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Ask us about minimally invasive techniques for managing dental decay at Norterra Kids’ Dentistry and Orthodontics!  We’re proud to provide a wide array of techniques to treat cavities ranging from conservative techniques (when appropriate!) that don’t require numbing or drilling to traditional restorations such as white fillings.  We pride ourselves in offering many treatment options and allowing parent and child to decide which method everyone feels the most comfortable proceeding with.  One such minimally invasive technique is the use of Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF), an antimicrobial liquid that fights dental decay in a non-invasive, non-threatening, and painless way with a few quick applications! 

Check out Dr. Allie’s clip on ABC15 News regarding the benefits of and indications for SDF.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if SDF seems like a great option for your child!

The post Non-Invasive Treatment Options for Kids’ Cavities appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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Over the last two decades, the field of dentistry has reduced childhood cavities significantly, largely thanks to fluoride in water, sealants, and improved preventative care. Still, as many as 42% of children suffer from cavities in their baby teeth, but this isn’t the only cause of sensitivity. Cracks, sinusitis, and over-enthusiastic brushing are often to blame.

The Difference Between Sore and Sensitive Teeth

Hypersensitivity tends to be more generalized than pain. It responds to stimuli such as extreme temperatures and pressure, whereas pain is usually more constant. Sensitivity is a form of discomfort that passes as soon as the stimulus retreats. If your child complains about a toothache, ask specific questions to determine if certain things make the pain feel better or worse.

When Does Tooth Sensitivity Matter?

Not all sensitivity should be pathologized. New teeth are prone to natural sensitivity, which will pass on its own, just like the sensation caused by a new filling. More serious causes include:

  • Cavities can cause shooting pains when exposed to hot, cold or sweet stimuli.
  • When sensitivity is caused by over-brushing, enamel can wear away and gums might even retract. It’s critical to address this bad habit, especially if secondary teeth have already grown. because there is no way to encourage the enamel to reform.
  • Constant sensitivity can be a sign of a serious infection or abscess.
  • Children suffering from a sinus infection may experience tooth sensitivity caused by pressure in the nasal cavity.

Hypersensitivity needs to be taken seriously because it can be a sign of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Untreated cavities can also develop into more serious dental issues, even in baby teeth. Always communicate with your dentist, who will develop an effective plan of action.

The post Causes of Tooth Sensitivity in Children appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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There are as many opinions on brushing and flossing as there are dentists. Floss first, and your child’s brushing removes the plaque that’s been loosened. Brush first and your floss pushes valuable fluoride deeper into the gum line. The traditional belief is that you should lead with your toothbrush, but dentists (and parents) are happy enough if kids are doing both that they rarely concern themselves with the order.

Gum disease causes tooth loss, and the right flossing technique can stop it in its tracks. Most adults don’t floss correctly, so they pass their poor habits onto their children. Floss is supposed to clear debris from between the teeth, but also under the gum line, so the most important part of brushing and flossing synergy is teaching correct technique and making sure you do both.

Children’s Oral Care

The American Dental Association suggests that flossing precede brushing purely so that children don’t forget that important step. That synergy might help forgetful children to remember all the stages of oral care. Many people consider flossing to be more of a chore than brushing, so doing it first could increase the chances of doing it at all.

Other experts advise people to brush first because they will be more thorough with it if they’ve not yet flossed. In other words, most experts choose their strategy based on our tendency to be lazy. By the time we’re ready to go to bed, it’s easy to tell ourselves we’re too tired to brush and floss properly. A tooth brushing song can help kids take the appropriate amount of time on their teeth.

The bottom line? Focus on doing both with proper technique and fluoride toothpaste.

Baby teeth need to be brushed as soon as they appear. A soft brush and damp cloth should be used to carefully clean the mouth. Fluoride is particularly important at a young age so that permanent adult teeth form well. It helps the enamel to develop and crystallize properly.

The post Should Kids Brush or Floss First? appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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Here in the Phoenix metro area, school’s out for the summer. While this will be greeted with pool parties and family vacations, there might be a problem when it comes to oral health. These problems arise if schoolgoers put dental hygiene and healthy diets on vacation.

Dental Routine During Summer Break

Summer break represents a break from routine. We tend to loosen up in the mornings as we’re no longer rushing to school, and at night we may let the kids stay up a little bit later, perhaps falling asleep in a couch cushion fort or a backyard tent. Oral health is just one of the many reasons why it’s good to stick with some semblance of routine. Yes, let kids be kids, but don’t let healthy habits slip away.

