Preparing For Your Child’s First Dental Visit

To a small child, visiting an unknown place can be scary. Strangers are strange. Add a weird chair, people poking in your mouth and loud noises – its no wonder some kids are afraid of the dentist!

Although a trip to the dentist will never compare with Disneyland, with preparation it can be a smooth and positive experience for both parents and kids.

Today, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children visit the dentist by age 1 or within six months after his or her first tooth erupts. Those early visits are important to set the stage for proper oral hygiene habits. Also, starting early can help reduce anxiety and fear in the future.

There are steps you can take before the visit to prepare your child. Below are some helpful guidelines:

 Choose an office that specializes in pediatric dentistry – Not only are pediatric dentists used to dealing with kids’ fears and anxieties, they are specialists trained to deal with common childhood issues such as finger sucking, tooth decay from bottles, etc. Not to mention, pediatric dentist offices are more fun! They usually have games or activities in the waiting room, cool kid-sized glasses and “prizes” at the end. They cater toward kids, and believe us – have seen it all!

Provide relevant medical information – If your child has any specific needs or medical concerns, let the dentist office know ahead of time.  Whether it is allergies, anxieties, finger-sucking or other oral habits, the more information they have the better. Don’t worry, the dentist isn’t there to judge – he or she simply wants to provide the best care for your child.

“Practice” at home – Before the visit, practice brushing with your child so she is comfortable having a toothbrush in her mouth.  You can even “play” dentist with a teddy bear or doll. Helping kids understand what to expect can make the visit less intimidating.

Bring a favorite blanket or toy – If your child has a favorite toy or lovey, by all means bring it along! He’ll feel more comfortable and safe having something familiar to hold.

Complete forms in advance – If possible, complete any necessary paperwork ahead of time. Doing so will allow you to focus on your child in the waiting room instead of filling out forms.

Finally, go in to the first visit prepared, but with an open mind. Your child may surprise you and LOVE the dentist. Or he may have a tantrum. A good pediatric dental staff is trained to handle all situations in a calm, professional manner. Your child’s comfort and health is a top priority.

Dr. Anderson and the staff at Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry provide a friendly and fun dental experience, as well the highest quality of care. To schedule an appoint for your child, contact us at (281) 292-4242 today.

 

The 5 Most Common Dental Problems in Children

4202007_sAccording to the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation, tooth decay is the number one chronic childhood illness. Often we tend to overlook our children’s oral health needs – after all, those aren’t their permanent teeth anyway, right?

What a lot of us fail to realize is that pediatric dental problems can lead to much bigger issues like infections, problems eating, speech development problems, problems with mental and social development and sometimes even lead to death.

Here are 5 of the most common dental problems for children:

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. Does your child always have a bottle or sippy cup in their hand? Do you let them take milk to bed? If so, then you need to STOP. When their teeth are constantly in contact with sugar from juice, formula, breast milk or cow’s milk (YES, they ALL have sugar in them!) the bacteria in their mouth will feed on the sugar and grow, causing tooth decay. Feed your baby when they are hungry, and let them have a drink when they are thirsty, but the only drink they should carry around all day long, or take to bed, is water.

Thumb Sucking. The sucking reflex is emotionally comforting and is a natural, normal reflex for all babies. It’s when thumb sucking continues into the older years, past the age of 5, that it begins to effect the growth of their teeth. Thumb sucking can cause problems with the alignment of teeth, alignment of the jaws, formation of the roof of the mouth and the development of speech. In order to deter thumb sucking you MUST use positive reinforcement rather than negative. At night you can take their fingers out of their mouth once they have fallen asleep.

Tongue Thrusting. Tongue thrusting is a natural reflex that aids nursing and bottle fed infants. When their lips touch, their tongue automatically protrudes. This reflex naturally fades as the baby gets older. If you notice this reflex hasn’t faded in your older baby you should talk to your pediatric dentist about the condition and what you can do to prevent it.

