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Stress Affecting Your Child’s Oral Health

How Stress Affecting Your Child’s Oral Health?

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Stress Affecting Your Child’s Oral Health

Stress isn’t just an adult problem. Kids experience stress too, whether it’s from school, social pressures, the pandemic or life changes. And while you might expect stress to cause behavioral issues, fluctuations in appetite and loss of sleep, did you know it can also impact your child’s oral health? In this post, our Naperville kids’ dentists will be sharing how stress can affect the teeth and mouth, as well as ways to manage it to help your child maintain top-notch oral health. 

What Causes Stress in Kids?

In small amounts, stress is normal and can even be good. However, when stress is excessive or chronic, it’s a problem and can have a big impact on all areas of your child’s life. Since kids don’t always know how to manage stress effectively, especially very young children, sometimes, even seemingly inconsequential changes can be a stressor. 

Common stressors in kids include:
  • Injury or illness
  • Academic pressure
  • Juggling multiple responsibilities and activities like school, sports, a social life, an afterschool job, etc.
  • Issues with friends or classmates (e.g., peer pressure, bullying, etc.)
  • Starting daycare/school or changing schools
  • Moving
  • Having negative thoughts about themselves
  • Problems at home, including conflict with siblings and parents fighting or having financial issues
  • A new sibling
  • Things they see or hear on the news
  • Loss of a loved one or pet

Signs of Stress in Children

According to the National Library of Medicine, there are a number of signs and symptoms that could indicate you have a stressed out kid on your hands, such as:

  • Changes in eating habits 
  • Headaches
  • Nightmares
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach
  • New or recurrent bedwetting
  • Other physical symptoms without a physical illness
  • Worry and anxiety
  • Inability to relax
  • New or worsening fears (e.g., afraid of the dark, fear of strangers, etc.)
  • Anger
  • Crying or whining
  • Clinging and separation anxiety
  • Inability to control emotions
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Doesn’t want to participate in school, family or social activities
  • Reverting back to behaviors they did at a younger age like thumb sucking

What Causes Stress in Kids?

Stress and Oral Health

As you can see, stress can cause a range of physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. As a Naperville pediatric dentist, the stress-related concerns we encounter are those that show up in your child’s mouth. 

Here are some of the most common ways stress can affect kids’ oral health:

Cold Sores and Canker Sores

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. What causes canker sores in kids? Experts aren’t certain, however, they’re thought to be related to an infection, weakened immune system, vitamin deficiencies or other factors. 

Even though stress isn’t the underlying cause of cold or canker sores in kids, stress does trigger both. Cold sores are usually located on the lips and around the mouth, while canker sores are found inside of the mouth. Both can be painful and annoying, but they do usually heal on their own. 

Teeth Grinding 

Teeth grinding in kids is fairly common. In very young children, it’s not always a concern, because many grow out of it by age 6 or so. If your child is older than 6 and the habit still continues, they could have bruxism, which is the technical term for habitual teeth grinding or clenching. 

While there isn’t one single, known cause of teeth grinding, stress can be a major contributing factor. Grinding often gets worse when kids are anxious about something. Parents sometimes ask, “Can stress make your teeth hurt?” The answer is yes, and teeth grinding is a main reason why. Children may wake up in the morning with sore teeth, an aching jaw and headaches due to the forces from grinding their teeth at night.

In addition to a sore mouth and headaches, chronic teeth grinding can also lead to the erosion of tooth enamel, gum recession, cracked, chipped or fractured teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. 

As for how to stop teeth grinding from stress, it’s a good idea to talk with your pediatric dentist about the problem. If your child’s bruxism is causing pain or damage to the teeth, we might prescribe a night guard for your child to wear while sleeping. The dental device fits over the teeth like a mouthguard and protects the teeth against those grinding forces.

Depending on your child’s situation and needs, additional steps like using relaxation techniques or talking with a therapist could also be helpful. 

Jaw Pain and TMJ Dysfunction

Can stress cause jaw pain? You bet. Tensing or clenching the jaw when under stress is common in kids (and adults), as is teeth grinding, which we talked about above. Both actions put pressure on the jaw and TMJ. 

So, if your child engages in stress-related jaw clenching and teeth grinding, jaw pain could be the result. Over time, it can cause inflammation and deterioration of the TMJs, leading to TMJ dysfunction or a TMJ disorder. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include: 

  • Tenderness or pain in the jaw, face, neck or ear
  • Facial swelling
  • Popping or clicking noises
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion in the jaw.

Frequent jaw pain from stress due to clenching, teeth grinding or any other cause also warrants a discussion with your pediatric dentist. If your child has signs of a TMJ disorder, a custom oral appliance can be made. The device holds the jaw in a position that takes the pressure off of the joints and allows them to heal. 

Cavity-Causing Habits

Another way stress can affect your teeth is by triggering poor habits. Just like grown-ups, older kids and teens may make unhealthy food choices when they’re stressed. They might snack frequently or skip the fruits and veggies in favor of starchy and sugary foods and drinks

Why is this a concern? Well, the bacteria in your child’s mouth feed on the sugars and starches they eat and release acids that erode the enamel, eventually causing tooth decay. As tooth decay progresses, a hole can form in the tooth, which is what we call a cavity. If your child snacks a lot or continually eats things like chips and candy while stressed, this will make them more susceptible to cavities. 

An upset or stressed out kid might also lack the energy and motivation to maintain a good oral hygiene routine, further increasing their cavity risk, as well as their risk of gingivitis.

Thumb Sucking

When stressed, anxious or worried, some kids revert back to comforting habits they had when they were young. That’s why even if a child hasn’t sucked their thumb in months or years, you might find them popping their thumb back in their mouth when faced with new situations or change. 

While a baby or toddler sucking their thumb is fine, once kids start to get their permanent teeth, thumb sucking can cause misaligned teeth and jaws. Aggressive thumb sucking can even cause changes in the palate and teeth as early as age two or three. 

Stopping thumb sucking can be tough, and if you’re not successful, your pediatric dentist is the resource to turn to. We can give you guidance on how to break a thumb sucking habit and, if all else fails, create a custom habit-breaking appliance for your child. This will prevent orthodontic problems from occurring. And, by taking thumb sucking away, it will encourage your child to develop different coping mechanisms too. 

Dry Mouth

A study published in the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects found that stress, anxiety and depression can slow down saliva production and lead to dry mouth (xerostomia) in adults. It’s likely stress will do the same in children. 

Dry mouth at any age has a negative impact on oral health. Saliva contains minerals that are deposited back into the enamel, replacing those lost to cavity-causing acids. It also helps wash away food and plaque that will otherwise sit on the teeth. With dry mouth, there isn’t enough saliva to do either of these things, which makes kids more likely to develop tooth decay and gingivitis. 

