Pediatric Dentistry

Can Breastfeeding Cause Dental Cavities?

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One of the most common myths about breastfeeding, especially prolonged breastfeeding, is that it can cause cavities. Since the modern era has introduced formula as a common alternative to mother’s milk, many mothers believe that the same principles apply to both when it comes to their baby’s health.

Let’s discuss breastfeeding, formula and tooth decay, and finally, debunk some myths that are still circulating.

How Could Breast Milk Cause Cavities?

Often, toddlers can get cavities and demineralization, or even experience tooth loss because of extensive decay. Parents hear numerous possible theories about why that has happened, and incorrect theories often lead to improper treatment and unnecessary measures.

Bottle-feeding at night and not washing the baby’s teeth before bed can indeed lead to tooth decay and tooth loss, but exclusively breastfed babies can get cavities too. Unsurprisingly, many people believe that breast milk leads to cavities, although recent studies have shown no direct correlation between the two.

Breastfed babies are often nursing for more than food, ever since they are born: they nurse for comfort, security, to fall asleep easier, to bond with their mom. Sleeping is often tightly connected to breastfeeding, this is why some people (including dentists who are not up to date with recent research or with breastfeeding in general) believe that the horizontal position, combined with the sugars in the breast milk and not brushing the baby’s teeth after nursing lead to cavities.

Breastfeeding May Actually Protects the Child’s Teeth from Cavities

It is not hard to debunk the myths above once you understand how breastfeeding works. When nursing, a breastfed baby creates a vacuum in his mouth. A baby who is latching correctly will not have breast milk pooling in his mouth during breastfeeding, even if he is asleep.

So how are exclusively breastfed babies get cavities? The main cause is the bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which uses sugar to produce acidic compounds that attack the enamel. This bacteria can be transmitted from the mother and other caregivers to the baby through contact with the saliva. Unless really careful, it is highly probable that contamination will occur.

This is why you should still clean your baby’s teeth thoroughly, even if you are not formula feeding them. Paying attention to their diet after weaning is also crucial, as sugar and its many forms hide in various foods, including ones considered healthy.

Even though breast milk contains sugar that can serve as food to the strep mutans, it also contains lactoferrin, which kills the bacteria.

In conclusion, if you are worried about your little one getting cavities, breastfeeding is not to be blamed. Be careful about the baby’s diet, your own dental health and a solid routine of brushing twice a day, starting with the very first baby tooth. And, of course, schedule routine visits with your St. Louis pediatric dentist.

Pediatric Dentistry

What to Look for When Buying a Children’s Toothbrush

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Getting your kids off to a good start in their oral health habits is crucial, even from a young age, when they don’t seem to understand much about what’s going on. Before they get their first teeth, babies need to get their gums cleaned from time to time with a damp cloth or a silicone brush. This habit serves as a great start in oral hygiene, as it gets them used to the process.

Once your baby already has one or more pearly whites, it is time to buy their first toothbrush. With so many options available on the market, it might be intimidating and confusing for new parents. What are you supposed to choose from all those models and functions?

Baby Toothbrush Checklist

While you might find a few toothbrushes that have many added functions and gimmicks, you only need one that meets a few basic criteria:

  • It has a small head
  • It is easy to grip
  • It has soft bristles

Baby toothbrushes should be delicate since the little ones are still teething and may have sore gums. The size should also be adapted to their size, just as their clothes, bathtub or other day to day objects. The head of the toothbrush should be able to fit between their back molars (or the gum that will hold them) and their cheek. The grip of the brush should be soft and big, making the brush easier to handle and grip correctly.

Electric Toothbrushes

One of the most popular choices nowadays for kids is the electric toothbrush. It has many advantages over manual toothbrushes, although they do the exact same thing. Electric toothbrushes can have attractive lights and functions, making brushing more fun and engaging. Some of them have a built-in timer that tells your kid when 2 minutes have passed, educating them about the importance of a thorough brushing session.

