5 Ways Parents Help Fearful Kids Love the Dentist (And 2 that make fear worse!)

Dental appointments can frighten patients of all ages, but for children the experience can seem especially traumatic. Many kids associate medical offices with getting shots, so they might be on edge the moment they step through the door. All too often even a routine cleaning can turn into a tantrum, despite the best efforts of parents and dental staff. But there are some things parents can do to help their child feel more comfortable.


1. Talk it Up

Parent Support

Preparing your child for what’s to come can help them understand that there’s nothing to fear. If they’ve had a cleaning before, remind them that they just had their teeth brushed and checked and that it’s easy if you sit still. Remind them about what they enjoyed from their visit, like the toys in the waiting room, or the prize at the end. Always keep it honest (while highlighting the positive)! Similar strategies can apply when a child comes in for the first time. Check out this guide for prepping littles for their first check-up.

2. Keep Calm

Keep Calm

This may be easier said than done, but several studies indicate that parent’s concern worsens dental fear in children. Try to talk positively about the dentist before your appointment, and keep a cool head while your little one is in the chair. Hovering, fidgeting, and even behaving in an overly soothing or consoling way can trigger fear in children as they pick up on the non-verbal cues that you’re not comfortable here.

3. Set the Example

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Let your little one know that everyone needs to go to the dentist to keep their teeth healthy. Schedule your own regular cleaning, and (if possible) bring your child with you to your appointment to show them how easy it is.

4. Bring them Regularly

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Most anxiety stems from fear of the unknown. Having regular cleanings can help children feel comfortable with the process of dental visits. Besides which, having regular cleanings can help prevent cavities, so kids don’t have to worry about things like fillings and shots.

5. Find a Kid-Friendly Provider

Open Bay

 

Pediatric Dentists, like the providers at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry, have specialized training in dealing with young patients, so they can often offer an easier experience for their patients. Additionally, Pediatric Dental offices provide kid-friendly activities, like movies, games and toys, to keep children occupied during their visit.


 

When kids won’t cooperate for their visit, well-meaning parents sometimes react in ways that make the fear worse, but this can be avoided by remembering these tips.

1. Don’t Shout

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Having an uncooperative child at the dentist can be extremely frustrating and embarrassing, but when parents lose their tempers during the visit, children just get even more scared. Now they think they’re in trouble, so they’re crying for two reasons! Lots of situations call for a good loud lecture, but being afraid of the dentist isn’t one of them.

2. Don’t Give Up

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When kids throw a giant tantrum at the dentist, sometimes throwing in the towel seems like the best option. But the more you make the effort, the better time they will have. Keep seeing the dentist to give kids a sense of familiarity with the process. Eventually most children will grow out of their fear with continued visits.


We all want what’s best for our kids, and that includes a healthy smile and a trauma-free dental experience. While, some children have a harder time than others, and there’s no magic bullet to make every child feel okay, having a consistent, positive, kid-oriented dental home can help the process go much smoother.

For more strategies on helping your child’s dental health, call 801-489-1301 to speak with our reception staff today.

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Sorting out Silver Diamine Fluoride

Lately the dental staff at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry have gotten more and more questions surrounding a new alternative treatment for dental decay: Silver Diamine Fluoride.

Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, is a topical antimicrobial and remineralisation compound, which can be used to treat dental cavities. It has been used outside of the US for decades, but was only recently approved by the FDA for use domestically.  Silver Diamine Fluoride, or SDF, has been studied thoroughly and shown to be effective, when used appropriately by trained clinicians.dentalxray

However, many people have misconceptions about the purpose and use of SDF. Though it shows immense promise as a treatment alternative, it also has limitations, and might not be the magic bullet some make it out to be.

Here’s everything you need to know about Silver Diamine Fluoride:

What it does:

SDF kills cavity causing bacteria, strengthens surrounding healthy enamel, reduces sensitivity, and slows or prevents the spread of decay.

What it cannot do:

Repair existing decay. Only dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, can actually repair decay.

