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Keeping Your Kids’ Teeth Healthy

Dental Hygiene For Kids

If you are a new parent then you already know the excitement your life takes on when these little rascals enter the world. Your life becomes full of firsts and milestones and it can be hard to keep up with all the changes that are constantly happening around you. Most people see those first few teeth pop up in their little one’s mouth and start thinking about brushing and dental hygiene but a surprising number of people don’t realize that that process in fact should start long before the first tooth even breaks the surface.

One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to instill good dental habits early on.

One of the most important things you can do for your kids is to instill good dental habits early on.

When a baby is born it is usually already has up to 20 teeth in its mouth some of which are fully formed they are just beneath the gum line. This does not mean that they do not require attention however. Running a damp washcloth over the gums helps to keep bacteria from building up and most babies like the feel of it. It can even help reduce the pain of teething. Once the teeth start to appear they can be brushed with an infant toothbrush and a very small amount of toothpaste. This should be done once a day just before they go to bed. Once the first tooth appears it is time for your child to see a dentist. At the very least the first dentist visit should happen before your child hits their first birthday.

Once your child hits the age of 2 they should be able to spit toothpaste on their own. This means they should be able to brush their teeth by themselves using a small amount of toothpaste. A large part of maintaining proper tooth health is to set habits. It is easy to “brush off” brushing if it is not part of your regular routine so it is important to get your children started early when it comes to making them responsible for brushing their own teeth twice a day. Ultimately you will not be able to watch over your child as they get older to make sure they are brushing properly twice a day so setting the precedent early is key to make sure they continue the process.

There is no way to ensure that your child will not have to have major dental work at some point in their lives but proper hygiene practices from the beginning goes a long way towards decreasing the chances and maintaining a healthy mouth. There may be pushback but if you stick with it and reinforce proper brushing habits you will be seeing your child’s pretty smile for a long time to come!

Choosing the Right Dental Office

Choosing the Right Family Dentistry Practice

Many people dread going to the dentist but this is likely because they have not found the right practice to fit their needs. Choosing the right dentist when you have children is even more important. Their beliefs and attitudes toward lifelong oral health are impacted by their experience. There are a few tips that can help anyone find the dentist that will work best for everyone in the family. Here at West Meade Dental, we want to make sure you feel good about choosing us.

A good relationship with your Dentist and their office is a central component in the oral health of you and your family.

A good relationship with your Dentist and their office is a central component in the oral health of you and your family.

When searching for a dental practice, it is best to start by getting recommendations. Friends and family will most likely have great insight into their own dentist and whether or not they are happy with the practice. If you are new to an area, you may check with the Better Business Bureau. Neighbors or other parents may be a good resource as well.

Just as children go to a pediatrician, many parents prefer to send their children to a pediatric dentist. However, it can quickly become tedious to juggle two different dental practices for the adults and the children in the family. To eliminate this issue, find a family dental practice where the dentist is trained to deal with both adult and child patients. This is the best way to make sure that the children are getting dental care tailored to their needs without driving Mom and Dad crazy with multiple offices.

Families with children must always take convenience into consideration when choosing a professional for almost anything. With this in mind, it is best to choose a dental practice that is within very close proximity to the home. If getting there does not require a long drive, busy parents are much more likely to keep the appointments that they make. This is also a much better situation for families with young children because little ones often do not like being in the car for any length of time.

In addition to finding an office with a convenient location, it is important to make sure that they have hours and policies that work for the family. For example, before making an appointment, make sure that the office has hours that coordinate with the children’s activity schedules and the parents’ work schedules. Also, make sure that they have a reasonable cancellation policy. Families with small children may have to cancel at short notice and should not pay a large penalty for that.

When visiting the office for the first time, it is important for potential patients to trust their first impression of the office. For example, if the receptionist is not helpful and polite, it may be an indication of how the entire experience will go. Take a look at surfaces around the office to see if they are generally clean. If they are not, there is no reason to believe that the dental instruments will be clean either. Be picky. This is about the health of your family.

Choosing a dentist is a huge decision, especially because so many people are nervous about going in the first place. Ask friends and family, but remember that it is your impression of the practice that really counts. Check into the policies of the office as well as their location before making an appointment to ensure that it will be convenient for the family’s lifestyle. A bit of research will go a long way to establishing a relationship that is beneficial for the entire family.

