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How Important is Orthodontics When They’re Young…Really??

The ability to treat your child using a technique called “expansion” is one of the biggest benefits to early orthodontics. As its name suggests “expansion” means expanding the bone with orthopedics to allow room for the teeth. When you have a cross bite or severe crowding it often affects other normal processes. When we are able to expand the arches, it helps create a bigger airway, normal swallowing and better aesthetics.

There many other reasons why it is important to have your son or daughter’s orthodontic expansion work done early in their childhood

  • Their self esteem is certainly a factor to consider early on as this can be a source of teasing with their peers.
  • Beyond the emotional factors there are many physical and health factors that make an even better argument for having expansion orthodontics at a young age.
  • There are also times where expansion can prevent the necessity of orthodontic treatment later in your child’s life. When we can successfully expand the upper and lower arches, it often reduces the amount of time kids have to be in treatment or may even prevent the need for braces down the road.

Signs that your child might need expansion:

  • When lower teeth are on the outside of the upper teeth while biting
  • Over crowding of teeth
  • Even thumb-sucking

Dentists can typically start this type of treatment as early as 6 and it is commonly done up to the ages of 12 or 13. Don’t put off asking your dentist important questions about your child’s teeth. It could change the course of their treatment saving you money and your child extensive orthodontic work down the line.

Happy New Year!

How Mouthwash Can Benefit You and Your Family

A mouthwash is a mouthwash is a mouthwash – or so you may think. Sure, some may be green or blue or extra-minty, but really, how different could they be?

Turns out there’s a key difference: Some rinses help you more than others, and some even contain ingredients you should avoid, says Ingvar Magnusson, D.D.S., Ph.D., a research professor in oral biology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry in Gainesville. For example, many rinses have sodium lauryl sulfate, which tends to dry and irritate the mouth – especially if you suffer from canker sores. And some studies have found a link between rinses with a high alcohol content (25 percent or more) and oral cancers.

It’s smart to ask your dentist for rinse recommendations that suit your family’s specific dental hygiene needs. But in the meantime, here’s a cheat sheet for your next trip down the mouthwash aisle:

WANT TO …

Help prevent cavities?

  • LOOK FOR….Fluoride. Its ability to prevent tooth decay is well-established.

Fight gum disease?

  • LOOK FOR….Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) or chlorhexidine gluconate. Recent research has shown these ingredients help prevent gingivitis and dental plaque.

Moisten the mouth?

  • LOOK FOR….Carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethylcellulose, both of which simulate natural saliva. Bonus points if the rinse also contains fluoride, since dry mouth contributes to cavities.

Soothe canker sores or mouth abrasions?

  • LOOK FOR….Hydrogen peroxide. It’s a safe bet because it’s antimicrobial without being overly abrasive.

Freshen breath?

  • LOOK FOR….Methyl salicylate and chlorhexidine gluconate. These antiseptics help fight the bacteria that contribute to bad breath. Additional herbs, scents and flavorings help mask odor.

Finally, remember that no rinse can take the place of flossing and brushing, which physically scrapes the plaque off your teeth. Rinses may have some impact on preventing gingivitis or tooth decay, but only if used as part of a solid dental-health routine, says Magnusson.


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Editor’s Note: Mouth rinses can be great for kids. Our pediatric dentist recommended adding a mouthwash to my 9-year old son’s dental routine for added protection, especially on those days when he rushes the brushing (because, hey, we know it’s happening!). But they specifically recommended a rinse like Crest Pro-Health because it contains the cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) mentioned above. It’s working great for him and I’ve started using it too. It is quite minty/spicy, but he handles it by making it into a game – jumping or dancing after he’s rinsed, until the spice eases!

Should Kids “Motor Mouth”? (do they need an electric toothbrush?)

Has your dentist recommended an electric toothbrush for your child?

Why spend the money? You didn’t have one and turned out just fine, right? Well you may not have had a car seat as a child either but does that mean it was right?

Clinical research shows that electric toothbrushes are far superior to manual brushing when it comes to removing plaque and preventing gum disease. Children who lack the understanding of proper brushing or the motor skills necessary to do so are given a much more effective way to maintain good dental health. It is important to instill the behavior of good oral hygiene habits early to promote a life long understanding. Your child may begin with an electric toothbrush as soon as he/she is able to hold it steady and firmly.

Starting your child with a basic, colorful electric toothbrush is recommended.

There is an assortment of toothbrushes with your child’s favorite characters or princesses available that will help encourage use. If your child already uses a manual toothbrush, they may not be interested in the switch. Any brushing is better than none so if the transition doesn’t go well, you can always try again later.

Of the many electric toothbrushes, there are also many features offered and the cost can vary from $15-$200. It is important to choose a brush that is age appropriate in size and speed. Electric toothbrushes with a timer and include a melody and/or light up make for a more fun brushing experience. Of the higher end models, such as Sonicare and Rotadent, you are actually able to provide a much more cost-effective way to provide electric tooth brushing to your entire family. With these systems, your family can share the handle and just replace the head (or brush) with their own when it’s time to brush. These systems have different speeds, different types and sizes of brush heads ensuring that everyone in the family can brush correctly and safely. These higher end electric toothbrushes also come with warranties and can be repaired or replaced in the event of malfunction.

