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    Original Content

    Does My Child Need Braces?

    - Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club, answering a question I get asked a lot by parents, and that is, does my child need braces? The answer to that question typically is no, because they put the word need in the sentence.

    You only really need orthodontia or braces for two reasons. Number one is loss of function. When I say loss of function, let's say you can only chew in one or two spots. Your teeth only touch in one or two spots. Well then, that becomes very difficult for the child to chew their food completely and can lead to easily choking.

    If you only touch on one side or a couple spots, then that can lead to your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ as it's commonly known, having a lot of pain and dysfunction there. Another one is development of speech patterns. If your child is unable to form words clearly, and you've taken them to tutors in speech and they still can't get them to speak clearly, maybe the teeth are misaligned.

    The teeth and or jaws are misaligned such that the tongue and the lips, cheeks, can't help the child to form the words correctly because the teeth are so out of alignment. So, number one would be dysfunction. Dysfunction in the speech, dysfunction in the chewing, dysfunction in the joints associated with the jaws. Number two would be, kind of, just a social inhibition.

    If your child can't really interact well socially due to the nature of their teeth being so misaligned, teeth and/or jaws being so misaligned that they don't feel confident interacting socially. And if it inhibits them getting a job when they turn to teenagers, and usual teenage jobs are customer service, sales, that kind of thing.

    Nobody should be discriminated against, but it's the first thing people see. And so, if it really keeps them from being able to get employment and to interact socially with their peers, then that might be another reason that you wanna do that. So just the two main reasons that you would absolutely need braces is the dysfunction and the social problems that come along with the teeth that are misaligned.

    After that, if you have a, after that, it's pretty much up to you. You have a scale, one to 1-0. 10 being perfectly straight teeth and zero being teeth that are completely, ultimately crooked and misaligned. If your child is an eight on that scale, well, what do you do? Well, it's completely up to you. I have had patients that are a six on that scale, and they and their children choose not to do any orthodontia at all. I've had patients on that scale that are a nine, and the parents and the children have decided to go ahead and do the orthodontia. So, it's really up to you.

    There are other small cosmetic concerns, straighter teeth are a little bit easier to clean. You can clean teeth that are not perfectly straight. So there's just a few other concerns. But really it's a cosmetic issue, up to you. I have put all of my children through braces, I went through braces myself, my wife did as well. So it's definitely something that can help make you feel more confident in your smile, but to absolutely need braces, the pool of those people is very small. So decide with yourself, relatives, family, whatever the case may be, whether orthodontia is right for you.

    Should I Take My Kid to a Pediatric Dentist?

    Dr. Jim Ellis fills us in on if we should be taking our kids to a pediatric dentist.

    - Dr. Ellis for Oral Care Club, answering a question that we get all the time, and that's pediatric dentists? Do I need to take my child to a pediatric dentist, or can I simply take them to a general practice dentist? The answer to that is yes, and I will explain. Most children that don't have an overly hyped up fear of the dentist, and just need a cleaning, a filling, a simple extraction for a baby tooth that just won't leave, a general practice dentist is just fine. General practice dentists are completely licensed and capable of doing that kind of thing.

    Pediatric dentists are fantastic for the special circumstances. I, myself, have taken my own daughter to a pediatric dentist, and I will explain that as well. If your child is very fearful, whether, just, that's their personality, or they've had trauma in the past with medical situations, or whatever the case may be, then a pediatric dentist is great, because they are capable of sedating your child. Whether, just a small bit, or all the way to completely unconscious. Pediatric dentists have that extra training that general practitioners do not, to sedate your child. And, that is a fantastic use for the anxious child.

    Also, if your child has special health situations, whether cardiac problems, or deformities in cleft lip and palate. Whatever the case may be, if there's any kind of special circumstances that's also a great place for your child to go. Root canals is another thing, your child needs a root canal on a tooth, a baby tooth is not the same as a permanent tooth, that's also a great circumstance to take your child to a pediatric dentist, because there's a little more, there can be a little more specialty in that situation. My child fell, hit their front tooth on a piece of furniture.

