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 HealthyTeethHealthyKids.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!

Don’t Let Halloween Candy Scare You this Year!

It’s that time of year again!

Your children are excited, but you are afraid…afraid of the sugary ghosts of candy that will stick around to haunt your kids teeth long after Halloween is over. By practicing proper dental care and following a few key tips, your little ones can enjoy this spookily sweet holiday without causing lasting damage to their teeth.

Here’s a guideline of the best and worst Halloween candy for your kids to eat.

Worst Choices:

  • Sticky, chewy candy – Gummies, taffy, caramel (anything that sticks to teeth) is too hard for saliva, and even toothbrushes, to remove. The longer sugar is stuck to your teeth, the more damage it will do.
  • Sour candy: Sour candy causes enamel erosion because it has high levels of acidity.
  • High sugar sweets: Anything with high sugar content, such as candy corn, can lead to tooth decay.

Best Choices:

  • Sugar-free hard candy and sugar-free suckers: These types of candy stimulate saliva production and saliva is our natural defense against bacteria in the mouth.
  • Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate melts fast and doesn’t stick to your teeth as much as other candies, plus it has the added benefit of antioxidants.
  • Sugar-free gum: Sugar-free gum is the best option of all. It stimulates saliva production and also helps dislodge remnants of previously eaten food and sweets from the teeth.

Now that we know what kinds of candy to avoid, we shouldn’t have any problem keeping our children from eating it, right? (I kid, I kid).  The truth is that most kids are going to want all the WORST kinds of candy available. If your kiddo’s favorite candy is a dentists’ worse nightmare, don’t panic! There are several ways to help reduce the impact of all that sugar on their teeth.

Make sure your little ones eat a healthy, filling meal before they head out for trick-or-treating. If their bellies are full they won’t be tempted to eat as much candy.

Have an assigned “candy time” for your kids, followed by a tooth brushing and flossing.  If they snack on candy over a prolonged period of time, the teeth are continuously being exposed to sugar. Giving them a designated time to eat candy allows you to ensure that their mouths are properly cared for afterward.

If brushing and flossing afterward is not a possibility, encourage them to drink a glass of water. Drinking water helps your mouth produce saliva, which will help to clean out any bacteria accumulating in the mouth.

It’s good to monitor your children’s oral health habits at Halloween, but don’t forget to monitor them the rest of the year as well. All kids should know and practice the three keys to good dental hygiene: brush twice a day for two minutes, floss daily and visit your dentist every six months.

6 Tips for Helping Your Child Overcome a Fear of the Dentist

Many kids are afraid of going to the dentist. Whether it’s the fear of the unknown, or perhaps a previous bad experience, the anxiety can make the experience uncomfortable for everyone involved. However, most of these fears are unfounded, and there are steps you can take to help your child overcome a fear of the dentist and ensure their next  visit goes as smoothly as possible.

1). Begin Good Oral Hygiene Early at Home – From the time they are infants, you should begin cleaning your child’s mouth and gums. Then as toddlers you can teach them to brush properly and consistently. They’ll get used to the idea of cleaning their mouth and learn that good dental habits are important.

2). Schedule First Dental Exam Early — The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children visit the dentist when they get their first tooth or by age one. The dentist will do a short exam and answer any questions, and most importantly it gets the child used to it so the dentist won’t seem so strange or scary down the line.

3). See a Pediatric Dentist – Pediatric dentists specialize in working with kids, so they know what to look for and are used to childhood anxiety. They’re experts at dealing with it, and will be as patient and gentle as possible. Also, many pediatric dentists have offices to make the visit fun including games, toys, prizes or even video games while they wait.

4). Prepare Beforehand – It often helps to talk about the visit beforehand – but remember to stay positive. It may help to read a book together (most local libraries have several children’s books on the topic). You can also role play, and let them practice on the “patient,” which can be a doll, stuffed animal, Buzz Lightyear or even you! Listen to your child and don’t dismiss their fears, but remain upbeat and use positive terms such as healthy teeth, happy smile, etc. Avoid scary sounding terms such as pain, hurt, shot or drill.

