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Here’s Why Some Kids Get Cavities Even If They Brush Their Teeth

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“My child brushes and flosses their teeth every day, how could they possibly have cavities?” 

It can come as a big – and unwelcome – surprise when you find out your child has a cavity in spite of their diligent oral hygiene routine. And, yup, brushing and flossing and regular preventative dental care are the most well-known ways to keep kids’ teeth and gums healthy. 

But, nutrition is an unsung hero. What and how often kids eat directly impacts their oral health. And, when kids are deficient in certain key vitamins and minerals, it can also result in issues, ranging from an increased risk of tooth decay to bleeding gums. 

Innovative Pediatric Dentistry is here to break it all down. In this post, our Naperville pediatric dentists will talk about nutrition for healthy teeth and gums, as well as the vitamins and minerals needed to support children’s oral health. 

 

Diet and Oral Health

Foods that cause cavities

While genetics, medications and other factors can make children more prone to oral health issues, when tooth decay isn’t the result of a lack of brushing and flossing, it often boils down to what kids are eating. 

Even some seemingly healthy(ish) foods — we’re looking at you, crackers – are notorious cavity causers. This is because the two factors behind tooth decay are carbohydrates and time. When kids drink or eat something with sugar or starches in it, the bacteria in the mouth feed on the carbohydrates and release acids that erode the enamel. 

The acid attacks last for about 30 minutes after eating or drinking. Then, saliva swoops in and saves the days by neutralizing the acids and depositing the lost minerals back into the teeth. 

So, as long as kids are having sugars and simple carbohydrates in moderation and regularly removing food debris and plaque from their teeth, they can avoid tooth decay and keep their enamel strong. 

However, there is also a time component. The longer the carbohydrates sit on the teeth, the longer the acid attacks go on. Saliva isn’t able to remineralize the teeth enough to balance out the mineral loss, leading to tooth decay and, eventually, cavities. 

Foods that get stuck in the teeth like gummy candy, crackers, white bread and dried fruit, prolong the acid attacks and are more likely to contribute to tooth decay than things that rinse off the teeth easily like ice cream or yogurt, though they also contain sugar. 

Slowly snacking or sipping on a drink over a long period of time makes the acid attacks go on and on as well, increasing the risk of cavities. 

 

Nutrition for Cavity Prevention

Nutrition for Cavity Prevention

The good news is, knowing how tooth decay in children occurs, means you can take measures to prevent it. To keep cavities at bay:

  • Have kids enjoy sugars, simple carbohydrates and sticky foods in moderation. 
  • Limit snacking to once or twice a day. Stick with foods that help to remineralize the teeth or that won’t cause cavities like cheese, nuts and seeds, carrot and celery sticks, firm fruits, etc.  
  • Encourage kids to eat or drink sugary and starchy treats in one sitting. Serve them with a larger meal when saliva production is at its peak, and have kids brush their teeth afterwards or rinse their mouth out really well with water.
  • Aim for a well-rounded diet consisting of lean proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables in a variety of colors, healthy fats, dairy (or dairy alternatives) and complex carbohydrates. 
  • Choose fresh whole foods when possible. These foods tend to stick in the teeth less than their processed or dried counterparts and are usually eaten more quickly. For example, kids typically eat fresh grapes in one sitting and they don’t end up packed in between their teeth. Raisins, on the other hand, do stick in the teeth and last at room temperature for a long time, so people often eat them slowly.

 

Vitamins and Minerals for Kids’ Teeth and Gums

Having sugars and starches in moderation and minimizing the amount of time kids’ teeth are exposed to carbohydrates will go a long way in preventing cavities and gingivitis. 

But, it’s also important for children to get an adequate amount of the key minerals and vitamins for strong teeth and gums. These nutritional building blocks create a foundation for a lifelong healthy smile:

 

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel and the jawbone. It makes teeth more resistant to acid erosion and tooth decay. The body is pretty talented at storing extra calcium in your teeth and bones, meaning it can make up for the calcium that’s lost due to normal wear and tear and cavity-causing acids. 

