Category: Pediatric dentistry

Extractions: When Are They Necessary?
Extractions: When Are They Necessary?

Tooth pulling or extraction is a common topic of discussion within the dental community. No one wants to voluntarily get a tooth pulled. Teeth were intended by the body to last a lifetime of wear and tear, however there a multiple reasons as to why tooth extraction should be or must be done.

Space is needed!

The mouth is only so big. Your skull determines that. However, the relationship between the size of the mouth, the dental arch and the size of the teeth sometimes do not coexist in harmony. Crowding in the mouth can be caused by any of the aforementioned factors and can lead to many harmful side effects, such as bite alignment, infection, smile aesthetic or just overall discomfort.

There are some instances where space could be made by braces or other teeth correcting techniques, however the time required to complete the job is too drastic and may jeopardize tooth and gum health. Thus pulling the tooth is the wiser and safer option.

Bite Correction

Having a Bite, which is not properly aligned (malocclusion), though seemingly harmless, can actually affect the health of the mouth greatly. If the mouth is too crowded, the upper and lower teeth may not be properly aligned. This is an issue because it can cause irregular wear on particular teeth, jaw discomfort when chewing or frequent biting of the cheeks and tongue. All of which have a negative effect on the overall health of the mouth and teeth.

Profile and Smile

An out of place tooth can negatively affect the profile and smile which has an overall impact on your dental hygiene. If the mouth is overcrowded or there is a tooth with strange alignment or placement, the profile of the teeth will be affected. This tooth can be a danger to the hygiene of the mouth if it is hard to reach when cleaning or very easily traps debris throughout the day.

Though the extraction of teeth is always an undesired procedure, the life-long positive effects of having a mouth with space, a bite with perfect alignment and a healthy profile and smile are well worth it!

Thumb-sucking, Pacifiers, and How They Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth
Thumb-sucking, Pacifiers, and How They Can Affect Your Child’s Teeth

Thumb sucking and pacifiers are probably the bane of any parent’s existence at one time or another. These habits, though incredibly useful to soothe a fussy baby or toddler eventually become a worry for most parents concerned about their child’s dental health. As child of 1-2 years old, these coping skills shouldn’t be worried about too greatly. However, when the ages of 3 or 4 are reached and the habit is still in full swing, some harm may be done to development of the child’s teeth, jaw and mouth. The sucking motion eventually narrows the upper jaw due to pressure being applied to the sides and soft palate often resulting in the need for braces or can potentially cause speech problems.

Parents are always wondering what are some tricks to help stop a child who sucks his thumb or takes a pacifier so here are a couple tips and tricks for both:

Thumb sucking:

  1. Try to limit the time your child is sucking their thumb to only bedtime or naptime. This helps give them the day time hours where they will eventually learn thumb sucking is only for bedtime.
  2. Help your child understand that when they’re ready to stop sucking their thumb, you will be there to support them. This can really help empower a child to stop the habit.
  3. Come up with creative methods to help the child understand that they are growing every day and eventually won’t need to suck their thumb anymore.

 

Pacifier use:

  1. Taking the pacifier away earlier is always better. If you notice that your baby is not actively sucking on their pacifier or needing it too much as night, feel free to just take it away. Limiting their access will avoid difficult to break habit forming later on.
  2. Going cold turkey can also be an option. Many parents designate a special day, such as a birthday or vacation, where they tell the child before hand that they won’t have the pacifier after that. Don’t steal it away without any thought, but help the child understand the scenario then stick to your plan.
  3. Inventing a “binky fairy” or someone the pacifier needs to be given to is another excellent way. It can give your child a fun experience if they’re giving it away in exchange for a dollar, Christmas gifts or even to a new baby. It also helps explain where the pacifier went and why. When they may ask about it later on, they will remember the story or event and won’t feel surprised or confused.

All of these different methods have been used by countless parents countless times. Weaning your child off of a habit such as thumb sucking or a pacifier can be a lengthy process or a short one. Every child is different. Some methods will work for one and completely not work for another. Just pick a plan as the parents, discuss it with the child and then stick to the plan so no one gets caught off guard or confused.

Dry Mouth: What It Is & How it Can Affect Your Teeth
Dry Mouth: What It Is & How it Can Affect Your Teeth

Dry mouth is an oral condition that is fairly self-explanatory: it is where there is not enough saliva production inside the mouth.

Saliva adds a very important element to virtually every function your mouth needs to do. When a bite of food enters the mouth, alongside chewing with teeth there are enzymes in spit that help begin breaking down food before it even enters the stomach. This aids in not only swallowing properly but digestion as well.

The saliva glands continue producing day and night to help wash away leftover debris between meals. This helps keep teeth clean and is our body’s natural, initial defense against cavities. Build-up from the bacteria in saliva is what causes plaque, which is why we have to brush our teeth manually at least once a day. But if we didn’t have saliva, we would have to brush and wash away debris much more frequently!

