Central Florida Pediatric Dentist

Water Spit

Surprising Facts About Spit

While you probably know that saliva plays an important role in your oral health and wellness, you may not know just how important it really is. If you’ve never really given much thought to saliva before, you’ll enjoy these surprising saliva facts.

Saliva is Mainly Water

Since saliva is so slippery, many people don’t realize that it’s mainly just water. The vast majority of saliva is water while the remainder of it is made up of natural hormones, proteins, minerals, and small remnants of whatever you’ve recently had to eat or drink.

Saliva Plays Several Vital Roles in the Mouth

Saliva plays several vital roles in the mouth. It acts as a protector for your teeth and your gums. It also helps keep the mouth properly lubricated — without saliva, you’d have a chronic problem with dry mouth. Saliva plays the most crucial role in maintaining the pH balance within your mouth. By keeping your pH balance healthy, saliva prevents problems like loss of tooth enamel, tooth disease, and gum disease. People who suffer from breathing disorders like COPD or sleep apnea often have too little saliva in their mouth while they sleep, mainly due to sleeping with an open mouth. This lack of saliva can mean that the teeth are unprotected, which is the reason that people who breathe with their mouth open while sleeping have a higher tendency towards tooth and gum disease.

Saliva Helps You Process Food

Saliva plays a very important role in the breakdown of the food that you eat. Having a healthy amount of saliva actually has a connection with processing the less-than-healthy foods so they can be eliminated from your body. The enzymes within your saliva are uniquely suited to target starches and fats, breaking them down so they can be processed by your digestive system.

You Produce More Saliva Than You Might Think

Although saliva production from one person to another does vary, the average person generates enough saliva to fill an entire bathtub in a year — two times over! Since you swallow and eliminate so much saliva every day without really being aware of it, it may seem shocking that your body actually produces that much. This amount of saliva production is quite normal — and in fact it’s very healthy for your body.

Saliva Can Play a Role in Disease Diagnosis

Saliva often plays an important role in the diagnosis of disease. A quick and simple swab inside your mouth can give the doctor a sample that yields valuable information. Certain proteins within the saliva are indicative of disease — and if those proteins are found, it can allow for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Physicians often use saliva samples to determine risk of heart disease and other controllable diseases today as well. Saliva testing has made it much easier for both patients and doctors to get the information that they need today.

Chewing Gum Encourages Saliva Production

Chewing gum encourages additional saliva production. While any type of gum can cause a saliva increase, it’s highly recommended that you stick with sugar-free gum only. Thanks to the increase in healthy saliva, people who regularly chew sugar-free gum may have less cavities on average than those who don’t chew gum at all.

Saliva Has Healing Properties

Many people are surprised to learn that saliva actually has healing properties. Dogs, cats, and other animals instinctively know this. Have you ever noticed a pet licking a wound constantly? By doing so, they’re trying to place saliva on the wound because it will help it heal more quickly. As humans, we get to benefit from the healing power of saliva as well, but only within the mouth. Saliva is full of antibodies that kill germs while encouraging cellular growth. Due to this, you might notice that when you have a wound within your mouth it heals more quickly than a wound anywhere else would.

The team at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida is here to help with all of your pediatric dentistry needs. Our goal is gentle care, delivered by experienced caregivers. We offer regular check-ups, teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, orthodontics, tooth colored fillings, emergency dental care, and much more. Request an appointment today!

 

child dentist appointment

When Should My Child Have a Dentist Appointment?

As your baby grows and develops, there are so many new milestones to enjoy along the way. You’ll be photographing or video that first smile, the first crawl, first words, and first steps. Before you know it, your child is going to get his very first tooth, and when you grab a photo of that first little tooth popping through, you also need to start thinking about your child’s oral health.

When to Schedule Baby’s First Dentist Appointment

Many new parents aren’t sure when they should take their baby in for that very first dental appointment. While most children don’t have a dental visit until after the age of two, dental professionals actually recommend that you take your baby in for that first visit by the age of one. Baby teeth generally begin coming in at about six months, so seeing a dentist for the first time at the age of one is perfect. Since tooth decay continues to be a problem of epidemic proportions in young children, starting early with good dental care and routine checkups is important. Having the first visit while your child is still very young can also help prevent fear of the dentist in the future. After that first visit, then it’s important to keep up with regular dental visits every six months for cleanings and checkups.

