Can Baby Teeth Get Cavities?

Many don’t think about the health of baby teeth. The assumption is that since baby teeth eventually fall out, they don’t need to be cared for. Nothing could be less true. Baby teeth are especially prone to cavities. In fact, by the age of five, 60 percent of children have had a cavity. Baby teeth are important and need to be cared for to set kids on a healthy path for life.

young girl showing off her baby brother's teeth and smile

Cavities & Baby Teeth

Baby teeth are susceptible to tooth decay for a number of reasons. First, children tend to not brush properly or for long enough. They may fight parents on allowing them to brush. Young children often don’t floss. This can also lead to food particles becoming stuck in between teeth and leading to plaque and tartar. Finally, children tend to love sweet treats. Many of the foods marketed to children are processed snacks like crackers, cookies, and cereal. All of these early childhood staples are hazardous for the health of teeth, especially if proper dental hygiene is lacking.

How to Prevent Cavities in Baby Teeth

For starters, don’t underestimate the importance of baby teeth or dental hygiene for young kids. We set our children up for a lifetime of healthy teeth if we begin and teach good habits early. Bring your child in for a dental appointment as soon as they turn a year old or get their first tooth. Make sure they are brushing twice a day, especially before bed. If they are under the age of six, you’ll need to help make sure they are brushing properly and for long enough. Choose snacks for your child that are low in refined starches and not overly processed. Vegetables, grains, fruits, and lean protein sources are best. Save sweets for special occasions only, and always make sure to brush after.

What to Do If Your Child Has a Cavity

If your child complains of tooth pain or you suspect they may have a cavity, call our office. We will get them seen as soon as possible. Because children’s cavities are common, we are highly experienced in helping. Treatment for a cavity is easy and painless if caught early. Don’t delay getting a cavity checked out. In a baby tooth, infection and abscess could develop and damage the health of the permanent teeth that have yet to grow in.

Contact us today if it’s time to schedule your little one for a dental appointment. We make sure our smallest patients feel comfortable and have fun when they’re with us. We’ll see you soon!

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Brunette girl in a wet white shirt drinks from a stream of water flowing from a stone fountain

At Henson Family Dental, we know how important it is to establish healthy dental habits in your kids from a young age. Encouraging your children to brush twice daily for two minutes each time, floss each day, and visit our office regularly can ensure that their developing teeth grow healthy and strong. Often, parents ask Dr. Henson and our team about the safety of using various dental products on their children. Fluoride is a topic that frequently comes up, so today we want to talk about why fluoride is a safe, effective tool for fighting cavities in patients of all ages.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in the earth’s crust. Many communities add fluoride to their drinking water for its cavity-fighting benefits. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth by hardening enamel both in children and adults.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride works through a process called remineralization. After you eat, acids produced by bacteria that consume food particles begin to wear away at enamel. Over time, this process can result in cavities. Fluoride deposits calcium and phosphorus, minerals that work to strengthen enamel before cavities can develop.

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Yes, fluoride is safe for children in small amounts. If you live in an area where fluoride is added to the water supply, your kids will receive the benefit each time they take a drink of water. As your child develops their first teeth, Dr. Henson may recommend a toothpaste with additional fluoride depending on their needs.

Occasionally, young patients develop fluorosis as a result of ingesting too much fluoride. If you notice small white spots on your kid’s teeth, this may be fluorosis. However, if your children are using the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush and spitting it out, the chance that they will develop fluorosis is very low – and the chance that fluoride will protect them against cavities is very high.

To ask our team any additional questions about the safety of fluoride or to schedule your next appointment, contact us today!

How You Can Get Your Kids to Brush Regularly

Mom and son in pajamas brushing their teeth together in the bathroom

At Henson Family Dental, we love providing quality dental care to the whole family. Many members of our team are parents themselves, and we understand firsthand that getting kids to brush their teeth can be a struggle. With the goal of helping our patients establish healthy dental care habits from a young age, we want to share some of our favorite tips to get your kids brushing regularly.

1. Brush at the Same Time

Kids want to be included, so if you make toothbrushing a family activity, they may be more likely to join in without complaining. Establish a regular family brushing routine so kids know what to expect. As an added bonus, you’ll get your own brushing out of the way!

2. Get a Wacky Toothbrush or Toothpaste

There are tons (and we mean tons!) of dental care products marketed especially toward kids. Next time you’re at the grocery store, have your child pick out the color of their own toothbrush. Or, use a toothpaste in an exciting flavor like cotton candy or bubblegum. Before you know it, your kids will look forward to trying their new tasty toothpaste once it’s time to brush.

3. Make a Game Out of It

As a parent, you know better than anyone what motivates your child. If you can turn brushing into a fun game by creating a rewards system or creating a game out of toothbrushing, your kids will begin to see oral care as a fun activity. And, if any parents reading this have come up with a successful game to encourage brushing, we’d love to hear about it!

No matter what tactic you use to get your kids brushing their teeth, it is important to establish good habits early that they can use for a lifetime. Once your children are old enough, be sure to explain the importance of brushing and flossing as a way to prevent more serious dental problems. To schedule appointments for you and your family or to ask us any questions, contact us online or by phone.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

At Henson Family Dental in Temple Terrace, we believe it’s never too early to begin dental health. In years past, many parents and infant caregivers would not think to consider the daily dangers to infant teeth. Thankfully, times have changed. Dentists like Dr. Kristanya Henson keep keenly aware of new discoveries and ways to prevent dental health issues for every age. 

In today’s blog, Dr. Henson shares her worthy insight and wisdom to answer the question: what is baby bottle tooth decay? Included first are the most common causes, followed by Dr. Henson’s recommended preventative measures.

