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How Breastfeeding Impacts Your Child’s Oral Health

May 5, 2020

Breastfeeding has proven to have countless benefits for both mother and baby. Many people are aware that it protects against allergies and eczema, reduces the risk of viruses and certain infections, and can even lessen the threat of SIDS. But did you know that breastfeeding can also affect the oral health of your baby?

Delivers Essential Nutrients

Breast milk provides children with the essential nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Each of these nutrients is important for maintaining healthy gums and teeth, once they erupt. Breast milk contains fatty acids which reduce inflammation, proteins which help build strong jaw muscles, and vitamins needed for good overall oral health.

Aids in Bite Alignment

In a recent study, researchers discovered that babies who were breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life were 72 percent less likely to develop crooked teeth. This is primarily due to the sucking mechanism that differs between breastfed and bottle-fed babies. Breastfeeding stimulates the lower facial muscles which can help tone and strengthen the jaw. This can reduce the risk of bite alignment as the child grows.

Reduces the Risk of Tooth Decay

While any child can suffer from tooth decay, babies who are bottle-fed are more likely to develop cavities. Baby bottle tooth decay can occur due to frequent, prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to beverages that contain sugar; for example, when a baby is put to sleep with a bottle. Breastfeeding minimizes the risk of baby bottle tooth decay as most babies who breastfeed are not usually exposed to milk for as long of a period as bottle-fed babies.

Breastfeeding can also ward off cavities in other ways. Breast milk contains antibodies that help fight back against harmful bacteria in the mouth. This antibiotic effect of antibodies helps to counteract the effect of tooth decay to help children maintain a healthy smile. This is especially important for children who have certain genetic defects or health conditions that cause soft enamel, making them more prone to tooth decay.

Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

Many pediatric dental specialists recommend starting good oral hygiene care before your baby’s first tooth even appears. While you might not be able to see your little one’s teeth, they’re still there. In fact, teeth begin to form as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. Most babies will have 20 primary teeth when they are born, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.

To help care for your child’s smile, follow these simple tips:

  • Gently run a clean, damp washcloth over your baby’s gums after each feeding to remove harmful bacteria.
  • Once teeth emerge, use a small amount of water, an infant toothbrush, and a dot of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) to brush your child’s teeth.
  • When teeth begin to touch, start flossing between them.
  • Start teaching your child to spit while brushing around age two. Once your child has reached age three, upgrade to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Schedule a visit to a kids’ dentist by the time your child reaches their first birthday. Your pediatric dentist will perform a basic exam and explain proper brushing and flossing techniques.
  • Ask your dentist about applying a topical fluoride if your child is at high risk for tooth decay.
  • Promote good nutrition by limiting the number of sugary foods and beverages in your child’s diet. Candy, juice, and other sugary foods and drinks can erode enamel and contribute to cavities.

Breastfeeding and Good Oral Health

While the health of your child is your first priority, it is also important to take time for yourself. Motherhood is a big responsibility but don’t neglect your own health, including your oral health. If you have any more questions about breastfeeding and its connection to oral health, contact the pediatric dentists at Dr. Maggie Davis & Associates in Palm Harbor, Florida today to learn more.

Saliva and Your Child’s Oral Health

April 23, 2020

Your child’s oral health is very important. There’s a lot going on in their little mouths that need to be taken care of from the time they are born. Did you know that the saliva in your child’s mouth provides them with a “natural bath” until it’s time to brush their teeth? It’s true. Think of it as a gift from nature in taking care of your teeth, because it’s the same for adults too. Let’s look at some ways to keep this saliva secretion healthy!

How Saliva Improves a Child’s Oral Health

Saliva is the clear liquid that a mouth produces from salivary glands. These are located all around the mouth and work constantly to produce a healthy amount of saliva or “spit,” as it’s sometimes called. Made up mostly of water, overall each day your body can make around two pints of the secretion. It’s a little icky to think of, but that massive amount of saliva is working hard to make your mouth the healthiest it can be.

