Friday, December 9, 2016

Preparing for a Child's First Dental Visit

Preparing for your child’s first dental visit can be tricky. We encourage you to talk about us before you visit. Your child has been to the physician’s office many times, usually for shots, so it’s understandable if they are a little unsure of us. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

Please don't talk about bad experiences that you have had, or the time your child's sibling freaked out and bit the dentist. (That last one's a joke, hopefully that didn't happen!) Don’t talk about needles or pain or discomfort. Take a calm and matter-of-fact approach. If they have any questions about what we do, reassure them that we are only here to help them keep their smiles healthy.

If they are very nervous, you are always welcome to bring them with you to your own appointment. This helps them become acclimated to our office and staff, and to see how easy a dental visit can be. Seeing someone they are familiar with and look up to successfully go through an experience that is new to the child makes a big impact. If they see how calm you are they will soon realize how easy it is to visit the dentist.
There are also a good selection of books about visiting the dentist that you can read with your child.  Here is a short list of children's books that will help put your young one in a good mindset.
Arthur's Tooth by Mark Brown - The famous aardvark is nervous about a loose tooth.
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain - The title says it all. Who doesn't love the Berenstain Bears?
Elmo Visits the Dentist by PJ Shaw - That Elmo is everywhere these days...
Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer - This is one about Little Critter. We hear he's pretty famous with the kiddie demographic.
Show Me Your Smile: A Visit to the Dentist by Christine Ricci - Dora “explores” the dentist office.
A Visit to the Dentist by Eleanor Fremont - This one's about Little Bill's dental visit.
There are many more books about dentistry that are geared toward children. These particular ones have been mentioned to us by our patients as good reads that helps their children.
There's another book that's geared toward a slightly older set of kids called What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy. It's written by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. It probably won't ease any dental anxiety, but it's definitely good for a laugh.
We're not associated/affiliated with any of these authors/publishing companies in any way. And of course, it's completely up to you to deem what's appropriate material to read to your children. If you're looking for a tool to make your child more comfortable about visiting us, one (or more) of these books might do the trick. If you ever have any questions or other recommendations feel free to comment.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Children's Dental Issues

Today we’re going to discuss some common habits that can be damaging to children’s teeth, as well as some solutions to help alleviate them.
Baby Bottle Syndrome
Baby Bottle Syndrome is a condition in which the child’s teeth have been exposed to sugary liquids for extended periods of time. The result of this is extreme decay in almost every tooth, especially the front teeth where the child holds the bottle. Often, parents don’t realize the damage until it’s too late. The first baby teeth fall out around 6 or 7 years old usually, the last teeth to come out are usually when the child is 12. So it’s definitely important to keep the baby teeth healthy. It’s often expensive and time-consuming to fix the damage done by Baby Bottle Syndrome, and also negatively impacts the child’s view on oral health.
The best way to fix this is to prevent it. Help your child brush daily, visit the dentist twice a year, and don’t let them fall asleep with or sip from a bottle that has anything other than water in it. The longer your child’s teeth are exposed to sugar, the more damage is done.
Eating too many sugary snacks or chewy, sticky snacks that stay on the teeth can have a similar effect as falling asleep with a sugary bottle. The solution is the same as above: prevention is the key. Offer your kids a variety of foods and teach them from an early age how to make nutritious choices. Sugar is fine for a treat, but be sure to brush after. Establish good habits now that will last a lifetime. Their smile will benefit, and so will their overall health.
Thumb-sucking is a common habit in children. They have a natural inclination to put everything in their mouths and sucking is how they eat. It’s also a calming habit. Most kids stop thumb-sucking on their own by 3 or 4 years old or so. If they continue thumb-sucking until they’re school-age, the permanent teeth might be crooked as they come in. There might be other issues depending on how long the child has been thumb-sucking, how frequently it occurs, etc.
It is easier to discourage putting fingers near the mouth from an early age than trying to break the habit after allowing thumb-sucking for so long. If you notice your baby thumb-sucking, offer a pacifier instead (see below). If you need to break your child of the habit, be calm about the situation, offer positive reinforcement to discourage the habit. Your child will probably forget occasionally, so be prepared to give a gentle reminder. If it’s an ongoing issue, please mention it to the dentist at your child’s next appointment.
Pacifier use is better than thumb-sucking because it’s a lot easier to break the habit. You can start weaning them off the pacifier by simply limiting the amount of time that you let them use it. This isn’t as damaging as thumb-sucking, but there is still the potential of harm to the child’s teeth or jaw.
When buying a pacifier, make sure the size and shape of it fit your child’s mouth (an ill-fitting pacifier can cause pain or malformation). Choose one that is made of rubber so as not to damage your child’s gums. Pacifiers wear and tear just like anything else. If you notice the pacifier starting to break down you should purchase a new one to avoid a potential choking hazard. Only offer the pacifier when the baby needs it; using the pacifier all the time can be habit-forming.
Teething is not a habit, but every child experiences it. Typically, babies start to get their first teeth when they’re 6 to 8 months old. You can usually tell when babies teethe as they become fussy, lose their appetites, drool more than usual, and have flushed cheeks. Chewing on a hard, chilled object will help their gums feel better and help the teeth break through the gums. Try putting a teething ring in the fridge, or massage your child’s gums with your finger. The pharmacy has over-the-counter ointments, but check with your pediatrician or pharmacist before purchasing.
If you have a topic or question that wasn’t covered here, please leave a comment. If you are concerned that your child may suffer from an issue we discussed, please call the office and schedule an evaluation with the dentist. 617-364-5500

