As much as we love our patients at the Kidds Place, visiting the dentist for a filling can be uncomfortable! Luckily there are more specific ways to keep your teeth healthy and clean besides the obvious. We have all heard it before: brush twice daily, floss, go to the dentist, and do not eat too much sugar. It sounds simple, but does it truly guarantee a filling-free mouth? Every mouth is different, and even the best brushers can still experience decay. But there’s more steps you can take towards cavity prevention for a lifelong healthy smile.
How Does a Cavity Even Form?
Cavities are formed when plaque buildup weakens the tooth enamel, causing it to soften. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth when sugar from food has been solidified over a period of time by the bacteria in our mouths. Enamel is a natural hard coating of the tooth made up of minerals such as calcium. If the plaque sticking to the surface of the enamel is not brushed away, it begins to eat away at it. When this occurs, acids begin to penetrate and diminish the tooth itself, causing the dark or black spot where decay has occurred. This is called a cavity because it is a literal chasm that has formed in the tooth itself. It is recommended that children as well as adults receive a teeth cleaning twice yearly. These remove plaque build-up and keep teeth polished and smooth. However, here are some measures you and your family can take outside of the dentist chair.
Foods to Avoid & Foods to Eat
What is the common phrase? “Don’t eat too much sugar, or your teeth will rot!” While it’s true that excess sugar can harm your teeth, there is little point trying to scare kids out of eating sugar so they wont have to “go to the dentist and get a shot”, because while sugar can cause plaque, so can anything high in carbohydrates. This is because all carbs are eventually broken down into simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. The solution is simply ensuring that plaque formed from these types of food is properly removed, so no permanent damage can be done to teeth.
While we are all taught to moderate certain foods, did you know there are foods that actually help strengthen your enamel? Any foods rich in calcium – milk, cheese, yogurt, can make the enamel stronger and therefore develop a thicker shield against cavities.
Eat apples! It is said that they can actually clean your teeth. The fleshy fibers found in the white of the apple can act as tiny little “toothbrushes” that scrub at your teeth as you chew. It goes to show that “an apple a day” can keep the dentist away too! (Although, don’t skip out on your twice yearly cleaning). If your kids like celery, it too is known to have a similar effect!
Drink lots of water. Most water systems in the U.S. contain fluoride – one of the minerals commonly used to strengthen teeth. What is more, drinking water ultimately produces more saliva, which can wash away bacteria in the mouth between brushing.
Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes, twice daily – once in the morning and once at night. If your child likes to be speedy and brushes too quickly, practice setting a timer for 2 minutes to ensure they reach every area of their mouth. Remember also that if kids cannot yet tie their shoes, studies show that they have not yet developed the coordination or strength to brush their teeth on their own.
Flossing and rinsing with mouthwash every day can seem like a lot, but try to develop the habit of flossing with the morning brushing, and rinsing with the evening brushing. Floss can reach the pesky plaque that a toothbrush can not – in fact, did you know brushing only cleans two-thirds of our teeth? Floss gets between and cleans the one-third a toothbrush cannot. Imagine if you went your whole life without flossing! There would always be a third of your teeth that never got cleaned. To round it off, mouthwash kills excess bacteria all over the mouth, not just teeth, but gums, tongue, cheeks and roof of mouth where germs can also spread. Using all three can help your kids to be cavity free!
Generally speaking, little ones love their binkies. They satisfy the “suck reflex” babies often have associated with bottles and breastfeeding. This provides a calming and soothing effect, which is helpful at night and at naptimes especially if a baby is fussy or fighting sleep.
It is not a surprise therefore that parents are advocates for soothers as well. Pacifiers often provide some peace and quiet and can help a baby get to sleep while being rocked or held. What’s more, although no exact reason has been proven, there has been a direct correlation in many studies conducted between pacifier use and lower rates of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Dental Health & Pacifiers
There are pros and cons to pacifier use, and every child and parent is different. There is no set age or set time recommended by experts, as many of them differ in opinion.
