Perhaps you were the kid that wanted to see the rat skull in your friend’s backyard because you wanted to look at its teeth. Maybe you are the type of person now that analyzes dental problems when someone you meet first smiles. Some people are just meant to be dentists, but there are many different areas of specialization you can explore beyond general dentistry. You can go down a particular path of education to tailor your specific fascinations to your future profession. There are nine certifiable specialties recognized by the American Dental Association that you can choose from.
- Dental Public Health – Dentists in this field work to prevent dental diseases within a community and control any diseases that arise, as well as promote public awareness of the need for oral health care.
- Endodontics – This specialty focuses on the condition of the human dental pulp (the inside part of the tooth) and tissues. Dentists study the biology of the pulp and how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases there.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology – These dentists research and treat conditions, diseases, defects and injuries causing and/or contributing to functional and esthetic problems in the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology – These specialists interpret radiology scans to diagnose diseases or show the general condition of the mouth, teeth, jaws, and face.
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – An advanced degree that teaches dentists how to perform corrective surgery for problems with the tissues in the oral and maxillofacial regions.
- Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics – These specialists correct the improper placement of the teeth with braces and other therapies.
- Pediatric Dentistry – Dentists in this specialty work with infants and children to provide preventative and therapeutic dental services.
- Periodontics – This specialty includes the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of problems with the tissue surrounding the teeth.
- Prosthodontics – Prosthodontists provide solutions and comfort for those suffering from deficient or missing teeth.
The first step for any of these dental specialties is to get a degree in general dentistry, or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. If any of these specialized fields seem particularly interesting to you, then you might want to consider an education that goes above and beyond by continuing your education with advanced degrees or getting the proper certifications to do what you love in the field of oral health.
More than half of adult Americans claim they brush their teeth twice a day. While this is good news for the oral health of the population, the statistics do not show how many of these people are brushing properly.
The Right Toothbrush
Choosing the correct toothbrush is the first step toward good oral hygiene. The brush needs to fit comfortably in your mouth while the handle fits comfortably in your hand. Discomfort while brushing may indicate a poor fit. Whether the toothbrush is manual or electric is a matter of preference, but bristle softness is not. The American Dental Association recommends soft bristles so the brush can remove plaque gently without scraping the tender tissue of the gums or scratching the tooth enamel.
How a person brushes may be the most important factor in preventing oral issues such as plaque buildup and gum disease. Place the bristles against the upper part of the teeth at a 45-degree angle and brush in short, circular or vertical strokes for two to three minutes twice a day. Brushing more than three times per day may cause damage to enamel, while brushing only once a day could lead to the buildup of bacteria in the mouth.
It is important to brush the outer, inner, and chewing surface of each tooth, and some dentists recommend starting in a different place every time because by the end of the routine, some people may be less thorough than they are at the beginning of the routine. After brushing your teeth, don’t forget to brush your tongue as well to remove bacteria.
When the toothbrush removes the bacteria from the teeth and tongue, it remains on the toothbrush unless the brush is rinsed thoroughly under running water. After rinsing, it is just as important to shake out excess moisture and allow the toothbrush to air dry. If a cap is used, it should allow air in, since a moist toothbrush may breed even more bacteria. When bristles lose their flexibility and begin breaking apart, or if you have been using the same toothbrush for more than three months, it is time for a new brush.
Following these guidelines is the beginning of a good oral hygiene routine that protects teeth and gums from bacteria, cavities, and gum disease.
A Guide for Proper Dental Treatment at Every Age
When your child was first born you probably started following a rigorous schedule of appointments with your pediatrician to keep him or her healthy. Many parents are not aware that children also need proper dental care and oral check-ups starting at an early age.
Tooth decay in toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children is one of the leading preventable diseases in the U.S. It can lead to several health and lifestyle complications, including pain and soreness, improper speech development, inability to chew properly, missed school days, premature loss of baby teeth, infections, inflammation and gum disease. Here is a quick guide to help you understand your child’s oral care needs from birth through teenage years.
Just because kids lose baby teeth doesn’t mean they don’t need them—baby teeth are important placeholders for adult teeth and are at risk for tooth decay without proper care.
Birth to 12 months:
- Make oral health check-ups part of your baby’s well-child visits with your doctor.
