The enamel of our teeth is stronger than even our bones, it’s almost rock-like in fact. This serves us well in part, because unlike our bones which are protected by muscles, and skin, our teeth are out on display and put into direct contact with crunchy, chewy foods day in and day out. Also in contrast to our bones, our teeth cannot repair themselves. Although they are incredibly strong and damage resistant, our teeth can break, or chip.
How Does a Chipped or Broken Tooth Occur?
When we use our teeth as tools – Unfortunately, people use their teeth to open objects, packages, bottles etc.
Fall down – A fall can cause the jaw to snap shut harshly or to hit our jaw on some other object thereby causing the damage.
Blows to the face such as from fights, sports, bicycle, or car accidents.
Chewing ice or other especially tough foods could also cause chipping.
Bruxism is another potential cause that is grinding and/or clenching your teeth in your sleep, or unconsciously when awake.
Reason number one is why every dentist will tell you that you should never use your teeth to open something. Even an object as harmless-seeming as plastic packaging.
Reasons number two and three are why we strongly advocate the use of mouthguards for kids when they go biking or play any sport, even if that sport isn’t considered a contact sport.
Reason number four is a little trickier, but we encourage you to avoid hard candies for your kids, and explain to your kids early on that chewing ice is harmful to their teeth before it can develop into a habit that is challenging to break.
Reason number five can be alleviated by the use of a mouth guard at night. For more information about mouthguards, check out our in-depth post on the topic titled, “Why Your Kids Should Use a Mouth Guard“.
Regardless of the reason, if your child chips or breaks a tooth you should call us immediately for a dental emergency appointment. We have four office locations in around Salt Lake City, and our pediatric dentists and hygienists are here to help.
What Can a Pediatric Dentist Do for a Chipped or Broken Tooth?
So, we’ve established that a broken or chipped tooth can’t repair itself, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. We may recommend a bonding repair method, veneers, dental crowns, or a dental filling. The options depend on the severity of the chip or break, and the location of the damaged tooth. You might think having a chipped front tooth is the worst due to the fact that it’s impossible to hide. Nevertheless, a broken or chipped molar is often incredibly painful and more serious for the reason that your molars are vital to the chewing of your food.
More Information About the Repair Options
Bonding is exceedingly common for smaller chips or breaks. The dentist roughs up the area around the damage a bit and next, molds and a bond composite over the damaged spot. This bond composite is a color similar to that of the actual tooth so as to not be obvious. This repair method can last approximately ten years. In this process of restoration, we might be able to use the piece that broke off.
Veneers are a more expensive repair option and often are chosen because of their cosmetic appeal. Veneers are a porcelain cover for the outer face of the tooth. They can be applied to the nearby teeth as well to create a blended cosmetically appealing look. This is more typical in cases when a front tooth has been chipped.
We may recommend a dental crown when the chip or break is large. A dental crown is a two-step process. We start by doing a mold and then fitting a temporary crown, this will protect the vulnerable inner part of the tooth. The mold is then sent to a lab for a long-term crown to be created. At the second appointment, we remove the temporary crown and attach and seal the lab crown, which will also match the tooth in color. It’s important to note that a temporary crown will not be as strong as the lab-created. Avoid crunchy, chewy foods in the area of that tooth if possible.
What If You Have the Piece of Tooth that Broke Off?
Remember, don’t wait to call the dentist. You should call us for an emergency appointment, immediately. If you have a piece of the tooth, here is how to take care of it until you can get in to see us:
1. Submerge the piece of tooth in a container with milk, do not rinse it first with water.
Rinse your child’s mouth out with warm water.
Give them an ice pack for their jaw around the area to help with the pain.
Come in to see us, and don’t forget to bring the chip in the milk container.
What If the Whole Tooth Is Knocked Out?
Call us immediately for an emergency dental appointment! Do not touch the root part of the tooth, pick it up by the crown (the part that sits above the gum line) and submerge it in a container with milk.