Who can benefit:

Children who are too young for certain types of sedation (generally ages 0-3 may be too young for some sedation methods), can use SDF to arrest further decay until they are old enough to restore their teeth with fillings or crowns. It may also help children with cavities on baby teeth, if those cavities can go without restoration until the teeth fall out naturally.

Who it’s not for:

Adults and older children who can use other methods to restore teeth and prevent further decay. If older patients experience dental anxiety, we recommend laughing gas, Valium or sedation to assist with treatment.

Furthermore, if you are allergic to silver, heavy metals, or fluoride, you should never use SDF.

Side Effects:

Silver Diamine Fluoride on child's front teeth, demonstrating the black stain
These anterior teeth have been treated with silver diamine fluoride. Photo credit http://www.oralhealthgroup.com

Silver Diamine Fluoride will stain decayed areas a dark brown or black color as seen below, but it will not permanently discolor healthy teeth.

SDF will also stain any clothes or skin it comes in contact with. Stains on skin will go away on their own within a few days or weeks, but cannot be washed out.

 

Conclusion

Silver Diamine Fluoride can provide a valid treatment alternative for some patients. While it may slow down or stop the progression of cavities for a time, it cannot take the place of traditional dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns. If you have further questions about this, or any other oral health questions, be sure to ask your dentist or give us a call at 801-489-1301.

New Year’s Resolutions to Improve your Dental Health

Many of us choose this time of year to make a fresh start and get back to those things we know we should be doing for our overall health. Whether we decide to hit the gym, drink more water or improve our eating habits, New Year’s resolutions can get us on track with the little things that help us look and feel great.

When considering what habits to concentrate on at New Year’s, oral health is sometimes overlooked. But what could be more satisfying than maintaining a healthy beautiful smile? Here are a few ideas for dental health to include in your list of resolutions.

1. Start Flossing
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If we’re being totally honest, most of us don’t floss regularly. Flossing is a vital part of your oral hygiene routine. Not only does it help prevent cavities, but flossing just once a day can also strengthen gums against gingivitis and even help freshen bad breath. If you have trouble remembering to floss, try putting a note on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see it before bed. Soon it will be a habit and you won’t believe you ever went without it.

2. Lower Sugar
Candy

It’s no secret that sugar contributes to tooth decay, especially in children. When the bacteria on our teeth come in contact with sugar, they produce acid which wears away our enamel. While daily brushing and flossing can help remove sugars and bacteria from your teeth, eating excess sugar prompts bacterial growth, which leads to more cavities. Monitoring and reducing sugar for yourself and/or your children can help keep smiles healthy and beautiful.

3. Quit Soda
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You’re probably aware that sugary drinks can contribute to major dental problems. But did you know that even diet soda can cause harm? That’s because acids, which wear teeth down overtime, are added to most soft drinks to improve flavor and lengthen shelf life. Additionally, caffeine in soda can cause dehydration, which can dry out your mouth’s protective saliva. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, water is your best choice for oral health, so replace your daily coke with a large glass of H20 to protect your teeth from decay.

4. Go to the Dentist
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Many dental insurance plans reset in the New Year, which means your whole maximum benefit amount is available to you and your family. What could be a better way to start off 2018 than by getting a deep cleaning and checkup? Call 801-489-1301 today to set up your child’s hygiene appointment today.

What are your New Years resolutions? Tell us about them in comments. And be sure to follow South Valley Pediatric Dentistry on facebook for more articles and info.

What to Do in an Emergency?

So your five year old fell off his scooter at top speed and chipped his two front teeth. After the initial shock of the fall wears off, he seems OK, but the rough edges of his broken tooth irritate his tongue and lips. And to top it off, it’s 7:00 PM and South Valley Pediatric Dentistry is closed. What do you do? Do you call the after hours line? Is this an emergency? And how urgent is it? scooter edited

Surprisingly, A broken tooth may not be as urgent as people think. However, a simple white nodule on the gums could spell real trouble. So what dental conditions need immediate attention from your dentist and what can wait for a while? There’s no hard and fast rule, but by following these general guidelines, you can feel confident in dealing with dental accidents and emergencies.

