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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!

What to Do When Your Child Has a Cavity

May 16, 2019

Cavities tend to happen when you least expect it. You take your child in for a regular routine dental check-up, just to be surprised when the dentist tells you that your child has a cavity. Now, what do you do?

Don’t Panic or Get Upset

It is extremely important that you don’t panic or get upset when you discover that your child has a cavity. Cavities can happen to anyone, at any time. Even children who regularly brush and floss on a daily basis can get cavities.

When the dentist tells you of your child’s cavity, remain calm. If your child appears upset by the news, reassure them that it is okay and that there isn’t anything to worry about.

If you are unsure how to act or react to your child getting a cavity, you can always follow the lead of the staff at the dentist’s office. Most pediatric dental office staff members have experience explaining to children about upcoming dental procedures.

Get the Cavity Filled

Parents often believe that if a cavity occurs to a baby tooth, there isn’t really a need to have it filled. Unfortunately, that isn’t a good decision.

A baby tooth should be filled, even if it’s about to fall out. If the cavity is not corrected in a timely manner, you put your child at risk of experiencing an extremely painful dental abscess or damage may occur to their surrounding teeth. A dental abscess and damage to surrounding teeth can be costly to correct.

Work to Identify Ways to Prevent Cavities

After your child experiences their first cavity, it is a good idea to work on identifying ways that you can prevent future cavities. There are a number of things you can do to help prevent future cavities from happening to your child. 

Some ways you can prevent future cavities include:

  • Encourage your child to brush at least two times a day and floss daily
  • Teach your child the proper brushing and flossing technique
  • Supervise your child’s brushing and flossing – this will help you identify if your child is missing sections of their mouth and will help you make sure they are brushing and flossing properly
  • Encourage your child to eat a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables
  • Keep your child properly hydrated by having them drink plenty of water
  • Avoid extremely sugary foods – it is okay to eat sugary foods in moderation, but remind your child to brush their teeth at least 20 minutes after eating sugary foods
  • Limit the amount of acid or sugary drinks your child consumes
  • Limit the amount of candy or food that sits in your child’s mouth – foods such as suckers, hard candies, and sugary gum can increase your child’s risk of developing a cavity
  • Consider having your child’s permanent teeth treated with a protective sealant
  • Schedule regular routine dental checkups
  • Get your child’s teeth professionally cleaned every four to six months
  • Make sure your child is getting the right amounts of fluoride – fluoride will not only strengthen your child’s teeth but will also reverse minor damage caused by tooth decay

Think Your Child Has a Cavity? Schedule an Appointment with a Pediatric Dentist

If you believe your child may have a cavity, Dr. Maggie Davis can help. Dr. Maggie Davis is an experienced pediatric dentist who can help improve the oral health of your child. Dr. Davis will not only assess your child’s case and provide treatment recommendations, but she will help you learn ways you can prevent cavities from happening in the future.

In addition to treating cavities, Dr. Maggie Davis can also help with everything from space maintenance and interceptive orthodontics, to emergency tooth extractions. Call our office to learn more about the dental services provided by Dr. Maggie Davis, or to schedule an appointment for your child.

Tips for Teething

January 6, 2019

When your baby starts teething, it’s no fun for anyone. It’s easy to helpless as your child goes through the discomfort that comes along with new teeth breaking through, especially since your little one doesn’t understand why he’s in pain. However, there are actually many ways you can make the teething process a bit easier for your baby.  

When Does Teething Generally Begin?
In most cases, babies begin to teeth when they’re around six months old, although teething can start a bit earlier or later in some children. Usually, it’s the two bottom front teeth that breakthrough first, following by the top two front teeth. Even before you first see a tooth peeking through, teething pain may occur because of the pressure of the tooth pushing against the gum as it prepares to erupt.

Signs Your Baby is Teething
How do you know when your baby is teething? Some of the most common symptoms of teething include:

Drooling
Ear pulling
Putting things in their mouth
Irritability
Biting
Rubbing at their face
Puffy gums
Decrease in appetite
Tender, sore gums
Low-grade fever
Crying more than normal
Difficulty sleeping
Fussiness

Tips for Easing Your Baby’s Discomfort While Teething
Once you know that your baby is teething, you can do several things to ease your baby’s discomfort. Helpful tips you can try to relieve the pain include:

Tip #1 – Massage the Gums – The swelling and pain that comes with teething can often be soothed by massaging the gums. Many babies start biting down on the sides of a crib or playpen when teething because they like the pressure. Use a clean finger to gently massage the gums to help reduce their pain.