Again, the size of the toothbrush should be adapted to the size of your child. Soft or medium bristles are also recommended for their sensitive gums and teeth.

Other Accessories for Cleaning Your Kid’s Teeth

If you want to introduce a good example in your child’s oral hygiene, add floss to their routine as early as necessary (usually it is recommended from the moment they have two teeth touching each other). Be gentle and patient when flossing their teeth, as it can be an unpleasant experience if done hastily.

Replacing Your Child’s Toothbrush

Once you have found the right toothbrush for your child, make sure you can restock. Their toothbrush should be replaced regularly, even more often than an adult’s. Besides replacing it every three months, you need to get rid of their toothbrush whenever they get sick.

Make brushing teeth fun for your kid and you will invest a lot in their oral health for the future. Choosing the right toothbrush is exciting and a great start to a good habit of proper dental hygiene!

Pediatric Dentistry

Is It Safe for Children to Use Whitening Products on Their Teeth?

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As a parent, you do your best to ensure your child is healthy and happy. One of the most important hygiene lessons you must teach them is how to correctly brush their teeth,  how important oral hygiene is, and you must go to the dentist regularly. But, as you may know, even if your child does brush and floss regularly, they might have some tooth problems that are associated with demineralization (which may be genetically determined,) or a problem with their diet.

When the adult teeth come out, you may notice that they look slightly different in color than those baby pearly whites. The enamel layer on adult teeth is thicker than on baby teeth, which makes them less translucent and a bit more ivory in color. That’s why they seem to be yellow and unhealthy. Speak with your St. Louis pediatric dentist to establish if it is indeed an issue you should solve or if it’s just how their adult teeth look like.

Common Reasons for Yellow Teeth in Kids

Some of the most common causes for yellow teeth in children are the consumption of cola drinks, tea, cocoa, coffee or other staining foods and drinks. First of all, insist that your child brushes their teeth after every meal and try to remove staining foods from their diet. If the color of the teeth remains the same, you might consider bleaching products, but only as shown below.

If you notice that just one single tooth is darker in color than the others, it’s likely a sign of injury, cavity or tooth decay, and you should get your child to his St. Louis pediatric dentist for treatment.

Back to Tooth Whitening Products: Are They Safe for Children?

Tooth whitening is a successful industry. There are lots of different products to use at home for making your teeth brighter and whiter, such as strips, tooth paste, and gels. However, there are cautions to be taken, especially when it comes to children’s teeth.

Pediatric dentists recommend that teeth whitening should be postponed at least until all the baby teeth are gone and the adult teeth erupted, which is at about 14 years old. Going to regular check-ups will give your child’s dentist an idea about how strong their teeth are and the general problems are they may be facing.

If your child is old enough and you have approval to use at-home whitening products, choose a mild one with a low dose of bleach, and carefully start to whiten the teeth while keeping an eye on possible side effects. If your child’s gums become irritated or if they complain about tooth sensitivity, stop the treatment right away. Also, be sure to read the instructions carefully and to check the appropriate age for usage on the product you choose.

Conclusion

Children’s teeth are usually naturally white, and if you are concerned about their color, you should ask your St. Louis pediatric dentist about it. The most important thing is that your child’s teeth are healthy. If they don’t have any dental problems, cavities or tartar, and there is no obvious coloration form their diet, then you should embrace their natural beauty.

Keep in mind: oral health is very important for our overall health. If tooth whitening products are safe and don’t compromise it, use them in moderation.

Pediatric Dentistry

Tooth Pain in Kids: Common Causes and Steps to Take

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Has your baby been drooling excessively lately, putting everything in their mouth and being extra cranky than regular? They are probably getting their first teeth. And with them comes the tooth pain that may make both their life and your life quite miserable for a while. Hang in there, this too shall pass.

 

However, when the pain is not associated with teething and your child is a bit older, then you should schedule an appointment with your St. Louis pediatric dentist.

