Oral Health

Don’t Panic! Take Methodical Approach to Help Your Child Stop Thumb Sucking

thumb-sucking-300One of the most frequent concerns parents express to us is their child’s thumb or finger sucking habit. The good news, though, is that thumb sucking is a completely normal activity for babies and young children, and if they stop by age 4 it should have no adverse effects on their future bite.

In fact, there are positive aspects to thumb sucking: it provides babies with a sense of security, as well as a way to learn about the world. As a child grows and becomes more confident with their surroundings, the thumb sucking habit will fade and eventually stop: for most children this occurs between the ages of two and four.

If, however, the habit continues later in childhood, there is a chance the upper front teeth may be influenced to tip toward the lip during eruption and come into an improper position that could also adversely affect jaw development. The same concern exists for pacifier use — we recommend weaning a child off a pacifier by the time they’re eighteen months of age.

If your child still has a thumb or finger sucking habit as they prepare to enter school, it’s quite appropriate to work on getting them to stop. Punishment, shaming or similar negative approaches, however, aren’t the best ways to accomplish this: it’s much more effective to try to modify their behavior through reward, praise or some creative activity.

Another factor that may help is to begin regular dental visits around their first birthday. Regular checkups give us a chance to monitor the development of their bite, especially if thumb sucking continues longer than normal. We can also assist you with strategies to encourage them to stop thumb sucking or pacifier use.

Thumb sucking that continues later than normal isn’t a cause for panic, but it does require attention and action. Helping your child “grow” past this stage in their life will improve their chances of developing a normal and healthy bite.

If you would like more information on thumb sucking, please contact us to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Thumb Sucking in Children.”

Why You Should Avoid Chewing Tobacco

Discover the many reasons why chewing tobacco is so bad for both your oral and general health.

Dental-ExamIt might seem obvious, but chewing tobacco can negatively impact your health. It leaves destruction in its wake and it can be difficult for people’s smiles to bounce back after this terrible habit. Find out why you should stay away from chewing tobacco and how your Romeo dentist Dr. Michael DeLaura can help.

How Chewing Tobacco Affects Your Oral Health

Just because chewing tobacco is smokeless doesn’t make it any less harmless for your mouth. Those who chew tobacco are more likely to deal with these nasty dental issues:

  • Severe discolorations
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • A decreased sense of smell and taste
  • Increased chance of cavities and gum disease
  • Increased risk of oral cancer

In fact, chewing tobacco contains about 28 cancer-causing ingredients, which can lead to cancer of the lips, tongue, esophagus or mouth. Smokeless tobacco can also cause serious gum irritation and lead to gum disease, which can also cause complications such as bone and tooth loss.

How to Maintain Good Oral Health

It might seem obvious, but the best thing you can do to protect your mouth from cancer and other severe dental problems is to ditch your tobacco habit right away. We understand that this can be a major challenge and your Romeo dentist is here to help. Ask us about ways other people have successfully quit tobacco and kept their smiles healthy.

Also, those who’ve used chewing tobacco may need to go to the dentist more often for cleanings and exams. Luckily, the majority of cancerous lesions can be easily detected through an oral exam alone. Find out how often you need to go to the dentist to keep your smile healthy.

Whether you want to quit tobacco products or you are dealing with the after effects of this habit, your Romeo dentist is here to help. DeLaura Dental prides itself on giving you the best smile you can possibly have.

Taking the Right Steps to Prevent Early Tooth Decay in Children

children-prevention-300While the prevention and treatment of tooth decay has improved dramatically over the last half century, it continues to be a major health issue, especially for children. One in four children 5 and younger will develop some form of the disease.

Although tooth decay in children stems from the same causes as in adults — the presence of decay-causing bacteria in plaque, unprotected teeth and the right mix of carbohydrates like sugar left in the mouth — the means by which it occurs may be different. We even define tooth decay differently in children as Early Childhood Caries (ECC), “caries” the dental profession’s term for tooth decay.

ECC highlights a number of cause factors specific to young children, such as: continuous use of a bottle or “sippy cup” filled with juice or other sweetened beverages; at-will breast-feeding throughout the night; use of a sweetened pacifier; or regular use of sugar-based oral medicine to treat chronic illness.

If you noticed sugar as a common denominator in these factors, you’re right. As a primary food source for bacteria, refined sugar is a major trigger for the disease especially if it constantly resides in the mouth from constant snacking or sipping. In fact, it’s the primary driver for a particular pattern of decay known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD). This pattern is specifically linked to sleep-time bottles filled with juice, milk, formula or other sweetened beverages, given to an infant or toddler to help soothe them through the night or during naps.

