Start New Year’s Off by Teaching Brushing and Flossing
This time of year, your child is likely consuming lots of sugary treats like candy canes, cookies, cupcakes and more. While you know sugar is bad for your child’s smile, convincing them of that might be a little harder. Instead, focus on teaching them how taking good care of their teeth is good for them!
Teaching your child how to brush and floss daily will help them develop good habits that form the foundation of a healthy smile. Here are some ways you can help them make this daily habit more fun so they will look forward to it!
Your child likely loves to copy what you do. Brush your teeth with them for two minutes every morning and night (set a timer or play their favorite song). This will keep them moving the brush over each of their teeth to make sure no tooth is missed. Have them hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and press gently against the gum line, cleaning the bottom of the tooth all the way to the top and the back so all of the tooth surfaces are cleaned.
Tip: Give them soft-bristled child’s toothbrush with their favorite cartoon character or color and let them pick it out a kid-friendly toothpaste. Reward your child with a new toothbrush when they reach their goal of brushing every day for a set amount of days.
You should begin flossing your child’s teeth when two teeth are too close for their toothbrush to fit. Floss once a day to get rid of stuck food particles between teeth. You can use dental floss between the teeth, sliding gently back and forth and curving around each tooth, and wiping up and down in a C-shape. Children’s plastic flossers are also great and are made just for their little mouths. For older children, there are floss sticks in a variety of flavors and colors.
Tip: Keep a chart of your child’s daily brushing and flossing record and when they reach their goal, reward them with a fun sticker or toy.
Try these brushing and flossing tips to get your child on the daily oral hygiene bus:
– Rinse with a child-approved mouthwash: Some can change the color of dental plaque so your child can see where they still need to brush better.
– Enlist an oral hygiene buddy: Appoint your child as the dental caregiver for their favorite toy (a much-loved doll or stuffed animal). Arm them with a small toothbrush so they can practice on their toy while learning how to take care of their own chompers.
– Have a suds-and-bubble-making contest: Squeeze some extra toothbrush onto your brushes and then see who made the most bubbles when the timer goes off!
– Story time role play: Plaque and bacteria are the bad guys, and your child is the hero who has to brush and floss thoroughly to save their teeth. Of course, this is a daily battle they choose to win!
– Sing and/or dance in a bathroom karaoke: This performance is done while brushing to rid your child of excess wiggles and giggles while polishing their tiny chompers.
We hope you are inspired to turn your child’s oral health care into a fun daily practice! You are teaching them how to care for their smiles to serve them for the rest of their lives. For more information about taking care of your child’s oral health, please reach out to our pediatric dental team today!
Set Up Your Child’s First Dental Visit Today
As a parent, it is an exciting time when your child’s first baby teeth erupt, signaling that their smiles are developing right on time. Even though these primary teeth will eventually fall out to make room for their permanent adult teeth, these baby teeth are important to your child’s dental development.
Baby’s First Dental Visit
A healthy oral environment is crucial for your child’s growing smile, and this means cleaning their tiny chompers when they first break through the gums. It is also the time to bring your child to their first dental checkup, or at the latest, by their first birthday. American parents tend to take their children to their first dental visit when they are toddlers between 2-3 years of age; this is actually late in the tooth development game because cavities can already be lurking in their mouths!
Unfortunately, baby teeth are vulnerable to tooth decay, just like their adult counterparts. This is especially the case if your baby constantly has sugary foods and beverages that sit in the mouth without having it cleaned out. It often happens with bottled milk or juices that aren’t cleared off their gums every day. This sugary environment feeds the harmful oral bacteria in the mouth and will eventually wear down and weaken precious tooth enamel. Enamel erosion happens because of the acids that are released from thriving oral bacteria, which then attacks the teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) promotes bringing your baby in for their first dental checkup within six months of their first tooth erupting (somewhere between six to twelve months). Some parents don’t consider the need for protecting baby teeth because they will ultimately fall out, but these primary teeth actually play a vital role in their oral health.
Baby’s Primary Teeth
– These act as biting and chewing agents so that your baby can get the crucial nutrients their food provides.
– They assist your child as their speech develops.
– Your child’s primary teeth act as place holders for their adult teeth coming in behind the baby teeth.
– Another advantage of taking care of your child’s primary teeth is they assist their developing sense of self, so they can be confident as their teeth show up.
Ultimately, these primary teeth will complete their role as the adult teeth come in, and they fall out to make room for their secondary teeth. You can watch for this to happen around age six, and then let the teeth fall out on their own to minimize pain and bleeding. Teeth that are extracted or lost because of trauma can be painful and messy.
Baby’s Dental Health
Your baby’s developing oral health sets the foundation for their future dental health. A healthy smile is free of cavities at any age, and daily oral care is a habit that your baby needs to develop for the rest of their lives!
Seeing the dentist early will allow our team to check your baby’s smile to make sure it is developing correctly and take care of issues early when treatment is less invasive and most effective. We are happy to address any concerns you may have about your infant’s growing smile, and our team is happy to show you how to properly clean your baby’s teeth. To learn more, or schedule your child’s first dental visit, give us a call today!
Losing Baby Teeth: Make This Milestone in Your Child’s Life a Fun One!
Happy October, everyone! It’s one of the spookiest seasons of the year, and one of the scariest things we can think of is having problems with our teeth and gums. Since October is National Dental Hygiene Month, we want to promote a healthy mouth for everyone by acknowledging the importance of your daily hygiene efforts. Healthy teeth and gums are the foundation of a healthy, beautiful smile!
The mouth is full of living bacteria, some of which feed and thrive on carbohydrates and sugary drinks. These can release acids mixed with saliva and food particles to create a sticky bacterial film (plaque). As plaque builds up, it attacks and weakens tooth enamel, working its way through the softer dentin and tooth pulp below it to create decay and cavities.
Teeth with extensive decay often require a root canal treatment to save the tooth from the severe infection that has taken root. A root canal removes the bad bacteria and dead tissue that might otherwise require extracting the tooth.
Signs You Might Need a Root Canal
– Tooth pain or pain when chewing
– Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
– Sensitive gums
– Gum infection
– Darkened or chipped teeth
– Swollen lymph nodes
– Oral trauma
What You Can Do
Did you know that the first known bristle toothbrush was invented in China in 1948? Unlike the smooth nylon-bristled brushes we use today, the original toothbrush used boar hairs attached to bamboo or bone handles. We don’t know about you, but we’re grateful for today’s toothbrushes!
To prevent damaged teeth, you’ll want to start by protecting your mouth from plaque. For example, drinks like soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, carbonated water and other acidic and sweetened beverages are pretty much a lifeline for oral bacteria that attach your teeth. To lessen plaque, limit these beverages, and when you drink them, use a straw to reduce contact on tooth enamel. Better choices include water, milk, low-sugar vegetable juice, and unsweetened green and black tea.
This year’s National Dental Hygiene Awareness Month focuses on four habits you need to practice daily:
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session with a soft-bristled toothbrush (no boars hair!). You want to gently clean them without harming the enamel or soft gum tissues. Make sure the head and shape of the brush fit comfortable in your mouth so you can get to the back areas to remove bacteria and food particles. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. Using short strokes, move your toothbrush back and forth to clean all tooth surfaces – outside, inside and the top of the molars – where the food is chewed. Make sure to clean those grooves and crevices. Use up-and-down-strokes to clean the inside of your front teeth.
Tip: Don’t forget to brush your tongue to get rid of plaque and freshen your breath.
Clean between your teeth once a day using a flossing tool of choice (one that makes you want to floss every day) to get rid of dental plaque your toothbrush can’t reach. Plaque buildup will cause it to harden into tartar or calculus, which has to be removed by a dental hygienist using special tools.
Some areas of the mouth can’t get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing alone. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash daily destroys bacteria to prevent tooth decay and gum disease (infection of the oral tissue) from gaining hold. Your dentist can recommend a non-alcoholic antimicrobial rinse that is right for your needs.
Speaking of dry mouth, did you know that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after you eat lessens the chances of tooth decay? That’s because chewing stimulates saliva glands to promote healthy saliva flow. Your saliva plays a vital role by rinsing away food particles and bacterial debris and neutralizes the acids from oral bacteria.
This month is a good time to toss out your old worn-out toothbrush and find a flossing method you will enjoy using every day. You’ll also want to thank your dental hygienist the next time you see them for all their efforts to make your smile the best it can be!
Losing Baby Teeth: Make This Milestone in Your Child’s Life a Fun One!
What do your child and a crocodile have in common? Both grow new teeth when the old ones fall out! Okay, your child’s permanent teeth come in when their baby teeth fall out, so technically they only grow new teeth once. And after their 20 baby teeth fall out, 32 adult teeth replace them (whereas a crocodile could replace 8,000 teeth in their lifetime).
Unlike a crocodile, your child will need to take good care of their teeth to prevent decay. Just because they will be replaced eventually, primary teeth still play an important role in your child’s oral development – how they chew their food, help maintain your child’s facial shape, assist in their speech and of course, make them look adorable.
When Does It Start?
You can expect your child’s baby teeth to loosen around age five or six as the tooth roots dissolve, but they can start to fall out when they are as young as four or old as eight. As long as it’s not from decay or injury, they should be fine, especially if it is one of the bottom front teeth.
When a baby tooth starts to loosen, it can take a few months for it to fall out. Don’t worry if it happens when they’re eating or sleeping, and gets swallowed, it won’t harm them. Conversely, a loose tooth could hang around by a thread for weeks. We recommend letting the tooth fall out on its own and letting your child wiggle it with their tongue if they can’t resist. Just don’t force the removal in case the tooth root is still connected, you don’t want it to break and get infected. Gently brush the loose tooth to keep it clean, and if the gums are tender, you can serve them soft foods (although crunchy food could help the tooth fall out faster!).
Making It Fun
Losing a tooth is an exciting milestone for your child, much like learning to read or ride a bike. Making it a fun experience will leave you both with happy memories, especially if your child is also nervous. Let them know that everyone loses their teeth and that their adult tooth is moving up the jaw and causing the baby tooth to fall out. Reassure them they will get replacement teeth located just underneath the gums and that the baby tooth served its purpose by guiding the adult tooth into place.