Decreased Immune Response

Excessive stress weakens the immune system. What does that have to do with the effect of stress on kids’ oral health? When your child’s immune response decreases, they have more trouble fighting off infections, including gingivitis, which is actually a bacterial infection in the gum tissue, and other oral health-related issues. As we mentioned above, a weakened immune system is also tied to outbreaks of cold sores and canker sores.

How Parents Can Help Kids Manage Stress and Keep Their Smile Healthy

  • If possible, try to limit or avoid triggers that cause your child to feel stressed.
  • Talk with your child and get to the bottom of what’s bothering them. Then, together, figure out coping mechanisms that work for them, whether it’s deep breathing, doing physical activity, listening to music, playing with a stress toy or drawing. 
  • Inform your kids about upcoming changes like moving, getting a new babysitter or going to a new school in advance. You can also brainstorm ways to make the transition easier. Knowing what to expect lessens some of the anxiety children commonly experience in the face of change. 
  • Model healthy behaviors. Brush and floss your teeth in front of your child, exercise, manage your own stress appropriately and eat a well-rounded diet. 
  • Create routines to establish positive habits. Have kids go to bed at the same time each night to ensure they’re getting enough sleep, and encourage them to floss and brush their teeth at the same time every morning and night. Sticker charts and a temporary system of small rewards can be helpful until the habits are formed. 
  • Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or school counselor. They can offer guidance on managing your child’s stress and give you a referral to a specialist if necessary. 
  • Keep up with your child’s routine dental exams and cleanings and be sure to let your pediatric dentist know what’s going on with your child. The dentist will assess your child’s oral health and offer solutions for preventing stress from affecting their teeth and gums. If a problem like a cavity does develop, treatment will be easier, less invasive and more affordable if it’s caught early. 

Worried About Stress and Your Child’s Teeth?

Schedule an appointment for your child with a Naperville pediatric dentist. Our friendly team will put your child at ease and provide personalized care to stop stress-related dental problems and achieve the healthiest smile possible!

Is Drinking Bottled Water Hurting Your Child’s Teeth?

Is Drinking Bottled Water Hurting Your Child’s Teeth?

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Is Drinking Bottled Water Hurting Your Child’s Teeth?

Whether because of taste or worries about contamination, over the past decade or two, more and more parents have been skipping tap water and giving their children bottled water. But is bottled water bad for your child’s teeth? It could be, because it’s often missing one key ingredient: fluoride! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fluoridated water is effective in reducing cavities by more than 25% in kids and adults. Considering dental caries (cavities) are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, this is a huge benefit for your little one’s smile. 

Community Water Fluoridation: The Basics

Communities have been adding fluoride to their water sources for over 75 years. The practice dramatically reduced the incidence of tooth decay in the United States, which is why the CDC has called community water fluoridation one of the “greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.”

Is fluoride safe for kids? You bet! Study after study has indicated that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe and extremely effective in improving the oral health of people of all ages, including children. It’s supported by the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. 

How Does Fluoride Work to Prevent Tooth Decay?

The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars and starches from what we eat or drink. When they do, they release acids that attack the enamel, causing a loss of minerals, called demineralization. 

Minerals in saliva, as well as fluoride, help replace the lost minerals (remineralization). When demineralization happens more often than remineralization, tooth decay occurs. As tooth decay progresses, it eats away at the enamel, leaving a hole, or a cavity. 

Fluoride is an oral health superhero and works in a number of ways. First, it helps to remineralize the teeth by combining with the calcium and phosphate present in saliva. Second, it strengthens the enamel, making it more resistant to those acid attacks. Third, fluoride works on the bacteria itself by lessening the bacteria’s ability to produce acids and making it harder for it to stick on the tooth surface. 

Fluoridated water is considered both topical and systemic fluoride. It’s a source of topical fluoride because the fluoride comes into contact with the tooth surfaces as a child drinks it, promoting remineralization. 

It’s also systemic because the water is ingested. When kids receive systemic fluoride before their permanent teeth erupt, it gets incorporated into the structure of the permanent teeth, making the teeth stronger and better able to fight off cavity-causing acids.

How Does Fluoride Work to Prevent Tooth Decay?

What if I Don’t Want My Child to Drink Tap Water?

Plain water doesn’t contain sugar or starches and, therefore, does not cause tooth decay, regardless of whether it comes from a bottle or your tap. So, it’s not that bottled water is bad for your teeth, it’s just that kids are missing a regular source of fluoride when they drink it. 

If you’re concerned about your tap water, most home water filters, like Brita and Pur filters, can filter out the stuff you don’t want, while still maintaining the optimal level of fluoride. This, combined with an excellent oral hygiene routine and regular dental exams and cleanings, will reduce your little one’s risk of tooth decay. 

Is there fluoride in bottled water? Yes, there is fluoride in bottled water from certain brands. They’ll be labeled “fluoridated,” “fluoride enhanced” or “fluoride added.” If you do choose bottled water with fluoride, make sure your child is drinking enough of it to get the benefits. 

If your municipal water source doesn’t have fluoride, you have a reverse osmosis filtration system, which filters it out, or you prefer the bottled water brands that don’t contain fluoride, all isn’t lost. Ask your pediatrician or pediatric dentist about fluoride drops or supplements once your child is 6 months old. These can give kids systemic fluoride for stronger permanent teeth, while fluoride toothpaste and professional, topical fluoride treatments will offer a powerful boost in remineralization. 

How Do I Know if My Child is Getting the Right Amount of Fluoride?

Not enough fluoride can lead to cavities, while too much fluoride can cause a condition called fluorosis, which may result in white spots or pitting of the enamel. So how can you tell if your child is getting the ideal amount? If your child drinks tap water and brushes their teeth with the recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste (a tiny smear the size of a grain of rice from the first tooth to age 3 and then a pea-sized amount from age 3 to 6), they should be getting the correct dose. 

If your child isn’t getting fluoride through their water, again, talk with your pediatric dentist or pediatrician about fluoride supplements. These supplements are usually only needed if your child doesn’t drink fluoridated water. To find out if your tap water has fluoride in it, contact your public water system or check the CDC’s My Water’s Fluoride tracker. 

Schedule a Visit With a Naperville Dentist for Kids!

Let’s work together to give your kiddo a healthy, cavity-free smile. Our expert kids’ dentists will evaluate your child’s fluoride intake and offer personalized guidance to ensure they’re getting the ideal amount. Schedule a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville, IL today! 

white crowns on baby teeth

Can Kids Get White Crowns on Baby Teeth?