When a child doesn’t get enough calcium in their diet, however, it makes it more difficult for the body to replace the lost minerals. The teeth then become susceptible to decay and breakage. 

Thankfully, kids can get enough calcium to keep their teeth strong through a variety of sources. To maximize the oral health benefits, choose calcium-rich foods and beverages that don’t have a lot of added sugar. We’d recommend milk, yogurt, cheese, seeds, sardines, beans, tofu, lentils, almonds, leafy greens and fortified foods and drinks, such as non-dairy milk, cereal and orange juice. 

 

Phosphorus

Phosphorus joins forces with calcium to create the main structural component of tooth enamel and bones. It also works with calcium and vitamin D to rebuild and maintain enamel and tooth-supporting bone. Similar to calcium, a phosphorous deficiency makes kids more prone to cavities and tooth breakage. 

The best sources of phosphorus include meat, poultry, milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, legumes, cashews, brown rice, potatoes, whole wheat bread, pumpkin seeds and seafood like sardines, tuna, salmon and scallops.

 

Vitamin A

One of the best vitamins for teeth and gums is vitamin A. It helps with saliva production, and saliva is crucial for washing away food debris and plaque, neutralizing acids in the mouth and remineralizing the teeth, making them strong and cavity resistant. Vitamin A also boosts immunity and fights inflammation, thanks to its antioxidant properties. This keeps the gums and oral tissues healthy, reducing the risk of gingivitis and mouth sores, and ensuring the mouth heals quickly.

A review published in the Indian Journal of Applied Research found that a vitamin A deficiency is linked to gum disease, enamel defects and dry mouth.

Kids can get vitamin A through their diet by eating foods such as carrots, red and orange peppers, sweet potatoes, mango, cantaloupe, apricots, leafy greens, fish, liver and egg yolks.

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a part in maintaining the jawbone and teeth. But, its biggest contribution in the mouth is in promoting healthy gums and oral soft tissues. Vitamin C aids in healing and keeps the connective tissues that hold the teeth in place strong. A lack of vitamin C may cause bleeding gums and gingivitis. 

Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, green, orange and red peppers, leafy greens, cauliflower, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, papaya, watermelon, kiwi and mango. 

There is one caveat though: Acidic sources of vitamin C like citrus fruits, while amazing for periodontal (gum) health, can hasten enamel erosion. To avoid this, mix up the foods and drinks your child is getting vitamin C from. And, have them brush their teeth before eating something acidic or wait an hour after eating or drinking it to brush. Brushing immediately afterwards can damage the temporarily weakened enamel. 

 

Vitamin D

Another of the vitamins for strong teeth and bones is vitamin D. It enhances bone density and helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus to harden enamel and remineralize the teeth. It also has anti-inflammatory properties for a decreased risk of gingivitis in kids. 

A study determined that a severe vitamin D deficiency in early childhood can cause enamel defects that increase the risk of tooth decay. The researchers also found that people with a vitamin deficiency had a higher prevalence of gum inflammation and periodontitis (severe gum disease). 

Kids can get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, as well as through their diet with fatty fish, mushrooms and foods fortified with vitamin D, including cereal, milk and orange juice. 

 

Other Nutrients Kids Need for Oral Health

While those listed above are the primary minerals and vitamins for healthy teeth and gums, a well-rounded diet is still essential. Iron, magnesium, potassium and B vitamins all work to create a healthy body and mouth too. Brown rice, leafy greens, bananas, nuts, seeds, beans, meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products will give your child the right balance for excellent oral health

 

Schedule a Visit With a Naperville Pediatric Dentist

For more cavity prevention tips and a full array of preventative care, schedule an appointment for your child at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville. Once we’ve examined your child and chatted with you about their lifestyle and needs, an expert dentist will work with you to create a personalized plan to give your child their healthiest smile. 

Why Are My Child’s Teeth Yellow?

