Walker Pediatric Dentistry, your dental home for all your child’s oral health needs in Salt Lake City. Our experienced dentists and friendly dental staff provide high quality care to help your children maintain good oral health.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, one of our top priorities for young people of all ages is preventive dental care. This means taking the right kinds of advanced steps to prevent major oral issues before they become real risks, and it’s an area that spans several specific elements.
For older kids who have entered their teen years and may even be approaching adulthood, there may be a rising interest in piercings – including some in the mouth area. And while we aren’t here to tell you that this kind of thing is an absolute no-no for oral care, we do want to ensure that this kind of step is taken with an understanding about the oral risks involved. Here are a few of the concerns to keep in mind if your teen is considering an oral piercing, plus some ways to ensure everything stays clean and healthy in the area.
Here are some of the issues you should keep in mind when it comes to oral piercings and the impact they may have on the mouth and surrounding areas:
Infection: Mouths are a common area for bacteria, and this is risky if you’re exposing an open wound like a piercing to this area.
Nerve issues: In certain cases of oral piercings, such as a tongue piercing, minor nerve damage will take place as part of the procedure. This may make the area feel numb for a few hours, but in some cases, the numbness can last longer and may even permanently impact the sense of taste in the mouth.
Disease risks: Per the National Institutes of Health, oral piercings are a possible risk for transmitting hepatitis B, C, D and G.
Tooth chipping or fracturing: Oral piercings tend to contain hard metal, which can come into contact with teeth in the area. These can chip, fracture and otherwise damage teeth, including causing teeth to be lost in some cases. The same can be said for dental fillings and sealants, which can be damaged badly by piercings.
Drooling: Tongue piercings can increase saliva production, leading to heavier drooling concerns.
Staying Clean and Safe
It’s very important that if your child is considering an oral piercing, they’re fully informed on how to keep the area sanitary and clean in the future. They should know how to clean the piercing area at least once daily, plus should keep in mind things like hand-washing and others that will prevent the spread of germs.
In addition, oral piercings should be taken out before any intense activity or sports. Dental injuries are already common in contact sports, and their risks rise significantly if metal is in or near the mouth area.
For more on the risks of oral piercings for your teen, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Walker Pediatric Dentistry today.
Becoming a new mother or father is filled with amazing experiences and challenges alike, including numerous care areas to consider for your child. One area to ensure you don’t forget about is oral care, which quickly becomes important for infants even before their first teeth have grown in.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, we’re here to help with all infant oral care, including several preventive services that get them on the right track to a mouth-healthy life. Let’s go over some of the care areas you should prioritize even before teeth have begun to show, plus some tips from our children’s dentist on a few basic habits to really play up during this period.
Even before your child has any teeth, it’s important to begin cleaning their mouth from literally the day they’re born. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using an infant toothbrush or a soft cloth and cool water to clean baby gums after each nursing session, or after each meal once they move on to specific food. Gums should continue to be cleaned daily even after teeth begin erupting in.
In our next sections, we’ll go over a few basic habits to stick to during infancy:
Bottle in Bed
Many babies have trouble calming down and relaxing before bed, and some parents respond to this by sending them to bed with their bottle. The bottle is one item that tends to calm most babies down pretty reliably, so parents naturally look to it as a solution.
However, we do not recommend this practice for babies or children of any age. The bottle is great in the right doses, but it does contain high amounts of sugar and can pose a much higher risk than normal for cavities if it’s left with the child all night. This condition even has a term – “baby bottle tooth decay” is something that’s easily stopped by simply avoiding this practice and finding other ways to calm your child before bed.
Drinks Before Bed
Now, that’s not to say it’s not okay to give your child any drink before bed. If they’re thirsty, it’s totally fine to give them something like water or watered-down juice. If they absolutely will not sleep without a bottle, simply fill it with water so they have that comfort device present without all the added sugar.
Visiting the Dentist
With so much going on in the child’s life, some parents put off seeing a pediatric dentist for far too long. The AAPD recommends that this is done as soon as the first tooth emerges, which is usually around six months of age, plus that it continues roughly every six months from here.
For more on caring for infant teeth, or to learn about any of our child dentist services, speak to the staff at Walker Pediatric Dentistry today.
Both for children and adults, chewing ice is a common mindless activity. Many of us do it on a regular basis, and it seems like a harmless way to redirect some of our nervous energy.
At the offices of Walker Pediatric Dentistry, however, we’re here to tell you that when it comes to teeth and your children in particular, this is not the case. We’re all about preventive services that keep your child’s mouth safe from issues arising and worsening, and while it may not seem like a big deal, one of the areas we recommend here is getting your kids out of the habit of chewing ice – and doing so yourself if it’s a vice of yours. Let’s look at some of the oral damage that can take place due to chewing ice regularly.