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wisdom Teeth FAQ

Having your wisdom teeth removed is a rite of passage for many young adults. Dr. Kirk Bankhead is our go-to guy for extractions. Today he’ll answer some of the most common wisdom teeth questions.
  • Why do wisdom teeth need to come out?
    • In the majority of cases, people’s mouths are just too small to accommodate the wisdom teeth. We have cases where the patient’s teeth started shifting because the wisdom teeth were coming through. If the wisdom teeth are impacted, that they can’t break through the gums, it can lead to pain, headaches, and even gum disease down the road. Removing the wisdom teeth also makes home care easier. It becomes much easier for the patient to reach the back teeth with the toothbrush and floss without the wisdom teeth in the way.
  • When is the best time to schedule an appointment like this?
    • Try to schedule it during a time when you know you’ll be able to recuperate after. A Friday when you don’t have plans that weekend, for example. You’ll be sore after the procedure. You probably won’t be talking much, so you don’t want to schedule it for a weekend when you have a lot going on.
  • How long is the recovery period?
    • It really depends on the patient. You’ll be sore after the procedure, and limited to a soft diet for at least a couple days. You will most likely swell up a bit, and some people experience bruising. Different people have different tolerance levels for pain, and different rates of recovery. There are so many variables, but I’d say you should expect to take it easy for at least three days or so.
  • Am I allowed to eat before the procedure?
    • We don’t use general anesthesia so there is no need to fast. We use conscious sedation (the laughing gas) and a local anesthetic (Novocaine) during the procedure. We do recommend that you eat before you come in. Eat lightly at least one to two hours before your appointment. You probably won’t feel like eating after and you will be limited to a soft diet.
  • Does the insurance cover wisdom teeth extractions?
    • Most dental insurance plans cover the removal of wisdom teeth at a percentage. The way most insurances work is by implementing a yearly maximum of benefits allowed. They pay a percentage on every procedure, provided the maximum hasn’t been reached. Your medical insurance may also cover a portion of the procedure. The front desk will take care of billing your treatment to the insurance and following up with them. If you’d like to know exactly what your responsibility will amount to, we recommend sending a pre-treatment estimate to the insurance company. That will tell us exactly what your insurance will pay, and exactly what your co-payment will be.
  • Will I need medication after?
    • I’ll most likely prescribe you an antibiotic regimen to take following the procedure. The exact medication prescribed will depend on the severity of the case and whether you have any allergies. We will discuss appropriate pain management with you before the procedure.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Solutions for Teeth Grinding

