Friday, October 21, 2016

Breathe Easy and Avoid Tooth Decay

Breathe Easy and Avoid Tooth Decay

Asthma medications play a critical role in helping children manage their symptoms. But, as a parent, you should also realize that the same medications that help open your child’s airways—so he or she can breathe more freely—can also increase the chance your child will develop tooth decay.

Several studies examining children’s use of asthma medications have found an increased risk of caries (tooth decay). A study conducted in Saudi Arabia from 2010 to 2011 found that children with more severe asthma, those who used their medications more frequently (three or more times per day) and those who used combination therapy were more likely to have decreased levels of saliva and increased levels of bacteria associated with decay. A 2012 Slovenian study of 220 children between 2 and 17 years of age returned similar results, with medicated asthmatic children having significantly more decay in both baby teeth and permanent teeth, as well as decreased saliva production. More decay was seen in children who used higher doses of medication.

Saliva plays a key role in helping prevent tooth decay by neutralizing acids and washing away food particles that can feed harmful bacteria. In addition, many inhaled asthma medications contain lactose or other sugars that can promote bacterial growth.

Fortunately, there are easy solutions. If your child uses asthma medication, here are some things you can do to help lower his or her risk of decay:
  • Have your child chew sugarless gum, drink water or rinse after using an inhaler; avoid brushing after each inhaler use since that can damage enamel.
  • Ask us about using mouthwash if your child is old enough to use mouthwash without the risk of swallowing it.
  • Ask your child’s physician about alternative medications that may be less harmful to teeth, including medications without lactose or other sugars.
  • Let us know about your child’s asthma.
  • Make sure your child sees us regularly.

If your child suffers from asthma, you already have lots of concerns about his or her health. Let Dr. Jared at KiDDS Dental know about your child’s asthma and we can evaluate the risk of tooth decay so you and your child have one less thing to worry about.

We'd love to meet you and your family! Give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, October 7, 2016

“Magical” Protection from Cavities

“Magical” Protection from Cavities

Wouldn’t it be nice if a magic shield could help protect your children from cavities? Well, think of Dr. Jared as a magician: By using a process called sealants, he can help your kids avoid decay in the back molars, the teeth most prone to cavities in young mouths.

The back molars have a few things working against them. They are full of deep grooves, making it easy for food particles and germs to become trapped. They are also difficult to clean, particularly when you’re dealing with small mouths and the impatient little people attached to them. Dental sealants provide a protective coating, made out of a thin plastic substance that covers the grooves on the back teeth. Since food and bacteria can’t get through the plastic, the teeth are protected from decay.

Better still, sealants are virtually invisible, and quick and painless to apply. We clean the tooth using a special gel before painting on the sealant itself. Sometimes, a special light is used to harden the sealant. The process only takes a few minutes to complete, and the sealant can protect the teeth for up to 10 years.

Dentists recommend applying sealants as soon as the permanent molars erupt, before any decay occurs. That way the sealant will be most powerful during the prime cavity-prone years (ages six to 14 years). Sealants can be put on both permanent molars and pre-molars, and are often covered by dental insurance.

Keep in mind, though, that it is still important for children to maintain good oral hygiene. With good brushing, fluoride and regular dental care, sealants can be an almost magical way to keep your children’s mouths healthy and cavity-free!

Call us to schedule an appointment today! (509)-891-7070.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Break the Pacifier Habit—Gently and Creatively

Break the Pacifier Habit—Gently and Creatively

The Latin root for pacifier is “pax,” or peace—and any parent who has been brought relief from an infant’s screams by that bit of plastic knows why. But when the infant has become a toddler, or even preschooler, getting him or her to forgo the binky for good may feel like a war.

On the one hand—no pun intended—it can be easier to break a child of a pacifier habit than a thumb-sucking habit (you can’t take away a thumb!), so the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that you provide your baby with a safe pacifier in infancy to satisfy her natural need to suck.

But, according to the AAPD, the pacifier habit should be strongly discouraged after age 3. In fact, there’s evidence that the longer a child uses a pacifier after age 2, the greater the chances that his or her jaw and tooth development will be adversely affected and correctable only by orthodontics years later.

