What About Toothpicks?

Some people like to use a good toothpick or other fancy pick-like device to get in between their teeth. If you ask our Bellevue dentist, however, there’s really no substitute for floss. We recommend that you always get your daily flossing in, and never try to use a toothpick in its place.

Toothpick vs Dental Floss

While toothpicks are good for extracting an irritating chunk of food after a meal, they’re just not built to do the job of a piece of floss. Floss is capable of getting all the way between your teeth, handily drawing away the layer of plaque from where your brush and your pick cannot reach. The length of the floss also lets you cycle in a fresh bit of thread, to assure that you’re never cleaning your teeth with something that is itself stained with bacteria. Trying to force a pick to go where your floss is meant to go only puts you at risk of spearing your gums or leaving irritating splinters behind.

So only take a toothpick for what it’s worth, and never let anything try to take the place of your floss!

Most Common Oral Health Problems of Children

It’s Not Always Dental Cavities

While caries or tooth decay is the most common oral health issue in children in the US, there are other oral problems that are quite common as well. Learn what other problems are the most commonly seen by dentists aside from caries.

Tooth sensitivity in children is very uncomfortable and distracting. Apart from dental caries it can be due to cracks or chips in the enamel, teeth grinding that can lead to enamel erosion, an erupting permanent tooth, or orthodontic appliance.

Tooth misalignment or malocclusion is an orthodontic problem. Teeth are crooked or overcrowded and affect the bite of the child. Genes can lead to malocclusion, so is excessive thumbsucking. The condition may cause trouble eating, breathing, and speaking. Some may also have gum disease and TMJ problems.

Dental emergencies among children are quite common. Kids can have falls, accidents while playing or during sports which can happen in the home or outside. Teeth can suffer cracks and chips, and sometimes an entire tooth or two can be knocked out, and gums can be cut and bleed.

Gum disease is surprisingly common in children. It is particularly aggressive and manifests early in children with poor oral hygiene and nutrition. Pediatric gingivitis is characterized by gum swelling, redness, and bleeding during brushing or flossing.

Dental anxiety and phobia. Kids and teens are fearful of the dentist especially if their initial experiences caused pain and discomfort. This anxiety manifests as tantrums, avoidance, and panic attacks that need to be addressed. It can carry over to adulthood.

Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting, particularly if excessive and chronic, can cause issues in teeth development. Open bites are the usual resultant condition that can affect biting and chewing, as well as speaking. Tongue thrusting is also common in kids and can lead to open bites.

Bad breath in children is usually due to eating stinky food, excessive sugary snacks or drinks, as well as poor oral hygiene practices. A decaying tooth also contributes to foul breath in children.


Preventing Children’s Dental Problems in Bellevue

One of the best ways to protect your children’s oral health and lower their risk of oral issues is to have regular dentist visits. Your Bellevue dentist says, prevention is better than cure.

Pregnancy and Dental Care

If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, be sure to communicate this to our Bellevue dentist. Pregnancy has a lot of serious implications regarding your dental care, and you will want to involve your dentist to assure the best health for not only your teeth but also your new baby.

  • Avoid X-Rays During Pregnancy: As much as recent developments have made dental radiography safer than it’s ever been before, there’s no sense in exposing your fragile new baby to unnecessary radiation. Try to schedule any important x-rays before your pregnancy, if you can.
  • Plan Your Dental Appointments Around your Trimesters: Dental treatment should be avoided during the first and third trimesters, as these are important times in the baby’s development. Routine dental procedures should be safe during the second trimester.
  • Alert Your Dentist of Any Medication You Are Taking: It may be necessary to alter your dental treatment to accommodate new medications.
  • Take Particular Care of Your Teeth: Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy put you at greater risk of periodontal disease. Maintain proper oral hygiene, and pay close attention to your gums for signs of bleeding, swelling, or tenderness.
  • Switch to a Bland-Tasting Toothpaste: Strong, minty flavors can aggravate your morning sickness. Look for a toothpaste with a more neutral taste for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Rinse After Vomiting: Frequent vomiting exposes your mouth to harsh acids that can break down your teeth and gums. Rinse out with water or mouthwash after vomiting, but don’t brush; the acids in your mouth have temporarily weakened the enamel of your teeth, and brushing too quickly can strip this enamel away.

Who is at Risk for Oral Cancer?

Part of our job at our Bellevue dental clinic is to protect you from oral cancer. This cancer accounts for less than five percent of cancers in the United States, but has a surprisingly higher death rate than most of the more common cancers. You can work to avoid such cancer by living a healthy lifestyle, and being mindful of the following risk factors:

  • Men make up 70% of oral cancer cases, with men over fifty being at the greatest risk.
  • Users of tobacco have a considerably higher risk factor for oral cancer. This includes tobacco smoked as a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, as well as smokeless snuff or chewing tobacco.
  • Alcohol consumption contributes greatly to oral cancer risk, particularly if the drinker also smokes.
  • Excessive exposure to the sun can contribute to oral cancer developing on exposed regions of the lips.
  • A poor diet, particularly one deficient in vitamin A, can increase your oral cancer risk.
  • A family history of cancer can always be indicative of a higher cancer risk.

Most deaths caused by oral cancer could have been avoided if the condition was discovered earlier. If you’re a high risk for oral cancer, talk to your dentist and be sure to get your regular screenings.

The Warning Signs of Oral Cancer

When you get screened for oral cancer at our Bellevue dental clinic, we’re looking for unhealthy tissues developing in your lips, on your tongue, inside your cheeks, on the floor of your mouth or on your hard palate. The processes we use are easy and reliable, but there is also a lot you can be doing to look out for cancerous growths between your regular dental check-ups. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms, and call your dentist right away if you think you are in danger:

  • Unusual lumps, swollen areas, rough spots, crusts, or eroded regions on the lips or anywhere inside the mouth.
  • Velvety white or red patches in the mouth, or a speckled white and red patch.
  • Inexplicable bleeding in the mouth.
  • Numbness or loss of feeling in the face, mouth, neck, or ear.
  • Inexplicable pain or tenderness in the face, mouth, neck or ear.
  • Sores in the face, neck or mouth area that bleed easily and persist for at least two weeks.
  • A sore throat, or a feeling that you have something caught in the back of your throat.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving your jaw or tongue.
  • Persistent hoarseness.
  • Slurred speech or other changes in your voice.
  • A change in the alignment of your teeth.
  • Weight loss.
  • A lump in your neck.