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Make Time For Kids' Oral Health While Getting Ready for School – Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It is back-to-school time. Pediatric dentists warns that your children's oral health shouldn't be lost in the morning rush to get ready for school.

Taking care of your child’s teeth is critical, but during busy school mornings, kids sometimes forget to brush. Children should see the dentist twice a year, but adequate home care, healthy diets and trauma prevention can ensure that children's teeth stay healthy when they get back to school.

There are some steps children and parents can take to help ensure kids teeth stay healthy and cavity-free:

Brush before breakfast: There is little time to spare on most school mornings. Sometimes kids eat their breakfast on the way to school.

It's not necessary to wait until after breakfast to brush. This will help ensure kids brush their teeth before heading off to school.

The goal is to prevent the pH of the mouth from dropping to an unsafe zone since cavities form in an acidic environment. Studies show that if we brush before we eat, the mouth's pH will not dip low enough to form cavities.

Don't micromanage: Some parents tell kids to hold off brushing until after they've fixed their child's hair. Allow children to brush their teeth while their hair is being done so no time is wasted and teeth are clean.

Consider diet: School meals may contain processed and sugary foods. Parents who pack their child's lunch should focus on sending perishable items, such as fruits and vegetables, that will provide children with healthy alternatives.

Don't overthink it: A little variety is nice, but there is no harm in giving kids the same lunch each day if it means it will be healthier. For example, cutting fruits and vegetables, and adding hummus and pita bread is healthy and convenient.

Consider shelf life: Packaged foods that can sit on the shelf for a long period of time, such as crackers and pretzels, contain starch. Starch coats the teeth and can breed cavity-causing bacteria.

Since kids may get these snacks at school, parents should avoid adding them to their pantry at home. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables or dried fruits like raisins.

Choose water: Juice often contains more sugar than children should have in an entire day. This sugar can coat the teeth, promoting tooth decay.

Sugar can also lead to an afternoon crash, which interferes with schoolwork. Instead of juice, give kids fruit and teach children to drink water.

Be safe: Kids participating in organized sports should wear mouth protection. This is particularly true if they play soccer, baseball and basketball.

Children should also always wear a helmet when riding bicycles or scooters. Helmets should also be worn when roller skating or rollerblading.

Seek help: Children who fall on their face should visit the nurse and the dentist. Sometimes issues can develop slowly.

A minor problem could actually affect the root of a tooth. If a permanent tooth is knocked out it must be replaced within 30 minutes.

Never scrub a tooth that has fallen out, even if it looks dirty. This could kill its root.

Don't expect pain: Cavities in children don't hurt until they become infected. So, some children with cavities may not complain about tooth pain.

Be careful about braces: Dental care for those with braces is even more important. It can be tough to brush around braces and plaque can build up, leading to permanent damage.

Teens often wear braces and hormonal changes that take place during adolescence can alter bacteria in the mouth.

For more information on oral health for kids, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.


Clear Braces for Back to School - Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 20, 2015

Now that school is about to start, your teen may be stressed about crooked teeth and the idea of having to get braces. But, your teen can achieve straight teeth with having to deal with metal braces. Clear braces invisibly straighten your child’s teeth. Clear braces are custom made to fit your teen’s teeth perfectly.

No teen wants to hear: “you need braces?” But now, you can take the stress away. Teens no longer have to choose between metal braces or crooked teeth. Now your teen can have the straight teeth they have always wanted without brackets and wires. Clear braces can help by using clear, removable aligners to  straighten teeth.

Clear braces are a better, less stressful approach to straightening teen teeth. They gradually straighten your teen’s teeth and are comfortable, affordable and very effective. By using removable clear aligners, your child can also brush, floss and better take care of their teeth while they are still in braces. This makes for healthier and more attractive teeth once the straightening process is complete.

For information on clear aligners for back-to-school, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Root Canal: What are the Causes? Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 13, 2015

A root canal is a procedure used to treat problems with your tooth’s dental pulp, or soft core. This core contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Pulpal nerve damage result in a root canal procedure,

What Causes Pulpal Nerve Damage?

The most common causes of pulpal nerve damage are:

  • Irritation brought on by a deep cavity that reaches down to the nerve or through deep fillings. This allows harmful bacteria to reach the pulp or nerve which results in an infection and further decay.
  • Trauma to the tooth or jaw that damages nerve tissue within the tooth
  • A fractured or cracked tooth that involves the pulp or nerve

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pulpal Nerve Damage?

