Kids: Common Dental Problems

A lucky kid will never have a cavity, but cavities aren’t the only dental problems kiddos can be forced to endure. There are plenty of dental health problems little ones face, even before they’ve lost their baby teeth. Of course, it’s important to set the stage with positive habits before those permanent teeth grow in; otherwise, your child could face an uphill battle in terms of lifelong dental issues.

To help you along the way, here are some of the most common children’s dental problems we see at Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry (and what you can do to prevent them):

Tooth Decay

It’s important not to fall into the mindset that baby teeth fall out anyway. After all, the habits your child picks up in his early years will likely dictate the way he cares for his teeth as he grows older.

Tooth decay occurs when the gums and teeth are exposed to large amounts of sugars, starches and acids (think candy, cookies and soft drinks). The longer these materials sit in your kid’s mouth, the more likely they are to adhere to the surface of the enamel and gum line, causing plaque buildup that can eat away at the protective exterior structure of the tooth.

To Prevent This Problem: Ensure your child brushes after every snack and meal. Regular brushing sends the bad sugars away so your child’s teeth have a clean landscape that’s free and clear of sugary debris.

Baby-Bottle Tooth Decay

Children who suck on their baby bottles or pacifiers for extended periods of time are inviting sugars to stick to their tooth enamel. The bacteria on bottle nipples, pacifiers and sippy cups — when combined with the bacteria that’s naturally produced by the mouth — can cause serious tooth decay.

To Prevent This Problem: Feed your baby when she’s hungry, and take away the bottle as soon as she’s finished or fallen asleep. Don’t let her carry around bottles filled with sugary substances she can suck on; instead, fill before-bed bottles with water.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

It’s never too early to teach your child how to properly care for his oral health. Bacteria on the tongue, teeth and gums is the number-one reason people have bad breath.

To Prevent This Problem: Instill a regimen of clean breath from infancy. When your child is a baby, you can wipe his gums with a clean cloth to remove bad bacteria. As he gets older, make toothbrushing a fun experience by incorporating songs or dances, and be sure to adhere to a regular schedule.

Thumb-Sucking

It’s natural for babies to suck their thumbs. But as they grow, kids often need help breaking the habit. Thumb-sucking can lead to problems with tooth alignment, which can ultimately result in expensive orthodontia. Children who suck their thumbs past the age of five may experience misalignment of the jaws or inordinate formation of the roof of the mouth, which can cause speech impediments.

To Prevent This Problem: Use positive reinforcement while your child is awake to remove the comfort of the thumb-sucking habit. While she’s sleeping, simply remove her thumb from her mouth gently. Eventually, your kiddo should learn to cope without her thumb or fingers.

 

Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry specializes in children’s dentistry. Whether your child simply needs a regular cleaning, or if you’re concerned about habits that could lead to dental problems down the road, we’re here to help. We invite you to schedule an initial consultation with our dental team today!

 

Thumbsucking and Teeth: How to Help Your Child Stop Sucking Their Thumb

Thumbsucking may have been a convenient self-soothing technique when your child was a baby, but now that he or she is getting older, it’s time to kick the habit. Constant pressure against the teeth can affect the way they grow, resulting in a large orthodontics bill down the road.

Surprisingly, the old advice of putting mittens on the child’s hands or slathering the thumb with something that has a bad taste is no longer the best practice. Taking away your child’s comfort item like this can be harmful to her emotional health. Instead, you want to encourage her to drop the habit by teaching alternative ways to find comfort.

Start a Conversation

If your child is old enough for you to worry about how thumbsucking could hurt her teeth, your child is old enough for you to talk about why it shouldn’t be done. Don’t shame your child for sucking her thumb, but explain your worries in terms she’ll understand. Older children might change their behavior after learning more about the consequences.

Build Awareness

Many children suck their thumbs out of habit. They don’t even realize that they’re doing it. When you catch your child sucking his thumb, ask him whether or not he knows that he’s sucking his thumb. As your child becomes more aware of the habit, he may be able to control it with ease.

Recognize and Remove the Triggers

Most likely, your child turns to thumbsucking at certain times. It might be when she’s nervous or scared. It could just be when she’s tired or bored. You can help her stop sucking her thumb if you proactively avoid these triggers. For instance, if she’s always sucking her thumb while watching TV, you might give her a little toy to fidget with.

Offer Alternatives

Kids use thumbsucking as a type of coping strategy. Instead of taking their strategy away, give them some new ones to use. If your child only sucks his thumb at night, a teddy bear could be a good alternative. If he sucks his thumb when he’s feeling shy, show him how he can take deep breaths or squeeze his thumb instead. Simple changes can make a big difference.

