What causes tooth decay?

Fort Worth pediatric dentistChildren are incredibly susceptible to developing tooth decay. This is why pediatric dentistry focuses on preventing and treating tooth decay as early as possible to help preserve and protect oral tissue. Without treatment, tooth decay can develop into a systemic health issue. Studies have shown that untreated tooth decay among children can affect speech development, produce noticeable discomfort, and lead to chronic oral infections.

Tooth decay is caused by a specific strain of bacteria that eat through the surfaces of teeth when tooth enamel is damaged. Dental caries (cavities) are the second-most common infectious disease. Cavities are considered an infectious disease because the bacteria that eat through teeth are orally transmitted – normally from parents to infants.

What damages tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel is a mineralized coating around teeth that protects the softer structures of teeth from decay and breakage. Even though tooth enamel is very strong, it can be damaged by exposure to strong acid and bad habits like improper oral hygiene or bruxism (clenching and grinding teeth).

How do bacteria affect teeth?

Cavities form when bacteria eat through tooth structure. This is only possible when tooth enamel cannot protect teeth due to damage. Once tooth enamel is permanently damaged, the dentin part of teeth is exposed. Dentin is much softer than the enamel surface of teeth. Since it is softer, cavity-causing bacteria will eat through teeth and eventually form a depression in tooth structure if a tooth is not professionally treated with a restoration.

What treatment methods are available?

While pediatric dentistry involves focusing on prevention, cavities can still form on teeth. If tooth decay is detected, a dentist will recommend a restoration. This is because a tooth cannot heal on its own once permanently damaged. A restoration involves placing a durable material over the decayed area of a tooth so that its external structure is protected from further damage. A restoration will prevent a cavity from deepening and widening, too. It is important to treat decay as soon as possible so that patients can retain healthy biological tooth structure.

Call our team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry today to reserve a checkup at our family-friendly practice.

Break These Bad Brushing Habits

childrens dentist Tarrant countyBrushing your teeth is important at any age, including during one’s childhood. A child is very susceptible to developing dental caries (tooth decay) due to modern diets having too much sugar and inadequate oral hygiene. While brushing is important, brushing incorrectly does harm, too. Our children’s dentist offers preventive and restorative services through checkups, cleanings, and oral health education. Following are common bad brushing habits patients should avoid.

Brushing Too Hard

In many cases, the more vigorous one scrubs the cleaner something becomes, such as tough stains on dishes or floors. With teeth, however, vigorous brushing leads to damaging tooth enamel. Damaged tooth enamel compromises the health of teeth by exposing the softer, internal structures to cavity-causing bacteria. When brushing, it is best to use soft, circular and back-and-forth strokes. Brushing thoroughly but softly is the most effective way to clean teeth and gums.

Forgetting to Replace Your Toothbrush

Did you know that you should replace your toothbrush or electronic brush heads about every three months? Keeping a toothbrush too long is a bad habit. When bristles are frayed, they cannot effectively clean oral surfaces. Moreover, bacteria collect on the bristles of a toothbrush over time. An easy way to remember to change toothbrushes and brush heads is to buy a new brush at the beginning of every new season.

Brushing Immediately After a Meal

While brushing after we eat is a great idea, it is not wise to brush immediately after eating. This is because bacteria feed on food particles when we eat. As a by-product, bacteria will release acid that softens tooth enamel. It is best to wait about half an hour before brushing so that tooth enamel is not damaged while in a compromised state.

Brushing too Quickly

The American Dental Association recommends brushing for about two minutes each time. Rushing through your oral hygiene routine means that surfaces will not be cleaned effectively. We recommend keeping track of time when brushing so that you increase your chances of removing as much bacteria and debris as possible.

Call our family-friendly office today to schedule a checkup or cleaning with our children’s dentist.

Sippy Cups and Dental Health

pediatric dentist Tarrant CountySippy cups or training cups are a mainstay in many homes where toddlers reside. They are used to transition from nursing or bottle feeding to drinking (not sucking). Your pediatric dentist will be happy to discuss this with you.

Some of the things you should know include:

The best type of cup you should begin with does not require your child to suck. Many “no-spill” cups contain a valve that prevents spills if tipped, but your child will still be sucking and not learning how to drink.  

The ideal cup will have a lid that screws or snaps on that has a small spout with little holes that will prevent too much liquid from pouring out when your child is learning to drink. 

Just as your child probably holds a baby bottle with two hands, a cup with two handles will allow your child to do the same.

Many sippy cups have a weighted bottom to keep them upright to help prevent accidental spills. 

