What to Do When Your Child Chips a Tooth

You’re not alone if you cringe every time your daughter decides she wants to play catcher in a pickup game of softball or your son jumps on the sofa like he’s in Cirque du Soleil. No parent likes the idea of their child getting hurt, even if it only involves a chipped tooth.

Because parents cannot childproof life, there are bound to be accidents — including the occasional chipped tooth. These tips will help you understand what you should (and should not) do if and when it happens.

Keep Calm

Chipped teeth happen. In fact, they are common enough that dentists have become experts at fixing them. If you remain composed, there is a better chance your child will stay calm, and what you really want by the time your reach the dentist’s office is a calm child.

Inspect Her Mouth

Look inside your child’s mouth to make sure there are no pieces of tooth still in there and that the affected area is not bleeding. If there is blood, fold a clean piece of wet gauze and place it on top of the area. Ask your child to bite down (if she’s too young to comply, simply hold it in place). Keep up the pressure for 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Rinse her mouth.

Check for Any Pain

Ask your child if she’s in any pain. If the answer is yes, press a cold compress (a frozen bag of peas will do the trick) to her face in order to reduce any swelling. An age-appropriate pain reliever can be given if necessary.

Call Your Dentist

Most people do not have the number for their child’s dentist programmed into their phone, although at times like this you will realize that doing so is a good idea. Call the office, let them know the situation, and find out if they want you to come in immediately or if you should make an appointment. Their answer will be determined by a number of issues, including whether your child is in pain or more than half the tooth was broken. In that case, the nerve may be exposed, which requires attention immediately.

Save the Fragment

If you find the piece of tooth that chipped off, keep it moist in a cup of milk. In some situations, a dentist can use a special glue to reattach tooth fragments.

Gather Intel

Learn more about your options. Although you and your child’s dentist will ultimately decide what’s best, it’s smart to know more about the available procedures for such a situation. If the chip is quite minor, the dentist will likely file the tooth down until it’s smooth and call it good. If the chip is larger, the dentist may suggest dental bonding, a procedure that adds a bonding material to the area where the missing chip should be. If bonding is not possible, your dentist may suggest a veneer.

Follow Up

No matter how minor a chipped tooth may appear, it is always a good idea to have a dentist look at it. Sometimes, even though they’re not obvious, the root of the tooth may have fractured. The best course of action is to have your child checked out in order to prevent infection and/or future dental problems.

Visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Sports Drinks and Children’s Dental Health

The risk of obesity and tooth decay is rising among children and younger teenagers due to regular intake of high-sugar sports drinks. Something that most people seem to forget is that plain water is sufficient.

Kids are playful by nature, and they’re bound to feel thirsty more often. The market today is bombarded with all types of drinks, including sodas, ice tea, juices and bottled water. Additionally, there are endless sports and energy drinks on the market promoted to kids.

The drinks come in the form of beverages, vitamin waters and caffeinated drinks containing all manner of ingredients. Promotional messages often include their purported benefits from boosting energy, resilience, alertness and athletic performance improvement. The big question is, are they safe for children?

Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks

There’s a difference between energy drinks and sports drinks. Sports drinks are rich in carbohydrates, minerals and electrolytes, and they are ingested to top up the water and electrolytes lost during exercise. And while sports drinks may be useful for kids who engage in prolonged and enduring exercises, they’re unnecessary in most cases.

Just like sports drinks, energy drinks contain high sugar levels. Additionally, they contain stimulants such as guarana that add to the high caffeine content of the drink. The caffeine causes nausea, vomiting and even diarrhea. As such, energy drinks are strictly not for consumption by kids.

Sports Drinks are Unnecessary in Most Cases
Although sports drinks contain electrolytes and minerals that replenish what’s lost through sweat, they are not particularly safe for use by children. They’re meant for those who engage in intense prolonged exercises. Even for kids participating in regular physical activities, plain water is enough.

As a parent, you don’t have to go through the trouble of buying sports drinks and energy drinks that could risk the health of your kid. High-nutrition healthy foods and plenty of water before and after sports activities are enough to provide nutrients and energy required by the body and to keep adequately hydrated.

