Tags Posts tagged with "Tooth Loss"

Tooth Loss

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How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth?
©Chistyakova Julia/Shutterstock.com

Gone are the good old days of lost tooth lore when all that children wanted in exchange for their lost baby tooth was a healthy permanent tooth.

How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay?Nowadays, kids are demanding more and more from the tooth fairy.

Many parents want to know how much the tooth fairy pays.  Personally, I’m not sure that it’s really the business of parents to know what goes on between the tooth fairy and their children, but what do I know?

For all those curious parents out there, here’s how much the tooth fairy has paid out over the last six years.

Tooth Fairy: How Much Does She Pay Per Tooth?

How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth?

I came across a wide variety of figures while researching the amount that the tooth fairy pays.  I found this tooth fairy poll website that aims to track the current going rate for lost baby teeth as well as an article in Money Magazine from 2005.  The article pegged the value of one lost baby tooth at $1.78.

The most comprehensive tooth fairy payout statistics, however, are available from Delta Dental of Minnesota.  They seem to have a passion for finding out how much the tooth fairy pays.  They go to great lengths to figure out the national average (as well as the Minnesota average) for tooth fairy payouts.

Here’s a summary of Delta Dental of Minnesota’s annual tooth fairy reports with a graph displaying the average price that the tooth fairy has paid per tooth over the last six years:

A Graph of How Much the Tooth Fairy Has Paid

As you can see, the values are steadily rising, which is good news for the children!

On a side note, the high rate of return (around 10% since 2005) causes me to think that baby teeth might be a good investment, especially when you take into account the fact that the U.S. credit rating was recently downgraded.

Should Children Be Able to Bank Their Teeth?

While researching for this article, I came across an interesting option the tooth fairy apparently offers. Some parents supposedly encourage their children to save up multiple lost teeth and then the child can cash them all in at once.  By saving the teeth and then putting them all under their pillow at once, the tooth fairy gives them more for the teeth collectively than the good fairy would have given for each individual tooth.

Perhaps this helps children learn to save, or perhaps the tooth fairy is slowing down with old age and appreciates saving a trip.  Either way, I’d never thought about doing this with my own kids.  I’m still undecided, but I think I prefer the original system.  After all, having to save up teeth might kill some of the excitement by not allowing each child to get their 20 tooth fairy visits.

How Much Does The Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth At Your House?

How much does the tooth fairy pay when she visits your children?  Do  your kids save up their teeth to get a larger payout from the tooth fairy?  Does the tooth fairy pay more for teeth that have never had cavities? Do you have a child with a double tooth, an extra tooth, or congenitally missing teeth?  If so, how does the tooth fairy account for those anomalies?

I’d love to hear what the tooth fairy does at your house. Thanks for reading!

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Cavities In Baby Teeth: Do They Need Fillings?
©Ilya Andriyanov/Shutterstock.com

A lot of parents wonder if it’s really necessary to have their children get fillings in their baby teeth.  Since baby teeth just end up falling out, why not let the cavity fall out with the baby tooth rather than paying to have a dentist remove the cavity?

Many people assume that baby teeth aren’t that important since they quickly get replaced by permanent adult teeth as a child grows.

Fillings Baby TeethEven though they do end up falling out, baby teeth are important!  When they’re healthy, they can help children eat healthy foods.  When baby teeth get infected, they can damage the permanent teeth developing under them and in severe cases they can cause brain infections.  If you missed my earlier article, you can read it to learn five reasons why baby teeth are important.

Now that you understand why baby teeth are important, let’s talk about whether or not baby teeth need fillings.

Should You Get Cavities in Baby Teeth Filled?

When thinking about getting cavities in baby teeth filled, there are a couple of main things to think about: How much use your child will get out of the filling and how big the cavity is.

First, let’s talk about how much use your child will get out of the filling.  The book Pediatric Dentistry by Pinkham says, “A carious primary molar in a 6-year-old is a problem; a loose carious mandibular incisor may not be if it is about to exfoliate.”

If a tooth is about to fall out (or exfoliate if you want to speak in fancy dental terms), then your child probably wouldn’t get much use out of a filling in that tooth.