Just like during the school year, stock your pantry and fridge with healthy snack options. Limit candy and sugary drinks. If you host sleepovers, make sure your own children brush their teeth and, if you are able, consider providing a toothbrush to their guests who may have forgotten to pack one. When you go to the movies, restaurants, water parks and other summer activities, set a good example by drinking water or unsweetened tea instead of soda.

Sticking With Dental Health During Vacations

When you travel, it’s even more likely that you’ll break from routine. Isn’t that the point of vacation? You will almost certainly treat yourself and have fun to the point of exhaustion. Here are some tips for keeping your teeth in good shape:

  • Plan a visit to your dentist before you go on vacation. This way, oral health will be fresh in your memory.
  • Get a travel toiletry bag for your kids and have them pack their toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. When you arrive at your destination, have them set up their supplies in a prominent location.
  • Buy dental supplies on arrival if you forget them at home.
  • Use a clean cloth for cleaning the teeth if you are unable to get a toothbrush. Brushing with your finger or a cloth is better than no brushing at all.
  • Use bottled water for teeth brushing if you are not sure of the quality of water at the destination.
  • Bring healthy snacks for when you’re on the go; this will save you money, too!

The post Don't Take a Vacation from Good Brushing Habits appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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In general, pediatric dentists discourage parents from taking their children for routine dental X-rays. Over a lifetime, the less you are exposed to radiation (including X-rays), the better.

However, there are times when a dental X-ray is necessary to diagnose oral health issues in children. According to the American Dental Association, high-risk preschoolers should have X-rays every 6-12 months. Children in this category have already developed cavities in their baby teeth. Proper brushing and flossing can keep your kids out of the high-risk category. Other preschool-aged children might receive an X-ray every 12-24 months.

Diagnosing Cavities in Children

Your dentist can usually inspect your young child’s mouth for cavities visually. However, as the child gets bigger and develops adult teeth, your dentist may recommend X-rays more often. Bigger teeth mean smaller spaces between the teeth and more hiding spots for cavities. Whatever the child’s age, there should be a reason for the X-ray. Reasons can include pain, impacted teeth, obvious decay, migrating teeth, unexplained bleeding and lack of visibility.

Early detection of cavities, whether with gentle imaging techniques or with X-rays, prevents small problems from growing. If the dentist waits until he or she can see cavities without an X-ray, tooth decay may advance to the point that it needs to be extracted or get a root canal.

The post When Do Kids Need Dental X-Rays? appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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Healthy gums are the foundation of healthy teeth, so it’s important to keep your child’s gums healthy and happy! Here are a few tips to make sure your child has healthy gums for years to come.

Keep an eye on the baby bottle

Baby bottle tooth decay (also known as bottle rot) occurs when sugary liquids, which can include formula, milk, breast milk and juice, are left in your baby’s mouth for an extended period of time. The result can be tooth decay, but there are ways to avoid it, and protect not only their teeth but their gums as well. Try not to let your baby go to bed with a bottle; this is one of the more frequent causes of baby bottle tooth decay as they fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. Instead, feed when they’re awake and put them to bed having already gotten their fill. Here are a few more tips to avoid baby bottle tooth decay:

  1. Give babies only water in a bottle during a nap and bedtime.
  2. Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp baby washcloth or gauze after mealtimes.
  3. Never dip a pacifier in sugar, honey, or other sweeteners.
  4. If your water is not fluoridated, ask your child’s dentist about fluoride.
  5. Avoid cleaning a baby’s pacifier with your mouth, sharing chewed food or using the same spoon.
  6. Schedule your baby’s first dental check-up by the time the first tooth comes in or by age one, whichever comes first.
Keep those gums clean

As mentioned before, you can keep your baby’s gums clean by gently wiping them with a clean, damp cloth after meals. Keeping baby gums clean allows you to discourage bacteria while also helping to relieve soreness from teething they may be going through. Dip a piece of clean gauze in water and wrap the cloth around your pointer finger (if your baby is teething, you can also wet a corner of the gauze and then place it in the freezer to help numb the soreness until it’s cool, not frozen). Gently rub the gauze along your baby’s gums at least twice a day. If your baby is eating some solid foods without teeth, you can repeat this step after each meal as needed. Keeping gums clean goes a long way towards keeping gums healthy.

