February is National Children’s Dental Health month,
with 4 weeks chock full of information all about healthy smiles for kids. This year 1st Family Dental is celebrating with all kinds of fun games, contests, events and info just for children and parents. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram as we roll out some great things for kids in February! We at 1st Family Dental are keeping up with our New Year’s resolution to provide our patients, friends and followers with information and education all about keeping and maintaining a healthy smile.
Healthy Dental Growth and Development for Children
This post is dedicated to kids. Today we will tell you about general healthy dental growth and development for children – from pregnancy through age 7, as well as some tips for parents and common questions and issues to be on the lookout for as you watch your child grow and develop.
1. Your Baby – Development During Pregnancy
Did you know that babies begin to develop what are called “tooth buds” between 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy? At week 8, a fetus is only about the size of a raspberry! Teeth are the some of the strongest bones in the human body, so it takes some time to build them up. At this point, nutrition for mom is key. A good balance of vitamins and minerals including calcium will help build up those tooth buds into healthy baby teeth.
2. Newborns & Infants
Healthy habits for gums and teeth start right from birth! Parents are advised to wipe baby’s gums with a clean, soft cloth or gauze after feedings or as regularly as possible to help remove germs and sugars which can cause tooth decay. On teething: try not to fret. The teething process for children can start generally anywhere from 4-10 months, but some babies are born with teeth and other babies will not get their first tooth until after they are more than a year old! Once baby’s teeth have started coming through, The ADA recommends brushing them with plain water and a soft bristled brush at first.
3. Toddlers & Young Children
Parents are encouraged to bring their children for the first dental visit anytime after the child’s teeth have started coming in. The most common average age to bring in a child for the first dental checkup is around 18 months. However, if you are concerned about your child’s facial or dental development, parents are encouraged to come sooner or see the pediatrician. The first dental visit is generally simple and involves an exam of the child’s mouth and tooth development, as well as a consultation with parents regarding oral hygiene habits, as well as any questions or concerns. This appointment is often led by how comfortable the child feels at his or her visit. Children will often sit on the lap of a parent or loved one at the visit to help both parents and child feel comfortable. Parents can help to prepare their child for the first and future dental visits by talking about going to visit the dentist in a positive way, by practicing brushing teeth together, and even by coming in for a visit to the office before the actual appointment to help the child become familiar with the office and staff. Subsequent dental visits can include cleanings and in some cases, dental treatment. Our doctors and staff are experienced and trained in working with children, as well as in the administration of Nitrous Oxide, commonly referred to as “laughing gas,” which can help to relax children during treatment. We use techniques such as “tell, show, do” to help children be more comfortable with cleaning and treatment, as well as rewards systems and prizes. Our doctors and staff will get to know you and your child, which is designed to help both children AND parents feel more comfortable. *TIP* – Children can become anxious or frightened by new scenes and situations. Gloves and masks are a common thing to see in dental and medical offices. Dental offices have particular sounds as well. Children feel comfortable with what is familiar to them, and parents are encouraged to visit us for a tour, as well as to take home some props such as a mask or bib to help with role-playing or other activities to help a child feel more comfortable at their visits. Parents can also unintentionally show signs of anxiety about doctor and dental visits. Children are very perceptive and can pick this up. This is why we encourage parents to contact us to learn more about dental visits and to address any questions or concerns to help you feel as comfortable as possible, too!
4. Age 7 – Growing Permanent Teeth & the First Orthodontic Consultation
By age 7, many children have grown in a good number of their permanent teeth. (By the way, check out our previous blog post on the Tooth Fairy, as she may have visited your home in one form or another by now!) According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first orthodontic checkup by Age 7 . An orthodontic consultation can help spot any potential issues with the bite and jaw alignment, and determine if any treatment can be provided to help encourage proper alignment early on, before the issues become more severe and may require more treatment interventions.
Join Our February Children’s Coloring Contest for a Chance to Win a Sonicare Electronic Toothbrush:
How to enter: 1) Print one of these pages for your child to color:
2) Email your child’s completed page to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 24th, 2014 Good luck! Adults & Parents – don’t be afraid to print one to color yourself, although you can’t enter to win, it will still be fun and help us bring “Smiles for All Ages”.