Grinding, also known as bruxism, is when you clench your teeth tightly together, sometimes while grinding them back and forth over each other. For some people, this is a reaction to stress. It can happen when you are awake or asleep. Many people don’t even realize they’re doing it until they start experiencing symptoms.
Symptoms include:
  • pain in the jaw or teeth
  • chipped or broken teeth or fillings
  • flattened or worn down teeth
  • sensitive teeth
  • earaches
  • headaches
  • facial pain
  • damaged cheek tissue
  • noises when opening or closing your mouth (clicking or popping)
There are a few options to treat the symptoms of grinding. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be a temporary solution. Try warm wash cloths or massaging the muscles around your jaw (particularly where the upper and lower jaws connect - the temporomandibular joint). Your dentist can fabricate a custom-made splint or mouth guard for you to wear at night.
Stress isn’t the only cause of bruxism, but it’s perhaps the most common. A person’s teeth could be misaligned in such a way that grinding occurs naturally. Children, too, can experience grinding as their jaws grow and they begin to get adult teeth.
If you have a tendency to grind, try mindfulness; pay attention to your habits and make a conscious effort to relax your jaw when you catch yourself grinding or clenching. As Dr. Groipen always says, “Lips together, teeth apart!” Your teeth should only be touching each other when they are chewing (or smiling!). It can be a hard habit to break, especially if it’s in response to stress, but serious damage can occur to your teeth if it goes unchecked.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Never Forget

Five years ago, Meghan collected some of the September 11th memories from our staff and published them as a Facebook Note. Tomorrow marks the 15th anniversary of the attacks, and we'd like to republish that post here. If you have a memory you wish to share, please feel free to leave a comment and join us as we reflect on and remember the sacrifices that were made that day.

“I remember walking into work that morning and literally thinking “It’s the perfect day!” The weather was beautiful. I was working at the front desk that day and I was on the phone with my sister. She had the news on while we were talking and I remember she yelled when the second plane it.”

“I was nine years old and the fifth grade. Didn't know much back then. The teachers were out in the hall most of the day acting real weird. Being kids the whole class was enjoying the free time by throwing stuff around and talking real loud.”

“I was sitting in a class and I got a text on my phone. One of my friends was telling me about the World Trade Center. Then I got another text....and another. I got five texts in a couple minutes.”

“I remember exactly where I was. I was in West Roxbury, right in the hygiene room, working on patients.”

“I was in the seventh grade. The school I went to didn't tell any of us what was going on so I didn't know until my mother picked me up from school. It wasn't until I got home and saw all the footage that I really understood what had happened.”

“I dropped my daughter off at school. As I was pulling up to the school to drop her off I heard it on the radio. School was going on as a normal day and I thought she’d be safe there, so I still dropped her off and came to work.”

“I had just started my junior year at the University of Rhode Island. My professor briefly touched upon the attacks but did not go into detail.  So I had to sit through my 90 minute lecture wondering what was going on.”

“At the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center I was performing a root canal on a patient. I was in the West Roxbury office, which had a small TV in the lobby back then.  Once we heard what happened we immediately turned on the TV.”

“I walked the kids to school I then walked to the Joyce Kilmer to vote. When I got home, my phone was ringing and it was my friend asking if I heard about the airplane and told me to turn the TV on.”

“We were walking down the hall I saw a group of teachers crowded around a TV. They watched in silence. I didn't think my teacher had a life outside the classroom, that she even watched TV, it was weird. One teacher was actually crying, I didn’t know what was wrong with her.”

“I remember being on the train wondering why people were crying and whispering about towers and planes.”

“Where was I that day? Canada. In the airport. Headed home on a 9am flight. Standing in line with a group of Americans as we saw the tragedy. A few days later I walked across the border to drive home. I was so happy to join my loved ones.”

“My teacher came in with a radio, TV, and laptop that he connected to the overhead projector. No one said a word and we spent 42 minutes listening and watching the coverage. While he wrote explanations of people and things I had never heard of before on the black board. OSAMA BIN LADEN, Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan (where the hell is that?). We watched live as the first tower came down, we heard when the president boarded air force one. We saw over and over again the planes going into the towers. It was surreal, how could this be happening in New York city, it seemed like it was war footage in some foreign country, this doesn't happen in America.”