The other main factor to look at is how big the cavity is.  Although dentists recommend treating cavities when they are small, sometimes a cavity can be so small that it can repair itself under the right circumstances!

In the book Paediatric Dentistry, the authors discuss the question of whether or not to treat baby teeth.  One of their points supporting not getting fillings in baby teeth says, “Remineralization can arrest and repair enamel caries. It has long been known that early, smooth surface lesions are reversible. In addition, it is now accepted that the chief mechanism whereby fluoride reduces caries is by encouraging remineralization, and that the remineralized early lesion is more resistant to caries than intact enamel.”

If the cavity is small and has just started, there is a chance that it can repair itself through the process of remineralization.

Keep in mind that this repair will probably NOT occur unless your child’s diet and oral hygiene dramatically improve!  There’s a reason that your child started to get a cavity and if nothing is done to change the habits that started the cavity, then the cavity will probably get worse.

If you don’t think you will alter your child’s diet or oral hygiene, then it’s probably a good idea to have the dentist put a filling in the baby tooth while the cavity is small so that the cavity doesn’t get bigger.

On the other hand, if the cavity is small and you are willing to work really hard at improving your child’s diet and oral hygiene, then the cavity can remineralize.  In this case, there there’s no need to get a filling in your child’s baby tooth.

Conclusion

When considering a filling in your child’s baby tooth, it is important to think about how much longer the tooth will be in the mouth and the size of the cavity.  If the tooth will be falling out soon, it may not be necessary to get a filling.  If the tooth won’t fall out for a couple of years, then it’s probably a good idea to get a filling in your child’s baby tooth.

Most dentists will be able to give you a good idea as to whether or not your child would benefit from a filling in a baby tooth or if it’s really not necessary.

Do you have any questions or comments about fillings in baby teeth?  I’d love to hear them in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

47
Flossing Mistakes
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It seems so simple to just slide some string between your teeth to clean those hard-to-reach areas.  While the idea is simple, there are a few techniques that you need to master in order to maximize the return on the time you spend flossing.

Here are ten common mistakes that people make when they floss:

10 Common Flossing Mistakes

1 – Not Flossing the Sides of Both Teeth

Flossing MistakesIf you just slide the floss down, and then pull it up, you are only getting 50% of the job done.  When you move the floss up between two teeth, you need to make sure that you are cleaning the side of both teeth.  One of the favorite places for plaque to hide is between teeth. If you’re only removing plaque from the side of one of the teeth, you could easily get a cavity on the tooth that you’re not flossing.

Find out about six common places where you are most likely to get cavities.

2 – Using the Same Section of Floss Between All of Your Teeth

When you floss you are removing bacteria from between your teeth and below the gum-line.  If you use the same section of floss for all of the teeth in your mouth, you are spreading around a lot of bacteria.  Of course you still are loosening the plaque, which has its benefits, but if you use a new section of floss each time you floss between two teeth, you will be loosening the plaque without putting plaque that you’ve already removed back in between your teeth.

3 – Snapping the Floss Down Hard Between Your Teeth

To get the floss to go between a tight contact between two adjacent teeth, try working the floss back and forth applying a firm but controlled downward pressure.

Snapping the floss down between the teeth can not only injure your gums in the short-term, but the trauma can cause your gums to recede.  Do it enough, and you’ll cause gum disease.

4 – Not Flossing Behind the Very Back Teeth

Even though there isn’t a tooth next to it, it is still important to clean behind the four teeth that are all the way in the back of your mouth (two teeth on each side in the upper and lower jaws.)  This can help remove bacteria that has made its way  between your tooth and gums.

5 – Flossing Aimlessly Without a Plan

When you floss, you need to have a road-map of what order you are going to floss your teeth in, or you can quickly become confused and miss some teeth or even a quadrant of your mouth.  It may be easiest to start in the upper right and go to the upper left, then come down to the lower teeth in the bottom left and move across to the bottom right.

However, as long as you have a plan, it really doesn’t matter which teeth you floss first.  Personally, I start right in the middle of my upper teeth and work my way back on one side and then on the other.  Then I do the same thing on the lower teeth.  Just find a “floss order” that works for you and stick to it so that you don’t forget to floss any teeth.