Most children in the U.S. look forward to the tooth fairy visiting while they are asleep and leaving a monetary gift like a gold coin under the pillow as payment. Some parents leave construction paper fairy footsteps near their child’s bedroom window, a trail of glitter “fairy dust” on the windowsill, a note with colorful stickers from the tooth fairy (encouraging good hygiene for future healthy specimens), or a little bag or tiny pillow for the next tooth that will fall out. If it’s their first lost tooth, a fun new toothbrush instead of money is a fun idea! Losing a tooth is a big deal for your child, and making it magical will make the event fun for everyone.
Protecting Your Children and Their Smiles
As your children and teenagers are headed back to school, you might be giving them a pep talk concerning the choices they make and avoiding influences like alcohol, drugs and tobacco. We all know there are multiple reasons why these items are not good for your children, but how does it affect their dental health?
Alcohol is also something many teens experiment with, which can contribute to mouth cancer as well as tooth enamel erosion and cavities when consumed often or in great amounts. It’s important to emphasize to them that there is a reason why there is a specific drinking age, so the teeth can more fully develop.
When it comes to illicit drug use, if teens are using them regularly, they are subjecting their oral health to side effects such as dry mouth which causes halitosis, dental erosion, tooth decay and gum disease. Another side effect might be teeth grinding (bruxism), which can also lead to worn down enamel. Some drugs increase cravings for sweets and soda, which puts them at greater risk for dental cavities.
Teens who use tobacco or smoke can find themselves with chronic bad breath and stains on their teeth since both cigarettes and other forms of tobacco contain nicotine and tar. They can even invite more damaging results such as gum disease, tooth loss or cancer of the mouth.
Similar to cigarettes, vaping or e-cigarettes are considered a “safer” option for some people since it’s a vaporized form of tobacco smoke. In reality, they are not any safer and can have just as many harmful effects. They can cause inflammation that could lead to gum disease and other teeth and mouth problems. Many people develop painful sores, lesions and sore throats from vaping.
What You Can Do
Many of these activities – if not all – can result in costly repairs and suffering for years to come. We want to help your teen prevent any long term effects by emphasizing the importance of avoiding alcohol, drug use and tobacco, at least until their teeth have fully developed. Some things you can do to protect your children and teens include the following:
– Discuss the risks of these kinds of choices
– Practice good oral hygiene (brushing twice a day, flossing once a day)
– Regularly visit their dentist
– Set a good example; avoid tobacco use or vaping (or even stop altogether for your own health benefits!)
To protect your child’s dental health, be sure to explain the disadvantages and how they can create a great smile to last for years. If they need more convincing, we’ll be happy to give you and your child more information on the effects of these products. Feel free to give us a call today to set up an appointment or ask us any questions. We are happy to help!
Does Your Child Need a Dental Crown?
If your child has a badly decayed primary or “baby” tooth that can’t be fixed using a dental filling, our pediatric dentist may recommend placing a dental crown. These are “caps” that are created to fit over the top of a tooth that has been damaged and will restore its function and appearance by strengthening the tooth.
Dental crowns are placed onto primary teeth when losing them might cause problems with speaking and eating properly, as well as maintaining space for the permanent teeth to grow into their correct position. Crowns also allow the proper development of your child’s jawbone and muscles to avoid expensive dental problems like spacing issues later.
Why Your Child Might Need a Dental Crown
– The cavity from decay is too large.
– The tooth has a fracture or injury that can be strengthened by placing a crown.
– Your child has had a root canal.
– Your child’s missing tooth requires a bridge between neighboring teeth to maintain the spacing.
Common Dental Crown Materials
The two most common types of crowns used to reinforce primary teeth are stainless steel and ceramic crowns. Stainless steel crowns are typically used for the molars in the back as they are strong, easy to work with and durable. They are also often used after having a pulpotomy (nerve treatment on the pulp of a baby tooth). Tooth-colored zirconia or ceramic dental crowns are often used to cap a damaged tooth in the front of the mouth since it can be matched to the color of the surrounding teeth.
When it is time to place your child’s dental crown, it can take one to two visits. The tooth will need to be prepared to receive the crown so our dentist will shape it down and get rid of any decayed material. Once the crown is placed, our dentist will make sure that it fits properly and functions as it should.
Prevent Needing a Dental Crown
To help your child prevent tooth decay that might require a crown to fix, you can help them by instilling and practicing good oral hygiene habits for their developing smile. Daily brushing and flossing, and paying extra attention to the back molars can help keep decay at bay.
Another strategy is to help them prevent injury to a tooth – especially if they are active in sports – by providing them with a protective mouthguard. Seeing our dental team twice a year will help us keep an eye out for developing cavities so they can be stopped from progressing far enough to need a dental crown.
We look forward to helping your child maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. If you would like to know if a crown is right for your child’s dental needs, please give us a call today to schedule a consultation with our pediatric dentist.
Teaching Your Child About Dental Health
Getting your child involved in his or her own dental health could be a challenge initially. You might struggle with getting them to understand the importance of brushing their teeth or even trying to make them care. Beginning your child’s dental health education early can help get them involved and may even make it more exciting and fun to your child.
Creating a Picture
One way your child could learn about his or her mouth is by creating a mouth self-portrait. You simply need a mirror, paper, crayons and a well-lit area. Your child can open his or her mouth and look in the mirror, while you discuss what you both see. You can talk about the gums, teeth, tongue, and bottom and roof of the mouth. Then we recommend that you challenge your son or daughter to draw and label each of those parts. Doing so can help them be familiar with these parts for their entire life.
To help teach your child the proper brushing techniques, you can use a hand-drawn sketch of a tooth on dark colored paper. After the sketch is completed, hand your son or daughter a toothbrush and some white paint, so they can practice their own “brushing” techniques and cover the entire tooth. When they are done with the paper, you can guide them over to the sink and, with a new toothbrush, you may supervise your child as they brush their teeth.
Teaching Healthy Foods
Another idea would be to take your son or daughter to your local grocery. While you are there, you and your child can make two lists: one labeled “Foods for Strong Teeth” and the other “Foods That Might Hurt My Teeth.” Together, you decide which list each food item would go. You might even make a third category labeled something like, “Once-in-a-While Treat.”
Speak to your child about their taste buds on their tongue and how they work. Tell them how your taste buds send messages to your brain so that it can identify what the body is eating. These taste buds are how your child can identify his or her favorite foods, as well as the ones they don’t like. Remind your child that even though something tastes good, it doesn’t mean that it’s healthy for you.
Educating on Cavities
A permanent marker, watercolor marker and a paper towel can actually help you explain to your child how cavities can spread. With a permanent marker, draw the shape of a tooth on the paper towel. Then with the watercolor marker, place a dot on the tooth. You can explain to your child that a cavity can be a small hole in the tooth, but that it can get bigger without proper dental care. Then, drip a little water onto your “cavity” and watch as it spreads.
If you would like more ideas on how to teach your child about their dental health, please give us a call. Your child’s smile is our top priority, so let us help you achieve your child’s best dental health today!
Enjoy Mother’s Day with a Healthy Smile
This is the month where we recognize our mothers for all their efforts and take the opportunity to thank them for all they have done, which may also include them teaching us how to brush and floss. As a mother, your oral health is important to both you and your family. When your teeth are strong and your gums healthy, you’ll feel better and be able to take care of your family. Mother’s Day is a reminder your smile is just as important, so now is the time to focus on your dental care needs.
Women face some unique oral health concerns that require routine oral care with the help of the dentist and at your own hand. Some of these circumstances include the following:
-Menstrual cycle: During the course of your menstrual cycle, your hormones can fluctuate and result in red, swollen and bleeding gums, as well as canker sores and cold sores.
-Hormonal birth control: If you use a pill, shot, UID or vaginal ring, your body may have increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can make your gums red and sensitive. Furthermore, changes in hormones can complicate tooth extraction by resulting in clotting failure. If you need to have a tooth removed, we encourage you to notify our dentist of your birth control method as well as any other medicine you take.
-Pregnancy gingivitis: Whether you are just starting a family or adding a wonderful little addition, pregnancy makes proper oral care more important than ever. During this time, many women develop pregnancy gingivitis, which can increase dental plaque due to hormonal changes as well as inflame and irritate the gums, even causing them to bleed.
-Menopause: Menopause causes estrogen levels to plummet, and this causes some women to experience a burning sensation in their mouths, a decreased saliva flow that causes dry mouth and an increased risk of osteoporosis that can lead to gum disease.
To prevent and manage these conditions so that you can have the healthy and beautiful smile you deserve, we encourage you to brush for two minutes twice a day as well as floss daily and reduce your intake of sugary snacks. It’s also important to visit your dentist every six months for dental checkups, or sooner if you feel something is not right in your mouth. If you are pregnant, we recommend getting a dental exam and cleaning more often.
Be sure to celebrate your mothers and grandmothers this month, and encourage them to take the time to attend to their own needs, especially their dental health. Our team welcomes the hardworking and loving mothers of our community to contact our dental office and schedule a consultation today!
Taking a Closer Look at Your Teen’s Dental Habits
Teens can often have poor oral hygiene or crowded/crooked teeth, leaving them more prone to cavities or other dental problems. There’s no doubt a lot is going on for teens, and sometimes their oral health is put on the back burner while they handle all of the other things going on in their lives. School, sports, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, chores in the home and relationships with parents and siblings – not to mention their own physical, mental and emotional growth – might all take priority over the health of their teeth and gums.
It’s important to help them appreciate the value of a healthy smile in terms they can respect. Help them develop consistent daily habits like brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. A travel-size toothbrush in their backpack can help them remember to brush after meals or snacks on the run. Combined with a healthy diet and keeping regular dental cleanings, you can help them maintain an attractive appearance while fending off cavities, gingivitis and tooth loss.
Regularly seeing the dentist is more important than ever under these circumstances. It is normal to go in for a cleaning and exam every six months, but if they are wearing braces, have special needs or a family history of cavities, they may need to be seen more often.
When it comes to dental health and teenagers, it helps to recognize their emotional and mental well-being. On the one hand, at this stage of development, they are hyper-aware of their appearance, so their self-image depends on how happy they are with the way they fit in with their peers. If they are plagued with poorly aligned teeth or jaws, this can also affect their self-confidence. On the other hand, they are busier than ever and distracted with a variety of daily concerns. So, it’s no wonder that for young people between five and seventeen years of age, tooth decay is the number one chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Diet is particularly tricky when it comes to teens since sugary foods like candy and energy drinks are often popular and easy to access. They also tend to eat on the go, opting for fast food or nutrition bars high in refined carbohydrates. If they are grazing – eating throughout the day – their teeth may be exposed to sugar constantly. You want to encourage them to make healthier choices by providing easy access to tooth-friendly snacks such as cheese sticks, carrot sticks or apples they can eat anywhere. Limit their access to carbonated drinks, especially soda, and offer healthier alternatives like water, milk and juices instead. Their teeth will not only appreciate the healthy nutrients but their overall health as well.