Now that your toddler is learning to drink from a cup, keep in mind that this tiny person is still learning. Control when a sippy cup is used; don’t allow your child to walk around with one to avoid injury if a fall should occur. 

If introducing a training cup in between meals, this should be in a controlled setting while sitting at the table, in a high chair, or maybe even in their carseat. Water is a great beverage to use as a spill is easily wiped up. 

Just as your pediatric dentist has cautioned you about juice and sugary beverages in the baby bottle, the same applies now with the sippy cup. You put your child at risk for dental decay if you give them inappropriate beverages, especially in between meals. If you are going to offer juice, do so during a meal when the act of chewing their food increases saliva production and helps to wash away the sugars on your child’s teeth. Milk is a better choice than juice. 

Make sure your toddler brushes at least twice every day; do not allow them to have anything but water after they have brushed before bed. Milk, soda, or juice can lead to cavities as sugars from these beverages can cling to teeth overnight.

Sippy cups are a great introduction for the eventual use of a regular glass. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry.

5 Tips to Make Brushing Fun for Kids

pediatric dentist Fort WorthMany parents are not aware that their child should have their first visit with the pediatric dentist at twelve months of age. Even though your child is still a toddler and may have only had their baby teeth for a few months, this early exam is important to observe any unusual or serious oral conditions that may be present that can impact your child’s oral health.

Secondly, this is a great time to learn what you can do to help your child maintain healthy teeth and gums during the many years they will be under your care. One of those responsibilities you must tackle is teeth brushing … one of the best ways to make this task as enjoyable as possible for all involved is to add a little fun.

  1. Your child should brush a full two minutes at least twice every day. Play or sing a song that lasts two minutes that you and your child can dance to while brushing. Time will fly if an activity is added to the task of brushing.
  2. Search the internet for one of the video or brushing apps that are available for kids of all ages. If technology already plays too big a role in your child’s life, you can step in and check out the apps yourself to get an idea or two to implement on your own.
  3. Storytelling works very well especially for young children … use a funny voice, read an already written story, or make one up on the fly. If your child is occupied listening to you, those two minutes will fly by.
  4. Let your child select their own toothbrush and toothpastes from the appropriate age related products. If they are allowed to make the selection, they may be more eager to use them.
  5. Is there a TV or cartoon character your child absolutely loves? Search for anything you can that incorporates the character into brushing to make it more fun.

Your pediatric dentist will recommend positive affirmation, rewards, and fun to enforce brushing. Anger and threats usually make brushing a much more difficult task and aren’t very effective in the long run. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, consistent dental visits for the entire family will help ensure great smiles and healthy teeth to support them for life.

If it’s time to schedule your child’s appointment, contact Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry at 817-569-6633 today.

Lessen the Impact of Dental Emergencies With These Tips

childrens emergency dentistA dental emergency can having lasting consequences for your child’s smile if you don’t act promptly to address the situation. Your first step should be scheduling an appointment with a children’s emergency dentist for any necessary professional treatment. However, there are also a few things that you can do at home to manage a dental emergency until your child can be seen by a dentist.

If your child loses a permanent tooth, you can try to gently re-insert it into the socket. If you are unsuccessful, you can store the tooth in dental preservation media or even a container of milk or water until your child’s appointment with the children’s emergency dentist.

It is not as important to save a baby tooth, although the children’s emergency dentist may recommend replacing a missing baby tooth or use some sort of spacing appliance in order to limit the effect of premature tooth loss on the development of your child’s smile. If any permanent teeth erupt too early (or too late, for that matter), it can throw off the alignment of the entire smile.

Soft tissue injuries, such as lacerations, should also be treated in emergency situations. You can use a cold compress to reduce any swelling associated with the injury, although persistent bleeding will need to be addressed more immediately, such as at an emergency room or urgent care center. If your child is complaining of pain, appropriate doses of over-the-counter painkillers can help to manage this symptom.

Like persistent bleeding, apparent facial fractures are more urgent matters and need more immediate attention. You should get initial care for your child at a local emergency room and then follow up with your regular dentist for any additional treatment that may be necessary to correct the injury.

Dental emergencies don’t need to have enduring effects on your child’s smile. Contact our office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment for your child to be treated, and be prepared to manage the situation temporarily on your own if need be. Call our office to ask any questions you may have about this type of dental treatment.

Oral Health for Toddlers: How can I protect my child’s teeth?

pediatric dentist Tarrant CountyIt’s never too early to take steps to protect your child’s smile, so conscientious parents will want to know how to best care for the oral health of children throughout their early years. For toddlers, whose baby teeth have erupted, this means establishing the foundation of lifelong good oral hygiene practices.