As long as an infant is able to break his or her binky habit by the time multiple teeth begin to grow in, there shouldn’t be any reason the pacifier should affect their long-term dental health. This is especially true if a child is reduced to only using it at night or naptimes.
Pacifiers can help with teething and soothing the gums but they should never be dipped in juice as this can cause cavities on baby teeth. Some babies do not need a binky as much as others. If a baby is able to be soothed without one it is best to not force the habit upon a child before attempting soothing in other ways – rocking, feeding, etc.
Unfortunately, many toddlers get into such a habit of using the pacifier that not only will they not stop asking for it, but after a parent finally takes it away, they can develop the habit to suck their thumb. Prolonged habits of thumb-sucking can eventually cause misalignment as teeth are growing in. If the thumb-sucking continues, it could call for the need for braces later on.
#1 Take it Away Early
Reportedly, some parents have taken a pacifier away as young as 3 months old, suggesting that it is much easier to stop the habit of a newborn than a toddler. Other parents recommend simply limiting it at around 3-6 months old, strictly to bedtime and naptime. Of course many would make exceptions to this – long car rides or airplane trips – but it is believed by many that the younger, the better. Weaning the pacifier does not always work for older children and can cause confusion and arguing.
#2 Make It Defective
One of the ways to stop a child from wanting their pacifier is to “break” it. It is never recommended to cut the tip of a binky with a scissors, as small pieces off it can break off and pose a choking hazard. However, by simply taking a thumbtack or needle and poking a small hole at the tip, air will freely pass through. This will cause the child to think it is broken as it will no longer satisfy the sucking reflex.
#3 Use them to “Buy” Something Else
If there is something your child desperately wants, be it a new toy or a pet goldfish, explain to them that it can only be purchased by the Binky Bank. Help them gather up all the pacifiers in your home and put them in a container to be offered in exchange for the item. As they physically donate to the Binky Bank they will be reminded that there are no more pacifiers in the house and they will better understand prioritizing by giving up something they want for something they want more.
#4 Set a Time & Stick to It
Whatever you as a parent personally decide is the right time for you and your child, schedule a date that they will no longer use the pacifier. You could use a memorable day that could indicate a milestone for your child – for example, their 3rd birthday, followed by a statement such as “big girls/big boys don’t need binkies!” Up until that time remind them of the day they will no longer be able to use their pacifier. This will give them time to accept it and process through it, as giving up the habit cold turkey can be very difficult for some children. Once you have made a decision, do not change your mind! There may be a few times after this day that they will ask for their binky again, but remind them of the time they became a big kid and stand your ground.
#5 Give it Away
Similar to the Binky Bank, but instead with a giving mentality. If your child is old enough to understand the concept, explain to your child that there are children younger than them who need their pacifiers, and that they are too old to keep theirs. As you encourage them to press toward the decision of giving them away it may be helpful if there is a younger cousin or neighbor toddler to use as an example. Round up all the pacifiers in your home with your toddler and leave them for the “Binky Fairy” at night who hands them out to new babies being born. If it is around the holiday season, make the suggestion of leaving them for Santa Claus.
Is your baby teething? Pediatricians have stated that infants typically feel their very first tooth emerge anywhere between 4-8 months, the average being around 7 months. There are many symptoms for teething, but luckily can be easily remedied!
While some symptoms of teething are very common, such as slight temperature, crankiness, biting, loss of appetite, and drooling, some babies can even develope a facial rash, begin to nightwalk (as teething can cause restlessness), rub their ears, and appear to have bruising under the gums. According to the magazine What To Expect, these are nothing to be worried about, and can be a sure sign that a little one is going to get their first tooth soon.
How to Soothe Your Infant During Teething
Teething rings, gum rubbing, or any kind of chewing is called counter-pressure, and can help gently break down gums so the tooth can break through. As a parent, it is encouraged to massage the place on your baby where the teeth are coming in and to use foods like popsicles or frozen fruits during this time – not only does it help the child to chew more, but the cold temperature can relieve those areas of sensitivity.
