Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Children's Dental Health Month

February is Children's Dental Health Month and its a great time to get the word out there as to why seeing a dentist is so important at an early age.  Both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend a child see a dentist by their first birthday.  There are many reasons for this but here is one that many parents don't think of until it happens.  Typically, a child's first tooth comes in around 7 months.  This is also the time when children start crawling and practicing on those two feet.  That means lots of falls.  If you're a parent, you remember those first shaky steps.  It's exciting and fun but you feel like you need to follow them around constantly!

Now picture your family playing in the yard.  Your toddler goes to take a step onto the pavement and trips and falls.  There is some blood in their mouth and you start panicking (I remember my son getting his new teeth and bouncing them off of the garage floor on his first birthday when his new walking skills were not quite keeping up with his brain's enthusiasm!)  You notice that there are a couple of holes in your child's lips and the two front teeth are broken!!  Your child stops crying and you get the bleeding under control.  Now what do you do?

This is a situation we see ALL the time, and one where most parents are relieved to have a dental home to come to.  Your child is familiar with the office and knows the familiar faces they will see.  Their first visit to a dentist isn't one after a trauma which eases everyone's anxiety.  Even better, you are comfortable with the dentist and your dentist is comfortable with your child.  We have already gone through the initial paperwork and medical history so there are minimal administrative steps to complete.  We will have already examined your child's teeth so we know what their status was before this little mishap.

This is just one of many situations where you will be happy to have established a dental home for your child.  The age one visit typically consists of an exam and Fluoride treatment as well as a lot of talking.  We teach you how to care for those pearly whites and what you can expect during teething and development.  We also talk about habits your child may have and oral hygiene recommendations.  (We have lots of tips to make brushing easier!!!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why should I worry about these baby teeth?

I am often asked why we should bother filling baby teeth, the most common follow up is - "Aren't they just going to fall out?"  The answer to whether or not you should fill baby teeth is yes and no.  The first thing to realize is that not all baby teeth fall out at 6 years old like the front teeth do.  Some front teeth don't even make their way out of the mouth until 8 or 9 years old!  It's funny to think that we all lost our baby teeth but nobody remembers losing them.  In fact, the molars do not fall out until 11-13 years old!  Therefore if a child is 11 and the radiograph (x-ray) shows a primary tooth (baby tooth) with a small cavity but that tooth is going to fall out in the next few months, we typically don't treat it.  Averages are averages, however, so it depends on the dental age of your child, not the chronological age.

The truth is, the baby teeth play several key roles in developing the mouth while they are present.  Primary  teeth are not just there to practice with, they guide the permanent teeth into the mouth and provide an important space holder for the permanent teeth.  They also allow your child to chew which impacts nutrition and digestion.  Without proper nutrition, physical and mental growth are impaired.  Without their primary teeth children are often lacking in appropriate bone to house their permanent teeth.  Chewing affects the growth and remodeling of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as well.  Primary teeth also help to develop speech and language, which, if lost, can affect speech patterns.  (You have all heard the Christmas song, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth".) 

The biggest reason to fix primary teeth is that these teeth have less enamel and dentin (the second layer of tooth).  This means that cavities can progress much faster than they do in permanent teeth.  This can lead to pain and infection which can threaten the health of the permanent teeth growing in the jaws.  It happens rarely in the United States, but children die yearly due to dental infections spreading into the brain and neck starting from a primary tooth.   This is why the Department of Health and Human Services considers untreated primary teeth serious enough to charge a parent with child neglect.

The good news is that cavities are 100% preventable.  We want your child to be healthy so make dental appointments a priority.  If your child is unfortunate enough to suffer from dental caries (cavities) we can fix them when they are still small and prevent further damage or problems.  Overall we look at is as a team effort between our office, the parent, and other healthcare providers to keep your child happy, healthy, and comfortable as they go through their daily life.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween

Let me first start by saying that I LOVE Halloween!!!!  It is my favorite holiday...kinda weird coming from a dentist, I know.  I love dressing up, I love watching the kids run around, and I love the spooky decorations. 

Parents always ask me how to deal with all of the candy that comes in.  Parents expect me to say that they should throw it all away and pretend Halloween never happened.  This is just not realistic, candy is a part of Halloween, and, quite frankly, a part of life.  Heck, I'm giving out candy at my house (along with a toothbrush and toothpaste).  Take this opportunity to teach your kids the joys of moderation.  Remember, almost anything in moderation is fine...

