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We all know that soda, juice, and sports drinks are a no-no for teeth, but what about sparkling water or seltzer?? In the last few years, seltzer has increased in popularity and there are so many choices of brands and flavors now, it can be a fun treat for adults and kids alike. Most varieties have zero sugar, zero calories, and zero artificial sweeteners, but yet you’ll see headlines that sparkling water is actually bad for your teeth – how can that be??

The bubbles in any carbonated beverage are from the addition of carbonic acid, which as the name implies, is acidic in nature. The reason this can be tricky for teeth is cavities are caused by an imbalance in the acidity of the mouth. Sugars and acidic foods lower the pH of the mouth, which can erode enamel and cause wear and/or cavities. Beverages like sugary sodas and energy drinks are a double whammy because they’re both high in sugar and carbonic acid. But what about seltzer? The average pH of sparkling water is about 4.5, and enamel can start to break down when the pH of the mouth is less than 5.5. Just for reference, the pH of Coke is 2.4, Gatorade is 3, orange juice is about 3.5, and water is 7. Thankfully saliva is full of mineral buffers that help keep the pH of the mouth as consistent as possible, so it’s all about balance.

So, long story short, are sparkling waters great for your teeth? Not really. But they’re not as bad as most of the other things we drink (besides regular water, of course). The pH of most seltzers might be below the critical pH for most mouths, but the borderline pH of seltzer was shown in a study to not break down enamel any more than regular water. The American Dental Association (ADA) even published an article earlier this year giving the green light for sparkling water. Since regular water (especially fluoridated) is still our #1 choice, our recommendation is to avoid overdoing it on seltzer this summer, but your family can enjoy an occasional La Croix just about guilt-free!

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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Here at Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry we see many patients with thumb or finger sucking habits. While this natural soothing method can be a lifesaver for new parents and can be pretty darn cute at a young age, long term thumb or finger habits can cause concerns for the shape of a child’s mouth and the position of their teeth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop their finger or thumb habits by the age of 3. While most children can stop their habits easily and quickly, there are some that will continue long past an acceptable amount of time. It is encouraged that children stop as early as possible to discontinue the pressure on the palate and surrounding teeth. The earlier the habit is discontinued, the less likely any changes to the structure of the mouth will be permanent.

When habits continue past age 4-1/2 to 5, we start to worry about the position of the permanent teeth that usually start erupting by age 6. Continued thumb or finger habits can cause changes to the bite that may require more orthodontic treatment when the child is older, rather than just resolving on its own after the habit is discontinued. Here is a list of how thumb or finger sucking can change a child’s bite:

  • Many thumb and finger suckers have top front teeth that stick way out in front of the other teeth, and this can put them at risk for serious damage if there was an injury to the face. As we commonly warn parents, the child may fall “tooth-first” if their front teeth are protrusive secondary to a habit.
  • It is also common to find an “open bite” with thumb and finger habits, which refers to when the back teeth are closed but there is a large gap between the top and bottom teeth in the front.
  • Another common side effect from thumb or finger sucking is a crossbite. Long term sucking will narrow the palate over time to the point that the top jaw no longer fits properly outside the bottom jaw, causing the child to shift their bottom jaw to the side for a more comfortable bite.

Getting a child who has a very active habit to stop can be quite a daunting task. With a very young child you may get lucky that with some reinforcement, they will be distracted and give up the habit on their own. As they get older, the habit can get much harder to break. In most cases, we need the child to be 100% on board with stopping their habit in order to find success. If your child wants to keep sucking their thumb or fingers, they will usually hide it and find a way to do it.

Dr. Erica suggests keeping the experience positive, offering reinforcement and rewards for changes and motivating your child to want to stop for their own benefit. Sometimes talking about the germs transmitted by dirty fingers can be helpful, or how thumb sucking is a habit for babies and not big kids, or that we don’t want their teeth to grow in crooked are all helpful narratives to share with your child. Make sure to remove trigger items like stuffed animals or blankets and offer gentle reminders during the daytime to encourage your child to stay on track. Many parents find a prize chart helpful – where a child gets a star for every day they’re not caught sucking their thumb or finger, and get a big prize at the end of the week for reaching a certain goal. There are also several great books available that can motivate children to stop sucking, such as “David Decides about Thumbsucking” or the Berenstain Bears “Bad Habit“.