Infant Tylenol or Acetaminophen can be effective when extreme discomfort occurs, but do not use before consulting your pediatrician.
Whatever the old wives’ tales say, do NOT dip your child’s pacifier in whiskey! Even the smallest amount can sedate the baby which can be very dangerous.
How to Care for Baby Teeth
Infant teeth may be temporary, but they can still decay and rot like adult teeth can! Between the ages of 1-3 years old a child will grow 20 teeth. After that, most children won’t lose their baby teeth for quite a few years, which means they need to be cared for to last. Once an infant’s first teeth have emerged, begin gently brushing and flossing their teeth at least once a day until they are old enough to brush on their own. This will help condition them to establish good dental hygiene habits – a daily practice that will last a lifetime. Dentists recommend using tap water with infants as it contains fluoride. It is not recommended to use fluoride toothpaste until age 2 because too much of it can lead to brown and white spots appearing on teeth.
Make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup full of juice or milk as it can also be damaging if it sits in their mouth for hours at a time (plaque buildup which can lead to cavities).
Be sure take your child to their first dental exam by age 1 (we recommend the Kidd’s Place!) Twice yearly teeth cleanings are highly recommended by all dentists for children and adults alike.
There are two types of toothbrushes on the market today – manual and electric. While there are benefits to both, the brushes themselves can wear out and accumulate bacteria. Manual brushing enables full control from the amount of pressure and movements applied to teeth, which perhaps an electric toothbrush cannot allow because of its rapid and mechanical vibrations. The benefits of electric toothbrushes are quite obvious; when in use, the bristles are able to do more than a regular toothbrush, such as massaging gums and pulsating in between the tight cracks between our teeth, giving us that “straight-from-the-dentist” clean feeling.
Whether you prefer this modern way of dental hygiene or a more traditional, inexpensive method, our teeth still take their toll on these devices and wear them out. What’s more, some researchers show that 10 million germs can be living in our toothbrush! A toothbrush can become a breeding grounds for harmful bacteria if it is not properly stored.
For best results, most experts say to replace your toothbrush every three months (if you use an electric, that means replacing the “head”, or the attachment of the toothbrush). Children may need to replace theirs more frequently because they tend to apply more pressure when brushing. Kids may grow attached to their toothbrush (especially if it has their favorite Disney character on it!) but once the bristles start to bend outwards, dentists say the toothbrush is no longer effective, and should be thrown away.
Care of Your Toothbrush & Good Habits to Form
Because the bristles of our toothbrush wear out so quickly, the American Dental Association recommends rinsing your toothbrush under the faucet between brushings to wash away saliva and toothpaste residue, and to store it upright so the bristles can air dry. If you’re a parent that is extra cautious of bacteria, soak it in rubbing alcohol when not in use, then rinse with water thoroughly.
It can be a difficult task to keep track of how long it has been since each toothbrush in the house has been replaced, especially if you have more than one kid! But remember that your child will receive a new brush with each dentist visit, and these visits occur (at the very least) every 6 months for cleaning. That means you only have to replace it once again, somewhere along the midpoint, between each visit.
*Tip: Instead of remembering to put them on the shopping list every so often, keep your bathroom cupboard or closet stocked with unopened toothbrushes. (Many stores have value packs you can purchase which contain several in a pack). This will make the transitions more convenient for you and your family.
Have you ever stocked up on household and personal care items during a great sale? At some point, we all have probably done this to save a few dollars on commonly used items such as shampoo, bar soap, paper towels, toothpaste and other necessities. When it comes to oral hygiene products though, have you ever wondered about how long they might keep while awaiting use?
Does Toothpaste Expire?
In short, toothpaste and mouthwashes do indeed have a shelf life and expiration dates, especially if you are using a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride. To the surprise of many, The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classifies toothpaste in the same category as cosmetics, which is required to include a list of actives as you can see on the back of a box or the tube of toothpaste. Under these regulations, they are also required to list an expiration date, usually found along the crimped edge of the tube and also on the box. Toothpastes also carrying the seal of approval by the ADA (American Dental Association) are required to list expiration dates.
