The best dental care for kids actually starts at home – and at an early age. It’s the beginning of preventive care that will hopefully keep kids cavity-free as they grow up. Preventive care also includes regular visits to a family dentist in an effort to monitor and avert problems.
Dental Care for Kids Begins with Preventive Dentistry
Every parent establishes healthy oral care habits at different stages of child development. The fact is, it’s never too early, particularly in building healthy routines on a day-to-day basis. For some families, dental care for kids begins when the first tooth grows in, and the first baby toothbrush is used. While “baby” toothpaste might be available, it’s not necessary.
As children grow, and as more teeth emerge, toothpaste can be incorporated in the routine. Here, most family dentists will recommend toothpaste without fluoride. This is also a good time to plan initial visits to the dentist, at which time a simple oral exam will ensure that all is well. If there are any potential issues, the dentist will make necessary recommendations.
At Mackenzie Dental Centre, Dr. Lloyd Pedvis treats patients of all ages. His focus is on preventive dentistry, while providing a positive experience as your children grow year after year. As a family dentist, Dr. Pedvis offers a wide range of services for the entire family – from regular exams, to conventional fillings, to teeth whitening, to cosmetic dentistry.
Children can start visiting the dentist right after their first birthday. It’s an opportunity to check for any issues and an opportunity to get familiar with the dentist’s chair and the unique environment. This is a great time to start with oral health education and a perfect occasion for the dentist to instill some positivity, as regular checkups become the norm.
Oral Hygiene for Kids Starts at Home, Continues for Life
Oral hygiene and dental care for kids should be just as important as general health and wellbeing. Clearly, taking care of your child’s teeth (and gums) starts at home – and the journey continues as your child matures. Your child’s baby teeth start to emerge at around 6 months of age. Slowly, as more and more teeth emerge, brushing can become a routine. This can actually be the start of good tooth brushing practice – two times daily.
Instilling oral hygiene early will reinforce good habits as kids grow up – in other words, oral hygiene practices will grow as a child grows. By age 3, most kids will have all their primary teeth, and oral hygiene becomes essential. By age 6, baby teeth start to fall out, and that's when permanent teeth start to develop. As children grow, more permanent teeth grow in, and daily dental hygiene is increasingly important (for both the teeth and gums).
In general, and regardless of age, brushing twice a day for a few minutes each time sets the stage for preventive oral care – fighting cavities, strengthening teeth, and ensuring fresh breath throughout the course of the day.
Is my Child Eligible for Free Dental?
Throughout the Province of Ontario, Healthy Smiles Ontario provides free dental services for kids and youth 17 years and younger (preventive, routine, and emergency). Services are designed for low-income families. Included in the program are regular visits to a licensed dental practitioner, with cost coverage for a wide range of treatments.
- routine exams
- tooth cleaning
- cavity fillings
- x-ray images
- tooth extraction
- emergency care
In most cases, children are automatically enrolled in Healthy Smiles Ontario if they receive financial assistance from various government agencies, or if the family as a whole receives similar financial benefits. Specific residency requirements and income prerequisites are available from the Ontario Government (and on the official website).
While enrollment eligibility and coverage periods are pre-defined, the benefits are quite extensive for families who qualify. When a child’s enrolment is approved, a Healthy Smiles dental card is provided – this must be presented to the dental provider during each visit to receive the services that are covered under the provincial program.
What Can you do for a Broken Tooth?
Young or old, a broken tooth is only a crunch away. Whether it’s chewing on hard ice, or eating a hard piece of candy, there’s a chance that a tooth can be chipped or broken. Tooth enamel is actually super-hard, but it has its limits. If you fall on your mouth, or get a blow to your face, or bite down on something hard, your teeth can chip or crack or break.
If you experience a broken tooth, or a chipped tooth, there’s no need for immediate panic – there are many things that your dentist can do to repair the damage. To begin with, it’s important to see your dentist ASAP. Without immediate attention your tooth could become infected or experience further damage, with potential tooth loss in the worst case.
While waiting for the dentist, there are a few self-care measures that can be undertaken.
- with pain, you can use acetaminophen or some other over-the-counter pain reliever
- if the break has a jagged edge, it can be covered over with sugarless chewing gum
- when it comes to eating, it’s preferable to eat soft food and avoid any biting down
- in all cases, the tooth and mouth should be kept clean (and rinsed with salt water)
Your dentist will treat a broken or chipped tooth according to the severity of the damage. If the tooth enamel has broken off, it’s possible that one office visit will do the trick. If a tooth is badly damaged or seriously broken, restoration may require more than one visit and dental work that’s more complex. Whatever the treatment, professional care is essential.
Is a Broken Tooth a Dental Emergency?
The truth is, a broken tooth for kids may not necessarily be a dental emergency. Regardless, it’s best to see a dentist as soon as possible. It may only be something cosmetic, but it could also be something worse, so a professional assessment would be the best first step in treatment. A broken tooth could be considered an emergency if there is extreme pain or bleeding – but with professional attention, the right course of action can be recommended. In the case of a tooth that is completely dislodged (or lost), this is a case where urgent care is required.
