What’s The Best Way to Care for My Baby’s Teeth?

Good oral care starts from the very beginning, even before his or her first teeth emerge. Numerous factors can affect their future appearance and health. For instance, tetracycline, a common antibiotic, can cause tooth discoloration. For this reason, they should not be used by nursing mothers or by expectant mothers in the last half of pregnancy.

Since baby teeth usually emerge around six months of age, standard oral health procedures like brushing and flossing aren’t required for infants. However, infants have special oral health needs that every new parent should know about. These include guarding against baby bottle decay.

How Can I Prevent Baby Tooth Decay?

Baby Tooth decay is caused by exposure, over long periods of time, to liquids containing sugars. These include milk, formula, and fruit juices. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps, leading to cavities that first develop in the upper and lower front teeth. For this reason, you should always make sure your baby doesn’t have a bottle in his / her mouth when falling asleep. Instead, at bedtime, give your child a bottle filled with water or a pacifier recommended by your dentist. If you breast-feed, avoid letting the baby nurse continuously. And after each feeding, wipe your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp cloth or a gauze pad.

How Do I Help My Children Care for Their Teeth and Prevent Cavities?

Teaching your child, good oral care at a young age is an investment in their health that will stay with them for life. You can start by setting an example, taking good care of your own teeth sends a message that oral health is very important and anything that makes taking care of teeth fun, like brushing along with your child or letting them choose their own toothbrush, encourages good oral care.

To help your children protect their teeth and gums and greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, teach them to follow these simple steps:

  1. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque-the sticky film on teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
  2. Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet that limits starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat these foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack-the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
  4. Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
  5. Take your child to the dentist for regular check-ups.

What Brushing Techniques Can I Show My Child?

You may want to supervise your children until they get the hang of these simple steps:

  1. Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Take care that your child does not swallow the toothpaste(this is difficult with very young children—so we recommend using a children’s toothpaste which contains lower levels of fluoride).
  2. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush the inside surface of each tooth first, where plaque may accumulate most. Brush gently back and forth.
  3. Clean the outer surfaces of each tooth. Angle the brush along the outer gum line. Gently brush back and forth.
  4. Brush the chewing surface of each tooth. Gently brush back and forth.
  5. Use the tip of the brush to clean behind each front tooth, both top and bottom.
  6. It’s always fun to brush the tongue!

What Is Fluoride and How Do I Know if My Child Is Getting the Right Amount?

Fluoride is one of the best ways to help prevent against tooth decay. A naturally occurring mineral, fluoride combines with the tooth’s enamel to strengthen it. For most children the proper use of fluoride toothpaste will be sufficient to help prevent decay. For children at high risk of dental decay and without access to fluoridated water, milk, or salt, your child’s dentist may suggest using fluoride drops or mouthrinse in addition to a fluoride toothpaste.

How Important Is Diet to My Child’s Oral Health?

A balanced diet is necessary for your child to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth. In addition to a full range of vitamins and minerals, a child’s diet should include plenty of calcium, phosphorous and proper levels of fluoride. If fluoride is your child’s greatest protection against tooth decay, then frequent snacking may be the biggest enemy. The sugars and starches found in many foods like biscuits, sweets, soft drinks and even some savoury snacks are food for bacteria in dental plaque and are converted to acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel and can lead to cavities.

Each “plaque attack” can last up to 20 minutes after a meal or snack has been finished. Even a little nibble can create plaque acids. So it’s best to limit snacking between meals.

What Should I Do if My Child Chips, Breaks or Knocks Out a Tooth?

With any injury to your child’s mouth, you should contact your dentist immediately. The dentist will want to examine the affected area and determine appropriate treatment.

If your child is in pain from a broken, cracked or chipped tooth, you should visit the dentist immediately. You may want to give an over-the-counter pain reliever to your child until his/her appointment. If possible, keep any part of the tooth that has broken off and take this with you to the dentist.

If a tooth is completely knocked out of the mouth by an injury, take the tooth to your dentist as soon as possible. Handle the tooth as little as possible-do not wipe or otherwise clean the tooth. Store the tooth in a cup of fresh milk until you get to a dentist. It may be possible for the tooth to be placed back into your child’s mouth, a procedure called re-implantation.

What Are Dental Sealants and How Do I Know if My Child Needs Them?

