Time for a Pediatric Dentist FAQ!

                                                                                                                              MANY OF OUR PATIENTS and our patients’ parents come to us with the same questions about childhood dental health without realizing it. These are some of the questions we hear most often, and we’re sure that more people haven’t spoken up but don’t know the answers either.
1. When should I bring my child in for their first appointment?
As soon as your child has teeth, they need a dentist! It’s a great idea to bring your child in when the first tooth erupts, but definitely no later than their first birthday. At this first appointment, we can give you tips on how to take care of their teeth as they appear and how to help them through difficult teething periods.

 

2. What’s the difference between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists specialize in working with children. Just like it’s better to take your child to a pediatrician than a general physician, it’s better to bring them to see a pediatric dentist. This is because we undergo an additional two to three years of specialized training beyond dental school to learn better how to treat children’s dental health problems from infancy through adolescence.
3. Is it really that important to keep baby teeth healthy?
Even though baby teeth are temporary, it is critical to keep them as healthy as possible through good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits. Baby teeth not only help children speak clearly and chew their food, they also serve as guideposts for the adult teeth to come in where they’re supposed to.
4. What should I do if my child gets a toothache?
Rinsing the area with warm salt water (which they should spit out, not swallow) and using a cold compress on the face (if swollen) are good first steps. Children’s Tylenol can also help (do not apply pain relieving medication directly to the painful tooth or gums, though) until you can bring your child in to see us, which you should do as soon as possible.
5. Are thumbsucking and pacifiers bad for my child’s teeth?
Not necessarily. These habits only become an oral health concern if they continue beyond the toddler years. Most children will grow out of them on their own, but if they don’t stop after age three, it’s time to think about ways to discourage the habit, and an oral appliance may be necessary.
6. What is the right amount of toothpaste to use on my child’s teeth?
Fluoride is important for preventing cavities, but too much can cause white spots (fluorosis) on the incoming adult teeth. A tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste is enough for brushing a baby or toddler’s teeth. By ages 3-6, you can increase the amount to a pea-sized dollop. Past age 6, they usually have enough coordination to brush their own teeth, but always encourage them to spit after they brush instead of swallowing the excess toothpaste.
Bring Us Your Questions!
We hope these answers have been eye-opening for you! The more educated you are about your children’s teeth and how to care for them, the better their chances are of maintaining adorable, healthy smiles as they grow. If you have any questions we didn’t cover here, give us a call or stop by our office!
We love our patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Flouride and Cavity Protection

 

 

IF YOU LOOK AT ANY tube of toothpaste with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, you’ll see fluoride listed as the active ingredient. Trace amounts of fluoride are also added to the drinking water in many communities to further promote strong and healthy teeth. But what is fluoride and how does it work?
A Brief History of Fluoride in Drinking Water
First, let’s take a look back at the fascinating history of this mineral. It all starts in Colorado Springs at the turn of the 20th century. Dentists in the town encountered numerous cases of “Colorado brown stain” — tooth discoloration that, bizarrely, was connected to a lower rate of cavities. Today, we call that fluorosis. Eventually, they traced it back to the water supply and discovered naturally occurring fluoride to be the cause.
Dentists were curious to see whether it was possible to keep the cavity prevention without any of the staining by lowering the level of fluoride, and they were right! When fluoride was first added to the public water supply in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it reduced the rate of childhood dental caries by a whopping 60 percent, with no adverse effects except for occasional cases of mild fluorosis.
Today, more than half of the U.S. population lives in communities with fluoridated water, and the CDC considers community water fluoridation “1 of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century,” benefiting young and old, rich and poor alike. It’s similar to drinking milk with vitamin D, baking with enriched flour, or even using iodized salt.
Fluoride and Teeth
So how does fluoride actually protect teeth? It does it by helping to remineralize weakened tooth enamel and reverse the early signs of tooth decay. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste gives a topical benefit, while fluoride from foods and drinks serves as an ongoing benefit by becoming part of your saliva, where it can provide continual remineralization.

