Getting Ready for Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

There are a lot of milestones to experience during a child’s first few years of life. Heading to the dentist isn’t one most parents think much about until the day arrives.

When Is the Right Time?

Most dental professionals agree that a child should make their first trip to the dentist around age 1, or around the time his or her first tooth erupts. This helps the dentist check things out early to avoid problems in the future, create a relationship with the young patient and help establish dental visits as part of a child’s normal routine.

What Dentist Should I Choose?

You may love your dentist, but think about what his/her office may look like to a small child. Most adult dentists are not equipped to handle small children or their dental needs. Their equipment is too big, the atmosphere is too adult-like and the staff isn’t properly trained for dealing with young ones.
Instead, choose a dental office that caters to the young and growing patient. Look for a kid-friendly office (one that is bright and cheery) that offers specialized services for children and who knows how to build a friendly rapport with young patients.

Preparing Your Child for the Big Day

Kids tend to feel anxious when they think their parents are anxious, so don’t make a big deal about your child’s first dental visit. Sure, talk about it with them, but don’t get too excited and be careful about the words you use when describing the visit. Never say “it won’t hurt.” That will only set an expectation that it will.
Here are some tips for getting ready for the big day:

  • Take small children to the office with older siblings. That way the environment will be more familiar to them.
  • Practice opening wide in front of a mirror. Kids love to show off, so explain that the dentist wants to see their beautiful teeth.
  • Read a book once or twice that explains a dental visit with your child a few days (or weeks, or both!) before the visit.

Once You Arrive

Be calm and nonchalant when driving to the office for your appointment. Be on time, but don’t be too early to avoid having to wait too long.
Most children’s dentists have waiting rooms filled with toys, books, video games, etc. Allow your child to explore. This will help alleviate any stress and make the appointment more fun.

At Playtime Dental, we understand that preparing yourself and your child for such a big milestone can seem stressful. By catering to young and growing patients, we know exactly how to make your first (and subsequent) visits as easy and enjoyable as possible. Be sure to talk with our staff about what you can do to make your child’s first dental visit as smooth as possible.

Basic FAQs About Fluoride for Children

Only a handful of people have issues with fluoride. There’s no question that it reduces the risk of tooth decay with children, though. In this blog post, we’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get about fluoride use. 

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride isn’t manufactured by some chemical process in an industrial laboratory setting. It’s a mineral. It’s found in our soil, water and even in some of our foods. Fluoride doesn’t just prevent tooth decay either, in some cases it can even reverse it.

How Do We Get Fluoride to Protect Our Teeth?

In most cities in the United States, fluoride is used as a preventative public health measure in drinking water, so that’s one way. Plus, nearly all toothpastes contain fluoride. It’s also found in a variety of over-the-counter oral health products. Dentists also use fluoride in specific dental applications.

Why Would My Child Need Fluoride?

We know that kids love sugar, but even when they are careful to limit their sugar intake, our mouths are still littered with bacteria. When sugar and our natural bacteria combine, acid forms and tooth enamel is damaged. That begins the degradation of the teeth. Fluoride works to prevent a child’s teeth from becoming damaged by acid. It can even reverse tooth decay in its early stages.

What if Our Town Doesn’t Have Fluoridated Water?

If fluoridated water isn’t available in your area, it’s likely that your child will be at a higher risk of tooth decay. You’ll want to talk with your family dentist, who can arrange for fluoride drops or treatments for your child.

When Should We Begin Using Fluoride With Our Child?

A little smear of toothpaste can be used on a toothbrush once the first tooth erupts. As other teeth begin erupting, there shouldn’t be any issues with gently brushing. Don’t use too much toothpaste, though. You don’t want fluorosis to set in. If it does, and it’s on baby teeth it will be there until the adult teeth push the baby teeth out.

Fluoride is an important supplement in maintaining your child’s dental health, but it must be carefully monitored. Your child should have his or her first dental visit when that first tooth erupts. That’s one of the first steps in establishing proper oral hygiene and quality overall health. Contact us at Playtime Dental by calling 419-774-PLAY. We’ve treated children of all ages and would be happy to help your little one with his or her dental care. 

Ideas on How to Make Oral Hygiene Fun For Kids

For some kids, brushing and flossing is like a chore that they do once in the morning and once at night. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Making oral hygiene fun can have lasting effects and can even make kids take an interest in keeping their mouths clean and healthy.

There’s an App For That

It’s recommended that a child brushes his or her teeth for two minutes. A fun way to make sure they get the full two minutes in is to use a brushing app that plays a song for two minutes and have your child brush as long as the music is playing. Pick something they like and will make them want to stay there the entire time. A smile on their face while brushing will make the time pass faster. Also, if the song is something they really enjoy they might even look forward to the next time they get to brush.