A dental sealant creates a highly effective barrier against decay. Sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of a child’s permanent back teeth, where most cavities form. Applying a sealant is not painful and can be performed in one dental visit. Your dentist can tell you whether your child might benefit from a dental sealant.

I read with some dismay a headline in the papers this weekend, which highlighted the risks posed to dental health from too much fruit! It seems like your five-a-day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and that you can’t do right for doing wrong!

So, let me try and clear up a few things here ☺

Fresh fruit and vegetables are undoubtedly good for your general health, and I don’t believe that anybody would advocate cutting them out. Certain fruits, however are more damaging to your teeth than others, so be reasonable in the amount you consume, and avoid very acidic fruits and juices. The most acidic fruits are oranges – pineapples – sour apples – sour plums – lemons – grapefruits – sour peaches – limes – tangerines – sour grapes – tomatoes. Regular over-consumption of these can lead to acid damage of your teeth.


Cut down on acidic beverages. Reduce or eliminate your consumption of fizzy drinks and white wine. Also so-called “sports drinks” in particular contain large amounts of citric acid and sugar.

Avoid grazing through the day. If you enjoy nibbling on food all day long, you may be endangering your teeth.

Combine acidic foods and drinks with ones that can counteract the acidity. Nuts and dairy foods are considered helpful balancers to acidic foods. If you really must drink acidic fruit juices, consider rinsing thoroughly and gargling with a spoonful of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) in water.

Use a straw. Reduce the contact of juice and soda drinks with your teeth by drinking through a straw. This is only a minor help, so don’t rely on it as a major solution! The best approach is to reduce your overall consumption of fruit juice and soda drinks.


“How can I stop snoring?”

Snoring can cause a number of problems as a result of poor sleep, as well as having a very damaging effect on relationships. There are many types of snoring which have different characteristics, if you have been told that you snore and you want to know how to address it try these simple tests to understand what may be causing your snoring;

NOSE. Can you breathe properly through your nose? Looking in a mirror, press the side of one nostril to close it. With your mouth closed, breathe in through your other nostril. If the nostril tends to collapse, try propping it open with the clean end of a matchstick. If breathing is easier with the nostril propped open, nasal dilators may solve your snoring problem. Test both nostrils.

If you cannot breathe at all through your nose, consider the following:

         Allergies can cause your nose to become blocked. If you notice an improvement from anti histamines, or if your mouth breathing is seasonal, then allergies are likely.

         Anatomical (the shape of your breathing passages). A deviated septum, polyps, large turbinates or infected sinuses can all prevent you from being able to breathe through your nose. Your doctor can arrange for tests (such as a CT scan) to determine if you have any of these.

If you can breathe properly through your nose, you may still be a mouth breather. Ask your partner if you sleep/snore with your mouth open, is the snore on the breath in or out? To try to test yourself, open your mouth and make a snoring noise. Now close your mouth and try to make the same noise. If you can only snore with your mouth open then you are probably a ‘mouth breather’. Try “Chin up strips” or a snore guard to keep your mouth closed while you sleep.

TONGUE. Stick your tongue out as far as it will go and grip it between your teeth. Now try to make a snoring noise. If the snoring noise is reduced with your tongue in this forward position then you are probably a ‘tongue based snorer’ and are most suitable for a Mandibular Advancement Splint (M.A.S.). This looks and feels a bit like a gumshield; it works by slightly bringing your lower jaw forward and opening up your airway. The M.A.S. solves or significantly reduces snoring in 85-90% of sufferers. These MAS devices are custom fitted to each individual mouth and can only be made by a dentist specially trained in the causes and prevention of snoring and sleep apnoea.

In rare cases, if none of the above treatments work, it may be necessary to consider CPAP. This stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, and consists of a special breathing mask worn during the night which is attached to ventilator machine. This is normally prescribed after analysis of breathing and sleep patterns is conducted in a specialised sleep clinic.

If you would like any more information about snoring or sleep apnoea, or if you would like to arrange a no-obligation consultation with one of our specially trained dentists, please call 01 4542022 to arrange an appointment.

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If you have diabetes, make sure you take care of your mouth. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).

Other problems diabetes can cause are dry mouth and a fungal infection called thrush. Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva—the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. Diabetes may also cause the glucose level in your saliva to increase. Together, these problems may lead to thrush, which causes painful white patches in your mouth.

You can keep your teeth and gums healthy by controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing every day, and visiting a dentist regularly. If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop oral health problems.

