Girl holding model of human jaw with dental braces

When to Start Considering Braces for Your Child

Orthodontic experts recommend that children be screened for braces between their 7th and 8th birthday. This is the recommended age because the child’s permanent first molars and the child’s upper and lower incisors have recently erupted or will soon erupt. At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida, we know the importance of a healthy, vibrant smile. For this reason, our pediatric dentists at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida provide an orthodontic screening at each routine visit.

Issues That May Affect the Teeth and Jaw

Some of the issues that may lead to the need for braces include variances in jaw development and tooth eruption patterns as well as habits like thumb/finger sucking, pacifier use and/or prolonged bottle use.

Oral Health Issues Braces Can Address

Braces can address a variety of oral health issues, including gaps, crooked/overcrowded teeth, an overbite (upper teeth are somewhat forward, which causes them to bite over the lower teeth), an underbite (lower teeth are somewhat forward, causing them to stick out further than the upper teeth do), an open bite (some of the teeth are unable to properly touch one another) and a crossbite (misaligned upper and lower teeth).

Correcting Oral Health Issues is Essential

Fixing the oral health issues listed above provide your child with an array of benefits. For example, studies show that people who have healthier smiles are more confident and enjoy added success in relation to work and in their communities. However, correcting these issues addresses more than just the appearance of your child’s teeth.

Having straight teeth also makes it easier to speak properly (clearly), prevents chipped teeth and/or sore jaw muscles due to unnecessary pressure being placed on specific teeth. It is easier to clean straight teeth as well, which means the onset of cavities or decay is less likely.

The Ideal Time for Braces Depends on the Issue Being Addressed

Each patient is unique, which is why an orthodontic evaluation is the best way to determine if or when your child needs braces. Sometimes, just monitoring the growth and development of the jaw, and teeth is recommended. Other times, to achieve the best results possible, treatment may be necessary right away. As pediatric dentists, we are familiar with the expected development of the jaw and teeth.

Issues that May Warrant Early Intervention

Early treatment may be necessary if your child has any of these problems before all of his or her permanent teeth have erupted: severe overcrowding; bite problems; an issue related to the eruption of his or her permanent teeth; unnecessary additional teeth; or missing teeth.

Potential benefits of early treatment include the ability to guide jaw growth, correct oral habits that are harming the teeth, lower the risk of a trauma occurring to protruding front teeth, enhance your child’s smile and improve the function of your child’s bite.

In some cases, early orthodontic treatment may actually prevent a future problem from developing, decrease the amount of time that treatment is necessary when the child is older, make future any treatment less complicated or avoid the need for future treatment altogether. Moreover, there are situations when an orthodontist must address issues as the face and jaws are still forming. With the benefit of early, routine orthodontic evaluations at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida, you provide your child with his or her best chance for a healthy, vibrant smile.

Early Treatment is Not Always Necessary

Conversely, there might be problems that early treatment cannot address or a problem that does not warrant immediate treatment. In these cases, orthodontic treatment may be delayed until the child’s permanent teeth have erupted.

Generally speaking, there is not one answer as to the time it is best for a child to get braces. However, at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida, there is no need for you to worry because we are evaluating your child’s jaw and teeth for orthodontic issues at every appointment. If your child is in need of dental care, contact one of our offices today. At each of our locations, we offer a warm, friendly environment that is designed with children in mind. If you would like to schedule an appointment at our St. Cloud, Fla. office, please call 407-593-8900 or, for our Maitland, Fla. office, please call 407-628-2286.


toothbrush with blue toothpaste on the washbasin

What Does Fluoride Do?

Many people recognize fluoride as a product in their toothpaste and an additive to their water supply, but they may not know what fluoride does to benefit their teeth.

How does fluoride help your teeth?

Fluoride works to benefit your teeth primarily in two ways: remineralization and bacterial control.


Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by aiding in the remineralization of the teeth. Teeth develop decay as the acid from the microbes within the mouth start to demineralize the tooth enamel. When tooth enamel is exposed to increasing levels of acid, important minerals within the tooth material, such as phosphorus and calcium, are dissolved. Over time, a hole or cavity can develop within the tooth.