 

Signs of Tooth Pain in Children

 

If your child isn’t verbalizing yet and you notice that he rubs his lip, cheek or jaw in an insistent way, showing discomfort, then you should try to look inside their mouth and evaluate the situation. If there is tooth decay, you will likely see cracks and spots in the tooth enamel, different color of the tooth or secondary signs of trouble, like bad breath or swollen gums. Make an appointment with your dentist ASAP.

 

If your child is old enough to speak and tell you more about his pain, try to find out a few things that might lead to a correct diagnosis.

 

Did they recently injured themselves? If so, your child might have a bruise, a crack or chip in one of his teeth or cuts and wounds in the soft tissue. Investigate the nature of the pain – if it is sharp or muffled – and determine if it is an emergency or if it can wait until you get an appointment at the dentist’s office.

 

If your child has a fever or if you notice swelling of the face, go to the emergency room, as it may be a serious infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.

 

How to Treat Your Child’s Tooth Pain Until You Get to the Dentist

 

Tooth pain has been a controversial and dreaded topic throughout medical history, and dentistry has come a long way from the first procedures. However, dental anxiety still exists, and it can be quite serious in young children. That may be the case with your child too, but never postpone a dentist visit unless there is a real, medical reason for it.

 

Call and schedule an appointment at your St. Louis dentist. In the meantime, your dentist may recommend you treat the tooth pain at home with an over the counter painkiller, like ibuprofen. Make sure you give your child the right dose and that you administer it correctly.

 

If you manage to keep the pain under control, wait until you get to the doctor’s office and monitor your child closely to see any sign of development. Hopefully, the dentist visit will solve the problem and lessen the tooth pain in the future.

Pediatric Dentistry

3 Traits to Look for in Your Child’s Pediatric Dentist

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Taking your child to a dentist for the first time is a big decision that will influence their perspective and attitude toward oral health for a long time. So, it is paramount to prepare them beforehand and talk to them a lot about the benefits of getting regular dentist check-ups and treatment.

 

Let’s say you did everything by the book: you have read them stories about going to the dentist, given them examples of people or characters with beautiful smiles. You also practiced going to the dentist through role play. You are both excited about going to a St. Louis pediatric dentist and have your expectations high.

 

Wouldn’t it be immensely frustrating if, after all that, you end up going to the wrong dentist, who doesn’t click with your child and leaves you with a negative experience?

 

That is it is important to choose the right dentist for your child. Knowing what to expect from your child’s visit will help you prepare them better and give them an accurate description of what is going to happen, making them less anxious about the entire experience.

 

Here is what to look for when choosing the right dentist for your child.

 

A Nice, Child-Friendly Dentist’s Office

First of all, a visit to the dentist’s office will allow you to see what your child will experience when first setting foot in this environment. If the cabinet is inviting, clean and friendly, your child will feel more secure. Look around and see how you feel when sitting in the waiting room, looking at the environment and interacting with the staff.

 

Choose a environment that inspires safety and comfort. Many offices that treat children are decorated with lovely cartoons, animals, flowers, bright colors, and so on. They also may have furniture for children and a few toys that will help the time pass when waiting for their turn.

 

Friendly and Helpful Staff and Doctor

Check how your interaction with the staff is. Are they friendly, smiling and helpful? Will they be able to make your child feel secure and excited about what is going to happen? If you feel like the staff is not involved enough or too intimidating, check if it is a general feeling or if it’s coming from a certain person. You can choose to come on a different shift and check how things are then.

 

The Right Equipment for Your Child Treatment

Ask the dentist about their equipment during your initial visit. Is it sized for a child’s mouth? That can greatly influence the level of comfort your child will feel when going through his checkup or procedure.

 

If everything seems ok, take the next step and bring your child for a visit. Make sure you are constantly there for support and observe your child’s reaction.

 

A good pediatric dentist needs to have many qualities in order to make children feel safe and secure when they are at the dentist. If you are looking for a St. Louis pediatric dentist you can trust, give The Dental Anesthesia Center a call today at (314) 862-7844.