7 Kids Dental Health Habits for a Happy New Year

7 Kids Dental Health Habits for a Happy New Year

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.

Why Are My Child’s Teeth Coming in Yellow?

Why Are My Child’s Teeth Coming in Yellow?

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

  • Thin enamel

  • 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.

Dental injuries are unfortunately common, and we strongly urge that all kids utilize mouth guards for any sports. For more information about mouth guards, check out our in-depth post, “April Awareness for Facial Protection and Oral Cancer”.

How Do I Treat My Child’s Discolored Teeth?

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.

Pediatric Dentistry Master List of FAQs for Kids Dental Health

Pediatric Dentistry Master List of FAQs for Kids Dental Health

We write regularly about parent tips for encouraging dental hygiene, healthy eating habits, and our pediatric dental services, and yet the sheer breadth of information on the topic of children’s teeth can seem rather overwhelming. Our staff answers individual questions from parents (and kids!) regularly, and you might be surprised to know that many of the questions bouncing around in your head, are frequently asked by others as well. With this in mind, we’ve put together a master list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Pediatric Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

When should I bring my child in for their first dental checkup?

We typically suggest you bring in your little one when their first tooth has erupted. This is generally between six to 12 months of age. If your baby is turning one year old and has yet to have their first tooth poke through, it’s time for a dental checkup, yes even without a tooth. For more in-depth information about this topic, check out our article.

How should I clean my baby’s teeth?

You can purchase a special infant toothbrush at most drugstores. The bristles should be soft and the head of the brush especially small to better fit their mouth. Brush twice a day, using a tiny amount of toothpaste (such as a grain of rice).

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist?

Pediatric dentists complete two to three additional years of specialized training after dental school. This additional training focuses on the techniques and tools specifically designed for children’s comfort as well as training to encounter, understand, and address the developmental and emotional needs for infants to adolescents, including children with special needs. For more information, read this article.

Are pacifiers bad for my baby’s teeth?

Pacifiers and thumb sucking are natural soothing habits for babies and toddlers. They can become harmful if they persist beyond three years of age. Chat with your pediatric dentist if you have concerns.

How often should my kid visit the dentist?

Everyone, adults included, should have two dental checkups per year. Most insurances have transitioned to including coverage for two per year, as companies analyze the cost benefits of preventative care. Be sure you’re maximizing your dental insurance benefits before the year is out, for more information about this, read our in-depth article.

How do I prevent tooth decay from nursing or bottle rot?

Research shows that breast milk while containing sugar, does not cause tooth decay, however once your baby begins eating foods the potential for tooth decay will arise. Bottle rot is a common term that refers to tooth decay that is caused due to improper bottle feeding habits. Keep your baby’s access to their bottle limited, and never put juice in it. Even before your baby erupts their first tooth, you should gently wash their gums with a clean washcloth and water to scrub away any lingering bacteria. For more detailed information about how to avoid bottle rot, read our article, here.

Should my child get dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventative measure dentists use that we strongly recommend. The crevices and ridges in teeth, particularly the back molars are favorite spots for bacteria and food stuffs to linger. Additionally, those back teeth are more difficult for children to reach when they brush. The dental sealants literally seal a protective coat to the crevices of the teeth protecting them from tooth decay and making them less deep, and therefore easier to brush clean. For more information about dental sealants, read here.

Does my child need fluoride treatments?

Is your primary source of water treated with fluoride? Or do you typically drink store-bought bottled water? Most city and town water sources have been treated with fluoride, it’s in fact considered one of the greatest public health accomplishments in the last century. Check to be sure your toothpaste has fluoride. When your child comes in for a dental visit we can discuss whether your child is a good candidate for a fluoride treatment, or supplement. We know that some families find the topic of fluoride controversial, so if you have concerns please bring them to us so that we can discuss. You can also read more about fluoride treatments, here.

What do I do if my child chips a tooth or one is knocked out?

Retrieve the tooth (or piece of it), but avoid touching the root. Place the tooth in a sealed container with milk, and call your pediatric dentist for an emergency dental appointment right away. For more detailed guidance if you find yourself in this circumstance, we’ve written up several scenarios and step by step instructions for how to respond. You can find them, here.

Many of these instances occur due to injuries from sports activities. We strongly urge parents to invest in mouth guards for their children. Mouth guards are required for contact sports such as football, but research shows they are necessary for all sports activities. For more information about mouth guards, check out this article.

What do I do when my child has a toothache?

If your child complains of a toothache, it is likely to be a symptom of tooth decay. Have them rinse their mouth out with some room temperature salt water. You can give them an appropriate dosage of child’s acetaminophen to help with the pain, and an icepack for their cheek if the area is also swollen. You’ll also need to schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

Why does a cavity in a baby tooth need to be filled?

A cavity in a baby tooth needs to be treated not only to ease your child’s pain, but also because the decay in one tooth can spread into others when left untreated. We prefer not to pull a tooth in such a circumstance because our body’s natural inclination is for the baby tooth to fall out when it’s ready. Until then, the baby teeth serve to preserve the space for the permanent tooth, and help with chewing and proper speech.

Are dental X-rays safe?

As previously mentioned, pediatric dentists are specially trained to work with kids. We take special care to limit exposure, lead protective aprons are used as is high-speed film. X-rays are important for pediatric dentists to properly assess dental issues so that nothing is overlooked that could become a bigger problem later on.

Schedule Your Child’s Dental Appointment Today

Before you get caught up in the swing of the holidays, be sure to get your child’s second annual dental checkup and cleaning scheduled! Our offices in South Davis, Herriman, and Redwood are at your service. Give us a call today.