There are certain products that will help deter children from putting their fingers in their mouths, such as Mavala Stop nail polish which has a very bitter taste. This should be used as a reminder so that if a child goes to put their thumb or finger in their mouth on instinct, the bad taste will immediately deter them. Another tool is investing in an item like a “T-Guard” which prevents thumb suckers from getting access to their thumb while they sleep. You can try using a sock, glove, or bandages, but the benefit of a T-Guard is the child is not able to inadvertently remove it in their sleep. If the habit persists beyond a reasonable time and all other methods have been attempted, sometimes we will recommend a permanent intra-oral appliance that blocks fingers or thumbs from resting on the palate. This is generally used as a last resort mechanism, but can be extremely effective.   

We know this whole process can be very challenging for children, so we always celebrate the end of thumb or finger habits in our office with a prize and a certificate of achievement. If you child is able to “kick the habit”, be sure to share your successes at your next dental visit so we can all celebrate accordingly!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s thumb or finger habit, never hesitate to bring it up at your child’s next appointment. We are here to help! And if you need some tips on giving up a pacifier, check out our previous blog post: “Kicking the Pacifier Habit“.

Beth Corona, RDH

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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While many of our patients know to limit juice and soda as much as possible, many don’t realize that this recommendation includes sports drinks. Companies like Gatorade and Powerade have done a great job marketing their products so children and adults alike think the drinks have magical benefits for sports performance, while ignoring the extremely high sugar content. Did you realize that a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 36 grams of sugar?? Turns out there’s no magic here – it’s sugar water with a sprinkle of salt and potassium and plenty of artificial flavoring and coloring that is bad news for both dental and overall health.

During exercise, especially in hot weather, kids can become dehydrated and a sports drink may seem like a suitable thing to reach for to replenish fluids and electrolytes, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend them for kids during routine or moderate activity. Interestingly, Connecticut was actually the first state to ban sports drinks to be sold in schools following this recommendation. Pediatricians worry about these sugary beverages due to the growing obesity epidemic in children, but also cite the potential dental harms.

One of the reasons we all reach for a drink when playing sports is that exercise can be dehydrating, which leads to a dry mouth. Saliva is full of helpful components that fight off cavities, but when the mouth is dry (therefore lacking saliva), teeth are without their natural protectant. Adding high doses of sugar to the mouth via energy drinks in these situations can be dangerous for teeth. Water is truly the ideal hydrator because it replenishes fluids without any of the dangerously high sugar levels. If you’re worried about your child’s electrolytes levels during a sports event, offer a snack at halftime that will replenish their sodium and potassium levels without such high levels of sugar.

Powerade and Gatorade taste so good for a reason – they are jam-packed with sugar! And for the same reason you wouldn’t hand your child a candy bar or bottle of Coke during their game, we advise you to please think twice about offering a sports drink to your child.

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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A protective coating called fluoride varnish that’s applied in the dental office twice a year is an easy, quick, cost-effective method for the prevention of cavities. We often call it “painting” the teeth at the end of our patients’ visits and it can be applied to primary (baby) or permanent teeth to help against the battle of tooth decay. There have been many studies that show that fluoride varnish can reduce the incidence of cavities by 37-43% by inhibiting the loss of minerals from tooth enamel and killing the bacteria that cause cavities. Fluoride treatments also help treat enamel sensitivity and restore the strength of enamel that can be temporarily compromised after an intensive cleaning.

At Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry, it is recommended that our patients with a moderate risk of cavities receive an application of fluoride varnish at the end of their routine well care visits after their teeth are cleaned. This is also the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association. It is safe for all of our patients, even as young as one, and is recommended throughout adulthood for those at high risk of cavities!

Although you may have memories of those bulky foam trays or not-so-yummy rinses from your childhood, fortunately today’s in-office fluoride treatment is much easier to work with and takes less time than previous processes. To apply the tooth colored varnish at Sweet Tooth, we use a very small, soft brush and a simple swipe across all the teeth with the tooth-colored lacquer. The texture left behind is a bit sticky but the texture allows the varnish to adhere to the teeth for a better decay-preventing benefit with a slow release of fluoride. It is acceptable after treatments for patients to taste the fluoride as the flavors are quite pleasant and they will not be ingesting unsafe amounts. We even have a handful of fluoride varnish flavors for patients to choose from – mint, mixed berries, and orange cream! It is recommended to our patients to avoid hot and crunchy foods for a minimum of 4-6 hours so that the varnish is not scraped or melted off. The advice that children like the best is they get to skip brushing their teeth that evening if they have a fluoride application in the afternoon, so as to not remove the protective coating.

