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Can Breastfed Babies Skip the One Year Dental Check-Up?

September 13, 2017

I keep getting conflicting information about dental care with children. Though, I shouldn’t ‘be too surprised. I’ve only been a mom for 11 months, but so far every piece of advice or book I’ve read on child rearing has contradicted another piece of advice or book. I can read two different articles and the same action I take will either help my son grow up to be an independent genius or scar him for life. So, now I have to decide about his first dental appointment. He’s been exclusively breast fed and we’re about to start introducing table food to him. I’ve heard two things. 1. Breastfeeding is safer for teeth than formula feeding, therefore they don’t need the one-year-old check-up. 2. Every child, no matter how they’re fed, needs to have the one-year-old check-up to screen for abnormal tooth development. So, what’s your opinion?

Carlyn M.

Dear Carlyn,

Oklahoma City Pediatric Dentist

You’re right about all the conflicting in formation out there. The one thing you’ll learn throughout your lifetime as a mother is that every child is different. No child fits the norms. Because so much of the information contradicts itself, most of the time you’ll be left with following your mother’s intuition.

One thing that is true is the breastfeeding and bottle feeding have very different effects on teeth. First is the physical differences. While formula tends to pool by children’s teeth, breast milk is sent to the back of the mouth away from their teeth. Secondly, their “ingredients” for lack of a better word are different. We know that breastmilk has properties we haven’t been able to copy in formula. There is mounting evidence that the contents in breastfeeding protect children from cavities.

It would imply that breastfed children do not need to see a pediatric dentist as often. However, as you’ve learned, every child is different.

Reasons for Breastfed Children to See a Pediatric Dentist

  • Bacteria Parents with gum disease have higher levels of bacteria. That bacteria is shared through kissing and the sharing of food. As you’re about to introduce table food, that is something to consider.
  • Cavities There is always a potential for cavities. Some breastfed babies fall asleep while nursing. Generally, the fact that the milk is sent to the back of their mouth engages their swallowing reflex so no milk pools. However, sometimes the milk flows a bit after the baby stops sucking and can pool at their teeth. There isn’t evidence it does or does not cause cavities yet, but the potential is there, especially if they’re pre-disposed to decay. Which leads me to my next point.
  • Genetic Make-up Every family is different. Two people can have the same oral hygiene routine and skill. One will be cavity free, the other will end up with a mouth full of fillings and crowns simply because of their DNA.
  • Abnormal Development Your son’s teeth starting developing in the womb. Going right along with genetic issues is the possibility of abnormal development. Whenever you have an abnormality in the development of children’s teeth, it is always easier to treat the earlier it is discovered.

Your Child’s First Pediatric Dental Visit

The first visit isn’t as focused on cavities, though of course that is checked. The dentist will also check their development to make sure no intervention needs to take place. Mostly, though, it’s designed to give your son a positive experience at the dentist and show him how fun it can be.

All too often, parents wait until their son or daughter has a dental emergency pop up before bringing them in. From that moment on, they’ll associate the dentist with pain. Not to mention the more distressing procedures could likely have been avoided altogether if they’d brought them in regularly.

Insurance almost always covers the child’s first visit in full, so it won’t cost you anything but a bit of time.

I hope this helps.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

Help! My Lumineers Don’t Match Each Other

August 29, 2017

Can you help me? I specifically decided on the Lumineers brand of veneers for my smile makeover because I didn’t want my teeth ground down. I’m worried I have a defective batch. When the dentist placed them on my teeth, I noticed two of the teeth didn’t match the others. They seemed a bit darker than the others. I mentioned it to the dentist right then, but he assured me it was just the lighting in his office. However, even when I got home they looked darker. I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but it seems like they’re still getting darker. What do I do?

Paula M.

Dear Paula,

Oklahoma City Lumineers

I don’t think the batch is defective. Instead, it sounds to me like the dentist didn’t get the bonding correct on the two that look discolored. Bear in mind that I haven’t actually examined you. I’m basing this on your description.

If the bonding wasn’t done properly a couple of things can happen. First, things can get trapped behind the veneer between that and your tooth. Lumineers are very thin. If there’s discoloration underneath it will show through. Secondly, whatever’s trapped behind the veneer will be a haven for bacteria and will lead to decay. Plus, without a secure bond, you risk the veneers coming off. Though in this case, falling off is a good thing, so they can be properly bonded.