High Levels of Calories in Sports Drinks Causes Tooth Decay

Sports drinks contain extra calories that kids don’t need. The additional calories are to blame for the increased obesity and tooth decay among kids. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids and young teens avoid all beverages containing caffeine as an ingredient, soda included. The pediatrics recommend that kids take lots of water before and after exercises.

Important: Although organic sports drinks such as the newly introduced Gatorade contains no artificial food dyes, it still has lots of sugars in it. As such, consider accompanying every meal with some warm milk and water instead for the proper dental health of your kid.

Committed to Your Kid’s Dental Health

Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry has a team of caring dentists and staff who serve the dental health needs of every patient. Our continuing child dental healthcare services range from checkups, cleanings and sealants to limited orthodontic treatments in a kid-friendly office for maximum comfort. For quality kids’ dental health services delivered with care, contact us at 281-292-4242.

Books to Help Your Child Overcome Fear of the Dentist

If your child is struggling with fear and anxiety about going to the dentist, there is hope. Start with one of the best past times for children—reading books. There are so many books on the market written to help children overcome a fear of visiting the dentist. Here are five of the top picks that offer a positive message to reduce fear and nervousness for kids who are scared of the dentist.

“The Tooth Book” by Dr. Seuss

For children who are nervous about going to the dentist and unsure about the whole concept of dental care, “The Tooth Book” is a fabulous introduction. It’s well suited for children ages two to five. Written in the rhyming voice by the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss, the book discusses different types of teeth. It also touches on dental care and visiting the dentist, serving as a great first step to helping kids overcome their fears.

 

 

“Just Going to the Dentist” by Mercer Mayer

The Little Critters book series rises to the occasion with “Just Going to the Dentist.” Written from the perspective of the familiar character Little Critter, this book is dedicated to relieving dental fears for kids ages three to seven. Throughout the story, Little Critter illustrates everything a child could experience while in the dentist’s chair. By showing children what to expect in a lighthearted way, this classic book eases away the uncertainty of going to the dentist. Recommended for children who are afraid of their first dental visit.

“Curious George Visits the Dentist” by H. A. Rey

Another classic character, Curious George the monkey is at it again, this time with a visit to the dentist. The man with the yellow hat makes sure that George’s teeth are in good shape after he bites into an apple. In return, children who read this tale learn about dental hygiene and visiting the dentist. For ages four to seven, this is a great introduction to dentistry that offers just enough information to soothe the worries of children.

“Dentist Trip” by Scholastic

If your child is a Peppa Pig fan, then “Dentist Trip” published by Scholastic will be a well-read selection. Follow Peppa and George as the latter goes for his first visit to the dentist. The friendly animal characters and bright colors turn the dentist’s office into a fun-loving place. Plus, when you purchase this paperback it comes with stickers of dental tools and the pig characters. Take the stickers along to the dentist to give your child an anxiety busting activity to do in the waiting room.

“Open Wide: Tooth School Inside” by Laurie Keller

Full of fun facts about teeth and plenty of dental characterization, “Open Wide: Tooth School Inside” is one of a kind. This book is written for four to eight-year-olds who are just starting to visit the doctor’s office. The premise is a positive spin on teeth and dentists that take care of them. It also features fantastic graphics and illustrations that help take a kid’s mind off of dental anxieties. Perfect for kids who have been to the dentist in the past, but are now afraid of going for cleanings or dental treatments.

Creative Ways to Get Your Kids to Brush their Teeth

Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes is essential for your child’s good dental health, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), but getting your kid to brush for 4 whole minutes each day can be quite a feat. Here are a few creative ways to get your kids to brush their teeth.

Give your kids the power of choice

Toothbrush and toothpaste manufacturers make it fun for kids to brush their teeth. Unlike children’s toothbrushes of the past that were merely smaller versions of adult toothbrushes, kids’ brushes are now colorful and fun. Allow your child to pick his or her favorite color or design.