2021 Dental Insurance Benefits Expire Soon. Book Visit Today!

2021 Dental Insurance Benefits Expire Soon. Book Visit Today!

Moms and dads, holiday season is under way with the familiar scents and events as we pull out those gorgeous leafy decorations, pumpkins (pumpkin everything, really) costumes, and favorite movies, in addition to tissue boxes for sniffling noses and chapstick. Before you know it, Thanksgiving will arrive, and then it’s a frantic busy slide right into Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It’s a fun time of year full of family gatherings and events, yet it also means that your insurance benefits are coming close to a lapse.

Most insurance plans include coverage for dental services for all members of the family in question. You are paying those monthly premiums, however have you checked to see if you’re maximizing the dental insurance benefits in your plan? Some things to consider:

  • Has each child in your family had dental X-rays taken this year?
  • Has each child in your family had 2 dental cleanings this year?
  • Has one of your children complained about dental pain but you’ve forgotten about it in the everyday bustle of life?

Questions to Ask Your Dental Insurance Provider

  1. What is my copay?
  2. What is my maximum coverage amount per person in the family?
  3. Does my coverage include basic preventative care?
  4. Are X-rays covered?
  5. If yes, under what circumstances and/or with what frequency?
  6. Are dental cleanings covered?
  7. If yes, how many per year?
  8. Are fluoride treatments covered?
  9. If yes, are their age restrictions for fluoride treatments?
  10. What is my coverage for basic restorative care?
  11. Is basic restorative care covered up to a certain amount or is a percentage of it covered?
  12. What is considered basic restorative care in my plan?
  13. Is in-office sedation covered in my plan?

General Information About Dental Insurance

Basic preventative care typically covers two dental cleanings per year, some plans include a fluoride treatment at the cleaning appointment under the coverage, while others do not. Other insurance plans only cover fluoride treatments for certain ages.

Annual X-rays may be covered by your insurance, while yet other plans only cover them when deemed necessary by the dentist. Such circumstances when X-rays would be necessary would be in preparation for restorative work.

Some plans may cover mouth guards for children under preventative care but not all. Which is unfortunate due to the fact that we know dental injuries are common and preventable with the use of mouth guards when engaging in any type of sport activity!

Basic restorative care typically includes fillings, dental emergencies such as chipped or knocked loose teeth, as well as crowns or root canals. It’s important to ask your insurance questions about basic restorative care, due to the fact that while fillings are almost always covered, they might have restrictions on said coverage. For example, most people prefer composite fillings on the grounds that the composite material blends in with the color of the tooth so as to not be obvious. Some dental plans may only cover amalgam fillings, which are structurally sound but have the disadvantage of being metal in appearance and therefore not very discreet.

Partial Coverage for Restorative Dental Work

Don’t be surprised if you learn that your plan will only fully cover some basic preventative care services. It’s pretty common for restorative care to be partially covered. Partial coverage can mean that they’ll cover up to a certain amount in a year period for each member of your family (or in some cases a certain amount per family) while with other insurance providers, partial coverage means the insurance company will cover a percentage of restorative care services.

Furthermore, some insurances cover partial until a threshold is reached. Upon reaching that threshold, you may be entitled to full coverage again. Accordingly, if this is your circumstance, it’s important to find out how close to that threshold you are.

In-Office Sedation Services and Dental Coverage

When you are checking the details of your dental coverage with your insurance provider, it’s a good idea to ask for details about sedation. Our offices provide three different sedation options:

  • Oral Sedation – prescription sedatives for the night prior or the day of a procedure or visit, we may suggest and also implement if your child suffers dental anxiety or has developmental delays that may cause difficulties for dental procedures.
  • Nitrous Oxide – also referred to as “laughing gas” is most often utilized in conjunction with a local numbing agent for restorative dental procedures.
  • Intravenous Sedation – unlike general anesthesia utilized in hospitals by surgeons, our intravenous sedation technique does not inhibit the protective reflexes, which mainly means our patients under intravenous sedation can breathe on their own.

Any time we consider in-office sedation, we first review the options, the benefits, including the circumstances with the parents. If there is a concern for cost and/or insurance coverage, we will work with you and together we’ll find a solution.

Utah Pediatric Dentists Accepts Most Insurance

We work with most insurance companies, if you don’t find your provider on this list, give us a call to double check that your provider isn’t a new addition.

  • Aetna
  • Assurant/Sun Life Financial
  • Ameritas
  • Allegiance
  • Anthem BCBS
  • Regence BCBS
  • BCBS Federal
  • Blue Cross of Illinois (Blue Care)
  • Blue Cross of Michigan (Blue Dental)
  • Carrington
  • Cigna
  • Dental Select
  • DMBA
  • Dentist Direct/Direct Care Administrators
  • Dentamax
  • Delta Dental
  • EMI
  • GEHA – Connection Dental Network
  • Guardian
  • Humana – Connection Dental Network
  • Life Map
  • Lincoln Financial Group/Lincoln Dental Connect
  • Metlife
  • Traditional Medicaid
  • Medicaid Premier Access
  • Premier Access PPO
  • Premier Access Chip
  • PEHP
  • Principle – EMI Network
  • Standard Life Insurance/Reliance Standard
  • Select Health
  • Utah Sheet Metal/JAS/Southwest Service Administrators
  • United Concordia PPO
  • United Concordia Tricare/Active Duty
  • United Healthcare – GEHA/Connection Dental Network

Book an Appointment Right Away

Don’t wait for your dental benefits to expire! Some dental services require impressions that must be sent to a lab for production which means a time lag of at least a week. Schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist before the holiday season speeds up.

Disneyland Giveaway

We’re hosting a Disneyland Giveaway for one family this November, enter to win and that lucky family can be yours! We’ve established 12 different methods for you to enter the sweepstakes, moreover there’s no limit to your total number of entries. On November 15th, we’ll draw the name of one lucky family. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was your name? For more information on how to enter, click here.