A common myth about dental care for children suggests that baby teeth matter less than adult teeth since they will eventually fall out. In reality, baby teeth play a vital role in talking, chewing and saving space for eventual permanent teeth. At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry we urge parents to care for baby teeth as soon as they erupt (and even before, but that’s a blog post all it’s own) to prevent dental pain and premature loss of those important baby teeth. Here are some tips for home dental care with infants and toddlers:
1. Tooth brushing – Brush small children’s teeth gently with a soft bristle brush. Help your child every day until they’re old enough to tie their own shoelaces. When they have the dexterity and concentration required to tie shoes, that means they are also capable of brushing thoroughly enough to prevent dental problems. After that just check that they’re getting the back molars and all four quadrants thoroughly.
2. Drinking – Water is the healthiest drink for teeth as well as for your child. Only give your child juice about once a day with meals. If your child will only drink juice, water it down about halfway to dilute the sugars that harm teeth.
Children should also avoid milk before bed. Milk contains natural sugars called lactose. When milk is the last thing in a baby’s mouth before bed, the milk sugars begin to wear down the teeth, which leads to a condition known as bottle rot. Water should always be the last thing in your child’s mouth before bed or nap time.
3. Sweet Snacking – Avoid sticky, sugary foods like gummy candies and fruit snacks, which can stick to the teeth and cause cavities and decay. Fresh or dried fruit can often replace candy and fruit snacks, if your child has a major sweet tooth. Hint: Try frozen grapes (which have a satisfying sweetness and an ice cream like texture) instead of sticky popsicles and dried cranberries instead of fruit snacks.
4. Ban Biting: Discourage fingernail and object biting. Foreign materials can damage teeth and create microscopic fissures (cracks) on the teeth, which are the perfect spot for bacteria and plaque to hide. Check out this article from Baby Center to learn more about how to stop nail biting.
Nutritionists, Doctors and Dentists agree that water is the best beverage for your overall health. But what makes water so special? Water has many properties that contribute to its reputation as the healthiest drink of all.
Best for hydration:
Our bodies need water to perform every essential function for life, and they loose a lot of water throughout the day, so we have to keep replacing those fluids to make everything tick. Other drinks, like soda pop and juice, contain sugar, sodium and/or caffeine which can actually worsen dehydration. Water provides clean hydration, without any of the extra ingredients that make you thirstier. To learn more about how proper hydration affects your body read this article by Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico.
Best for your waistline:
Few things help with maintaining a healthy weight like drinking enough water. For one thing, our bodies can often mistake thirst for hunger, so staying hydrated can reduce food cravings throughout the day and increase feelings of fullness after meals. Water also has zero calories, which means choosing water instead of caloric beverages like juice, milk or soda pop can greatly reduce ones daily calorie intake. Not only that but studies (such as this one from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism) have concluded that drinking water improves metabolism, which means the foods we eat are digested more efficiently. All of that means getting enough water is key in healthy weight loss, proper nutrition and living a balanced life.
Best for your smile:
The American Dental Association has a fantastic article explaining all the reasons why water is great for your teeth. Specifically, most other drinks contain excess sugar. Plaque, tartar, cavities and tooth decay all come from sugars sticking to your teeth. Even milk – which most consider to be a healthy beverage – isn’t great for teeth, because it can leave natural sugars called lactose on teeth. Not only is water completely sugar free, but water helps wash away the sugars that cause dental problems, making water one of the best things in the world for your smile.
Drinking More Water:
Adding more super-healthy water to your life can be easy and tasty too. If you’re a soda junkie like me, try drinking carbonated water with a few lemon wedges squeezed in. You’ll get that satisfying tingle from the carbonation, without any of the calories or caffeine from soda. If you’re a regular juice drinker, diluting juice glasses about halfway will minimize the sugar and maximize the hydration. Of course these tricks mean your drink of choice won’t be as sweet, but soon you’ll find yourself adjusting to drinks with less sugar, which is a health boost in itself. Milk is best when drunk with meals and followed by a big glass of H2O to rinse out the leftover sugar, boost your metabolism and hydrate your body.
Before becoming a receptionist at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry, I knew very little about dental health. Working with our wonderful dentists, assistants and patients has taught me a lot about dental care that I might never have realized otherwise. I now know more than I ever thought I would! Here are a few of the helpful realizations I’ve had while working at SVPD.
1. Insurance is not just important, it’s absolutely vital: Dental work is expensive. I had no idea that a mouthful of cavities could cost upwards of thousands of dollars, but we genuinely see cases that costly every day. Brushing, flossing and getting regular check-ups can help prevent some expensive procedures from being necessary, but sometimes accidents and trauma can damage teeth, sometimes people just have weak enamel, or sometimes kids refuse to brush. Any number of things can cause serious dental problems and when they come, dental insurance becomes a life saver. Not to mention all the money it saves you on routine and preventive procedures, like cleanings and exams. I never want to be without it.
2. Bottle rot is a thing: Before I worked here, I had no idea you couldn’t send kids to bed with bottles of milk at night. Parents do it on television all the time! I’ve found that many parents aren’t aware of this either. Some of the most severe cases of tooth decay we see come from having milk during bed time. In order to prevent this, make sure that water is always the last thing in your child’s mouth at night. Water washes away potentially harmful sugars and other contaminants which cause decay.
3. Shark tooth is totally normal: Sometimes baby teeth won’t come out on their own. When this happens the adult tooth will sometimes grow in above or below the baby tooth giving you two teeth in one spot. We see several of these a month. Parents are often confused when a shark tooth pops up in their child’s mouth, but we’re totally used to scheduling routine extractions to correct this common dental problem. While it does need to be addressed early on to prevent future orthodontic issues, parents need not panic if they see a shark tooth or two in their child’s mouth.
You don’t have to work in a dental office to learn important facts about dental care, but some things become much clearer when seen through the lens of a dental professional. At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we get questions about everything from teething to dentures and are always happy to help people get the best information possible. Our highly trained and friendly staff are excited to answer questions regarding Dental Insurance, bottle rot, shark tooth and so much more. Call our office at 801-489-1301 for more information!