February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 12, 2013


February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a nation-wide effort to raise awareness about the importance of children’s oral health.  When parents have good dental habits and health, their children are more likely to start a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.  The dental team at Big Springs Dental Clinic in Ellington, Missouri, compiled a list of common questions and answers to help your and your family start a lifetime of good health.

  • Should I schedule a dental appointment if I am trying to get pregnant? Yes. A dental visit earlier in the process can reduce the risk of a dental emergency during your pregnancy.
  • I am pregnant, should I see a dentist? Yes.  Gum disease and cavities can contribute to problems during your pregnancy.
  • There is such a thing as “pregnancy gingivitis”?  Yes.  During your pregnancy, your gums can become swollen and tender.  Prevention is the key.  We recommend a cleaning every six months.
  • Are pacifiers bad for baby teeth? No, Not if they’re used for a limited time. We recommend parents look for the word “orthodontic” on the packaging this type maintains a more natural alignment of your child’s teeth. Pacifiers with nipples that resemble those found on a baby bottle tend to promote buckteeth if used beyond 3 years. A child shouldn’t use any kind of pacifier beyond about age 4, because it could cause problems with permanent teeth. Also, never dip a pacifier in a sweet liquid or whiskey, because that can cause tooth decay, or honey, which can cause botulism poisoning in children under age 1.
  • Can breastfed babies get tooth decay as well?  Yes.  Breastfed infants who have prolonged feeding habits or children whose pacifiers are frequently dipped in honey, sugar, or syrup will be at risk for cavities. The sweet fluids left in the mouth increase the chances of cavities while the infant is sleeping.
  • What is baby tooth decay?  Frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to sugary liquids causes tooth decay of your child’s teeth (especially the front teeth), also commonly called baby bottle tooth decay. It’s not just what’s in your child’s bottle or cup, but how often and for how long your little one is drinking the liquid that causes the damage.
  • What liquids cause baby tooth decay?  Milk, formula, fruit juice, soda, and other sweetened drinks can cause decay.  Every time a child consumes a sugary liquid, acid attacks the teeth and gums. After numerous attacks, tooth decay can begin.
  • What are the best liquids for children to drink to prevent tooth decay? Unsweetened fruit juices and water are always the best for children to help promote oral and overall health.
  • My child is 8 months old and still doesn’t have his first tooth. Is something wrong?  Don’t worry. The first tooth can come in anytime between 4 and 12 months. If a tooth hasn’t come in by 1 year, there’s probably still no reason to worry if your child is growing fine otherwise — they may just be a late bloomer.
  • My family has bad teeth.  Is there anything I can do to protect my baby’s teeth?  Yes.  Mothers should get their teeth cleaned regularly to reduce passage of harmful bacteria to their children.  Also, chewing Trident® sugar-free gum with Xylitol can help clean your teeth between cleanings.
  • What is Xylitol?  Xylitol is a sugar found in some gums and candies that bacteria can’t use.  People who use Xylitol products (like Trident® sugar-free gum) have fewer cavities all things being equal.
  • I’m scared at the dentist myself, What can my child expect at their first visit ? At the first visit, your dentist will usually sit knee-to-knee with the parent, the child in the parent’s lap, and either watch how the parent brushes the child’s teeth or see how older children brush by themselves. The dentist will also look at the child’s teeth and gums during the visit.
  • Why is it important to fix decayed baby teeth?  It’s important to fix decayed baby teeth so the other teeth don’t become infected. Cavities can lead to painful abscesses and early tooth loss, as well as the loss of spacing needed for permanent teeth. Children can also develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth.
  • When can my baby start using fluoride toothpaste? Wait until at least age 3, when your child is old enough not to swallow the toothpaste — and then use only a tiny amount. Ingesting too much fluoride can result in tooth staining or surface irregularities. Fluoride is important for strengthening enamel and preventing tooth decay.
  • What type of toothbrush is right for my child?  A soft bristle brush is best for people of all ages.  Electrical models, including an inexpensive spin brush, may make brushing easier and more effective for some older children.
  • Why do some dentists recommend sealants for children?  Dental sealants are place in young people to prevent sticky foods from getting in the back molars.  Sealants do not replace the need to floss, but will reduce cavities that also form on the chewing surface of back teeth.
  • We have well water; should my child get extra fluoride?  Check with your local county extension to have your water tested.  It is important to know this level before speaking with your dentist about extra fluoride.
  • How can I floss my child’s teeth?  Many local stores stock inexpensive floss holders like Plaquers.  These aids hold a small piece of floss and allow you or your child to clean between the teeth to prevent cavities and gum disease.

About Big Springs Dental Clinic:         

Big Springs Dental Clinic is a modern, recently renovated, six chair dental office located in Ellington, Missouri.  Presently, the clinic has two general dentists, a registered dental hygienist, and three assistants on staff.  They provide routine adult treatment on patients of any age, and comprehensive pediatric treatment on children of all ages; including; cleanings, sealants, fillings, and surgery.  The staff of Big Springs Dental Clinic is pleased to partner with Premier Anesthesiology in 2013.  Premier Anesthesiology will offer hospital level, general anesthesia services at Big Springs Dental Clinic for our young patients who need a little extra help to get their treatment done. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 573-663-3177 or 1-866-738-1321.

About Poplar Bluff Community Dental Clinic:

Poplar Bluff Community Dental Clinic is located in the Mansion Mall in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  Presently, the clinic has one general dentist that provides dental services for ages 5-18 years and a Pedodontist that specializes in children’s dental care from Birth to 18 years of age. They both provide routine treatment and comprehensive pediatric treatment on children including; cleanings, sealants, fillings, and surgery.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 573-778-3042 or 1-866-386-0224.

Big Springs Dental Clinic & Poplar Bluff Community Dental Clinic are part of the Missouri Highlands Health Care family of clinics, one of Southeast Missouri’s largest and longest serving community health clinics.  All Missouri Highlands Health Care Clinics accept Medicare, Missouri Medicaid* and most insurance, as well as offering a sliding fee program for uninsured and underinsured patients who qualify.  (*Medicaid usually covers dental services for children under 21, pregnant women, legally blind and those living in a nursing home.)

The above information is featured in the “Health Matters” insert in the Reynolds County Courier and Wayne County Banner-Journal the week of February 21, 2013.