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When should my child first see a dentist?

Most children should have their first visit by the age of two years. If a child is seen early the overall dental development can be observed and any abnormalities or discoloration of the teeth will be noted. The dentist can also educate the parents on thumb sucking, cavity prevention, pacifiers and teething problems. If problems are suspected before the age of two years it is best to call your Manus Dentist to arrange a first visit for your child at that time.

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How many times a day should a child brush?

It is rare that a child can find the time or the discipline to brush three times a day as is recommended for adults. However, it is very important that all children brush at least twice a day, once after breakfast and once before bedtime. Most of the bacteria that causes decay does the preponderance of its damage while the mouth is at rest and the child is asleep.

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Can adults have braces?

Yes! Adults can benefit from orthodontics. If an adult suffers from a “bad bite” it can lead to many other problems (See “TM Disorder” and “Periodontal Disease”) that can be more difficult to treat. A dentist can formulate a custom treatment plan after a comprehensive exam is done, including X-rays, study models, and photographs of the face.

Once the treatment plan is agreed upon the treatment will be phased and the bands, brackets and wires will be placed. If a removable appliance is used impressions will be taken for a retainer type appliance (See “Orthodontics”). The active phase of orthodontics takes frequent visits to the dentist and the total time required for orthodontic treatment usually takes longer than for children because the facial bones in an adult have stopped growing. While both adult and children’s orthodontics requires a commitment, most patients agree that the results are worth the financial and personal investment.

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My gums bleed, do I have periodontal disease?

Bleeding gums alone does not mean that someone has periodontal (gum) disease, although bleeding gums are one of the warning signs that periodontal disease may be present (See “Periodontal Surgery”). Some other signs of periodontal disease that should alert you to visit the dentist for an examination are: Persistent bad breath, separating, loose or flaring teeth, a change in the way your teeth bite together, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, gums that are swollen, red or tender, and pus between teeth and gums when gums are pressed.

Most people do not experience any pain due to gum disease, so it is difficult for patients to diagnose gum disease in the early, very treatable stage. Regular dental check-ups, including a periodontal exam by your Manus dentist, are important in early detection of periodontal disease. Your Manus dentist can design a personalized oral hygiene program that fits your special needs and maximizes the opportunity to keep your teeth for life!

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How do I treat a cold sore?

First, it has to be established if the lesion is a cold sore or a canker sore. This can be easily done by your Manus dentist. Cold sores (or fever blisters) usually form in groups as tiny lesions around the mouth or lips and sometimes under the nose. Cold sores are associated with the herpes simplex virus and are very contagious. Once a person is infected with the virus associated with cold sores the person will always keep the virus in their system. Recurrent attacks usually happen when a person is exposed to a fever, sunburn or an increase in stress. Cold sores last about a week and can be temporarily relieved by some over-the-counter anesthetics and by anti-viral drugs that have been recently released by various pharmaceutical companies.

Canker sores (or aphthous ulcer) are small ulcers appearing as a single sore within the mouth. Canker sores are caused by an immune response and are not contagious. Fatigue, stress or even allergies can increase the likelihood that a canker sore may occur. Hot foods and drinks can also contribute to canker sores. Canker sores also last about a week. People suffering from canker sores should avoid hot, spicy foods and use over-the-counter remedies to decrease the irritation. Sometimes antibiotics also can be used. Remember, the major difference between cold sores and canker sores is whether the sore is located outside or inside the oral cavity.

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Do I need an antibiotic in connection with my regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis)?

Some people need to take antibiotics in connection with their regular dental cleaning (prophylaxis) due to the existence of other medical conditions that might allow bacteria to infect a certain area of the body, especially the heart. For these patients, antibiotics are usually taken by the patient one hour before the appointment and then again at a designated time after the appointment is finished.

During a dental cleaning (prophylaxis), bacteria is removed from under the gum-line. This bacteria may get into the bloodstream where it can accumulate and do damage to areas of the body that have been previously compromised (i.e., a heart valve due to mitral valve prolapse (MVP) or a recently completed knee replacement). This is why it is very important to inform your Manus dentist of any changes in your medical history, including allergies to any antibiotics or other types of medications.

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My mouth is always dry, what can I do?

Dry mouth (or xerostomia) is a condition caused by a decrease in the flow of the saliva. Dry mouth can affect many different people and a decrease in the salivary flow can lead to more potential problems in the mouth, from an increase in tooth decay to infection of the gum tissue. Saliva keeps the harmful bacteria in the mouth in constant motion; without the saliva the toxins produced by the bacteria can cause tooth and gum damage. People who commonly suffer from dry mouth include those who are taking certain medications, those receiving radiation for head and/or neck cancer, those who are diabetic and those who have a salivary gland disease. Dry mouth also is caused by Sjogren’s Syndrome (Show-grins), an autoimmune disease with no known cure, that causes the moisture secreting glands of the mouth to dry up.

To help increase moisture in the mouth try sugarless lozenges or increase water consumption. There also are oral lubricants that can be bought over-the-counter and fluoride gels and mouthwashes that can be applied to keep the teeth protected. If you suffer from dry mouth, see your Manus dentist regularly and brush and floss diligently to help prevent decay.

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