    Big abcess under the nose, the lip. My child did not want me to come within 10 feet of them with a needle and a drill, and so I took my own child to a pediatric dentist, she was sedated and it was a fantastic experience and my child doesn't remember anything. So it worked out very, very well. So that's the thing, is you have to understand, that for the everyday routine things a general dentist is great. The pediatric dentist can come in if there's a little more something that needs to be done.

    If you have a question on whether your child fits into the pediatric dentist or the general dentist category, first tip would be to go to your general dentist. And then ask them if they feel capable and confident and then gauge their response and then see if they would like to send you up to the pediatric dentist level. So pediatric dentists are a fantastic resource when needed, but for the general things, for the everyday routine things, a general dentist would do just fine for your children. Have a good one.

    Mr. Bacon's Toothpaste

    Dr. Jim trys out a weird new product, and the results are in. Did I mention bacon?

    - Hey there, Dr. Ellis for Oral Care Club doing another product review today, and I'm always looking for newest stuff, latest and greatest things that we can review here to let people know before they go out and spend a lot of money on what really works what really doesn't work. This one might be more just a fun one. The other day, I was in the store, and I found this. Mr. Bacon.

    There he is, Mr. Bacon. Cute-lookin' little guy, right? Well, it turns out that Mr. Bacon has his own toothpaste. So, Mr. Bacon's Toothpaste, bacon-flavored toothpaste. So, I decided, "Why not?" I bought it, looked it up. Everything in here is valid as far as toothpaste goes. All the ingredients are what needs to be in a toothpaste. It doesn't have any fluoride. So, those of you who don't like fluoride in your toothpaste, or want to prevent the little kids from swallowing a lot of toothpaste that they shouldn't be, this might actually be up their alley.

    So, I decided to go ahead and try it out and see what it's, see how it tastes because I guess that's the big thing with Mr. Bacon's Toothpaste is it's supposed to taste like bacon. So, if it doesn't taste like bacon, then you really don't want it because that's what you're aimin' for. So, Mr. Bacon. Mr. Bacon. There we go. So, we got this out of the tube. We're going to open the tube here and squirt some out, and we're gonna, it tastes like I have bacon in my mouth with toothpaste. So, if you like bacon-flavor, I highly recommend this. This is the way to go.

    Like I said, everything the toothpaste needs to have in it, and it tastes just like bacon. You can get this at Accoutrements, you might have to look that up, I'm not gonna spell it, but accoutrements.com has your bacon-flavored toothpaste. They also have bacon-flavored floss, bacon-flavored gum, bacon-flavored mints. So, you want bacon in your mouth all the time?

    Accoutrements.com is the place that is on the box that says that it's the place that this comes from, but bacon-flavored toothpaste, it really does taste like bacon.

    What Age Should My Child Go To The Dentist?

    - Dr. Ellis for Oral Care Club here answering a question that a lot of parents ask, which is, when's the first time I bring my little child in for a checkup? Well, unfortunately for little kids, they are pretty scared of the doctor.

    And even though I am just a doctor dealing with the mouth, they don't know the difference and they look at the environment that they're being brought into, they look at the scrubs that the assistants and the dentist is wearing, and they assume that it's the doctor's office.

    Typically, when children are young, doctor's office means shots, means swabbing the throat, getting throat cultures, that kind of thing. The doctor's office is usually not a very fun place for little kids, so they're very scared.

    What we typically wanna do is wait til the kids are about 3 1/2 years old before we get them into the dentist for the first time. Couple reasons for that, number one is the one I just talked about, is that that gives them a little more age to kind of calm down a little bit. I have five kids myself, I know that 3 1/2-year-olds might not be the calmest things in the whole world, but it helps, it's a little older than the two, 2 1/2, three-year-olds.

    Second of all is the fact that their teeth haven't really had a lot of opportunity to get into the problems that adults have. Most adult cavities come in the fact that the teeth are touching, and we don't floss. 98% of mankind has the problem with not flossing, and so the teeth touch, and we don't floss, and that's where we get most of our cavities. Well, in your little kids, they get those two front teeth, and they're just sitting there by themselves with a nice space in the middle.

