Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Diet & Cavity Prevention
How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?
If you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, your child may need some sort of supplement in their diet. We can help you determine if a supplement would be helpful for your child based on their age, current water fluoride level, risk of tooth decay, and type of toothpaste being used.
What is an appropriate diet for my child?
It is important that your child receives a naturally-balanced diet that includes the important nutrients your child needs in order to grow. A daily diet should includes the major food groups of meat/fish/eggs, vegetable/fruit, bread/cereal as well as milk and other dairy products.
Frequent snacking (more than 3 times a day) is also a high caries (cavity) risk factor. Dr. Nierode and Dr. Nuñez believe in discussing good snacking habits with their patient families to prevent decay before it starts.
Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?
Absolutely. It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. In addition, this will positively affect healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates may increase the probability of tooth decay.
How do I create a diet that is safe for my child’s teeth?
As we stated earlier, initiate a balanced diet. Analyze the frequency in which starch- based foods are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. In addition, sugar is found in more than just candy. All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar.
Is fruit juice healthy?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has taken an updated stance on juice. Juice is no longer considered a particularly healthy or necessary part of a child’s diet.
Juice is not recommended at all before the age of 1.
Daily intake should be limited to 4 ounces in toddlers ages 1-3 years, 4-6 ounces for those 4-6 years. For those 7-18 years, limit juice intake to 8 ounces.
Instead of juice, provide whole fresh fruits (not dried as these are sticky and more likely to cause tooth decay).
Toddlers should not have juice provided in bottles or sippy cups. Drinking out of a cup is encouraged to prevent the frequent exposure of the acidic juice onto teeth.
Many parents believe “watering down” fruit juices will help prevent tooth decay, but the watered down versions are just as likely to cause decay due to its level of acidity and frequency of consumption.
Should I eliminate all sugar and starch from my child’s diet?
Of course not. Many of these foods are incredibly important to your child’s health. Starch- based foods are much safer to eat for teeth when eaten with an entire meal. Foods that stick to teeth are also more difficult to wash away by water, saliva, or other drinks. It’s important that you talk to our staff about your child’s diet and to maintain proper dental care.
What helpful information can you give me regarding tooth decay in infants?
Most importantly, don’t nurse your children to sleep after they have teeth. Do not put them to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula. When a child is sleeping, any liquid that remains in the mouth can support the bacteria that produce acid and harm the teeth. A simple pacifier or bottle of water is fine. If a child requires a bottle or to be nursed before bed, try to implement a routine that involves feeding the child, brushing their teeth, then having nothing to eat or drink besides water for the rest of the night.
What do I do if my child has a toothache?
Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. To help comfort your child, rinse out the mouth with cold water and apply a compress. Unfortunately, antibiotics will not help with toothaches and are only indicated when there is significant swelling involved.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sealants
What are sealants?
Tooth sealant refers to a plastic or glass ionomer that a dentist bonds into the grooves of the chewing surface of a tooth as a means of helping prevent the formation of tooth decay.
How do sealants work?
In many cases, it is nearly impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves between their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?
The longevity of sealants varies. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer and sometimes will last 10 or more years. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Any tooth that shows characteristics of developing decay should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s back teeth, and of these teeth, the molars are the most common teeth on which dental sealants are placed. The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
What is the procedure for placing sealants?
Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants can be a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned, and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light and then buffed. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment. No numbing or drilling is required.
How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?
It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay.
How much does it cost?
This treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage or ask our office.
Frequently Asked Questions About A Gummy Smile
When some children smile, they may show an excessive amount of gum tissue. This is called a gummy smile and may be due to a few different problems:
Gum irritation and overgrowth from braces. This is more likely to happen if the teeth appear short before the braces are placed on the teeth. This problem results not from the quality of the orthodontic care, but is a result of pre-treatment gum and bone thickness.
Altered passive eruption. The gum and bone normally recede as a part of the normal eruption of the teeth. When this normal recession doesn’t occur, the gums cover too much of the teeth and make them appear “too short”. The teeth are usually not too short. They are usually of normal size but are buried under the gum and bone.
If there are habits such as digit sucking or grinding (bruxism), excessive pressure or tooth wear can alter the appearance of the teeth. The problems may be able to be corrected with orthodontics, surgical procedures, or dental restorations such as crowns or veneers.
Skeletal developmental problems affect the growth of the jaws and the teeth. If orthodontics are instituted between the years of seven and nine, the growth of the jaws can often be controlled and the cosmetics can be improved.
Before treatment, it is critical to properly evaluate the problems and get an accurate diagnosis. Some cosmetic issues can be easily corrected while others like skeletal problems can be more difficult.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Mouth Guards
What is a mouth guard?
A mouth guard is comprised of soft plastic. They come in standard or custom fit to adapt comfortably to the upper teeth.
Why is a mouth guard important?
A mouth guard protects the teeth from possible sport injuries. It does not only protect the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw bone as well. It can contribute to the protection of a child from head and neck injuries such as concussions. Most injuries occur to the mouth and head area when a child is not wearing a mouth guard.
When should my child wear a mouth guard?
It should be worn during any sport-based activity where there is risk of head, face, or neck injury. Such sports include hockey, soccer, karate, basketball, baseball, skating, skateboarding, as well as many other sports. Most oral injuries occur when children play basketball, baseball, and soccer.
How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?
Choose a mouth guard that your child feels is comfortable. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech to any great degree, it is probably not appropriate for your child.
There are many options in mouth guards. Most guards are found in athletic stores. These vary in comfort, protection as well as cost. The least expensive tend to be the least effective in preventing oral injuries. Customized mouth guards can be provided through our practice. They may be a bit more expensive, but they are much more comfortable and shock absorbent.