Does your teenager want a brighter smile?

Do they know about the different whitening options and what they are actually doing to the teeth?

Most teeth are not completely white and are usually within a range of light greyish-yellow shades.  Teeth may darken naturally with age but they may also appear stained from the use of tobacco products and certain food and beverages. Many Canadians, especially adolescents, want their teeth whiter and their smile brighter and the desire is steadily growing.  Other than esthetics, children who have discolored teeth from a traumatic mouth injury, infection or medication use can often have a negative self-image and this can lead children and parents into the discussion of teeth bleaching.  There have been a wide range of whitening options on the market for consumer because on this demand.  There are two categories of whitening products: surface whiteners and bleaches.

The surface whiteners such as whitening toothpastes and gums work by using abrasives to improve the products ability to removes stains that are on the surface of your teeth.  These products abrasives are usually only finer examples of what are used in regular toothpastes and therefore they are unlikely to cause great amounts of tooth wear.  These products are limited to only removing surface stains and are not substitutes for professional cleaning from the dentist who is able to get into the crevices of the teeth.

Bleaching products on the other hand are able to alter the color of the teeth because they use peroxide-based products.  It is important to note that not all tooth discoloration responds to tooth-bleaching treatment so a consultation with a dentist before proceeding with teeth bleaching to determine the cause of the discoloration will help determine if it is the right option for you.  If there  are fillings, root canals, crowns or extremely dark stains on the anterior teeth, the response to whitening may vary and it is even more important to seek a dental consult prior to any treatment.

The two methods to whiten teeth depend upon the reason for discoloration.  In teeth that are living and have become stained from food, beverage, tobacco products or have darkened with age, vital bleaching is used.  It is usually done on the surface of the teeth.  In those teeth that are no longer alive and have changed color after a dental procedure such as a root canal,  non-vital bleaching that can be used.  It is usually done from the inside of the tooth.

The method of bleaching the teeth will depend upon the number of teeth that need bleaching and how badly stained they are.  A special bleach that is put on the teeth in combination with heat (through light or heat) that can activate the bleaching process can be used.  A custom fitted mouthguard filled with bleach that can be placed in the mouth for part of the day is another alternative or a special bleach mixed in with toothpaste to whiten the teeth can also be used.

Whitening teeth through the bleaching method should only be done under the supervision of a dentist. Dentists can create a custom tray for a home-use bleaching system that will ensure a proper fit and greater efficiency of bleaching agents.  Whitening the teeth may have side effects and some individuals may experience tooth sensitivity and irritation of the soft tissues, which is often transient and will go away on its own.  However, the long-term effects of tooth whitening, especially in children, are unknown at this stage and further research is needed.

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Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre

Twitchy airway? Dental care for patients with asthma.

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Asthma affects at least 13% of Canadian children and continues to be a major cause of hospitalization of children in Canada.

Asthma may be passed down to a child from his or her parents through their genes however, as children grow, irritating factors such as; smoke,  odors, exercise, climate changes or even laughter can also outside triggers.  If one of your children is diagnosed with asthma, it is important to look for signs and symptoms in his or her siblings, as they may have it as well.   Asthma occurs when inflammation persists in the airway.  The airway becomes sensitized and over reacts to irritating factors.  The airway may also become more narrow and even obstructed.   Children can show signs of asthma at any age; however, most start showing signs of wheezing before the age of 10 with almost half showing signs before the age of 5. Some of the signs to look out for are; shortness of breath, increased work of breathing, wheezing, anxiety, agitation and fatigue.  Children may feel chest tightness and begin to cough when the onset of symptoms appears.

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When treating children with asthma in the dental office, the key is to prevent any asthma symptoms from occurring during dental procedures.  Prevention is much easier than controlling the symptoms once they appear.  This is the reason why the dentists need to obtain a thorough medical history by asking many questions which may not seem relevant immediately.   It is important to screen children for their asthma exacerbation risks and triggers.  For children with moderate to severe asthma,  it is recommended that they see their physician for a complete medical exam before any dental procedures.  If the child has seasonal asthma, it is recommended, when possible,  that any dental treatment be done at a time of year where he or she does not have symptoms.  Some children are more prone to attacks near the end of the day, so early morning appointments would be better.  If the child is currently taking any inhalers for his or her symptoms, remember to always bring these to all dental appointments in case they are needed.  In order to prevent the onset of symptoms during the dental visit, it may be necessary to use one of the inhalers before the start of the appointment.   Emotional stress can be one of the many precipitating factors for asthma in some children.  A mild sedation may be helpful in this case, to prevent an asthma attack for the anxious child.  During dental procedures, extra precautions, such as, placing the child in an upright position or placing a rubber dam to prevent debris or water from moving to the back of the throat can be useful to prevent the child’s asthma triggers.

Interestingly, research has been conducted to see if children who have asthma have more dental caries.  While there has not been a strong connection of asthma to dental decay,  there are some factors related to asthma which are common in childhood caries.  Dry mouths due to mouth breathing,  frequent use of nebulizers and multiple medications, which may contain immunosuppressants, over long periods of time can increase risk for cavities.  On the other hand, there is a well known side effect of using inhaled steroids for asthma.  Using higher doses of inhaled steroid may cause hoarseness or thrush (yeast infection) in the mouth, especially in children who cannot inhale effectively and a large portion of medication is left in their mouths.  Rinsing the mouth, gargling after using the asthma inhaler and using a spacer device with metered dose inhalers will help prevent these side effects.

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If you are concerned about a potential yeast infection, or the oral health of your asthmatic child, don’t hesitate to give us a call and make an appointment today.

Copyright 2014 The Children’s Oral Care Centre