Even though it is mainly water, saliva also contains electrolytes and has other antibacterial properties that aid in keeping your mouth healthy. This is important for your child’s overall wellness.

Saliva Helps to Break Down Food Particles

One of the biggest jobs of saliva is to break down food particles. It would be very difficult to eat just about anything without saliva helping out the process. Along with your child’s teeth and tongue, saliva gets the food nice and moist to make sure it goes down their throat with ease.

After your child eats, it’s natural that some of the food particles will remain in their teeth. The saliva gradually washes away and breaks down those food particles, so they don’t stay embedded between the teeth and in the gums before they floss or brush.

Saliva also reduces the harmful bacteria that may remain in the mouth. That’s due to the enzymes in the saliva that can help reduce the amount of times your child may become ill. So when you think of it, saliva is really a superhero solution in your child’s mouth.

A Pediatric Dentist Loves What Saliva Does

Proper saliva production can keep teeth and gums healthy. It protects the teeth by acting as a natural cleaning agent to bathe the teeth between brushing sessions, morning and night. Pediatric dentists just love what saliva can do for your child’s teeth because it helps prevent problems, like cavities, from forming over the long run. Saliva truly does a wonder of good for your mouth.

Keep in mind that it’s still absolutely vital to encourage and make sure that your child brushes their teeth twice a day. More than likely, you will have to supervise your child and assist in proper brushing until they are around the age of eight. Make sure they brush their teeth for a least two minutes per session. Make it a fun activity for your child if it’s something they don’t like to do very much. Play or sing a fun song for them, let them pick out a toothbrush with colors or characters they like, and tell them how proud you are after they do a great job at cleaning their teeth.

Ways to Improve Saliva Production in Your Child

Your pediatric dentist will be able to tell if your child’s mouth is producing enough saliva by doing a regular exam. Some tips to make sure that your child’s mouth is properly hydrated is by making sure they get enough water each day. It can also help to let your older children chew sugar-free gum or have a mint after a meal to enhance the activity of their saliva.

If you have questions about your child’s oral health, it’s important to find the right pediatric dentist for your family. At Maggie Davis & Associates, one of our goals is to help your kids “grow up smiling” by helping them develop a healthy, beautiful cavity-free smile.  Contact us today to make an appointment for your child’s next visit!

Understanding Interceptive Orthodontics

September 21, 2017

While it is common to see braces and other orthodontic treatments on middle schoolers and teenagers, the use of braces and other types of interceptive orthodontics can be beneficial for children as young as five years old. Interceptive orthodontics, or phase one orthodontics is an exciting tool for pediatric dentists because it enables us to guide the development of a child’s jaw. This intervention can greatly improve the outcome of any orthodontic treatment the child may  need in the future.

How Can You Tell If Interceptive Orthodontics Will Be Necessary

Detecting if orthodontic treatment is right for your child is never easy. Often it is recommended to only start treatment after permanent teeth have erupted. This way the your child’s orthodontist can move teeth without worrying if another will grow in and stymie the success of the treatment. However if we discover that your child’s jaw is growing abnormally, we can attempt to correct this with interceptive orthodontics. Things your Palm Harbor Pediatric Dentist looks for when determining if phase one may be beneficial are: evidence that the newly emerging teeth may be positioned in a way that may cause them to make contact with other teeth resulting in chipping, cracking, or other damage and small, potentially crowded jaw development. If Dr. Maggie is worried that your child’s teeth may be at risk of one another or if the use of interceptive orthodontics may lessen the amount of comprehensive orthodontics they will need in the future, she will explain to you your options.