The signs and symptoms of pulpal nerve damage can vary from person to person. The most common ones include:

  • Pain in the tooth when biting down
  • Tooth pain while chewing
  • Oversensitivity of the teeth with hot or cold drinks
  • Gum or facial swelling

These signs and symptoms can resemble other oral health conditions so you need to visit a dentist for a correct diagnosis.

What Does a Root Canal Involve?

The affected area is numbed with anesthesia. The tooth crown, or top, is opened to expose the pulpal tissue so that it can be removed. The area surrounding and containing the pulpal tissue is carefully cleaned, enlarged, and shaped so that permanent filler can be used to prevent any further infection and discomfort. After filling, an artificial crown is made to complete the restoration of the natural tooth.

The procedure may be spread over more than one visit.

With proper care and regular checkups, your treated tooth can last a lifetime.  Until the crown is placed, avoid using it to chew hard foods.

For more information, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Get Rid of Bad Breath – Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To ensure that your breath is fresh, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss daily, food can become trapped in your mouth, attracting bacteria that leads to bad breath. Also, bad breath can be caused by food particles that collect between the teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue which can decay.

To prevent bad breath, brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Brush gently and pay special attention to the gum line. Also, use floss to clean between your teeth at least once daily. Brushing your tongue and roof of your mouth can also help remove odor-causing bacteria and debris. Mouthwashes just temporarily mask a bad odor. They don’t have a long-lasting effect. If you feel like you constantly must use mouthwash for bad breath, talk with your dentist.

More Problems and Solutions

Several other factors can play a role in bad breath. These include:

Gum disease. Bad breath that doesn’t go away can be an early warning sign of gum disease. In addition to brushing and flossing, it’s important to have regular dental checkups and professional cleanings.

Food. Certain foods can affect your breath for up to three days after eating them, including onions, garlic, and coffee. Once food is absorbed into the blood, it is carried to the lungs. There it can give exhaled air a bad odor. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can mask the problem. But the improvement is short-lived, and the problem will keep coming back until your body eliminates the food. For a long-term solution, you might need to adjust your diet.

Dry mouth. Saliva helps prevent bad breath by washing away food particles and bacteria. When you sleep, saliva production slows down. This causes many people to wake up with bad breath. Dry mouth during the day can be caused by salivary gland problems, breathing through your mouth, or taking certain medications. Depending on the cause, your dentist might recommend drinking more fluids, chewing sugarless gum to stimulate saliva flow, or using artificial saliva.

Smoking. This is another common cause of bad breath—and one more good reason not to smoke. If you’re a smoker, ask your dentist or doctor for help with quitting.

Medical conditions. Bad breath can also be a sign of another medical disorder, such as chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, digestive problems, and liver or kidney disease. If your mouth is healthy, your dentist may refer you for a medical evaluation.

For more information, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Helping Teens with Their Dental Habits - Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, July 06, 2015

Encouraging proper dental care and daily brushing can be a battle with young children. This struggle can sometimes get worse as your kids enter their tweens and teens.

It’s not uncommon for habits to slip as teens hit puberty. If you have a child who is susceptible to gum disease or cavities, this age period is often when major problems begin. Good dental health is particularly important to teens as older children who neglect their teeth can lead to a lifetime pattern of poor dental hygiene. Poor brushing habits can result in cavities, yellowing, gum disease and loss of teeth.

According to a recent Gallup Youth Survey, 34% of teens brush their teeth only once a day and 2% claim that they don’t even brush daily. The numbers are even more discouraging when it comes to daily flossing, which is necessary for maintaining healthy teeth and gums and preventing future problems such as gingivitis. However, few teens floss as often as they should, with the survey finding that only 13% floss daily and 44% rarely or never floss.

One of the problems is that many teenagers have yet to grasp that they have adult teeth, which are taller than the baby teeth they leave behind. Also, 12-year-old molars typically arrive between 10 and 16 years of age and many children are not aware that they need to reach further back to brush them. Additionally, motor skill development doesn’t make it reasonable to expect kids to adequately floss until they are at least 10 years old.

