You have probably seen the articles on social media about the new juice guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. We wanted to add our voice of support to all the press and tell you a little bit more about why this is such an important change to the guidelines!
Ask any pediatric dentist and they will tell you that diet is a huge factor in whether or not a child will likely develop decay. If a child is frequently exposed to sugary or starchy foods or drinks, they are at much higher risk for dental decay. Fruit juice is particularly deceptive because it appears to be something healthy, but in reality all the “good stuff” that made the fruit beneficial – like fiber and phytonutrients – has been removed in the juicing process, so all you’re left with is sugar water. Surprisingly, 100% no-sugar-added apple juice (even if it’s organic) has MORE sugar than Coke (45g of sugar for 12oz vs. 39g of sugar for Coke).
Frequency of exposure is the other big factor in cavity formation related to diet. If the juice is presented in a sippy cup that the child has constant access to throughout the day, the sugary liquid is all the more damaging. So even for children over age one for whom juice is not expressly forbidden by the guidelines, it’s still good to give it only sparingly (no more than ½ a cup or 4oz a day), served in one sitting with a meal, and with water after. Juice should be thought of in much the same way as a piece of cake or soda – it’s a special treat, offered sparingly, and is not a part of a healthy child’s routine daily diet. A clementine or an apple is a much better choice, whether we’re talking about teeth or general health!
So try to eliminate juice altogether from the diet if possible, or decrease the quanitity and frequency significantly to avoid cavities. If your child has already had cavities, then it’s even more important to “just say no” to juice!
Many parents might find themselves wondering why we make all this fuss about baby teeth. They’re going to fall out anyway, right? It is true that the baby teeth will fall out eventually. The trouble is, some of those teeth are still in the mouth for a long time. Did you know that on average, the final baby teeth to fall out (the upper canines) aren’t lost until age 12!
If a tooth has an infection, like cavities, or has experienced trauma, it is often recommended to treat the infection or condition in order to restore the tooth to optimal function and esthetics. This is true of a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. There are many reasons to treat baby teeth just like we would permanent teeth. Below we’ll discuss just a few.
First, baby teeth are important for a child’s self-esteem. Children are sensitive to the appearance of their smiles just like adults are – we all want to have beautiful teeth to show the world. Second, baby teeth are important for functions like speech and chewing. If any of the teeth are broken down or causing pain, chewing and speaking can be impacted and lead to negative developmental consequences. Thirdly, baby teeth are important to the overall growth and development process of the jaw. Baby teeth act as space-holders for the permanent teeth that will eventually take their place, so if a baby tooth is lost early due to disease or trauma, permanent tooth positioning and jaw development can be negatively impacted as well. Last but certainly not least, it is important to keep your child’s baby teeth healthy and functional so that your child is comfortable and pain-free. Many children with dental disease have trouble concentrating in school and they miss more school days than children with healthy teeth, so routine checkups and following through with treatment recommendations are vital to making sure your child’s teeth are healthy and your child is able to go through their day to day life comfortably.
We hope this short post has helped you see the importance of your child’s baby teeth! Be sure to brush them twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss in-between them daily, limit sugar in the diet (juice and fruit snacks included!), and visit your dentist for checkups every 6 months!
This post was written by Dr. Taylor McFarland, our board-certified pediatric dentist. If you have any questions about baby teeth or any other dental topics, please call our office at 205-419-7444 or send us an email at email@example.com.
We’re super excited to announce that Dr. Taylor McFarland is joining our practice! She is a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist who shares our treatment philosophy, is very sweet with the little ones, and is passionate about children’s oral health. She graduated at the top of her dental school class at UNC, and completed her residency at Baylor in Texas. She will be with us starting officially after Labor Day. Make sure to welcome her next time you’re at the office! She’s also fluent in Spanish! Here’s her Bio below:
Dr. McFarland is passionate about helping children and their families feel valued, loved, and cared for when they visit the dentist. She was born in Austin, Texas, but as the eldest child of an Air Force officer she spent her young life moving every few years. She has lived in Alaska, England, and many places in between. After graduating from high school in Virginia, she decided to add North Carolina to the list of states she called home. She attended Duke University (Go Devils!) where she met her husband, Andrew, and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in biology.
