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What Are Dental Sealants?

October 28th, 2020

You’re constantly playing defense. Your child spends two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night carefully brushing and flossing with a fluoride toothpaste. You make sure sugary and acidic foods are not a major part of your diets. Your child visits our Watkinsville office for regular exams and cleanings. Really, how can a cavity get past all that?

But even with the best defensive practices, you don’t have a level playing field—literally. The tops of our molars and premolars don’t have the smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces that our other teeth have. If you look at the chewing surfaces, you will notice deep grooves which toothbrush bristles have a much harder time reaching.  

Plaque and food particles can become trapped in these grooves (known as pits and fissures), providing perfect conditions for a cavity to develop. That is why cavities are so common in newly erupted molars. Dental sealants protect these teeth from cavities by providing a barrier which smooths out the surface of the tooth and prevents food and bacteria from reaching the molar’s crevices.

Most sealants are invisible plastic resin coatings which we apply in our Watkinsville office. Usually the procedure is so quick and easy that no dental anesthetic is required. Each tooth will be examined first. If we find any signs of early decay, we will gently treat that area before beginning.

When the tooth is ready, it will be cleaned and dried. An etching solution will be brushed on to the dry surface to roughen the area a bit so that the sealant will hold to the tooth more effectively. A thin coat of the sealant is then painted on and hardened under a curing light. And that’s it!

Once teeth are sealed, they should be cleaned and flossed just as carefully as before. Regular exams and cleanings are still very important, and we can monitor the condition of the sealant and the sealed teeth. Properly applied, sealants can last from three to five years, or even longer.

Who should consider sealants? Sealants are typically recommended when the permanent molars first erupt. Children’s enamel takes a while to become its strongest, and so these just-erupted teeth are more at risk for cavities. Sometimes Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will recommend sealants for primary (baby) teeth if needed. But even adults can benefit—talk to us if you are interested and we will let you know if sealants might be right for you.

Sealants are a simple, safe, and minimally invasive way to prevent cavities. Studies of sealed molars and premolars show a dramatic reduction in cavities compared to untreated teeth. Sealants are one of the most effective ways to defend your teeth or your children’s teeth from tooth decay. And as we’ve all heard—defense wins championships!

There’s an App for That!

October 21st, 2020

Kids today are more tech-savvy than ever before. Even young children use computers, tablets and smart phones to make learning about their world more accessible and more enjoyable. And with the enormous variety of apps geared to childhood education, it comes as no surprise that you can download an app to encourage your children to learn about—and celebrate—their dental health.

What kinds of apps are available for your child?

Happy Brushing!

Children’s apps can offer helpful advice for learning effective brushing and flossing habits that will last a lifetime. Some of the apps for young brushers include:

  • Age appropriate instructions for proper brushing technique
  • Two minutes of carefully chosen songs or stories to keep them brushing the recommended amount of time in an entertaining way
  • Reminders to replace those little toothbrushes—every three months, please!
  • Educational games and stories to teach effective dental habits and tooth-healthy food choices.

The best apps not only provide lots of important information for keeping young teeth and gums their healthiest, but make learning fun with rewards such as badges, stars, games, or simply plenty of positive encouragement.

Time for the Tooth Fairy to Appear?

Losing a tooth is an important event for many young children. If you’re a fan of the Tooth Fairy, there are apps that can provide some reassuring fun while your child waits for that first loose tooth to finally come out. Tooth Fairy apps offer a wide variety of activities, including:

  • Tooth Fairy voicemails to report a loose or lost tooth
  • Tooth Fairy diaries to record lost teeth—and save photos of the adorable smiles that result
  • A video of an animated Tooth Fairy fluttering around your child’s pillow on the big night
  • A Tooth Fairy alert for forgetful Tooth Fairy assistants.

Apply the Latest in Brushing Technology

If you’ve decided that an electric toothbrush is the best brush for your child, many of the products available today come with their own apps. What can these apps do?

