Dental Care

Caring For Your Children's Teeth

Daily brushing of your child’s teeth should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts. If your child is too young to spit, use a non-flouridated toothpaste. If they are able to spit, the toothpaste can contain fluoride. When introducing toothpaste to the brushing reginmin, remember that a little goes a long way. A smear of toothpaste should suffice for our youngest patients. Make sure your child doesn't swallow too much toothpaste with Fluoride, as this can effect the color of their adult teeth, which have been forming since birth!

When you first introduce brushing to your young child, they will not have the manual dexterity necessary to properly hold the toothbrush and reach all the areas necessary for a thorough cleansing. During this time, you should brush for them using light pressure and a delicate, but effective touch. Use this opportunity to teach your child about the importance of brushing and let them know that soon, they will be brushing on their own...

Most children don’t develop the coordination necessary to brush properly until they are around 6 years old. When your child is ready to brush independently, we recommend starting out with an electric toothbrush. It's fun and functional, giving your child that extra umph to get at the plaque, food, and germs stuck in their teeth. A parent or caretaker should always oversee, making sure that a good job is done.

Best Dentist 4 KidsAnd don’t forget to include the tongue! Proper brushing of the tongue, cheeks, and gums will ensure fresh breath and a clean mouth feeling.

You will notice at first that your child's teeth have a lot of space between them. As they grow, they will start to get closer together. Once your child’s teeth are close enough to touch, it is time to introduce flossing. Floss helps to remove food, plaque, and other cavity forming agents from between the teeth. 

Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day completely, and especially at bedtime. After nighttime brushing, your child should avoid eating and drinking anything but water. Other choices can lead to cavities due to sugar content. 

Children's Dental Emergencies

We recognize that children have accidents, and BD4K responds to all emergencies promptly. For a serious dental emergency, such as broken jaw or tooth, visit the emergency room first, then follow up with Dr. Lennie or Dr. Mike by calling our Dental Emergency Hotline at (215) 514-1348. If there is no answer, leave a message, and a doctor will return your call as soon as possible.

-For less pressing situations, contact us as early in the morning as possible to schedule an appointment and follow these guidelines:

Toothache: Rinse with warm water, or use a toothbrush to remove any impacted food. In case of facial swelling be sure to apply cold, never heat. If symptoms do not change contact your pediatric dentist.

Cut or Bitten Lip, Tongue, or Cheek: Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a piece of gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to the emergency room.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: If possible, find the tooth. If the tooth is found handle it by crown, not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth, but DO NOT clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is sound, try to insert it back into the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a piece of gauze or a wash cloth. If you cannot insert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the patient's own saliva or cold milk. 

The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor for survival of the tooth. 

If a baby tooth is prematurely knocked out, this is not an emergency situation. You should still contact your pediatric dentist, but there is no need to re-implant it.

Abscess of Facial Swelling: Contact your pediatric dentist or pediatrician immediately.

Chipped Permanent Tooth: Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible so the tooth can be checked and restored.

* Remember; A broken jaw or blow to the head is serious and will require a visit to the emergency room as soon as possible. If there are fractured teeth as a result of these injuries, they will be treated after your child has been been cleared by the emergency room or their physician.

Eruption of Your Child's Teeth

A child’s teeth begin to form before birth. Around 6 months of age, their first Primary (“baby”) teeth will begin to erupt through the gums. The first sets of teeth to appear are typically the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. Though the order and pace at which the teeth erupt through the gums may vary, all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3.
Best Dentist 4 Kids Baby Teeth

Around age 6 the first Permanent teeth begin to appear, starting with the first molars and the lower central incisors. These teeth continue to appear until approximately age 21, with the appearance of the third molars, commonly know as the “wisdom teeth.” Adults can have up to 32 Permanent teeth (if the “wisdom teeth” are kept), but most have 28.

Grinding

Though grinding is in some cases seen as a result of stress, especially in teens, it is often the result of other factors. In children it is most often the result of increased pressure within the ears. Common causes for increased pressure include allergies and the common cold. In these cases such as these grinding can relieve pressure.

More often than not, children who grind their teeth will naturally outgrow the habit. In some cases a night guard may be recommend, but this is usually for more severe cases only.

Healthy Diet = Healthy Teeth

Everyone should have a healthy and well balanced diet, espcially children! One of the best ways to ensure that your child has healthy teeth is through a healthy diet. By providing them with healthy meals and snacks you can pave the way for good dental health.

BD4K Kid #2The reality is, almost any food can cause cavities; but some foods are worse than others. Sticky, sugary snacks in particular are capable of remaining on the teeth much longer than other foods, and the longer food remains on the teeth the more likely it is that cavities will form.

Another fact to keep in mind: sugary drinks and juices are some of the most common factors that lead to cavities in kids! For this reason, try to limit or eliminate the amount of juice your child drinks. You can also dilute your child's favorite juice or drink with water to help reduce the sugar content, but the best thing to do is save juices and other sugary drinks for meal time. Children who drink sugary drinks between meals, or as their primary source of hydration are typically prone to more cavities.

Remember: a healthy diet is almost important as brushing when it comes to keeping your child's teeth cavity free!

Pulp Therapy

When the nerve attached to a baby tooth is severely damaged, by either decay or some other type of trauma, the nerve can die. One of two treatments can be performed to save the tooth:

With a Pulpotomy, only the damaged part of the nerve is removed; usually the part that exists within the crown of the tooth. 

With a Pulpectomy, the entire damaged nerve is removed from the tooth.

