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Pediatric Dentistry

5 Ways to Reduce Your Child’s Sugar Intake

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We have been repeatedly discussing the role of sugar in your children’s dental health. Sugar feeds the bacteria inside your child’s mouth, which then produces enamel-attacking acids, causing tooth decay. Therefore, in order to prevent tooth decay and cavity from occurring, we, as parents and guardians, must ensure that children won’t go beyond the recommended sugar intake.

Aside from regular toothbrushing, flossing and dental visit, it is important to control the root cause of tooth decay – SUGAR. Children ages three and above should have no more than 3 teaspoon (15 grams) of sugar per day.

Below, we share to you five very simple ways on how to lessen your child’s sugar snacking.

Be a smart shopper. When shopping for snacks, take a look at the added sugar such as corn syrup or white sugar that are added on premade snacks. Sugar present in fruits and milk aren’t so worrying, since they are healthy food choices.

In addition, similar products may contain different amounts of sugar. Examples are muffins, cereals, granola bars and yogurt. You can still buy these items but check the label first.

Minimize fruit juice. Since fruit juice contains high amount of calories and sugar, the best option for your LO are still milk and water. Children below 1 year old are not advised to drink any fruit juice, based on the American Academy of Pediatrics. But for older kids, they can drink occasionally, provided they follow these recommendations.

·         Kids ages 1 to 6 should only drink 4 to 6 ounce of juice per day. Children 7 to 18 years of ages should only drink 8 to 12 ounces. Most juice boxes contain 6 oz., so little kids shouldn’t have more than one per day while the older ones are limited to two boxes.

·         Do not allow your child to drink juice throughout the day as it gives the opportunity of acid-producing bacteria to damage their teeth. Better offer milk or water first.

Skip sugary, carbonated beverages. They are completely bad for your LO’s teeth. A can of soda contains the amount of sugar that is equal for three days for a young child.  

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Skip sticky snacks. You may think sticky or gummy fruit snacks like raisins are better than candies. Although dried fruit snacks are healthy and rich in nutrients, they are worse than hard candies or chocolate in terms of dental health because they stick to their teeth much longer. When sticky food particles adhere to their teeth for an extended time, bacteria can damage their teeth during that time.

Be an example. Your kids follow anything you do. Setting an example makes a huge impact in your family’s health. If you want to change your child’s sugar intake, do the same thing and they will follow.

Importance of Baby Teeth to Your Child’s Development

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The baby teeth, also called primary teeth, is as vital as the permanent teeth. It helps your little one chew their food, speak well and give the face its shape. This is the reason why it is important to take good care of them.

How Baby Teeth Develop

When a baby is born, his 20 baby teeth are already there inside the jaws and usually emerge when the baby ages 6 months to one year. Most kids will have a complete set of 20 teeth by the time they reach 3.

However, every child is different – one specific tooth may appear first than the usual. When teeth erupt, some babies may experience tender or painful gums. Rubbing the child’s gums gently with a cool wet gauze pad or cloth may soothe the sore gums. Teethers can also be used. However, if the child is in pain and irritable, visit your dentist or doctor.

 Baby Teeth Hold Space for Adult Teeth

When a baby tooth lost too early before the adult tooth inside is ready to emerge, adjacent teeth can occupy the open space. When the adult tooth is ready to surface, there may not be enough space for them. This causes the teeth to be too crowded in a certain part or crooked.

This is the reason why beginning infancy, it is best to practice proper oral hygiene to protect their baby teeth from losing too early.

 If a child loses teeth too early, your dentist may suggest a space maintainer – a metal or plastic piece that helps make the space or gap open to ensure that emerging adult teeth is in the right place.

Prevent Decay in Baby Teeth

Tooth decay on your child’s baby teeth has a significant impact on the growth of their adult teeth. It can also be uncomfortable for them. Your child may find it challenging to eat certain foods and speak normally if they have tooth discomfort.

Thus, it is important to maintain proper dental care of baby teeth even if they will fall out later.

Tooth decay usually occur when the baby teeth are exposed to sugary liquids for long periods. These liquids include sweetened water, milk or formula, soda and fruit juice. It can also develop when you place your baby on bed with a bottle of milk still inside their mouth. When your baby is ready to eat solids, you may give water at this point.

Be sure to visit your dentist before your child’s first birthday. See it as a ‘well-baby check-up’ for their teeth.

The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse the Process and Avoid a Cavity

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You may be aware that a dental cavity starts from a tooth decay. But did you know you can reverse a tooth decay and prevent cavities to form? Read on and find out how to reverse a tooth decay and avoid a cavity?

What’s Happening Inside Your Mouth?

The mouth is filled with hundreds of different types of bacteria living on our tongue, gums, teeth and other parts of the mouth. Some are friendly bacteria while some can cause damage such as those that actively take part in the tooth decay process.

Tooth decay occurs due to an infection from a certain bacteria that consume sugar in food and produce acids. Over time, the acid can cause damage leading to a tooth cavity.

Inside the mouth, a war between bacteria and sugar vs. saliva and fluoride happens. Whenever you consume something containing sugar or starch, bacteria use them and secrete acids, which then start to corrode the tooth enamel.

 Photo credit: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/childrens-oral-health/tooth-decay-process

Photo credit: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/childrens-oral-health/tooth-decay-process

The minerals present in the saliva such as phosphate and calcium, with fluoride from the toothpaste and water help the enamel repair itself by coating the tooth enamel and replacing the lost minerals from the acid attack.

Every day, our mouth undergoes this process of losing and replacing minerals.

How a Cavity Develops

A cavity develops when a tooth is frequently exposed to acid. For instance, if you drink or eat food containing sugar more often, this causes a repeated attach on the enamel, causing more minerals to lose.

