When our children are infants, their baby teeth are a BIG deal. We spend hours consoling them as they drool and gnaw on their hands during the teething process. We mark the date of their first tooth’s arrival in their baby books. We get just as excited as they do the first time they get to put their tooth under their pillow and eagerly await the tooth fairy.
So, why then, do many people feel like baby teeth aren’t as important as permanent teeth? The answer is right in that one word- permanent. Because we know that our “big” teeth are meant to last for life, we somehow get the idea that our children’s baby teeth, that we know they will lose at some point, must not be that important. After all, they get replaced, right?
Wrong! Baby teeth, despite their small stature and their shorter life span, serve many important roles in your child’s long-term oral health and development.
Promote good nutrition through proper chewing
Just as adult, or permanent, teeth do, the baby teeth serve the important role of biting, gnashing and chewing our food so that our bodies can readily digest the nutrients. Missing or painful baby teeth can make the child hesitant to eat certain foods which can cause them to lose out on much-needed nutrients.
Serve as space holders for the permanent teeth and provide a path for permanent teeth to follow when they are ready to erupt
Baby teeth are essentially a road map for the permanent teeth to follow, and when removed prematurely, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, it can cause long-term problems, even changing the structure of the child’s jaw bone and face. The permanent teeth may come in improperly, or possibly not at all, and your child could require orthodontic treatment to correct the problem.
Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
Children naturally love to smile and find joy in the world. Beautiful baby teeth help them to do so. Even a young child can begin to feel self-conscious of missing or decayed teeth.
Enable the child to pay attention and learn in school without the distraction of dental pain.
It’s simple. Healthy teeth don’t hurt. In fact, kids don’t even think about their teeth when they are healthy. However, decayed teeth can cause a lot of pain! This pain can prevent them from getting adequate sleep, interrupt their day, and be distractive, preventing your child from excelling at school.
So, while it’s tempting to skip brushing your young child’s teeth when life gets busy, remember these small teeth play a BIG role in your child’s oral health and development. And remember, the care and importance that you give to their baby teeth will influence how they take care of their teeth on their own.
Taking care of your young child’s teeth can be simple. Follow these rules and help your child’s smile shine bright.
1) Start brushing as soon as your child gets his or her first tooth. Brush twice a day, even if it’s just for a short amount of time.
2) Floss any teeth that touch.
3) Limit sugary drinks, even juice.
4) Don’t go to bed with any drinks other than water.
5) Model good oral health by taking care of your own teeth! Kids learn by watching their parents.
6) Schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist within six months of the arrival of their first tooth, or by their one-year old birthday. Early prevention and monitoring, as well as education about good oral health, will help prevent problems.
As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants to be your go-to resource for helping to educate parents and children alike, and giving all children the beautiful smiles that they deserve. If you are looking for a dental home for your child, give us a call at 864-760-1440, and let us give you Something to Smile About!
Halloween can be so much fun! It’s an event that seems to start at the beginning of the month and just keeps going. Between picking out costumes, carving pumpkins, attending trunk or treat and other Halloween events, Halloween night is often just one of many celebrations. And while it’s fun for kids and parents alike to get dressed up and have fun, the constant influx of candy and sugar can leave us with some not so wanted “treats.”
Calories. As much as we wish they didn’t count, the truth is, they do. The average child will consume 3,500-7,000 calories on Halloween! You read it right. 7,000 calories is the same at 13 Big Macs!
Now, take this amount and think about how many calories your child will consume if you allow the candy binge to go on for days or weeks! It’s not just their teeth that will be affected. This onslaught of sugar and calories will affect your child’s blood sugar, behavior, weight and overall feelings of well-being. That is definitely not a fun trick or treat!
Candy. It’s all about the candy! We know. We get it. We remember being little and competing to see who could fill up a pillowcase of candy. But, let’s be honest. Who needs a pillowcase of candy? Most of the time, half the candy collected is candy your child doesn’t even like. So, why hang on to it and tempt them to eat it? Besides, there are so many better things to do with your candy than eat it!
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wants to share some insights and tips for how your family can make Halloween more about the fun and less about the candy.
- Make trick-or-treating about the actual event and the fun of the night, not about the candy.
- Immediately sort the candy and pull out sticky, sour or gummy treats. Chocolate candies melt off the teeth easier and won’t cling to the teeth as long. Go ahead and get rid of all the stuff your child doesn’t like so they aren’t tempted to eat it just because it’s there!