Reward Your Child

Let her know that stopping thumbsucking is a step toward being a “big kid.” Praise her when you notice that she didn’t suck her thumb at a time when she normally would have. Use a sticker chart or other motivational tool to help her get excited about giving it up.

Foster good teeth habits with your child from the start. Call us today to set up a dental appointment for your child.

Teeth Grinding in Children: Is It Normal?

It’s not at all uncommon for children to grind their teeth, particularly during the night. Upwards of 20% of children have the habit at some point in their childhood. Parents may notice their kids making grinding noises or movements when sleeping. Dentists call this bruxism.

It can become a dental concern if your child doesn’t outgrow it and it wears too much on the enamel of permanent teeth.

The Nightly Grind: It’s Often a Passing Phase

Some children have misaligned baby teeth that cause them to press against their bite. Once the permanent teeth grow in, the issue may gradually disappear.

In young children, it’s a good idea to tell your pediatrician about bruxism in case it’s related to any condition that could be causing your child discomfort. Sometimes, a child with bruxism is processing anxiety or responding to medications. Kids do experience anxiety; we all likely remember our own. A warm bath, a bedtime story, a recording of rain or waves, or comforting bedtime music can all go a long way to reduce stress. Some children want to read a bit when going to sleep; others are helped by a nightlight.

Grinding the teeth for too long can cause earaches, headaches or jaw problems, so it’s vital to take note and seek the underlying reasons, even if it does not become a dental issue. And if your child complains about jaw pain or pain when chewing, let your dentist know.

Kids at the Dentist: It’s Good to Be Seen

It makes perfect sense to make a dental appointment and diagnose the problem your child is experiencing. Your dentist can examine your child’s mouth and teeth and check for underlying concerns. And there are ways to make your child more comfortable, and to offer your child brushing or relaxation tips that support overall health.

Some kids need to follow the lead of hockey players and get their own custom mouthguards to wear during sleep. Today’s mouthguards are flexible and comfortable. They stop grinding and the aches that can follow.

Parents should know that all children, from babyhood through adolescence, have an ever-changing and diverse set of mental and physical needs. Regular dental checkups and the early adoption of good oral hygiene practices are good for your child’s overall health. Learning about good dental care now will serve your child well over a lifetime.

Positive Connections with Dental Care Help Create Self-Confidence

At Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry, we strive to ensure that your child’s dental visits are comfortable and educational. Our office plays an important role in creating positive associations with good oral health for your child and reducing potential future anxiety about going to the dentist. We take that seriously, and we have fun, too.

If you’re concerned about teeth grinding or any other issues involving your child’s teeth, you’re invited to make an appointment with us at your convenience. To start dental care for your child in a kid-friendly office, or to schedule a checkup, call us at 281-292-4242.

All About Xylitol

Lately xylitol has been getting a bad rap — it can be toxic to dogs, even in small amounts — but it has many medical uses for humans that are extremely important, and it prevents tooth decay. Xylitol is a natural sweetener, not artificial like aspartame and sucralose. Let’s take a look at xylitol, what it’s used for, and some of its benefits.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural alcohol, derived from plant material. It is extracted from birch bark or corn cobs and is found in many fruits and vegetables, including:

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Plums
  • Raspberries

Xylitol goes by other names, including:

  • Birch bark extract
  • Birch sugar
  • Meso-xylitol
  • Xilitol
  • Xylit
  • Xylite

Xylitol contains a bit less than half the calories of sugar, making it attractive for people trying to improve their diets.

Uses for and Benefits of Xylitol

Sugar-Free Foods

Xylitol is found in diabetic chocolate and desserts. It’s similar to sugar in appearance (granular) so it’s great for baked goods. Xylitol has a minty taste and can be used as a substitute for brown sugar with 1 or 2 tablespoons of molasses in the same amounts — what could be easier than that?

Chewing Gum

Xylitol’s minty taste perfectly pairs with spearmint, wintermint and peppermint gums. It also helps gum companies achieve the flexible, chewable, gummy texture that consumers love best. Keep in mind that gums containing xylitol may also contain other types of sweeteners, including artificial and man-made sweeteners.

Dental Health

Since xylitol is not sugar, it doesn’t behave the same as sugar in the mouth, and it’s considered healthier for people’s teeth and mouths. Xylitol does not convert into acids like sugar, and it reduces the bacteria in saliva that cause tooth decay. It may also prevent dry mouth.

