How to Brush Baby Teeth
Helping your children create positive oral health habits will help them have a lifetime of healthy teeth. But if you’re wondering when do I start brushing my child’s teeth and how do I brush them effectively—you’re not alone. At Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry, we understand that brushing your child’s teeth can be challenging so we’ve created these tips on brushing baby teeth.
When Should I Start Brushing My Child’s Teeth?
- No baby teeth: Clean your baby’s mouth and gums with a soft, damp cloth. You can also help minimize the bacteria and sugar your child consumes by never dipping pacifiers in anything sweet and by not cleaning the pacifier with your own mouth.
- First baby tooth erupts: Begin using a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your child’s teeth.
- Baby teeth ages under 3: Apply a small amount of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) and gently brush in a circular motion on the teeth and gums, for two minutes.
- Baby teeth ages 3+: Apply a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste before brushing in tiny circles for two minutes. After brushing, have your child spit out any excess toothpaste.
We recommend that you brush twice a day (morning and before bedtime), start flossing as soon as your child has two teeth that are touching, and change to a new toothbrush every 3-4 months.
Make Brushing Fun
Help create positive brushing experiences by making the overall experience more fun for your child.
- Let them pick out a soft-bristled, child-sized toothbrush that they love.
- Bring a favorite toy in while brushing and let your child practice brushing the toy’s teeth (with just the toothbrush, no toothpaste).
- Take turns brushing your child’s teeth. If you start brushing, after one minute, let them try brushing either with your help or on their own. This will help them feel more involved and confident about brushing on their own when they get to that stage.
- Play a fun song that lasts about two minutes. This helps them understand how long they will have to brush and that once the song is over, it’s time to rinse.
- Give praise after brushing. Help encourage your child and create positive experiences by praising your child after each brushing.
Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry is committed to keeping even the smallest smiles in Lincoln, NE as healthy as they can be. Dr. Marty can help educate parents and children so everyone feels confident knowing when to start brushing baby teeth, how to brush effectively, and how to make brushing teeth a fun activity. Schedule your child’s next check-up or call our office with any questions.Call Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry
Baby toothpaste is a safe alternative from traditional (adult) toothpaste for babies and toddlers to use. Babies and toddlers don’t always know how to spit out excess toothpaste, and traditional kinds of toothpaste contain ingredients that aren’t intended for consumption. It’s important to care for your baby’s teeth before they come in—by wiping their mouth with a soft cloth. But, once their first tooth arrives, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends switch to using a soft-bristled toothbrush and baby toothpaste. If you have any questions about pediatric oral health, contact Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry in Lincoln, NE.
Should I use baby toothpaste with fluoride?
Yes. We recommend using baby toothpaste with fluoride in it as soon as your child’s first tooth appears. Baby teeth are an important part of a child’s overall health and can develop cavities just like adult teeth. Using fluoride toothpaste is a safe, preventive measure to reduce the risk of cavities forming. Decayed baby teeth can interfere with good nutrition and speech development so it’s crucial to keep baby teeth healthy.
Fluoride-free toothpaste will help to clean teeth, but it doesn’t protect teeth against decay the same way a fluoride toothpaste will. If you are uncertain about using a fluoride toothpaste, contact your child’s pediatric dentist.
How much toothpaste should I use on my baby’s teeth?
As children grow and develop, their oral health recommendations also change. From the size of toothbrush to the amount of toothpaste.
- Children 0-2: Use a baby toothbrush, moistened with water, and a very small smear of low fluoride toothpaste — no more than the size of a grain of rice. Make gentle circles on the front, back, and top surfaces of all teeth and along the gum line then help your child angle their mouth down so the toothpaste dribbles out into the sink.
- Children 3-6: Use a child-size toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of low fluoride toothpaste. At this age, brushing should always be a team effort. Help your child brush and ensure they spit out as much excess toothpaste as possible.
- Children 6-9: Use a pea-sized amount of standard fluoride toothpaste and continue with a kid-size toothbrush or introduce an electric toothbrush.
- Children 10+: Time for an adult toothbrush! Each child is different, but typically around age 10, children can use an adult toothbrush comfortably.
Creating positive oral health habits in children should start as soon as possible—from wiping babies gums to brushing when the first tooth appears. Visiting a pediatric dentist helps keep kids on the right track and helps establish good oral hygiene throughout childhood into adulthood. Using baby toothpaste with fluoride is a great start to helping prevent cavities. If you have questions about what’s the best option for your child, contact our Lincoln, NE pediatric dental office.