As always, if you have any questions about fluoride varnish, or the different types of fluoride in general, never hesitate to ask a hygienist or Dr. Erica.

Beth Corona, RDH
Dental Hygienist at Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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We hope all our patients and their families had a fabulous Halloween! Our team gets pretty excited for Halloween because we look forward to dressing up together and sharing the fun with our patients. This year we dressed up as Toy Story characters which was a total blast:

Beyond dressing up, Halloween is also infamous for the loads and loads of candy that end up in houses across the country on November 1st. When all that candy is hanging around, it’s tempting for kids and their parents to indulge a bit too much with sweets. It’s tons of fun going door to door saying “Trick or Treat!” and filling up your pumpkin tote, but it’s not so much fun when you’ve got pounds of candy at home that could cause stomach aches, hyperactivity, and cavities! We want our patients to have fun on Halloween, but we’d rather them not binge on sugar soon after, so we’re running our second annual “Halloween Candy Buy-Back”. From November 1st to the 8th, we’ll be offering $1 per pound of Halloween candy up to 5 pounds for our patients! We’ll be sending the candy to troops overseas through the program Operation Gratitude.

If you do choose to keep some candy around the house, it’s important to remember that not all candy is created equal! The #1 dentist-recommended candy is chocolate. It melts off teeth rather than sticking to them, and is usually lower in sugar than the sticky, chewy candies. Dark chocolate has the least amount of sugar and also contains a flavanoid called epicatechin that has been shown to slow tooth decay and also reduces cholesterol, blood clots and clogged arteries. Dark chocolate also contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring chemicals that limit bad oral that attacks your teeth. The polyphenols in dark chocolate also reduce bad breath!

On the other hand, sour candy is dangerous because not only is it sugary but it’s also very acidic. This is a double whammy for teeth and sour candy can easily promote cavities because of the very low pH which weakens enamel and makes teeth more vulnerable to cavities. We always warn our patients to stay away from sticky and gummy candy like Starburst, Tootsie Rolls, and Skittles because not only are they super sugary, but they tend to stick around longer because of the sticky consistency. The sugar gets stuck in the grooves of molars and in between teeth and can be more harmful because of that increased duration. This is the same reason we don’t love lollipops because kids tend to suck on the sugar for a lot longer compared to eating a few M&M’s and being done with it! Biting into lollipops and other hard candies is very dangerous for teeth because it can crack them.

The candy buyback is a great way to get rid of some of the candy hanging around your house for a good cause, but you can also set other limitations to help your child limit their cavity risk this time of year. Some parents will limit candy only to the weekends, allow their children to keep as many pieces as they are years old, or trade in their candy to the “Switch Witch” for a prize or toy instead! Brushing is extra important this time of year, as well as drinking plenty of water or even chewing sugarless gum shortly after indulging in a sweet treat.

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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A very common preventive pediatric dental recommended procedure is pit and fissure sealants, or as we like to call them – “power shields” for teeth! Any molar surface that forms with deeper pits and grooves would be likely to trap food and bacteria and so the likelihood that dental decay could begin in these difficult to clean areas is quite high. Most patients can benefit from sealants around age 6 when their first permanent molars typically erupt and again when they are a bit older and erupt their second permanent molars, which is usually around age 12. Although sealants can be applied to baby molars, the biting surfaces tend to be far less groovy and susceptible to decay, and therefore we do not routinely recommend them to our patients. Sealants are made up of resin (a BPA-free plastic material) that is applied to the chewing surface of the molar teeth, protecting it as it forms a barrier to block bacteria and prevent food from trapping in those deeper crevices.

The application of sealants can help prevent decay in your child’s teeth with a few simple steps and can be completed in only a few moments per tooth. It is a non-invasive procedure that requires no removal of tooth structure and is completely painless. Here is an overview of how sealants are applied:

  1. First, the surface to be sealed is cleaned to be sure no plaque or food are present. The tooth is then dried and isolated with cotton rolls and/or an Isodry suction device which we call the “fishy”. It is important to keep saliva away from the tooth as it is being sealed so that the sealant is not contaminated.
  2. The first layer to be applied is the etch, or what we commonly tell the children is our “blue paint” or “blue shampoo”. This weak acid is used to help prepare the tooth to allow the sealant material to adhere to the tooth structure by opening up the tubules of the enamel. The etch sits on the tooth for 20 seconds, and then is rinsed off and dried.
  3. Next, a bonding agent is applied, aka the “tooth glue” to further encourage the sealant material to stick well to the tooth. This is simply painted on and then dried with a dental curing light.
  4. Finally, the sealant material is painted onto the grooves of the chewing surface of the molar. The sealant is cured with the light and voila – the tooth is sealed!

