The new year is here folks, and we’re going to start it off right. Dental health and hygiene may not be on your radar for new years’ resolutions, but they should be! Prevention is a major part of happy and healthy smiles for children in your community, and that means more than just regular trips to your pediatric dentist. Here are our top dental health habits just for you!
Dental Health and Hygiene Habits
1. Brush teeth twice per day for two minutes. Mornings before school, and at night before bed are what we aim for. There are fun songs about brushing teeth, or time a song that your little ones enjoy and put it on repeat for two minutes. Brushing teeth should start as soon as the first tooth erupts. Read all about dental care in babies (it actually starts before the eruption) in our guide, ‘Baby Teeth: Eruption Timeline and How to Care for Them‘.
2. Include the tongue as part of brushing. We don’t always consciously think about it, but our tongues actually do quite a bit of work to clear debris between our teeth, and its very presence in the mouth means it is in contact with the same sugars and bacteria as our teeth. Be sure to incorporate a few brush strokes of the tongue into the two minutes. To learn more about how the tongue is a visual indicator of our health, read all about it in our post, ‘Is My Child’s Tongue Healthy?‘
3. Take your child to the store and let them pick out their own toothbrush. Letting them select their toothbrush will give them a sense of responsibility and ownership of their dental health. There are all sorts of fun colors and characters, so let them have some fun with it.
There are electric toothbrushes being marketed for children, however, we encourage you to research a bit before you buy. We wrote a guide for parents about this topic, ‘What’s the Best Electric Toothbrush for Kids?‘, hint (there’s only one on today’s market that has ADA approval).
4. Switch toothbrushes out every three months or sooner if you notice the bristles are worn. With frequent and proper use, those toothbrush bristles will wear out. Bristles that are worn on a toothbrush can actually harm your gums by wearing down the enamel and even causing your gums to recede. Furthermore, the fact is, worn-out bristles simply don’t clean properly. They bend away from the surface instead of stretching into the nooks and crannies of the teeth and in between.
Nevertheless, even if the bristles don’t look worn out, you need to replace it on a three-month timeline. Why? Take a look at your broom and you’ll likely notice a buildup of dust or debris on those bristles. Imagine a toothbrush to be similar to a broom. Its job is to brush away bacteria and debris on your teeth. While proper care of your toothbrush means food debris isn’t likely present, over time invisible bacteria will still build up on those bristles. For more information about proper care of your toothbrush, check out our in-depth article: “Toothbrush Care Guide: Everything Parents Need to Know”.
5. Floss at least once a day. Most parents who bring their kids into our offices will agree with our twice a day tooth brushing recommendation, and back it up by their actions. However, it isn’t uncommon to have a parent sheepishly admit that they don’t floss as often as they should. We aren’t here to shame anyone in regard to their dental habits. Odds are high that the parents who don’t floss very often, simply didn’t grow up flossing! Habits that we learn as children can stick with us throughout adulthood! Start out encouraging your kids to floss, and join them yourself. You are never too old to learn new healthy habits, and flossing is one that is a positive habit for everyone. Check out new and interesting flavors, (remember to look for the ADA seal).
6. Invest in a mouth guard for sports. Mouth injuries happen to kids, even if they aren’t playing a contact sport such as football. We recommend mouth guards should be worn for all sports, including biking and skateboarding. Studies show that wearing a mouth guard will lessen the likelihood of dentofacial injuries by more than 82%. A broken or chipped tooth, a root fracture, or a tooth knocked loose or all the way out is considered a dental emergency. Read our step-by-step guide on what to do in that type of situation to prepare yourself, ‘What Do You Do When Your Kid Breaks a Tooth?‘
7. Up your water intake! Most store-bought beverages have a shocking amount of sugar in them (or sugar substitutes) that might be tasty but are terrible for our teeth. It’s unfair to ask anyone to give up all other drinks, but we do think it’s fair to encourage you to increase the amount of water you and your kids are drinking. City water is treated with fluoride which is a vital defense for teeth. Furthermore, water will help rinse away bacteria and sugars from your meals and snacks in between your brushing routine. One way to facilitate more water throughout the day is utilizing a refillable water bottle and taking it with you on errands, and sending it in backpacks to school. When water is within easy reach, your kids are more likely to drink more of it.
Start Off the New Year by Scheduling a Checkup and Cleaning!
It’s never too late to prioritize the dental health of your children (and yourself!) All of the above tips for healthy habits can be applied to each member of your family, regardless of age. Utilize those dental benefits on your insurance this year, and start out by scheduling a checkup and dental cleaning for each of your kids. Preventative care is the bedrock of happy healthy smiles in our community. Give us a call, and we’ll help you start the year of dental strong.