In addition to dietary concerns, teens might also engage in unhealthy habits while they navigate the world around them. This may involve experimenting with tobacco or alcohol, or body or oral piercings. Inform your teens about the dangers of unhealthy habits so they can protect their smile.
If you would like more information on how to establish healthy dental habits with your teen, feel free to give us a call today! We’ll be happy to assist you and your children achieve great smiles for years to come.
A Pulpotomy Can Save Your Child’s Damaged Baby Tooth
Does your child need a root canal treatment, called a pulpotomy, to save a damaged primary tooth? Are you wondering why children even get root canals? The truth is root canals – which save teeth that have a bacterial infection or inflammation in the tooth pulp – prevent primary teeth from being lost prematurely.
The early loss of a baby tooth can cause issues with speech development, chewing and the alignment of the permanent teeth still developing. Primary teeth are essential space holders for the emerging adult teeth coming in. When a tooth is lost, the surrounding teeth will shift to fill in this space and cause problems with bite alignment.
Signs of Tooth Damage
If your child displays any of the following signs, they may need treatment:
- Sudden toothache
- Throbbing, constant or intermittent tooth pain
- Sensitivity to hot or cold liquids, or certain foods (sweet, tart, spicy, etc.)
- Pain when chewing or speaking
If a primary tooth has pulpal (nerve) damage or a newly erupted adult tooth has nerve damage, your child may require a root canal treatment (a pulpotomy). Whether the pulp has been damaged because of trauma or cavities, the tooth still needs to be addressed. Aside from being space holders that allow the emerging teeth to come in properly, a bad bite or malocclusion may arise since the teeth and jaw bone are still growing into place.
A pulpotomy works by removing only part of the nerve, unlike an adult root canal where all of the pulp tissue is taken out. The good news is when working with a baby tooth, the treatment is quicker and not as invasive as adult treatment. Only the diseased tissue is taken out, and the healthy tissue is protected. A baby crown will be placed afterward so the tooth can still hold space for the adult tooth.
Our endodontist will evaluate your child’s medical history and take dental X-rays to see the inside of the tooth so an accurate diagnosis can be made. After the area has been numbed using local anesthesia, miniature dental instruments will be used to remove the decayed tissue. To protect the healthy pulp tissue, antibacterial material will be applied and then sealed to prevent additional infection. A biocompatible medicated filling is applied to offer comfort and facilitate healing. The filling will be absorbed by the body (just like the roots of a primary tooth would do), so the adult tooth can take its place. Often a tiny stainless steel crown will be used to restore the tooth’s design.
Preparing Your Child
You can prepare your child before the appointment to ease them into the treatment. Remind them how much better they will feel once the tooth is taken care of and their pain is relieved! When talking to them about the pulpotomy, stay upbeat and use calming language. Focus on the benefits they will receive, reassuring they will comfortable throughout the treatment, and you will be by their side. With the help of in-office pain management and over-the-counter pain relievers, it will help soothe any soreness afterward.
If your child has tooth pain or needs a pulpotomy for an infected tooth, please reach out to our team for an evaluation. We can help your child relieve their pain and make sure they keep their baby teeth until their adult teeth are ready to come in!
National Children’s Dental Health Month is Here!
February brings National Children’s Dental Health Month! This is brought to you by the American Dental Association to create child awareness of the benefits of good oral health. This year’s month-long campaign is, “Brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile.”
First Dental Visit
Around their first birthday, or within six months after their first tooth emerges, visit our dentist to make sure your child’s teeth are developing properly. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, over 50 percent of children will have some kind of tooth decay before they turn five, so it’s important for your child to attend early dental visits. We can address any oral hygiene questions you have and let you know when it is time to start using a toothbrush.
Let them see you brushing and flossing, and help them brush and floss their teeth. By following the 2-2-2 Rule (seeing the dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing twice a day for two minutes), you’ll develop healthy oral hygiene habits.
-Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brush along the gum line.
-Brush each tooth in a back and forth, up and down motion.
-Clean the inside, outside, back and top surfaces of each tooth.
-Gently wipe the tongue to remove bacteria.
Brush twice a day for two minutes each, giving the molars some extra attention. If your little one wants to help, you can take turns brushing or let them start and you finish. Don’t let them share their toothbrush, and replace it when the bristles start to fray.
When your child’s teeth touch, it is time to start flossing the areas that the toothbrush can’t clean. Whether it’s dental floss, floss sticks/picks or oral irrigators, find a flossing tool that works best and use it!
-Using about 18 inches of floss, you can wrap an end around each of your middle fingers.
-Slide the floss between two teeth gently
-At the gum line, create a C-shape around each tooth
-Pull the floss tight to scrape against each tooth and repeat until all have been cleaned.
When your child’s manual dexterity and coordination is developed around six or seven years old, you can let them start brushing on their own. At this time, our dentist can also speak with you about fluoride and dental sealants to prevent cavities. Your child can usually floss by themselves by the time they are nine or ten.
High schoolers are often busy with school, sports and extracurricular activities, work and socializing, so you want to help them stick to their daily oral hygiene habits. They may be wearing braces, having wisdom teeth removed and feeling self-conscious about their smile (and their breath), so good oral hygiene habits can support their goals.
-Encourage them to use a timer, listen to their favorite song while brushing and flossing for two minutes, or switch to an electric toothbrush with a timer.
-Keep plenty of dental hygiene supplies in stock such as soft toothbrushes, flavored flosses, toothpaste and a toothbrush for their backpack when they are on the go.
-Keep fruits and vegetables handy instead of junk food for healthier snacking.
-If they are active in sports, supply them with an athletic guard to protect teeth from being chipped, cracked or lost.
-Talk to your teen about peer-pressure activities that can damage his or her smile like smoking, drinking or getting an oral piercing.
Your teens want to look and feel their best, so support their efforts for maintaining those oral habits instilled in their childhood. This month is a good time to reinforce good habits and provide your children and teens with the tools and support they need for a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Should You Be Worried About Your Child’s Thumb, Finger or Pacifier Habit?
Babies sucking their thumb, finger, or pacifier is a natural reflex that helps them feel secure and happy. This is often used to help them relax and fall asleep, and they even do this in the womb! If your child is still doing this, the hope is they lose interest and stop this behavior between the ages of 2 to 4 (according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry®), or when their front permanent teeth are ready to come in. You don’t have much to worry about before this occurs.
However, once your child’s adult teeth erupt, the sucking action can cause issues with the healthy growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. So, if your child continues to suck on their thumb, finger or a pacifier to soothe themselves after the age of 4, you may need to help them stop this habit. At this stage, constant and intense sucking can lead to dental issues. This may include interfering with the upper front teeth coming in properly, how the jaws and teeth-supporting bone are developing and aligning, and even a narrowing of the roof of the mouth. However, passive finger sucking is not the same as aggressive thumb sucking, which can cause issues with your child’s primary teeth.
During following checkups, our pediatric dentist will keep an eye out on how your child’s teeth are coming in and how their jaws are developing. If your child is older, their jaw may require orthodontic treatment to fix because of an open bite or crossbite. We want to make sure your child’s teeth align properly, so they can eat and speak effectively. Helping your child overcome this habit can prevent bite misalignment, saving them from needing orthodontic treatment or oral surgery down the road.
It’s easy to help your child wean off of their pacifier habit, so you can easily dispose of it. It helps to do this when they are still a baby versus when they become a toddler. Other strategies include placing a bad tasting object/paste that is safe for them, trading it in for something else or giving it to the Binky Fairy (same idea as the Tooth Fairy).
Thumb and finger sucking is a little trickier. For those children who are still dependent on their sucking habits, you can remove their thumb or finger from their mouth after they fall asleep. Another hopeful idea is when your child is of school age, and their peers will pressure them to stop. There are also dental appliances that can help remind your child not to suck their thumbs or fingers.
The most effective ways to help your child wean off of this habit is to offer positive reinforcement in the form of praise or a reward when they don’t suck on their thumb or fingers. Another option is to distract them and redirect their focus to something else.
If your child is sucking because of insecurity, you might focus your efforts on addressing the reason for the anxiety, so you can give your child the comfort they need. You can also place a bandage over the thumb or finger or a sock over their hand while they sleep. Our pediatric dental team is also happy to help you prevent this habit for your child. If you would like help or to schedule a visit, please give our team a call today!
Include the Tooth Fairy as One of Santa’s Helpers
Santa and his elves aren’t the only ones giving gifts to children to reward good behavior throughout the year. The Tooth Fairy is another children’s favorite as she bestows gifts in exchange for their lost teeth year-round. Considering they can lose up to 20 baby teeth, children can get to know the Tooth Fairy very well in your journey to help them develop dental awareness!
Motivating your children to brush and floss their teeth takes daily effort, and you can enlist not only our dentist and dental team to help but the Tooth Fairy as well to make your job easier. Even though your child won’t start losing their chompers until five or six, you can talk about the Tooth Fairy much earlier. We encourage using the idea of the Tooth Fairy to help your child learn about their oral health and develop good oral hygiene habits along the way. You can enlist this character’s help in reinforcing good oral health practices by letting them know she places a higher premium on a healthy tooth over a decaying one. In fact, she uses the nice teeth for her special projects!
Reinforce Good Oral Health Habits With These Gifts
And while an older child, say eight or nine, appreciates a monetary gift in exchange for their tooth, a younger child may be more responsive with a special treat:
- Children’s book or movie about Tooth Fairy adventures or an adventure to the dentist’s office
- A small toy that is dental health-related, like a tooth-shaped pencil box or plushie
- Tooth-friendly snack packet or gum
- Light up or musical toothbrush or even one with their favorite superhero
- Cute kid’s floss dispenser
- Fun-flavored toothpaste
Just remember, your gift for the first lost tooth will set your child’s expectations for the ones to come, so you might want to plan ahead as to how you want to encourage and reward your child.