“I was at a doctor's appointment and the receptionist had the TV on, I saw the plane crashing into the tower then left and called my husband who was watching at work. I called my brother because he worked in Boston, and they said the plane was from Boston. He said he was getting out of the city. I wanted to make sure my family was safe, it was very scary.”

“I phoned my parents in Florida to make sure they were alright. That they were home safe. I drove home for lunch that day, to turn on CNN coverage and to witness the horror of the attacks. Once it was time to head back to the office I was stopped at a red light on Centre Street in West Roxbury.  My windows were down, as were the woman's in the blue Pontiac next to mine.  I looked over at  her and saw her sobbing. That brought it all home to me.”

“I was so overwhelmed by emotion. It was horrible. To see some of the images they were showing, to see the measures people were willing to take to try to survive...just awful.”

“I remember getting to the nearest television and watching the devastating act thinking ‘This is surreal. Is this a movie?’”

“I was outside with my kids and our neighbors and no one at first knew what to think.  We stayed together all day and tried to keep updated.  I remember how silent it was with no planes flying afterward, and also seeing the first fighter jets fly over West Roxbury.”

“When I got home I was glued to the TV watching it all. It seemed so unbelievable. The following week I was down the Cape on vacation and it was so quiet down there. It was almost eerie.”

“I remember that all cell phones were down and my mom was so nervous for myself and my brother where we were away at college.”

“When I got home I remember my mom called all my family in New York to make sure they were all right.”

“My daughter was in the sixth grade, and the school hadn’t told them anything. It was business as usual for them. I was so stressed debating what to tell her, when to tell her, how to tell her. I didn’t want to tell her right away. It was a tough question, how much could an eleven-year-old handle?”

“It was a time of shock and disbelief that this could have happened in a split second and it was out of our control. As the hours went by the day became a blur. It was such a terrible disaster which would change every American's life forever.”

“I remember watching it on television and thought this can't be real. I really thought it was a movie, thinking no one is really this cruel, til my kids’ school called to pick them up. On my way there I remember feeling depressed with tears running down my face scared that something will happen here in Boston.”

“This other girl got a text on her phone, too, and she raises her hand and tells the professor. At first the professor didn’t believe her, she thought she was mistaken or trying to get out early. So I spoke up and said I got five texts saying the same thing. The professor was shocked, you could tell, but she tried to keep things all business. We had twenty minutes left in class and she made us sit through it. I guess maybe she didn’t want us to panic.”

“It was just a normal workday and then people started talking about what happened. We tried our best to keep things normal, but I think we were all in shock.”

“I had to stay focused and finish my patient’s treatment.  She was under the effects of nitrous oxide, but in her laughing gas "fog" was confused about all that appeared to be happening.  At one point she removed the mask and asked if what she was hearing was really taking place.”

“I know people who were home that day sat watching the news and crying. We couldn’t do that. We had to work, we had to hold it together for the patients, to make the day as normal as possible even though it wasn’t.”

“We were all dealing with the same emotions. But we did the best we could to keep things normal because that’s all you can do. Patients still came in to get their teeth cleaned and I still cleaned their teeth.”

“In the following two or three months, there was no sound of honking automobile horns. People were all numb. It was a silent grieving, we were all family bonded in a deep loss.”

“My husband is a firefighter and his firehouse was beginning to organize a group of firefighters to go from the area to be stand-ins for the New York Fire Department. He had volunteered but he didn't end up going.”

“The next few days were hectic, every time the news came on you worried something else, or something worse happened.  Eventually the fear subsided but the government kept saying we had to be vigilant, it just made me more aware of my surroundings and I tried to be vigilant, whatever that meant.”

“Over the next few days, I thought it was really touching to see people band together and try to help each other through the grief and shock. It almost slowed life down a bit as people made time to be kind to each other.”

“I worked downtown on the weekends at the Swan Boats. The mayor instructed us to open for business that Saturday, the city was dead, it was like a ghost town, again surreal. The Hancock observation deck and top of the Pru were closed to tourists. We were open for 2 weeks after till the end of the season and everyday I worked it was weird. Something had changed in everyone.”

“It was so sad to see people holding up pictures of lost loved ones and hearing about Gerard Dewan.”