A sign of early decay is a white spot on the tooth. This is the stage where a decay can be reversed. Enamel can self-repair provided there’s minerals available from saliva and toothpaste or other sources.

However, the tooth decay process persists when more minerals will be lost. Eventually, it weakens and destroys enamels and a cavity forms. A dental cavity is permanent and can be repaired using a filler.

 How to Reverse the Tooth Decay Process

1. Use Flouride. Flouride is beneficial for the teeth as it prevents mineral loss and replaces lost mineral on the enamel. Further, it lowers the ability of bacteria to create acid. You can easily get fluoride from drinking fluoridated water and toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste.

Your child’s pediatric dentist can prescribe fluoride gel or varnish for tooth surfaces, fluoride mouth rinse or fluoride tablets if he or she needs more fluoride. If you child drinks only bottled water, visit your dentist to know whether your child needs supplemental fluoride in the form of gel, tablet or varnish.

2. Monitor your child’s diet. Take note that every time your child eats or drinks something with sugar, bacteria inside the mouth use it to produce acids. That is why always keep an eye on what they eat and how often they eat it.

Tips:

·         Save candies, soda, biscuits, cookies and other sugary beverages on special occasions.

·         Reduce between-meal snacks

·         Limit fruit juice.

·         Be sure the child does not eat or drink anything after bedtime toothbrushing. Since the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, the teeth becomes vulnerable to acid attack and are less able to replace lost minerals.

3. Ensure your child brushes his or her teeth. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is very important to prevent cavities. Have your child brush two times a day.

4. Have regular dental check-ups. Bring your child to the dentist for examinations and cleaning.

 

Tooth Sensitivity on Children: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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If your child complains of discomfort or pain when eating hot or cold foods, he may be experiencing tooth sensitivity. As parents, you can’t stand seeing your child suffering from any pain. Below are the common causes why kids may experience sensitive teeth so you will understand this condition and be prepared to bring your LO to the dentist.

New Teeth. A newly-emerged teeth can cause sensitivity when exposed to food and air. However, as the teeth get used to the environment, this unpleasant sensation should gradually cease.

Cavities. Dental decay are very common in kids and this leads to sensitivity.

Cracked or broken tooth. Clenching or grinding the teeth may lead to tiny cracks and breaks on the teeth resulting in sensitivity.

Improper brushing. While improper brushing won’t likely lead to tooth sensitivity, it is important to make sure your child won’t suffer from sensitive teeth in the future by teaching him proper dental care such as proper brushing technique. Demonstrate how to do gentle circular motion to protect the nerves and preserve the tooth enamel.

Allergies. Allergic reactions on sinuses can cause a sensitivity-like sensation on the tooth. This is due to the pressure caused by the condition.

Orthodontics. Kids with braces often do a back and forth motion when brushing. This can gradually scrub away the tooth’s protective layer enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity over time.

How to Solve Tooth Sensitivity in Kids

There are several ways to solve sensitive teeth among kids. One way is to use a desensitizing toothpaste. However, it is important to see first your pediatric dentist before using a desensitizing product, particularly for children under age 12.

If the cause of tooth sensitivity is cavities, performing an in-office fluoride treatment can provide relief. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens the enamel and lowers the risk of further decay. Along with fluoride treatment, teaching good oral care habits can reduce the teeth sensitivity.

Tooth brushing two times a day, along with flossing can maintain the gums and teeth clean and reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease. Using soft bristle toothbrush will prevent irritation from vigorous brushing and help preserve the enamel.

If the tooth sensitivity persists, it is best to consult your dentist.

 

Dental Health Care Guidelines for Children with Special Needs

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Maintain proper dental care can be challenging task for many parents, but for parents with special needs children, such task can be an uphill battle and sometimes, risky.

Maintaining Daily Oral Hygiene

Most children with special needs cannot perform their daily dental care independently. Parents or caregivers must always be there to assist them. It’s not an easy task to clean another person’s teeth, particularly if they resist it. Sometimes, more than one person may be needed to help with their daily toothbrushing.

Electric Toothbrush

Kids with restricted motor skills and coordination may find tooth brushing easier with the use of a powered toothbrush. Unlike the manual brush, the head of an electric toothbrush works quicker and can clean better.

Special Toothbrush

There are some types of toothbrush that can make cleaning more efficient. For kids with high risk of aspiration, using a suction toothbrush connected to a home suction apparatus is a better option to get rid of saliva during tooth brushing.

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An ideal toothbrush for kids with special needs is the Collis Curve toothbrush. It has curved design bristle that can clean all the sides of the teeth while preventing the risk of poking the bristle on the gums.

Mouth Props

Some special kids may resist oral cleaning by biting the toothbrush. To protect the parent and the child, a mouth prop can be used. Also called open wide disposable mouth rests, this wedge-shaped device is placed on the front part of the mouth so the child can rest their jaw muscles.  

If you can’t find a mouth prop, you can use five wooden tongue depressors and join them together using adhesive tape.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

It is necessary that kids with special needs visit their pediatric dentist on a regular basis.

When it comes to oral health and dental care, the rule applies to all children and kids with special needs are not exempted. This ensure that daily dental care techniques can be reinforced or taught and minor issues can be detected before they turn serious.

Diastema: Tooth Gap in Kids - Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

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Diastema refers to a gap between two teeth. It often appears between the two upper front teeth, but sppaces may happen on any two teeth.

What Causes Diastema?

Tooth gaps occur for various reasons.

