Isolite Dental System at work in the dental office

Some people dread going to the dentist for various reasons such as straining your muscles to keep your mouth open. With recent developments of modern procedures and tools in dentistry, patients can now look forward to having their teeth examined and undergo necessary dental treatments in faster and more convenient way.

One of the newest systems in dentistry today is the Isolite Dental System. It is a device that helps illuminate the mouth, provides relaxation because of its ergonomic design while keeping the mouth open, keeps the mouth dry and contaminant-free throughout the procedure. It makes dental procedures comfortable and cuts the time by 20% to 50%. By using this system, undergoing procedures will be a breeze. At Smiles For Kids we utilize this fantastic system to help children relax while they watch a movie instead of thinking of keeping their mouth open.

How does it work?

At the heart of Isolite Dental System is a patented mouthpiece that is soft, flexible and easy to fit. It is made of hypoallergenic, silicone and latex free material. It comes in six sizes including a tiny “pediatric” fit. Getting the right size for the patient is crucial as it can give them a relaxing experience and poses no risk of injuring the tongue and cheek during the procedure. The mouthpiece also provides the patient a place to rest their jaw.

When in place, it can isolate the maxillary (top) and mandibular (bottom) quadrants, protects tongue and cheek, provides bright illumination, removes fluids and oral debris and prevents aspiration of materials.

The disposable mouthpiece can be inserted and removed in a few seconds so it shortens procedure preparation time. Since the dentist can see throughout the mouth easily because of illumination, it removes the stress in retraction, suctioning, eyestrain, adjustment of headlights and overhead lights, and repositioning the patient, the procedure becomes less stressful, faster and more comfortable for both parties.

What procedures can benefit from using Isolite Dental Systems?

In pediatrics it is a fantastic time saver and protector for children’s cheeks and curious tongues during any restorative procedures and sealants. At Smiles For Kids we call it our “fishy” as the mouthpiece has a shape of a fish tail. Our little patients love the ease and speed of the procedures thanks to the “fishy”. For restorative dentistry, it is good for sealants, bonding, fillings, crown and bridge preparation, cementation, quadrant impressions, veneers, air abrasion, CEREC dentistry and laser dentistry. For oral and maxillofacial surgery, it can be used for extractions and implants. For orthodontics, the use of Isolite mouthpiece can save as much as 15 minutes per hour for quadrant bracket placement and lingual fixed retainers. Periodontic procedures like implants and scaling of gums and teeth become quicker and more reliable too. Dentists, hygienists and assistants have much easier time taking of patients without needing another pair of hands to help with holding cheeks or drying teeth. Isolite is a fantastic tool to help patients and dental care providers deliver safe, quick and efficient dentistry.

Why Pediatric Space Maintainers Are Important

Caring for your child’s primary teeth (also called milk teeth or baby teeth) can not only help in maintaining a great smile but also in children’s proper nutrition and general well-being. Establishing a good oral hygiene routine while they are still young can have a lifelong impact.

One of the most important roles baby teeth have is preparing the space for proper alignment and growth of permanent teeth later on. The longer baby teeth are maintained, the easier for permanent teeth to emerge in proper alignment.

Because of that, when primary teeth have to be removed for various reasons such as abscess, trauma or accident, pediatric dentists recommend space maintainers. These easy and comfortable devices hold the space for the permanent teeth’s future slot and keep the surrounding teeth from infringing on the area.

Space maintainers are not permanent and they are removed when permanent teeth erupt. There are two types of pediatric space maintainers that your dentist may recommend, fixed and removable. As the names suggest, the first one stays in the mouth although not permanently while the other is removable. At Smiles For Kids we almost exclusively use fixed space maintainers.

Fixed space maintainers are recommended for children because they are easy to maintain and are less likely to be damaged or lost. Space maintainers can be placed on either the upper or lower arch to replace missing teeth and can save space for back teeth that are not ready to emerge.

  1. Fixed Space Maintainers
    • Unilateral – as the name suggests, this type is attached to one side of the mouth only. It is used to replace one baby tooth and examples are: band and loop, crown and loop or distal shoe.
    • Bilateral – two types can be used: one for the lower arch called “lower lingual arch” and one for the upper teeth called either a “nance” or a “transpalatal arch”. They are usually used when more than one tooth is missing or on the patients with mixed dentition (both baby and adult teeth). It is cemented with bands on both back teeth and a wire resting on either lower front teeth or across the palate. A lingual arch can also be used in permanent dentition when the patient is waiting for prosthetic or orthodontic therapy.
    • Pediatric Partial Denture-this spacer is used when anterior (front) teeth are lost due to either an accident or an abscess. As opposed to back teeth, the front ones are not as important for chewing or space holding so these spacers are considered purely for esthetics.
  2. Removable Space Maintainers

Removable space maintainers are not often used for children. They perform the same functions as the fixed type, but are more prone to breakage and loss.

Whatever space maintainers you and your dentist have decided to use for your child’s current condition, good oral hygiene must be practiced at all times. Brushing and flossing around and under the retainers is very important so please talk to your pediatric dentist and hygienist to make sure you have all the necessary skills and tools to help your child in healthy growth and development of permanent dentition.

When and Why Do You Need Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE)

There are many dental and orthodontic appliances available to correct oral problems like misaligned teeth, jaw or narrow palate. Some of these procedures work the best when the patient is still young when the bones are soft, growing and easy to manipulate.

One of the common dental appliances used by dentists on growing children is the rapid palatal expander (RPE). It is used to expand the palate and to correct the bite that either has a crossbite (“opposite” bite) or a narrow upper arch. It widens the upper jaw to create space for permanent teeth. RPE is usually worn for six to nine months in order to correct the bite.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends correcting crossbites “as early as possible when behavior allows”, and at Smiles For Kids we can usually do it around 5 years of age. Young children are adaptable and flexible, and the procedure is smooth and easy for them. Since the joint of the upper palate is still non-convoluted, it is much easier to correct at this time.

The RPE is an expander with two bands cemented onto last upper molars. They are connected by a metal screw that is turned daily to expand the appliance. Follow the dentist’s instructions regarding the turning schedule. We teach all our parents and caretakers how to turn the screw properly and easily. It usually takes two to four weeks to complete the active (or turning) part of treatment and following 6 months the appliance is passively providing retention. During the first two days, the patient may experience slight headaches and tightness, which is a normal effect. Over-the-counter pain medications will relieve any discomfort, but shouldn’t be needed for more than a couple of days.

What to Expect


Since the appliance is a foreign object, the patient may have difficulty speaking, chewing, eating and swallowing for the first few days, but after a couple of days children get used to it and do not experience any problems. Practicing speaking by reading a book aloud can help before the return to school. Soft diet will also help in those critical first days. To remove food particles trapped within the RPE, rinsing thoroughly with water after every meal and using a syringe that we will provide will help.