1. Toothache or Mouth Pain

Pain is the most crucial indicator in whether to treat a dental condition as an emergency or to take care of it over time, during regular office hours. If your child is inconsolable, complaining of or indicating severe pain in the mouth, or unable to sleep or eat properly, we’d recommend calling our office, or after hours line as soon as possible.

With this degree of pain we will try to squeeze you into our schedule same-day, or the next day at the latest, if you call during office hours. If you call after hours, our on-call dentist can talk you through home treatment or come into the office, based on his professional opinion of the situation. Please consider, however, that after-hour emergency treatment is more expensive than treatment during business hours, and may incur an immediate out of pocket expense. Toothache

We recommend over the counter pain relievers like children’s Motrin to help control dental pain until you can get into the office. Make sure to use medications according to the instructions, and/or follow any doctor’s guidelines on use, especially for children. Other home remedies, such as rinsing an effected area with salt water, and/or applying cold or warm compresses can also help, especially with pain due to injury, infection and/or swelling.

On the other hand, if a child feels OK, they are likely fine to hold off on scheduling until convenient for you.

2. Broken teeth

Once again, pain is your indicator here. If a broken tooth goes deep enough, it can cause significant pain, so you’ll want to see your dentist as soon as you can. However, shallow chips or breaks that don’t cause pain, can wait. We will want to take an x-ray to make sure the injury hasn’t damaged the root of the tooth or unexposed adult teeth, but that can wait a few days, provided you keep an eye out for discoloration or infection.

Chipped teeth can be fixed with simple composite fillings (or sometimes just by smoothing out the rough edges) and often don’t require immediate attention, unless accompanied by severe pain.

3.  Infection/Abscess

Signs of infection include pain, swelling, heat surrounding the area of infection, or fever. If your child has a white, yellow or clear bump on the gum above a tooth, this could indicate an abscess, a potentially dangerous condition.

Abscess
Example of an abscessed baby tooth. Photo Credit: http://www.studiodentaire.com

Sometimes mouth ulcers (canker sores) are confused for abscess. Though they sometimes look similar, you can usually tell an abscess by its raised, rounded, puss filled appearance, while cold sores are usually flat or sunken in open sores.

If you suspect abscess or dental infection, keep the area clean with salt water rinses, use over the counter pain reliever to address any pain or fever, and call our office to schedule as soon as possible. If you suspect an abscess has burst, call our after hours line or come by the office.

4. Displaced adult tooth

If your child has an accident that knocks out or shifts a permanent tooth, come see us immediately. Handle the tooth by the top (crown), not the root portion. Avoid cleaning or handling the tooth unnecessarily. Try to reinsert it in its socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk. See the dentist immediately! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.

5. Other injuries to the mouth

Toothache2For bruises on lips, gums or cheeks, ice packs and pain reliever can help with pain and swelling until the area heals. If you suspect a broken jaw, go immediately to the nearest emergency room or urgent care.

For bleeding in or around the mouth, apply gentle, yet firm pressure with a clean cloth or gauze. If bleeding persists, go to nearest emergency room or urgent care as stitches may be required.

Feel free to Call

If you’re not sure what to do, or how serious a dental condition may turn out to be, always feel free to call us during regular office hours and do not hesitate to contact our on-call dentist if necessary. Our dental team will happily assist you with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s mouth. Reach out any time at 801-489-1301.

Dental Sealants: What Parents Need to Know

As your child’s molars come in, your dentist may recommend sealants as a preventative measure against future tooth decay. At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry we suggest this simple, pain-free procedure as soon as your child’s six-year old molars erupt and again as twelve-year molars arrive. Sealants have been proven safe and effective in preventing tooth decay, but parents often have questions about their use, application and effectiveness.

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Why do my children need sealants?

Molars have deep ridges in their chewing surfaces, where food particles can stick. Furthermore, many patients find it difficult to brush back molars thoroughly enough to keep these deep ridges clean. Sealants help keep food away from the enamel of your tooth, preventing cavity-causing bacteria from growing where the sealant is applied. The American Dental Association recommends applying sealants to the teeth of all children and adolescents.