Choosing the Right Dentist

It’s important to choose the right dentist for that first dental appointment and beyond. When making your decision, look for a dentist that has experience working with children. It’s important that the dentist can interact with your child and make sure he is comfortable during the appointment, and this is something that takes practice and patience. A dentist who deals with children regularly will know the right techniques to connect with children and keep them comfortable and relaxed while taking good care of their oral health. Before choosing a pediatric dentist, you may want to take the time to read online reviews from other parents to find out if they were happy with the way the dentist worked with their children.

What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dental Appointment

If this is your first child, you may be wondering what you should expect at that first dental appointment. A pediatric dentist will probably ask you about your child’s medical history and drug allergies. Your dentist will ask you if you have any special concerns as well. During that first appointment, a good dentist will work on getting your child comfortable within the office setting, including the dental furniture and equipment used in the office. Your pediatric dentist will also provide you with guidance and information on the best oral hygiene practices so you can take the best care of your child’s teeth at home.

You may be surprised to find that your pediatric dentist may discuss your child’s diet with you during that first dentist appointment. Since tooth decay is such a huge problem in children, the right diet is very important. Sipping juices constantly from a sippy cup or bottle can result in decay. Regularly snacking on crackers, cookies, and fruity snacks can also be a problem. The pediatric dentist can give you suggestions on how to modify your child’s diet for the best oral health, and the use of additional fluoride may also be recommended for your child.

As you prepare yourself for that first dentist appointment, make sure you begin with oral hygiene practices when your child gets his first tooth. Start by brushing the tooth with a soft toothbrush early. Once your child has two teeth that are touching, begin using floss. Keep up this oral hygiene routine daily so your child is accustomed to his teeth being touched. Reading stories about going to the dentist or even playing dentist with your child can also help make that first appointment easier. Schedule plenty of time for the first appointment and make sure your child is well fed and rested before you head in for the visit. This way you make sure that your child is as comfortable as possible. And it’s also important for parents to relax. Make sure you’re relaxed so your child doesn’t feel your tension as you head in for that first, important visit to the dentist.

 

gum disease

Talking to Your Kids About Gum Disease

There’s something about your child’s beautiful smile that can just make you melt. But you may not realize that as soon as your children get teeth, they become susceptible to gum disease. Although certain types of gum disease more prevalent in adults, children still can be affected by gum disease. Regular dental visits definitely help prevent gum disease, but it’s important for parents to start talking to kids about gum disease, encouraging good habits that can prevent gum disease and preserve that beautiful smile you love so much. Here’s some helpful information you can use to talk to kids about gum disease on a level they’ll understand.

Gum Disease – What is It?

Gum disease, which your dentist may call periodontal disease, is a type of inflammation that happens in the bone and tissues that are supporting your teeth. If you don’t have gum disease treated, it can make teeth become loose or even fall out. Usually the buildup of plaque, that sticky, invisible layer of germs that builds up on your gums and teeth, is the cause of gum disease. Since plaque has bacteria, or germs, in it, those germs can make toxins that hurt and irritate your gums. Hundreds of different types of germs live in the mouth, so it is always a battle to keep that plaque away.

Who is at Risk for Gum Disease?

Many different things can make you have a higher risk of gum disease. Sometimes people inherit the tendency to get gum disease from parents. The food choices you make also can increase your risk of getting gum disease. If you are grabbing unhealthy foods like sodas and snacks and you don’t brush soon after you eat, the sugar and starches in those food can actually eat away the enamel of your teeth. Wearing braces, some medical problems, and taking some medicines can increase your risk of developing gum disease.

What are the Signs of Gum Disease?

Gum disease can cause painful problems if you don’t treat it and prevent it. In fact, your teeth could fall out if gum disease is severe and not treated. It is important to know the most common signs of gum disease. Some of the signs you could have gum disease include:

  • Red, tender, or swollen gums (your gums should normally look firm and pink
  • Bad breath that you cannot get rid of
  • Bleeding gums that happens regularly when you floss or brush your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Signs of the gums pulling away from your teeth

If you notice any of these problems, you should tell your parents and you should visit your dentist. If gum disease is treated early, you can avoid bigger problems like tooth loss.