In our offices, Utah Pediatric Dentists, we take the trust of your child, and you as their parent in selecting our professionals to take care of your child’s dental needs very seriously. We strive to provide a warm and welcoming environment, and our staff is selected specifically because they care about our mission and our vision for our practice and our community.
Our mission is to provide comprehensive dental services to children of all ages from infant to adolescence, of all needs including special needs – in a compassionate and caring manner. Our pediatric dental professionals are educated, experienced, and specially trained to provide dental hygiene education and dental services in a fun and inviting environment that will ensure your child has a positive experience in our offices.
Our vision is to see happy and healthy smiles in all the children of our communities. That no child be prevented from receiving dental care due to fear, anxiety, cost, accessibility, or convenience.
We know that dental anxiety (also referred to as Odontophobia when the fear is severe) is a legitimate struggle for some. For many that anxiety is rooted in a prior negative experience, fear of pain, fear of the strange-looking instruments, or simply passed on from a parent with dental anxiety down to their children. Our emotions and perspectives about the world surrounding us do impact our children, even if unconsciously done. So, if it’s time for your child to have a dental checkup yet they are expressing discomfort, anxiety, or actively rebelling against the idea, this article is for you.
7 Tips to Address Your Child’s Fears of the Dentist Office
1. Communicate: talk about it. It is possible that their fears can be lessened simply by sharing their thoughts with a loving parent. Furthermore, if you as an adult struggle with dental anxiety, it is also possible they are picking up on your discomfort. Exercise patience for this conversation, and remain calm. Understanding what their fear is will allow you to soothe their fears and address them. Keep what you say positive, and try not to speculate to them about potential procedures or pain.
2. Schedule the visit with a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists have special training to work with children; usually three to four years’ additional courses and training on top of what a general family dentist completes. This extra training allows us the knowledge and skills to better communicate with children, and respond to their curiosity, their anxieties, and their varying developmental levels. Moreover, pediatric dental offices typically have an atmosphere specifically suited for children. For example, our office locations are equipped with waiting rooms that not only are comfortable but have play areas, games, and books to entertain your child as you wait for the appointment. Pediatric dentists also utilize instruments specifically designed for their comfort and size. We further discuss the differences between pediatric and general dentists in-depth, here.
3. Notify the pediatric dentist of your child’s anxieties. We love our jobs, and we care about dental health in children. Our commitment to our work extends to a focus of ensuring that your child has a positive experience. Let us know that your child is experiencing some anxiety. We take the time to discuss with our patients (and their parents) what exactly we plan to do for the visit. We can show them the tools that we use, and explain their purpose.
4. Select a pediatric dentist that offers in-office sedation services. Not all dental practices perform in-office sedation. Our offices are fully equipped and trained in the use of sedation for dentistry. We offer oral sedation options, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and can perform intravenous sedation for procedures when necessary. Nitrous oxide sedation is typically used when our patients need to relax, furthermore, it helps relieve anxieties and tension.
5. Play going to the dentist at home. Roleplay may seem silly and uncomfortable when it’s with your coworkers in the office, but kids love it. Practice being the dentist with your child, clean their teeth and look for cavities. Keep it positive and fun.
6. Arrive at the appointment early. If you have to rush out the door and across town to arrive at the appointment on time, that will elevate your stress and your child’s. Additionally, an early arrival will allow your children time to familiarize themselves with the environment and absorb the friendly atmosphere.
7. Encourage questions. Once your child has expressed their anxiety or fear to you, encourage them to ask questions of the dentist! You can be present to support them, but an important part of overcoming a fear is to learn about it and take ownership of it. When your child asks questions instead of deferring fully to you, they take some control for themselves which can help them feel more secure.
Don’t Let Anxieties Get in the Way of Dental Health
A cruel irony is that when people allow their anxiety of the dentist to prevent them from biannual cleanings and checkups, it can allow dental concerns to grow unchecked which in turn requires more dental work when you finally do go in. These tips to overcome dental anxieties in kids, can and should apply to adults with dental anxiety as well.
At home, focus on excellent dental hygiene, brushing for two minutes twice a day, and flossing daily. Take your kids to the dentist when that very first tooth pops through, or by the age of one. Create a culture in your home that dental care is important and routine. If you haven’t done that up to this point, don’t guilt yourself over it. You can always start now!