Lip Sucking. Lip sucking is placing the lower lip between the upper and lower teeth and sucking on it. Lip sucking can affect the alignment of the teeth and can cause difficulty in speaking clearly. You can try to deter your child from lip sucking with positive reinforcement and patience.

Early Tooth Loss. Children can lose teeth from decay or injury. If baby teeth are lost before permanent teeth are ready to come in it can cause teeth to shift messing up the alignment of both baby and permanent teeth. The shifting of baby teeth can also cause permanent teeth to grow in crooked or sideways. If your child prematurely loses a tooth you should consult your pediatric dentist immediately.

It’s essential to teach our kids about the importance of oral health in order to positively impact their overall health and quality of life.

If you would like more information on this subject, or if you need to schedule an appointment, please visit www.twkidsdentist.com or contact us here.

 

Kids and Flossing

kids flossingAs with brushing, it’s important for kids to develop proper flossing habits early on. Flossing helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by removing the pesky food and plaque that settles between the teeth. Starting young sets the stage for lifelong good oral hygiene habits.

Statistics differ, but most studies report that less than half of American adults floss regularly. By starting your kids early, you can help ensure that they grow up to be in the small percentage of adults who DO.

Consistent flossing is critical to oral health. If not removed, plaque buildup between the teeth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. Nobody wants that, no matter what his or her age.

When Should Kids Start Flossing?

Ideally, kids should start flossing when they first get their baby teeth. This will help them develop the habit of flossing regularly. You’ll need to help them at first, showing proper technique and helping those small hands manipulate the floss. In fact, you may need to help them until they are 8-10 years old, depending on the child. And that’s ok. It’s time and effort well spent!

What Kind of Floss Should Kids Use?

There are many options available, and fortunately most work equally well at removing plaque. Standard floss is great and inexpensive, or many kids like to use floss picks because they are easier for small fingers to handle.

You may even want to let your kids pick out their own floss, as some come in bright colors. Anything to make it fun! There are even electric flossers, which can be a good option for kids that enjoy using an electric toothbrush. The most important part is that the child feels comfortable and develops the habit, whichever option they choose.

How Do I Help?

You can help by getting a piece of floss (roughly 18”) and wrapping it around your fingers until there is a small amount (about an inch). Keeping it tight, slide it down between your child’s teeth. Don’t snap it, though! Try to be gentile.

Then, you curve the floss in a “C” shape and slide it along the tooth and under the gumline, repeating with a new section of floss in between all teeth.

What if the Gums Bleed?

If your child’s gums bleed the first few times he flosses, reassure him that it’s totally normal. In fact, bleeding is quite common in the beginning. After doing it regularly for several days the bleeding should stop. However, if it continues or you have other concerns please consult your dentists.

Flossing is important to a child’s overall oral health, and the sooner he or she develops the habit the better. If you have any questions about kids and flossing, or pediatric dentistry in general feel free to contact us directly.

Happy flossing!

Fluoride – How Much Do Kids Need?

fluorideFluoride is a naturally occurring element that is found in the Earth’s crust, as well as bodies of water all over the world. For the past few decades fluoride has been proven to prevent and reverse the beginning stages of tooth decay. When used in the right amounts it is an effective tool that makes tooth enamel more resistant to decay.

Fluoride that is added to community drinking water or dietary fluoride supplements are both examples of systemic fluoride, or fluoride that we ingest. Topical fluorides include things like toothpaste, mouthwashes, or foams/gels that are applied directly to the enamel surface of the teeth. For fluoride to be an effective treatment against tooth decay both systemic and topical applications need to be combined.

Fluoride is like any other vitamin or mineral supplement that people take; it’s beneficial in the appropriate amounts, but can be harmful if you’re exposed to a high concentration of it. Take children’s vitamins for example; if they take the recommended dosage they reap the benefits, but if they eat the whole bottle there can be toxic, and sometimes even deadly, side-effects.