Anxious About Going to the Dentist?

Causes of Anxiety

Recently, a survey conducted by Peter Milgrom, showed the 5% to 8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear.  20% however, will make a dentist visit if it is mandatory.  About two-thirds of the patients who were studied in this study relate fears back to negative past experiences.  The other third have anxiety as a side effect from cases such as mood disorders, types of abuse, and different types of post traumatic stress.  This could be connected to the fact that the patient does not have control, especially someone putting you in a place where you cannot respond to questions and having someone constantly over you.

It can be intimidating for some patients not to be able to speak.

It can be intimidating for some patients not to be able to speak.

What can dentists do?

Dentists can do their part by providing an environment that will come across as less threatening.  The location and design scheme are two things that can be visual factors. The way the dentist talks to the patient is another way they can prevent fear in their patients.  Some dentists use techniques such as telling the patient what will happen before they do it and asking for permission to continue, and stopping the procedure whenever they feel uncomfortable. Whether it is for regular check-ups or more extensive procedures, West Meade Dental is committed to helping you get the care you need.

What can patients do?

Even though it is reported that dental work leads to less pain than expected, there are a few steps you can take when preparing yourself for the dentist visit if you are frightened.  It is recommended you take someone with you that you trust.  Most places will even let the accompanist go in during the procedure.  You can also find something to distract yourself, usually television or music, or relaxation techniques.  For extreme cases, some dentists may make mild sedatives available to the patient, such as “laughing gas,” or recommend that you seek professional psychological therapy. Whatever it takes to ensure that you get the oral treatment you need, West Meade Dental is determined to assist patients through their fear.


Grinding Your Teeth? Here’s What You Need To Know

Dangers and Cures of Grinding Your Teeth

It is not abnormal for people to grind their teeth from time to time. The condition in which this occurs is called bruxism and, if it only occurs in moderation, it is not terribly dangerous. However, if someone chronically grinds his or her teeth, it can lead to serious damage to their teeth as well as other areas of the mouth. The good news is that there are ways to remedy this situation before it becomes too serious.

In some cases, bruxism is caused by any number of external stressors that a person is experiencing in their life. However, a physical issue with the teeth or mouth often causes it. For example, grinding of the teeth may result from missing teeth, crooked teeth or even an abnormal bite. Although it can occur at any time, many people do not even realize that they are grinding their teeth because it only occurs at night.

Are You Grinding Your Teeth at Night - Nashville TN - West Meade Dental

Are You Grinding Your Teeth at Night – Nashville TN – West Meade Dental

The simplest results of teeth grinding are headaches and pain in the jaw. However, there can be far more serious affects of bruxism. Over time, the condition can result in someone breaking, loosening or even losing some of his or her teeth. In the worst cases, the teeth grind down completely. In addition to damaging the teeth, bruxism can damage the jaw and even result in hearing loss of facial deformities.

The majority of teeth grinding takes place at night and there are specific remedies for that type of situation. Many people find relief after they are fitted with a mouth guard from their dentist.  Someone who grinds his or her teeth at night should also be sure to avoid caffeine or alcohol, especially before bedtime. To break the habit of grinding, it is important to resist the urge to chew on anything other than food, such as pen caps or fingernails. It can also be helpful to sleep with a warm washcloth next to the face, which will help relax the jaw.

These remedies alone may not work if the bruxism is the result of external stress. In this case, it may be necessary to see a therapist who can prescribe ways to deal with stress. This may include therapy or even muscle relaxers, which will decrease the urge to grind the teeth while sleeping. Many people often find that a change in diet or exercise routine can help reduce the effects of stress in their lives.

Parents will often notice that their babies may be grinding their teeth and will become concerned about long-term damage. It is common for babies to grind their teeth, especially when they are first teething. In most cases, this will stop once the child has finished growing in all of their adult teeth. It usually does not cause any damage, although the child may experience headaches and jaw pain. If the parent notices that their child’s teeth are becoming worn or broken, they should take them to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, it is not cause for concern.