I like to take my kids candy and tell him that he can choose two to three pieces to have after dinner.  Pair the sweets with a meal so the extra saliva can "rinse" off the sugars.  Brush their teeth at least a 1/2 hour after eating something sugary because the acid that attacks the teeth when you eat sugary food will dissipate by then.  Follow this plan for a few nights.  Most kids will not eat ALL of their Halloween candy.  Discard it after a while and be done with it.  The important thing to do is keep the candy in your possession.  You get to be the one in charge of when they have it and how much they get.  Try to avoid making a big deal out of how much candy they are getting.  If you make too much of a negative association with it, they will want it more (remember wanting what you can't have).  We should try to foster a healthier relationship with it, that's all.

Remember, the bacteria in your mouth that cause cavities need sugar to grow.  If they don't get the sugar, they can't grow.  Every time your child gets sugar (through drinks, candy, sweets, etc), their likelihood of getting decay increases.  Therefore, we recommend limiting sugary foods and drinks to once a day with a meal.  The same rule goes for Halloween. 

Following this habit at home will instill a healthy relationship with sugar for your family.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm a Mom

I'm a mom.  I love being a mom.  I love snuggling with my boys, kissing them, and having quality time with them.  I, like all moms, want to do what is absolutely best for my boys. 

I take my job as a mom and my job as a pediatric dentist very seriously.  I took a lot of time to research the products we use in our office.  I don't want anything being used on your kids that I wouldn't use on my own.  That's why none of our sealants contain BPA, our fluoride is given in a varnish form (I remember those awful trays), and our entire office is latex free. 

I also realize that mom's don't always agree on what's best for their kids.  There are a lot of controversies about vaccines, BPA, fluoride, etc. and I love to talk to parents about these issues.  Just ask!  I will work with you to decide what is best for your child. 

Lastly, I don't ever want my boys to be in pain.  I put helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads on them.  Heck, I would wrap them in bubble wrap for a bike ride if I could.  I don't want to see your child in pain either.  Unfortunately, I see a lot of kids with painful cavities coming through the office.  I can help your child get out of pain and keep their natural teeth.  I feel really lucky that I can do that for someone.  Keep reading this blog for more information on cavities and baby teeth, how to prevent them and why these baby teeth are so important!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What about MY kid?

So I get asked a lot about how I deal with special needs children, the toddlers, or the really nervous child.  Most parents think that their child will throw me some curveball that will be difficult to handle.  The truth is, most kids are much better behaved at their first dental visits than their parents expect!! 

In fact, kids are much easier to handle than most adults (believe me, I run into many adults who gladly tell me how much they despise the dentist!).  That's why I chose to go into pediatric dentistry.  A scared child is WAY easier to deal with than a scared adult. 

We spend a ton of time with your child, explaining everything we do.  We use a process called tell, show, do that has been proven to work with many kids.  Imagine walking into a foreign country and being told you had to have a filling done on one of your teeth.  You walk into the dental office and people are speaking a different language, using tools you have never seen before, and proceeding to work on your teeth without telling you anything.  It smells different than you are used to.  This is exactly how your child views their first visit.  Just like adults, some kids may sit right in the chair and open wide.  Others will cooperate with a little coaxing, and yet others will fight until they can't fight anymore. 

Now imagine you are at the foreign dental office and a smiling face walks in and they speak English!  They explain everything they are going to do in ways that you will understand.  You are given a television to watch with one of your favorite shows on and some headphones to block out the noise.  You have a terrific experience!  We hope that's how your child will feel when they leave our office. 

What happens for those children that fight until they can't fight anymore?  About 5% of children will do this.  We try our hardest, but they are still very nervous and untrusting.  With these kids, I like to take one thing and make it a good experience.  Get a ride in the chair, get an exam done with the mirror, let them touch and feel all of my instruments, whatever it is, we try to get something done.  They pick out their prize and we try again at the next visit.  Eventually, almost every child will jump right in the chair and cooperate!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy To Be Here

We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone in Brunswick and the surrounding area who have been so welcoming to us as we open the new practice.  We are really enjoying the town, and the support we have received from residents, businesses, and other providers has been stronger than we ever could have expected. There was a great deal of work that lead up to our opening our doors at the beginning of the month, and it has all been worth it as we have had the opportunity to start helping patients over the past few weeks.

Feel free to give us a call or stop by if  you ever have any questions and we look forward to helping bring brighter smiles to the area.
80 Pleasant St.
Brunswick, ME 04011
207-607-4197