How to wear, and care for your new retainer

How should I take care of my retainer?

Most retainers are removable, meaning that you take them out when eating, brushing and flossing. For this reason, they are easy to lose, or accidentally thrown away. Many people wrap their retainers in a napkin when eating, then forget about them afterwards and have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new retainer. A good solution is to always carry your retainer case with you and to use it whenever you’re not wearing your retainer. For added protection, never leave the case on a table or a bench — always put it immediately in your backpack, purse or pocket.

Dr. Feldhaus can give you specific information on how to clean and care for your type of retainer. Regardless of the type, you need to make sure you don’t sit on, step on or otherwise damage this delicate and expensive piece of equipment.


How long do I need to wear a retainer after my braces comes off?

Dr. Feldhaus can tell you how long you should keep wearing your retainer, and don’t take this time period lightly. Since the purpose of retainers is to prevent your teeth from shifting back into their original position, they should be worn at least until your jawbone and gums have had time to stabilize around your newly-aligned teeth. Many orthodontists recommend that children and teenagers wear their retainers until their early or mid-20s — until all the permanent teeth have come in and the jaw stops growing.

Snack Smarter for Healthier Teeth

healthy teeth

Why are sugary snacks so bad for your child?

Sugary snacks taste so good — but they aren’t so good for your teeth or your body. Candy and other popular sugar filled foods that your kids love to eat between meals can cause tooth decay. Some of these foods have a bunch of fat in them too! Kids who consume sugary snacks eat many different kinds of sugar every day, including table sugar (sucrose) and corn sweeteners (fructose). Starchy snacks can also break down into sugars once they’re in your mouth.

How do the sugars effect their teeth?

Bacteria is present in your, and your child’s mouth at all times. Some of these bacteria form plaque on surface of their teeth. When you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria in the plaque gobble up the sweet stuff and turn it into acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth- which is where cavities come from. If you don’t eat much sugar, the bacteria can’t produce as much of the acid that eats away enamel.

How Can I “Snack Smart” to Protect Myself from Tooth Decay?

Before you give your child a snack, ask yourself what’s in the food you’ve chosen. Is it loaded with sugar? If it is, think again. Keep in mind that certain kinds of sweets can do more damage than others. Gooey or chewy sweets like caramel and chewing gum spend more time sticking to the surface of your teeth. Because sticky snacks stay in your mouth longer than foods that you quickly chew and swallow, they give your teeth a longer sugar bath.

You should also think about when and how often your child eat snacks. Do they nibble on sugary snacks many times throughout the day, or doyou usually just allow them to have dessert after dinner? Damaging acids form in your mouth every time you eat a sugary snack. The acids continue to affect your teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized and can’t do any more harm. So, the more times your child eat sugary snacks during the day, the more often you feed bacteria the fuel they need to cause tooth decay.

If you give your child sweets, it’s best to eat them as dessert after a main meal instead of several times a day between meals. Whenever they eat sweets — in any meal or snack —brush your teeth well with a flouride toothpaste afterward.

When you’re deciding about snacks, think about:

  • The number of times a day you eat sugary snacks
  • How long the sugary food stays in your mouth
  • The texture of the sugary food (chewy? sticky?)

How Can You Snack Smart? Be choosy!

Pick a variety of foods from these groups:

Fresh fruits and raw vegetables
Unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices
Canned fruits in natural juices

Plain bagels
Unsweetened cereals
Unbuttered popcorn
Tortilla chips (baked, not fried)
Pretzels (low-salt)
Plain crackers

Milk and dairy products
Low or non-fat milk
Low or non-fat yogurt
Low or non-fat cheese
Slow or non-fat cottage cheese

Meat, nuts and seeds
Sliced meats
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds

(these snacks combine foods from the different groups)


Note to Parents
The foods listed above have not all been tested for their decay-causing potential. However, knowledge to date indicates that they are less likely to promote tooth decay than are some of the heavily sugared foods children often eat between meals.

Candy bars aren’t the only culprits. Foods such as pizza, breads, and hamburger buns may also contain sugars. Check the label. The new food labels identify sugars and fats on the Nutrition Facts panel on the package. Keep in mind that brown sugar, honey, molasses, and syrups also react with bacteria to produce acids, just as refined table sugar does. These foods also are potentially damaging to teeth.

Your child’s meals and snacks should include a variety of foods from the basic food groups, including fruits and vegetables; grains, including breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; and meat, nuts, and seeds. Some snack foods have greater nutritional value than others and will better promote your child’s growth and development. However, be aware that even some fresh fruits, if eaten in excess, may promote tooth decay. Children should brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals. (So should you!)

Top 3 Food Types That Cause Cavities

Cavities are never a pleasant experience. If left untreated they can lead to serious dental complications. Knowing what foods may aide in tooth decay can help avert future dental issues for your child.