The following are some simple and easy tips to encourage teens to take proper care of their teeth:

  • Don’t hover. Constantly monitoring teens may make them less likely to brush. Provide encouragement, but give them some space.
  • Use positive forms of reinforcement and establish an appropriate reward system.
  • Don’t threaten. Never use a visit to the dentist as a punishment, which can create an unfounded fear of the dentist and instill a dread of dental treatments.
  • Practice what you preach. It’s important for parents to set a good example for teens and follow your own behaviors, including those related to dental care. Teenagers are more likely to develop good dental health habits if they see them displayed at home.
  • Have teens keep a travel-size toothbrush in their locker or backpack, which makes it easy to keep up with good teeth-cleaning habits after meals and snacks.
  • Explain the consequences, in detail. Describe the implications that can result from a failure to brush, including plaque buildup, tooth decay, gum surgery and root canals. Also focus on the more superficial elements of poor oral care, such as stained teeth, which should get a teen’s attention.

It’s important to make sure teens keep up with routine dental visits and exams, including cleanings, which should take place every six months. It can also be helpful to have a neutral outsider, such as a dentist or dental hygienist, talk to your teen about the importance of brushing and flossing.

For more information on teen dental health, contact Today's Dental of Boxborough.

The Record

Choosing a Pediatric Dentist for your Kids – Boston, Boxborough, Concord, MA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of rigorous specialty training following a four-year dental school curriculum and is the only dentist who limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are the primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs. Their residency training provides extensive study and hands-on experience in both problems specific to the growth and development of children’s mouths and in child psychology. Pediatric dentists also have a different approach in orienting children to the dental environment, and practice behavior management techniques that encourage positive early dental experiences for children.

When should my child first see the dentist?

Your child should first see the pediatric dentist by age 1, or as soon as the first tooth emerges. Although many people still wait to make their child's first dental visit at age 3, this information is no longer current. By age 3, your child may either already have cavities or have poor dietary and hygiene habits that can leave them more susceptible to cavities. Remember, big dental problems can begin at a very young age. The greatest risk of severe cavities comes from either frequent sipping on sugary drinks or allowing your child to fall asleep while drinking a bottle or nursing. The most important reason to begin dental care so young is to begin a thorough preventative program for your child. And then the dentist can spot problems, such as the early stages of decay, before they do any major damage.

Is my child at risk for dental disease?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, your child may be at an increased risk for dental disease and cavities:

  • Do you (child’s mother) and/or any of your other children have tooth decay?
  • Does your child snack frequently? Does your child have increased between-meal exposures to sugars, including 100 percent fruit juices and/or flavored milks or sports drinks and carbohydrate-rich snacks?
  • Does your child sleep with a bottle or is your child breastfed throughout the night?
  • Does your child have special health care needs that impact cooperation or coordination?
  • Does your child have red puffy gums, chalky white spots, or visible plaque?
  • Does your child have a medical condition or take any medications that cause dry mouth (asthma)?
  • Does your child have decreased exposure to fluoridated water and toothpaste?
  • Are your child’s teeth brushed one or less times per day?
  • Has your child had cavities in the past?
  • Has it been more than 6 months since your child’s last dental visit?

Why are baby teeth so important anyway?

Although it is true that your child will lose their baby teeth, the molar teeth in the back will remain in the mouth until your child is 10-13 years old. The baby teeth have many important jobs, primarily, to save space in the mouth for the adult teeth growing beneath them. When a baby tooth is lost too early, usually due to infection from a cavity, the rest of the baby teeth near that empty space shift around. They can even prevent the grown-up tooth from growing into the mouth correctly. This can lead to crooked adult teeth and future orthodontic problems. Baby teeth also help your child to speak clearly and to chew thoroughly. Cavities in baby teeth can lead to infection and pain for your little one and can also cause damage to the grown-up teeth beneath them. Early visits encourage your child to be much less fearful of the dental environment, which in turn promotes adults with healthier teeth.

Your pediatric dentist will help your child on a lifelong journey towards good oral health. Early visits also encourage your child to become less fearful of the dental environment. Please don’t wait until it is too late — tooth decay is almost 100 percent preventable.

For more information on pediatric dentistry, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

News Transcript

Dental Sealants to Protect from Cavities – Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, June 26, 2015

Our teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. When we eat or drink anything that contains sugar – such as cookies, candy, soda, juice or sports drinks – bacteria turn the sugar into acids that can attack tooth enamel. Over time, these attacks may cause tooth decay, or cavities. The good news is that there is a way to protect teeth and prevent decay: dental sealants.

Tooth decay often begins on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These surfaces have pits and grooves that trap plaque, bacteria, and bits of food. The pits and grooves are hard to keep clean, because toothbrushes cannot reach into them.

That is how decay starts in the pits and grooves and cavities form. To keep decay from starting here, your dentist may recommend dental sealants.

