Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth are very important in a child’s growth and development. Baby teeth have many important roles including helping your child to chew, saving space for the grown-up teeth, and helping the jaw bone and muscles of the face to develop correctly. Untreated cavities in baby teeth can result in children experiencing pain and infection.

What causes a cavity?

Cavities are caused by bacteria that live in our mouths. One of the main bacteria that causes cavities is called Strep mutans. These bacteria like to eat the sugars that we eat and then produce acid that breaks down the tooth causing cavities. Foods like juice, crackers, cereal, candy, and gummy fruit snacks all contain sugars that feed these bacteria.

How can I prevent cavities?

There are several things you can do at home to help prevent your child from getting cavities.

Oral Hygiene

We recommend that parents help their child brush their teeth 2 times a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day until the child can do it well on their own which is usually around the age of 8 years old.

Healthy Eating and Snacking Habits

A healthy diet of balanced meals can help prevent cavities. It is best to avoid frequent snacking or grazing on food throughout the day as it can increase your child’s risk of cavities. We recommend limiting to 2 snacks a day that consists of crunchy fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and nut products. It is also important to be mindful of your child's drinking habits. Drinking milk with meals and water in between meals is best for dental health. Avoiding sugary drinks will help decrease the risk of cavities.

How safe are dental x-rays?

Our practice follows the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommendations for when to take dental radiographs (x-rays) on children. Taking dental radiographs can be necessary to best diagnose and treat many dental conditions. Radiographs can help the dentist to diagnose cavities, evaluate dental trauma, and evaluate permanent tooth eruption. There is very little risk involved with dental x-rays. In our office, we use lead aprons, thyroid collars, high-speed films, and digital radiographs to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation exposure.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, is very common in children. Two common culprits of bad breath are bacteria that live on the tongue and mucous drainage. To help combat bad breath in children, encourage children to brush the top of their tongue with their toothbrush or with a special tongue scraper. This will help remove some of the stinky bacteria that are trapped on the surface of the tongue. Bad breath can also be caused by mucous drainage and can be a sign the child has an underlying respiratory issue including large tonsils or adenoids or allergies. If bad breath persists for an extended period of time please see your pediatrician.

What do I do if my child has an adult tooth coming in but the baby tooth has not fallen out?

This is called an over-retained baby tooth. If this occurs, we encourage the child to try to wiggle out the baby tooth for 2 weeks. If the child cannot remove the baby tooth on their own or is experiencing pain, then please call the office and schedule an appointment for the pediatric dentist to evaluate the teeth.

What is a canker sore?

A canker sore is another name for an aphthous ulcer. A canker sore typically looks like a small ulceration with a white/yellow center and red border. Canker sores can form on many surfaces in the mouth including the inside of the lower lip and tongue. Most canker sores will resolve on their own in 7-10 days with no treatment. Canker sores can be very uncomfortable for children. If a child has a canker sore, avoid acidic or spicy food. Children can take over-the-counter pain medication to help with the discomfort. We do not recommend using over-the-counter topical numbing gels like Orajel or Anbesol as these may not be safe for some children.