Enamel fluorosis, a condition that causes discoloration and spots on permanent teeth, is the biggest negative side effect of overexposure to fluoride. Most cases of fluoride overexposure are due to the misuse of topical fluoride products, like toothpaste and fluoride rinse. This is why it’s important to consult a pediatric dentist on the amount of fluoride that’s right for your child.

So how much fluoride does your child need?

The amount of fluoride each child needs is dependent upon the age of the child, the amount of fluoride intake the child already has and your child’s tooth decay risk level. You will want to consult you pediatric dentist to assess the recommended amount of fluoride for your particular child.

Here is a generalized idea of how much fluoride your child needs:

If you DO have fluoridated water:

  • Children under the age of two should not need fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Children over the age of two should use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste that has been approved by their dentist or has the ADA seal of approval on it.
  • Your child’s dentist may recommend additional Fluoride treatments if needed during routine dental visits.

If you DO NOT have fluoridated water:

  • Children under the age of two can use a tiny, rice-sized drop of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Children over the age of two should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste that has been approved by their dentist or has the ADA seal of approval on it.
  • Your child’s dentist may recommend additional Fluoride treatments if needed during routine dental visits.

Want to find out if your water is fluoridated? Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website; on the interactive map choose your state, county and then locate your water company on the list.

A pediatric dentist can help you understand more about fluoride and your child’s specific oral health needs. Visit our website or contact our office to schedule an appointment for your child today.

Is it Necessary to Fix a Cavity in a Baby Tooth?

 

Cavity in a baby toothEven though they are small and will be replaced by permanent teeth, baby teeth (or primary teeth) play an important role in the overall health of young children. They serve multiple purposes, including saving space for and guiding proper eruption of permanent teeth.

Regular brushing and flossing should be maintained to help kids keep them clean. However, even with good oral hygiene sometimes the small teeth develop cavities. If this happens, the dentist likely will recommend treating it.

You may wonder if this is necessary. Some people think it’s not worthwhile to treat because “it’s just a baby tooth.” Others may wonder why the tooth isn’t pulled if it’s going to fall out anyway.

But in most cases, unless the tooth is about to come out on it’s own very quickly you should fix a cavity in a baby tooth. Here’s why:

Baby Teeth Save Space/Guide Eruption for Permanent Teeth – If they are not there it can affect the placement and spacing when the permanent teeth eventually grow in. This can lead to crowding and additional dental problems and treatments in the future.

Promote Proper Chewing – Baby teeth help children chew properly, which can give parents an extra piece of mind as young kids begin to eat a variety of foods.

Speech – Missing baby teeth can lead to speech problems and trouble pronouncing certain sounds.

Cavities Can Cause Pain or Abscess – Even if they don’t hurt now, if left untreated a cavity can cause pain or even a abscess in a child’s mouth. Ouch.

Spread to Other Teeth – If untreated, the decay can spread to other areas of the mouth.

Can Affect Confidence/Self Esteem – If children are missing teeth or feel self-conscious about them it can affect their confidence. Some children refuse to smile or shy away from interaction because they look different than their peers.

Proper dental care is important at all lifestyle stages, from infants to adults. Regular visits to the dentist can help you stay on track and give you the opportunity to ask questions. Practicing good habits for your children now will set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

If you would like more information on cavities in baby teeth, or you would like to schedule an appointment, please visit our website here or contact us here.

 

Top Tips for Taking Care of Toddler Teeth

top tips for taking care of toddler teethWe’ve all heard people joke about toddlers – referring to two year olds in the ” terrible twos” or a three year old acting like a “threenager” – and if you’re a parent you know there’s good reason for it. Have you ever tried to floss a toddler’s teeth? It is no joke! Toddlers fight you on everything – unless it’s made of sugar, am I right?

But seriously, speaking of sugar – that’s one of the many reasons it’s super important to not only brush, but floss your toddler’s teeth as well. Now, as we’ve already established, cleaning a toddler’s teeth can be a giant pain so here are some tips that will hopefully make the job a little easier.