Parents have a special role to play in the whole procedure. They should help their children with the turning of the screw, assess any discomfort, keep them on regular checkup appointments, and help them get accustomed to the appliance in those first few days.

As you continue turning the screw regularly throughout the duration of active treatment, you may expect the following:

  • Gap of several millimeters between the two upper front teeth.
  • Pressure on the teeth, palate, cheeks and nose.
  • Easier breathing due to expansion of the palate and nasal passages.
  • Your bite may be off or not properly align because the upper jaw is currently expanding. It will stabilize in time.

The RPE treatment will require several appointments. First one is for impression of the upper and lower jaw. Two to three weeks later, during the second appointment, the dentist will seat the appliance (cement it) on the teeth and teach the parents how to turn the screw. Two weeks later will be first appliance check will take place and it could possibly be the final check. If your child needs a little more expansion, additional week or two of turning might be added. Finally, at that time the dentist will seal off the screw to prevent accidental turning back and monitor the expansion on regular checkup and cleaning appointments.

Healthy Snacks for Kids

Busy families sometimes have difficulty in serving three healthy meals each day. It is thus not surprising that snacking has become an important part in the daily food intake. In recent studies, it was discovered that twice as many kids today eat snacks such as crackers, popcorn, and chips compared to kids 20 years ago. Soda consumption in children has increased by up to 37 percent. Not only does this mean extra calories, but it could also lead to tooth decay.

For parents, this means that they should pay particular attention to the snacks served to their kids as much as the regular meals. Many healthy options can be found within each of the food groups such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

Fruits and vegetables should make it into the snack menu of all children. Realistically speaking though, it is more difficult for parents to make their children eat these foods than any other types of snacks. One way for kids to enjoy their meals is to conduct taste tests or let kids choose the new fruits and vegetables they would like to try.

Fruits and vegetables can be served whole, sliced, cubed, or skewered. Changing their appearance or presentation can make them more appealing to children. Canned, frozen, and dried fruits are easy alternatives for those who do not have time to prepare. However, make sure that they are not packed with extra sugar. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose of healthy snacking.

It is perfectly acceptable to pack in a dip with the fruits and vegetables if this would encourage the kids to snack on something healthier. Cheese with vegetables can be a yummy treat while a drizzle of chocolate over fruits is irresistible to kids. Also, choose snacks that make use of whole grains that are low in fat and sugar. Muffins, chips, breakfast cereal, popcorn, and other types of snacks come in this form. The good news is that these are tasty too. Avoid refined grains like pretzels and cookies as much as possible.

While dairy is an important part of a child?s diet, low-fat alternatives may also be considered. Protect the children?s bones and hearts by giving them low-fat or fat-free snack items. Yogurt and low-fat pudding are tasty treats. Since cheese is one of the top sources of heart-damaging saturated fat in children?s diets, choose low-fat cheeses such as 2% cottage cheese and serve them in small portions. To up the health ante, they can also be served with other foods like fruit, vegetables, or whole grain crackers.

Beverages should also be considered when snacking. Water should be the main drink served because it satisfies thirst without adding any unnecessary calories or sugars. If you chose to serve fruit juice make sure they are not loaded with extra sugars or preservatives. Look at the labels to make sure that it is not high in fructose corn syrup. Limit juice, even the all natural ones, to no more than 6 ounces per day and make sure it is served with meals only! Milk has many great qualities such as calcium and vitamins, but it is also full of sugar and should be served with meals. In between meals it is healthiest for children?s little bodies as well as their teeth to drink water. Please make sure you keeps kids away from carbonated drinks such as sodas of any kind since they not only are loaded with sugar but also have high acidity which cause demineralization of fragile enamel (the outer part of teeth).

Starting Early: When to See an Orthodontist

The general rule is to see an orthodontist whenever there is a question about the alignment of the teeth or the bite. Sometimes, crowding or rotated teeth are obvious signs that a visit to an orthodontist is needed. Other times, this may not be as obvious. It is the latter situation that leads most pediatric dentists to recommend an evaluation by the age of seven.

By this time, the permanent first molars and some permanent front teeth are already present in the mouth. If this does not happen, there may be a problem in development of the teeth. Since the growth of teeth varies in different individuals, an evaluation by an orthodontist is important to know whether the eruption of the teeth is going smoothly. Although most patients do not need treatment at a very young age, catching problems early on can potentially prevent more severe problems in the future.

An orthodontist can generally determine if there will be adequate room for the remaining permanent teeth. This is done through the use of a panoramic X-ray which will often be taken by your pediatric dentist as well as the orthodontist and through a thorough orthodontic examination. If there is not enough room for the permanent teeth, early treatment can be started such as the use of appliances to expand the jaws or the removal of deciduous teeth. The purpose of these approaches is to increases the chance that the remaining permanent teeth will erupt ideally aligned. It might avoid or aid in future orthodontic treatment such as braces.

In addition to the treatment of dental crowding early, many orthodontists will also give advice on the correction of certain bite problems early on as well. One of the most important bite problems encountered by children is the crossbite, which is when the upper teeth fit inside or behind the lower teeth. When it is untreated, crossbites may lead to the permanent deformation of the lower jaw. As a result, permanent teeth would wear down and may require oral surgery for correction. The orthodontist may recommend an upper retainer or appliance to expand the palate and encourage the forward growth of the upper jaw to prevent the crossbite.

On the opposite end of this situation is an overbite. An overbite may result when the upper jaw grows more quickly than the lower jaw. It may also be because of protrusive front teeth. If the jaw is the reason, treatment will usually consist of an orthopedic appliance to help stimulate the growth of the lower jaw. The advantages of treating overbite early include the improved ability to chew, easier speech and facial esthetics as well as avoiding trauma to protruding front teeth. Finally, orthodontists can recommend methods on how to treat harmful habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting for young age. There is a strong link between habits such as these and orthodontic problems.

While it is recommended for the child to see an orthodontist by age seven, a majority of patients seen at that age do not undergo treatment. Usually, they will be monitored during annual dental examinations by the orthodontist until treatment can begin at the optimal time.

Practical Tips for Proper Brushing and Flossing for Kids

The truth about teeth is that they should be cleaned as soon as they appear. An early start on oral hygiene means that the kids will get used to the daily routine. For babies, a soft washcloth wrapped around the finger, or a ?finger brush? can substitute for a brush. For older kids, there is simply no better choice that the traditional methods of brushing and flossing.