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white crowns on baby teeth

Can Kids Get White Crowns on Their Baby Teeth?

Even though baby teeth, or primary teeth, will eventually fall out, if they’re damaged or decayed, in many cases, they still need to be restored. This is because the primary teeth reserve space for the permanent teeth, aid in chewing, and play a role in speech and facial development. While a tooth-colored filling can often do the trick, sometimes, when a lot of the tooth’s structure is missing, a pediatric dental crown is the ideal restoration. 

In the past, metal crowns were really the only option available for kids. And while they’re still a good choice for certain teeth, there are alternatives today and, yes, kids can get white crowns on their baby teeth. Being the leading-edge practice we are, we offer both stainless steel and white crowns for children at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry. 

In this post, our Naperville pediatric dentists will go over:

  • What is a dental crown?
  • What are the different types of pediatric dental crowns?
  • Why do kids need dental crowns?
  • Can’t the baby tooth just be extracted?
  • Choosing between white crowns vs. stainless steel crowns
  • What happens when a child gets a crown on a baby tooth?

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown, or cap, is placed on top of a tooth that has a large cavity, fracture or other issue that can’t be fixed with a filling. It covers the entire visible portion of the tooth to the gum line and helps to restore the tooth’s strength, function, size and appearance. 

What are the Different Types of Pediatric Dental Crowns?

There are several different types of pediatric dental crowns. The type that is used depends on which tooth it’s being placed on, the tooth size and how well the patient is able to cooperate. Options include:

  • Stainless Steel Crowns 

Stainless steel crowns, also called metal crowns or silver crowns, are still the most commonly used crowns for children’s teeth. They’re strong, durable and cheaper than some of the other options.

However, they’re not the best choice for an anterior tooth (teeth in the front of the mouth) that can be seen when a child smiles, because they’re very visible. Instead, our Naperville kids’ dentists recommend stainless steel crowns for the back teeth. This is because the material can endure chewing forces and won’t be as noticeable on molars. 

  • Metal Crowns With a White Front 

Stainless steel crowns can be made with a white facing. This makes them more aesthetic when used on the front teeth. The plastic material is adhered to the metal so that it looks white when viewed from the front. This option is usually reserved for an anterior crown. However, while it will look more natural than a stainless steel crown, the white facing adds bulk so the crown can seem large. The white facing can also chip and reveal the metal underneath, particularly if your child grinds their teeth.

  • Composite Strip Crowns

Composite strip crowns, or resin crowns, are made of the composite material used for tooth-colored fillings. We recommend this choice for an anterior crown, because it will look natural and blend in with your child’s smile.

White, composite crowns are more durable and less bulky than a crown with just a white front. We’re also able to customize the crown to fit your child’s tooth, so less enamel needs to be removed when we prepare the tooth. 

  • Zirconia Crowns 

Zirconia crowns, or porcelain crowns, are aesthetic and durable white crowns. However, currently, zirconia crowns for children are only available pre-fabricated. Instead of making the crown fit the tooth like we do with a composite crown, we have to make the tooth fit the crown.

This means tooth prep is more extensive and the appointment is longer. Pre-fabricated zirconia crowns also tend to fall off. For these reasons, we only recommend these crowns at our practice in pre-selected, child- and tooth-dependent scenarios. 

Why Do Kids Need Dental Crowns?

A dental crown on a baby tooth might be recommended for:

  1. Protecting a weak tooth from breaking
  2. Covering a tooth after removing a very large cavity 
  3. Holding together the parts of a cracked or fractured tooth
  4. Covering a baby tooth after pulp therapy (root canal)
  5. Protecting and supporting a tooth that has a large filling and not a lot of structure left
  6. Covering severely misshapen or discolored teeth 

Can’t the Baby Tooth Just be Extracted?

Our Naperville kids’ dentists make every effort to save your child’s natural tooth. While sometimes repairing a fracture or replacing lost tooth structure can be achieved with a filling, other times a dental crown is necessary.

Often, the process will just involve your child having a crown placed on their baby tooth. However, if the decay or an infection reaches the tooth’s pulp, which is the living tissue inside of a tooth, we may need to take additional steps. 

The natural instinct in cases like this might be to have the tooth extracted, which will obviously treat the pulp infection. However, if a child’s tooth isn’t due to fall out in the near future, extracting it can lead to problems with the permanent teeth coming in (namely, crowding and/or impaction).

While a dental space maintainer can be placed after an extraction to save space for the permanent teeth, having a missing tooth can make a child feel self-conscious and interfere with chewing and speaking. 

So, can you do root canals on baby teeth? Yes, you can do root canals on baby teeth. Often called a pulpotomy or pulpectomy, pulp therapy for a baby tooth is the same concept as a root canal on a permanent tooth. In order to save a tooth from severe decay, trauma or a pulp infection, we remove the nerve, blood vessels, bacteria and decay.

We then fill the empty space with special dental materials and, typically, cover it with a pediatric dental crown to restore it to full function until it’s ready to fall out naturally. 

Choosing Between White Crowns vs. Stainless Steel Crowns

Stainless steel crowns are durable and effective. We recommend them for the posterior (back) teeth. Since these teeth aren’t as visible, going for a lasting, cost-effective stainless steel crown makes sense. 

When it comes to an anterior crown, aesthetics is important. For front teeth, white crowns made of a composite material will blend in seamlessly with your child’s smile. Our composite crowns require less tooth preparation than zirconia crowns and are more streamlined than a metal crown with a white front. 

What Happens When a Child Gets a Crown on a Baby Tooth?

If your child has a pulp infection or severe decay that has reached the soft tissue of their tooth, we’ll usually perform pulp therapy AND crown placement in one visit!

In general, here’s how placing crowns on baby teeth works:

  1. A Naperville kids’ dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb your child’s tooth and the surrounding area. We also offer safe sedation dentistry, including nitrous oxide and in-office general anesthesia. We’ll discuss your child’s needs and health history with you in order to decide on the best approach. Once your child is numb and/or sedated, the dentist will remove any decay and shape the tooth so that it will fit beneath the crown. 
  2. If your child is getting a stainless steel crown, the dentist will choose a stainless crown in the correct size. They’ll polish it, fill it with cement and press it onto the prepared tooth before removing any extra cement.
  3. For a composite white crown, the dentist will create the crown by filling a mold with tooth-colored composite material and hardening it with a special curing light. When the crown is complete, they’ll use adhesive to bond it to your child’s tooth.
  4. Once the stainless or composite crown is in place, the dentist will check your child’s bite and make any necessary adjustments for fit and aesthetics.

