Here at ToothStars we believe that prevention is the backbone of pediatric dentistry and is the foundation of our care. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups with the dentist, your child can help keep his or her smile bright and healthy for many years to come! From the time their first tooth arrives and all throughout their adult life, preventative care will keep your child's teeth healthy and cavity free! We believe that it is important to establish good habits early on to prevent dental disease in the future. We work hard to educate you and provide you with all the resources you will need to keep your child smiling, cavity free, and more importantly pain free!
- Dental Cleanings and Exams
Dental cleanings and exams are recommended twice a year. This allows us to form a relationship with your child and allows them to become familiar with our dental equipment and surroundings. Based on our dental findings and your child’s risk factors we make recommendations based on your child’s oral health needs. The first dental visit should be when the first tooth appears or by their first birthday! Read more on what to expect at your first visit.
- Brushing, Flossing, and Fluoride
Brushing, flossing and fluoride are at the forefront in preventing dental decay. It is important to establish a structured routine at home in the early stages of their life. However, establishing this routine can be hard, especially when they are kicking and screaming and when it is difficult to hold them down. We are here to reassure you that you are not alone and we have ways to help and advise you! We will talk to you regarding fluoride vs non-fluoride toothpaste, the amount of toothpaste you should use, and when you should start flossing etc.
- Dental Sealants
It is difficult for a toothbrush to get into all the crevices and grooves of teeth. Food and debris get lodged into these crevices and if left alone, could develop into a cavity. Sealants offer protection against cavities.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that flow and bond into the grooves of the teeth creating a smooth biting surface. Food, debris and plaque are less likely to get caught in the crevices that are sealed. Hence, less likely to develop a cavity. Sealants are typically applied to adult molar teeth as these are the teeth with the most grooves. Flossing is still required as we cannot seal between the teeth. Dental sealants may become worn or chipped over time, however, we always assess these at routine dental visits for the need to reseal. Dr.Reena will be happy to answer any questions that you may have!
Oral Health & Hygiene
One of the most important things you can do to safeguard the oral health of your child is to maintain a daily oral hygiene routine that effectively removes plaque from their teeth. This often involves helping them brush and floss so that these tasks are performed well and effectively. Bacteria that live in the plaque cause tooth decay and gum disease. Nutrition and lifestyle choices also play an important role as well. Limiting foods and beverages that contain sugar deters cavities and helps protect the enamel. Avoid giving your child sugary juices, candies, and sodas. Also, never let your child go to bed right after you have fed them through a bottle.
We cannot control hereditary factors that may predispose us to harmful bacteria or gum disease, but we do have control over how much sugar we consume, how often we brush, and how often we visit the dentist for routine cleanings and oral exams. Dr.Reena is happy to discuss any other questions or concerns you may have!
First Visit to the Dentist
This can be an exciting or a nerve wrecking experience for parents.Parents may be anxious with questions such as: “is my child going to be screaming and kicking” or“how will I make them sit in the chair”, and so on. Please don't worry, you are not alone. Here at ToothStars, we are here to help make the appointment go as smoothly as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child's first checkup should occur when the first tooth appears or by age one. You may be surprised at how early this is! Even though there may only be a few baby teeth visible at that age, there are plenty of things we can advise you on — including introducing healthy habits and routines so that your child remains cavity free!
Unfortunately, some kids develop tooth decay at an early age. As part of the dental examination, we will take any appropriate radiographs in order to assess the presence and the size of the cavities and provide you with the best treatment options. We will go over the proper ways to care for a young child's mouth, discuss your child's developmental milestones, and review the importance of good oral hygiene.
- Preparing for the Big Day!
Filling out forms in advance in the comfort of your own home may save time and inconvenience on the day of the visit. If possible, please leave other kids at home, so we can devote our time specifically to your child and you can focus on your child's oral health. It's best to tell your child what to expect beforehand without going into too many specific details. You can try to build some excitement by helping them get ready for “the big day.”