The reason for brushing and flossing is the removal of plaque. Plaque is a coating of bacteria on the teeth that will in long term cause decrease of pH of saliva and the start of dental decay (cavities). Brushing and flossing can also stimulate the gums and keep them healthy. Avoiding gum disease is just as vital as keeping the teeth healthy. It is not unusual for some kids to want to avoid flossing and brushing. In order to make it more interesting for them, allow the children to choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. You can also let them use any of the mechanical or ultrasonic toothbrushes if it will make brushing more attractive to your little ones.

On the average, children spend about a minute brushing their teeth. However, experts recommend that brushing should be done for at least two minutes. To help kids properly brush their teeth, a timer in the bathroom or a toothbrush with a timer built in can be used. We provide all our patients with an hour glass that helps them measure 2 minutes of brushing time and most mechanical toothbrushes have a built in timer. A fun alternative is to have them brush for the length of a song that lasts two to three minutes.

Kids should brush their teeth in the morning and at night, but it is of particular importance that kids brush their teeth before going to bed at night. At night all functions of the body shut down including salivary flow that stimulates cleaning of teeth. The time spent sleeping gives bacteria plenty of opportunities to feed on food particles left inside the mouth. As a result, enamel-eating acid could be produced. Saliva flow is lower at night so it is less likely for food to be washed off the teeth. If your child is too young to brush properly, you may have to help out to make sure that the teeth are properly cleaned.

To brush the teeth of kids, place the toothbrush alongside the teeth. Ideally, the bristles should be held at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Gently move the brush in small circular motions and make sure to have a system so none of the teeth are missed. Brush across the surfaces used for chewing and make sure the bristles get into the spaces in between the teeth. The most easily missed parts of the teeth are the molars and the tongue side of the bottom front teeth so make sure to pay close attention to these areas.

Flossing should be done as soon as teeth start touching each other. Flossing is necessary because it helps prevent cavities by removing plaque and food caught between teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach. Usually, children can be allowed to floss on their own by age seven. For younger kids, use about 18 inches of floss and slide the floss between teeth in a sawing motion. You can also use ?floss fingers? that can be easily bought at a grocery store or a pharmacy. Once it reaches the gums, wrap the floss around one tooth and pull it to move it up and down against the tooth then the other tooth and then repeat on the other teeth.

Hypoplastic Baby and Permanent Teeth

Unsightly defects and discolorations found in baby and permanent teeth are a cause of concern for many parents who encounter them. The truth is that nearly 40% of all baby front teeth have some sort of enamel defect that can be seen. These defects are not just about the unsightly appearance. They can cause aesthetic problems and have a higher tendency for dental caries (cavities). The two most common causes of enamel defects are developmental irregularities and minor facial traumas. These can occur before, during, or after birth of the child. Some of the he treatment options for enamel defects in children include aesthetic composite (filling material) veneering and microabrasion.

One example of such a tooth irregularity is the enamel hypoplasia. This condition is a defect in tooth enamel that can result in lesser quantity of enamel than normal. It can appear as a small pit or dent in the tooth. Discoloration of excess white, yellow or brown on the teeth is also a symptom of this condition. When severe, enamel hypoplasia can make the entire tooth appear small and misshaped. Enamel hypoplasia can be seen in both permanent and baby teeth. It can cause tooth sensitivity and lead to dental caries. The inconvenience and potential harm of this situation is what calls for the immediate attention to this problem.

More than 75% of enamel defects in the primary teeth of children are considered to be developmental in nature. Most of these problems can be seen in the middle third of the upper incisors. The location of these defects coincides with the neonatal line. The neonatal line is seen on the facial surface of primary incisors and is thought to be brought about by hypocalcemia during development of these teeth (which takes place in utero). Less than 25% of the defects in the enamel of primary teeth are caused by minor facial pressure or trauma. Such defects mostly manifest themselves as hypoplastic spots on the primary canines. These hypoplastic defects can be a result of perinatal or postnatal minor pressure, which includes the passage through the birth canal. Hypoplastic defects in primary canines are what is known as quantitative defects, which means that they relate to a reduced thickness of enamel.

The choice of dental defects treatment should take into account the child's ability to cooperate during dental treatment. It also depends on how severe the enamel hypoplasia is on the tooth. One option for treating enamel defects is to cover up the unsightly areas with a cosmetic material the same color as the tooth enamel. This may be the best option for very young children because it is less intrusive and easier to conduct. In this technique, the surface of the tooth is covered by a bonded composite resin.

Another option for consideration is the microabrasion. In this case, dental stains and surface defects are removed using a combination of acid and abrasives. Enamel microabrasion is particularly useful in removing superficial enamel demineralization defects and decalcification lesions. It can be used in children as young as six years of age.

Establishing a Dental Home for kids: What to Consider when Choosing a Dentist

An excerpt from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages parents and other care providers to help every child establish a dental home by 12 months of age. The AAPD recognizes a dental home should provide:

  1. comprehensive oral health care including acute care and preventive services in accordance with AAPD periodicity schedules
  2. comprehensive assessment for oral diseases and conditions;
  3. individualized preventive dental health program based upon a caries-risk assessment and a periodontal disease risk assessment
  4. anticipatory guidance about growth and development issues (ie, teething, digit or pacifier habits);
  5. plan for acute dental trauma;
  6. information about proper care of the child's teeth and gingivae. This would include the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease of the supporting and surrounding tissues and the maintenance of health, function, and esthetics of those structures and tissues;
  7. dietary counseling;
  8. referrals to dental specialists when care cannot directly be provided within the dental home;
  9. education regarding future referral to a dentist knowledgeable and comfortable with adult oral health issues for continuing oral health care; referral at an age determined by patient, parent, and pediatric dentist. The AAPD advocates interaction with early intervention programs, schools, early childhood education and child care programs, members of the medical and dental communities, and other public and private community agencies to ensure awareness of age-specific oral health issues.

Taking care of a child's teeth is one of the most important aspects of their overall health. In order to prevent dental problems in the future, it is best to start young. The ultimate goal is to find someone who the child can feel comfortable with by seeing them regularly. Finding the right pediatric dentist is an important step to take.

A good pediatric dentist will have the necessary qualifications such as an extra two to three years of academic training and associated lab and intern work. Without the degree in pediatric dentistry, there is no assurance to the quality of work that can be received in the field of children's dentistry.

Studies in sedation dentistry, children's growth and development, and children's behavior are signs of a commitment to providing the best possible dental care for kids. The practice of children's dentistry is a field that offers advancements in techniques and technologies each year. Pursuing of continuing education courses that are required each year to keep the license and related seminars can help the dentist improve their practice and translate a better service for children.

Aside from the medical qualifications, there are other qualities that are more subjective. The actual practice of a good pediatric dentist should be reflected in their genuine care for children's dental health and bedside manner. They should be gentle, patient, and someone that the child can feel safe and comfortable with. It also helps if they explain to the child what the procedure is for and what will happen. They should have staff that from the time a child walks into the office to the moment they walk out will treat him or her as a special friend that gets the time and attention that they deserve.