All these factors cause a cycle of decay. To interrupt that cycle, there are some things you as a parent should do: perform daily hygiene with your child to reduce decay-causing bacteria; reduce the amount and frequency of carbohydrates in the diet, particularly sugar; and protect the teeth by having us apply fluoride or sealants directly to the teeth.

Early tooth decay could affect your child�??s oral health for years to come. With a little care and vigilance, you improve your chances of avoiding that encounter.

If you would like more information on preventing tooth decay in children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”

Six Ways Saliva Helps Your Mouth and Body Stay Healthy

saliva-300While it doesn’t garner the star power of blood, saliva is still an important bodily fluid. A true multi-tasker, saliva contributes in many ways to the function and health of the body, from stronger teeth to more efficient digestion.

Here are six ways saliva helps your mouth and body function properly and stay healthy.

The mouth’s natural cleanser. Bacteria are responsible for much of the dental disease that plagues us, particularly tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva clears the mouth of food remnants, bacteria’s primary feeding source, after we eat. This leaves a cleaner mouth and fewer bacteria to cause infection.

The immune system’s partner. Saliva contains an antibody called Immunoglobulin A (IgA) that attacks disease-causing microorganisms. Along with secreting other antibacterial agents like lactoferrin and lyzozyme that curb the growth and development of bacteria, saliva serves as the body’s first line of defense against pathogens entering through the mouth.

Acid neutralizer. The optimal oral environment is a neutral pH of 7. Many of our foods and beverages, though, are highly acidic, which can raise the mouth’s acid level. The acidic environment causes the minerals in tooth enamel to soften and dissolve (a process called de-mineralization). Saliva restores the balance by neutralizing any remaining acid after we eat (a process that takes about 30 to 60 minutes).

Mineral replacer. Even under normal conditions, enamel will de-mineralize to some extent whenever the mouth becomes acidic. Saliva restores some of the enamel’s lost minerals like calcium and phosphate while it’s neutralizing acid. If fluoride is also present in saliva from fluoridated drinking water or toothpaste, it too is absorbed by the enamel making it stronger and more resistant to acid attacks.

Digestion enhancer. Saliva lubricates the mouth while we eat, making it easier for us to chew (and taste) our food. Saliva also releases the enzyme amylase as we chew to break down starches before the food enters our stomach. The end result is more efficient and comfortable digestion.

The wave of the future in diagnostics. Like blood and urine, saliva contains genetic and disease markers that could tell a physician if a patient has a certain condition. Since collecting a saliva sample is much easier than with these other bodily fluids, diagnosing disease with saliva will become more prevalent as more calibrated devices reach the market.

If you would like more information on the role of saliva in the body, please contact us or schedule an appointmentfor a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Saliva.”

How Often Should I Be Flossing?

Dental-Veneers 2Do you brush your teeth? Your answer is probably an affirmative. How about flossing? Well, many people hesitate on that question, maybe fearing to admit that their flossing habits are hit and miss or altogether absent.

Flossing benefits oral health by removing filmy plaque that settles on tooth surfaces and at the gum line. Brushing twice daily removes a lot of it, along with the harmful germs that eat away at tooth enamel and gum tissue. However, for optimal oral health, brushing must partner with flossing to thoroughly clean between teeth and in those hard to reach areas of the mouth your toothbrush misses.

How Often to Floss

Dr. Michael DeLaura at Delaura Dental agrees with the American Dental Association which says floss at least once a day. Frankly, dental patients with restorations such as fixed bridgework or orthodontic patients with traditional metal brackets and wires should floss more.

The flossing rule applies to children, teens and adults, and while opinions vary on when to floss, the important thing to do it regularly. Many dentists favor night time flossing as tooth-cleansing saliva production falls off at night, and bacteria-filled plaque can do more damage. Also, it really doesn’t matter whether you floss before or after you brush your teeth.

How to Floss

Select a floss product you like. Waxed or plain, flavored, skinny, wide–there are plenty out on the market. Choose a quality, ADA-accepted floss. and use it consistently, following these steps:

  • Pull a 18-inch length of floss from the dispenser, and wind each end around the top of the index or middle fingers of each hand.
  • Pull the floss taut with your thumbs, and carefully insert a short section in between two teeth.
  • Move the floss up and down in the interdental space, gently flossing the gum line, too.
  • Proceed around the mouth, using a fresh section of floss for each new space.
  • Take special care with the backside of your back most molars.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

DeLaura Dental

Dr. Michael DeLaura is highly skilled in many advanced dental services, including full dental implant placement and orthodontics in the Romeo, MI area. Dr. DeLaura also has a passion for the basics of oral health. These include brushing, flossing, regular exams and hygienic cleanings as the solid foundation for lifelong healthy smiles.

Keep consistent with your dental care. Call DeLaura Dental in the Romeo area for an appointment today. Phone 855-601-2948.