By Blog

Brushing and Flossing

At our Naperville pediatric dentistry practice, concerned parents often ask us, “Why are my child’s teeth yellow despite brushing and flossing?” Many times, especially if it’s your child’s newly erupted permanent teeth, it’s not a cause for concern, however, there are instances where treatment could be needed. To give you a better idea of what’s normal and what’s not, here are some of the causes of yellow teeth in kids:

  • Erupting Permanent Teeth

If it seems like your child’s permanent teeth are coming in yellow, this is actually completely normal. 

Compared to baby teeth, the permanent teeth have larger nerve canals and more dentin, which is the yellowish protective layer underneath the enamel. When the permanent teeth erupt, the enamel is a bit more transparent at first too, so the yellow can show through. 

Plus, since the permanent teeth erupt right next to those stark white baby teeth, the contrast makes the difference more dramatic. As the enamel calcifies over time, the permanent teeth will look whiter. Once all of the permanent teeth are in, your child’s smile will be nice and uniform. 

  • Poor Oral Hygiene

When kids don’t thoroughly brush and floss their teeth, plaque builds up on the enamel. This can lead to a dull or yellow appearance. Having kids floss once daily and brush at least twice a day will prevent plaque from sticking. 

Once plaque hardens into tartar, it can’t be removed at home, so your child’s teeth will still be yellow despite brushing. Tartar has to be eliminated during a professional dental cleaning using special tools. If plaque and tartar are the cause of tooth discoloration, your child’s teeth should be whiter after their cleaning. 

  • Foods and Drinks That Stain Teeth

Highly pigmented foods like blueberries and tomato sauce and beverages, such as soda, energy drinks and fruit juice can stain kids’ teeth, making them look yellow. 

To avoid this, have kids rinse their mouth out with water after eating or drinking anything pigmented and be diligent about brushing. Try to serve pigmented foods in moderation and encourage kids to drink water and milk instead of sugary drinks.

If discoloration has already occurred and you’re wondering how to remove the yellow stains from your child’s teeth, talk to your pediatric dentist. We can generally buff away these surface stains during a cleaning.

Why Are My Child’s Teeth Yellow?

  • Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is another culprit, though only the affected teeth will be discolored. As decay progresses into a cavity, there may be a visible hole or pit in the tooth and brown or black spots. Schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. The earlier a cavity is treated, the easier, quicker and less expensive treatment will be. 

  • Thin or Weak Enamel 

The enamel starts to form on a child’s baby teeth when they’re in the womb. Enamel formation on permanent teeth begins in infancy and continues through early childhood. When the process is disrupted during either period, it can cause enamel defects, such as enamel hypoplasia. With enamel hypoplasia, the enamel is too thin, which exposes more of the dentin and causes teeth to look yellow.

Which teeth are affected by enamel hypoplasia depends on the cause of the disturbance in enamel formation and the timing, so you may notice your child’s baby teeth coming in yellow or it may only occur on a permanent tooth. Usually, only some of the teeth are affected.

The location and severity will determine whether treatment is needed. If the thin enamel is causing sensitivity or putting your child at risk for tooth decay, we may recommend professional fluoride treatment, dental sealants and other measures. In extreme cases, the affected permanent teeth will need to be covered with dental crowns to protect them when your child is older. 

  • Certain Antibiotics

Yellow baby teeth from antibiotics is pretty rare these days. However, some antibiotics, namely tetracycline, can stain kids’ teeth if the mother takes them while pregnant or the child takes them before the age of 8. The teeth may start by looking yellow and then, eventually, turn brown. This effect is widely known, so most doctors don’t prescribe these types of antibiotics to young children or pregnant women anymore. 

Can I Whiten My Child’s Teeth?

We don’t usually recommend whitening kids’ teeth. Whitening toothpaste can be too abrasive on their developing enamel and over-the-counter whitening treatments can cause sensitivity and irritate their gum tissue. 

