Ask Us About Your Child’s Teeth

One question we often hear from anxious parents is, “How do I know my child’s permanent teeth are coming in properly?” For all parents, that is an emotionally loaded question. The arrival of your child’s first permanent teeth is a symbolic signpost marking the beginning of the end of your baby’s adorable grin … and the first glimmer of what you hope will be an attractive adult smile.


In our experience, if the primary teeth and bite have been problem-free or if early problems have been addressed, you can reasonably expect that with regular maintenance the permanent teeth will come along nicely. That’s because those baby teeth have been maintaining the spaces where the permanent teeth will erupt beginning around age 5 or 6. By about age 14, children have 28 of their 32 permanent teeth, and the remaining four wisdom teeth will appear behind the permanent ones in late adolescence.


Over this length of time, things can change, so it’s important to stay on top of this process to avoid crowding and misalignment of the permanent teeth. Often the earliest solution is a simple one. For example, if a baby tooth is lost too soon, we might recommend a space maintainer so that the surrounding teeth don’t start to tilt or rotate to fill in the space. When that happens, it shifts the angle of the permanent teeth below as well, which can result in speech issues and more complicated and expensive treatment later on.


When the primary tooth loosens appropriately because a permanent tooth is coming through, you can have your child gently wiggle it or eat a hard fruit or vegetable to speed up the process, but you can usually let these loose teeth come out on their own.


Once room is made for them, the permanent teeth usually just do what comes naturally and emerge cleanly with no significant tenderness. It isn’t always smooth sailing, though. When the first four permanent molars appear, usually around age 6, it can sometimes be difficult and painful. As the tooth erupts, it slowly pushes through the child’s gum, often leaving a flap hanging over the exposed new tooth. If food gets stuck underneath, it can cause an infection and fever. I urge you to call me at the first sign of this kind of trouble. If necessary, the excess gum can be removed and the area cleaned to allow the new tooth to come in normally.


Rest assured … the arrival of permanent teeth that will blossom into an attractive adult smile is a natural and beautiful thing. The best way to keep it that way, and to keep your child smiling through it, is to come in for regular dental checkups and keep them cavity free.


Making Smiles Last

One of the most prevalent problems patient’s present with is gum disease. Gum disease is preventable and treatable. The rule of thumb is to brush your teeth twice daily and floss once – bedtime is a good time. If you’re lacking confidence in your technique or noticing some bleeding during your home care routines, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment for an exam and some assistance with improving your skills and selecting the type of toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste that is most suited for your needs.


The fact that we are living longer also increases the likelihood of encountering problems that challenge our one and only set of permanent adult teeth. In addition to gum disease and root cavities, these include chips, cracks, and fractures in addition to general wear and tear and staining.


Staining is normal and you can stay ahead of it by limiting food and beverages that you know are problematic like coffee, tea, juices, wine and cigarettes and with regular thorough professional cleaning in addition to your home care routines. You can also opt for home or professional whitening procedures that are both fast and cost effective.


A combination of today’s more active lifestyle combined with thinning enamel and ageing fillings and restorations also make your teeth very susceptible to chipping or cracking as you get older. Corrective options include crowns which can be used in numerous ways. The damaged tooth can be prepared to receive a new ceramic or porcelain restoration that looks, feels, and behaves like a real tooth, a bridge can be created by combining multiple crowns, and a crown can be attached to an artificial root or implant.


For restoring moderately damaged teeth, veneers can be created from the same enamel-coloured bonding material we use to create white fillings. Porcelain veneers are another option. These ultra-durable restorations can be adhered directly to existing teeth with minimal alteration to the original surface. Veneers are natural looking, colour-matched to existing teeth, and they can strengthen and brighten your smile by disguising stains for up to fifteen years with care.


Young or old, as you can see, maintaining a healthy mouth and a healthy body for your lifetime is really about paying attention – to home care, regular dental visits, and even something as simple as wearing a protective sports mouthguard.


And please remember that you can always feel free to ask us about preserving your smile. Your calls are always welcome!


Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and all your loved ones!


Healthy snacks are the way to go!

It has become more clear to us that in light of growing rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers (all of which may be linked to poor oral health, by the way), good nutrition is becoming a top priority in our society, particularly in the formative years. Yet, in our experience, those are the same years in which your children are likely to be toothbrushing-challenged and also the most finicky and fast-food crazed.