If the tooth that was knocked out is a permanent tooth but is whole and not chipped or broken, you can, depending on your child’s emotional state, place the tooth back into the vacated socket. That should only be done if you can manage it without touching the root if it won’t upset your child, and you are sure the tooth is not broken or chipped.
The longer a permanent tooth is outside of the socket the less likely it is to re-embed into the gum. If the thought of reinserting the tooth on your own is too overwhelming, don’t feel guilty. The key is to get it submerged quickly into milk so that it doesn’t have the chance to dry out before you can get in to the dentist’s office and we’ll take care of the rest.
Reminder of Caution
If your child has already chipped or broken a tooth once, no matter how skilled the restoration work is, that tooth is at a higher risk of chipping or breaking again. Take extra care to utilize mouth guards at night in case of bruxism, and during sports activities. Moreover, please, please, please, don’t crunch ice or use teeth to open packages, bottles, etc.
The month of April is a time of spring blossoms, of new life after the harsh cold has passed, sports activities taking us outside, and biannual dental checkups. That’s right, your kids (and you!) should be having dental checkups two times per year. April is a great month to do it, because your sports calendars and vacation trips haven’t filled up the calendar yet, and our four locations are offering $25 gift cards for our patients when they have a dental appointment through the end of April.
April is National Facial Protection Month
We’ve shared our stance on the importance of mouth guards and facial protection for your kids and teens when they’re engaging in sports activities, and now is a perfect time to re-iterate its value.
Mouth injuries and head injuries are rather common in the spring months due to the uptick in outdoor sports activities and we’d prefer (as would you as parents!) not to have to reset a knocked-out tooth or fix a broken or chipped tooth for your kid if it can be avoided.
Facts About Mouth Guards
Over 20 million kids in the U.S. participate in sports every year.
Approximately 36% of unintentional injuries to kids occur due to sports activities.
Up to 20% of those injuries are maxillofacial.
If your child plays soccer they are more likely to incur a dental injury than if they play football.
Basketball is the leading sport in dental injuries.
Athletes who wear mouthguards are 82%-93% less likely to have a dental injury.
It should be noted we aren’t indicating that soccer and basketball are dangerous sports to be avoided, the point is that unlike in football, emphasis on facial protection (mouth guards) isn’t made in these sports, in spite of the fact that dental injuries do occur. Football players wear pads and helmets, and also mouth guards are required. Basketball and soccer players wear uniforms and special shoes, and shin guards for soccer, so why not spend the money to also protect their teeth as well?
Mouth Guard Options for Your Athletes in the Family
If we’ve convinced you that mouthguards are a good idea for your family athletes this spring, hooray! You have basically, three options moving forward. If your budget is your primary concern, you can look for stock mouth guards or “boil & bite” mouth guards in just about any sporting goods store. Stock mouth guards are going to come in standard sizes, but a boil and bite is generally a step up in price that will allow a more modified fit. The best protection is a custom mouthguard, and although it will cost more, it will undoubtedly be the most comfortable and provide the best protection. Ask us about a custom mouthguard when your kids come in for their next checkup and we’ll help you work through your options to find a good fit (pun intended) for your budget and your family.
April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Aside from the necessary benefits of routine dental checkups that serve as an important preventive measure to look for plaque, decay, and seek to maintain you and your child’s teeth in a state of cleanliness, routine dental checkups can serve as screenings for oral cancer detection as well.
Facts About Oral Cancer
Over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer every year and 450,000 globally.
One death per hour can be attributed to oral cancer in the United States.
The death rate can be attributed due to the fact it is often diagnosed late in its progression.
A person who survives the first diagnosis of oral cancer is 20 times more likely to develop second cancer.
Approximately 90% of diagnosed oral cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
Previously, oral cancer was statistically more likely in men over 50 who drank and smoked tobacco. Unfortunately, it is occurring in the younger non-smoking generations as well due to the HPV16 virus.
“Signs and symptoms of oral cancer caused by tobacco usage and/or excessive alcohol usage may include one or more of the following:
Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days.
A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth.
Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched.
A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually the border of the tongue.
Tissue raised above that which surrounds it; a growth.