If your child is very attached to the pacifier, you may have to employ a creative strategy (or two) in the detachment process. Experienced parents have made the following suggestions:
  • Enlist your dentist’s help. Arrange in advance for your dentist to give your child a special gift in return for her bag of collected binkies.
  • Visit a Build-A-Bear Workshop. Along with the stuffing, fill the bear with the pacifiers. This way, your child still has the binkies, but they won’t be ruining his or her bite.
  • Create a sticker chart. Every binky-free day earns a sticker for your child. A certain number of stickers earn her a special toy.
  • Conduct a visit from the Tooth Fairy’s cousin, the Paci-Fairy. Pacifiers placed under your child’s pillow at night are “miraculously” replaced with something very special by the next morning.
Even if one of these strategies works initially, there is no guarantee that a follow-up tantrum or two won’t erupt. Be sympathetic but staunch, suggests Mark L. Brenner, author of the book Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Starting and Stopping. Most kids, he says, will accept their binky-free state in a couple of days.

Dr. Jared would love to answer any further questions regarding pacifier habits. Click here to schedule an appointment at KiDDS Dental today! Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Brace Yourself: Early Orthodontic Treatment

Brace Yourself: Early Orthodontic Treatment

When today’s generation of parents was growing up, a metal mouth was an adolescent rite of passage. Now, braces might be associated with elementary school. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated at age 7 and, in some cases, treatment be started shortly thereafter. There are pros and cons to early orthodontic care, most of which depend on the problem being treated.

Some conditions, such as narrow upper arches, anterior crossbites or underbites, are better treated while the jaw is still growing. Early treatment may save a child from oral surgery later, and even if further treatment is required in the teen years, it will be less extensive.

Some parents opt for earlier orthodontics out of concern for their child’s self-esteem. Having a prominent underbite or protruding upper teeth can lead to teasing; other issues, such as problems with the palate, can cause speech impediments. In these cases, even if getting braces at age 8 won’t keep a child from needing them at age 14, it might be worth pursuing early orthodontic treatment. Parents should weigh the cost and discomfort of these treatments with the benefits of a better-looking smile or clearer speech.

However, some studies suggest that certain problems are best left untreated until adolescence. It’s not really a matter of the orthodontics’ damaging a child in any way, but more because the treatment is simply ineffective. For example, several randomized clinical trials since the 1990s have shown that class II malocclusions treated early lead to more treatment time (and more money spent) than those treated in adolescence. In other words, having braces applied for this problem at age 8 will be no more effective and more costly than getting them at age 13.

Your best bet? Have your child evaluated around the age of 7, and discuss the benefits and risks of early treatment with Dr. Jared at KiDDS Dental and an orthodontist. This dental specialist will have a good grasp on the best course of action, to ensure that your child’s smile is healthy—and beautiful—for years to come.

Call us to schedule an appointment today! (509)-891-7070.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Dental Hygiene: A Bone of Contention

Dental Hygiene: A Bone of Contention

When people think about their dentists, they tend to think only about their teeth and gums. Most people don’t think about their bones. It’s very easy to think of your teeth as little bones that grow out of your gums, but when we talk about bone loss, we aren’t just talking about tooth decay. We are talking about your child’s jawbone and skull.

Every part of the body is connected. Just as the leg bone is connected to the hipbone, the jawbone and skull are connected to the teeth and gums. Poor dental hygiene can cause harmful acids and bacteria to build up not just on your children’s teeth and gums but in the jawbone and skull, causing them to wear away. Your children’s teeth live in little holes in those bones. If those holes get eaten away and become too big, your children’s teeth can loosen or even fall out.

Another preventable cause of bone loss is osteoporosis, a weakness of the bones caused by a lack of calcium. While this condition is uncommon in children, childhood diet may influence osteoporosis later in life. The best way to prevent osteoporosis and a good piece of health advice in general, is to ensure that your child has a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. It’s never too early to reduce the risk of developing this very serious condition later in life.

