Dental Sealants for Kids

Dental sealants are an easy, pain-free way to help prevent cavities and are especially useful for kids. Kids can be prone to cavities if they do not form healthy brushing and flossing habits early on in childhood. A dental sealant is applied to the teeth that have grooves, mainly in the chewing or cheek surfaces of the teeth, to prevent food from getting stuck and bacteria from entering the grooves and forming cavities. Here are questions parents often have for their kids’ dentist about sealants:

1. Why isn’t brushing and flossing enough?

Sometimes the chewing grooves on a tooth are too tight for toothbrush bristles to get in to the grooves and clean out food and bacteria.  Placing a sealant to seal the grooves then makes the surfaces of the teeth that have grooves more cleanable so cavities are not as easily formed.  This benefits children since they are learning how to brush their teeth and still developing the hand-eye coordination to do a good job.  Sometimes cleaning the back molars can be difficult since they are hard to see and reach for the undeveloped hand muscles.  Most children have sufficient hand-eye coordination to clean teeth between the ages of 8-10 years old.

2. What are dental sealants made of? Are dental sealants safe?

Dental sealants are made of plastic that starts off as a liquid and flows in to the grooves of the teeth which is then hardened with a curing light. Dental sealants are very safe. The plastic materials are not made with BPA and there is no health or medical concerns associated with dental sealants according to the American Dental Association.

4. Are they expensive?

Dental insurance typically covers dental sealants. For many patients, sealants are affordable. Dental sealants save many patients money because they prevent cavities and can eliminate the need for fillings if properly cared for.

5. How are dental sealants applied?

Dental sealants are very easy to apply. The sealant is applied directly to the tooth, where it bonds to the enamel. The liquid plastic flows in to every groove in the tooth and essentially makes the surface smooth and cleanable. This boosts the effectiveness of brushing and flossing. It’s quick and pain-free.

6. Do they last a long time?

A sealant can last for years. Depending on how children care for their teeth and what foods they eat, the sealants may stay in place for life.  Sticky, tacky foods can pull sealants off however. Your dentist may also apply touch-ups at every visit to ensure the sealant will last even longer.

7. Do they require special care?

A dental sealant does not require specific care or maintenance. Your child will be able to eat and drink normally and can eat his or her favorite foods with the exception of sticky foods like taffy or Tootsie rolls for example. Your child can brush and floss normally. There are no special mouth washes or rinses required. In fact, your child can eat the same day the sealant is applied.

Dental sealants are a great way to protect your children’s permanent teeth from decay and cavities. Ask us today to see if they are the right option for your child!

Parents Play a Role in Kids’ Dentist Appointments and Experience

When heading to your kids’ dentist appointment, do you dread the process? Are you worried about the fit your child will have once he or she knows where you are headed? Don’t be. As a parent, you play a big role in your children’s perception of dental visits. In short, you can create a more positive experience for not only you but your child as well with a few simple steps.

1. Start dental care early.

Your child should start seeing the dentist as early as their first tooth, but no later than their first birthday. The earlier you introduce your child to the process of visiting the dentist, and making it a part of their regular routine, the better. As a result the child begins to get used to the process and knows it is nothing to fear. 

2. Be your child’s role model.

Don’t speak negatively about going to the dentist. Show your child that the process is a good thing with ample health benefits.

3. Decide if it should be a big deal.

For young children, reading a few books about going to the dentist, talking about it and making it a big deal is an excellent way to create positivity around this experience. Or if your child isn’t likely to benefit from that, make it “not a big deal” but a routine process.

4. Teach your child the importance of dental care.

Good oral hygiene starts at home with brushing and flossing. At the same time, discuss the benefits of going to the dentist with your child. The dentist will check your child’s teeth, clean them and make sure they are in tip-top shape! Be sure your child understands all of these benefits.

5. Do it together.

Don’t expect your children, even those in middle school, to be able and willing to go on their own into the dental office. Be supportive. Keep conversations light and fun. When your child is around be sure to interact with the dentist, so that the dentist becomes more of a friend than a doctor.

All of these steps can help to improve your child’s perception of going to the dentist. By establishing a strong connection to going to the dentist at a young age, you can help steer your child on the right path to good oral health. Be sure to act as a role model for your child’s opinions and perception of dental care.

5 Ways to Make Brushing Teeth More Fun

Establishing good brushing habits and scheduling regular visits with a dentist are two important ways to help your kids achieve a lifetime of good dental health. Getting them excited for daily routines, however, can be a bit tricky. If you are having trouble convincing your kids that dentist visits and dental health are important, here are five ways to make brushing teeth more fun.