Cracking and Chipping
Teeth are durable and meant to stand up to many pressures, but hard objects like ice are not part of their standard chewing requirements – especially not when these items are chewed often. One of the most common results here is chipped or cracked teeth, which will require you to drop everything and make an emergency visit to the dental office with your child.
If this does happen, even if the cause is something other than chewing ice, do your best to save the remaining parts of the cracked tooth in a small bag of milk. From here, immediately call our offices and get in as soon as possible. If we’re able to get you in quickly, we can often repair your child’s tooth fracture on the spot.
Tooth enamel is what protects your teeth and gums from bacteria and cavities, plus from long-term risks like tooth decay and acid attacks. It’s known as one of the hardest substances in the human body, but it can still be damaged by chewing ice regularly. In these cases, your child might be at significantly higher risk of decay and other issues over time – and you may not even notice it until their next appointment with the dentist, allowing it more and more time to worsen.
Oral Appliances and Fillings
In many situations, we’ll help outfit your children with oral appliances like braces or retainers to help with their long-term oral care. These are all durable devices, but they can still be damaged significantly by regularly chewing ice – braces brackets can be bent, wires can be dislodged or the entire device can be thrown out of alignment, and all of these might require expensive fixes from your orthodontist. Be very clear about reminding them of these risks.
In addition, chewing ice can significantly damage dental fillings, which are used for a variety of purposes. Like a cracked or chipped tooth, losing or damaging a filling requires an immediate dental visit to help repair the problem.
For more on the risks of chewing ice, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Walker Pediatric Dentistry today.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, we’re all about preventive methods for your child’s oral health. Our cleanings, X-rays, and various other inspections and instructions will help identify any issues early on, plus allow our dentists to take the required steps to prevent these from becoming long-term problems.
One product that’s vital for certain areas of preventive oral care is mouthwash. Mouthwash comes in a few different forms, and is important for children – as long as you take the right care with how it’s used. Here are some basics on types of mouthwash and being smart about which you use for your children.
Goals for Mouthwash
For starters, you should take a few minutes to consider the purpose for which you’re buying mouthwash for your child. You don’t necessarily have to complete a full report on it, per se, but you should be clear on your reasoning – this may affect your choice of mouthwash product down the line.
Are you looking for something to help with your child’s bad breath? That may be a certain type of mouthwash. Another might be needed if your primary goal is strengthening enamel or reducing tooth decay, possibly at the direction of your pediatric dentist. Regardless, know what you’re trying to get out of mouthwash before you spend money on it.
Cosmetic mouthwash is the primary type you tend to see on the market today, and it’s primarily meant to deal with bad breath and bacteria buildups. It brings a clean and fresh taste to the mouth, removing bad breath by masking it with friendlier smells that will stick around for long chunks of time. It’s important to note, though, that while cosmetic mouthwash treats the outward symptoms of bad breath, it generally doesn’t do much about the underlying causes that lead to this bad breath in the first place.
To get at these true root causes if bad breath is a regular issue for your child, or for several other more significant oral health areas, therapeutic mouthwash is the way to go. Not only can this mouthwash help mask bad breath, it can also fight the deeper causes of it and prevent conditions like gingivitis and tooth decay. Before using a therapeutic mouthwash on your child, though, check with our dentist to ensure that it’s safe for them at their age.
Children and Mouthwash
There are several mouthwash options out there designed specifically for children. They’re free of alcohol or any other non-child-friendly ingredients, and come in flavors kids enjoy and will want to use regularly. Make sure all child mouthwash you purchase has the ADA seal of approval, which means it’s been tested and approved for use on children.
In addition, most children should not use mouthwash under age six or so. There might be cases where our dentist will prescribe mouthwash to children younger than this, but don’t use it on them otherwise.
For more on children and mouthwash, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Walker Pediatric Dentistry today.
It’s October, and that means Halloween is upon us at the end of the calendar month. This is a holiday directly associated with chocolate and candy, and it’s often a pediatric dentist’s worst nightmare.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, though, we’re prepared for the Halloween season. We can help prepare kids for the big day, particularly any who have tooth issues and might need alternatives to traditional candy to keep their mouth healthy without lowering their enjoyment of the day. With that in mind, here are a few mouth-healthy treats to consider for Halloween.
Chocolate is the primary staple of Halloween, and there’s good news for parents of children with mouth concerns: Your kids don’t have to give it up entirely to stay healthy. Dark chocolate is known to contain polyphenols, natural chemicals that actually prevent the buildup of bacteria that sweeter forms of chocolate encourage.
Not only this, but polyphenols also prevent any bacteria that does form in the mouth from turning sugar into acid. This in turn stops acid from attacking and breaking down tooth enamel, meaning it’s far healthier for the mouth. Look for dark chocolate with high quantities of cocoa – at least 70 percent if possible.
