Dr. Pam’s Kiddie Program
Your Child’s First Visit
The Canadian Dental Association and Ontario Dental Association recommends the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth. In most cases, a dental exam every six months will let your child’s dentist catch small problems early.
Here are 3 reasons to take your child for dental exams:
- You can find out if the cleaning you do at home is working and talk about healthy tooth nutrition.
- Your dentist can find problems right away and fix them.
- Your child can learn that going to the dentist helps prevent problems.
Newborns & Infants
Baby teeth start to erupt through the gums between six and nine months of age. These milk teeth or first teeth help your child eat and speak and also help the adult teeth come in straight. Even tiny teeth must be cleaned. Infants can get cavities just like older children and adults. Following all feedings, you should clean your baby’s mouth and teeth. If the teeth are not large enough for an infant toothbrush, then simply use a piece of gauze or a wet facecloth to wipe teeth and gums. This prepares baby early for what should become a lifelong habit. Baby’s first visit to the dentist should occur by the age of one year, or when the first teeth appear.
Infants can get cavities just like older children and adults. Going to bed with fluids other than water in their bottle can cause a lot of damage to your baby’s teeth. If your baby sleeps with a bottle, fill it with water. Following all feedings, you should clean your baby’s mouth and teeth. Letting your baby sleep at the breast or with a bottle of juice, formula or milk can harm your baby’s teeth. The sugar will remain on the child’s teeth throughout the night and can damage the enamel and cause tooth decay. If your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her teeth before feeding.
Baby’s First Visit — Make it Fun!
Around the age of one or when the first teeth appear, make an appointment for your child to see the dentist.
To prepare for the first visit:
- Try playing “dentist.” Count your child’s teeth, then switch roles and let him or her count yours.
- Make the exercise fun and explain that this is essentially what the dentist will do.
- Explain other things that may happen at the dentist’s office, using non-technical language. “The dentist might take some pictures of your teeth with a special camera”.
- Take your child along with an older brother, sister or friend when they go for a routine exam or cleaning. It’s a good way to familiarize your little one with the dentist’s office.
- Treat the appointment as routine. Be sure to advise your dentist about any special needs or medical problems.
- Let your child bring his or her favourite stuffed toy along.
Toddlers & Preschoolers
This is a good time in your child’s life to build habits that will protect the teeth and lay the foundation for future health. For infants and children under three years of age, talk to your dentist about the best way to brush your child’s teeth, and whether use of toothpaste is appropriate. If your preschooler is three years of age or older you should assist your child with brushing their teeth. Brush twice per day and use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Make sure your child spits out the toothpaste and does not swallow it. Feed your child from all food groups and limit sugary foods or drinks. After eating sugary or sticky foods like raisins, brush your child’s teeth, rinse the mouth with water or serve juicy fruits/vegetables to clean the teeth. Don’t let your child constantly sip on sugary liquids, including milk and juice from sippy cups. Offer these liquids only at mealtimes. Begin flossing when your child’s teeth are touching. Change your child’s toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness. Never share your toothbrush with your child or use your child’s toothbrush. Let your child watch you brushing your teeth as often as possible. Children are wonderful imitators, and there’s nothing like a parent’s example to teach them the way to healthy dental practices.
Children & Adolescents
Around the ages of six to eight years, the first teeth start to fall out and the permanent teeth erupt through the gums. By the age of 13 years, most of the permanent teeth, except for the wisdom teeth, should be in.
Permanent teeth will not be replaced, so remember:
- Brush at least twice per day and floss once per day
- Reduce sugar Intake. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feed on sugar. This forms acid that harms your teeth
- Limit snacking
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth when you are playing sport
Continuing good habits started in childhood is the best way for teens to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Whether wearing braces or orthodontic appliances, a teen needs to: brush twice per day and floss once per day, reduce sugar Intake. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feed on sugar, this forms acid that harms your teeth. Limit snacking, eat a healthy balanced diet, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth when you are playing sports
Some issues you should be aware of that will affect your oral health:
Vomiting associated with eating disorders causes tooth decay, gum disease and loss of tooth enamel
Your dentist can treat your teeth, but if you have — or think you have — an eating disorder, talk to your physician
Can produce infections, uncontrollable bleeding and nerve damage
Metal jewelry can chip or crack teeth and damage your gums
Talk to your dentist first about the safest choices and proper care and cleaning
Eight out of 10 teens who try smoking get hooked.
- Stain your teeth and gums
- Contribute to bad breath
- Increase your risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease
- If you notice inflammation or changes in your mouth, talk to your dentist.
- Wisdom Teeth, usually appear between the ages of 17 and 21, although they can begin causing problems as early as age 13
- Your dentist can tell whether your wisdom teeth have enough space or if they should be removed
Brushing & Oral Care
Regular visits to your dentist combined with daily brushing and flossing plus a healthy diet should help your teeth last a lifetime. Talk to your dentist about how often you should have an exam.
Why Visit the Dentist Regularly?