There may be a mismatch between the size of the teeth and the jaw bone, causing crowding of the teeth or more space between the teeth. Gaps may also occur when the teeth are too tiny for the jaw bone. In some cases, a tooth may be missing or just too small. This often occur with the teeth next to the upper front teeth called upper lateral incisors.

Certain habits may lead to space between teeth. Having improper swallowing reflex is one. Most people press their tongue against the palate (the roof of the mouth) when swallowing. However, some children have a unique reflex called tongue thrust (reverse swallow) – when the tongue presses against the front teeth, pushing the front teeth and creating pressure. This can cause diastema.

Thumb sucking is another habit that can create gaps.

Kids often have temporary teeth spaces once the baby teeth begins to fall out. However, these gaps resolves on their own when all permanent teeth erupts and reach their exact positions.

What are the Symptoms of Diastema?

If a tooth gap occurs due to mismatch between the jaw and the teeth, there will be no symptoms. But if it is caused by a periodontal disease or by a tongue thrust habit, the gap will expand over time. Pain may occur during biting or chewing and the teeth may get loose.

How to Prevent Tooth Gap in Kids?

Unfortunately, not all diastema can be prevented. One example is when a child has a mismatch of jaw size and teeth or if he/she has a missing tooth.

Breaking the habit of tongue thrusting can prevent diastema. You can correct you child’s swallow reflex by exercising their tongue, pressing it against the palate.

Preventing periodontal disease through regular brushing and flossing can help prevent tooth spaces.

How to Correct or Treat Diastema in Kids?

Some kids can get braces to simply move the two teeth together. When there’s an existing diastema, a child needs to wear a complete set of braces – both for lower and upper teeth. The reason is because closing any tooth gap can affect the whole mouth.

Another way to fix diastema is to widen a too small teeth with veneers, crowns or bonding. For missing teeth, a bridge, partial denture or a dental implant may be needed.

If your chid has a gap between teeth, talk to your pediatric dentist Bellevue. She can determine the cause for the gap and may advise treatment with braces.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dental Infection

No parent wants to see their child in pain. That is why Mint Kids Dentistry want to ensure that you know the signs and symptoms of a dental infection. Dental infection is a serious problem. If left untreated, it could cause damage to other teeth and may spread to other parts of the body, which can cause life-threatening infection on the neck, brain and face in severe cases.

What is a Dental Infection?

Also known as tooth abscess, it is a pocket of fluid (pus) caused by bacteria present inside a tooth. The pus forms as the body tries to fight back an infection. The infected area seems completely normal, but usually it becomes painful when the pus inside the body cause an increase in pressure. Often, the area will be soft, swollen and tender, and will appear like a pimple surrounding the gum.

When this happens, the tooth decay is deep, affecting the pulp, blood vessels and nerves. The gum and its surrounding tissue will eventually be infected, and the infection may spread from the roots all they way to the bones.

In children, tooth decay is the primary cause of tooth abscess. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Cavities are very common that by the age of 5, nearly 60 percent of children in the US will have cavities at some point. However, the real problem is when the cavities and decay are left untreated, which leads to infection.

Signs and Symptoms of Dental Infection

As a parent, you must check your child’s mouth regularly. You have to be sure that your child is flossing and brushing his teeth. If you do this regularly, you’ll have to higher chance of catching any dental problem before they become worse. In addition, watch your child for the following signs and symptoms of tooth abscess or infection.

·         Severe toothache, with throbbing, throbbing, shooting or sharp pain. Take note that if the root inside the pulp dies, the pain may lessen or even stop, however, the infection is still present and continues to destroy tissues and spread.

·         Affected tooth is darker in color

·         Pain or sensitivity when chewing or biting

·         Swollen gums and/or swollen jaw or neck

·         Bad breath

·         Loss of appetite and weight

·         Fever

 

How Your Dentist Treat a Dental Infection

During an appointment, your dentist will examine your child’s teeth using a dental instrument. She may also ask for an X-ray to check for erosion of the bone on the infection site. If your child has a tooth abscess, the dentist will drain the pus and prescribe antibiotics. Sometimes, she may have to pull the infected tooth. This will not be a problem for young children as it will be replaced by a permanent tooth. But for those with permanent tooth, a root canal may be needed to clean and get rid of the infection, or the dentist will have to extract the tooth.

What You Should Know About Retainer for Kids

You have probably seen a kid taking out his retainer before taking his snack, and carefully placed it in a container to ensure it is safe while he eat. You wonder why this small plastic mouthpiece is important to him. Let us find out.

What is a Retainer?

A retainer is an orthodontic device that is made from metal and plastic and is custom-fitted for each child or adult who needs one. It perfectly fits the mouth and the top of the teeth. Retainers are very common because most people who wore braces need to wear a retainer for a little while after removing their braces. Other people use them to close tooth gaps, help with certain speech problems or to resolve other dental problems.

Why Should I Wear a Retainer?

There are several reasons for wearing a retainer. The most common is to help maintain the new position of your teeth after wearing braces. It is necessary to wear a retainer because as you grow, your teeth also move and tend to shift to another position. Retainer help ‘retain’ their position and prevent shifting, which happens naturally.

Once your braces are taken off, your dentist will fit your for a retainer. There is a certain time and duration of wearing it and the dentist will tell you how long to wear it. Some kids wear their retainer for more than a year.

Other children may wear retainers to close a tooth gap or space or simply to move one tooth. In this case, there is no need for braces as retainers can do the job. To close a space, retainers are usually worn for several years. When you wear a retainer, certain teeth feel pressure and could feel sore for the first several days. If you are experiencing discomfort, there is no need to worry as it is completely normal.