Find out your options for pediatric stainless steel and white crowns in Naperville 

If your child needs a dental crown, we’ll make the process positive and stress-free. We use the latest technology and tools for more comfortable, squirm-free treatment. Our expert dentists will be able to determine if a stainless steel or white crown is the best choice for your child’s tooth. Schedule a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville today! 

tiktok hacks

5 TikTok Hacks That Make Dentists Everywhere Cringe

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tiktok hacks

5 TikTok Hacks That Make Dentists Everywhere Cringe

Sure, TikTok is great for funny videos, fashion ideas and showing off your dance moves, but at-home dental hacks…not so much. While there are dentists on TikTok offering up good advice, the tips and tricks from those who didn’t go to dental school should always be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, some of the popular TikTok dental hacks can actually cause irreversible damage that will be costly and time consuming to fix. Our Naperville kids’ dentists are sharing the smile trends teens (and, well, everyone) should avoid. 

Always See a Dentist First

Before we dive into things like the TikTok teeth shaving hack or DIY teeth whitening, let’s talk about why kids and teens should see a dentist before taking matters into their own hands. While it might seem like, of course, dentists would be against at-home treatments, that’s not the case. We’re all for our patients having an amazing homecare routine.

Yet, there is a reason that after graduating from college, dentists go to dental school for four more years. As specialists, pediatric dentists then spend an additional two to three years in a pediatric dental residency program receiving intensive training in caring for growing smiles. All of this schooling is necessary, because preventing, diagnosing and treating dental issues takes expertise. The teeth, gums and jaws are crucial for chewing and speaking and oral health has a direct impact on overall health. 

Any kind of DIY dental treatment can carry serious risks and cause long-term damage. 

So, before attempting TikTok dentist hacks, kids and teens should at least visit a dentist for a consultation. 

5 TikTok Dental Hacks Teens Should Avoid

     1. Shaving Teeth With a Nail File

The TikTok teeth filing trend can cause way more harm than good. The hack involves using a nail file to shave the teeth down and reshape them. While some TikTokers have gained a whole lot of views by shaving their teeth for the camera, teeth filing is dangerous. 

The outer layer of the teeth is called the enamel. This hard protective coating not only gives teeth their white appearance, it also protects the dentin and pulp, the more sensitive inner layers of the teeth, and serves as the first line of defense against bacteria and acids. If you file even just a little bit too much of your enamel off, it leaves the dentin exposed and causes permanent sensitivity. 

In extreme cases, the TikTok teeth filing hack can cause the teeth to become too short or even expose the pulp, which contains the nerve. Damaging the pulp will cause significant pain, as well as infection that could require a root canal to treat. 

If your child or teenager is concerned about the shape or length of their teeth, ask their pediatric dentist. Depending on the situation and whether your child has baby teeth or permanent teeth, the dentist may be able to remove a minimal amount of enamel with a special, sander-like tool or use dental bonding to achieve the desired shape. 

     2. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Teeth Whitening 

There are a ton of TikTok teeth whitening videos, but the one that’s probably the most dangerous promotes using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to whiten teeth. In the original video, the TikToker moistens a small piece of a Magic Eraser and rubs it on her teeth to remove stains. 

Magic Erasers are made of melamine foam, which uses a compound known as formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer. As you can probably guess, it’s toxic when ingested. If the chemical mixes with your saliva while you’re rubbing the eraser on your teeth and you swallow it, it can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. 

As if purposely putting a toxic chemical in your mouth wasn’t bad enough, the eraser itself is extremely abrasive. When used on teeth, it can remove the enamel. Once the underlying dentin is exposed, you’ll have permanent sensitivity and your teeth will look yellow. 

For kids or teens who want whiter teeth, ask the dentist about professional teeth whitening or even a take-home whitening kit. A professional-grade formula will produce significantly more dramatic results, while keeping teeth safe. The dentist will also evaluate your child’s teeth and gums and make sure whitening is appropriate for them. 

     3. DIY Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening 

Another TikTok teeth whitening trend is whitening by swishing with hydrogen peroxide or applying it directly to the teeth with a Q-tip. Products like whitening strips actually contain hydrogen peroxide, which makes people feel as if the approach will be safe and effective. 

While using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth isn’t as harmful as some of the other dental hacks we’ve mentioned on this list, kids should avoid applying it with a Q-tip and using it undiluted. Studies have found that exposing the teeth to high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide for long periods of time can damage enamel and cause sensitivity. 

The safer route is to dilute the hydrogen peroxide by mixing five parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide. Swish with it instead of putting it directly on the teeth and only use it once a day, a few times a week for a short period of time. It’s also worth noting that teeth will only get a little bit whiter and professional treatment will bring about better results. 

     4. #VeneerCheck

“Veneer checks” are also a teeth shaving TikTok trend, except this time, the shaving is done by a dentist. Users, who are typically pretty young, show themselves with their teeth shaved down to stubs before getting veneers

While the choice to get veneers is between the patient and their dentist, there aren’t many cases where a very young patient would benefit from veneers to achieve straighter, whiter teeth. Orthodontic treatment followed by teeth whitening would usually be recommended instead. 

Additionally, veneer prep doesn’t usually involve shaving the teeth down to nothing. Instead, a small amount of enamel is removed so that the veneers can be placed. The stubs being advertised in veneer check videos actually look as if they’re being prepped for dental crowns. 

A full set of crowns might be advisable for patients with severe decay whose tooth structure would need to be removed anyway. For patients with healthy teeth, however, removing that much tooth structure to place crowns is questionable, at best. Preserving as much natural tooth structure as possible is generally the goal, because it helps to maintain the strength of the teeth. 

      5. Using Rubber Bands to Close Gaps Between the Teeth

This TikTok teeth straightening hack isn’t new. In fact, years ago, a number of teenagers followed instructions from YouTube videos and put hair ties and rubber bands around their teeth to close gaps with pretty horrifying results. Yet, it seems as if the trend is coming back. 

Closing gaps between the teeth with rubber bands or hair ties is incredibly dangerous. Orthodontic treatment involves using carefully controlled force to shift the teeth into place. Shifting teeth too fast with rubber bands can damage the roots of the teeth, leading to tooth loss. 

The rubber bands have also worked their way up under the gums of some DIY teeth straighteners, destroying the supporting bone and tissue and causing teeth to fall out at the root. The repercussions can be serious and permanent, and treating the issues will be much more expensive than getting orthodontic treatment in the first place would have been. 