The Right Level of Fluoride: A Delicate Balance
As was the case in Colorado Springs a hundred years ago, it’s definitely possible to have too much fluoride. This is why it’s important to spit after brushing with a fluoride toothpaste instead of swallowing and only use tiny amounts of toothpaste when brushing the teeth of babies and small children, if any. It’s also why fluoridated water supplies maintain the level at a very low 0.7-1.2 parts per million. Using more fluoride than the recommended amounts won’t increase the positive effects, but avoiding it entirely will make it harder to prevent cavities.
Ask Us About Fluoride
There’s a lot of information out there about fluoride, and not all of it is from credible sources like the ADA and CDC. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! We want to make sure our patients are confident and informed about the tools they have to keep their teeth healthy and strong!
Our favorite sight is a patient’s healthy smile!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

5 Dental Tips for Busy Parents

 

BEING A PARENT can be incredibly hectic. It can be hard to keep track of all the things growing kids need, which is why we’re giving our patients a list of five simple tips for staying on top of their children’s dental health — and their own!

Tip #1: Know What to Expect from Whitening Toothpastes

We all love having pearly white teeth, parents included, but it’s important to know how whitening toothpastes work so that we can manage our expectations. These toothpastes contain polishing agents and mild abrasives to remove surface stains, but they won’t affect deeper stains. Those require more thorough whitening treatments like bleaching or microabrasion.

Tip #2: Teens and Pediatric Dentistry

When you hear the term “pediatric dentist,” you might think that means kids only, but we’re still the best type of dentist to take care of a growing teenager’s teeth. Caring for an adolescent’s oral health is part of our specialized training. Your child’s face and jaws will experience a tremendous amount of growth and change in these years, and their last few permanent teeth will be coming in. It’s an incredibly important period, which requires the attention of a specialist.

Tip #3: Looking for Teeth-Friendly Snacks? Try Cheese.

Recent research shows that one of the healthiest snacks your child can eat, particularly where their teeth are concerned, is cheese! On top of being a great source of calcium (which remineralizes tooth enamel), it also works to fight cavities by stimulating the salivary glands, which then help clear the mouth of debris and neutralize harmful acids.

Tip #4: Seal the Deal for Healthy Teeth with Sealants

A great way to protect a child’s teeth from tooth decay is sealants. Sealants are a clear plastic material painted over the deep pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth to block out bacteria and prevent decay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends sealants, particularly for children with a history of tooth decay.

Tip #5: Brush Up on Brushing

The easiest and most important method of cavity prevention is brushing your teeth, but finding the right toothbrush can be tricky. Whether you get your child a manual or electric toothbrush, it will be an essential tool in keeping their teeth healthy.

We recommend that you look for a toothbrush with soft, round-ended (polished) bristles. These will clean effectively while being gentle on the gums. Look for a brush designed for small hands and mouths, and don’t forget to replace it every three months or so. Worn out brushes aren’t as effective!

Your child will need help brushing until they’re about 7 to 8 years old, so be sure to work with them and supervise their brushing when they begin doing it themselves so that they learn good techniques to get every tooth surface clean

Bonus Tip: Your Best Resource Is the Dentist

Any questions you have about caring for your child’s teeth or helping them learn how to do it themselves are questions we are happy to answer. We look forward to seeing your child twice a year for their cleaning appointments. It’s an important step on the road to having healthy teeth for life!

We love to see our patients’ smiles!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Pacifiers, Thumb Sucking, And Baby’s Teeth

IT’S NOT ALWAYS easy to know the best thing to do as a parent. Every child is different and there isn’t a handy instruction manual. One question on many new parents’ minds is when to start discouraging a child from sucking their thumbs or using pacifiers. We might not be able to answer all of your parenting questions, but we have this one covered.