Once applied, sealants can typically last approximately 5 years, or even longer if a child does not eat sticky candies, avoids chewing on things like ice, and does not grind their teeth. We routinely check the status of existing sealants at wellcare appointments, and Dr. Erica will recommend replacement if they become worn or are no longer present over time.

Beth Corona, RDH
Dental Hygienist at Sweet Tooth

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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Summertime brings all of our patients’ favorite outdoor activities – biking, swimming, and many visits to the neighborhood playground or splash pad. As much fun as these activities are, they can also bring about a lot of unwanted dental emergencies. In the past few weeks we have seen numerous patients with chipped and/or injured teeth due to accidents around their own backyards and pool decks. It’s important to enforce strict rules around the pool for children, but it’s also important to have some basic knowledge about different types of dental trauma and what to do if your child bumps a tooth this summer!

If your child falls face-first and you see a lot of blood, first determine that the accident only affected their teeth and there aren’t any more serious injuries that would require a trip to the emergency room. If there is severe injury, loss of consciousness, or uncontrollable bleeding, seek help immediately from the ER. If the injury does not appear to require attention from the ER, you can call Dr. Erica on her 24/7-hour emergency call system. To reach Dr. Erica in an emergency situation, just call the office at (860) 347-4681 and if it’s after hours, follow the instructions on the recording to reach her at any time.

Bumped Tooth

Many children, especially young ones, will fall and bump their teeth without any obvious break in the enamel. Sometimes the teeth are pushed backwards, inwards into the gums, outwards down into the mouth, or they don’t move at all. This can happen with or without bleeding of the surrounding gum tissue as well. Many times the teeth will be slightly loose, or in the more serious instances, very loose. Depending on the severity of the bump, sometimes treatment is indicated and sometimes we simply monitor the teeth. We will usually take an x-ray to examine the underlying roots of the teeth and surrounding bone because even if the tooth doesn’t appear fractured, there could be damage underneath the gums.

If we choose to do nothing and simply monitor the tooth, it is hard to predict the prognosis based on the injury alone. Some teeth heal exceptionally well and will never cause a problem. If a tooth was bumped particularly hard, it could suffer a sort of “concussion” in that there was interior damage that is not visible visually or even on an x-ray. Sometimes you will notice a color change of the bumped tooth after a few weeks or months – usually a yellowish-grey color as the body lays down reparative tooth structure to help repair the tooth from the inside. This color can darker or lighten with time, but it is not usually indicative of any problem with the tooth. If the blood or nerve supply of the tooth was damaged in the injury, sometimes after months or even years the tooth can eventually die. Once the tooth dies, bacteria moves in and can cause an abscess or “pimple” on the gums above the tooth. Whenever a patient bumps a tooth, our office always makes a note and we will forever follow the tooth closely to check for any developing problems.

Chipped Tooth

If a tooth is chipped, particularly if it’s a permanent tooth, do your best to find the fragment and store it in a plastic baggie until you’re able to come to the office. There is no need to store the fragment in milk, but sometimes the fragment can be reattached for the most natural appearing fix. If the chip was severe enough to expose the nerve of the tooth (usually seen as a red dot inside the crown of the tooth), treatment will need to be sooner rather than later. We’ll want to see your child to do an exam as well as take an x-ray to rule out any root fractures or other issues with the surrounding teeth and tissues.

Babies chip their front teeth frequently as they’re learning to walk and chewing on everything. Small chips are usually nothing to worry about, especially if your child is completely asymptomatic, but it’s never a bad idea to call the office to have the teeth looked at if you’re concerned at all.

Knocked Out Tooth

If your child completely loses a permanent tooth, time is of the essence and it’s imperative to see a dentist ASAP. The sooner your child is seen, the better the chances of a full recovery for that tooth. Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the part that is usually visible in the mouth), being careful not to touch the root if you can avoid it. Rinse off the tooth, but resist the urge to scrape or scrub it clean. For an older child, place the tooth back into the socket the right way and have your child bite on gauze or some tissues to hold it in place until getting to the dentist. If you can’t get the tooth in properly, have your child hold the tooth in their cheek so the saliva will keep the root clean and moist. If your child is too young to handle keeping the tooth in their cheek without swallowing it, it’s important to still keep the tooth moist and milk is recommended. Next step – call our office immediately!