Even if you are able to close the gaps between your teeth this way, as soon as you take the rubber bands off, the teeth will start shifting back to their old places. If you’re looking for a convenient way to straighten teeth, talk to an orthodontist. Innovative Orthodontic Centers, which is under the same Innovative Dental Partners umbrella as our practice, offers comfortable, accelerated, safe orthodontic treatment. Thanks to their high-tech approach, patients of all ages will see results more quickly and conveniently, without compromising their oral health. 

Schedule a Visit With a Naperville Dentist for Kids

Whether it’s TikTok teeth filing or DIY teeth straightening, when something seems too good to be true, it is! Using dental hacks to save time and money can cause the exact opposite to happen when the ensuing dental problems require treatment. If your child is unhappy with their smile, schedule a visit at Naperville Pediatric Dentistry. We can chat with you about their treatment options to ensure they have a dazzling, healthy grin.

dental sedation for kids

What are the Different Types of Dental Sedation for Kids?

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dental sedation for kids

What are the Different Types of Dental Sedation for Kids?

Kids are sometimes afraid of the dentist or certain dental procedures. This is typically a fear of the unknown. Going to a kid-friendly, fun pediatric dental practice like Innovative Pediatric Dentistry can go a long way in putting children at ease. Once little ones get used to the dental office, their dental anxiety tends to subside. 

However, for children with a severe dental phobia, those who are very young and need extensive dental work or children with special needs who would struggle with dental procedures, sedation dentistry is an option. Sedation can help kids feel relaxed and comfortable during their treatment, allowing them to safely get the care they need. Depending on the type of dental sedation used, they may not even remember the procedure, which can also prevent them from developing dental anxiety. 

Our Naperville pediatric dentists offer different types of sedation for kids. To help give you a better idea of the ins and outs of pediatric sedation, we’ll be covering:

  • The types of sedation for kids
  • When should kids be sedated for dental work?
  • Is dental sedation safe for a child?
  • Will my child have sedation dentistry side effects?
  • Preparing your child for dental sedation

The Types of Sedation for Kids

There are various levels of sedation dentistry, ranging from mild sedation like nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, to general anesthesia. The types of sedation for kids include:
  • Oral Conscious Sedation – With this form of sedation, the pediatric dentist prescribes an oral sedative for your child, which can offer mild to moderate sedation, depending on the type of medication and dosage. Kids will be conscious during the procedure, though they may fall asleep, and able to move and respond to commands. There have been some concerns about the safety of oral conscious sedation for children, and we actually do not offer it at our practice, but it is an option at some dental offices.
  • Nitrous Oxide – Nitrous oxide sedation is mild, safe, doesn’t put patients to sleep and wears off quickly. We deliver a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen to your child through a mask. They breathe it in for a few minutes and will feel relaxed, calm, euphoric and a little bit silly. When using laughing gas for kids, patients are awake and able to respond to commands. Not only does laughing gas reduce anxiety, it also dulls discomfort. When we’re done, your child will breathe in plain oxygen and the effects of the nitrous oxide will wear off in a few minutes.
  • General Anesthesia – Occasionally if treatment can’t be done safely while a child is awake and laughing gas won’t be effective, general anesthesia can be used. Anesthesia will be administered under the direction of a board-certified anesthesiologist and your child will be monitored throughout the procedure. While under general anesthesia, your child will be in a deep sleep. They won’t be able to feel or remember the procedure at all. 

At our practice, we offer nitrous oxide for kids, as well as in-office general anesthesia. We’ve found these options to be the most effective and safe. 

When Should Kids Be Sedated for Dental Work?

As for when kids should be sedated for dental work, every child is unique. At Naperville Pediatric Dentistry, we generally try to use behavioral and relaxation techniques first. If these approaches aren’t effective, then that is when we’d consider sedation dentistry. Sedation might be needed for:

  • Kids with severe dental anxiety
  • Young children, such as infants or toddlers, who need extensive restorative work that would require multiple visits without sedation
  • Children with special needs, including certain medical, emotional or behavioral considerations, whose actions or movements during dental procedures could cause them harm
  • Any child who would be unable to cooperate in order to receive the necessary dental care, such as those who have trouble sitting still or have an extreme gag reflex

In these instances, there are a number of benefits of dental sedation for kids:

  • Relaxes children, making the experience stress-free for the patient and parent
  • Dulls or eliminates pain sensations, depending on the type of dental sedation
  • Allows the dentist to perform lengthy, complex or sensitive procedures in one visit, as opposed to your child having to come in for multiple visits
  • With general anesthesia, children won’t remember the treatment, which helps reduce the likelihood that they’ll develop dental anxiety
  • Keeps kids safe from the accidental injuries that can occur if they struggle or move around during procedures
  • The pediatric dentist can more efficiently and effectively complete procedures, saving you time

Is Dental Sedation Safe for a Child?

If you go to an experienced dentist who uses the latest technology and techniques, then, yes, dental sedation is safe for a child. At our practice, our Naperville pediatric dentists are specially trained in pediatric dental sedation. 

One of our dentists will examine your child, review their health history and go over the medications they take. They’ll spend time gaining an understanding of your child’s needs in order to determine if your child is a candidate for sedation. If they are, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that our state-of-the-art practice is outfitted with the latest monitoring equipment and tools and your child will be monitored throughout the entire procedure for maximum safety. 

Additionally, when providing in-office general anesthesia, we have a board-certified anesthesiologist on staff who comes into the office for these specialty cases. The anesthesiologist and his team will deliver the anesthesia and keep tabs on your child’s vital signs while the dentist performs the necessary dental procedures. 

Laughing gas for kids is the quickest, easiest solution. It’s been safely used as a form of sedation dentistry for over a century. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says it, “recognizes nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation as a safe and effective technique to reduce anxiety, produce analgesia, and enhance effective communication between a patient and health provider.” 

While general anesthesia is more involved, thanks to advances in medicine and technology, receiving general anesthesia in the office under the guidance of an anesthesiologist is just as safe as it is in a hospital or surgical center. Since severe tooth decay or dental infection can have a significant impact on your child’s health and wellbeing, in many cases, the benefits of using general anesthesia in order for a child to receive essential care far outweigh the risks. 

Will My Child Have Sedation Dentistry Side Effects?

Sedation dentistry side effects in a child will vary depending on the level of sedation. Let’s look at the two forms of sedation we use at our practice:

Side Effects of Laughing Gas for Kids 
  • Most patients experience no side effects from nitrous oxide and once the gas wears off within a few minutes, they can go about their day as usual.
  • Inhaling too much nitrous oxide can cause short-term vomiting and dizziness. Since we use advanced technology at Naperville Pediatric Dentistry, we’re able to deliver the exact amount of laughing gas toddlers and children need, ensuring this doesn’t happen. 
  • Some children feel a little tired after receiving nitrous oxide sedation. This is mild and will wear off quickly. 
  • There are no long-term side effects. If you feel as if your child is experiencing any side effects that don’t disappear shortly, give our practice a call.
Side Effects of General Anesthesia Dental Sedation 
  • Your child will likely be tired for up to a day following the anesthesia. 
  • Your little one’s nose, mouth and throat might be numb for about 45 minutes after the procedure.
  • Some kids have a slightly sore throat for a day or two after receiving general anesthesia.
  • Children can experience dizziness or nausea.
  • Kids will have to rest and engage in minimal activity for the rest of the day after the procedure. Most are able to return to school or daycare the following day. 

