Thursday, 10 November 2016

Fluoride? Yes Please!

Image resultAt the time of my son’s birth, my wife in all her new motherly excitement joined many of our local mom groups on Facebook. These groups have been an encouraging community to turn to for truly anything.

It wasn’t long until she noticed a common question popping up, “when is the right time to start using fluoride toothpaste for my little one?”She turned to me and said, “What should I write?” I think she was looking for a simple cut and dry answer; my actual response was “well it depends!” 

Below I have broken it down into an easy fluoride cheat sheet. What is it, why do we need it, and when and how to use it?

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, easily dissolved in water and found in varying amounts in rivers, lakes and oceans.

Why do we need Fluoride?

When it comes to teeth, fluoride is absorbed into microscopic areas that recently lost mineral (from the cavity process) and rebuilds a stronger, more resistant outer layer of tooth. Halton and Hamilton community water is fluoridated to an optimal amount.Drinking fluoridated water and brushing with fluoridated toothpaste at least daily are perhaps the most effective methods in reducing dental cavities in children.

When to start using Fluoride for Little Ones?

The decision when to use fluoride and how much to use is based on a risk assessment and is unique for each young patient.When determining the risk-benefit of fluoride, the assessment is mild discoloration of adult teeth versus preventing devastating dental disease. Professional fluoride treatments at the dentist are recommended for all children at risk of cavities. Your pediatric dentist will do this risk assessment at each visit and will determine when it is time to start using fluoride toothpaste and when fluoride treatment at the dental office is a necessity. So you see why my answer was it depends!

How to use Fluoride?

Use no more than a ‘rice-size’ amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children less than three years of age and no more than a ‘pea-size’ amount for children aged three to six, twice daily for all children.Most toothpastes sold in Canada have a standard concentration of fluoride, irrespective of flavor, or whether marketed for children, adults or sensitive teeth. Frankly, it doesn’t matter which brand toothpaste you and your children use, just use one!

Quick Facts on Dental Decay:

·         Tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease in children and adolescents, 5 times more common than asthma, and 7 times more common than hay fever.
·         Research has shown that fluoridated drinking water greatly reduces the number of cavities in children.

The clearest answer on when to start using fluoridated toothpaste is tohave your child’s pediatric dentist assess their cavity risk. It is this assessment that will determine the earliest or latest timelines to introduce fluoridated toothpaste into your child’s daily dental care routine. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Look ‘ma I got a new tooth: A short guide on the eruption of permanent teeth

For some teething is eons past, unlikely remembered by children, but the days of dental eruption is far from over! Those 32 permanent teeth erupt on average over the ages of 5.5 to 30 years old. With all these changes taking place, parents of Burlington Pediatric Dentistry frequently ask common questions regarding dental growth and development. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of those questions and how I would speak to them as if we were sitting on the bright green benches of the clinic.

Q: When do the first permanent teeth erupt and in what order?
A: The first permanent teeth to erupt are typically the lower front incisor or the first molar (6-year molar), on average between 5.5-7 years old.  These are followed by the upper central incisors, then upper and lower lateral incisors, around 8 years old. Most children take a break in this “mixed dentition” stage until 10 years old.

Q: My child’s baby tooth is gone, when will the permanent tooth take its place?
A: Although we often expect when a baby tooth is lost it will get replaced immediately, the upper incisors are notoriously late arrivers, erupting as late as 12 months after the baby teeth are shed. While these maybe average times and patterns, some children deviate without concern, however it is best to make sure with your Pediatric Dentist.

Q: How are permanent teeth different from baby teeth?
A: Have a great look at that exciting new tooth, and recognize it is much different from the one it replaced in size, shape, and colour.

Size - It is bigger in every dimension, and so is each composing layer.  The larger shape of the permanent incisors starts to make the mouth look pretty full and may close spaces or cause crowding. Your Pediatric Dentist will be able to give you a good idea as to how it will all fit together, but the real space experts in dentistry are Orthodontists.  The current recommendation for a first Orthodontist consultation is age 7, but don’t worry, this doesn’t mean treatment will start then for most children!

Shape – You may wonder, what are those ridges on the top of my child’s teeth? These bumps or ridges known as mamelonsmay look funny, but they will wear down naturally on their own. Don’t let anyone grind them down; they sometimes have tiny pulp (nerve) horns the inside.

Colour - Permanent teeth are darker than baby teeth, this is because they are bigger in every dimension.  Even the inner layers are thicker, so less light passes, resulting in a darker tooth that is less translucent.  The colour of new teeth may be affected by a history of childhood trauma, disease, certain antibiotic or drug exposures, or other infections including infections of the baby teeth. Your Pediatric Dentist will be able to help determine any specific dental anomalies.

Q: My child’s permanent tooth has grown in but the baby tooth is still there, is that okay?
A: Ideally, as new teeth emerge they will replace the position of the corresponding baby teeth. This does not always occur, so watch for teeth that erupt inside or outside the arch form, especially if the corresponding baby tooth is not lost. The newly erupted tooth no longer forces the loss of the baby tooth and it may need a little encouragement from your Pediatric Dentist.

Remember, permanent teeth are supposed to last the rest of your child’s life, help them brush and floss daily for a lifetime of excellent oral health.