Why Are The Primary Teeth So Important?/Why Can’t We Leave Decay Behind On Baby Teeth?

The primary teeth, or baby teeth, are important for: proper chewing and eating; providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position; and permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect your child’s development of speech and add to his/her appearance.

The enamel of primary teeth is thinner than permanent teeth and if decay remains for a long time, it greatly increases the child’s risk for the cavity becoming larger and possibly developing into a dental infection. When this happens, it may lead to your child having pain and a tooth extraction in the future.

It is important to try to retain the baby teeth as long as possible to allow them to fall out on their own. Primary teeth care can help keep the proper amount of space to guide the permanent teeth into the proper space as they form. While the front four teeth last until 6 to 8 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until later, from ages 10 to 13.

How Did My Child Get Cavities?

Often, diets that are high in sugar (like including juice, soda, and sweets) along with improper oral hygiene techniques will increase your child’s risk for developing cavities. Bacteria in our mouth comes in contact with the sugar on the teeth and the bacteria produces an acid that causes the enamel in the teeth to become weak which can turn into little holes in the tooth called cavities.

How Can I Reduce My Child’s Risk For Developing Cavities?

It is super important for parents to help brush and floss their children’s teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old. Also, limit the amount of sugar in your child’s diet, encouraging him/her to drink water instead of juice and to limit frequent snacking between meals. Also, try to us every 6 months to make sure your child’s teeth are in utmost condition!

How Do I Brush My Child’s Teeth?

We highly recommend cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. You can wipe plaque off your infant’s teeth and gums twice a day or after every meal with a wet washcloth or gauze.

Once your child has several baby teeth, you can begin using toothbrushes with soft bristles and a small head. Please help brush your child’s teeth until he/she reaches the age of 7 or 8.

To do this, you can have your child first “brush” his/her own teeth and then tell him/her that you would like to check if they missed any spots and brush their teeth one more time. It’s also very important to floss between teeth to clean the areas the toothbrush could not reach. Caring for baby teeth shouldn’t be overlooked, even if there aren’t a lot of them. Every tooth counts! 

What’s the Best Toothpaste for My Child?

Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health! When looking for a toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association (shown by a label on the box and tube). These toothpastes have undergone rigorous testing to make sure they are safe for children.

If your child is 3 years old and over, he/she should use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. But, if he/she is younger than 3 years old, only a “grain of rice”-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste should be used.

If your child is unable to spit out toothpaste after brushing, consider using fluoride-free toothpaste or wiping the toothpaste off with a wet washcloth or gauze instead!

Note: Contrary to popular belief, you should not rinse with water after spitting.

Also, if too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. This is only a concern if a very large amount of toothpaste (like an entire tube) is consumed in a single sitting. If this occurs, give your child a glass of milk and go to the nearest emergency room.

When Will My Child Be Ready For Braces?

American Association of Orthodontics recommends for children to be evaluated by an orthodontist (that’s us!) around age of 7 to evaluate the growth and development of their jaws and the eruption pattern of the developing permanent teeth.

Afterwards, orthodontic treatment can be broken down into two phases: Phase I, or “early treatment,” and Phase II, or “adolescent treatment.” Phase I treatment covers orthodontic treatment for children between the ages of 6-12, while Phase II treatment deals with permanent teeth and bite relationship.

What If My Child Grinds His/Her Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

If you think your child grinds his/her teeth, the first indications are the noises created during sleep or the teeth getting shorter.

Your child may be grinding his/her teeth because of a variety of reasons, such as psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school, et cetera, can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory is to relieve the pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes, the child may grind by moving his/her jaw, similar to when people chew gum to equalize pressure as the airplane takes off and lands.

The majority of children experiencing teeth grinding do not require any treatment. In fact, pediatric bruxism often decreases between the ages of 6 and 9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, please talk to either us or your pediatrician.

What Should I Do If My Child Sucks His/Her Thumb?

Sucking is a natural reflex for infants and young children, who may use not only thumbs and fingers but also pacifiers or other objects. When they do so, it may make them feel secure and happy, or provide a sense of security. As a result, it may help your child fall asleep.

Usually, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4. However, thumb sucking beyond the age of 3 can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely your child sucks on his/her fingers or thumbs will determine the severity of possible dental problems. For example, children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

An important note is that pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking because they affect the teeth the same way. But, the use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than a thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, please consult us!

A few suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:

  • Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety instead of the thumb sucking. Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure.
  • Use positive reinforcement: instead of scolding your child for thumb sucking, praise him/her when he/she is not doing it. Reward your child when he/she refrains from sucking during difficult periods.

If these approaches don’t work, remind your child of his/her habit by bandaging his/her thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. We may also recommend the use of a custom habit breaker appliance.

Are X-Rays Safe?

The dental x-rays at Showtime Smiles Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry® are super safe! In fact, we use the most advanced digital x-ray to further reduce an extremely low dosage of radiation.

To provide extra ease, we use lead aprons and lead thyroid collars (safety armor!) to minimize exposure to your child’s abdomen and thyroid.

You can contact our McKinney, TX office here or call us at 972-547-4443 to schedule an appointment.