Your Child’s Dental Health
Sun Valley pediatric dentists are dedicated to providing quality, comfortable care to your child, with convenient locations in Avondale, Gilbert, and Mesa. Our specially trained kiddie dentists offer the following advice for your little one’s oral dental health development.
When Does Teething Occur and How to Relieve Teething Pain?
Normally, the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums may be sore, tender, and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. To sooth the gum, you can rub the sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth. Teething rings work well, but please avoid teething biscuits, because they contain sugar, which is bad for teeth.
Please monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay, while your baby is teething. You should examine the teeth on the inside or the tongue side for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines every 2-3 weeks. Please keep in mind that a milk bottle left in his or her mouth while sleeping can aggressively damage teeth and lead to tooth decay.
Tooth decay happens because sugar in popular kid-oriented drinks starts to mix with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids with sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva washes away the liquid. But during sleep, the saliva flow decreases and liquids stay around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.
How to Care For Baby Teeth
The primary, or “baby,” teeth play an important role in the dental development of your child. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and may have difficulty speaking clearly.
Primary teeth are crucial to the development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth; this usually happens between the ages of 6 and 12 years.
Since primary teeth help the permanent teeth ‘move’ into the right place, young children with missing primary teeth may need a space maintainer. to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth could tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. In any case, one of our Arizona pediatric dentists will recommend and discuss the proper treatment to you and your child.
Please keep in mind: The way your child treats his or her primary teeth plays a crucial role in how well they care for the permanent teeth later. Teach your child to take care of his teeth at an early age and explain everything your child wants to know about healthy teeth and healthy gums. Ask us for any advice or guidance!
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
Your child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around their first birthday. Though this may sound early, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics have made the one year dental visit recommendation as a measure aimed at stemming the tide of rising tooth decay among children. The most important part of the visit is for your child to get to know and become comfortable with our providers and staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits.
We allow the child to sit in a parent’s lap in the exam room in order to establish trust with your child, parents are invited to be “quiet and supportive” observers. As your child is able to observe the trust and confidence you have in the dentist, they will develop their own trust and feel comfortable with receiving care. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel during their first dental visit.
Sedation Options For Children
We understand that some children and young adults are so apprehensive and fearful that no amount of talking or calming by our team will allow the treatment to be completed. In these cases, or dentists only use the minimum amount of sedation medication to comfortably complete the visit. Dentistry has come a long way to help children and young adults complete their needed dental care. For those children who just cannot handle regular dental appointments, there is hope with sedation dentistry.
Frequently Asked Questions
My Child Hates Needles And Getting Shots In His/Her Mouth, Can Anything Be Done?
For regular, non-sedation dental appointments, a topical anesthetic gel is used on the gum prior to the injection. We use a topical, Tricaine, which is a combination of three different strong numbing gels. The Tricaine gel is applied and usually left on for a few minutes. It totally numbs the area so your child does not feel anything, even a small pinch when the injection is given. As the tooth starts to get very numb, the anesthetic is placed in other areas around it, as needed, as treatment progresses.
No, your child will not totally be unconscious but extremely relaxed. He/she will be able to communicate with us and follow our directions but he/she will have little memory of the appointment, if any at all. This light type of sedation is termed “Conscious Sedation” and all of the protective breathing reflexes are intact.
We continually monitor your child using a sophisticated medical device during the entire sedation appointment. In our practice we use a Pulse Oximetry, ECG, and Blood Pressure monitor from Welch Alyn® Atlas™. If during the appointment your child becomes too sleepy, we can use a reversal medication to lighten the sedation level. Your child will not feel any pain during your sedation appointment as he/she will not perceive any pain or discomfort.
What Kinds Of Sedation Dentistry Are Available?
The most popular are oral, I.V., I.M., and Nitrous Oxide or a combination of these options. Nitrous Oxide (relaxing air) helps our patients achieve a relaxed state where they are less apprehensive, stress-free, and are able to complete the needed care. Many patients who are apprehensive or fearful can complete their dental care comfortably with the help of this gentle sedation.
For our patients who are phobic or fearful and who want to be totally relaxed and have little memory of their appointment, I.V. (intravenous) or I.M. (intramuscular) sedation is recommended. By the time the I.V. is started they are already extremely comfortable and relaxed because they have already taken an oral medication prior to their appointment. In addition, they have been on Nitrous Oxide air, so starting the I.V. will not bother them at all. The I.V. provides fluids during the sedation appointment. Through the I.V., we use .9% Sodium Chloride (normal saline) to keep our patients hydrated and provide the necessary medications to keep them very relaxed during the appointment.
Certain sedation medications can be given through an I.M. (intra-muscular) in an arm, leg muscle, or even by drops in the nose (intra-nasal sedation). With any sedation method, doctors typically use only enough sedation medication to keep you safely comfortable throughout your appointment.
Why Are Primary Teeth Important?
Primary teeth are important for several reasons: Foremost, good teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth once the child gets older. During adolescence the self-image that healthy teeth give is immeasurable. For this reason it is vital that we help your child develop and maintain habits that will promote good oral health at a very young age.
Is There A Connection Between Good Diet and Healthy Teeth?
The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.
When Do My Child’s Teeth Start Forming?
A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.
Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
How Can I Prevent Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
Baby bottle tooth decay in infants, also known as early childhood caries, can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast, bottle-feed, or use sippy cups. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier.
Another major cause of early childhood caries is the over use of sippy cups with sugar containing drinks such as fruit juices, sugar containing flavored water drinks, and sports drinks. Many times we find parents have not been given proper dietary counseling prior to their first dental appointment.
We encourage parents to limit the use of bottles or sippy cups containing drinks with sugars. We recommend that your child receive a healthy balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. However, we strongly encourage the limitation of fruit or other sugar containing juices. These are usually marketed very effectively as “healthy” while research is showing they are major contributors to early childhood decay and even childhood obesity. In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics, for children under 6 years of age we recommend no more than four ounces of juice per day.
If you choose to give your children juices or drinks with sugars we encourage you to dilute them by adding a half cup of water to a half cup of the sugary drink and only allow your child to drink this during meal time. At meal time there is extra saliva produced that is stimulated by eating which helps to dilute and minimize the deleterious effects of these drinks. We also encourage you not to give your toddlers a sippy cup with anything other than water to drink during the day.
Placing sugar containing drinks in a sippy cup allows your child to have a constant supply of sugar through the day. While this may make your child happy, it also makes the harmful bacteria in your child’s mouth thrive by a constant coating of sugar being applied throughout the day to your child’s teeth. Our Avondale, Gilbert, Mesa office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.