Children’s toothpaste comes in a variety of kid-friendly flavors and varieties. A number of toothpaste brands even feature some of your child’s favorite characters. Keep the fun flowing by purchasing a couple of different types of toothpaste flavors, so your child can switch it up.

child brushing teeth

Listen to the sweet sounds of dental hygiene

Use music and apps to make the time fly. The ADA has a web page with seven music videos that make brushing fun. Each video lasts about two minutes and all are family-friendly.

Make dental hygiene a family affair

Brush your teeth together. Instead of supervising your children, grab your toothbrush and jump right in. Children learn by watching; get down to their level so they can see what you are doing. Be sure to use proper technique.

Make it a game

Set a timer for 2 minutes; make it a competition to brush the entire time. Have a contest to see who can create the most bubbles by brushing.

Dance the cavities away

It’s hard to be cranky when you’re dancing! Make up a tooth-brushing dance that your child can do before and after brushing his or her teeth.

Make up stories

Encourage your child to use his or her imagination during the tooth-brushing routine. Create a tale about chasing away the “cavity monsters” living between your child’s teeth, for example, or a story about how your child is the only superhero who can brush away all the bad guys that cause cavities.

Use stickers, stars and charts

Create a reward system with stickers, stars and charts to reinforce the good behaviors of brushing twice a day and flossing once daily.

Sound the alarm

Make a big deal out of the oral hygiene routine. Set one alarm to awaken your child and another to tell your kid that it’s teeth-brushing time, for example, or ring a “time to brush your teeth bell” twice each day. Feel free to be silly and creative, as your optimistic outlook helps your children develop positive attitudes about oral hygiene.

Create a Super Brushing Zone

Turn your bathroom into a Super Brushing Zone. Arm your child with his or her favorite toothbrushes, toothpastes and towels. Sesame Street offers free downloadable door hangers that your child can color, personalize and hang on the bathroom door during brushing time.

Oral hygiene is an important part of your child’s daily routine, but many kids simply fall out of the habit of brushing for 2 minutes twice a day. Using your imagination can help instill good dental hygiene habits that last a lifetime.

Why Gummy Candies and Treats are Harmful

mouthful of gummy bears teeth pediatric dentistGummy candies are a treat that millions of children and their parents love. Unfortunately, they are also one of the worst candies for your teeth. Here’s a closer look at why gummy bears, gummy worms and even gummy vitamins can be a poor choice for your teeth.

Gummy Candies and Your Teeth

The bacteria in your mouth go to work immediately when you eat gummy candies. These bacteria set off a chemical reaction that turns the sugars into an acidic form. The acid then eats away at the enamel of your teeth. This chemical process on your teeth is called demineralization. Eventually, eating gummy candies can lead to cavities and an expensive trip to the dentist.

These chewy candies also stick to your teeth, which can cause another problem: anytime something is stuck to your teeth, it prevents the saliva from coming into contact with that area. Your saliva works to neutralize acids created from sugars and it also helps to remineralize your teeth. So, when you enjoy that gummy bear, you should know that it is creating an acidic pocket between your teeth. Your mouth’s natural defenses to the acidic process can’t do anything about it, which speeds up the breakdown of the enamel.

Additional Dental Problems from Gummy Candies

Wearing away the enamel on your teeth causes more than just cavities. A lack of enamel makes it easier to crack or chip a tooth. Enamel also acts as insulation for your teeth. If the enamel is reduced too much, it can make your teeth extremely sensitive to hot and cold foods.

Gummy candies are also on the list of foods that people with dental crowns should avoid entirely. The candies can stick to the crown and accidentally pull it loose, which would mean another trip to the dentist.

Gummy Vitamins

You might think that gummy vitamins are more healthy than gummy candies, but they have many of the same problems. Gummy vitamins contain between four and seven times as much sugar as a regular multivitamin.

