Why treat baby teeth? Can't my dentist just pull them?
It's important to keep baby teeth as long as possible. Besides providing chewing ability during childhood, baby teeth help a child learn to speak. They also guide the permanent teeth into their correct positions and premature loss could delay the eruption of the permanent teeth. Remember, too, kids are often embarrassed by how they look after their teeth are pulled.
Since they never had my baby teeth treated, my parents think I'm crazy because I want to get my child's baby teeth treated.
Well, you're not crazy! Early treatment of baby teeth helps prevent many more (and bigger) problems such as cavities, abscesses, and loss of space between teeth which may cause the need for orthodontic treatment.
Why is my child the only one in her class who hasn't lost a tooth?
While there really is very little need for concern (what is considered the "normal" period for losing teeth varies with each child), you should ask your dentist to look at your child's baby teeth to make sure that they are not blocking the growth of permanent teeth and that all of her permanent teeth are developing normally.
My child's teeth are very crowded. Can't we just pull some baby teeth to make room for the permanent ones?
Removing baby teeth isn't always the answer, although crowding may occasionally be relieved by extracting permanent teeth. Crowding can occur because the permanent teeth, not the baby teeth, are too big for the available space in the jawbone. Extracting baby teeth can create problems that are more difficult to correct later. Talk to your dentist about other options.
My child's new tooth is coming in behind her baby tooth. Is this normal?
Yes, this is fairly normal. To make sure that there isn't any abnormal crowding, which can sometimes be corrected by extracting the baby tooth, have your child's dentist evaluate the situation.
We can't afford pulpotomies (removal of the upper part of the pulp) on baby teeth. Can't they just be pulled?
Extraction may be a smart and less expensive choice if your child's new permanent teeth will be coming in very soon. A space maintainer can keep the remaining teeth straight until a permanent tooth appears. However, a pulpotomy leaves the tooth in the child's mouth to help them chew, maintains their appearance and also helps keep the remaining teeth straight.
Make sure you explore all of your options with your dentist.
How can I prevent injuries to my child's teeth?
If you have toddlers, make sure your house is childproof. This means sharp corners or protruding knobs and handles on furniture have been padded; if this isn't possible, lock the doors to the rooms with this furniture. When your child is in a stroller or car, make sure she is strapped in firmly. Never let your child stand on a seat or sit in your lap while you are in a car.
Mouthguards can prevent injuries in older children. Most dental injuries occur in your neighborhood, not on the gym floor or playing field, so a mouthguard should ideally be worn during all rough play, even if it's just in your own backyard.
|My son was hit in the mouth with a bat and his front permanent tooth was knocked out. What should I do?
Your child must see a dentist within one hour of the incident. If you wait any longer, the chances of the tooth being successfully re-implanted are poor. If you can, rinse it in cool water; don't wipe it or scrub it. Place it in a glass of water or milk, or gently wrap it in a clean, damp cloth until you get to your dentist's office.
Teeth that have been knocked out will almost always require a root canal, but they can often survive for years if treated within one hour after the injury.
To protect your child in the future, have your dentist fit your child for a mouthguard and consider purchasing one or more tooth-saver boxes for your home and your car. These boxes are designed to hold and protect a knocked-out tooth until you can see a dentist.
My daughter fell and bumped her front baby tooth and now it's dark. Is it dead?
Probably. The discoloration may mean that the impact has broken a blood vessel at the tip of the tooth's root. Here is one note of encouragement: Baby teeth often survive blows that would kill a permanent tooth. Take your daughter to a dentist right away and have the tooth examined.
|| What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Call your dentist immediately. Some dentists recommend that, until your child can be treated, you should rinse her mouth with lukewarm water and apply cloth-wrapped ice to her face. Dentists do not recommend that you apply heat, and you should never put an aspirin on the tooth or gums. Aspirin is acidic; placed on a tooth or against the gums, it can produce burns. If you're going to use aspirin, make sure it's swallowed.
Finally, children who complain of a toothache often have food lodged between their teeth. Gently flossing the area of discomfort may provide immediate relief.
Get your child's dental health off to a great start!
Your child's first dental visit to our office will likely influence how she will feel about dentists and dental care for the rest of her life. A positive first visit can be the first step toward a lifetime of good dental habits. A negative dental visit can build fear and hesitancy, and result in her delaying or avoiding the dental care she may need as an adult.
