Choosing between a general and pediatric dentist

by MikeMeehan 2/14/2019 8:35 AM

When looking for a dentist for your children, it can be tough to know who to see. Should you search for a general family dentist or would your children benefit from pediatric care? You can’t go wrong either way, but it’s good to have all the facts before you make a decision. SimilaritiesBoth accredited general and pediatric dentists have the training necessary to offer a high level of care to children. If you have an existing relationship with a family dentist you trust to provide quality care, that dentist can be a great option for your littlest family members.  DifferencesWhile general dentistry training covers dental care for children, pediatric dentists spend at least two additional years studying how to care for younger patients. Once they have completed their training, they provide primary and specialty care for children only. As a result, they have smaller equipment specifically designed for children’s mouths. These are especially helpful when children need more complicated dental care such as root canals. Special needsPediatric dentists are also a great option for addressing certain needs children may have. Some kids have particularly high levels of dental anxiety. While general dentists often provide assistance with this anxiety, pediatric dentists may be specially equipped to reduce anxiety for children with toys or music that help them relax. They’re also trained to provide care for children with special needs like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, learning disabilities and others. These conditions can be associated with dental problems such as gum disease, so oral health care is especially important. Dental benefitsIf you’ve decided to visit a pediatric dentist, learn how your dental benefits apply. Some plans limit referrals to specialists or may require you to have a referral from your general dentist. Others allow families to maintain a pediatric dentist as their primary dentist. Check your plan to make sure. In any case, visit a specialist that participates in your plan’s network. Delta Dental’s website allows you to search for in-network specialists close to you. Whether you choose a general or pediatric dentist, scheduling the first visit early is crucial. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends all babies see the dentist within six months of getting their first tooth but no later than their first birthday. Keep your children smiling into adulthood by finding a dentist you trust today.

The basics of tooth bottle decay

by MikeMeehan 2/6/2019 1:42 PM

When parents put their little ones to sleep, sometimes they leave them with a bottle. While that might be soothing as they drift off to dreamland, leaving a bottle in the crib can be problematic for tiny teeth. In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month this February, take a moment to brush up on the basics of baby bottle tooth decay. What is baby bottle tooth decay?Put simply, baby bottle tooth decay means cavities in baby teeth and can begin soon after teeth appear. It occurs when a baby’s teeth are exposed to sugar for extended periods like at naptime or overnight. During this time, sugar pools around teeth and attacks enamel. With enough exposure, it can lead to high amounts of tooth decay. This sugar can be introduced from baby bottles with liquids such as milk, formula or juice.  Why is it a problem if baby teeth are going to fall out anyway?Even though baby bottle tooth decay relates to teeth that eventually fall out, it can still create lasting consequences. Healthy baby teeth are essential for chewing, speaking and smiling. When kids’ oral health is compromised, they may experience difficulty with these important aspects of growing up. Unhealthy baby teeth can also set the stage for tooth crowding or crooked teeth when adult teeth come in. If the problem isn’t addressed, it could lead to pain or infection, so it’s always a good decision to stay vigilant about oral health from the very start.  How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?You have several options to keep your baby’s teeth free from decay. The best way is to avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle. Or, make sure to only fill the bottle with water. No matter what time of day it is, be especially careful about juice because it has high amounts of sugar. Make sure to limit juice intake to no more than six ounces per day for preschoolers and 12 ounces for older children. If you do allow juice, it’s better to serve it in a cup rather than a bottle. Most children should be able to drink out of a cup after their first birthday. Preventive care like brushing and regular checkups is key, as well. Experts recommend scheduling your baby’s first visit within six months of the first tooth and no later than the first birthday. Clean their teeth according to infant dental care recommendations. As soon as baby teeth appear, you should begin brushing them with a baby toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Around age 3 you can begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Begin flossing when your child has two teeth that touch. By keeping your baby’s teeth safe now, you can help them develop a happy and healthy smile when their adult teeth appear!

The role a dentist plays in your child’s oral health

by MikeMeehan 1/23/2019 8:54 AM

Schedules may get hectic with school, extracurriculars and homework, but making it to the dentist is always worth it. Dentists play a central role in children’s oral health that goes beyond checking teeth for cavities.  The most obvious benefit dentists provide is preventive care through regular exams and cleanings. During these appointments, dentists or hygienists remove plaque and tartar to prevent the formation of cavities, which is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. For additional cavity prevention, they can place sealants on teeth that have the highest risk for tooth decay. This preventive care and consistent monitoring help dentists prevent or curb the effects of dental threats like thumb sucking, teeth crowding, fluorosis, neglecting oral health and more.  Dentists are a meaningful part of educating kids on proper oral health habits. While smile maintenance might be straightforward to adults, children have to learn it all from scratch. Dentists understand how their cognition develops and how to properly explain dental care principles in kid-friendly language. They can help convey the importance of brushing, flossing, eating healthy and visiting the dentist. And because parents have the most important role in establishing healthy smiles, dentists advise them on providing proper instruction and how to model good oral health habits. Children’s attitudes toward dental care begin taking shape in early childhood, and dentists can help ensure those attitudes are pleasant. Dentists provide positive reinforcement that creates enjoyable memories of appointments. When the exam is over, dentists often give kids toys or other rewards, and they build a rapport to establish trusting relationships. On the flip side, by preventing cavities and toothaches, the dentist minimizes unpleasant experiences, helping children avoid anxiety toward dental appointments. Finding a dentist you trust early on and maintaining regular visits is an important part of a child’s dental care. It not only helps teeth stay healthy, but it also teaches children the proper way to take care of their smile for years to come.  

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