Babies And Toddlers Benefit From These Habits

Sucking on anything and everything is a natural reflex for babies. It’s soothing and comforting for them, especially when they’re teething. There’s no reason to discourage thumb sucking or pacifier use for babies and toddlers. It will help them sleep, stay calm when separated from you, and even reduce the risk of SIDS.

When Should Thumb Sucking Stop?

Many parents are anxious to curb a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit behind as soon as possible because they worry it will cause the adult teeth to grow in crooked. This is a valid concern, but not before a child is about four years old, at which point most will stop sucking their thumbs on their own. If they don’t, it’s time to start weaning them off it.

Vigorous thumb sucking beyond age four can change the shape of the palate and cause an open bite in the permanent teeth. An open bite is where the front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the teeth are closed, which causes problems with chewing and speaking clearly.

Strategies For Breaking The Thumb-Sucking Habit

These dental problems are a bigger risk for thumb suckers than pacifier users, because you can simply take the pacifier away if they won’t stop using it on their own. Hopefully you’ll be able to get your child to stop sucking their thumb by age five, but if they’re close to their sixth birthday with no signs of stopping, it’s time to get serious. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Focus on positive reinforcement. Praise successes rather than punishing continued thumb sucking.
  • Make a rewards chart so that they can see what they’re working towards.
  • Keep their hands occupied with activities like arts and crafts.
  • Be careful using topical aids to make their thumbs taste bad, because many don’t work and some are actually harmful.
  • To prevent nighttime thumb sucking, restrict access to their thumbs by putting socks on their hands. (You might need to tape them in place.)

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Train Your Child To Be A Flossing Ninja

BEING A GOOD NINJA isn’t just about mastering the nunchaku and learning to move about completely undetected; it’s also about keeping one’s teeth and gums healthy and strong. One of our greatest weapons against gum disease and tooth decay is a good flossing habit.

The Importance Of Flossing To The Path Of The Ninja

You might wonder why it’s so important for a young ninja-in-training to floss. If baby teeth are only temporary, then why does it matter to keep them healthy, and does flossing really make a difference? While it is true that baby teeth will soon be replaced by adult teeth, it is still critical to keep them healthy and strong so that the adult teeth can come in where they should. A toothbrush isn’t enough to keep them clean, which is where flossing comes in.

When To Begin Flossing Training

It takes time for all shinobi to develop good dexterity and hand-eye coordination, so we recommend that you start flossing for them around age two and a half. If you make it into a daily habit, they will be ready to learn how to floss on their own by about age five. The most important thing is consistency. They will be much more likely to maintain a good flossing habit on their own if they are already used to it being a part of their day.

The Way Of The Flossing Master

Here are a few tips to help parents pass on the noble technique of flossing to children who are ready to learn, because what is second-nature to an adult may not be so easy for a child:

  • Explain the importance of flossing. If they understand why it matters, they will be more motivated to do it.
  • Emphasize that flossing is a Big Kid skill. Like learning to tie their shoes and ride a bike without training wheels, they’ll be eager to prove how grown up they are by flossing their own teeth.
  • Use flossers or floss picks if traditional floss is too tricky.
  • If you’re sticking with traditional floss, show them how to pull out the right amount (a foot and a half) and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers, leaving just an inch or two to slide between the teeth.
  • Show them how to effectively clean by using a back-and-forth motion without snapping their gums. Curve the floss around each tooth in a C-shape to make it more gentle.
  • Teach them how to move down the strand so they use clean floss on each tooth. We want to get rid of the plaque, not move it around!

Seek Wisdom From Your Dentist

Teaching your child good dental hygiene habits is as much about giving them the right perspective as it is about the proper technique. Ideally, they’ll see tasks like brushing and flossing as quick and easy ways to keep their teeth feeling great, rather than unpleasant chores. If you need help or advice on how to convince your young ninja that dental hygiene matters, we are always happy to provide a demonstration at our practice!

Keep up the great work training a new generation of flossing ninjas!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.