Utah Pediatric Dentists has three convenient locations, all staffed with compassionate, qualified people who are part of this community. Give us a call at 801-948-8880 and start prioritizing your child’s dental health today!
Did you know that tooth development actually begins before your baby is born? That’s a surprising fact, isn’t it? Generally, their primary teeth begin to form during the first trimester. At full gestation, most babies have a complete set of primary teeth inside their gums: ten on top, and ten on the bottom.
Primary teeth are also commonly referred to as baby teeth, milk teeth, or deciduous teeth (that last one is decidedly un-common among civilians as it’s also the term that refers to the baby teeth of any mammal).
If your baby hasn’t had their first tooth erupt yet, all the while you see other babies with toothy little gurgling grins, don’t worry! Odds are, you are just experiencing selective perception. You’re keyed into the subject of teething babies and so your brain is honing in on every baby with a tooth in your radius while simultaneously ignoring all the gummy grins.
Let’s first put you at ease: just because your baby hasn’t had a tooth erupt yet doesn’t mean it’s delayed.
Teeth Eruption Timeline
There is a truth about your baby that is important for you to get behind: all babies are different. Differences in skin color, eye color, hair color, and so on are all determined by genetics, and our genetics influence our teeth as well. This tooth eruption timeline is a general guide, taken directly from the American Dental Association. You’ll note that the timeline includes ranges, but even if your baby’s situation falls outside a timeline, it’s no immediate cause for worry.
Typically, the bottom central incisors are the first to erupt, followed by the upper central incisors. The chart clearly states a timeline range of six to ten months, but sometimes a first tooth can erupt earlier or later. The lateral incisors generally are the next to erupt between nine to 16 months, followed by the canines at 16 to 23 months and then the first and second molars between 13 and 33 months. As you can see, there’s even some overlap on the timeline between teeth. It’s entirely possible a molar could erupt before or simultaneously with a canine. Just because your neighbor’s baby is happily sprouting its incisors while your baby is all gums doesn’t mean anything is wrong. Let’s review possible causes for delayed eruption now.
Causes for Delayed Eruption
The phrase “delayed eruption” is not a disorder, it is merely a term referring to when a baby’s tooth or teeth don’t come in when expected. So, what is the most frequent cause for delayed tooth eruption? Family genetics.
Check with your family members on both sides to see if any of your nieces or nephews had a delayed tooth eruption. Perhaps you or your partner had delayed tooth eruption as a baby? Unless it’s a significant delay, odds are high you’ll find a family member or even a pattern among the family of this.
A significant delay can be categorized as the first teeth erupting between twelve and 24 months of age, and the others erupting after four years. When it’s a significant delay, other causes may be in play such as:
Premature birth – Remember, the primary teeth begin forming before the baby is born and at full gestation are usually fully formed. If your baby was born early, it makes sense that the eruption would be delayed because the teeth likely weren’t fully formed at birth.
Low birth weight – Studies have shown a correlation between low birth weight and delayed tooth eruption in babies.
Malnutrition – Vitamin D-resistant Rickets and nutritional deficiencies can cause delayed tooth eruption.
Furthermore, some developmental delays and syndromes have been associated with delayed eruption of primary teeth. These include:
When to Bring Your Baby to the Dentist
We recommend to all parents that they schedule the first dental appointment for their baby upon the first tooth’s eruption. Nevertheless, as we’ve just discussed, sometimes babies turn one year old before their first primary tooth makes an appearance. If your baby is 12 months old, whether they have a tooth or any teeth at all, you should schedule a dental appointment with your pediatric dentist.
Are There Risks Associated with Delayed Eruption?
Ultimately, this is the question of which is likely weighing most on your mind. What are the consequences associated with a delayed primary teeth eruption?
Consider for a moment the reasons we strongly advocate (on repeat!) that parents encourage proper dental hygiene in their children, even prior to their permanent teeth eruption:
Tooth decay and cavities hurt whether it’s in permanent teeth or primary teeth.
Form habits early in life for long-term success. There’s no do-over with permanent teeth!
Primary teeth are important for our children’s speech (ever spoken to a kid who just lost their front tooth?), for their nutrition (learning to chew foods starts early!), as placeholders for the permanent teeth, and for the bone and muscle development in their jaw as they grow that allow them to express themselves with their face (smiling or frowning for example).
Number three is a long one, but do you see where we’re headed with it? The primary teeth serve important roles in your baby’s development, and when they are delayed it can have an impact on those things.
How to Treat Delayed Tooth Eruption?