- When the first teeth erupt from the gums, wipe them gently with a wet washcloth or lightly brush them with water and an extra soft bristle toothbrush. Do not use toothpaste.
12 to 24 months:
- Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day using a baby toothbrush and water. Talk to the dentist about whether you should use toothpaste.
- Avoid sugary drinks like juice or milk between meals and fill bottles with water when putting children to sleep.
- Wean children of sucking habits on things like pacifiers or thumbs.
- Take your child for their first visit with a dentist before age 2.
- Talk to your dentist about how to help your child get enough fluoride, especially in Utah where it’s not in the water.
Baby teeth play a role in helping toddlers and preschoolers with chewing, swallowing, speech development, and creating space for adult teeth.
- Help children brush their teeth for 2 minutes, 2 times a day. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste, making sure the child doesn’t swallow it.
- Begin flossing as soon as two teeth touch each other.
- Dentists recommend that you continue to help your child brush until the age of 4, or around they time they have the motor skills to neatly write their name.
- Go in for dental check-ups once or twice a year.
- Fill sippy cups with water and limit sugary drink intake (juice, milk, sports drinks, soda, lemonade, and tea).
- Feed your child healthy meals and snacks that are low in sugar.
- Around age 6 children will start losing baby teeth as permanent teeth erupt.
- Schedule dentist appointments every six months for check-ups and cleanings.
- Feed children healthy food and snacks to help develop strong teeth and healthy gums.
- Talk to your dentist about getting sealants on permanent molars to protect against cavities.
- As children begin participating in sports and outdoor recreation, make sure teeth are protected with a mouthguard.
- The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends children get screened around age 7 to identify developmental, jaw, or bite problems. Correcting issues early may prevent more extensive (and expensive) orthodontic treatment later.
Pre-Teen and Teenager’s Teeth
As children grow they should take on more of the responsibility for good oral health.
- Teens should be brushing morning and night with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Encourage flossing at least once a day to remove plaque between teeth.
- Continue to visit the dentist for check-ups twice a year.
- Help your teenagers eat a healthy diet that is high in lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in sugar and processed foods.
- Teach your children about the dangers of cigarette and secondhand smoke, which can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and other health issues.
- Visit an orthodontist (if you have not done it yet) to find out if your child will need braces.
Proper oral health care at an early age can help prevent problems later in life. Oral health is intricately connected to our overall health, and should be just as much a priority as doctor visits. If you don’t have a dentist, contact The Dental Clinic at Roseman University at 801-878-1200 to find affordable and high quality dental care for your whole family.
What Do You Know About Root Canals?
The American Association of Endodontists celebrated Root Canal Awareness Week on March 30 – April 5, 2014. Currently in its eight year, this week is a time for people to learn the facts about this valuable treatment and how it can help them. Endodontists and other dental professionals are setting aside time during RCAW to focus on patient education and empowerment through the sharing of reliable information.
Why is Root Canal Awareness Important?
Though many people have heard of root canals, not everyone actually understands what this procedure is, what condition it is meant to treat, or how it could benefit them as a dental patient. For instance, did you know that:
• Modern root canal treatments are virtually painless?
• Root canal treatments can preserve a natural tooth?
• Endodontists specialize in performing root canals?
• Endodontists perform an average of 25 root canal procedures each week?
• Root canal treatments can relieve the pain of infection deep inside a tooth?
Even though dental students are likely to recognize the value of root canal procedures, it is important to share this information with others who may not be aware of how these procedures could benefit them. When a patient’s natural tooth is preserved through a root canal procedure, they retain their natural sensation and bite and can enjoy more effective chewing. Treating a tooth infection could prevent discoloration and disease from spreading to adjacent teeth; this allows patients to retain their natural smile.
How You Can Get Involved
Dentists and dental students can get involved in Root Canal Awareness Week every year, but you don’t have to be a dental professional to be part of it. As a patient you can ask your dentist for more information about the procedure, even if you don’t need to have it done right now. Confronting misinformation with facts helps relieve patient anxiety and makes people less reluctant to seek this and other types of dental treatment. You can educate yourself about this procedure and other forms of endodontic treatment by visiting the website of the American Association of Endodontists.