The dental office should be friendly and appealing to children. Colorful walls and artwork can make the office less clinical. Some dental offices have toys and games for children so they do not get bored while waiting. The important thing to consider is that children do not think the same way as adults. Children need to actually see that the dentist's office is not meant to be feared to understand it and enjoy their visits.

The experience of going to the dentist can be anxiety prone for many kids so the staff and the office can help alleviate these fears. A caring and welcoming atmosphere that caters to a child's need can help them relax. This is not just about making the child comfortable. It is also a way to promote their dental health. If the child associates the dentist's office with something negative, then it will be more difficult to get them to return for regular checkups and will make them a fearful patient for years.

The pediatric dentist, patients, and parents of the patients should trust each other. The child must be able to properly relate to the dentist in order to allow them to perform the necessary procedures such as examination and treatment of the oral areas. The parents or caretakers of the child must also trust that the dentist is capable of providing the child with the best possible dental care.

An Introduction to OraVerse

Numbing agents such as Novocaine (more commonly now used are Lidocaine and Septocaine) have played an important role in dentistry for the sheer usefulness of their purpose: they help patients have their dental work performed without the pain. However, one of the problems associated with the use of dental anesthetics is that there is a tendency to take several hours to recover from the numbing effect.

For most, this extended feeling of numbness can get in the way of work and other daily activities. The numbness can result in drooling at the corners of the mouth and difficulty in speaking. What essentially happens is that a dental procedure that is supposed to last for 20 minutes can affect an individual for as long as half a day.

With children additional risk is severe mutilation of the lip or tongue tissue as little ones tend to play with the numb area and bite on it easily. Such self inflicted injuries take days to heal and can be very painful and debilitating for eating, speaking and normal function for up to a week.

Fortunately, the new drug OraVerse, formulated by Dr. Stuart Levy, aims to alleviate the extended periods of numbing. It can be quite instrumental in the care of patients? teeth without feeling orally disabled for the greater part of the day. OraVerse is the first local formulation designed to reverse the effects of dental anesthesia as it accelerates the process of regaining sensations in the mouth by dilating local vessels and allowing for the anesthetic to clear out of the system easily.

According to Novalar, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures OraVerse, it can be used by adults and children who are six years old and above. The minimum weight requirement of those who can use it is 33 pounds. But safety of the drug has been proven on children as young as three years of age.

The dentist injects OraVerse to the affected area once the dental procedure is finished. Since the mouth is already numb by the time the OraVerse is administered, there is no additional pain from the use of OraVerse. After OraVerse is given, patients can expect the numbness recovery time to be shortened by as much as half the time it usually takes.

OraVerse works differently on each individual. It may produce more noticeably faster results in some patients. On the other hand, it may not be as noticeable in some people. However, its results are effective enough that it merits approval for use by the general public.

The use of OraVerse should not produce any additional discomfort especially on minimally-invasive procedures such as the filling of cavities. It is also a worthwhile option to consider because the extended numbing felt in the mouth offers no additional benefit to the patient. In fact, there is really only a need to numb a small portion of the patient?s mouth while a dental procedure is being performed. There is no need for long-lasting effects of numbing agents because the pain disappears almost as soon as the procedure stops.

OraVerse is the latest development in dental technology. It allows for more convenient dental work by cutting down on the periods of oral numbness. Here at Smiles For Kids Dr. Lindhorst feels that what this drug translates to in practical terms is that there is no longer the need to clear the schedule or miss school for the entire day just because of a dentist?s appointment. After all, a simple procedure should not affect the accustomed lifestyle and preferred schedule.

NuSmile Crowns: Aesthetics and Function for Children

Dental practitioners have had the easy option for the placement of stainless-steel crowns on children in the past. These stainless-steel crowns have always been the primary choice of restoration because they are quite convenient to install and are very durable. Children who have been affected by early childhood caries benefit from this type of crown the most, especially because it is a durable and permanent restoration that will last a life time of a baby tooth.

However, the problem with using stainless steel crowns is that although they are durable and easiest to place, they are not particularly attractive as they are silver in color. They do not hide very well and are quite obvious. The esthetic problems with stainless steel crowns are not a secret to the dental community.

NuSmile Crowns is a response to this concern. First introduced in 1991, it offers crowns that look good as well as offer high quality. There are many other companies that offer similar products but according to its makers, NuSmile Crowns did better in laboratory studies in terms of fracture and fatigue resistance as well as color stability. This combination of natural esthetics and durability make it a popular choice when it comes to pediatric crowns.

At Smiles For Kids we chose NuSmile Crowns for all our patients needing anterior (front teeth) restorations and we give parents an option to use them also for the back teeth. We believe that it is important for parents to have this choice if esthetics of the child?s smile is important to them.

The look and feel of NuSmile Crowns largely depends on the way that they are fitted. It differs slightly from the way traditional stainless steel crowns are placed on the mouth. The product is available in both anterior (front teeth) and posterior (back teeth) versions and offers anatomically correct crowns for natural-looking teeth. In fact, the surface of the product has the color of actual teeth so the restoration does not stand out.

NuSmile Crowns are designed in order to provide access to a strong, color-stable, and full-coverage option for the protection of the remaining tooth structure. It is thus a viable alternative to the cumbersome stainless-steel crown. It is also better than the composite strip crown because it is not as sensitive when it comes to application techniques and wear and tear.

There are several styles available when it comes to NuSmile Crowns. The anterior crowns are designed with both point angles that are slightly square so that the distal point angle may be more rounded in the operatory. The purpose of this is to make a distinction between the right and left crowns. Usually, creating right or left crowns come with no additional charge. In addition to this, the regular length crowns come in uniform lengths, which are the same sizes as the standard sizes of the stainless steel crown. Short length crowns are 1mm shorter and may be best used for the very young dental patients.

The colors of NuSmile Crowns also vary depending on what is needed. Extra Light Crowns are the original shade for children. Light Crowns are tinted with more yellow than the original color for more shade match options, especially on some single tooth applications.

There are many advantages associated with NuSmile Crowns: easy placing on the teeth, full protection and durability are just some of the qualities which make this particular product a reasonable choice for those who need dental work done.

All About Fluoride

Fluoride is an ion found naturally in water, some types of food, and in soil. It is also manufactured in laboratories and added to drinking water or dental products like toothpaste. Fluoride is commonly associated with tooth protection.