Take steps to keep your mouth healthy. Call your dentist when you notice a problem.

If you have diabetes, follow these steps:

  1. Control your blood glucose
  2. Brush and floss every day
  3. Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes
  4. Tell your dentist if your dentures (false teeth) do not fit right, or if your gums are sore
  5. Quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit

Take time to check your mouth regularly for any problems. Sometimes people notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. Others notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are reasons to visit your dentist.

Remember, good blood glucose control can help prevent oral health problems.

High blood glucose can cause teeth and gum problems.

How do I know if I have damage to my teeth and gums?

If you have one or more of these problems, you may have teeth and gum damage from diabetes:

  1. red, sore, swollen gums
  2. bleeding gums
  3. gums pulling away from your teeth so your teeth look long
  4. loose or sensitive teeth
  5. bad breath
  6. a bite that feels different
  7. dentures-false teeth-that do not fit well

How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

Keep your blood glucose as close to normal as possible

Use dental floss at least once a day. Flossing helps prevent the build-up of plaque on your teeth. Plaque can harden and grow under your gums and cause problems. Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss between the teeth, scraping from bottom to top several times Brush your teeth after each meal and snack. Use a soft toothbrush. Turn the bristles against the gum line and brush gently. Use small, circular motions. Brush the front, back, and top of each tooth

What If I wear False teeth?

If you wear false teeth, keep them clean
Call your dentist right away if you have problems with your teeth and gums
Call your dentist if you have red, sore, or bleeding gums; gums that are pulling away from your teeth; a sore tooth that could be infected; or soreness from your dentures
Get your teeth cleaned and your gums checked by your dentist twice a year
If your dentist tells you about a problem, take care of it right away
Be sure your dentist knows that you have diabetes
If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit smoking

Tip for the day: if you floss, you could add up to 6 years to your life!

In fact, flossing (or using interdental brushes) does two things: it helps to prevent gum disease, as well as improving your cardiac health.

When you clean between the teeth, you help prevent your gums from becoming inflamed (that’s a good thing). If, on the other hand, you leave plaque behind on your teeth you are essentially allowing a chronic bacterial infection to form. This harms your arteries through two mechanisms:

(i) the bugs find their way in to your arteries and where they have little bacteria parties & multiply, hardening the arteries,
and (ii) your body mounts an immune response to the bacteria in your mouth, causing inflammation (which in turn can cause your arteries to narrow). This makes it hard for your heart to do its job and can lead to heart disease.

So, keep flossing, you’ll live longer and be able to enjoy your food along the way!

If you would like any more information about this, or if you have any other dental health concerns, please feel free to contact us for free advice and help on 01 4542022, or by email at info@portobellodental.com; our Dublin dentist would be happy to help!

Why do my gums bleed?

I often hear this question, and patients often think that if their gums are bleeding when they brush them, then it must mean that they are brushing too hard.

Actually the opposite is true; if your gums bleed when you brush, it generally means that you need to brush them more effectively (although not necessarily “harder”). Think of bleeding gums as a cry for help.

So just scrub a bit harder then?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple, you can brush too hard as well as not hard enough. This is one of the reasons that dentists and hygienists often recommend electric toothbrushes – they have just the right amount of “scrub” to remove all the plaque, whilst at the same time not damaging the gums. For more specific brushing advice – see our

What’s the big deal – they might bleed, but they don’t hurt?!

Bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease, which is often entirely painless. This can cause otherwise healthy teeth to lose support and eventually fall out. So, whether or not you feel pain gives you no indication of the health of your teeth and gums. The good news is that gum disease, in its very early stages (gingivitis), is completely reversible. So when you see the warning signs, it typically means that you need a professional hygienist clean to remove all the plaque and tartar below the gum.

As dental professionals, our role is to treat dental disease; but really the true measure of success for us should be promotion our patients’ good oral heath. I believe that as dentistry continues to progress, in the 21st century we will be spending more time preventing dental disease, and (I hope) less time treating it.

If you have any questions about this or any other dental issues, please call or email us your questions for free, no obligation advice. Alternatively, you can arrange a consultation with one of our dentists for a more personalised consultation.

1) Can tooth loss really lead to dementia?

