February is National Children’s Oral Health Month, and we wanted to take the opportunity to first thank you for trusting us with your child’s care. Nothing means more to us than protecting the health of Omaha’s little smiles!
Second, we wanted to spend some time addressing common questions and concerns about the care your children are or ought to be receiving. Parenthood didn’t come with a handbook, and there is never an end to the second guessing, guilt, and worry we put ourselves through for our little ones. Thankfully, pediatric dentistry did come with a handbook! Several, actually. We spent years studying them, testing on them, and chasing new research so that one day we would have the opportunity to show off for you!
Every concern you have about your child’s health, oral or otherwise, is completely valid. You have a right to ask questions, to worry, and to be informed. We welcome your questions and are ready to discuss options any time you have a concern. We know that your children mean the world to you, and the fact that you trust us with their care means the world to us!
Here are some of the most common concerns our clients had about their children’s oral health:
Baby’s First Check-Up. How Soon is Too Soon?
The impact of early treatment for babies is vital. Your child should have their first visit between the eruption of their first tooth, which usually occurs around 6 months old, and their first birthday. Your child’s tooth could wait to erupt until 10 or 11 months, or they could already have one at birth! These are all variations of normal, and nothing to worry about. There are many reasons parents choose to skip this crucial initial visit.
- With no visible decay, parents often feel this early visit isn’t importantDeveloping a good relationship with the dentist helps avoid the anxiety many people experience when they have a dental appointment approaching. Early encounters help your child understand that the dentist is there to protect and help them, which makes it easier to cope when they do have a procedure done. Also, lip and tongue tie issues can be addressed early before they cause problems with speech and spacing.And while pooling milk in cheeks and along the gum line can cause decay and gum disease, your child could very easily be picking it up from a shared spoon, or even from kisses by family members who are suffering from gingivitis, unaware that it is a communicable disease. Early treatment can keep your child’s mouth healthy, even before the eruption of the first molar!
- Baby teeth fall out anyway, does it really matter if they’re healthy?
YES! Not only are you developing a lifetime of oral health habits, but you’re preventing gum disease, pain, and possible bone loss. When children’s teeth decay, it affects more than what you see. This can cause disease to spread into their permanent teeth, and even their jaw bone. Unhealthy bacteria in the gums can lead to abscesses, and these bacteria can spread to the blood stream, causing serious health complications. If a tooth is lost early to injury or decay, a spacer is needed to allow room for the adult tooth to eventually grow in.
- It’s too expensive to go every six months from infancy through collegeA study done for The Journal of Pediatrics indicated that children who visit the dentist by age 1 had 40% lower dental costs by the age of 5. Early prevention of decay and gum disease cuts the cost of care nearly in half. Avoiding those early cavities and identifying spacing and development issues early can save you a small fortune in surgery and repair.
Flouride Facts and Fictions
The internet is a beautiful place filled with all of the information humans were able to pour into it. Parenting message boards and Facebook groups are full of worried parents trying to support one another. Sometimes this connection can get you through those really hard parenting days. Sometimes, it leaves you more confused and afraid than when you started scrolling through.
The fear that fluoride causes everything from stained teeth to autism runs rampant in a lot of homeopathic and natural parenting groups. We understand how this myth was started, but let us assure you, fluoride treatments only protect your child’s teeth. It is important that your child be old enough to spit their fluoride toothpastes out before you allow them to brush unsupervised, because of course you don’t want them simply eating it, but fluoride treatments are completely safe and effective. We do encourage you to do your own research if you don’t feel comfortable, and we always respect our client’s wishes for their children’s treatment plans.
Our Teeth Are Sealed
As your child grows, their smooth molars will develop what dentists refer to as “pits and fissures”. These are the porous parts of the molar where sugars, bacteria, and plaque can accumulate, causing decay. This part of the tooth only accounts for about 15% of the total real-estate of your teeth, but it is where approximately 80% of cavities are diagnosed.
While it’s widely recommended that teeth be sealed with a resin to prevent decay, 60% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 haven’t had the treatment, and suffer 3 times as many cavities as children who have had at least one sealant treatment.
Permanent molars, which erupt around age 6, are the most commonly sealed teeth. Your dentist can tell you if your child’s teeth are good candidates for sealant, and can help you determine when the best time to place the resin.
How Hard is Healthy?
From sugary diets to forgetting to floss, sometimes it feels like there are a million ways to go wrong with your healthy smile. Thankfully, with just five of the right steps, you can protect your child’s smile for life!
- Start Early – Schedule your child’s first visit before their first birthday and protect those tiny milk teeth!
- A Healthy Routine – A fun bedtime song, dance, or routine to keep brushing and flossing fun could become a treasured memory while protecting precious teeth.
- A Healthy Diet – Filling your child’s plate with vegetables, healthy proteins, and bright fruits can fill their bellies and prevent cravings for unhealthy treats. Drinking plenty of water, especially immediately after eating starches or proteins, can make or break a healthy smile!
- Preventative Treatments – Fluoride and sealants stop decay before it starts, helping your child avoid more stressful (and expensive) treatments down the line.
- A Great Relationship – Finding a smile team you can trust and communicate with creates a stress-free environment for your child, and sets them up for a lifetime of keeping their dental appointments…
We only get one chance at perfect teeth, but you have a new chance every day to instill healthy habits to help your child protect theirs! Thank you for choosing West Maple Pediatric, and Dr. Lourdes Secola to be your smile team!