Dental Floss

6 – Not Flossing Around Dental Appliances

Many people don’t know that if they have fixed dental appliances in their mouth, they need to floss around them.  For example, if you have a bridge, it is necessary to use a floss threader, or get something similar to Oral-B Superfloss.

I had braces on my lower teeth when I was a teenager.  After I had them removed, the orthodontist cemented a wire that connects to each of my six lower front teeth.  This stabilizes them, but also makes it impossible to use conventional floss due to the wire.  Because of this, I have to use Superfloss or floss threaders to get under the wire so I can floss and maintain my gum health.

7 – Quitting When Your Gums Bleed

Blood may scare some people when they floss because they think that they are hurting their gums if they bleed.  You are not hurting them as long as you’re not flossing too hard (see mistake #3.)

Most likely, the reason they bleed is because they haven’t been flossed in a while and the gum tissue has become red and inflamed.  This is a condition known as gingivitis and it occurs because the body is sending more blood to the gum.  This is to help the tissue fight all of the plaque that is accumulating.  When you floss, you are removing that plaque, and since the tissue is inflamed and engorged with blood, you are causing some of the blood to leak out.  After a few days, your gums should return to health and you can floss normally without any bleeding.

8 – Not Spending Enough Time With Your Floss

Most people have 28 teeth if they’ve had their wisdom teeth extracted.  When you floss, you need to get both sides of the teeth (even the most posterior teeth – see mistake #4.)  That means that there are 56 sides that you need to get.  You should be spending a couple of seconds with each side, scraping up and down against the tooth a few times before moving onto the next surface.  That means that it will probably take you around two minutes to floss your entire mouth if you have a full set of teeth.

9 – Not Applying Pressure to the Tooth Surface

When you floss, you want to be careful to avoid using too much downward pressure so you don’t damage your gums.  However, when you are flossing against the side of a tooth, you want to make sure that you are pushing the floss against the tooth surface enough to be able to remove the plaque.

10 – Only Using Floss to Remove Food

Unfortunately, lots of people think that the only reason for flossing is to remove food that has gotten wedged between their teeth. I think many people end up doing this because they can see the food between their teeth — they can’t see the plaque.  An easy solution to this problem is to use a plaque disclosing tablet/solution to visualize the plaque on your teeth.

When you floss, your primary goal should be to scrape against each tooth to remove as much plaque as you can.  As long as you are doing this, you should be getting rid of the food between your teeth without even thinking about it.

Floss Correctly and Keep Your Teeth For Your Whole Life

By avoiding these ten common mistakes, you will be able floss more efficiently which will lead to greater oral health.  Since many cavities start out between two teeth, you will be able to prevent many cavities by regularly flossing and avoiding these ten flossing mistakes.

Do you have any questions or comments about flossing?  I’d love to hear them!  Just leave them below in the comments section.

13
Tongue Piercing with Needle
©Charles Knox/Shutterstock.com

I remember vividly a lecture that I had last year in one of my pediatric dentistry classes.  My professor told us a story about how she went down to one of the local piercing parlors and asked if she could take pictures of a tongue piercing.  They let her take some pictures and she showed them to our class.

She commented that if parents actually knew what happens when their kid gets their tongue pierced, there would be a lot less pierced tongues.

I debated about whether or not I should put an image of an actual tongue piercing in this article, but I think it may be too graphic for some people.  If you’d like to see what a tongue looks like as it’s getting pierced with a needle, you can see a photo with an explanation by clicking here.

Keep in mind that there are many risks with piercing your tongue, so I would advise against getting your tongue pierced.  In this article, I’ll simply focus on the process of getting your tongue pierced.

Tongue Piercing Procedure

The Tongue Piercing Procedure

First of all, the person piercing your tongue will use a marker to mark the spot on the taste-bud side of the tongue where the piercing will be.  If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see a dark blue mark where the ring enters the tongue.

Next, the piercer will hold onto your tongue with some sort of a clamp so that it doesn’t move when it is pierced.  If the tongue moves and the needle goes through the wrong part, it could hit a blood vessel or cause damage to a nerve.

