My Blog

Posts for: September, 2016

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
September 17, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: teething  
EaseYourChildsDiscomfortDuringTeething

Your sweet, happy baby has suddenly become a gnawing, drooling bundle of irritation. Don't worry, though, no one has switched babies on you. Your child is teething.

For most children, their first teeth begin breaking through the gums around six to nine months. Usually by age three all twenty primary (“baby”) teeth have erupted. While the duration and intensity of teething differs among children, there are some common symptoms to expect.

Top of the list, of course, is irritability from pain, discomfort and disrupted sleep. You'll also notice increased gnawing, ear rubbing, decreased appetite, gum swelling or facial rash brought on by increased saliva (drooling). Teething symptoms seem to increase about four days before a tooth begins to break through the gums and taper off about three days after.

You may occasionally see bluish swellings along the gums known as eruption cysts. These typically aren't cause for concern:  the cyst usually “pops” and disappears as the tooth breaks through it. On the other hand, diarrhea, body rashes or fever are causes for concern — if these occur you should call us or your pediatrician for an examination.

While teething must run its course, there are some things you can do to minimize your child's discomfort:

Provide them a clean, soft teething ring or pacifier to gnaw or chew — a wet washcloth (or a cold treat for older children) may also work. Chill it first to provide a pain-reducing effect, but don't freeze it — that could burn the gums.

Use a clean finger to massage swollen gums — gently rubbing the gums helps counteract the pressure caused by an erupting tooth.

Alleviate persistent pain with medication — With your doctor's recommendation, you can give them a child's dosage of acetaminophen or ibuprofen (not aspirin), to take the edge off teething pain.

There are also things you should not do, like applying rubbing alcohol to the gums or using products with Benzocaine®, a numbing agent, with children younger than two years of age. Be sure you consult us or a physician before administering any drugs.

While it isn't pleasant at the time, teething is part of your child's dental development. With your help, you can ease their discomfort for the relatively short time it lasts.

If you would like more information on relieving discomfort during teething, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teething Troubles.”


September 14, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Is there such thing as being “tongue-tied”?

tongue tied in Warrenton, VAMany suffer in silence the multiple difficulties which derive from having a tongue which cannot move freely. For all the infants who cannot suck, toddlers who cannot chew, children who cannot speak properly.

The premise that tongue tie is not ‘per se' a medical problem or a cause of speech difficulty has been challenged. It is no longer accepted that only those ties severe enough to lead to undernourishment, or to prevent pronunciation of tongue tip sounds, are significant. Opinion varies regarding how frequently ankyloglossia indeed causes problems. Some professionals trust that it is rarely symptomatic, whereas others believe it is associated with a variety of challenges. The disagreement among experts was documented

There are several options available when a tongue tie has been assessed and found to be restricting movement (i.e. when the frenum - the string that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth - is recognized to be abnormal). Such a condition requires surgical correction by an appropriate professional skilled to fix this issue.

There are different types of intervention for ankyloglossia. There is a traditional belief that people with ankyloglossia can compensate in their speech for a restricted tongue range of motion. E.g. if the tip of the tongue is restricted for making sounds such as /n, t, d, l/, the tongue can compensate through decentralization; this is when the tip of the tongue moves forward and up. When producing /r/, elevation of the mandible can compensate for restriction of tongue movement. Also, compensations can be made for /s/ and /z/ by using the dorsum of the tongue for contact against the palatal rugae.

There are ways of tackling this issue, that can most likely be fixed by your dentist.  If you child is tongue-tied, please visit our Appointment Request form at our Warrenton dental office today!


By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
September 02, 2016
Category: Oral Health
LifeIsSometimesaGrindforBrookeShields

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”