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Pediatric Dental Prevention

What to Expect

A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled within 6 months of the first erupted tooth or by his/her 1st birthday says the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics. Our goal as Pediatric Dental specialists is to help make their first visit as positive and enjoyable as possible while educating and demonstrating methods for daily dental home care. An early first visit helps set the foundation for a child’s healthy oral and physical development. Our doctor’s and staff are trained to manage anxiety, fear, and are excellent in assisting children through their dental appointments with ease and confidence. 

The Dental Home Replaces The Emergency Room.

Children under the age of 3 years are accompanied to our consultation room with their parents for their evaluations and cleanings. On your first visit, if your child is over the age of 3 years, you can request a tour of our facility. Once introduced to our kid friendly environment, parents return to the reception area so that radiographs, if needed, can be initiated. We ask that you allow your child to accompany our staff through this dental experience as we are all highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety and fear. Separation anxiety is common in children and normal. Using proven psychological skills and tools we are usually successful in helping children develop confidence and comfort during their dental appointments. Studies have shown that most children over the age of 3 react MORE positively when permitted to experience dental visits on their own and in an environment designed JUST for THEM!

We encourage parents to assist us in developing a child’s positive experience and request that parents refrain from negative conversation regarding dental care. We have decades of experience in dealing with children and use positive simple explanations which are age appropriate to help put them at ease. At your child’s first dental appointment we will complete a comprehensive dental evaluation and provide you with a detailed summary of all findings and concerns. Maintaining a good dental health program starts at home. We are here to assist you and your child with the education and tools to use to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile for life!

The education bill states that students must be excused for temporary absences resulting from visits to their Dentist. In addition, students must be allowed a reasonable time to make up schoolwork and not be penalized. Satisfactory completion of the day’s work results in the day being counted as a day of compulsory attendance. 

Dental care if delayed only becomes more extensive and EXPENSIVE. We are here to help you prevent dental disease for your children, scheduling your children’s appointments are an integral part of that equation.

Teething

Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums can be sore, tender and sometimes irritable until all of the baby teeth have erupted. Rubbing sore gums gently with a toothbrush or a cold wet cloth can help soothe the gums. Another tip that works well is to brush the baby’s entire mouth as if teeth were present. The stimulation of the gums will allow for easier teething and less discomfort. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

Why Primary Teeth are Important

The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and may have difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to the development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth which begins around the age of 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer. A space maintainer is a similar to orthodontics which can be used to hold the natural space open. Without a space maintainer the existing teeth tilt toward the empty space and can cause the permanent teeth to come in crooked or not at all. When permanent teeth drift into the space where a baby tooth was lost early it can result in YEARS of expensive and extensive orthodontic care. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in their overall health for the rest of their lives. Children are more susceptible to plaque and decay due to their snacking habits, poor dexterity, carbohydrate rich diet and thinner enamel. The need for regular care and dental checkups is vital for your child’s health. 

Tooth Development

Throughout your child’s life, they will have two sets of teeth: primary (baby) teeth and secondary (permanent) teeth. At age 6-8 months, the primary teeth may begin to appear with all 20 being in place by the age of 3 years.

Permanent teeth will begin to grow into the mouth around 6 years of age and are usually all present by the age of 14, excluding the wisdom teeth (3rd molars). 

Permanent teeth are just that, they are permanent with no replacement. For that reason, meticulous care at home and regular dental appointments are important for your child’s general overall health. 

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 can help avoid cavities and other dental problems. Many snacks that children eat largely contribute to developing cavities. Healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth, are great choices!

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay which is associated with bottle or Sippy cup usage is a significant public health problem. Pediatric dentists and parents should implement preventive practices to decrease a child’s risks of developing this devastating disease. Dental decay (caries) is a transmissible infectious disease. Some transmission is attributed to a caregiver passing their cavity causing microbes to the child. Children whose mothers are high risk for dental decay are at a greater risk of becoming cavity prone themselves. Tooth decay in infants can be minimized and with optimum care can be totally prevented. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep sucking should be given a pacifier after their first tooth erupts. In addition, oral cleanings following feedings, if not previously implemented, need to begin with eruption of the first baby tooth as well. Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Watts and Dr. Capeci are dedicated to eliminating baby bottle tooth decay. 

  • Other methods of prevention for early childhood caries is minimizing saliva-sharing activities (i.e. utensils) between an infant or toddler and his/her family.
  • Oral hygiene measures should be instituted at home prior to the eruption of the first tooth and continued stringently upon eruption of all teeth.
  • Tooth brushing for children with teeth should be performed twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Parents should use a “smear “of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, parents should dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist with the child’s tooth brushing. Flossing should be initiated when adjacent tooth surfaces cannot be cleaned by a toothbrush.
  • Most importantly, establishing a dental home within 6 months of eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age to conduct a caries risk assessment and provide parental education including anticipatory guidance for prevention of oral diseases. 
  • Grazing aka repetitive consumption of any liquid containing fermentable carbohydrates from a bottle or no-spill training cup should be avoided. Between meal snacks and prolonged exposures to foods and juice or other beverages containing fermentable carbohydrates should be avoided. 

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born. Thumb, finger and pacifier sucking affects the teeth and jaws in essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit often is easier to break. Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, or other objects on their own between 2 and 5 years of age. For those who don’t cease the habits their upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in to place properly. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth. Please find on our web site a chart which can be utilized in your home to assist your child with breaking the habit. The chart has 30 days for recognition representing each day the child does not “perform” the habit. A small token or prize daily for the child who is on track to break their habit is important. A child is best assisted with breaking a habit by a “daily” reward, since long term goals for them are difficult. We suggest parents provide a “small token” award daily as they mark their calendar, with a BIG prize for the achievement after 30 days of no sucking. We are here to help you congratulate them and have an office award for them as well which includes a certificate when they bring us their chart of completion. 

COVID-19 Update

Our office has always exceeded the guidelines for infection control, and we will expand those practices for infection control as we continue to combat COVID-19. As we initiate our schedule, we are requesting that when you arrive in our parking lot, please call us so that we may come to your car and retrieve information from you regarding your child’s appointment. We will have signs posted outside the entrance with the phone number for you to call upon your arrival.

Your family’s health is our biggest concern. We will be asking those with high risk factors to wait before scheduling. Your understanding as we rework our schedule to accommodate all of you means the world to us.

Above all else, we are so excited to see you again and look forward to your arrival at our office. Together, we can make this the best appointment EVER!!

We have missed you and your children’s sweet smiling faces!

Respectfully,

Dr. Sandra Armstrong, Dr. Amy Watts, Dr. Alexis Capeci and Staff

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