As they are holding onto the tongue, the piercer will stick a thick needle through your tongue without using any anesthetic.  (See a picture of this here – not for the faint of heart!)  Some people say this hurts, others say that as long as you find the right person to pierce your tongue, it shouldn’t hurt.  Since piercers are not licensed medical professionals, they are not permitted to give you any anesthetic to numb your tongue and prevent you from feeling pain.

Then, the piercer will put a long barbell through the hole that was made in the tongue.  Usually the barbell is 18 millimeters (about ¾ inch) long.  The initial barbell needs to be long because your tongue will swell a lot after the piercing.  If a short barbell is used, the tongue could swell around it and trap the barbell inside the tongue.  If this occurs, surgery will be needed to remove the barbell from the tongue.

If your tongue piercing is done in a clean, sanitary environment and doesn’t become infected., the initial 18 mm barbell can be replaced with a shorter barbell.

Conclusion

After your tongue has been pierced, you must leave the barbell in place or the hole can close up.  It can be removed for very brief periods of time without this occurring but there is always a risk.  It’s a good idea to remove any tongue jewelry when you’re playing sports so that you don’t damage your teeth.

Do you have any stories or experiences with tongue piercing?  I’d love to hear about your stories, questions and comments in the comments section below!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Piercing.jpg

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Tongue Piercing Licking Lips
©Beccarra/Shutterstock.com

Oral piercing is a practice that seems to be gaining popularity in the United States.  The most common places to get a piercing in your mouth are the lips, tongue, cheek, and the uvula (the “hangy-ball” thing in the back of your throat.) Tongue Piercing Can Hurt Your Teeth!People want to get their tongue pierced for a variety of reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is to make them look trendy — people want to fit in, and if they can be seen as cool for getting their tongue pierced, then they’ll go for it. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the many risks associated with getting your tongue pierced.  I think if people understood the dangers of tongue piercing, fewer piercings would be performed. I’m planning on writing a couple of articles about the risks of tongue piercing.  This first article will focus on ten ways that tongue piercing hurts your mouth and teeth.  The next one will talk about the negative effects that oral piercings have on the rest of your body.

The Risks of Tongue Piercing: 10 Ways Tongue Piercing Hurts Your Mouth and Teeth

1 – Tongue piercing causes chips, cracks, and/or fractures in your teeth. Wearing tongue jewelry can not only damage your teeth, but it can damage expensive dental work that you may have already had done. The effect of tongue jewelry on teeth is especially important when participating in exercise and athletic activities.  When in doubt, take the barbell out!  It is important to note that if you leave out your tongue jewelry for more than a few hours, it may be next to impossible to get the jewelry back in.

Tongue piercings are just one of the many ways you can chip or crack your teeth.  To learn more,read 10 Easy Ways to Chip or Crack Your Teeth.

2 – Tongue piercing causes gum recession, also called localized periodontal disease. If you wear a barbell in your tongue, it can rub up against and irritate the gums on the tongue side of your teeth.  This has led to gum recession in many people who have their tongue pierced.  In older adults, periodontal disease (not cavities) is usually the most common cause of tooth loss. 3 – Tongue piercing can wear down your teeth. Out of habit, many tongue-ring wearers often rub their tongue ring up against their teeth. Over time, this can wear down the enamel. Over time, you could expose dentin or experience increased sensitivity or cavities. If you insist on having a tongue piercing, trying out a shorter barbell may reduce the damage that it inflicts on your mouth — although it would be best to get rid of the tongue jewelry altogether!

Concerned about wearing down your teeth? Learn more about the four ways we wear down our teeth.