Pediatric Mouth Guards and Night Guards
No parent wants to hear that their child has broken a tooth playing sports. Most children participate in sports after school where they are more likely to get hit in the mouth and knocked out or lose teeth. Luckily, there are many methods to prevent this from happening. Pediatric mouth guards and night guards are two of the most effective methods for lasting and reliable prevention of broken or chipped teeth. At Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry in Lincoln, NE we offer pediatric mouth guards and night guards to help protect children’s teeth.
Why Are Mouth Guards/Night Guards Important?
30% of Americans experience bruxism, the chronic clenching and grinding of one’s teeth. Of that 30%, 14% to 17% of children grind their teeth. Possible causes of grinding include stress, irritation in the mouth, allergies, misaligned teeth, earaches and hyperactivity. There isn’t just one cause of bruxism, so it is important to know the symptoms that may require treatment. These symptoms include dull headaches, jaw soreness, teeth that are painful or loose and fractured teeth.
What Are Mouth Guards/Night Guards?
There are different types of mouth guards that your child can get. The most effective night guards are custom made by a dentist. “Boil and bite” night guards are found at drugstores and are not custom fitted. They are usually overly bulky and sometimes come out during the night while grinding. These store bought night guards are made out of rubber-based material that actually encourages grinding, so it is counterproductive. Custom-fitted night guards are created based on your specific grinding pattern. Your dentist will take a mold of your upper and lower teeth and the final night guard is then created at an offsite dental laboratory.
Night guards are worn during the night, while mouth guards are typically worn during the day.
While night guards are not usually recommended for children, mouth guards are highly recommended for all children who play sports. Mouth guards are worn over the teeth during the day, usually when the child is participating in sports or other activities where they may be hit in the mouth and they protect teeth if the child is struck in the mouth by an elbow, ball, etc.
We highly recommended mouth guards to active children since one of the leading causes of chipped, damaged teeth or teeth being knocked out is playing sports. Since mouth guards are not required, many children do not wear them which puts them at risk for damaged teeth. Not only do mouth guards save teeth, they also help protect jaws and can prevent traumatic injuries such as concussions.Call Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry Learn More About Pediatric Mouth Guards & Night Guards
Pediatric Dental Fillings
It can be distressing to learn from your child’s dentist that your child has a cavity in one of their teeth. If cavities are left untreated, it can lead to negative consequences for both the children and parents. Luckily, a pediatric dentist can keep your kid’s teeth healthy. At Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry in Lincoln, NE we offer pediatric dental fillings and sealants to help prevent and stop the spread of cavities in kids.
What Causes Cavities in Kids?
The breakdown of tooth enamel is called tooth decay. Tooth decay can eventually lead to cavities (holes in the teeth). Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and occurs when foods that contain carbohydrates are left on the teeth.
Foods such as soda, milk, candy, cake, raisins, fruit juices, bread and cereals can be the culprit for tooth decay. The bacteria that lives in the mouth changes these foods into acids. The combination of food, bacteria, saliva and acid form plaque which sticks on the teeth. Over time, the acids made by the bacteria will eventually eat away at your tooth enamel causing cavities.
All kids are at risk for tooth decay because all kids have bacteria in their mouths. However, certain factors play a part in raising a child’s risk for it. These factors include poor oral hygiene, a diet high in starches and sugars, high levels of the bacteria that end up causing cavities or less saliva flow than normal.
It is important to treat dental decay as soon as possible or it can become worse and lead to more serious oral health problems. Problems caused by childhood dental cavities are advanced dental infections, mouth pain, gum disease, damage to permanent teeth, disrupted speech development and in some cases, tooth loss.
Tooth Filling Procedure
If your child needs a dental filling, there are three simple steps to the process. First, we will make sure that the tooth and surrounding tissues are numbed so your child has a pain-free dental experience. Then, our pediatric dentist will remove the bacteria and decay from the cavity in the affected tooth and will thoroughly clean and disinfect the cavity. Once it is cleaned, the filling material is applied to the sterile dental cavity, and then it hardens.
