Category Archives: Children’s oral health

Should I Use a Mouthwash?

People use mouthwash for a variety of uses, from freshening breath to preventing tooth decay. Swishing daily with mouthwash can help you maintain great oral health by killing the germs and bacteria that linger in your mouth and between your teeth. Here are a few pointers about mouthwash and how it might help to improve your overall oral health.

Mouth washWhat is mouthwash?
Mouthwash or mouthrinse is an oral hygiene product that you can
use in addition to brushing and flossing.  Generally, these oral rinses are classified as cosmetic, therapeutic, or a combination of both.

Cosmetic mouthwashes can remove oral debris, temporarily suppress bad breath, and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. In addition to these benefits, therapeutic mouthwashes—including antiseptic, anti-plaque, and anti-cavity formulas—include ingredients to protect against oral disease. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouthwashes can kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath, while anti-cavity formulas use fluoride to prevent and reduce tooth decay.

How do I use mouthwash?
First, make sure that you brush and floss your teeth well. Your teeth should be as clean as possible in order to reap the full benefits of your mouthwash.
Once you’re ready to rinse, measure the proper amount as specified on
the container, or as instructed by your dentist. With your lips closed and your
teeth apart, swish the liquid around your mouth. Many formulas suggest swishing for 30 seconds or more. Finally, thoroughly spit the liquid from your mouth. If you’re using an anti-cavity mouthwash, do not rinse, eat, or smoke for 30 minutes after use.

Does mouthwash have any side effects?
Side effects may vary, depending on which formula you use. If you experience
any irritating or adverse reactions to mouthwash, immediately stop using it
and speak with your dentist. Most anti-cavity rinses contain sodium
fluoride, which can lead to fluoride toxicity if taken excessively or swallowed. Because children tend to swallow mouthwash accidentally, they should not use anticavity formulas before age 6, and children older than age 6 should use them only with adult supervision.

Forgot to Floss? It’s Not Too Late!

You know you need to floss everyday…but you forgot the last week. So why bother flossing now?

Flossing techniquesFlossing daily helps control tartar build-up on your teeth. Plaque is continually developing on your teeth which causes cavities and gum disease. By flossing you remove the colonies of bacteria and germs so they don’t accumulate quite so long. Even flossing two or three times a week helps. So it’s never too late to start flossing.

No time to floss? It doesn’t have to be right before bed. You can floss in the morning, or anytime during the day. Keep the floss by your favorite chair so you can do it when watching TV. It’s more important to do it, rather than what time of day it is done.

The proper technique for flossing is important also. Make sure to form a “c” around your tooth and bring the floss up and down on the sides of the teeth, not just between the teeth. Do your gums bleed when you floss? By using the “c” technique, you will prevent the floss from cutting the gums. The bleeding may also be caused by inflammation from the accumulated bacteria. It should go away within a week or two of regular flossing.Plastic floss holder

Everyone, including kids should floss.  Does arthritis or a lack of dexterity keep you from flossing? Try using a plastic floss holder.  Do you have a bridge or braces?  Use a floss threader.  Just keep on flossing!

Pacifiers – Beware of Their Problems

Baby with pacifierPacifiers can be great for children, especially during their first six months.  In addition to its calming effect, pacifier use in infants can help decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and aid in the development of jaw muscles.  Although pacifier use is generally a healthy habit within the first two years of life, continued or improper use may ultimately have a negative impact on your child’s oral and overall health.

Potential pacifier problemsOlder child with pacifier

Pacifier use typically is acceptable after an infant is 1 month old and has had sufficient time to develop a healthy breast-feeding habit.  However, experts recommend that children stop using pacifiers after age 2, when it becomes more of a habit than a developmental need.  Research shows that continued pacifier use, especially after age 2, often is associated with:

  • Increased risk of middle ear infection
  • Improper growth of the mouth
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Dental cross bite and/or open bite
  • Development of a thumb-sucking habit

Parents should aim to rid children of their pacifier habit before age 2 to avoid associated emotional and habitual attachments to the objects.

Tips for correct pacifier use

For infants, correct use and care of pacifiers must be considered. Here are a few tips:

  • Purchase orthodontically designed pacifiersOrthodontic pacifier
  • Clean pacifiers regularly
  • Check frequently for cracks or discoloration in the pacifiers’ rubber. Discard if damaged
  • Replace old pacifiers
  • Wash pacifiers prior to first use
  • Do not tie pacifiers around your infant’s neck
  • Offer pacifiers after and between meals, before naps, or at bedtime

Following these basic rules will help ensure your infant’s pacifier use is both safe and healthy.

Proper pacifier cleaning

The shape and materials of pacifiers make them susceptible to colonization by bacterial organisms, including Staphylococcus, which causes staph infections.  To prevent the spread of bacteria and disease, clean your child’s pacifiers at least once a day.

