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Info for Parents

Infant Oral Health Program (Birth - 3yrs)

Historically, parents have been advised to take their children to the dentist for their first visit around 3 years of age. Unfortunately, tooth decay does occur in children under the age of 3. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that an initial oral evaluation visit occur within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth and no later than twelve months of age. During this important visit we will complete a medical and dental history, a thorough oral examination, assess your child's risk of oral and dental disease, and create an appropriate protocol to reduce your child's risk of developing dental disease.

The major cause of tooth decay in infants is due to the improper use of the bottle. Children remaining on the bottle past the age of 12 months experience risk of developing tooth decay before the age of 3 years when compared to children who are no longer bottle feeding past 12 months of age. We use the opportunity of seeing the child at 1 year of age to discuss important preventive measures with the parents and teach proper methods of maintaining good oral hygiene.

Preventive Dentistry

Our goal is to prevent problems from occurring and to intercept them when they are present. This is accomplished through the use of multiple techniques and resources at our disposal.
Sealants

Sealants are a tooth-colored, acrylic-like material that helps shield out decay-causing bacteria from the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. As a child's most cavity-prone years continue until the mid-teens, the premolars can also be sealed as they appear.

Sealants are placed on all the permanent molars upon eruption. Approximately 80% of all cavities occur in the grooves of the back teeth. By "sealing" over the grooves of these teeth, we can effectively reduce your child's chance of decay by close to 80%. Some baby teeth will benefit from sealants, but are determined on a tooth by tooth basis.

Fluoride

Fluorides have been the most effective method of preventing tooth decay. Scientists have discovered that people have less tooth decay if their drinking water contains fluoride. Because teeth form during childhood, the fluoride becomes part of the tooth enamel, making teeth stronger and more resistant to decay. Very few communities in northern Idaho have fluoridated water. We will assess your child's needs and determine together a proper fluoride regimen.

Proper dosages are important to prevent dental fluorosis. There has been much information published on the benefits versus risks in using fluorides. Children living in a non-fluoridated area should take supplemental tablets or drops from age 6 months to 12 years of age. We also provide topical fluoride treatments for our patients who return for their semi-annual check ups.

Interceptive Orthodontics

Interceptive Orthodontics is a critical aspect of managing the occurrence of malocclusions in the developing child. Many times, developmental problems can be detected and treated prior to the age when the child would normally have braces placed. Managing crowding of teeth at the earliest signs, can frequently prevent a child from needing complete orthodontic treatment in the future. We are equipped to treat many orthodontic problems but also work hand in hand with local orthodontists, offering referrals for those children whose needs will involve complete braces.

Oral Habits

Oral Habits can often be a perplexing problem for parents to deal with. Habits such as thumb/finger sucking, teeth grinding, mouth breathing, pacifiers, etc., can lead to significant future dental problems, sometimes requiring orthodontic treatment if there is no intervention. We complete an assessment for oral habits at the initial dental examination for your child. We will provide risks involved with continuing the habit as well as inform you whether there is a genuine concern. Many times, these habits are discontinued spontaneously. We will provide you the proper guidance to direct you in dealing with the habit.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is the leading cause of tooth decay in children under the age of 3 years. Greater than 85% of the children we treat in the hospital under general anesthesia is a result of prolonged bottle or breast feeding. Decay occurs when sweetened liquids are given and left clinging to an infant's teeth for long periods. Many sweet liquids cause problems, including milk, formula and fruit juice. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars to form acids that attack the teeth and weaken the enamel.

Each time your child drinks these liquids, acids attack for 20 minutes or longer. Frequent attacks eventually break down the enamel causing decay of the underlying dentin.

It's not just what you put in your child's bottle that causes decay, but how often - and for how long. Giving your child a bottle of sweetened liquid many times a day is not a good idea. Allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle during naps or at night can be the most harmful. Milk or juices "pool" around the teeth when the child falls asleep without swallowing all the liquid. This bathes the tooth in the acids that are formed thus weakening the teeth. Good oral hygiene habits along with discontinuing the bottle by age 12 months can prevent this source of dental disease.

Good foods and snacks to eat for you and your teeth.

Apples, oranges, pears, bananas, peaches, plums, cantaloupe, watermelon, fruit cocktail, apricots, melons, grapes, celery, radishes, pickles, olives, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, ham cubes, eggs, asparagus, nuts, cottage cheese, cheese crackers, cheese wedges, cucumber slices, peanut butter, ice cream, popcorn, corn chips, triscuits, fritos, pretzels, hamburger, water, whole wheat bread, french fries, meat-cheese slices, sugarless gum, sugarless candy.

Foods to avoid

Cakes, pie, syrup, non-sugarless gum, candy, Hi-C drinks, juices, koolaid, diet and regular soda, white bread, cookies, dried fruits (raisins,) marshmallows, sugar coated cereals, donuts, popsicles, bubble gum, caramels, caramel popcorn, graham crackers, jelly or jam.

People need to limit their snacks between meals. If you must eat between meals, be sure to choose items from the good list. Frequent snacking between meals is harmful to your teeth and gums, and will likely cause cavities.

Hospital Dentistry

Pediatric dentists are trained in treating children's dental needs in the hospital environment. Dr. John is on the staff at the Kootenai Medical Center and utilize the Kootenai Outpatient Surgery Center on a weekly basis to provide care for those patients unable to tolerate treatment in a dental office setting. Patients requiring this service are usually the infant or very young child with extensive dental repair needs, the medically compromised patient as well as patients with special needs. KOS is a state of the art facility and rivals the cost savings of any outpatient facility in the area.

Sedation

Often, young children who are extremely fearful of dental treatment or don't have the ability to relax in a strange environment benefit from some form of sedative treatment. By using nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or an oral sedative, many times these children can cope with the necessary treatment thus preventing the need for treatment in the hospital under general anesthesia. These options will be discussed with parents at the initial dental examination appointment.

Infection Control

Our office uses a variety of methods to sterilize and disinfect. Dental instruments including the dental handpieces and water/air syringe tips are cleaned utilizing an industrial washer similar to your home dishwasher. The instruments trays are then wrapped in a paper wrap and sealed. Next they are placed in a steam autoclave, which uses steam under pressure to sterilize them by killing the viruses and other microscopic organisms capable of causing diseases. Disinfecting procedures are used on surfaces and equipment that cannot be removed for cleaning and sterilization, such as counter tops, drawer handles, X-ray unit heads, light handles, and dental chairs. Disinfecting is always done in the treatment room between patients to assure that the room is clean for each patient.

Links of Interest

Listed below are several links that will provide further information regarding dentistry.
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
American Dental Association
National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse
Dental Topics for Parents

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