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 about preventing cavities, go here.
Thumb Sucking Can Be Bad
It is normal for infants to suck their fingers or thumbs, and many babies use pacifiers without problems! So why is it bad? Prolonged thumb or finger sucking and pacifier use can cause teeth to come in crooked or cause bite problems. If your child continues this habit past age 3, we recommend a professional evaluation. At Smile Shoppe Pediatric Dentistry, we will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking, finger sucking, or pacifier habit.
Break the habit:
- Find a good time when your child is happy and not stressed.
- Encourage your child with positive reinforcement. Praise your child when they are not sucking their thumb, finger or pacifier.
- Create a rewards system with small incentives to encourage your child to stick with it!
If you think your child may have bite problems, we also offer orthodontics services.
What Role Does Sugar Play in 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 those in candy or soda, sugar is left behind on their teeth. And bacteria—like us—love to eat sugar. Unfortunately, as bacteria eat, they create 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 dental treatments.
Daily Dental Hygiene
So how can you prevent tooth 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 tooth decay.
About Brushing and Flossing
When it comes to brushing and flossing, your child’s hands and mouth are different than yours. Kids need toothbrushes that are designed to fit inside their smaller mouths and tiny hands. Of course, everyone should purchase a brush with soft, round bristles to ensure gentle cleaning. You should also buy a new brush approximately every three months.
Teeth Cleaning for Kids
Dental hygiene is important even before your baby’s first tooth erupts. You can help keep your baby’s gums clean by wiping gently with a soft, damp cloth or gauze square. As your baby grows, purchase a child’s size toothbrush, and brush the teeth in small, gentle circles using a small amount of toothpaste, roughly the size of a grain of rice.
To ensure proper teeth cleaning and plaque reduction:
- 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
When your child reaches age 2 or 3, you can begin to teach them how to brush on their own. Of course, you should still help them brush any spots that they miss or can’t reach well to remove plaque. Again, brush using small, gentle circles on the teeth and gums. We recommend that you or another adult help your child brush until age 6 or 7. Most children need help flossing until age 10 as well. To keep cavities away, consider inspecting your child’s brushing habits until age 12. Our Pediatric Dentists recommend that you use training toothpaste without fluoride until your child can spit or until the dentist tells you differently.
As teeth start to come in, some babies experience tender or sore gums. Does your baby have swollen or red gums? Do you notice more drooling than normal or changes in feeding patterns? Does your baby seem grumpy no matter what you do to help? Don’t worry! You can help ease teething symptoms.
Soothing Sore Gums
First, massage your baby’s sore gums using clean, wet gauze on your finger. This may help reduce irritation. You can also place a clean teething ring in the freezer for a few minutes until chilled before giving it to your baby. The cool sensation can help reduce pain and swelling. Be sure to never dip the ring in sugar, syrup, honey or other foods. This can lead to cavities!
Popular over-the-counter medicines may sound like a good idea. But gels or creams with benzocaine should not be used to soothe sore gums in babies younger than age 2. Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that has been known to cause serious reactions in children. It can be found in over-the-counter products such as Orajel®, Baby Orajel®, Orabse®, Anbesol® and Hurricaine®. Stick with other methods of soothing your child’s gums. If the child is still cranky and uncomfortable while teething, consult your pediatric dentist.
First Dental Visit (By Their 1st Birthday!)
When should parents bring their children to the dentist’s office for the first time? The answer varies with each child. Studies prove that it’s best for babies to have their first dental visit before they turn 1. Sounds early, does’t it? Well, some babies can be born with teeth already since the primary teeth begin to form under the gums before birth. Plus, studies show that parents can pass on cavities to their babies. With early treatment, children are less likely to develop early childhood cavities (previously known as baby bottle tooth decay).
First Dental Visit: Dental Cleaning
Our pediatric dentists are specially trained to identify oral health and growth problems when your baby gets his or her first tooth. Typically, this happens around age 4 to 6 months. In some cases, babies may even be born with teeth! So you should check your baby’s teeth early on. If we can detect problems and provide dental cleaning early, we can better prevent oral disease. At your first visit, we will also teach you the right methods to clean your baby’s teeth and gums at home. This is important to help your child have a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles. For more information, visit: http://www.aapd.org/.
Diet and Your Child’s Teeth
You already know that your diet can have a huge impact on your child’s overall health. Eating the right foods can nourish the body, help maintain a healthy weight, and keep disease at bay. But can your child’s diet also impact your teeth? Absolutely! The sugar from food and drinks creates a breeding ground of bacteria in your child’s mouth. Bacteria then produce acids that break down tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay. With dental fillings, we can stop cavities from becoming worse. But if left untreated, your child may require more serious treatment, like a pulpectomy or tooth extraction. During a pulpectomy, we will remove the diseased pulp tissue and disinfect the remaining nerve tissue. Beyond dental treatment, you can help ensure your child’s mouth stays healthy. It all starts with a good diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and less sugars. Avoid sugar in the form of soda, juice and sports drinks, and help your child eat fewer starchy snacks, like crackers and potato chips. These snacks stick to the teeth, producing more sugar in the mouth. Try snacks such as fresh fruits, veggie sticks, yogurt or cheese. You can also try pure chocolate if your child wants something sweet. It does not stick to the teeth but melts off the grooves. If your child does eat chips or desserts, make sure they drink water to wash food particles off of their teeth. To read more on your child’s diet and oral health, click here.
Why Pediatric Dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry is a type of dentistry that focuses on kids’ overall oral health. From infants and toddlers to older children and teens, our pediatric dentists are trained to give your child the right dental care.
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.