Dental Prevention Tips for Children
Conditions like gum irritation and thumb-sucking could create problems in the future. Babies who suck their thumbs may be setting the stage for malformed teeth and bite relationships.
A major problem that can be spotted early is a condition called "baby bottle tooth decay," which is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form unwanted pools inside the baby's mouth.
If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation and alignment of permanent teeth.
One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going and into sleeping. Avoid dipping pacifiers in sweet substances such as honey, because this only causes early decay in baby's mouth. Encouraging your young child to drink from a cup as early as possible will also reduce the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.
Teething, Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking
Teething is a sign that your child's gums are sore. This is perfectly normal. You can help relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby's gums with a piece of wet gauze or your finger.
For children under the age of 4, teething rings and pacifiers can be safely used to facilitate the child's oral needs for relieving gum pain and for suckling. After the age of 4, pacifiers are generally discouraged because they may interfere with the development of your child's teeth. Thumb-sucking should also be discouraged because it can lead to malformed teeth that become crooked and crowded.
Primary and Permanent Teeth
Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced between 5-12 years of age with a full set of 28 permanent teeth, and later on, four molars called "wisdom teeth."
It is essential that a child's primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for these permanent teeth. If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don't erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers placed by the dentist can sometimes be used to correct this condition, only if spotted early enough.
Babies' gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Water or non-fluoride toothpaste is suitable instead of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpastes on children under the age of 2.
After 2, primary teeth can be cleansed with child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrushes. Remember to only use small portions of toothpaste (a pea-sized portion is suitable), and teach your child to not swallow and spit out the toothpaste when finished.
Fluoride is generally present in most public drinking water systems. If you are unsure about your community's water and its fluoride content, or learn that it has an unacceptable level of fluoride in it, there are fluoride supplements your dentist can prescribe. Your child may not be getting enough fluoride just by using fluoride toothpaste.
You can help your child prevent oral injuries by closely supervising him during play and not allowing the child to put foreign objects in the mouth. For younger children involved in physical activities and sports, mouth guards are strongly encouraged, and can reduce and many times prevent a whole host of injuries to the teeth, gums, lips and other oral structures. Mouth guards are generally small plastic appliances that safely fit snug around your child's teeth. Many mouth guards are soft and pliable when opened, and mold to the child's teeth when first inserted.
If the tooth has been knocked out, try to place the tooth back in its socket immediately and then call our office. Remember to hold the dislocated tooth by the crown-not the root. If you cannot relocate the tooth, place it in a container of cold milk, saline or the victim's own saliva and call the office.
For a fractured tooth, it is best to rinse with warm water and apply a cold pack or compress. Ibuprofen may be used to help keep down swelling.
If the tooth fracture is minor, the tooth can be sanded or if necessary, restored by the dentist with composite if the pulp is not severely damaged.
Sealants fill in the little ridges on the chewing part of your teeth to protect and seal the tooth from food and plaque. The application is easy to apply and typically last for several years.
Placement of sealants occur when permanent molars and pre-molars erupt in the child's mouth.