Fluoride is thought to protect teeth from decay and cavities. When bacteria in the mouth mix with sugars, the acid that is produced can erode the tooth enamel and thus damage teeth. Fluoride protects the teeth from demineralization that is caused by the acid. If teeth are already damaged, fluoride gathers in the demineralized areas and strengthens the enamel by incorporating the fluoride ion into the damaged enamel and restoring its health and function. This process is called remineralization. Fluoride is quite useful in preventing cavities and strengthening teeth, but its effectiveness diminishes once the beginnings of a cavity are in place. Fluoride also decreases sensitivity of teeth which can help greatly those suffering from sensitivity related to fillings, enamel wear, grinding, or tooth whitening.

Fluoride may be taken in orally or applied topically. If food that has fluoride such as meat, fish, and eggs are consumed, fluoride enters the bloodstream and it is absorbed by the teeth and bones. Many places add fluoride to the drinking water in order to ensure that the recommended levels are obtained. Fluoride can also be applied to teeth at a dental office via fluoride foam or varnish painted on the teeth. The teeth will absorb topical fluoride treatments, but little of this fluoride enters the digestive system. Topical fluoride treatments may also be applied at home through toothpastes, mouthwashes or fluoride gels. Ingestible fluoride pills are also available.

Many health agencies recommend receiving some level of fluoride. Children need fluoride to protect their permanent teeth, especially when they are just beginning to form. Adults need fluoride for the continuous protection of teeth against tooth decay. Children and adults at high risk for tooth decay benefit especially from fluoride treatments. They are individuals with history of cavities, little access to dentists, those who practice poor dental hygiene and have diets with high amounts of sugar. Those who like to snack or have orthodontic appliances such as braces, or bridges, and teeth restorations also need an extra boost in fluoride.

When used properly, fluoride is a safe and effective tool to prevent tooth decay. However, high doses of fluoride for extended periods of time may cause harm, especially in children. Dental fluorosis, which refers to the discoloration of tooth enamel, may happen if a person has too much fluoride during formation of permanent teeth. Lifetime exposure to high amounts of fluoride may lead to bone weakening and joint stiffness.

Toxic effects of fluoride exposure may happen to someone who consumes a large dose of fluoride at once. For example, if a small child consumes an entire tube of toothpaste, the child could experience nausea, vomiting blood, stomach pain, and convulsions. The best treatment for fluoride overdose is to induce vomiting and to have the child drink large amount of milk, which binds fluoride ions and helps eliminate it from the system. Calling poison control or going to the emergency room might also be prudent if the amount consumed is unknown.

There are many scientific studies that have supported the benefits of fluoride treatment in preventing tooth decay. However, as with all medications and supplements, fluoride must be carefully monitored and dosed. Dr. Lindhorst and her staff follow a strict fluoride supplementation regiment as recommended by the ADA and AAPD to make sure that all our patients have healthy teeth and to significantly decrease risk for dental decay without causing fluorosis or other health problems. We are always open to any questions from all our patients and parents and will be happy answer them.

What to Consider before Bleaching the Teeth

Many of our teenage patients and their parents enquire about teeth whitening. The answers to their questions are often more complicated than they expected. The process of teeth whitening is more apt for some other individuals than others and the truth is that bleaching of teeth is not recommended for everyone.

Age is one of the biggest factors to consider when it comes to any process that calls for the whitening of the teeth. Bleaching is not recommended for those under the age of 16. The pulp chamber or nerve of the tooth is still enlarged up until this age. When the teeth are whitened, this could irritate the pulp and cause it to become sensitive or to encounter nerve damage.

Once the late teen years have been reached, bleaching strips that are available commercially such as Crest Whitestrips, may be used for bleaching to make sure that the teeth respond well to the process. This will act as a good gauge of how sensitive the particular individual?s teeth are. It also tests whether the teeth respond well to the bleaching process as some teeth will not be affected by it. This method is also useful in detecting any allergies to the whitening agents used in the products. After the teeth have been tested and they respond well, then more potent and longer lasting, but also more expensive procedures such as bleaching trays may be used. These trays are best made in a dental office as they must fit the individual?s mouth properly to contain the bleaching agents and to deliver the minimum needed and maximum effective amount of bleach without it spilling and entering the digestive system and bloodstream.

Another aspect of consideration for teeth bleaching on young people is the condition of the mouth itself. Gum disease, worn enamel, orthodontic appliances and cavities generally discourage the undergoing of teeth whitening procedures. The whitening solutions can enter the existing holes made by the decay and allow the chemicals to enter the inner areas of the tooth. This can lead to sensitivity and pain. In addition, the whitening process does not work on parts of the teeth where enamel layers have worn or been replaced by fillings. What may result is a splotchy, uneven color on the tooth.

In conjunction with this, fillings and restorations made from resin composite materials as well as veneers or crowns do not whiten. This should be taken note of when whitening the teeth of children who have such restoration especially in the front teeth. Undergoing a whitening or bleaching process can make some parts of the teeth appear lighter than others. Alternatively, if such restorations are planned, it is best to whiten the teeth before placing them so the degree of whitening can match the new teeth color. Should this be the case, allow at least two weeks after the restoration before undergoing teeth bleaching. If the work done on the teeth is extensive, it may be better to explore other options such as veneers rather than bleaching the teeth.

Ultimately, it is important to have realistic expectations when it comes to the search for a brighter smile. The original color of the teeth is also a consideration in the outcome. Bleaching works better on yellowish teeth compared to those with a brownish tinge. Bluish or gray tints caused by tetracycline tinting may not respond to bleaching at all. For tougher stains, explore veneers, bonding, or crowns.

Finally patients must remember that bleaching done with bleaching agents is not permanent and must be repeated as needed, which is why reusable trays are a perfect solution. Bleaching should be done in a dental office by a trained professional who understand risks of damage to enamel, gums and other intraoral soft tissues and are able to educate and protect patients from such problems.

From Toothless to the First Tooth: Oral Care for Infants Tips

Dr. Lindhorst and the staff at Smiles For Kids know that a great smile that can last a lifetime begins even before the baby teeth erupt! Cleaning the mouth is important even during infancy. Bacteria and germs can accumulate in the mouth regardless of age. Oral care for infants is not just about having healthy teeth but it is also about maintaining good overall health. We want our patients and parents to have happy checkups every six months instead of more frequent visits to repair damage to little teeth!

In order to clean the baby's mouth, start by gently wiping the gums with a wet washcloth or gauze after feeding. Do not worry about irritating the baby as infants are very focused on their mouths and most likely the baby will be tickled by massaging of the gums and find it soothing. This way you can get rid of excess sugar and of bacteria that can cause decay. It also gives the child an opportunity to get used to his or her teeth being brushed later on when the teeth start to appear.

Between the ages of six months to a year infants begin to sprout teeth. Once this happens, a small toothbrush or one made especially for infants can be used. By this time, the infant should be used to the feeling of his or her teeth being cleaned. Choose soft, rounded bristles to prevent the gums from being scratched and apply minimum pressure.