Kid’s dental care differs a bit from the oral hygiene routine that we practice as grown-ups. While your toddler can begin using toothpaste, limit the amount. Put a pea-sized portion of toothpaste on the brush, and take care to make sure that your child does not swallow it. Only begin using fluoridated toothpaste when you feel confident that the child will spit it out rather than swallow it.

Toddlers can begin to brush their own teeth when they have the manual dexterity necessary to do so, but parents should still supervise the process to make sure that the teeth are being brushed thoroughly and adequately.

You can begin flossing your child’s teeth whenever they first have two teeth that touch each other. Your child may need more assistance with flossing than brushing in order to make sure that it is done properly.

Another consideration in kid’s dental care at home is the texture of the toothbrush. Children will benefit from brushes with softer bristles than their parents use. Technique is important as well. Make sure to brush all surfaces of the teeth and angle the brush along the gumline to more effectively disrupt plaque formation in that area.

Professional dental care is just as important for children as adults, if not more so. Therefore, your toddler should also follow up with a pediatric dentist for semi-annual check-ups and cleanings. Dental practices that focus on treating children are well-equipped to use tools and techniques specifically designed to put youngsters at ease. A good relationship with a pediatric dentist during childhood can reinforce positive feelings about dental care for a lifetime.

Do you have more questions about caring for your toddler’s smile? Contact our office and speak to one of our experienced staff members, or schedule a consultation at your convenience.

Is Your Child’s Diet Tooth Friendly?

childrens dentist Tarrant CountyWith the immediate availability of prepared foods and snacks, it may have become more difficult to monitor what your child consumes. But it is critically important to their overall and dental health to watch what they eat and drink, make sure they are brushing and flossing every day and visiting your children’s dentist every six months for cleaning and checkup.

Many foods and drinks are labeled as “healthy” but unless you read food labels it is difficult to know. Getting back to basics by offering fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy like yogurt or cheese snacks, whole grains and nuts (of course, be aware of allergies), and plenty of water to stay hydrated are the optimum alternatives to prepackaged snacks and drinks.

A healthy, tooth-friendly diet will include calcium enriched foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, and lean protein. Your body needs calcium, so if you aren’t getting it through your diet, your teeth become the available source for the body to steal what it needs. Lack of calcium in your teeth can lead to dental decay and even gum disease.

Vitamins are essential to maintain healthy teeth and gums … fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins. Crunchy fruits and vegetables have the added bonus of actually scrubbing teeth to help reduce plaque build-up.

Water is best for quenching thirst and keeping the body hydrated; although bottled water lacks fluoride provided by tap water, it is still a better choice than sugary drinks, juices, or soda. You can add flavor to water by infusing it with fruit or one of the many sugar free flavored drink mixes available.

The list of foods to avoid is very extensive … sugary snacks like candy, cookies, or ice cream should be saved for special occasions and not consumed on a daily basis. The same goes for soda, which is unhealthy due to its sugar and acidic content. Many prepared foods that are not that high in sugar content should still be limited as the carbohydrates in them will cling to the bacteria already present in your mouth and allow harmful plaque to build on teeth.

Pediatric dentistry teaches the value the daily brushing and flossing which you can reinforce. Provide a tooth friendly diet and make sure your family sees the dentist every six months for cleaning and dental exam.

For more teeth tips, contact our team today!

Preventing Dental Injuries on the Field and on the Court

pediatric dentist Tarrant CountyPlaying sports indoors or out can be enjoyed by people of all ages, but accidents can happen. Whether you play a contact sport or engage in an activity where you might incur damage to your face or mouth, you need to be proactive to protect your dentition. Your pediatric dentist sees many injuries to children that might have been prevented with a consultation prior to their activity.

One of the foremost protective devices available is a mouth guard. But it is important to find a protective guard that fits correctly, provides adequate protection, and is comfortable. After all, if it doesn’t feel right, your child will find ways not to wear it. Your pediatric dentist is experienced in working with children to maximize the protection for their teeth and mouth.

If you think you are saving money by purchasing a one size fits all mouth guard at a sporting goods store or local pharmacy, you may be wasting time and money. Over the counter mouth guards offer limited protection primarily because they do not provide a customized fit.

With the availability of organized sports for both boys and girls of all ages, many coaches and organizations are aware of the need for protection. While helmets, pads, or masks may be mandatory for some sports, there are dangers in many activities where there are no mandated protections. Your pediatric dentist will educate parents, but it is up to the caregivers to inquire about oral protection and injury prevention.

