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Protect Your Baby from Early Childhood Caries

January 25th, 2023

Your baby’s first smiles are precious—and you want to make sure those precious smiles are as healthy as they are beautiful. One of the most important ways to protect your child’s dental health is by preventing early childhood caries, or cavities.

You might be thinking, “Tooth decay? Babies?” Yes, babies and toddlers can get cavities, too. Studies suggest that over a quarter of children between the ages of two and five already have some form of tooth decay.

The bacteria that cause tooth decay are passed from person to person. Cavity-causing bacteria use the sugar and starches in our diets to produce acids—acids which attack the tooth’s enamel, breaking down its hard mineral structure until cavities form. Because baby teeth have thinner enamel coatings than adult teeth, they are especially vulnerable to tooth decay.

You can start your child on the path to a lifetime of healthy smiles by being proactive about cavity prevention during your baby’s first 12 months.

  • Don’t Share Bacteria

Because cavity-causing oral bacteria are transmitted from person to person, doctors and dentists suggest that you don’t share a spoon with your baby, or put a pacifier in your mouth to clean it. And it’s a good idea to rinse toys used by other children with clean water before giving them to your child.

  • Keep Bottles Out of Bed

Babies generally need a feeding before bedtime to ensure that they get all the nutrition their growing bodies need. But when a young child sleeps with a bottle, liquids pool in the mouth, exposing tiny teeth to these liquids throughout the night and preventing the natural flow of saliva from washing food particles away.

Bring your child’s happy day to a close with a lullaby, a bedtime story, a good night kiss, or whatever makes your baby feel comforted and loved—and take the bottle with you when you tiptoe out of the room.

  • Avoid Sugary Drinks

How do parents make sure their babies get the nutrition they need without giving cavity-causing bacteria the fuel they need? With a healthy diet. Breast milk and formula have healthy nutrients, carbs, and sugars which are necessary for baby’s growth and development. Sugar water, sweet juices, and sodas—don’t.

Added sugars provide a feast for cavity-causing bacteria, and the more your child is exposed to them throughout the day, the greater the risk of tooth decay. Talk to Dr. Varble, Dr. Dill, Dr. Wong, and Dr. Parks for the healthiest drinks for your baby’s bottle or sippy cup.

  • Clean Baby’s Teeth and Gums

Dentists recommend cleaning your baby’s gums even before teeth begin to arrive. After washing your hands, using a clean, damp, soft cloth or gauze pad to gently wipe the gum surfaces to remove bacteria and food.

As soon as the first tooth appears, it’s time to start gentle brushing. Use a baby-sized toothbrush to gently clean the erupting teeth once in the morning and once after the last feeding of the day. And as soon as two baby teeth touch, it’s time to talk about flossing.

Not sure about baby-friendly tooth care products, toothpastes, and techniques? Talk to Dr. Varble, Dr. Dill, Dr. Wong, and Dr. Parks! Learn about cleaning little gums, baby-size brushes, when to begin using fluoride toothpaste and how much toothpaste to use, when to brush, and when to start flossing.

  • Establish a Dental Home for Your Child

The ideal time for your child’s first visit to our Creve Coeur or St. Charles office is sometime between the appearance of your child’s first tooth and your child’s first birthday. It’s a gentle way to introduce your baby to the dental team who will be caring for those little smiles for many years to come.

During that first visit, your child’s dentist will check tooth and jaw development. There will be a child-friendly examination to look for plaque buildup or any signs of early decay, such as white spots on tooth enamel. You can talk about any concerns you might have and learn the best ways to prevent tooth decay with proactive dental care for healthy teeth and gums.

Why are we so concerned about baby teeth? Decayed teeth can cause pain and self-consciousness. And more, those tiny teeth have big responsibilities. Baby teeth influence your child’s speech development. They promote healthy eating and chewing habits. Baby teeth serve as placeholders to make sure that your child’s adult teeth will be able to erupt just where they should.

Your baby’s first smiles are precious. And when you’re proactive with early dental care, you’re preparing your child for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

January 25th, 2023

Dental sealants are an excellent way to protect children’s teeth from tooth decay by coating them with a thin plastic material. Their teeth look and feel like normal, but they are protected from plaque build-up and decay early on. Dr. Varble, Dr. Dill, Dr. Wong, and Dr. Parks and our staff recommend sealants as a preventive measure for children before any decay appears on their teeth.

Who should get dental sealants?