As we mentioned above, many times, a child’s permanent teeth coming in yellow is normal and their teeth will brighten in time. For causes like tooth decay, whitening won’t help either. Instead, bring up any concerns with your Naperville pediatric dentist

 

Book an Appointment With a Naperville Kids’ Dentist

If your child is embarrassed by the color of their teeth or you’re worried that discoloration is a sign of a problem, schedule an appointment for your child at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville, IL. We’ll perform an exam and find out what’s causing their teeth to look yellow. We can then create a personalized treatment plan and, if needed, discuss safe ways to brighten your child’s smile.

We also want to remind parents that Illinois law requires kids entering kindergarten, second, sixth and ninth grades in public, private and parochial schools to have a dental exam performed by a licensed dentist. Book your back-to-school check-up to have your forms ready for the new school year!

Innovative Pediatric Dentistry

ADVANCED SAFETY PROTOCOLS

By Blog

Updated 7/1/2022

At Innovative Pediatric Dentistry, we are still committed to the safety of our patients and staff. We continue to have advanced protocols to make your visit safe. Please read below for a quick introduction to these steps, and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

FACEMASKS

All patients, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear face coverings per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the American Dental Association (ADA).

PRE-SCREENING OF EVERY PATIENT

A quick health questionnaire should be completed 24 to 48 hours prior to the in-office appointment.

CDC-APPROVED INSTRUMENT STERILIZATION

As always, we will continue our high-level disinfection between patients, hospital grade sterilization of instruments, and appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

APPOINTMENT RESCHEDULING

Please reschedule your appointment if anyone in your household has been sick in the last 14 days.

ADVANCED STAFF TRAINING & HEALTH CHECKS

Each member of our team has completed additional awareness and prevention programs to enhance their knowledge to provide safe dental care. Each day, we complete health checks for our team with no-touch temperature checks and a quick set of questions.

Thank you for your understanding as we work together to achieve your best smile! As guidance for COVID-19 prevention changes, we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in the office. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions! We are looking forward to seeing you soon!

Is it Normal for Kids to Grind Their Teeth?

By Blog

Kids to Grind Their Teeth

You made it through a few years of teething and things are smooth sailing until you hear a squeaking, grating noise and realize your child is grinding their teeth. Isn’t teeth grinding only for stressed out adults? No, believe it or not, teeth grinding and clenching can strike at any age. In fact, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, an estimated 3 out of 10 kids grind their teeth before the age of 5. 

Though the habit is common, is it okay? The team at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville will be tackling the subject in this post. 

What is Bruxism?

Repetitive teeth grinding, gnashing and/or clenching is known as bruxism. Awake bruxism happens when a child is awake, while sleep bruxism occurs when your child is sleeping. Sleep bruxism is harder to identify than awake bruxism. This is because most kids don’t know they’re grinding their teeth in sleep, so it might not be until they experience symptoms that you realize anything is going on. 

Why Do Kids Grind Their Teeth?

As for why kids grind their teeth, it depends on your child’s age. In very young kids, teeth grinding is normal and not usually a cause for concern. Toddlers may grind their teeth to combat the discomfort of teething or as a way to explore their mouth. By around age 6, most little ones will stop grinding their teeth on their own. 

Awake bruxism, even in children who are school-aged or older, might not warrant any treatment or cause any issues, though it can be a sign that your child is stressed or anxious. 

But what about sleep bruxism? Why do kids grind their teeth at night? It’s not always possible to pinpoint an exact cause. It seems to run in families, indicating a potential genetic component. Other risk factors for sleep bruxism in kids include:

  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Other health conditions, including ADHD and migraines
  • Certain medications
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Sleep disturbances, such as sleep apnea, snoring and night terrors
  • Allergies (a study found evidence suggesting children with allergies are more likely to grind their teeth at night, perhaps as a way to cope with a middle ear disturbance from congestion)

Should I Be Concerned About My Child’s Teeth Grinding?

As we said, teeth grinding in young kids isn’t usually a concern. Unless it’s resulting in other issues, there’s a good chance they’ll grow out of it. If teeth grinding is habitual and your child doesn’t stop around age 6, or they’re experiencing complications from it, then you’ll want to talk with your Naperville pediatric dentist about it. 