“The thing that affected me most about that day was the story of Flight 93. Just the fact that they had to take down that plane and the highjackers. The passengers on Flight 93 saw that they could change things, that they could take control. That’s always the thing that bothered me the most.”

“My kids were young, so I always watched them closely anyway. I was afraid to fly though, for a long time. I still don't like to fly!”

“I was a senior in high school at the time. That spring Senator Ted Kennedy and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy visited my school. All the seniors in the AP US history class were involved in a round table discussion. We talked about the concepts of freedom and terrorism, civil rights, foreign policy, diversity and tolerance. It was an interesting experience to have two people with that much authority sit and listen to an 18-year-old’s thoughts.”

“9/11 was one of those disasters that had me wondering what if I was there...or worse a family member? It really put things into perspective.”

“Going from a hateful man like Osama to electing a man named Obama shows the diversity and strength of a country united in the goal of equality and freedom. We have lots of problems as a society but my experience having such a literally "in your face" job proves to me how wonderful and beautiful human beings can be. I believe the 9/11 heroes left their love to each of us. We owe it to them to succeed, take an active interest in life, and make it our personal responsibility to add value to our world.”

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Brush 'Em! Floss 'Em!

Everybody brushes, but did you know there's a trick to it? To help you get the most out of your routine, here are a few important tips:
- Always use a toothpaste that is recommended by the American Dental Association. It will say so on the box or tube. This lets you know that the toothpaste has enough fluoride and will not be too abrasive for your teeth.
- Always use a toothbrush with soft bristles. A medium- or hard-bristle toothbrush can injure your gums and cause them to recede.
- Begin by placing the bristles towards your gums at a 45 degree angle (pointing up for the top teeth and pointing down for the bottom teeth.)
- Move the brush in a circular motion to loosen the plaque at the gum line.
- Then roll the brush in the direction your teeth grow (or the “pointing” of the gums): roll up for the bottom teeth, roll down for the top teeth.
- Remember to brush all the surfaces of your teeth: the sides facing your lip, cheek, and tongue, and the chewing surface.
- Finally, brush your tongue. Swish and rinse with water.
It should take you two minutes to properly brush your teeth. You should also floss your teeth daily. Flossing removes the plaque from in between your teeth and gums where your toothbrush cannot reach. Studies have shown flossing daily helps keep your whole body healthy. Here are some tips to help make flossing easier:
- There are lots of different types of flosses at the store. Pick a type of floss that works best for your teeth. If you have tight contacts (your teeth are very close to one another) or your teeth are crowded, use a Glide brand or a waxed floss (they are thinner). If you don’t have tight contacts, a woven floss works best.
- Take about 18 inches of floss and wrap most of it around one of your index or middle fingers. Wrap the rest of the floss around the index or middle finger of your other hand.
- Take a small section of floss (about an inch or so) and move it back and forth between your two teeth until it goes through the contact area (the place between your teeth).
- Once the floss is between your teeth, curve the floss like the letter ‘C’ around the side of one of the teeth. Then move the floss up and down the side of the tooth to wipe it clean. Make sure to go under the gum line!

 - Curve the floss towards the other tooth and repeat.
- Then roll the used section of floss onto your finger with the least amount of floss on it, and go in between the next two teeth with the new section of clean floss.
- It doesn’t matter which tooth you begin with. Just don’t forget to floss any of them! It might be easier to go in a pattern around your mouth, for example start in the upper right, go around the top, down to the bottom left and around the bottom to the right.
- The back teeth can be tricky to floss. Here's a little trick: Put the floss on your fingertips. When working on the right side, put your right index finger on your cheek to push it away from your gums. When you get to the left side, do the same with your left index finger. Also, don’t open your mouth too wide. If you only open halfway it makes it easier to pull your cheek back.
- If you get to the end of your floss but you haven’t hit all your teeth, throw the floss away and get a fresh piece. Don’t use old floss to clean new teeth!
- If you have dexterity issues that make flossing difficult, there are a couple products that could help you. You can use flossers, soft picks, and proxy brushes; just remember: wipe them off between each tooth you do. Otherwise you’re taking the plaque off one tooth and just putting it on another.
And there we go! Brushing and flossing daily is the way to go. You should take the time and do it mindfully, and if you follow our tips you'll be using your time effectively.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Teeth Around the Globe

Meghan visited Copenhagen recently and took this picture of a local dental office. “Klinik” is pretty easy to decipher, but we had to look up “tand.” Tand is the Danish word for tooth. That got us thinking about how to say “tooth” in other languages. What can we say? We love learning new things.