Tip #2 – Hard Teething Toys – Many little ones love chewing on something hard because it adds pressure, and it can even speed up the teething process. Teething toys made of toxin-free plastic, rubber, or silicon are all great choices. Experiment a bit to see what your child likes the most, and make sure you keep teething toys clean.

Tip #3 – Use Something Cold – A cool washcloth or even a frozen washcloth can feel wonderful on your baby’s irritated gums. Plush teething toys that are chilled also make great options. You can dip them in a bit of breast milk and freeze them or put them in the refrigerator as well.

Tip #4 – Offer Chilled Food – Many babies don’t want to eat much while they’re teething, and since cold feels good on swollen gums, chilled food may help. Be sure to choose only healthy foods, such as soft frozen fruits if your baby is already eating solid food.

Tip #5 – Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers – Mayo Clinic recommends giving your baby over-the-counter pain relievers like Children’s Motrin or Children’s Tylenol if they are especially cranky and fussy while teething, although it’s a good idea to consult with your baby’s physician or dentist. However, it’s important to use these medications as directed.

Tip #6 – Skip Teething Medications with Lidocaine and Benzocaine – Some of the over-the-counter teething medications that contain lidocaine or benzocaine can actually prove harmful to your baby, and they’re not recommended. You’ll also want to avoid homeopathic teething tablets.

Don’t Forget That First Dental Visit
When your child begins teething, it’s time to start thinking about that first dental visit. It’s recommended that baby’s see a dentist by the age of one. As soon as your baby has teeth, there’s a risk of tooth decay. That first visit to the dentist is an excellent time for your child to get acquainted with the dentist and become familiar with the office. Your pediatric dentist can examine your child’s teeth and talk with you about how to begin properly caring for their teeth, how to prevent tooth decay, normal dental development, and some of the common habits like thumb sucking or sippy cups that can result in dental issues.

Although teething is normal, it can be difficult for you and your child. Try some of these tips to ease their discomfort and be ready to offer some extra snuggles to soothe them. Once your baby has teeth, give us a call, and we’ll get that first dental visit scheduled so you get a head start on keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy.

Get your Child’s Year Started Off Right with Oral Health

January 3, 2018

With New Year just around the corner, it’s important to help your child make some resolutions that really stick. One of the best resolutions you can make for your child is better oral health. It’s also an easily achievable resolution, as long as you’re there to support your child’s journey to improved oral health. Here’s what you need to know to make that resolution into reality.

When to Schedule Visits With Dr. Maggie

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child’s first visit to the dentist is scheduled when his or her first tooth erupts. In the event that your child still doesn’t have their first tooth by 12 months of age, go ahead and schedule his or her first visit with Dr. Maggie at that time. Visits are typically scheduled every six months throughout childhood. Dr. Maggie can work with you to create a customized dental care schedule based on your child’s specific individual needs.

Making Good Oral Health Habits Fun

One of the big obstacles to creating good oral health habits in children is keeping their interest. However, if you use a few tips for making dental care more fun, it might just keep your child engaged long enough to make these new practices into long term habits. Here are a few tips that can peak your child’s interest while they improve his or her oral health.

One tip for making good oral health care habits is allowing them to choose their own brushing tools. Make choosing a new toothbrush into a fun event — whether your child wants a princess toothbrush or a musical one, it’s fine as long as it has soft bristles! Make sure that your child also selects the right size toothbrush. Dr. Maggie can recommend the right toothbrush size for your child’s current stage of development.

Allowing your child to select their own toothpaste can also be a good move in terms of keeping them interested in the oral health care process. There are plenty of fun flavors out there today — from vanilla to fruit flavor to bubblegum — that your child is likely to fall in love with. If your child is old enough to use mouthwash, they can pick out their own fun-flavored mouthwash as well.

Help Your Child Enforce Their New Routine — The Fun Way!

One smart way to get your child to actually adhere to their new oral health care routine is to help them feel like they’re in charge. Did you know that it’s recommended that you brush for two full minutes at a time, twice each day? Many people of all ages tend to skimp on the brushing time simply because they’re not keeping track.

