Monday, June 30, 2014

Does your child need space maintainers

One of the primary purposes of a child’s “baby teeth” is to reserve space for the adult teeth growing underneath. Typically, baby teeth fall out once the adult tooth begins pushing its way through the surface and is ready to emerge. However, in some cases, children may have a baby tooth removed early if they get it knocked out in an accident or have it removed due to dental decay. When this happens, there is a chance that the tooth underneath is not yet ready to emerge, causing a gap to be present in the tooth line. Unfortunately, some adult teeth do not grow in until the child is 12-14 years old, and your pediatrician may be concerned about later problems with the permanent teeth that could be caused by the gap.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, when baby teeth are lost too soon, adjacent teeth may try to fill the space by tilting or drifting toward the gap. This is a problem because baby teeth often guide the permanent teeth into place, meaning a child may end up with a crowded or crooked smile once their adult teeth have emerged. To avoid this scenario, a pediatric dentist on your True Dental Discounts dental plan will likely suggest space maintainers. Space maintainers are made out of either metal or plastic and are custom-made to fit into a child’s mouth. The purpose of a space maintainer is to keep the gap left by a baby tooth open and to prevent movement of the other teeth. The AAPD suggests that it is much easier to correct the problem in advance with space maintainers than to fix it afterward with extensive orthodontic treatment.

Once a child’s adult tooth has successfully emerged and taken its natural place, the space maintainer is removed. Until then, it is important that the child: avoids gum and sticky foods; keeps the space maintainer clean with regular brushing and flossing; does not pull or try to adjust the space maintainer; and continues visiting the dentist regularly. That way, your pediatric dentist can monitor the progress of the child’s tooth growth and ensure he or she has a beautiful – and permanent – smile!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Could your child’s toys negatively impact his hearing?

Walk around your local toy store and you’ll see millions of different toys for your child to play with. Many of them include a sound component, which, in addition to being annoying to parents, can also pose a risk to a child’s hearing. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, some children’s toys – like sirens or squeaky rubber toys – can actually emit sounds of 90 decibels.

To put that in perspective, adults experiencing that level of noise at work would have to wear ear protection! Worse, when held up to a child’s ear during play, these toys can actually reach up to 120 decibels – a painful level that can result in permanent hearing loss. The Association suggests that some of the most dangerous toys for hearing include cap guns, vehicles with sirens, walkie talkies, vacuum toys, and even talking dolls. Before buying a new toy, be sure to test out its sound component; if you already have dangerous toys at home, take out the batteries to ensure they stay quiet.

Healthy hearing practices begin at a young age, so start protecting your child at all times – even during play time. Talk to a doctor in your True Dental Discounts hearing plan if you have any questions or concerns about toys around your house.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Retinal examinations

Eye exams can include many different vision tests that measure the health and functioning of your eyes. One of these tests is a retinal examination, which looks at the retina, optic disk, and blood vessels in the back of your eye. According to the Mayo Clinic, eye doctors may use one of three techniques to look at the back of your eye. First, however, he will likely need to dilate your pupils with eye drops that may give you a slight stinging sensation. After the drops are in place, he may conduct a direct examination, an indirect examination, or a slit-lamp examination.

In a direct examination, a beam of light is shined through the pupil so that the doctor can view the back of the eye with an ophthalmoscope. This exam may cause you to temporarily see afterimages once the light is gone. For an indirect examination, the patient usually lies down on a chair while the doctor shines a light strapped to his head into the patient’s eye. This technique allows the doctor to see the eye in three dimensions and is also likely to result in temporary afterimages. Finally, the slit-lamp examination has the ability to show the doctor the most detail about the back of the eye.

In this exam, the doctor uses the slit lamp as well as a condensing or contact lens. Each of these three exams takes only about five to 10 minutes, but depending on the use of eye drops, your vision will likely be blurry for several hours. Before your appointment at your True Dental Discounts vision plan doctor, ask someone to drive you home and make any necessary arrangements at work.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Congenital hearing loss in children

Although it is more common for people to acquire hearing loss through age or exposure to loud noises, between one and six of every 1,000 newborn babies are born with congenital (or present-at-birth) hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, more than 50% of all congenital cases are caused by genetics. There are thought to be at least three separate genetic causes of congenital hearing loss, including situations in which at least one parent has genetically caused hearing loss. In this situation, the chance of the affected gene being passed to a child is much higher (at least 50%) than in cases where neither parent has hearing loss.

In some cases, both parents may carry a recessive gene for hearing loss, meaning that although neither of them has lost their hearing, they still have the ability to pass that gene on to their children. In this case, there is about a 25% chance of the child being born with hearing loss. Finally, there is also the chance that the mother can pass a hearing loss gene to her child through the X-chromosome, meaning it can only be passed on to male children, who have just one X chromosome (females have two). Hearing loss is also a known characteristic of Down syndrome and other genetic conditions.

However, there are also several causes of congenital hearing loss that are not related to genetics. These generally include infections or toxins in the mother during pregnancy or conditions affecting the baby shortly after birth. For instance, babies who are exposed to German measles or herpes while in the womb can develop congenital hearing loss. It’s very important to talk to your True Dental Discounts hearing plan doctor about your chances of passing on hearing loss to your child so you can be as educated as possible prior to the birth.