Our Blog

Educational and Entertaining Enamel Experiments

January 20th, 2021

Let’s talk about the science of our teeth for a moment. Our enamel has a very high mineral content, making it extremely strong.  In fact, enamel just happens to be the hardest substance in our bodies.  But, unfortunately, it is not indestructible! Certain foods we eat can actually damage the surface of our teeth. Some simple and entertaining experiments can show children how our teeth can be affected by things we eat and drink, and how we can help protect them.

If you have a science-minded student at home, there are many activities you can do together, using educational websites, common household products and lots and lots of eggs. (Why eggs? Eggshells are a great substitute for teeth in these experiments. Not only are they various shades of white--like our own teeth, they are also calcium-rich—like our own teeth.) You can find any number of experiments using uncooked eggs, hardboiled eggs, whole shells with the contents blown out, or eggshells alone, so you can find just the right activity for whichever egg treatment works best for you.

Examine Enamel Erosion

One of the ways we protect our teeth is with healthy eating. The bacteria in plaque use the sugars and starches in our foods to produce acids. These acids are the substances that break down the minerals in our enamel and leave the enamel weaker. Weaker enamel is more easily attacked by bacteria and acids, which leads to cavities.

With eggs or eggshells and some carefully selected food products, you can see just how acidity affects teeth. Different websites suggest a variety of acidic liquids to dunk your eggs in, such as vinegar, soda, or citrus juices, so it’s easy to find an experiment that works with your pantry. Always use a plain water sample when you submerge eggs or shells to act as a control to measure differences against. How do the egg shells soaked in acidic liquids differ from those in plain water? It’s also fun to add simple sugar water as a test liquid to see what happens. Is it sugar or acid that causes more damage? And why might that be?

The Fluoride Fix

Fluoride is well known as a mineral that protects the structure of our teeth and helps prevent cavities. And there are actually experiments out there to test the protection fluoride provides using your egg stand-ins.

In some experiments, a hardboiled egg is coated with fluoride toothpaste or rinse for a specific amount of time and then dunked into vinegar. An untreated egg also gets a vinegar bath. You are asked to observe what is happening to each egg as it sits in its vinegar bath—are there bubbles on one egg and not the other? What do the bubbles mean? Other experiments require longer exposure to fluoride and then to vinegar—what happens to the shells of the treated and untreated eggs? What could this mean for our teeth?

Staining Studies

Our diet can do more than help create cavities. Enamel is very strong, but it is not stain-proof! Dark colored foods and drinks can make our teeth appear darker or more yellow. (And teeth that have suffered enamel erosion can pick up stains more easily.) How does food affect the brightness of our smiles?

If this question interests you, find experiments that use favorite beverages as a soak for your eggs. Choose liquids with a range of color, such as coffee, soda, and apple juice. Or choose an experiment that uses different varieties of soft drinks. Will foods the same color cause the same amount of discoloration in your egg volunteers? Do you want shorter or longer soaks in each liquid? Do you want to make use of a recycled toothbrush to see if brushing that discolored shell makes a difference? With toothpaste or without?

Even though these activities are designed for older children, they still require adult supervision. You can find detailed instructions for any of these experiments at many science and educational sites online. With some household supplies, plenty of extra cups, and a quantity of eggs, you and your child can demonstrate some of the basic effects our food choices have on the health and appearance of our teeth. It’s a wonderful way to promote healthy eating and brushing habits, scientific curiosity, and shared experiences!

Don’t forget to let Dr. Varble, Dr. Appelbaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong know how your experiments turned out the next time you visit our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Tooth Eruption Timeline

January 13th, 2021

Parents, and even older children, can become concerned about tooth development. Wondering when teeth should erupt, and being concerned when the teeth do not appear on schedule, is common. First, you need to remember that each individual is different. Guidelines are just guidelines, but Dr. Varble, Dr. Appelbaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz thought we would pass on this information to help you.

Primary teeth

Children normally have 20 primary or baby teeth. The first two to appear are usually the lower central incisors between six to ten months of age. These fall out between five and seven years of age.