Consider using a kitchen timer that your child can actually set themselves. They’ll not only enjoy turning the dial, but also the feeling that they’re really in charge of something. As your child grows older, you can replace the kitchen timer with an alarm on the phone, tablet, or other digital device. It might surprise you how diligent your child is about brushing for their full two minutes at a time when you bring this tip into the mix.

Looking For a Pediatric Dentist Who Really Cares?

Dr. Maggie Davis serves pediatric patients in the Palm Harbor, Florida area. She offers a full menu of pediatric dentistry services including regular check-ups, fillings, porcelain crowns, root canal therapy, consultations, emergency dentistry, digital imaging, bonding, cosmetic teeth whitening, counseling regarding thumb sucking or pacifier use, counseling regarding intraoral piercings, and supportive care for young patients who have special health concerns. To ensure optimal levels of patient comfort, Dr. Davis offers multiple sedation methods including nitrous oxide, IV sedation, and sedation via oral medication. The top priority for Dr. Maggie is always making sure that her young patients are comfortable — and that they have the tools they need to grow up with great oral health. Contact the office anytime to schedule an appointment with Dr. Davis!

Your Pressing Questions About Baby Teeth Answered

April 11, 2017

Teething. It’s one of the most exciting stages of a baby’s life, and one of the more confusing and sometimes frustrating for a new parent. As these little teeth emerge our babies grow into toddlers excited to see what those new baby teeth can do. While we may be excited for our kids to try new foods, we can all commiserate over the fussy, sometimes feverish ones who keep us up at night while they cut teeth. Dental health is extremely important at all stages of life, so it’s normal for parents to have questions about their baby’s teeth, and it’s very normal to ask their pediatric dentist.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting Teeth

A baby’s first tooth will normally emerge around four and seven months of age. Baby teeth, or primary teeth often scare nursing mothers because now that cute little gummy smile is capable of biting. Have no fear nursing moms. Babies who latch well will have no trouble nursing with teeth, although you may experience a bite here and there when baby starts to doze while feeding. However for many babies “cutting teeth” can be uncomfortable and will cause a few sleepless, cranky nights until the teeth emerge.

Baby teeth emerge in a very predictable manner, yet it is interesting and important to know that a primary set of teeth only consists of twenty teeth compared to the 32 we end up with. The first teeth to emerge are always the central incisors – or the bottom and top front teeth. This usually happens between four and seven months of age. From ten to 15 months, a child’s lateral incisors make their debut. Normally at one year of age your child will have eight teeth, four on top and four on the bottom. Next between ten and 16 months of age the first molars begin to push their way through the gums. After the first molars, the canines and second molars emerge. Between 16 and 24 months of age most children have a full set of primary teeth.

The thing about teething that makes it so hard for both parent and baby is that this change in the body can be painful. Teething babies are often fussy, and can run a mild fever. In a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, researchers noted that most babies exhibited the following symptoms while they were teething: irritability, drooling, a desire to suck, curiosity in biting, sleeplessness, gum rubbing, grabbing at their ears, mild fever, rash, and decreased appetite. Not all babies experience these symptoms however, it is nice to know what you may be up against.

Helping A Teether

It’s in our nature to want to help our children get through teething pain free. Depending on your child’s symptoms there are many things you can do to sooth your baby during this time. To help with pain and a fever age/weight appropriate doses of infant pain medications can be helpful. Discuss usage of infant pain medications with your dentist or doctor before administering to ensure safety. Teething toys also provide a child with something safe and soothing to chew on while they test out their new teeth. There are many teething toys designed to be put in the freezer or refrigerator that help ease pain in little teething mouths. If a liquid is inside of these toys it is very important to keep tabs on these toys so they do not become damaged and leak. As your child grows new teeth feel free to test out new foods. Frozen pancakes or waffles are great ways for them to reduce pain, learn to chew, and enjoy new foods all at the same time.

Are Baby Teeth Supposed To Be So Sharp?

One of the most surprising things parents quickly learn about baby teeth is how sharp they are. We can assure you that this is normal, and helps them learn how to bite and chew. They normally dull over time and pose no threat to your child. If you are concerned about the sharpness of these teeth however, don’t hesitate to bring your baby in for an evaluation.