Start brushing when the time is right

As your child’s teeth start to appear, generally around 6 months, it’s important to start brushing them. Gently brush each of your baby’s teeth, tongue side and cheek side, making sure you brush the gum line as well. Brush twice a day to insure teeth and gums are clean after meals. At first, you can simply wet the toothbrush. As soon as teeth erupt, you can start using a little bit of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. You can increase this to a peas-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when you child can spit.

You should brush your baby’s teeth until he or she has the dexterity to tie their own shows with their eyes closed.

Watch those sugar snacks

What kids eat can harm their teeth and their gums. Too much sugar has been shown to contribute to a host of health problems, gum disease being one of those issues. Kids want sweet treats occasionally and in moderation, a small sweet snack can be OK for kids. The problem is, when you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria in the plaque feed off the sweet stuff and turn it into damaging acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth and can cause gum issues as well. If you let your kids eat a sweet snack, be sure to have them brush right afterwards with a fluoride toothpaste to avoid these acids sitting in their mouth for too long or if you’re out and about, have them drink some water to wash some of those sugars away.

Visit the pediatric dentist early

Pediatric dentistry experts recommend that children have their first dental exam by the time they reach their 1st birthday, or as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts. Surprised at how soon that sounds?  Don’t be! The sooner you start your child on regular dental visits, the sooner they become accustom to the event, and their fears will decline greatly (if they have any). Pediatric dentists are well-versed on easing your child’s fear of going to the dentist and can provide great tips such a games to help get your child ready for their dental visit each time to make the experience a bit more pleasant.

Following these simple suggestions will keep your child’s gums healthy and clean, and lay the foundation for healthy oral habits and a great smile!

The post Tips to Keep Your Child's Gums Healthy appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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Most parents have never heard of the term “tongue and lip tie” or “tongue-tie” so when a pediatric dentist or pediatrician mentions their baby has it, it can be very overwhelming. It’s important for parents to understand what it is and how to treat it, so the article below explains what parents need to know about tongue and lip ties.

Tongue-tie, professionally known as ankyloglossia, is a congenital condition in which the tongue or lip frenulum is too tight, causing limitations in movement that can cause great difficulty with breastfeeding and, in some instances, other health concerns like dental, digestive and speech issues.  Mothers of infants dealing with feeding challenges are often anxious to find solutions. The condition is present at birth. A short, tight band of tissue tethers the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth. It can affect how a child eats and speaks, and can interfere with breastfeeding. The condition is more common than most people know.

What are the symptoms?

According to the Mayo Clinic website, symptoms include:

  • Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side
  • Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
  • A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out

Symptoms can include difficulty sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth or lifting it to the upper teeth, though many people have no symptoms. Inability to breastfeed successfully in the presence of a lip or tongue tie can cause a variety of challenges for the infant, the mother and the family. For the baby, these may include:

  • Impact on milk supply
  • Early termination of breastfeeding
  • The baby failing to thrive
  • Poor bonding between baby and mother
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Problems with introducing solids among many other issues

If the issue is serious enough, these issues, as well as others, can continue for years and even into adulthood, causing issues such as speech issues or dental problems, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a medical professional to see what options are available for treatment.

How do parents know if it’s serious enough to see a doctor?

There are times when surgery is necessary. The consequences of an untreated tongue tie can be many and varied, depending largely on the age of the child and the severity of the condition. The demands made on us increase as we grow older, and our environment becomes less forgiving of mistakes. Delay in treatment, therefore, can have very negative consequences. Contact your doctor or pediatric dentist for their opinion. They can explain all the treatment options to you.

What can parents expect

Every case is different which is why it’s important consult a doctor or pediatric dentist to find out the best options for your child. As a pediatric dentist, I have worked with this condition before, with very positive outcomes. Here’s a great story of a child I worked with, what the parents were experiencing, and the ultimate outcome.

Lip and tongue-ties are a fairly common condition, yet one that is misunderstood and misdiagnosed often. Understanding what parents need to know about tongue and lip ties can help them make an informed decision and do what’s best for their child.

The post What Parents Need to Know About Tongue and Lip Ties appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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Scientists have used stem cells from umbilical cord blood and bone marrow to treat diseases, metabolic and immune disorders, and blood cancers for years, but there is a newer trend where parents are banking baby teeth for dental stem cells, and the practice shows great promise.

What are stem cells and why are they important?

