Did you know March 6th is Dentist's Day? I didn't either until I saw it come up on an app that lists various lesser-known celebrations. So, in honor of Dentist's Day, let's meet the dentist, Dr. Jennifer Robb!
I grew up in Lake County, Ohio where my mom still lives. One of the familial traits on my dad's side was having a space between the two front teeth--a trait I unfortunately inherited. Correcting this required me to wear braces--and not the braces of today, but the type of braces where they put a band around every tooth.
One of my assignments at school was to write an essay on "What I Want To Be When I Grow Up". Unfortunately, I had no idea! So my mom started listing off various occupations, and when she got to orthodontist (the dental specialist who straightens teeth), I was intrigued by the idea of helping people have a better smile. While researching that essay, I discovered that to be an orthodontist, I first had to go to dental school--and to go to dental school, I first had to go to college.
My mom wanted me to have the experience of going away to college. She also felt that attending a college or university that had a dental school would be advantageous. I heard about the Siena-Georgetown Dental Program through a mailer. When I visited Siena College in Loudonville, NY, I interviewed with both Siena College and Georgetown University and fell in love with Siena's campus. Luckily, I was one of the 12 students chosen for the program, a perk of which was being able to complete my bachelor's degree in 3 years instead of 4. Another aspect of the program was spending a week at Georgetown University's Dental School and writing a paper on Infection Control in Dentistry, which was a new topic back in the late 1980s.
So . . .those of you who know me professionally know I went to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, not Georgetown University and are probably wondering what happened. Partway through the Siena-Georgetown program, Georgetown University decided to close its dental school, leaving me (and my classmates) to apply to other dental schools to complete our educations. I think meeting Dr. Francis Miklos (the Dean of Students at the time) was what decided me on attending Pitt from 1988-1992.
During dental school, I discovered many aspects of dentistry that I loved--unfortunately, bending orthodontic wire was not one of them! General Dentistry allows me to perform many different procedures: fillings, crowns, bridges, partials, cosmetic dentistry--and even a few root canals, tooth removals, and dentures. I like the variety. And, even though I'm a shy introvert, I enjoy meeting people and getting to know them.
After I graduated, I returned to Lake County and worked for a dentist in Willoughby Hills. I came to Lorain County in 1994 and worked for a dentist in Elyria. In 1999, I purchased the practice of Dr. Thomas Timko in Lorain and worked for 20 years at his location on Cooper Foster Park Rd. In 2017, Marlene Karpinski chose me to take over the practice of her late husband, Dr. Donald Karpinski. After 20 years, I decided to move my office to a new location--but still on Cooper Foster Park Rd. There were several reasons for this decision, and it was not one I made lightly. The main reason was that the building I'd occupied for 20 years was having foundation problems.
If you're reading this, and you don't have a dentist, I hope you'll consider my office.
Dr. Jennifer Robb, 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W, Lorain, OH 44053
Keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy may sometimes seem like “one step forward, two steps back.” You do all the right things like daily brushing and flossing, and keeping sugar consumption to a minimum. But they’re still getting too many cavities.
We can add something else to what you’re already doing to decrease their cavity rate: apply a concentrated fluoride mixture (stronger than what’s found in toothpaste or drinking water) directly to their teeth. Studies have shown that topical fluoride is effective at reducing the risk of new cavities in children at high risk for decay, and may even reverse early decay.
Topical fluoride can be applied as a gel, foam or varnish. The particular method used depends on factors like the child’s age or the preference of the dentist. But any of the three methods can deliver a short-term, high dose of fluoride to the teeth.
As a result, the burst of fluoride strengthens tooth enamel against decay, with plenty of evidence of its effectiveness. As such, the American Dental Association recommends periodic topical fluoride applications for children older than 6, and especially those that appear to be at higher risk for decay.
You might, however, be concerned about the long-term health effects of these stronger concentrations of fluoride. Again, research indicates that the only long-term hazard associated with too much fluoride is a condition called fluorosis, which produces heavy tooth staining. Fluorosis, though, is more of an appearance issue and doesn’t harm the tooth itself. And it can be avoided in the case of topical fluoride by performing the procedure correctly and conservatively.
There’s also a short-term risk of a reaction to the fluoride mixture if the child swallows too much during the procedure, which could cause stomach upset and pain, vomiting or headaches. We can avoid this by using precautions like dental dams and other isolation methods to prevent the child from ingesting it.
Using proper precautions and procedures, topical fluoride is a safe and effective way to give your child added protection against decay. Avoiding this destructive disease can help ensure they’ll enjoy good dental health for the rest of their lives.
If you would like more information on keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Fluoride Gels Reduce Decay.”
National Tooth Fairy Day seems a fitting way to end February's National Children’s Dental Health Month. Traditionally, the tooth fairy takes your child's baby teeth and leaves something in return. It could be money or a gift. Because of this practice, you may wonder why it’s important for your child to have dental care. After all, they’re “only baby teeth” that will fall out when his or her adult teeth come in. Baby teeth have a purpose; they’re as important as our adult teeth.
Baby teeth help your child chew his or her food, speak properly and also hold space for the adult tooth. Starting good dental habits early can help your child avoid major dental problems later.
