Pediatric dentists care for children of all ages. From birth to adolescence, they help your child develop a healthy smile until they’re ready to move on to a general dentist. Pediatric dentists have had 2-3 years of special training to care for young children and adolescents.
Research has shown that mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria to their children, and periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women continue to visit the dentist for checkups during pregnancy.
To decrease the risk of spreading the bacteria, mothers should visit their dentist regularly, brush and floss on a daily basis, and maintain a healthy diet full of natural fiber, and reduce sugary foods. Additionally, increasing water intake and using fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent cavities and improves oral health.
Your child’s first tooth will typically erupt between 6 and 12 months, although it is common to occur earlier. Usually, the two bottom front teeth – the central incisors – erupt first, followed by four upper front teeth – called the central and lateral incisors. Your child should have their first full set of teeth by their third birthday.
Permanent teeth start to appear around age 5 or 6, beginning with the first permanent molars and lower central incisors. By the age of 8, they are usually well on their way to having all of their permanent incisors (the upper and lower front teeth). It is typical to lose the baby molars and get their replacements between 10 and 12. Permanent teeth can continue to erupt until approximately age 21. Adults have 32 permanent teeth including the third molars (called wisdom teeth).
While baby teeth are considered temporary, they are important to oral health in many ways. First, taking care of baby teeth instills appropriate future habits. Second, healthy teeth help with proper nutrition. Painful teeth make it more difficult to eat and can lead to malnutrition. More children miss school due to dental pain than asthma. Being in pain can also cause many other problems like poor attention span, behavior challenges, poor sleep, etc. Dental infections can also cause very serious medical problems. Baby teeth also save space and preserve bone for the developing permanent replacements.
One of the most common forms of early childhood caries is “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is caused by the continuous exposure of a baby’s teeth to sugary drinks. Baby bottle tooth decay primarily affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.
Early symptoms of baby bottle tooth decay are white spots on the surface of teeth or on the gum line, and tooth sensitivity. More severe symptoms can appear in advanced stages of baby bottle tooth decay, and include: brown or black spots on teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, fever, and bad breath. If your child shows any of these symptoms, you need to see your pediatric dentist immediately to prevent further, more complicated problems from occurring.
1 - Don’t send your child to bed with a bottle of anything EXCEPT water.
2 - Clean your baby's gums after each meal.
3 -Begin brushing teeth twice daily as soon as you see their first tooth.
4 - Limit sugary drinks and food
If your child fractures a tooth, then gather any fragments you can find and store them in a clean container of milk, or saliva of the child that lost the tooth. Never use water to transport a broken or knocked out tooth. It is important that you visit the dentist immediately to prevent infection and other complications that are brought on by chipped or knocked out teeth. If the tooth is knocked out, only touch the crown of the tooth and not the root. Dr. Blume will try to repair the tooth, replant the tooth, or advise you about why it can’t be fixed and what to expect.
If you child experiences a cut on their tongue, cheek or lip, bleeding can usually be stopped by applying a clean, damp gauze and pressure to the affected area. You can also apply ice to the area to help stop the bleed. If you cannot stop the bleeding, call your pediatric dentist or visit the emergency room. . If your child has an open oral wound, for a long period of time they can be susceptible to infection.
If your child has a toothache, it is best to look at it and compare it to the surrounding teeth. Does something look different about the tooth that hurts or the gums around it? If your child is having repeated complaints, you see something that doesn’t look right to you, and/or you want Dr. Blume to check it out, please call. Persistent toothaches can indicate a serious problem.
X-rays are valuable aids to help dentists diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be seen by looking in the mouth. X-Rays can detect much more than cavities. X-Rays can show erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, measure the damage of an injury, or help with planning of orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
Dental X-Rays are very safe and the amount of radiation from dental X-Rays is very small. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Dental X-Rays are designed to limit the body’s exposure. Pediatric dentists are very careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. In fact, dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.
We can often recognize the need for orthodontic treatment as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, preventive steps can be taken to help reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment later on.
From ages 2 to 6, the main concern would be habits such as finger or thumb sucking. underdeveloped dental arches, and early loss of primary teeth.
From ages 6 to 12, treatment options deal with jaw and dental alignment problems. This is a great time to start treatment, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces. Dr. Blume will help you decide the best time for your child to see an orthodontist based on their unique situation.
