For Parents

For Parents

Dental Education & Resources

We know that caring for your little one takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, and we want to make caring for their teeth easy and attainable. Dr. Sarah Carpenter and her team are passionate about providing you and your little one with the education you need for a lifetime of oral and overall health.

Oral Health Care at Home

Infant and Toddler Oral Health Care at Home

You can, and should, start taking care of your baby’s oral health before any teeth show up!

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean cloth twice a day
  • Introduce a toothbrush as soon as those little teeth make their appearance and continue brushing/wiping twice a day
  • Schedule your baby’s first dental appointment by their first birthday

Children, especially young ones, thrive on routine. Starting an oral hygiene routine from day one is an excellent way to ensure better oral health.

Children’s oral health care at home

Your child should have a predictable oral hygiene routine that includes:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for exams and professional cleanings

 

Brushing your kiddo’s teeth—and getting them to brush their own teeth—can feel like a chore. However, ensuring this gets done twice a day is so important to their oral and overall health. So, how is it done? We’ll walk you through this in-depth during your visit so that you can have specific, individualized instruction for your child. Broadly, though, we recommend:

  • Help your child brush until 7-8 years old, or when they can reliably and sufficiently do it on their own
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste each time
  • Have your child lay down or stand behind your child while you brush their teeth
  • Brush every surface of the tooth with small circular motions
  • Make sure you brush the tongue
  • Brush for a full two minutes. You can ensure this gets done by:
    • Using a toothbrush with a light feature
    • Sing or listen to a two-minute song
    • Watch a two-minute video
    • Turn brushing into a game! Who can catch the most cavity bugs in two minutes? I bet your little one can!
  • Help your child floss every night. Pay special attention to the back teeth; most children get their first cavities on their back teeth.

We’re always here to answer any questions you might have about brushing your child’s teeth!

Tooth decay is one of the leading chronic childhood conditions in the United States. In fact, about 43% of kids aged 2-19 have cavities. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth; there are “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “bad” bacteria love carbohydrates (sugar and starches), and they snack on the carbs after a child eats or drinks. This causes a chemical reaction that produces acids that deplete the tooth of minerals (demineralization). Brushing can help remove the acids and plaque from your child’s teeth and discourage tooth decay.

When plaque clings to your teeth, the acids can eat away at the outermost layer of the tooth, called the enamel. If you don’t go to the dentist, the acids can continue to make their way through the enamel into the inside parts of your tooth, which can begin to decay. Encourage your little one to eat a well-balanced diet and limit sugary beverages, sweets, and starchy foods like white bread and potato chips. We’re not saying you have to have a sugar-free household to prevent cavities, but enjoying treats in moderation will go a long way in preventing tooth decay in children.

Dental emergencies happen, especially if your child plays sports or is particularly active. If your child loses a baby tooth earlier than expected, there’s no need to try to replace it. But if a permanent tooth comes out, it’s a dental emergency. Permanent teeth have the best chance of being saved when they are replaced within 15 minutes. So, it’s important to act quickly and follow the guidelines below.

What to do in an emergency

If a baby, toddler, or young child injures the gums or baby teeth:

  • Apply pressure to the area (if it’s bleeding) with a piece of cold, wet gauze. If your child is old enough to follow directions, ask him or her to bite down on the gauze
  • Offer an ice pop to suck on to reduce swelling, or hold an ice pack wrapped in a washcloth to the cheek
  • Give acetaminophenor ibuprofen as needed for pain
  • Watch for swelling of the gums, continued pain, a fever, or a change in the color of the tooth

If a permanent tooth is chipped or broken:

  • Collect all pieces of the tooth
  • Rinse the mouth with warm water
  • Call a dentist right away to schedule a visit

Many other dental injuries are less urgent but still may need to be looked at by a dentist. When in doubt, call your Spicewood pediatric dentist. Most dental injuries in preschool and school-age kids happen from falls, while dental injuries in teens are often sports-related. If you think your child has signs of head or other injuries, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room immediately.

Go to the dentist or emergency room after following these steps:

  • Find the tooth. Call a dentist immediately or go to an emergency room if you aren’t sure if it’s a permanent tooth (baby teeth have smooth edges).
  • Hold the tooth by the crown (the “chewing” end of the tooth) — not the root.
  • Place the tooth in a saline solution, a container of milk, or your child’s saliva. You also can place the tooth between your lower lip and gum. Don’t store it in tap water.
  • For older kids and teens, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. Have your child bite down on gauze to help keep it in place.
  • If the tooth is stored in a container (rather than back in the socket), have your child bite down on a gauze pad or handkerchief to relieve bleeding and pain.

Take preventative action against dental trauma

There are always steps we can take to try to prevent an injury. Whether it’s wearing a helmet or putting up a baby gate, we can try to prevent most childhood injuries. And by far, prevention is the best way to treat them. If your child plays contact or risky sports, make sure their teeth are protected, too. Make sure your kids wear mouthguards and protective gear for contact sports and helmets while bikingskateboarding, and scootering. Childproof your house to prevent falls, like non-slip bathtub mats.

Talk to Dr. Sarah, your Spicewood pediatric dentist, about the best mouthguard for your child.

Lip and tongue ties can be a big stressor for parents. A tongue tie is when a band of tissue connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, which keeps it from moving freely. Normally, the tongue can move out past the lower lip and reach up to the hard palate (roof of the mouth). Problems with tongue ties can vary depending on a child’s age.

Signs of a tongue tie in infants:

  • A lactation consultant has said your baby has a tongue tie
  • Your baby has trouble getting a good latch while trying to breastfeed
  • Your baby has a weak latch, gums or bites the nipple, or you experience pain or injury to the nipple while nursing.

Signs of an oral tie in older children:

An older child with an oral tie may struggle with:

  • Speech and saying certain sounds (/d/, /l/, /t/, /th/, etc.)
  • Sticking their tongue out past their teeth
  • Licking their lips or making a licking motion to do things like lick an ice cream cone
  • Playing wind instruments
  • Tooth decay since they can’t clear food from their teeth with their tongue
  • Gapped teeth
  • Cuts to the frenulum as it gets caught between the lower front teeth

If your child has an oral tie but isn’t struggling because of it, then they might not need treatment. The frenulum can stretch as a child grows. The stretching may give the tongue enough freedom to move normally and let the child speak clearly.

If an infant has a tongue tie and is struggling to breastfeed because of it, we will work with you to try to solve the problem. Sometimes, this means that the baby will require a frenulectomy, a procedure wherein Dr. Sarah uses a laser to cut the tissue. This procedure is simple and quick, and it can even be done without anesthesia in babies younger than three months old. Following your procedure, we recommend you follow up with a lactation consultant to help your baby re-learn how to latch.

Did you know that the food you eat can support your oral health? Dr. Sarah is passionate about caring for the whole child when she approaches dentistry, and one of the ways that she does this is by educating kids about healthy food choices. You and your child will get individualized advice during your child’s dental appointment. At Homegrown Pediatric Dentistry, we care about your whole child.

According to the American Dental Association , the most common chronic childhood disease is tooth decay. Fortunately, tooth decay is preventable with the right education and support!

Schedule a visit with Dr. Sarah to give your child a healthy smile and arm them with the knowledge they need to take charge of their own health!

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