 Crib or tongue-cage retainer

Crib or tongue-cage retainer

Retainers can also health a number of mouth problems aside from the moving of teeth. In some cases, they are used to help a medical problem such as tongue thrust – a condition where the tongue sneaks through the teeth when you’re talking. A type of retainer called tongue cage or crib retainer is designed with tiny metal bars that are hanging down from the roof of the mouth. This will keep the tongue from thrusting forward in between the teeth when speaking. In this way, your tongue will get used to position at the roof of the mouth rather than through your teeth. The duration a child wears tongue cage varies depending on the child.

Another use of retainer is to alleviate temporomandibular disorder (TMD). This condition is often a result of a bite problem, where the teeth are not positioned properly when the jaws are closed. This is also called malocclusion. Another reason for TMD is bruxism or the habit of grinding the teeth while asleep. Retainers can help by preventing the mouth from closing completely while asleep, to prevent you from grinding your teeth.

What are the Best Oral Health Practices I Can Apply at School?

It may not be a big deal but putting an apple rather than a sugary snack in your child’s snack box can help improve his dental health and his performance at school. After all, kids consume more than 20 percent of their meals at school. Here at Mint Kids Dentistry, we remind parents to make better decisions when preparing your child’s school lunch.

Excessive consumption of sugar can harm your child’s oral and general health. Cookies, chewy fruit snacks and candies interact with bacteria in the plaque. The plaque forms at the surface of your teeth and in between your gums and teeth, generating acid that can erode enamel and cause tooth decay. Although sweets can give short-lived energy on your kids, such sugar rush turns into a crash, leaving kids feeling sleepy and lethargic. This isn’t the kind of mental state children need when preparing for an afternoon class.

Mint Kids Dentistry recommends these oral health practices for school.

1.       After taking breakfast and before leaving for school, be sure your child brushes well using a fluoridated toothpaste. Brushing immediately after a smell will clean the teeth and gums and get rid of halitosis or bad breath.

2.       Pack healthy and nutritious lunch food and snacks in your child’s lunch box. These include lean meats, low-fat yogurt, whole grain breads, baked chips, whole-grain crackers, apples and carrots. Aside from being full of nutrients, certain veggies and fruits can help clean the teeth and gums. Just make sweet treats a treat. Cakes, cookies, bars and sugary snacks should only be given in moderation.

3.       If your child likes to chew gum and the school permits it, chewing sugar-free gum for several minutes during lunchtime, before the afternoon classes. This will help stimulate secretion of saliva to neutralize the acid and help remove food residue from the mouth. Chewing gum that contains the natural sweetener Xylitol is a good choice since based on studies, it has been shown that consistent exposure to Xylitol can help fight cavity-causing bacteria.

4.       Kids wearing braces must rinse or try to brush their teeth after taking lunch. Children wearing removable retainers should also clean their teeth and retainers after every meal.

5.       Before the school year begins, parents must schedule visit to their kids’ pediatric dentist to ensure that there are no dental issues to distract their children throughout the school year. You may ask the dentist on sealants as a way to prevent any tooth cavities from developing. Sealants are thin coating of bonding material that is applied over the molar teeth, acting as a barrier to cavity-causing bacteria.

What to Expect About Getting a Dental Filling

When your pediatric dentist tells you that you have a cavity, she often advised you to have a dental filling to protect the tooth from further decay. If left unfilled, a cavity can only worsen and the decay could lead to bone loss. The good news is that tooth-filling procedure is almost painless thanks to advancements in dentistry. Today, there is no reason not to get a filling if your dentist advises it.

Dental Filling vs. Sealant

One of the main differences between a filling and sealant is the longevity. A filling can last for as long as 10 years, whereas dental sealants may only last for a year. In reality, dental sealants don’t actually last that long and may depend on the person’s oral hygiene practices. Sealants are often given to kids to protect their molars from the development of decay.

On the other hand, fillings are given as a treatment measure to eliminate the hole left when the dentist removes existing tooth decay.

What to Expect from a Dental Filling

One of the main things to expect when having your kids a filling is a conversation with the pediatric dentist on the type of material to be used. There are several options of filling material available today and your choice may depend on a mix of factors such as the appearance, the function and the cost.

Some options for dental filling material include:

·         Amalgam. This is a silver-colored filling, composed of a mixture of metals such as tin, copper, silver and mercury. They are strong, durable and cheap but a lot of people do not like the appearance of silver.

·         Composite. This is a tooth-colored filling made from resin and glass. Composite can match the color of your teeth, however, they’re not as metal and may have to be replaced more often.

·         Ceramic. This is often made of porcelain and are popular among those who want to have a natural looking tooth. They can be abrasive when they hit against a natural tooth. Your pediatric dentist has to make sure that your bite is correct to prevent tooth wear.

·         Glass ionomers. They are acrylic and glass fillings that bond chemically to dental tissues and slowly release fluoride over time. They are ideal for low stress areas and are often place on the front teeth or on root. They are commonly used in kids as a short-term fix for baby teeth.

After you have your filling, make sure to take good care of it. It is important to practice a regular dental health routine such as brushing the teeth twice daily and daily flossing. Be sure to see your pediatric dentist for regular checkup because you may not notice when the filling begins to wear down. If a dental filling falls out or breaks, immediately see a dentist for repair or replacement.

What are the Causes of Bad Breath in Kids?

Medically known as halitosis, bad breath is a condition that even health kids can experience in some occasions. If you have noticed that your child’s breath isn’t that pleasant, there is solution for that. Most of the time, improper oral hygiene is the cause of bad breath in kids.

What causes bad breath?

There are several factors that contribute to bad breath. Below are some of the most common causes:

1.       Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse your tongue, gums and entire mouth. When there is a reduced salivary flow, one condition that may occur is xerostomia, which is a contributor to bad breath.