Diabetic Diets

Xylitol, unlike sugar, does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels and has only 40% of the calories that sugar does. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, so it’s also used for weight control and for people who want to decrease sugar in their diets. Xylitol provides the same sweet taste as sugar, so diabetic foods can be satisfying for people with diabetes. It contains 75% fewer carbohydrates than sugar, and no protein, fat, vitamins or minerals at all. Xylitol’s glycemic index (GI) is 7 compared to sugar’s, which is 84. Despite this, xylitol is not sugar-free and may affect blood sugar in some people with diabetes.

Preventing Ear Infections

Xylitol is used to reduce the frequency of ear infections, which can often happen when a person becomes sick or has allergies and fluid is trapped in the middle ear. Infections can also occur in children who swim frequently. Ear infections can cause severe pain in the form of earaches, a high fever, swelling behind the ear, and — in severe cases — thick, yellow fluid flowing out of the ears. Although you should always keep xylitol away from your dog, it has many uses and benefits that make it a great alternative for sugary foods, baking, and dental health.

For more information on kids dental health visit www.twkidsdentist.com or contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Vitamins & Minerals Kids Need for Healthy Teeth

There’s much more to oral health than simply brushing and flossing. In fact, the food you eat plays a large role in getting a healthy mouth. Here are some of the most important vitamins and minerals that contribute to optimum oral health.

Vitamin A 

Known for its role in healthy vision, vitamin A is also essential for optimum oral health in children. It promotes the flow of saliva, which naturally rinses teeth of sugars and acids and also prevents dryness. It also maintains the quality of the mucous that protects kids’ gums and cheeks, reducing the risk of infection. Foods rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, winter squash and fish.

Calcium 

Calcium’s role in maintaining strong bones and joints carries over to teeth. Found in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt as well as tofu, sardines, spinach and sesame seeds, calcium is one of the most prominent minerals in the body and a vital contributor to healthy teeth in children.

Vitamin C 

A premier antioxidant, vitamin C promotes immune health and aids a variety of the body’s repair processes. In the context of oral health, it helps heal gums and reduce gum inflammation. The body synthesizes vitamin C to produce collagen, which speeds healing. Kids can enjoy vitamin C in fruits such as oranges, kiwis and strawberries, and in vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers and cauliflower.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is to calcium like Robin is to Batman. Without it, calcium’s healthy properties are limited. Vitamin D signals the intestines to absorb calcium, promoting healthy bones and teeth in children. Denser teeth are more resistant to fractures, reducing unexpected trips to the dentist. Sun exposure for as little as 15 minutes a day provides kids with all the vitamin D they need. Dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs, fortified milk and cereals, and seafood such as fish and shrimp.

Magnesium 

In addition to promoting healthy blood flow, magnesium also helps the body absorb calcium, which kids need to develop strong teeth and healthy enamel. Magnesium is abundant in nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, spinach and other leafy greens.

Iron

Iron is one of the primary building blocks of red blood cells, which are vital for a variety of bodily functions, including tooth development in children. Iron deficiency can hamper oral health, so make sure your kids are getting enough of this vital nutrient. Iron can be found in legumes, sesame seeds, spinach and red meats.

Fluoride

A core component in toothpaste, fluoride promotes healthy enamel, which is a tooth’s natural defense against bacteria and cavities. Consult your child’s dentist about fluoride products and supplements. Many cities and bottled-water companies also use fluoride to treat drinking water.

Zinc

Found naturally in healthy saliva, zinc is a key defender against cavity-causing bacteria and plaque. Zinc deficiency can give rise to tooth and gum decay, gum disease and cavities. Foods rich in zinc include red meat, pumpkin and sesame seeds, oysters, cashews, squash, legumes and mushrooms.

Proper nutrition can go a long way in maintaining healthy teeth in children. Team up with your child in adopting a balanced diet to enjoy healthy teeth and gums and fewer visits to the dentist.

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.

New Spring Office Opening in September

Dr. Scott Andersen and Dr. Tab Imdacha are excited to announce the opening of an additional pediatric dental office in September at the Legends Professional Plaza in Spring, TX. (30014 Aldine Westfield, Suite 101 Spring, Texas 77373)

Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry will serve our patients with the same high levels of patient care, professionalism, and kid-friendly environment as it has done for over 20 years in The Woodlands area. Our new location will address the need for high level pediatric dental care in our growing community, and looks forward to serving the Spring area for many years to come.

Here is a list of New Office FAQs and additional information that may answer some questions that you have regarding the new office and what it means for our current patients.

We are excited for the future of Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry!

When Should Kids Lose Their First Tooth?

“Mom, I have a loose tooth!” Where has the time gone? It probably seems like just yesterday your child’s very first tooth poked through and you were so excited about the big milestone. But those cute little baby teeth must fall out in order for permanent teeth to grow in. While your child may be excited to feel a tooth wiggling, you may be wondering if it’s normal for her to have a loose tooth at this age. 

