Monday, July 28, 2014

Loose Teeth

A few days ago, I had a woman visit my office for her first time. She has seen numerous other dentists in the last ten years. She was a little over 50 years of age. She was well groomed and appeared to be concerned with her appearance.

Her primary reason for visiting my office was her loose teeth. She has known about her condition for years but has failed to act on it. At this point, it may be too late too salvage her teeth. Her appearance will be altered drastically. She will look 10 years older the day she has her teeth extracted.

She inspired me to write about loose teeth. There are many reasons why this occurs. Here are some reasons:

This is quite obvious. If you get hit in the mouth with a baseball, a steering wheel, a hockey puck or any other object, the tooth may get loosened up from the supporting bone.

Periodontal disease

My employees mock me for being "The King of Analogies". Here is an easy to understand analogy. If you have a post in the ground, it should be fairly stable. However, if you start to dig up some of the dirt surrounding the post, the post will loosen. Also, if the dirt is of poor quality and consistency, the post will also loosen. Makes sense right?

Oral Cancer

When a cancerous lesion develops within the bone, it will continue to increase in size. The lesion will then exert force on surrounding structures and move them out of the way. If force is exerted on a tooth, the tooth can then be forced away from it's original position.

Parafunctional Habits

This is just a fancy way of saying a habit of a body part that does not serve it's intended purpose or beyond it's capabilities. Some examples of parafunctional habits include clenching, grinding, biting on fingernails, chewing gum and chewing ice. In the context of this blog, if you are constantly subjecting your teeth to excessive stress, they will loosen.

Orthodontic Treatment

When we move teeth on purpose, the bone on the side of the force is lost. On the side that it is pulled from, the bone will fill in. If the movement occurs too rapidly, then the teeth may become slightly loosened. The good news is that once all of the teeth are in their final position, they will tighten back up. 

Baby Teeth

As the permanent teeth develop under the baby teeth, the roots of the baby teeth get much shorter. When there is little to no root left, the teeth will become loose.


If you notice loose teeth, have them evaluated immediately. Don't stop there, heed the advice you get. If you choose to stick your head in the sand, your problem will certainly worsen and you may ultimately lose your teeth like the lady I described at the beginning of the blog.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

Friday, July 18, 2014

Are Pacifiers Bad for your child?

I observed a child in church recently that must have been at least 4 years old with a thumb in his mouth. I was thinking to myself, "his father has no idea what he's doing to his son". This event inspired me to write about thumb sucking and pacifiers.

In essence, thumb sucking and pacifiers have the same detrimental effects. I know many parents think that they are helping their children when they allow or even encourage them to use a pacifier (or thumb suck). Some "experts" suggest that it is helpful in comforting the child. Sure, it might soothe the child, but so will breastfeeding. There are other ways to soothe the child like rocking, burping and cuddling. Don't introduce a pacifier. They could become emotionally attached to it like Linus and his blanket. Why would you encourage that?

When an object is held in the mouth for an extended period of time, the bones of the mouth and the position of the teeth will be altered. This is true for any object. What we find in these cases is flared front teeth that do not come together when the mouth is closed. Try to bite into a sandwich with those teeth.

Notice the front teeth do not come together.

Another issue with pacifiers is the potential for nipple confusion. The infant may have difficulty latching onto the breast during feeding.

Some experts offer advice on "the 10 best ways to get the child to stop using a pacifier". I've got a better idea…..never start. If your child is using one already, here's an idea….take it away. Sure, they may be upset for ten minutes, an hour, a day or even a couple days. I'm sure this can produce quite a bit of anxiety for both the parents and the child. I assure you that you will get past this, so try not to be overly concerned.

I must address a potential concern that some professionals suggest. There are some studies that suggest that a pacifier dramatically decreases the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). I'm not entirely convinced of the link and suspect that the studies are flawed. This may be more of a case of correlation rather than causation. I don't see any physiologic link. Discuss this concern with your health care provider.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit