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!
With summer just about here, your children are likely to be active in sports and other fun activities such as summer camps. It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle, but be sure not to neglect the importance of protecting your child’s teeth by properly using a mouth guard.
There’s no doubt that children are highly susceptible to tooth loss or other kind of oral injuries during sports and play. Even when they sleep at night, some present signs of abrasion and wear caused by the constant grinding of their teeth together. To ensure that your child’s teeth are protected from damage in any of these situations, many dentists suggest that you get your children mouth guards for sports or night guards for sleep.
You Can Find These Mouth Guards in Three Varieties
- Ordinary mouth protectors are prefabricated and ready to wear. They are low-priced and can be acquired at most stores that have sporting goods, specialty health stores, and online. However, they can be a challenge to adjust to fit, they are often bulky due to generic fit, make speaking and breathing difficult, and they bring little or no safety. These types of mouth guards are not typically recommended by dentists, but they can work in a pinch.
- Boil and bite mouth guards may also be acquired from sporting goods stores, and can offer a superior fit as compared to ordinary mouth guards. The “boil and bite” mouth protectors are made from a thermoplastic material that is placed in boiled water to soften, then introduced in the mouth and molded around the teeth using tongue and finger pressure.
- Personalized mouth protectors are individually created and produced in a dental office or a specialized laboratory following your dentist’s instructions. First, your dental practitioner will make an imprint of your child’s teeth and a mouth protector is then shaped over the mold using a special material. By using the special material and due to the supplemental time and work, these personalized mouth guards are more expensive than your other options, but it grants the most protection and comfort.
Who Needs a Mouth Guard?
Mouth protectors may be used by anyone – children and adults – who play sports that involve physical contact such as boxing, basketball, soccer, football, ice hockey, field hockey or lacrosse. However, even those playing sports without contact(such as gymnastics) and any recreational exercise (e.g.mountain biking, skateboarding) that may present a risk of harm to the mouth can benefit from using a mouth protector.
Adults and children who grind or clench their teeth at night should wear a night guard made to avoid tooth injury.
While mouth guards for play and sleep are useful in preserving tooth integrity for all ages, choosing a suitable one for your child finally concentrates on balancing cost with comfort.
The ideal mouth guard must:
- Allow talking and not restrict breathing.
- Stay firmly in place amid action.
- Provide a high rate of fit and comfort.
- Be long lasting and easy to clean.
- Be resilient, tear-resistant, odor-free and flavorless.
Mouth guards will take care of your children’s teeth while they enjoy their favorite sports, so you won’t have to worry any more about injuries.
If you or your child have suffered from occasional pain in your jaw joints, such as tightening or a sore sensation when you talk or chew, you are not alone! At some point, everyone experiences some pain in their jaw, because it is the most constantly used joint in the body!
What is TMJ?
The Temporomandibular (TMJ) joint is the primary joint in your face that allows you to talk, chew, and open wide for the dentist. It’s hard to miss, it is the joint connecting your jaw to your skull. To feel these joints in action, simply place your fingers in front of your ear and open your mouth. What you feel is the rounded end (the joint) of the lower jaw roll along the the joint socket of the temporal bone connected to the skull. The temporal bone also contains the inner ear and the temple, which is why you can feel your ears “pop” sometimes when you open your mouth.
On average, people speak thousands of words a day, each one requiring movement of this joint. Thankfully, we don’t need WD-40 like a squeaky door when its had a lot of use. We do, however, get sore and over exerted muscles that make communication or family dinner a painful task. Oftentimes, the symptoms will reside in a few days with a little relaxing of the muscles. Other times, people can develop more intense, ongoing pain. This is referred to as Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or a TMJ disorder and requires some corrective treatment.
How Can I Get TMJ?
TMJ doesn’t have any known direct causes but, rather contributing causes. Strain of the soft disc between the joint and socket can cause wear or displacement of the joint, often leading to TMJ disorders. Grinding and clenching of the teeth can cause misalignment of your bite and wear on the muscles used for chewing. Many people are unaware that they clench or grind their teeth, whether it is a coping mechanism for stress or a sleep habit.
With that being said, stress is a common cause for TMJ disorders since people tend to tighten the muscles or grind their teeth when they undergo physical and mental stress alike.
Dental problems, such as poor teeth alignment, arthritis, muscle problems, a malformed TMJ, or injury/trauma, can also contribute to TMJ disorders.
Do I have TMJ?
The symptoms associated with TMJ are often severe and pronounced, since this condition affects a significant part of daily functions such as talking and eating. Some of these symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw joint, face, and even through the neck and shoulders
- Limited ability to open the mouth very wide, like a stiff hinge
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening, closing, or chewing (which may or may not be painful)
- Exhausted feeling in the face, muscle fatigue
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the the teeth are not aligning
- Heat and/or swelling in the joint area
Other symptoms that may be a result of TMJ disorders include headaches, dizziness, tooth aches, numbness, earaches, neck pain, or ringing in the ears. If these are symptoms either you or your child experience, talk to your dentist about how they can be corrected.
What Can I Do About It?
First things first, Let your dentist know; the sooner TMJ problems are addressed, the better. If you suspect you or your child may have a TMJ disorder, your dentist will do an exam and may order imaging, such as x-rays or an MRI, to look at the joint and confirm the condition.
If symptoms are moderate or occasional, treatment may not be needed and it could be a matter of resting the jaw muscles for a couple days. You may wonder how its possible to “rest” the most commonly used joint in your body! Focus on maintaining a relaxed state, try not to clench or grind your teeth and massage the joint area as long as there is no swelling. Here are some tips to go about treatment for TMJ disorders:
- Ask your dentist about exercises and relaxation techniques you can do to relive tension, practice them as instructed.
- Application of ice packs or heat may help relieve discomfort.
- For pain and swelling, try taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve). Your dentist can prescribe a higher dose if needed.
- Eat foods that are soft, avoid those that may aggravate the TM joint (steak, apples, taffy, etc).
- For clenchers and grinders, muscle relaxants can greatly help, but are available by prescription only.
- Use a night guard to prevent clenching and grinding at night.
- Restrain from opening your mouth too wide, forcing the joint to pop, and excessive chewing motions such as chewing gum.
- Talk to your dentist about corrective dentistry. This includes braces, crowns, or bridges to properly align and balance the biting surfaces of your teeth.
- Keep your teeth slightly apart in order to relieve tension on the TM joint.
In sever cases of TMJ disorders, surgery or invasive techniques may be required if common corrective dentistry is not enough. Most always, TMJ disorders can be corrected by your dentist and most kids don’t need surgery.
To Put Things In Place
Many people, particularly children and young adults, develop TMJ disorders or occasional joint pain due to unconscious habits of grinding and clenching. You can control these habits or help your children by making them aware of the habit and instruct them on how to stop. Teach children to recognize when they practice this bad habit (at school during a test, when angry or upset, etc.) so they can consciously put an end to it. Ask your dentist for tips on how to nip this habit in the bud and if any corrective dentistry work is needed. Braces have often been the hero for those who struggle with persistent TMJ pain by greatly reducing or even eliminating the problem all together! No one should live feeling like they got a punch in the face, talk to your dentist about putting things back in place.
If you haven’t heard of oil pulling, you may be thinking it sounds a little contradictory. Many of you probably know that oil is more of a slippery substance with little ability to really “pull” anything, but that is not the case with this type of oil pulling. Despite the advanced technology we have today, this ancient practice of oil pulling has come back from the old days to spike popularity and usefulness once again.
What is Oil Pulling?
The oil used for this process is typically coconut, sesame, sunflower, grapeseed, vegetable, or olive oil; it will work with whichever you choose. So what exactly do you “pull” with oil? Well, oil pulling isn’t what it seems, in fact, it is basically the use of oil as a mouthwash! The term “pull” is just another word for swishing liquid in your mouth, pushing and pulling it between your teeth.
This ancient ritual originated in Indian culture as a folk remedy for healing oral diseases and maintaining oral health, after all, tooth brushes and anti-cavity pastes have not been around forever! So what did people use to keep their mouth clean? Some discovered the powerful properties of rinsing oil in the mouth, particularly coconut oil. Of all the oils you can use, coconut oil has been studied and proven to be the most beneficial to your oral health. This is because it is high in fatty acid known as Lauric acid, which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Coconut oil is best unrefined, as is any oil you decide to use for oil pulling, since this is the purest, most natural form.
How Does Oil pulling Benefit Your Oral Health?
Did you know that your mouth is full of bacteria, good and bad? The truth is, there are a lot of germs in your mouth and they tend to sit on your teeth throughout the day between brushings. Certain bacteria can cause harm to your teeth, resulting in plaque buildup, the gum disease gingivitis, and cavities. Bacteria creates a film know as “biofilm” on your teeth which hardens and turns into plaque. Plaque must be scraped off your teeth at your routine dental cleanings and can cause many problems for your gums if too much of it is allowed to build. So you may be wondering, what part does oil have in the improvement of oral health? Interestingly enough, oil has the ability to “catch “ bacteria and act as a disposal trap. Coconut oil, compared to others, is preferred for pulling since it has antibacterial properties which add effectiveness to the practice. It also tends to taste better than that of olive or sesame oil.
Does It Really Work?
There are many testimonies from people who have tried oil pulling for themselves, with a vast majority containing positive feedback! In case you prefer the scientific evidence, there are also plenty of studies that have proven the claimed results of oil pulling. Here are a couple to get you started:
A study published in 2008 by the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry has shown: 20 adolescent boys who used oil pulling (using sesame oil) caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans (bacteria responsible for tooth decay) in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks.
Another study compared oil pulling and regular mouthwash in 20 adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and the mouthwash were effective against their gingivitis.
How Does it Work?
Each time you swish the oil around in your mouth, it removes bacteria and has even been proven to remove plaque on and between the teeth.
An additional benefit to adopting this practice is that oil pulling also reduces bad breath. The chemical gases produced by the bacteria in your mouth are greatly reduced when you oil pull and, in a study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling reduced bad breath just as effectively as regular mouthwash!
So Why Not Give it a Try?
If you are curious and convinced that this could work for you, its really quite simple!
Choose an oil that is unrefined or organic, these tend to work the best.
Take about one teaspoon and put it in your mouth, begin to swish it around. Coconut oil is a butter-like consistency with a low melting point of about 78 degrees, so it will turn to oil rather quickly.
Swish the oil for about 15-20 minutes.
Spit out all the oil and brush your teeth
It is best to do your oil pulling on an empty stomach before you brush your teeth. Some of you may think that 15-20 minutes is a long time to swish slimy liquid in your mouth, but if you do it in the shower, while you make breakfast, or get ready for the day, it will be over before you know it. Relax your face and jaw and gently “push and pull” the oil around in your mouth to prevent your jaw from becoming sore. Be sure to spit out all the oil since it will contain plaque and bacteria from your teeth! Oil pulling is not recommended for young children since they are susceptible to swallowing the oil.
Give this practice a week or two and watch how it can whiten your teeth, freshen your breath, and help prevent cavities! If you have dental problems such as cavities or sensitivity, try oil pulling and see how it can help your teeth. Oil pulling is effective and beneficial to your oral health, so why not give it a try?
Fluoride is a mineral that ensures a healthy development of your children’s teeth. It strengthens the tooth enamel and protects it from tartar and plaque which cause cavities. Children need fluoride supplementation after the age of 6 months. Research has proved that fluoride can diminish cavities on both children and adults. It also aids repairing the preliminary stages of tooth decay even previously the decay becomes noticeable. Unfortunately, numerous people continue to be misinformed about fluoridation and fluoride. In the same manner as other nutrients, fluoride is effective and safe when used correctly and used in smaller amounts.
What fluoride supplements can you can give to your children?
Fluoride ion is found naturally in soil, water, foods, and several minerals. The food intake ranges from 0.2 to 0.5 mg. Besides the amount ingested, age is important too. Infants ND children need less than the average adult. Infants can retain as much as 75% of their intake, while older children retain only 50% of the intake, storing it primarily in the hard tissues (bones and teeth) and in the kidneys.
Fluoride is administrated in two forms: topical and endogenous.
Topical application of fluoride contributes to the re-mineralizeation of the enamel after acid attacks of the diet or plaque.
Fluoride treatment is done by 3-4 applications every week and repeated 2-4 times per year. Number of applications and the intervals between them differ depending on the product used. You can use solutions, varnishes, and gels applied on isolated teeth or in special trays. The procedure is easy and pain-free: after a professional cleaning, the doctor applies a solution of gel or special varnishes with a high content of fluoride, usually in a tray, for 1-2 minutes. After treatment, the patient should not rinse mouth or consume food and liquids for 30 minutes.
Your doctor may prescribe toothpaste and mouthwash with a lower concentration of fluoride for weekly or daily use at home, but these home treatments are contraindicated in children under 6 years, and you should seek guidance from your doctor before using home treatments. Remember that most toothpastes and mouthwashes contain fluoride, so parents should closely monitor their children’s oral hygiene to ensure that they do not swallow fluoridated products. Flavored toothpastes are particularly “attractive” for the taste of children, so caution and supervision should be exercised.
It is commonly known that children, typically 7 and younger, but each child is different, can not brush or rinse their mouth without swallowing toothpaste. Almost half of the toothpaste on the brush can be swallowed on each brushing session. Children younger than 5 years have not yet learned to spit when tooth brushing, which, along with fluoride supplements, can cause fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life.) Precisely for this reason, fluoride mouth rinses are not recommended for children younger than 6 years, because more than likely they will swallow the mouthwash.
The endogenous (internal) administration of fluoride with tablets has the advantage of individual dosage by age, depending on the concentration of fluoride in water and food. This is generally not recommended, since fluoride in food, water, dental care products, and dental treatments is enough. For those in need, fluoridd tablets should be started early. There are doses individualized according to age, diet, etc. Fluoride treatment may be recommended to future mothers (pregnant woman starting with 4th month of pregnancy) and continued to breastfeeding mothers to prevent cavities in baby teeth of children. This treatment in the form of tablets administered internally can continue daily until the child reaches the age of 14-15 years. This type of fluoride is considered to be the most effective, but should be only under the supervision of your child’s dentist and/or doctor. The need for tablets is also dependent on the individual needs, genetics, diet, and dental care received.
Sealants and fluoride
Sealants are filling materials with plastic properties (easy to apply on deep pits and fissures), especially on posterior teeth on their contact surface. Sealants have the property of isolating the dental surface from the environment of the oral cavity in order to prevent the formation of cavities. Also, sealants have the property to gradually release fluoride. The higher quantity of fluoride released is in first 24 hours after application. Sealing, fluoridation treatment, and a good oral hygiene routine can work together for keeping good oral health and diminishing the risk of cavities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay affects nearly 70 percent of America’s children, before the age of 19! Dental sealants are a highly effective option to help prevent cavities in children. Dental sealants, basically a thin coating over the tooth’s surface, have been proven to be both safe for children prone to cavities and cost effective for parents. Sealing is a simple and painless dental procedure in which the dental surface is isolated from the environment of the oral cavity in order to prevent the formation of cavities. Basically, it covers very deep pits and fissures on the biting surface of molars and premolars, since they have the potential of retaining debris that can not be removed by simple brushing.
How is a tooth Sealed?
The sealing procedure consists of plaque removal, isolating the teeth with a rubber dam, applying an acid solution on dental surface and washing it after 15 seconds, applying the sealant in liquid form and polymerizing it with ultraviolet light for 10-20 seconds. The final step is to check the sealing height by using paper joint. After the procedure is completed, the patient is free to consume food and liquids. If the enamel in pits and fissures is damaged, the affected enamel is removed first, then the normal procedure for sealing is continued.
Does your child need sealants?
If your child’s on molars and premolars have deep pits and fissures, it’s better to seal them, in order to prevent future or further damage. At the earliest, sealing is recommended 6 months after a teeth’s eruption, on teeth with deep pits and fissures, especially molars and premolars.
The age ranges for sealant application is:
- 3-6 months for primary molars
- 6-7 years for 1st permanent molar
- 11-13 years for 2nd permanent molar and premolars, this varies from child to child.
- deep retentive pits and fissures
- patient with high risk of caries
- patient undergoing orthodontic treatment
- yellow/brown stained pit and fissures on the tooth surface
Dental sealants serve as a barrier to seal the cracks and spaces on tooth surfaces from any small food particles or bacteria that may otherwise cause cavities.
Alongside brushing twice- daily with fluoridated toothpaste, healthy diet low in sugars and visiting your dentist every 6 months to monitor teeth an existing sealants, dental sealants are 100% effective in preventing cavities in your little one’s mouth. Happy brushing!
Children who are physically and mentally challenged may not only have difficulty in performing daily routine activities, but may also be unable to efficiently maintain general and dental hygiene. These patients generally require ongoing assistance from a loved one or a caregiver to look after them. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, children with special healthcare needs include those that suffer from any kind of developmental, physical or cognitive disability that requires special arrangements for providing them with medical or dental treatment.
Who Can Treat Handicapped Children?
Seeking dental care for your child with a special need is not an easy task, since not every dental office contains the required arrangements to accommodate handicapped children, and not every dentist has the skill set required to treat a physically or mentally challenged child. Ask your current dentist or seek a pediatric dentist who is qualified and possesses the training to better assist your child with their dental needs.