Initially, using water to brush the teeth is fine. However, the dentist may recommend the use of toothpaste later. Before 18 months of age, toothpaste should be free of fluoride, so called "training toothpaste". Even then, use a small amount because even pea-size recommended by the toothpaste makers, is more than necessary. Toothpastes come in various flavors and it might be appealing for the infant to eat it. Try to prevent this from happening and use as little toothpaste as possible because the ingestion of excess fluoride may not be healthy for the child. However, at about the age of 18 months, changing the toothpaste to one with fluoride is important for healthy development of permanent teeth and for cavity free baby teeth.

Brush the baby's teeth at least twice a day, but especially at night. One of the leading causes of oral problems in infants is "baby bottle" decay. Breast and cow milk, formulas and juices contain a lot of sugar that can speed up the development of cavities. The problem arises when the baby is too attached to the bottle at night and is used to falling asleep with it or is nursed multiple times at night once the teeth erupt. All the sugar in milk, formula or juice stays on the teeth all night long and facilitates development of cavities quickly. The enamel of baby teeth is much thinner than that of permanent teeth. Thus, decay can happen more quickly for the younger set. The enamel can be destroyed until the nerve is affected. When this happens, the infant can feel discomfort and pain because of the infected tooth.

Although baby teeth will eventually fall out, the proper oral care for infants is critically necessary. Experts agree that baby teeth should stay in the mouth for as long as possible as some are not scheduled to be replaced until twelve years of age. These initial teeth serve as guides for where the permanent teeth will grow and a space saver for the permanent teeth. If a tooth falls out too early, the surrounding teeth have enough room to tilt and move towards the gap left behind thus leaving no room for the permanent teeth. In addition pain and suffering as well as infections requiring medical visits and emergency room IV antibiotic treatments are possible if baby teeth have deep and persistent decay. Finally as we all know, treatment of decayed teeth requires cooperation from children and with young ones it might be a costly procedure involving sedation and high cost for the family. Therefore we highly encourage parents to start infant oral care from the earliest years and to visit a pediatric dentist by twelve months of age.

A Visit from the Tooth Fairy – What to Expect in Exfoliation of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth, milk teeth, temporary teeth, deciduous teeth – whatever we call them – are the first set of 20 teeth to appear in babies and younger children. Although these are developed during pregnancy, specifically the embryonic phase, they do not appear until the child is 6 months of age. Note that this schedule is not set in stone and may vary. Age of eruption of these teeth is independent of the child’s health condition, weight, height etc so it is not something to worry about.

A tooth erupts simply because it is ready to come in. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about premature loss of baby teeth. They can be lost early due to accidents, but also due to poor oral hygiene or a sugar-laden diet that may lead to bacterial infections and other problems.

Many parents do not put much emphasis on taking care of baby teeth since “they will fall out anyway”. However, baby teeth are important in the development of permanent teeth. For one, baby teeth provide the space needed for the eruption of permanent teeth. Some of the baby teeth are not scheduled to be lost until twelve years of age. If they are lost early, it could lead to a need for spacers, braces or retainers to fix spacing problems. Also, a child’s speech may be affected from premature teeth loss. Pain and infection that results from decayed baby teeth can cause loss of school time and work time for parents, antibiotic and pain killer treatments as well as hospitalizations. Lastly, baby teeth are essential for proper chewing of food.

With proper care, baby teeth are expected to start falling out at age six and continue until the last baby tooth exfoliates at age twelve. This however is “average” timing and varies from child to child. Generally, when baby teeth come in early, they fall out early too. Boys are also said to keep their baby teeth longer than girls.

The first teeth to fall out are usually the ones that appeared first. The two lower central incisors or cutters are the first ones to erupt at 6 or 7 months of age and these are also the first ones to fall out around six years of age. These are most likely followed by the upper central incisors and side (lateral) incisors. Our website offers a tooth eruption chart that details this timing.

When baby teeth wiggle out or fall out, some kids are nervous while others are thrilled. Some feel both. Parents play an important role in this scenario. They need to reassure the little ones that this process in natural. This is also the time to stress the importance of oral hygiene in preparation for permanent teeth. Encourage them to brush at least twice a day and floss before bedtime. Offer help if needed.

Changes in the diet should also be implemented, particularly if the child’s diet is composed of sugary and starchy foods. If the child is used to drinking sodas and juices, try to make him or her drink water instead. For a little flavor, put a slice of lemon or a fresh herb like rosemary or mint in the water.

Lastly, bring your child to a pediatric dentist. While a general dentist may provide proper care, a pediatric dentist is especially trained to handle children and understands the eruption process. Dentists do not usually need to pull out a wiggly primary tooth since it comes out naturally, but in some cases primary teeth do need assistance in exfoliation. In addition a pediatric dentist can help in applying sealants and fluoride treatments to avoid decay while the permanent tooth is on its way. This is also the time when orthodontic referrals might be crucial and your pediatric dentist will know exactly when such action is needed.

Is A Kiss Alright? Facts about Oral Bacterial Transfer from Parents and Caretakers to Children

Moms will not be too happy to hear what their kids’ dentists have to say about the transfer of oral bacteria. First is that most dental diseases experienced by children are caused by bacteria spread through kissing kids in the mouth. Second – and hold your breath – according to a 2008 Pediatric Dentistry study, moms are said to be the primary culprit.

However true this information is, it wouldn’t stop a mother from showing affection or kissing her little bundle of joy. After all, who could really resist cuddling and kissing their little ones? Instead, mothers, fathers and children’s care givers, should be armed with information on how to stop carrying and spreading harmful oral bacteria and they should put these facts to good use.

Understanding the transfer of oral bacteria

Before the first tooth appears, a baby’s mouth is usually free from cavity causing bacteria. Three things are needed to cause cavities: harmful bacteria, susceptible surface (tooth) and sugar source. When a new tooth erupts, bacteria can be transferred through an infected droplet of saliva. The type of bacteria that is said to be a common cause of tooth decay and found in human oral cavity is called Streptococcus mutans. It can only be transmitted through saliva of individuals infected with these bacteria. A good indicator of aggressive bacteria is active or past tooth decay.

It is important to note that the most critical stage for decay formation is within the first few months of eruption of teeth. Pearly whites are most vulnerable at this point because the enamel is still soft and development is finishing. So transfer of decay causing bacteria is most harmful at this stage. Untreated, bacteria can survive for many years, form a colony and damage even permanent teeth.