When adult teeth come in behind the baby teeth can be called “Shark Teeth”. It is common, and occurs as the result of a lower baby tooth not falling out when the permanent tooth is arriving. In most cases, the baby tooth will fall out on its own within a couple months. If it doesn't fall out on its own contact your pediatric dentist.
If your shows signs of disturbed sleep including long pauses in breathing, tossing and turning in the bed, chronic mouth breathing during sleep, night sweats (owing to increased effort to breathe) this may be an indication of sleep apnea. This is far more common than parents realize and is most often seen in children between 2 and 8 years old, although it can present itself at any age.
If your child is suffering from these symptoms, we can help determine underlying causes and may refer your child to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor for further evaluation. While there is a possibility that affected children will “grow out of” their sleep disorders, the evidence is steadily growing that untreated pediatric sleep apnea can affect attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, bed-wetting, sleep-walking, and even failure to thrive.
Blume Pediatric Dentistry is proud to offer several options for safe and effective sedation.
We use Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas”, to help children become more comfortable during certain procedures. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective sedative agent that is mixed with oxygen and inhaled through a small mask that fits over the patient's nose to help them relax. It is not intended to put them sleep but instead is designed to help them feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide are temporary and wear off soon after the mask is removed.
For treatments that may last longer or cause more discomfort, we will often recommend a mild oral sedative that your child can take prior to treatment. Every effort is made to ensure proper dosage and limit mild side effects, if any.
More complex treatments may require deeper sedation to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion, general anesthesia at a surgical center is recommended for various reasons. Dr. Blume will be happy to discuss the different types of sedation with you and which is the best for your child. Your child’s comfort and safety are very important to us.
Yes. Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid substance used to help prevent tooth cavities (or caries) from growing or spreading to other teeth. It can also arrest or slow the development of existing cavities while treatment is delayed for patient maturity.
Bruxism is more commonly known as teeth-grinding, and a surprising number of children suffer from it.
Bruxism can cause headaches, earaches, facial pain and bite and jaw problems.
Teeth grinding most often occurs while sleeping. It is caused by a number of things:
1- Many kids grind due to growth and development. It is their way of investigating the changes.
2- Large tonsils and sleep apnea.
3- Allergy drainage.
4- Acid reflux.
5- Special medical needs.
It is helpful to watch for patterns of grinding. For example, if grinding increases with weather changes, we look at possible seasonal allergies. Treating the source can decrease the grinding. Dr. Blume does not often recommend night guards in young children for a number of reasons – mostly safety.
Thumb sucking, finger sucking and pacifier use are habits common in many children. In fact, nearly one third of all children suck on their thumbs, fingers or pacifiers in their first year of life. Thumb sucking, finger sucking and pacifier use can lead to many oral developmental issues that negatively affect the development of the mouth. These habits can cause problems with the proper alignment of teeth and can even affect the roof of the mouth.
Boredom, anxiety, anger, hunger, or even sadness can all cause children to suck on their fingers for comfort. Children mostly suck on their fingers for comfort from an uncomfortable emotional state or stressful situation.
Dr. Blume will be happy to discuss timing and strategies with you to help stop habits. Age, development, and type of habit affect which methods are best.
While it can be common for children to breathe through their mouths on occasion (when they are congested, have a cold or are involved in strenuous activity) breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you’re sleeping, can lead to problems.
If your child is suffering from these symptoms, we can help determine underlying causes and may refer your child to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor for further evaluation. Mouth breathing in children can cause bad breath, crooked teeth, jaw alignment issues, and other orthodontic problems.
To prevent cavities, we suggest enjoying a mouth-healthy diet, full of fibrous fruits and vegetables. Drink more water, which prevents dry mouth and naturally cleans teeth. Brush twice a day for two minutes at a time, and floss daily. Visit your dentist every six months for routine checkups and preventive care.
It’s never too early to begin a healthy oral care routine. In fact, you should begin caring for your child’s gums long before their first tooth emerges, which is usually around the six-month mark of their life. Healthy gums are an important predicator of healthy teeth, and maintaining clean gums will help ensure that your child has healthy, cavity-free baby teeth.
You can clean your infant’s gums by simply using a cold, clean washcloth. Simply rinse a clean, soft washcloth with cool water and wring it out. After your infant has finished eating, use the damp washcloth to gently wipe their mouth.
Once your child has a tooth, you can graduate to a toothbrush. There are a lot of toothbrushes designed for babies and toddlers from which to choose. Generally speaking, toothbrushes designed for babies have much softer bristles and a smaller head than those meant for older children.