Dental Problems Faced By Disabled Children
Physically challenged children may have limited motor skills, rendering them unable to perform routine dental care tasks such as tooth brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash. Similarly, mentally challenged individuals may lack the cognitive skills to efficiently take care of their dental needs in absence of a caregiver. Whatever the reason of disability, handicapped children are at an even greater risk than most children, of developing dental caries. In addition, most children are exposed to frequent gingival and periodontal problems as a result of heavy plaque and calculus deposition on the teeth. Soft tissue trauma and infections are very common among children with neuromuscular disabilities.
Behavioral Management of Disabled Children
Typically, children with special needs are highly apprehensive and anxious of the dental treatment. Hence, it is important for the child’s dentists or Pedodontists to be equipped with excellent communication and behavioral skills, and must form a bond with the child so that he or she can trust them with their personal space. You and your dentist shoud be present with your child during dental cleanings and procedures, and they should also be assured that the procedure will be painless and completed within a short term.
Medical Management of Disabled Children
Many disabled children can be at a greater risk of suffering from nutritional deficiencies due to their reduced cognitive skills and neuromuscular coordination, which in turn affects their feeding abilities. Some handicapped children are unable to take their diet through an oral route. Instead they may require a feeding tube or direct gastric feeding, and are at risk for malnourishment. Since there is a direct correlation between malnutrition and incidence of dental infections, your child’s dentist, in consultation with a dietician or a nutritionist, must look out for any signs of poor nutrition, along with the parent, to ensure that this isn’t a contributor to dental problems or any aspect of their health
Dental Management of Disabled Children
Dental procedures for handicapped children are usually performed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia, since they can quickly become restless or may have difficulty keeping their mouth open for an extended period of time. For you as the parent, it is advised to stay with your child in the dental office and give special attention to your child’s teeth at home. Supervise your child during brushing and flossing and ensure that he or she spits the toothpaste out after brushing, and does not swallow it. A toothpaste containing fluoride is beneficial for them in preventing the risk of caries and other dental problems.
A Final Word
Helping your special needs child can be challenging, so ensure that your child’s dentist and healthcare providers are not only aware of your child’s needs, but also of their insecurities and how they may better encourage your child and build trust with them. Do not hesitate to ask your dentist about their experience with treating children of physical and mental disabilities.
Sometimes, the dental treatment of anxious and restless patients, especially children, becomes a challenging job for dentists. Many children are either afraid of the presumed pain they would suffer during administration of the anesthesia, or fearful of the vibrating sounds of various dental rotary machines. In any case, pacification of the child becomes necessary in order for the dentist to perform treatment without hindrance. Traditionally, before the extraction of teeth in children, a local anesthesia is given to them the numb the pain. However, since many children are afraid of getting the “shot” from the anesthesia syringe, they never consent to the treatment. To counter this dilemma, various treatment options have been developed by the dental professionals. Among them, sedation is a highly effective and time tested procedure. The aim of sedation is to reduction anxiety and apprehension so that the patient becomes cooperative during the dental procedure, while keeping the patient’s reflexes and responses intact. Other dentists prefer to use some sort of restraining techniques that work by temporarily limiting the capability of child-patients to move during the dental treatment.
Restraints, Sedation and General Anesthesia: is it really necessary?
Dental procedures become impossible on child-patients that are nervous and fearful of the dentist or even the dental office. Hence it is imperative to have a mechanism in place that either makes the child more compliant, or limits the capability of the child to move. Both sedation and restraints are being commonly used by dentists worldwide. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry approves of partial or complete stabilization of the patients in certain cases, in order to protect the patient and the dental team. Eighty five percent of the dental programs taught safe restraining mechanisms as an acceptable and validated procedure whenever warranted. Similarly, dentist throughout the world are practicing sedation dentistry routinely in their practices, which not only makes the dental treatment more pleasant for the patient, but also significantly reduces the time taken by the dentist to perform the procedure.
In certain extreme cases where restraining and sedation are not effective, general anesthesia can be administered as the last resort. Furthermore, this option can also be opted during excessively long surgical procedures where local anesthesia might not remain effective over prolonged periods. It can be concluded from the above discussion that these treatments should be used without hesitation whenever they are required, provided all the medical and dental precautions are kept in mind.
Are these Treatments Safe For My Child?
Dental procedures under sedation are performed by dental professionals who have acquired proper training in administration of sedation to children. Other dentists have hired full time dental anaesthesiologists who are responsible for the wellbeing of the child during sedation and anesthesia. Similarly, only restraining techniques that have been authorized by the respective dental licensing authority are utilized in the dental surgery. Therefore, these procedures are safe and risk free in trained hands.