The Best Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

The great news is that in most cases, you can actually prevent gum disease. However, you have to start taking good care of your teeth now, while you are still a kid. Some important ways you can prevent gum disease include:

  • Make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes, which is around the length of a fun song. You also need to floss every day. You can ask your dentist to tell you how to floss and brush properly so you do the best possible job cleaning your teeth at home.
  • Make sure you are using toothpaste that has fluoride in it. You can also talk to your dentist about using a mouth rinse that has fluoride.
  • Eat healthy foods. Don’t eat too much sugar, which is found in junk foods and many snack foods. The germs in your mouth love sugar and feed on it, so you need to stick with healthier, low-sugar foods most of the time.
  • You should use a toothbrush that has soft bristles, since they are least likely to injure or irritate your gums. Your toothbrush should also be replaced every 3-4 months, since a toothbrush that is worn-out may actually cause injury to your gums.
  • Never smoke. Even if someone offers you cigarettes, don’t take them. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco can be unhealthy for your teeth and gums, making you more likely to have gum disease.
  • Be sure you see your dentist twice a year for your regular cleanings and exams. This way hardened plaque and tartar that you’re not able to remove by brushing is removed from teeth, lowering your chance of getting gum disease.
floss properly

Teaching Your Children to Floss Properly

Health habits started early in life are hard to change – if you want your children to have good oral hygiene habits, start training your kids while they are young. One of the best dental health habits you can teach your child is how to floss properly.

Food particles and plaque can settle between the teeth, and this can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. Flossing prevents tooth decay and reduces your child’s risk of developing gum disease. Flossing also removes plaque, which is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly form on teeth.

Routine flossing also gives your child a moment to examine his or her mouth and learn about teeth and gums. Simply flossing teeth can make them appear brighter by removing tiny food particles and plaque that give teeth a dull, dirty appearance.

Teaching your children to floss properly is easier than you might think.

How to Teach Your Children to Floss Properly

Begin early. Start teaching your children to floss when their teeth are too close together for the bristle of a toothbrush to fit easily between them. This will be between the ages of 5 and 7 years old – some dental professionals recommend starting even sooner. Kids should be able to floss on their own by the time they are 9 years old. Developing the habit early in childhood increases the chances that your children will continue to floss throughout their entire adult lives.

Be prepared for an unenthusiastic response. Some children think flossing is fun. Other kids are not as captivated and they can lose interest after flossing between just one or two teeth.

Understand that kids often have sensitive gums, so flossing may be uncomfortable for them. This sensitivity goes away in time. While you do not want your children to associate flossing with discomfort, you do want to instill healthy flossing habits in your children while they are young. If you have a child with sensitive gums, encourage him or her to floss very gently but to still floss every day.

Remember that young children do not have the same coordination as older kids, so little ones may complain that flossing is too hard. Encourage your children to keep trying, and reassure your kids that flossing gets easier with time and practice.

Teach your child to examine his or her gums, teeth and tongue while flossing. Specifically, get your child into the habit of looking for redness, inflammation, or other signs of tooth and gum disease.

Show Your Child How to Floss Properly

Show your young child how to floss properly a few times as you teach him or her how to floss. Use good flossing practices.

Cut a short length of floss, about 18 inches will do. Pinch the floss between your thumb and index finger.

Wrap one end of the floss around the index finger of your right hand and the other around your left index finger.

Slide the floss between two teeth. Explain to your child that you should not push too hard or you might hurt your gums.

Pull both ends of the floss to curve it into the letter ‘C’ around a tooth. Slide the floss up and down gently along your tooth. Slide the floss down into your gum a little bit to remove food and plaque you cannot see.

Use a new section of floss for each tooth so you don’t move the food and plaque from one tooth to another.

Tips for Getting Your Kids Excited about Flossing

Flossing can be a fun family activity! Kids love a good example, so brush and floss your teeth alongside your wee ones.

Make flossing look like it is a lot of fun. Smile, make funny faces, play a song, and dance!

Try different colors and flavors of dental floss, and let each of your children pick on that they like. Fun flavors and colors makes flossing a bit more fun, and this will increase the chances that your children will maintain healthy flossing habits throughout their lives.

Use a flosser instead of traditional dental floss. A flosser is easier for many kids to manage. For best results, let your children pick out their own flossers; manufacturers now offer a variety of fun kid-friendly flossers.

Flossing can have lifelong dental health benefits. Teaching your children to floss properly at a young age can greatly improve their chances of having bright, healthy smiles for life.

 

Little girl in the dentist office

Does My Child Need Braces?

Whether your child needs braces or not is a question that should be answered by an experienced, orthodontist. However, there are quite a few signs that you may notice as a parent that could indicate braces are needed.

If orthodontic problems aren’t addressed properly and promptly, they can end up impacting your child’s oral health in a negative way. It’s important for parents to learn how to identify any early signs of orthodontic problems so you can get them in for an orthodontic consultation to determine if your child really does need braces.