2.       Bacteria on the tongue. Odor-causing bacteria often reside on the tongue. It is important to brush not only the teeth but the mouth as well to prevent accumulation of bacteria, leading to bad breath.

3.       Poor oral hygiene. If your kid does not floss and brush his teeth regularly, it can result to bad breath. If dental plaque isn’t brushed away, bacteria can affect the tooth enamel and irritate the gums, causing more issues. The tongue can house odor-causing bacteria, so make sure your child is brushing his tongue too.

4.       Mouth infections. Bad breath can be caused by tooth cavities, mouth sores, oral surgery or even plaque buildup.

5.       Mouth breathing. A child may breathe through his mouth due to a sleep habit or a stuffy nose.  When he does it, it dries up the mouth and prevents saliva from washing away mouth bacteria, causing bad breath.

6.       Medications. Certain medications breaks down inside the body and releases chemicals leading to bad breath.

7.       Food. Consuming foods with strong odor such as certain spices, onions and garlic can affect the freshness of his breath.

8.       A disease or illness. If your child is suffering from tonsillitis, a sinus infection or allergies, bad breath may happen.

How to prevent bad breath in kids

Having a healthy teeth has a vital role to a child’s overall health. Help your child avoid bad breath by introducing an oral care routine.

·         Encourage your child to brush his teeth two times a day using an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste that promotes fresh breath. Be sure to supervise young kids so they won’t swallow the toothpaste.

·         When brushing his teeth, don’t forget to clean the tongue as this is where bacteria homes and thrives.

·         Daily flossing is important to remove odor-causing food residue from the teeth.

·         Make sure to buy a new toothbrush every few months as dull bristles can’t efficiently eliminate debris and plaque from the teeth.

·         Avoid bad breath and other dental concerns by having regular professional cleanings and checkups.

 

What is a Space Maintainer?

Space maintainers are dental devices used for children when they lose a tooth and wait for the permanent tooth to grow in. There are a number of reasons why your pediatric dentist might recommend this device.

What is the purpose of space maintainer?

Space maintainers are used to hold a gap in your child’s mouth when a tooth falls out. In general, they are not used for normal baby tooth loss but rather, are intended to keep the teeth aligned and properly spaced if the child has a tooth knocked out before it sheds on its own, if a tooth is lost due to cavities or if a permanent tooth is absent. When a baby tooth is lost too soon, it can affect tooth alignment. As such, this device serves as the lost tooth to help permanent tooth grow on their right positions.

Are there different types of space maintainers?

Space maintainers come in several types and your dentist knows the right type for your child. Removable space maintainers are generally made from acrylic, resembling an orthodontic retainer and can be removed when cleaning or eating.

On the other hand, a fixed space maintainer is attached to the teeth or gums. It is usually a better option for little kids who might not be able to care for a removable space maintainer. Some fixed space maintainers use wires and is held in place with a crown. This can be unilateral – only one side of the mouth, or bilateral – on both sides.

Another type is called a distal shoe. It is a fixed maintainer where the metal is place on the gumline to prevent a gap from closing when the first permanent molar erupt. Lingual space maintainer is used for more than one missing tooth. It is bilateral and the wire is placed on both sides of the molar teeth and behind the lower front teeth.

How to properly care space maintainer?

Taking proper care of your little one’s space maintainer will extend the lifespan of the device and makes sure it does its function properly. The device must be cleaned whenever the child flosses and brushes his teeth. For removable maintainers, it can be taken out from your kid’s mouth and cleaned while for fixed maintainers, it can be brushed like how he brushes his teeth. It is important to clean the gums where the space maintainer is attached. This will ensure that the area is healthy and clean, so by the time the permanent tooth emerges, there will be no issues that will affect your kid’s dental health.

Additionally, your pediatric dentist will have to check the device regularly to make sure that it is performing its job and isn’t causing any problems. If your child damages or loses a space maintainer, informs the dentist immediately so a replacement can be made. Failure to use the device properly will result in a misaligned tooth. This can be expensive and painful to fix. While wearing a space maintainer, it is important to have a regular dental cleaning.

 

How to Deal with Over-Retained Baby Teeth?

The primary teeth, also called the baby teeth, must shed naturally so the permanent teeth beneath can erupt into the gums. Once the permanent tooth’s eruption is delayed for over a year from the supposed date, it is considered as over-retained. It is necessary to keep track of every primary tooth loss.

The first thing you should do is to wait for the baby teeth to eventually lose. If gum infection and pain become an issue so chewing and brushing or flossing as an ordeal, then removing the tooth could be necessary.

In some cases, baby teeth become loose and tighten again since the erupting permanent teeth starts to deflect from the supposed position in the dental arch. If the primary tooth become tight again and the permanent tooth is deflected, it may be best to remove the primary tooth. Some kids suffering from this have this problem repeatedly with their other teeth while other only have one or two teeth affected.

The most common cases of over-retained baby teeth are the primary maxillary second molar and the maxillary primary canine. Further, the most frequently missing adult teeth are the maxillary lateral incisors and the mandibular second premolar. Because of the absence of second premolars, the primary second molars usually will be over-retained. They usually remain to adulthood before requiring removal.

The cause of missing teeth isn’t completely known. It could be a genetic component but factors such as trauma, endocrine disorders and environmental elements can be considered.

Cause of Over-Retained Teeth

It is important to have the child’s teeth carefully assessed by a pediatric dentist. The color, shape, condition and position of the baby teeth is important to evaluate. There’s a chance that the baby tooth may be fused to the bone, a condition called ankylosis. This hinders shedding of baby tooth.