Breaking old habits

Kissing is just one of the hard habits to break. Aside from kissing babies in the mouth, most parents and caregivers blow on children’s food or share utensils and food with the tots. Some parents are even guilty of sharing toothbrushes with their kids, cleaning pacifiers with their mouth, and chewing their kids’ food first to make it easier to bite. These activities are even more harmful than kissing if the adults are infected with Streptococcus mutans. While it is really difficult for many of us to get rid of these practices it is critical to the little ones’ health that we do so. For example, prepare a different set of utensils for baby’s use only and never clean a pacifier in your own mouth.

Within the first 6 months of appearance of the first tooth or before the child reaches one year of age, bring the child to a pediatric dentist. Dr. Lindhorst and her team is highly experienced in handling oral bacterial infections of children and guiding parents on how to avoid childhood decay. In addition, to avoid infecting children, adults should also visit their dentists regularly and make sure they are free from such bacteria by controlling their cavities and getting thorough cleanings.

For pregnant women, chewing Xylitol gum or mints from the sixth month of pregnancy is said to prevent or minimize oral bacteria transfer from moms to babies. It is also important that pregnant women visit their dentist for a cleaning and check-up.


When Is the Time for My Child to Forego the Pacifier and Thumb Sucking Habit ?

A pacifier, thumb or finger sucking habit is often a child’s way of comforting himself. It gives children a sense of security as new things are encountered daily, relaxes them when they are upset, and helps them make contact with their environment. In fact, babies often start thumb or finger sucking habits in the womb.

This is quite normal and most kids outgrow the habit before it becomes an issue to be concerned with. However, if the child continues to use a pacifier or suck a thumb or finger when permanent teeth appear, parents should take a more proactive stance to stop the habit as it may damage teeth. Some children use these methods all day long with little damage to the bite while others might only use it as nighttime pacification and still cause many changes in the teeth and facial bone structure.

Nagging or punishing a child will only reinforce the behavior. Instead of hanging a scarecrow, try to provide a substitute for the comfort and security your child receives in a pacifier or thumb sucking habit. It could be a toy, such as a doll or stuffed animal, which a child can hug or hold. Make time and effort to build your child’s self-esteem so he or she can face anxieties without having to rely on pacifier use or finger sucking. A pacifier habit is a little easier to break since a pacifier can be taken away or the tip can be cut off to minimize the sucking satisfaction. We encourage parents to start that process as early as 18 months of age. Thumb or finger sucking usually takes a little more effort and understanding and we do not recommend working on it until after three years of age.

A visit to a pediatric dentist will also be of great help. Your kid’s dentist can clearly explain and illustrate the possible effects of prolonged sucking habit to the teeth and jaws. The dentist can also help you in encouraging your child to stop. Sometimes reminding your child that thumb sucking or pacifier use can hinder them from having straight teeth and beautiful smile is enough.

If gentle reminders are not working though, try some positive reinforcement. Consider a block of time wherein the child is not permitted to use a pacifier or thumb. Offer rewards if successful and gradually increase the “no thumb sucking and pacifier” hours. You can start this technique with your child’s TV time or any other block of time that you can easily monitor. Usually, the last stage would be bedtime. Our website provides you with motivational charts you can use to help the process. Other methods that Dr. Lindhorst encourages are the usage of “princess gloves” or hand puppets as a reminder for those times when finger sucking is the most prominent such as at bedtime. For some children band aids are enough of a reminder to make them stop. We also provide rewards to our patients who achieve this high goal and put their picture on our “wall of fame”.

Punishment however will only intensify your child’s need for comfort and security. If everything else fails, your last resort is a mouth appliance that pediatric dentists fabricate to keep your child from his or her sucking habit. These appliances are highly successful but we try not to use them unless eruption of permanent teeth is approaching and the child has not been able to quit on his or her own. We gladly provide guidance to parents and kids in this difficult process and are happy to say that our patients are very successful and we only have to do few appliances each year.

Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist and Not a General Dentist for Your Kids?

Opting for a pediatric dentist over a general dentist is no different from choosing a pediatrician over a family doctor for your kids. A general dentist is great for adults, but having specialized in a children’s growth and development, baby teeth formation and treatment, as well as behavior management makes pediatric dentists a better choice when it comes to your child’s oral care.

Many children are not cooperative during early teeth check-ups and cleanings. In this aspect, a pediatric dentist’s additional 2-3 years of hands-on training and education in child psychology and development is definitely an advantage. They are specially trained to make your tots feel safe during treatments and explain oral care and procedures in a manner understandable by kids. They also have highly trained staff that understands that approaching children is a delicate matter and can make little ones’ visits exciting and fun.

Aside from this, pediatric dentists use equipment that is specifically designed for children. Parents can expect the latest technology in ensuring gentle yet effective procedures. After all, kids are known for being impatient so pediatric dentists need to be fast and accurate and must use tools that can complement such pace.

A pediatric dentist’s office is also something to look forward to as it is often decorated with children in mind. Having a child-friendly office makes children comfortable and cooperative. Children can play or read books while waiting for their appointment. In our office we offer toys for kids of all ages from toddler towers and picture books to Wii and movies for our older patients.

For very young children or those who are extremely fidgety, sedation may be administered by a pediatric dentist if treatment of cavities is needed. Options depend on the child’s needs and range from giving oral medications to applying topical anesthetics, using nitrous oxide or going through general anesthesia. The first three techniques leave patients conscious but relaxed or numbed while the last technique renders the patient completely unconscious.

Treatment of children with mental or physical disabilities is also part of pediatric dental training. In fact, even adults with disabilities and special conditions can benefit from the expertise of pediatric dentists. Examples are those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and seizure disorders. A good pediatric dentist will be happy to accommodate all questions from both parents and children and discuss the advantages, as well as risks, of various procedures.

Pediatric dentists welcome patients from infancy to adolescence. Babies as young as twelve months should be brought to the clinic for tooth decay prevention. These appointments educate and guide parents to keep their children’s baby teeth healthy. Toddlers are counseled about pacifier or thumb sucking habits. As for teenagers, pediatric dentists understand their need to keep a pleasing appearance. They guide their older patients to the right treatments in correcting teeth, veneers, teeth bleaching and orthodontia.

This specialized approach to kids of all ages is what makes pediatric dentists superior choice for children’s dental needs. Pediatric dentists will then pass on a well behaved, excited about oral health and hygiene and well educated patient to their general dental colleagues.


Soprolife: Latest Technology in Pediatric Dentistry

Updating your dental equipment is important to get the best possible results and take advantage of the wonders of technology, especially so in pediatric dentistry because children usually cannot perform several tasks yet on their own so oral care must be done with the aid of adults.

That is why Smiles For Kids is always on the lookout for technology that can help in making patients feel comfortable in the dental chair by shortening the diagnostic procedure and making is as precise as possible.