When fluoride enters the mouth, it coats the teeth and attracts the displaced minerals back to the tooth surface. It then interacts with the minerals to form a new tooth material. This new material is actually more acid-resistant than the original tooth enamel. As a result, fluoride can help repair the teeth and lessen your chance of tooth decay.

Bacterial Control

Although the exact mechanism through which fluoride negatively affects oral bacteria is not fully understood, fluoride has an antimicrobial effect on the bacteria within the mouth. It is believed that this effect may be caused by fluoride’s ability to increase acid sensitivity in oral bacteria, such as in Streptococcus mutans. Since Streptococcus mutans is one of the primary bacteria associated with tooth decay, an adverse influence on the bacteria’s ability to release acid can help salvage your teeth from additional decay.

Why are fluoride treatments necessary?

Fluoride treatments are used to help avoid tooth decay. Still, you may be wondering why a special treatment is needed if fluoride is already present in your toothpaste and drinking water.

The amount of fluoride available in your toothpaste and water may still be too little to have a major impact on the health of your teeth. The fluoride concentration in water, toothpaste and other products is regulated to avoid over-consumption of the substance. The ingestion of too much fluoride can be harmful to your health. However, adequate levels of fluoride are still needed to help prevent and treat tooth decay.

What happens during a professional fluoride treatment?

When your dentist applies fluoride to your mouth, he or she may use a foam mouthguard. The fluoride product is applied to the guard, and the guard is positioned over your teeth. After the recommended treatment time, which is usually a few minutes, the guard is removed and any residual product is rinsed from the mouth. Your dentist may also apply fluoride as a foam or varnish that is painted onto the teeth. In either case, you may be restricted from eating or drinking for about half an hour following your treatment.

Are there specialized fluoride treatments for use at home?

Fluoride gels can be purchased over-the-counter and applied to your teeth. The gels are allowed to remain in place for a few minutes before being rinsed away. The application method is similar to that of a professional treatment, but the fluoride concentration in these over-the-counter products is usually lower. These supplements are not designed as standalone products. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with other fluoride-containing items, such as toothpaste. If a more concentrated dosage of fluoride is needed, your dentist would need to prescribe it for you.

Who can benefit from a fluoride treatment?

There are multiple instances in which a fluoride treatment is deemed beneficial, such as the following:

  • Pediatric dental care- Young children, especially those who suffer from repeated bouts of tooth decay or who do not have access to fluoridated water, can benefit from fluoride supplementation.
  • Orthodontic patients- If you wear braces, a fluoride treatment can be particularly helpful at keeping bacteria from becoming trapped beneath the wires of your appliance.
  • People being treated with radiation therapy- Radiation therapy is often used to treat different kinds of cancer. When the radiation is used to target the head and neck regions, it can lower saliva production. This reduction in saliva is associated with an increase in oral bacteria and dental decay.

To determine whether or not a fluoride treatment could benefit your oral health, schedule a consultation with our office.


two children holding a picture of a mouth smiling

Preventing Bottle Tooth Decay

Bottles provide a child with a quick, easy way to drink liquids and, in some cases, they can even be used as a source of comfort. Unfortunately, prolonged and frequent exposure to the liquids inside the bottle, whether it is being used purely for drinking or as a comfort source, can cause your child to experience damaging tooth decay known as bottle tooth decay.

Understanding what bottle tooth decay is and how you can prevent it will help you keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy.

Taking a Closer Look at Bottle Tooth Decay

The term ‘bottle tooth decay’ is actually pretty deceptive because it doesn’t just happen to bottle fed babies or toddlers who consume drinks in a bottle. It can happen to children who are breast fed.

Bottle tooth decay occurs when a child comes into frequent and prolonged exposure to sugary liquids. The sugars and acids contained in those liquids can slowly start to eat away at a child’s gums and newly developed teeth.

Damage to the teeth and gums occurs because the sugary, acidic liquid pools in a child’s mouth when they drink. The combination of a warm, dark and damp mouth and the sugary liquid creates the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow. Bacteria growth in the mouth can cause plaque to build up. That plaque can lead to extensive damage to the teeth and gums.