Dental fillings are one of the simplest dental procedures. If your child properly cares for his or her dental fillings by brushing twice a day, flossing daily and visiting their dentist every 6 months for a checkup, their fillings could last for years.Call Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry Learn More About Fillings
Teeth Growing Behind Baby Teeth
If your child has ever ran up to you with two rows of teeth—you’re not alone! When permanent teeth come in before baby teeth have fallen out, we call it “Shark Teeth”. Shark teeth are actually common among children and if you’re a concerned parent, rest assured that it’s easily treatable.
What Causes Shark Teeth?
When a child has two rows of teeth it’s because their baby teeth didn’t fall out before the permanent teeth started to come in. Typically when permanent teeth erupt, even if baby teeth are still present, it adds pressure to the roots of the baby teeth. The added pressure should break the roots that connect the baby teeth to the gumline, ultimately causing the baby teeth to fall out as they should. But, when that doesn’t happen the permanent teeth will start to grow behind the baby teeth, causing a child to have two rows of teeth.
What Should You Do If Your Child Has Two Rows of Teeth?
If your child has multiple rows of teeth you have a couple of options:
- If the tooth is loose, encourage your child to try and wiggle it out.
- In the case where the tooth isn’t loose, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist.
Permanent Tooth Eruption
Permanent tooth eruption occurs over a seven year span, during which a child’s baby teeth fall out and are replaced by adult teeth. Permanent teeth usually start eruption around age 6, and typically appear in the same order that as a child’s baby teeth came in. Children will have 20 baby teeth and eventually have 32 permanent teeth.
Just like teething in babies, permanent tooth eruption is different for each child. Regular dental visits not only helps ensure your child’s optimal oral health but also gives you the chance to ask questions along the way if you’re concerned about their baby or permanent teeth. If you have questions about baby or permanent teeth, contact us today!Learn More About Baby Teeth Contact Us
Are Baby Teeth Important?
Tiny, but important ― that’s how baby teeth are referred to, especially by dentists. While most parents would look at their babies’ tiny teeth and wonder what in the world they could be thinking about, dentists realize early on that these tiny teeth aren’t just for looking at cute smiles and giggles.
Functions of Baby Teeth
Taking good care of your child’s teeth early on is crucial to their oral health now and for the rest of their lives. We’ve come up with several reasons why you want to keep your baby’s teeth in tip top shape.
- These teeth are crucial to your child’s health and development. They help with the development of permanent teeth by saving space for them in the jaw. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift to the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in.
- Baby teeth aid in speech development. Taking care of your child’s teeth will help them speak and communicate better.
- They help your child maintain good nutrition by permitting him/her to chew properly.
- Baby teeth help children feel good about themselves and their smile. It’s so important for children to feel confident from a young age and keeping their teeth healthy is imperative.
Baby teeth can get cavities, just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by cavities, they can also lead to dental infections. Tooth decay is a serious, infectious, and transmissible disease that can spread quickly and lead to infection. If a tooth needs to then get extracted, this can cause the teeth to drift, which may lead to overcrowding and difficulty for the adult teeth to grow in.
Be sure to visit a dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing and definitely by the time they reach the one year mark. Our team will check for cavities and any other pediatric dental problems. We’ll also help show you and your child how to properly take care of their teeth. Give us a call today at 402-420-8020!
Pediatric Dental Sealants
Pediatric dental sealants are an important preventive measure designed to give your child’s smile every possible advantage. Many dentists recommend children get sealants on their teeth as soon as their permanent molars grow in to prevent decay from the beginning. It is essential to protect your child’s oral health early on and prevent problems that may trouble them later on.
What Are Pediatric Dental Sealants?
The “grooves,” or crevices and pits along the back molars are highly susceptible to germs and bacteria that build up when food particles, such as sugar, become trapped inside them. Regular brushing goes a long way, but even the most dedicated of brushers can struggle to clean those grooves properly.
A pediatric dental sealant is a thin white or clear resin liquid applied to the surface of a child’s molars with a small brush. This thin coating placed over the biting surface of the molars protects them from decay. The protective coating reduces a child’s risk of cavities by 80% according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
Are Pediatric Dental Sealants Safe?
Dental sealants are safe and pose minimal risk to children. They are a great non-invasive way to help protect your child’s teeth from cavities. No materials go inside the tooth as fillings do. Sealants are made of a medical grade resin. The materials are similar to the white filling material used when patients have cavities filled. The main difference is the sealant material; it’s runny in nature. Sealants are applied to teeth using a small brush to easily flow into the micro grooves of the teeth.
