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.

The Tooth Fairy

Ahh, the Tooth Fairy. Love her or hate her, almost every parent has a Tooth Fairy story. A close call, an IOU note, a run to the ATM in the middle of the night or that time her kid found a bunch of teeth in a drawer and asked “where’d you get these?”

The Tooth Fairy can cause confusion and in some cases, panic, in parents. How much does the Tooth Fairy give? Can she leave nickels and pennies? What if I can’t find the tooth in the dark? What’s her excuse for not showing up one night? Can the Tooth Fairy get stuck in traffic?

Of course, a child’s first visit from the Tooth Fairy is a rite of passage, and one that most children look forward to. But a piece of friendly advice from someone who has been there before – be careful that first time. It sets the precedent for all lost teeth in your family to come, and if you set the bar too high you may come to regret it.

Not saying you want to be a Tooth Fairy Scrooge, I’m simply suggesting you think things through. Each child typically loses 20 baby teeth in their childhood years. If you have 3 children, that’s 60 teeth!! At $5 a pop, that’s a lot of money for teeth.

How much money should the Tooth fairy Give?

How much money the Tooth Fairy leaves depends on a variety of factors, including the size and condition of the tooth or other, less-predictable factors such as how much money happens to be in the parent’s wallet at the time. According to a 2016 survey the average amount for a lost baby tooth in 2016 was $4.66. That’s impressive, considering that in 2015 the average was $3.91.

It’s interesting to note that the Tooth Fairy is typically a good indicator of the state of the economy. The patterns closely follow those of the S&P 500.

Of course, other families choose to acknowledge lost teeth in other ways such as small gifts or toys. I’ve known children that insist on keeping their teeth and don’t want to trade it for money. Fair enough.

Regardless of how your family chooses to celebrate lost teeth, it shouldn’t be stressful. You can use the opportunity to examine the tooth and talk about how to properly take care of the new, permanent teeth that will soon take its place.

If you’re about to play first-time Tooth Fairy and would like to talk to a tooth expert, contact us today. We love to talk about all things teeth.

In the meantime, good luck and don’t forget to set a reminder for the Tooth Fairy in your phone!

Educate Your Kids for National Children’s Dental Health Month

girl kid at dentistFebruary is National Children’s Dental Health month, so what better time to connect with your kids and teach them the importance of oral health? Oral health has been linked to overall health, so it’s important to take care of your mouth in order to maintain overall wellness.

Oral health care should begin the second your baby sprouts his first tooth and continue through adulthood. Starting at a young age instills a healthy habit that will last a lifetime. Establishing an early oral healthcare routine will also help your child avoid developing a fear of the dentist because he will be familiar and comfortable with oral healthcare.

So how can you teach your children about oral healthcare and impress upon them its importance?

Here is a list of resources we’ve compiled for you to reference when teaching your kids about dental health care and its importance:

Cavity-Free at Three – The first thing to do is educate yourself on children’s oral-health needs. This site offers tons of videos, research and information to answer any questions you might have.

I-Smile Fact Sheets – These free, printable fact sheets are chock-full of helpful tips and facts. You can print them out and keep them in a folder for referencing.

American Dental Association: National Children’s Dental Health Month – This website has a bunch of cute posters and activities to trick your kids into learning about dental health while having fun. You can print out the coloring pages and keep them in your purse to entertain your kids in restaurants or waiting rooms.

Oral Health Educational Resources – If you are a teacher or a homeschooler, you can use these valuable resources to hang around your classroom and incorporate into lesson plans.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research – The NIDCR has got some great oral-health information and videos on how to take care of your baby’s oral-health needs. This site is a must for any new or expecting parents!

American Academy of Pediatrics – This site has tons of great overall health tips for children, but they also have a section of the site that is broken down into “Ages & Stages” so you can target the needs of children at a specific age.

With so many free online resources at your fingertips, it’s easy to teach your children the facts and implant valuable knowledge and healthy habits that will help them live a healthier life.

If you would like more information on children’s oral health, or if you need to schedule an appointment, please visit our website or contact us here.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is typically caused by frequent, prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar. As the name implies, a bottle filled with milk, formula or juice is often the main culprit. Particularly when a baby or toddler is put to bed with a bottle, the sugars collect around his or her teeth and gums. Over time this causes bacteria to build up and the tooth or teeth to decay.

Although less common, it can be caused by passing tooth decay bacteria from an adult to kid through saliva. For example, if a mother or primary caregiver often licks a spoon and then offers it to a child, or if they share a cup, the bacteria can be transferred.

Baby bottle tooth decay usually affects the upper front teeth, but it can appear in others as well.  Untreated decay can lead to painful infections, and in severe cases can even require extractions. 

How do I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?

One of the best ways to prevent baby bottle tooth decay is to refrain from putting a child to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, juice, soda or other sugary drinks. You should also limit these drinks and sugary or acidic snacks during the daytime.

Another important step is to establish good dental habits from the beginning. Even before teeth erupt, you can get in the habit of massaging an infant’s gums to provide relief from teething. When first teeth come through, it’s critical to brush your child’s teeth regularly to prevent plaque buildup.