- Allow your child to enjoy their candy for a day or two, and then trash it, or consider donating it or participating in a candy buy-back so that your child can trade their sugar for cash!
- Recycle. If the thought of throwing away bags of candy leaves you feeling wasteful, consider ways to recycle the candy and use it for fun activities other than eating.
Check out Pinterest and other sites for great candy crafts and science experiments. With names like “the incredible growing gummy worm” and the “density rainbow,” kids will engage their minds and learn, all while using up their candy.
- Focus on the fun, not the candy. Make the emphasis on dressing up, painting faces, carving pumpkins and other pre-Halloween events so that candy is just a small part of the whole evening.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry wishes everyone a fun and safe Halloween, full of fun, good times and lots of healthy smiles!
A pediatric dentist advising you to give your child dark chocolate instead of the ever-popular fish-shaped crackers? It sounds crazy, right? Well, this post is the "Eat this, not that" for your teeth. And I will explain why. Just keep reading.
More and more, we are seeing the connection between diet and nutrition and overall health. As one might guess, this applies to your oral health, too. In fact, simple changes in your child’s diet may be the answer to keeping cavities away.
Cavities are caused when cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth feeds off simple sugars and causes acid plaque. This plaque attacks the enamel of the tooth and causes it to soften and eventually creates holes, or cavities in the tooth.
So, we know that sugar sitting on your teeth is not a good thing. It would make sense to choose foods that we feel are low in sugar. And this does help. But, it turns out, there’s more to it. In fact, it’s not just the amount of sugar that matters when we are trying to avoid cavities. There are actually three factors that impact the way food affects your teeth:
2) Sugar concentration
Stickiness- Not all foods are created equal. Flour seems to be the culprit behind a food’s stickiness. Think about it this way, when you eat an apple or baby carrots, there’s no food clinging to your teeth. When you eat crackers or pretzels, you will have food debris sticking to your teeth. Any food or sugar remaining on the teeth becomes a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
Sugar concentration- It makes sense that food lower in sugars are better for your teeth (and your body). But, contrary to popular belief, the amount of sugar is not the full story. In fact, it appears that when it comes to dental caries (cavities), it is the sugar concentration more than the actual amount, that actually matters.
This concept is pretty mind-blowing and also pretty important to understand! Basically, when choosing between foods that have the same amount of simple sugars, you can make a better choice for your teeth by choosing the one that also contains fat- or more fat. Why? Dr. Roger Lucas, DDS, explains it well when he says, “When you take away fat, you are indirectly increasing the concentration of sugar.”
Why does the concentration matter? A 2014 in vitro study* that found that whole milk is not acidic enough to demineralize enamel, but skim milk can demineralize enamel. This study confirmed that it is the concentration of sugars in the foods we choose, more than the amount of sugar, that contributes to dental caries.
By taking the fat out of a food, you are raising the sugar concentration. Fat doesn’t cause cavities. Sugars and starches do. So, you want to pick the food that has the lower sugar concentration, not necessarily the lowest sugar content.
What’s an example of choosing a better snack option? Swap snacks like Goldfish crackers for dark chocolate (at least 70%). This sounds crazy, but when you look at the two snacks, you see that while they have similar sugar content, dark chocolate has a higher fat content, and thus a lower sugar concentration. It also sticks to the teeth less, offers antioxidants, and parents are far less likely to allow their child to walk around eating dark chocolate bars all day long, like we often do with crackers and other easily portable snacks.
Frequency- Each time you eat or drink, the teeth are attacked for about 20 minutes, until the saliva has time to neutralize the acids and wash the bacteria away. Limiting the times this happens throughout the day can decrease the damage done to the teeth. This is especially true when children are snacking on crackers, sticky fruit chews and other common snack foods constantly throughout the day.
Other great options are nuts, cheese, crunchy vegetables and fruits, meats and yogurt. While most fruits anad vegetables have virtually no fat content, they also don't stick to your child's teeth and can be easily washed awayw ith water after eating. Remember, it's a combination fo the stickiness, the sugar content and the frequency of eating that cause cavities.
The truth of it is, diet and nutrition should be your first line of defense for healthy teeth. Brushing, flossing and fluoride should be the second.
