Friday, January 11, 2019

Children's Dentistry FAQ

These are a few Frequently Asked Questions we receive regarding children's dental care. We put them to Dr. Derek Martin and these are his answers:

Q: When should a child’s first dental appointment be?

A: In general, the ADA recommends children first be seen by age 1 or within 6 months of their first tooth erupting.

Q: What happens during a child’s first dental appointment?

A: Dental visits in young children are important, not only to examine the eruption and health of the "baby" teeth, but also will serve to build comfort and confidence between your child and the dentist from an early age. We will also have an opportunity to discuss home care, diet, teething habits, and any other concerns or questions the parents may have.

Q: Do children really need x-rays?

A: Dental X-rays are usually not needed in our very young patients, unless there is a specific concern. The first X-rays are taken around 5-6 years old (depending on the child's eruption pattern), or around the time of the first permanent molar eruption. These annual X-rays allow us to monitor the health of the baby teeth and see the underlying permanent teeth in development.

Q: What are sealants? Why does my child need sealants?

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surface (grooves) of the teeth. Brushing can not always get in all the "nooks and crannies" of the teeth, and so sealants are very important in "sealing out" food and bacteria that can cause decay.

Q: Why is fluoride recommended for my child’s teeth?

A: Fluoride has been shown to be extremely helpful in reducing tooth decay. Flouride is a naturally occurring mineral, and works in two ways: 1) by making tooth enamel stronger, and 2) by repairing or "remineralizing" enamel that has already been damaged from the acid that bacteria in your mouth release.

Q: Why do baby teeth with cavities need to be fixed?

A: Cavities in baby teeth are usually treated the same way as in adult teeth. Even though all the baby teeth will naturally be lost, it is important to maintain the health of baby teeth because they serve to hold space in the growing jaw, where eventually the adult teeth will erupt. Not only can cavities in baby teeth cause pain (just as in adult teeth), but just as important, if these baby teeth are lost early, issues with spacing/crowding of adult teeth can occur.

Q: When should my child have a consultation for braces?

A: As part of our routine dental exams, we constantly monitor a child's eruption pattern, spacing/crowding, and general tooth-to-jawsize relationship. Recommendations to have your child seen by a braces specialist (orthodontist) can be made anytime depending on the severity of crowding or other issues. However, children with crowding/spacing issues usually visit an orthodontist after the 12-year molars erupt.

Q: When should a baby start getting teeth?

A: Your child's first teeth will usually begin to erupt around 6 months. These are usually the lower central (front) teeth, followed couple of months later by the upper central teeth. However, eruption times and sequence can be different from one child to another. This is usually nothing to be concerned about. Routine, twice-yearly dental exams are important so we can monitor the progress of the baby teeth.

Q: What age should a child start losing baby teeth?

A: Just as with eruption of baby teeth, there is a range in the eruption of "adult" teeth that can vary from child to child. In general, the first "adult" teeth will appear around 6-7 years old. Around this age, the central "baby" teeth will be lost to make room for the "adult" central teeth. You will also begin to see the eruption of the child's first "adult" molar teeth. These teeth do not "replace" baby teeth, so you will see them erupt just behind the child's last "baby" molars on both the top and bottom jaw.

Q: My child’s adult tooth is coming in, but the baby tooth is not out yet. Is this bad?

A: Sometimes, due to the angle of eruption of the adult teeth, a "baby" tooth is not lost prior to the eruption of the same adult tooth. We will monitor as this happens, and often we simply recommend to wait a little longer to allow the baby tooth to naturally shed. As this "waiting game" goes on, there may be a point where removing the baby tooth becomes important for spacing issues.

Our general philosophy with these types of procedures in children is - "less is more". If we can let the mouth naturally do what it's meant to, this is usually the best option for children. If the "baby" teeth are being stubborn for long enough a period of time, we may recommend to gently "wiggle" it out (extract it) in our office.

Q: Should I brush my baby’s teeth?