Quite a prospect! But from what parents tell us and from what we see in the dental chair, it’s not impossible. Mostly, it’s creating a common-sense plan and then sticking to it. A lot of this you know…

  • Choose a variety of nutritious foods from the major food groups
  • Some snacks are obviously healthier than others. Fresh veggies, yogurts, and cheese or dairy substitutes are better than those with high sugar content like candy or mints. A snack that is swallowed quickly, such as a drink, is better than one that sticks to the teeth. It seems obvious to avoid soft, sticky, sweet foods like caramels and jelly beans and beverages like soda, sweet teas, and juices.
  • You have to get into the habit of reading food labels if you want to choose foods and drinks that are low in added sugars which aren’t only found in pastries, cookies, candies, and soft drinks, but in just about everything these days.

As for advice about eating out and tips on how to get your child to eat healthier meals and snacks, there are many excellent and helpful books and magazines that provide child-friendly recipes, and of course, an abundance of information online.In fact, the sheer volume of information that’s published, even when it’s legitimate and scientific, can be confusing.

It helps to understand that tooth decay occurs when foods containing sugars and starches are frequently left on the teeth to form plaque, the sticky film of bacteria on your teeth that you can feel with your tongue. This can break down tooth enamel and cause cavities and gum disease unless it is removed by regular brushing and flossing.

So the common sense solution is to…

  • Limit the amount of decay-causing foods mentioned earlier.
  • Encourage your family to drink water instead of sugary drinks, sodas, or sports drinks, especially after a sweet or sticky snack. Keeping the mouth hydrated also promotes saliva which protects oral tissues.
  • Encourage tooth brushing using toothpaste twice a day and flossing once a day.
  • Visit us twice a year (unless an individual treatment plan indicates a higher frequency) to monitor oral health.If it’s been a while since you have had your family’s oral health assessed or if you feel you need some instruction on the best home routines for your children, I encourage you to call my office and depend on my team to help you out.

© Patient News

Good Habits Start Early

Oral health education is vital if we want to prevent early childhood tooth decay and gum disease, both of which have been shown to affect general health for a lifetime. In fact, we encourage our patients to keep their children’s teeth healthy even before birth by looking after their own oral health. There are two reasons for this. The first is that expectant mothers with poor oral health may be at greater risk of developing toxemia or gestational diabetes, and their babies may be born prematurely and/or have a low birth weight. The second is that once babies arrive, parents can actually transmit oral bacteria to them simply by kissing, and later on by blowing on their food or sharing eating utensils.

Although a first dental visit won’t happen until about age one (approximately 6 months after the first tooth), it’s crucial to establish good home care early. While it may seem odd to clean your infant’s gums with a clean damp cloth after each feeding, it’s an excellent routine to get into. It is healthy for the gums and a clean mouth is less likely to create bacteria that could cause cavities even before first teeth come through. This is to avoid baby bottle tooth decay caused by milk, juice, or sweetened liquid at naptime or bedtime, and to avoid teeth and bite misalignment due to sucking. The same bite issues exist with pacifiers, fingers, and thumbs, common comforts which often continue after weaning.

As soon as the first teeth come in, we usually suggest brushing them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and water. We don’t generally recommend toothpaste before age two, but during visits we can help with choosing the right time to start and the right toothpaste to use. Children can be sensitive to strong or spicy flavors like peppermint and cinnamon, so we always recommend a mild-tasting one and using only a pea-sized amount. Fluoridated pastes should be kept where kids can’t get at them without your help.

We think that one of life’s little pleasures is taking your child shopping for a fancy child-sized brush and letting them pick one out. It’s worth tossing in that extra buck for a cartoon character, just to see their faces! At home, set up a little stool so they can look in the mirror “eye to eye” and reach the faucet without stretching. What a milestone! Good brushing takes at least three minutes, which is a long time for a child to focus, so it’s okay to work up to it gradually, although you may have to follow up to ensure the job is thorough. This is especially important before sleep (naps and nighttime) when less saliva means greater risk of cavities.

Brushing can be fun! In our experience if you keep making it a high point in their day, they’ll do it with pleasure!
© Patient News