If the tooth that is lost is a baby tooth, do not try to place the tooth back into the socket. This can damage the permanent tooth underneath and reimplantation of baby teeth does not have high success rates. It is still important to call your dentist right away to rule out any other injuries to surrounding teeth or bone.

In general, injuries in the mouth bleed a lot, but heal quickly. Whenever there is an oral injury, there tends to be A LOT of blood because the mouth is a very vascular area and when saliva mixes with blood, it makes an even bigger mess. So rest assured that even if it looks like a scene from Dexter in your backyard, the damage might not be as bad as it appears. Remember that Dr. Erica is always just a phone call away to help guide you through managing any dental emergencies that happen this summer!

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. But is that really what we expect parents to do for their little ones every day? Ideally, yes, but let’s dive into some background info, recommendations, and tips for your child’s daily routine that might not be so overwhelming.

The physical act of brushing teeth is important for removing leftover food and plaque that builds up overnight or throughout the day. Nighttime brushing is particularly important so there isn’t sugar sitting on the teeth as they sleep. A lot of children are mouth breathers which dries out their mouth as they sleep, creating a wonderful environment for the bacteria in their mouth to prosper. Making sure the teeth are clean helps limit the bacteria’s access to sugar which helps prevent cavities.

Brushing in the morning is also important as we’re all familiar with morning breath and that fuzzy feeling on your teeth after a good night’s sleep. It’s important to remove the plaque that develops overnight, but brushing in the morning is also thought of as a second “dose” of fluoride toothpaste for the teeth. Dr. Erica and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend using fluoride toothpaste from the moment a tooth erupts in the mouth. Brand new teeth act like sponges and absorb fluoride which makes the enamel stronger for the entire life of that tooth. The key is paying very close attention to how much toothpaste an infant or child is getting. For children under 3 years old, we recommend a small smear or grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste. If you notice extra toothpaste in their mouth after brushing, you can wipe away the excess with a tissue or washcloth since toddlers aren’t reliable spitters. After age 3 when a child is better at spitting, you can start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

In terms of the amount of time spent brushing, this is quite variable in young children. If you can get your 2-year-old to sit still for two minutes and let you brush their teeth, that’s great! But it’s likely your toddler won’t be so cooperative and since they have less teeth than adults anyway, don’t stress out if you can’t get a full two minutes. We focus on making sure toothbrushing is a part of a child’s routine twice a day when they’re very young, but the actual amount of time spent brushing can be adjusted as they age. Try to pass the toothbrush over all of the surfaces of each tooth a few times, using gentle circular motions.

Many toddlers are quite independent and will insist on doing the brushing themselves which can be a tough daily battle for parents. We encourage toddlers to “share” the job of brushing with their parents so they have a turn brushing first, with an adult finishing the brushing. Our mantra is if you don’t trust your child to do a good job washing your floors, they shouldn’t be trusted to brush their teeth properly. Even adolescent patients need adult help, or at least adult supervision, to make sure they are doing a good job brushing. You’ll find toddlers do a good job brushing their front teeth, but might completely ignore the molars.

But let’s face it, some toddlers just HATE having their teeth brushed. You can try every flavor toothpaste, every manual and electric toothbrush on the market, singing, even brushing apps on their tablets, but they cry and fight every time. Unfortunately we don’t have a magical solution, but we always encourage parents to “keep fighting the fight”. Some kids hate getting their diaper changed or going to bed at night, but you do it anyway because it’s important for their health. Same should be though of brushing! It’s so important to set up a child’s routine early on so they realize brushing their teeth is just a part of their daily life that can’t be ignored.

If your child is not a fan of brushing, we can at least try to offer a few suggestions to make this process easier for your family. Don’t think that toothbrushing needs to be limited to the bathroom sink. Try brushing your child’s teeth in their highchair, the changing table, on the couch or bed, the bath, even in front of a TV or tablet if needed. If there are two adults at home, make it a team effort so one adult can hold the child still while the other can get good access with the toothbrush. Sometimes having two toothbrushes can be helpful so that one is used to help keep the child’s mouth open and the other does the scrubbing. Give your child your toothbrush so they can try to brush your teeth while you brush theirs. Slipping your finger into your child’s mouth carefully to pull their upper lip away is helpful to get access to the top teeth and gums that can otherwise be firmly covered by a tight-lipped child. Stand behind your child to brush their teeth, using one arm to “bear hug” them and the other to brush your teeth (this is actually a great way to brush for them because you end up mimicking the posture that you use to brush your own teeth). As we say – keep fighting the fight at home, daily toothbrushing is extremely important for your child’s wellbeing and we promise they will eventually learn to tolerate and maybe even enjoy brushing as they grow up in our practice!

