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Teens and Gum Disease

February 21st, 2024

You have a lot going on. School. Sports. Activities. Family. Friends. Teens lead busy lives and have busy schedules, so you need to budget your time and energy. One thing you don’t want to spend any of your time and energy on? Dealing with gum disease.

Gum disease most often begins as a reaction to plaque and tartar. The bacteria in plaque produce acids which irritate gum tissue, causing inflammation, swelling, and bleeding. This is gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

Left untreated, early gum disease can become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection which can cause receding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth and bone loss.

We usually think about gum disease as something that only older adults worry about. But the unfortunate fact is that children and teens are also at risk for gum disease—and the teen years bring special risks. Why?

  • Braces

The teen years are the most common years for orthodontic treatment. Wearing traditional or lingual braces can make removing plaque from around brackets and wires, between the teeth, and near the gum line more challenging, and gum disease can be the result. When you’ve been working so hard to create a healthy attractive smile, you don’t want to delay your orthodontic progress to treat gum disease.

  • Less-than-Nutritious Snacking

When you have after school commitments like sports practices, play rehearsals, or work, you probably carry a snack to give you the energy you need until dinner. Popular snacks like energy drinks, chips, or candy bars are common go-to choices, but they contain acids, simple carbs, and sugars which are bad for both gums and tooth enamel.

  • Hormones

Increased hormone levels during puberty can make the gums more sensitive and more easily irritated.

  • Your Busy Life

Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Or eating as well as you could. Or you’re feeling anxious. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and stress can affect your body’s immune system and your ability to fight off infection. And if you’re also not brushing and flossing regularly, your gum health can really suffer.

How do you know if you have gum disease? Good question! Sometimes the early stages of gum disease aren’t obvious. Perhaps you’ve noticed changes in your gums, such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding
  • Bad breath even after brushing

Any of these changes can be symptoms of gum disease and are a good reason to give our Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts office a call, since time is important when treating gum disease.

Caught early, gingivitis is usually very treatable—in fact, you can often reverse early gingivitis by paying more attention to your daily dental hygiene. If gingivitis is more advanced, or if periodontitis develops, you need professional dental care to prevent serious damage to your gums, teeth, and bone.

Preventing gum disease from ever developing is always best, though, so let’s look at what you can do to keep gum disease from becoming a problem.

  • Keep Up with Healthy Dental Habits

Even though you’re leading a busy life, take time for your dental care. Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes per session and flossing once a day take just a bit of your time and are the best way to keep your gums healthy. If you wear braces or have a tendency toward cavities and gum disease, Drs. Cartsos and Zavras might recommend brushing or flossing more often.

  • Use the Right Tools

Using the right tools makes a big difference. You should always choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to protect your delicate gum tissue—especially if it’s extra sensitive. Too-harsh brushing can damage even your super-hard tooth enamel, so you can imagine what it can do to your gums! Change out your brush every three to four months when it starts to get frayed and worn.

If you wear braces, ask Drs. Cartsos and Zavras to recommend the best kind of floss to clean between your teeth and around your brackets and wires. The right tools will make flossing a lot easier, and will help you keep your gums healthy and your orthodontic treatment on track.

  • No Matter How Busy You Are, Treat Yourself Well

Watch your diet. Drinking water to hydrate is a healthy (and inexpensive) alternative to sugary and acidic drinks. When you know you have after-school commitments, pack yourself a healthy snack. After snacking, it’s a good idea to rinse with water when you can’t brush to remove any food particles sticking around your teeth and gums.

And even though your schedule is demanding, caring for your mind and body should be a priority. If you have difficulties with sleep or stress, or questions about a nutritious diet, talk to your doctor for some valuable tips to make your daily life healthier and more enjoyable.

With so much going on in your active life, gum problems are problems you really don’t need. Make room in your schedule now for careful daily brushing and flossing, a healthy lifestyle, and regular visits to Convivial Dental, and you’ll be living that active life with a beautiful, healthy smile!

Why Baby Teeth Matter

February 15th, 2024

Sleepless nights, crankiness, drooling—how can such tiny teeth cause such a big fuss? But all those uncomfortable days and nights are forgotten when your baby’s first teeth make their appearance. Why? Well, certainly because your child is happier, but also because you know baby teeth, or primary teeth, are important for your child’s growth in so many different ways.

  • Chewing and Eating

Your baby might enjoy solid foods at an early age, but real chewing doesn’t happen until all the baby molars appear between the ages of one to three years. This is the time to feed children size-appropriate and texture-appropriate foods so they acquire proper chewing and eating habits for healthy digestion. Chewing also helps develop your child’s jaw and facial muscles.

  • Developing Speech

Pronouncing many of the common sounds used in speech often requires tongue and teeth working together. If teeth are missing or there is a bite problem such as an open bite, it might be more difficult to pronounce words properly. This could be only a temporary delay, or it could require speech therapy when your child is older.

  • Setting the Stage for Permanent Teeth

Baby teeth not only help with speech and jaw development, but they serve as space holders for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, a permanent tooth might “drift” into the empty space. The adult tooth will not have the room to fit where it should, and crowding or misalignment can occur. This might cause orthodontic problems in the future.

  • Learning Healthy Dental Habits

You are your baby’s first dental health care provider! Wiping the gums and erupting teeth with a soft damp cloth after meals, gently brushing baby teeth when your toddler is young, teaching how to brush as your child gets older, helping to establish daily routines for brushing—all these practices will prepare your child for lifelong healthy dental habits.

  • Making the Dentist a Regular Part of Your Child’s Life

Your child should visit our Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts office soon after that first tooth comes in, and definitely by the age of 12 months. Drs. Cartsos and Zavras can help with suggestions for your brushing and flossing routine, make sure your child’s teeth are healthy and clean, and ensure that teething progress is on track. In later visits, we will examine your child’s primary teeth and gums, and treat any problems, such as cavities, before they can become serious.