  • Let children know if they’ve brushed long enough
  • Alert them when they’re brushing too hard, which is not good for young gums and enamel
  • Some apps even provide a map of the mouth and teeth that lets children know just where they’ve brushed, in case they tend to neglect a few spots regularly.

Keep Those Appointments

Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells and our team are here to help keep your child’s teeth healthy. Regular examinations and professional cleanings at our Watkinsville office not only make sure problems are caught before they become serious, they can help prevent problems from developing in the first place.

There are many apps out there that are designed to help you keep your child’s dental care on track with appointment reminders. This sounds pretty basic, but when kids have school, sports, lessons, and activities filling their days, it doesn’t hurt to get a timely reminder that Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells should be seeing someone in your family for an appointment or checkup and a cleaning in the near future.

Dentist Approved

When looking for a dental app for children, there are lots of options. The best apps provide age-appropriate educational tips for keeping young smiles healthy, and present them in a way that engages your child’s imagination and provides positive reinforcement.

If you think an app might make dental care not only more efficient, but more enjoyable for your child, talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells! We might have some suggestions that will be just right for your family.

Just What Is Plaque?

October 14th, 2020

When you were younger, and you brushed your teeth without any help for the first time, it was a big step. It meant you’d learned the right way to brush to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But why does brushing help keep you healthy? Let’s talk about plaque!

  • What Is Plaque?

Plaque rhymes with “attack,” and that’s just what it does to your teeth. If you don’t brush for a few days (which is a bad idea!), plaque is the reason for that fuzziness you feel when you run your tongue over your teeth.

If your teeth feel fuzzy, that means that plaque has been building up for a while. But how does it begin?

Plaque is made up of saliva, bits of food, other liquids, and tiny little organisms called bacteria. While most of the bacteria in our bodies don’t bother us—and some even help us—the bacteria in plaque are not so helpful.

Plaque starts with a type of bacteria that stick to the teeth, loosely at first, and then more strongly. Within hours, they join with saliva, bits of food, and other bacteria and bacterial products to make a very sticky film. This film is plaque.

Why is it so important to brush plaque away every day? As Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells will tell you, plaque can cause cavities and hurt your gums.

  • How Does Plaque Cause Cavities?

Bacteria are like us—they need food. The bacteria in plaque especially like the sugars we eat. (That’s why you shouldn’t have too much junk food or candy in your diet.) Bacteria change these sugary building blocks into a kind of acid, and because plaque is sticky, the acids stay on your teeth.

These acids breaks down the enamel, that hard coating which covers teeth. Tiny weak spots can grow and become holes in the enamel. We call these holes cavities, and your dentist can repair them by cleaning away the decay and putting a filling in your tooth to protect it.

But it’s best to prevent cavities from ever starting by brushing and flossing. Even though plaque is sticky, it is easy to brush away when you do it every day.

  • How Does Plaque Hurt Your Gums?

The gums surround our teeth and help protect them, but they are also delicate. When plaque builds up, it can irritate your gums.

You might notice that your gums get red, feel sore when you brush, or look puffy. You might have bad breath that doesn’t go away. All these are signs that your gums are reacting to the plaque around them.

The good news is that careful brushing and flossing can usually fix these problems. Talk to Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells about taking good care of your gums.

  • Can We Fight Plaque?

Yes! From the time you were small and learned how to brush, you’ve been learning how to fight plaque.

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all around each tooth and the gums.
  • Floss to remove plaque from where it hides between the teeth and near the gums.
  • Visit our Watkinsville office for a cleaning, to remove plaque from hard-to-reach places and to learn the best ways to brush and floss.

As soon as you finish brushing, plaque starts to build up again. But no need to worry! Keep brushing, flossing, and visiting us for regular cleanings, and all your careful work will be rewarded will a beautiful, healthy smile.

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 7th, 2020

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Jennifer Wells and Dr. Erik Wells wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Watkinsville office, make your Halloween a safe one!

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