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Kids Crooked Teeth, What Are Options

Q: Doc, my child’s adult teeth are coming in crooked and she won’t smile anymore. What can you do?

A: Ask any child with less-than perfect teeth about teasing and nicknames, and you’ll no doubt hear a sad story. We hear them every day.orthodontics estero

There is real substance to such a child’s social pain. Children with orthodontic problems are much more subject to bullying than their peers. We’ve all experienced the hostility of childhood epithets — its part of growing up.

Fortunately, there are many new types of orthodontic treatment available to correct “bad bites” and end the name calling.

Ask any kid today about braces and you’ll hear something completely different than you would expect. When told they will need some type of orthodontic treatment the response is “awesome” or “cool”.

Braces no longer carry the stigma of “metal mouth” that was common in years past. The advent of invisible braces, glow in the dark braces, white braces, and custom made retainers in a rainbow of colors and designs have all made the process of getting straight teeth an exciting rite of passage for most children.

With all of this new technology we are now able to begin orthodontic treatment earlier than ever before.

In most cases, this first phase of orthodontics can create space and plan so that there will be enough room for the permanent teeth. Often times it eliminates the need to remove permanent teeth. This makes the second and later phase of treatment much easier.

Caring For Kids Teeth

Simply good parenting begins with wanting the best for our children. Quality schools, solid values and a sense of family are all important components. Sometimes time and money can put limits on what we can do for our kids’ health and happiness, but not when it comes to preventive dental treatment. That is, well, a bargain. 

Regular visits to the dentist should begin early.  A new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests that children be seen by a dentist by their first birthday. These early visits introduce them to dentistry and make them comfortable with the sights and sounds of the environment around them.  They also serve to determine the teeth and jaw development are progressing normally. 

Check-up appointments should be twice a year and involve gently cleaning and polishing your child’s teeth, x-rays if necessary and a careful examination of the teeth by the dentist. 

We are now able to use a small laser to painlessly detect cavities that were otherwise invisible. If your child is old enough we may recommend placing a topical fluoride that will help to protect and strengthen the teeth against cavities. 

As your child’s permanent back teeth come in we will probably advise you to protect their teeth with sealants. Sealants are a risk-free, wear resistant and painless coating that actually bonds to the surface of the teeth, sealing out decay. 

The good news: Sealants prevent about 80 percent of the cavities a typical child might otherwise have if left untreated. 

A bargain now, that offers a lifetime of benefits! 

Myths About Children’s Dental Health

This week instead of answering just one question I’m going to answer a few different ones about children’s dental health. 

One of the most common questions is when should a child have their first dental visit. A new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests children be seen by a dentist by their first birthday.  This may seem really early but the rationale behind the early visit is less about teeth than you might think.  At that early age, we want to make sure growth and development of the jaws is progressing normally.  The visit is also about nutrition, education and developing good habits in order to lower the risk of cavities in baby teeth.   

I would advise each parent to prepare for their child’s first visit to the dentist by going to the library or local bookstore and getting a couple of children’s books that deal with baby teeth and the first visit to the dentist. 

You will probably find a wealth of titles to choose from but “The Berenstein Bears Go To The Dentist” is a good choice that covers all the necessary information about what will take place at their first visit. 

Another thing that parents can do is bring their child with them when they have their own check-up and cleaning. This allows the child to see that it is not scary and that no one will hurt them. Most dental offices will allow a parent to bring a child with but you may want to call just to verify that it is OK. 

Another question I receive often is about fluoride and how often a child should visit the dentist. Many people don’t think that children need to go to the dentist because their baby teeth are just going to fall out anyway. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Baby teeth are very important because they allow the jaw to grow properly and most importantly they hold space until such a time when the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If they are removed too soon there may not be enough room for the permanent teeth to come in, resulting in the need for oral surgery and orthodontics to correct the problem. 

Most people are aware of the benefit that fluoride has against the formation of cavities, especially in growing children. While there is fluoride in the water most people today drink bottled water which contains no fluoride. Having topical fluoride placed at your child’s check up appointments twice per year ensures that their teeth will remain healthy and strong. 

Children that consume large amounts of juice, sports drinks, colas or are still nursing are particularly at a much higher risk for the development of cavities. While all children benefit from fluoride usage this group will gain the most advantage against tooth decay. 

Injuries to the mouth and teeth are very common amongst school age children and must be dealt with quickly. 

If your child has broken a tooth, knocked a tooth out or even hit their jaw, getting to the dentist as soon as possible is vital. If a tooth has been broken try to retain the broken piece as it may be able to be bonded back in place. If your child has knocked their tooth out, rinse it off, put it in milk and get to the dentist as soon as possible. In some cases it is possible to re-implant the tooth back into the socket if you get to the dentist quick enough. A blow to the jaw or chin by an accident or fall can damage the jaw joint and should be evaluated by a dentist to determine if any damage has been done and if any treatment would be needed to aid in the healing process. 

I hope that you will follow these tips to ensure that your child has healthy, strong, beautiful teeth that will last a lifetime. 

Child’s First Visit to Dentist, Afraid

Q: Hey Doc, my husband just took our 3-year old to the dentist and she freaked out. She came home terrified. I don’t want to scar her for life, what can I do? 