A recent study found that people with fewer teeth had a higher risk of experiencing memory loss or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. This may be because the gum infections that can cause tooth loss may release chemicals that increase the brain inflammation which leads to earlier memory loss. The four signs to watch out for are a) memory loss, b) repeating yourself  and c) memory loss

2) What are the tell-tale signs of gum disease?
Visit your dentist or hygienist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, which can include:
• Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing.
• An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
• Bad breath.
• Loose teeth.
• Regular mouth infections.
3) Can exercise help to prevent gum disease?
A recent study has shown that people who stay fit and healthy are 40% less likely to develop tooth-threatening gum infections that could lead to gum disease. It also found that not exercising, not keeping to a normal body weight and unhealthy eating habits make a person much more likely to get advanced gum disease. People wearing dentures lose up to 90% of chewing function.
4) How can I help to stop my gum disease getting worse?
If you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any plaque or tartar. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.
We can also show you how to remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. (See the periodontitis section of our website for more info). 
Gum disease is never cured. But as long as you keep up the home-care AND QUIT SMOKING, you can slow down its progress and even stop it altogether. You must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist, typically every 4 months.
5) Could gum disease affect my unborn baby?
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight. There is a one-in-four chance that a pregnant woman with gum disease will give birth before 35 weeks.
It seems that gum disease raises the levels of the chemicals that bring on labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby.
Having gum disease treated properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
6) How could diabetes affect my dental health?
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk.
If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.
Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dentist before you have any treatment.
New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.
If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth.
7)What is the link between gum disease and strokes?
Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes. They have found that people who have had a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one.
When the bacteria that cause gum disease get into the bloodstream, they produce a protein. This can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, and this can block the blood supply to the brain. This can cause a stroke.
8)How can the health of my mouth affect my heart?
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without gum disease. When people have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs.
 If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack.
9 ) How can I tell if I have bad breath?
Lots of small signals can show that you have bad breath. Have you noticed people stepping away when you start to talk? Do people turn their cheek when you kiss them goodbye? 

If you think you might have bad breath, there is a simple test that you can do. Simply lick the inside of your wrist and sniff – if the smell is bad, you can be pretty sure that your breath is too. 

Or, ask a very good friend to be absolutely honest, but do make sure they are a true friend, (or a complete and total stranger you will never meet again)
10) Could the health of my mouth affect my general health?
Yes. There are new findings which support something that dental professionals have suspected for a long time: infections in the mouth can cause problems in other parts of the body.

baby teeth and permanent teeth

Many parents very understandably become alarmed when they look in their child’s mouth and see the new permanent teeth growing up behind the baby teeth.
Whilst this is not the most aesthetically pleasing of stages for your child’s teeth, please be assured that permanent teeth coming through behind baby teeth is not an emergency!

Ordinarily, as the permanent teeth push up, the roots of the baby teeth become dissolved due to the pressure from the erupting permanent teeth, and the baby tooth eventually falls out, allowing the permanent teeth to come in well aligned.

shark teeth

However, sometimes the baby teeth don’t want to leave the mouth, and the permanent teeth come in right behind them. This condition is technically known as “Lingually erupting mandibular incisors” and more commonly known as “shark teeth”.
Other theories as to why this occurs is suggested to be due to much crowding in the lower jaw, or their position is simply a slight deviation from normal and they just didn’t make it as far forward as they should have.
This has been reported to occur in approximately 10% of children at some stage. Luckily, most times this “shark tooth” appearance, and the double layer of teeth will resolve on its own with the baby teeth eventually falling out.

over crowded teeth

If your child’s shark teeth don’t resolve on their own within a couple of weeks, it would be a good idea to have your dentist take a look at what’s going on. Your child’s dentist will be able to remove the lingering baby teeth from your child’s mouth if needed, and this usually resolves the problem.

Please bear in mind that very often teeth come in pairs, so if one tooth is not coming in correctly its partner on the other side won’t either.

children's teeth

We’re probably all guilty of it: we think that if something’s not bothering us right now then it’s easy to forget about it. Unfortunately, people with dental health problems, even completely painless ones, may be putting themselves at more risk than they realise.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal (gum) disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without. The relationship is not completely understood, but we know that people with healthy mouths are more likely to have healthy hearts and vice versa. Having periodontal disease can also increase your risk of stroke.

How to prevent gum disease?
Regular dental/hygienist appointments and a good home care brushing routine including flossing or inder-dental brushes to clean in between teeth. It’s that simple!