Stem cells are capable of changing into different cell types. They can also aid in the healing of damaged tissue. Scientists and doctors are so excited about the growing role of stem cells to treat disease, injury, and the deterioration of tissue due to aging. Dental stem cells are adult stem cells found in baby teeth as well as wisdom teeth and are able to differentiate into bone, dental tissue, cartilage, and muscle, and neural tissue. Many experts believe there are even uses in regenerative dentistry. There is great promise in stem cells and in particular, dental stem cells, and many professionals recommend banking the valuable stem cells found in baby teeth.

What’s the difference between dental stem cells and cord blood?

Cord blood has long been known as a rich resource of stem cells; in particular, hematopoietic stem cells, also known as HSCs.  They are potent cells, giving rise to all cells found in the body, both red and white, as well as platelets. This is why they are very valuable for treating child patients who may suffer from cancerous blood disorders. The challenge with cord blood is that there is a very limited amount that is only available in very small quantities, and more is needed when treating an adult.

Dental stem cells, on the other hand, provide parents the ability to store stem cells long after a child is born. For those who either could not afford to collect cord blood, or there were complications that prevented the collection of cord blood, the opportunity to still collect stems cells through baby teeth can be very attractive. Also, because collecting dental stem cells requires a less intrusive process (extracting baby teeth) many parents find this option more attractive.

Do all pediatric dentists work with dental stem cells?

There are several companies that are in the industry of dental stem cells, including StemSaveStore-a-Tooth, and The Tooth Bank. While parents can work with these companies directly, talk to your pediatric dentist to see if they work with any of these organizations and which one is right for you. They can assist in guiding you through the process and can answer any questions that you may have.

Can parents just collect baby teeth and store them until needed?

The value of dental stem cells from children is that teeth are stronger when younger, and then age over time, so the stem cells in teeth are reduced as we get older. Also, most professionals suggest storing more than one tooth. Most dental stem cell companies do provide a tooth storage container, but it is meant only to ship the tooth back to the company’s facility, not for long-term home storage.

Will any tooth do for dental stem cells?

Though there are dental stem cells present in periodontal ligaments and in apical papilla, those dental stem cells that are easiest to retrieve and bank are found in exfoliating primary teeth. It is best to get the stem cells from baby teeth that need to be extracted due to orthodontic reasons because there are fuller roots on them then an exfoliating primary tooth.

Pediatric dentists working with dental stem cell companies can advise you on how best to collect a child’s teeth for storage.

Banking baby teeth for dental stem cells is still unfamiliar ground for many parents. Do your research to decide for yourself how or if you’ll store your child’s dental stem cells for future use, and then collaborate with your pediatric dentist, so the preservation of the teeth are a success.

The post Banking Baby Teeth for Dental Stem Cells appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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Making sure that kids brush and floss their teeth every day is a fantastic way to keep your child’s smile healthy, but did you know that what they eat can impact their dental health? While a few foods might be obvious, there are some foods that are surprisingly hard on kid’s teeth, and many parents are unaware that what they give their kids for snacks may be bad for them. What kids eat can harm their teeth, so understand which snacks to avoid and a few great alternatives.

Simple carbs

Sometimes nicknamed “white foods”, white rice, white rice, white bread, plain pasta and other simple carbs could lead to tooth decay, since they quickly break down to simple sugars. Soft white bread and rolls are particularly harmful; they’re gluey enough to adhere to your child’s teeth.

Sugary snacks

It’s hard to avoid giving kids a sweet treat occasionally, but keep in mind that snacks like cookies, candy, cake, and other goodies are hard on teeth. Over time, they can cause cavities so when your littles ones enjoy a sweet snack, be sure they brush afterwards!  If they can’t brush right away, even swishing with water will help rinse away some cavity-causing bacteria until they can brush.

Sweet drinks

Those neon, sugary drinks are really rough on kid’s teeth, not only all the sugar but the harsh dyes as well, so it’s best to avoid those whenever you can. Sweet drinks can also include fruit juices, which can be very surprising for many parents. Fresh fruit juice is healthy, but too much of the sweet stuff can be harmful, especially those that are more acidic like orange juice or pineapple juice. Try diluting those juices with water to reduce the sugary impact.

Fruit snacks and raisins

Any kind of sticky snack that can be easily trapped between kids teeth can cause problems over time. Raisins and other dried fruit are great, healthy treats that kids love, but keep in mind that their stickiness can cause problems if they sit between teeth for too long. Remind kids to brush or swish water after snacking on these.

Starches

Foods that contain starch include pretzels and potato chips can cause tooth decay.  Starches, like simple carbs, can stick to the teeth (or between teeth) so try to keep those salty snacks to a minimum.

What are some good alternative snacks for kids?