How are sealants applied?

dental-sealants-exampleA dental assistant will apply your child’s sealants. The assistant will first clean and dry the tooth and apply a layer of gel which allows the sealant to stick. After a few seconds, the assistant will rinse the tooth, dry it thoroughly and apply a layer of plastic. Lastly, the assistant will use a UV light to make the sealant very hard.

Will my child need sedation for sealants?

Sealants don’t require local anesthetic like fillings do, so many children are able to handle getting them without any trouble. Some patients with anxiety or special needs may not be able to sit still while sealants are applied. However, we only sedate children who need extensive dental restoration (fillings and crowns). Though sealants are an important preventive measure, and we use the safest sedation practices possible, the risks of sedation simply out-way the benefits of getting them done. However, if your child requires sedation for other dental work, we will usually also apply sealants while they’re asleep.

How much do sealants cost?

Sealant cost will vary by dental practice. Our office charges $39 per sealant. Most dental insurance policies cover them, at least in part, and many cover 100% of sealants. What’s more, paying for sealants can save you money, since cavities are much pricier to fix.

How effective are sealants?

Studies have shown sealants result in an 80% reduction in dental cavities. Sealants Work

How safe are sealants?

Very safe! Some parents worry about the amount of BPA in sealants but according to the American Dental Association, children are exposed to higher levels of BPA from food, drink, sunscreen and shampoo than dental sealants.

Sealants are SafeSealants are safer and easier to apply than fillings, crowns and other dental restorations because dentists don’t have to numb the mouth, which carries some minor risks.

 

How have sealants worked for your family? Tell us more in the comments below or on Facebook!

Tools of the Trade

Great dental health begins at home! The dental professionals at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry can help keep teeth healthy and strong with regular cleanings, check-ups and restorations such as fillings or crowns, but without daily at-home dental care, children are at risk for dental complications such as infection and cavities. Most of us know the golden rules of home dental care, – brush teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day – but many have questions about which of the variety of available products will work best for their child. These are the types of tools we recommend for our patients:

Tooth paste: Children under four should use a fluoride-free toothpaste to prevent them from swallowing too much fluoride, which can cause permanent white spots to form on developing teeth. By the age of four most children can spit excess toothpaste out, which means they can switch to an adult toothpaste. However, some children dislike the stronger flavors of adult toothpaste. In that case, they can continue to use a children’s toothpaste, while supplementing with prescription fluoride drops or tablets.

Tooth Brush: Choose a soft bristled toothbrush for yourself and your children. Brushes with firmer bristles are too abrasive and can damage enamel. Electric toothbrushes also work well, but can be expensive and are not required for good dental hygiene.

Floss: Cleaning between your child’s teeth is an important part of dental care. As soon as teeth begin to touch, you should begin flossing once a day with your child. Traditional waxed or unwaxed dental floss works well to clean between teeth and strengthen gums, but many parents find dental flossers such as these are easier for children because of the easily gripped handle.Photo Credit: http://www.sheknows.com Other inter-dental cleaners such as water picks, proxy brushes or wooden toothpicks may be used as an alternative to dental floss.

Fluoride Supplement: Your dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement if you live in an area without fluoridated water, or if your children require additional fluoride due to genetic or other factors. Children younger than 6 months should not take a fluoride supplement. For children older than 6 months, your dentist can discuss what kind of supplement to use.

By incorporating the proper dental tools into your at-home dental care routine, you and your children can fight dental carries, gum disease, and infection – keeping your child’s smile healthy and beautiful.

Halloween Candy Buyback!

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South Valley Pediatric Dentistry is proud to host our annual Halloween Candy buyback! In an effort to promote healthy habits and keep cavities at bay, our office will be exchanging cash for candy November 1st through the 4th. Parents and kids are encouraged to bring their Halloween haul to either of our locations during regular office hours (listed below*). Children will receive $1 per pound of candy! Now that’s what I call a treat!

*Springville Office Hours:

Monday-Friday

8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00

*Payson Office Hours:

Tuesday/Thursday

8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00

For more information on cavity prevention during the fall season see our previous post, Costumes, Candy and Cavities.