At our Palm Harbor, Florida pediatric dental practice our goal is to help your child learn to love and take care of their teeth. If you need help during the teething stage, never hesitate to enlist the help of Dr. Maggie Davis. We would love to answer your questions and to meet your little one to provide them comfort in their new dental home.

Celebrating Children’s Dental Health Month

February 7, 2017

February is here, which means it’s time to celebrate Children’s Dental Health Month! This year the ADA chose to focus on the benefits of fluoride for combating tooth decay and promoting oral health. This year’s theme “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile” aims to educate families on the many benefits of drinking tap water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. In honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, here are ten things to know about your little one’s teeth:

  1. As soon as your baby’s teeth poke through, they’re susceptible to tooth decay. It’s important to start using a fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first teeth appear.
  2. When your child is three or younger, you only need to use as much toothpaste as a grain of rice.
  3. Dental sealants are another great way to help combat tooth decay and protect your child’s teeth. Sealants have been found to reduce tooth decay in molars by almost 80 percent.
  4. To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle. Prolonged exposure to sugary drinks can lead to tooth decay.
  5. You may feel inclined to clean your child’s pacifier with your mouth or feed them off of your spoon, but cavity-causing bacteria can be passed through saliva. Try to avoid sharing utensils to keep your germs separate from your child’s.
  6. Encourage your child to drink tap water. Tap water is filled with fluoride, which is known to reduce cavities by 25 percent.
  7. At birth, your child has twenty teeth below their gums that will start erupting between the ages of six months to one year.
  8. When your child starts teething many babies will become fussy and irritable. It’s common to see your little one lose their appetite or drool more than usual while their teeth come through.
  9. Your child should come visit the dentist by their first birthday or as soon as their first tooth erupts to start them on the road to outstanding oral health.
  10. It’s important to clean between your child’s teeth as soon as they have two that touch. This can be before or after brushing, just as long as your child understands the importance of flossing!

This month and every month, we aim to prepare your child for a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles! Stay tuned for our next blog, which will highlight the importance of drinking fluoridated water and the many benefits for you and your child’s oral health.

The Evolution of Toothpaste

December 19, 2016

Attempts at good oral hygiene have been traced all the way back to the days of the Ancient Egyptians. While King Tut may not have had the cleanest teeth by today’s standards, oral hygiene was definitely still considered an important part of healthy living. For ages humans have been trying to create the best formula for cleaning teeth, and while nothing has been proven to work better than modern day toothpaste, some early attempts weren’t too far off. Here’s a look at toothpaste and its evolution throughout history:

4 AD: Ancient Egyptians used a concoction of crushed rock salt, mint, dried iris flowers, and pepper to clean their teeth. Scientists have found that this mixture is the most effective compared to mixtures from as recent as 100 years ago.

1780: During this time many people were known to clean their teeth with a powder made up of burnt bread.

1824: Soap was added to toothpaste to increase it’s effectiveness. Later soap was substituted with sodium lauryl sulfate for a smoother paste.

1873: Colgate released the first commercial toothpaste. It was the first “nice smelling” toothpaste and was sold in a jar.

1892: A dentist named Dr. Sheffield was the first doctor known to put toothpaste in a collapsible tube.

1914: During this time, fluoride was added to toothpaste to make it more effective in reducing and preventing cavities. 

1987: The first edible toothpaste was invented by NASA so that astronauts didn’t have to spit into zero gravity. It became mostly used by children.

1989: A company named Rembrandt became the first company to advertise a toothpaste that could whiten and brighten a smile.

As reflected in history, maintaining a healthy and clean smile is very important to societies across the globe. Not only is a healthy smile better for overall wellness, but it has been known to increase both confidence and friendliness. Take a lesson from the Ancient Egyptians and be sure to keep up with a healthy oral hygiene routine – luckily today’s toothpaste is much more effective at getting our pearly whites clean!

If it’s time to give your little one’s smile a little extra cleaning, be sure to schedule your annual checkup with Dr. Maggie!

Meet Your Teeth

October 3, 2016

Did you know that there are four different types of teeth in your mouth? It’s true! Each different type of tooth in your mouth performs a different function and plays its own role in helping you eat, chew, and speak. To better care for your little one’s teeth, it helps to know a bit more about each of their jobs.

Incisors

Incisors are the teeth in the front of the mouth that help support your lips. There are eight straight, flat teeth – four on top and four on bottom – and they all work to help you chew your food and correctly pronounce words.