A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture, does not heal.
A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth.
A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, that has been there for at least two weeks.
All these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.”
“Signs and symptoms of HPV-caused oropharyngeal cancer persist longer than two-three weeks and may include one or more of the following:
Hoarseness or sore throat that does not resolve.
A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck, which has been there for at least two weeks.
Constant coughing that does not resolve.
Difficulty swallowing; a sensation that food is getting caught in your throat.
An earache on one side (unilateral) that persists for more than a few days.
All of these symptoms have the commonality of being persistent and not resolving.”
Organize Dental Checkups for Your Athletes This April
Through the end of this month, we’re offering $25 gift cards for each patient who comes in for a dental checkup at any of our four locations. Don’t let the month pass you by, we can answer questions or concerns about oral cancer and facial protection, and be sure your kids’ teeth are happy and healthy this spring.
Parents have a lot of questions when it comes to taking their children to one of our four pediatric dental locations. For that reason, we have put together answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about our kids dental offices.
At what age should I first take my child to the dentist?
Getting children familiar with visiting the dentist starts earlier than you might think. Your child’s first dental visit should occur either when their first tooth appears, or when they turn one year old: whichever occurs first.
What’s the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists have completed an additional two to three years of training specializing in the care, and equipment required for children’s dental needs. A pediatric dentist limits their practice to children from infant to adolescence only. A pediatric dentist is not only specially trained to work with children, but also children and teens with special needs.
How do I clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your baby’s first tooth erupts, you can begin to get them accustomed to the idea of dental hygiene by gently rubbing a clean wet washcloth over their gums. Once their first tooth erupts, use a small soft bristled toothbrush. You can find specially designed infant toothbrushes in stores.
When should my child stop thumb-sucking or use a pacifier?
Sucking on a thumb, or using a pacifier isn’t a dental issue right away. Often toddlers will leave behind these habits on their own. If your child is three years old, however, and still engaging in one of those soothing habits, we recommend that you work to break the habit. Visit with your pediatric dentist for tips.
Are dental X-rays safe?
In general, dental X-rays have very little risk. Moreover, pediatric dentists are cautious about the amount of radiation a child is exposed to. We use high-speed film, and protective lead aprons to minimize risk and exposure for your child.
What do I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?
First, you should locate the tooth that has been knocked out. When you reach to pick it up, avoid touching the root of the tooth. If it is dirty, you can rinse it with milk. Next, you have two options. You can submerge the tooth in milk until you get to your pediatric dentist. Alternatively, you can reinsert the tooth, root first, by holding onto the crown of the tooth and placing firm pressure. If you opt for reinserting the tooth, have your child bite down on a clean washcloth to hold it into place until you can get to the pediatric dentist’s office.
This situation definitely constitutes a dental emergency, your pediatric dentist should see you right away.
How can I find a pediatric dentist near me?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has a registry of all pediatric dentists. You can search by zip code, and adjust the distance from 5 miles up to 100 miles, if necessary. You can find this registry here:
If there are several near you and you don’t know how to choose, take a look at our in-depth guide on how to select a pediatric dentist, “How to Find the Best Kids Dentist Near Me“. In it we’ll walk you through different things you can do to inform your decision, and what to look for.
When should we begin using toothpaste?
As soon as the first tooth erupts, you can begin using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean your baby’s teeth. Brush even those baby teeth in the beginning, twice a day. From ages three to six, increase the amount of toothpaste to the size of a pea.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a preventative measure that we firmly advocate for. Children aren’t terrific brushers, and their back teeth are often difficult for them to reach. Those molars have grooves in which food particles and plaque love to hide out. We apply the dental sealant in those grooves. It is a painless procedure, and won’t interfere with your child’s next meal. The sealant acts as a protector to the tooth to keep bacteria, food, and sugars out. Dental sealants are known to reduce tooth decay in molars by 80%!
For more information about our dental sealants, go here.
How can I prevent bottle rot?