There are some great alternative snacks to give kids that they’ll really enjoy! Here’s a great list of fun teeth-friendly snacks for kids:

  • Low-fat yogurt with berries.
  • Sliced, fresh watermelon.
  • Crunchy veggies with dip.
  • Celery sticks spread with cream cheese and sunflower seeds.
  • Cheddar cheese and apples.
  • Unsalted almonds and coconut flakes.
  • Hummus with toasted whole grain pita triangles.

Keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong by avoiding or greatly reducing “bad” snacks, and instead introducing them to teeth-friendly snacks like fruit, vegetables and cheese. What kids eat can hurt harm  their teeth, but with a few small changes, your child will have a healthy and happy smile for years to come.

Need more information on foods to avoid?  Ask your pediatric dentist to give you a list of foods and drinks to avoid.

The post What Kids Eat Can Harm Their Teeth appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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There is a lot of information out there that talks about fluoride; some is positive, some isn’t and some is downright confusing! Busy parents need to know what’s best for their kids, so I’ve taken the time to provide some information below so you can know all the facts about fluoride and your child’s dental health.

Kid’s teeth need fluoride

This is a simple fact! Fluoride, which exists naturally in water sources, is derived from fluorine, a common element in the Earth’s crust. It is well-known that fluoride helps prevent and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay. How exactly does fluoride help combat tooth decay?It protects teeth when it comes in contact with the surface of the teeth and it kills the bacteria that causes cavities. In other words, your child’s teeth benefit from fluoridated water as well as fluoride toothpaste.

Is fluoridated water safe?

The short answer is “yes” but let’s look at it a bit more closely. For over 60 years, water fluoridation has proved to be a safe and cost-effective way to reduce cavities.  As a matter of fact, fluoridation is estimated to reduce tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent in children. That’s significant!  The benefits of fluoridated water can’t be ignored. Treating cavities is important, but preventing cavities is best. That’s where fluoride comes in. Millions of children in the United States and around the world have been spared thanks to fluoride in tap water, toothpaste and routine dental checkups. Drinking water with fluoride is important for children’s teeth. The key is that the research shows that the fluoride is most effective when it is a minimal amount in multiple exposures.  That is why we love fluoridated water so much!

Why do some people think fluoridated water is a bad idea?

Fluoride, like most things that are good for you, can be less healthy in excess. Too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. These changes can vary from barely noticeable white spots in mild forms to staining and pitting in the more severe forms. Dental fluorosis only occurs when younger children consume too much fluoride, from any source, over long periods when teeth are developing under the gums. In the U.S, water and processed beverages can provide most a child’s fluoride intake. Unintentional swallowing of toothpaste and inappropriate use of other dental products containing fluoride can result in greater intake than desired. Under the age of 6, it is recommended using an amount of fluoride toothpaste that is equal to the size of a grain of rice. Parents should supervise the use of fluoride toothpaste by children under the age of 6 to encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste and avoid swallowing fluoride mouth rinses. A U.S. Public Health Service review of data and research concluded that there is no credible evidence of an association between either natural fluoride or adjusted fluoride in drinking water and human cancer. It has not been shown to cause or worsen conditions of the thyroid, kidney, heart, or other glands/organs. The only proven risk associated with excess fluoride is a cosmetic condition known as dental fluorosis.

What if fluoridated water isn’t an issue because your child drinks bottled water?

Bottled water is one of the more popular drinks in Arizona, but, may not contain any fluoride. Per the American Dental Association, most bottled waters on the market do not contain optimal levels of fluoride. Many dental health specialists suspect bottled water’s increased popularity as the culprit behind rising rates of cavities.  Because fluoride helps strengthen teeth, it is a vital component of maintaining good dental health.  If your child won’t drink tap water, or if you won’t let your child drink tap water, you can always try a Brita filter. The Brita filter will filter most everything out of the water except for fluoride. Be sure to check the label to make sure that your bottled water contains fluoride.  Understanding fluoride and your child’s dental health will lead to healthy smiles for a lifetime!

Fluoride is one of several factors that will keep your child’s teeth healthy. It’s still important to brush and floss daily, avoid sugary sweets, as well as limit the frequency of carbohydrate intake, in addition to maintaining your child’s fluoride intake.

Still have questions about fluoride? Contact your pediatric dentist and have them explain your options to ensure  your child is getting enough fluoride.

The post Fluoride and Your Child's Dental Health appeared first on Dr. Lisa Bienstock.

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