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Posts for tag: pediatric dentistry

By Drake Tollefson DDS
August 29, 2013
Category: Oral Health
HelpingChildrenEstablishOralHealthcareHabits

A habit can be defined as a recurrent, mostly unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition. However, there is much more to a habit than meets the eye. A major influence on children's positive behaviors and habits are those in their environment, namely parents, siblings and peers.

Luckily, proper oral hygiene is actually one of the easier habits to instill in children. Beginning when children are toddlers and continuing into their teenage years, you can influence them to institute lifetime oral healthcare habits.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Toddlers:

  • Teach your Children How to Brush Properly. Starting at age two, when there are more teeth in your child's mouth, you should help your child establish a brushing routine. For toddlers, use a child's size soft toothbrush with water and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Children should be helped with brushing until at least age the age of six, at which point they will have developed enough dexterity.
  • Encourage your Children to Stop Sucking Thumbs and Pacifiers by Age Three. Most children drop this habit on their own between the ages of two and four. However, problems can occur when sucking habits are allowed to go on too long, including jaw development issues and buck teeth. If you are having problems helping your child to modify his or her sucking habits, we are happy to offer you some advice and creative strategies.
  • Set an Example of Healthy Eating Habits. A diet rich in sugar encourages the growth of acidogenic (acid-producing) bacteria, which cause tooth decay. Always choose water over sugary beverages, and encourage your children to do the same. When it comes to sweets, avoid sugary snacks between meals, and instead, snack on better options like fruits, vegetables and wheat crackers. Remember, if your children see you making these healthy decisions from an early age, they are likely to mimic your behaviors.

Pre-Teens and Teenagers:

  • Get your Children Professional Custom-Fitted Mouthguards. These devices not only protect your children's teeth, but also the jawbones, jaw joints and soft tissues of the lip, cheeks, gums and tongue. A mouthguard made specifically for your child using a model of his or her teeth offers greater protection than an over-the-counter model.
  • Warn your Teens about Oral Piercings. Tongue piercing and lip bolts create many risks for teeth and the tissues that surround them. Resulting tooth problems include chipping, sensitivity, and pain. Periodontal problems include gum recession, inflammation, infection, and bone loss. Make sure that your teen is aware of these risks.

If you would like more information about oral healthcare for your children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How to Help your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
February 15, 2013
Category: Oral Health
WhatAreBabyTeethAndWhyDoTheyComeOut

Many youngsters look forward to finding a surprise under their pillow after a visit from the “tooth fairy.” This fable may comfort children who wonder why their first teeth come out. Parents need to know that losing baby teeth, also called primary or deciduous teeth, is completely normal, but at the right time and the right “space.”

A child's first set of teeth must be lost to create room for the adult or permanent teeth that have been forming beneath them. The buds of the permanent teeth grow within a child's jawbone just under the baby teeth. The tops, or crowns, grow first, followed by the roots. Then as the roots develop, the permanent teeth push the baby teeth above them up through the gum tissues. As this happens, the roots of the baby teeth are resorbed, or melted away.

With their roots gone, eventually the baby teeth become so loose that they can be easily removed or fall out on their own, making room for the adult teeth to appear. Sometimes, when a baby tooth is so loose, it can be wiggled out. It leaves a little bleeding gum tissue that heals easily. This is also normal.

Besides making sure the tooth fairy comes, parents need to be sure that their children are evaluated to determine whether baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence so they will act as guides for the adult teeth. If teeth are lost prematurely because of decay or trauma, it is important that space is maintained for the adult teeth when they come in.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss whether your child's baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence and the adult teeth are coming in correctly. To read more about losing baby teeth, see the article “Losing a Baby Tooth: Understanding an important process in your child's development.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
January 07, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
SealYourChildrensTeethfromDecay

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could put up a protective shield to guard your children's teeth from decay? Think of the time and money you would save, not to mention the pain your children would avoid. Well, it turns out that you can put up such a protective shield — or at least, we, your dental professionals, can.

The natural protective mineral coating (the enamel) of a child's new teeth is more permeable to the acids that dissolve minerals and cause decay, so the new teeth are more vulnerable to tooth decay than mature teeth are. As a tooth's enamel matures it becomes more resistant and stronger. Thus it is important to protect the surfaces of the new teeth when they erupt (grow up through the child's gums).

The back teeth, particularly, often erupt with deep grooves in them. The backs of the top front teeth may also have such grooves, which dentists call “pits and fissures.” When the grooves are deep, they are hard to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles may not be able to reach to the bottoms of the grooves; and bacteria may gather in them, releasing acid byproducts that dissolve tooth enamel and start forming decay.

