Your Child’s Dental Health begins with you
Help your child have a positive experience at the dentist. Demonstrate to your child the importance of dental health by keeping your own oral health in optimum condition.
“Baby Teeth” ARE important
Baby teeth not only help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also assist in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. If a baby tooth falls out too soon or too late or loses a part of its structure due to decay, the neighboring teeth can shift causing permanent teeth to erupt in the wrong locations. This could necessitate extensive orthodontic or even surgical correction in the future.
Caring for your infant’s teeth & preventing tooth decay caused by nursing
Cleaning should begin with eruption of the first tooth (usually around 6 months of age). A clean towel or a small soft-bristled toothbrush, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. Water rather than toothpaste should be used at this stage. Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle.
Brushing & flossing your child’s teeth
When a child is 2-3 years old, the brushing frequency should increase to at least 2 times per day and fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced. Daily flossing regime should also be introduced as it is the only way to effectively clean in between teeth where food and bacteria are trapped. An adult must repeat the child’s brushing and flossing until the child has developed the dexterity to clean properly (usually at 8 years of age). Note on Fluoride: Fluoride integrates into tooth enamel and makes teeth less likely to decay. However, fluoride is dangerous if ingested so use only a half-of-pea size amount of toothpaste, and have your child spit out the excess. Please keep toothpaste inaccessible to small children.
First dental exam & preventive dental care
Children should have their first dental exam shortly after the eruption of their first tooth or no later than their first birthday. Preventive dental care visits should continue every 6 months. Helping them form healthy habits early on will increase their chance of having a healthy mouth and body for a lifetime. Reminder: California law now requires that your child have a dental check-up by May 31 of his or her first school year. The required oral Health Assessment Forms are available at Impression Dental Care or at your local school.
Harmful effects of thumb sucking & pacifier habits
Prolonged thumb and pacifier sucking habits can lead to permanent malformations of the bone surrounding the teeth, resulting in malocclusion requiring orthodontic treatment. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended to prevent this habit.
Benefits of sealants
A thin plastic coating can be placed in the deep grooves of your child’s teeth to help prevent cavities on the chewing surfaces. This procedure is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth from disease and pain.
Benefits of early orthodontics
Malocclusion can be inherited or caused by dental injuries, the early loss of primary teeth or such habits as thumbsucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing or fingernail or lip biting. Early orthodontics can enhance your child’s smile, straighten crooked teeth, guide erupting teeth into position, correct bite problems and even prevent the need for tooth extractions. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
Spread of cavities & gum (periodontal) disease
Babies are not born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay, they usually get it from their mothers’ saliva. Therefore, mothers with high levels of these bacteria have children who also have high levels of bacteria and a greater chance of tooth decay. The bacteria that cause Periodontal Disease can also be spread from person to person so avoid sharing food, utensil and drinking glasses and never share a toothbrush.
Cavities & your family’s diet
Bacteria use sugar (carbohydrates) to metabolize and create waste products that increase the acidity of our mouths. This causes the minerals in our teeth to break down causing “cavities.” Bacteria are most active during the first 20 minutes immediately following a meal or snack, therefore, limiting the number of snacks your child has will decrease the likelihood of cavities. Foods which are high in sugars like candy, juice and soda or starches like chips, crackers and pastas are more likely to cause cavities. Vegetables or snacks high in protein and fiber are less likely to cause cavities.
DENTAL EMERGENCY TIPS
What to do if your child falls & knocks out a permanent tooth
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap – use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to the dental office immediately. If it is after hours, call the office number and follow the greeting instructions to be connected to the dentist or go to the nearest emergency room. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
What to do if your child has a toothache
First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any pain. Do not put warm compress or aspirin on the teeth or gums. Next, see a dentist as soon as possible. If the dentist is not available and the face is noticeably swollen, call your primary care physician or go to the emergency room.