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Posts for tag: pediatric dentistry

By Little Harpeth Children's Dentistry
May 02, 2022
Category: Oral Health
5ThingstoGetYourChildsOralHealthontheRightTrack

Boosting your child's oral health and development should start early—even before their first tooth comes in! Getting off to the right start will pay dividends well into their adult years.

Here are 5 things to do, then, to help your child develop great oral health during their earliest years.

Begin oral hygiene early. To lower your child's risk of tooth decay, begin wiping out their mouth with a clean cloth after nursing to limit bacteria. When teeth do come in, gently brush them with just a dab of toothpaste, which you can gradually increase to a pea-size when they get older. Later, add flossing as well as training them to brush and floss for themselves.

Avoid too much sugar. Carbohydrates like refined sugar feed bacteria that cause tooth decay. To reduce these bacteria, moderate your child's sugar consumption by limiting sweets to meal times and cutting back on sodas, juices, and other types of sweetened drinks. Avoid bedtime bottles filled with these types of beverages including breast milk or formula.

Visit the dentist by age 1. Starting dental visits on or before your child's first birthday will help you stay one step ahead of any developing dental problems. Furthermore, children who get in the routine early for regular dental visits have a better time adjusting to them, and they're less likely to develop long-term anxiety over seeing the dentist.

Take advantage of fluoride. Tiny amounts of fluoride ingestion can give your child an edge over tooth decay. To take advantage of fluoride, use fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water, if your utility adds it. Your dentist can also directly apply fluoride to children's teeth high risk for decay. Be careful, though, because too much fluoride can cause staining. Talk with your dentist, then, about staying within fluoride limits.

Set the example. Children often follow their parents' lead—if you take your own dental care seriously, they will too. Make daily hygiene a family affair by brushing and flossing together. Let them also see that going to the dentist is a snap. By staying calm and relaxed yourself, they'll be less likely to be nervous about dental care.

If you would like more information on dental care for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”

By Little Harpeth Children's Dentistry
April 09, 2022
Category: Oral Health
LeaveYourKidsaLegacyofGreatDentalHealthWithTheseSimpleTips

Most parents well remember the day they brought their new baby home from the hospital. And then—in what seems like the blink of an eye—that same child is heading out the door to go on their own. "Empty nest" parents can easily regret not having more time to help their children get a solid handle on life.

With what little time you do have, it comes down to priorities—focusing on those things that are most important for their future well-being. Health, of course, is a big part of that—and oral health in particular.

In fact, the state of their teeth and gums could have a big impact on the rest of their health as they get older. That's why it's crucial to foster good dental care and reinforce tooth-friendly habits during their childhood years. Here's how.

Practice daily hygiene. A lifetime of great teeth and gums depends on a continual, daily habit of brushing and flossing. One of the best gifts you can give your child is to teach them how to properly brush and floss.

Start dental visits early. Regular dental visits support daily hygiene, and provide an early warning system for possible dental disease. Starting visits by their first birthday may also help a child avoid anxiety, making it more likely they'll continue the practice in adulthood.

Give their teeth a healthy head start. Losing even a primary tooth to decay could affect their future dental health. And despite diligence about dental care, some children may still be prone to decay. Give your child an added boost with topical fluoride or sealants to help prevent the buildup of dental plaque.

Practice what you preach. Children often do what they see their parents doing. If you're making dental care a priority—brushing and flossing every day and visiting the dentist at least twice a year—and with a positive attitude, your kids are more likely to follow your lead.

There's so much you want to instill in your children to better ensure they'll have a happy and prosperous life. Make sure these dental care tips are on your short list.

If you would like more information on dental care for kids, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids.”

By Little Harpeth Children's Dentistry
February 06, 2022
Category: Oral Health
4ThingsYouCanDotoKeepYourChildrensDentalDevelopmentonTrack

After spending much time and expense to keep your kids healthy, you're probably well-acquainted with your family physician. Similarly, you should be just as chummy with your family dentist: That's because your children's oral health is closely linked to their overall health and well-being.

Of course, good oral health is important for everyone, regardless of age. But it's doubly true for children for one additional reason—they're teeth, gums and jaws are still growing. Current problems like tooth decay or an abnormal bite can affect a child's oral development in ways that could reverberate through the rest of their life.

It's important, then, for you to stay ahead of any potential oral problems that could follow them into adulthood. In recognition of National Children's Dental Health Month in February, here are 4 things you can do to keep your child's dental health and development on track.

Practice oral hygiene. One of the best things we can all do to prevent dental disease is to brush and floss every day. It's equally important for children—helping (and later teaching) them to brush and floss reduces their chances for tooth decay. You should even begin before they have teeth, wiping out an infant's mouth with a clean, damp cloth after nursing to reduce bacterial growth in the mouth.