Dental sealants are intended for young children as soon as their first teeth come in. Decay is most common in the molars, so taking your child to Dentistry for Children for sealants right when you see the molars grow in gives your child the best chance to fight tooth decay.

A child’s first set of permanent molars grow in between ages five and seven, while the second permanent molars come in between 11 and 14 years of age. Some teens and adults who don’t have tooth decay may get sealants as well, but it is less common.

How long do dental sealants last?

Once the sealant has been placed on the teeth, it lasts up to ten years. Expect to have Dr. Varble, Dr. Dill, Dr. Wong, and Dr. Parks check the sealant at every visit to our Creve Coeur or St. Charles office, which should be twice a year. We will look at the sealant and determine if it needs to be replaced.

What is the process of getting sealants?

Applying sealants is a simple, pain-free procedure that is done quickly at Dentistry for Children. There is absolutely no effect on the tooth structure from sealants.

For starters, the teeth are cleaned carefully, then dried with an absorbent material. A mild acid solution is applied to them to roughen them slightly. This is done so the sealant can bond properly to the teeth. Then the teeth are rinsed and dried, and the sealant material is painted on and dried with a special light.

Molars are susceptible to decay early on, which is why sealants are an important treatment to get for your children’s first set of teeth.

Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

January 18th, 2023

In the eyes of most parents, nothing is cuter than their baby’s smile. Did you know your little one’s smile (that is, his or her oral health) actually plays a huge role in determining the child’s overall well-being? In order to keep your youngster healthy and smiling, you need to know when and how to take care of those tiny teeth.

Baby teeth aren’t just temporaries that will fall out eventually. They help your baby chew and talk, and they reserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth later on. Since they’re so important, the right time to start dental care is only a few days after your infant is born.

Take a soft, wet washcloth or piece of gauze and gently wipe your baby’s gums. The earlier you begin, the more accustomed your child will become to a daily dental hygiene routine.

Babies that are put to bed with a bottle may be at greater risk for developing cavities. Milk, juice, and any other drinks that contain sugar instigate tooth decay while the child sleeps.

If your baby must go to bed with something, a bottle of water is the healthiest option. Remember to wipe your little one’s gums after each feeding, whether it’s formula from a bottle or breast milk.

As soon as your infant’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start brushing! Twice a day, take a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and brush your son or daughter’s teeth gently in circular motions. As soon as your toddler has multiple teeth that touch one another, floss up and down the sides of the teeth to remove any plaque between them or below the gumline.

Babies’ teeth are prone to cavities and gingivitis, so you’ll want to be on the lookout for telltale signs. Check regularly for red, swollen gums, because this may be an indication of developing gum disease. Discoloration, white spots, or small pits in the teeth can signal a forming cavity.

As long as you follow these simple guidelines and schedule regular dental checkups with Dr. Varble, Dr. Dill, Dr. Wong, and Dr. Parks at our Creve Coeur or St. Charles office, you can help to ensure your baby has a healthy mouth. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your happy baby’s healthy smile.

What are Sealants?

January 11th, 2023

Sealants offer many benefits, but the best is their ability to protect your molars. Molars are full of small caverns that can be the perfect breeding ground for tooth decay and plaque buildup.

Use of protective sealants prevents this buildup from happening. Although children often receive sealants for routine preventive care, they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this treatment. Sealants can also help adults who have deep canyons or grooves in their teeth.

They are commonly placed on the rear molars that tend to suffer the most decay. Because your molars are used substantially as grinding surfaces, food is more likely to be trapped among them.

Sealant solution consists a composite material that contains bonding agents that seal the top of your teeth. The process is quick and painless, which makes it a great solution for both children and adults who have had trouble with cavities and tooth decay. Sealants also last for several years, and repair is a simple process that can be completed by Dr. Varble, Dr. Dill, Dr. Wong, and Dr. Parks.

The process of putting sealants on teeth starts with the tooth getting cleaned. We clean it with a type of baking soda spray called sodium bicarbonate. Then acid is etched onto the teeth to rough up the surface.

We apply an alcohol-based liquid to dry the area where the sealant is supposed to go. After it completely covers the surface of the treated teeth, the sealant is cured with a light that makes it hard and long-lasting.

Getting sealants can prevent the possible restorative costs that come from cavities. Sealants help to protect your tooth’s enamel from harmful acids and prevent decay, which can be an investment in itself. The whole process is quick, so it should be easy to schedule an appointment at Dentistry for Children.

Feel free to call our Creve Coeur or St. Charles location and we can answer any questions you have about this service.