Over time, if the gums and teeth become too damaged it can cause a child to experience extremely pain and discomfort. In many cases, the only way to fix the problems caused by bottle tooth decay would be to extract the teeth. That is why prevention is so important.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #1 – Wipe Gums After Feeding

The best, and most effective, way to prevent bottle tooth decay is to get rid of the sugary or acidic liquids before they have time to pool in the mouth. After you feed your child or your child is done with their bottle, take a washcloth or a gauze pad and gently massage your child’s gum. This will remove the liquids and prevent them from sitting on the gums for any extended period of time.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #2 – Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth at the Right Time

It is important to start brushing your child’s teeth at the first sign of his or her first tooth. You should be brushing your child’s teeth after each feeding.

When brushing your child’s teeth, it isn’t necessary to use toothpaste at such a young age. Warm water is enough. However, if you feel more comfortable using toothpaste, make sure to use a fluoride-free kind.

In addition to brushing your child’s teeth, you should be massaging the gums where teeth are not present. This will completely remove all liquids from your child’s mouth.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #3 – Never Let a Child Fall Asleep with a Bottle

Some parents let their child suck on a bottle as they fall asleep. Unfortunately, this can cause tooth decay, as the gums and teeth are exposed to massive amounts of sugary or acidic liquids overnight. Don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth.

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #4 – Avoid Sugary Foods or Drinks

Try to make dietary changes so your child is not consuming sugary foods or drinks. Some things you can do include:

  • Limit intake of cookies, fruit snacks, and candy
  • Limit intake of juice. If you must give your child juice, dilute it with water.
  • Give your child water instead of soda or juice

Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention Tip #5 – Visit a Pediatric Dentist for Regular Checkups

Scheduling regular appointments with a pediatric dentist can help with the prevention of bottle tooth decay.

A pediatric dentist can do the following:

  • Perform regular checkups to determine teeth are properly growing
  • Apply special sealant coatings to prevent decay
  • Detect tooth decay during the early stages, which eliminates the need for potential tooth extractions
  • Professionally clean teeth and gums

Your child should be going to regular appointments with a pediatric dentist by their first birthday. If it is time for your child’s first appointment or you are looking for a new pediatric dentist, contact Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida to schedule an appointment with our kind, caring staff.

Close up of boy having his teeth examined

Why Fill Cavities in Baby Teeth?

Cavities are actually holes that develop when acids within the oral cavity erode the tooth minerals.  Most oral acids that cause decay come from bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans.  The oral bacteria release acid into the mouth as they consume simple carbohydrates,  such as the sugar in candy. The acid is actually a byproduct of the bacteria’s digestion.

 Cavities can form in any tooth,  including a baby tooth. We are commonly asked, “Why do you fill cavities in baby teeth?” Because baby teeth are important!!! Here are a few reasons why:

Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth.

Baby teeth, which are also called primary teeth, maintain space within the dental arch and guide the eruption of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth is lost early, due to decay or infection, this could lead to orthodontic or crowding issues for the adult tooth. Children begin to lose their front teeth around age 6 but will not lose their back teeth (molars) until closer to age 12 or beyond. We need to keep these baby teeth in place!

An untreated cavity can be painful.

Cavities in baby teeth, if left untreated, can grow and lead to pain and/or infections. Initially, the decay may only affect the outermost layer of the child’s tooth, which is called the enamel. However, as the cavity deepens, it can access the dentin and even the innermost layer of the tooth, which is called the pulp. Since the pulp houses the blood supply and nerves of the tooth, your child can experience a great deal of discomfort when a cavity reaches this level.

 By having the cavity filled before it worsens, you can protect your child from unnecessary pain and discomfort.

An untreated cavity can become infected.

As the cavity penetrates the deepest layers of the tooth, a dental infection can ensue. If the bacteria has invaded the nerve tissue, a nerve treatment may be needed to save the tooth.

 A pulpotomy, also referred to as a baby root canal, involves the removal of the dental pulp from the tooth. Once all the infected tissue is gone, the inside of the tooth is disinfected and cleaned. Unlike an adult root canal, during a pulpotomy, no material is removed from the roots of the tooth. Instead, the pulp is only eliminated from the crown or portion of the tooth that lies above the gum line.

 If the cavity is filled before it becomes painful, the tooth will be protected from further entry of oral bacteria, lessening the chance of a dental infection.

What are some of the signs that your child has developed cavity?