There are several reasons for the baby teeth to be over-retained. The most common reasons is when the permanent tooth are absent, which normally push the root of the baby tooth. Other reasons for over-retained baby teeth are obstructions, pathology, trauma, infection, misalignment of permanent tooth and late eruption of permanent tooth.

Treatment Options for Over-Retained Baby Teeth

Treatment options for over-retained primary teeth will depend on the condition of the baby tooth and its adjacent structures. If there are several over-retained teeth, there may be a number of missing permanent teeth. It is important that an orthodontist must see the child so a proper treatment plan can be developed.

If the baby tooth is aesthetically and structurally acceptable, the tooth can be retained. But if the tooth isn’t structurally and aesthetically acceptable, it can be retained and reshaped through restoration means.

When the baby tooth is crooked, it is better to remove it as the space between can be closed through braces. It can also be replaced by a dental implant or fixed bridge.

It is clearly important to always have your child’s baby teeth checked by a dental professional so that dental issues such as over-retained baby teeth can be recognized as soon as possible. An early treatment will definitely improve the result.

 

What are Some Dental Tips for My Kids This Thanksgiving?

Birthdays, holidays and other special occasions are times when we catch up with family, friends and loved ones. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and we often celebrate this time of the year by preparing sumptuous goods that everyone enjoys.

But the feast shouldn’t be a reason to forget that we also have to be careful with the food we eat, especially for children. This will help prevent problems relating to dental health. For sure, dealing with dental-related problems can spoil a happy gathering.

Below are some useful tips to help you, as parents, prevent any dental-related problems.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water, particularly when eating sweet foods. This will help eliminate food particles that get stuck between your teeth and prevent buildup of plaque. Furthermore, drinking water can help stimulate saliva production that help fight dental cavities. Compared to soda and juices, water is still the best fluid to drink.

Avoid sticky foods

Foods that are too acidic, sweet and sticky can cause immense harm to the teeth. This type of foods can create an ideal place for bacteria to destroy tooth enamel and infect the gums. If you cannot avoid eating these foods, be sure to wash your mouth with water after eating them, or brush your teeth 30 minutes after consuming those foods to eliminate any debris.

Avoid eating or snacking too frequently

The company of loved ones and friends can be very enjoyable, with all the chitchatting and drinking. With this, you may not avoid having continuous snacking or eating. But beware. The reason is that since you keep on exposing your teeth to acids present in food, it may cause bacteria to build up in the mouth, causing cavities.

Be sure to brush and floss

When visiting a friend or loved one for a gathering, make sure to bring your toothbrush and dental floss with you to make sure you and your child maintain optimal oral health. Remember that it’s necessary to be diligent on your dental hygiene, especially during celebrations such as Thanksgiving. You can also bring Xylitol, a sugarless gum and chew this after eating a meal. Sugar-free gums can eliminate food debris left on your teeth and help with digestion by stimulating saliva production.

After the gathering, visit your dentist

Holidays and other celebrations are the best times of the year, yet these are the times when people experience more dental-related problems. If you are concerned about dental cavities and gum problems, consider seeing your dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will check your mouth and do professional cleaning to make sure plaque buildup and other dental issues will be addressed. This will also help avoid further dental complications from happening in the future.

 

How to Promote Oral Health Education on Your Children

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It’s truly a challenging responsibility to raise a kid. That is why you can see lots of books on proper parenting throughout a child’s developing years as the child changes behaviour. But how about oral health education? Learning the do’s and don’ts on how to take good care of your child’s teeth is as important as other parts of child rearing, especially in preventing dental disease.

Below is a guide to help you promote oral health education from birth to adulthood.

From Birth to Kindergarten (0 – 5 Years)

Despite the absence of visible teeth, the American Dental Association suggests cleaning the baby’s gums after every feeding using a clean cloth or a moist gauze pad. The first teeth usually appear around the sixth month, and they are vulnerable to tooth decay so regular cleaning is very important. Additionally, refrain from placing your baby on bed with milk to prevent a more serious case of baby bottle tooth decay. A simple bottle of water will do.

You can eventually clean your child’s baby teeth using a baby-size toothbrush using a non-flouride toothpaste or simply water. At the age of two, you can put a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Also, start flossing your baby’s teeth when there’s two or more teeth.

The baby teeth is composed of 20 teeth that will erupt between six months and three years. Soon, you’ll learn some tricks on how to pacify the fussiness because of teething. Remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the use of topical liquids or gels that contain benzocaine as this can cause adverse effects to kids younger than two years.

Schedule your child’s first dental visit on his/her first birthday. This is the best time to talk about teething, fluoride recommendation, thumb-sucking and other home care concerns with your pediatric dentist.

Elementary Years (6 – 12 Years)

Kids start to shed their baby teeth by age five or six, when their permanent teeth begin to erupt. Permanent teeth must be complete by age 12 or 13. Keep in mind that children are usually not coordinated enough to floss or brush on their own until they reach 10.

Keep your fridge full of healthy, less sugary choices such as fresh fruits, yogurt, cheeses, chocolate milk, peanut butter and veggies. Your child must be visiting his/her dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. This is the time the dentist will monitor your child’s teeth alignment and may advice fluoride treatments and dental sealants to prevent decay. The pediatric dentist will also teach your child the basic steps of proper flossing and brushing.

Teen Years (13 – 17 Years)

This is the time when you expect all the good rituals on good oral hygiene that you have been teaching to stick. But still, continue with the reminders on flossing and brushing. Young teens can get lax on their dental hygiene. They should also limit their intake of soft drinks and sugary snacks. If your child is wearing braces, he may be frustrated with the difficulties on brushing and flossing, including the diet restrictions. Explain how attractive that smile will be when the braces are removed.