Chronic sleep bruxism in children can be an indication that something else is going on that will require treatment. For example, there might be an issue with the development of your child’s teeth, jaw and facial structure that restricts the airway or is causing misaligned teeth that, in turn, leads to grinding and clenching.  

Signs of Bruxism in Kids

Awake bruxism is easy to spot. You’ll hear and see your child clenching and grinding their teeth. They may do it unconsciously, such as when they’re concentrating really hard or feeling frustrated, or they could be aware of it. 

Sleep bruxism in children is harder to pinpoint. Signs that your child is grinding their teeth at night include:

  • Grinding Noises – You or someone else in your household might hear squeaking, grinding, gnashing or chewing noises while your child is sleeping. If you suspect your kiddo is grinding their teeth, but you’re not sure, you can check on them in the middle of the night or use a baby monitor to confirm it. 
  • Jaw Pain – If your child has a sore jaw in the morning, they’re likely grinding their teeth. The pressure from grinding and clenching puts strain on the jaw and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), potentially leading to pain and clicking and popping noises.
  • Teeth Damage – Aggressive or chronic bruxism can damage the teeth and gums. In extreme cases, you may notice that some of your child’s teeth are wearing down. They might also have receding gums, tooth fractures, chips or cracks on the teeth or damaged fillings.
  • Sensitive Teeth – Tooth sensitivity is also common in kids who grind their teeth. They can have sensitivity or discomfort while chewing or when enjoying hot or cold foods and drinks. 
  • Headaches – When kids grind their teeth at night, that same pressure that causes jaw pain often leads to headaches too. Pain can also radiate to the ear and neck. 

Complications of Teeth Grinding in Kids

Complications of Teeth Grinding in Kids

Teeth grinding in toddlers or preschoolers, as well as mild awake bruxism at any age, is unlikely to cause complications unless it’s really severe. Chronic sleep bruxism, on the other hand, can cause problems, including:

  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Fractured or chipped teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Jaw pain and headaches
  • Damaged dental restorations, such as fillings or pediatric dental crowns
  • TMJ dysfunction
  • Sleep problems 

How to Stop Kids From Grinding Teeth

If your toddler is grinding their teeth, unless you think it’s stress- or anxiety-related, making a concerted effort to get them to stop can often backfire and cause them to do it more frequently as a way to get attention. So, these tips are geared towards children who habitually engage in grinding while sleeping and have symptoms like a sore jaw or headaches:

  • Try to Find the Source – Try to find the source of your child’s teeth grinding. If it’s something obvious like allergies that make breathing out of their nose difficult, managing the allergies will go a long way in helping to stop teeth grinding in their sleep. If you can’t pinpoint the cause, talk with your child. Maybe they’re stressed about a test or being teased at school. Once you have an idea of what’s causing it, you and your child can work on a solution together. 
  • Teach Your Child Ways to Manage Stress – Stress and teeth grinding go hand in hand. If your child is anxious and stressed, help them find ways to manage it. Things like doing kids’ yoga, getting plenty of exercise, talking about concerns, prioritizing school tasks so they’re not overwhelmed and practicing deep breathing can help reduce your child’s stress. If necessary, reach out to a professional for support. 
  • Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine – A bedtime routine can help reduce sleep disturbances, which are tied to teeth grinding in kids, and relieve anxiety and stress by making kids’ feel safe and secure. You may have to experiment with what works for your child, but an example could include, taking a warm bath, brushing and flossing their teeth and then reading a book together. 
  • Set the Stage for Quality Sleep – Sleep hygiene is a term for healthy sleep habits. Having good sleep hygiene will increase your child’s quality of sleep and like that relaxing bedtime routine, minimize sleep disturbances and bruxism. Some good rules of thumb include:
  • Have your child go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Encourage your little one to only use their bed for sleeping and not other activities like homework or playing on a tablet. This helps their brain associate getting in bed with falling asleep.
  • Create a comfy, cozy room by making sure it’s cool, dark, quiet and has appropriate bedding for the season. 
  • Limit the amount of time spent on electronic devices, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. 
  • Try to get kids to exercise earlier in the day and eat a nutritious diet. 
  • Talk to Your Pediatric Dentist – If the above tips don’t help and your child is still grinding in their teeth, schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist. 

