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.

Keep Halloween Candy from Trashing Your Kids’ Teeth

Now that fall is in the air, your little ones are likely getting excited for Halloween. Eating mountains of candy all night is every child’s dream, but it can be a nightmare for their pearly whites. Sugar is a major cause of tooth decay, which makes Halloween particularly dangerous for your children’s oral health. This year, take steps to keep your kids’ sugar intake in check and protect their teeth from icky cavities. Here are some ideas to help you manage the candy bucket.
Use a Smaller Treat Bag

Every child’s plan for the night is to fill their goodie bag with as much candy as it will hold. So if you send your goblins and witches out with a giant pillowcase for trick-or-treating, they’re going to come back with a ton of candy. Instead, opt for a smaller bag that will fill up much faster. Your kids might be a little disappointed with their haul, but their teeth will thank you.
Save Candy for After Meals

Your kids are going to want to start snacking on their candies right away. Go ahead and let them have a few pieces that night to let them celebrate, but save the rest of the candy for a post-dinner dessert. Saliva production increases during meals, helping to wash away any bacteria and food particles that got left behind. Having candy after dinner ensures that your children’s teeth have a little more protection because of that extra saliva.
Swap Candy for Sugar-Free Rewards

Candy is great, but if your child has had his eye on a new video game or has been itching to go bowling, you might be able to make a trade. Consider offering to swap candy in exchange for a toy or activity. This maintains the fun of Halloween but limits the amount of candy your kids are indulging in.
Maintain Good Brushing Habits

The first thing your children should do after treating themselves to a sugary piece of candy is brush their teeth. Brushing is the best way to remove any candy or sugar residue from the teeth. Remind the kids how to brush properly — by holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and moving it back and forth as well as circular motions and also short, soft strokes — and supervise them if they need a little extra help.

If your worried that this year’s Halloween candy might have taken a toll on your children’s teeth, schedule an appointment at Playtime dental for a cleaning and exam. Dr. Jackson Cockley, DDS, will take a closer look and make sure there aren’t any cavities hiding out in your little one’s teeth. Give us a calltoday to make an appointment.

Is Your Child A Good Candidate for Dental Sealants?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 70 percent of children will experience cavities in their teeth by the age of 19. If left untreated, these cavities can lead to tooth loss and a lifetime of dental problems. Dental sealants are an option that protects the chewing grooves of the teeth from getting cavities.

Understanding Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating that is applied to chewing surfaces to prevent the tiny grooves and fissures in young teeth from developing cavities. These sealants bond into the small depressions, protecting teeth from bacteria that cause dental caries (cavities). The sealant is applied on teeth after cleaning any food or plaque from it. 

The teeth are first roughened (etched) with an acid wash, and then, the sealant is painted onto them. It is then allowed to cure using a curing light. These sealants can last as long as 10 years and will protect the chewing, cheek or tongue surface of the teeth as children grow into young adulthood. 

Dental sealants are an underused resource that can help children who have difficulty cleaning back teeth or who are vulnerable to cavities.  The surfaces in between the teeth cannot be sealed so flossing is still the best way to protect the teeth from interproximal cavities.

Sealants Go Where Dental Caries Happens

Newly erupted teeth may have many very small grooves and indentations that catch food and may be difficult to clean properly. The teeth at the back of the mouth, in particular, can hold food debris that allows bacteria to thrive. 

Sealing the chewing, cheek or tongue surfaces of back teeth ensures that bacteria will not be trapped in these mini crevices. Sealants can be particularly important for children who have thin tooth enamel or a tendency toward developing cavities easily.

Ongoing Preventative Care for Children

Dental sealants should be applied on newly erupted permanent molars and pre-molars. This generally occurs between the ages of 6 and 14.  Sealants applied at this time can protect children’s teeth during these cavity-prone mid- childhood years. Dental sealants can be a useful part of preventative care for children’s oral health. They can provide that additional measure of protection against tooth decay that can lead to tooth loss.

Your child can enjoy oral health throughout his or her life if you form good habits early and visit your dentist regularly. Dental sealants can be part of the ongoing care your child needs to maintain an attractive and healthy smile. Call Playtime Dental today to schedule an appointment for your kiddo or if you have any questions!

What Causes Bad Breath in Children?

When you think of baby breath you think of something delicate, airy and sweetly pleasant. But in reality, that’s not always what you get. 

Even healthy children sometimes experience bad breath. But if your son or daughter has persistent bad breath, it could point to improper dental hygiene. 

Common Causes of Bad Breath

The first and most obvious cause of bad breath in children, as in anyone, is unhealthy oral habits. You should teach your child from a very young age to always brush their teeth and tongue so that bacteria does not build up and bad odors are prevented.  

Let your child know that brushing the tongue is just as important as brushing the teeth. Supervise the brushing to make sure they are doing a good job.  Make sure children know from early on that regular care of the mouth is a normal part of each day.