A: Yes. Brushing your baby's teeth is very important for many reasons: First, it is important from a very young age, to instill good home-care habits in children, so when they mature into adolescence and adulthood, they continue good oral hygiene on their own. Second, maintaining the health of the baby teeth is important so that these teeth can be shed naturally and maintain space for the adult teeth in the child's growing jaw.

If your baby doesn't have teeth yet, take a damp cloth and rub it along the gums. Once the first teeth come in, we can give you an appropriately sized toothbrush. Fluoridated toothpaste should not generally be used until the child can spit it out. However, it's still important to regularly brush your child's teeth until they are old enough to do so themselves.

We hope you find this information helpful. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your child's oral health please give us a call and any of our dentists will be happy to consult with you.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Our History

Did you know the Hyde Park neighborhood is celebrating 150 this years? We have been around for almost 40 of those years! We started reminiscing and want to share a little of our history with you...

Dr. Rick Bankhead and Dr. Paul Groipen met in dental school at The Ohio State University. Dr. Rick is from Ohio and decided to move to the East Coast after graduation and open a practice with Dr. G (who grew up here).

In 1979 they bought the practice at 1259 Hyde Park Avenue - where we still practice today - from Dr. Melnick. Incidentally, Dr. Melnick had bought the practice four years earlier from Dr. Lasker, who had been practicing since 1924. So 1259 Hyde Park Avenue has been home to a dentist for almost 100 years!

When Dr. Rick and Dr. G first started out, they had a very small staff. They shared a dental assistant who pulled double duty and covered the front desk! We've come a long way since those humble beginnings!

Fast forward to 1985, and Dr. Rick's brother, Dr. Kirk Bankhead, graduated from dental school (another OSU grad) and was welcomed into the B&G family. The Docs took a road trip to Cape Cod to celebrate Dr. Kirk's graduation and stumbled across a neon pink flamingo in one of the shops. They bought it and hung in the window looking over Hyde Park Avenue, and the rest is history...our mascot was born.

It was around this same time that Dr. Warren Childs started practicing with us. Dr. Childs is a periodontist (gum specialist) who works with us on a part-time basis. This way our patients can have easy access to gum care services without having to worry about going to a different location or filling out new paperwork.

In 1991, B&G expanded to a second location. Dr. Rick and Dr. G. purchased a practice on Centre Street in West Roxbury from Dr. Peters. Dr. Peters stayed with us on a part-time basis for a few years before easing into retirement, and many of his patients still visit us today.

The offices were a little small and the practice was steadily growing, so it had become hard for everyone to have office hours at the same time. Dr. Rick and Dr. G began to look for a larger space. They found it five years later in our current location of 399 Belgrade Avenue - right around the corner from our Centre Street location. The building originally housed a dental office downstairs with residences upstairs; it had been left vacant when Dr. O'Neil expanded his own practice and relocated to Centre Street. (Before Dr. O'Neil, it was Dr. Scavotto's dental office. So the Belgrade Avenue location has been a dental office for about 40 years!)

The B&G family kept growing. In 2002 Dr. Stuart MacDonald started practicing dentistry with us, and in 2012 Dr. Derek Martin joined the team. We've also grown to include thirteen full- and part-time hygienists. This allows us to offer evening and Saturday appointments; we try to make it easy for our patients to schedule their dental visits around their busy lives. We've also embraced the new technology available. We're a completely digital office (no paper charts) and we use digital x-rays, do same-day crowns, in-office whitening, and short-term orthodontics...as well as all sorts of cool dental tech to make your appointment easier and less painful.

We can't wait to celebrate Hyde Park's 150th and we're looking forward to the next 150! Below are some throwback pictures from our younger days when we first moved to Belgrade Avenue...Enjoy!








Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Year's Resolution Idea

We know that there is a definite link between oral health and overall health. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are necessary habits to maintain your overall health. This is especially true for people whose immune system might not be the best. Get that bacteria out of there!

Generally speaking, people are pretty on top of things when it comes to brushing twice a day for two minutes each time. Especially with electric toothbrushes that have timers on them that buzz after your two minutes are up. And while that’s great, one of the most common statements we hear from our patients is that they floss rarely, if at all.

