Early Dental Care

Although dental injuries and dental emergencies are often distressing for both children and parents, they are also extremely common.  Approximately one third of children have experienced some type of dental trauma, and more have experienced a dental emergency.

There are two peak risk periods for dental trauma – the first being toddlerhood (18-40 months) when environmental exploration begins, and the second being the preadolescent/adolescent period, when sporting injuries become commonplace.

Detailed below are some of the most common childhood dental emergencies, in addition to helpful advice on how to deal with them.

The ABC’s of Teething

Teething’s to blame. At least that’s what many parents think when babies cry, drool or just put objects in their mouths. But actually teething is a perfectly natural process and not the painful childhood experience many think it to be.

Just how long a baby teethes depends on the child. But usually babies teethe for about two years after the first tooth appears. It’s a period when the teeth grow into place gradually. They don’t really “cut” through the gums as many parents imagine.

Check to see if your baby’s teething. Just look in his or her mouth and if the gums appear irritated, red and puffy, then nature’s right on course…your baby is teething.

And now while you are looking in the mouth, a white blanched area means a tooth is ready to come through the surface. Sometimes, you’ll be able to see the tip of the tooth in the gum.

Now if you looked but did not see any of baby’s new teeth, then simply press your thumb firmly on the gums and quickly take it away. The shape of the unexposed tooth will appear for just a second beneath the tissue.

There may be some discomfort in teething. If so, a recommended procedure is to clean the baby’s mouth with a damp gauze pad about three or four times a day. Follow that by giving baby something to bite on – a proper teething ring, toast or even soft toothbrush. If the baby resists eating for a while, don’t worry. The situation should soon improve.

If the condition worsens and other symptoms appear, such as fever and nausea, don’t assume teething’s to blame. When these symptoms appear, it’s time to call your pediatrician.

Finally, don’t be concerned if your baby drools heavily. That’s normal for healthy children, who haven’t yet developed the necessary muscle control to keep saliva in their mouths. Many things stimulate excessive saliva production, including foods, smells and strange tastes so again, don’t worry. As with teething, drooling is a natural process that your child will soon outgrow.

The Right Way to Use a Nursing Bottle

There are right and wrong ways to use a nursing bottle. Your baby’s dental future may depend upon it.

Pediatric dentists agree that the best kind of bottle is the kind most clearly resembling the human nipple. The key is to get the infant to exercise the muscles in his cheek and tongue. This helps prevent crooked teeth by developing strong muscles that guide teeth into their proper place.

Many pediatric dentists suggest that bottles should be fitted with nipples that make the baby work to get the milk. Bottle-fed babies also should be fed sitting upright – not lying down – so that the muscles work against gravity as nature intended.

Another important recommendation: don’t give the baby a bottle except at feeding time. Specialists in pediatric dentistry have witnessed an epidemic of tooth decay in children who were given bottles as pacifiers to help the child go to sleep. This problem is called “early childhood caries.”

Children with “early childhood caries” may have a mouthful of cavities. These cavities are caused by the sugar naturally present in the fruit juice or milk contained in the bottle. This sugar is turned to acid by the bacteria in the child’s mouth. Because the liquid is in constant contact with the child’s mouth, the acid works to dissolve part of the child’s teeth away.

The effects of “early childhood caries” may not be noticeable until the child reaches the age of 2. But the damage starts as soon as the first teeth come into the mouth. It is not uncommon for a child who uses a bottle as a pacifier to have 10 or more decayed primary (baby) teeth requiring special treatment.

The best way to avoid “early childhood caries” is not to give your infant a bottle at bedtime…and not to allow toddlers to carry bottles around during the day. The bottle with its milk or juice should only be given to the baby at feeding time.

If the bottle serves as a pacifier, then fill it with water. Water will not harm teeth as other liquids do and its natural amount of the mineral fluoride will strengthen the baby’s teeth against decay.

Tooth-Colored Sealants

The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a BPA-free, tooth-colored resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.

Common Problems

Tooth Decay
Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. While caries might not endanger your life, it may negatively impact your quality of life.

When your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices leave deposits on your teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, with tooth decay resulting.

Sensitive Teeth
Your teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature. Hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth. Over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Just breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth.

Gum Disease
Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.

Canker Sores
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border.

