July 30th, 2014
Sealants provide a thin coating over molars that can be a powerful tool to protect your child’s teeth from decay. This simple and painless solution can be applied in a matter of minutes by our team at McFaul:Wong, forming a protective shield and avoiding costly and painful cavities or other forms of tooth decay later.
The Causes of Tooth Decay
Our mouths are routinely filled with germs and bacteria. Some of these bacteria can be helpful in converting the foods we eat (especially sugars in the food) into acids that our bodies use to break down food. However, when we eat too much sugar, the excess acids can cause cavities and other decay in teeth.
Molars (our chewing teeth) are prime sites for tooth decay because they have rough surfaces with lots of little grooves where small food particles and germs find places to stay for extended periods of time. If you can prevent tooth decay in your child’s teeth now, you may be able to avoid treatments for decaying teeth later in life—costly and painful procedures like crowns and fillings.
Protecting Against Decay
A comprehensive plan for mouth care can protect against tooth decay. This plan should include:
- Drinking water with fluoride in it or using other fluoride supplements
- Eating a healthy diet (avoiding excessive sugar)
- Brushing teeth regularly
- Applying sealants
On their own, each of these activities is good but does not provide enough protection against decay. Fluoride is best for protecting the smooth surfaces of our front teeth, but may not provide enough of a shield for our rough, uneven back teeth. In addition, toothbrush bristles may not get to all the tiny food particles and germs in our mouths. For these reasons, sealants are the recommended preventive measure for molars in the fight against germs.
Who needs sealants, and when?
The best time to get a sealant is when your child’s adult teeth are just growing in. Between the ages of about five and seven, children grow their first permanent molar teeth, and they grow a second set of permanent molars between the ages of 11 and 14. Sealants placed on these teeth as soon as they grow in will be most effective in preventing tooth decay before it occurs.
If your child still has his or her baby teeth, Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong may recommend sealants for teeth that are especially rough or uneven and may be prone to tooth decay. When your child loses his or her baby teeth, we will apply new sealants to the permanent teeth when they grow in. In addition, our team may recommend sealants for adults in special cases; for example, if a previously placed sealant falls out, if you never had sealants put in as a child, or if your teeth are prone to decay and the preventive treatment may help.
Talk to us during your next visit at our San Francisco, CA office to learn more about how dental sealants can help protect your child’s teeth.
July 23rd, 2014
Our team at McFaul:Wong hears this question a lot. According to our friends at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), pediatric dentistry is “an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral healthcare for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special healthcare needs.”
Pediatric dentists, such as Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong, are dedicated to the oral health of our young patients from infancy through their teen years. Our team at McFaul:Wong has the experience and qualifications to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout his or her various stages of childhood.
Pediatric dentists complete at least four years of dental school, including an additional two additional years of residency training in dentistry for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs.
At McFaul:Wong, we know children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. And that is why Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong and our team know how to examine and treat children in ways that make them relaxed and comfortable.
To learn more about pediatric dentistry, or to schedule your child’s next visit at our San Francisco, CA office, please give us a call today!
July 16th, 2014
Adolescence is a critical period for oral hygiene. By the teenage years, kids will have lost all their baby teeth and replaced them with permanent teeth. Furthermore, many oral hygiene habits solidified in adolescence carry through to adulthood. Teaching adolescents to follow a healthy diet not only benefits their physical fitness but helps them maintain strong teeth and healthy gums.
Fruits and vegetables
Parents know that eating broccoli is important, but were you aware that it can keep teeth and gums healthy, too? Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong and our team at McFaul:Wong will tell you that eating plenty of crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, and pears, increases your saliva production. Saliva works to brush away bad bacteria that produce dangerous acids that wear away tooth enamel.
It’s also important to avoid acidic foods, which can exacerbate cavities and other dental problems. Although oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, lemons, and berries are healthy, they can also wear away the enamel of your teeth. To be safe, it’s important to brush after each meal or swish with mouthwash to remove excess acid from your mouth.
Many candies and treats are chock-full of sugar, making them dangerous for your child’s dental health. If you have a sweet tooth, fear not: you don’t have to give up the sweet stuff entirely. Whenever possible, opt for sugar-free substitutes rather than regular sugar. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or drinking sugar-free beverages is better for teeth. These sugar substitute molecules don’t wear away enamel, which makes them safer for dental health.
Watch the beverages
Most adolescents have been told that soda will rot your teeth, but you may not realize that other beverages can be just as sugary. Many fruit juices, even those that boast 100% fruit, contain dozens of grams of sugar per serving. Similarly, popular energy drinks pack a sugary punch. When possible, drink water or milk. If your child is craving a hot beverage, turn to tea over hot chocolate or a sugary latte.
Teeth are like any other bones; they rely on calcium and other minerals to stay strong. To help build strong teeth, have your child drink milk or eat other dairy products to get his or her daily calcium. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are good options as well. If your child can’t tolerate dairy, consider calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice to provide that daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong, please give us a call at our convenient San Francisco, CA office!
July 9th, 2014
When most people think of complications of diabetes, they think of an increased risk of blindness, limb amputation, heart disease, and neuropathy. However, Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong and our team want you to know that emerging research is revealing a possible connection between uncontrolled diabetes and dental problems. Whether you have type 2 diabetes or type 1, uncontrolled high blood glucose level increases the risk of certain oral health conditions, including:
- Tooth decay
- Gingivitis (early gum disease)
- Periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
Diabetes and proper dental care
If you have diabetes, it is more important than ever to take your dental care seriously and practice excellent oral hygiene. These recommendations will help:
- Manage your diabetes. First and foremost, it is vital to control your high blood sugar in accordance with your physician’s instructions — not only for the sake of your oral health, but your overall health. With properly controlled blood sugar, you reduce your risk of developing gingivitis and other oral health issues.
- Practice good at-home oral hygiene. This means brushing at least twice a day AND flossing. At a minimum, brush your teeth in the morning and at night, but after meals and snacks if you can. Use a soft toothbrush to avoid injuring your gums. Don’t neglect flossing, because it helps to remove plaque below the gumline and between teeth.
- Visit the dentist regularly. While it is important to see the dentist every six months even if you don’t have diabetes, it is even more crucial to have a professional teeth cleaning and dental exam if you have the disease. As dental professionals, our team at McFaul:Wong is able to detect early dental conditions before they develop into something more serious and costly.
- Tell your dentist that you have diabetes. If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to let us know as soon as possible, and remind us at every appointment.
- Be conscientious about examining your own gums and teeth. By looking for early signs of gum disease, which can include bleeding gums, irritated gums, gums that are red (versus a healthy pink), or swelling, we can get started on treatment right away.
Managing diabetes takes effort, not only in watching your diet, exercising, monitoring your blood sugar levels, and taking your medication, but obtaining proper dental care.
To learn more about the link between diabetes and oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel McFaul and Dr. Betty Wong, please give us a call at our convenient San Francisco, CA office!