Baby Teeth Do Matter!

By the time a baby is born, their first set of teeth is already developed and present in the jaw. The first of those teeth begin to show at around six months, and most children have all of their twenty primary teeth by the time they reach three years old. Many people mistakenly believe these teeth aren’t particularly important in comparison to the second set of adult teeth that begin to erupt at around six to seven years of age—but in fact, baby teeth are important for several developmental reasons.

It’s true that baby teeth fall out and are replaced by adult teeth, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not just as important to take good care of that first set. Baby teeth have several important functions for a growing child. They’re essential for learning how to eat solid foods, which also means they’re important for nutrition and health. As well as this, baby teeth are essential for the development of speech, because they facilitate proper tongue positioning and pronunciation.

Perhaps the most important reason, however, is that baby teeth serve as a guide for the positioning of the adult teeth that take their place. If a baby tooth is lost before the adult tooth beneath it is ready to emerge, that adult tooth may erupt in a misaligned position. This can have significant follow-on effects, since one badly-aligned tooth can cause alignment problems in the teeth that erupt beside it. The more misaligned teeth there are in the mouth, the more likely the child is to have tooth-crowding, bite problems, or other issues as they grow up, and the more likely they are to need braces or other dental work as teenagers or adults.

Taking Care of Baby Teeth

Fortunately, it’s easy to take good care of a young child’s baby teeth, and to teach them how to take care of their own teeth as they get older. Good tooth care starts before the first baby teeth even erupt, with a daily gentle wiping of an infant’s gums with clean, moist gauze. Once the first teeth begin to show you can brush them with a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste, while continuing to use gauze on the gums.

Once a child is old enough to brush their own teeth, they can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. As their adult teeth start to grow in, they’ll be old enough to use an adult-sized amount of toothpaste, and should be able to follow a good oral hygiene routine that includes daily flossing and twice-daily brushing.

James Mitchell DDS welcomes questions and provides guidance for primary teeth. Preventative measures make a difference to long-term oral health!

The Eyes Have It: Can dental cells repair the cornea?

Although it might sound like science fiction, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have shown in mice that stem cells from dental pulp, the tissue from the inner part of the tooth, can be transformed into cells of the eye.*

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 Here’s what happened: the team collected dental stem cells from human wisdom teeth after routine extractions, and then induced the cells to turn into corneal cells called keratocytes. Weeks after injecting these cells into the eyes of mice, the researchers observed no signs of rejection, and the mice corneas appeared clear. The researchers also created cornea-shaped material that had similar properties to actual cornea tissue.

Why is this significant? This could turn out to be an important advancement since corneal blindness is the fourth leading cause of blindness in the world and is usually treated by using corneal transplants. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of donor corneas, and tissue rejection can result in permanent vision loss.

Time will tell if this science will be helpful to humans in the future. In the meantime, however, it lends credence to our Mitchell Dentistry philosophy that dentistry ties in to the big picture of overall health. Your teeth and your oral health are integrally connected to the rest of your body. While our focus is on your mouth, our concern is with all of you.

We are always interested in the latest science or technology related to oral health – so if you hear anything interesting, definitely let us know!

*The study was published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

How Do All-on-Four Implants Differ from Traditional Implants?

Where removable dentures and plates were once the go-to treatment for missing adult teeth, these days your dentist is more likely to recommend permanent implants—and while just a decade or so ago there were few options for permanent implants, there are now multiple different ways to fit them. One option for permanent dental implants is the all-on-four method, in which an entire arch of teeth is replaced.

All-On-Four Requires Fewer Implants

In the all-on-four method of tooth implantation, a full arch of teeth is supported by just four implants, whereas a full arch supported with traditional methods typically uses up to twice as many implants.
This is one of the most important differences with the all-on-four procedure. In this method two of the implants are the same size and shape as traditional dental implants, but the other two are longer, and can be implanted into the jaw at an angle. These longer implants can reach the denser bone at the back of the mouth, which is what allows for a full arch of teeth to be set on a total of only four implants, while retaining the high degree of strength and stability of a set of traditional implants.

All-On-Four Doesn’t Need High Bone Density

The use of these two long, angled implants is also what makes this method suitable for people who have suffered bone density loss as a result of having missing teeth. When there’s a significant loss of bone density, dental implants may not be an option, because the implants need to be set into strong, dense bone tissue. Since the all-on-four method can access stronger bone tissue at the back of the mouth, people with a significant loss of bone density can still have the procedure.

All-On-Four Is Faster

With just four implants to place into the jawbone, the all-on-four method is also much faster than traditional implants. Often, the all-on-four procedure can be completed—from start to finish, including the placement of restorations—in just one visit. That means there’s no need to use temporary restorations in between visits, and much less time spent in recovery.

Who Can Benefit from All-On-Four?

For someone with just one or two missing teeth, the all-on-four procedure isn’t a good option—the traditional method of implanting works much better here.
Where the all-on-four method really shines is when a full arch of teeth is missing or is severely decayed or damaged, especially in cases where the patient has lost bone density and isn’t a good candidate for the traditional implant method.
Call James Mitchell, DDS for more information or to schedule an appointment.