Orthodontic Problems
A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, or some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions.

Dental Health

Why Good Dental Health is Important
Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life—as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association states that a good oral hygiene routine for children includes:

  • Thoroughly cleaning your infant’s gums after each feeding with a water-soaked infant cloth. This stimulates the gum tissue and removes food.
  • Teaching your child at age 3 about proper brushing techniques with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste and later teaching them brushing and gentle flossing until 7 or 8 years old.
  • Regular visits with their dentist to check for cavities in the primary teeth and for possible developmental problems.
  • Encouraging your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but not mentioning words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process.
  • Determining if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated; if not, discussing supplement options with your dentist or hygienist.
  • Asking your hygienist or dentist about sealant applications to protect your child’s teeth-chewing surfaces and about bottle tooth decay, which occurs when teeth are frequently exposed to sugared liquids.
Brushing & Flossing

Brushing
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, unless the child is under the age of 3. If a child is younger than age 3, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.

Brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.

Flossing
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

Prevention

Prevention Tips for Home Care

  • Limit of 3-4 snacks per day for younger children
  • Gum line brushing (“in little circles”)
  • Flossing (using a flossing tool or fingers)
  • Brushing in the morning (after breakfast) and in the evening (before bedtime). It takes about 3 minutes to really get the plaque off!
  • Control of oral habits, as indicated (tooth grinding, thumb or finger sucking, nail biting, lip sucking, etc.)

As a general rule, children do not have the motor skills for excellence in brushing until age 5 or 6 years, and flossing until age 7 or 8 years. Before that, they will need your help!

Almost all foods contain sugars or cooked starches. When foods containing even small amounts of sugars or cooked starches are consumed, bacteria living in the plaque (bacterial film) on the teeth produce acid. This acid typically remains in the mouth for 20 minutes after eating a snack or a full meal. Some foods are likely to remain in the mouth even longer and can lead to the development of plaque acid. Unfortunately, acid attacks, which occur too frequently, can eventually lead to the development of tooth decay.

There are guidelines, which will maintain peace in the family and help preserve your child’s dental health. Some snacking is permissible. The best way to prevent cavities is to limit your children to three or four snacks per day. Sticky foods that are also healthy are better served as part of a balanced meal, rather than as snacks. Flossing every day and brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste will help prevent cavities and preserve that beautiful smile!

Fluoride: Children’s and Dentists’ Best Friend
A new government study shows that tooth decay has been cut by an astounding one-third in American children during the last 10 years. Fifty-three percent of the children under age 14 who live in fluoride areas have shown no decay. Fluoride has been proven to be the most effective and economical agent in the fight against tooth decay.

Actually, fluoride is nothing new or artificial. It is naturally present in varying amounts in water, soil, plants, vegetables, fruits, meats and many foods. However, children who consume it in the correct amount, such as fluoridated drinking water, will have much better developed teeth than those who do not drink fluoridated water.

For those who live in communities without the benefit of adequate amounts of fluoride, dentists apply topical fluoride to make the teeth stronger.

Fluoride benefits teeth most if it is begun at an early age. The younger a child starts with fluoride, while the permanent teeth are still developing, the more the fluoride will be incorporated into the outer enamel surface of the developing teeth.

This makes the permanent teeth stronger chemically and physically. Children who drink fluoridated water may expect to have 50 to 65 percent fewer cavities than children who don’t have the benefit of fluoridated drinking water.

Fluoride also helps the naturally occurring process of “remineralization” that occurs in the mouth. Saliva is our natural healing fluid which, in the presence of small amounts of fluoride, helps heal and reverse the development of extremely small and newly formed cavities. The process of “remineralization” is most favorable in the presence of fluoride, when the diet doesn’t contain large quantities of refined carbohydrates and when the teeth are free from bacterial plaque.

Even adults can benefit from fluoride, especially those who are cavity-prone. They should have a multiple number of topical fluoride treatments at checkups and regularly use fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes.

How to Eat… and Avoid Cavities!
What foods cause cavities? The answer is that most foods – including main meals and snacks – can help cause cavities.

The newest scientific studies show that there is a much less clear distinction between “good” or “bad” foods for teeth. Any food that contains sugar and starches can cause decay. But while everyone suspects sweets, the truth is that sugar is contained in fruits and in milk. Foods like bread and potato chips contain starch and are also potentially dangerous. As far as the teeth are concerned, it doesn’t matter where the sugar comes from. Sugar is sugar. The bacteria cannot read labels.