  • Create healthy habits! Brush their teeth as soon as that first little tooth pops through. As soon as your baby has two touching teeth in her mouth start flossing them. The more often they are exposed to the behavior, the more familiar and accepting they will be of it.
  • Take them to a Pediatric Dentist ASAP. Start scheduling dentist appointments as soon as your child sprouts teeth. A pediatric dentist can help instill positive oral health behavior, as well as give you tips on how to handle your toddlers oral health care at home.
  • Sit on the floor. Try sitting cross-legged on the floor and have your child lay their head in your lap. This is a comfortable position for parent and child both, and it gives you a better view inside their mouth.
  • Invest in a water flosser. If your child continues to struggle against dental floss, try using a water flosser. They are effective and much easier than using standard floss (although you might be cleaning bathroom mirrors a little more often).
  • Let your child be in control. They need to become familiar with the actions of brushing and flossing. Start by brushing their teeth yourself and then passing the task off to them to finish (do the same with flossing) telling them that you need their help to get the spots that you missed.
  • Have fun! Make it into a game where they have to rescue their teeth from the sugar monsters – or play fun songs and dance while you brush. There are tons of online resources with games, information, tips, etc. to help you get your kids interested oral health. Check out Mouth Healthy Kids brought to you by the American Dental Association and HealthyTeeth.org, an oral education database designed for kids.
  • Download an app. There are plenty of apps to keep your child interested in brushing. One popular app for toddlers is the free Disney Magic Timer app by Oral-B. It’s a brushing timer in which kids can unlock levels, win stickers and choose different characters to brush with each time.

The bottom line is do whatever it takes. Be persistent and find something that works for both you and your child. Your persistence will pay off in the long run. Creating healthy habits now will open the door for a happy and healthy future, and what more could you want for your child than that?

If you have any oral health concerns with your child, or need to schedule an appointment contact Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry today at 281.292.4242 or visit our website here.

 

Finger and Thumb Sucking in Children – Why Break the Habit? And How?

 

kid sucking thumbMany babies and toddlers suck their thumbs or fingers. In fact, it’s a completely normal, healthy way for small children to self-soothe and comfort themselves.  Finger-sucking serves a purpose at a very young age, but can cause problems if the habit lingers later in childhood.

The majority of young children who suck their thumbs or fingers stop by themselves before preschool age. However, not all do. For some, it can be a difficult habit to break. But it’s important for children to stop before their permanent teeth come in, because over time it can cause permanent damage.

Finger and thumb sucking can affect the teeth alignment, palate and proper growth of jaw bones. Prolonged sucking can push the upper front teeth outward. The degree of damage varies from child to child. Vigorous sucking is more damaging than if the thumb simply “rests” in the mouth, although it’s still important to break the habit. But how?

First of all, involve the child from the beginning. Talk and decide to together, setting goals and rewards for reaching them. Experts suggest positive reinforcement and gentle reminders to encourage. Often children thumb-suck when they are anxious or stressed, so if you notice those triggers try to talk with or comfort the child.

And don’t be afraid to ask your dentist for help. He or she can explain the importance of stopping the habit, and some children respond better to another adult rather than boring mom and dad.

Finally, if you’ve tried everything and your child still can’t break the habit, there are other alternatives such as a mouth guard or bitter tasting nail polish to put on nails. These work great for some children, and you know your child best. Choose the method that works best for him or her.

Remember, although it can seem silly to some adults finger sucking is a very hard habit for some children to break. They need patience, praise and support to reach their goal.

Whether or not children suck their thumb, they still need to visit the dentist every 6 months. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child.

AAPD Guideline on Adolescent Oral Health Care

Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has written a Guideline on Adolescent Oral Health Care? It was initially written in 1986, but it has been revised four times since then, most recently in 2010. Here’s a link to a copy of the 2010 version.

