As they mature, your child's teeth, gums and jaws develop—if all goes well, they'll all be healthy and functioning normally when they enter adulthood. But tooth decay and other problems could derail that development and cause lingering oral health issues later in life.
Following these 4 guidelines now during your child's early years will help ensure their teeth and gums have a healthy future.
Start oral hygiene early. There's no need to wait for their first teeth to come in to begin your child's regular oral hygiene. Start with wiping their gums right after feeding with a clean wet cloth to minimize bacterial development. Then, start brushing as soon as teeth appear—to begin with, use a slight smear of toothpaste on the brush. As they mature, teach them to brush and later floss for themselves.
Check your water. Most utilities add tiny traces of fluoride to their drinking water supply. If your water supplier does, it can make a big difference (along with fluoride toothpaste) in helping your child avoid tooth decay. If your system doesn't, then speak to your dentist about whether your child could benefit from topical fluoride applied directly to their teeth.
Keep a check on sugar. Decay-causing bacteria thrive on the sugar added to processed foods, candies and many beverages. Even milder forms of sugar like lactose found in milk or formula can stimulate bacterial growth. So, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, do your best to minimize sugar in your child's diet. And don't put infants or toddlers to bed with a bottle filled with any liquid other than water.
See the dentist. Starting around their first birthday, regular dental visits can help keep your child's dental development on track. Dental visits are also an opportunity for preventive treatments against decay like sealants or topical fluoride. Your dentist may also detect the early signs of bite problems that if addressed now, could lessen their impact later in life.
Your child's dental health could get off course before you even realize it. But partnering with your dentist, you can help make sure your child's teeth and gums have a bright and healthy future.
If you would like more information on how best to care for your child's oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”
February is Children’s Dental Health month! Your child will get his or her first teeth between 6 months and one year of age and will get 20 total baby teeth. Since baby teeth eventually fall out, many people think that they don’t have to take their child to a dentist. Nothing could be further from the truth! While it is true that your child’s front four teeth in each arch come out around age 6 to 8 years, the back 6 teeth in each arch do not come out until between 9 and 12 years of age.
Baby teeth hold the space needed for your permanent teeth. If a back baby tooth is lost too early, your child’s permanent molar may shift forward and not leave enough room for other permanent teeth to come in. When there’s not enough room, your child’s teeth will overlap or look crooked.
Baby teeth have the same problems as adult teeth. They can get cavities that need to be filled. One in four children have a cavity by age four years. The fillings of today do not have to be your father’s fillings with “novocaine” and a numb mouth. Today’s laser Dentistry can often accomplish a filling without using novocaine which may make the visit less traumatic for your child.
Cavities that are not filled can grow large enough to reach the nerve of your tooth and cause an abscess. Abscesses of your child’s teeth need costly treatment to avoid the infection affecting his or her permanent teeth. The alternative is removing your child’s tooth and placing an appliance to maintain space for the permanent tooth.
As you can see, it is best to find a cavity when it is smaller and can be filled. So when should you take your child to the dentist? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends age 1 year for the first dental visit.
This early visit to the dentist allows you and your child to learn age-appropriate oral hygiene and to pick up tips like not putting your child to bed with a bottle that contains milk or juice. It also allows your child to have positive dental experiences to draw on before he or she needs a filling. You don’t want your child’s first visit to the dentist to be for a dental emergency—that’s traumatic for all involved, and the experience may stay with the child and cause fear or anxiety about future dental visits.
So start your child with good dental habits early in life and see your dentist regularly so that any problems can be spotted and treated early and easily. If you don’t have a dentist, please call my office at 440-960-1940.
*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who treats children and adults.
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W
Lorain, OH 44053
If you're intrigued by the strange and bizarre, here's one to pique your interest: geographic tongue. It's a rare condition that causes the appearance of red patches on the tongue surface, surrounded by grayish-white borders, and which look a lot like continents on a map (hence the name). But although it may look odd, geographic tongue won't harm your health.
The condition is also known as benign migratory glossitis, so named because it's not cancerous and the patches seem to move or “migrate” around the tongue surface. The most common causes are thought to be stress or hormonal disruptions in those predisposed to the condition. Many researchers believe zinc or vitamin B deficiencies in the body contribute to its occurrence. It also seems more prevalent among non-smokers and pregnant women, as well as occurring as a family trait.
The red patches are created by the temporary disappearance of some of the papillae, tiny bumps on the tongue's top surface. The patches can abruptly appear during a flareup and then disappear just as suddenly. But as “angry” as the patches may look, geographic tongue is not considered a health danger. It isn't normally painful, although people can experience stinging or numbing sensations emanating from the patches that can be mildly uncomfortable.
Because it's also rare, you're not likely to encounter it personally. But if you or a loved one does begin to notice red patches on the tongue, there are a few things you can do to lessen any accompanying irritation. For one, cut out foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, eggplant, mint or highly spicy or acidic foods, all of which have been known to increase discomfort. You might also avoid astringents like alcohol or mouthwashes that likewise irritate the patches when they occur.