It turns out that baby teeth really are a big deal. Talk to us about suggestions for caring for your toddler’s teeth and about any questions you may have about teething progress, jaw and facial structure, speech development, or any other concerns at any time. We want to have a happy relationship with your child from the very start for a lifetime of healthy and confident smiles.

Creating a Dental Home

February 7th, 2024

As a parent, you know how important a happy, relaxed atmosphere is when it comes to making your child feel at home. We would like to make our Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts practice your dental home, where you and your family enjoy the best of dental care in a warm and welcoming environment.

What makes a dental home?

  • It’s Welcoming

From your child’s first visit, we strive to make you both feel at ease. Our office is designed to be a happy, entertaining, and relaxing place, and our staff is trained in making little ones feel calm and secure. We want to have a lasting relationship, and we want you and your child to feel welcomed back whenever you return.

  • It’s Familiar

We recommend visiting our office for the first time by the time of your child’s first tooth or first birthday. Our early visits are designed to make your child familiar with what a dentist does and how a dentist helps keep children healthy. Regular preventative care will keep those little teeth in great shape, and, if your child has a cavity that needs filling or requires any other dental procedure, we will have a history together and a familiar place to experience an unfamiliar treatment.

  • It’s Comfortable

We use state-of-the-art dentistry to make sure your child has the best and most comfortable treatment as a patient, and we also consider the psychological aspect of each visit for your particular child. We are experienced in dealing with children who might feel anxious and working with them to overcome their worries. Part of our job is to make each visit a happy one, so your child is always comfortable visiting us.

  • It’s Ongoing

We want to establish a relationship that will last through the years. Continuity of care means that we are able to follow your child’s dental development during those active growing years and the transition from primary to permanent teeth. We provide not only dental health education, treatment, and preventive care, but can track any changes or potential problems before they become major issues. In case of a dental emergency, we will be familiar with your child personally, and with a dental history at hand.

Give Drs. Cartsos and Zavras a call to talk about your child and how we can make the dental experience a positive one from the very beginning. When it comes to establishing a happy and healthy foundation for your child’s dental history, there’s no place like our dental home!

Having Your Teeth Cleaned Is a Bright Idea!

January 31st, 2024

Having your teeth cleaned is part of most dental checkups. It’s a great feeling to know your teeth look clean and bright, but there’s more to feel great about! Cleanings help your teeth stay healthy. Let’s talk about why a cleaning at our Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts pediatric dental office is a bright idea.

  • Brushing and Flossing at Home Isn’t Always Enough

Even when you brush and floss every day, sometimes you don’t get rid of all the plaque sticking to your teeth. Plaque, after all, starts forming within hours after you brush, and this can be a problem.

  • The Problem with Plaque

Plaque is a sticky film that’s mostly made up of bacteria. These tiny germs use food we eat to make acids, and these acids can make our tooth enamel weaker. Over time, a weak spot in tooth enamel gets bigger and deeper until it becomes—a cavity.

And that’s not all. Plaque near our gums irritates them, and our gum tissue reacts to this irritation. Our gums might turn darker pink, or bleed, or get puffy. We could have bad breath that brushing won’t get rid of. These are signs of gum disease. Clearly, we don’t want plaque sticking around!

  • The Trouble with Tartar

Especially because, after only a day or two of letting plaque build up, it starts to turn into tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque, and it can’t be brushed away at home. Tartar can only be removed by an expert at Convivial Dental.

It can build up anywhere we might not be brushing as often and as well as we should—especially behind our teeth and between them. Tartar can build up above and below the gum line, where it causes even more gum irritation.

You want your teeth to have the best protection against cavities and gum disease, and that means making sure that plaque and tartar aren’t making themselves at home on your teeth. And that means a visit to your pediatric dentist’s office for an expert cleaning.

What goes on during a cleaning?

  • First, a Look at Your Teeth and Gums

Once you’re settled in the comfortable dental chair, Drs. Cartsos and Zavras will examine your teeth and gums to see if they need any attention before starting the cleaning.

  • Scaling

Your hygienist usually begins by carefully scraping away any plaque and tartar with tools called scalers. Scalers can be hand tools or use ultrasonic vibration. Your hygienist will also clean the area around your gums, gently getting rid of any plaque and tartar on your tooth enamel above and below the gum line.

If you’ve been missing any spots in your daily brushing, your hygienist will point out these out so you can brush better.

  • Polishing

Sometimes your teeth might be polished to take away stains on the tooth surfaces. This can be done with a special toothpaste applied with a spinning brush or rounded cup. Or your hygienist might use an air polisher, which uses powder, water, and air to clean teeth. Often, scaling on its own will remove any small stains.

  • Flossing

Sometimes even adults have a hard time flossing the right way! But it’s a skill you should learn because it’s really important for healthy teeth and gums. Brushes can’t get in the tight spaces between our teeth—but plaque can. Flossing fits in between those tiny spaces to gently scrape away plaque as you move the floss up and down.

Your hygienist will floss between your teeth to remove any plaque, and can show you the right way to floss your teeth and the best kind of floss to use.

  • Rinsing

After cleaning your teeth, your hygienist will make sure you rinse well for a shining smile. And that’s it!

Your teeth will look and feel cleaner once any harmful plaque and tartar are gone. You’ll find out if you’ve been missing any areas when you brush. You’ll learn the right way to brush and floss for healthy teeth and gums. And you’ll be helping to prevent cavities and gum disease! No wonder a cleaning at your dentist’s office is always a bright idea.

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