Visits from the Tooth Fairy 

Every child is different when it comes to losing teeth.  Some kids love the idea of losing teeth because that means they are growing up!  Others don’t like losing teeth because eating can become uncomfortable until the tooth falls out.  A good way to make this fun is by using the story of the tooth fairy. Tell your child a new tooth will grow back soon but the tooth fairy will come and give some money in exchange for the tooth that has come out.  This is a great opportunity to talk about brushing and flossing.  Explain that the tooth fairy loves to see teeth in good shape so she knows that the child is doing a good job brushing and flossing.   I have had some parents say the tooth fairy does not bring money for teeth with cavities that come out!

Prize Winning Teeth 

A kids’ dentist can show children what can happen to their teeth if they don’t brush.  Some dentists even give prizes for good oral hygiene or a good visit.  If your child’s dentist doesn’t give out toys, perhaps you could find a small way to reward them for their good oral report.  A reward system, such as a brushing and flossing chart with stickers, is a great way for children to get motivated.  Then on the chart, have a spot for the six month check-ups that has a special sticker or reward to be given for a good visit.  Oral hygiene doesn’t have to be a difficult task every day.  Just by making brushing and flossing into something fun, you could see an improvement in the oral health.

School Lunches That Promote Healthy Teeth

With school in session, it is time to start packing lunches for the kids again. It can be easy to pack processed lunches or have children buy lunch at school rather than taking the time to prepare something healthy. But packing a healthy lunch can be critical to children’s oral health. Find out what foods to include in children’s school lunches to make sure their teeth stay strong.

Healthy Sandwiches

Most lunches will typically include a sandwich. To make it healthier, use whole grain wheat bread instead of white bread. If you’re making them a turkey or ham sandwich, consider adding a piece of cheese. Cheese is a great source of calcium and a certain type of protein called casein. You can spice things up further by adding vegetables such as tomatoes and lettuce if your child likes.
If your child isn’t a fan of sandwiches or just wants to mix things up, hummus offers a healthy alternative.

Yogurt and Milk 

If your child does not like the food you pack, there is a chance he or she might not eat all of it or simply throw it away. A healthy snack your kids are sure to enjoy is a nice cup of yogurt. Yogurt is packed with nutrients and oftentimes fruit, making it a great choice. Plus, it’s easy to eat.  Make sure to read the labels so you don’t buy yogurt filled with sugar!
Milk is always great for the teeth, but if your child is getting bored with traditional milk, try chocolate or strawberry milk. They will still get the added calcium and the added flavor will make it fun to drink. When you’re buying milk, skip the whole milk varieties in favor of 1 percent or even skim if your children will drink it.

Fresh Veggies

For a side item, it’s easy to pack some chips since it’s already packed neatly. Eating a bag of chips every day, even the snack-size version, isn’t good for your child’s teeth. Instead, try vegetables such as carrots or celery. See what your child likes to dip with them in.  A small amount of ranch can go a long way in making veggies more appetizing for kids.
Packing a lunch can be fun for the parents and the children. Getting your child involved in the process can be a valuable experience. Talk to your child to see which healthy foods he or she likes or is willing to try. That way you know you’re packing a healthy lunch that they will enjoy all while maintaining their oral health.

How Do I Care for My Toddler’s Teeth?

Caring for toddler’s teeth can be a challenge. Although a toddler’s teeth are small, they are like the teeth of an adult and must be properly cared for in order to maintain good oral health and hygiene. These tips and guidelines will help you keep your toddler’s teeth and overall oral health in the best condition possible.

Create a Routine

Your child’s oral health starts with you. As a parent, you need to make sure you are doing your part in your child’s brushing and flossing routine because children do not develop adequate hand-eye coordination to do a good job brushing and flossing until about the ages of 8 to 10 years. The most important times a child should brush and floss his or her teeth are in the morning and before they go to bed. Creating a routine can be difficult but it’s not impossible. You will have to help your toddler each time.  It is best to let the child brush and floss first, so that way he or she gets to practice and can develop the needed hand-eye coordination to do a good job. The best way to teach your toddler how to brush his or her teeth is to lead by example. Brush your teeth the same time your toddler is brushing his or her teeth. 

Locate a Dental Office

Finding a dental office you are comfortable with is in the best interest of you and your child. A children’s dentist is the ideal dentist for your child. A general dentist can be used, but a kids’ dentist specializes in the comfort, care and health of children. When you are trying to find a dental office for your toddler, consider its location, how far it is from your home and the type of insurance that is accepted.

Schedule Regular Check-Ups

Scheduling regular check-ups is perfect preventative care for cavities, gum disease and other issues that can occur due to poor oral hygiene. By your toddler’s first birthday, your child should be seen by a kid-friendly dentist.