College to Adulthood

Because of your patience and diligence, your child will be studying college with attractive, healthy teeth. But before going, schedule a dental appointment for thorough examination and cleaning. It is around this time when the wisdom tooth erupt and if there isn’t enough space, your dentist may advice they be removed. Schedule this procedure during a holiday break or before he leaves for college.

 Oral health education is not only important to parenting, but a rewarding part of the journey. You’ll reap the benefits every time you see your child’s healthy teeth and attractive smile.

What to Do with a Child’s Loose Tooth

If you have a child with a loose baby tooth, you may think if you should try to pull it or simply wait for it to loosen and come out on its own. Pulling a loose tooth from your little one’s mouth is quite tempting, but this isn’t always the best thing to do.

Below are some things you should know before attempting to pull a loose tooth.

Why is It Loose?

A loose tooth does not mean that a permanent tooth is about to erupt. Sometimes, children know their teeth when they accidentally fall or when playing. In case a tooth is knocked loose, it is best to schedule an appointment with your dentist so he can check it to prevent the risk of having an infection or even damage to the permanent tooth.

Children often lose their teeth in about the same order that they emerge. The frontal teeth loosen first, often between the age of six and seven. When the permanent tooth begins to erupt, the baby tooth’s roots dissolve until it loosens and painlessly fall out with very minimal bleeding.

If the loose tooth isn’t ready to fall out naturally, trying to extract it could affect the sensitive roots, causing unnecessary pain. If you are unsure why one specific tooth is loose, and you are not sure why it’s too early, you may talk to your pediatric dentist about this matter.

How to Help Your Child Loosen Baby Teeth

Kids usually start to lose their baby teeth between the age of four and seven. But some baby teeth can still remain until the age of 12. Although they naturally fall out and are replacement by permanent adult teeth, in some cases, baby teeth require a little help in coming out.

Before you start, be sure to wash you and your child’s hands with soap and water. Next, check the loose tooth to see whether the baby tooth is really loose. If you think that it’s loose enough, here is what you can tell your child to do to help him/her remove the baby tooth:

1.       Tell your child to gently wiggle the tooth. Don’t twist or pull, just move the tooth back and forth to make it looser.

2.       Have your child move the tooth around to determine if there’s any pain. If there is, it’s not ready yet to be removed.

3.       Give your child something crunchy to eat, like an apple, to help loosen the tooth.

4.       Have your child brush their teeth several times a day to help loosen it.

It’s strongly advised to let your child pull their own tooth, because they are only the ones who can best tell it the loose tooth is ready to come out. This will help reduce the amount of bloodor pain that could result from a tooth coming out prematurely.

 

 

How Can I Keep Proper Dental Care on Halloween?

Halloween is just around the corner, and for most kids, it means a bucket of free treats and sweets. It’s no surprise that Halloween present parents with various health and safety challenges, most especially with their kids’ dental health. Though it’s fine to eat candies on Halloween, it is best to have a plan.

To help your family keep those pearls healthy and strong on Halloween, here are some tips for you.

Choose wisely

Not all candies and sweets are the same, some are far worse than other when it comes to your teeth and gums’ health. If you are going to indulge this coming Halloween, eliminate the treats that are considered to be worst such as sticky treats like taffy and caramels, and hard candies as they tend to linger on your teeth spaces causing more damage.

Set Limits

This is very important. Do not let your child eat treats subconsciously while playing with friends or watching TV. Instead, give only on particular times such as after having a meal as the saliva produced during your meal will help remove the candy bits and sugar, hence lowering the risk of cavities. Another way is to have your child choose only a few of their favorites from the treat bag and allow them to eat sweet after a meal for just a week after Halloween, and then, donate the rest. Many dentists in the US joint the Halloween Buyback Program where candies are collected and sent to people in the military. When you donate your candy treats, your pediatric dentist might give you a new toothbrush in exchange.

Don’t Forget to Brush

But don’t hurry to brush your teeth after eating a few treats. Some candies are acidic and can soften the enamel, so brushing it right after eating can damage your teeth, risking damaging your enamel while still sensitive. Wait a bit before brushing your teeth. Instead of brushing, better drink water to rinse the sugar sticking on your eat and wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing.

Be Careful in Doing the Costumes

It isn’t just the treats that could damage your little ones teeth during Halloween. Be particularly careful with what you place on their teeth when it comes to costuming. When decorating your child’s teeth, use only those made for use in their mouth. Think more than twice when using prosthetics or fake fangs on your child. Though they may not cause any tooth cavities, there have been many cases of these products containing high levels of toxic chemicals such as lead. Talk to your pediatric dentist if you need any Halloween tips that concerns prosthetics or any kind of makeup on your teeth.

 

 

What are the Effects of Teeth Grinding in Kids

You may look into your child’s bedroom at night while deep asleep and find out a strange noise, like two hard objects rubbing together. Teeth grinding or bruxism in children happens quietly frequently, about 30 percent of children do it. Children grind teeth for several reasons; misaligned teeth, stress and certain medical conditions such as cerebral palsy may cause teeth grinding. Sometimes, teeth grinding resolves on its own. However, if the symptoms persist, it can have several effects on the child’s mouth and general health.

Short-term Effects of Teeth Grinding

If the child shares a room with another member of the family, the noise or loud sound of grinding may bother the brother or sister at night. When the child wakes up, he/she may have a headache or complain of pain around or in the ear because of the pressure of grinding and clenching the jaw at night.

Wear and tear of the teeth enamel due to grinding may lead to teeth sensitivity and pain when chewing. If a child has a medical condition or under a medication that causes teeth grinding, a healthcare provider may have to add or change prescriptions.