Child Dental Growth Development Q&A:
Healthy development of a child’s face and mouth will help them to be able to chew, swallow and breathe properly. Dr. Laila Tuche Rosen, a 1st Family Dental doctor, has a great deal of training, knowledge and experience in proper facial development of children, as well as treatment and therapies for related conditions. Dr. Tuche Rosen enjoys working with children, and has provided some of the information and references for this Q&A section regarding child facial development.
Q: “What is a lip tie or tongue tie and how can it affect my child? Does it have potential impacts as my child grows? What can I do about it? “
A: (Dr. Tuche Rosen) The medical term for the condition known as tongue-tie is “ankyloglossia”. It results when the frenulum (the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short and tight, causing the movement of the tongue to be restricted. Tongue-tie is congenital (present at birth) and hereditary (often more that one family member has the condition). It occurs relatively often: between 0.5% and 2% of babies are born with tight frenulums. Of more immediate importance is the negative impact that a tight frenulum can have on a baby’s ability to feed, causing feeding difficulties such as low weight gain and constant fussiness in the baby. Severe tongue-tie can cause problems with speech. Certain sounds are difficult to make if the tongue can’t move freely (especially ‘th’, ‘s’, ‘d’, ‘l’, and ‘t’). Tongue-tie may also make it hard for a child to self-clean mouth after the meal, to lick an ice cream cone, stick out his tongue, or play a wind instrument. Dental development may also be affected, with severe tongue-tie sometimes causing a gap between the two lower front teeth. There is a simple procedure called a “frenectomy” that can quickly correct the problem. In a relatively painless in-office procedure, the doctor releases the frenulum to loosen it and allow the tongue full range of motion.
Q: “Sucking fingers/pacifier for self-soothing – are there any negative consequences developmentally?
A: (Dr. Tuche Rosen) From the very first time they engage in nutritive feeding, infants learn that the habit can not only provide valuable nourishment, but also a great deal of pleasure, comfort, and warmth. As the child grows older, and is eventually weaned off the nutritional sucking, they can either develop alternative means for receiving those same feelings of physical and emotional fulfillment, or they can continue experiencing those pleasantly soothing experiences by beginning to suck their thumbs or fingers.
Q: “When should the habit stop? What problems can it cause?”
A: (Dr. Tuche Rosen) As a general rule, if a sucking habit ceases before the permanent teeth begin to erupt (around age of 4), effects on the dentition are unlikely to be long-term. Alteration on the dentition and skeletal changes depend on the sucking strength and length of the habit. If the habit persists into the mixed and permanent dentition (past age 5), a malocclusion may result, which may not resolve on its own when the habit ceases.
Common features of a “thumbsucking malocclusion” are proclined upper incisors, increased overjet, anterior open bite, and posterior crossbite Secondary effects may include altered tongue function involving a tongue-thrust to achieve an anterior seal while swallowing, and speech changes. If the tongue or lower lip rest behind the proclined upper incisors, this may serve to maintain the malocclusion even following cessation of the digit habit.
What does all of this mean? Thumb and finger-sucking as your child gets older can result in changes to the shape and alignment of the child’s teeth and jaw. This can have results that go far beyond simply how your child looks, and can affect him or her into their adult lives. This is why an orthodontic consultation by age 7 is strongly recommended, as many of these issues can be resolved before they can become a problem!
If you are concerned about your child’s thumb or finger-sucking, do not hesitate to ask your dentist. You can also book a free consultation with our Board-Certified Orthodontist.
Q: “Are Pacifiers OK? What’s good about a pacifier?” A: (Dr. Tuche Rosen) They help an infant or toddler self-soothe themselves to sleep—a great skill to learn. Recent studies have contributed to the evidence that using a pacifier at naps and bedtime until the age of 1 year can decrease the risk of SIDS. Pacifiers suggested by lactation specialists are flat at the base and has irregularly shaped tip to stimulate palate and tongue. Do you have questions? Email us anytime. While we can’t provide diagnoses or any medical advice via email, we will be happy to provide you with information, suggestions, and references, and of course put you in touch with a member of our team who can help you!