Your child may complain of tooth pain when an untreated cavity is present. There may also be visible discoloration on a tooth. In addition, x-rays of your child’s mouth may indicate a cavity is present. To reveal a cavity at its earliest stages, it is important to have your child’s teeth regularly assessed by a dentist.

pacifier on the white background

Pacifiers: The Good vs. Bad

In many homes, a pacifier is the go-to device for soothing a crying baby. However, parents may not be aware that pacifier usage can have some negative implications. Although a pacifier has many good characteristics, it can also prove problematic. Here is the good and the bad when it comes to this nursery staple:

Pacifiers: The Good


Pacifiers are a great way to soothe your baby. When a baby cries, the crying can place a significant amount of stress, both emotionally and physically, on the little one.  Children often prefer sucking as a way to calm themselves. Since the sucking reflex begins inside the womb, the action feels completely natural to a child.

Lowered Risk of SIDS

Pacifiers may lower your child’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The exact reason that pacifier usage lowers a youngster’s risk of SIDS is not yet understood, but there seems to a positive relationship between binkies and fewer cases of SIDS.

Sucking without Decay

Pacifiers also allow your child to suck without the risk of decay associated with bottle usage. Parents who give their babies bottles during periods of rest increase the chance of their little ones developing a serious oral health issue called baby bottle decay.

As a child sucks on a bottle that is filled with milk or juice, the liquid pools in the child’s mouth. The natural sugars in the milk and juice feed bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans, within the mouth and promote tooth decay. When a child sucks on a pacifier, as long as the device has not been dipped into a sugary substance, no tooth decay should result.

Tooth decay can require restorative dental care, such as fillings and dental caps. In severe cases, it can result in the extraction of a tooth. When a primary tooth is lost too early, it can affect the alignment of the underlying permanent tooth.

Orthodontic Pacifiers

When a child sucks his or her thumb, a significant amount of pressure is placed on the roof of the mouth. This can eventually result in a crossbite, overbite or bucked teeth. The crossbite occurs when the teeth on the sides of your child’s upper and lower palate don’t meet. An overbite is characterized by the front teeth of the upper palate protruding significantly beyond the lower front teeth. In addition, the top two front teeth are bucked when they protrude forward and include a large space between them.

Although many pacifiers are not designed to protect the alignment of a child’s teeth. Orthodontic pacifiers fit the normal shape of the mouth and are less likely to result in orthodontic issues.


When a child forms a habit of sucking his or her thumb, obviously, the thumb cannot be taken away permanently. As a result, the little one may find it more difficult to break a thumb-sucking habit than a habit of sucking a pacifier. Children who suck pacifiers can eventually be weaned from the device by removing it from the child’s access or reach.

Weight Gain for Premature Babies

Some studies suggest that premature babies who regularly suck a pacifier may gain weight faster than those who don’t. The sucking apparently helps a premature baby’s jaw and mouth muscles develop properly to make feeding easier.

Pacifiers: The Bad

Breastfeeding Problems

Pacifiers are sometimes associated with breastfeeding problems. Children who are offered a pacifier too soon may not latch onto the breast properly or feed as often as they should. Thus, if a binkie is going to be offered as a soothing mechanism for your little one who is breastfed, it’s best to wait a month or so before offering it.

Ear Infections

Pacifiers are linked to an increase in ear infections. This is especially true for children who suck a pacifier throughout the day. As a child sucks, fluid may be drawn into the inner ears, leading to an infection.

Dental Alignment Problems

Children who suck pacifiers that are not orthodontic have an increased risk of misalignment issues. Significant problems may present for kids who suck a pacifier after their permanent teeth begin to erupt.

Using a pacifier occasionally should not cause any harm. However, if you are concerned that your child’s pacifier usage may be affecting his or her oral health, schedule an appointment with our office for a consultation.

Dental hygiene is important

How to Make Brushing Fun


Sometimes getting your kids to brush can turn into a huge struggle, and it’s tough to figure out how to turn this daily fight into a healthy habit that will last a lifetime. The best thing you can do to help build this habit is to turn brushing into something fun. Kids respond well to fun, so how can you turn something as mundane as brushing into something exciting? Here are a few helpful tips and ideas you can use to make brushing a lot more fun so you stop the daily struggle in your house.