Bottle rot is baby teeth decay that can be tied back to inappropriate bottle use (or even sippy cups). Just because your baby uses a bottle doesn’t automatically mean they will get bottle rot. It’s important that your baby use a bottle only for drinking formula, milk, or water, but not juice. If the bottle has milk or formula in it, they should not be allowed to sip on it over an extended period of time. The bottle rot happens when the teeth have extended exposure to sugar. Furthermore, they should not be put to bed with a bottle of milk or formula. If you want to put them to bed with a bottle, then fill it only with water.
Yes! Mouthguards will protect your child’s teeth and jaw from dental injuries. For more information about mouthguards, go here.
Should a cavity in a baby tooth be filled?
Absolutely, yes. A cavity in a baby tooth can be quite painful. That aside, the baby tooth needs to stay in its place until the body is ready for it to fall out to make room for the permanent tooth. Baby teeth are place holders that assist in proper eating and even speaking.
How often should my child see the dentist?
As a general rule, we encourage parents to have their child scheduled for bi-annual checkups. However, each child is unique and if we feel a more frequent schedule is appropriate, we will discuss with you why we feel it necessary so you have a clear understanding of our recommendation.
Has it been longer than six months since your child’s last dental visit? Give us a call and get an appointment on your calendar so you don’t forget. Happy smiles come from healthy teeth.
The beginning of a new year is a good time for reflection, making plans, and making changes. It is also an opportunity to have fun with numbers and lists. We’ve put together a list of 21 dental hygiene tips for you and your family for 2021.
1. Instead of buying bottled water, buy a refillable bottle, and fill it from the tap.
In most (not all) households that have running water, that water has been fluoridated. Fluoride is a major player in the mouth’s daily defense against bacteria and plaque. Drinking fluoride water and giving your teeth that fluoride rinses several times a day in between meals and snacks, is important. The fluoridation of community water is likely a benefit in your home that you’ve never considered. However, it’s considered one of the ten biggest public health achievements for the entire 20th century, take advantage of it!
2. Incorporate more crunchy fruits and veggies into your meal and snack routines.
The downside to a lot of the delicious foods that we eat is that they lodge in between our teeth and in the crevices of our molars. When those food leftovers side on the gum line and around our teeth they often have time to do their dirty work on our teeth before the next time we brush. Crunchy fruits such as apples, pears, carrots, and celery. In addition to doing a little scrubbing while we crunch these fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins.
3. Routine dental visits
Even if you and your kids don’t have any symptoms of tooth problems, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have regularly occurring visits. An important part of dental care is prevention. Make sure your kids are scheduled for their yearly checkups and cleanings. Check with your insurance provider, some insurances are acknowledging the benefit of cleanings every six months.
4. Quit smoking/chewing tobacco.
This one doesn’t need a long-drawn-out explanation. Bottom line, smoking and chewing tobacco are bad for your teeth and bad for your overall oral health. Now’s a great time to work on quitting if you do either of these in order to set a better example for your kids to follow.
5. Quit or limit alcoholic beverages.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, alcohol is generally bad for your oral health. Alcohol can cause dry mouth which reduces your body’s natural defenses (saliva) against sugar, acid, and bacteria in the mouth. Many alcoholic beverages can stain your teeth, while the acidic content in many of them eat away at your tooth’s enamel. As a parent, your actions and feelings towards alcohol will influence those of your children, especially teenagers.
6. Cut back on the soda.
We know that sometimes you just really want something to drink other than water, but the truth is soda/pop is really harmful for your teeth. It’s very acidic and for every sip of soda you take, you’ve started a 20-minute-long acid attack on your teeth. So if you’re going to drink it, drink it quickly instead of dragging it out, and brush or at least rinse your mouth out with water when you’re done.
7. Use mouthwash.
Add the use of a therapeutic mouthwash to your morning or nightly routine. Proper mouthwashes can kill bacteria, fight plaque, and help prevent gingivitis. Recommended only for children over the age of 6 who aren’t at risk of swallowing the mouthwash.
8. Brush twice daily for two minutes.
Yes, this one made the list. Can’t have a list without this one. We always remind you!