Dr. McFarland decided to stay in North Carolina for her Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (the weight of this decision will not be lost on college basketball fans). She graduated from UNC with distinction and was inducted into Omicron Kappa Upsilon, the national dental honor society. She then returned to Texas with her husband in order to complete her residency in pediatric dentistry at the Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, where she earned both a Master’s of Oral Biology and a certificate in Pediatric Dentistry. Her training encompassed preventive and restorative dentistry, dental emergencies and trauma, growth and development, dental sedation, hospital dentistry under general anesthesia, and care for the special needs child. Dr. McFarland is a Board Certified pediatric dentist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Alabama Dental Association, and the American Dental Association.
Dr. McFarland and her husband moved to Birmingham in June of 2016 for her husband’s job. In May just before the big move they welcomed their precious son, Wes, into the world. They enjoy walking their three dogs together and traveling to visit their extended family in Texas and Virginia. In her spare time, Dr. McFarland loves to read, play board games, and try new delicious foods. Dr. McFarland and her husband are getting plugged in to a local church and hope to see you out and about in Birmingham!
Why did we get a new laser? We had been using the iLase dental laser from Biolase. It’s a pen-like device that belongs to a subset of lasers called “diode” lasers. Basically, how it works is the tip is “initiated” by something like cork or blue paper before each use, which then focuses the laser energy at the tip of the laser during use and makes it very hot. The laser is then used to remove the tissue by essentially searing it off or cauterizing it. The laser has beneficial properties for tissues like “photobiomodulation” and other fancy terms, but for the most part it’s a very hot tip. This style laser (diode) is the most commonly used laser in dentistry, and it works very well.
However, in the quest for the best all-around laser for our patients, I came across CO2, Er:YAG, and Er,Cr:YSGG. We went with CO2 because it acts differently than the rest of the lasers. A diode laser is a white hot tip which sears the tissue, whereas the Erbium and CO2 lasers work by vaporizing the water in the cells (which means much less of the “burning” smell that was present with the other laser). Weighing all the options, I felt that the laser with less pain, quickest procedure time, minimal to no bleeding, and fastest healing was the CO2 laser. Ours is sold by LightScalpel.
The procedure with the LightScalpel is about 10-20 seconds for the upper lip and about 10-20 seconds for the tongue. With the diode, sometimes it would take 60-120 seconds for the upper lip, and 60 seconds for the tongue. When performing these procedures, we allow the parents back (or they can choose to remain in the lobby), and many times that is the longest 5 minutes of a parent’s life! If we can decrease the time it takes for the procedure, the better it is for the clinical team, the parent and of course the child.
So what does this mean in English? This means less discomfort for the baby or child who has a lip or tongue tie during and after the procedure, and a quicker procedure in the office.
For these reasons and more, although the CO2 laser is significantly more expensive, I believe it’s a great investment for our practice and especially for our littlest patients. We are one of the only offices in Alabama with a CO2 laser, and the only office in Alabama using a CO2 laser for infants with tongue and lip ties. Please call our office if you have any questions about this post or would like to schedule an appointment. 205-419-7444.
This is Dr. Richard Baxter from Shelby Pediatric Dentistry with a few tips about oral health for children. First, it’s best to bring your child to the dentist for the first visit by their first birthday. Seeing a child by age 1 can prevent cavities before they occur at age 2 or 3. Another tip is to not allow your child to take a bottle in the bed with them because “baby bottle tooth decay” can be caused by the natural sugars in the milk. Also, brush your child’s teeth after breakfast, and right before bedtime. When brushing, lift your child’s lip and brush along the gum line. A new recommendation is to use fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes in. Use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste for children under age 2 and for those over age 2, use a pea size amount. More oral health tips are on our website at shelbypediatricdentistry.com. And our phone number is 419-7444.
Tooth tips are made possible by Shelby Pediatric Dentistry, a business impact partner of listener supported WAY FM.
Please let us know if you have any questions about this post or any others by calling us at 205-419-7444.
We are doing some “Tooth Tips” for 89.9 WAY-FM (the best Christian radio station in Birmingham) and we wanted to share them with you. We will be releasing the three one-minute spots over the next couple of weeks. This radio station plays the best Christian music, with the least commercials. Dr. Baxter also had a chance to meet all of the DJs on his trip to Ghana in January (purely by coincidence) when they were on the same flights to Amsterdam and Accra, Ghana for a trip with Compassion International.