They can bSoap and watere cleaned using mild soap and water.  When cleaning pacifiers, make sure to remove all excess water from the nipple, where it can collect and cause bacterial growth.  Also, pacifiers that are dishwasher safe can be cleaned easily in the dishwasher; just follow the instructions on the pacifier package.

Saying goodbye to the pacifier

For some infants, giving up the pacifier can be difficult, especially if theyMother rocking child become emotionally attached to the habit.  Parents looking to wean their children from the pacifier can begin by offering other alternatives, including:

  • Rocking motions, singing, or music before naps or at bedtime
  • Activities and games
  • Toys

To further help break the pacifier habit, parents also can:

  • Limit pacifier use gradually over time
  • Reduce pacifier satisfaction by piercing the pacifier’s nipple
  • Dip the pacifier in a safe but undesirable flavor, such as white vinegar
  • Go “cold turkey” and refuse to offer the pacifier.

If you have more questions or want more information regarding pacifier use, talk to your child’s pediatrician or Dr. Marinic.

Dental Plaque – The Enemy to Our Teeth

Infant smilingIt’s important to keep you and your children’s teeth clean and healthy, and you can help do this by teaching them how to reduce the amount of plaque on their teeth.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria-containing film that accumulates on teeth, plaque on teethespecially in places where toothbrushes can’t reach.  Many of the foods that we eat cause the bacteria in the mouth to produce acids.  Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque, but starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also can cause acids to form.

How does plaque affect the mouth?

Image of plaque on gumsPlaque produces bacteria that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding.  Consistent plaque buildup can cause tooth enamel to wear away, which will result in cavities.  Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth eventually can harden into calculus or tartar.  This makes it more difficult to keep the teeth clean.

When tartar collects above the gumline, the gum tissue can become swollen and may bleed easily.  This is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.  You can prevent plaque buildup and keep teeth cavity-free by regularly visiting Dr. Marinic, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and cleaning between the teeth with dental floss daily.

How can I reduce the plaque on my teeth and my child’s teeth?

The best way to remove plaque is by teaching your child to brush his or herParent and child brushing teeth teeth, just like you do, for at least two minutes twice per day.  Brushing removes the plaque from tooth surfaces.  Be sure to show your child how to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and instruct them to use a proper circular motion when brushing teeth and gums.  Make sure to teach your child to brush the tongue as well; this removes bacteria and freshens breath.

Mother and child flossing togetherYou can teach your child to remove plaque from between his or her teeth by using floss once a day.  Start flossing between your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch each other (after 1 year old).  Your child should continue to floss as they grow older so that it becomes part of their oral hygiene routine.  In addition to brushing, daily flossing is essential for preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

How can my child and I maintain good oral hygiene?

Lead by example and practice good oral hygiene yourself!

Teach your child about the importance of good oral hygiene, and be sure that you and your child brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice per day.  In addition to brushing, you and your child should floss at least once per day.

Further, be sure that you and your child go to Dr. Marinic’s dental office for cleanings and checkups.  Getting you and your child’s teeth cleaned regularly can help prevent gum disease, remove tartar and plaque buildup, and eliminate stains that regular brushing and flossing can’t.  Dr. Marinic also can examine you and your child’s entire mouth and detect issues early—before they become bigger, more painful problems.

Athletes and Their Oral Health

Sports equipmentWhether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, protecting your mouth, face, head, and neck should be a priority when you participate in your favorite sport or activity.  Taking the appropriate protective measures while on the court, field, rink, or ring can save you from serious injury and costly dental repairs.

What sports pose a threat to oral health?

Any sport that presents the chance of contact or collision with anotherColliding person, object, or surface can potentially cause injury to the teeth, jaws, and oral soft tissue.  These sports include, but are not limited to, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, boxing, and lacrosse.  Individuals who participate in sports, such as biking, inline skating, or skateboarding, also are at risk for injury.

How do mouth guards protect my mouth?

Mouth guard in hockey playerA custom mouth guard made by Dr. Marinic covers the upper teeth with a soft, flexible material that prevents serious injuries, such as broken teeth, jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage, and neck injuries, by decreasing the chance of the lower jaw jamming into the upper jaw or being pushed back into the temporomandibular (jaw) joint.  Mouth guards also are effective in preventing laceration (cutting) and bruising of the lips and cheeks.  Mouth guards may reduce the severity and incidence of concussions as well.

What other types of protection do I need?Hockey players equipment

Helmets are very important when participating in sports that involve speed and impact.  Properly fitted helmets can prevent major head injuries, as well as facial and neck injuries.  Helmets should always fit well and be fastened correctly.   For certain sports, other protective gear, such as facemasks and body pads, also should be worn.

What do I do if I experience trauma to my mouth?

If you experience an injury to your mouth, including major lacerations to yourKobe Bryant injured lips, cheeks, or gums, seek medical attention immediately.  If you break, chip, or lose a tooth, or experience minor injury to your gums, tongue or cheeks, contact Dr. Marinic immediately.  If you seek treatment immediately after the injury occurs, Dr. Marinic often can save knocked-out teeth and repair minor chips and cracks with appropriate dental materials.  Make an appointment to visit Dr. Marinic for evaluation if your tooth changes color, if you experience any dental pain, or if you notice any swelling in or around your mouth following trauma.