Get Your Child Involved by Letting Him Choose a Toothbrush

Kids love getting to pick stuff out at the store, so get your child involved in the teeth brushing process by taking him to the store and letting him choose a toothbrush himself. There are many fun options for kids to choose from, including bright colors and fun TV characters. Just make sure that your child choosing one that has soft or extra soft bristles on it. You can even let your child pick out his toothpaste. Many fun colors and flavors are available for kids, so let them make the choices to make things a lot more fun.

Come Up with a Fun Reward System

Incentives work well with kids, so consider coming up with a fun reward system that will hold kids accountable while rewarding them for sticking with their dental hygiene routine. You can go several different ways with a reward system. You can offer a small reward each day if they brush their teeth each time, or you can offer a sticker system and let them have a reward after filling up their stickers for a whole week. Some great reward ideas include a fun movie night or perhaps a trip to the store to pick out a new toy. You could even let older kids earn special privileges, such as extra internet or television time. However, it’s a good idea to avoid rewarding kids with sugary treats, since these can be bad for your child’s teeth.

Add Some Music to Brushing Time

Adding some music to brushing time can also make brushing more fun for your kids. There are several ways to add music to the brushing process. One idea is to make up your own funny song to sing while your kids are brush so they’re entertained. Another fun idea is to play your kids a sing-a-long music video while they are brushing along to the music. You can even find toothbrushes that play music while kids brush. Some come with multiple songs and will change songs when it’s time to switch from brushing the bottom teeth to brushing the top teeth. You may even want to try dancing around the bathroom with your kids while you all brush together to make things even more fun.

Have a Brushing Contest with Disclosing Solution

You can talk to your pediatric dentist about getting some disclosing solution. This solution can let you see how good of a job your child did at brushing his teeth. Turn brushing into a contest with your children. After they brush, use the solution to see how good of a job they really did. You don’t need to do this every day, but it’s a fun game to add in. If your child did a great job and you can see how great they did, offer a fun little reward. This is fun and it helps you make sure your child’s brushing is effective.

Switch Roles with Your Child

Be a role model to your kids by brushing along with them. Turn this into something fun by switching roles with your child. Let your child put some toothpaste on your toothbrush and set a timer for you to brush your teeth. You can even let them help you with the brushing part. They’ll get a chance to practice giving you all the oral hygiene directions you’ve given them in the past. When you’re done, switch it up and then let them do the brushing. They’ll love getting the chance to act like the parent, and switching up the roles can add a fun twist that will make brushing time easier and more exciting for everyone.

Of course, don’t forget to head into your pediatric dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Your dentist can also talk to your child about good brushing habits and encourage them if the checkup shows they’re doing a great job at home.

Brushing teeth

Preventing Cavities in Children

Cavities are a common problem in children, and over 50% of children will have a cavity by the time they reach second grade. However, while childhood cavities are a common and serious problem, they can be prevented. Taking measures to prevent cavities in baby teeth is important, and it helps build good oral habits so children keep adult teeth healthy too. Here’s a closer look at some important tips for preventing cavities in your children’s teeth.

Start with Good Pre-Natal Oral Health

It’s important for pregnant moms to take good care of their own oral health. This includes practicing good oral hygiene each day and having regular dental exams. Doing so helps to prevent the transmission of cavity germs to your baby. Good oral health is also important in the parents of babies and toddlers, since those cavity germs can be transferred to your baby. Make sure you’re not sharing utensils with your baby or cleaning off a pacifier using your mouth.

Begin Caring for Gums Young

Even before your child’s teeth appear, you should start caring for his gums. The inside of the mouth and gums should be wiped gently each day, particularly before bed and after feedings. This can be done with a warm, damp, clean cloth.

Start Brushing When the First Tooth Appears

When that very first tooth appears, it’s time to start brushing your child’s tooth. You can begin with a smear or toothpaste with fluoride and a baby size, soft toothbrush. For children between the ages of 2 and 5, you can help your child brush and give them a “pea size” amount of toothpaste. Brushing right away is important, and starting young will help your child build good oral health habits that prevent cavities.

Understand the Importance of a Healthy Diet

The food choices and eating patterns of your child can affect whether they develop cavities. If your child’s diet doesn’t have the right nutrients, it can be tougher for the tissues of the mouth to resist infection. Some research shows that disease, including dental caries, can progress faster and be more serious in individuals who have nutrient-poor diets.

