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.

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.

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.

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!

Start Your Child’s School Year Off Right with a Dental Checkup

pedatirc dentist Tarrant CountyDid you know that your child should be visiting our pediatric dentist for routine checkups and cleanings? Sometimes, people undervalue children’s need for regular access to oral healthcare because children will ultimately lose their baby teeth as adult teeth come in. Unfortunately, this common misconception can be problematic for your child’s wellbeing and oral health. Receiving regular oral healthcare services can drastically prevent your child’s risks for developing dental caries (tooth decay) and gum disease as well as increase the likelihood of detecting potential issues like malocclusions and developmental abnormalities. Summer is a great time to schedule checkups and cleanings with our pediatric dentist since we know that our patients’ lives are quite hectic during the school year.

Dental Checkups for Children

A dental checkup is actually quite thorough. It involves more than just evaluating the health of teeth and gums. During a checkup, our team will examine the health of the occlusion (the way that teeth line up and make contact) during oral function, the jawbones, and the arrival of adult teeth. When issues are detected early on, it often means that we can rectify the problem with conservative and minimally invasive treatment options. Sometimes, we can administer preventive treatments like dental sealants and fluoride treatments to prevent tooth decay if we notice issues with tooth enamel (the outer surface of teeth that protects teeth from harmful bacteria).

Professional Dental Cleanings

Dental cleanings are another aspect of keeping your child’s oral health a priority. A cleaning is not only important, it is a necessity for controlling harmful substances that accumulate along the roots of teeth and along the gum line. Even if your child practices proper oral hygiene at home, it is still vital to have regular dental cleanings because some substances (tartar) cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing. Dental cleanings are gentle and non-invasive. They are also a cost-effective way to keep the gums healthy.

For more information about our pediatric services, call our family-friendly practice at your earliest convenience.

Does my child really need dental checkups every six months?

Fort Worth pediatric dentistChildhood dental care is incredibly important. Not only are children very susceptible to dental caries (tooth decay), they also need routine checkups since their bodies are developing rapidly. Moreover, children will undergo tooth transition—the phase of development where baby teeth fall out and are slowly replaced by permanent adult teeth. Routine visits to a pediatric dentist can help your child establish good oral health, prevent disease, and correct potential issues as soon as possible.

What Parents Need to Know About Dental Checkups

Dental checkups, especially those for children, are very comprehensive. A checkup involves more than just evaluating the health of teeth and gums. While assessing the health of teeth and gums is incredibly important, there are a myriad of other potential issues and conditions a pediatric dentist will look for. During checkups, our team will evaluate the health of the occlusion (the way that the jaws and teeth line up), emerging adult teeth, and the density and size of jawbones.

A child’s checkup can reveal congenital issues and developmental issues as well as common conditions like tooth decay and gum disease. In almost all cases, early detection of disease and abnormalities yields conservative and cost-effective treatment.

Dental Cleanings Are Important, Too

In addition to scheduling bi-annual checkups with our pediatric dentist, a child should receive two cleanings a year. Professional cleanings are non-invasive. The purpose of a cleaning is to remove harmful substances like tartar, clean thoroughly between teeth and along the gums, and polish teeth. A cleaning is also a great time for your child to learn more about the importance of oral hygiene.

Call us today to reserve a checkup with our team at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry!

New City, New Dentist: What to Look for in a Dental Provider

pediatric dentist Fort WorthMoving to a new city can be both invigorating and stressful. While your future is full of possibilities, there is a seemingly endless list of to-dos. From finding a new place of worship to having all your mail forwarded to your new address, moving is certainly a massive undertaking. Finding a new dental provider should be on your list of moving to-dos. Whether you need a general dentist or a specialist such as a pediatric dentist or periodontist, the following tips should help you in your search for the dental practitioner that is right for your needs.  

Search Online

For many folks, one of the easiest ways to search for a new dentist is to do so online. Simply type your location or neighborhood and the type of provider you need into a search engine like Google. For example, your search might look this way: “pediatric dentist Dallas”. The first few pages of search engine results should give you a decent amount of listings to work with. At this point, you can visit websites for dental practices to learn more about its doctors, technology, and services. Dental websites can contain a wealth of helpful information along with downloadable patient forms to streamline your first visit.

Make a List of Potential Providers

After you have perused a list of dental providers in your area and browsed their websites, make a list of the practices that appeal to you the most. Try to keep your list short but long enough to leave you with options for making your first appointment since some practices might not have room for new patients.

Call Dental Practices

Once your list is made, call each practice. Ask any questions about services and treatments that you feel are necessary. At this point, it is important to check if the practice you are calling takes your dental insurance, if you have any.

After calling practices, you should be able to whittle your list down to one or two contenders. Remember, you can always switch providers after your first appointment if a practice doesn’t seem like the right fit.

Call us today to reserve an appointment at our practice!

Follow These 5 Tips for a Healthier Mouth

Fort Worth pediatric dentistYou and your entire family benefit from all the positive things you offer from the foods consumed to the daily essentials you provide. One of the things you or your children may take for granted involve something used every day … teeth. Taking your child to their pediatric dentist every six months starting at age one will help to ensure their teeth remain strong and healthy. Important factors that impact oral health include:

Professional care – Those dental checkups every six months are critical to remove plaque buildup. Plaque contributes to dental decay and gum disease so to help maintain your kid’s dental health, make sure they honor these appointments. In addition to having their teeth cleaned and examined for potential problems, there are preventative treatments available to contribute to better oral health such as topical fluoride applications and dental sealants.

Daily oral maintenance – Providing proper tools like a great toothbrush, fluoridated toothpaste and rinse, and floss are only helpful when put to good use. Make sure to monitor your young children to make sure they are brushing at least twice every day. Teach them to floss by allowing them to watch you – example makes a wonderful teacher.

Diet – It is impossible to monitor what your children eat all day, but teach them the                       importance of a healthy diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks like nuts,  cheese, and yogurt, and nourishing, balanced meals will contribute to healthy teeth and gums. Limit soda and sugary snacks to special occasions; encourage your children to drink water.

Rest – A healthy mouth goes hand in hand with a healthy body so make sure you and your family are getting sufficient rest and exercise. A stressful lifestyle often will manifest itself in the form of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Children suffer from stress as well as adults so make sure you keep the lines of communication open to know if your child is dealing with problems that might lead to oral health issues.

Educate – Make sure everyone in your family knows the dangers of tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, and illicit drug use. Teach by example. Let your children know that these things are a major cause of gum disease which can lead to tooth loss.

Permanent teeth must last a lifetime so do everything you can to nourish and protect them. Contact us at Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry for more tips!