Canines

On the sides of your incisors are your canine teeth. Everyone has four canine teeth that help to cut through food and also support the lips. These pointed teeth, known as cuspids by dentists, work to guide all of your teeth into place as your upper and lower jaw fits together.

Premolars

Your bicuspids, or premolars, are found behind your canine teeth. These premolars are flat on top and are important for maintaining the height of your face and helping you chew your food. Every adult has four premolars on top and four on bottom.

Molars

Your molars are your twelve widest and flattest teeth located behind your premolars. Four of these molars are your wisdom teeth that are the last to erupt during young adulthood. Keeping these molars clean and cavity free can be difficult since they’re in a hard to reach spot of your mouth, but a slim toothbrush can help you reach them. Similarly to your premolars, molars help keep the height of your face and help when you chew your food. The molars in your bottom jaw have two roots and your top molars have three.

To keep each one of your teeth healthy and cavity free, it’s essential to brush and floss every day, eat healthy, and visit your dentist regularly. By teaching your little ones healthy oral care habits early on, you’ll help them maintain a smile that they can be proud of! To schedule your child’s appointment with Dr. Maggie, give us a call today!

When Should My Child Stop Thumbsucking?

September 21, 2016

It’s a natural reflex for kids to suck their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other objects. As a parent, you may wonder if this is safe or when you should try to get your little ones to stop thumbsucking – here are some answers to commonly asked thumbsucking questions:

Why do kids suck on fingers or pacifiers?

Thumbsucking is a very normal babies and young kids, they begin sucking before they’re even born. It helps them to feel secure and helps them to learn about the world. Some young children use sucking to help them fall asleep at night.

Is thumbsucking bad for the teeth?

Most children stop thumbsucking on their own when they’re between two and four years old, but others continue for a long period of time. When kids continue sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, or other objects for too long their upper front teeth may not come in properly. This can affect their bite and jaw growth in the long term.

Should I worry about my child thumbsucking?

Dr. Maggie will watch how your child’s teeth grow and how their jaw develops during their checkups. If your child is three or older, you should begin encouraging them to stop the habit to avoid issues with tooth alignment down the road.

How can I get my child to stop thumbsucking?

Most children stop thumbsucking on their own, but some will require intervention from their parent or dentist. Once your child is old enough to understand, Dr. Maggie can speak with them about the consequences of a sucking habit and encourage them to stop. Advice from your dentist combined with parental support helps most children kick the habit.

Are pacifiers safer for kids than thumbs?

Whether you child sucks on their thumb, finger, or a pacifier, it all affects the teeth and jaws in the same way. However, some parents find that it’s easier to a break a pacifier habit because you can throw away a pacifier.

 

If you’re concerned about your child’s thumbsucking habits, talk to Dr. Maggie at your next visit!

Dental Sealant Fact or Fiction

September 5, 2016

Sealants are a great way to prevent decay in cavity-prone areas of your mouth. They’re made up of a plastic resin coating and placed in the tiny grooves and pits in your teeth similarly to white fillings, but without the coloring. How well do you know your dental sealant fact from fiction?

Dental sealants are just for kids. Fiction. Sealants are beneficial to anyone who wants them. The risk of tooth decay begins early, so children and teens are great candidates for preventative sealants.

Cavities are the most common childhood disease. Fact. According to the CDC, cavities are still the most common chronic disease in children ages 6 to 19 years old. Sealants are a great way to prevent cavities before they start.

Sealants are expensive. Fiction. Sealants are an inexpensive way to prevent cavities and can even save you money from costly cavity repair in the long run!

Sealants make your teeth look funny. Fiction. Since sealants are invisible, no one will ever know you have them! They’re painted right onto your tooth enamel and bond into the grooves of the chewing surfaces on your back teeth. The sealants protect your enamel from plaque and acids.

Sealants are painful. Fiction. When your dentist applies a sealant to your tooth, you won’t feel a thing! As long as your sealant is intact, your tooth surface will be protected.

Remember, even though sealants protect the chewing surfaces of your teeth, brushing and flossing every day is still required to prevent cavities on other parts of your child’s teeth. Your child’s sealants typically last about 2 – 5 years, but they’ll need to be replaced or retouched periodically to make sure their tooth is protected. To learn more about dental sealants, or to schedule an appointment for your child, give Dr. Maggie a call today!

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