What is Sleep Disordered Breathing?
Sleep disordered breathing refers to abnormal breathing that creates disturbances while asleep. It refers to a broad range of symptoms, with Sleep Apnea being the most severe form. “How can I tell if my child has this?” Observe your child sleeping.
Check for the following symptoms:
- Mouth Breathing
- Restless sleeping
- Night terrors
- Dark circles under the eyes (allergic shiners)
- Grinding their teeth/flattened teeth
- Headaches in the morning
- Unexplained sore teeth
- Missing fillings
- Gasping for air or pauses in breathing
“Aren’t those behaviors normal? Why should I be concerned?”
The above behaviors are common but should not be considered normal. When a child is struggling to breathe, their body, including the brain, doesn’t receive adequate amounts of oxygen. This could lead to a number of medical issues, including delays in intellectual development and misdiagnosis of ADD or ADHD. What kind of treatment is necessary? The most common cause is airway obstruction, and the most common airway obstructions are tonsils/adenoid overgrowth or allergies. We typically involve our Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. Sometimes, it could mean having tonsils and/or adenoids removed. It could also mean having early orthodontic intervention or myofunctional therapy.
“What do I do now?”
Look for the symptoms listed above. Because the tongue is in a low position in mouth breathing, it can affect the development of the upper jaw (narrower or flared) and the muscles of swallowing and chewing. We will evaluate your child every 6 months for early orthodontic treatment or myofunctional therapy. If necessary, we will talk to you about starting proper treatment or making the appropriate referrals. We also advise you to bring this up with your pediatrician at your child’s next well-visit. A referral to the ENT specialist may be necessary.
Can you “catch” a cavity?
In a way, you can catch cavities! But regular teeth cleanings can help. You can prevent cavities from even forming! At Smile Shoppe Pediatric Dentistry, we believe you should bring your baby in early. We like to see children for a cleaning six months after the first tooth erupts. This is so we can ensure your baby’s teeth come in correctly and remain cavity-free.
A cavity needs a vulnerable tooth, sugar, and bacteria. We all have some bacteria in our mouths. But some of us have more cavity causing bacteria than others. Anyone who has a cavity in their mouth has a higher level of bacteria that produces cavities. When people share food, drinks, utensils, toothbrushes and other items, they can pass bacteria on to others. Children do not have this bacteria when they are born. But they can get it from a parent, caregiver or even another child. We can find signs of cavity producing bacteria at our office before the child’s first birthday! With a simple teeth cleaning, we can remove plaque, provide dental fillings, and help to reduce cavity causing bacteria. To read more, go here.
Gum Disease and Your Child
The most common cause of gum disease, or periodontal disease, is plaque. Regrettably, young patients often find out they have it after it’s been present for a substantial amount of time. Too often, the damage has already been done.
Can My Child Get Gum Disease?
You may think that it’s an adult problem, but in reality, studies indicate that gingivitis (first stage) is a persistent issue among children and teens. While advanced forms of gum disease occur more often in adults, we have seen children with this problem as wel. Chronic gingivitis causes gum tissue to swell, turn red, and easily bleed. Thankfully, gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. If untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious problems.
Common problems associated with gum disease include:
- Long teeth (receding gum lines expose the roots of your teeth)
- Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
- Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
- Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)
- Tooth loss or movement
Don’t let plaque and gingivitis persist in your child’s mouth! Proper oral hygiene, daily dental care, and regular dental checkups can keep mouths healthy and happy!
Mouth Guards and Sports: Protecting Smiles
Does your child play sports that involve contact or possible harm to their mouth, like football, basketball, martial arts, or skateboarding? Many young kids play sports or other physical activities without mouth guards, and it is important to protect their teeth, gums, and jaws from injury. Unprotected mouths are susceptible to dental trauma, which can be costly and affect teeth for years to come—even for life.
Why Mouth Guards?
Just like a helmet protects your child’s head, wearing a mouthguard can help protect your child’s smile from injury. If your son or daughter plays any type of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that they wear dental protection. Whether your child wears braces or not, wearing a mouthguard is the best way to avoid dental injury while playing sports. Contact us today and ask us how we can protect your child’s teeth! We can determine the right mouthguard for your child and provide tips on how to wear it.
Sugar and Tooth Decay
Can too much sugar in your child’s diet cause tooth decay? Definitely! The foods your child eats and poor oral hygiene habits are directly related to cavity causing tooth decay! Every second, bacteria feed on the sugars in your child’s mouth. When kids eat starchy food or simple sugars, like candy or soda, sugar is left behind on their teeth. And bacteria—like us—love to eat sugar. Unfortunately, as bacteria eat, they create an acidic waste. Once the bacteria take over and feed on sugars in your child’s mouth, they can produce enough acid to cause tooth decay. Left untreated, tooth decay can continue to wear down the tooth, resulting in the need for a filling, root canal, and other unpleasant dental treatment.
