Pediatric Dental Care & Services
PREVENTIVE CARE & SERVICES
Nutrition and Oral Health Guidance
Establishing good nutritional habits for your child can be especially beneficial to promote good eating patterns and food choices for the rest of his or her life. Think of your little one’s mouth as the doorway to the rest of the body.
Whatever gets consumed not only affects the youngster’s growth, development, weight, and energy levels, but oral health as well. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is vital for the development of strong, healthy teeth.
GENERAL TIPS FOR A HEALTHY DIET AND A HEALTHY MOUTH
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugary foods and beverages. When plaque combines with the sugars and starches, an acid is produced that attacks enamel on the teeth, and eventually causes decay.
- Make sure your son or daughter’s diet includes a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy products. The nutrients found in these foods are crucial for children’s growth and health.
- Look for sugar in unexpected places. Many foods that make up a balanced, healthy diet contain sugar — including fruit, some vegetables, and milk. The best time to eat these is during meal time, not as a snack.
- Speaking of snacks, limit your child’s snacking to only a few per day, and make sure they’re nutritious!
- Fun foods, like candy and starchy snacks, should be reserved for special occasions, not everyday snacking.
- When he or she is old enough, let your youngster chew sugar-free gum that carries the ADA seal. Chewing sugar-free gum increases saliva flow, which washes away food debris and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria.
- Ensure your youngster brushes twice a day and flosses to eliminate food debris that leads to harmful plaque and bacteria, and causes tooth decay.
Your child brushes his or her teeth twice a day, flosses regularly, and visits our office every six months. But did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep our teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.
FLUORIDE COMES IN TWO VARIETIES, SYSTEMIC AND TOPICAL:
- Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities.
- Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Professional application of topical fluoride foam and varnishes is also a valuable tool for cavity prevention.
RECEIVING A FLUORIDE TREATMENT FROM YOUR DENTIST
A fluoride treatment in our office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride.
Depending on your child’s oral health or Dr. Al’s recommendation, your son or daughter may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. We may also prescribe at-home fluoride products such as mouthwash, gels, or antibacterial rinses.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT FLUORIDE TREATMENT
When choosing an at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and approved by the ADA based on safety and effectiveness.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to reach between the small cracks and grooves on teeth.
If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on the tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth, and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure against tooth decay after their permanent teeth have emerged. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and Dr. Al will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from three to five years, although it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your child’s sealants come off, let us know, and schedule an appointment for your son or daughter’s teeth to be re-sealed.
Protecting your child’s smile while playing sports is essential. Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are among the most common injuries suffered by athletes.
Mouth guards help protect teeth and gums from injury. If your son or daughter participates in basketball, boxing, hockey, football, gymnastics, lacrosse, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, track and field, skateboarding, skiing and snowboarding, skydiving, soccer, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting or wrestling, it is recommended by the American Dental Association that a mouthguard be worn.
TYPES OF MOUTH GUARDS
Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouth guards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard.
When choosing a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well fitted to your child’s mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent him from breathing properly. If the athlete wears braces or a retainer, it is imperative for him or her to wear a mouthguard.Dr. Al can show your youngster how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR CHILD’S MOUTHGUARD
Similar to a retainer, braces, or any special dental appliance, it is worthwhile to take care of the mouthguard by storing it properly and keeping it clean. Here are a few simple ways to keep your child’s mouthguard clean and working correctly:
- Gently scrub the mouthguard after each use with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Store it in a protective case.
- Do not leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water, because it may melt or become deformed.
- Replace the mouthguard at the beginning of every new sports season. You should also replace your child’s mouthguard if you notice it has become worn and no longer fits properly.
- Do not wear a retainer with a mouthguard. If your child wears braces, Dr. Al will help design a mouthguard to protect the teeth and braces.
- Do not chew on or cut pieces off the mouthguard.
- Bring it to each dental checkup so Dr. Al can check to make sure it’s still in good shape!
Our goal is to minimize your child’s chances of a sports-related injury to his or her smile. Make sure to ask us about mouthguards at your child’s next dental checkup.
If a tooth has come out too soon because of decay or an accident, it is vital to maintain the space in order to prevent future space loss and dental problems when permanent teeth begin to come in. Without the use of a space maintainer, the teeth that surround the open space can shift, and impede the permanent tooth’s emergence. When that happens, the need for orthodontic treatment may become greater.
TYPES OF SPACE MAINTAINERS
Space maintainers can be made of stainless steel and/or plastic, and can be removable or fixed (cemented to the teeth).
A removable space maintainer looks much like a retainer with plastic blocks to fill in where the tooth is missing. If your youngster is older and can reliably follow directions, a removable space maintainer can be a suitable option.
Fixed space maintainers come in many designs.
A band-and-loop maintainer is made of stainless steel wire and held in place by a crown or band on the tooth adjacent to the empty space. The wire is attached to the crown or loop, and rests against the side of the tooth on the other end of the space.
A lingual arch is used on the lower teeth when the back teeth on both sides of the jaw are lost. A wire is placed on the lingual (tongue) side of the arch and attached to the tooth in front of the open space on both sides. This prevents the front teeth from shifting backward into the gap.
In the case of a lost second primary molar prior to the eruption of the first permanent molar, a distal shoe may be recommended. Because the first permanent molar has not come in yet, there is no tooth to hold a band-and-loop space maintainer in place. A distal shoe appliance has a metal wire that is inserted slightly under the gum to prevent the space from closing.
CARING FOR YOUR CHILD’S SPACE MAINTAINER
There are four general rules for taking care of your child’s appliance.
- Your youngster should avoid sticky foods, including candy and chewing gum.
- Encourage your son or daughter not to push or tug on the space maintainer with fingers or tongue.
- Keep your child’s space maintainer clean through effective brushing and flossing.
- Your little one should continue to see us for regular dental visits.