When To See A Pediatric Dentist:
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all children see a pediatric dentist as early as when the first tooth erupts and no later than the child’s first birthday. While your child might not have many teeth to examine at that time, the anticipatory guidance provided at these visits allows for your child to develop oral habits ideal for their health and development.
Dental caries is the disease process caused by bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities on the teeth. The continuous exposure of your child’s mouth to sugars found in milk, juice, candy, and highly-processed foods causes the bacteria in the mouth to produce acid which breaks down the teeth. The outer enamel layer of the teeth becomes demineralized and develops a void known as a cavity. Cavities can spread through the layers of the teeth requiring different restorative treatments. It is important to examine the teeth regularly in order to detect the early signs of this process and prevent its progression.
Once your child’s teeth begin erupting, you should begin cleaning them by brushing with a soft toothbrush twice daily at morning and before bed time for two minutes each time. Even if your child is not old enough to reliably spit out toothpaste, using a smear of ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste for children under 3 years old or using a pea-sized amount for children above 3 years old is indicated. Children shouldn’t brush their own teeth until they are able to tie their own shoes which is a good reflection that they have the manual dexterity to do a thorough job cleaning their own teeth. Additionally, children need to begin flossing their teeth between ages 4 – 5 due to the closure of the spaces between their teeth that were previously able to be cleansed by the bristles of a toothbrush. Using a floss-holder or regular string dental floss are both great options depending on what your child is most comfortable with and which method provides the most thorough results.
In order to maintain a healthy mouth, it is essential to have healthy eating habits. Ideally, everyone should drink water regularly because it stimulates saliva production, decreases acidity in the mouth, and washes away the sugar in the oral cavity. Sugary snacks, like cookies, lollipops, sugar-coated cereals, and gummies, cause dental decay. Making sweets an occasional treat and limiting snacks are the best ways to care for the teeth. Snack foods such as cheese, yogurt, vegetables, and peanut butter are healthy for the teeth and also stimulate salivary production in order to protect the teeth. Juice, soda, and sports drinks are highly acidic and contain a lot of sugar. Consuming these products puts your teeth at risk of developing decay and should be consumed in ration to avoid constant exposure of the dentition to sugar and acid. After your child eats or drinks anything high in sugar, be sure to brush or rinse the mouth with water to allow for the mouth to recover from the acidic environment it was exposed to.
Infants can develop “baby bottle tooth decay” which is caused by extended nursing on milk, formula or juices at while napping or sleeping at night. Bottles and sippy cups should not be used at night time unless filled with plain water.
Halitosis noted in your child’s mouth can be caused for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it can indicate that your child is not producing enough saliva which helps cleanse the mouth of the foods and drinks it is exposed to on a daily basis. Other causes of bad breath are teeth experiencing dental caries or an infectious process and poor brushing of the tongue. It is important to ensure that the teeth and soft tissues in the mouth are properly cleansed two times daily in order to prevent bad breath.