Tooth Fairy as a Dental Health Teaching Tool
Encourage your child to learn and practice good oral health habits by having the Tooth Fairy leave personalized notes that reinforce healthy habits. She can encourage brushing twice every day, flossing once a day, eating more vegetables, and going on regular trips to our dentist and Tooth Fairy “assistants.”
Along with oral health tips, Tooth Fairy notes can reinforce good habits like how well your child is doing with their oral hygiene practices, or that they need to brush a little longer or focus on the back teeth more. Notes can be printed using online sources with cute artwork or handwritten and sprinkled with glittery fairy dust. Use Tooth Fairy notes to encourage your child’s good habits and to motivate them to keep up their good work. Reinforcing good behavior is an excellent motivational tool and can even be used it to set new oral health goals!
If your child is old enough, you can enlist the help of a mobile app to create enthusiasm, such as Tiny Dentist or Brusheez Tooth Brushing Timer. Thinking that the tooth fairy might be watching can help your child get excited about spending time caring for their chompers every day. To start the new year with your child well on their way to good oral health, be sure to include our dental team in your Tooth Fairy game and get them excited about their healthy smile!
Everything You Want to Know About Your Child’s Primary Teeth
Do you have questions about your child’s developing smile? If so, today we’re going to talk about their teeth. Your infant’s primary teeth can appear as early as five months, and by the time they are one year old, they usually have sprouted six baby teeth (typically the top four teeth in the front and the bottom two). Their first teeth are mostly used for biting food and not for actual chewing, that is, until the molars show up, often during their second year. By the time your little one is three, all 20 of their baby teeth (10 on top and 10 on bottom) erupt in pairs – one on each side of the jaws – and stay put until your child turns six or seven.
When their teeth start to erupt, you can help soothe sore gums by rubbing gently with a cool, moist cloth or gauze, or have them bite on a cooled teething ring. If you are concerned about your child sucking their thumb or pacifier, just be sure they stop by the time they are two (or even earlier) as this can affect their bite by altering the position of the front teeth.
It’s important to remember that though they are temporary teeth, primary teeth are still essential for your child’s dental health as they are living tissues. Like their later permanent teeth to come, baby teeth have enamel, dentin, dental pulp with nerves and blood vessels, and tooth roots which anchor the tooth in the bone.
This means that primary teeth aren’t just temporary space holders for their permanent teeth, they actually play a crucial role in the development of your child’s smile. Losing baby teeth too soon can allow the surrounding teeth to shift and interfere with adult teeth trying to erupt. Primary teeth also help your child develop proper speech as their tongue and lips touch the teeth to enable them to pronounce words clearly. Primary teeth also allow good nutrition as they chew food and break it down for proper digestion.
You can take good care of their primary teeth to prevent decay by doing the following:
- Brush or clean teeth daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cleaning your child’s teeth with a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to protect erupting teeth.
- Provide a nutritious diet for developing teeth and limit sugary foods and beverages.
- Take your baby to the dentist by the time they are one. Brush your child’s teeth until they are between six and eight years old as then they will have developed the manual dexterity necessary to brush teeth correctly. You can teach them healthy habits by letting them start the brushing process and you finish it.
Primary teeth start to fall out around the age of six as permanent molars erupt in the back of the mouth. By the time they are eight, your child’s permanent teeth may erupt in the front and by the time they are 13 their remaining adult teeth come in, the last being their third molars or wisdom teeth.
If you have any questions about your child’s developing oral health or want to make an appointment for them with our caring dentist, please give our friendly team a call. We look forward to helping you build a healthy foundation for your child’s smile!
Monsters Need Dental Care, Too!
Are you having a hard time getting your child to take care of their smile? With the holidays fast approaching, you want them to take even better care of their pearly whites with so many sweets and treats coming at them. We want your children to have great dental care, and some great ways to help your child in their dental care include:
- Showing them how to brush and floss
- Being a good example by brushing and flossing with them.
- Practice going to the dentist office. Use a popsicle stick and light to play “pretend dentist” so they get used to having an object in their mouth.
- Set goals and reward them with a small toy or fun new toothbrush. You can set up a calendar with fun stickers so they can see their progression.
- Read a fun story (like the one below!) to get them excited to brush and floss.
Monsters Need Dental Care, Too!
Wesley the Werewolf woke up one morning with a toothache, thinking to himself, “I don’t want my tooth to break!” So he hurried and made a dental appointment, hoping for a cure or some type of ointment.
He knew Halloween was fast approaching with all kinds of tricks and monsters, sweets and treats. Wesley was determined to be prepared for all kinds of scares out there on the streets.
Dr. Vernon the Vampire greeted him with a hello and smile, explaining everything and making jokes all the while. All of a sudden with a twist and a flick, Dr. Vernon pulled out an old toothpick.
“There’s your toothache problem! A toothpick where it shouldn’t have been! The rest of your smile looks healthy, here’s your gold star. Now go enjoy your Halloween!”
With a thank you and a toothy grin, Wesley went on his wolfy way, determined to enjoy the best day of the year and to not let another toothpick stray.
Wesley met with his monster friends, Gina the Goblin and Frankenstein’s son, Frankie. Gina looked excited to greet the night, but Frankie had a scowl and seemed a bit cranky.
Gina asked, “Frankie, why the long face? It’s the best scary day of the year!”
He sadly replied, “I think I’m losing a tooth, that is what I fear!”
“Not to worry!” said Wesley with a grin. “Dr. Vernon will take you in!”
With some extra courage, they rushed over to Dr. Vernon’s cave. He pulled the tooth with ease, telling Frankie, “You were very brave!”
Dr. Vernon gave Frankie a pat on the head and told him while putting his tooth in a jar, “Put this under your pillow for Harry the Tooth Fairy, he’s the best fairy by far.”
With a reminder to brush and floss each day, the monsters went on their happy, frightful way. Ready for Halloween with their best smile in place, they disappeared into the night without a trace.
Our team will be happy to set up an appointment for your child’s biannual exam and cleaning. Feel free to give us a call today, and we’ll do everything we can to help your child with their smile as well as help them feel comfortable in our office.
What Should and Shouldn’t Go in Your Teen’s Smile
With so many concerns surrounding your teen’s healthy development, one important factor to manage is their oral health. During this time in their life, they are exposed to new situations and fads with their peers. You can help them navigate this stage to build healthy habits for a lifetime of healthy smiles. So, let’s take a look at what’s in your teen’s mouth.
Increasingly popular, mouth jewelry increases susceptibility to infection. Not only does the mouth already harbor bacteria, but when they are combined with oral piercings, it can result in infections and swelling of the tongue. This can interfere with breathing not to mention your overall oral health. If an infection arises from the use of unclean equipment by the person performing the piercing, your teen can contract a bloodborne form of hepatitis. Both tongue and mouth piercings can damage the teeth when they eat, talk, chew or sleep. It can also chip or fracture teeth, necessitating a dental filling. With extensive damage, damage can even require a root canal or tooth extraction.
Using tobacco in any form is bad for your teen’s health, especially their oral health. Along with bad breath, it can stain their teeth and tongue, and slow healing if a tooth is damaged, extracted or another oral treatment is done. Tobacco use leads to gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Helping your teen avoid tobacco products is the best way to prevent these problems, and if they already use, help them quit to prevent further or future harm (look at cessation programs for help).
Teens, particularly young women, are vulnerable to adopting an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. These disorders are particularly harmful to the mouth because they cause poor nutrition which harms the gums and other soft oral tissues. If the salivary glands swell from a disorder, your teen could end up with a chronic dry mouth. If they are regularly throwing up, the stomach acids bathing the teeth erode precious tooth enamel and damage the teeth. Talk to your teen about eating disorders so they are aware of the damage and seek treatment for them if they do have a problem.
When your teen’s third molars come in, they don’t always have sufficient space to erupt straight up from the root. If the teeth become impacted, it can harm abutting teeth and even cause infection. Regular dental visits can help determine if your teen needs to have a wisdom tooth extracted. Along with infection, signs that a wisdom tooth might need extracting include pain, a cyst, a tumor, gum disease or tooth decay. A wisdom tooth may also need to be extracted if your teen is going to wear braces.
Teen Oral Health Tips
Brush twice a day, floss at least once daily and use an antibacterial mouthwash if needed. Carrying a travel size toothbrush, bottled water and even sugarless gum in a backpack can help them stay on top of oral hygiene on the go.
Maintain routine six-month dental visits to look for problems, remove tartar, polish their pearly whites and answer any questions or concerns about their oral health.
Eat a healthy diet. Tempting as it is to eat on the run or skip meals to get to school, attend extracurricular activities, or work part-time jobs, it will eventually take a toll on their oral health. Make sure they have access to balanced meals and healthy snacks like apples, carrot sticks and cheese, water and low-sugar drinks.
If your teen engages in sports or high impact recreational activities, they are at increased risk for oral injury. Equipping them with a mouthguard is their best bet for protecting their mouth from harm.
We are happy to meet with your teen and explain how their habits can affect their oral health now and in the future. If you have further questions about helping your teen protect their smile, please give us a call. We are happy to help you and your child achieve a healthy, happy smile!
Caring for Your Child’s Smile
As their primary caregiver, one of the most important aspects of bringing your child in for their first dental visit is learning how best to care for their teeth. We are happy to show you how to clean their mouth daily and answer any questions or concerns you may have about their oral hygiene. We can also spot check for potential issues early on to make sure that your child’s oral development is on track for a healthier smile.
This is important because as your child develops good oral habits in caring for their baby teeth, they will more likely maintain those habits as they grow older and care for their adult teeth. Their permanent teeth come in from the ages of 6 to 11, so this is the time they need to be brushing well. You really want them to realize the importance of practicing healthy habits for long-term oral health. This ongoing daily care helps maintain their teeth while helping them develop a confident smile and their burgeoning self-image.
By now you have probably already noticed that children are good at observation. They watch what others do, and then copy them, this is how they learn. So if they see you taking good care of your teeth, they will likely be motivated to do the same themselves. When it comes to children’s behavior, the imitation game is something most parents are definitely familiar with!
How to model healthy dental habits
Brushing your own teeth with your child can make hygiene more interesting for them. Besides setting the dental hygiene example for your child, you can make it even more interesting by giving them fun tools they can use. Having access to toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss in different colors and various flavors can make cleaning their teeth more of a treat rather than being a chore. If you can take them with you when you replenish these items, so much the better. If they can help pick out something they like, they are more likely to look forward to using it.