A dental sealant is a plastic material or resin applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant material flows into the pits and grooves in the teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel by sealing out plaque, bacteria, and food.

For more information on protecting teeth with dental sealants, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Space Maintainers Give Children a Healthy Smile – Boston, Concord, Boxborough

Joseph Coupal - Monday, June 15, 2015

Sometimes children lose a baby tooth before the adult or permanent tooth is ready to come in. This can lead to dental issues later on. When a tooth is missing, the other teeth shift to fill the gap. This can take up the space that permanent teeth normally occupy. As a result, permanent teeth come in crooked and crowded. This can affect your child’s speech and their ability to chew. Eventually, your child could need orthodontic treatment to correct the problems caused by one missing baby tooth.

Space maintainers are the solution to this problem. They fill the space left by a missing tooth. They are custom fitted to your child’s mouth, and they keep the primary teeth in place so that the permanent teeth can come in where they belong. The space maintainer is removed when the permanent tooth is ready to emerge.

There are several different types of space maintainers for teeth available, so be sure to discuss the options with your child’s dentist. Space maintainers can be a band or a temporary crown attached to one side of the open space with a loop or bar contacting the tooth on the other side of the space. They may be made out of plastic or metal.

Your child may have a space maintainer for years, since some permanent teeth don’t emerge until your child is 14 years old.

For more information, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Root Canal Treatment: When and Why You May Need It – Boxborough, Concord, Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 04, 2015

Teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Years ago, diseased or injured teeth were usually pulled. But today, a tooth can often be saved through root canal treatment.

Today’s Dental of Boxborough can treat diseases or injuries to the teeth or dental pulp. This often results in root canal treatment.

If the dental pulp is injured:

The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, treatment is needed. The most common causes of pulp inflammation or infection are a cracked or chipped tooth, a deep cavity or filling, or other serious injury to the tooth. All of these can allow bacteria to enter the pulp.

If damaged or infected pulp is not removed, the tissues around the root of the tooth can become infected. Pain and swelling often result. Even if there is no pain, bacteria can damage the bone that holds the tooth in place in the jaw. Without treatment, the tooth may have to be removed.

This often leads a root canal. When a tooth is removed and not replaced, the teeth around it may shift. This can make biting and chewing difficult and may make it harder to clean your teeth.

Root canal treatment can prevent these problems by saving your natural tooth. Also, root canal treatment usually is less expensive than a replacement tooth.

For more information on root canal treatment, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

Treating Poorly Aligned Teeth – Boston, Boxborough, MA

Joseph Coupal - Friday, May 29, 2015

Correctly aligned teeth are what keeps us from biting our cheeks and let us chew and speak properly. Properly aligned teeth also allow for proper cleaning to prevent tooth decay.

Badly aligned teeth are called malocclusion. This means that the teeth of the upper jaw don’t connect properly with the teeth of the lower jaw. Different types of malocclusion are overbites, underbites, and uneven bites.

Malocclusion causes many problems. These problems include trouble biting or chewing, speech difficulties such as lisping, mouth breathing, jaw pain, unhealthy gums, and an unattractive appearance.

Children may inherit malocclusion because of the size and shape of their face, jaws, and teeth. Or they can develop it from using a bottle or pacifier too long, thumb sucking, losing baby teeth too early or late, or from an accident.

Sometimes both inherited and later problems are to blame. Signs your child might have a malocclusion include crowded, misplaced, or oversized teeth; or jaws that shift or make sounds.


Your pediatric dentist may try to prevent your young child’s malocclusion from developing. Preventive treatment means leaving enough space for permanent teeth to come in. This may require a space maintainer to take the place of a baby tooth lost too early. Or the orthodontist might remove primary teeth that don’t come out on their own.

A second type of treatment, called interceptive treatment, aims to keep a developing malocclusion from getting worse. The orthodontist may guide emerging permanent teeth into alignment by:

  • Removing teeth
  • Reducing the size of teeth
  • Holding space for permanent teeth

Comprehensive orthodontic treatment means correcting a malocclusion and making sure that the jaw works well. This treatment may take place in several phases.

Two types of appliances can correct malocclusion. Removable appliances made of wires and plastic are easy to keep clean. But to do their job, they must be worn exactly as instructed. Fixed appliances, called braces, control tooth movement better than removable appliances. But food collects around braces. So children wearing braces must be especially careful about cleaning their teeth.

For more information on preventing misaligned teeth, contact Today’s Dental of Boxborough.

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