We hope you enjoy the first tip on sugar. Click below to play.
This is Dr. Richard Baxter from Shelby Pediatric Dentistry with a few tips about children’s oral health. Be careful with the amount of sugar in your child’s diet. Sugar can sneak in through obvious ways like candy and sugary drinks. But be careful with fruit juice because most fruit juices, even no sugar added apple juice contain more sugar than most soft drinks. In addition, frequency is more important than the amount of sugar consumed. For example if your child eats fruit snacks or drinks juice in small amounts throughout the day, that is worse for their teeth than having dessert with dinner or having juice with lunch. We recommend drinking water throughout the day, and white milk with meals. This will keep the time that the teeth are touching sugar to a minimum. We hope these tips can help you and your child stay cavity free! More oral health tips are on our website at ShelbyPediatricDentistry.com. And our office number is 419-7444.
Tooth Tips are made possible by Shelby Pediatric Dentistry, a business impact partner with WAY-FM.
Please let us know if you have any questions about sugar in your child’s diet. Our number is 205-419-7444.
This is going to sound crazy, but eating Halloween candy on Halloween is not dangerous for your teeth. The bigger concern is when the candy is eaten frequently throughout the year and becomes a habit. For example, it’s much better for your child’s teeth to allow them to eat whatever candy they want on Halloween night, and then get rid of the rest. For example, if they receive 100 pieces of candy, and you give them one piece a day, it may create a habit of wanting candy every day – which is much more likely to cause cavities. So the best thing for parents to do with Halloween candy is to let their child enjoy it on Halloween night, and get rid of the rest however you choose to do so.
Some offices offer a “Candy Buy-back” program. We do not have a candy buyback program at our office at this time. We know it can be helpful in some ways, but the main reason we don’t do it is because we don’t want to shift the problems associated with candy from your kids to someone else. Unfortunately, the homeless commonly have many health problems and tooth decay already. According to one of our employees whose husband served several tours in Iraq, the troops have limited access to dental care and the candy is often melted by the time it gets to them. She suggested sending troops sunflower seeds, beef jerky, or energy bars instead. If we could find something useful to do with the candy, we may have one in the future, but for now, the best thing I can think to do with it is to have a massive bonfire! (Just kidding… well, sort of).
The best dental procedures to protect a child’s teeth from candy are dental sealants. These protective coatings “seal” the grooves so the candy does not get stuck deep in the molar where it is difficult to clean. However, sticky candy like Jolly Ranchers, Tootsie Rolls, caramels, and taffy can actually pull the sealants off, or pull off crowns or other dental work, so be careful!
Be safe when Trick or Treating, by all means enjoy the holiday, but don’t keep the candy around a long time!
If you have any other questions about this post, or about dental health in general, please leave a comment or call our office at 205-419-7444.
Brushing your child’s teeth changes as they get older. It’s important to start brushing your child’s teeth at 6 months, or as soon as the first tooth comes in. Make sure to use just a smear of fluoride toothpaste for children age 6mo to 2 years, and a pea size amount for children age 2yrs and older. The easiest way to brush a toddler’s teeth who doesn’t want to cooperate is to lay them on the ground and place their head between your legs and their arms stretched out under your legs (see photo). This allows you to use one hand to lift the lips and the other to brush the teeth without the child interfering with the brushing process. Typically, uncooperative children will only require this position for a week or two, then will realize that brushing will happen regardless of their desire to brush or not. Hopefully, they will allow you to brush their teeth while they are sitting up normally. If you have two people, you can use the “knee-to-knee” position like we use in the office. Have the two caregivers face each other with one holding the child. Parent #1 will wrap the child’s legs around their waist and lean them back into the other parent’s lap. Parent #2 will then brush the teeth while parent #1 holds the child’s hands gently.
Once your children get used to brushing daily, then you stand behind the child for an easier angle and brush their teeth in the bathroom. You can also try brushing their teeth while watching TV if they watch a show at night, or using some other distraction like an engaging toy. Once the child is age 2-9, you can allow them to try to brush their teeth first, and then the parent should brush afterward. Pay special attention to the gumline and the back teeth. Often, you will have to lift the child’s upper lip or lower the bottom lip to be able to brush effectively.