While brushing with your child, you can also keep showing them the proper way to do it and remind them to brush gently so they don’t saw at their teeth. This will help them learn how to clean their teeth and gums without wearing them down.
Other fun aspects of teaching children good oral habits is giving them challenges to reach and rewarding them for doing a great job, such as consistently brushing their teeth. You can even use colorful charts with stickers they can add when they are first learning and practicing good habits.
If you would like to know more about how to care for your child’s teeth and teaching them along the way, feel free to give us a call. We are always happy to help your child have the best dental care!
Why Your Dentist Recommends Brushing Your Teeth at School
If you want a strong and healthy smile, then you need to clean and care for your teeth and gums often. Now, you probably already know to clean your smile every morning and night by brushing and flossing, but did you know you could also brush your teeth at school? Well, it’s true. In fact, brushing at school can help you and your oral health in many ways! It can keep your smile clean, help you prevent cavities and help you avoid embarrassing food-stuck-in-the-smile moments. So, our dentist, Dr. Skanchy, recommends brushing your teeth at school after lunch if possible. To make the task easier, we recommend doing the following things:
-Pack your toothbrush and toothpaste in your backpack each morning when you leave for school. When you have these tools with you, you can brush whenever you want! To make this even easier, you can buy a separate toothbrush and toothpaste and just keep them in your bag or locker. That way you won’t accidentally forget your oral hygiene tools in the morning when you’re running out the door.
-Remind yourself to brush. You can do so by setting an alarm on your phone, writing on a sticky note and sticking it to the book you use for class, or even asking a friend to remind you. As long as you remember to brush, your smile is in good hands!
Do you have any questions about brushing in Riverton, UT? If so, please contact our dental team at South Hills Dental Specialists by dialing 385.210.1000. We are here to help you in any way we can, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
How to Protect Your Child’s Smile
If you want to protect your child’s smile from dental issues, oral injury and more, then our dentist, Dr. Tony Skanchy, is more than happy to help you. The healthier and stronger your child’s smile is, the better! Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your child’s smile remain in tip-top shape. Those things are:
– Help them clean their smile: This means you should help them brush their teeth twice a day. To do so, use a child-sized toothbrush and the appropriate children’s toothpaste. If your child has all of their little chompers, then it’s also important to floss their teeth daily. To make oral hygiene fun, make it a game or a family activity!
– Consider dental sealants: Dental sealants are thin, clear coatings that are painted onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth and hardened. These coatings protect the teeth from bacteria and acid and help prevent cavities and enamel erosion. Check to see if your child is a candidate for dental sealants today by scheduling an appointment!
– Encourage the use of a mouthguard: A mouthguard can protect your child’s smile when they participate in high-contact sports and activities. In fact, it can help prevent knocked-out and broken teeth when your child gets hit in the mouth.
Do you have any questions about how to protect your child’s smile in Riverton, UT? If so, please contact South Hills Dental Specialists when you have the opportunity. Our dental team will be more than happy to give you the answers and information you’re looking for, so don’t be afraid to call 385.210.1000 now!
Dental Restorations: Pregnancy and Dental Health
Improving your oral health includes always being ready for any curveballs that may be thrown your way. Life is not always simple, and in several instances, you may be faced with additional mountains to climb. If you find yourself pregnant, your teeth will be at an increased susceptibility to dental damage, so it is important to not only care for your growing infant but your oral health as well.
A drop in oral hygiene can cause several health risks while you’re pregnant. This can lead to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature delivery. This is important to understand because individuals may often neglect their oral health while they are pregnant. Do not do this. Instead, visit your dentist regularly for the necessary treatments and techniques to continue to ensure your oral health continues as expected. As long as you continue to clean your mouth out by brushing and flossing every single day and practicing effective oral health care, you have a chance of your pregnancy continuing smoothly without damaging your teeth and gums.
When visiting your dentist, let them know of your current conditions and any prenatal vitamins or medications that you may be taking. Also, let them know of your diet and issues that you may have with symptoms associated with poor oral hygiene. They will be able to determine if any damage is occurring and what you can do to improve your smile. Furthermore, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet that has well-balanced meals that are free of sugar. This is important not only for your own safety but for the health of the baby as well. Even after delivering your baby, it is important to continue to avoid sugars as much as possible.
South Hills Dental Specialists wants to help provide you with better dental care while pregnant. To schedule an appointment at our office in Riverton, UT, please call us at 385.210.1000. Drs. Sloan and Aste and our team invite you to stop by for your oral health care treatments and get advice on how you can prepare for your child’s future dental care.
Oral Health Care Plans: Pediatric Dentistry
Have you ever thought about bringing your child in to see a pediatric dentist? Before your child is 1 years old, it is important to make sure they visit their pediatric dentist for a comprehensive examination of their oral health to determine everything is functioning as intended. A pediatric dentist will be able to assess your child’s oral health care and provide any additional recommendations or treatments to ensure their mouth is continually cleaned as needed.
Here are a few more helpful tips and information about pediatric dentistry:
- Pediatric dentists are well-trained in a variety of treatments for a child’s oral health care to continue the development of their teeth and gums. They will also be able to assist with making sure they’re smile is well taken care of as well as all aspects of their oral health care.
- Pediatric dentists typically receive 2-3 years of advanced dental training so they can accomplish treatments and procedures designed for children. Furthermore, they can even provide adult treatments such as x-rays, fluoride treatments, dental sealants and orthodontic care for children.
- Through the use of pediatric dentistry, individuals who require additional attention can be properly monitored. This includes infants, children, and special needs patients.
- Many oral health issues in children require the specific expertise of a pediatric dentist. This includes teething, baby bottle tooth decay and thumb sucking issues.
If you would like to learn more about pediatric dentistry, book an appointment for your child or loved one with South Hills Dental Specialists, by contacting us at our office in Riverton, Utah. Our number is 385-210-0000. Our entire team is here to meet your pediatric dentistry needs!
Tips to Help Improve Your Kid’s Oral Hygiene
If you want your kid to have a strong and healthy smile, then our dentist, Dr. Tony Skanchy, is more than happy to help you. Our dental team wants the same for your kid! We understand that oral hygiene for a child can be quite difficult. So, to help you make sure you’re cleaning and caring for their teeth and gums, we encourage you to do the following things:
-Clean their smile regularly. To do so, it’s best to use a child-sized toothbrush and the appropriate toothpaste to clean their smile every morning and night. If your child is under three years old, it’s best to avoid letting your child use fluoride toothpaste. When it comes to flossing, ask our dental team about the best time to start.
-Don’t let your child go to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of milk. This is because giving your child a sugary beverage in bed can promote baby bottle tooth decay, which is a fancy name for child cavities. These cavities can cause severe discomfort and can affect your child’s oral health. It’s best to keep baby bottle tooth decay at bay.
-Bring them into our office for their checkups. It’s recommended to give them a professional dental cleaning and exam every six months (their first appointment should be around their first birthday). These appointments will ensure that your child has the top-notch oral health they deserve.
Do you have any questions or would you like to schedule an appointment for your child? If so, please contact South Hills Dental Specialists today. Our dental team will be more than happy to teach you all about oral hygiene in Riverton, Utah, if you dial 385-210-0000!
This Holiday Season Give Your Child the Gift of a Healthy Smile
When it comes to pediatric dentistry and oral developmental milestones, our South Hills Dental Specialists team is pleased to address the emergence of your child’s wisdom teeth. When these third molars appear in teens and young adults, many of them just don’t have room in their dental arches for these erupting teeth.
To help with this dental issue, our team is pleased to offer oral surgery. While we work to give your child the most conservative and least invasive treatment necessary, oral surgery may be needed to maintain their healthy smile and well-being. Wisdom tooth extraction removes those chompers which have become impacted or which are growing in at such an angle that it will be detrimental to the surrounding teeth because of the way the molar is coming in.
When one of our skilled dentists removes a wisdom tooth removed, they will make a tiny incision that opens the gum tissue located over the wisdom tooth. Then, any bone material covering the tooth will be removed. The tooth is then rocked gently with a dental instrument to loosen the tooth. If needed, the tooth may be removed in small pieces. After the tooth has been successfully removed, stitches may be applied.
Along with in-office oral surgery, we help your child receive the care they need by working with specialists and other oral surgeons if necessary. Our qualified dental specialists will work with you to make sure your child’s surgical treatment is as comfortable as possible to help them have a positive experience.
If your child’s wisdom teeth are coming in and you would like them to see Dr. Tony Skanchy, please call 385-210-0000 to schedule an appointment. Our entire team in Riverton, Utah is happy to help your child receive the care they deserve!
Dental Sealants Can Help Your Child’s Oral Health and Smile
Dental sealants are wafer-thin barriers that cover the teeth and protect them. They create a shield that keeps tooth decay, enamel erosion, and other dental issues at bay. If you want your child to have a top-notch oral health and smile, then you need to consider protecting their chompers with dental sealants.
Most of the time, dental sealants are applied right after the permanent teeth grow into place and after a dental cleaning. That way we know the teeth are spotless. The treatment is simple, easy, and painless. It can be done in one short appointment and it doesn’t even require an anesthetic. The best part about dental sealants is that they can protect the teeth for many years. They can handle the regular wear and tear of chewing with little to no care.
Fortunately, adults can benefit from dental sealants as well, as long as you have strong, healthy teeth that don’t suffer dental issues and don’t have dental fillings. Your dentist will determine if this is the right choice for you.
To learn more about dental sealants in Riverton, Utah, please reach out to South Hills Dental Specialists at 385-210-0000 when you have the chance. Our dental team is here to help you in any way we can, and we are excited to give you the information you need!
The Tips You Need to Keep Your Child’s Smile in Tip-Top Shape
Our dentist, Dr. Tony Skanchy, wants your child to have a strong and healthy smile, as we’re sure you do too. This is why our dental team encourages you to clean and care for your child’s teeth and gums on a regular basis. That way they can achieve the top-notch oral health they deserve. To help you, we have some handy tips to share.
First, start scrubbing your child’s little chompers when their first tooth appears. As you brush, use a child-sized toothbrush that has soft bristles. This brush can gently and painlessly clean your child’s teeth. You can use a small amount of toothpaste to clean your child’s smile, but make sure it doesn’t have fluoride and it’s safe to swallow. If you can’t find this type of paste, just use water.
