February is National Children’s Dental Health month! In honor of this month-long campaign sponsored by the ADA (American Dental Association) promoting good oral hygiene in children, Dr. Miller, D.M.D. of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Dentistry would like to share some important tips and tactics for laying the foundation for good oral health in children.
Building a trusting relationship with the dentist early on will influence how your children interact with the dentist throughout their lifetime. Normalizing dental visits and working with a dentist who makes visits educational and fun is a great way for your children to embrace good dental habits from the very beginning.
Before getting started, I recommend, along with the American Dental Association, that children ages two and above visit the dentist at least twice a year. This frequency and commitment to dental health ensures that your children have the best chance of understanding that oral health really does matter. Below, I’ve answered some very popular questions from parents regarding children’s dental health.
When to start visiting the dentist?
The American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children start seeing the dentist by the age of 12 months, or within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth. These early dental visits are important because they allow your child to become familiar with their dentist and the process of having their teeth examined and cleaned.
How to brush a baby or toddler’s teeth?
The number of toothbrushes and toothpaste options available for babies these days can be overwhelming! You don’t need to invest in a pricy toothbrush and toothpaste to get the job done right, though. Before your child’s teeth erupt, I recommend using a clean, wet washcloth to rub their gums in the morning and at night, after their last bottle of the day. This keeps the mouth healthy and gets babies used to the feeling of brushing.
When their first tooth (or two—because they often come in twos!) erupts, switch to a soft-bristled or silicone infant toothbrush and brush their teeth twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. (Note that the recommendation to use non-fluoride toothpaste for the first few years has recently changed.)
Why fluoride treatments if it’s already in toothpaste and drinking water?
Many parents have concerns about fluoride, but it’s been used for decades to protect teeth from decay. The fluoride in drinking water is systemic fluoride—in other words, it’s swallowed, ingested, and distributed throughout the body, including in the blood and saliva. The small amounts of fluoride in saliva essentially bathe your teeth in fluoride all day long.
Toothpaste is a topical application of fluoride. This is just as important as that systemic fluoride, but even the amount of fluoride in toothpaste doesn’t compare to the concentration in professional fluoride treatments at the dentist. Systemic fluoride and topical fluoride from toothpaste and professional treatments are all needed for optimal oral health.
Why is my child getting cavities, even when brushing every day? Often more than twice a day?
There are a few reasons why kids might get cavities, even if they brush. First, many simply don’t brush well—they may be too young to understand how to brush, they might not have the manual dexterity to do a good job, or they might want to rush through the brushing process. Also, the sugar in drinks and snacks leaves teeth vulnerable to decay and the pits and grooves in the chewing surfaces of teeth making it easy for food debris and bacteria to collect.
While we can’t help with all of these issues, one thing we can do is apply dental sealants to your child’s molars. Sealants are fast, affordable, painless, and very effective. Aside from routine dental visits and good oral hygiene habits, they’re one of the best tools we have to protect teeth against cavities.
Since baby teeth fall out anyway, do cavities really need to be filled?
In decades past, primary (or baby) teeth were simply regarded as placeholders until the secondary teeth came in, so many people didn’t give much thought to their health. These days, we know better so we do better—cavities that are left untreated can cause pain, nutritional issues due to difficulty eating, and other oral health problems. Primary teeth that are extracted rather than restored with a filling or crown can leave kids susceptible to orthodontic issues and impact speech development.
In short, yes, cavities do need to be filled, but we have technology to make the process trauma-free. (See below!)
My child is scared of dental fillings. What can you do to help them?
For most pediatric patients, it isn’t the dental filling itself or even the drill that causes anxiety—it’s the fear of the Novocaine shot. I even have a number of adult patients who dread that shot before getting a tooth filled!
This is why I use a tool called DentalVibe. It’s an incredible technology and while I use it for all patients no matter their age, it’s been particularly popular with children (and their parents) because it makes a dental filling trauma-free. DentalVibe is a handheld device that uses vibrations to eliminate the discomfort of Novocaine injections. Essentially, these vibrations confuse the nerves and all that your child will feel is the vibration, not the injection. Most don’t even realize that they’ve had an injection at all! You can learn more about DentalVibe on my website.
Remember to Book 2021 Dental Appointments for your Children during National Children’s Dental Month!
This month presents the perfect time to book 2021 dental appointments for your children. My team welcomes the opportunity to work with your family. Visit our website or call 203-255-6878 to schedule an appointment.
And Parents, Remember to Book your 2021 Dental Appointments too!
While booking appointments for your children, take care of your dental health as well. In addition to pediatric dentistry, I also specialize in general and cosmetic dentistry.
Some of the popular services provided by my practice include TMJ treatment, Same Day Crowns, Veneers, Invisalign, and Teeth Whitening. Visit our website or call 203-255-6878 to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Miller specializes in family and cosmetic dentistry and is an active member of the Fairfield, CT community. He has practiced dentistry in Fairfield for over 25 years. Get to know Dr. Miller better by visiting his profile page on our website. You can also read Google Reviews submitted by his patients for a personal recommendation.
This blog post is sponsored by Dr. Miller, D.M.D. of Cosmetic and Reconstructive Dentistry