A mouth guard works by absorbing the shock of a contact … it provides protection for teeth, gums, tongue, and soft oral tissues. But it also works to cushion blows that can result in jawbone fractures, neck injuries, and even concussions.

And it’s not just the immediate injury that can impact you or your child. Long term ramifications such as a tooth that has been knocked out can result in costly and time consuming restorative work. Other injuries can mean pain or discomfort that last indefinitely. When you compare these results to the minimal time and effort needed to obtain a customized mouth protector, it just makes good sense to invest in the optimum protection available.

Your family or pediatric dentist can provide that extra protection to prevent dental injuries for all the sports participants in your family.

Contact our team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry today!

What are the benefits of tooth-colored fillings?

Fort Worth pediatric dentistFor many decades dental decay was repaired using silver amalgam. These fillings can be unattractive, and there has been much discussion about the safety of dental amalgam. So when an alternative product became available, it gained popularity very quickly. If your child developed a cavity, your pediatric dentist was able to offer you a choice between a repair using amalgam or a safer plastic based, tooth-colored composite resin.

The benefits of tooth-colored fillings include:

  • Less tooth needs to be drilled away with composite fillings. This means much of the tooth’s integrity remains intact; and the composite resin actually bonds the tooth making it stronger.
  • A tooth-colored filling is much more aesthetically pleasing than the silver filling that over time can darken. With composite resin, a tooth repair is virtually undetectable.
  • A tooth repaired using composite resin is much less likely to experience sensitivity to temperature.
  • Even though dental amalgam has been deemed a safe repair for dental decay, it does contain mercury making its use a source of concern for some.

There are major differences in the way each of these cavity fillings are placed. With the amalgam process, much more of the tooth’s structure is removed; it’s then filled with the amalgam. With tooth-colored fillings, the delivery of composite resin requires the tooth remain dry. The resin is placed in small increments and cured before the next application is applied. This type of repair requires more time and expertise than placing amalgam.

Your pediatric dentist will explain the differences and advantages of composite resin versus amalgam. But before the need for a filling arises, there are many things you can do to help safeguard your child against dental decay.

Encourage and supervise your child’s daily oral care … they should be brushing at least twice every day with a fluoridated toothpaste. They should floss every day to remove what their toothbrush missed.

Limit sugary snacks and beverages – reserve them for special occasions. Provide nutritious fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and grains for optimum dental health.

Make sure you child visits their pediatric dentist every six months starting at the age of one year. Regular visits will remove plaque from teeth that contributes to dental decay and/or gum disease. Preventive measures such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants are available to help your child maintain excellent dental health as they grow.

Maintain your child’s oral health and come see our team today. Contact Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry to schedule your visit!

Why are the primary teeth so important?

childrens dentist Tarrant CountyPrimary teeth are also known as deciduous, milk, or baby teeth. Your baby’s teeth actually begin forming in the womb, and usually start to erupt around six months of age. Over the next three years twenty baby teeth will come in. Your child should see a children’s dentist starting at twelve months of age. This first visit usually involves a dental exam to make sure your child’s dental progress is on track, and to make sure any evident dental problems are attended to.

The primary teeth serve very distinct purposes:

  • They reserve proper spacing for permanent teeth. Adult teeth are preparing to come in as baby teeth are lost. Primary teeth will begin to fall out around age six allowing permanent teeth to begin to emerge. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, your children’s dentist may recommend placing a space maintainer to prevent already erupted adult teeth from shifting blocking the emergence of a tooth in its correct place.
  • Teeth play a very large role in word formation. As your child learns to talk, they will use their tongue and teeth to form sounds and learn proper word pronunciation.
  • Chewing. As your child develops the ability to eat solid foods, the teeth play a very large role in consuming a nutritious diet. Of course, early foods will be soft; but as your child grows and starts to eat other foods, proper nourishment from fresh fruits and vegetables; protein; grains; and dairy will be enabled by healthy teeth.

Daily oral maintenance for your child’s primary teeth is very important. Wiping newly formed baby teeth with a soft cloth until your child is able to allow you to brush their teeth is acceptable. Once several baby teeth have erupted, use a soft bristle toothbrush and an age appropriate pea size drop of toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth. It will be some time until your child learns to spit out toothpaste, so never use a fluoridated toothpaste for your baby or toddler.

In an effort to keep your baby’s teeth cavity free, never put your child to bed with a bottle containing anything but water. Milk, formula, and juice can linger in your baby’s mouth after they fall asleep. The sugars from these beverages can allow plaque to form on teeth leading to dental decay.

For more questions or to schedule an appointment, contact our caring team today!