When Do Children Lose Their First Tooth?

Usually kids lose their first baby tooth when they around six years old. However, every child is different, and kids can lose that first tooth as early as four years old or as late as eight years old. Usually, the younger your child was when she got her first tooth, the younger she may be when they fall out. However, if your child has a loose tooth early, or if you’re worried that she hasn’t lost a tooth yet, it’s always a great idea to head to the dentist for a checkup just to make sure everything is okay. 

The First Teeth In are Usually the First to Go 

Do you remember which teeth erupted first? In most cases, children get their lower middle teeth (the lower center incisors) first. Next, they usually get their top middle teeth. Teeth will fall out in roughly the same order that they came in, with the bottom and upper front teeth going first. 

Your child’s tooth normally won’t get loose until the permanent tooth below is pushing it up. However, it is possible for your child to lose a baby tooth before its replacement is ready to come in. This can happen as a result of dental disease or an accident. If this occurs, your dentist may decide to put in a placeholder for that adult tooth to emerge when it’s ready. 

What to Do About a Loose Tooth

Once you or your child notices a loose tooth, you can encourage her to wiggle it gently. However, it’s important to avoid yanking it out before it’s ready, since this can make the broken root more susceptible to an infection. In most cases, that tooth will come out with very little pain or bleeding. If your child’s tooth refuses to come out, then you may want to see the dentist. 

Brand New Teeth and a Great Time to Reinforce Dental Hygiene Habits

After your child loses a baby tooth, the new permanent tooth should begin growing in. You may notice that these teeth look bigger — that’s because they are. As your child loses baby teeth and begins to get permanent teeth, it’s a perfect time to reinforce good dental hygiene habits. Remind her to brush for two minutes at least twice daily. Help with daily flossing. Have her to use a kid-friendly mouthwash regularly as well.

It’s also important to make sure you’re scheduling regular dental cleanings and checkups for your child. Her permanent teeth need to last a lifetime, so make sure you get on the right track now with good dental hygiene and routine dental visits for optimal oral health. 

For more information visit our website, or contact us today at 281-292-4242.

Sealants for Children

picture of girl at dentist

 

When it comes to your kids’ dental health, you’ve likely got the basics covered. Some of the earliest things you probably taught your kids were how to brush, rinse and maybe even floss. But there’s a lot more you can do for your kids to ensure their dental health for a long time to come. You may have heard of dental sealants, but did you know that dental sealants for children are a great investment in their future oral health?

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealant is a material that a dentist uses to seal the surface of the teeth. Dental sealant is made with a plastic polymer that closely resembles the look and hardness of the original teeth. There are also clear dental sealants available that are invisible to the eye.

How are Dental Sealants Applied?

The application of dental sealants is completely non-invasive and painless. The dentist applies the sealant with dental tools after preparing the surface of the tooth to better accept the sealant. After the dentist applies the sealant, a special light is used to quickly harden the substance. There are also variations of dental sealants that can harden without the light.

Can Children Get Dental Sealants?

Absolutely. In fact, dental sealants work best on children. And because the treatment is completely painless, most children experience no discomfort at all when the sealant is applied.

Why Dental Sealants are a Smart Investment for Children

Dentists recommend that children get dental sealants on the surface of the molars and pre-molars. Those are the teeth that usually have the deepest crevices, and where fissures can appear on the sides of the teeth. The molars are the teeth used for chewing at the back of the mouth. It’s here that food may get stuck in the molar, eventually leading to cavities. Dentists recommend dental sealants for children because kids have not yet developed many of the common problems with their molars that adults have. With the preventive treatment of dental sealants, a child may be able to avoid getting cavities in their molars for a long time or even forever.

The Dangers of Cavities

Generally speaking, children are more prone to cavities than adults. They may eat and drink more sugary foods and beverages. They may also go for longer periods of time without brushing properly. In addition, children may not have the manual dexterity or maturity to properly care for their teeth. Dental sealants literally offer an added layer of protection against the possibility of cavities. Left untreated, cavities can cause your child to lose their adult teeth. This can even lead to bigger health issues in some cases.

How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?

Dental sealants can last for a great many years. As your child grows into adulthood, he or she can opt to have dental sealants reapplied if a dentist determines it might be helpful.

Dental sealants are definitely a good investment for children’s teeth. If your child has not yet had dental sealants, contact Woodlands Pediatric Dentistry to schedule a consultation, or visit our website for more information. Dental sealants pave the way for a lifetime of good oral health.

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.