What to Expect at your Child’s First Dental Visit?
This appointment is sometimes called a “check-up” because the dentist is taking a look at your gums and your teeth and checking to make sure they are healthy. The dentist will use this special tool that will let him feel all the little places on each of your teeth. Why does the dentist need this tool? The tooth looks small to us, but to the tiny, tiny sugar bugs, it’s a BIG PLACE! So this tooth counter goes on explorations to find tiny places where these sugar bugs are hiding. In fact, we also call the tooth counter an explorer because it explores your tooth. When the dentist is counting your teeth, you feel this little explorer tool “finding” these hiding places for the sugar bugs. Don’t worry; this won’t hurt you. The dentist cares about you, and wants you to feel safe and comfortable during your first and all visits to the dentist office.
Your mouth is a dark place, so how can the dentist see everything? Well, it’s simple. The dentist has a fancy light attached to his chair, and he can shine it in your mouth! Also, there is a small mouth mirror. It’s like the mirror in your bathroom, but much smaller. It’s so small, that it fits in your mouth! The light and the mirror really help the dentist see everything. The dentist or a handy assistant will also takes pictures of your teeth. These pictures are really important because they help the dentist see how your teeth are growing. What makes these pictures really special is that these pictures are like Superman’s x-ray vision which helps him see through buildings and objects. Just like Superman, you get to wear a cape when you get your tooth picture taken.
The tooth brush the dentist uses to clean your tooth is amazing! It actually tickles your teeth. You may call it the tooth-tickler. The toothpaste used by the dentist makes your tooth really smooth and slippery. Actually, your teeth become so slippery that the sugar bugs have a hard time holding on to your tooth! The dentist’s assistant has a straw called, “Mr. Slurpy.” This straw sucks all of the sugar bugs and water so that we can get rid of as much of them as possible. It also makes noise that can scare the sugar bugs! There is also this amazing tool that can blow air, and squirt water. The dentist uses this tool to help him see the bugs so that he can either blow them away or wash them away.
After your cleaning, the dentist will use one of his magical paint brushes to paint a medicine on your tooth that makes your tooth’s armor REALLY strong! It is called fluoride. This feels a little sticky at first, but as the enamel armor becomes stronger, the sticky feeling goes away. Why do you think you want your armor stronger? After this visit, the dentist will come up with a plan to protect your teeth, and to keep them healthy and beautiful. If the sugar bugs are breaking through the armor of your teeth, the dentist will fix it for you!
PARENTS: During the check-up, or first-visit, the dentist will get to know you and your child. The developmental status of your child will be assessed, such as height and weight, and of course the status of the teeth and gums. The dentist will inspect all teeth in the mouth, but also teeth that have yet to grow into the mouth. In order to see these teeth, x-rays will be exposed. We call an x-ray, a picture because your child will understand this. The “cape” is the lead apron that is worn with every x-ray.
Again, language is important. As stated above, fluoride is vastly important to the health of teeth. Fluoride acts to reinforce enamel so that it is more resistant to cavities. Essentially, the bacterial acids do not erode fluoridated enamel with the same ease as teeth with little or no fluoride. It is important to determine if your tap water is fluoridated. It is paramount to discuss this with your dentist. If your water is not fluoridated, your household may have increased susceptibility to cavities. Your dentist may prescribe supplemental fluoride if deemed necessary. Here is a fact that most dentist agree on: when treating your child, allow the dentist to be the authority figure. It is at times confusing to the child when two adults are giving multiple instructions. When children become uncooperative, allow the dentist to take control. Please do not make any threats to discipline, or bribe your child. The dentist will calmly take control and render treatment in an atraumatic, encouraging method to ensure your child remains comfortable.
Toddlers Teeth Grinding
Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching the teeth. It is a very common problem, most people are unaware that they grind or clench their teeth because they do it while they sleep. With grinding, the teeth slide back and forth over each other and with clenching the teeth and jaws are held tightly together. Most people realize they are grinding or clenching their teeth only after they begin to experience pain. Bruxism affects children and adults alike; it is not an age related problem. Pain or discomfort from colds, ear infections, allergies, dehydration or other ailments may cause children to grind their teeth. Parents can often hear the teeth grinding while their child sleeps. Most children will grow out of bruxing as they lose primary (baby) teeth and their permanent (adult) teeth begin to erupt.