    You can take a toothbrush or a warm washcloth and you can completely clean all the way around those teeth. They get a couple more teeth in, still, very cleansable. So, that's one of the things is, you don't need to get your child in as soon as the first tooth pops up, because it's really easy to clean that. You keep that clean all the time. You're pretty much in control of the child's diet.

    We all know that our teenagers will go off to the store, or the pop vending machines, whatever, and get sugar that we don't really want them to get. But your child, hopefully, you're in control of their diet, so you keep the sugars away and you clean their teeth really good, and then you shouldn't have much problem. But about 3 1/2 years old is the first time we recommend children coming in. And what we recommend at that stage is that they come in with their parents, and we put the child in the corner and watch their parents get their teeth cleaned.

    So they can see that their parents lay back, get their teeth cleaned, sit up, nothing sharp, nothing pokey, parents didn't cry, none of that happens. We then put the child in the chair and just brush the child's teeth, and give them a prize, and tell them they did a fantastic job. And so they then learn that this is a different office than the regular doctor's office.

    So, when do I bring my child in, typically 3 1/2 years old. There are always exceptions, obviously. If the teeth come in and they don't look right, or something is starting to develop early, or your child falls and breaks a tooth, they're obviously exceptions. But as a good rule of thumb, about 3 1/2 years old is a good time to bring your child in for the first time if you're doing a good job cleaning them at home and controlling the sugars that they are ingesting.

    I'm Grinding My Teeth, What Should I Do?

    - Dr. Ellis here for Oral Care Club. Talking about grinding your teeth. "What do I do, Doc? "I'm grinding my teeth and breaking "my teeth or rubbing my teeth flat "so my teeth are flat and then "I can't really grab into stuff. "I can't really chew through my steak.

    "What do I do?" If you grind at night, it's very difficult because you're doing it subconsciously, and you can't very well change something that is subconscious in nature. So, grinding at night is something very difficult. Grinding during the day is something that's a little easier, because we can do all kinds of behavior modifications.

    We set alarms on watches or whatever the case may be, to help you stop that habit you have. But, if you're grinding at night time, which is the focus of this video, basically what we do for people is we put them in a night guard. And it's a night guard that's specifically designed for grinders.

    The problem is, is that when you grind your teeth, if you think of the gears, the gears in a machine, the gears in a watch, the way they get their traction is they have the teeth on the gears and the teeth on the gears interact and they push.

    Well, if you take the gears of a watch or a machine, and you put them against a flat surface, they can't get any traction, this, they can't exert any power, any force. At night, when you grind your teeth, what you're doing is you're taking all the cusps, the grooves and the lumps and the bumps on all your teeth and you're putting them together. And that, in itself, is not necessarily that bad, but it's then when you go to turn, it's then when you go to force and it's the teeth on the teeth grinding against each other that then will break your teeth or grinding the teeth flat.

    So, what you need to do is, we put, we recommend, night guards for people, specially designed night guards that we make here at my office, and any dentist can make them at their office, that fit very snuggley so that the grinding won't knock them off and there's no problem with choking in the middle of the night. But, that also has a flat surface so, they can be on the top or the bottom so that when your teeth come into your night guard and you go to push, that you then, the teeth just slip off.

    And so, you're not getting any traction. Some of these night guards can be several hundred dollars a piece. But, breaking your tooth leads to root canals, crowns, which can cost thousands of dollars. So, getting a night guard is a much cheaper option, rather than breaking your teeth. So, if you find some way of being able to stop grinding your teeth in the middle of the night when you're not aware of what you're doing, please let us know here at Oral Care Club because we would love to know.

    However, short of that, go ahead and get yourself a night guard that's got a flat surface, top or bottom, and that way, when you grind at night you're grinding on the plastic. Every couple of years, depending on how heavy of a grinder you are, you just need to replace that plastic piece. And then that will prevent you from breaking and/or stressing out your other teeth, so that you can avoid all the kinds of sensitivities and problems that come with that.