Regular dental visits also help to establish good oral health and decrease the chance of developing baby bottle tooth decay. Your child should visit the dentist by the age of 12 months, then at least every six months after that (or as recommended by your dental provider).  These visits are important to help a child feel comfortable and stress the importance of taking care of his or her teeth. They also give the parents an opportunity to ask questions or discuss any concerns with dental experts.

If you have questions about baby bottle tooth decay or would like to schedule an appointment contact us today.

Tips for a Cavity-Free New Year

Unfortunately, cavities are extremely common in children. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics show that an average of 1 in 5 children (ages 5-11) have at least one untreated cavity. These statistics are alarming considering that untreated tooth decay leads to more serious health and even developmental problems. Another reason these stats are alarming is because tooth decay is 100% preventable.

As we welcome the New Year and establish our resolutions for 2017, let’s make one to instill in our children the habit (and importance) of oral health.

Here are 5 tips to help ensure your children have a cavity-free 2017:

Set a Timer – Brushing for two minutes, twice a day is important. Kids don’t truly understand the concept of time, so setting a timer will help them know when to start and when they are done. The Disney Magic Timer App is a fun way for kids to time brushing AND make it into a gamer where they get rewards for brushing.

Use Fluoride – Fluoride is a very effective preventative when it comes to tooth decay. Children over the age of 2 should brush with fluoridated toothpaste – just be sure to keep a close eye on them. Make sure they only use a pea-sized amount and do not swallow it. At bi-annual dentist appointments, talk to your dentist about topical fluoride treatments they offer and if your child could benefit from them. If your water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist if your child might need fluoride supplements.

Master Flossing – Teaching your kiddos to floss at a young age is super-important. As soon as they have 2 teeth that are touching, you should begin flossing them and eventually let the child take over on his own. This will make it easy starting out and build a healthy habit. Flossing removes plaque buildup in between the teeth, which is a spot that cannot be reached from brushing alone.

Don’t Skimp on Dental Visits – All children should see a dentist once every 6 months starting at the age of 1. This is important for multiple reasons. For starters, it creates a healthy habit and instills the importance of oral healthcare from the beginning. It also helps to avoid fear of the dentist because they will be familiar and comfortable with their dentist as they grow older, instead of being thrown into the situation at 3 years old and being scared. However, the most important part of regular dental visits for children is to monitor their oral health and receive preventative care.

Find a Pediatric Dentist – After dental school, pediatric dentists go through a few extra years of specialty training specifically geared toward the different behavioral aspects and oral health needs of children – infants through adolescents – including kids with special health needs. This ensures that your kids have the best oral healthcare available to them. It also ensures that they will have the most pleasant and comfortable experience possible.

With a little dedication and persistence, we can instill healthy habits in our children, giving them a start on a healthy lifestyle as they grow into adults.

At Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry, we can help you understand more about your child’s specific oral health needs. Visit our website or contact our office to schedule an appointment for your child today.

5 Kinds of Non-Candy Treats to Hand out this Halloween

trick or treat

Trick or treat, smell my feet…define something “good” to eat?

I’m not so sure 2lbs of Halloween candy is “good” for anyone to eat – and let’s be honest – we all know our kids probably collect MORE than 2lbs. of candy trick-or-treating each year.

So why not do everyone (and their teeth) a favor and hand out some non-candy treats this year? With the excess of candy at every house, kids will usually jump at a chance to grab a non-candy item for a change.

Here are 6 kinds of non-candy treats you can hand out this Halloween:

Dress-up Accessories – We’re talking eye patches, mustaches, funny glasses, plastic jewelry, masks, etc. Kids love to play dress-up and act silly. They will have a blast with any sort of accessory that gives them a chance to turn on the cheese. Trust us.

School Supplies – Think holiday (or some other fun theme) pencils, notepads, erasers, etc. Kids always love having these things on hand for some quick entertainment, or perhaps to keep track of how much Halloween loot they accumulate.

Small Toys – Stickers, temporary tattoos, party favor sized bubbles, playdoh, bouncy balls, spinning tops, wind-up toys, glow sticks, silly putty, kazoos, etc. Toys are just as good as candy. Maybe better, because they definitely last longer than a candy bar does.

Healthy Snacks – With all the hard work that goes into trick-or-treating, kids work up an appetite and eventually candy just doesn’t cut it anymore. Try handing out some individually packaged snacks for them to fuel up with. Some good options are boxes of raisins, string cheese, bags of pretzels, apple slice bags, mini bags of popcorn and more. Just remember to get pre-packaged snacks from the store – many parents are leery about their kids eating homemade snacks from strangers.

Drinks – Trick-or-treating is hard work! Miniature bottles of water or juice boxes are always welcomed by the kids to quench their thirst while going door-to-door.

Sugarless Chewing Gum – Chewing sugarless gum increases saliva production which helps to neutralize acid produced by bacteria in our mouths, so it can actually help prevent tooth decay. Obviously that makes it a GREAT treat to pass out to the kids.

There are so many excellent alternatives to candy that kids will genuinely be excited about. If you choose to give out a non-food item, make sure to put a teal colored pumpkin on your front porch to show your support of the Teal Pumpkin Project, a worldwide movement created as a way for kids with food allergies to experience a safer, happier Halloween.

No matter what you give out this Halloween, make sure your kids keep up a steady oral hygiene routine yearround and visit their dentist every 6 months. If you would like more information visit our website or contact us at 281.292.4242 to schedule an appointment.