Not only is saliva helpful with eating and preserving teeth, but it keeps the mouth well lubricated for speaking, and prevents the tongue and gums from drying out and cracking. It is crucial that the tongue always stays wet – if it doesn’t, taste buds don’t work properly! Yes – we actually could not taste food very well without spit!

Amazingly enough, our body actually produces less saliva when we sleep at night. If you sleep with your mouth open, you might notice that you will drool a little bit at night. But if you’ve ever woken up with cotton mouth, it’s because not only did leftover moisture leave the mouth (drool) but the production of saliva reduces significantly.

There are a couple ways that we can experience temporary dry mouth: dehydration, stress, or sleeping with your mouth open. But when dry mouth persists, it is known as a clinical condition called xerostomia (zehr-ehs-toh-mee-ah), which is much more serious.

Xerostomia is caused primarily by certain medications. There are over 500 prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can affect fluid regulation in the body, such as allergy medicines (antihistamines). It can also be caused by antidepressants, and chemotherapy drugs.

The common misconception is that mostly elderly people get dry mouth, which simply isn’t true. Many individuals who take the above medications are susceptible; and cancer, allergies, and mood disorders can appear at any age.

Radiation treatments to the head and neck (for cancer found in these areas) can also cause permanent damage to the glands. Other diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis, and AIDS can also have dry mouth as an added ailment.

If you think you or your child may have dry mouth, here are some steps you can take:

  • If you or your child take a regular medication(s), tell your doctor about the dryness you are experiencing and see if dry mouth is one of the side effects.
  • Take regular sips of fluid. It is imperative that your mouth continually stay moist and wash away food debris throughout the day. Water is always best.
  • Sleep with a humidifier in the room. This can be really soothing, especially if you are prone to sleeping with your mouth open.
  • Don’t smoke. This will definitely aggravate the dryness!
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Remember when we said that if we didn’t have saliva, we’d have to brush more frequently?! That’s because with dry mouth there lacks a natural way for food and bacteria to be consistently flushed out.
  • Don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year. This is just a good practice, whether you have dry mouth or not!
Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?
Can Dental X-Rays Be Harmful?

As a parent, there is a natural concern or even objection to your child having x-rays on their teeth. Can’t radiation be extremely harmful to children? Is it even necessary?

All dental experts agree: No to the first question, yes to the second. The first objection is perhaps the most common, and the most obvious concern. Children get their first tooth often before their first birthday. Isn’t it dangerous to expose an infant to radiation?

Here are the facts. In comparison to other ways bones and other internal organs are examined, x-rays are the most comfortable and fastest way to examine anything inside the body – and most importantly, identify a particular issue if there is one.

The whole process to capture the x-ray is only a few seconds and cannot be felt at all. Dental experts agree that there can be far more damage in the avoidance of x-rays. This is because they can detect issues and potential issues regular dental instruments can not, and can allow the dentist to identify cavities, view emerging adult or wisdom teeth, catch early decay, and even small fractures in the case of an injury.

Without the use of x-rays, the detection, prevention, and resolution of these issues would be nearly non-existent – and ultimately, more detrimental – costing you more money and your child more pain in the long-run. Cavities and decay especially can occur between teeth or in places not visible by a regular probe. In the case of a damaged root or a tooth that is positioned improperly under the surface of the gums, this is impossible to identify and treat without x-rays.

If this quick and painless process has any discomfort whatsoever, it’s the measures taken to ensure your child is positioned properly for the brief moment is takes to capture the x-rays. The dentist or pediatric dentist will most likely explain to your child that they are going to take a picture of their teeth and in order to capture this they have to sit very, very still. This way, the child is not frightened and is more inclined to move as little as possible for the few seconds the machine is obtaining the images.

These examinations only take place usually once a year (every other semi-annual appointment) which means the amount of x-rays passing through are incredibly spread out. Not only that, your child will wear a weighted lead vest during this process to protect the rest of their body. Truly, however, the vest is very strictly precautionary.

If you have any further concerns about x-rays, do not hesitate to talk to your child’s dentist at their next appointment. Chances are they will reassure you that x-rays are risk-free and necessary to monitor a growing smile closely and effectively.

What Toothpaste is Best for Toddlers?
What Toothpaste is Best for Toddlers?

Is the kind of toothpaste we use really that big of a deal?

While many come dentist-recommended, one of the most important things you can do for your smile everyday is to brush your teeth, regardless of whatever you are using to do this.

If you have a toothbrush that is able to get every nook and cranny of your mouth, it’s crucial that you are using it to get any bacteria and buildup off of your teeth. Most toothpastes have a bacteria-fighting agent in them that aid you in doing this. If you’ve ever brushed without any toothpaste, you may have noticed a difference as to how much less time it takes for your mouth to feel “gross” again.

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When it comes to children brushing their teeth, it’s important that as soon as their first tooth comes in that you begin brushing it for them until they are old enough to do it on their own. While still in infancy, do NOT use toothpaste with fluoride, but use a gentle, baby-sized toothbrush with water (or fluoride-free baby toothpaste).