It’s important to choose foods carefully. Many foods contain sugars, even if you don’t suspect they would, including bread, milk, and cereals. Teach your child to eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that includes the five food groups. Snacking should be limited, since the more often your child eats, the longer foods stay in the mouth and the more potential there is for tooth damage.

Skip the Fruit Juices

Fruit juices come with more calories than fruit and none of the important fiber. Many have added sugars as well. Many parents give their kids fruit juices thinking they are making a healthy choice. However, all those sugars can result in cavities. Kids shouldn’t have more than 4-6 ounces of 100% fruit juice each day between the ages of one and six. If you do give juice, it’s a good idea to water it down.

Fight Cavities with Fluoride

Fluoride offers some great benefits for children. It can help to protect your child’s tooth enamel, helping it resist the bacteria and acid that can cause tooth decay. Drinking water that has fluoride can be very beneficial for kids, as can other fluoride products, such as fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes. If your water doesn’t contain fluoride, talk to your dentists about dietary fluoride supplements, and always talk to a dentist about using fluoride in kids younger than age two.

Talk to Your Pediatric Dentists About Dental Sealants

Dental sealants can offer a great way to prevent cavities, and they’re specifically used on the molars. It’s easy for food and bacteria to get stuck in the grooves and pits on the molars, and sometimes even brushing doesn’t remove them all easily. By covering these surfaces with sealants, food and bacteria can be prevented from falling into grooves and pits, reducing the chance of cavities in these areas. Sealants can be applied to these teeth as soon as they grow in.

Get Those Regular Dental Checkups In

Of course, regular dental checkups are also essential to prevent cavities. Your child needs regularly exams and cleanings. During a routine visit, dentists will eliminate dental plaque, check the teeth for any signs of tooth decay, help you and your child learn more about proper dental hygiene, and more. Keep up with these appointments and you’ll reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities.

portrait of a beautiful multi racial boy with a huge smile

All About Building Strong Teeth

Tooth decay is a common problem in children, and it’s important for children to start building strong teeth when they are very young. Both tooth decay and gum disease are preventable if children learn the basics of building strong teeth and healthy gums early. Here’s a closer look at measures you and your child can use to build strong teeth that will last a lifetime.  

Limiting Foods that Damage Teeth

It’s easy to let your child indulge in sugary foods and drinks, especially since kids just love these items so much. However, it’s important to limit foods that damage teeth if you want to help your child build strong, healthy teeth. Sugar actually feeds the bacteria within the mouth, and these bacteria make acids that wear away and soften tooth enamel. Sugary soft drinks have acids in them as well, which can also result in further damage to teeth. Even diet soft drinks are acidic and can wear down tooth enamel.

Foods that Help Build Strong Teeth

While it’s important to limit foods that can damage your child’s teeth, it’s also important to make sure your child is eating foods that actually help build strong teeth. Foods that can help build healthy, strong teeth in your child include:

  • Dairy Products – Cheese, milk, and other dairy products contain calcium, which is essential for strengthening the teeth and jawbones. It also helps protect your child from gum disease. Beyond dairy products, great sources of calcium include dried fruits, beans, and greens.
  • Fruits – Fruits contain important nutrients that are important for healthy teeth and gums.  Bananas contain magnesium, which can help re-mineralize teeth. Strawberries and citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which can help build healthy, strong gum tissue, which is essential for healthy teeth.
  • Fatty Fish – Salmon and other fatty fishes are packed with vitamin D. This vitamin is important because it helps your body to better absorb calcium.

Brushing and Flossing for Strong Teeth

Good oral hygiene habits, including brushing and flossing regularly, are also essential to helping your child build strong teeth. The bacteria in the mouth form a film of plaque around the gums and on teeth, and if teeth aren’t cleaned regularly, the acids from that bacterial plaque can remove calcium from teeth. This weakens the enamel and can eventually cause cavities. To protect teeth, it’s essential to brush thoroughly a minimum of twice each day. Flossing is also important, since it helps clean between teeth where a toothbrush isn’t able to reach. Sometimes getting your child to brush and floss can be a struggle, but it’s essential that they adopt and keep these oral hygiene habits early to keep teeth strong and prevent oral health problems.