Sugar and Carbohydrates

Most people know that sugar isn’t the best thing for your teeth but most people don’t understand why. Bacteria in your mouth become active whenever carbohydrates are introduced, and sugar is only one type of carb. Bread, rice and potatoes are also carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables also contain carbohydrates that feed the bacteria in your mouth. As bacteria metabolize the carbohydrates in your mouth they produce acids that eat away at your teeth.

It’s not dependent on how many carbs you consume but how long your teeth are exposed. Drinking sugary drinks all day is a continuous exposure as compared to having one large exposure if you eat a lot of carbs during lunch.


Acidic Foods

Acidic foods like lemons, citrus juices and sodas don’t directly cause cavities, and they erode the enamel of teeth. This weakens their protection, meaning your teeth are now more prone to cavities. Try to avoid these types of food in excess.



Sticky Foods

Sticky FoodsSticky foods can also be a large contributor to cavities. The debris from sticky foods can adhere to your teeth causing prolonged exposure to bacteria that encourage tooth decay.

In moderation, consuming these foods will not cause all of your teeth to rot and fall out as long as you practice and encourage good brushing and flossing habits. If you have more questions on your children’s dental care contact Dr. Feldhaus- licensed pediatric dentist.

Common Oral Health Issues in Children

Kids face many oral health problems which may require them to visit Dr. Feldhaus. Irregular teeth growth is a common problem and children with braces are a common sight. Another problem is wisdom teeth extraction or the removal of the third molar. Dental cavities may be the biggest issue among small children- caused by a lack of oral hygiene.

Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry which deals with correction, development and prevention of irregular teeth, jaw and bite. Orthodontics also helps to correct jaw disorders and facial abnormalities. The American Dental Association suggests that every child above the age of seven should get an orthodontic evaluation done. C orthodontic treatment are: crowded or crooked teeth, extra teeth, missing teeth, under-bite, overbite, jaw joint disorder, and incorrect or misaligned jaw position.

The appropriate age for braces is 10-14 years old,but regardless of the age, the same physical and biological process is used in correcting and moving the teeth alignments.  There are three types of  used to move and reposition the teeth. The first consists of brackets which are made out of plastic or metal. They are either of tooth color or clear and are bonded onto the teeth. The second type is the lingual type of brackets which are attached to the back teeth and cannot be seen while talking. The third type is a band. It is a metal band which covers the teeth and wraps around the last ones.

While your child has braces, he/she needs to take more precaution in their oral health. The most important thing is to brush the teeth regularly after every meal. Food can be easily lodged in braces, it is a good idea to brush carefully with soft bristles toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. In the morning, the adolescent must floss between the braces and teeth. Food stuffs which are sticky or hard must be avoided as they are very difficult to remove. Foods like caramel, chew candy, popcorn, and nuts must be avoided. Cleaning must be done by the orthodontist or general dentist, every five to six months.

The wisdom teeth or third molars can grow in people of the age fifteen to twenty five. These teeth  because most  mouths are too small to adjust to new teeth and hence they need to be removed. If the wisdom tooth has place to grow, without affecting other teeth, they can be left to themselves. But if the adolescent experiences pain, facial swelling, mouth infection and gum-line swelling, then they should be extracted immediately. They can also destroy the second molars and impact other tooth. Various gum and jaw diseases can be caused. There can be a tumor development; cysts development and plaque build up. Hence, a surgery is performed to remove the tooth or teeth. The gum tissue covering the wisdom tooth is removed and the connective tissue connecting the tooth to the bone is detached. The tooth is then removed and the opening is sutured.

The tooth above the gum line is made up of enamel, the hardest tissue within the human body. The tooth below the gum-line is  nerves, roots and dentin. Dentin is another type of tissue and isn’t as hard as the enamel. The acid which leads to tooth decay is produced by bacteria. These acids, along with dietary sugar, attach the enamel and eat away the minerals within the enamel, until a cavity is formed.  The biggest prevention against dental cavities is brushing teeth twice a day and even better, after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and soft bristle toothbrush. Carbonated drinks must be avoided strictly and must be replaced with fruit juices and sugary food must be avoided. Intake of fluorid

Children’s bad oral hygiene linked to bad grades & missed school

Summer is over and the kids are back in school. Hopefully they are happy to reunite with old friends, meet new teachers, and ready to work hard for yet another school year! With the school year come a lot of “extra” duties for parents – being the taxi driver to sports practice, helping with homework assignments, preparing lunch bags, the list goes on and on! As parents, we do everything in our ability to help our kids succeed in school.

What some parents don’t realize, it that maintaining a healthy mouth will help your child in school – not just with attendance, but it will help them concentrate and perform better in school. 