Expiration of toothpaste comes about 2 years after manufacture date, which might also be found on the box or tube of toothpaste in the form of a number sequence. Manufactures of food and product often use a 3-digit number from 001-365 which represents the day of the year, usually preceded by the last digit of the year. For example: a product made on March 1, 2015 would be coded 3015, for example). If your toothpaste contains a number sequence rather than a clear date, you can often decipher the numbers similarly to determine when the product was made.
Beyond the listed expiration date, there can be loss of effectiveness and stability in the active ingredients, such as fluoride. Active ingredients as well as flavor can also crystallize and separate causing not only an inconsistent product, but like one that doesn’t taste or feel too pleasant. Most brands have a shelf life of at least two years, so if it’s a toothpaste you and your family use regularly, go ahead and stock up on a few tubes, just take note of the expiration dates, especially if you use a recommended fluoride toothpaste.
Is it dangerous to use expired toothpaste?
While it isn’t advised, using an expired toothpaste or mouthwash will not harm you given the expiration is within reasonable time. We wouldn’t suggest using a couple years post expiration! The toothpaste or wash just might not taste or feel as smooth or consistent as it would if it was within the shelf life span. The concern is really in the effectiveness of the active ingredients such as fluoride and triclosan. So go ahead and get an extra tube or two next time your favorite toothpaste or mouthwash is on sale. Chances are that with regular use, those extras will be gone long before expiration. As always, happy brushing (and flossing)!
While brushing and flossing alone reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth, did you know that over 50% of oral bacteria sit on your tongue? This bacteria is often responsible for bad breath and can also contribute to tooth decay, so properly removing it can greatly reduce the occurrence and keep breath fresh, for much longer. Caring for your tongue is just as important as the teeth and gums, so don’t leave it behind!
Why it’s important
The mouth is one of the main gateways for pathogens into your body and is also the beginning of your digestive tract. Your tongue is actually the first organ of digestion, aiding food down the esophagus as you swallow. It is also a mode of detoxification and is part of the first line of immune defense. Since up to half of oral bacteria can sit on your tongue, if you’re only brushing teeth and gums, you are leaving behind quite a bit of bacteria in your mouth as well as swallowing some of it, sending it back into your body. Bacteria isn’t the only thing on your tongue either. Food debris and dead skin cells often find their home on the surface of your tongue.
Bacteria buildup on the tongue can begin to look quite obvious. Have you ever noticed a coating on your tongue or that of your child’s? This coating is an accumulation of mostly bacteria and toxins from the body’s cleansing and detoxifying process. During sleep, the body works to eliminate toxins and waste in your system, some of which deposit on the surface of your tongue. This is often why you can see this coating primarily in the morning.
Kids generally have pretty clean, pink tongues. As we get older though, we consistently develop this coating on the back of the tongue which can vary in color from yellow, white or even orange. Breast or bottle fed babies can also develop a coating as well.
When this coating isn’t removed, not only can we reabsorb the bacteria and toxins, but it often results in bad breath, increased risk for cavities and gum disease. This coating also Keeping your mouth and tongue clean is not only important to your oral health, but also that of your digestive and immune health.
Why buy a scraper?
Dental research has long concluded that scrapers are far more effective at removing bacteria and toxins than a toothbrush. Tongue scrapers are uniquely shaped to fit in the back of the mouth, where the coating generally accumulates the thickest. They are made of metal in a long, flat, and thin “U” shape. It is designed for ease of use and to clean more thoroughly than scrubbing with a toothbrush. Many modern toothbrushes are designed with raised rubber or plastic scrapers on the backside of the bristle head as well.
You may also use the edge of a metal spoon or the backside of a butter knife. Using a toothbrush to scrub the tongue not only takes far more time and work to accomplish, but is also quite prone to cause gagging, which no one is too fond of, and can be difficult to clean out of the bristles. You can find scrapers at most health stores or drug stores in the oral hygiene section.