9. Floss at least once a day.
Even our best brushers will admit to skipping flossing, or not doing it at all. Correct that misstep this year! Flossing is important and will grab food debris that will surprise you.
10. Chew sugar-free gum.
If you or your kids are in the habit of chewing gum, take a close look at the gum you buy. Is it sugar-free? Does it have the ADA seal?
11. Use a mouthguard when participating in sports.
Most people are familiar with football players using mouth guards for their sport, but you should really consider a mouth guard for your kids for other sports as well. Sports accidents can cause painful dental injuries. For more information about mouthguards, read our in-depth post, “Why Your Kids Should Use a Mouth Guard”.
12. Brush up on your brushing skills.
Take a moment to examine the way you and your kids brush your teeth. The technique is important; here’s a quick video put together by the ADA:
13. Let your kids pick out their own toothbrush.
Get your kids invested in brushing their teeth. Taking some ownership can help with that. Let them pick out their own toothbrush.
14. Brush with fluoride toothpaste.
Check your toothpaste and be sure it has fluoride. Look for the ADA seal too.
15. Replace your toothbrushes every three to four months.
Yes, your toothbrush needs to be replaced about 4 times a year. When the bristles wear out they can cause damage to your gums. Additionally, over time your toothbrush begins to collect bacteria.
16. Switch to whole wheat.
White flour products such as pastas, crackers, and breads turn into a lot of sugar for your teeth, and worse they can really stick in the crevices. See about transitioning to whole wheat products.
17. Bring nuts into your meal stable.
Peanuts, almonds, and cashews have the benefit of providing your body with protein, and minerals including calcium and phosphorous. Those minerals are important for your dental health because they are the minerals that are commonly eaten away from our tooth’s enamel by the sugars and acids that we consume and they need replenishing.
18. Set a schedule for eating and avoid grazing.
Do you know what we mean when we say grazing? Grazing is that slow snacking that all of us have done before where you just eat a little bit, and then a few minutes later, a little bit more, and so on. It might not sound so bad, but the truth is, it’s incredibly harmful to your teeth. When you graze, your teeth are under near-constant assault by the sugars, and acids introduced to the mouth with your food. Your tongue instinctively tugs and pulls at your teeth to try and clean out lodged foods, and your saliva is a professional defensive linebacker working hard for your teeth. Stop putting them under non-stop assault, and commit your family and yourself to set times for eating.
19. Don’t let your baby/toddler go to sleep with a bottle.
Even if your baby hasn’t gotten their first tooth, don’t start the habit of them going to sleep with a bottle. The milk or juice in a bottle can sit in their mouths and foster bacteria and tooth decay while they sleep.
20. Rinse your mouth with water after snacking or drinking.
After you and your kids snack or drink anything that isn’t water, make a conscious effort to follow it up with drinking water. Water will help to rinse the sugars and bacteria.
21. Get your kids floss picks
If flossing is difficult for your kids, don’t give up on the idea of flossing, instead, look to floss picks. Floss picks are individual flossers that can fit in tight spaces but may be easier to maneuver than regular floss. The ADA has given its seal to the DenTek Kids Fun Flosser Floss Picks.
We hope some of the tips on this list can be easy for you to incorporate into your dental hygiene routines in your home. Some may take trial and error while others may take a little longer to turn into habits, but we know you can do it. When was the last time your kids had a dental checkup? Give us a call today at 801-948-8880 and we’ll find an appointment time that works for you at whichever of our four locations is nearest you.
We’re in the thick of a beautiful but cold Utah winter, and sometimes this time of year brings winter tooth pain. While you might have noticed that one of your kids has a sensitivity to cold slushies or ice cream in the summer months, winter tooth pain can hit even if you’re avoiding ice-cold treats.
Why #1: High Altitude
If your family has been hitting the slopes this winter season and you’ve had complaints of tooth pain while skiing or snowboarding, then the high altitude may be the culprit. When your body reaches high altitudes, the atmospheric pressure can have effects on our bodies, including our teeth. This type of tooth pain is called barodontalgia, or “tooth squeeze”.
