November 22nd, 2023
Children’s oral health differs from the needs of adults in many ways. It’s vital for you to understand what your child needs to keep his or her teeth healthy. Dr. James McCreary and our team are here to answer your questions to set you and your little one up for success.
In-home dental care should start as soon as your baby show signs of developing that first tooth. At around age one or two, bring your son or daughter to our Pensacola, FL office. Dr. James McCreary will examine your child’s tooth development and gum health.
The initial appointment will focus on getting your youngster familiar with our office and comfortable with our staff. We will go over several general matters during that first visit:
- Inspect for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
- Check for gum disease or cavities
- Examine your child’s bite and possible misalignment
- Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
- Talk with parents about proper oral health
- Give you tips for brushing and flossing your little one’s teeth
- Answer any questions you may have about caring for your son or daughter’s teeth
Once your child is old enough for the first dental visit, you should schedule regular cleanings every six months. Call our Pensacola, FL location if you have any conflicts or questions.
November 15th, 2023
When your child loses a tooth for the first time, you both have a lot to look forward to. Sharing in the “I’m a big kid!” excitement. Tales of the Tooth Fairy or other traditions to mark the occasion. Seeing the start of a beautiful grown-up smile.
But before that baby tooth wiggles all the way out of your child’s mouth, let’s talk about how to handle a loose baby tooth.
- Be mindful of your children’s feelings. Reassure them that this is a normal part of growing up. If they are anxious about losing a tooth, there are children’s books which can help ease their fears in a soothing and entertaining way.
- Crunchy and healthy foods like carrot sticks and apple slices can help the tooth fall out naturally—and nutritiously!
- Encourage careful wiggling. No need for children to yank or pull—time, and a child’s own gentle wiggling with tongue or clean hands, should do the trick. If wiggling the tooth is painful, it might not be ready to come out just yet.
- If a tooth absolutely is ready, but just won’t come out, you can help your child without resorting to a string and a doorknob. Give our Pensacola, FL office a call for some suggestions for helping that baby tooth on its way to the Tooth Fairy in a timely—and gentle—fashion.
And if a tooth is clearly loose before its time? Should you encourage its exit?
Probably not. Baby teeth are temporary, but they’re important for your child’s development. They help with speech production, eating and chewing, and serve as placeholders so that permanent teeth can erupt in the right spot at the right time.
There are some situations when a loose baby tooth means a visit to the dentist is in order:
- Baby teeth usually fall out over a period of years, generally from ages 6 through 12. Since children’s teeth tend to fall out in the same order they arrived, if a molar is loose before the front teeth start to wiggle, give your dentist a call.
- If your child suffers a fall, or a sports injury, or any kind of accident that leaves a tooth or teeth loose, call your doctor or dentist right away to make sure there are no serious injuries or chance for infection.
- Any time you feel a tooth is loose that shouldn’t be, make an appointment with your child’s dentist.
Finally, we’ve been talking about loose baby teeth, but loose permanent teeth are another matter entirely.
If you child has a loose permanent tooth due to an injury, or a bad bite, or night-time bruxism (tooth-grinding), or for any other reason, it’s important to call for an appointment immediately. Dr. James McCreary will be able to pinpoint the cause of the problem and can offer some solutions. In the meantime,
- Make sure your child eats soft foods, and tries to eat on the opposite side of the loose tooth.
- Keep the area clean with gentle rinsing instead of brushing and flossing.
- Tell your child not to wiggle it! If the bone or ligaments holding the tooth in place have been damaged, playing with the tooth can make it looser.
A loose baby tooth is a step in your child’s journey to a beautiful, healthy adult smile. Reassure, encourage, and help your child through this rite of passage—and don’t hesitate to call on Dr. James McCreary for advice!
November 15th, 2023
Painful nails and cuticles, ruined manicures, reluctance to shake hands—there are so many good reasons to overcome the nail biting habit. But did you know that biting your nails is also bad for your dental health? Let’s look at a few more reasons to give our nails a break.
- Bacteria Bonanza
It’s a vicious—and unhealthy—circle. Nail biting leads to injuries to the nails, cuticles, and skin surrounding the nails. These broken, jagged nails can now cause injury to delicate gum tissue. And to make things worse, fingernails harbor a lot of germs and bacteria, leading to the risk of illness and oral infections. At the same time, bacteria from our mouths can get into the area around the injured nail, potentially leading to painful infections in the fingers.
Studies have indicated that nail biters have a greater risk of bruxism. Bruxism, better known as tooth grinding, can lead to a number of serious problems over time. Grinding and even clenching teeth on a regular basis can cause chronic headaches, worn enamel, fractured teeth, broken dental restorations, receding and inflamed gums, and loose teeth.
- Breakage & Bad Bites
Your nails suffer obvious breakage, clearly, but your teeth are also at risk. The constant pressure of nail biting can lead to cracking, chipping, and erosion in the front teeth. Further, the pressure put on your teeth can even move them out of alignment, leading to bite problems. As you can imagine, nail biting has an even greater impact if you are wearing braces, because those teeth are already under pressure.
Why do we bite? Nail biting, or onychophagia, is a habit often started in childhood. Some people quit on their own as they reach adulthood, but for others, it can be a lifelong and painful habit. The explanations for nail biting are many: some researchers regard the habit as a form of compulsive behavior, others believe it to be a grooming impulse gone haywire, still others think it’s a way that we respond to anxiety or other stresses.
Whatever the cause, if you want to break the habit, you have options. There are over the counter polishes that use an unpleasant taste to deter biting. Learning to recognize triggers such as stress or boredom can help you choose a different response, such as snapping a rubber band around your wrist or gripping a stress ball. Dr. James McCreary can recommend some techniques for modifying this behavior. And finally, we can offer you suggestions for quitting, or even customize a mouthguard at our Pensacola, FL office to discourage nail biting and prevent the problems that come with bruxism.
It’s never too late to quit. If nail biting has become more than a cosmetic problem, let’s work on a solution. Healthy, attractive nails are a great goal to work toward, but nothing beats a beautiful, healthy smile!
November 8th, 2023
Everyday life can take a toll on the whiteness of our teeth: Foods we love as well as soft drinks and coffee can stain them over time. Poor brushing and flossing can also leave behind tooth stains. Even injuries to teeth or gums can cause some yellowing, and in certain cases, medicines can contribute to discoloration.
So don’t get discouraged if you notice your smile has dimmed. You can definitely take action to restore the natural beauty of your teeth. Here are some of the best ways to whiten them:
- Drink through a straw or cut back on coffee and soft drinks to reduce risk of stains.
- Brush and floss every day.
- Try a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash.
- Visit our Pensacola, FL office every six months for regular cleanings.
We also offer in-office professional whitening at our Pensacola, FL office. These whitening products are much more effective than whiteners you can buy at the store and are completely safe. Since they’re stronger, application by a member of our team is essential to achieve the best results.
Still, some teeth can resist bleaching. If that’s the case, we can try several other techniques, such as deep bleaching that applies whitening agents over several visits, veneers and bonds that cover existing stains with a whiter, brighter surface, or laser whitening.
If a whitening session is something you’d like to pursue, be careful about whom you trust to perform the procedure. Avoid using “bleaching stations” in shopping malls or at fairs. These so-called whitening techniques can irritate your teeth and gums, and leave them highly sensitive to pain.
Also, operators of these whitening stands will make customers apply the bleach themselves, to avoid charges of practicing without a license. That should serve as a red flag and a caution to seek trained professionals like Dr. James McCreary, instead.