Lower Grades

We have known for decades that poor oral health leads to many lost school days every year for children and more missed work days for parents. A recent study from the University of Southern California (scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Public Health) has shown that children who reported having recent tooth pain were 4 times more likely to have a low grade point average (below the median of 2.8) when compared to children without oral pain.

More Missed School Days

On average, elementary children miss 2.1 days of school due to dental problems, and high school students miss 2.3 days due to dental issues. These results show that oral health problems are a significant factor in school absences for children, work absences for parents in order to care for their children with dental problems.

What Can You Do?

Here are 3 easy steps to help you avoid these missed school and work days:

  1. Make sure that you and your children have regular dental check-ups every 6 months (Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist today!). If Dr. Feldhaus recommends dental treatment, try to complete this in a timely manner as to avoid sensitivity, pain, or infection.
  2. Help your child brush and floss! Many children are unable to brush properly on their own until they are 7-9 years old. It may appear that they are brushing properly, but with your help (and expertise!), their teeth will be brushed more effectively! Parents will definitely need to assist with flossing since it is a very difficult task for children to accomplish on their own.
  3. Watch your child’s diet. Make sure your child is eating healthy meals and snacks during the school year. And especially pay attention to what drinks are good and bad for their oral health.

What Causes Tooth Decalcification?

childrens tooth decalcification

Tooth decalcification is a process by which the teeth lose calcium. It typically causes white spots to appear on the teeth,and is considered an early stage of tooth decay,. Tooth decalcification can usually be reversed if proper oral hygiene measures are followed, but it can lead to irreversible effects if not properly managed. This typically occurs due to a build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth, often due to poor dental hygiene. The wearing of braces can also lead to tooth decalcification, since it is often nearly impossible to adequately clean the surface of the teeth beneath the brackets.

Proper dental hygiene generally consists of regular brushing and flossing, at least twice a day, combined with annual or semi-annual dental check-ups. Tooth decalcification, and eventual decay, most often occurs as a result of poor dental care. When teeth aren’t properly cared for, plaque, a sticky, opaque substance comprised mostly of bacteria, is allowed to build up on the teeth. The bacteria in plaque normally produce acids that can damage tooth enamel, leaching its calcium away in the process known as decalcification. You can think of decalcification as the beginning stage of a cavity, when the acid has not yet reached the inner layers of the tooth, but has weakened the outer layer.

Once you have decalcification spots on your teeth, they are scars and cannot be reversed. They can only be restored by a dentist. Whitening the teeth can improve the esthetics of these areas, but the damage has been done and is caused by poor oral hygiene.

Fluoride use, along with excellent brushing and flossing habits, can help to prevent this decalcification scarring. In addition, fluoride can help to remineralize the affected areas to a point, but it cannot completely reverse the process of decalcification. Once you have decalcification spots, those areas will be susceptible to becoming cavities in the future.

How Can I Whiten My Child’s Teeth

teeth whitening traysYour child’s teeth may have a yellow or orange cast if they develop plaque build-up or become stained by food. Other conditions, such as an iron deficiency or chronic illness, may also cause teeth to appear stained. To whiten a child’s stained teeth, try several whitening procedures that may be completed at home or at the office of Dr. Feldhaus.

Step 1

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Feldhaus for a professional cleaning to remove stains not as easily removed by tooth brushing.

Step 2

Brush your child’s teeth with a whitening toothpaste. Experiment with a few different brands, finishing the entire tube of toothpaste before trying a new one, until you begin to notice a difference.

Step 3

Apply whitening strips to their teeth. Dr. Feldhaus ( I saw several other pediatric dentists recomend this age- but what are your personal thoughts?)  recommends that children over the age of 10 can use the strips twice daily, for 30 minutes, for 14 days for the best results.

Step 4

Ask for an overnight bleaching system for your child. A mouthpiece containing a peroxide gel is used every night for several weeks, with the amount of time dependent on the severity of staining. Dr. Feldhaus will work with each patient on a case by case basis to determine such factors.

Step 5

Talk to Dr. Feldhaus about performing in-office bleaching. A bleaching agent combined with a laser light produces quick whitening results for tough teeth stains.

Step 6

Brush your child’s teeth with baking soda instead of his regular toothpaste until they whiten. Finish each brushing session by having him rinse with a little bit of hydrogen peroxide. Your child should be old enough to be able to spit the hydrogen peroxide out efficiently before you try this treatment.

Why Does My Child Have Bad Breath?

Child with bad breath caused by cavitiesChildren can develop bad breath for the same reasons that adults do. If bad breath is a problem, your child’s dental hygiene routine may need some extra help. Regular brushing of the teeth is good, but it is often not enough. In some cases, additional factors are at work, and a more detailed investigation is necessary to identify and treat them.

