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Just What Is a Cavity, Anyway?

January 25th, 2023

The grownups in your life encourage you to brush and floss, eat healthy foods, and visit us in the dental office for exams and cleanings. Why? Because we all want to help you prevent cavities.

So you might be wondering, just what are cavities? How do we get them? What do they do to our teeth? How can we prevent them? Let’s talk!

Our teeth need to be strong to bite and chew. That’s why they are protected by a coating called enamel, which is made up of very hard minerals. Enamel is the strongest part of our bodies—stronger even than our bones. But this doesn’t mean nothing can hurt it! And cavities, also called tooth decay, are one of the most common dangers facing our enamel.

So, what are cavities?

A cavity is a hole in your tooth enamel. If your tooth is not cleaned and repaired when a cavity is small, this hole can grow bigger until tooth decay reaches the inside of your tooth. Enamel doesn’t heal when it’s damaged, so you need to see a dentist to make your tooth healthy again.

How do we get cavities?

Bacteria are tiny little germs. Many kinds of bacteria live in our bodies, and some of them are quite helpful. The bacteria that cause cavities are not. These unhelpful bacteria join with our saliva and very small pieces of the food we’ve chewed to make a sticky film called plaque.

Like other living things, the bacteria in plaque need food. They get that food from the foods we eat, especially sugars and starches. As they eat, they change these sugars and starches into acids, and these acids attack the minerals that keep enamel hard and strong.

Because plaque sticks to our teeth, bacterial acids are able to make weak spots in enamel if the plaque isn’t brushed away. If you see a white spot on your tooth, which could mean that your enamel is losing minerals, and getting weaker.

What do cavities do to our teeth?

Over time, weak spots can grow bigger until there’s a hole in the enamel surface. If the cavity in your enamel is small, you might not notice it at first. But cavities can become wider and deeper, and even break through enamel to reach the inside of your tooth.

The inside of each tooth holds pulp, the part of your tooth that keeps it healthy. If tooth decay spreads to the pulp, it can cause more damage and infection, so it’s important to treat a cavity right away.

Dark spots on your enamel, a toothache, pain when you drink something hot or cold or when you bite down—these can be clues that you have a cavity, and you should visit us for an exam.

How can you prevent cavities?

Even better than treating a cavity is preventing one. Let’s make a list of some helpful do’s and don’ts for cavity prevention:

  • Do: Feed yourself foods that are good for you.

Foods like milk and cheese and many dark green vegetables have lots of calcium and vitamin D to help keep your enamel strong.

  • Don’t: Feed bacteria foods that are good for them.

Sugar and simple starches like potato chips are the kinds of foods bacteria like best, because they are easy to break down. This means more acids to attack your enamel.

This doesn’t mean you should never enjoy a treat! But eating lots of starchy snacks and drinking sugary sodas means more plaque, and more plaque can mean more cavities. If you’re eating something starchy or sweet, it’s a good idea to brush or rinse afterward.

  • Do: Brush at least twice a day, for at least two minutes, with fluoride toothpaste.

This is the best way to get rid of plaque, which builds up every day. And fluoride toothpaste even helps make your enamel stronger.

  • Don’t: Forget to floss.

Flossing takes a while to learn to do well, but it’s very important. Flossing helps prevent cavities between the teeth and near the gums.

  • Do: Visit our Concord or Danville office for exams and cleanings.

Not only will we look for cavities, we’ll let you know the best way to brush and floss so you can get your teeth their cleanest. We even have special coatings called sealants that can protect your teeth from plaque.

  • Don’t: Feel bad if you get a cavity!

Some people are more likely to get cavities than others, even when they brush just right and eat healthy foods. If you have a cavity, we can remove decay and repair your tooth with a filling.

And one last thing to do: talk to Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini if you have any questions about the best ways to protect your teeth from cavities. We have lots of suggestions to help you take care of your healthy, beautiful smile!

Protecting Your Child’s Smile with Mouthguards

January 25th, 2023

If your child participates in sports or other physical activities, it’s wise to consider getting a mouthguard. Also known as mouth protectors, mouthguards are a device worn over the teeth to lessen the impact of a blow to the face.

This reduces the chance that your child might lose teeth or sustain other serious oral injuries. We recommend that all patients involved in a contact sport such as wrestling, football, or hockey wear a mouthguard because of the high risk of such injuries.

However, anyone involved in a physically demanding sport or activity should wear a mouthguard as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose a few of your front teeth? The way you talk, eat, and smile would all change.

Injuries that can be sustained when not wearing a mouthguard include:

  • Chipped and broken teeth
  • Fractured jaws
  • Root damage
  • Concussions
  • Injury to the lips, cheeks, or gums

Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards — typically made of a soft plastic material or laminate. You can decide which works best for your child in terms of budget, fit, and comfort.