Second, introduce your child to fluoride toothpaste when they are 2 years old. At this point, your child’s little teeth should be able to handle the fluoride. Also, your child should know not to swallow the paste by now, so the paste won’t give your child a tummy ache because they won’t swallow it.
Third, let your child watch you brush your teeth. This will help them learn how to properly care for their smile. It will also help them understand that oral hygiene is important for everyone.
Call South Hills Dental Specialists today at 385-210-0000 if you have any questions or if you would like to know more about children’s oral hygiene in Riverton, Utah. Our dental team is happy to help you in any way we can, and we look forward to your phone call!
“Caring for Your Baby’s Growing Teeth”
Do you have a child who is just beginning to show their little pearly-whites? We have some information that may help you.
The first baby tooth usually erupts from above the gum line when a child is about 6 months old. However, every child is different, and that’s ok. It’s possible that a child may not get his or her teeth until age one and a half. The other teeth gradually grow into place and your child typically has a full smile by the time he or she is three years old.
You’ll need to care for your little one’s teeth and gums regularly. Using a baby toothbrush and water, brush those little teeth once or twice a day. Then rub the gums clean with a wet washcloth. Once your child turns two or three, you can start adding toothpaste to their brushing routine. And the minute they have two teeth next to each other, you’ll want to start flossing. When they turn about five, they may be ready to start brushing on their own.
Once their first tooth peaks above the gums, or around their first birthday, you can bring your child into South Hills Dental Specialists to meet with Dr. Tony Skanchy. This will not only help them build a strong and healthy set of teeth, but to feel comfortable at the dentist’s office.
Do you have more questions on your child’s dental health and care? Please call our office in Riverton, Utah at 385-210-0000 and talk to a member of our dental team. We’d be more than happy to help!
“THE ANSWERS TO YOUR PEDIATRIC DENTAL CARE QUESTIONS”
Do you ever feel overwhelmed when taking care of your child’s smile? If so, Dr. Tony Skanchy is more than happy to help you. Typically, the overwhelming feeling is related to having questions and not knowing the answers. So, to help you, he is happy to give you answers to frequently asked questions about pediatric dental care.
Question No. 1: When should I take my child into the dental office for the first time?
You should bring your child into South Hills Dental Specialists six months after their first tooth grows into place or around their first birthday. This will allow our dental team to examine your child’s smile, ensure that their teeth are on the right track, and build a strong relationship with your child.
Question No. 2: How should I prepare my child for their first visit?
The first thing you should do is use positive language and positive tones. If your child is old enough to understand what you are saying, it’s important to help make the appointment sound fun and exciting. You can do this by saying the appointment is a sign that they are growing up. Whatever you do, don’t use negative words or phrases.
Question No. 3: When should my child use “real” toothpaste?
You should give your child toothpaste when they are about 3 years old. When you let them brush with it, make sure you only put a pea-sized amount on the brush. Also, make sure they do not swallow the paste. Swallowing it can upset their stomach.
If you have additional questions that weren’t included in this blog, please remember that you can always reach out to our dental team at South Hills Dental Specialists by dialing 385-210-0000. We are here to help you in any way we can, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
“ORAL HEALTH CARE FOR TWEENS AND TEENS”
It’s very important for tweens and teens to take good care of their smile. This is because their teeth and gums are more vulnerable to dental issues now more than ever. So, to help you help your tween and teen keep their oral health in tip-top shape, Drs. Sloan, Aste, Skanchy Sr., and Skanchy Jr. have some helpful oral health tips.
First, make sure your tween or teen keeps up on oral hygiene. This means they need to use a soft-bristled toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, an easy-to-use flossing product, and antibacterial mouthwash to brush twice a day and floss and rinse daily. The oral hygiene tools they use should have the American Dental Association Seal of Approval.
Second, make sure they drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit between-meal snacking. It’s also best to encourage them to reduce their sugar consumption as much as possible. These things are recommended because drinking water can wash harmful bacteria away, limiting between-meal snacking can make the teeth less vulnerable, and reducing sugar can reduce the chances of cavity development.
Third, make sure they visit our dentists every six months for a routine dental cleaning and exam. This is important because the treatment provided can deeply clean your tween or teen’s smile and help them avoid tooth decay and gum disease. It can also help our team monitor their oral health and perform additional treatments if necessary, like a fluoride treatment or dental sealant placement.
If you have any questions about dental health for teens in Riverton, Utah, please don’t hesitate to reach out to South Hills Dental Specialists. Our dental team is here to help you in any way we can, and we look forward to teaching you how to help your child take care of their smile!
“WHAT IS SPACE MAINTENANCE?”
One of the primary purposes of the primary teeth is to hold space for the developing permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost prematurely either due to infection, trauma, or ectopic eruption of other permanent teeth a space maintainer is recommended. It is much easier to MAINTAIN space than it is to REGAIN space through orthodontics. Typically, orthodontics is complicated if space regaining is needed and it increases treatment time and cost.
A space maintainer is placed to prevent drifting or tipping of the teeth further back in the mouth into the space of the lost tooth. The timing of space maintenance is critical as delayed space maintenance often results in significant loss of space within just days to weeks of loss of the tooth. Therefore, a space maintainer should be placed at the time of extraction if possible. These are called ‘Direct Space Maintainers”. (see image below). In some instances a prefabricated spacer can’t be placed at the time of extraction and a custom space maintainer is necessary. These are called “Indirect Space Maintainers”. (see image below).
DIRECT SPACE MAINTAINERS:
There are two types of direct space maintainers: Distal Shoe Spacers and Band and Loop Spacers. They share a purpose in maintaining space but one, the distal shoe, is necessary to guide the developing permanent 6-year molar that hasn’t come into the mouth yet, into proper position. This type of spacer has a metal plate that is imbedded at the extraction site and gives a guiding plane for the molar to erupt against mimicking the distal root of the primary tooth if it were still present.
Both distal shoes and band and loops can be made with either a crown attachment or a band attachment. Direct space maintainers are usually kept in place a short time. Often they’re replaced with an indirect space maintainer once the permanent molars are in enough to use as an abutment.
INDIRECT SPACE MAINTAINERS:
The two indirect space maintainers depend on whether it’s the lower or the upper arch that is affected. These are made by fitting metal bands on the permanent molars and taking an impression of the teeth. The model is then used to fabricate an appliance that is cemented on the permanent teeth and used either the lower front teeth or the palatal arch as anchorage. These spacers are more permanent and are not removed until the premolars are in ideal postion/occlusion.
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Feel free to call if you have any questions. 385-210-1000.
“IS DEEP SEDATION SAFE FOR MY CHILD?”
Many parents wonder if deep sedation is right for their child. Typically this stems from a fear that deep sedation, a drug-induced depression of consciousness, is unsafe. The short answer is:
The long answer is that the level of safety depends on the experience and protocol followed by the dentist and the auxilliary team used. At South Hills Pediatric Dentistry your child’s safety is our #1 priority! Therefore, our practice philosophy is that we do everything in our power to ensure that potential complications are minimized.
When there are complications during a deep sedation it almost always is associated with respiration. (i.e. aspiration or respiratory depression) Because of this ALL children treated at South Hills are cared for by a certified Dental Anesthesiologist and EVERY child is treated with a nasotracheal tube that ensures that your child’s airway is protected. This means that parents need not worry if their child’s respiration is depressed, the machine will automatically assist until the child can breath on their own. Many dental offices don’t place this nasotracheal tube as a standard of care. That doesn’t mean that your child isn’t recieving good care, it just means they are at increased risk for complications.
If your child has any complex medical conditions they may not qualify for treatment in-office but we would gladly schedule them at the hospital. This is because some medical conditions increase risk and therefore require monitoring post-treatment, sometimes over night. Healthy children can be treated for much cheaper in-office and can be discharged to home within minutes of treatment completion.
• Predictable Outcomes: Treating a potentially uncooperative child while asleep ensures that the quality of care is the absolute best it can be.
• Atraumatic Experience: Treating an anxious or young child while asleep will ensure that your child won’t have heightened dental anxiety for future appointments because there is no memory of the procedure and recovery is much easier.
• Quick Recovery: Many kids tolerate treatment well but struggle for the post treatment period due to the extended numbness. When a child is treated while sedated there are no injections or post operative numbness. Kids wake up happy and cavity free w/ little to no post operative pain.
• Relatively Inexpensive: To take a child to the hospital operating room it can cost thousands of dollars. In-office it costs a fraction of that amount ($365 for the first hour).
If you child has dental work that needs to be completed but you want to ensure that your child is treated safely while preventing dental post-traumatic-stress disorder, give us a call. We can help! 🙂
(For more information on other sedation options, read more HERE.)
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Feel free to call if you have any questions. 385-210-1000.
“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…”
As a dentist, naturally, one of my favorite Christmas songs is “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT TEETH”. This song was written in the 1940s by a 2nd grade teacher who realized that almost all of the children in his class were missing one or both of their front upper teeth. So, to keep with the season I thought I’d write a special blog post about timing of tooth loss explaining why 2nd graders tend to be the ones wanting their two front teeth from our favorite North Pole Hermit. 🙂
Children typically undergo two phases of tooth loss.
PHASE I: Phase I consists of transition of the front 8 teeth (4 upper, 4 lower). This phase typically starts around 6 years of age and ends by age 8 or 9. Hence, 2nd and 3rd grade being the typical ‘Toothless’ years.
PHASE II: Phase II consists of losing 12 teeth (4 canines, 8 primary molars). This phase can start as early as 9 years of age and finishes around 12 years of age but could last until age 14.
There is a wide range of variation from child to child even within the same family. A few general rules are:
1. If your child was delayed getting their baby teeth they will generally be delayed in transitioning to their permanent teeth.
2. Typically the transitioning teeth go from front to back with the exception of the upper canines, they tend to be the last tooth to transition.
3. Being dentally delayed is not a bad thing. I like seeing children delayed in getting their permanent teeth because it means more time with the ‘practice set’. 🙂
In the words of Dr. Seuss:
“And when you get your second set, that’s all the teeth you’ll ever get! So, don’t chew down trees like beavers do. If you do you’ll lose set number two. Don’t gobble junk like Billy Billings! They say his teeth have 50 fillings!”
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Feel free to call if you have any questions. 385-210-1000.