But Don’t Over-Brush

Brushing at least twice daily is essential for your child’s oral health, but make sure they aren’t over-brushing. Brushing too hard or too fast can wear down tooth enamel. To prevent this problem, make sure your child is using a soft bristle brush and brushing gently at a 45-degree angle. If your child eats citrus or sweets, they should wait for at least an hour before brushing, since these foods can soften enamel, making it more susceptible to damage.

Start Using Products with Fluoride

Fluoride is essential to building strong teeth in your child, and according to the American Dental Association, it’s a natural cavity fighter that repairs early tooth decay and strengthens tooth enamel. Regular use of fluoride also makes the teeth more resistant to the acids that come from oral bacteria and the acids found in foods. As soon as your child has a tooth, fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Adding a mouthwash that contains fluoride can also help strengthen enamel and prevent cavities in your child.

Schedule Regular Checkups and Cleanings

To keep your child’s teeth strong, it’s also important to make sure he or she visits the pediatric dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Your child should be seeing the dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings after the appearance of his first teeth. These checkups are important, since a dentist will be able to see any signs of trouble before they can do significant damage. Our pediatric dentistry can also help you make sure your child’s getting enough fluoride to keep teeth protected.

Use these helpful tips to ensure your child is building healthy, strong teeth as he grows. If it’s time for a checkup, schedule a checkup today with the staff here at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida.

dormir en sucant son pouce

The Ugly Truth About Thumb Sucking

If you have ever witnessed an unborn child sucking a thumb during an ultrasound, you know just how cute thumb sucking can be. Unfortunately, regardless of the cuteness associated with the practice, thumb sucking does have an ugly side.

Problems from Thumb Sucking

Although it appears harmless, thumb sucking can actually alter the facial structure of your child. In addition, it can cause problems with your child’s breathing, teeth and speech.

Here are several issues associated with sucking the thumb:

  • Protruding Front Teeth- The two teeth in the center of your child’s upper palate endure a great deal of pressure from thumb sucking. As the thumb is pressed onto the roof of the mouth, it pulls the front teeth forward, causing the front upper teeth to buck outward.
  • Jaw Distortion- The sensitive bones of your child’s developing palate can also be affected, altering the natural dimensions of your child’s face and distorting his or her appearance.
  • Receding Lower Front Teeth- As the force of the thumb presses against the upper palate, it also pushes the lower front incisors backward.
  • Opened Bite- When your child closes his or her mouth, the teeth of the upper and lower palate should meet. This includes the teeth in the front and back of the mouth. Due to the dental misalignment caused by thumb sucking, when your child’s back teeth meet, there may still be a gap between the upper and lower front teeth. The opening that results will likely resemble the shape of your little one’s thumb.
  • Narrowed Upper Palate- As your child’s upper jaw forms, thumb sucking can cause the roof of the mouth to curve more intensely, reducing the amount of space between the teeth on the left and right side of the upper jaw. The strong flexing of the cheek muscles as your child sucks exacerbates the narrowing effect. Over time, the narrowness of the upper jaw prevents it from resting properly on the lower jaw.

How can problems from thumb sucking be resolved?

If problems with your child’s teeth and palate develop because of a thumb sucking habit, the issues may be treated using orthodontic options, such as braces. However, problems from thumb sucking can be avoided if your child stops the habit soon enough. Thumb sucking that is not prolonged is generally harmless, but when a child continually sucks his or her thumb as the little one’s permanent teeth erupt,  issues may start to surface.

To avoid ongoing problems, a child should stop thumb sucking by the time the youngster reaches the age of five. At younger ages, the alignment of the front teeth may start to suffer. but once the little one becomes five or six years old,  the actual shape of the child’s jaw may be distorted.

Here are a few other factors that affect the severity of thumb sucking-related issues:

  • Intensity- How hard a child sucks plays a part in the number and severity of thumb sucking-related problems. Children who suck their thumb with great intensity will suffer the most damaging effects.
  • Frequency- The frequency with which a child sucks the thumb also plays a role in the oral outcome. Children who suck their thumb throughout the day and night are most likely to incur long-term issues.