Bruxism Treatment for Children

If your child is grinding their teeth in sleep and experiencing complications, treatment could be necessary. While it will depend on the cause of your child’s bruxism and other factors, treatment could include:

  • An Oral Device – A custom kids’ mouthguard for grinding teeth, sometimes called a nightguard, fits over your child’s top teeth and cushions against the grinding forces. While a nightguard won’t necessarily stop the behavior, it will prevent the dental issues and jaw pain that can occur. There are boil-and-bite varieties and ones you can order online, however, a custom kids’ mouthguard for teeth grinding created by your dentist will offer the best fit, protection and comfort. 

If your kiddo is having TMJ dysfunction in addition to their teeth grinding, a custom TMJ splint that helps reposition the jaw and prevent friction might be recommended instead. 

  • Orthodontic Treatment – For an older child who grinds their teeth because of misalignment, braces or Invisalign® Teen can help to align the teeth and bite and may improve grinding. 

In younger children, if teeth grinding is related to a problem with their craniofacial development, phase 1 orthodontic treatment could be the better route. This is when an orthodontist uses certain appliances to guide jaw growth while your child is still developing. It can be beneficial for opening the airway and making room for the permanent teeth to come in, which will alleviate future misalignment, sleep-disordered breathing problems and the subsequent teeth grinding. 

If that’s the case, as part of the Innovative Dental Partners family, we’re under the same roof as Innovative Orthodontic Centers. Your Naperville pediatric dentist can coordinate care with the board-certified orthodontists at Innovative Orthodontic Centers to help your child get the most comprehensive care. 

  • Treatment for Other Underlying Causes – When teeth grinding is because of another health condition or an issue like anxiety that’s interfering with your child’s daily life, schedule a visit with their pediatrician. Treating the underlying problem will often help with bruxism.

 

Looking for the Best Pediatric Dentist in Naperville, IL?

Whether your child is grinding their teeth and you’d like guidance or you’re just in need of a pediatric dentist, Innovative Pediatric Dentistry can help! Our bright, fun practice uses modern technology for safer, more comfortable care. And, we’ve been named best pediatric dentist in Naperville by Naperville Magazine every year since 2008! Schedule your child’s appointment with us today.

Child’s Baby Tooth Won’t Come Out

What Should I Do if My Child’s Baby Tooth Won’t Come Out?

By Blog

child’s tooth is loose but won’t come out.

“My child’s tooth is loose but won’t come out.” “My child’s baby tooth is not falling out or getting loose at all.” These are some of the concerns that parents bring up with our Naperville pediatric dentist. While it can be tempting to take matters into your own hands and try to pull a stubborn baby tooth, that’s not usually the best course of action. 

The team at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry will be sharing some insight when we cover:

  • When do kids start losing teeth?
  • Why would a baby tooth not come out?
  • What to do if a child’s tooth is loose but won’t come out
  • What to do if baby teeth are not falling out at all

When do kids start losing teeth?

The average age for a child to lose their first tooth is between 6 and 7. Kids will continue losing baby teeth until around age 12. That said, these are just averages. Some kids start losing baby teeth a little earlier or later. Usually, this is nothing to worry about. 

However, if a baby tooth falls out before age 5 or no teeth have fallen out after age 7, it is something to bring up with your pediatric dentist. Losing baby teeth prematurely or very late can sometimes result in orthodontic issues. 

Why would a baby tooth not come out?