Explaining Interceptive Orthodontics

Interceptive orthodontics were created to help dentists and orthodontists better serve their adolescent patients. As children mature, their bones grow. This is not surprising, however the jaw development that takes place as primary teeth fall out and permanent teeth erupt is extremely fascinating. While as teeangers mature to adults their jaws a still growing which enables dentists and orthodontist to shift teeth and correct any natural malocclusions that may have developed. When children still have a mix of primary and permanent teeth, they can often determine the path jaw development will take. By treating a child early with spacers, expanders and even sets of braces, they have found that they can effectively guide the jaw into a healthy occlusion. This guidance can lessen the amount of time an orthodontist will need to adjust the permanent teeth in a traditional orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontists have found that early treatment of jaw abnormalities can produce stable and better results, greatly influence the amount of work that needs to be done as the child enters adolescence, and reduced the amount of potential damage done to teeth in comparison to traditional orthodontic treatment. Further having this work done gave the dentist great control of treatment and yielded greater patient involvement and satisfaction.

If you are curious if your child could benefit from interceptive orthodontics, give our Palm Harbor pediatric dentist a call today. Dr. Maggie can give you an accurate diagnosis and let you know if your child could benefit from phase one orthodontics.

Benefits of Braces

May 15, 2017

As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Maggie sees a lot of kids that would benefit from orthodontic treatment. Braces are an extremely common recommendation for children both young and entering adolescence. It is common knowledge that braces can help to straighten your child’s smile, but what you may not know is that braces can be a great tool in improving the overall oral health of your child. If braces have been recommended in your family, here are a few more benefits you may not be aware of.

Determining a Need for Braces

Determining a need for dental braces can be simple or complex depending on each child. Most often braces are recommended when a child is 12 or older after all or most of their permanent teeth have come in. If your preteen or teenager has an underbite, overbite, crossbite, open bite, over crowding or spacing your Palm Harbor pediatric dentist may recommend braces as an orthodontic treatment. However, it may be recommended for younger children if the use of braces can help to shape their jaw and prevent severe orthodontic work when they are older. This is called interceptive orthodontics. Braces can be used to maintain space in between teeth when a primary tooth, also known as a baby tooth, falls out long before a permanent tooth is due to emerge. This can ensure that there is ample space for the new tooth and crowding will likely not be an issue. Other reasons why children as young as six or seven my be recommended orthodontic treatments is due to abnormal jaw development or tooth position that may compromise their function and integrity. Dr. Maggie may see that the jaw is not developing normally and remedy this with braces before many of the permanent teeth emerge. Similarly if permanent teeth are emerging quickly and crooked, she may see braces as an option to help guide the teeth and ultimately reduce the amount of orthodontic work that will be necessary as your child grows into a teenager.

Benefits of Braces

Braces do much more than just create a flash-worthy smile, they provide serious dental health benefits as well. Braces are designed to move and straighten teeth, and achieve this end in many different ways. As the teeth shift into their desired spots you can expect some changes to your oral health routine. Braces are notorious for trapping food particles between brackets and behind archwires. This can result in the buildup of bacteria, erosion of enamel, and inflammation of the gums. Removing this food after every meal is of the utmost importance. Taking care of your teeth during this time is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your oral health, and as a happy side effect this consistent care can carry over to life after braces. It often seems like if you can maintain your oral health while you have braces, you can maintain your oral health for your entire life. We work hard to convey this point to our young patients. The light at the end of the tunnel is that after braces not only will your child have the tools to prevent tooth decay and gum inflammation, but their teeth will also be much easier to clean and take care of.

The most rejoiced benefit of braces is that it shifts our teeth into a handsome line. When the teeth are aligned this way it is much easier to brush the surfaces of each tooth and to floss in between. Also, braces can alleviate crowding which exposes the gums and enables you to clean them better as well. By shifting your teeth into the most desirable positions you not only achieve a spectacular smile, but also a one that’s easier to take care of!

Many teens desire a straight smile for their senior pictures, and sometimes cosmetic reasons drive the decision to choose braces. We don’t think that’s a problem at all. Straight teeth make it easier for children to chew and speak. However the best benefit braces provide is the tools and understanding it takes to be responsible for something as important as your smile. If you have any questions about how you can support your child while they are undergoing orthodontic treatment, ask your Palm Harbor pediatric dentist at your next appointment.