Here are some highlights that might interest you:

  • Adolescents (ages 10-18) are considered to have distinctive dental care needs because of certain factors including diet, independence to avoid dental care, low priority for oral hygiene, increased risk of traumatic injury, and additional social and psychological factors.
  • Adolescence marks a period of significant tooth decay and a critical period in periodontal status for many people.
  • Fluoride is the number one proven, most effective method for preventing tooth decay; it can be beneficial from childhood throughout the teenage years and even into adulthood. Good oral hygiene (personal and professional), diet management and application of sealants are the other main tooth decay prevention methods in adolescents.
  • Other common problems with adolescent teeth are misalignment, periodontal diseases, wisdom teeth impaction or malposition, TMJ, missing teeth, ectopic eruption, and discolored teeth. All of these conditions need to be diagnosed by a professional so that a personalized treatment plan can be created based on the individual patient’s needs.
  • Preventative measures, regular check-ups, early diagnosis and personalized treatment plans are the key factors to maintain good oral health.
  • And finally, when the time comes, transition from a pediatric dentist to an adult dentist is important, as an adult’s oral health needs may go beyond the scope of a pediatric dentist’s training.

Make sure to educate your adolescent on the importance of good oral hygiene and schedule them a dentist appointment every 6 months. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Two minutes, Twice a day

Have you taken your children to the dentist recently only to be told that they aren’t brushing well enough? How long should they brush and how often? What IS well enough?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that kids, as well as adults, brush their teeth in a soft, circular motion for two minutes, twice a day, and floss daily.

Most adults can handle a two minute tooth-brushing, but that can seem like a lifetime to a child. There are a couple of websites that are designed specifically to keep your child entertained in two minute increments each time they brush their teeth.

http://2min2x.org/ is sponsored by the Children’s Oral Health campaign, the Ad Council and the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives. The website has a slew of 2 minute long videos to entertain your child while they brush. It’s also a good source of oral hygiene and dental health information.

http://www.brushdj.com/#nogo is another handy website that has a free toothbrush timer app that plays 2 minute clips of songs from your personal phone or tablet to promote brushing for a full two minutes. The site is interactive, so your kids can go online and vote for their favorite songs, as well as watch fun, informational dental hygiene video clips.

Have your kids give these two sites a try and brushing for 2 minutes should be a breeze.

Just how important are baby teeth?

“They’re just baby teeth, right? They’re gonna fall out anyway! Dental care is not necessary at this young… it’s just another way for dentists to make more money off of us.”

I have heard SO much debate about this topic. Here’s the deal, parents. Sure. They are baby teeth that will in fact fall out, but they also play a much larger role in your child’s oral health.

First of all, know that baby teeth are just as susceptible to cavities and deterioration as adult (aka permanent) teeth. If baby teeth are not properly taken care of they can get cavities, decay and fall out before they are ready to. Not only will this cause your child discomfort and pain, but it can also open the door for a lot of other problems.

Baby teeth help a child to speak clearly and learn the correct pronunciation of words. Without them it is difficult for them to do so. Children also need their baby teeth to chew food properly. If they are unable to adequately break down food it can affect their digestive system and cause problems for them.

Also, baby teeth are sort of reserving a seat for the later permanent teeth when they are ready to come in. They create a pathway for the permanent teeth to follow, which has a significant impact on the alignment and spacing of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth falls out too early, the permanent teeth may start gravitating toward the empty space causing spacing issues.

But the last, possibly most important, roll of baby teeth is for parents to use them as a tool to teach children how to properly care for their teeth, so that they are ready and able to care for their permanent teeth when they come in. This will save them so much money and stress in their adult lives, as well as impress upon them the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

So parents brush your baby’s teeth and instill the value of good oral hygiene in them. Take them to the dentist regularly, so that they become comfortable with the dentist office, instead of afraid. Teach them to take care of themselves, because healthy habits build healthy lives.

Start ‘em young and raise ‘em right!