If a baby tooth won’t come out, it could be because:

  • It’s not ready. If it’s around the time a baby tooth is supposed to fall out but it’s not wiggly yet or your child’s tooth is loose but won’t come out, most often, it means it’s not ready. The underlying permanent tooth pushes against the root of the baby tooth, causing the root to dissolve. When this happens, the tooth loosens and falls out. Sometimes this process can take a little while.
  • Your kiddo is between ages 8 and 10. Once kids start losing baby teeth, it can seem like the Tooth Fairy is visiting every other day. In fact, the average 8 year old will have lost 8 teeth. While the process starts off fast and furious, it slows down between ages 8 and 10. This lull is normal. Around age 10, kids will lose teeth more frequently again. 
  • There isn’t enough room for the permanent tooth because of moderate to severe crowding. The permanent teeth are larger than the primary teeth. If your child’s baby teeth were crowded or they have extra teeth, it can indicate that the situation will get worse as their permanent teeth start to erupt. With moderate to severe crowding, sometimes, there isn’t enough space for the permanent teeth to erupt properly. If they come in sideways or become impacted, they’re not able to push out the baby teeth. 
  • Your child has “shark teeth.” If your child’s baby teeth are not falling out and new teeth are coming in, it can be alarming. But this condition, nicknamed “shark teeth,” because sharks have several rows of teeth, is actually fairly common. It can happen if a permanent tooth pushes through in front of, or more commonly, behind a primary tooth. Since it misses the tooth’s root and doesn’t cause it to dissolve, your child’s baby tooth won’t come out. Instead, they’ll temporarily have two rows of teeth. 
  • Rarely, the permanent tooth below the baby tooth failed to develop. Congenitally missing teeth are rare, but do happen. This is when the permanent tooth that should be underlying the baby tooth doesn’t develop. With no permanent tooth to push it out, the baby tooth can stay in place indefinitely. 

What to do if a child’s tooth is loose but won’t come out

Should you pull a loose baby tooth? No. It’s best to let the tooth fall out naturally. When a child’s tooth is loose but won’t come out, in all likelihood, it’s just not ready. Pulling a baby tooth prematurely can be painful and cause damage. 

Instead, have your child use their tongue to wiggle their baby tooth as much as possible. You can also encourage them to eat things like raw apples and carrots, which will hasten the process along. Eventually, the tooth will detach on its own and fall out. 

If the tooth is extremely loose and after two weeks of wiggling is still refusing to budge, call your pediatric dentist. We can assess the situation and let you know if you should give the tooth more time or if it needs help from the dentist. If the tooth does need to be removed, our pediatric dentist can do it quickly, painlessly and safely. 

What to do if the baby teeth are not falling out at all

What to do if the baby teeth are not falling out at all

What happens if the baby teeth don’t fall out? It depends. Often, given time, the teeth will eventually shed. Even in the case of those shark teeth we talked about, after the permanent tooth comes in behind the baby tooth, the baby tooth will still usually fall out on its own; it just may take longer. 

If a child’s baby teeth are not falling out and we don’t see any visible reason why, our pediatric dentist might take digital x-rays. An x-ray can show us if tooth loss is delayed by severe crowding, a missing permanent tooth or extra teeth blocking the eruption of permanent teeth. This will let us determine if it’s necessary to extract the baby tooth. 

Another important thing to note is that one of the reasons it’s recommended that kids have their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7 is because the orthodontist will evaluate their growth and development and identify issues with the loss or eruption of teeth. 

Some kids can benefit from early orthodontic treatment to guide jaw growth and alleviate crowding. This may help the permanent teeth come in properly, which will also ensure the baby teeth fall out. The good news is, Innovative Orthodontic Centers is under the same roof as our pediatric dental practice. We can easily and conveniently coordinate your child’s care to help their smile take shape.

 

Contact our Naperville Kids’ Dentist

If you’re concerned that your child’s baby tooth won’t come out, schedule a visit at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry in Naperville. Our friendly team and dentist will perform a comprehensive exam and offer personalized guidance to keep your child’s dental development on track. 

 

Stress Affecting Your Child’s Oral Health

How Stress Affecting Your Child’s Oral Health?

By Blog
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

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.