Preparing Your Child for Dental Sedation

It can be a good idea to talk with your child about what to expect with dental sedation, as well as the procedure itself, using terms they can understand. Avoid using words that could scare them such as “shot” or “drill.” Instead, let them know that the tooth doctor will be making their teeth healthy and strong and that they’ll either “feel silly” or “go to sleep” during the treatment. 

If your child is still anxious about going to the dentist and being sedated, letting them bring a favorite stuffed animal or toy to the appointment can help them feel more secure. 

Laughing gas for kids doesn’t require special preparations beforehand and a light meal prior to the visit is allowed. 

If your kiddo is receiving general anesthesia dental sedation, your Naperville pediatric dentist will provide you with detailed instructions to follow in order to ensure the procedure is safe. While the instructions can vary depending on your child’s individual needs and level of health, generally, we recommend:

  • After midnight the night before the appointment, avoid giving your child any solid food or non-clear liquid, including milk and juice. 
  • If your child is thirsty, they can have a few sips of water up until two hours before the appointment.
  • If your child takes daily medication, give it as usual unless we tell you not to. 

Ready to Learn More About Dental Sedation for Kids in Naperville, IL?

If you’d like to get more information about the different types of sedation, including general anesthesia or laughing gas for kids, schedule an appointment for your child at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry! Our expert kids’ dentists offer safe sedation for children in a state-of-the-art practice. We’ll assess your child’s needs and go over the risks and benefits of sedation to help you make a confident, informed decision about your little one’s care. 

Fluoride Treatment for Kids

What is a Fluoride Treatment for Kids?

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What is a Fluoride Treatment for Kids?

You encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day, you help them floss and you take them for regular dental checkups and cleanings at the dentist. These are all incredibly important steps for keeping your kiddo’s smile healthy and cavity-free. Yet, there is one more preventative measure our Naperville pediatric dentists recommend and that’s fluoride treatments for kids. 

In this post, the team at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry will cover:

  • What is fluoride?
  • Why is fluoride important?
  • Is fluoride safe for kids?
  • What is a fluoride treatment for kids and how does it work?
  • What are the other sources of fluoride?
  • When should kids get fluoride treatments?

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occuring mineral found in things, such as rocks, plants, oceans and groundwater. Because it’s a proven way to prevent tooth decay, it’s also commonly added to community water sources and dental products.

Why is Fluoride Important?

When children (or adults) eat or drink, the bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugars and starches and release acids that erode the protective layer of the teeth, known as the enamel. When the enamel breaks down, tooth decay, or cavities, can occur. 

Fluoride penetrates the enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to acid attacks, and it can even reverse very early tooth decay. It also promotes remineralization, which is when minerals are redeposited into the enamel after the acids strip them away (demineralization). 

In younger children who still have their baby teeth, fluoride gets incorporated into their developing permanent teeth. When the permanent teeth erupt, they’re less prone to cavities. In adults and older kids, fluoride hinders acid production and, as we said, helps with remineralization. This means fluoride can prevent cavities in people of all ages. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drinking fluoridated water decreases cavities by approximately 25% in kids and adults. In fact, fluoride is so effective at fighting decay, the CDC has called community water fluoridation one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. 

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Yes! Fluoride is absolutely safe for children in the correct dose. People in the United States have been drinking fluoridated water for 75 years and it’s been endorsed by hundreds of health organizations, ranging from the American Dental Association to the World Health Organization. 

While too much fluoride in early childhood can lead to fluorosis, which is a condition that may result in white spots or pitting of the enamel, most cases of fluorosis are very mild, and getting too much fluoride is less common than not getting enough fluoride. 

If you’re concerned about your child getting too much fluoride, talk with your pediatric dentist. They can help you determine the correct amount of fluoride to keep your child’s teeth strong. 

What is a Fluoride Treatment for Kids and How Does it Work?

A fluoride treatment is when a dentist applies topical fluoride to the teeth. While we can use a foam or a gel in a fluoride tray that a child bites into, our Naperville fluoride treatments for kids are usually performed using a varnish. We simply paint the varnish on your child’s teeth after their dental cleaning. The whole process only takes a few minutes and is completely painless. 

We find that applying the varnish is faster and more well-tolerated than some of the other methods. It’s also appropriate for younger kids since the varnish hardens when it comes into contact with saliva, so your child won’t swallow it or be able to lick it off. 

When can kids eat after a fluoride treatment? We recommend they wait about a half hour after getting the fluoride varnish before eating or drinking and at least four to six hours before brushing their teeth.

What are the Other Sources for Fluoride for Children?

Your child can get fluoride in their diet, most notably from tap water, as well as in small doses from toothpaste and mouthwash. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice as soon as a baby’s first tooth erupts. This amount should be increased to a pea-sized amount between the ages of 3 and 6. 

If kids drink bottled water without fluoride or your community’s tap water doesn’t contain fluoride, bring this up with your child’s pediatrician and/or dentist. They’ll assess your child’s fluoride intake and may prescribe fluoride drops or supplements, if needed. 

So, if kids can get fluoride elsewhere, is a fluoride treatment at the dentist really necessary? Yes, it usually is, because many kids still aren’t getting enough fluoride, which puts them at risk for tooth decay that can start at a young age. A professional treatment contains a more concentrated dose of fluoride than your little one’s toothpaste, which helps to maximize the benefits. 

When Should Kids Get a Fluoride Treatment?

Unless your child has a particularly high risk for tooth decay, we generally recommend kids get a fluoride treatment twice a year. At your child’s first dental visit, which should be scheduled at age one, we’ll talk with you about your child’s fluoride intake and determine when it would be beneficial to begin fluoride treatments. Fluoride treatments should be continued until at least the age of 16. 

Though fluoride is most crucial while the teeth are still developing, fluoride treatments for adults and teens will still be effective. That’s why many people opt to continue them throughout their lives. 