It doesn’t sound like you have a highly skilled cosmetic dentist. Not only was the bonding not done properly on two of them, but he didn’t take your concern seriously enough in my opinion. A skilled, artistic cosmetic dentist will ALWAYS make sure the client is thrilled before permanently bonding on their work. Additionally, they allow the patient to look at the veneers in several different types of lighting to ensure they’re pleased with the results. Many also have a beautiful smile guarantee.

In this case, because they’re new and the dentist made an error (If my thoughts are correct) then he should be willing to replace them free of charge. They’ll have to be removed and new ones made if they break in the process of trying to remove them.

If he balks, you can get a second opinion from another cosmetic dentist. Don’t tell the second opinion doc who your dentist is, in case they’re buddies. If the second dentist agrees with my assumption then it will be easier to put pressure on your dentist to make things right.

There’s something I wanted to clear up. You mentioned you specifically chose the Lumineers brand over other porcelain veneers because you didn’t want your teeth ground down. Porcelain veneers, no matter what brand you use, do not require your teeth to be ground. You’re thinking of porcelain crowns. Because they surround your entire tooth, your teeth have to be ground down to almost nubs in order to make room for the crown.

Porcelain veneers only require very minimal shaving, about the depth of your fingernail. There is no visible difference between a shaved and unshaved tooth.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

The Emergency Dentist Gave Me an Ugly Crown

April 14, 2017

I’m not sure what to do. I had a dental problem while my dentist was out of town. I went to an emergency dentist. The dentist and office were extremely kind, they worked me in without issue and were gentle the whole time. The only problem I have is the dental crown they gave me is horribly ugly. It doesn’t come near to matching my other teeth. It wouldn’t be a huge deal except it shows when I smile. Is there anything to be done?

Miranda M. – Georgia


It sounds like the emergency dentist is a decent family dentist, but not necessarily very good at the cosmetic side of things. It’s obvious he cares about patients, based on the way you described your office visit. Plus, he obviously makes time for non-established patients which also shows he cares.

Unfortunately, there is no way to change a crown once it has been bonded in. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with mismatched teeth. It can be replaced. The first thing I’d do is return to the dentist who initially did the work. Explain your concern. They’ll want you to be satisfied and may agree to replace it free of charge.

If they’re not interested in replacing it, then unless there is a functional problem with the crown, you may be out of luck in getting it changed for free.

Another option is to have your regular dentist look at the work. He may put pressure on the emergency dentist to make it right. Dentists do care about what their peers think. However, even if you don’t get any assistance from your dentist, you could go to another dentist and have the crown re-done.

Make sure whomever you go to the second time around has a good track record with cosmetics. You can look at the smile galleries they have on their website to get an idea of how beautiful (or ugly) their results are. Some dentists even have a beautiful smile guarantee.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Don Swearingen.

Being overtreated

July 16, 2013

I had some dental bonding done on two of my front teeth in order to whiten my teeth. It’s been a few years and I’ve moved. The bonding has worn out and started chipping.  My new dentist said I really need to get porcelain crowns to fix the teeth. I know I am not a dentist, but that seems like a real overtreatment.

Alexis M.- New Mexico


Your gut instinct is right. Though, I am a little confused as to why your previous dentist did bonding to whiten your teeth. Why not just do professional teeth whitening?  Is there something specifically wrong with your case? Have you had root canals on those teeth? Are they tetracycline stained?

Whatever you do, don’t do porcelain crowns. In order to fit crowns over your teeth, they will have to be ground down almost to stubs. Why do that to healthy teeth?

IF there is some reason why you can’t just do teeth whitening, it is very possible you can have porcelain veneers placed on the teeth. I recommend you have an expert cosmetic dentist look at your teeth and give their recommendations.

This blog is brought to you by Oklahoma City Dentist Dr. Don Swearingen.

Darker teeth

June 12, 2012

Filed under: Teeth Whitening — Tags: , — okcitydentist @ 6:01 am

I have two teeth that are darker than my other teeth. One is a completely fake tooth, the other is a dental crown. I’ve whitened my teeth over and over again, but these two teeth are still darker than the others. What is the problem?

Sandra D. from Minneapolis.


There are three situations in which teeth whitening will not give you the results you are looking for. One is tetracycline stains. These are too deep and too dark. Another is when your teeth are uneven in color. Teeth whiten uniformly, so whitening them will just accentuate the differences. The third is the issue you are facing. Dental work, such as crowns, veneers, bonding, will not whiten.

To get the results you are looking for, you need to whiten all your other teeth to the color level you desire, then replace the fake tooth and porcelain crown to match them.

This blog is brought to you by Oklahoma City Dentist Dr. Don Swearingen.