Spanish                       diente

Haitian Creole            dan

Russian                       зуб

Irish                           fiacail

Italian                       dente

Korean                      치아

Hebrew                      שן

German                     Zahn

Indonesian                gigi

Portuguese               dente

Japanese                    歯

Swahili                     jino

Polish                       ząb

Greek                       δόντι

Armenian                ատամ

Chinese                     牙齿

Arabic                        سن

Turkish                    diş

Thai                        ฟัน

Finnish                   hammas

Slovenian               zob

Hindi                        दांत

Vietnamese           răng

If we forgot your favorite language, we apologize! Please feel free to write it in the comments section.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dental Insurance 101

Believe or not, insurance is the aspect of dentistry we hear the most questions about. Insurances can be very confusing, and sometimes not very easy to deal with. Our front desk is very experienced and can answer just about any question you have. In this post we hope to answer some general questions. If you have a specific question, or one that isn’t addressed here, please write to us. If we don't know the answer, we will find it for you.

One of the trickiest things about insurance is the whole network thing. Unless a plan is particularly restrictive, most patients can choose their own dentist. We participate in most Delta Dental and Blue Cross Blue Shield networks. A dentist being in-network or out-of-network affects how much of the payment the patient is responsible for; most out-of-network plans will still pay a portion of each procedure, but your portion may be higher. If you have questions about whether we are in your network, your human resources department should be able to tell you for sure.

Every employer chooses what plans to offer its employees, and sometimes one employer will offer different options based on your job within the company. You can’t assume anything about dental insurance; you and your neighbor could both have Delta Dental, but your job might offer one level of coverage and your neighbor’s coverage might be completely different. Most human resource departments will give you a booklet that breaks down what and how much is covered. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your specific insurance plan.

If your insurance allows you to visit us, we’ll figure out exactly what your plan covers. Each insurance policy has different coverage levels and stipulations, so there is no general answer. A quick call to your insurance company will give us a breakdown of your benefits.  This will tell us in broad terms what will be covered and allow us to estimate how much of our fee the plan will cover. We like to have this breakdown before you visit us, so we can accurately explain the financial side of proposed treatment plans. We’ll also review financial options available for work that is not covered by the insurance plan.

If there is a question about whether a specific procedure is covered, or if you’d like to know exactly how much of the fee insurance will cover, we can submit a pre-estimate for you. The insurance company processes the pre-estimate like a claim, and tells us exactly what they will reimburse. It it the only way to guarantee what your coverage will be before you come in. Any other fees we quote you are estimates. A pre-estimate doesn’t force you to complete the treatment plan, but the coverage is guaranteed for a year.

Our office will submit all claims to your insurance for you. One less thing you have to worry about! We also follow-up on any outstanding claims in our system. We take care of as much as we can on our end, but occasionally we do need your help. For example, the insurance company might send a letter to you requesting more information, such as whether you have any other coverage. It’s important to fill out and return these forms to the insurance company, as they often won’t resolve your claim until you do.

As a final thought: You always want to maximize your insurance benefits; you are paying for them! But keep in mind dental insurance companies are not on your side. They occasionally deny necessary or cost-effective treatment based on a black-and-white policy or obscure stipulation. It's important to remember this when you and your dentist look at treatment options. Make the best choice for you. Maximize your insurance, but don't let it tell you what to do!

Monday, May 2, 2016

This One's for the Kids

Some of our most frequently asked questions regard children’s dentistry. Home health care habits should be established at a young age, and should adapt as the child matures. ​With the advances in dental technology (fluoride, sealants, digital x-rays) over the last two decades, we've been able to cut childhood tooth decay in half. Our goal is to keep that stat up and help your children build strong dental habits early in life to keep their smiles bright and healthy. Here are some tips to guide you.