Although geographic tongue can't be cured, your dentist can help you manage symptoms when they arise with the help of prescribed anesthetic mouthwashes, antihistamines or steroid lozenges. These not only can help lower any discomfort or irritations, they may also lessen the duration of a flareup.
For the most part, geographic tongue usually causes more embarrassment than physical discomfort. But with a little help from your dentist, you can keep it to a minimum. Geographic tongue may be odd, but it's nothing to worry about.
If you would like more information on geographic tongue, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Geographic Tongue: No Cause For Alarm.”
February is just around the corner and February is Children’s Dental Health Month. You want your child’s teeth to be the healthiest they can be, right? So beyond brushing, flossing and taking your child to the dentist regularly, what are some things that you can do for your child’s dental health?
Be a good role model: Like it or not, your children take their cue from you. If they see you putting emphasis on your oral health, they’ll think theirs is important too. Though when times are tough, it’s tempting (and admirable) to put your child first, this is a case where “do as I say, not as I do” will eventually backfire.
If you make your child go to the dentist, but never go yourself, your child starts to think that dental care isn’t that important. When old enough to make his or her own decisions, your child may not place the value on dental care that it deserves. All the effort you put into your child’s dental health can be erased in as little as a year. It takes that short a time for a cavity to reach the nerve of a tooth under the right conditions.
One of the main reasons people avoid the dentist is fear. Even though you might think you are hiding your fear of the dentist from your child, he or she will pick up on it. Because your child trusts you, he or she will think “if mom or dad’s afraid of the dentist, I should be too.” Fear of the dentist is learned; don’t let your child learn it from you. If necessary, talk to your dentist about your fears and concerns and see if there is a way she or he can help you. There have been a lot of changes in dentistry over the years. There may be a new way to do your dental care that will help you. We all have to do things we don’t like in life—showing your child that you value your teeth enough to go in spite of not liking it will teach an important life lesson in addition to the dental one.
Sealants: Sealants are a coating placed over grooves on the chewing surface of your child’s back teeth. They prevent food and bacteria from entering grooves and pits where the cavity process is likely to start. Most back teeth have pits and grooves on the chewing surface. Some people have very shallow ones while others have deeper, narrower ones. Sometimes the grooves and pits are so narrow that the toothbrush bristle can’t reach the food and bacteria. (Remember bacteria are microscopic, your toothbrush bristle is not!)
A sealant takes that rough surface and makes it smooth—almost like an ice rink. The food slides across the smooth surface rather than packing down into the tooth.
Sealants are easy to do—no numbing required. They’re most often done on adult (permanent) molars but can be done on any back tooth—whether adult or baby teeth. You can learn more about sealants here: Sealants
Make wise food choices: A healthy, balanced diet which limits sugars and starches is the best choice. Sugar activates bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay. Starches, such as breads and potatoes, are broken down into sugars in the mouth and have the same effect. Each exposure to sugar results in 20 minutes of cavity-causing-bacteria activity. So it is best to eat your sweets with your meals instead of as a separate snack.
Acidic foods such as citrus fruits or sour candies also increase the chance of cavities, so these should also be eaten on a limited basis.
Beverages are an often overlooked area of the diet. Water, milk and 100% juices are best for tooth health. Read labels carefully! The label may show 100% in large print, but the smaller print may say 100% vitamin C rather than 100% juice. Many of the drinks that children like are mostly sugar. Some examples are Sunny Delight, Gatorade and other sports drinks, energy drinks, and Hi-C.
If you have any questions about sealants, foods that are good for the teeth or dental care in general, please call my office at 440-960-1940 or find us online at www.drjrobb.com. If you’ve put off dental care for a while, why not use Children’s Dental Health Month as the incentive to start anew. We’d love to see you!
*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children at her practice located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W in Lorain, OH.
If you’re like most people, daily brushing has become such a routine habit that you barely even think about it anymore. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing a good job. You may even be brushing your teeth incorrectly.
Dr. Jennifer G. Robb is a dentist in Lorain, where she provides full general and cosmetic dental services.
How to Develop a Good Oral Hygiene Technique
Lorain residents will find that following these tips will help them to develop good brushing habits and maintain healthy teeth and gums.
- Choose a good soft or medium bristled toothbrush with an angled head.
- Your toothpaste should contain fluoride and may also contain a tooth whitener.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Leave at least 20 minutes after a meal before brushing.
- Brush all surfaces of your teeth with a slight rotation movement.
- Brushing should take about two minutes.
- Floss at least once each day, preferably before you go to bed.
- Rinse with a non-alcohol mouth wash.
- Maintain a healthy diet; avoid excess sugar.
- Quit smoking.
- Visit your dentist every six months for an exam and professional cleaning.
Maintaining good brushing habits is important. It can protect your teeth from decay and your gums from gingivitis and periodontitis. It can also prevent tooth loss and save you money in dental fees. As well as brushing it is important to get regular dental checkups. That way, if you do have a problem with your teeth or gums, your dentist will be able to spot it straight away and treat it before it develops into a serious issue.
If you live in or around Lorain and you are looking for a dentist, give Dr. Robb a call today at (440) 960-1940 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.
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