The only circumstance in which there is a treatment for a delayed eruption of the primary teeth is if it is an indicator of malnutrition. If you are concerned that your child has delayed eruption of their primary teeth schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric dentists. Alternatively, if your little one is turning one soon and hasn’t yet had their first dental checkup, the time is right! Call us today to schedule an appointment at one of our three convenient locations.
We frequently, and with great passion, discuss the necessity of routine dental hygiene. Do it twice per day. Brush for two full minutes. Use fluoride toothpaste. Floss at least once a day. Drink more water and less soda and juices. Sound familiar? Of course it does; hopefully most of those directives are embedded in your brain!
Be that as it may, we don’t discuss as often how to take care of your toothbrush. Care for your toothbrush? You don’t have to love it (but when your kids love theirs, it can make life a bit easier). Still, think about it: all the bacteria, plaque, and germs in your mouth are scrubbed away with those bristles, but is it enough to do a quick rinse and shake of your toothbrush when you finish?
Let’s dig in!
Proper Storage of Toothbrush
The fact that we clean our teeth in the same room as we urinate and defecate seems normal, and while it is normal by our standards, it’s not necessarily clean. When you flush the toilet, the action sends an aerosol of microscopic particles of whatever was in the toilet, into the air. This is referred to as toilet plume, and has actually been the study of a number of research studies.
A knee-jerk reaction may be to move your toothbrushes to a cabinet or drawer, this is understandable and logical. Unfortunately, while that may protect them from toilet plume, it isn’t terribly sanitary either because an enclosed space will make it difficult for the bristles to dry out, thereby allowing bacteria and germs to propagate. If you’ve read up on the topic already, you may see some recommendations to store your toothbrush with a cap. Again, a storage cap creates an enclosed space that will prevent your bristles from drying out and can cause bacteria to actually grow with the moisture. So, what are you supposed to do?
Toothbrushes should be stored vertically, and without touching each other. Place the toothbrush stand on the opposite side of the sink from the toilet (or further away if space allows). When you are finished brushing your teeth, rub the bristles under water to wash away visible physical matter and remaining toothpaste. Shake to remove excess water and stand to air dry.
Cleaning Your Toothbrush
Despite your new awareness of toilet plume (or perhaps due to it), and therefore your better storage arrangement for said toothbrushes, you might want to consider cleaning your toothbrush. Some google results will suggest that you put it with the silverware in your dishwasher or giving it a few minutes in the microwave, but the American Dentists Association actually recommend against those methods of cleaning. Instead, research shows that soaking your toothbrush in either three percent hydrogen peroxide or Listerine Antiseptic mouthwash reduces up to 85% of bacteria.
Do You Need a Toothbrush Sanitizer?
In the last several years, toothbrush sanitizers have become a popular item that can be found in most drugstores, Walmarts, Targets etc. Although, just because these items are readily available, do you need one?
That depends mostly on how concerned you are about the aerosol of germs in your bathroom. Despite the fact that toilet plume does exist, which is gross, unless someone in your family has acute gastroenteritis (and even then) it is unlikely to actually harm you.
Nevertheless, toothbrush sanitizers are relatively affordable. When selecting a toothbrush sanitizer, be sure to buy one that has FDA approval. Many sanitizers use UV lights and/or heat, therefore purchasing one that has met the FDA standards will ensure it’s safe to have in your home.
Moreover, it is important to take note of the distinction in meaning between to sterilize and to sanitize. To sterilize something, that means to completely eliminate all bacteria. That’s not what these devices do. We’re talking about sanitizers, which means they will reduce the presence of bacteria not remove it altogether.
When to Replace Your Toothbrush
How long have your kids been using the same toothbrush? Are the bristles worn looking and wonky? General advice is that you should be replacing toothbrushes in the house every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles look worn. It’s also a smart idea to replace a toothbrush when someone’s been sick.
Re-use Old Toothbrushes
Hold onto those old toothbrushes before you throw them in the trash. There’s actually a number of things you can use them for, once they’ve been cleaned.
Toothbrushes are excellent for cleaning grout lines in bathroom tile, cleaning the metal sliding tracks of shower doors, and other corners around the house that are a challenge to scrub. Don’t forget your jewelry box, those bristles will reach well into the grooves of brooches, rings, earrings, and bracelets.
How about art projects? Toothbrushes are surprising substitutes for craft ideas around the house or as paint brushes in several different DIY projects at home with the kids. Here are a few to jump start your brain!
It’s Time for a Checkup!