1. Get the Gear

The selection of electric toothbrushes for children is wide and it’s easy to find just the right brush for every child. Some have flashing lights while others play songs from pop artists. No matter which you choose, having the right equipment will always make the job more entertaining.

2. Sing a Song

Many children sing their ABCs while washing their hands to make sure they are scrubbing long enough and the same idea can be applied to brushing. Finding a song that is two minutes long, playing a two-minute portion of a favorite song, or choosing a four-minute song that can be started in the morning and completed in the evening are all fun ways to make sure your kids are brushing long enough.

3. Cavity Crusaders

Help younger kids get in the right mood for cavity fighting by turning them into superheroes. Even something as simple as a small towel that becomes a “cape” during brushing can help transform your toddler into a Cavity Crusader who must not stop until all the cavity bugs are defeated.

4. Rewards

One way to encourage daily brushing is to give rewards after brushing. Every child is different so pick a reward system and the frequency of rewards that suits your child best. Create a chart and let your kids place a sticker on each day that they’ve brushed. When they reach their goals, they get a special prize.

5. Play Copycat

Keep older kids engaged in dental health by having them demonstrate the proper way to brush, floss, and rinse so the little ones can copy what they are doing. As a bonus, big kids are usually extra careful with their techniques to make sure they are teaching the little ones correctly.

A Lifetime of Rewards

By making dental heath fun, kids will not try to avoid brushing and flossing like other chores they have to complete. Instead, they will begin to establish great habits that will last a lifetime.

Starch, Sugar and Their Effect on Kid’s Teeth

Tooth decay is the primary cause of tooth loss, and one of the most significant culprits in tooth decay is what we eat. If a child’s diet consists of too many starchy and sugary foods, it can cause cavities. Now that school is in session, it is sometimes easy to fill kids’ diets with starchy and sugary foods. However, it is important to closely monitor snacking and to provide children with a well-balanced diet.

The Link between Diet and Tooth Decay

One of the best ways to help your child be cavity-free is by providing a healthy diet. Cavities are caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. The bacteria feed off of the starches and sugars, which produces an acid that sits on the teeth and dissolves the enamel (demineralizes) and starts the cavity process.

The Effects of Sugar

Sugar is one of the largest contributors to tooth decay. While in school, children are unable to brush their teeth immediately after eating sugary items, so the sugar is allowed to sit on the teeth for a longer period of time. Sticky sugars that are often included in school lunches and/or snacks will significantly increase the risk of cavities.

Starch and Tooth Decay

Starch is a type of carbohydrate that is typically found in foods such as bread, potatoes and rice. The leading culprits for starch in a child’s diet are foods such as pancakes and certain breakfast cereals. When these types of starchy foods are combined with sugars, such as syrup, it significantly increases the risk of tooth decay.

Eating a Balanced Diet

It is important to begin teaching children about healthy eating choices and good dental care, which includes visiting a kids’ dentist, even before they begin their first year of school. Children do not have to give up all of their favorite foods that contain sugar or starch, but they do need to choose them wisely and it is best to brush after consumption. A balanced diet includes milk and dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, whole-grain breads, and fruits and vegetables. Many foods, such as fruits, taste sweet without any added sugars.

Foods that contain sugar and/or starches are safer for teeth when they are eaten with meals, because there is more saliva released when eating a meal. Saliva helps wash foods from the mouth, so it reduces the effect of acids on the teeth. Sticky foods, such as fruit roll ups, fruit snacks, and candies are more difficult to wash away with saliva because they get stuck on the tooth or in a tooth groove, so there is a greater risk of tooth decay. Encourage children to brush at least twice each day with fluoride toothpaste, drink plenty of water, and see a kids’ dentist routinely.

Facts About Thumb and Pacifier Sucking

To continue from last week’s blog post regarding dental care for babies, we felt it is necessary to talk about other baby habits that can affect oral hygiene such as using a pacifier or the baby sucking on their thumb.

According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, here is a list of quick facts regarding pacifier/thumb sucking:
  • Babies suck on their thumb or pacifier for pleasure, comfort and security. This habit can start before they are even born.
  • The AAPD recommends pacifiers over thumbs to comfort new babies. The pacifier habit is typically easier to break and could decrease the chance of orthodontic problems.
  • Thumb or pacifier sucking is normal for infants and children. Usually children will stop on their own, however if the child doesn’t, the habit should be discouraged by the age of 3.
  • Thumb or pacifier sucking can affect the teeth the same way. After a long period of time, there may be affects with the upper front teeth sticking outward. Other potential effects include problems with jaw alignment, tooth positioning or the bite.

