Risk Assessment Tool

Your child’s teeth are important, but it may be difficult for parents to determine if their child needs the attention of a dentist or not. While annual cleanings are easy to remember and schedule even if there is not an issue, it may be difficult to determine if your child needs further attention or if they are doing well with their teeth and oral care.

That is where the pediatric risk assessment tool comes in handy. We here at Playtime Dental use this tool at each cleaning to determine if your child needs further care and also to identify any issues or risk factors that may lead to a need for more dental work. The tool first looks at a wide range of factors that may affect the overall health of your child’s teeth. Who takes care of the child’s teeth, has there been decay in the past 12 months, do they use a bottle or a sippy cup, do they snack often, do they have special needs, etc.? These factors will let the doctor know what type of potential issues they may be looking for so that they can more accurately address any issues that are present.

The tool also looks at what type of preventative efforts you and your child are taking as part of their oral health:

  • Does your child visit the dentist regularly?
  • Do they brush?
  • Do they floss?
  • Do they use a fluoride rinse?
  • Do they drink fluoridated water?
  • Do they snack frequently?
  • Do they sip on beverages or drink them quickly?

These factors will help the dentist determine how likely it is that there will be issues with your child’s teeth.
Your kids’ dentist will then mark any findings that were present with the checkup. Did they find decay, broken teeth, white spots lesions (start of cavities), or excessive plaque, etc.? This is the chance for the dentist and staff to talk with the parent about everything that they found during the cleaning, which makes diagnosing and choosing a treatment plan option much easier.

The last aspect of the assessment tool is to consider what options are available for treating any issues found. Determining if the patient is a high or low caries risk guides treatment decisions. Some issues will not need dental intervention and can be taken care of at home by improving or increasing the frequency of, or by adding, brushing, flossing or a fluoride rinse to the patient’s routine. If further dental intervention needed, your dentist will suggest the solution that is going to be least difficult or traumatizing for the child and will help parents put a treatment method in place so that your child can have the healthy teeth that they need.

The Cons of Oral Piercings for Teens

After months and months of begging, you finally gave in and let your teenager get an oral piercing. Now your kid may be the biggest hit at school, but in the meantime, your trepidations have returned. As a good parent, you’re right to feel some reservations about your teen’s tongue piercing. This can actually be a big source of trouble for the mouth and could even cause dental problems and diseases.

The biggest and most obvious risk, as with all piercings, is that of infection.  The mouth contains millions of bacteria and unlike a skin infection in the ear or nose caused from an earring, if your teen’s mouth gets an infection from a piercing, the area will swell up significantly and be very painful.  In the case of a large infection, your child’s airway could even be restricted, which could be deadly.

Even if your kid doesn’t have an infection from his or her piercing, other oral problems can and do occur more subtly over time. First of all, constantly exposing the teeth to the metal of the piercing can strip away enamel, whether it’s a ball-shaped barbell or a traditional ring. Once enamel is gone, it doesn’t return. The teeth may look unattractive and are at a higher risk of developing cavities.

Besides that, your teenager can also find himself saddled with localized periodontal disease that they most likely wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Periodontal disease occurs when the gums recede.  When the gums start to recede, the bone that holds the teeth in is typically lost as well and your kid’s teeth can possibly fall out in the advanced stages if they develop this disease.

Other little annoyances can occur with an oral piercing as well, such as an increase of drooling, increased chance of cracking or chipping the teeth or dental restorations, bad breath if the piercing is not cleaned multiple times daily, and the development of a speech impediment. More seriously, if a tongue piercing is not done carefully, nerve damage is also a possibility.  This can affect the person’s ability to taste, talk and move the tongue.

Parents that are having second thoughts about their teen’s oral piercing can come by and visit Playtime Dental to discuss the next steps, including removal. Appropriate for children of all ages, the atmosphere at this kids’ dentist is designed to make young patients feel at ease as they learn how to take better care of their teeth and mouths.

Kid’s Tooth Decay: Development and Prevention

When you become a parent, worry becomes a normal part of life. Whether it’s sending the kids off to school or worrying about the latest virus in the media, every parent manages their fear of the unknown daily. One area where parents should not worry is their children’s teeth. Teaching your young ones to make good choices about food and proper oral care goes a long way toward creating a healthy, happy human being.

Tooth decay remains a significant problem in dental care. Any kid’s dentist will tell you that it is imperative to educate yourself and your young ones about making good choices. Tooth decay begins when food containing lots of sugar and starch (foods that make up a significant portion of the American diet today) is used by bacteria in our mouth to create acids. These acids begin to slowly eat away the enamel that makes up our teeth. The loss of minerals in teeth due to these acids (demineralization) will cause tooth decay over time as teeth begin to weaken and decay.

Young children and adolescents are especially susceptible to these dangers due to their diet. Schools, fast food restaurants, and the snack aisle contain lots of opportunities to choose foods that could cause tooth decay. Sugar laden foods, fruit juices, and snacks all begin problems that your kid’s dentist finally sees during a visit to the office. Small choices every day about what we eat influences dental hygiene, good or bad.