How to do it
Scraping is best done daily before brushing and flossing in the morning hours, say, after breakfast before you brush and floss for the day.
- Whether you are doing this yourself or you are doing so for your child, with a scraper in both hands, hold out your tongue or ask you child to and gently press the scraper on the tongue and pull lightly in a downward motion, but enough to pull the coating off. Repeat as needed until the tongue is clean and clear.
- Rinse the scraper and store in a clean place.
- If you are using a built-in toothbrush scraper, a spoon, or butter knife edge, you may need to repeat several times to cover the surface of the tongue.
Tooth sensitivity can be a pain in the… mouth. It can take root, quite literally, and linger for awhile, making anything hot or cold quite uncomfortable to consume. If you’ve ever experienced sensitivity in your teeth, you can only imagine what it might be like for your little ones.
Sensitivity is often the result of loss and wear of the protective outer layer of the tooth known as enamel. Enamel covers the cementum of the tooth, or the surface layer of the tooth root. When this is worn away, your tooth’s dentin is exposed which is full of tiny tubes with nerves running through them, and exposed nerves lead to sensitivity and pain when anything hot, cold, or sugary comes in contact. There are several reasons why this could happen to you or your child’s teeth:
Top Causes of Sensitivity
Cavities are a result of decay and breakdown of the enamel and tooth itself, especially if left untreated. They are the most common cause for dental pain.
Brushing too roughly
kids can be a bit rough with their toothbrush which can gradually wear away on the enamel. Kids with braces tend to brush roughly in a back-and-forth motion near gum lines which can also cause inflamed gums along with sensitive teeth. Be sure to replace toothbrushes often and purchase soft-bristled ones. Teach your child to brush softly so not to “squish their bristles”. A good way to know if your child is brushing too hard is to take a look at their toothbrush. Have the bristles splayed?
Receding gum line
Decay can cause gum disease and also receding gum lines. If your child complains of sensitivity or pain near their gum line, this could be the cause.
Depending on your child’s age and growth and loss of adult teeth, this could also cause some temporary sensitivity. New teeth are not accustomed to air and differing temperatures of food and beverages but should acclimate within a couple weeks.
Grinding teeth or clenching the jaw can cause microfractures in the tooth, as well as a sore jaw!
Pressure from mild sinus infections, allergies, or bacterial congestion can cause a feeling similar to tooth sensitivity. If there is history of allergies or sinus trouble in your family, the two could be related. Tapping the tooth lightly may help determine if the sensitivity is related. If a sensation is present, it likely isn’t sinus or allergy related.
Acidic food and drinks
It may not seem obvious, but acidic foods and drinks can break down the enamel over time and give way to sensitivity. Think oranges, pickles, juice, soda… limit some of these foods and also remind your child to drink some water after eating, which is always a good habit to practice, and brush after meals.
What you can do:
Scheduling an appointment with your child’s doctor or pediatrician can help determine the cause of sensitivity. Of course, sensitivity can be bothersome with meals, intake of fluids and even breathing, so what can you do in the meantime?
- Brush gently! Use a soft brush and brush in small, circular motions. Also, brush with lukewarm water to prevent irritating the tooth.
- Note which tooth or teeth are sensitive and around what part of the tooth. Advise your child to chew on the alternate side of their mouth
- Drink room temperature water and warm teas or other hot-serve beverages. Refrain from sugary and acidic fruit drinks.
- Advise your child to breath through their nose, especially if it is cold outside!
- In the case of a sinus infection or allergies, encourage your child to fully sneeze; not to hold their sneeze or plug their nose.
- Try a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, as they contain less abrasives. Do this under the recommendation of your dentist though, as some products are not for use in children under 12.
- Talk to your dentist about a mouthguard if your child grinds their teeth, and help them find a new sleep position. Remind them to “not let their teeth touch” apart from chewing to help them understand how to relax their jaw.