This non-invasive and painless procedure is quick and completed in one visit. The procedure starts by cleaning the teeth being sealed with a polishing brush and pumice (gritty toothpaste). Once the teeth have been dried, they are isolated from any saliva from the tongue and cheeks using a small cotton roll or triangular intraoral cheek shield called a “dry angle.” Then, an etching solution is applied to the surface of the teeth to disinfect and prep the tooth for better sealant adherence. The teeth are rinsed off and dried once again. A thin bonding layer is painted on the teeth, then the sealant is applied directly onto the surface of the teeth, covering the enamel. After that is complete, the teeth are “cured” or dried using an LED blue light. This allows for faster application because it hardens and bonds the sealant to the tooth surface.
This entire process only takes about one minute for each tooth needing to be sealed. There are also no restrictions following the procedure, patients can eat and drink right away and can return to school immediately after. Dental sealants for a child are designed to protect their teeth for a minimum of 3-5 years, with a maximum of 10 years if they are well maintained. During your child’s regular dental checkups, the dentist will check the sealants to ensure they are still in place and haven’t cracked or worn away. If they do get damaged, they can be easily repaired.
Is Silver Diamine Fluoride Application Right for My Child?
Silver Diamine Fluoride application is a common tooth decay treatment and prevention option in babies, toddlers, and children. As a parent, you are likely wondering if silver diamine fluoride (SDF) application is really right for your child. At Wilderness Station Pediatric Dentistry in Lincoln, NE—we’re here to help you decide what’s best for your child.
SDF is often times the ideal in the following situations:
- Babies and toddlers: This is the least-invasive option to treat baby tooth decay. It can also keep teeth from decaying further. Some parents wonder if it’s necessary to treat baby tooth decay since the teeth will fall out—it is necessary. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food and to speak.
- Multiple cavities: SDF application can cover up to eight teeth at once. Filling multiple cavities takes longer and is less comfortable for children, making this the preferred option for kids with multiple cavities.
- Special needs: Children of all ages with special needs may not have the ability to restrict their own movement enough to receive numbing. They also may not understand the process enough to remain calm. SDF can treat their cavities in just minutes, without causing undue distress.
- Older kids: Kids up to age 13 can deal with tooth decay in baby teeth while their permanent teeth come in. With a skilled application, SDF can keep decaying baby teeth from negatively impacting surrounding permanent teeth as they emerge and develop.
- Genetic predisposition: If you have a family history of more-easily getting cavities, SDF can lower your children’s risk of getting cavities.
SDF is not recommended if your child has: a silver allergy, significant damage to their front teeth, been diagnosed with gingivitis or lichen planus, or if they don’t want to have stained teeth at all.
Silver diamine fluoride application is internationally-recognized for its safety and effectiveness of treating and preventing cavities. SDF is a commonly-used tooth decay treatment option in infants all the way through the loss of the last baby tooth. Additionally, it has a lower cost and requires less time at the dentist than traditional fillings. If you have any questions or would like a consultation, contact our office.
One Year Update: COVID-19 and Dental Offices
It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed almost every aspect of our daily lives—including regularly visiting the dentist. However, this should soon be a thing of the past. Not visiting the dentist was one of the many ripple-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and even though it is not over, yet, things are looking up.
According to the ADA Health Policy Institute, confidence in going back to the dentist hit a new high since the pandemic started, with 94% of patients stating they are ready to go back to the dentist or they have already gone back to see the dentist, compared to August of 2020 where only 78% of patients had been back or were ready to go back to the dentist.
If you’re ready for your next dental checkup, contact us today to setup an appointment!
Continued Safety Protocols
As more and more people become fully vaccinated, the CDC has started to provide less-restrictive guidelines for these people. However, most recommended precautions, such as using personal protective equipment, have not changed for health care settings, including dental offices.
Even though we are seeing COVID-19 case numbers trending down, we still ask that you follow our guidelines for your safety and the safety of others, including:
- Do not come to the office if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
- Limit the number of people you bring to your appointment, if possible
Per the CDC, we are regularly consulting with our state and local health departments for region-specific information and recommendations, as they monitor trends in local case counts and adjust accordingly.
We understand that you may not feel comfortable quite yet, or you have questions about the protocols we’ve implemented in our office to keep patients safe. You can review our entire list of COVID-19 Safety Protocols or you can contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.