It is very important that you visit a pediatric dentist or a dentist who devotes most of his or her time to children, by the age of one year.  As time goes on, support from your pediatric dentist, as well as family, can help children quit the pacifier or thumb sucking habit!

Easing Children’s Dental Fear

When a child first learns that he is going to be going to the dentist, his first thought is typically formed around the vision of some cartoon mad scientist or evil doctor. This perception is due primarily to the number of children’s television shows that portray doctors or dentists in a scary yet comical fashion. Let’s face it—older siblings with a sense of humor don’t help, either. Fortunately when it comes to kids’ dentistry, there are a few tricks of the trade that can help your child look forward to visiting the dentist.
Easing a Child’s Fears of the Dentist Starts with the Parent
Avoid using a few key words before going to the dentist. Words such as “hurt,” “shot,” “painful,” or “scary” shouldn’t be used. Instead, use a few details to tell your child about why going to the dentist is important. If your child has a favorite superhero or fictional character that has a sparkling smile, then be sure to use that character as a prime example of why going to the dentist can be fun and healthy. Try saying something like, “I bet Superman goes to the dentist every six months to keep his smile healthy.”
One of the most important things that a parent can do to ease a child’s fear of the dentist is to understand the child’s fear. Sometimes, kids are afraid because they have heard horror stories from their older siblings or seen something scary on television. Other times, kids are simply afraid of the unknown. No matter the reason, try to understand your child’s fear so that you can help show him or her why the dentist’s office isn’t a scary place to be.
General Dentist Tips for Easing a Child’s Fear
The final person who can ease a child’s fear of the dentist’s office is a kids dentist with caring hands. Below are the top three tips for helping to eliminate a child’s fear.
  1. Speak in a calming and friendly voice. If children hear a friendly or happy tone, then they are less likely to be afraid.
  2. Tell stories or anecdotes to distract the child. Stories are a fantastic distraction that can help to take a child’s mind off of the scary dentist tools and instead help the child to think about something more pleasant.
  3. Use simple words to describe a procedure or action. Remember that kids are often afraid of the unknown. This includes big, scary words that are hard to understand. Keep things simple, and the child is sure to be a little less afraid.

When it comes to kids and the dentist’s office, remember that a healthy smile is well worth helping your child to overcome any fears. For more helpful dentist tips, visit us online.

Dental Care during Pregnancy

When a woman finds out that she is pregnant, she often finds her appointment book filled to the brim with an onslaught of doctors’ appointments. But often, women gloss over the importance of dental care during pregnancy. Read on to discover a few reasons why maintaining dental care during pregnancy is a good and healthy practice.
Avoid Pregnancy Complications Caused by Poor Dental Hygiene
Did you know that seeing a general dentist during your pregnancy can help you to avoid harmful birthing complications? According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), there is new evidence that suggests that women with periodontal disease have an increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. In order to avoid these risks, it is important that a pregnant woman continues to maintain good dental health throughout her entire pregnancy.
After pregnancy, it is equally important that a mother regularly visits a general dentist. Mothers with poor oral health are at a greater risk of passing on cavity-causing bacteria to their young children. To avoid this, mothers and pregnant women should practice the following good oral hygiene rules:
  1. Maintain a proper diet. Dental health starts with a good, healthy diet that isn’t too high in cavity-causing sugars.
  2. Visit your dentist regularly. Seeing the dentist regularly will help your gums and teeth to stay in top-notch condition. A dentist will also help you to avoid and resolve oral diseases, such as cavities or the presence of harmful bacteria.
  3. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash.
  4. Don’t forget to brush at least twice a day. While many dentists recommend brushing three times a day, sometimes that doesn’t happen during the busy months of pregnancy. Using mouthwash after eating is a good substitute during the day. But remember, teeth should be thoroughly brushed morning and night.
  5. Don’t share utensils with your infant children. Sharing utensils and food is one of the easiest ways that bacteria are spread from one person to another.

For more helpful tips about kids dental health and family dentistry, check out our FAQs at Playtime Dental.