Creating good dental hygiene habits in your children is especially important. Habits start early and can make the difference between strong teeth and tooth decay. Childhood tooth decay, also known as pediatric dental disease, remains the #1 chronic childhood illness. Early tooth decay often leads to greater problems such as pain and infections in the teeth and mouth. If tooth decay remains untreated, greater problems often occur as well. Difficulty eating or speaking due to pain may lead to malnourishment.

Making good choices about what your children are eating is the first and most important step in creating good, lifelong habits where food choices and tooth care are concerned. Any kid’s dentist will share their experiences with the problems created by our diet and what is in our food. Foods that fight tooth decay and promote dental health are especially important.

Calcium rich foods, such as milk and other dairy products, help build tooth and general bone strength. Fiber rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, help create natural defenses for our teeth. Whole grains, with their high amount of iron and B vitamins, help promote healthy gums. Combining these foods in your child’s diet will help ensure that every visit to your kid’s dentist is as pleasant as possible. Coupling good food choices with the recommended regimen of flossing, brushing, and regular visits to the dentist will ensure your young one’s teeth are healthy and strong.

Taking care of your young and growing child is a big responsibility. A multitude of things exist to protect children from in this day and age. How to properly care for teeth shouldn’t be a large source of worry. Consult your kid’s dentist to talk about what you can do to help ensure that your young ones grow up with healthy teeth. They will thank you for it years later when the good practices you taught remain with them as adults.

Common Tooth Injuries

Sometimes it seems as though children’s heads are magnets – baseballs, a little brother’s foot – it’s no surprise so many activities require helmets. Unfortunately, tooth injuries can be a common part of growing up. According to www.uptodate.com, nearly 50% of kids will injure a tooth during childhood. Below are three common tooth injuries and how best to respond.

Where’s My Tooth?!
What should you do when a tooth is knocked out? The answer depends on whether the injury was to a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. If it was a baby tooth, the dentist will probably not want to “replant” the tooth, but contact your kid’s dentist as soon as possible to make sure the rest of your child’s mouth is uninjured. If it was a permanent tooth, act quickly to save the tooth and reduce the risk for future complications. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests you rinse the tooth in cool water (no soap, and no scrubbing) and replace it in the socket immediately, holding it in place with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you cannot put the tooth back, place it in a clean container with cold milk, saliva, or Hank’s balanced salt solution, and see your dentist as soon as possible.

Chipped / Fractured Tooth
If your child chips or fractures a tooth, rinse the mouth with water, and apply a cool compress to reduce swelling. If you have the tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water. Contact your kid’s dentist, and remember to bring the saved fragment with you to the appointment.

Ouch, My Tooth!
We don’t like to see kids in pain, and most of us know how painful a toothache can be. If your child is complaining about mouth or tooth pain, promptly contact the dentist. Tooth pain can indicate a number of problems, all of which should be diagnosed and treated by the dentist. If you cannot see the dentist right away, relieve some of the pain using children’s aspirin, Children’s Tylenol, or Children’s Motrin and a cold compress – never apply heat, put aspirin directly on the tooth, or use Orajel.

Remember, regular checkups and protection during activities can help keep your kids healthy and pain-free. Visit http://www.playtimedental.com for more information.

Importance of regular dentist visits

Maintaining good oral health requires one to select a dentist who can perfectly deal with their particular needs. Some dentists specialize in a certain field of dentistry. A pediatric dentist or a dentist who works with children, examines babies and kids until they start to become young adults. It is very important to take your children to a kids’ dentist as baby teeth start to erupt through the gums.  The first tooth usually erupts at about 6 months old.

During their visit, the kid’s dentist will inspect each tooth carefully and a hygienist will perform a thorough cleaning. Your child will be treated with a topical fluoride, checked for cavities, and probably get x-rays of the teeth. If the kid’s dentist detects any problems, he or she will take care of it early enough instead of letting it develop into something serious down the road. Most of the time, serious conditions start as small problems that could have been prevented if they were noticed early enough.

If your child does not see a pediatric or kids’ dentist regularly, long-term problems could occur. Cavities are common issues that can be caught with a routine check. If they are not addressed, they could sooner or later cause the whole tooth to decay, which not only causes pain and possibly infection, but also increases the likelihood of losing the entire tooth. Gingivitis and periodontitis can also generally be caught early with routine checkups.

In addition, many children need adequate fluoride in the diet or home care routine, which is essential for preventing cavities. This is done by using a fluoride rinse, drinking water that contains fluoride, or taking a daily supplement as well as brushing with a pea-sized quantity of fluoridated toothpaste. The kid’s dentist will be able to identify whether your child is not getting sufficient fluoride and can recommend supplements that will help to prevent cavities.