Naperville Fluoride Treatments for Kids

Now that you know how a fluoride treatment works and why it’s important, the next step is visiting a pediatric dentist. To find out if your child could benefit from fluoride treatments for kids in Naperville, schedule an appointment at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry today! 

when do kids lose their baby teeth Naperville IL

When Do Kids Lose Their Baby Teeth? Smile Timeline Included

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when do kids lose their baby teeth during infancyWhen Do Kids Lose Their Baby Teeth?

When do babies get their first tooth? When do kids start to lose baby teeth? When does the first permanent tooth come in? As Naperville pediatric dentists, these are questions we hear all of the time. Of course, as parents, it’s natural to want to make sure your child’s oral development is on track. 

Well, first, we have to say, as with most things in your kiddo’s life, there is a fairly wide age range for what’s considered the norm. So, there’s no need to panic if your child’s first loose tooth doesn’t happen at six years on the nose, even if their classmates are losing baby teeth left and right. 

To give you a better understanding of the process of when do kids lose their baby teeth, we’ll be covering all of your questions about when the teeth erupt, fall out and erupt once more. We also put together a handy dandy, printable smile timeline. 

Check Out Our Smile Timeline! 

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kids wisdom teeth

Why is the Early Evaluation of Kids’ Wisdom Teeth so Important?

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Kids’ Wisdom Teeth Can Cause Problems if Not Removed

By around age 12 or 13, most kids will have lost all of their baby teeth and will have 28 permanent teeth. Yet, there still might be four more teeth on their way: the wisdom teeth. 

What are wisdom teeth? They’re the third permanent molars. They earned the nickname “wisdom teeth” because they generally erupt in the teenage years or young adulthood, when we’re supposedly older and wiser. If all four wisdom teeth come in, it will bring the tooth count to 32. 

It may seem like most people eventually have their wisdom teeth extracted, or removed. This is because it’s extremely common for the wisdom teeth to be partially or fully impacted (stuck under the tissue or bone). Dentists and oral surgeons often recommend wisdom teeth removal when impacted wisdom teeth, and even wisdom teeth that will be able to fully erupt, will create future problems. 

So, what are the most common reasons why wisdom teeth should be removed? Our Naperville pediatric dentistry practice has you covered. 

In this post, we’ll answer:

  • When do kids get wisdom teeth?
  • What are the most common wisdom teeth problems?
  • What are the symptoms of wisdom teeth problems?
  • Why is the early evaluation of kids’ wisdom teeth so important?

When do Kids Get Wisdom Teeth?

Can you get wisdom teeth at 13? What about at 30? Most people get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 25, however, they can erupt earlier or later than the standard age range. 

Does everyone get wisdom teeth? 

No, not everyone gets wisdom teeth. While most people have at least one wisdom tooth, in some people, none of the wisdom teeth develop at all. 

What are the Common Wisdom Teeth Problems?

The most common wisdom teeth problems and reasons why wisdom teeth should be removed include:

Not Enough Space

By far the number one reason it’s recommended that kids’ wisdom teeth be removed is when the wisdom teeth don’t have room to erupt inside of the mouth. Typically, the mouth of a teeanger or adult can fit 28 teeth, which fills in most available space. When the wisdom teeth try to move in, they may not be able to erupt fully or they may become impacted. When the wisdom teeth are impacted, it is often necessary to have them extracted.

Infection

Another reason why wisdom teeth could need to be removed is if they are causing an infection in the surrounding tissue or will in the future. As the wisdom teeth attempt to erupt, especially in the case of partially erupted wisdom teeth, food and bacteria can get trapped in the gums, resulting in an infection known as pericoronitis. Pericoronitis can, in turn, lead to chronic pain or irritation in the gumline, swelling, problems with chewing and/or swallowing, and stiffness. 

Since wisdom teeth are usually difficult to keep clean, they’re also more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease, which is another type of infection of the teeth-supporting tissues. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, once gum disease, or periodontal disease, takes root in the area of the wisdom teeth, it can be persistent and progressive. However, the problem may improve after wisdom teeth extraction. 

Misalignment

Another wisdom teeth problem that indicates the teeth will have to be removed is if these third molars don’t come in aligned with the other teeth. Wisdom teeth can come in crooked, sideways or in otherwise less-than-ideal positions. When the wisdom teeth are misaligned, it may cause the rest of the teeth to shift over time. This can reverse the work that braces or Invisalign did and damage the surrounding teeth. 

Cysts

Lastly, there is a possibility that cysts can develop around the wisdom teeth. Cysts happen when the sac near the wisdom tooth is filled with liquid. These sacs of fluid can damage the surrounding areas of the mouth. Additionally, if not treated properly, this type of cyst can turn into a tumor. Even though this is a rare occurrence, a tumor requires a more intense surgical procedure than having the wisdom teeth extracted in the first place.

What are the Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Problems?

Signs of wisdom teeth problems include:

  • Swollen, tender or bleeding gums in the back of the mouth
  • Jaw pain
  • Stiffness or swelling of the jaw
  • Bad breath
  • Trouble opening the mouth
  • Pain and irritation in the gums
  • A cyst 
  • Other teeth shifting as the wisdom teeth erupt
  • Cavities in wisdom teeth or the teeth nearby (the wisdom teeth can be hard to reach in order to brush and floss properly)
  • Sinus problems (it’s rare but upper wisdom teeth can cause sinus problems, including sinus pain, pressure, congestion and headaches)

It’s important to note that not everyone has symptoms of wisdom teeth problems, but that doesn’t mean the teeth won’t cause issues down the road. Additionally, many of the symptoms above are also symptoms of other oral health conditions, which is why it’s a good idea to have your child evaluated by a pediatric dentist if they exhibit any of the signs. A dentist can determine whether things like pain, gum inflammation, or jaw stiffness are caused by wisdom teeth or a different concern.

Why is the Early Evaluation of Kids’ Wisdom Teeth so Important?

Kids can show signs of wisdom teeth problems as early as 12 or 13 years of age, while others may not notice a problem until they’re in their 20s. Once you reach your 30s, wisdom teeth complications are much more likely to occur. 

The good news is, a pediatric dentist can start keeping an eye on wisdom teeth early on. In fact, the early evaluation of kids’ wisdom teeth is extremely beneficial. Why? Well, extracting wisdom teeth before their root structure is fully formed makes the oral surgery procedure easier and the recovery faster and less painful. It also helps to reduce the risk of complications. In some cases, this could mean removing kids’ wisdom teeth in the early teen years. 

While adults can still have their wisdom teeth extracted, wisdom teeth removal in patients in their 30s or older is linked to a higher rate of complications and a much longer recovery period. This is because, in adulthood, the wisdom teeth roots lengthen and the jawbone becomes more dense. 