One of these new technological additions to look forward to is Soprolife, an imaging and diagnostic tool used to aid various dental treatments. Simply put, it is a camera that takes images of the teeth in a revolutionary way using blue light. The clear and sharp output is amazing which in effect assists Dr. Lindhorst in precise diagnosis.

The Soprolife uses fluorescence dental imaging to magnify the image up to 115 times, far better than a microscope can. This helps in detecting caries and decayed areas easily. Although it offers high technology, it is easy to install and operate. The output is connected to monitor or TV sets.

There is no special requirement or limitation to use the camera. Since it does not emit ultra-violet waves, Soprolife is safe even for pregnant patients and children. This high-resolution camera can be simply used to take large photos of teeth to show to parents, but it also operates in two “dental” modes. Mode I or the diagnostic mode aids in detecting the various clinical stages of cavities. Mode II or the treatment aid mode is used during cavity treatment to make sure that all decay has been removed and the cavity is ready for a filling without leaving any undetected bacteria.

Technology is an important component of any pediatric dentistry practice so it is important for parents to scout for a health practitioner that offers the latest equipment, complemented with extensive experience and updated education of the dentist.

Smiles for Kids does not only offer those qualities but also creates a memorable and educational experience for kids so they can look forward to the next dental visit. We use Soprolife to show children and parents trouble oral hygiene areas, before and after pictures of plaque and tartar, any grinding wear, ulcers, injuries or any intraoral pathology. It allows us to communicate our goals of a clean and healthy mouth clearly and improves communication greatly.

Dr. Lindhorst and her team attends many dental classes and conferences in order to learn about such technology and we strive to constantly improve our diagnosis, treatment options, communication and education through these new technological inventions.

A Guide on Dental X-rays and Safety of Digital Dental X-rays

Dental x-rays are very important in a dentist’s assessment of the patient. They do not take place of visual check-ups, but complement dentist’s review of the patient’s medical and dental history and clinical examination to create a more accurate evaluation and provide the best treatment options.

Dentists rely on this diagnostic tool for various reasons. Although biting surface cavities can be detected visually, ones between the teeth can only be seen in radiographs (x-rays). Radiographs can also expose more complicated dental problems like abscesses or tumors, as well as gum disease and bone loss. Dental x-rays reveal the state of root canals, dental fillings and dental bridges as well.

Most dental problems cannot be detected with a visual check-up alone and early recognition of these problems makes treatment more affordable and oftentimes less painful. With all these benefits, it is not surprising that dentists recommend dental x-rays every six to twelve months depending on the patient’s risk for dental decay.

Dental x-rays work by passing a small amount of radiation through the mouth. Hard tissues such as bone and teeth absorb the ray and when it strikes a film or a digital sensor for digital dental x-rays (like in our office) an image is produced. These images are then evaluated by a dentist.

Digital dental x-rays are a dental x-ray upgrade and the latest in dental technology which we proudly feature. It produces computer images in an instant as there is no need to process films. However, the best advantage of digital dental x-rays over the non-digital types is lower radiation. They cut down radiation by 80 percent, making it a safer choice for our patients.

Many people worry about radiation exposure, especially those who are pregnant or suffering from an illness like cancer. Parents are also concerned about their kids’ exposure to radiation. Truth is, dental x-rays, especially digital dental x-rays, produce a very small amount of radiation. With current safety procedures, such as wearing a lead apron during x-rays to shield the body from unnecessary radiation and allow the x-ray to focus on the intended body parts only, the amount of radiation is negligible. Undetected dental problems pose higher risk to the health of the patient than receiving the low amount of radiation emitted by digital dental x-rays. Walking through a sunlit parking lot from a building to your car exudes much more radiation than digital x-rays do.

Children often need x-rays more frequently than adults for a number of reasons. First, they are more prone to tooth decay and decay moves faster through the thin layers of baby teeth. Second, their mouths, jaws, and teeth are developing and changing fast. Third, pediatric dentists will often “monitor” developing decay and exfoliation schedule of the teeth in order to only do necessary procedures but protect their patients from infections at the same time, but they can only do that through consistent radiographic examination. New patients over the age of three get a full radiographic examination, but after that frequency of x-rays depends on the child’s risk for dental decay.

What Parents Need to Know about Teeth Grinding in Children

Teeth grinding, or bruxism in medical jargon, is a condition commonly experienced by kids. If you hear the sound of clenching jaws or gnashing teeth while your children are asleep or when they are under stress, chances are, they have developed bruxism. It usually ends when baby teeth fall out although some children continue this habit in their adolescence or until the cause of bruxism is taken care of.

First possible cause of grinding is physical: either the upper or lower teeth are not properly aligned or it is the child’s reaction to pain caused by teething or earache. The second one is psychological: both anger and tension can cause unease to a child and lead to bruxism. Other notable causes are hyperactivity, cerebral palsy, and taking certain medications.

Although teeth grinding is normally outgrown by kids with none or little adverse effects, it can still be uncomfortable for the child and for other family members. More serious cases unfortunately result to earaches, headaches, increased sensitivity of teeth, chipped or fractured teeth, damaged tooth enamel, jaw problems, and facial pain.

As most children are unaware about having this condition, it is their parents or siblings who are usually the first ones to notice the problem. When you hear your child grind teeth while sleeping or when they are experiencing pain while chewing or soreness in the face or jaw when they wake up in the morning, it is best to bring him or her to a dentist, particularly a pediatric dentist.

Pediatric dentists undergo additional training to be able to provide better dental care for the kids as well as those with special medical conditions. While regular dentists can perform the same teeth examination as pediatric dentists and also ask the same questions to determine if the child has bruxism, the latter can go the extra mile by making your child more comfortable and cooperative. You should also remember that buxism in children has different developmental causes than in adults and often does not need much more than monitoring so it will be best evaluated by a dentist who understands that and treats it accordingly.

Once the cause is determined, your dentist will come up with a treatment plan. Often bite needs to simply be monitored for signs of wear on the teeth. Sometimes children will have moderate to severe wear on baby teeth and no signs of damage on permanent molars. In cases with discomfort, pain or severe wear facets, a custom night guard may be prescribed when the child’s teeth or jaw become seriously affected. This device is quite similar to what football players wear. It may take a little while to get used to wearing it at first but it can be very effective.

If the condition is caused by improper teeth alignment or teething, your kid’s dentist can prescribe medicines or recommend orthodontic procedures to address the problem. On the other hand, if it is psychological, you need to talk to your child to find out what makes him or her angry or upset. For more complicated issues, you may need to seek help from your doctor or family counselor.

The key to keeping bruxism in check are regular dental check-ups and good communication with your child. Bruxism can also be controlled if kids are relaxed before bedtime. Let your child take a warm bath, read him a book, or play soothing music. Not only will this help your child successfully outgrow bruxism but you will also enjoy a healthy parent-child relationship.