Healthy Alternatives to Gummy Candy

  • Dark Chocolate: If you’re one of those people who absolutely needs candy (or wants it really, really badly), you can’t go wrong with dark chocolate. This is actually one of the best candies for your teeth. Several studies have shown that dark chocolate is better at fighting tooth decay than fluoride. Dark chocolate also has an antibacterial effect that fights plaque.
  • Candies with Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar replacement that makes a healthier alternative for your teeth. You can find lollipops and other candies made with this sugar substitute. The bacteria don’t recognize xylitol, so they don’t attack it and turn it into acid like they do with sugars.
  • Candy Bars with Nuts: Any candy that is sticky, such as gummy candies, is bad for your teeth. Candy bars with nuts, however, break up the acids created by the sugars. They’re also a good source of protein.

All the advice above doesn’t mean you have to avoid gummy candies completely. You can still enjoy them if you approach them the right way. Have a few of them for a snack and then immediately brush your teeth. Don’t eat the whole bag in one sitting. And finally, don’t snack on gummy candy throughout the day, because this keeps a constant supply of acid eating away your tooth enamel.

Your Child’s First Trip to the Dentist

mom brushing her baby's teethThe very first trip to the dentist might make your child – and even you – a little nervous. Luckily, Dr. Andersen and Dr. Tab know this and will take extra steps to ensure that your child’s first experience with dental care is a positive one.

Our office, which specializes in pediatric dentistry, is designed with your young child in mind. We provide a welcoming environment and educational materials, and we want your little ones to feel at home. They may even get to take home a gift!

The American Dental Association and the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry both recommend you take your child to the dentist within six months of their first tooth erupting, or by one year of age, whichever comes first. Primary (or “baby”) teeth usually appear in newborns before they reach six months of age. Of course, if there is anything that concerns you about your child’s oral health, you can and should bring them in right away!

The primary reason for the first visit is to make sure your child is in good oral health, to check that their teeth are developing properly (including getting an accurate tooth count) and to acclimate them to a dental-care environment. The dentist’s office is full of new sights and sounds – bright lights shining, adjustable chairs and the array of sharp instruments – and it’s important that your child is comfortable coming back for years to come. Our job is to make sure the dentist’s office is fun, not scary!

Should the dentist find any problems during your child’s first visit, there are a few treatments that might be appropriate. Your dentist will help you determine the best course of action, which may include some techniques to reduce finger- or thumb-sucking or a gentle fluoride treatment. In rare cases, if necessary, the dentist may seal a cavity.

You may think that primary teeth are not very important, since they will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. However, losing primary teeth early can be uncomfortable for a young child and can cause difficulty eating. Primary teeth are also important to your child’s overall health, and it is especially important that they are not allowed to decay before eventually falling out. Perhaps most importantly, taking care of your child’s teeth helps him or her to develop good habits for when they have permanent teeth that they must properly care for on their own!

Finally, an important part of the checkup will focus on you, the parent. The dentist will show you the best ways to care for your child’s teeth, describe what foods and habits to avoid and explain any particular dental issues you should be aware of (much like your dentist does for you when you go for a checkup).

If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in The Woodlands, TX, please contact us!

Early Childhood Dental Problems

Some parents may be surprised to learn that, according to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child is ready for her first pediatric dentist  visit when she’s a year old, or when she has her first baby tooth. Lack of proper hygiene or dental care for your child can result in a variety of dental problems. Here are some of the most common childhood dental problems seen by a pediatric dentist, along with symptoms and treatments to resolve the issues.

Common Early Childhood Dental Issues
Early Childhood Caries (ECC)
Commonly referred to as baby bottle tooth decay, early childhood caries is caused by prolonged exposure of the teeth with sugary drinks including milk, fruit juices and formula. If left untreated, carious lesions can cause disruption of the development and growth of your child, as well as pain and serious life-threatening infections.

Symptoms include:
• Brown spots on teeth
• Bad breath
• Swollen or bleeding gums
• Irritability or fever (could indicate infection)

Keep your baby’s bottle and pacifier clean and only give her sugar-free drinks. Be sure to limit sugar intake, wipe your baby’s gums with a wet cloth to clean them even before the first tooth appears, and never put your child to bed or nap with a bottle. If necessary, fill it only with water.
Treatments for ECC include fluoride treatment for minor cases and surgical removal or restoration of carious teeth for more severe cases.