What are Cavities?

Find out more about cavities and what your Romeo, MI dentist recommends for reducing your chances of developing them.

Cavities might seem like a normal part of life. After all, just ask anyone around you and they’ve probably had to deal with a cavity at some point in their lives. In fact, about 19 percent of children between the ages of two to 19 have untreated cavities and a whopping 92 percent of adults between the ages of 20 to 64 have had cavities.

So what exactly is a cavity and what can you do to stop them from happening to you? Your Romeo, MI dentist Michael DeLaura, DDS, has the answer.

What are cavities?

A cavity is a hole within a tooth that is caused by tooth decay that occurs over time, eroding and destroying the tooth’s enamel. Our mouths are naturally teeming with bacteria that live on the teeth and soft tissues.

While some bacteria are important for a healthy mouth some can be detrimental to our smile, resulting in tooth decay. These harmful bacteria use the sugar found in the foods we eat and turn them to acid. This acid then begins to wear down and erode tooth enamel. Over time, these acids can cause a cavity to form.

How can I prevent cavities?

cosmetic-dentistryWhile cavities are extremely common and might seem impossible to avoid, it is actually possible to stop or reverse this process from happening so you can prevent a cavity from forming. Might sound like magic but here are some things you can do to keep cavities from ruining your smile:

  • Fluoride can go a long way to prevent tooth decay from getting worse. This means using fluoridated toothpaste every day to clean your teeth. If you are concerned about the amount of fluoride you are getting, talk to your Romeo, MI dentist Dr. DeLaura.
  • Eat a balanced, smile-healthy diet that is rich in lean proteins, milk, fibrous vegetables and crisp fruits. Try to stay away from sugar and starches, which produce the harmful acids that damage teeth.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day: once in the morning and then again at night. Ideally, though you want to aim for brushing your teeth after every meal. Also, brush for a minimum of two minutes each time you brush.
  • Floss every day. Your Romeo, MI dentist can’t preface this enough. Did you know that almost 20 percent of people haven’t ever flossed in their lives? This is a shocking statistic, since flossing is one of the most important habits you can adopt for your smile.
  • If you want to protect your child’s smile, then talk to your Romeo, MI dentist about dental sealants to reduce the chance of decay in molars, which can be tougher to clean properly.

Another way to ensure that your teeth remain healthy is to keep up with your six-month dental cleanings. If it’s time you had your teeth examined and cleaned by your Romeo, MI dentist then it’s never too late to schedule an appointment. Call Dr. DeLaura at Delaura Dental today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Heart and Gum Diseases

gum-disease-heart-disease3Recent research has revealed that there is a link between cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) disease (CVD) and periodontal (gum) disease. The link is Inflammation. This is why it is important to learn more about this important relationship so that you can take proactive steps to improving your health and life.

What causes periodontal disease?
Simply put, irregular and ineffective brushing and flossing are the root causes of periodontal disease. Over time and when bacterial biofilms (dental plaque) are left unchecked, they lead to the emergence of a small set of highly pathogenic (“patho” – disease; “genic” – causing) organisms that are consistently associated with periodontitis (“peri” – gum; “odont” – tooth; “itis” – inflammation) or gum disease.

Is periodontal disease common or am I one of the few who have it?
It is a quite common disease, with mild to moderate forms of it impacting 30 to 50% of US adults. More severe cases affect 5 to 15%. One of the reasons these numbers are so high is because periodontal disease is a silent, painless disease that often occurs without any symptoms.

So how does my gum disease link to potential heart disease?
Inflammation is a characteristic of chronic disease. People with moderate to severe periodontitis have increased levels of systemic (general body) inflammation. If left untreated, the same bacterial strains that are commonly found in periodontal pockets surrounding diseased teeth have been found in blood vessel plaques of people with CVD.

This all sounds bad…is there any good news?
Yes! Research has revealed that if periodontal disease is treated, inflammation and infection can be reduced. This also reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes, both of which are common results of CVD. All it may take is a thorough exam for gum disease and thorough dental cleaning. During your exam, we can also make sure you are brushing and flossing properly so that you are effectively removing bacterial biofilm. But if you have severe periodontal disease, you may need deeper cleanings and more advanced treatment to save your teeth and your heart.

To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.” You can also contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Understanding Dry Mouth

dry-mouth4The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (“xero” – dry; “stomia” – mouth), something that many of us have experienced at some point in life. However, for some people it can be a chronic condition that is ideal for promoting tooth decay. It can also be a warning sign of a more serious health condition.

