For more information concerning pediatric dentistry, please visit the website for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
EARLY INFANT ORAL CARE:
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Caries)
- Care of Your Child’s Teeth
- What’s the Best Toothpaste For My Child?
- Xylitol – Reducing Cavities
- Tongue Piercing – Is it Really Cool?
- Tobacco – Bad News in Any Form
What is the best time for Orthodontic Treatment?
EARLY INFANT ORAL CARE
BABY BOTTLE TOOTH DECAY (EARLY CHILDHOOD CARIES)
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the child’s head in your lap or lay the child on a dressing table or the floor. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child’s mouth easily.
CARE OF YOUR CHILD’S TEETH
- Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft cloth and water.
- As soon as your child’s teeth erupt, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- If they are under the age of 2, use a small “smear” of toothpaste.
- If they’re 2-5 years old, use a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste.
- Be sure and use an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste and make sure your child does not swallow it.
- When brushing, the parent should brush the child’s teeth until they are old enough to do a good job on their own.
- Flossing removes plaque between teeth and under the gumline where a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
- Be sure and floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone.
WHAT’S THE BEST TOOTHPASTE FOR MY CHILD?
The AAPD recommends a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste for baby’s teeth as soon as they erupt. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element, which has shown to prevent tooth decay by as much as 50-70%, Despite the advantages, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. With little or no fluoride, the teeth aren’t strengthened to help them resist cavities. Excessive fluoride ingestion by young children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is typically a chalky white discoloration (brown in advanced cases) of the permanent teeth. Be sure to follow your pediatric dentist’s instructions on suggested fluoride use and possible supplements, if needed.
You can help by using a fluoride toothpaste and only a smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) to brush the teeth of a child less than 3 years of age. For children 3 to 6 years old, use a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively on their own. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing, in order to avoid fluorosis.
XYLITOL – REDUCING CAVITIES
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute in many food and dental products, such as gum, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and sugar-free drinks. It has been found to reduce cavities in adults and children by reducing the amount of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. It also reduces plaque build-up, decreases the risk of tooth decay and cavities, and promotes the remineralization of the tooth enamel. Additionally, xylitol is low in calories and does not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels, making it a safe and healthy alternative to other sweeteners.
TONGUE PIERCING – IS IT REALLY COOL?
You might not be surprised anymore to see people with pierced tongues, lips or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be.
There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.
So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your mouth a break – skip the mouth jewelry.
TOBACCO – BAD NEWS IN ANY FORM
Tobacco in any form can have hazardous effects on your child’s health and cause irreversible damage. Tobacco is a major cause of cancer, heart disease, and stroke and can lead to COPD, asthma, and other respiratory diseases. It is also known to cause addiction, harming your child’s physical and mental health. It is essential to teach your child about the dangers of tobacco so they understand the risks involved and can make an informed decision.
Smokeless Tobacco: Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit, and one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce precancerous lesions called leukoplakias.
Cigarettes: Cigarettes are highly addictive and have been linked to various health problems, including severe damage to oral health in children. Additionally, research has found that smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth than non-smokers.
Vaping: It’s essential to be aware of the potential harm vaping can have on teens and their oral health. Studies have shown that vaping can cause damage to the teeth and gums, as well as increase the risk of developing gum disease. Plus, A number of toxic and potentially carcinogenic compounds have been found in the vapors of e-cigarettes
If your child uses tobacco products, it is vital to be aware of the early signs of oral cancer that may be present. These signs include persistent mouth sores, white or red patches, lumps or bumps on the lips or gums, difficulty moving the tongue and jaw, or difficulty swallowing. Additionally, you should monitor unexplained weight loss, pain in the throat or neck, and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. Taking your child to see Dr. Clark for a proper diagnosis if any of these symptoms are present is essential.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME FOR ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?
Developing malocclusions, or bad bites, can be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age.
Stage I – Early Treatment: This period of treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this young age, we are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, and harmful habits such as finger or thumb sucking. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and many times, though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.
Stage II – Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth and 6 year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw malrelationships and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment, when indicated, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.
Stage III – Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.