Grinding of the teeth is a difficult problem to identify because it often takes place while the person is sleeping. A patient who commonly wakes up with jaw pain or headaches may be suffering from bruxism. A visit to the dentist will help determine whether it is caused by stress or by a physical problem with the teeth or jaw. Allowing this problem to go untreated can result in significant damage to the teeth and jaw, so it is necessary to visit a dentist at the first sign of a problem with grinding the teeth.

Do I Need An Orthodontist?

Identifying When a Dentist or Orthodontist is Needed

When do you need a dentist, orthodontist, or other dental professional? The answer depends on the condition and how long it has been present. In general, adults and children should visit a dentist once every six months for a complete oral examination and teeth cleaning procedure. If a dentist finds issues such as cavities or the beginning stages of gum disease, a follow-up visit may be required. Crooked or crowded teeth are among the issues that may indicate the need to visit an orthodontist. Their specialty is the strategic shifting of teeth.

During a general examination, the dentist inspects the gums, teeth, and tongue and may probe certain areas to test for sensitivity or cavities. Teeth are then scaled to remove plaque and tartar buildup before cleaning each tooth with a special instrument and dental paste. If fluoride treatment is recommended, it is applied to clean teeth and the mouth is rinsed. Periodically, the dentist may take X-rays of the teeth and mouth. Current condition and medical and dental history determine the frequency of X-rays.

Dental Check-up - Nashville TN - West Meade Dental

Dental Check-up – Nashville TN – West Meade Dental

Dental X-rays are used to visualize tooth and oral tissue diseases that an examination cannot identify. Dentists use X-rays to help located and treat dental issues at early stages, potentially saving pain, money, and even lives. For children, these X-rays help identify decay, determine whether the mouth has enough space to accommodate incoming teeth, and assess whether primary tooth loss is occurring fast enough to allow the proper emergence of permanent teeth.

An X-ray can verify wisdom tooth development in older children and whether these teeth will be able to emerge through gums. With adults, X-rays are used to reveal areas of decay that are not visible during an oral exam, particularly decay between teeth. An X-ray can identify changes in the root canal or bone due to infection and point out bone loss due to gum disease. Dentists often use X-rays to assist with preparation of dentures, implants, braces, and other procedures.

Most symptoms or issues that pertain to the teeth, gums, and mouth are not emergencies. However, immediate attention is recommended in certain situations. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, visit a dentist immediately because it may be possible to re-implant the tooth. A dental visit should also be scheduled if a tooth is chipped or broken. Retain the piece that broke off and store it in a cool, moist cloth. Treatment will be based on the extent of the chip or break.

If a tooth is knocked out of its correct position or becomes misaligned, use light pressure to try to push it back into place. Bite down on the tooth to maintain the correct position and see a dentist immediately. Treatment may involve splinting the tooth to help it heal. Trauma to the mouth area may also result in lacerations or cuts on the tongue, cheeks, or gums. Apply direct pressure to control bleeding and seek immediate dental or medical attention.

Non-traumatic tooth issues include tooth pain or a toothache resulting from a dental abscess or cavity in or around a tooth. If the gum around the affected tooth swells significantly, fluid drains from the area, or the pain is severe, have a dentist evaluate the situation. Redness or swelling of gums is not usually an urgent situation but since it may indicate infection or gum disease, schedule a dental appointment as soon as is convenient.

Orthodontic treatment is designed to straighten teeth so they sit well with teeth on the opposite jaw. With a good bite, it becomes easier to speak, bite, and chew. There are several signs that it is time to vista an orthodontist:


  • Losing baby teeth earlier or later than is normal
  • Sucking fingers
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Teeth that are blocked-out, crowded, or misplaced
  • Teeth that protrude
  • Teeth that do not meet or that meet abnormally
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Recessed, protruding, or shifting jaw
  • Jaw that makes sounds
  • Inability to close lips comfortably
  • Biting the roof of the mouth or biting the cheek
  • Facial features disproportionate with the remainder of the face
  • Facial imbalance


Dental treatment helps patients maintain clean and healthy mouths. Orthodontic care is part of comprehensive dental treatment for some patients. It ensures a healthy bite, which is important at any age. Knowing when it is time to visit a dentist or orthodontist and receiving the proper treatment can help teeth last for a lifetime.

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