Daily Dental Hygiene
So how can you prevent decay and avoid a root canal for your child? Basically, the less sugar and starch you allow your child to eat, the less likely bacteria can thrive, grow, and produce decay causing acids. Plus, when you brush and floss your child’s teeth every day, you are interrupting the bacteria’s feast! Simple dental hygiene removes the colonizing bacteria, making them incapable of producing enough acid to cause havoc in your child’s mouth. Make sure to educate your children and instill good oral hygiene when they are young. It is recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes per brushing. Also, flossing at least once per day helps remove bacteria in areas that are difficult to brush.
Nervous Child? We Can Help!
Got a nervous child on the day of your appointment? Don’t worry; it is common for children to be afraid of going to the dentist. Children’s moods can change constantly. Even a child who has been to the dentist before can get nervous. And that’s ok! As pediatric dentists, we receive extensive training in creating an atmosphere where your child can comfortably receive treatment. Because of our training, we are able to choose the right techniques to appropriately manage each child’s behavior. For an especially worried child, we offer in-office sedation, including oral sedation protocols. We also use a nurse anesthetist for more complicated cases. For patients with special healthcare needs and very young children, we offer general anesthesia in a hospital setting. Our goal is the same for each child: a successful outcome in a safe environment.
What You Can Do To Help
Your child will look to you for comfort and guidance if they are nervous on their appointment day. It is a big help if you reinforce to them that the dentist is nice and safe. If they see that you trust the dentist, they probably will too. Try to not talk about the dentist in a negative fashion around your children, so that they will not carry over that negativity into their own idea of the dentist. Our office team is trained to make their experience a great one, but it is very helpful if parents communicate going to the dentist in a positive manner as well.
Why Pediatric Dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry is a type of dentistry that focuses on the overall oral health of kids. While we work with children as young as infants and toddlers, older children and teens can benefit greatly from a pediatric dentist. Our doctors are trained to give your child the right dental care at any age under 18.
What Are Pediatric Dentists?
A pediatric dentist is similar to a pediatrician. Pediatric dentists must take additional training to understand the best ways to protect your child’s oral heath. They also stay current on the latest technology and practices. All dentists must take four years of college and four years of general dental school. In addition, pediatric dentists also receive two to three years of training in both children’s hospitals and dental schools. At Smile Shoppe Pediatric Dentistry, our pediatric dentists are specially trained to give your children the customized care they need. We love working with kids to create healthy dental habits for life. Why go anywhere else? For more information, click here.
About Brushing and Flossing
Your child’s hands and mouth are different than yours, especially when it comes to brushing and flossing teeth. Kids need toothbrushes that are designed to fit inside their smaller mouths and hands. As your child grows, they may need a larger toothbrush. Of course, everyone should purchase a brush with soft, round bristles to ensure gentle cleaning. Remember to buy a new brush approximately every three months. An old toothbrush can lose its ability to effectively remove plaque. This also ensures your child is still using the right size brush for their mouth.
Dental Cleaning for Kids
Dental hygiene is important to keep your child’s teeth healthy and cavity free. Your child may be brushing on their own, but we recommend you help brush your child’s teeth until age 6 or 7. During this stage, it’s important to remind children how to brush and floss to ensure they are using the right technique.
To ensure proper teeth cleaning and plaque reduction, your child should:
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle facing the teeth and gums
- Brush in small, gentle circles about half a tooth wide
- Brush the inner and outer surface of each tooth
- Brush the chewing surfaces of each tooth, holding the brush flat on top of the teeth
- Gently brush the tongue to remove food particles
- Floss gently between teeth every day
Teens and Oral Care
Oral care is important at any age, but as your child reaches the pre-teen and teenager years they are more prone to cavities because of a poor diet. Kids need to eat a healthy, balanced diet that helps keep bones strong and the mouth free from plaque. Stress the importance of avoiding sugary foods and drinks to keep cavities away.
Teens with Braces
For teens with braces, it is more important than ever to brush and floss regularly! This will ensure that your child’s teeth and gums will stay healthy long after orthodontic treatment is complete.
Make sure your child knows to try to brush at least three times per day. We also recommend that our patients rinse nightly with fluoride rinses that strengthen teeth while they are in braces. Regular and frequent dental visits are important throughout orthodontic treatment as well. It is recommended that you see your dentist every 6 months even while in orthodontic treatment with braces or other appliances.
Eating with Braces
From the moment your child gets braces, they should stick to soft foods. Avoid hard breads and tough, raw vegetables, like carrots. As the teeth start to move, they are likely to feel back to normal more quickly. Also, you do not want them to break a bracket or wire. This could delay their treatment time.