At regular exams, your dentist:
- Examines your teeth and gums to ensure they are in good shape
- Can spot serious health problems early, when they can be treated successfully
- Demonstrates how to brush and floss your teeth properly
- Professionally cleans your teeth and removes any debris which will contribute to cavities and gum disease
- There are different ways to brush your teeth. Talk to your dentist about the best technique for you. Remember to:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Brush every exposed tooth surface
- Use a gentle, massaging motion
- Brush for two to three minutes
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush
- Avoid brushing too hard
- Change your toothbrush every three months
- Never share your toothbrush or use someone else’s toothbrush
- Flossing cleans between your teeth and below the gum line, areas that your toothbrush can’t reach. If you don’t floss, up to 35% of your tooth surface is not cleaned. It’s recommended that you floss at least once a day.
Nutrition And Children
Your Checklist for Healthy Mouths
A healthy lunch and snack should definitely be part of your child’s regular eating habits.
A good nutrition program for your child includes:
- Choosing foods from all four food groups
- Cheese, yogurt and milk, which all contain calcium, a mineral that strengthens teeth and can help prevent cavities
- Smart snacking between meals
- Drinking milk and water instead of juice and so-called “sport” or carbonated drinks
- Cutting down on sugar
- A visit to your dentist every six months
Reduce Your Child’s Sugar Intake
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feed on sugar from foods and produce acid that harms teeth. All foods and drinks, except water, can contribute to tooth decay in this way.
Here are a few tips to cut down on sugar:
- Make unsweetened, unflavoured milk or water your first choices
- Try fresh or unsweetened canned fruits and vegetables; whole grain crackers and breads when selecting a snack
- Limit carbonated drinks and sweetened fruit juices, as they contain sugar and acids that cause tooth decay.
- Choose fruit for dessert
- Save sweets for mealtimes, when they are less likely to harm your child’s teeth and when saliva flow is greater
- Smart Snacking
- Growing children and teens often need more than three meals a day. Smart snacking will ensure they have the energy they need to keep pace with their busy schedules
- Limit the number of times a day your child eats or drinks sugars
- Avoid sugary treats that stay in the mouth for a long time, like hard candy or lollipops
- Avoid soft, sticky sweets that get stuck in your child’s teeth
- Serve sweets for dessert while there is still plenty of saliva in your child’s mouth to wash away the sugars
- Drink tap water between meals
- Serve vegetables, fruit and cheese for snacks
- Have children brush their teeth at least twice a day and before going to bed
Tooth Decay In Ontario’s Children
Tooth decay is an infectious disease — and it is a reality. All children are at risk. An Ounce of Prevention — A Pound of Cure is a call to action for parents, government and the community — we all need to work together on prevention.
Tooth Decay Facts: Did you know?
- It is the second most common cause of school absenteeism
- It is five times more common than asthma in children age 5-17
- It can be transmitted by sharing a spoon with young children or licking their pacifier
- It is preventable in almost all cases
Ten Tips for Parents
- Before your baby has teeth, wipe the gums gently with a clean wet cloth after each feeding.
- If your baby sleeps with a bottle or sippy cup at naptime or bedtime, fill it with water only.
- If your baby normally falls asleep while feeding, brush his or her teeth before feeding.
- Lift your baby’s lip and watch for changes in colour, lines or spots on your child’s teeth may be signs of potential problems.
- For children from birth to 3 years of age, talk to your dentist about whether fluoridated toothpaste is appropriate for your child and how much should be used.
- For children from 3 to 6 years of age, only a small amount (a portion the size of a green pea) of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. Children in this age group should be assisted by an adult when brushing their teeth.
- Begin flossing at least once a day when your child’s teeth are touching.
- Change your child’s toothbrush every one to three months or immediately after an illness.
- To prevent spreading germs that cause tooth decay, do not put anything in your child’s mouth if it has been in your mouth.
- Don’t share spoons, cups, food, toothbrushes, etc.
- Visit your dentist by the age of one year, or when the first teeth appear. Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups to make sure there are no problems.
Some children can become anxious when they see the dentist. As a result, they may not be able to relax or sit still long enough to receive treatment. Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas. It is often used for children who are mildly or moderately anxious or nervous. It eases their fears so that they can relax. This helps them to receive treatment in a comfortable and safe manner.
Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a small mask over the nose. Your child will be asked to breathe through the nose and not through the mouth. As the gas begins to work, the child usually will become less agitated and nervous.
The effects of nitrous oxide are mild. It is safe and quickly eliminated from the body. Your child remains awake and can continue to interact with the dentist. When the gas is turned off, the effects wear off very quickly. The dentist will give your child oxygen for a few minutes after treatment. This helps to flush the child’s body of any remaining gas.
Sometimes young children may reject wearing the mask. Nitrous oxide may not be the right type of sedation for them. In addition, nitrous oxide can sometimes make a child feel nauseous. Before a dental visit using this form of conscious sedation, it is best to feed your child only liquids or a light meal a few hours beforehand. Also, if your child is congested or has trouble breathing through the nose on the day of treatment, nitrous oxide may be less effective.