Your Dental Care Playbook

June 21, 2016

On game day, most athletes have their own checklist or pregame ritual to get in the zone. Uniform? Check. Water? Check. Warmup? Check. Mouthguard? We hope so! No matter what sport or skill level, athletes should be taking care of their teeth on and off the field. Here are three ways athletes can improve their oral hygiene game to keep their teeth healthy and strong:

  1. Always wear a mouthguard: Make a mouthguard part of your uniform! Anyone who plays contact sports should wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth, gums, cheeks, lips, and tongue. Wearing a mouthguard can keep you safe from soft tissue damage and jaw injuries that could otherwise cause serious harm. While it doesn’t necessarily matter what kind of mouthguard you choose, make sure it fits comfortably.
  2. Skip the sugary sports drinks: Rather than reaching for a sugar-filled sports drink on the sidelines, choose water. The bacteria in your mouth takes the sugar from these drinks to produce acid that weakens the outer shell of your teeth and can increase your risk for cavities.
  3. Practice makes perfect: Just as with your sport, mastering your dental habits takes practice. An unhealthy tooth is more likely to be damaged in a sports injury. Keep your smile as strong as your game by brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily.  

As your Palm Harbor pediatric dentist, our team is here to help keep your kids’ teeth in tip-top shape. From orthodontics to fillings and cosmetic dentistry to restorations, our mission is to raise our children with a cavity-free, healthy smile they can wear proudly. We want your child to love the dentist and grow into a confident adult with a lifetime of healthy dental habits. To learn more about how to help improve your child’s dental hygiene game or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

Make Dental Hygiene Fun: Part Two

May 26, 2016

Getting kids to brush their teeth can seem like a terribly difficult feat. Even if you can get them to brush, they might be fighting it the whole way…and who knows if they brushed for two minutes! While these tasks might seem impossible to achieve, there are simple ways to make oral care not only fun, but effective for kids. Check out the continuation of our last blog:


Books and Videos

Check out a children’s book from the library that encourages healthy oral care habits. You can also show your child a fun video about dental hygiene for kids. Stories and videos that are designed for children are great for teaching kids how to take care of their teeth and for making oral health something that they can relate to.

Special Toothpaste

Your child’s toothpaste can even be amusing! Your five year old may not run to the bathroom to use plain, minty toothpaste, but they can look forward to a good time cleaning his teeth with a strawberry or watermelon flavored toothpaste.

Gold Stars

To make brushing twice a day and flossing more enjoyable create your own gold star reward system. You and your child can decorate a poster with teeth, toothbrushes, healthy snacks, and other oral health themes to represent the days of the month. Give your child a sticker to put on the poster every time they brush their teeth.

Dentist Visit Surprise

Regular check ups are another important part of good dental hygiene for kids. Visits to the dentist every six months help keep your child’s smile sparkling and healthy. Surprise your child after the appointment with some fun family time. Head to the park or plan a picnic with healthy foods for healthy teeth.

So, there you have it. Who knew that encouraging great dental care in your children could be this simple? If it seems like they are reluctant, don’t give up! Your child’s teeth are very important, and making sure that they take care of them is something they will definitely thank you for it later.

Make Dental Hygiene Fun: Part One

May 12, 2016

Help your kids have a healthy smile by making dental hygiene for kids fun. Making brushing, flossing and dental check-ups a positive experience can help to keep your child excited about good oral care. Your child will not only grow up with a beautiful smile, but also with healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Brush and Floss Together

One way to make your child interested in oral care is to brush and floss together. Kids like to mimic what their parents do, and most of the time they don’t even realize that they’re doing it! Show your son or daughter your excellent brushing technique, including your great tongue brushing skills! After brushing, floss your child’s teeth or help them to floss if they are old enough to do it on their own. To give routine brushing an air of excitement, make up a rhyme about keeping teeth clean or sing a fun song.

Special Brush

Another way to keep your child’s interest alive is with a new, fun toothbrush. When it is time to replace the old toothbrush with a new one, opt for a colorful, soft bristled brush, or one with your child’s favorite cartoon character.