Schedule early dental visits. In addition to daily oral hygiene, regular dental cleanings and checkups also help prevent dental disease. You should schedule your child's first dental visit on or before their first birthday to give you a head start in preventing or treating tooth decay. Children who begin dental visits early are also less likely to develop dental anxiety.

Obtain further decay protection. Even if parents do everything right, some children are simply more susceptible to tooth decay. But we have a number of treatments that can help prevent the disease. Sealants, for example, fill in the nooks and crannies of biting surfaces to prevent plaque buildup. And, topical fluoride applications help strengthen tooth enamel against bacterial acid attack.

Get their bite evaluated. There's no need to wait until childhood's end to address a bite problem. A poor bite doesn't develop overnight, and often provides signs in a child's early years. That's why it's a good idea to have an orthodontist evaluate your child's bite around age 6. If they find an emerging bite problem, they may be able to intervene now, so you can avoid extensive—and expensive—treatment later.

You have a long list of priorities to keep up with in protecting your kids' health and well-being. Be sure one of those priorities high on the list is their oral health.

If you would like more information about children's dental care, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Top 10 Oral Health Tips for Children.”

By Little Harpeth Children's Dentistry
December 21, 2021
Category: Oral Health
AMinorProcedureCouldHelpanInfantWithThisNursingProblem

Newborns come into the world eager and ready to partake of their mother's milk. But an anatomical quirk with some infants could make breastfeeding more difficult for them.

The structure in question is a frenum, a tiny band of tissue connecting softer parts of the mouth with firmer parts, like the upper lip to the gums, and the tongue to the floor of the mouth. If they're abnormally short, thick or tight, however, the baby might find it difficult to obtain a good seal around the mother's nipple.

Without that seal, the baby has a difficult time drawing milk out of the breast and as a result, they may attempt to compensate by chewing on the nipple. The sad outcome is often continuing hunger and frustration for the baby, and pain for the mother.

To alleviate this problem, a physician can clip the frenum to loosen it. Known as a frenotomy, (or a frenectomy or frenuplasty, depending on the exact actions taken), it's a minor procedure a doctor can perform in their office.

It begins with the doctor deadening the area with a numbing gel or injected anesthesia. After a few minutes to allow the anesthesia to take effect, they clip the frenum with surgical scissors or with a laser (there's usually little to no bleeding with the latter).

Once the frenum has been clipped, the baby should be able to nurse right away. However, they may have a learning curve to using the now freed-up parts of their mouth to obtain a solid seal while nursing.

Abnormal frenums that interfere with nursing are usually treated as soon as possible. But even if it isn't impeding breastfeeding, an abnormal frenum could eventually interfere with other functions like speech development, or it could foster the development of a gap between the front teeth. It may be necessary, then, to revisit the frenum at an older age and treat it at that time.

Although technically a surgical procedure, frenotomies are minor and safe to perform on newborns. Their outcome, though, can be transformative, allowing a newborn to gain the full nourishment and emotional bonding they need while breastfeeding.

If you would like more information on tongue or lip ties, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tongue Ties, Lip Ties and Breastfeeding.”

By Little Harpeth Children's Dentistry
December 13, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures
SealantsCanPreventChildhoodCavitiesNowandaBiteProblemLater

Even with dedicated daily home care and regular dental cleanings, some children still have problems with cavities. And, that could morph into an even more serious problem in the future: Primary teeth lost prematurely to the disease could cause incoming permanent teeth to erupt out of position and form a poor bite.

To avoid this, parents often need a little extra help protecting their children's teeth from cavities. One way is with a dental sealant applied to larger teeth by their dentist.

A dental sealant is a protective coating of plastic or glass-like material that partially fills in the pits and crevices of the biting surfaces of larger teeth like molars. Even with diligent brushing it can be difficult to clean these surfaces of plaque, thus allowing bacteria to hide out in deep crevices. By "smoothing" out these areas with a sealant, they're easier to rid the teeth of decay-causing plaque.

Your child can undergo a quick and painless sealant application during a routine visit. After applying the liquid form of the sealant to the teeth with a brush, the dentist uses a curing light to harden the coating into a durable defense against decay.

Dentists have been applying sealants for several years now, which begs the question—do they work? At least two major studies say yes.

These independent studies both surveyed thousands of pediatric patients over several years. And, they both concluded that children with sealants experienced significantly fewer cavities than those without sealants. Furthermore, the protection appeared to last at least four years after the application.

A sealant application does involve a modest cost per tooth. But compared to what you'll spend to treat cavities, or even expensive orthodontic treatment later, sealants are well worth the cost.

If your child continues to develop cavities regardless of home and dental care, then talk with your dentist about sealants and other ways to minimize cavities. Taking these extra steps could help prevent a problem now, and a bigger problem in the future.

If you would like more information on dental care for children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.”