Dental sealants are among the preventive options we have in the war against decay in your child's new teeth. Regular tooth brushing and flossing, regular dental visits, application of fluoride, and low sugar consumption are also important in decay prevention techniques.

Sealants are protective coatings placed in the tiny pits and fissures to seal them off from bacterial attack. Some dentists routinely seal all permanent molar teeth and many primary (baby) molar teeth soon after they erupt.

Some dentists use sealants only when an examination shows that decay is just starting or very likely to start in a particular tooth. In such cases a minimal amount of tooth enamel is removed to eliminate any decay, and a mini-resin, invisible filling is applied.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental sealants for your children. You can learn more about them by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.”

By Drake Tollefson DDS
January 05, 2013
Category: Oral Health
FAQWhatYouNeedtoKnowAboutYourChildsBabyTeeth

Losing a baby tooth is an important milestone in a child's life. Be sure to take a photo of that toothless smile — it will be something you treasure as your child grows up.

You may be wondering what is really happening when a baby tooth becomes loose and eventually falls or is pulled out. Read on for some answers.

What are baby teeth?
An infant's teeth begin to form before birth, by the fifth to sixth week after conception. When the baby is born, 20 primary (baby) teeth are almost completely formed inside the jaws. These first teeth, also called deciduous teeth, begin to erupt through the gums at about the time the baby begins to eat solid food. The front teeth (incisors) are usually the first to come in, at age six months to a year.

Why are they called deciduous teeth?
Deciduous means “falling off at maturity.” The same term refers to trees that lose their leaves every fall. In many mammals, including humans, it refers to the first teeth, which need to come out to make room for the larger permanent teeth to come in.

What causes the deciduous teeth to become loose?
While your child is using his primary teeth to bite and chew, his adult (permanent) teeth are quietly growing inside his jawbone. Starting with tooth “germs” (the word comes from germination, meaning the start of growth), the top part of each tooth, called the crown, grows first. Then the bottom part, or root, begins to grow and elongate. As the roots develop and the permanent teeth take up more room in the child's jaw, they begin to push against the baby teeth. This causes the roots of the baby teeth to melt away or resorb. Eventually little or nothing is left to hold the baby teeth inside the child's gums, they become wiggly, and finally they can easily be pulled out. This may leave a little bleeding gum tissue that quickly heals.

What should you watch for in the transition from primary to permanent teeth?
As the permanent teeth erupt (push through the gums and become visible), you may notice that they are too crowded, have too much space between them, or are crooked. It's a good idea to have an orthodontic (from ortho, meaning straight and dont, meaning tooth) evaluation at age five to seven. Watch to see that the baby teeth are lost in the right sequence. If one is lost prematurely, for example from decay, make sure that the space that it occupied is maintained to make room for the adult tooth that will replace it. We can help you with this.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss whether your child's baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence and if the adult teeth are coming in correctly. For more information see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Losing a Baby Tooth.”

MouthguardsIsYourChildOrAthleteProtected

Nearly everyone who has ever played a sport, or had a child participate in one, has had that panic-filled moment when they witness an injury. And when you consider that there are more than 22,000 dental injuries each year in children younger than 18 years of age, you see there is fact to backup this concern. This is just one reason why we strongly encourage all of our patients who are involved in activities such as football, soccer, hockey, wrestling, lacrosse, skateboarding, field hockey and more to wear one of our custom-fitted professional mouthguards. It is especially true for basketball and baseball, which are responsible for the largest number of dental injuries.

The following are some key issues to help you understand the importance and advantages mouthguards offer.

Is there a way to determine who is at the highest risk for sports injuries?

Yes there are several. Age, gender, dental anatomy, and the type of sports being played are the four categories used to measure the risks for dental injuries. Young male teens still top the list of most likely to be injured; however, the gap is closing with more females getting involved in sports. Learn which sports or exercise activities made the American Dental Association’s list of recommendations for using a custom mouthguard, when you continue reading “Athletic Mouthguards.”

What's the difference between a “boil and bite” mouthguard and a professionally made mouthguard?

We are often asked this very important question. While some over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards provide what is advertised as a “custom-fit” to your teeth, it is nowhere near the fit — and thus protection — you receive from our mouthguards that are crafted from precise molds of your teeth. Additionally, because all aspects of our mouthguards are tailored to each specific mouth, they provide much more protection and comfort. This important fact can enhance performance as the athlete can literally breathe easier while wearing one of our mouthguards.

What can I do if I witness a dental injury?

The first important fact to know is that you do not have to be a dental or healthcare professional to assist. However, before jumping in to help out, consult Dear Doctor's Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries. This pocket-sized, quick-reference guide details what you should do at the scene of a dental injury based on the type of injury. But best of all, it is available to you free of charge from Dear Doctor.

Want to know more?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.