Kids will be kids. They can get into a lot of mischief climbing trees, riding skateboards, and playing sports.
Although it's good for children to be physically active, fun and games can often lead to dental injuries, either by falling or getting hit. It can be stressful for parents who need to decide whether to take their child to the emergency room (ER), call their dentist, or treat the injury at home.
Pediatric dentist Wesley Odani, D.D.S., has some helpful tips if your child loses a tooth or gets a cut in the mouth:
When to go to the emergency room:
- If the lip, inside cheek or tongue is bleeding excessively and cannot be stopped after applying pressure with a gauze or cloth for 15 minutes.
- Fractured jaw and severe bleeding.
When to call your dentist immediately:
- When permanent teeth are knocked out. Find the tooth and make sure it's clean before inserting it into its socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on a piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, put it in a cup of water or milk. See your dentist immediately because time is critical in saving the tooth.
- If the tooth is broken.
- Severe toothaches accompanied by a swollen face. Do not place aspirin on the tooth or by the gum.
- If the bleeding after the baby tooth falls out doesn't stop after applying pressure for 15 minutes.
When it's not an emergency:
- Minor lip bruises.
- Slight bleeding of the gums. The bleeding should stop within 15 minutes of applying pressure to the area.
- Tiny chips on the edge of the teeth. See your dentist at a later time to fix the tooth.
- If a baby tooth falls out.
- Canker sores that can be treated with over-the-counter medicine. Canker sores should heal within one to two weeks. Call your dentist if they last longer than two weeks.
If you are self-conscious about missing teeth or wearing dentures, dental implants might be an alternative, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). “Dental implants are often the best restorative option,” says Lyle C. Yanagihara, D.D.S. Twenty years ago, missing teeth were replaced with fixed bridges or removable dentures. “Today dental implants are usually a better alternative for tooth replacement,” he says.
Decay, failed root canals, accidents, or gum disease often result in tooth loss. Although implants are not 100-percent successful, success rates in the mid to high 90 percent range are not uncommon, according to the ADA.
Dental implants are sterile titanium fixtures surgically placed into the jaw. The implant fuses with the bone in a process called osseo integration. The tooth, or prosthesis, is then secured to the underlying implant. “A successful implant needs to be completely housed within the bone,” says Yanagihara, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The treatment time from tooth extraction to tooth replacement can take as little as three months.
Fixed bridges are fabricated by sacrificing the adjacent, often healthy, teeth, Yanagihara explains. “Up to 30 percent of these supporting teeth fail in five to seven years. Accordingly, the restoration also needs to be replaced. Removable dentures simply rest on the gums and underlying bone. This can lead to bone loss, worsening the support for the denture. Denture instability can cause gum sores or embarrassing clicking while eating or speaking.”
Implant restorations have a surgical component and a restorative phase. A customized treatment plan is formulated to address the needs of the patient. Talk to your dentist if implants are a viable option for you, and check with your dental plan benefits.
Eating ice cream and shave ice are great ways to cool off during these hot summer months, but often these icy treats are ruined by the sharp pain they send through our teeth.
It is common to feel brief pain in your teeth when consuming hot or cold foods. We become sensitive to temperature when the underlying layer of our teeth, called dentin, is exposed. Dentin contains thousands of tiny, fluid-filled tunnels, called dentinal tubules, which lead directly to the tooth's pulp. These tunnels are exposed when enamel wears down or gums recede. Once the tubules are uncovered, extreme temperatures cause the fluid inside them to shoot back and forth to the pulp, resulting in sharp pain.
Many different factors wear down enamel or cause gum recession. Rigorous brushing or teeth grinding corrodes enamel and pushes gums back. Acidic foods such as lemons and colas also erode enamel, exposing tubules. Cracks in the enamel of a tooth or loose fillings leave dentinal tubules uncovered, and sometimes directly expose the tooth's pulp.
To prevent enamel erosion and gum recession:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and proper brushing techniques to clean your teeth.
- Always brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before bed or after consuming acidic foods.
- Rinse with fluoride mouthwash to block uncovered tubules.
- If necessary, wear a mouth guard while sleeping to prevent teeth grinding.
If the pain in your teeth becomes constant or unbearable, see your dentist, as this may be the symptom of a more serious problem, such as a cavity or gingivitis.
There are times when it's OK to butt out of your child's life. This begins even before they are born.
A recent study concluded that children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy are nearly three times more likely to become obese later in life. Research also shows that children whose mothers regularly skip breakfast while pregnant are 2.4 times more likely to be obese.
It is thought that, in both instances, children are deprived of proper nutrition while in the womb. Researchers speculate that these children then “stock up” on food after birth.
The study was done over a period of two decades. The risk of obesity by age 10 was higher for children whose mothers smoked – even during the first month of pregnancy. Obesity was defined by measurements of body mass index, total fat and lean mass.
Similar studies in Germany and Australia produced comparable results. The number of cigarettes smoked during pregnancy played a key factor. The 2002 German study concluded that 14 percent of children whose mothers smoked one to 10 cigarettes per day were obese. The number increased to 17 percent for those whose mothers had more than 10 cigarettes per day.
This trend is preventable. Do your unborn child and yourself a favor and make it your New Year's resolution to quit smoking. HMSA offers Ready, Set, Quit! to help members quit smoking and stay smoke-free. The program, designed to be convenient, flexible, and personalized to your individual needs, is available at no cost. To enroll, call (808) 952-4400 on O‘ahu or 1 (888) 225-4122 from the Neighbor Islands.
For people with diabetes, the holidays can be a difficult time to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and avoid extra pounds. Temptations are abundant, and it's hard to know how many calories and carbohydrates we're consuming during holiday parties.
One of the contributors to weight gain and out-of-control blood glucose levels is stress. We're more likely to make poor choices when we're stressed. Holiday obligations often mean getting less sleep, and that increases insulin resistance and makes us feel hungry. If exercise is a part of our healthful routine, it's often the first healthy habit we drop.
You can avoid this scenario with a little planning. Let go of the things you can't control and focus on enjoying the holidays healthfully. Here are a few helpful strategies:
- Stay physically active. Exercise generates extra energy, clearer thinking and more endorphins, the brain chemicals that make us feel content. If you don't have time for a full routine, do a condensed version.
- Eat every three to four hours. Purchase ready-to-eat roast chicken, salad in a bag, and other healthy convenience foods. Don't skip meals or binge on holiday goodies.
- Get plenty of sleep. Rest helps make us resilient.
- Plan your shopping and don't overspend. Spending time with others makes Christmas meaningful, not giving or getting expensive gifts. You'll find it easier to enjoy yourself if you don't have to worry about debt, and your loved ones will enjoy being with you.
- Know your limits. Listen to your body. Take time for yourself when you need it.