Here are a few suggestions for brushing that we often mention in our office:

  • Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry Toothpaste – a mild flavored fruit toothpaste that is popular among children who are picky about flavors
  • Tanner’s Tasty Paste – available in chocolate and vanilla, this is another toothpaste we often recommend for children who don’t like the other fruity, overly sweet flavored toothpastes available in stores
  • Disney Magic Timer App – this app can make brushing more fun by playing videos and music while your child brushes and rewards them for their daily brushing with cute virtual stickers
  • Daily Brushing Chart – there are many charts available online that can be downloaded and printed to encourage kids to brush twice a day by earning a sticker each time and maybe even a prize too!

And here are some great videos demonstrating techniques for babies and toddlers:

– Dr. Erica Pitera
Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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For many children, and adults for that matter, getting the initial shot of novicaine can be the worst part of getting a filling or dental procedure done. Dentists nowadays don’t actually use “novicaine”, it’s usually lidocaine or septocaine in our office, but the name novicaine has stuck around to denote any kind of dental local anesthesia that is injected to numb a tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. Even with the use of topical anesthetic aka “numbing jelly”, the initial pinch from the needle can cause a lot of dental anxiety. For children who have never had dental work done before, that pinch can cause them to start to cry and worry because nothing at the dentist had ever hurt before! They are used to facing injections at the pediatrician’s office for vaccinations and blood draws but prior to having a cavity, the dentist was always a safe haven of painless tooth counters and fancy spinning toothbrushes.

Pediatric dentists are trained on how to deliver local anesthesia to children in the easiest and most painless manner possible. We make sure to let the numbing jelly sit for ample time, we use distraction and anti-anxiety behavior management techniques, we shake the cheek to confuse the pain receptors, and we push the local in as slowly as possible to decrease pain from a large bolus of liquid entering the tissue too quickly. However, even with all those techniques and tricks, many kids will still freak out if they feel the tiniest of pricks in their gums. Getting a tooth numb is extremely important so that for the duration of the procedure the child feels no pain and thus cooperates and behaves well, but achieving that numbness with a shot can be extremely challenging.

Because of all this, Dr. Erica was extremely excited when she heard about the “STA Wand” from some of her colleagues. It’s an electronic device that pushes anesthetic through a small needle using a computer. The computer is able to push out the liquid at a rate of one drop per second – much slower than Dr. Erica could ever do with her fingers and that large clunky syringe! The computer senses back pressure from the gum tissue and allows the anesthetic to be administered under high pressure so that the tooth is numbed precisely without numbing the surrounding lips, cheeks, and skin. The STA system is optimized to deliver the local anesthesia by placing the needle in between the gums and the tooth so that the needle never actually has to pierce through the gums. Usually this type of injection is very painful, but because the computer delivers the local so slowly, it is completely painless!

We love that the STA handpiece does not look anything like a traditional syringe or “shot”. If it doesn’t look like a needle or feel like a needle, our patients are happy! Sometimes it’s just the idea of getting a shot that is enough to scare a patient so much that they can’t cooperate for an appointment. Because of this, Dr. Erica loves being able to offer an alternative that enables her to do her job, make her patients feel comfortable, and take advantage of some of dentistry’s latest and greatest technology! Besides being painless, we also love that our patients don’t go home with their whole face numb. This numb sensation can be very upsetting to some little ones after an appointment, and we see a lot of patients coming back with swelling and/or sores in the area of the numbing because they chewed or sucked on their lips so much after the appointment. The wand allows Dr. Erica to numb only the tooth she’s working on without risking post-operative trauma from her pediatric patients!

We’re so excited to have this great piece of technology in our office as our patient’s experience is one of our top priorities. Our goal is always to have children maintain a positive relationship with dental visits, and being able to offer painless dentistry is one of the building blocks of earning and keeping that trust over a lifetime. We hope your little one never needs a filling or extraction, but if they do – rest assured it won’t be the novicaine you’re used to!!

Dr. Erica shot a video last week explaining the benefits of the Wand, and even tried it out on herself! Check it out below:

Dr. Erica Talks about The Wand - YouTube

Sweet Tooth Pediatric Dentistry
583 Saybrook Road
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 347-4681
www.sweettoothkids.com

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