Long-term Effects of Teeth Grinding

If the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a number of long-term effects on your child. It may lead to substantial damage on the teeth due to grinding and clenching for long periods. The teeth enamel will not only wear down but the teeth may broke, chip or flatten. In case the child grinds heavily for a long period, there is a possibility of developing TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, causing more pain in the jaw and could make it hard for a child to open his mouth or chew.

Aside from physical discomfort, teeth grinding may cause children to have difficulty adjusting to school or have problems mingling to others, possibly because teeth grinding interferes sleep.

Tips for Parents

If a parent finds out that his child is grinding at night, there are ways to help. Your pediatric dentist can recommend the use of special mouth guard to wear every night. Kids should also use toothpaste with fluoride to strengthen their teeth and enamel. If the teeth grinding is associated to stress, parent can help their child relax by reading bedtime stories, or doing relaxation exercises. If the child is old enough, parents can talk to them about their anxieties or problems and help them find a solution to it.

Your child’s dentist can be your reliable ally when it comes to coping up with teeth grinding. Aside from the use of a mouth guard, the dentist can monitor the progress and check if the grinding appears to be lessening. They can also provide tips and techniques to how to help the child cope up and make sure everybody get a quality, good night’ sleep.

 

 

How to Introduce Tooth Brushing to Your Toddler

If you have no idea on how to care your toddler’s teeth, then you are not alone. Teaching kids tooth brush for the first time can be intimidating for many parents. But, this should have to be if you and your little toddler follow these tooth brushing tips to help you child’s pearls healthy and strong. Aside from using popular character songs like Elmo’s brushing teeth song, there are other ways you can do to inspire your kids to proper oral care practices.

Introducing Oral Hygiene

Parents must begin getting a head start to proper oral care regimen before the child’s first tooth eruption. You can start the process by cleaning the baby’s gums and teeth that are erupting with a wet soft cloth or gauze immediately after a meal. In this way, you will help your baby get used to regular teeth cleaning efforts. Also, any food particles clinging to your child’s erupting teeth and gums will be removed.

Introduce Your Toddler to a Toothbrush

A child must be introduced to a toothbrush between the age of 12 and 18 months. You will have to use to soft-bristled toothbrush that is made for toddlers. Do not add toothpaste yet. Make this process as enjoyable as possible for your little child. Buy a toothbrush with popular character when demonstrating proper tooth brushing so your toddler can relate. Many parents love to play the video a Sesame Street’s Elmo brushing his teeth for their kids using a smartphone while the child is tooth brushing.

Including Toothpaste to Your Toddler’s Oral Care

When your toddler turned three years old, you can start adding a tiny amount of toothpaste. Make sure it’s fluoride free toothpaste. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is already enough and appropriate. You have to make sure that your child knows that it’s necessary to spit it out rather than swallowing it. Giving the toddler a small amount of water for brushing and teaching him how to swish the water to rinse his mouth will encourage your child to spit any toothpaste left.

Strive for Quality Brushing Time

The American Dental Association suggests that you have to spend at least two minutes when tooth brushing your toddler. But this might not be practical in reality. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you emphasize more on covering all tooth surfaces, particularly the back teeth. You may be spending more than two minutes brushing their teeth, but ensure every tooth is cleaned during the time you are spending two minutes brushing their teeth.

Allow Your Toddler to Brush on Their Own

When your child reaches four, your child must start brushing his teeth with supervision. Watch them closely during the process. You may still have to help to reach back teeth. Most dentists agree that kids must be monitored until they reach the age of 8 or 9 because sometimes, they are in too much of a hurry to play or do their activities that they may not be properly brushing their teeth.

Why Is It Important to Consult a Pediatric Dentist?

         A kid-friendly pediatric dental clinic.

        A kid-friendly pediatric dental clinic.

Also called as pedodontics, pediatric dentistry is a specialty branch of dentistry that specializes in treating young people. Known as pedodontists, pediatric dentists are highly specialized in the field since they have to complete the necessary additional education to render primary and specialized care to infants, young children and adolescents.

Based on the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, one must complete at least two additional years of study and in many cases, three years of training in order to become a practicing pediatric dentist. According to the studies from Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there are only about 7,000 pediatric dentists in the US.

What is the Difference Between a General Dentist and a Pediatric Dentist?

After completing studies from an accredited school and obtaining a license in his/her state of practice, the general dentist is permitted to treat patients of any age. But, like in general medicine, there are several conditions that needs the expertise of a paediatrician.

Pediatric dentists are under a distinct set of standards that are defined by the Commission on Dental Accreditation to deal with the unique needs of children and teens such as dental sealants and fluoride treatments.

Below are some of the specialized tasks of pediatric dentists:

1.       Special counselling on proper nutrition

2.       Infant oral health examinations

3.       Distribution of relaxation medications

4.       Dental management after a premature loss of a baby tooth

5.       Emergency dental care

6.       Discouragement of thumb sucking through the use of dental appliances or methods

In addition, pediatric dentists utilize their expertise to assess and suggest the best products that are healthy and safe for their tiny mouths. Another advantage of getting a pediatric dentist is that their office or clinics are usually kid-friendly and have a warm, welcoming environment, especially for children. The dental equipment for exams are also designed to be visually appealing for children, including the exam room décor, which is often pleasing among youngsters.

A pediatric dentist’s office are often adorned with engaging murals and brightly colored wall paint. Kids magazines, toys and games are in the waiting area, which can help towards easing apprehension and uncertainty.

Pediatric dentists strive hard to ensure kid’s smiles are bright and healthy. When a child’s dental visit is a positive experience, they may be open and willing to go back for their check-ups.