A: Sorry to hear your little one had such a bad experience. You didn’t mention if this was her first visit. Sometimes a first visit to the dentist can be scary just because of the unfamiliar environment. 

If you put yourself in her shoes you would see that there are all kinds of new sights, smells, bright lights and friendly albeit unfamiliar faces. The best way to ensure your child has a successful visit to the dentist is to reassure them and to explain what will take place. If you visit your local library there are many books for children about going to the dentist for the first time. Also, since your daughter came back from her first visit so fearful and afraid, I would advise talking to her and find out why she had such a bad experience. 

It is essential that no one (parent, sibling, grandparent, etc.) is imprinting their fear of the dentist onto your daughter. This may be an unconscious statement or remark about a past experience, a feeling toward having dental treatment done or a casual remark about what may happen at during a dental visit. Or, you may be surprised; it might be something really silly that never would have entered your mind. Here’s an example. I was treating a child that was reluctant about having their treatment done. I explained that we would get it done really fast. Well, that child burst into tears, became very upset and wouldn’t stop crying. Once his mom and I got him calmed down and asked him why he was so upset. He said he didn’t want it to go fast. Do you see what I mean? That was the only thing bothering him; the speed in which I was going to get in and out of the office. That is why it is so important to discuss the problem and find out why the child is so afraid or upset. 

If left alone, bad childhood dental experiences can lead to a severe and profound fear of the dentist and dental treatment that can develop into serious problems later in life. It is of utmost importance that the child has positive experiences at the dentist. A check-up and cleaning can usually accomplish this easily. Make sure that you let the dentist and hygienist know that your child had a bad experience at their last visit. Get them comfortable slowly. Unless your child is in pain or having an emergency there is no reason to rush or push them into having treatment that is scary or uncomfortable for them. That could make the situation worse than it is already. Instead patience, understanding and explaining what is going to be done can go a long way toward making sure your child fear of the dentist was a solitary event and doesn’t affect them later

What Does Mom’s Smile Say? A Mother’s Oral Health Could Be Affecting Her Kids

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Motherhood is both wonderful and challenging. Most women agree that the only way to truly understand what being a mom is like is to become one. Once you have had children, they become your main focus, the purpose behind everything you do…and don’t do.

It’s not uncommon for women to neglect themselves after having a baby. From missing the daily shower to going an extra month or two without a haircut, it’s natural for mothers to reroute all of their resources to their child or children, whether that be time, money, or energy. But could that self-neglect be having a negative affect that extends beyond Mom?

Healthy Mom Equals Healthy Child

According to a study published in the Journal of Dental Research (Jan. 19, 2011)1, moms’ oral health predicts their children’s oral health. This 27-year-long study found that if mothers had poor oral-hygiene practices while their children were young, the children had a higher rate of dental caries and poor overall oral health as adults. The study was conducted in New Zealand and consisted of 835 mothers who participated in a self-rated survey and 1,000 children who were examined at age 5 and then again at 32 (more than 900 examined at this time).

The results were overwhelming. Almost half of the children with mothers who had poor dental health suffered from tooth decay and eventual tooth loss as adults.

Bad News or Good?

Initially, these results may sound like bad news, but they support the belief that when moms take time to care for themselves, they are also taking care of their children — a little relief from guilt for mom.

Oral hygiene and dental care should not be seen as optional for mothers; they are crucial to Mom’s self-esteem and overall health, as well as for the children’s health and well-being.

So what does putting the right amount of time and energy into dental care mean for Mom?

  • Making sure to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing every day
  • Minimizing the amount of sugary foods that are consumed
  • Scheduling and attending regular checkups and cleanings

Some common oral health conditions can be staved off with good oral-hygiene practices and regular checkups:

Periodontal disease: The best way to avoid gum disease is by sticking to your at-home oral-hygiene routine. Flossing is particularly important. When plaque and tartar remain on teeth, a mild form of periodontal disease can occur, called gingivitis, in which the gums bleed and become red and swollen. Gingivitis is reversible, and it can be treated. However, when left untreated, the gum disease worsens, leading to an advanced form called periodontitis that can cause severe damage to the soft tissue that supports the teeth, resulting in infection and eventual tooth loss.

Oral cancer: According to the American Dental Association, 41,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral and throat cancers this year. Oral or mouth cancer reveals itself as a growth or sore in the mouth or throat that doesn’t go away with time. When you come into our office for your regular checkup, we provide a potentially life-saving oral cancer screening. Our oral cancer screenings consists of a verbal, visual, and physical examination, and they significantly increase your chance of a full recovery should cancer be found. We are your first line of defense for early detection.

Having a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile are key to Mom feeling good about herself. Whether the special mother in your life is yours, someone you know, or you yourself, consider treating her to a teeth-whitening treatment. Sometimes having brighter teeth can give Mom that boost she needs. Feeling good about yourself is important, especially when life gets hard. As your family dentist, we understand that while dark and stained teeth can be healthy, they can also make you look tired, worn down, and older than you really are. Mom deserves better.

Modern-day whitening treatments are fast, effective, and affordable, and they can whiten teeth up to 14 shades brighter. There is no quicker way to make Mom feel as amazing as she is. And remember, when Mom is happy, everyone is happier!

Call today to find out more about how you can help Mom and the whole family stay healthier and happier.

1. http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/90/5/672