  • Stock mouthguards are prefabricated to a standard size. They offer adequate protection, but you need to find one that fits your child properly and comfortably. Stock mouthguards are readily available at department stores, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards are placed in boiling water to soften them, then into the mouth so they can conform to the shape of the teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more expensive, but offer a more customized fit than stock ones. You can find these in department stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are created just for your child by Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini. These offer the best fit and comfort of all the options, but they are also the most expensive. Ask a member of our Concord or Danville team for more information.

The American Dental Association says a good mouthguard should be easy to clean, fit properly, be comfortable, and resist tearing or damage. It shouldn’t restrict speech or breathing.

Still not sure if your child needs a mouthguard or which kind is right for his or her smile? Ask Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini or one of our staff members for more information.

How to Care for a Teething Baby

January 18th, 2023

After hours of juggling a wailing baby, you’re probably desperate to address teething pain. If your baby is irritable, drooling, and chewing on hard objects, he or she is likely teething. Although some discomfort while your baby is teething is inevitable, learning a few basic approaches can ease painful gums and soothe your frazzled nerves.

  • Offer your finger. Simply chewing on your nice, plump finger may be enough to ease your little one’s pain. Make sure you clean your finger before placing it in your baby’s mouth.
  • Use a teething ring. A firm rubber teething ring allows your child to gnaw, and alleviates pain. If your baby seems to like sucking on a bottle, replace the milk or formula with water during teething periods. This reduces sugar intake and decreases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Cool it down. Stick a clean, moist washcloth in the freezer (place it on a tray for cleanliness) and offer that to your baby. The cooler temperature of the chilled cloth eases the pain of teeth erupting through the gums. Soaking the washcloth in non-caffeinated tea, such as chamomile, may reduce inflammation associated with teething.
  • Grab some hard foods. Certain foods allow your kiddo to gnaw, and can ease teething pain. For example, frozen bananas, large chunks of chilled carrots, an apple, or frozen bagels make good teething pain relievers. If you’re offering your child solid food, watch carefully to ensure that your infant doesn’t bite off a piece and choke.
  • Try a natural remedy. Years of grandmotherly wisdom suggest that home remedies might help with teething. Try rubbing clove oil, peeled ginger root, or vanilla extract onto your child’s gums. Although there isn’t scientific evidence to prove these remedies are effective, they may help your little one through the painful teething process. Just remember to test the method out on your own gums first to ensure any tingling or numbing is bearable for your child.
  • Use medications. If your baby seems to be especially uncomfortable, over-the-counter medications may be appropriate. Giving an age-appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) may reduce discomfort. Make sure you check with your child’s pediatrician or our office first to ensure the medication is safe.

If nothing seems to be helping your child’s teething pain, you can always schedule an appointment with Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini. Our team at Drs. Schmitt & Saini Pediatric Dentistry understands the unique health needs of your little one, and are more than happy to help ensure he or she grows up with a beautiful smile.

For more information about teething, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini, please give us a call at our convenient Concord or Danville office today!

How Our Office Makes Your Child’s Visit Anxiety-Free

January 18th, 2023

Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini and our team at Drs. Schmitt & Saini Pediatric Dentistry specialize in pediatric dentistry, and we understand that children can be frightened of things they do not understand. This anxiety is often heightened by an unpleasant dental experience or stories they hear from classmates. We have many methods at our Concord or Danville office to make your child’s dental visit pleasant and anxiety-free.

Listening

The first thing Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini and our team do is talk to your child, listen to any concerns he or she may have, and take the time to explain the dental work that will be done. Often children will lose their fears by simply understanding what is happening and why. In addition, you are welcome to be in the room with your child during exams and treatments. When a child is able to see that the parent is relaxed, this is more conducive to the child’s relaxation.

Relaxation

When you arrive at Drs. Schmitt & Saini Pediatric Dentistry, let your child to play with the toys we provide. This starts the visit in a positive manner. Taking your child’s mind off the exam is useful. While your child is undergoing an examination or procedure, listening to music or watching a video can support a sense of relaxation. When children understand that we care, their anxiety levels are reduced.

Sedation

Nitrous oxide is a sedation technique commonly used to reduce anxiety and alleviate any pain. It is beneficial partly because the effects wear off quickly. Topical pain relievers can also be useful for children with sensitive teeth, and this will eliminate discomfort.

Deeper sedation is useful for complex dental issues, extreme anxiety, or a fear of needles. A liquid or tablet sedative can be given before your child’s appointment. This type of sedation is also helpful for children with a fear of the masks used for nitrous oxide.

We welcome you and your child to discuss any concerns that you have regarding his or her dental appointment. We want your child to be free from anxiety about visiting Dr. Donald Schmitt and Dr. Rinku Saini. The earlier your child’s fears are addressed, the less likely the fear will carry into adulthood.