Barodontalgia is typically a symptom of an underlying issue that is often dental related (although not exclusively). Possible dental underlying conditions to the pain of tooth squeeze include:
To-Dos for Altitude Tooth Pain
If your kids’ winter tooth pain comes on when you hit the slopes, you’ll need to keep them away from hot beverages as well as cold beverages. Extreme temperatures will only exacerbate the pain. Often the pain will ease once a more normal elevation is reached, so you might have to stay off the mountain for a while.\
Give us a call so we can set up an appointment to see your child. We’ll want to rule out the possibilities and isolate the problem so that we can get your kid back to being on the slopes pain-free with your family.
Why #2: Dental Trauma
Sledding, tubing, skiing, and snowboarding are all great ways to spend the winter weekends. However, these sports can also result in dental injuries such as a cracked or chipped tooth that will result in winter tooth pain.
To-Dos for Dental Trauma
If your child gets a chipped or cracked tooth in a sports accident, give us a call right away. Place the tooth fragment (if you can find it) in a container with milk until you can get in to see us. For more information read our in-depth post, “My Child Chipped a Tooth: What Should I Do?”
Why #3: Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity to cold beverages and treats may be annoying or painful in the warm months, but it can be aggravated in the winter months when your teeth are exposed to cold air. Tooth sensitivity is often painful but, as is the often case with barodontalgia, it is typically a symptom of another issue: enamel erosion or root exposure.
The crown of your tooth is covered by a protective layer of enamel. The enamel is the pearly-white part that you see when you smile, and while it is a protector, it can be weakened and eroded. Causes of enamel erosion include:
excessive teeth whitening
acid reflux disease
excessive acidic content in your diet
bulimia (stomach acid from frequent vomiting)
overzealous teeth brushing technique
What you may be surprised to learn is that the root of your tooth does not have enamel. Instead, it is covered by cementum which is softer than enamel and serves as connective tissue to keep the tooth rooted in your jaw. The root of your tooth simply does not have the same protection in place that the crown of your tooth and this is why an exposed root is painful. Causes of root exposure include:
aggressive teeth brushing
use of a hard bristle toothbrush
gingivitis (gum disease)
To-Dos for Tooth Sensitivity
For tooth sensitivity, it’s important to get your kids in to see their pediatric dentist to identify the cause and begin the appropriate dental treatment. Some treatments are mild, while others may be more involved.
We may recommend a special desensitizing toothpaste to help with the pain while we determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
We may do fluoride treatments in the office or prescribe fluoride treatments at home. Fluoride treatments will help to strengthen the tooth’s enamel.
We may do a bonding. Bonding in this instance is when we apply our composite resin over an exposed root area.
We may recommend a root canal. We perform root canals in our office when necessary. They treat the pulp of the tooth and are one of the most successful treatments for addressing tooth sensitivity.
We may refer your child for a surgical gum graft. This procedure is done when the root is exposed because gum tissue has been lost in some way.
There are things that you as the parent can do in this situation as well. If your kids are 12 years or older, consider purchasing Sensodyne toothpaste (ADA approved) to help with the pain of sensitivity. Avoid extreme temperature beverages hot or cold, but also consider eliminating sodas and high sugar juices from their daily intake.
Next, take a look at your kid’s toothbrush. Is it a soft bristle brush? If not, replace it with a soft one. Take note of your child’s brushing technique, are they a hard or aggressive brusher? Proper teeth brushing technique should look like this:
Prevention of Reoccurrence of Tooth Sensitivity
Proper brushing technique, two times a day for two minutes. Regular cleaning of the teeth will help keep the enamel strong.
Eliminate or slide back to a moderate amount of carbonated drinks and citrus fruits in their diet.
Finish off a snack or a meal with a drink of water to rinse out any acids or citrus from your teeth.
We know that tooth sensitivity can be painful and frustrating for kids. Don’t wait to see if it simply goes away over time. Give us a call to schedule an appointment so that we can root out (pun intended) the cause of your child’s winter tooth pain and move forward with making it better!