Once the child is around age 10 (some may be ready for independent brushing a little sooner or a little later) then allow the child to brush on their own, but it’s still important to at least check their teeth every few days to make sure they are brushing effectively. If the teeth look orange, or look dull (not shiny) or are “fuzzy”, then there is too much plaque on the teeth. You may need to help your child hit the problem areas and go back to checking the teeth daily.
Hopefully this information will help you and your child to brush well at all ages. If you have any questions, please ask one of our hygienists during your visit, ask Dr. Baxter, or call the office at 205-419-7444.
In many dental offices, you will find an aquarium in the reception area. In fact, much of the movie Finding Nemo revolves around a fish tank in a dental office. When we looked at how much it would cost to install a nice, average-sized saltwater tank in our office, it came to around $3,000. Not to mention all of the ongoing maintenance and time spent worrying about cleaning and stocking it.
As an office, we have a book club on Fridays, and right now we are reading the book Radical by David Platt (who was our pastor at The Church at Brook Hills until he became the president of the International Mission Board last year). In it, he talks about the 26,000 children that die every day from starvation or preventable diseases, like diarrhea. Many people around the world walk for an hour (or more!) each way, every day, in order to gather water from a contaminated water hole. Almost 800 million people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. Considering how blessed we are to live in America, and having heard the words of Jesus who says to his disciples to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give water to the thirsty, I realized that we could use the money for a fish tank in a better way. So we have decided to partner with Neverthirst, a Birmingham-based organization that works around the world to bring clean water to communities by building water wells and partnering with local churches. Once the well is drilled and there is clean water to drink, the pastors of the churches share with others in the community about the Living Water that Jesus brings.
We want to invite you to consider partnering with us and with Neverthirst. We will be donating $3,000 to build a well with Neverthirst in India. We have set up a website with NeverThirst where you can donate toward providing clean water to a community, and in addition to the first $3,000, we will also match every dollar you donate. No amount is too small! Maybe together we can build two or three wells! Let’s be a part of eliminating dirty water for children and their parents around the world who are dying every day. We want to be wise stewards of the resources that we have been entrusted with, and look for opportunities to help those locally and globally.
A parent asked this question on our Facebook page. If anyone has any questions or suggestions for future blog posts, please post them on our page or in the comments section, and I will be happy to answer them!
Typically a child who is fearful of the dentist will have had a difficult situation at another dentist’s office or at a pediatrician’s office and is scared of anyone dressed in scrubs or medical clothing. Sometimes the fear is transmitted from a parent or relative who had a bad experience at the dentist. These relatives (often siblings) will say things to the child like “they’re going to pull out a huge needle and jab it into your gums!” Clearly this is the wrong message to send to a child who has never been before or one who is about to get some fillings done. Parents can instead try to prepare their child in a positive way while avoiding the scary things. Say things like “we like the dentist because he / she keeps your teeth healthy” or “you’re going to have a great time because you can watch Frozen while they sing songs to you and fix your teeth!” (Which is true at our office!) You can also show your child our virtual tour on our website so they can see the office before arriving. It’s generally helpful to be vague and allow us to prepare your child for the specific procedure at our office. We allow them to touch the instruments, feel the water and the air, and hear the noises in a non-threatening way while explaining what we are going to do at an age-appropriate level.
Please do not mention anything about “shots”, “drills”, “pulling or yanking teeth” or anything “hurting.” Most of the time (probably 90%), the kids don’t even know they get a teeny tiny injection because we have lots of techniques to help them through the appointment. Many times we take out their sick tooth, and they don’t even know! So prepare them in a way that portrays dentists and dentistry in a positive light, and let us work through the appointment. Although a lot of parents have had difficult experiences at the dentist themselves, and it can be hard to not tell your child about it, avoid discussing your anxiety or past bad experiences. Children can sense a parent’s anxiety. Parents are welcome to accompany children for any visit, but if the parent feels more comfortable waiting in the lobby, that is totally fine too. Also avoid discussing details of a prior difficult experience the child has had at another office. We would be happy to discuss any prior difficulties that you think we need to know about in an area away from the child.
If you have any questions about this post or any others, please call our office at 205-419-7444.