Shaped like small oranges, clementines are a similarly sweet citrus snack with some fantastic oral health benefits. This is mainly due to their high vitamin C content, which helps fight off gum inflammation and heals gums as an antioxidant. Vitamin C helps the body create more collagen, an element prominent in cell repair and healing. And best of all, clementines are the perfect size for kids to carry around.
Not all Halloween snacks have to necessarily be sweet, and pumpkin seeds are a great example. They’re a perfect treat to keep kids occupied, with hundreds of seeds they can move through over a period of time. They have lots of fiber as well, a substance that help scrub the teeth and remove any particles that might lead to more bacteria. Pumpkin seeds are also sold in convenient individualized packages that are perfect for the Halloween season.
Yogurt may not be a traditional form of candy, but it’s many dentists’ favorite Halloween snack – it’s both fantastically nutritional and sweet, which checks both boxes we’re generally looking for. Yogurt contains huge amounts of calcium, which assists with the promotion of strong teeth and other bones throughout the body. More calcium means stronger tooth enamel. For Halloween, we recommend healthy yogurt tubes that are both fun for kids and come in a variety of flavors.
For more on some healthy snack alternatives for your kids this Halloween, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Walker Pediatric Dentistry today.
When it comes to maintaining oral health, there are few areas more important than flossing. Flossing is the process that helps get food debris and plaque out from areas where it’s harder to reach, even with a toothbrush, allowing for gum and tooth health that simply would not be possible otherwise.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, our dental services for kids include all sorts of preventive areas just like flossing. We can also help both parents and children with home flossing habits and tips, as this is a practice that needs to continue well beyond the dentist office. Most of us know the general basics about flossing, including how to do it, but there are actually a number of interesting facts about brushing that many people aren’t aware of. Let’s go over some interesting tidbits on flossing.
Brushing vs Flossing
Many of us have heard dentists or other oral care professionals talk about how brushing and flossing complement each other, but we rarely dig into why this is the case – we generally just take their word for it. But why should these two be used in connection with each other?
As it turns out, the answer is simple: Brushing generally cleans about 70 percent of the surface area of teeth, and can be relied upon for these areas. But brushes also typically miss important areas like cracks and spaces between teeth, plus might not be as effective at really getting all the way down to the gum line. This is where flossing comes in, to help scrub and pull debris from any leftover spots.
Types of Floss
We mostly just think of floss as a single type, but there are actually two primary types: Monofilament, which is made of basic plastics and rubber, or microfilament, which is made from nylon and silk. The two will feel fairly similar, but may have slightly different effects.
In addition, there are virtually unlimited flavors of floss out there. If you want your kids to floss more but they can’t stand the bland flavor, consider something like mint, bubblegum or even an obscure favorite of theirs to help incentivize them.
Have you ever thought about how long your floss is each day? Probably not, but it’s useful information to have. In general, you need at least 18 inches of floss to make sure there’s enough clean space for every tooth while allowing you to grip the floss properly. If you tend to waste floss, you might need significantly more.
Threaders and Proxabrushes
There’s a common misconception out there that people with braces or retainers can’t floss their teeth because floss would interrupt these devices – this simply isn’t true. Devices like floss threaders and proxabrushes can help people with these items get debris out, not only from between their teeth but also from within their actual mouth equipment as well.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, our dental services for kids include a number of preventive areas. From cleanings and flossing to X-rays and other important examinations, we can help keep your child’s oral health in great condition.
One of the most important areas here is brushing. Even the best children’s dentist can only have so much impact here, as brushing is something that’s done at home on a regular basis – with that in mind, here are a few tips we offer parents of children who are reluctant to brush or having trouble sticking with it for the entire two minutes on their own.
Make it a Tandem Brush
Many children, especially younger ones, will mimic virtually anything their parents do. You’re the role model, after all, and they want to be just like you. This extends to the realm of oral health, as well.
If your child is having trouble brushing, start a routine where you brush with them. Keep things fun and light, offering little tips where appropriate and making sure they brush or the entire two minutes twice a day. By learning that you do this as well, and seeing how simple it can be, many brushing issues will be eliminated.
Keep them Focused
Some children are fine with brushing twice a day, but struggle to maintain two minutes per session due to focus and distraction issues. There are several ways you can help them with this focus, from watching a tooth-brushing video to making the brushing time into a fun game with little rewards at the end. Keep things both educational and practical here.
Try Electric Options
Apart from being more entertaining and attention-grabbing for many children, electric toothbrush options are also more practical for many younger kids. They don’t require as much physical motion or detailed dexterity, for one, and they also have built-in timers that essentially force kids to brush for the full two minutes. There are a number of electric models out there specifically designed for kids, with easy holding options and a smaller brush head that easily contours to their teeth.