It’s obvious that you can’t stop children from eating to protect their teeth. So what should parents do? Specialists in pediatric dentistry have a simple answer: keep the child’s teeth clean and fortify them with fluoride. Because when the teeth are clean – regardless of what the child eats – the teeth simply cannot decay.

Tooth decay is the result of bacteria that is found in everyone’s mouth. The bacteria lives in colonies called plaque, the white film of the teeth. The way bacteria causes cavities is by producing a waste product, which is an acid. If the acid stays on the teeth long enough, it will make a hole in the tooth – like the way battery acid makes a hole in cloth.

By cleaning the teeth, the bacteria is removed. Then when the child eats, there is no bacteria in the mouth to react with the food. But the bacteria will begin to form again in a few hours so it’s a good idea to clean the teeth more than once a day.

To prevent your child from getting cavities, pediatric dentists recommend taking these simple steps:

  • Make sure your child’s teeth are cleaned every day. While a good approach is to brush following every meal, this is not a requirement. But it’s a good idea to clean the teeth after breakfast and before the child goes to bed.
  • Make sure your child’s teeth are protected by fluoride. Fluoride acts as a shield on the teeth and will help retard the actions of the bacteria in the mouth.
  • Encourage good eating habits. A sensible and nutritious diet is important to promoting good dental health.

The realistic approach to preventing cavities is clean teeth and good prevention through regular dental checkups. If parents will follow these easy steps, they will help make tooth decay an obsolete or a preventable disease!

Sealants
One of the greatest preventative services we offer is the placement of dental sealants. We recommend their utilization on permanent molars beginning around the age of 6 years of age after they have erupted sufficiently that they can be isolated and sealed before they have a chance to become carious. Either Dr. Nick or Dr. Frank places the sealants with the aid of air abrasion (KCP machine) to be sure that they are caries-free and well cured with a plasma arc-curing lamp. The procedure is done relatively quickly and without trauma, anesthesia, drilling or destruction of tooth structure. In our practice, we recommend sealing the first permanent molars when they erupt around age 6, and then sealing the second permanent molars when they erupt around age 12. We do not routinely seal the permanent bicuspids unless they have exceptionally deep grooves. Primary molars are not sealed routinely unless the grooves start to break down, and then we seal them before they become carious.

Sealants are effective in preventing caries in the occlusal grooves of molars and bicuspids. They do not protect the interproximal area (in between the teeth) so that is why we stress parental help in daily flossing so that we can avoid decay in between the teeth. This is also why we ask that you avoid sticky things like Fruit Rollups, fun fruits, gummy fruits and bears, dried fruit and anything that is high in sugar and very sticky.

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Contact us in one of our three locations

11311 La Mirada Blvd, Suite D
Whittier, CA 90604
Phone: (562) 941-4411
Fax: (562) 941-0062
Email: HappyDentalLand@yahoo.com

217 W Badillo St
Covina, CA 91723
Phone: (626) 974-0708
Fax: (626) 974-0709

12265 Ventura Blvd, #202
Studio City, CA 91604
Phone: (818) 747-2729
Fax: (818) 763-1391

Happy Dental Land

11311 La Mirada Blvd, Suite D
Whittier, CA 90604

Happy Dental Land

217 W Badillo
Covina, CA 91723

Happy Dental Land

12265 Ventura Blvd, #202
Studio City, CA 91604

Contact us in one of our three locations

11311 La Mirada Blvd, Suite D
Whittier, CA 90604
Phone: (562) 941-4411
Fax: (562) 941-0062
Email: HappyDentalLand@yahoo.com

Happy Dental Land

11311 La Mirada Blvd, Suite D
Whittier, CA 90604

217 W Badillo
Covina, CA 91723
Phone: (626) 974-0708
Fax: (626) 974-0709

Happy Dental Land

217 W Badillo
Covina, CA 91723

12265 Ventura Blvd, #202
Studio City, CA 91604
Phone: (818) 747-2729
Fax: (818) 763-1391

Happy Dental Land

12265 Ventura Blvd, #202
Studio City, CA 91604