If you or your child are experiencing sensitivity, consider all causes such as those we listed and consult your dentist or doctor! He or she can help you determine the cause and give you further tips to help heal and prevent decay and sensitivity.
This is the time of year for things to get a little crazy busy, especially if you have kids! School is back in session, Halloween and all the Holidays are near, and sometimes you just don’t have room to cut back on what takes up your time and energy. There is no need for us to tell you that life is indeed, busy! This is especially so when you have multiple school age children of various ages. Babies keep you busy, around the house and through the night, while older children typically have sports, clubs, and other school activities they may participate in along with homework each night. Whatever your family dynamic may look like, life is busy and seems to pack a few more punches in your schedule. When you are balancing your to-do’s with your family activities, it can be tough to find and maintain a balance! Here are some practical tips for balancing a busy life, because we know that sometimes life doesn’t slow down!
Make Time to Rest
This seems cliché, but if it wasn’t imperative to a healthy life, it wouldn’t be so widely declared. Getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night will do a world of good for you and give you the energy necessary to tackle your busy schedule. If you don’t wake up early with your kids already it would be a good habit to adopt, along with hitting the pillow a little earlier. Numerous studies have shown that rising early can help you be more productive and get that quiet moment you need before starting the day.
Plan Ahead, Organize
Depending on your work schedule and how much time you have at home, plan ahead for things like meals, shopping, birthdays, holidays, and dates with your spouse. You can then organize according to your game plan. Here are some tips for planning:
- Keep a calendar or planner, whether written or on your phone to remind yourself of special dates in advance! Give yourself a few days to weeks even
- Schedule appointments, such as check ups and dental cleanings, for the same afternoon back to back.
- Plan meals and keep a grocery list of meal-specific ingredients. Take a little time to make a list so you don’t forget things and require additional trips to the store.
- Grocery shop at one or two stores, make a weekly trip
- After dinner, prepare breakfast and lunches for the next day. Have kids lay out their clothes and backpacks for the next day before bedtime.
- Make designated places for things you and the kids will need the next day, set them out the night before so you aren’t scrambling for it the next morning.
- Designate a day for laundry or do one load a night.
- Keep a bathroom drawer for everything you use on a daily basis.
Taking care of the little things in advance can add minutes to your day, and those minutes add up!
Making priorities will not only help you stay on track, but also help you stay organized. Decide what your most important tasks are and learn to say no to things that will put you on overload. Realize that you can only do so much in one day, so slow down to examine the standards you hold for yourself and make realistic goals for each day.
Relationships are intentional and grow with time and attention. Don’t wait for the weekend, stay connected by setting some family time aside each night and make it an important part of your day, even if it is only half an hour! Dinner time or even breakfast is a perfect time to do this. If you are a full time working parent, this is particularly important; not only for your kids but also for yourself! Without a doubt, kids and parents feel more connected and optimistic when they take the time to do something fun apart from work and school. If you are like many families who run short on time, try including your family and kids in your tasks! Let young children “help” you fold laundry, grocery shop, stack dishes, help cook (as much as they can safely handle), etc. Almost any daily task can be turned into a game or lighthearted competition between siblings with some creativity.
Maintain a Basic Routine
Keyword here is “basic” because we all know that planning every detail can take a lot of time and cause much unneeded stress, especially since we have no control over what can happen around us and needs change. Keep a routine bedtime schedule for you and your kids.
As a parent, you know how quickly your day can turn in a different direction. Accidents happen, forgetfulness is a common occurrence, and life happens! The critical thing here is to practice flexibility, take things as they come, but keep your priorities in place.
Schedule with Caution
The American Academy of Pediatrics found in a 2006 study that organized activities can help children gain skills and self-confidence, but too much structured activity can contribute to anxiety, stress, and depression in children and cause kids to become self-critical perfectionists. Over scheduling is proven to not only cause you stress, but also your children. Make sure they are not over scheduled in their activities as well as yourself, it is okay to cut back. If you feel like your children need to be in activities because the neighbor kids are, or they need to stay busy, remember that they also need downtime for relaxation and stress management, and it is also important for learning and mental development.