4 – Tongue piercing can cause speech impediments. Tongue piercing can make it more difficult to talk.  You use your tongue for making a lot of sounds when you talk.  If you get a tongue ring, it makes it a lot harder to speak correctly. 5 – Tongue piercing can cause nerve damage. An inexperienced piercing parlor worker may inadvertently cause permanent damage to the nerves in your tongue or other areas of the mouth depending on how the tongue is pierced.  The person doing the piercing needs to have a sound knowledge of the anatomy of your tongue.  If you do get your tongue pierced, it’s important to find a reputable, high-quality piercing parlor to cut a hole in your tongue. You probably wouldn’t enjoy having parts of your tongue permanently numb.  Many people hate having their tongue numb for a couple of hours after getting a filling — just imagine how hard it would be to not fully enjoy the taste of your food or constantly have your tongue give you that numb, tingling sensation. 6 – Tongue piercing can cause bad breath. Tongue jewelry is a good place for the plaque in your mouth to live.  It’s harder to brush if you have tongue jewelry.  Also, if you don’t regularly clean your tongue jewelry, it can accumulate bacteria that make your breath smell pretty disgusting! Tongue Piercing Damages Your Mouth! 7 – Tongue piercing can cause a space between your two upper front teeth, also known as a diastema. Although this isn’t very common, it does happen as evidenced by this case report written by orthodontists. 8 – Tongue piercing can cause excessive drooling. Tongue piercing can cause an increase in the amount of saliva you make.  Although saliva is good for the teeth, too much can be a problem.  You probably won’t look too cool with a tongue ring if you leave a puddle of spit everywhere you go! 9 – The metal tongue jewelry can cause a metal hypersensitivity reaction. You could end up being allergic to the metal in your tongue jewelry. If you were excited about having metal tongue jewelry and then end up having to wear a plastic barbell, you may be disappointed. 10 – Tongue piercing can cause pain and infection. The tongue piercing itself could cause pain and other complications.  Many people who have had their tongue pierced say that it was quite painful.  Here’s one story about how much tongue piercing hurts from Yahoo! Answers. You might get an infection depending on how sanitary the piercing parlor is. Most people have some degree of swelling after their tongue piercing. If you have a low tolerance for pain, you may want to reconsider.

More Reading on the Negative Effects of Tongue Piercing

I read a LOT of great articles while researching for this post.  Here are a couple you might be interested in:

Conclusion

Keep in mind that of all of the negative effects listed above, the most common are damaging a tooth and causing gum recession. If you’re thinking about getting your tongue pierced, please re-think your decision.  You may look cool around some of your friends, but the damage that tongue piercing does to your mouth isn’t worth it. Although I didn’t mention this above, because it’s not a huge consequence of tongue piercing, think about how much you love tasting your food —  especially with Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Do you really want to damage some of your valuable taste buds by getting your tongue pierced? For all of the Americans reading this, have a great Thanksgiving day tomorrow!  If you have any questions or comments about tongue piercing and oral health, please leave them in the comments section below.

4
Teeth In Old Age
©Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com

A couple of weeks ago, Karen, a reader from Colorado Springs emailed me with the following question:

Older Couple with Teeth“Since our average life expectancy is getting longer, what’s the likelihood we’ll have any of our original teeth if we were born in the 50’s before better dental care was available. Do our children have a better chance of maintaining their teeth into their later years?”

Over the past few decades, the number of people keeping their natural teeth has steadily increased.

In fact, a researcher by the name of Hugoson did a study in Sweden spanning 40 years.  It showed that over time, people are keeping their teeth much longer, and dentists are providing higher quality fillings than they have in the past.  I’ll recap some of that study’s most interesting findings later in this article.

Karen is right, better dental care is much more widely available now than it was in the past.  Many factors have contributed to this improvement of oral health, some of which are still being studied.

Fewer Elderly People Need Dentures

The graph below shows the percentage of elderly adults that are missing all of their teeth.  The data is taken from two different studies, the first study defined the elderly as those aged 65 to 75 and the second study defined the elderly as anyone over the age of 60.  Despite this minor difference, both sets of data demonstrate the same trend — the American elderly are keeping their teeth longer.

Percent of Elderly Without Teeth

As you can see, about 50 years ago, over half of the U.S. elderly population were missing all of their teeth.  Recently, that number has dropped below one quarter of all U.S. elderly adults.

Americans of All Age Groups Are Keeping Their Teeth Longer

The graph below shows the number of teeth that people in different age groups had circa 1990 and 2000.  I made it using the data from this study.

For the purposes of this study, a full set of teeth is defined as 28 teeth.  This does not include the wisdom teeth, since they are often extracted.

Average Number of Teeth Remaining In U.S. Adults

Between 1990 and 2000, the number of natural teeth that adults across all age groups had noticeably increased.