5). Set A Good Example – Children often follow their parent’s lead, so if you have fears or avoid the dentist that can easily rub off on them. However, if they see you placing a high importance on taking care of your teeth and talking positively about the dentist they’ll realize it’s not so scary after all.

6). Make Them Comfortable During the Visit – If your child has a favorite book or stuffed animal it doesn’t hurt to bring it along for comfort. Or if your son really wants to wear his Spiderman pajamas, why not let him?  I promise the dentist doesn’t care (at least ours doesn’t 🙂 – anything to help the child feel safe and familiar.

Remember that regular exams are important, and with time and patience children can learn to overcome their fears.  Come see us soon and continue having a great summer!

Mouth Guards in Sports – Does My Child Really Need One?

The short answer: yes.

Particularly in high contact sports, mouth guards are a necessary piece of equipment. They protect the teeth and can prevent injury to the lips, cheeks and gums.

Just as a helmet protects the brain and padding protects the bones, mouth guards play an important role in keeping children safe during sports. In fact, The National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety states that an athlete is 60 more times likely to sustain damage to the teeth when not wearing a protective mouth guard.

Mouth guard use isn’t always enforced, but it should be. The Dental Association recommends wearing custom mouth guards for a variety of sports including football, basketball, boxing, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, skateboarding and many others.

Not only are mouth injuries painful for children, but there are often accompanied by emotional or financial ramifications as well. A permanent tooth that gets knocked out doesn’t grow back. When a kid’s smile is forever altered it can be hard for him or her to accept and adjust. And the cost of dental repairs for broken or knocked out teeth far outweighs the cost of a mouth guard. It’s much better to prevent the injury in the first place.

There are several types of mouth guards available. Ready-made options can be purchased at sporting goods stores, while custom fit mouth guards can be made by dentists. The custom made versions provide the best fit and offer the best protection, because they are made from an impression of the mouth. They also tend to be more comfortable than the stock ones, so kids are more inclined to wear them.

Just like all sports equipment, mouth guards can wear out over time. Also, it’s important to remember that kids’ mouths are still growing and teeth shifting, so be sure to have his or her mouth guard checked regularly for proper fit

Most parents don’t think twice about enforcing a helmet or padding, but the mouth guard should be a necessary part of that uniform, too. Nobody wants to deal with mouth injuries that could have been prevented by wearing the proper equipment.

Now, get out and play!

 

Smart Snacking for Your Smile

Snacking is a part of life for kids, and it has many overall health and nutritional benefits. However, too much of the wrong types of snacks can damage their teeth. There are two important things to keep in mind when choosing snacks: type and frequency. It’s important to make smart choices to reduce the risk of tooth decay and promote a healthy smile.

Types of Snacks

Most people understand that certain foods are better for your teeth than others. Not surprisingly, most of the foods that are good for your dental health are good for your overall physical health as well. Fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products including milk and cheese, grains and meats such as chicken or turkey are smart choices for good oral hygiene. On the flip side, sugary treats such as candy, honey and caramel stick to the teeth and can lead to tooth decay. So whenever possible, it’s important to choose healthy, non-sugary snacks. Of course that’s not realistic all the time. Sweets are fine every now and then, but should be chosen selectively and always followed by a thorough tooth-brushing.

Frequency

Just as the type of snacks you eat have an impact on your dental health, the frequency of eating these snacks also plays a major role. You may think you’re showing willpower by making that Snickers bar last all day long, but nibbling on a candy bar for hours is actually worse for your teeth than eating it all at once. The reason?  The sugar stays in your mouth longer, which produces acids that then sit on your teeth all day. The same concept applies to lollipops and other candies designed to last a long time. So if you just have to have that candy bar (no judgment here, we understand), just eat it, enjoy it, then brush your teeth and move on.

Making smart snacking choices not only benefits your teeth, but it can benefit your overall physical and emotional health as well. And that’s something to smile about.