Once a child is 3 years old, then you can begin using toothpaste with fluoride. This helps build up the enamel and makes teeth strong. Be sure that you are only placing a pea-sized portion on the toothbrush up until they are about 7. This prevents swallowing too much and can also aid in preventing fluorosis; a minor cosmetic issue that occurs on the surface of the teeth if a build-up of fluoride begins incurring. It basically looks like brown or white spots appearing on the enamel.

According to the American Dental Association, here are the top recommended brands for kids that won’t break the bank:

  • Crest® Pro-Health Stages® Disney Princess Toothpaste – This toothpaste is guaranteed to fight against cavities, and the mild gel formula has been kid tested and approved. The packaging features Disney characters, which all children love.
  • Aquafresh® Fresh ‘N Fruity – The subtle flavors of this brand makes it a great transition toothpaste for toddlers coming out of infancy. It gently cleans vulnerable new teeth and includes fluoride for cavity protection. This toothpaste is suitable for children three years and older; supervised use is recommended.
  • Colgate Children’s 2-in-1 toothpaste – This toothpaste is approved by the American Dental Association and is recommended best for children over the age of five. It is a liquid gel formula that is kids are known to love and comes in a variety of flavors to suit their individual tastes. It provides dual benefits as both a toothpaste and a mouthwash that protects your kids’ teeth against cavities.
  • Tom’s of Maine, Natural Anti-Cavity Toothpaste for Children – This brand has a defense mechanism against bacteria and acids. There are no artificial preservatives, dyes or saccharine in this toothpaste and it contains real fruit juice to make it taste great for kids.

Source: Children’s Dental

 

What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?
What’s the Big Deal About Primary Teeth?

Here at the Kidds Place, we know that newborns and infants have an enormous amount of needs – the phrase “high maintenance” doesn’t even begin to cover it! It’s no wonder oral health can easily be sidelined during these times; to make way for other health and dietary needs that seem more pressing. It could quite possibly be due to the fact that we typically associate dental care with people who, well – actually have teeth!

You may have heard of dentistry for children, or have read about the importance of children having several visits with a pediatric dentist before all adult teeth erupt and all baby teeth are lost.

In fact, most experts say that all children should see a dentist before their first birthday, or around the time their first tooth erupts – whichever comes sooner. But why?

Here are some parents many questions may be asking themselves –

“Does my one-year-old baby really need to see a dentist? Aren’t pediatric dentists kind of expensive, even with insurance?”
“Why would my child need to see a dentist if they haven’t even started eating solids yet?”
“How bad is it if my child gets a cavity in their baby tooth, if they’re just going to lose the tooth anyway?”
“How much brushing is really necessary, especially if my child only has a couple of teeth?”

Let’s address these plausible objections. First of all, the Kidds Place accepts many forms of insurance and we are delighted to work with families and discuss prices for the types of care your child(ren) may need and the services we provide. Honestly, treatment from a pediatric dentist is going to be better for your child in the long run especially in terms of their experience. They are more likely to feel safe and welcomed at our offices, and our employees are trained to help acclimate our young patients that may be scared or unsure.

Much of what dentistry for children accomplishes is preventative care. This means not just bi-annual cleanings, but teaching proper hygiene and catching decay early, if there is any. When there is decay in baby teeth, there is a chance that the adult teeth that replace it can have issues as well. Oral health and the functions in rest of the body are directly correlated.

For infants especially, it is highly possible for childhood caries to emerge; also known as Baby Bottle Syndrome. This more or less is a cavity caused by habitually leaving a bottle in a child’s mouth for too long or the repeat use of a pacifier dipped in a sugary substance like juice. Oftentimes when a child falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth repeatedly (and they already have one or more teeth), plaque from sugar in juice or formula can begin to accumulate on the teeth. Baby Bottle syndrome commonly affects the front top teeth, as this is where the bottle or pacifier sits.

Even when a child is first born, wiping in the inside of their mouths gently with a clean washcloth can help eliminate bacteria. As soon as the first tooth erupts, start brushing that tooth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that is safe for infants. Practice doing this daily until the child is able to do it themselves.
The mouth is full of germs, and from the time teeth are present and onward, decay can occur. If decay occurs and goes untreated, this can result in pain and infection. When one or several baby teeth are rotten, this can affect the growth of the adult tooth indefinitely, even if it is removed early. This is because the 

spaces created by baby teeth create a sort of pathway for adult teeth to grow into. Primary teeth merely act as a placeholder for adult teeth, and are of course necessary for speaking, eating, and smiling. When baby teeth are removed prematurely, adult teeth of course will still grow in, but oftentimes they are not as straight and it can sometimes be a longer and painful process than usual.

If your child has teeth and has not yet seen a dentist, don’t panic! We’re here to help. The first appointment is mostly to educate parents and to inform them of their child’s development and needs. Preventative dental care is very important and can help eliminate so many problems down the line that have the potential to be not just painful for your child, but also expensive and time-consuming. Give us a call and we would be thrilled to help you and your family begin healthy, long-lasting smiles for your kids!