Ration the Juice

While it is okay to give your toddler juice, do not let them sip it for an extended period of time.  The time it takes them to drink the juice is more critical than the amount of juice they drink.  Juice can be given to your toddler each day but it is only recommended with meals.   Water or a sugar free beverage should be used for between meals or for sipping.

Teach Good Habits

Teaching your toddler good habits is the best way to prepare for the future. Teach them how to properly use a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, and tell them why it’s important to brush and floss their teeth at least twice each day.

Kids Using Tobacco: Why Kids Smoke and the Risk of Using Tobacco

There is a number of health risks associated with smoking, yet teenagers continue to smoke and/or use smokeless tobacco. Each day, there are approximately 3900 children between the ages 12-17 smoke their first cigarette. Over 950 of them will become regular smokers and about half of them will die from smoking in adulthood. For these reasons, it is essential that children understand the dangers associated with smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco.

Why Kids Begin Smoking

There are several reasons why children may start smoking. Some of the most common reasons children may be attracted to smoking and/or chewing tobacco include:

  • To act older
  • To lose weight
  • To look cool
  • To do something dangerous
  • To satisfy curiosity
  • To appear tough
  • To feel independent
  • To win tobacco related merchandise

Signs Your Child May Be Smoking

It is essential as a parent to establish good communication with children early to make tricky issues, like smoking, easier. Giving children information about the risks associated with smoking may help to protect them from this unhealthy habit. Ask your child’s dentist to talk with them about the risks to their oral health from smoking and if you suspect your child may be using tobacco products, make sure they see a kid’s dentist as soon as possible. Warning signs your child is smoking may include:

  • Odor of smoke on their clothing
  • Bad breath
  • Frequent complaints of throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Decrease in their athletic performance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stained and/or yellow teeth

The Oral and Physical Health Risks of Tobacco Use

Smoking and/or using smokeless tobacco kills hundreds of people each year. Tobacco contains nicotine and several other poisonous chemicals that cause a range of diseases, including heart problems and cancer. Tobacco use can have a significant impact on the overall oral health of a child. Some of the effects of smoking and using smokeless tobacco may include:

  • Throat cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum disease
  • Stained teeth

To help prevent your children from using tobacco products, it is important to discuss the issue in a way that doesn’t make kids fear a punishment or feel as though they are being judged. It is also important to continue talking to children about the dangers of tobacco use throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Discuss ways your child can respond to smoking and peer pressure and encourage their self-confidence, which will help protect them against peer pressure. Visit a kids’ dentist with your child for more information on the dangers of smoking and oral health.

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!

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.

What Are Space Maintainers?

One of the first questions most parents ask after being told their child may need a space maintainer is, “What is a space maintainer, and why it is necessary?”

Sometimes a baby tooth may be lost too early due to accident, decay or medical conditions. When a tooth is lost too early, in most cases it is important to maintain that space so the other teeth do not drift in to this space and block the new adult tooth from coming in later.  Your kids’ dentist will help you determine how early is too early and whether a lost baby tooth will require a space maintainer.  A space maintainer is a small metal band that goes around one of the teeth on either side of the space where the missing tooth is, which has loop wire that crosses over the space where a tooth is missing and touches the other tooth.  This holds the space open for the growing adult tooth.  It is important to note that baby teeth that are lost naturally usually do not require a space maintainer, as the permanent tooth is not far behind.  However, it is always best to check with your dentist to see if it is necessary.

Each tooth in your child’s mouth serves several purposes:

  • aids in digestion by biting or chewing food
  • aids in speech
  • holds the posture of the jaw
  • guides permanent teeth into the correct position.

Losing a baby tooth can affect numerous aspects of your child’s life, including comfort when eating, enunciation, health and comfort of the jaw, and the alignment of the permanent teeth. Misaligned permanent teeth can cause jaw pain and discomfort, decay where teeth are crowded, and poor self-esteem in a child.

Space maintainers have been developed to address the position in which permanent teeth come in. By maintaining the space that the lost baby tooth occupied, it allows room for the permanent tooth to come in naturally and correctly. Failing to maintain the space can cause more than misalignment; if teeth move forward into the position of the lost tooth and a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it can cause damage to the roots of other permanent teeth, resulting in significant expense, inconvenience, or even loss of healthy teeth.

Parents of children who have lost baby teeth due to accident, decay or medical conditions should seek the opinion of a qualified kids’ dentist to determine if their child needs space maintainers. Be sure to explain your child’s history thoroughly and honestly and ask any questions you may have during your time with the dentist. Playtime Dental would love to visit with you today to create a proactive treatment plan 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.