About Your Child's Dental Health

When Should Your Child First Visit the Dentist? Today, more than ever, concerned parents want to provide their Children with proper dental care, and wonder at what age should they first visit the dentist.

As the American Society of Dentistry for Children recommends, the first visit can be as early as age one or two. Parents can be provided with important information on home care, nutrition to prevent “bottle-mouth" syndrome, the use of pacifiers, fluoride and other preventive measures. As the child matures, regular examinations and cleaning and fluoride applications can be done to prevent decay from forming or to repair it before a large loss of tooth structure or pain occurs. Other preventive measures such as sealants can also be recommended. Growth of the jaws and the bite should also be monitored to alert the parents if there is a developing orthodontic problem.

If the child has the advantage of early preventive care be or she will have the best opportunity to develop a Healthy and attractive mouth as well as a positive dental attitude.

Orthodontics for the growing child, a preventive approach

For some children, it becomes apparent at an early age that an orthodontic problem is present. The teeth may be crooked due to crowding or a poor eruption pattern. The bite may be faulty due to incorrect growth of the underlying bony structures. The jaws, upper or lower, may be improperly positioned too far forward or too far back, which is usually the case, causing the bite problem and poor facial growth. The longer the problem remains through the growth years, the more permanent it becomes. Extraction of permanent teeth or surgery to the jaws, combined with extensive orthodontic treatment may become necessary to correct the deformity.

Although heredity plays an important role in growth, in many cases the cause of the problem is mainly due to the improper action of the facial muscles on the underlying bones. The force exerted by this improper muscle activity is usually the result of a habit or problem, such as prolonged mouth breathing, prolonged finger sucking, or a poor swallowing pattern. If any of these are present during the growth years, the jaws may develop improperly in size, shape or position. "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree."

Mouth breathing is a problem because it changes the position of the lower jaw, the resting position of the tongue and the posture of the head and neck. If this is prolonged during the growth years, studies show that it usually results in a detrimental change to both the size and position of the jaws, causing an orthodontic and bite problem. It can also adversely affect the shape of the lips, nasal openings, nasal passages, and curvature of the spine. The causes of mouth breathing are varied, but it usually is the result of an allergy. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can minimize these harmful effects.

Finger sucking is not unusual or even detrimental unless it persists too long. If the child can stop the habit before the permanent teeth erupt, usually about age six, any distortion to the front teeth and underlying bone will self-correct. However, for those who do not stop, treatment programs with or without dental appliances can help to overcome the habit. The distortion can then be corrected to establish a normal bite and smile.

Tongue thrust swallowing can also impair the proper growth pattern. Tongue thrust is the process of thrusting the tongue between the teeth when swallowing. The pressure exerted on the teeth as well as the associated improper resting position of the tongue, may force the front teeth out of alignment and cause a malocclusion. Usually the front teeth become flared or protruded. Treatment programs or myofunctional therapy can be effective to correct the problem. Therapists often recommend that the child be seen between the ages of nine and eleven, but proper nasal breathing may be essential for success. If mouth breathing is also present, an ear, nose and throat examination and recommended treatment should be done first.

When the child's dentist, orthodontist or pediatrician identifies a developing orthodontic or bite problem, the elimination of the underlying cause will help to minimize the growth distortion. Many new orthodontic treatment procedures are being used to correct problems in the child. Early orthodontic treatment can correct teeth that have erupted out of position or are twisted and crooked. As the teeth are guided into their proper position, a normal and healthy bite will result. In the growing child, dental orthopedics are used to change the position and size of the jaws. This will establish the proper base for the teeth to erupt into the correct position.

When should a Child’s Begin Orthodontic Treatment?

Today, more than ever, parents are giving their children the orthodontic care they need. In many cases their children the orthodontic care they need. In many cases the newly erupted teeth are crowded or are erupting out of their proper position, and concerned parents wonder at what age should treatment begin.

If children can have the advantage of early treatment, that is, between the ages of six and ten, an improper growth pattern can be corrected that will minimize or even eliminate the need for more involved treatment if left untreated. Many orthodontic and orthopedic procedures are now being used for children that not only straighten teeth, but can influence the size and position of the underlying bony arches. When these procedures are utilized, crowding of the teeth can be corrected without extractions, and an improvement in the bit and facial appearance can be achieved. And as the child’s smile becomes more attractive, self-esteem will also improve which is so important in the formative years.

About Your Dental Health - How Does Fluoride Help Teeth?

Studies at dental schools of major universities show that if a child has the advantage of fluoride he or she can have a 50% reduction of cavities. And if this is combined with proper home care and reduced sugar intake, decay of teeth can virtually be eliminated entirely.

How does this work? The permanent teeth are being formed in the jaws from birth until approximately age 12. If there is fluoride in the child’s system, it will be incorporated into the outer layer of tooth enamel, making it stronger. It will be have no effect, however, on the primary teeth that are already in the mouth. However, these can also be hardened by using a fluoride dentifrice and by having your dentist or dental hygienist apply a more concentrated fluoride solution when the teeth are cleaned.

If the tap water supplied by your city, such as Roseville, has the proper amount of fluoride when they ingest the water. If the water does not contain fluoride, then you can ask your dentist or pediatrician to prescribe economical tablets to be used as directed. And for infants not yet drinking tap water, a liquid vitamin supplement with fluoride will meet their needs.

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