Eating foods that have strong odors can also cause bad breath. If children are brushing regularly after every meal, this will help with that problem, regardless of what is consumed.

If your child is sick, there are two possible sources of bad breath — the medicine he or she is taking, or the infection/condition itself.

Check your child’s mouth regularly to make sure they don’t have any cavities, sores in the mouth or plaque build-up, all of which can contribute to bad breath.

Preventing Bad Breath 

It is the saddest thing to see a very young child with stained or rotting teeth. This is something that might affect them for a lifetime and could have been prevented with proper care. 

Don’t wait until your child has an obvious problem before acting. Take your children to the dentist now. Teach them that their dentist, just like Officer Friendly, is indeed their friend.  

You should encourage children to floss daily and take good care of their teeth so they can proudly brag when they visit their dentist and look forward to getting a new toothbrush.

The routine at Playtime Dental is designed to make your child’s visit fun and entertaining. If your child needs a dentist appointment, give our office a call today. We are currently accepting new patients!

Five Things Parents Need to Know About Teething

Of all your baby’s milestones, one of the most exciting is the arrival of the first baby tooth. Teething occurs when the first baby tooth begins breaking through the baby’s gums. You may not know what to expect during this time in your baby’s life, so we’ve put together a list of the five things you need to know when it comes to teething. 

1. When Teething Begins

The lower front baby teeth usually come in first. One to two months later, the upper front teeth make their appearance. This phase usually begins at about six months but it can be anytime between three and 12 months. All the primary teeth should come in by age 3.

2. Signs of Teething

Drooling is typical when baby teeth come. Keep a bib handy to wipe the chin to avoid chapping. Drooling may cause the development of a rash or redness. Have some Vaseline or skin cream handy. 

Your baby may be irritable and cranky, and may not want to eat because of sore gums. You might find your baby pulling his or her ears and rubbing his or her cheeks during the teething process. Because of the discomfort of teething, your baby’s sleep pattern may be disrupted as well. 

Swollen gums during teething may cause a low-grade fever.  However, if a high fever or diarrhea does occur, contact your child’s physician for an appointment because these symptoms are probably caused by something else. 

3. Teething Pain Relief 

If your baby is getting fussy because of teething, these remedies might help: 

  • Teething ring. This is a baby product used to soothe the gums, something a baby can gnaw and rub against the gums. Shop carefully for a safe product.
  • Cold, wet wash cloth. Parents can cover their finger with the wash cloth and apply soft pressure to the baby’s gums.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. Ask your dentist for a recommendation.

4. Caring for New Teeth 

Once those teeth start coming in, it’s time to buy your baby’s first toothbrush. Take time to clean the teeth after each feeding. This is the first step in establishing lifelong good dental habits for your child.  This is also the time for your baby’s first trip to the dentist to get recommendations for proper care. 

Sports Drinks are Bad for Children’s Teeth

It is common for kids playing outside in the heat to grab a sports drink to re-hydrate and stay cool, but these drinks may be the cause of more trips to the kid’s dentist for oral health problems. Drinking too many of these sugar-filled sports drinks can be harmful to a child’s oral health.  Sports drinks are everywhere, including school cafeterias, because they are thought to be a safe alternative for children to consume.  Although they may be a healthier alternative to sodas, these drinks are just as capable of causing tooth decay.

Acid and Teeth

Many people associate enamel erosion with the bacteria found in the mouth as a result of poor oral hygiene habits.  Unfortunately, highly acidic foods and drinks can cause significant damage to teeth without the help of bacteria.  Sports drinks contain high levels of citric acid or phosphoric acid, which may leave children’s teeth more prone to cavities and tooth decay. Once acid erosion starts to attack the enamel on teeth, the teeth often become more sensitive to hot foods, cold foods, touch and pressure, which causes problems with eating, biting and brushing.

Sugar and Teeth

Just like soda, sports drinks contain a high concentration of sugar and although sugar itself doesn’t rot the teeth, the acid that is produced from bacteria due to the sugar, does.  Sugar feeds the bacteria that live in our mouths. When children drink sports drinks and other beverages that contain a lot of sugar, the bacteria consumes the sugars, turning the sugars into a harmful acid that eventually causes erosion of the tooth enamel and causes cavities. The best way to remove the acid causing bacteria is to brush, but sports drinks are often sipped frequently throughout the day, which lengthens the amount of time the acids and sugars are on the teeth, leading to plaque and decay.  Enamel demineralization leads to cavities on the areas of teeth that have an accumulation of plaque, which is caused by sugars and the bacteria.
Not only can the excess sugars in these drinks cause tooth decay in children, but it may lead to obesity, diabetes and other health issues.  All of these can have a negative effect on oral health.  

If you are concerned your child may have cavities as a result of drinking sports drinks, contact his or her dentist to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and thorough examination.