  • Two upper central incisors – eight to 12 months
  • Two upper lateral incisors – nine to 13 months
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 16 to 22 months
  • Two upper first molars – 13 to 19 months
  • Two upper second molars – 25 to 33 months
  • Two lower lateral incisors – ten to 16 months
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – 17 to 23 months
  • Two lower first molars – 14 to 18 months
  • Two lower second molars – 13 to 31 months

As you can see, all the primary teeth normally have erupted before three years of age, but the timeline can vary by four to six months. Except for the lower central incisors and second molars, upper teeth tend to appear before lower teeth.

Permanent or adult teeth

Adults normally have 32 permanent teeth. However, four of these are wisdom teeth or third molars, which are often removed.

  • Two upper central incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two upper lateral incisors – eight to nine years
  • Two upper cuspids or canines – 11 to 12 years
  • Two upper first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 11 years
  • Two upper second premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two upper first molars – six to seven years
  • Two upper second molars – 12 to 13 years
  • Two upper third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years
  • Two lower central incisors – six to seven years
  • Two lower lateral incisors – seven to eight years
  • Two lower cuspids or canines – nine to ten years
  • Two lower first premolars or bicuspids – ten to 12 years
  • Two lower second premolars or bicuspids – 11 to 12 years
  • Two lower first molars – six to seven years
  • Two lower second molars – 11 to 13 years
  • Two lower third molars or wisdom teeth – 17 to 21 years

Please discuss any of your dental concerns during your visit with Dr. Varble, Dr. Appelbaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong. If there is a problem with tooth development, the earlier we address it, the better the outcome. We specialize in pediatric dentistry and look forward to helping you and your child with all your dental needs. To learn more about tooth eruption, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Appelbaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

My toothbrush did what?

January 6th, 2021

If you were to put your toothbrush bristles under a high-powered microscope, what you would see might give you nightmares: millions of bacteria, busily crawling up and down your toothbrush bristles, consuming proteins that came from your mouth, and still clinging to the bristles even after you’ve rinsed them with water.

Rinsing your toothbrush after brushing removes some of those ferociously hungry bacteria, but not all. The American Dental Association says that bacterial infestations develop on toothbrushes within a month of daily use. The ADA also states that unless a toothbrush is sterilized before being packaged, it’s going to come with bacteria – free of charge!

Germs and Frayed Bristles: the Demise of a Toothbrush

Dr. Varble, Dr. Appelbaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff recommend that you toss your old toothbrush in the trash and purchase a new one every three months. Children tend to bite on their toothbrushes, which makes the bristles degrade and fray faster. Chances are kids may need to have their toothbrushes changed more frequently.

Where do they hide?

Bacteria are tenacious little germs that head for those concealed areas between toothbrush bristles. They are highly adaptable and exist in every type of extreme environment. Some people actually go so far as to put their toothbrush in a microwave for a few seconds to kill germs, but this doesn't always work either. In fact, you may only end up with a toothbrush that’s as bendable as a Gumby doll – and still covered with germs.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever, and Get Rid of Your Toothbrush

When you have a head cold, your mouth is teeming with bacteria gleefully roaming around, and gobbling mucus and dead skin cells. If you brush your teeth while suffering a sinus condition, the brush will act like a magnet for ravenous bacteria. Use your old toothbrush while you are sick, but as soon as you feel better, throw it away and get a new one. Otherwise you could possibly re-infect yourself with the same cold germs!

Top Five Things to Keep Your Dentist Smiling

December 23rd, 2020

Come say hello twice a year. The American Dental Association says two times is the charm. Multiple visits a year lets us keep an eye out for any developing issues. It’s important to remember that this goes for the whole family. Children over one year old should be seeing Dr. Varble, Dr. Appelbaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong!

Stay fresh. At SmileKidz, we have a virtually unlimited stock of toothbrushes and floss, which means you have no excuse to be using a sad, ineffective toothbrush. As soon as bristles begin to fray, pick up a new one or stop by our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office and we’ll replace yours. On average, you should be opening a new one every two to three months.

For goodness sake, floss! Flossing is an efficient way to keep your whole mouth healthy. It not only protects your teeth by removing aggregated plaque, it keeps your gums happy, too.

And brush. Practicing regular healthy habits is essential to keeping your mouth—and us—happy! When it comes to brushing that means two minutes, two times a day. If your kids need some encouragement, try making a calendar or playing a song like this.

Tell a friend. One way you can help us is by spreading the love. Tell your friends about what a good thing we’ve got going here. The more the merrier. And the healthier.