  • Infancy
    • Some infants are born with teeth, but most are not. Even if the baby has no teeth it’s important to create an oral healthcare routine. After each feeding, take a wet infant cloth and rub it along the baby’s gums. This will clean any food debris from the mouth, as well as stimulate the gum tissue.
    • Once the baby has teeth, it’s time to find a dental home. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend bringing a child to the first dental appointment 6 months after the first tooth comes in (“erupts”), or by their first birthday, whichever comes first. This helps the child acclimate to the dental routine in a way that's not overwhelming. Early visits also serve as consultation sessions with the parents to address any concerns or questions they might have. Research shows that kids who get this type of early start tend to get fewer cavities.
    • Based on these visits, the dentist will recommend when to schedule the child’s cleaning. Every child is different. One child may sit for the hygienist at 2 or 3 years old, while another child may have a hard time with that. We understand that children mature at different rates and we don’t force the issue.

A woman's oral health can change based on hormone levels. That's why it's important for women to keep up with regular dental cleanings if they’re pregnant or trying.

  • Childhood
    • Use a kid’s toothpaste until the first baby teeth fall out. Then “graduate” to an adult toothpaste. By that point the child is old enough not to accidentally swallow the toothpaste. Adult toothpaste has stronger agents to prevent tartar buildup and staining.
    • Children tend to bite the toothbrush, causing the bristles to wear out sooner. A child's toothbrush will often need to be replaced more frequently than an adult's. When the bristles start to wear and fray, it’s time for a replacement.
    • As a general rule of thumb, parents should help with teeth brushing until the children are old enough to tie their shoes by themselves.
    • It’s also important for children to see parents brushing their own teeth. And also to see the clean, shiny smiles parents come home with after their own dental cleanings. When led by example, children are taught to appreciate healthy habits and will be more likely to keep up those habits into adulthood.
    • Definitely talk about the dentist with youngsters. Answer any questions they might have, in an honest but age-appropriate way. If they express fear or anxiety, let them know we are their friends. But please be careful of the words used. Words like "pain" or "hurt" or "needle" will do more harm than good.

If you as a parent have any questions or concerns about your child’s dental health at any time, please call us and set up a consultation visit.

  • School
    • If the school allows it, children should keep toothbrush and toothpaste in their desks or lockers so they can brush after lunch.
    • If it’s not allowed, or the child doesn’t have time to brush, give them “detergent foods” (apples, carrots, celery, etc) for lunch. They are slightly abrasive, not sticky, and have a high water content - natural cleaners that stimulate saliva! Foods like these should be eaten last to wash away excess food particles and protect teeth against decay-causing acid.
    • Another trick is to rinse with a little water after eating. Doing a little swish will help dislodge food particles so they don’t stick to the teeth and create cavities. It’s not the same as brushing but it’s a decent substitute.
    • Kids love to snack, but since snacking doesn’t produce as much saliva as eating a full meal, bits of food can stick to teeth longer, increasing the risk of decay. Dairy acts as a buffer to the acids bacteria produce. Drinking milk or eating cheese during or after snacking can help reduce tooth decay.
    • Student athletes are at a higher risk for tooth decay and erosion because breathing through the mouth during intense training causes dry mouth (saliva protects your teeth from tooth decay). Also, athletes tend to use acidic sports drinks and sugary carbohydrates to refuel. (Acid erodes enamel and sugar causes decay.) Athletes should practice excellent home care habits, and try to drink water over sports drinks.
    • Athletes of high contact sports are also at a high risk for dental injuries. Mouth guards should always be worn during practices and games. We can create custom-made mouth guards for athletes of all ages.
    • When children graduate to college, we tend to see a rise in the patient’s tooth decay. We understand how busy college life can be, but it is important that good home care habits are still practiced. Encourage students to brush and floss, and to schedule dental cleanings around school breaks. We will do our best to accommodate their schedules.

We know how busy life is, especially with kids! That's why we have evening and Saturday hours, appointment reminders, easy parking, diaper changing stations, and of course....the sticker drawer! If you have any questions about this post or wish to add your own tips, please feel free to leave a comment.