Schedule a Visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry for Your Child

While some people don’t require wisdom teeth removal, most of the time, these third molars can create problems now or in the future. Have kids’ wisdom teeth evaluated early by their pediatric dentist, and schedule a dental appointment if a child exhibits any of the common symptoms of wisdom teeth problems. This will ward off more serious implications down the road. 

If you’re looking for the best pediatric dentist in Naperville, book a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry today. Our expert dentists and team will help you keep your child’s oral health, wisdom teeth or not, on track!

how to teach a child to practice good oral hygiene

How to Teach a Child to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

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Teach a Child to Practice Good Oral Hygiene Early On:

Figuring out how to teach a child to practice good oral hygiene can be tough, especially if your little one is resistant. However, the good news is, as a Naperville dentist for kids, we have the expertise to not only keep kids’ teeth healthy but to also guide you, as a parent or guardian, in teaching your child oral hygiene. With the right strategies, your kiddo will be able to develop a strong homecare routine that promotes lifelong oral health.

In this post, we’ll talk about:

  • When to Start Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth?
  • The Basics of Brushing and Flossing Your Toddler’s Teeth
  • 8 Tips for How to Teach a Child to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

When to Start Brushing Your Baby’s Teeth?

Good dental hygiene should start when your child is still an infant. Once your baby is finished eating, whether breast milk or formula, wipe down their gums using a moist washcloth. While, of course, at this stage, you’re not necessarily teaching a child how to practice good oral hygiene, you are getting into a routine and establishing the foundation, which will make it easier when they get older.

When your baby begins eating solid food and starts teething, you can use a finger brush. This brush is made out of rubber, has soft bristles and slips onto your index finger comfortably. Gently rub the finger brush along your baby’s gum line and around the emerging teeth. 

You can start brushing your baby’s teeth when the first tooth fully erupts. Use the finger brush or a soft-bristled, infant-sized toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste, no larger than a grain of rice, to brush twice a day. 

Schedule your child’s first visit with a pediatric dentist by their first birthday. This will help your child build a rapport with the dentist and get used to the sights and sounds of the office. The dentist will also make sure your child’s little teeth and gums are healthy and their development is on track, as well as partner with you in teaching your child oral hygiene. 

The Basics of Brushing and Flossing Your Toddler’s Teeth

Now that your child has been to the dentist and has a mouth full of pearly whites, if you haven’t moved on to a toothbrush, it’s time to do that. Does the toothbrush matter? Yes, the type of toothbrush does matter. Use a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush since toothbrushes with firm bristles can cause irritation in a little one’s mouth and could discourage them from brushing. 

Along with an appropriate toothbrush, continue using a smear of fluoride toothpaste up until age 3, at which point you can graduate to a pea-sized amount. Fluoride for kids is important. The naturally-occuring mineral strengthens the enamel and gets incorporated into the permanent teeth, making them more resistant to decay. However, too much fluoride for kids can be a bad thing and lead to fluorosis. Using only the recommended amount of toothpaste and talking with your dentist about your child’s fluoride intake will prevent this.

When you’re first teaching your child how to brush their teeth, it’s recommended that you do the brushing for them. Kids may not know how to properly hold a toothbrush and most don’t have the dexterity or motor skills to effectively eliminate plaque. 

When brushing kids’ teeth, stand behind them and reach around them to hold the toothbrush in a way that’s comfortable. Ask your child how it feels. If it hurts, stop and make sure the gums aren’t irritated. For really squirmy toddlers who don’t like brushing, sit on the bed or the floor and have your child lie with their head in your lap. This will give a bit more control. 

Brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day. When their teeth begin touching, start flossing your child’s teeth once daily. As you brush and floss, narrate what you’re doing so your little one begins to grasp the concept. Around the age of two or three, you can let your child brush their teeth on their own and then you can do a follow-up to make sure they didn’t miss any areas. This will help them develop some independence and learn the proper technique. 

 

young girl brushing teeth

8 Tips for How to Teach a Child to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Towards the end of the toddler years, ramp up your teaching efforts so your child understands the importance of oral health and knows what to do to achieve it. Not sure where to start? Try these 8 tips for teaching your child oral hygiene:

  1. Let your child brush their own teeth but supervise their efforts until age 7 or 8 when they’re able to brush effectively. Having them brush in the mirror can help them see what they’re doing. 

  2. Use a toothbrush timer app or an actual physical timer to help kids brush their teeth for two full minutes each session. 

  3. Brush along with your child. Show them how to brush all the way to the back molars and along the gum line.

  4. Explain to your child what will happen if they don’t brush their teeth or brush them well enough. Talk to them about the causes of tooth decay in children, what cavities are and why it’s best to avoid them. Don’t scare them or use terms like “drill” or “hurt” when talking about the dentist. Instead, give them an overview of why oral hygiene is so important using kid-friendly, positive terms.

  5. Just like with brushing, floss for your child until they have the dexterity to do it on their own, usually around age 10. Once they’re older, you can floss your teeth in front of them and walk them through the technique. 

  6. Fun, kid-themed toothbrushes and tasty toothpastes can go a long way in helping kids get excited about oral hygiene. As for the best toothpaste for kids, we recommend a fluoride toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval. 

  7. Keep up with regular check-ups and cleanings at the pediatric dentist. We’ll make sure your child’s teeth and gums are healthy and evaluate how they’re doing with brushing and flossing. We’ll also educate you and your child on a variety of oral hygiene topics, including diet, homecare, fluoride for kids, oral habits and more. 

  8. Make flossing and brushing teeth for kids fun. You can follow all of the guidelines in the world for how to teach a child to practice good oral hygiene, but if brushing and flossing are constantly a negative experience, they won’t want to do it. Things like brushing to two minutes songs, brushing teeth as a family and turning oral hygiene into a game can make kids more likely to stick with it and want to learn. (For more ideas on how to make brushing teeth fun, download our free brushing guide.)

Following our tips for how to teach a child to practice good oral hygiene and talking about oral health from an early age will encourage kids to develop excellent habits that can last a lifetime. If you’re looking for the best pediatric dentist in Naperville or you’d like personalized guidance to help your child maintain a strong, bright smile, schedule an appointment at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry today! 

kids oral health

7 Ways To Improve Kids Oral Health in 2021

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Here Are 7 Ways To Improve Kids Oral Health in 2021

Happy New Year! If you made some resolutions this year, we have another one you can add to your list: improving your children’s oral health with excellent oral hygiene practices and smile-friendly habits. Oral health is so important and, in fact, it has a direct link to overall health, which is why teaching kids about caring for their teeth and gums early on is key. Our Naperville dentists for kids are here to help by sharing seven ways you can strengthen your child’s smile. Read More