While waiting for urgent care, there are measures that dental professionals will suggest.
- keep the mouth clean by rinsing with warm water
- where possible, apply pressure to stop bleeding
- use an ice pack to help reduce potential swelling
- DO NOT TAKE any aspirin (it increases bleeding)
The good news with a chipped or broken tooth is that cosmetic restoration is usually the remedy. In more serious situations, restoration work could be more complex and require more time. The important thing is to take good care of the damaged tooth prior to getting treatment – it will avert any chance of infection and set the stage for successful treatment.
Why do Teeth Break so Easily?
Brittle, fragile teeth are not uncommon for children – they can affect anyone and at any age. If you’re teeth have broken or chipped, you might be asking why. More importantly, you may be asking if there’s anything to do about strengthening your teeth. The fact is, brittle or fragile teeth can occur for a variety of reasons.
With a family dentist on hand, it’s possible to diagnose why teeth are breaking or chipping. With a good diagnosis, treatment remedies can be initiated and these conditions can be addressed. Although research shows that teeth do become more brittle with age, good oral hygiene and nutrition is a key deterrent.
For some, a medical condition could lead to brittle teeth. Genetically, soft enamel may run in your family, making teeth somewhat weaker. Periodontal disease (gum disease) can also be the cause of brittle teeth. Finally, teeth can also be weakened by osteoporosis, which is an overall weakening of the body’s bones.
Some medical conditions are indirectly linked to brittle teeth. Certain medications inhibit calcium absorption and can be problematic over the long term. Some drugs inhibit saliva production and can cause teeth to be fragile. In addition, tooth grinding or clenching can wear down enamel, causing brittle teeth.
How do you Calm an Irritated Tooth?
While waiting for a dental appointment for your child, there are several short-term remedies for calming an irritated tooth. Best of all, these options are easily available and can be done at home. An ice-cold compress is an ideal toothache remedy. For pain or swelling, a compress is placed on the irritated area, numbing the pain (on/off throughout the course of the day). Over-the-counter medications provide immediate pain relief. These include acetaminophen (for children) or ibuprofen (for adults). Aspirin products should generally be avoided.
Peppermint tea is a natural toothache remedy. Dried peppermint leaves are boiled, and the tea concoction is swished around the mouth (tastes great while providing pain relief). Amongst natural toothache remedies, cloves are considered an anesthetic. A little drop is placed on a cotton ball and applied to the tooth. Cloves can also be chewed to release oil. Salt-water is a toothache remedy that has been used for ages. A salt-water rinse will clean debris and help to reduce swelling. This can be repeated as many times as necessary.
How do you Fix Brittle Teeth?
Whether its dental care for kids or for adults, brittle teeth must be addressed in order to prevent potential damage and future problems. As it is, there is mineral loss in our teeth as we age – but we also perpetuate it by eating the wrong things and allowing bacteria to collect in our mouth. Fortunately, there are some remedy measures that we can all take.
Proper tooth brushing is key for removing bacteria around teeth. Most cavities are caused by the accumulation of bacteria and tooth brushing (twice a day) is absolutely essential. Studies show that fluoride toothpaste works to prevent tooth decay by re-mineralization. Fluoride may also have a strengthening effect on your teeth, thus reducing mineral loss.
Sugary foods should be reduced or avoided – they are highly acidic and contribute to the breaking down of tooth enamel. Honey and white table sugar are the worst offenders. For those who chew gum, it’s better to chew sugar-free gum. It helps to remove plaque and carbs from the teeth while encouraging the salivary glands to produce much more saliva.
Fruit juice should be reduced as part of a diet. Fruit juices are highly acidic and have a negative effect on tooth enamel – acids tend to compromise the calcium in teeth. Because acid and bacteria can compromise calcium, eating calcium-rich foods can often counteract the negative effects. Indeed, calcium-rich cheese can offset the effects of sugar.
Like most people, when you discover you have a cavity or pain in your teeth, the first thing you do is make an appointment with your dentist as you think that fillings are the only way to fix cavities. Though, most individuals do not realize that cavities and tooth decay are reservable and fillings aren’t the sole option available.
Can Cavities be Reversed?
Both adults and children can take measures to effectively prevent cavities, and even reverse cavity damage. Indeed, parents can do a lot at home before requiring dental care for kids.
From daily oral care, to better diets, to lifestyle changes, parents can measurably improve oral health for the whole family. It’s about maintaining a preventive approach to oral health. While dental care for kids is a necessity long term, the preventive approach can do wonders in preventing tooth decay, and quite often tooth damage can be reversed for the long term.
Why Choose Mackenzie Dental Centre?
At Mackenzie Dental Centre, Dr. Pedvis offers comprehensive preventive dentistry for the entire family. A wide range of dental services is designed to compliment the good oral hygiene habits that begin at home. For Dr. Pedvis and the staff, it’s a formula that ensures great oral health for many years to come. Visit /services/family-dentist-vaughan for more information.