The best benefit to electric toothbrushes, as a parent, is the peace of mind that our children are creating and maintaining good dental habits.

Since an electric toothbrush does a better job of cleaning your child’s teeth, this eliminates the need for you to step in and finish the job. I don’t know about you but I’m all for improved dental health, preventing gum disease and whiter, healthier teeth with less work!

Is it Safe to Wiggle a Loose Baby Tooth?

My daughter Katie’s first baby tooth came out in a spoonful of Nutella. And she lost the second one backstage at a play when she bumped a chair against her mouth by accident. She had gauze in her mouth until seconds before she had to perform.

By the time the third tooth got loose, she was pretty brazen about it. She wiggled it. She let kids at school wiggle it. And I worried whether all that twisting and turning would make the tooth come out before it was ready, so I asked her to leave it alone and let nature take its course. The tooth fairy did visit, and she has visited a couple of more times since then.

But since Katie has 12 more of her 20 baby teeth to lose, I knew this issue would come up again. So I called Rhea Haugseth, dentist and president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, for some advice.

“My daughter is obsessed with wiggling a loose tooth. Is that helpful or harmful?” I asked.

“Most kids can’t resist,” said Haugseth, assuring me that Katie’s behavior is normal. “It’s fine to go after it. It’s actually even good.”

Haugseth explained that even wiggling a baby tooth wouldn’t make it come out before it’s ready. “By the time a child feels that a tooth is loose, the roots of the baby tooth have dissolved and only the gum tissue is holding it in its place,” she said. “In fact, if it’s left in there too long – because some children may be scared to wiggle it – the surrounding gums can get inflamed and irritated. That’s when parents call me.”

“So what do you recommend if a child is scared to wiggle her tooth?”

“I tell moms to accidentally bump into it when they’re helping their child brush their teeth,” she says. “And if that doesn’t work, a conversation about what the tooth fairy might bring works wonders.”

Does Your Child Grind Their Teeth at Night?

It is not uncommon for parents to be concerned about their child grinding their teeth at night. The involuntary action of grinding one’s teeth, often during sleep, is called bruxism. Usually, a parent’s first sign of bruxism is the noise that can be heard when the child is grinding their teeth during sleep. The parent may also notice the teeth getting shorter or wearing down to the dentition.

There are several reasons thought to contribute to this issue. One theory is the psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. may be the cause of your child’s grinding. A second reason is thought to be pressure in the inner ear. If there are pressure changes, the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure. An example of this is an airplane flight during take off and landing when people sometimes relieve this pressure by chewing gum.

In most cases, bruxism in children does not require treatment. If you are concerned that your child exhibits signs of excessive wear of the teeth, then the need for a mouth guard may be indicated. There are drawbacks to mouth guards, however. There is the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged while sleeping or it may interfere with growth and development of the jaw.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you are concerned about your child’s grinding, consult your dentist. Your dentist can monitor the progress of the wear and evaluate the severity.

My Child Has a Toothache, Help!

It’s very difficult when your child is in any pain and toothaches can happen in your little ones. Let’s start by addressing what could be the cause of their toothache: their diet. If your children eat excessive candy or drink a lot of soft drinks, they may experience decay or cavities. The bacteria that live in your child’s mouth breaks sugar down into acid which then causes erosion of their teeth. Ask your child to point out where the pain is. Other causes could include mouth ulcers or swollen gums a cold sore which can affect inner mouth areas. Look inside your child’s mouth for swelling or red spots. If you see anything suspicious call your dentist and get an appointment immediately. Using home remedies could help temporarily but don’t let that deter you from making an appointment because without fixing the source, the ache will come back.

You can apply a warm damp cloth to the affected area from the outside. Try giving some Children’s Tylenol to your child and make sure they are not touching it or playing with the area. Don’t delay treatment as your child needs immediate and necessary dental care.

We suggest several things to help make your child’s first visit a pleasant one:

  • When your child has a dental appointment, make it part of a trip where they get to do something fun afterwards.
  • Don’t let your dentist wear a mask when introducing him/herself to your child.
  • Taking a favorite toy may help distract your child from fear or stress
  • Children pick up on their parents fears so if you are fearful of the dentist, don’t let your child know that.
  • Don’t use threats as a way to make your child go to the dentist because they will then see it as a punishment instead of a help.
  • Rewarding your child for being good at the dentist is always encouraging.

Most of all try not to let a toothache be the first reason your child sees a dentist. We always recommend starting young and introducing your child to good oral hygiene at a young age to develop healthy habits. As said before, the condition of your child’s baby teeth can affect that of the permanent teeth so start those good habits young!

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