Thumb Sucking
All infants tend to suck on something – fingers, pacifiers, thumbs. This is completely normal and typically not anything to be concerned about, unless this habit is continued at a later age. Children normally stop thumb sucking between the ages of two and four years, which is around the time permanent front teeth are developing.

Damage Caused by Thumb Sucking
Once a baby’s permanent teeth begin to develop, constantly sucking things can push teeth out of alignment, which will cause an overbite as they protrude. In addition, thumb sucking can cause children to eat incorrectly or have speech problems.

How to End Thumb Sucking
Once you see your child’s first tooth, it is time to encourage your child to stop sucking her thumb. Here are some helpful tips:
• Reward or praise your child for not sucking her thumb
• Children usually suck their thumbs when they need comfort or feel insecure. Focus on the cause of the anxiety and comfort your child to ease this.
• Involve older children and include them in selecting a method of stopping
In addition, ask your pediatric dentist to offer encouragement to your child and let them explain how thumb sucking will affect teeth.

Cavities
Cavities are common and are seen frequently in children and even babies. A cavity forms in a tooth when food and mouth bacteria are not properly brushed away. Many children have cavities in the back of the mouth because this area is hard to reach properly when brushing.
To help prevent tooth decay, children should start a proper oral hygiene routine as soon as they are born. Remember that nutrition is a huge factor in dental health, so make sure to provide healthy, sugar-free foods.

Symptoms of Cavities
Tooth decay, which causes cavities, begins as a white, chalky spot on the teeth that will eventually become yellow, then brown, and continues to grow until it becomes a hole or cavity.

Treatment of Cavities
Once a cavity forms, it is necessary to take your child to the pediatric dentist for treatment. The dentist will remove the decay from the tooth and replace it with a filling.

Having a pediatric dentist is key. Not only does it teach your child proper tooth care and hygiene, it can also save you money with costly dental visits in the future.

Summertime and Sugary Snacks

Summertime calls for time spent outside in the sun. Whether at the pool, at the ballpark or just in the street, your kids are going to want a frosty, sugary drink to cool down. Lemonade, sweet tea, Kool-Aid and Gatorade, all popular summertime drinks with kids, each contain loads of sugar. These drinks, combined with candy and other sweet treats, can cause cavities. Luckily, the summer is a great time to see a pediatric dentist to make sure these sugary drinks are not negatively impacting your children’s dental health.

Why Sugary Treats Cause Cavities

There are many different factors that play into the creation of a cavity. Sugar, though, is one of the more prominent ones. When bacteria consume leftover carbohydrates, such as the ones found in sugary drinks and candy, they make an acid that combines with saliva to form plaque. Then, the plaque, if not brushed away properly, begins to eat away at your teeth. Cavities can then form because of weakened enamel. Sugary drinks, specifically, leave behind refined carbohydrates to be eaten by bacteria in your mouth.

How to Treat a Cavity

The best way to treat a cavity is to visit your local dentist. He or she can identify and treat the variety of possible cavities. From mild to severe, different treatments exist for each. If you need of a pediatric dentist in The Woodlands, TX or surrounding areas, check out Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry.

Frequent dental checkups are recommended because treatment for a cavity in its early stages is simpler and cheaper than for an advanced cavity. Many early-stage cavities can be treated by using calcium or fluoride to strengthen the tooth’s weakened enamel. For a more serious cavity, your dentist may have to administer a filling or root canal. Fillings require your dentist to physically remove the tooth’s decay and cover it with a special compound. Root canals, even more serious than fillings, are only necessary when the damage has moved to the pulp or nerve of the tooth.  

How to Prevent a Cavity

Making sure your kids brush their teeth twice per day for at least one minute is crucial to preventing cavities. Brushing teeth removes the plaque built up on your child’s teeth from their summertime sugary drinks. Flossing is also crucial because it removes any buildup between teeth. Combined, brushing teeth and flossing will help your child stay cavity-free.