Skipping floss - you’re skipping out on cleaning about two thirds of your teeth. Flossing maintains gum health and makes your dental hygiene appointments  go more smoothly with less pain. And it only needs to be done once a day!

Did you know if each American used the perfect amount of floss once a day, we’d go through about 122 yards of floss per year. But according to sales, it averages out to just 18 yards per person. Sounds like we could all do a little better!

If you’re not sure how to floss properly, ask your hygienist at your next appointment and they’ll show you how it’s done. If you forget to floss sometimes, that’s okay. Try keeping the floss next your TV remote, or on your bedroom night stand...Somewhere that you will notice it. Having that visual reminder might be all the motivation you need.

When you brush your teeth after lunch at the office or school, take one more minute and floss at the same time. Keep floss in your desk or purse along with your travel toothbrush for that reminder. Or keep a bag of flossers in the car and floss at red lights. It’s funny, but it works!

Our final suggestion is to invest in a waterpik. This device jets water in between your teeth to clean them out. It works similar to flossing, and research studies have been positive. It can become a little messy - definitely lean over the sink while you use it.

We’d love to hear your tricks for remembering to floss everyday. Or if you have any questions feel free to ask. Let’s make 2018 the year of the floss!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bad, Bad Breath


Bad breath (or halitosis) is a condition that happens to everyone at one time or another. In this note, we’ll hit on some common causes and how to fix them.
Home Care
As your hygienist will tell you, it’s good to brush your teeth two to three times a day and floss at least once a day. Without a strong homecare routine, little food particles will stay between your teeth, allowing bacteria to grow. All that bacteria can affect how your breath smells, so be sure to brush and floss daily!
Diet
There are some obvious food choices that negatively affect your breath. Garlic, onion, and spicy foods are a few offenders. While the foods you eat only have a temporary effect on your breath, digestive issues could cause a long-term halitosis problem.
Tobacco Use
Another obvious cause, smoking cigars or cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vaping negatively affect your breath (as well as a host of other things). If you’re looking for motivation to kick the habit, we can assure you that quitting tobacco will vastly improve your breath (and your oral health...and your overall health...).
Dry Mouth
Saliva is a natural cleaning agent. It helps to flush out food particles from between your teeth. When little bits of food get stuck and start to rot, an odor will be evident every time you exhale. Dry mouth (or “xerostomia” for you language geeks out there) can be a halitosis factor.
Oral Health Issues
Gum disease, tooth decay, or an abscess (infection) can contribute to bad breath. The bacteria that causes such conditions is the same bacteria we talked about earlier. It’s important to address issues when they are small before they start causing symptoms such as halitosis. It’s also easier and cheaper to fix the smaller issues, so please be sure to complete any outstanding treatment plans you may have.
Medical Conditions
If you notice a problem with bad breath that has popped up suddenly or without explanation, the halitosis may be a symptom of a larger medical problem. Diabetes, eating disorders, kidney failure, and other medical issues can all cause bad breath. We don’t mean to scare you, but if a case of bad breath isn’t caused by one of the above reasons, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
If you want a temporary solution, you can try over-the-counter aids such as chewing gum, breath strips, or rinses. (For example, if you go out to dinner and have buffalo wings, a piece of cinnamon gum might be a quick fix.) If you experience chronic bad breath, please schedule a consultation with your dentist. The dentist should be able to discern the cause. As always, if you have any questions, please give us a call.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sensitive Teeth? We Can Help!