It's a good idea if your child knows what to expect before going to the dentist for the first time. A good way to familiarize your child with the dentist's office is to let him join either you or one of his siblings on a dental visit or two. That way, once it's his turn to be examined, the procedure will be predictable. And for young children, predictability means comfort!
|| Here are a few more pre-visit tips:
- Don't wait until your child needs dental care to plan the first dental visit. If she's frightened or in pain, it's difficult for us to gain her trust.
- Even very young children are perceptive, and can pick up and react to any anxiety you might have about the upcoming visit.
- Arrange for a morning appointment if possible, when most children are more positive and receptive.
- Don't talk about specific procedures or instruments. These ideas may confuse or upset her; words like "drill," "injection," and "needle" are potentially very frightening to a child.
- In addition, plan to arrive early if you possibly can. If you don't feel rushed, you'll feel more relaxed and less anxious yourself, and your child will feel the same way. This extra time will also let her gradually become familiar with our office and how it looks; young children often need to absorb the sights, sounds and smells of new places before they become confident about being there.
Use words that don't elicit a negative reaction
Instead of: Shot, needle or injection
Say: Sleepy juice
Instead of: Drill
Say: Water Whistle
Instead of: Drill on your tooth
Say: Clean your tooth
Instead of: Gas or nitrous oxide
Say: Clown nose
Instead of: Suction
Say: Mr. Thirsty
Instead of: Numb
Instead of: Examination
Say: Count your teeth
Instead of: Pull or yank tooth
Say: Wiggle a tooth out
Instead of: Explorer
Say: Tooth Feeler
Instead of: Tooth cleaning or scraping
Say: Tickle your teeth
Dental hygiene isn't just for people with teeth.You can start your child on her way to a great smile for a lifetime by cleaning her mouth when she's an infant.
Begin by gently wiping her gums with a clean, wet washcloth or gauze after she has a feeding. Infants are very focused on their mouths, so she should enjoy this touching. As she starts to sprout teeth, the feeling of the wet washcloth on her itchy, irritated gums will be very soothing. Wiping her gums will help eliminate decay-causing bacteria and will help her get used to having her teeth brushed later on.
Once she has a tooth, between 6 and 12 months, you can introduce an infant toothbrush. Make sure it has soft, rounded bristles so it won't scratch hergums. Brushing with just water is fine, but if your dentist recommends toothpaste, use a very small amount, about the size of a pea. Babies usually enjoy the flavor of toothpaste and often swallow it, and ingestion of fluoride can cause problems over time.
Brush her teeth after every feeding, and again at bedtime. By now she should enjoy the feeling of having her gums massaged and her teeth cleaned!
Keeping your baby's teeth clean is more important than you may realize. Baby teeth have thinner enamel than adult teeth and are more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause decay. Decay in a baby's tooth is swift and destructive; it quickly penetrates the enamel, then the dentin, and then infects the nerve.
Baby Bottle Decay
The most serious dental problem for young children is called "bottle-mouth syndrome." This is tooth decay caused by the constant presence of sugars from milk, formula, or fruit juice in a child's mouth. It happens when a child takes a bottle to bed, or has a bottle for extended periods during the day. Use pacifiers or bottles of water at these times to prevent this severe decay of baby teeth, and always clean your child's teeth and gums immediately after each feeding.
Baby bottle tooth decay, is an all-too-frequent consequence when teeth are continually exposed to sugary fluids. Sugar feeds bacteria in the mouth, and in response, an acid is produced that decays the teeth. Even beverages labeled "100% juice" can have this effect, as they contain high levels of fructose, the form of sugar naturally found in fruit. Primary teeth (baby teeth) are much more susceptible to these acid attacks, as their protective outer enamel layer is thinner and more easily penetrated by the acid. To avoid bottle syndrome, parents are advised to:
- Limit beverages other than water to mealtimes only.
- Keep juice consumption down to 10 percent of your child's total diet (as recommended by the AGD).
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle containing anything but water.
- Don't flavor your child's pacifier by dipping it in honey or any other sweet substance.
- Brush your child's teeth after giving him any liquid medicine; many contain high amounts of sugar.
So in a nutshell, to maximize your child's nutrition and dental health, and to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits, it's important that you minimize her exposure to sweets of all kinds while she's an infant.
Sources - The Academy of General Dentistry & The American Dental Association