Dental Sealants are highly effective in preventing decay on the biting surfaces of your chewing teeth. It is a simple procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic “coating” is painted onto the surface of the tooth. This effectively “seals” the deep grooves, which acts as a barrier and protects enamel from plaque and acids.
Sealants protect the depressions and grooves of your teeth from food particles and plaque that can’t be reached by brushing and flossing.
Sealants only take a few minutes to seal each tooth, making them easy to apply. They also hold up well under the force of normal chewing and can last several years before a reapplication is needed.
Children and adults can benefit from sealants to help fight against tooth decay.
For children who need help with reducing anxiety or undergoing longer appointments, nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas,” is a safe and easy to administer solution. Nitrous oxide can also help children reduce their gag reflex, making it easier for them to tolerate dental instruments in their mouths. A few other benefits achieved through the use of nitrous oxide are a reduction of untoward movement, and can help to decrease pain and sensitivity.
Your child will be given a small nasal mask that will allow him or her to breathe in through their nose and out through their mouth. In less than 4 minutes your child will notice a more sedate feeling, which may cause their cheek and gums to tingle.
Patients remain completely conscious when under the treatment of nitrous oxide. They are able to fully respond to questions and react to stimuli. Eating prior to treatment with nitrous oxide is fine, but it is recommended to avoid heavy meals at least 2 hours prior due to nausea being a side effect that occurs in 0.5 percent of patients.
At the end of every visit with nitrous oxide, 100% oxygen is administered for 5 minutes in order to completely flush the body of the gas. The child will leave his or her appointment completely free of nitrous oxide and its effects.
Silver Diamine Fluoride:
Silver Diamine Fluoride is a new cavity fighting liquid that can be used to halt the progression of cavities. This may be an option for some who are hoping to avoid the dentist’s drill. This is especially helpful in small children who are not mature enough to handle routine restorative care.
This liquid takes less than 1 minute to apply with no noise, no drilling, and kills the bacteria that causes decay.
Thumb sucking is a habit that occurs in infants and is usually given up by the age of four. If the child continues thumb sucking past the age when their permanent teeth start to erupt, they may develop crooked teeth and a malformed roof of their mouth. This can also affect the position of the upper and lower jaw and can also affect speech. This results from the frequency, duration, intensity, and position of the digit in the child’s mouth.
Suggestions to break the habit:
- Wait till the time is right (low stress).
- Motivate your child (show them examples of what could happen to their teeth and fingers/thumbs).
- Use a reward system (small incentives will encourage your child to stick with it).
The first baby teeth that come into the mouth are the two bottom front teeth. You will usually notice this when your baby is about six to eight months old. The next teeth to come in will be the four upper front teeth. The remainder of your baby’s teeth will appear periodically. The teeth will usually appear in pairs along the sides of the jaw until the child is about 2-1/2 years old.
At around 2-1/2 years old, your child should have all 20 teeth. Between the ages of five and six, the first permanent teeth will begin to erupt. Some of the permanent teeth replace baby teeth and some don’t. Don’t worry if some teeth are a few months early or late as all children develop at different rates.
Baby teeth are important as they not only hold space for permanent teeth, but they are important to chewing, biting, speech, and appearance. For this reason it is important to maintain a healthy diet and daily hygiene.
Baby Bottle decay:
What causes tooth decay?
Several specific types of bacteria that live on the teeth can cause decay. When sugar is consumed, the bacteria use the sugar and then manufacture acids that dissolve the teeth and cause an infection in the tooth, called decay.
What Is Early Childhood Tooth Decay?
Babies who go to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice are more likely to get tooth decay, because the sugar in formula, milk, or juice stays in contact with the teeth for a long time during the night, so the teeth can decay quickly.
Some Tips to Avoid Early Childhood Tooth Decay:
- Put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, instead of milk or juice.
- Stop nursing when your child is asleep or has stopped sucking on the bottle.
- Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier.
- Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about six months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest.
- Don’t dip your child’s pacifier in honey or sugar.