WITH GREAT POWER…
Children are capable of amazing things! Throughout my years treating children I’ve been amazed at what young children can accomplish. I’ve seen 3 year olds cooperate through procedures that adults would find difficult. I’m reminded of a quote that I love:
“With great power comes great responsibility!” Uncle Ben- Spiderman
While this statement is true and our children, undoubtedly, as I mentioned above, have great power, it is important for us as parents and dental providers to recognize our children’s limits. While children are capable of hard things, I caution parents that this great power should NOT require FULL responsibility when it comes to oral hygiene (i.e. brushing and flossing).
There are many studies that show that dexterity and perceptual ability, both crucial requirements for good oral hygiene, are not developed until children are AT LEAST 7-8 years of age. For this reason, along with lack of motivation, it is recommended that parents, not children, be responsible for at-home brushing and flossing until age 7 or 8. Putting oral hygiene responsibility on a 3 or 4 year old is bound to result in improper daily cleaning and will therefore result in early childhood tooth decay.
• BRUSHING: Most kids go through phases where they refuse to cooperate or they want to do it by themselves. Children want to be indepedent. No matter how much your child fights it, complete brushing and flossing even if it means gently restraining them. Giving in to a child’s tantrum will only teach them that “If I scream loud or long enough I can get out of brushing”
• AGE: Most kids should be able to brush and floss independently by age 7 or 8. This is the EARLIEST that your child could take on the responsibility of home care. KEEP IN MIND, MOST 7-8 YEAR OLDS, THOUGH CAPABLE, ARE FORGETFUL AND UNMOTIVATED. So, I recommend parental supervision even into the teen years.
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Feel free to call if you have any questions. 385-210-1000.
CAN I GIVE MY BABY A BOTTLE TO SLEEP?
If there is ONE message I want ALL new parents to hear it is this:
NEVER LET YOUR CHILD FALL ASLEEP WITH A BOTTLE OR SIPP-CUP!!!
The biggest risk factor for developing ‘cavities’ in a young child is taking a bottle, with a sugar containing substance (i.e. milk, juice, soda, Kool-Aid, etc.), to bed. Prior to tooth eruption these sugars are relatively harmless but upon emergence into the oral cavity the teeth are exposed to the sugars, which are then converted to acid, which leach minerals from the newly erupted teeth causing cavitation and tooth decay. When a child falls asleep with a bottle or sippy-cup with milk or juice in it the sugary substance can pool in the child’s mouth or at the very least form a film on the tooth surface. Some parents will leave the bottle in the crib giving the child constant access to the liquid if they awake in the middle of the night. Because the design of the bottle/sippy-cup deposits the liquid directly behind the upper front teeth, most of the time these cavities can go unnoticed for a VERY long time and often result in early tooth loss, infection, and/or pain. It is because of this that ALL Pediatric Dentists and Dentists alike adamantly oppose giving children a bottle or sippy-cup at bedtime.
WHY DO PEOPLE DO IT?
• IGNORANCE: Parents are unaware of the risks and complications
• EXHAUSTION: Sleep is in short supply in any household with an infant. If a bottle helps the child sleep through the night that means more sleep for baby AND for mommy.
• HABIT: Many infants fall asleep with a bottle or with breastfeeding from birth. This habit is very hard to break upon eruption of the first tooth. (It’s like taking away your husband’s TV remote….)
• DON’T START: The best way to break a bad habit is to never develop one. It may sound easier said than done when you’re trying to put your screaming child to bed without success but your child will develop a nighttime routine eventually with or without the bottle.
• QUIT NOW
• COLD TURKEY: I recommend stopping the bottle habit at bedtime immediately. Undoubtedly this will result in a couple hard nights as the child will likely not sleep well but they will eventually adapt.
• SUBSTITUTION: Try putting water in your baby’s bottle at bedtime. If your child is used to falling asleep with milk, gradually dilute the milk over a short period until eventually it’s 100% water (i.e. Night 1 = 90% Milk + 10% Water; Night 2 = 80% Milk + 20% Water, etc.). NOTE: EVENTUALLY YOUR CHILD WILL LIKELY REALIZE THAT IT’S MORE WATER THAN MILK AND WILL HAVE A ROUGH NIGHT. Despite this, stick with it!!!
• BRUSH: If a parent is unwilling to give up the bottle at bedtime, at the very least, the parent should brush the child’s teeth afterward w/ a fluoride toothpaste. Many parents don’t like this idea because they worry that it will wake the child up and put them back at square one. That may be true unfortunately, but the alternative is putting your baby at risk for severe tooth decay before they can even walk.
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Feel free to call if you have any questions. 385-210-1000.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CHILD FOR A DENTAL VISIT
Children and grown-ups alike are typically scared of the unknown or anxious to new things. Since the dental office is unfamiliar to most children it is not unusual for children to be hesitant, nervous, or even scared to come in. The good news is, since anxiety in the dental setting is as expected as tummy aches after halloween, pediatric dentists are specialized in reducing anxiety and in ensuring a positive experience for your child. Not surprisingly, a lot can be done at home to help reduce your child’s hesitation in coming to the dentist. Here are a few things that YOU, as a parent, can do to help your child prepare for his or her dental appointment:
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
BE POSITIVE: Children mimic or shadow parents unease or anxiety. If mom is nervous for their child’s dental appointment then the child will sense that hesitation and imagine the worst. If mom or dad is relaxed then the child will assume that there is nothing to worry about. REMEMBER, DENTISTS ARE HERE TO HELP, NOT TO HURT!
TALK POSITIVELY: Children are listening even when we think they are not. If a mother tells her child, “Junior, you are going to the dentist tomorrow.” and then overhears mom or dad talk about how awful their last root canal was, the child will unsurprisingly become fearful. Conversely if a child only hears the exciting aspects of the dental office, like, “I love going to see Dr. Bart. He’s nice, he sings fun songs, and even gives prizes to big helpers.” then the child will be excited to meet Dr. Bart and will want to be brave in order to get a prize.
PLAY PRETEND: Children love to role play. Whether it’s having a tea party, putting on a ballet recital, or being the ‘nurse’ when mommy is ‘sick’, kids’ imaginations are amazing. By role playing ‘Dentist’ with your child they will associate the idea of going to the dentist with FUN. Some household items can mimic dental equipment: A Recliner = The Dental Chair; A Spoon = The Mirror; A Straw = The Suction; A Flashlight = The Dental Light; A Popsicle Stick = The Tooth Counter/Explorer; be creative. Let your child pretend to be the dentist and let THEM brush YOUR teeth, floss, and then switch places.
ESTABLISH RULES: Children are great at exceeding our expectations as long as they know what our expectations are. Going to the dentist can be fun but just like going to school it’s important to follow the rules. For example: We don’t say “No” to Dr. Bart. We always sit still and keep our hands on our tummies. If we have a question we need to raise our hands while Dr. Bart is looking in our mouth.
READ BOOKS: There are lots of books about going to the dentist. Many of them are very good. As most dental anxiety comes from the unknown it is good to expose children to the things they’ll see while at the dentist. Because of this, I even wrote and illustrated my own book about going to the dentist called THE TOOTH FIXER. (You can read the entire book HERE). It’s a book that compares things done and seen at the dentist with things that they are familiar with. Here is an example of one of the pages:
BE OPEN & HONEST: Don’t try to hide things from your child. Children will ask questions like, “Will it hurt?” or “Am I gonna get a shot”. If a parent or the dentist is dishonest with the child in answering these questions it breaks their trust in us. When a child asks if a filling is going to hurt, I explain to them that fillings don’t hurt because I make sure the tooth is sleeping before I start fixing it. In response to whether or not they will be geting a shot, the answer is “The dentist doesn’t give the same kind of shots as the doctor. When he puts your tooth to sleep you’ll feel a pinch in your gums but the pinch will go away in a matter of seconds.” You can demonstrate a small pinch on the back of their hand and explain that the dentist rubs jelly on the gums first in order to make the pinch hardly even noticeable. Don’t go into more detail than is necessary and always present things in a positive way.
As always, thanks for reading. We want all patients to be confident and comfortable in our office. Let us know how we can help you. 385-210-1000.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD MY CHILD FIRST SEE THE DENTIST?
In the past it has been believed that going to the dentist is not necessary until your child is 5-6 years old, unless the parent has a dental concern. The reality is that children should be seen much earlier than that for a variety of reasons. Early dental visits are critical in establishing good oral habits, maintaining a healthy smile, and monitoring your child’s growth and development. The AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY has released a GUIDELINE stating, “Parents should establish a dental home for infants by 12 months of age.” At South Hills Pediatric Dentistry, we couldn’t agree more. Here are the primary reasons for doing so:
EDUCATION: The first dental visit is as much for the parent as it is for the child. Not only will the dentist perform an oral exam on your child but a good portion of the first appointment will be spent educating parents on how to maintain a healthy smile throughout childhood. This information is usually very specific to your child as we base the information on your child’s individual risk factors. Topics discussed typically involve: cavity development, disease transmission, habits, trauma, tooth eruption sequences, teething, diet review, growth patterns, fluoride recommendations, genetics, etc.
RISK ASSESSMENT: For each new patient it’s important to determine their individual risk for oral disease. This assessment helps to develop an individual prevention plan that is specific to your child. Risk assessment usually involves assessing the child’s: fluoride exposure, home care, parental involvement, cavity status, plaque level, dietary habits, food preferences, medical complexity, and family history.
ANTICIPATORY GUIDANCE: Anticipatory guidance is aimed at anticipating future oral problems and taking steps to avoid them. For example, steps can be taken at a young age to reduce the need for early phase orthodontics or the dentist may anticipate fall related or sport related injury and advise on how to prevent it or manage it if it does occur.
ORAL HYGIENE INSTRUCTION: Oral hygiene instruction (instruction on proper brushing and flossing technique) is good to receive when your child’s teeth first come in. Many parents have a difficult time brushing and flossing their uncooperative or precooperative child’s teeth but regardless of cooperation level oral hygiene is indispensable. The dentist can give invaluable instruction on how to brush the most obstreperous child’s teeth.
ORAL CANCER SCREENING: Every child should have an early cancer screening with every exam. While rare in children, early diagnosis and intervention are critical in the treatment of these children.
DIAGNOSIS/COLABORATION: Early diagnosis is important for many reasons (See below) but did you know that many systemic concerns have oral manifestations and often pediatric dentists are the first to recognize signs of GERD, Crohns Disease, or Osteogenesis Imperfecta? Pediatric dentists and pediatricians can work together to ensure early diagnosis of many conditions.