What should I tell Dr. Marinic about my physical activities?

Dr. Marinic talking to patientInform Dr. Marinic if you participate in sports or recreational activities. He can give you tips on how to best protect your mouth, face, head, and neck during these activities.  Because mouth injuries can be painful and costly, Dr. Marinic recommends that all athletes take preventative measures at all times.

Teen’s Oral Health – What You Should Know

Should I limit drinking soda?

Teenager drinking soda from bottleYES!  Whether at school, home or on the weekends, teens are drinking more soda than they have in the past.  In 1977, 12 to 19-year-olds drank 16 ounces of soda a day.  In 1996, this same age group consumed an average of 28 ounces a day.  Not only is sugar harmful to teeth, acidic flavor additives can also erode and damage tooth enamel. Drinking soda through straw

There are simple ways you can limit the harmful effects of sodas. Try sipping soda through a straw.  It cuts down on the contact the beverage has with your teeth.  Rinse your mouth with water after drinking soda.  It can also reduce the risk of cavities.

Why should I avoid oral piercings?

Tongue and cheek piercingTongue piercing remains a teen trend; however it is not always a healthy choice for your mouth.  People chip teeth on tongue piercings while eating, sleeping, talking and chewing on the jewelry.  Tongue piercing commonly causes fractured teeth.  The fracture can be confined to tooth enamel and require a filling, or it may go deeper; in which case, can cause a need for a root canal or extraction. 

Infections are also common with oral piercings, and they cause more than pain.  A tongue can swell after being punctured, however in some cases the tongue becomes infected and swells so much that it may cut off breathing. Unclean piercing equipment can cause other infections, such as bloodborne hepatitis.

Why should I make time for healthy habits?

Quick meals in the form of “nutrition” bars and fast food help keep you alert Xylitol gumand on schedule between school, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs. However, today’s fast-paced lifestyle threatens to leave the teen generation with permanent damage to oral and overall health.  You can keep travel-size brushes in lockers or back packs.  Chewing sugarless gum with xylitol after meals or snacks can also help cleanse your mouth.  Drinking water throughout the day can help clean your teeth of excess bacteria and food debris.

Teens should be sure to see Dr. Marinic at least twice a year.  Regular dental visits can help catch minor problems before they become major ones!

Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Child in dental chair holding toyIt’s important for children to visit the dentist early to ensure they are off to a good start with their oral health.  The first dental visit is an extremely important step in a child’s life long oral health.

When should my child first see a dentist, and why?

The ideal time for a child to visit the dentist is six months after the child’s firstSMall baby (primary) teeth erupt – and no later than his or her first birthday.  This time frame is a perfect opportunity for Dr. Marinic to examine carefully the development of the child’s mouth.  Because dental problems often start early, the sooner the child visits our office, the better.  Dr. Marinic also can provide or recommend special preventive care to protect against problems, such as early childhood tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb or pacifier sucking.

How do I prepare my child and myself for this first visit?

Before the visit, ask Dr. Marinic about the procedures that will take place during theMom talking to child first appointment so there are no surprises.  Plan a course of action for any possible reactions your child may have.  Very young children may be fussy and not want to sit still.  Others may become very frightened and cry.  Some children may not react negatively at all.  Some may enjoy the appointment very much! 

Make the upcoming appointment something for your child to look forward to.  Help your child understand what will happen during the visit.  There are a number of children’s books about going to the dentist.  Read these books with your child before his or her first visit to familiarize your child with what will happen at the dental office and help lessen any potential anxiety.

Also, be sure to bring records of your child’s complete medical history for his or her dental file.

What happens during the first visit?Child in dental chair

Often a first visit is simply a time to acquaint your child with Dr. Marinic and the practice.  As a parent, you should reassure your child that the visit is not scary or something about which to be afraid.  Short, successive visits can build the child’s comfort with Dr. Marinic and the dental office.

Your child’s appointment should be scheduled earlier in the day, when your child is alert and refreshed.  You may need to sit in the dental chair and hold your child during the first examination.  The first visit usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and may include any of the following, depending on the child’s age:

  • A gentle but thorough examination of the teeth, jaw, bite, gums, and oral tissues to monitor growth and development and observe any problem areas
  • A gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar build-up, and stains
  • X-rays
  • A demonstration on how to properly care for your child’s mouth and teeth at home
  • Nutritional counseling
  • An assessment of the need for fluoride

Dr. Marinic will be able to answer any questions you have and will make you and your child feel comfortable throughout the visit.

When should we schedule the next appointment?

Children, like adults, should see Dr. Marinic every six months.  When your child is very young, some dentists may schedule interim visits every three months in order to build the child’s comfort and confidence levels or for treatment needs.

If you have questions about your child’s dental needs, please talk with our team.