Swedish Study Confirms Tooth Loss Trends

As mentioned above, one of the most in-depth studies on the subject of age and oral health was done over the course of 30 years in Jönköping, Sweden.  Researchers measured the oral health of Swedes of all ages (from 3 to 80.)  Here are some of their most important conclusions:

  • The number of [people missing all their teeth] in the age groups 40-70 years was reduced from 16 per cent in 1973 to 8 per cent in 1993, and to 1 per cent in 2003.
  • The average number of teeth people kept increased.  Up to the age of 60 years, people generally kept all of their teeth.
  • During the 30-year period,the number of carious lesions and restorations generally decreased.
  • During this time, the overall quality of fillings increased.  In the 1990’s, only 5-10% of fillings had a critical error, and in the 1960’s, 40% did.
  • In 2003 the bone level at the age of 60 years corresponded to the bone level at the age of 40 years in 1973.  Bone level is an important measurement used to determine gum health.
  • The comparison of the four studies shows that there has been a great overall improvement in oral health over this 30-year period.

Gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss.  I found it interesting that the gum health of those who were 60 years old in 2003 was equivalent to a 40 year old’s gum health in 1973.  This trend helps to explain why more and more elderly people are keeping their natural teeth.

Conclusion

Oral health is improving.  It could be because of the increased availability of fluoride, better oral hygiene, higher quality dental care, or a combination of many factors.

Returning to Karen’s original question, the evidence shows that we are not doomed to lose our natural teeth when we get older.  Keep in mind that those who are elderly now grew up before the 1950’s and they are keeping their teeth longer.  In fact, the chances are better than ever that with proper oral care, you can keep your natural teeth for a lifetime!

Do you have any questions or comments on oral health and aging?  Please leave them in the comments below.  If you liked this article, share it with a friend!

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Gum Disease Leads to Tooth Loss
©Kninwong/Shutterstock.com

Man Asking About Tooth LossIf someone asked you what the #1 cause of tooth loss is in people over age 35, what would you guess?

If you’re like most people, you would probably guess that it’s cavities.

Unfortunately…you’d be wrong.

It is generally accepted that the leading cause of tooth loss in people over 35 is periodontitis, more commonly known as gum disease.  In people under 35, cavities are the leading cause of tooth loss.

Teeth are normally held firmly in place under your gums by a strong bone called alveolar bone.

Gum Disease Can Cause You To Lose Your Teeth
©Jun Kawaguchi/Shutterstock.com

You Can Lose Teeth That Are In Perfect Condition

If you’ve brushed your teeth every day of your life and kept them in perfect condition with no cavities, but you’ve never flossed then you might be in trouble.  There are many people who believe that brushing is enough.  But while they are preventing cavities, their lack of flossing is causing other unseen effects on their gums.

Over the years, a lack of flossing will take its toll on your gum health.  Your gums will recede due to the constant irritation they’ve had from bacteria that hasn’t been removed by flossing.  Soon enough, your teeth begin to loosen and can even fall out if your gums are not cared for.

The x-ray below shows two teeth that have lost nearly half of the support from their bony foundation.

Periodontal Disease Associated Bone Loss
The blue lines show the level where the bone should be to provide adequate support to the teeth. The red line shows the current level of the bone. Click on the image for a larger view.

Your Gums Are the Foundation

House FoundationIn a healthy mouth, each tooth in your mouth is firmly gripped by strong, healthy alveolar bone.  Hopefully the building you’re in right now is rooted firmly in the ground by a strong foundation.

Try to imagine a beautiful home anchored firmly on top of a large hill by a strong foundation.  Let’s compare this house to a tooth.

As gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (gum disease), the bone that holds your teeth in place gradually erodes away.  This is similar to hundreds of rainstorms gradually washing away the dirt that surrounds the foundation of a house.

If enough dirt washes away, the house could eventually find itself on unstable ground and fall over.  Even if everything else on the house was in perfect condition, it could still fall.

This is the same in the mouth.  Even if you have a tooth that has never had a cavity, it can fall out due to a lack of support from the alveolar bone.

Conclusion

You now know that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in people over age 35.

One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is to floss daily.  Flossing helps dislodge the bacteria that get stuck down between your teeth and gums.  Ordinary brushing can’t remove these bacteria, only flossing can get rid of them.

Do you have any questions or comments about gum disease?  Leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.