Oral Causes

Garden-variety halitosis in children arises when bacteria act on plaque and food particles that collect in the mouth. Other factors such as dry mouth, postnasal drip, sinusitis and dental problems such as cavities increase the odds or severity of bad breath. The worst halitosis occurs when dying oral cells become lodged in the crevices at the back of the tongue.

Non-Oral Causes

Bad breath can also be caused by factors that exist outside the oral cavity. For example, several types of medicine, including antihistamines, bronchodilators,  and antidepressants can cause a dry mouth that leads to halitosis. A course of antibiotics can also lead to bad breath via a temporary imbalance of oral bacteria.


When Dr. Feldhaus is evaluating a child for potential halitosis he first takes a detailed medical history, including notes on the current or past use of any medications. The next step is a thorough clinical examination, including a check for gum disease, salivary gland problems,mouth sores, dental decay, faulty tooth restorations and issues with orthodontic appliances.


Gently cleaning the tongue, particularly the middle third of it, can disrupt the coating of bacteria and debris that may be the main source of the problem, Ravel writes. Flossing is also key, but children younger than 8 years old generally need help from an adult. If the bad breath is because of a dry mouth, the child should drink plenty of sugar-free fluids; the dentist may also recommend chewing sugar-free gum. The restoration of teeth damaged by cavities can solve some cases of bad breath, as can the treatment of gum disease through improved oral or hygiene or, in more severe cases, medications and surgery.

Is it normal for my child to grind their teeth?

Childrens teeth after griding

Most children do grind their teeth at one age or another. This can occur anytime from the moment a baby begins to get teeth until permanent teeth erupt- and even some continue to grind their teeth their entire life. It is hoped that most children will stop grinding or clenching their teeth when their 6 year molars erupt. The six year molars erupt behind the baby molars and are higher or bigger teeth than the primary molars. This situation takes the pressure off of the baby molars and usually allows the child’s occlusion to begin to settle in on the six year molars. So, hopefully this habit will stop about the age of 6-7 years old.

The good news is that the grinding of the teeth at a young age rarely causes any damage to the teeth. It does wear the occlusal or chewing surface down, but usually does not cause the tooth to need to be restored. However, if a child already has dental restorations or fillings, they can be broken or damaged from this grinding. A stainless steel crown may be the treatment of choice on these teeth. The primary or baby teeth can become very short or flat due to this grinding and bruxing. This habit rarely causes any pain.

There is not much that a parent can do to stop the grinding or bruxing habit because it usually occurs at night during sleep. However, it is a good idea to discourage the child from grinding or clenching his teeth if he is doing it during the day. It is not practical to make a plastic night guard because it would not fit for more than a year due to the constantly changing baby teeth dentition. For example, every time a child would lose a tooth and a new permanent tooth would erupt, the rubber splint would need to be remade. If the child matures into his complete permanent teeth dentition and is still having symptoms from night grinding, it would be beneficial to have him evaluated for possible splint therapy.

Tips To Keep Your Child Cavity Free

child brushing his teeth

1. Make tooth brushing fun

Purchasing toothbrushes that light up or have your child’s favorite cartoon characters on them is a good way to make a daily routine fun. Always make sure that the toothbrush has soft bristles. Bubblegum or fruit-flavored toothpastes also encourage children to brush their teeth, eliminating the “stinging” feeling of minty toothpastes. Make sure that the toothpastes you purchase for your child have fluoride in them. A toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association is best.

2. Limit the frequency of sweets

Any food or drink that contains sugar is harmful to the teeth. Anytime that sugar is in the mouth, bacteria use the sugar to produce acid on the teeth. Acid is produced in the mouth for 20 minutes. It takes an additional 40 minutes for the body to neutralize the mouth back to a normal PH factor. So, every time that you eat or drink sugar, acid in produced on your teeth for about an hour.

3. Schedule biannual dental cleanings and exam

Dental cleanings remove calcified plaque that is impossible to get rid of through tooth brushing and flossing alone. Regular dental examinations allow Dr. Feldhaus to catch potential dental problems in their earliest stages, preventing expensive, complicated dental work down the line. During your child’s dental exam, Dr. Feldhaus will also check to ensure that the teeth are properly developing. It is also beneficial to your child to review any oral habits with them and encourage them to stop or slow finger sucking habits, for example.

4. Do not give your child a bottle with juice or milk at night

If your child must have a bottle at bedtime, use water or try a pacifier instead. Juices, milk and anything with sugar or acid will only feed the plaque resulting in more cavities.

5. You need to help a child under 6 brush their teeth.

Children brushing teeth Studies show that children under 6 do not have the dexterity to do a good job. One great strategy if you have a child who likes to do everything on their own is to let them do it first. Then say that it’s Mommy or Daddy’s turn. Of course there are children who will fight you on it, and there is no easy answer on how to handle it. Some children need help or at least supervision even at older ages.