right place. Dr. Werner and our team recommend that your child visit our Los Gatos, CA office after the first tooth comes in, and always by the first birthday. We will make sure your toddler’s teeth are developing as they should be and suggest ways to keep them cavity-free. Your toddler’s healthy, beautiful smile is a reward worth protecting!

Common Wisdom Teeth Problems

June 12th, 2024

Have you ever wondered why people have wisdom teeth? These are a third set of molars that come in behind the rest of all your other teeth, usually during early adulthood. Scientists and anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth are a result of evolution, because our ancestors needed these extra teeth to handle their primitive diets. Nowadays, the average diet consists of fewer hard-to-chew foods, which renders wisdom teeth largely superfluous.

Most people begin to experience wisdom teeth pain between the ages of 17 and 25. Our ancestors nicknamed them wisdom teeth because they appeared at a time in life when we supposedly grew wiser.

If you’ve already had your wisdom teeth removed, you know how painful they can become if they aren’t taken care of promptly. If not, watch out for discomfort in the back of your mouth and let Dr. Werner know right away if you think your wisdom teeth are coming in.

In some cases, people do not experience any problems or discomfort with their wisdom teeth. These patients may keep their wisdom teeth intact if there’s enough room in their jaw to fit them properly. But this is generally not the case, so wisdom teeth can cause several concerns, depending on which direction they grow.

Common problems include:

  • Damage to surrounding teeth due to the pressure from the emerging teeth
  • Infection that causes the surrounding gums to swell and become painful
  • Tooth decay due to the lack of room to clean the teeth properly
  • Impaction (when the tooth is unable to break through the skin)
  • A cyst that may damage the jaw, the surrounding teeth, and nerves

If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed yet, there are many symptoms to watch out for when they begin to grow. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or stiffness in the jaw
  • Tooth irritation
  • Swelling of gum tissue
  • Crowding of other teeth
  • Spread of tooth decay or gum disease on nearby teeth

If you’ve noticed these symptoms, schedule an appointment at our Los Gatos, CA office. Don’t forget: This is a common procedure that will take some time to recover from. Allow your mouth to heal, and then you’ll be able to get back to a normal routine quickly and be free from pain!