TREATMENT PLANNING: Dental decay can occur as soon as the first tooth comes into the mouth. Treatment while the lesion is small can halt the progression of the decay before pain, infection, or loss of teeth occurs. Many parents are anxious because they don’t know how dental work can be completed without traumatizing their young one. Many treatment options are available and have far fewer risks than progression of dental infection.
PERSONALIZED PREVENTION PLAN: Once a risk assessment, screening, and treatment plan are completed/formulated it’s possible to determine the best course of action to keep your child healthy. Some children require more frequent dental visits for monitoring, some may benefit from more regular fluoride application, while some children are determined to be at very low risk for dental infection and their growth and development is such that less frequent visits are needed. Every child is different so every child’s plan can vary.
So, to sum up this entire blog post. At what age should your child first see the dentist?
Thanks for reading!!!
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our office. 385.210.1000
ARE CAVITIES GENETIC?
Frequently I hear parents say things like, “He gets his bad teeth from his dad.” or “I’ve got bad teeth. Dad has bad teeth. Junior will undoubtedly have bad teeth too.” So, is there no hope for Junior? All of us know someone who NEVER brushes or flosses who seems to never get cavities. Conversely, we all know someone who brushes and flosses religiously who has a mouth-full of fillings. Is decay genetic, or is there more to it?
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer. There are some genetic components that influence a child’s susceptibility/likelihood of developing tooth decay but susceptibility does NOT doom Junior to a lifetime of oral disease. For this week’s blogpost I’d like to clarify what aspects of oral health are genetic and what aspect of oral health is behavioral and preventable. By recognizing what aspects we have control over we can take action to prevent cavities.
OUT OF OUR CONTROL: (GENETIC/INHERITED/AQUIRED)
ENAMEL QUALITY: Enamel is the outer coating of the teeth. It is the HARDEST substance in the human body. Harder even than bone. Under the enamel is a layer called dentin. Dentin is quite soft. Enamel is a natural barrier to infection and decay. One component to tooth decay is poor enamel quality. Enamel can be thin, brittle, or low in mineral content. This can be genetic or the enamel quality can be affected during development. Typically, enamel is resistant to cavitation as long as the oral pH is above 5.5. If enamel quality is poor cavitation occurs easier.
SALIVARY QUALITY/QUANTITY: Saliva is good for more than shooting spit-wads. Saliva has components that not only assist with digestion but buffer acids. Cavities form because the sugars we consume are converted to acid by the bacteria that live in our mouths. These acids burn holes in our teeth by leaching the minerals from the teeth. Good quality saliva can buffer these acids quickly and within 30 minutes our oral acid level is normal. If individuals have poor salivary production, low buffering capacity, or take medications that inhibit salivary production they will be at higher risk of getting cavities despite their best efforts because the mouth can’t resist those acids as well.
GASTRICK REFLUX: Individuals with frequent gastric reflux will develop erosion of their tooth structure. This erosion thins the enamel and makes the individual more prone to getting cavities.
TRANSMISSION/BACTERIAL COLONIZATION: THIS MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR that determines why people who have bad teeth tend to have children with bad teeth. In order to get cavities, you must have three things. Teeth, Bacteria, and Sugar. Believe it or not, EVERYONE has bacteria that live in their mouth. These bacteria are not present in the womb but shortly after we are born varying bacterial types take up residence in our mouths. So, how do we get these bacteria? Just like any disease, bacteria are transmitted from person to person or from object to person. Children are constantly putting things in their mouths but babies are also constantly getting kisses from Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, neighbors, Aunt Betty, etc. Also, parents often clean dropped pacifiers by licking/sucking them clean and then putting the pacifier back into the child’s mouth. If siblings or children share utensils or cups they’re also sharing their cavity bugs with one another. Now, not all bacteria are bad. Many bacteria in our digestive systems are vital to acquiring adequate nutrition from the foods we eat. Some bacteria though ARE bad. These bad bacteria are NOT present in everyone’s mouth or if they are present they’re present in varying levels. If mom or dad have bad teeth, it’s because they happen to have the ‘bad’ bacterial strain that causes cavities and if mom and dad have those bacteria studies show that 87% of children have the same bacteria as their parents. This likelihood is even greater if the parent does not take care of their own teeth and has active decay. Unfortunately, once the cavity forming bacteria take up residence during childhood there’s little to do to evict them.
WITHIN OUR CONTROL: (BEHAVIORAL/HABITUAL)
DIET: As I mentioned above, cavities form because the bacteria in our mouths convert the sugars that we eat or drink into acid. These acids make holes in our teeth. Sugar is in almost everything that we eat so we can’t realistically remove sugar completely from our diets. We CAN reduce the frequency of sugar intake. Sugary drinks should be limited to mealtime only. Candy and soda should be limited to special occasions only. By limiting sugar consumption to mealtime only we ensure that our mouths can recover between meals.
HYGIENE: We brush and floss in order to knock the bacteria (aka Sugar Bugs) off of our teeth. Unfortunately, children don’t have the dexterity or perceptual ability to brush by themselves until around age 7-8. If sugar-bugs aren’t knocked off effectively 1-2 times per day cavities are likely to develop.
INHERITED BEHAVIORS/HABITS: A key aspect to cavity development is behavior. Where do children get their eating habits and hygiene behaviors from? Parents of course. If mom and dad are candy junkies their kids are likely to pick up on those behaviors. If mom and dad are brushing and flossing daily, their children tend to have a heightened awareness to oral health as well.
FLUORIDE: Fluoride has been proven to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay. Fluoride is incorporated into developing teeth to make them more resistant to acid. Fluoride is so advantages that communities throughout the US put the fluoride into our water supplies. Besides water fluoride topical fluoride is very important. High concentrations are applied by your dentist but we recommend fluoride toothpaste for ALL AGES. If your little one can’t spit reliably though we recommend only a light smear.
So, are cavities genetic? In my humble opinion… minimally so. An individual with bad genetics is more PRONE to getting cavities due to susceptibility but there are many aspects of oral health that can be modified that can increase a child’s chances of staying healthy
1. Have your child seen by the dentist by age 1 in order to determine your child’s personal prevention plan.
2. Establish good brushing habits AS SOON AS the first tooth comes in.
3. Parents, take care of your own teeth. By getting your cavities fixed the load of bacteria present in your mouth decreases making it less likely to transmit these bacteria to your kids.
4. Don’t share utensils, cups, etc.
5. Don’t clean pacifiers with your mouth.
6. Don’t give into the tantrums. If a child fights you every time you go to brush their teeth, never give in. They’ll eventually learn that it’s not worth struggling and they’ll submit. If you give in to the tantrums, they’ll just learn that they can get out of it by screaming harder.
7. Chew sugar-free gum after each meal.
8. If your child has acid reflux, get them evaluated by their pediatrician.
9. Make a family rule, “Water only between meals!”
10. Healthy snack options should be the only snacks available (e.g. fresh vegetables, fruits, string cheese)
11. Parents should brush FOR their children each morning and night.
Thanks for reading!!!
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our office. 385.210.1000
WHY SAVE BABY TEETH?
Quite often I’m asked, “What’s the sense in fixing it, it’s just a baby tooth?”. It’s understandable that parents question the need to fix a tooth that will only be in the child’s mouth for a short time. Honestly, prior to my specialty training I thought the same way. It wasn’t until I saw the effects of primary tooth neglect that I realized the importance of the ‘baby teeth’ and their care.
Primary teeth have many important purposes:
4. ‘Space Holders’/Tooth Guidance
FUNCTION: It’s clear that without teeth children cannot effectively chew. What’s less clearly understood is that a tooth doesn’t have to be missing to be non-functional. Tooth pain is one of the leading causes for school absences in the United States. Tooth pain is very real and can prevent a child from being able to focus in school. Tooth pain or missing teeth can also affect nutrition. So, reason number 1 for maintaining and fixing baby teeth is to prevent early tooth loss and dental pain. By keeping your child’s teeth healthy we ensure that they can continue to function properly not only by allowing them to chew physically but healthy teeth keep your child intellectually and nutritionally ready to take on the world.
SPEECH: Children are very adaptable. If your child loses a baby tooth at an early age, your child will likely compensate for the tooth loss and adapt there speech so as to be understood. While this adaptability is great, some of these compensatory speech patterns can become permanent and will effect their speech throughout life. Maintaining the anterior teeth will minimize these compensatory speech changes and improve their communication skills at the most influential time in their lives for learning.
COSMETICS: Cosmetics are important to both the child and the parent. Early loss of a tooth, particularly in the front, can result in poor cosmetics. Often peers can be very cruel during the grade-school years, which means bullying and ridicule that can cause a child to loose self-confidence. While there are situations where medical necessity of extraction out weighs cosmetic concern it’s our goal to maintain esthetics in all situations possible.
SPACE HOLDERS/TOOTH GUIDANCE: One of the least recognized purposes of the primary teeth within the general public is the baby tooth’s role in maintaining space for the adult teeth to come in. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely the teeth posteriorly (ie further back in the mouth) will drift or tip forward into the space needed for the adult teeth that replace the baby teeth around the ages of 11-12. This drifting makes orthodontic correction much more difficult, more expensive, and it lengthens treatment time for the orthodontist. Restoring primary teeth to health while they are present ensures that decay and infection do not progress to the point where loss of space is possible. Note: This space loss doesn’t only occur in situations where a tooth is lost or removed. Space loss also occurs when decay between the teeth reaches a point where the tooth structure is compromised and the adjacent tooth will tip/drift into the space provided by the cavity.
The above mentioned purposes of primary teeth certainly justify fixing primary teeth whenever possible. Other reasons we don’t want to neglect tooth decay in the primary dentition is because we want to prevent progression of decay to the point where pain or infection present themselves. An abscess present on a baby tooth has the potential to spread into the soft tissues of the face, causing a facial cellulitis (ie swelling of the face) and in some cases can be life threatening. Abscess’ of the primary teeth can also alter the development of the permanent teeth as they develop in the bone beneath the baby tooth.
There ARE some situations where restoration of primary teeth is not indicated but those situations are case based and more infrequent than the indications for restoration. At South Hills Pediatric Dentistry we want your child to be as healthy and happy as possible and your child’s teeth play a huge role in their overall health and wellness.
For more information, don’t hesitate to contact our office. 385.210.1000