Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Is Your "Gamer" Damaging Their Tmj.

We had a young patient, 14 years old, come in the other day complaining of popping and clicking in his temporomandibular joint (TMJ). He was also having pain in his jaw radiating up the side of his face to his temple area. 

I did an exam on his TMJ and found it to be very painful with a lot of popping and clicking upon opening and closing. It is very unusual to have someone as young as him developing TMJ Disorder unless there was trauma involved. I asked him if he were in an accident, a fight, got hurt playing sports, fell, etc. He responded negatively to all the above. I also asked if he ever had orthodontics. He said he had not. (Sometimes bad orthodontics can affect your bite and cause TMJ Disorder symptoms.)  

Sometimes my patients that have jobs on computers all day develop these symptoms since they seem to be clenching when they work.  I didn't think he would be on a computer all day but then I thought, "What does a 14 year old do all day?" Plays video games. I asked him if he were a gamer and he said yes. At this point his mother added, "He plays all the time." I asked her how many hours and she said four to six hours a day, sometime more. I then asked him what type of games he plays and he told me action games. I thought that he is probably clenching and/or grinding his teeth the whole time he is playing his games. 

I recommended a simple night guard device called an NTI. We were able to fabricate one here in the office and told him to wear it all the time and we will see if it helps. We were going to follow up in three weeks but his mother told us that even after a week he is noticing an improvement. 

So if you have a teenager that plays a lot of video games, watch them sometimes. If you notice that they are clenching or grinding their teeth when they are playing, you may want to call us to prevent them from developing TMJ Disorder.

Monday, May 6, 2013

When Should a Child Start Using Toothpaste?

Parents know that taking care of small children is a full-time job – and along with diaper changes, bath time, and medical checkups, parents also need to take care of their children’s teeth

Birth to 18 months: no toothpaste required
huntington beach children dentist
Start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the teeth begin to come in – but you don’t need toothpaste at first. For babies younger than 18 months, the best way to clean your child’s teeth is with a wet cloth or gauze – without toothpaste. Gently rub your child’s teeth and gums with a cloth over your fingertip – this, along with nursing and/or drinking water, is all the oral hygiene that your child needs at the infant stage. Once your child has more of a “full set” of teeth, you can use a small, soft toothbrush to brush your child’s teeth with water.

When to start toothpaste? 18 months
huntington beach children dentistry In general, children should not use toothpaste until they are at least 18 months old – and when you do start using toothpaste, make sure it is a safe “children’s toothpaste” made especially for young ones. Young children have different dental needs than grown-ups – and children’s toothpaste is made for this purpose.

What to look for in a children’s toothpaste
  • Safe to swallow: Most young children tend to swallow while brushing, rather than spitting out the toothpaste – so make sure that your children’s toothpaste is formulated with this in mind.
  • Use only a pea-sized amount: Don’t use too much toothpaste – just squeeze a small, pea-size (or smaller) amount onto the toothbrush. Your child doesn’t need much toothpaste to be effective, and you don’t want your child to swallow too much toothpaste.
  • Consider low-fluoride children’s toothpaste: Fluoride is an important element of keeping teeth healthy and strong, but too much fluoride can be harmful for young children. Talk to your dentist if you have concerns about fluoride in your child’s toothpaste – several varieties of children’s toothpaste have lower amounts of fluoride or are fluoride-free.
  • Fun flavors: Try some different flavors of toothpaste and see what your child likes. Some children – especially at the toddler stage – are very picky about flavors and might be reluctant to use a certain flavor of toothpaste. So be prepared to buy a few different varieties of children’s toothpaste and see which one is your child’s favorite.
huntington beach children dental

Remember: brushing your child’s teeth is part of parenting, and you need to start at a young age. By taking the time each day – before bedtime and in the morning – to clean your child’s teeth with a specially-formulated children’s toothpaste, you will be helping to create a lifetime of healthy dental habits and happy smiles.

Schedule an appointment with our dentist in Huntington Beach 
at (714) 848-4247