Helping Your Child Overcome Thumb Sucking

Since the thumb is always readily available,  it may be more difficult to overcome sucking a thumb than a pacifier. Nevertheless, you can help your child break the habit by trying the following:

  • Praise your child. Each time your child avoids thumb sucking– especially in stressful situations– give the little one lots of verbal praise. Because youngsters love to please their parents,  praise is one of the best rewards for avoiding the negative habit.
  • Offer your youngster gum. Sugarless gum has multiple benefits for your child’s oral health, as it incites the release of saliva, helps keep the teeth clean between brushing sessions and encourages strong jaws. If your child’s mouth is already occupied,  the little one is less likely to resort to thumb sucking.
  • Coat your child’s thumb with a bitter substance. Children are less likely to suck a thumb that is coated with something distasteful, such as vinegar.

For more advice to help your child avoid long-term problems from sucking his or her thumb, schedule an appointment with our office.

Closeup smiling little asian girl with a broken teeth

Why Do Baby Teeth Fall Out?

Most parents will eventually hear their children exclaim that they have a wiggly tooth. Just like the initial eruption of your little one’s baby teeth, the presentation of a wiggly tooth can be quite exciting. Nevertheless, you may not know why your child has to lose his or her baby teeth at all.

Why do baby teeth fall out?

Baby teeth must eventually be lost to make room for the eruption of your child’s permanent teeth. Once the shedding process begins, it will continue until your child is a teen or young adult. The wisdom teeth, which are the third molars in the oral cavity, are the final teeth to erupt, and they don’t present until the late teens or early adulthood.

What is the shedding order?

The first two teeth to present in your little one’s mouth are typically the two teeth that rest in the center of your child’s lower palate. These central incisors also tend to be the first teeth to be lost. They are usually followed by the two teeth in the center of your child’s upper palate. If your child’s teeth follow the natural shedding order, he or she will probably lose teeth in the same order in which they came in.

What forces a baby tooth out?

A baby tooth does not usually become loose until the underlying permanent tooth grows enough to start to force the primary tooth out. Thus, you’re likely to notice bits of a permanent tooth peeking through the gums at the site where a primary tooth was lost.

Are there other reasons that a baby tooth can be lost?

Some children do lose their baby teeth before their permanent teeth are ready to present. This is often due to trauma or an oral disease. If your child does lose his or her baby teeth too early, your little one’s dentist can place a customized plastic spacer in place to reserve the proper positioning of the adult tooth that will eventually emerge. The spacer can help prevent problems with dental misalignment that can occur when there is insufficient space for an adult tooth to emerge in proper alignment.

When can you expect your child to lose the first tooth?

Although your child was probably only a couple of months old when the first baby teeth erupted, your little one will probably not lose the first tooth until he or she reaches about four to seven years of age. Just as the order of presentation affects the order in which the teeth will be lost, the age at which a child’s teeth first appear may affect how soon the pearly whites fall out. Children whose teeth present earlier tend to lose their first teeth sooner. Still, your little one is unlikely to lose a tooth before the age of four. If you are noticing wiggly teeth and your child is still in toddlerhood, it is best to schedule a dental appointment to ensure that there are not any problems.

Can you help a wiggly tooth detach more quickly?

You may have heard of different ways to help a wiggly tooth fall out more quickly. It’s best to avoid old home remedies, such as tying a piece of string around the tooth and attaching the other end to a door that can be quickly shut. Instead, you can encourage a tooth to progressively loosen by having your child brush his or her teeth more frequently. In addition, you can offer your little one healthy snacks, such as apples, which encourage your child to chew vigorously.

It is important to keep in mind that a tooth that is pulled from its place before it should fall out naturally can increase the likelihood of a dental infection. If you are concerned that a tooth is not falling out as quickly as it should, consult with a pediatric dentist. In rare instances, a loose tooth may stubbornly remain in place and could need to be extracted.

How should oral discomfort from shedding teeth be handled?

Many children experience a bit of discomfort during the teeth-shedding process. You can often alleviate the pain by offering your youngster over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. There are also oral analgesic gels that can be applied directly to the area of discomfort.

If your child seems to be in a great deal of pain or if you have additional concerns about the shedding of your little one’s baby teeth, contact our office to schedule a visit.

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