It is very important to note that baby teeth help guide the placement of the permanent teeth. A missing or a decayed baby tooth can result in misaligned or crooked permanent teeth, which can lead to various problems, such as difficulty in chewing, premature tooth loss and the inability to maintain good dental hygiene. For more severe scenarios, it can also interfere with TMJ or the temporomandibular joint, a joint that connects the skull to the lower jaw, which leads to much discomfort when an adult. Visiting a kid’s dentist early enough will certainly help to ensure simple issues don’t develop into something very severe.

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.

National Facial Protection Month

National Facial Protection Month is coming close to an end. With the weather becoming warmer and the days lasting longer, your kiddos will be out and about playing and enjoying the outdoors.

Here at Playtime Dental, we want to make sure you are taking the extra steps needed to help protect your kids’ mouths and face. Although you can’t avoid accidents, you are able to do your best to make sure your child’s teeth and face are protected if an accident happens.

From organized sports to a pick-up game of kickball, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to help protect your young ones pearly whites and face.

Wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports: Wearing a mouth guard can protect your teeth from accidental injuries to the face. Being proactive and having your child wear a mouth guard will be far less expensive than a possible tooth replacement.

Wear a helmet: Anytime your child is riding a bike, playing football, baseball and so on, wearing a helmet will not only protect your kids’ teeth but their skull as well.

Wear protective eyewear: Wearing protective eye gear can help avoid any injuries to your kids’ eyes.

Make protective gear mandatory for all sports: For organized sports, it is important to enforce facial protection. By doing so, severe facial injuries can be avoided.

For more questions, contact your child’s dentist or visit www.mychildrensteeth.org for more information.

Tips for Dental Emergency Prevention

When it comes to taking care of your mouth, of course you know that brushing and flossing on a daily basis are two of the smartest things you can do. But what about dental emergencies? How are you supposed to go about preventing them? More importantly, how can you prevent dental emergencies from happening to your kids? Fortunately, there are many tips you can follow.

Tip #1: Visit a kids’ dentist.

The first and most important tip to follow is visiting a kids’ dentist on a regular basis. When you visit our office, you can rest assured that we will be able to both identify and properly treat any problems in your kids’ mouths.
Tip #2: Wear a mouth guard.
If your kids play sports, they need to wear mouth guards during their sporting events. Not only will a mouth guard help protect the teeth in your children’s mouths, but it will also help protect the bone that holds the teeth.
Tip #3: Deal with emergencies.
You can’t always avoid dental emergencies. If your child gets one of his or her permanent teeth knocked out, it’s important to keep the tooth moist. You can do this by placing the tooth in a glass of milk. However, if a tooth is knocked out, the best liquid to place a tooth in is Hank’s Balanced Salt Solution and the worst liquid is water. Reimplanting the tooth in to the socket as soon as possible is the best thing to do.  The most important thing to do, however, is to visit our office immediately.
Tip #4: Child-proof your home.
There are many steps you can take to child-proof your home. From putting up pieces of furniture that have sharp corners and edges, to making sure your child doesn’t bite down on hard objects, child-proofing the home will go a long way in preventing dental emergencies.
Tip #5: Always make your child sit in a car seat.
Until your child reaches the proper height and weight recommendations, you should always make him or her sit in a car seat while traveling. Not only will this help prevent dental emergencies, but it can also save your child’s life in the event of an accident.
Tip #6: Keep a close eye on your children.

One of the most common times that your child is likely to endure a dental emergency is when learning to walk. No matter the age of your child, though, make sure you keep a close eye on him or her at all times.

Children at Risk

Overall, children in America have the benefit of the best oral care in the world.  The care they receive is so good that only half of the children who are enrolled in our schools have ever had a cavity! We have the advantage of fluoridated water in many public supplies and dental care that is easily accessible. This is wonderful news for our children and their smiles!

Sadly though, 25% of the children we speak of are the ones who have 80% of the cavities in this demographic. Children who have special health care requirements have just that: special needs. Those children, who are chronically ill, physically impaired or developmentally disabled, are some of the children who find themselves in the 25%. Some of these children are in families that rely on Medicaid, as those with medical problems often find themselves in a position where they qualify for this benefit. But even with this benefit, only 7.8% of Medicaid dollars are spent on dental care. Almost all children who are developmentally disabled are likely to have moderate to severe gum disease, which alone can be responsible for many, many trips to the dentist. A child with Down’s syndrome must have an x-ray of the neck before any dental treatment, to determine the position of their spine.  If anything is awry, it may be safest to have their dental work done while they are under anesthesia.

Children fall into the at-risk category when they are from lower income families who have not placed, or have not been able to place, an emphasis on dental care. Not all community water is fluoridated, such as Mansfield, which also places these children at risk for dental disease.

Research has shown that dental disease may negatively impact a child’s performance in school as the pain and discomfort from any tooth decay is distracting and impedes the ability to focus on studies and eat a healthy lunch, which fuels him or her through the day.  Every child deserves to have a healthy and attractive smile. Children with healthy mouths have a better chance of a good general health. With a healthy smile, children are more likely to have confidence in their appearance.