- Consider fluoride treatments.
Most of the time, cavities are due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of brushing teeth.
Limiting sugar intake and brushing regularly can help. The longer it takes your child to chew their food, the longer the residue stays on their teeth and the greater the chances of getting cavities.
Every time someone eats, an acid reaction occurs inside their mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts approximately 20 minutes. During this time the acid environment can destroy the tooth structure, eventually leading to cavities.
Consistency of a person’s saliva also makes a difference as thinner saliva breaks up and washes away food more quickly. When a person eats diets high in carbohydrates and sugars, they tend to have thicker saliva, which in turn produces more of the acid-producing bacteria that causes cavities.
While many people believe periodontal disease is an adult problem, studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and adolescents. Advanced forms of periodontal disease are rarer in children than adults, but can occur.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.
Localized aggressive periodontitis can affect young healthy children. It is found in teenagers and young adults and mainly affects the first molars and incisors. It is characterized by the severe loss of alveolar bone, and ironically, patients generally form very little dental plaque or calculus.
Generalized aggressive periodontitis may begin around puberty and involve the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus. Eventually it can cause the teeth to become loose.
Brushing & Flossing Instructions
Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults so, they need to use toothbrushes designed for children. Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Everyone should change to a new brush about every three months.
Wipe infant’s teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste. By the age of two or three, begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush where they miss. Dentists and hygienists often advise children to use a gentle, short, back and forth motion to remove plaque. When children are older, they can switch to this method.
Hold the brush at a 45 degrees angle towards teeth and gums. Move brush back and forth with short strokes, about a half tooth wide.
- Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
- Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces.
- Gently brush the tongue and roof of mouth to remove debris.
- Floss between teeth daily.
When to Begin Brushing:
Once your child’s teeth begin erupting, you can begin cleaning them by wiping them with a moist washcloth. As your child gets more teeth, you can begin to use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste until your child is able to spit it out (too much fluoride can stain their teeth).
For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:
- Let your child brush your teeth at the same time.
- Let your child pick out a few toothbrushes with their favorite characters and give them a choice of which one they want to use each time (this will give them some feeling of control over the situation).
- Let your child brush their own teeth first (you will likely have to “help out”).
- Read your child some children’s books about tooth brushing.
- Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.
To help your child understand the importance of brushing, it can be sometimes fun and helpful to let them eat or drink something that will temporarily “stain” their teeth and then brush them clean.
It can also be a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine,” and stick to the same routine every day.
Teen and Oral Care:
There is evidence that demonstrates how periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits up until the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care.
Advice for Parents:
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who exhibit severe periodontitis, especially if it appears resistant to therapy.
An important step in the fight against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child early. When your child is about a year old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing their teeth. However, only use a pea-sized amount on the brush and press it into the bristles so your child won’t eat it. And, when the gaps between your child’s teeth close, it’s important to start flossing.
Serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits yourself and schedule regular dental visits for family check-ups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.
If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now. It’s much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. A healthy smile, good breath, and strong teeth all contribute to a young person’s sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.
Who can benefit from general anesthesia sedation?
In-office sedation is usually recommended when either a child less than 4 years old presents 8–10 decayed teeth, a child has high anxiety, or for a very young child who is unable to provide the level of cooperation needed to safely perform dentistry.
Sedation is also helpful for special needs children. There are many safe and effective drugs available today that can help relax and calm the child and promote a good environment for safe and optimal dental treatment. Specific details tailored to each patient will be discussed with the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the patient before treatment to ensure the most beneficial outcome.
Sweet Facts and Healthy Snacks:
Your child needs a balanced diet for healthy teeth and gums. This includes snacks as well as meals, full of lots of colorful and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Orthodontic treatment is available to patients of all ages, and in accordance with the American Association of Orthodontists, we recommend that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. With early evaluation and diagnosis, children can achieve optimal orthodontic results. Early treatment provides a range of benefits. This often means that a patient can avoid surgery or other serious complications.