Keep Track of Dental Hygiene Time

The American Dental Association advocates brushing for two minutes, twice per day. How do you know that your child is brushing for long enough? Use a two minute sand timer. Let your child flip over their brightly colored timer and then start brushing.

These tasks might seem simple enough, but there are plenty more where these came from! This is only half of our list. Check back in with us later this month for the second installment, and until then, use these great tips to make your child’s experience with dental care a good one. Trust us, they’ll thank you for it when they’re old enough to appreciate it!

Is Anesthesia Safe?

April 25, 2016

Several medications are available to help create more relaxed, comfortable dental visits. Some drugs control pain, some help you relax, and others put you into a deep sleep during dental treatment. You and your dentist can discuss a number of factors when deciding which to use for treatment.

Your dentist might recommend that your child be administered anesthesia or sedation to relax them in order to safely complete some dental procedures.

Local anesthesia is a type of anesthetic used to prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by locking the nerves that sense or transmit pain, which numbs mouth tissues. Your dentist may apply a topical anesthetic to numb an area in preparation for administering an injectable local anesthetic. Topical anesthetics also may be used to soothe painful mouth sores. Injectable anesthetics may be used in such procedures as filling cavities, preparing teeth for crowns, or treating gum disease.

For some dental visits, your dentist may use a sedative, which can induce moderate sedation. Sedatives can be administered before or during dental procedures. Sedation methods include inhalation (using nitrous oxide), oral (by taking a pill) and intravenous (by injection). More complex treatments may require drugs that can induce deep sedation, reducing consciousness in order to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion, general anesthesia can be used, in which drugs cause a temporary loss of consciousness. 
Dentists use the pain and anxiety control techniques mentioned above to treat millions of patients safely every year. Even so, taking any medication involves a certain amount of risk. That’s why the ADA urges you to take an active role in your oral health care. This means understanding the risks and benefits involved in dental treatment, so that you and your dentist can make the best decisions about the treatment that is right for you. Working together, you and your dentist can choose the appropriate steps to make your dental visit as safe and comfortable as possible, and to help you keep a healthy smile.

Why Baby Teeth Matter

April 11, 2016

A child’s primary teeth, sometimes called baby teeth, are as important as the permanent adult teeth. A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth and typically begin to appear when a baby is between 6 months and 1 year.

When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing to them. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physicians. Most children have a full set of twenty primary teeth by the time they are three.

So you might be wondering at this point why baby teeth matter. They fall out anyway and are replaced by permanent teeth, right? Not only do primary teeth help children chew and speak, they also hold space in the jaws for the permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.

The ADA recommends that a dentist examine a child within six months after the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a “well baby checkup” for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb sucking.

Secrets to a Great Checkup: Part Two

March 21, 2016

A trip to the dentist should be easy and painless for you and your child, so why not continue our series and finish up these great tips to help make your next trip a dentist’s dream rather than a nightmare:

Leave Your Anxiety at the Door
If your heart races at the very thought of the dentist, your child can probably tell. Kids pick up on parents’ anxiety. The younger your kids are, the more you need to be aware of how you’re communicating with them. For example, if your child asks about getting a cavity filled, don’t say, “It will only hurt for a little bit.” Instead, encourage your child to ask the dentist.

Keep Cool If Your Child Won’t Cooperate
If your child gets upset during her visit, the worst thing you can do is swoop them out of the chair and leave, because the next visit is going to be harder. First, assess why your child is acting out. Are they truly afraid, or are they trying to test the situation? Once you’ve figured it out, work as a team with your dentist to keep the visit going. Let the dentist lead the conversation. Jump in where you think it helps most, while still allowing the dentist and your child to build a good relationship.

Take a Card (or Three) on Your Way Out
Accidents can happen whether your child is in sports camp, gym class or just walking down the street. In case of emergency, make sure your child’s teachers and coaches have all the medical contact information they need – including your dentist’s number. Grab business cards for your wallet, your child’s backpack and your school’s files.

We hope that these tips help make your child’s early visits to the dentist easier, and allow for a wonderful experience that will reflect on how they view dental visits and procedures for the rest of their life.

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