People who grind or clench their teeth at night often wake-up with a headache, earache, or toothache as a result of bruxing during the night. In addition, the pressure on the teeth from clenching and grinding can cause cracks or fractures in the teeth. As the tooth enamel is worn away, the underlying dentin of the tooth becomes exposed. This exposed dentin causes the tooth to be sensitive to temperature changes and pressure as it leads directly to the tooth’s nerve. The exposed dentin is very soft and susceptible to decay. Besides causing discomfort, grinding can eventually damage and cause prior crowns and other dental restorations to need to be replaced. Bruxing can also loosen teeth leading to tooth loss.
Bruxism causes irreversible damage to the teeth and damage to the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) of the jaw. Muscle spasms in this joint cause pain and can limit how wide the mouth can opens. In some cases it even prevents the mouth from opening or closing completely, a condition commonly referred to as “lockjaw.”
The causes of bruxism are not fully known, several factors may be involved, among them are, stressful situations, sleeping disorders, an abnormal bite and crooked or missing teeth. Bruxism tends to be cyclical. People will grind their teeth for a period of time, then stop for a while and later return to bruxing again. Stress in our daily life is believed to be a contributing factor. Unfortunately, there is not a definitive cure for bruxism. The best way to treat it is to intervene early with a night guard that will protect your teeth and your TMJ from permanent damage. Regular dental check-ups are important for detecting damage caused during the early stages of bruxism. A dentist will look for abnormal wear spots on the teeth and evaluate for other possible symptoms. A night guard may be recommended to help protect the teeth and TMJ from the effects of bruxism. Night guards are made out of acrylic and are custom made to fit each person. They are worn while sleeping in order to prevent further wear and possible cracking of the teeth. The night guard slips over your teeth on either your upper or lower jaw. The guard works by preventing contact between opposing teeth on the upper and lower jaws. A night guard will relieve some of the pressure caused by grinding or clenching. Some individuals find the night guard relieves tension headaches caused by their constant muscle spasms.
It is necessary for chronic bruxers to protect their teeth as it is more difficult and expensive to restore broken or worn teeth. Your dentist can make a custom night guard that will provide you with the highest level of protection from further wear. Another option is a “boil and bite” mouth guard that can be purchased from your local drug store.
Baby Tooth Decay
Childhood dental caries also known as baby bottle tooth decay is a bacteria that is caused by exposure of infants teeth to liquids containing sugar such as milk or juice. Its prevalence is epidemic and scientific evidence suggests that it is infectious and transmissible disease. Streptococcus mutans being the primary microbiological agents involved. Caretakers with untreated disease may transfer the disease to kids without being aware of it. Frequent consumption of liquids containing fermentable carbohydrates may increase the risk of this. Poor feeding practices may lead to severe early childhood caries. Frequent bottle feeding at night and repetitive and extended use of no-spill training cup may lead to this problem. Infants and toddlers experiencing tooth decay have much greater probability to develop dental caries in primary as well as in permanent teeth.
The child becomes susceptible to decay as soon as the first tooth appears usually at around six months of age or so. Severe tooth decay may need dental restoration or extraction, but prevention is better because tooth decay is preventable. Liquids that may cause this problem may include milk, formula, fruit juice, sweet beverages, etc. Decay may occur when sweet liquids or candies are left in the mouth for extending period of time. Each time a child drinks these liquids bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as food and produce acid. Acid produced by bacteria attacks for 20 minutes or longer and after many attacks, the teeth can start to decay. How often and for how long you put these into your child’s mouth will determine the health of your child’s teeth. Giving sweetened drinks many times a day and allowing the child to sleep with the bottle in mouth may develop and progress dental caries. Use of topical application of antimicrobial therapy appears promising. Mothers should make sure not to share their forks spoons and utensils with their kids at early stage. Sterilized bottles and utensils should be used. Frequent feedings with sugar also needed to be avoided.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Following points needed to be looked into to prevent dental caries:
Brush your teeth for at least two minutes.
Brush your teeth the right way and learn different techniques of brushing.
Fluoride containing mouth wash can also prevent tooth decay.
Do not drink after using a mouth wash.
Make use of natural mouth wash e.g. apple cider vinegar.
Try to avoid consumption of high carbohydrates and sweet food.
Choose from healthier food choices for strong and healthy teeth and gums.
Instead of refined carbohydrates make good use of whole grain cereals and other complex carbohydrate sources.
Avoid all sources of sugar for over all good health benefits as well as for healthy teeth and gums.
Use sugar free chewing gum after meals.
Rinsing your mouth after each meal and drink will have long lasting good effects on teeth, mouth and gums.
Drink tap water if fluoridated.
Avoid too frequent snacking.
You may use dental sealants to avoid dental cavity.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing.
You may also opt to take fluoride oral supplements.