Dry mouth occurs when there is an insufficient flow of saliva, the fluid secreted by the salivary glands. Your major salivary glands are located in two places: inside the checks by the back top molars and in the floor of the mouth, with about six hundred tiny glands scattered throughout your mouth. And many people are surprised to learn that when they are functioning normally, saliva glands secret between two and four pints of saliva per day! While this may sound like a lot (and it is), saliva is key for buffering or neutralizing acids in the mouth. Without this powerful protection, tooth decay can increase quickly. This is especially true for older individuals who have exposed tooth root surfaces.

It is also important to note that there are times when mouth dryness is perfectly normal. For example, when you wake, you will probably have a slightly dry mouth because saliva flow slows at night. Another example is if you are dehydrated when it is simply a warning sign that you need to drink more fluids (especially water). Other causes for temporary dry mouth include stress as well as what you consume: coffee, alcohol, onions, and certain spices.

You can also have a dry mouth due to a side effect from an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medication. If it turns out that this is the cause in your case, you need to talk to the prescribing physician to see if there is something else you can take to avoid this side effect. If there are no substitutes, one tip you can try is to take several sips of water before taking the medication followed by a full glass of water, or chew gum containing xylitol, which moistens your mouth and decreases the risk of tooth decay.

Another cause of dry mouth is radiation treatment for cancer in the head and neck region. Yes, these treatments are crucial for fighting cancer; however, they can inflame, damage or destroy salivary glands. You can also have dry mouth from certain systemic (general body) or autoimmune (“auto” – self; “immune” – resistance system) diseases, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cystic fibrosis and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dry Mouth.” Or, you can contact us today to ask your questions, discuss your circumstances or schedule an appointment.

Did You Know? February Is National Children’s Dental Health Month!

national-childrens-dental-health-300Every February, the American Dental Association sponsors a campaign called National Children’s Dental Health Month. The purpose of this operation is to raise awareness about how important it is to get an early start on developing good dental hygiene habits — and how this can lead to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. So we thought this might be a good time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to do exactly that:

When is it time to start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
As soon as you see one! The earlier your child gets used to a daily dental hygiene routine, the better. Baby teeth that have not fully emerged from beneath the gums can be wiped with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings. A tooth that has grown in completely should be brushed twice daily (once in the morning and once in the evening) with a soft, child-sized tooth brush and a thin smear of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is an important weapon against tooth decay, but you don’t want your child to swallow too much.

Can babies get cavities?
Absolutely — especially if they are allowed to fall asleep routinely with a bottle filled with anything but water. Milk, formula — even breast milk — all contain sugars that should not be left to pool around your baby’s teeth during sleep, facilitating decay. Juice is an even bigger no-no because it is not only sugary but also acidic.

Can’t I give my child sweets once in a while?
We realize total avoidance of sweets may not be realistic, as beneficial as this would be for your child’s teeth. If you are going to allow your child to have sweets once in a while, better that the treat be given immediately following a meal, and not as a between-meal snack. Soda should really be avoided completely — it’s that bad.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The experts say: Get it done in year one. That’s right — even though your child won’t have many teeth by age 1, there’s a lot we can do at that first visit to ensure good oral health now and well into the future. We will do everything possible to make sure your little one has a positive first experience in the dental chair; this helps set the tone for the many important preventive visits yet to come. It’s also a great opportunity for you to ask any specific questions you may have, and receive hands-on instruction on how to care for your child’s teeth and gums.

If you would like more information about children’s oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids” and “Age One Dental Visit.”

Orthodontic Relief For Your Broken Brackets

braces(2)If you’ve had braces placed in your mouth to straighten misaligned or crooked teeth, congratulations: braces remain one of the leading choices for perfectly-aligned rows of teeth and a beautiful smile.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean braces are perfect all the time, every time: brackets, which are the metal or ceramic pieces attaching your braces to each individual tooth, can occasionally become loose, dislodged, or broken, putting the integrity of your braces at risk.Because brackets are made from a material known as composite resin (similar to the material used for many dental fillings), they’re particularly susceptible to coming undone if you chew on something hard or sticky, or if you like to tear things open with your teeth. If you have a dislodged or otherwise faulty bracket, it can cause persistent pain and discomfort as the unchained piece pokes into your gums, tongue, or cheek.

But at DeLaura Dental, you can get your broken brackets fixed as soon as they start to deteriorate, as the expert orthodontists on site make it their goal to get your braces straightened out once and for all. These helpful oral technicians can repair the dislodged bracket and can even apply a special wax over it to keep it in place for the future. They’ll likely give you this wax if they haven’t already, too, so you can rely on it yourself to ensure your brackets don’t get loosed and start poking the innards of your sensitive oral cavity again later on down the road.

For more information on what to do if you have a broken bracket, give the orthodontic professionals at DeLaura Dental a call today at 855-601-2948 for the full oral relief you deserve right here in Romeo, MI! After all, your braces’ job is to keep your teeth straight– not get you all bent out of shape!