When a child has a toothache, the parent seems to ‘feel’ the discomfort the most. After all, no parent wants to see their child in pain. Even though ‘baby’ teeth will be replaced eventually, these young teeth can develop cavities as easily as ‘adult,’ or primary teeth.
Baby teeth emerge as an infant is growing, preparing them to eat solid foods. Another role of these first teeth is to hold the position for the proper emergence of permanent, adult teeth.
In spite of helping youngsters brush twice daily and controlling sugar intake, developing a cavity in baby teeth can happen. According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of children aged 5 – 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.
The CDC also states that 13 percent of adolescents aged 12 – 19 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. That equates to a lot of dental fillings that may be avoidable.
Early care, according to the CDC, gives children a boost to oral health that also translates into lower dental expenses. They show that dental care expenses are nearly 40 percent lower for children who see a dentist by the age of 5. (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6302a9.htm)
Preventive measures begin at home, certainly. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have a dental checkup by their first birthday. Forming a dental relationship for your child early helps instill a healthy commitment to a healthier smile.
These early visits are important, beginning with an evaluation of position as teeth are emerging. From this, we are able to suggest cleaning techniques. We can also discuss options for added protection to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
At home measures include:
• Supervised brushing twice a day
• Supervised (or done by parent) flossing each day
• A healthy diet that is low in sugar and acidic foods and beverages
Avoiding cavities takes just minutes a day and can be a twice-daily parent and child activity. Children will reflect your own personal commitment to the care of your smile. This is an added reason to be dedicated to your own brushing and flossing habits. Additionally, your child’s attitude toward dental visits will be made more positive by reinforcing statements, such as, “You get to see your dentist tomorrow to show her your happy smile and how well you’re taking care of it!”
Although we realize some parents may have had less-than-happy experiences at the dentist as a child, we have an excellent track record with patients of all ages and are especially attuned to the comfort of each. Negative comments such as, “It won’t hurt much” or “I know you don’t want to go but…” only create an unfair impression of dental visits for a child.
By supporting your child avoid cavities in proper at-home care, you’ll help to save time and costs required for repairs (that are often avoidable). And, you’ll help to set your child up for a lifetime of good oral care habits. This early involvement can lead to healthier smiles for a child’s lifetime.
Too, being prepared to deal with mishaps that involve the teeth, lips or tongue can minimize treatment needs (and even save a permanent tooth!). Below are some to-do’s for various accidents or injuries to the mouth:
For a tooth that is knocked out or ‘dangling’: Handle the tooth by the top portion rather than the root. Rinse the tooth, but do not clean or handle it unnecessarily. Try to reinsert the tooth into its socket, holding it in place by biting gently on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and call us immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving a tooth.
For a tooth that is broken or chipped: Gently rinse the injured area with warm water, saving any broken tooth fragments. Hold a cold compress over the area of the injury and call our office immediately.
For a toothache: Clean the area around the sore tooth gently with a toothbrush. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm, salt water or use dental floss to gently dislodge trapped food or debris. If the face is swollen, apply a cold compress. Take acetaminophen for pain and call us as soon as possible. Do not place aspirin on the gum or the aching tooth.
For a bite or cut to the lip or tongue: If the area is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop in 15 minutes with simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room immediately. For bruised areas, apply a cold compress.
For broken braces and/or wires: If the appliance can be removed easily, take it out. If not, cover sharp or protruding portions with cotton balls, gauze or a wad of sugarless chewing gum. If a wire is piercing the gums, cheek, or tongue, do not attempt to remove it. Call our office immediately.
PLEASE NOTE: Our Shelby Twp dental office has after-hours instructions on the answering machine in case you need to contact us. We will do everything possible to assist you promptly.
For children who participate in sports (soccer, baseball, etc.) a custom-fitted mouth guard can decrease the potential of these injuries as well as the severity of those that do occur.
Let us help you give your child’s smile a healthy, happy start! Call 586-739-2155 to discuss an initial examination or tap here to begin.