Use only a smear of toothpaste – about the size of a grain of rice – to brush their teeth. When they’ve gotten older and have more teeth, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Flossing is also important for baby teeth. Flossing helps remove the plaque and food that can become lodged between teeth. Be sure to floss your child’s teeth daily.
Children should eat a variety of foods including grains, fruits, protein, and vegetables. Raw vegetables like carrots, celery and bell pepper are excellent snacking alternatives to unhealthy chips and crackers. Starchy carbs like potato chips and crackers can stick to teeth and cause unhealthy buildup, which can lead to cavities. Fibrous vegetables like celery can actually clean your teeth as you eat them! That is also true of fibrous fruits like apples, strawberries and kiwi.
So choose raw fruits and vegetables instead of chips, they are better for your overall health, and they won’t stick to your teeth like starchy carbs and sugars. Limit drinks that are not water to meal time.
Dental sealants work to prevent cavities by sealing pits and fissures that naturally occur in molars. Sealants “seal off” the pit and fissure of your molars to prevent food and plaque from collecting and forming cavities.
Fluoride is considered to be nature’s own cavity fighter. Fluoride is naturally found in all sources of water such as lakes, rivers and even the ocean. Fluoride is added to most public water supplies, so the tap water in your home has fluoride added to it. If you use well water, we recommend getting it tested. The optimal fluoride level is 0.6-1.0ppm. High concentrations can cause fluorosis. Ask Dr. Blume about this if you use water from a well. Fluoride helps build tooth enamel which helps protect your teeth from tooth decay.
For more than half a century, the ADA has recommended using toothpaste containing fluoride to prevent cavities. Fluoridated toothpaste does an excellent job of cleaning teeth. Be sure to use a grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste for children that don’t spit well to limit excessive ingestion. Too much fluoride can cause white spots called fluorosis. Fluorosis is faint white lines on the teeth.
Xylitol has the sweet benefits of traditional sugar, but it doesn’t have the negative effects on teeth like sugar. The natural sugar alcohol, Xylitol, actually helps prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that causes cavities. Xylitol can most often be found in gums, mints and some toothpaste. It can cause stomach upset in large amounts, so moderation is the key.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol for the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs.
Did you know that some sports drinks can contain more sugar than leading cola beverages, with as much as 19 grams of sugar per serving? The sugars increase the acidity in your mouth which attracts tooth enamel destroying bacteria. Sugar increases the acidity in your mouth which helps give bad oral bacteria the fuel it needs to create cavities.
Dr. Blume recommends the limited use of sports drinks with a healthy snack.
Mouth guards – sometimes called mouth protectors – work by helping cushion a blow to the face, and minimizing the risk of broken teeth, or lacerating a lip, tongue or cheek. Did you know that the CDC estimates that more than 3 million teeth are knocked out at youth sporting events? Mouth guards work to prevent tooth loss and other facial injuries. Mouth guards come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and are designed for multiple sports.
Contact us about custom mouth guards.
A frenectomy is the removal of connective tissue (called the frenum) from under the tongue (Lingual Frenectomy) or the upper gums (Maxillary Frenectomy). If your baby is having trouble with breastfeeding and “latching on” or your older child is experiencing certain speech, eating, or orthodontic problems, we may recommend frenectomy as an option. New technologies have made frenectomies a safe and convenient option for even very young children.
Babies who have difficulty achieving or maintaining proper latching with their mother’s breast, may have a condition called Ankyloglossia, sometimes referred to as tongue-tie. Tongue-tie is usually related to a short, thick frenum, which limits the tongue’s capacity to move. Symptoms of a possible tongue-tie or lip-tie in a newborn are: prolonged breastfeeding, difficulty latching onto the breast (causing sore nipples on the mother), and excessive gassiness. Many mothers are opting for a safe, fast-healing frenectomy to help their babies establish a good seal while eating. Apart from breastfeeding difficulty, tongue ties can also impact speech and eating in children and adults. Patients often try to compensate for the lack of tongue mobility by changing their jaw position – resulting in other orthodontic issues.
Frenectomies can be an important part of orthodontic treatment when a long or short frenum is causing tooth or jaw displacement. In the case of a short lingual frenum, patients may push out the lower jaw to make eating or speaking easier – causing pain in the jaw or an underbite. In this case, a lingual frenectomy may be recommended to help ensure the success of orthodontic treatment. When treating a patient with a gap between their front teeth, the orthodontist may recommend a maxillary frenectomy after braces to prevent the teeth from spreading apart after treatment.