Baby bottle tooth decay, also referred to as early childhood caries, affects infants and toddlers. Most often, the decay affects the upper front teeth, though any tooth can be affected. Although a child’s teeth are temporary at this young age, avoiding decay and promoting good dental health will impact his/her adult teeth for years to come.

CAUSES:

1. Prolonged exposure to sugars in drinks.

This can occur with liquids such as milk, formula, or fruit juice. Tooth decay exists more often when an infant goes to bed with his/her bottle or when the bottle is given as a pacifying device. The sugar clings to the infant’s teeth for long periods of time.

2. Cavity-Causing Bacteria

Unfortunately, bacteria can be passed from mother or father to the infant. This occurs in the exchange of saliva. So simple an act as sharing the child’s spoon, even putting the infant’s pacifier into your mouth, increases the risk of tooth decay.

3. Insufficient Fluoride Supply

If your drinking water does not contain fluoride or you’d like more information, please contact us with questions. Our staff can also share about our fluoride treatments for children.

PREVENTION:

Thankfully, in addition to regular visits to our office, baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented. Here are some suggestions we remind our family patients.

1. Do not share spoons with your infant. Wipe the child’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after eating.

2. When the child’s teeth first come in, brush them gently with no toothpaste, or a very small bit of fluoride toothpaste. If you’re unsure, we will gladly give you our recommendations.

3. Set your child on a healthy routine. Encourage feedings to be completed before bedtime and naps.

4. Make sure pacifiers are clean and establish healthy eating when age-appropriate.

If you’ve any further questions or would like to make an appointment please do not hesitate to call. From all of us at Henson Family Dental, we look forward to serving you.

How to Protect Your Kids’ Teeth with Fluoride & Dental Sealants

Children can be more susceptible to tooth decay if they are eating a lot of sweets and candies, and if they’re not brushing as thoroughly as they maybe should! Some kids are also just more susceptible to cavities than others, and cavities can be painful and require more invasive dental work such as root canals or even extraction. Besides taking your kids to the dentist every six months or more for a thorough dental cleaning, there are other ways to protect your kids’ teeth from cavities. Here are our suggestions for preventing cavities:

Professional Fluoride Treatments

Not all dental offices offer fluoride treatments, but at Henson Family Dental we feel fluoride can be an important part of your preventive care routine. Professional fluoride treatments help remineralize the teeth and protect them from decay and cavities. Fluoride is an enriched mineral that helps keep the protective enamel strong and healthy. This type of fluoride is much stronger than what you will find in toothpaste and is much more effective at protecting teeth.

Dental Sealants

Many children benefit from dental sealants because they help smooth out the grooves in teeth where sugar and bacteria can hide, creating cavities even if you are very good at brushing and flossing. Dental sealants are safe for young kids and can protect their teeth for years to come!

Six-Month Teeth Cleanings

As always, we advise that the whole family comes in for professional teeth cleanings at least every six months. This includes the kiddos! Dental cleanings are the only way to remove tartar or plaque that is in places where your toothbrush or floss can’t reach, and it is this plaque that will cause gum disease if left to sit without removal.

Call Henson Family Dental for an appointment today!

5 Fun Ways to Teach Children Dental Hygiene!

Children are naturally curious. Nurture their curiosity by teaching them about a topic that matters: dental hygiene. The following is a brief, creative list of Fun Dental Activities to do with Your Kids that we recommend at Henson Family Dental.

Kids laying on grass and smiling

1. Incorporate your child’s favorite character!

Have your child draw a picture of a favorite character from a movie, show, or book. Instruct your child to draw an extra-large toothy grin on his or her character. The bigger, the better! After the drawing is complete and the character is baring her teeth, have your child take a toothbrush loaded with a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste. Then, it’s time to practice proper technique! Demonstrate on the drawing how to brush in small circles, and like his or her drawing, your child will be all grins at this hilarious, yet educational learning opportunity!

2. Is your child a visual learner?

Here is a way for your child to envision proper flossing technique on a large scale. Take some white clay or play doh, and have your child roll small pieces into a set of “teeth.” Place these “teeth” in a line, forming a small arch (representing a bottom row of teeth). Next, take a string of dental floss, and demonstrate proper flossing technique. Your child will be eager to try this hands-on activity! For extra fun, and to make the project more realistic, add tiny bits of colorful clay between the handmade teeth to represent small pieces of food. Have your child try to catch the pieces of “food” with her floss. Before you know it, your child will be flossing his or her real set of pearly whites without even being asked.

3. Hold a literature hour!

A simple yet effective way to teach kids about dental hygiene is to visit your local library for a handful of books. Though the children’s books about dental hygiene are usually fictional stories narrated by kid-favorites such as Elmo, Arthur, and Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter, these books have real lessons. Read a few of these before bedtime, and naturally a discussion will spark on the topic of dental hygiene. Your child may even ask questions you would not have thought to answer, had it not been for these picture books igniting conversation.

4. Take a page out of the science fair textbook

Try this project that, with the help of eggshells, demonstrates firsthand the way in which different beverages affect your teeth. You may have done this one in school—and for good reason! The egg stain project is fun and educational. Here is how it works: Hollow out four eggs, so that you are left with just the hard, fragile shells. Then, place the shells in four different cups. Fill one cup with dark cola, another with milk, one with coffee, and the last one with water. Explain to your child that the eggshells represent teeth, and then have them make predictions about whether or not certain beverages will lead to discoloration or other effects on the “teeth.” Be sure to check daily for at least a week, so that you and your child can document the changes.

5. Ask your Temple Terrace dentist, Dr. Henson!

Make an appointment with Henson Family Dental, and your child’s curiosity about dental hygiene will be met with answers and smiles by one of our friendly, knowledgeable team members.