My Blog

Posts for: December, 2017

By David G. Feeney, DDS
December 29, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.

“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into cavities. How did this happen?

Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.

While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.  Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.

This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”

Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:

  • Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
  • Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
  • Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.

Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.

“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”

If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”

December 21, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Oral Cancer  

When many people think of going to the dentist they think of getting checked for cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. But there’s one oral cancerother important checkup that can be performed at the dentist’s office during a standard visit: an oral cancer screening. Learn more about the importance of these screenings, which are offered at the office of Dr. David Feeney in Matthews, NC. 

Oral Cancer Screenings
One of the reasons why the American Dental Association recommends regular checkups is so that patients can be screened for oral cancer. While checking a patient’s teeth and gums at a regular appointment, the dentist will also check for signs of abnormalities. Unusual sores on the gums, lips, tongue, and roof of the mouth are potential points of concern. Patches that are white, red, or dark in color are also of note. If the dentist notices something abnormal, a small sample will be taken to do a biopsy.

Why They’re Important
Like other tests, oral cancer screenings are important because they allow your Matthews dentist to catch a potential problem before it gets worse. Though oral cancer is relatively rare compared to other types, the prognosis isn’t favorable if it isn’t diagnosed and treated early on. Patients who avoid going to the dentist for many years due to anxiety are at a higher risk, since they aren’t screened regularly. These checks are also important for patients over the age of 40, smokers, very heavy drinkers or substance abusers, and young people who have been diagnosed with HPV. 

Screenings Give You Peace of Mind
Going to regular oral screenings will give both you and your dentist peace of mind. Untreated oral cancer can spread to other parts of the mouth and body. If you notice anything that looks out of the ordinary while looking in the mirror that doesn’t go away after a couple of weeks, make the time for an urgent checkup and cleaning.

Schedule a Visit to Get Screened
An oral cancer screening, general checkup, and tooth cleaning can be scheduled in the same appointment. Call (704) 847-1000 today to set a convenient date and time to see Dr. Feeney at his Matthews, NC dentist office.

By David G. Feeney, DDS
December 14, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: teething  

Teething is a normal part of your baby’s dental development. That doesn’t make it less stressful, though, for you or your baby.

This natural process occurs as your child’s primary teeth sequentially erupt through the gums over a period of two or three years. The first are usually the two lower front teeth followed by the two upper front ones, beginning (give or take a couple of months) between six and nine months. By the age of three, most children have all twenty of their primary teeth.

The disruption to the gum tissues can cause a number of unpleasant side effects including gum swelling, facial rash, drooling, disrupted sleep patterns and decreased appetite. As a result a child can become irritable, bite and gnaw to relieve gum discomfort or rub their ears. Every child’s experience is different as well as their degree of pain and discomfort.

As a tooth is about to erupt, you may notice symptoms increasing a few days before and after. The symptoms will then subside until the next tooth begins to erupt. In a way, teething is much like a storm—you mostly have to ride it out. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t lessen your child’s discomfort during the teething episode.

For one thing, cold, soft items like teething rings, pacifiers or even a clean, wet washcloth your child can gnaw on will help relieve gum pressure. Chilling the item can have a pain-numbing effect—but avoid freezing temperatures, which can burn the tissues. You can also massage the gums with a clean finger to relieve pain. But don’t rub alcohol on their gums and only use numbing agents (like Benzocaine) for children older than two, and only with the advice and supervision of your healthcare provider. The use of acetaminophen or ibuprofen might also be used under the advice of your doctor.

If you notice your child has diarrhea, extensive rashes or fever, contact your physician immediately—these aren’t normal teething symptoms and may indicate something more serious. And be sure to consult with us if you have any other questions or concerns.

Teething can be a difficult time for your baby and family. But with these tips and a little “TLC” you can keep their discomfort to a minimum.

If you would like more information on caring for your baby’s developing teeth, 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: How to Help Your Baby be Comfortable.”