Children can easily pick up on negative vibes. If you're apprehensive about going to the dentist yourself, try not to let it show. Generally during the first dental visit, we will simply talk to you and your child and get them comfortable in the dental environment. We will look in their mouth and making oral health assessments. This visit gives you an opportunity to address any questions or concerns you may have with Dr.Reena.
Fluoride & Your Child
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is essential for proper tooth development and the prevention of dental cavities. Access to fluoridated water varies across different parts of the country. After assessing the needs of your child, we sometimes recommend a fluoride supplement for your child and/or the use of toothpastes and other products that contain this important mineral.
- How Fluoride Helps
The protective outer layer of teeth, called enamel, is often subject to attacks from acids. These can come from acidic foods and beverages, such as sodas and citrus fruits, or sometimes through the bacteria in the mouth that create acid from sugar. When fluoride is present, it becomes part of the crystalline structure of tooth enamel, hardening it and making it more resistant to acid attack. Fluoride can even help repair small cavities that are already forming in the outer most layer of the tooth.
- Amount of toothpaste for children
Fluoride ingested by children in drinking water or supplements can be taken up by their developing permanent teeth. Once a tooth has erupted, it can be strengthened by fluoride topically (on the surface). Using a fluoride-containing toothpaste is a useful way to ensure fluoride exposure daily. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using only a pea-sized amount for children ages 2-6 and a smear for kids under two. Fluoride should not be used on children younger than six months. Another very beneficial way to deliver fluoride to the teeth is with topical fluoride applications at the dental office at their 6 monthly routine visits.
- How Much Is Too Much?
Enamel fluorosis is a condition where the teeth are over-exposed to fluoride as they are forming beneath the gumline. This is characterized by a streaked or spotted appearance. Mild fluorosis appears as little white spots on the teeth. In more severe cases (which are rare), the discoloration can be darker, with a pitted texture. The condition is not harmful, but may eventually require cosmetic dental treatment.
The risk for fluorosis ends by the time a child is about 9 and all the permanent teeth have fully formed. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to bring them up to Dr.Reena and she will be happy to address them for you. While caution is advised, the benefits that fluoride can bring to your child's teeth is unquestionable one of the cornerstones of preventative dentistry!
Children often find it comforting during nap times to have their favorite blankets and teddy bears. One of the most comforting aspects of childhood can be thumb sucking. So is this a cause for worry? In most instances, the answer is no. However, thumb sucking can affect the growth and position of the jaws and alignment of the teeth.
- Normal thumb sucking behavior
Children often suck their fingers/thumb from a very young age, even as early as in the mother’s womb. It often provides a sense of comfort and security and this is why it usually occurs as they fall asleep. Most children will stop thumb/finger sucking on their own between the ages of two and four as they will grow out of it. However, a small percentage of children will continue beyond the preschool years. If the adult teeth are starting to erupt and the habit hasn't ceased, it may be time to take action to try to break the habit.
- What signs should I look out for?
First, observe how your child sucks their finger/thumb. If it is just resting in their mouth, this is less likely to cause damage then if they are aggressively sucking it. The sucking action places pressure on the teeth, which has an effect on the growth of the jaws and alignment of the teeth. Next, observe the frequency and the length of time that the finger/thumb in being sucked. Extended sucking affects not only the teeth but the overall shape of the face and may lead to orthodontic treatment in the future. If you have any concerns about a finger/thumb sucking habit, Dr.Reena will be happy to discuss it with you.
- How can I get my child to stop sucking their thumb?
Any habit can be very hard to stop, unless the child willingly to give it up! Always remain positive and encourage your child, instead of punishing them. You can try placing a band-aid or a sock on their finger/thumb, not as a punishment but rather as a reinforcement to help encourage them to stop. You can also hang up a calendar and have them mark off the days that they did not suck their finger/thumb. You can reward them after a certain number of days have passed. Try and make your child feel involved, as it will increase their willingness to break the habit. But most importantly, be understanding and supportive. Shaming them never helps!