- Why are Primary Teeth Important?
The pediatric dentist has an extra two years of specialized training after dental school, and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by one year of age. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.
You can make the first visit to Dr. Bayless enjoyable and positive. If old enough, your child should be informed of the visit and told that Dr.Bayless and his team will explain all procedures and answer any and all questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unneccessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using such words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
- Toothache: Clean the area of the affected tooth. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge any food that may be impacted. If the pain still exists, contact Dr. Bayless. Do not place aspirin or heat on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact your dentist immediately.
- Cut or bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek: Apply ice to injured areas to help control swelling. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call a doctor or visit the hospital emergency room.
- Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: If possible, find the tooth. Handle it by the crown, not by the root. You ay rinse the tooth with water only. DO NOT clean the tooth with soap, scrub it, handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is sound, try to reinsert it in the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the patient’s saliva or milk. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth (beside the cheek). The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
- Knocked Out Baby Tooth: Contact Dr. Bayless during normal business hours. This is not usually an emergency, and in most cases, no treatment is necessary.
- Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth: Contact Dr. Bayless immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If possible, locate and save any broken tooth fragments and bring them with you to the dentist.
- Chipped or Fractured Baby Tooth: Contact Dr. Bayless during normal business hours.
- Severe Blow to the Head: Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.
- Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw: Keep the jaw from moving and take your child to the nearest emergency room.
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary (or baby) teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by the age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies.
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.
Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.
Radiographs detect much more then cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years, it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of radiographs, either a panoramic and bitewings or periapicals and bitewings.
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their radiation, With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film and proper shielding assure the your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
What is the Best Toothpaste For My Child?
Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks foe good oral health. Many toothpastes, ans/or polishes, however, can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives, which can wear away young tooth enamel. When looking for a toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.
Remember, children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with fluoride free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a “pea size” amount of toothpaste.
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed or for a nap at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give your baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime or naptime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
After each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or guaze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place your child’s head in your lap or lay your child on a changing table or the floor. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into your child’s mouth easily.
Is My Child’s Pacifier or Thumbsucking an Issue?
Sucking is perfectly normal for babies and young children. The thumbsucking habit usually begins around three months. Frequent use of a pacifier or their thumb can create a number of problems, such as anterior open bite (front teeth do not meet), palatal changes, and tongue thrusting. You should try to discontinue the use of the pacifier by 2-3 years of age. If thumbsucking is an issue, begin to encourage discontinuation at 4-6 years of age. Dr. Bayless and his team will work with you and your child to develop a positive reinforcement reward system to help them quit.
Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by your child grinding on their teeth during sleep. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence your child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to the pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving their jaw to relieve this pressure.
The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or Dr. Bayless.
Starting at birth, clean your child’s gum with a soft washcloth or gauze pad with warm water. As soon as your child’s teeth start to erupt, brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Under the age of 2, use a small “pea size” amount of toothpaste. Brush your child’s teeth until they are old enough to do a good job on their own. Supervise your child’s brushing and flossing until they are 7-8 years old.
Flossing should begin when two teeth touch. Floss your child’s teeth daily until they can do it on their own. Flossers are great to use and we encourage them.
For infants, avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything else than water. See ” Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” for more information. Also, use a soft washcloth or gauze pad to wipe the plaque from the gums and teeth. Even if your child does not have teeth it is equally important to still wipe their gums after each feeding.
For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your child.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visits to the pediatric dentist, beginning at your child’s first birthday or after eight fully erupted teeth. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Most snacks that children often eat can lead to cavity formation. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance is for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. For example, hard candy and breath mints stay in the mouth a long time, which cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as cheese, nuts, low-fat yogurt, which are healthier and better for your child’s teeth.
A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of the five cavities in children are found. The sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. Even though a sealant is placed the child will still need to floss in between their teeth. Dr. Bayless and his team will check your child’s sealants at every visit to insure the sealant is in tact.
Fluoride is an element, which has been shown to be beneficial to teeth. However, too little or too much fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. Little or no fluoride will not strengthen the teeth to help them resist cavities. Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is a chalky white to even brown discoloration of the permanent teeth. Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of a child’s potential sources of fluoride can help parents prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis.
Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Please read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, decaffinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities.
Fluoride drops and tablets are not necessary unless it is the recommendation from your child’s pediatrician or Dr. Bayless.
Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe.
When a child begins to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your child’s teeth, and should be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth.
Ask Dr. Bayless about a custom or a store bought mouth protector.