Riding the fast track seems to be inevitable nowadays, but balancing a busy lifestyle is not impossible and it does involve some intention, it doesn’t just happen. With these tips you can simplify your life and learn to find opportunities in every moment.
Your child’s dental health has a direct relation to his/her general health, especially in the early years. Hence, the American Dental Association recognizes the specialty of Pediatric dentistry which is dedicated to looking after children’s oral health from infancy until adolescence, usually up to 18 years of age. Dentists who specialize in children’s dentistry are classified as Pedodontists, though they are more commonly called Pediatric dentists, to keep things simple.
Why Should You Take Your Child to a Pediatric Dentist?
Despite the well-meaning effort of parents in looking after their child’s teeth, cavities and erosion can still occur and may not visible to the untrained eye in most cases. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents take their children to a pediatric dentist within 6 months of eruption of first baby tooth, and no later than the first year. It is never too late to see a dentist, but making the first visit within 6 months to 1 year decreases the chances of developing early cavities and increases the probability for a positive association with the dentist, which can be scary to youngsters! A Pediatric dentist’s office is ready with equipment, usually further specialized for children, such as dental x-rays and exposing solutions that can detect small cavities in the beginning stages, then manage it accordingly by removing it and restoring with a suitable filling material. Similarly, your pediatric dentist can recognize any future tendency of misalignment in your child’s teeth, and can initiate early management by alongside an orthodontist.
Pediatric Dentist or Family Dentist?
Why is it important that your child sees a Pediatric Dentist? They are specially trained exclusively in the anatomy, growth, and developmental problems associated with children. Pediatric dentists take two to three years of additional specialty training specifically for infants, children, teens, and children with special needs. There is a lot to know! Children are not like adults who know and understand why a stranger’s hands are in their mouth. Pediatric dentists know how to talk to and handle small children who are uncomfortable and insecure about having their teeth touched. Offices are also decorated more elaborately along with the equipment to help your child feel as comfortable as possible, compared to a general or family dentistry office. Often, these offices will also have TV’s or pictures placed on the ceiling above the chair and headphones available to listen to audiobooks or music. Pretty fancy!
What Does a Pediatric Dentist Do?
The primary role of a Pediatric dentist is not only to care for, but also educate parents and children on how to care for their teeth! They monitor your child’s oral growth, teach your child the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene, and the necessary brushing and flossing habits for lifelong tooth and gum health. Frequent checkups by a Pediatric dentist will help greatly in prevention, early diagnosis and management of those dreaded cavities, before they become a big problem. Similarly, toddlers and adolescent children frequently experience dental injuries while playing outdoors, such as tooth avulsion, loosening and soft tissue injuries, all of which are managed by a Pediatric dentist. Emergencies are never planned and can’t be foreseen!
In addition, a Pediatric dentist can also help parents create a preventative diet plan for their child that not only provides them with all the required nutritional components, but also reduces the incidence of caries. Similarly, they can recommend and prescribe fluoride or other necessary supplements to enhance development and health of your child’s teeth.
A Final Word
Not only is it important to have your child under the care of a pediatric dentist, but it’s even more imperative that parents are educated about the health and proper care for their child’s teeth to ensure a healthy check-up. Working together, children can have happy, healthy smiles for a lifetime to come. If you haven’t scheduled your child’s first appointment, or they are due for a follow up, call today! Happy brushing!