Many people deal with sensitive teeth. Sensitivity affects so many daily activities, from brushing and flossing, to drinking your morning coffee, to indulging in frosty dessert. There are several reasons why you may be sensitive and a few options to solve the problem.
According to the American Dental Association, sensitive teeth can be caused by the following:
  • a cavity
  • an older filling
  • a cracked tooth
  • an exposed root
The cavity or older filling are usually taken care of by a quick visit. A cavity is formed when acidic plaque dissolves part of the top layer of your tooth. The dentist will have to clean out the area of all the decay and place a filling material or porcelain restoration to prevent any more damage. Having a cavity and having sensitive teeth are not mutually exclusive. You might have decay on a tooth and not realize it until it grows deeper into the tooth. The hygienist evaluates your teeth at each cleaning, checking for cavities or weak areas. If we can fill the cavity while it’s smaller it won’t get to the point where it becomes sensitive.
If an older filling pulls away from tooth bacteria can sneak in and cause sensitivity. The dentist needs to clean out the old filling and replace it with new material. The new filling, onlay, or inlay will be snug against the natural tooth and protect it against decay. A cracked tooth also needs to be addressed by the dentist. We will take an x-ray to see the severity of the fracture and create a treatment plan to best fix the tooth.
If your gums have receded and exposed part of the tooth's root, you may experience sensitivity. You might get some relief from using sensitivity toothpaste, but it's only temporary. The dentist will be able to explain your treatment options. If your teeth have been sensitive for a while, definitely request a consultation with the doctor.
Whitening is another cause. If you used a whitening application recently and noticed your teeth were sensitive after, whitening is probably the culprit. People’s tolerance for whitening products vary. If you are interested in whitening, speak with your hygienist or doctor to choose the best option for you. If you’re already whitening your teeth and you’re experiencing sensitivity, let us know. There is usually a way to ease the sensitivity without abstaining from whitening.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Invisalign FAQ



Happy New Year! It's that time again...We resolve to make improvements and challenge ourselves to finally act on those things we've been thinking about doing for so long. If you've thought about straightening your teeth but are nervous or have some questions about the procedure, we have the answers! Below is a list of our most frequently asked Invisalign questions, answered by our very own Dr. Rick Bankhead. If you have any other questions please leave a comment or call the office and we'll be happy to help you!

1) Besides the cosmetic improvement, is there any other benefit to Invisalign?
    Invisalign is often thought of as a cosmetic procedure, but it can definitely improve your dental health. When you fix overlapping or “crooked” teeth, you can floss easier and do a better job of flossing. Your gums and bones will be healthier for it, and you’ll keep your smile beautiful and healthy for a long time.
2) Is Invisalign treatment right for me?
    Invisalign is an orthdontic treatment that can be used to correct your bite, or purely for cosmetic reasons. Although we have helped many patients through Invisalign, we do occasionally refer patients to local orthodontists. Sometimes a patient will benefit more from traditional braces. Dr. Rick Bankhead or Dr. Stuart MacDonald would be happy to see you for a consultation to assess whether you are a candidate for Invisalign.
3) Does insurance cover Invisalign?
    It really depends on the insurance plan. A dental plan can have a rider for orthodontic coverage. Sometimes it only covers minor dependents, sometimes it covers everybody who is listed on the plan. If your insurance coverage does cover orthodontics, it will cover a portion of your Invisalign treatment.
If you do not have orthodontic coverage, there are several financial options available. If your employer offers a “flexible spending account” or a “cafeteria plan” you can use those benefits toward Invisalign treatment. We also work with CareCredit and Chase Health Advance. Those are financing companies that offer interest-free payment plans for up to 24 months. Once you verify you are a candidate, the front desk will discuss insurance benefits and payment options with you.
4) What makes Invisalign better than traditional braces?
    Invisalign can often achieve the same effect as traditional braces. The major benefit of Invisalign is that a patient’s home care routine isn’t affected. With traditional braces, the wires and brackets make brushing and flossing more difficult. Patients are not able to do a good a job keeping their teeth clean. With Invisalign, there is nothing between your teeth and your toothbrush and floss. Your daily home care routine can continue uninterrupted because the aligners come right out. Our patients have even noted an improvement in their brushing and flossing habits because they had to do it after every meal (see # 6). Many of them have kept the (healthy!) habit long after treatment had ended.
5) How long does the treatment take?
    The length of treatment varies by the individual case. On average treatment can take as little as 16 weeks, or roughly between 4 and 18 months. Invisalign will designate a certain number of aligner trays for your case. Typically, you wear each aligner for two weeks, then you go on to the next in series. You wear the trays constantly; the only time you remove the trays is when you eat, brush, and floss. Compliance is the key here. If you keep the trays in and stay on schedule, the treatment will successfully fly by.
6) Is it painful?
    Invisalign is a bit similar to traditional braces in this respect. For the first couple days after putting in a new aligner, your teeth will probably feel tight and might feel an ache. The tenderness is comparable to tightening traditional braces, but not as bad. The movements are done more often, every two weeks, making it less painful than traditional braces.
7) Are there any eating restrictions?
    You can eat whatever you like, but you do have to be meticulous about caring for your teeth after. Before you eat, you’ll need to remove your aligners.You can only drink non-caloric beverages (ie water, flavored water, black coffee) without removing your aligners. If you eat or drink anything else, you must take the aligners out. Once you’re finished eating, brush and floss your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This needs to be your new routine every time you eat because it ensures your aligners stay clean. A fair number of our patients reported that they were less inclined to snack during the day. They ended their treatment with straighter teeth and a few pounds lighter - a healthier smile in more ways than one!
8) Will wearing the aligners affect my speech?
    Not at all. The trays are a very thin material and don’t get in the way of speaking. You might need a day or so to become accustomed to the feeling. None of our patients reported speech issues while wearing the trays.
9) How do I keep the aligner trays clean?
    Clean the trays with warm water and a little bit of soap. Do not use hot water! Hot water can warp the trays and they won’t fit right. You can also purchase a cleaning kit from Invisalign’s website.
10) What happens if I lose an aligner?
    If you lose or damage an aligner and are unable to wear it, call us immediately. We will have to order a new aligner tray from Invisalign. In the meantime, wear the most recent aligner you have. For example, if you lose aligner # 5, wear aligner # 4 until the new aligner comes in or the dentist gives you further instructions. This will probably set back your treatment by a week or two. It’s best if you’re careful about putting the trays away when eating, keeping them out of reach of pets and children, etc.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Preparing for a Child's First Dental Visit