Your oral health is not something that has to be left to chance. Good nutrition and good oral healthcare, along with regular checkups with your pediatric dentist, can keep the cavities away! Come let Anderson Pediatric Dentistry give you and your child Something to Smile About!
What is pediatric dentistry and how is it different from general dentistry?
The short answer is that pediatric dentistry is a specialized practice of dentistry that is focused on meeting the needs of children, while also providing an educational resource for parents and caregivers. Often, pediatric dentists will also see patients with special needs. Pediatric dentists graduate from dental school and then go on to complete a 2-3 year residency program, where they learn advanced techniques for treating issues related to the dental development and oral health of children. During their residency, pediatric dentists receive additional training in behavior management, child development and child psychology, anesthesia, common oral trauma in children, sedation, orthodontics, oral medicine and infant oral health.
While all dentists are educated in oral health, pediatric dentists focus on ways to better serve children and their parents, as this is their specialty. At Anderson Pediatric Dentistry, our scheduling system allows for more time to console a nervous child and more time to explain procedures and educate parents and caregivers. Our kid-friendly dentists and staff are focused on children, trained and prepared for all types of behavior. In addition, our dental office caters to children and their comfort. By providing a bright and cheerful office and waiting room with kid-friendly activities, a pleasant environment and lots of compassion and smiles, our goal is more than great dentistry- it’s about providing a great experience and positive feelings about dental visits.
Pediatric dentistry aims to provide excellent dental care, both preventative and restorative, to children. The goal should always be to instill lifelong healthy dental habits that will carry our patients into adulthood and provide a beautiful, healthy smile for life.
We invite you to make Anderson Pediatric Dentistry your child’s dental home and look forward to giving both you and your child, Something to Smile About!
Have you ever heard of a baby being born with tongue-tie? Maybe you have. Maybe not. The truth is, most people don’t hear about tongue-tie until their child is born with it. While it may not be talked about often, it can be a big deal.
Tongue-tie happens when the frenulum, the string of tissue under your baby's tongue, which attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is too short or too tight. When the child’s tongue is tethered to the floor of his or her mouth by an unusually short or thick string of tissue, it can interfere with basic functions. Everyday activities, such as breastfeeding, eating, swallowing, speech and even just sticking out his or her tongue, can be made more difficult or even impossible.
Breastfeeding and Tongue-tie
Tongue-tie can make nursing a newborn very painful, and sometimes impossible. Babies who are tongue-tied may have problems latching correctly and/or maintaining the latch. This will cause problems as they over compensate by increasing suction, or chewing on the nipple, causing severe pain for the mother. An inability to latch correctly will affect the baby’s ability to drain the breast, possibly leading to supply issues. If the baby is not latching and nursing adequately, they may not be receiving adequate nutrition and may experience failure to thrive.
Tongue-tie can affect a baby’s oral development, as it affects their ability to eat, speak and swallow. Even everyday activities, such as licking an ice cream cone, kissing or playing certain instruments can be challenging.
In speech, the mobility of the tongue is necessary for certain sounds, such as “t”, “d”, “z”, “s”, “th”, “r”, and “I.”
Other challenges that may present when an infant, child or adult has a tongue-tie include poor oral hygiene because the tongue is not able to properly sweep food debris from the teeth, contributing to tooth decay and gingivitis. Extremely thick frenulum can also lead to the formation of a gap or space between the bottom teeth.
Aside from tongue-tie, infants may also be diagnosed with lip-tie, or a labial frenulum. This is when the thin membrane that attaches the top gumline to the upper lip, is tight or overly thick. Severe lip-tie can interfere with a baby’s ability to maintain a latch during breastfeeding. A thick labial frenulum can also affect the way the child’s top front teeth come in, often causing a gap between the two front teeth.
The Good News
There is hope. Tongue-tie and lip-tie do not have to be lifelong problems. In most cases, both tongue and lip-ties can be released with either a scalpel or scissors, or by laser. Lasers are a great choice as they do not normally require anesthesia. Laser treatment is also able to cauterize the area immediately, so there is minimal bleeding and minimizes any risk of infection. Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is proud to offer laser treatment for tongue-tie and/or lip-tie. If you are concerned that your child may have either of these issues, we encourage you give us a call. Your visit will consist of us evaluating your child and discussing any issues we see. We will also discuss possible treatment options and answer any questions you may have.
A Quick and easy solution to a frustrating problem - now, that’s Something to Smile About!
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