Your child will get his or her first tooth around age 6 months. The last baby tooth comes in around age 2. Though the front adult teeth come in at age 6, back adult teeth do not erupt until between ages 9 and 12. So in some cases, your child may have that baby tooth in his or her mouth for 10 years!
Much of the nutrition we need for growth and development comes from what we eat and drink. Chewing food well helps digestion and may reduce the chances of digestive problems, such as heartburn, both now and later in life.
Childhood lisps are cute when you’re young but imagine having to talk that way all the time! Your front teeth help your tongue know where to position itself when making certain sounds for speech. The longer your teeth are not there, the more habitual the speech problem becomes. In some cases, speech therapy might be needed to correct the problem.
Tooth decay is a risk from the moment teeth come into your child’s mouth. This is why your dentist or pediatrician says to only put water in your child’s bottle when you put him or her to bed and to not dip pacifiers in anything sugary or sweet. Milk and juice contain sugars that can settle against your child’s teeth. These sugars activate cavity causing bacteria in our mouths.
Tooth decay in infants or toddlers is often called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay even if the cause is not a bottle. Baby Bottle Decay most often involves the upper front teeth but it can extend to other teeth as well. In some cases, the damage is so severe that the teeth cannot be repaired and need to be removed.
When a baby tooth is lost earlier than it should be, the teeth on either side tend to drift into the space. The adult tooth may not have enough room to come in, resulting in crooked or crowded teeth. This loss of space is more common for back teeth than for front teeth. If your child loses a back baby tooth at an early age, your dentist may recommend a space maintainer appliance to help preserve the space needed by the adult tooth.
Remember, teeth can look healthy but have decay in spots that are not visible. I remember seeing a four-year old whose teeth looked perfect to the naked eye but her cavity-detecting x-rays showed tooth decay in between her back teeth. Had her parents waited until they saw evidence of a cavity to bring her to the dentist, the girl would probably have had a toothache, needed the baby tooth equivalent of a root canal or have had to have the teeth removed!
So you see, baby teeth do serve an important function. To keep your child’s teeth healthy, see your dentist regularly starting as young as age 1. If you do not have a dentist, I am accepting new patients. Please call my office at 440-960-1940 or use the contact form on my website at www.drjrobb.com You can also receive news and special offers on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb
(*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.)
Remember, we have a new address now: 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W, Lorain, OH 44053
Did you know we have an in house program that will save you $100.00 or more on your dental care? The enrollment fee includes the two exams, two cleanings* and one set of x-rays that we recommend per year. Children also receive 1 Fluoride treatment) Any other dental care you need receives a discount--even items that we don't normally discount! (*Note: the price includes regular cleanings. If you need periodontal cleanings you will need to pay the difference. Also the cleaning appointments must be done within 8 months of each other to qualify for the plan. Program is per person and is non-transferable. No refunds are made if you fail to schedule your second cleaning appointment within the alloted timeframe.)
Sometimes, looking at old pictures can really bring memories back to life. Just ask Stefani Germanotta—the pop diva better known as Lady Gaga. In one scene from the recent documentary Five Foot Two, as family members sort through headshots from her teen years, her father proclaims: "Here, this proves she had braces!"
"If I had kept that gap, then I would have even more problems with Madonna," Lady Gaga replies, referencing an ongoing feud between the two musical celebrities.
The photos of Gaga's teenage smile reveal that the singer of hits like "Born This Way" once had a noticeable gap (which dentists call a diastema) between her front teeth. This condition is common in children, but often becomes less conspicuous with age. It isn't necessarily a problem: Lots of well-known people have extra space in their smiles, including ex-football player and TV host Michael Strahan, actress Anna Paquin…and fellow pop superstar Madonna. It hasn't hurt any of their careers.
Yet others would prefer a smile without the gap. Fortunately, diastema in children is generally not difficult to fix. One of the easiest ways to do so is with traditional braces or clear aligners. These orthodontic appliances, usually worn for a period of months, can actually move the teeth into positions that look more pleasing in the smile and function better in the bite. For many people, orthodontic treatment is a part of their emergence from adolescence into adulthood.
Braces and aligners, along with other specialized orthodontic appliances, can also remedy many bite problems besides diastema. They can correct misaligned teeth and spacing irregularities, fix overbites and underbites, and take care of numerous other types of malocclusions (bite problems).
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids get screened for orthodontic problems at age 7. Even if an issue is found, most won't get treatment at this age—but in some instances, it's possible that early intervention can save a great deal of time, money and effort later. For example, while the jaw is still developing, its growth can be guided with special appliances that can make future orthodontic treatment go quicker and easier.
Yet orthodontics isn't just for children—adults can wear braces too! As long as teeth and gums are healthy, there's no upper age limit on orthodontic treatment. Instead of traditional silver braces, many adults choose tooth-colored braces or clear aligners to complement their more professional appearance.
So if your child is at the age where screening is recommended—or if you're unhappy with your own smile—ask us whether orthodontics could help. But if you get into a rivalry with Madonna…you're on your own.
If you have questions about orthodontic treatment, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Orthodontics For The Older Adult.”
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