Certain conditions such as cancer and autoimmune diseases can cause bone loss; so can certain medical treatments. It’s important to let us know at KiDDS Dental when your children have significant changes in their health or if they are taking new medications. Dr. Jared knows the best ways to mitigate the effect of these changes on their teeth.

Bone loss is a serious problem, but one that can be effectively fought.

If you have questions regarding bone loss, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Bonding Over Bonding: Straight Talk About Tooth Bonding for Children

Bonding Over Bonding: Straight Talk About Tooth Bonding for Children

Teeth that come in crooked. Wide gaps between teeth. Teeth that are cracked or chipped during sports or play. Childhood can be rough on those pearly whites. Your child’s imperfect smile is still beautiful, of course, and a bit of an imperfection can certainly add to one’s character. But to improve the look of imperfect teeth, dental bonding is a safe, relatively inexpensive way to fix problems such as gaps or chips. Best of all, bonding can usually be completed in one painless visit at KiDDS Dental.

Dental bonding gets its name because that’s exactly what happens during the process―the material used bonds to the tooth. We use composite resin, a combination of a special type of glass and either plastic or resin, to fill in spaces and cracks. Your child may actually have some composite resin in his or her mouth already because it is often used to fill cavities. As an added benefit, composite resin actually adds strength to a tooth without damaging the structure underneath.

If you and your child decide that dental bonding is a good idea, Dr. Jared will choose a shade of composite resin that closely matches your child’s natural teeth. We prepare the tooth for bonding by applying a liquid that roughens its surface. After the solution is applied, we will clean and dry the tooth, then brush on the bonding liquid. The tooth is now ready for the composite resin, which needs to be applied a little bit at a time. A special light is used to harden the resin between applications.

The final step in dental bonding is to shape, smooth and polish the composite resin to make it look as natural as possible. And here’s the best part: The entire process takes only about an hour.

Your child will need to take care of the bonded teeth, because they can easily stain and chip. Although bonding doesn’t last forever, that’s actually what makes it a good choice for children, whose mouths are constantly changing and growing. Talk to us to see if your child is a good candidate for this process―it might be a great “bonding” experience.

Give us a call at 509-891-7070 to schedule today!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Battle Bacteria with Brushing

Battle Bacteria with Brushing

Your child’s mouth contains billions of bacteria—some helpful and some harmful. There are more than 700 different types of microbes that call the mouth their home, and just one tooth can host as many as 500 million bacteria. While some bacteria actually help control the development of cavity-causing plaque, others can cause tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease if the teeth and gums are not cleaned regularly and properly.

The best way to keep your child from developing cavities and infected gums is to make sure he or she brushes twice a day (the best times are after breakfast and before bedtime). This will keep bacteria populations in check and minimize the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Passing up snacks and brushing after having one are obvious preventive measures. Here are a few other important guidelines your child should follow to make sure the risks of tooth decay and periodontal disease are minimized:
  • Have your child brush all of his or her teeth, not just the front ones, spending some time on the side and back teeth and brushing for two to three minutes. Use a timer or a song to keep track of the time.
  • Your child should use a soft-bristled brush. Replace it every three to four months—earlier if bristles show signs of wear. If your child becomes ill, replace the brush when your child recovers.
  • After brushing, have your child rinse his or her toothbrush with warm water and dry it in the open air—not in a closed container, which can enable bacteria to multiply. And don’t clean toothbrushes in a dishwasher or in the microwave, both of which can damage bristles.
  • Talk to us about swishing with an antiplaque mouth rinse and mild pediatric mouthwash, which can help reduce harmful bacteria that can cause decay and gum disease.
  • Although gum disease is not contagious, harmful bacteria can be spread from one person to another. Thus, not sharing toothbrushes, lip balm or gloss, water bottles, musical instruments or any personal item that comes in contact with the mouth is important.
Of course, one of the best ways to make sure your child’s teeth remain healthy is to schedule—and keep—regular dental checkups at KiDDS Dental. Pediatric dental care is essential to help your child avoid dental problems in adulthood. Establishing good oral health habits saves time, money and headaches in the short and long run, so it is never too early to start your child on the road to optimum oral health.

If you have questions about your child's oral health, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.