When was the last time your kids had a dental cleaning? With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the holiday events, sports activities, and school final projects are picking up the pace. Bring your kids in before the end of the month to capitalize on your yearly dental benefits, and head into the sweet season with sparkling, healthy smiles. Give us a call today, to learn which of our three locations is nearest you.
How many of you have kids with a wide toothless gap in their smiles? It’s such a fun rite of passage for kids as they discover a loose tooth and wiggly wiggle it until it falls out. Taking bites can become a bit of a challenge again, particularly if they’ve lost more than one front tooth at a time. Apples, pizza, corn on the cob; all fun foods that they’ve mastered by this age and yet once again you’re likely having to cut things for them again.
Good news though, that once the teeth start falling out, that means the body is getting ready for the permanent teeth to erupt. So, what does it mean when your child’s adult teeth are coming in discolored or yellow?
They’re New – Why Aren’t They White?
The quick answer here is: biology. The fact is, permanent teeth simply aren’t the same color as the milk teeth. This is all about the wondrous complexity of our human bodies at work here, folks. The outer shell of the tooth, the enamel, directly covers what is called the dentin of the tooth. The color of dentin is a darker, somewhat yellowish color. When these brand new permanent teeth erupt, the enamel coating is somewhat transparent thereby allowing the darker color of the dentin to show through. Furthermore, permanent teeth have more dentin and nerve canals that are larger in comparison to their baby teeth.
The juxtaposition of pearly white baby teeth next to newly erupted permanent teeth may also enhance the yellowed appearance. As more milk teeth fall out, and more permanent teeth erupt, the uniformity of color in their smile will return. Additionally, over time the permanent teeth will calcify which will also lighten their color.
This is the number one reason for darker looking permanent teeth in kids for the overwhelming majority. There are however, a few other potential causes which we’ll review:
Exposure to certain antibiotics
stains or buildup
Injury or trauma
Other Potential Causes for Yellow Permanent Teeth
Tetracycline Side Effect
Every time you see or hear an advertisement for a medicine there’s a spiel at the end warning of potential side effects. Well, you can add teeth discoloration as a potential side effect to some antibiotics, specifically tetracycline.
Tetracycline will actually bond to the teeth (yes, even teeth that have not yet erupted). When these tetracycline-bonded teeth erupt, the component will oxidize thereby discoloring the teeth a yellowish color that can further darken to brown.
The good news for you here, is that this side effect is widely recognized among doctors. It is uncommon for a doctor to prescribe a pregnant woman or young child these types of antibiotics for this very reason. If you are concerned, there is no harm in asking your doctor about the potential side effects of a prescribed antibiotic.
Thin or Weak Enamel
Enamel is the body builder, the body guard, the security team, the shield of the teeth. It is by its very nature, solid. In fact, enamel is stronger than bone, stronger than any other part of our bodies. As is the case with human genetics however, some of us inherit a trait for thinner (weaker) enamel. If your dentist has told you that your tooth enamel is a bit thin or weak, it’s possible you’ve passed that trait on to your child. Thinner enamel means the darker color of dentin will better show through.
Stains or Buildup
Yellow teeth can also be a result of poor dental hygiene. Poor dental hygiene means plaque and tartar buildup which is often yellow and sometimes even brown. Moreover, certain drinks and foods can stain teeth. Soda, coffee, dark tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, and even tomato sauces, soy sauces, raspberries and blueberries.
You don’t have to avoid those foods or drinks completely (although soda really is terrible for your kids’ teeth) however try to consume in moderation, or be sure to follow consumption with drinking water.
Injury or Trauma
A fall or a blow to the jaw doesn’t always mean a cracked or knocked out tooth. Sometimes the tooth can be damaged but remain. If the blood vessels within the tooth or the nerve break or are damaged it can cause tooth discoloration as well.
If after reading this article, you remain concerned about your child’s teeth discoloration, give us a call to schedule an appointment. Tartar and plaque buildup need to be addressed by a thorough cleaning because they will lead to tooth decay. Furthermore, if you believe your child has thin or weak enamel because you know someone in your family has it, it’s important to let us know so that we can discuss risk, and a plan for preventative care.
As always, brushing for two minutes twice a day is the most important routine you can establish for your child’s dental health. Wearing a mouth guard for sports, even sports that aren’t considered contact sports, will help protect from dental trauma injuries. Whitening or bleaching products for children may be available in your local drugstore, but we are reluctant to encourage their use.
The truth is, your permanent teeth were likely yellow when they erupted as well, but look at your smile now! Keep up with the brushing routines and don’t forget to get your kids in for their biannual checkup and cleaning before the year runs out. We have appointment times available now and are always accepting new patients.