Teething or “cutting teeth” often causes your baby discomfort, restlessness, and irritability. As the roots of the teeth grow, they push the edges of the teeth through your baby’s gums. The effects are usually most noticeable with the first teeth, because the sensation is new to your baby, and with molars, due to their large size. It is not uncommon for some babies to drool for weeks before their first tooth comes into his/her mouth. For some children, teeth just seem to appear without much problem at all. Some parents worry that their child’s teething is either too early or too late. Timing is not as important as the correct sequence and symmetry. Most babies begin to get their primary teeth after the age of four months, usually between six and nine months. The timing of the eruption of the teeth is somewhat genetic, and late-teething parents tend to have late-teething children. Quite often a baby will have sore or tender gums that tend to make him/her irritable. To help soothe any sore spots, gently rub them with a clean finger or the back of a small, cold spoon. Teething rings also work well.
A few suggestions for alleviating some of the pain your baby may experience while teething:
- for excessive drooling, replenish fluids with lots of water
- distracting your baby with hugs, toys, and changes of scenery
- for babies older than 4 months, spread a teething gel to sooth the gums
- your doctor may recommend infant pain relievers (Tylenol or Motrin) If you have any questions regarding teething, please schedule an appointment with our Pediatric Dentist!
Your child should stop the oral habit by the age of 3, and definitely by the time that his/her permanent front teeth erupt. The longer the habit is kept, the more severe the alterations on jaw relations and tooth positioning resulting in several adverse situations, including but not limited to open bite, crossbite, and protrusion of teeth. Peer pressure may cause school-aged children to stop. However, there are several options that the Pediatric Dentist will discuss with you to encourage your child to stop the habit if it doesn’t resolve on its own.
A few suggestions to help your child stop his/her sucking habits:
- awareness of the habit is the first step in ending the habit
- use positive reinforcement by praising your child when he/she is not sucking, avoid scolding them when he/she is sucking as this may reinforce the habit because they might feel insecure
- remind your child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock or mitten on your child’s hand at night
- children often suck their thumb when feeling insecure… focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety, instead of the habit. Often school teachers can be helpful in identifying stressful situations.
When your child’s primary teeth are traumatized during an accident, a color change is a common result. A few days or weeks after a traumatic incident, the affected tooth/teeth may begin to change color, ranging from yellow to dark gray or even black. This color change is a result of damage to the nerve tissue inside your child’s tooth during the accident. As the tooth attempts to heal itself, you may notice the shade and color changing. Think of this like a bruise, similar to when skin bruises.
Treatment for a color change of your child’s tooth is most often just observation of the tooth. Sometimes, the tooth can recover and the color change will reverse itself, returning close to the original appearance of the tooth. Other times, the color change may be permanent. At follow up appointments and during routine checkups, your child’s tooth/teeth will be monitored for signs of pulpal changes. Depending on how the tooth reacts to the trauma, further treatment may be needed, including possible root canal treatment. If you see a “bubble” above the tooth, this is an infection (abscess). In most cases, if this is a primary tooth, the tooth will have to be extracted. Lack of treatment can lead to more serious problems including damage to the permanent dentition and facial swelling.
Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth, and most often occurs at night. Most people are not aware they are doing it. Usually parents become aware that their child is grinding when they hear the teeth scraping together or when their dentist notices signs of tooth wear. As many as 80-90 % of young children grind their teeth at night, with girls bruxing more often than boys. Children usually grow out of this problem by age ten without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. The exact reason for nighttime grinding is not clear, but possible reasons include genetics, stress, allergy, ear infection, or growing pains. The only directly related cause known for bruxing is that children with a combination of allergies and severely restricted airways will brux.
If your child has baby teeth, we typically will not recommend any treatment for bruxism because all the primary teeth will fall out over the course of dental development. As your child gets older, and the permanent teeth erupt, we may recommend a nightguard to prevent further damage to the new teeth.
Yes! Fluoride is a natural element that is safe and effective when used appropriately, and can be very useful in preventing decay or reversing the early signs of decay. It works in several ways, including making your child’s teeth stronger against acid attacks from food and drinks, repairing minimally damaged tooth structure, and affecting the actual bacteria that cause cavities.
The most important thing regarding fluoride treatment is the proper dosage! To minimize the risk of too much fluoride, monitor the amount of toothpaste used and encourage your child not to swallow. The dentist will discuss what fluoride regimen is best suited for your child.
Yes, as long as they are used effectively and in moderation. X-rays are a vital and necessary part of your child’s checkup. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed. X-rays allow the Pediatric Dentist to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a visual clinical examination. Often, if dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you. In addition, there are more things to look for than just cavities, such as cysts, abscesses, the progress of dental development, and possible future orthodontic concerns of your child.
We follow the AAPD and FDA x-ray guidelines. At the first examination, our office may obtain a baseline set of x-rays of your child to determine the current status of your child’s mouth and to check for any hidden problems. If you have previously received x-rays at another office, you may request copies and bring them with you so that we will not have to take the same ones again. Depending on your child’s cavity risk and dental needs, we will prescribe x-rays as minimally as possible.
Tooth bleaching safely lightens the color of your teenager or young adult’s teeth and can last for several years. The most effective way of whitening teeth is under a dentist supervised method, whether through the use of in office bleaching or take home kits. The Pediatric Dentist will evaluate your child’s teeth to decide whether or not your child would be a good candidate. Bleaching works by using a peroxide agent to bleach the porous surfaces of the tooth enamel. Bleaching does not effectively whiten everyone’s teeth and may not work for teeth which have been intrinsically stained. Teeth with extrinsic stain such as coffee, tea, or other food coloring can easily be bleached and lightened.
Some patients have temporary tooth and gum sensitivity. These symptoms usually disappear within 1-3 days after completion of the bleaching process. The strength of the bleaching material and the amount of time that the bleaching solution is applied needs to be strictly controlled in teenagers and young adults. Over the counter teeth whitening kits can cause problems such as irritation of the gums and surrounding soft tissue and can wear away the tooth enamel on your child’s teeth, so have a discussion with your dentist before deciding what type of bleaching you are interested in.
Teenagers and young adults with yellow or discolored teeth, and those who want brighter teeth are good candidates for bleaching. However, the key is to have a realistic expectation before starting the process. Every person is different, with different habits and teeth, so what works for one person may not work as well for another.