Kids Dental Emergencies

Dealing with children’s dental issues can sometimes create stress in a parent’s life. At a very early age, children learn that their teeth can hurt. Helping your children to not fear the dentist as a result of sometimes painful dental experiences is very important. If you can help your children establish at a young age good dental habits and healthy emotions toward their dental needs, you can help them create a lifelong experience of good dental health. Here are a few ways to handle some common dental emergencies that you and your kids may face.
Do not overreact to your child’s toothache; however, it is also important not to ignore your child’s toothache. Sometimes a toothache can be caused by something as simple as food lodged between the teeth or beneath the gum line. Rinse your child’s teeth with warm water and thoroughly floss to make sure this isn’t the cause of the discomfort. If your child’s toothache will require a dental visit, be sure to comfort your child by providing reassurance that a visit to the dentist will be a pleasant experience and will help him or her feel better.
Chipped or Fractured Tooth
A chipped or fractured tooth is a common childhood dental injury due to most children’s high levels of activity. A chipped or fractured tooth can be very painful, so it is important to not underestimate your child’s level of pain following this type of injury. Your kid’s dentist should be contacted immediately, and you should follow the dentist’s instructions precisely. Quick action can sometimes ensure that the tooth can be repaired. A chipped tooth should not be ignored, because a severely chipped tooth can become infected.
Knocked Out Tooth

If your child sustains a serious injury resulting in a tooth being knocked out, you should first make sure that your child has not sustained any other more serious injuries, such as a blow to the head. If your child’s tooth was knocked out as a result of a more serious injury, take your child to the emergency room. Recover the tooth and take it with you to the hospital. If your child is not otherwise injured, recover the tooth and visit your general dentist as soon as possible.

Why Wear a Mouth Guard for Playing Football

Photo | Torrey Wiley
The popularity of organized youth sports brings with it a sense of fun sportsmanship. However, with those team sports also comes the risk of dental injuries, which can really affect the dental development of kids and teens. Student athletes are 60 percent more likely to sustain these types of injuries than other kids.
According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety, the best way to ensure that your child does not suffer from one of these injuries is to make sure your child or teen always uses a mouth guard. Mouth guards can greatly decrease the number of these injuries. It is important to make sure that your child’s mouth guard is fitted properly to their teeth shape and mouth size. This will increase the protection for your child.
Some of the injuries that can result from not using a mouth guard include dental fractures, which can be very painful and, in severe cases, can even cause fracture of the dental roots. If your child or teen does suffer this type of injury, it is important to recover the tooth fragments and to get to your dentist as soon as possible.
Avulsions are another severe type of injury that can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard. An avulsion is an injury resulting in the entire tooth, including root, being knocked out. This type of injury can be very painful as well as emotionally traumatizing for kids and teens who already have their adult teeth. This can result in extensive dental work, which is both expensive and stressful for your kids and for you.
Luxation is a severe dental injury that knocks a tooth loose and changes the position of the tooth in the mouth. This type of injury also creates the need for extensive dental work in order to reposition the tooth.

To provide your kids with the best protection, talk with your kids’ dentist or your general dentist to find out the best type and size of mouth guard for your child’s mouth.

Caring for Baby Teeth: What You Need to Know

Teething is a difficult process for babies as well as for parents. When you have a baby who is teething, you want to make sure you know what needs to be done throughout the process to help with the overall development of your child’s teeth.

Signs that your baby is teething

There’s likely going to be some fussiness from your baby as he or she starts to teeth because of what’s going on. You may notice that your child is drooling more, becoming more irritable, or not sleeping normally. You can provide comfort with a cool spoon or a clean, cool teething ring.
When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
Even before a tooth breaks through the gums, there are things that you can be doing. Your baby’s mouth and gums can be cleaned with a soft cloth or an infant toothbrush. This helps to remove plaque and prepare your baby for the brushing that will come.
As soon as the teeth have broken through, you should brush twice a day. The brush and the toothpaste should be designed especially for infants.
If your baby sleeps with a bottle, we recommend making sure that there is only water or a sugar free beverage inside it. Milk, juice or anything that has sugar can create bacterial acid and which breaks down tooth enamel, leading to cavities.
When should I take my child to the dentist?
The moment that you notice the first tooth, you should schedule a dental visit. This can help to prevent any cavities from forming down the road. You can learn about how to introduce fluoride, which can slow the process of cavities that have started, and sometimes stop the process, as well as to prevent tooth decay.
How to choose a kids’ dentist
When choosing a dentist, make sure you choose one that loves kids. There’s a big difference in the approaches of general dentists who enjoy children versus those who don’t. Many people in the world fear the dentist all because of an unsatisfactory first dental visit. At Playtime Dental, we make sure that it’s a positive experience for kids from day one.
Kids should enjoy going to the dentist. Playtime Dental fosters a nurturing environment where kids are going to learn that going to the dentist can actually be fun, especially when they remember to brush and floss daily. We cater to families and accept various HMO insurance plans for your convenience.

Remember this formula: One plus one = Zero. One baby tooth + one dental visit = Zero cavities for your kids! Make an appointment to learn more about baby teething and get your child’s teeth taken care of today.