Asthma and What it Means for Oral Health
Asthma affects around 1 of 10 children, and those numbers seem to be climbing in recent years. Patients with asthma taking medications have an increased risk of cavities, bad breath, and gum problems since they tend to be mouth breathers. Medications such as corticosteroids can reduce saliva flow, causing a dry mouth which further causes the bad breath. Since saliva has a cleansing effect in the mouth, ashtmatic children can then be more susceptible to cavities. If thorough and consistent care isn’t taken, this could then lead to gum disease. With this, it is important to remain under routine dental care and regular visits if your child has asthma and requires medication. Dental care does stay relatively the same, depending on the severity of your child’s condition and their triggers for asthmatic attacks. Asthma is categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, based partially on the regularity and intensity of symptoms during daytime, exercise resistance, and symptoms during night-time.The goal in managing a patient with asthma is to prevent an acute asthmatic episode during the routine cleanings or other dental procedures such as fillings. When you visit the dentist, be sure to let the hygienists and the dentist know about current medications, changes in the doses or frequency, and your child’s triggers for attacks.
We know that dental visits should start at the first eruption of a baby tooth. Cultivating a positive relationship with your child’s dentist is not only vital for every child, but especially those with asthma since anxiety of others is a common cause for asthma episodes. Studies have proven that the most important factor in overcoming dental anxiety is good dentist-patient communication. So, how can you help your child overcome and work through anxiety?
- Schedule the appointment for the morning, while they are alert but still relaxed and before any events of the day might cause stress. If your child seems more relaxed in the afternoon, by all means schedule for the time that is most comfortable and accommodating for you and your child.
- Give yourself ample time for the appointment, don’t schedule on a day you might be rushed.
- Give your child a higher protein breakfast which has a calming effect. Avoid sugary foods such as cereal and pancakes with syrup.
- If your child needs asthma medication prior to the appointment, encourage them to drink some water to minimize the effect of it on their teeth. This would also be a good routine practice.
- Bring your child’s inhaler to the appointment in the event your child has an attack. Better to have it and not need it!
- Bring earplugs if excessive noise might be a problem and your child is comfortable with them. We also have head phones in our office for noise
- Distractions. Our staff is well trained in keeping children distracted from the procedure. If you have something your child would be well distracted with such as a stuffed animal or picture, bring it with you!
- Encourage your child to take deep breaths if this is okay for them or as much as they are able. Have them breath with you.
- Listen to some fun music they like in the car on the way to the appointment.
- Reassure your child that the dentist help their teeth stay strong and healthy!
In preparation for your appointment and to keep your child’s thoughts positive about dental care, also try to avoid conversations with others who fear the dentist or who had bad experiences with the dentist. Keep positive reinforcement going and let your child form their own opinion about visiting the dentist according to their own experience. Along with preparing your child for their visit to the dentist, we ask that you would prepare the dentists and hygienists as well! Of course, depending on the severity of your child’s asthma, be prepared with the following information:
- First, let your dentist know about the asthma prior to the appointment and upon arrival. Include information about when they were diagnosed and the severity of it
- Give your child water to drink before the appointment to help cleanse their mouth.
- Tell your dentist about medications they are currently taking and how often, how much
- Explain how you handle asthma attacks and your child’s common triggers and the time of the last attack.
- Explain your oral care routine of your child’s teeth
- Keep the office updated about medication changes or condition changes so that care can be altered accordingly
Tips on caring for your child’s teeth
Between appointments, there are some tips we have for you to maintain your child’s oral health and some things to keep in mind. Depending on the kind of medication your child needs to manage asthma symptoms, it is very important to give your child water immediately after taking the medication. The mouth is the fist to have contact with medication and that is the reason for the higher risk of dental complications. Water will reduce the amount of medication that sits on the teeth and will have the cleansing effect that might be missing from decreased saliva production.
Brushing teeth regularly is a must as some dry powder inhalants contain some sugar in order to make the medication tolerable. We know that sugar is quite destructive to the enamel and the surface of the tooth, so frequent brushing is needed. Also, depending on the frequency of medication, it might be advised to have your child brush three times daily.
While dental care may not be too different for children with asthma as it is for those who do not, it is a condition that your dentist will need to know about in detail in order to reduce the likelihood of an attack during routine visits. Keeping your dentist updated about your child’s physical well being and emotional state regarding the dental chair will further help us to help you and keep those smiles bright!