At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, one of our primary goals is helping prevent cavities in your children. Cavities, which are almost completely preventable, are issues on their own – but they’re also linked to other major diseases, some of which can actually be life-threatening.
What are some of the other conditions that may result long term if your child doesn’t get the proper protection from cavities and tooth decay? Let’s take a look.
Tooth Decay and Infection
Severe cavities and related tooth decay are some of the primary causes of tooth loss, both in children and in adults. Tooth loss leads to an increased risk of infection – this includes lung infection or even pneumonia that can result from gum disease. Tooth infections can then lead to a deeper infection found in pulp tissue, which can be expensive to treat and may even result in a medical emergency or hospital trip.
Cavities are the result of buildups of plaque in the mouth, and these buildups can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke as well. The bacteria that cause cavities can also release toxins, which travel through the bloodstream and form similar plaque deposits in the arteries. These in turn up the chances of heart disease.
Cavities and gum disease are also associated with rising blood sugar, which affects people with diabetes negatively. Improving oral habits, on the other hand, can help improve blood sugar control and can slow the progression of diabetes. Children with diabetes should always follow a detailed oral health routine, with their pediatric dentist aware of their condition.
Cavities are almost completely preventable in all people, particularly children. Children should brush twice a day for two minutes per session, and should floss every day. You should also look for ways to limit their sugary drink and starchy food intake, as these both can feed bacteria that lead to cavity formation.
Just like with adults, flossing is just as important a consideration for children as brushing is. At Walker Pediatric Dentistry, we’re here to do more than just provide dental services for your child – we’re here to help get them on a permanent schedule for things like flossing and brushing through helping them realize the importance of these tasks.
So why is flossing so vital for children? Let’s go over a few important areas it helps prevent, plus a few helpful flossing tools you can consider as a parent.
Also called halitosis, bad breath is one of the primary results of a lack of flossing in many cases. Food debris that gets stuck in between the teeth is very common for children who are still developing the gaps and spaces between their teeth, and this debris provides a safe haven for harmful bacteria.
Bacteria buildup, in turn, leads to the emission of sulfur compounds in the mouth. These compounds have an awful smell, and if enough of them are present, your child will have bad breath because of them. They tend to smell like rotten eggs, or something similar.
Plaque and Cavities
If your child is getting cavities early, it’s possible a lack of flossing is the culprit. Flossing helps remove plaque, which builds up between the teeth. Bacteria in plaque uses sugars found in your food to create an acid, which attacks the teeth.
Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
Not brushing and flossing daily can cause swollen, sensitive gums in children. These will often bleed when brushed, which can be an early sign of gum disease. If you notice that your child has swollen or tender gums that bleed when they brush or floss, you should both consider their dental habits and schedule a visit with our pediatric dentist.
Helpful Flossing Tools
A few tools that help many parents get their children into more regular flossing habits:
Ultra floss: This is a floss that can stretch thin to clean between tight teeth, but also wide enough to clean wider spaces.
Floss threader: If your child has braces, we suggest they use a floss threader, which is designed precisely for these circumstances.
Dental tape: For kids with gaps in their teeth, dental tape is a wide, flat solution that’s designed to be gentle on gums that are exposed.
All good parents remember to promote tooth brushing with their children, and most are also at least somewhat on top of flossing. An area that many parents often gloss over, however, is mouthwash.
At Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry, our children’s dentist services include helping your child get into mouthwash, along with helping them understand why it’s important. While kids can get this information from the dentist, you as a parent need to know it already. Here are some of the basics on mouthwash.
From a broad standpoint, there are two types of mouthwash generally available:
Cosmetic mouthwash: This is a type that’s meant mostly to reduce bad breath and replace it with a pleasant, fresh smell and taste. This type of mouthwash, however, does not treat the underlying issues that actually lead to things like plaque buildup and cavities.
Therapeutic mouthwash: Therapeutic mouthwash is the type that does treat underlying conditions, helping prevent tooth decay, gingivitis, and the buildup of plaque. Many therapeutic types of mouthwash don’t have the same intensity of freshening smell, but they will be much more effective for long-term oral health and will help eliminate bad breath at its roots rather than simply masking it.
When shopping for your child, consider mouthwashes that are directly designed for children. These are alcohol-free and come with flavors and logos that children can identify with. They’re also typically therapeutic.
Before you buy any product for your child, ask yourself (and your pediatric dentist, if necessary) what the goals of starting mouthwash are. Are you just looking to cure bad breath, or are you trying to reduce tooth decay or mouth sores? As we noted above, this might dictate your choice of mouthwash
ADA Approval and Safety
Never buy a product that doesn’t come with a seal from the American Dental Association (ADA). These products have been tested for safety and effectiveness. In addition, consider basic safety areas when it comes to mouthwash – only get alcohol-free types for children, and unless instructed otherwise by their dentist, don’t get mouthwash for kids under six years old.