Here’s a closer look at some of the main signs your child could need braces.

Sign #1 – Overbite

An overbite is the horizontal and vertical overlap of your child’s front teeth. While the overbite can vary, usually it is noticeable when your child’s front teeth are sticking out a lot farther than their bottom teeth are. If your child has an overbite, it can result in several oral health problems and issues, including:

  • An increased risk of fracturing their front teeth if an injury occurs
  • Complications when dental restorative work is done, such as veneers, cosmetic fillings, and crowns
  • High risk of trauma to your child’s front teeth

Sign #2 – Crowded Teeth

One of the most common signs your child may need to get braces is overcrowding of their teeth. This means there isn’t enough room in their mouth for all their teeth. If there isn’t enough room for their teeth, the teeth become crowded and cause teeth to become crooked. Crowding only gets worse as your child begins to grow older, and regular oral hygiene tasks like flossing and brushing can become very complicated. This means that teeth may not be cleaned properly since it takes more effort and time to clean crowded teeth.

If teeth are severely crowded, it may be nearly impossible to get some areas of the teeth clean. When this happens, plaque can build up, resulting in bad breath, tooth decay, bone loss around your child’s teeth, and gum disease.

Seeking orthodontic treatment for crowded teeth while your child is still young can help straighten and align their teeth. This will help prevent future oral health and pain problems, lowering their risk of problems like gum disease and cavities.

Sign #3 – Openbite

An openbite is a type of abnormal bite in which your child’s front teeth don’t touch at all. This may result in speech difficulties and problems, such as lisps, and may make it difficult to bite into food.

Sign #4 – Underbite

Another type of abnormal bite that can be a sign your child needs braces is an underbite, which occurs when the upper front teeth are behind your child’s lower front teeth. This can happen when a child has a disproportionate jaw size. An underbite that isn’t treated can result in problems chewing and biting, an imbalanced facial appearance, and faster facial aging as your child grows up.

Sign #5 – Crossbite

Crossbites are a type of abnormal bite in which your child’s upper tooth ends up behind a lower opposing tooth. A crossbite can cause your child many different problems, such as asymmetrical aw growth or excessive wear to these teeth. In some cases, the teeth may even fracture. Other problems associated with a crossbite include the inability to restore teeth that have been overly worn or fractured, as well as increased gum recession around the teeth affected by the crossbite.

Some of the other general signs that your child could need braces include:

  • Accidental biting of the roof of the mouth or the tongue
  • Jaws that make sounds or shift
  • Teeth and jaws that are not proportionate to the rest of your child’s face
  • Irregular, late, or early loss of the baby teeth
  • Problems biting or chewing their food

If your child has been experiencing any of these signs, it’s very important to have your child evaluated. An examination by an orthodontist can determine if your child’s bite is going to grow worse and whether they need to have orthodontic intervention. Your child’s teeth are important to his overall health, so if you’re worried about any potential problems, have them evaluated immediately. Then you can work with your dentist or orthodontist to determine if and when braces are the correct treatment.

Girl brushing her teeth and drawing a smiley face on shower door

Tips for Making Toothbrushing Fun

While proper hygiene habits are an essential component of your child’s lifelong smile, children don’t exactly always enjoy brushing or flossing their teeth. Implementing proper brushing practices now will help your child develop a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits. At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida, we pride ourselves in serving as your partners in caring for your child’s dental health, and we want to help you make brushing fun for your kids!

As your pediatric dentist here in Maitland we love discovering new ways to foster your child’s interest in dental health habits. Brushing properly for a full two minutes, twice a day will help your child realize an optimal level of dental health. Aquafresh toothpaste has provided several great ideas to help get your kids engaged and develop a brushing ritual. Next time your kids are ready to tackle their teeth, give them these fun tools to try:

• Brush timer application. Let’s face it; sometimes our kids know how to operate our phones better than we do. There are multiple applications available for both iPhone and Android that provide an interactive, kid-friendly toothbrushing timer.
• Two-minute song. Take two minutes of your child’s favorite song and have it ready to play on your phone or a small stereo near the bathroom. That way your child will not only enjoy their time brushing, but will know when time is up!
• Brushing videos and characters. There is no shortage of toothbrushing videos or fun tooth-brushing characters to choose from to help encourage your child’s enjoyment of dental hygiene. Search for toothbrushing videos and simply select the ones that suit your child best!

Should you have any questions regarding your child’s dental health or tooth-brushing habits, don’t hesitate to contact Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida. We look forward to serving as your partner in caring for your child’s dental health.