In both cases, the affected area of the nerve is treated, paving the way for a healthy permanent tooth to take the place of the damaged baby tooth. Without treatment, the baby tooth may become infected and will then need to be extracted. Infection can also affect the developing adult tooth below the baby tooth.

Sealants

A sealant is a plastic material that can be applied to the grooves of the teeth (the chewing surfaces). Once applied, it serves as a protective barrier for the tooth, helping to protect it from plaque, acid, and other decaying agents!

Sucking Habit

Is thumbsucking normal?

Most children begin sucking their thumbs or fingers from a very young age, many even start while still they’re still in the womb! Sucking is a natural reflex in infants, related to breastfeeding, and serves an important purpose. Thumbsucking can also provide comfort and a sense of security. It can even be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumbsucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply out grow the habit. However, some children continue sucking their thumb beyond the preschool years. If your child is still sucking when their permanent teeth start to erupt, it is time to take action and break the habit. 

Sucking habits, with fingers or a pacifier, can cause what is called a “Crossbite.” This is when the upper teeth, or a single tooth, line up inside the lower teeth. 

How can I help my child quit thumbsucking?

Should you need to help your child end this habit, follow these guidelines:

  1. Always be supportive and positive. Instead of punishing your child for thumb sucking, give praise when they don't suck their thumb.
  2. Put a bandage on their thumb or a sock over their hand at night. Let them know that this isn't a punishment, just a way to remind them not to suck.
  3. Start a progress chart and let them put a sticker up for every day that they don't suck thier thumb. If they make it through a week without sucking, then they get to choose a prize (like a trip to the zoo, or a new set of blocks, etc.). When they've filled up a whole month, reward them with something great (like a ball glove, or a new video game). If your child can make it a month without sucking, the habit should be broken.
  4. If you notice your child sucking when they're anxious, focus on alleviating their anxiety rather than focusing on the thumb sucking.
  5. Take note of the times when your child tends to suck (long car rides, while watching movies) and create diversions during these occasions.
  6. Explain clearly what might happen to his teeth if he keeps sucking his thumb.

Whatever your method, always remember that your child needs your support and understanding during the process of breaking the habit of thumbsucking. Making your child an active participant in their treatment will only increase their willingness to break the habit.

Tobacco - Never Cool!

Tobacco is harmful in any form. It is necessary to inform your child of the dangers it poses.

Even though cigarette use among teens may be on the decline, the use of smokeless or chewing tobacco among teens is on the rise. Though smokeless tobacco (snuff or chew) seems to be a less dangerous alternative, it is no less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Once started, it may be even harder to quit than traditional cigarettes. The key addictive agent in any tobacco product is nicotine, and a single can of chewing tobacco can contain as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes! That’s three whole packs!

Best Dentist 4 Kids NoSmokingEven mild use of smokeless or chewing tobacco can lead to periodontal disease and pre-cancerous white lesions. If your child is a tobacco user, or you suspect them of using, you should watch for the the following indicators of periodontal disease:

1. A sore that won’t heal.

2. White or leathery patches on the lips, and on/under the tongue.

3. Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips.

4. Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.

Early signs of periodontal illness and cancer are not painful and are often ignored. If not caught during the early stages, treatment may lead to disfiguration, or even prove ineffective. Bottom line - Smoking is Gross! Even if you’re a smoker, you must know that you’re child will live a more healthy and productive life if you educate them about the harms of tobacco and remain a vigilant parent in the fight to decrease the use of tobacco products among Philadelphia’s youth.

Tongue Piercing-Not Cool

The presence of piercing is nowhere near as shocking as it once was. It's now commonplace to see pierced tongues, lips, or cheeks- to highlight the places that affect the mouth. 

Though they may appear pretty, there are numerous risks associated with such piercings that include: chipped teeth, cracked teeth, receding gums, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscesses, infections and nerve disorders.

Take the advice of the American Dental Association: Skip the mouth jewelry!

Toothpaste

When choosing your child's toothpaste, always choose one recommended by the American Dental Association. Remember; If your child is too young to spit out toothpaste, choose one without fluoride. Excess fluoride may cause fluorosis of the permanent teeth, which may manifest itself as extreme white spots or brown spots.

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist has an extra two years of education after dental school. In the case of Dr. Lennie and Dr. Mike, they were trained at St. Christopher's Hospital for children. The training taught special skills for dealing with infants through teens, in addition to the growth and development of children. Hospital training included emergency room trauma, sedation and general anesthesia for treatment.

Why are Primary Teeth So Important?

Though primary teeth are not permanent, caring for them properly is still extremely important. If neglected they can become infected, possibly leading to damage of the developing permanent teeth. Primaries are needed to chew, maintain space for permanent teeth, and allow for normal growth and development of the jaw.

Primary teeth also contribute to the development of speech habits, and of course healthy primary teeth make for a great smile. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.

And Kids, Remember - the Tooth Fairy only takes baby teeth for credit. She gets upset when she finds permanent teeth under your pillow!

X-Rays

X-rays are a vital component of any dental check-up. They allow us to see issues that could otherwise go unnoticed. Aside from making it possible to see cavities, one of the most common dental issues, they also make it possible to detect bone disease, missing teeth, infection, general injury, along with many other issues.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends x-rays every 6 months for children who are prone to cavities. Accordingly, we take x-rays only when necessary. Additionally, all the x-rays we take are digital. The total radiation of a digital x-rays is 85-90% less than the total radiation of conventional x-rays.