Preparing for your child’s first dental visit can be tricky. We encourage you to talk about us before you visit. Your child has been to the physician’s office many times, usually for shots, so it’s understandable if they are a little unsure of us. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

Please don't talk about bad experiences that you have had, or the time your child's sibling freaked out and bit the dentist. (That last one's a joke, hopefully that didn't happen!) Don’t talk about needles or pain or discomfort. Take a calm and matter-of-fact approach. If they have any questions about what we do, reassure them that we are only here to help them keep their smiles healthy.

If they are very nervous, you are always welcome to bring them with you to your own appointment. This helps them become acclimated to our office and staff, and to see how easy a dental visit can be. Seeing someone they are familiar with and look up to successfully go through an experience that is new to the child makes a big impact. If they see how calm you are they will soon realize how easy it is to visit the dentist.
There are also a good selection of books about visiting the dentist that you can read with your child.  Here is a short list of children's books that will help put your young one in a good mindset.
Arthur's Tooth by Mark Brown - The famous aardvark is nervous about a loose tooth.
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain - The title says it all. Who doesn't love the Berenstain Bears?
Elmo Visits the Dentist by PJ Shaw - That Elmo is everywhere these days...
Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer - This is one about Little Critter. We hear he's pretty famous with the kiddie demographic.
Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist by Christine Ricci - Dora “explores” the dentist office.
A Visit to the Dentist by Eleanor Fremont - This one's about Little Bill's dental visit.
There are many more books about dentistry that are geared toward children. These particular ones have been mentioned to us by our patients as good reads that helps their children.
There's another book that's geared toward a slightly older set of kids called What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy. It's written by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. It probably won't ease any dental anxiety, but it's definitely good for a laugh.
We're not associated/affiliated with any of these authors/publishing companies in any way. And of course, it's completely up to you to deem what's appropriate material to read to your children. If you're looking for a tool to make your child more comfortable about visiting us, one (or more) of these books might do the trick. If you ever have any questions or other recommendations feel free to comment.