One practical way to help your kids avoid cavities from summertime sugary drinks is to encourage them to drink them only during meals — instead of between meals. This limits the exposure of your child’s teeth to the acid from sugars. Supplementing your child’s diet with calcium-rich food and drink strengthens your child’s teeth.

The best way to prevent your child getting a cavity, though, is and will always be to have regular checkups with a pediatric dentist. The dentist will offer case-specific advice for your child on how to treat any current cavities and to prevent future ones. Offering an environment designed specifically for kids, Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry serves The Woodlands, TX and surrounding areas.

3 Tips to Know About Summertime Dental Injuries and Your Child

Summertime is the time for fun and games, summer camps and recreational sports for your kids. Unfortunately, these activities can also result in injuries to your child’s teeth and mouth, resulting in the need to visit a pediatric dentist. Knowing how to prevent them can help you lower chances of your child having a dental injury. It is also helpful to know where to get treatment should a dental injury occur.

  1. Keep an Eye on the Pool

Recreational swimming can be a lot of fun for kids; however, it can also result in chipped and cracked teeth. Keeping horseplay to a minimum can help prevent occurrences of this from happening. A couple of other useful things to know is that kids and adults who swim between 5 and 7 hours a day in the pool can develop swimmer’s calculus — stains on the teeth due to pool water’s high pH level. This can be treated with dental cleanings. Having supervising adults know CPR and first aid, as well as keeping all swimmers hydrated, is good for swimming pool safety as well.

  1. Protect the Teeth with Mouthguards

If there’s one thing that hockey, baseball, soccer and football all have in common, it’s that they can all result in dental injuries for your child. Thankfully, mouthguards are a way to reduce dental injuries and should be worn during any sports that involve potential contact to the head or mouth. Talking with your dentist about mouthguards and protections needed for the specific sport your child is participating in is a great place to start. Look for mouthguards that are made of resilient materials, are lightweight, tear-resistant and easy to clean.

  1. Know What to Do If a Tooth is Chipped or Cracked

If a child does chip or crack a permanent tooth, it is important to contact a pediatric dentist as soon as possible, as time is of the essence. Holding a cold compress against the tooth and rinsing the injured area of the mouth with warm water is helpful. If the tooth has been knocked out completely, you should hold it by the crown, as opposed to the root. Rinse the tooth completely with milk or a saline solution. Have your child spit their saliva into a cup, then place the tooth in the saliva (or in milk) to keep it moist. If possible, store the tooth in its empty socket, holding it in place with gauze, so it doesn’t dry out. Immediately visit your dentist or an emergency room.

If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in The Woodlands, Texas area, consider Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry, offering patients a kid-friendly environment that makes going to the dentist fun.

Pediatric Dentist The Woodlands TX

Summertime is the Best Time for Dental Checkups

We know, we know … summers are for relaxing! They don’t call them the lazy days of summer for nothing … BUT summers are also the best time to schedule your kid’s dental checkups.

Here’s why:

No School – The best thing about summertime appointments is that your kids won’t have to miss school to come to their appointment! Absences – even if it’s just leaving school a little early – are taken seriously by schools, and students are only allowed so many. Scheduling appointments on non-school days allows you to save those absences for when they are truly needed.

Convenience – You won’t have to cram in the appointment on your already busy evenings or weekends. With no school, no soccer games or band practices, no dance classes – your schedule is free.

Setting Habits – Summertime is the perfect time to help your child practice healthy habits. While they are out of school and have a break from sports or other after-school/weekend activities, they will have extra time to focus on creating a healthy dental routine following their appointment.

Ideal Timing – Routine dental checkups should be scheduled every 6 months. If you schedule your child’s dental checkup for June, then you can schedule the next appointment for December, when she’s out of school for Christmas break.

By scheduling your kid’s checkups in the summertime, you’re making your children’s dental health a priority, without sacrificing convenience.

For more information on pediatric dental care, visit our website at www.twkidsdentist.com. To schedule an appointment, contact us at our office in The Woodlands at (281) 292-4242.