We recommend children are introduced to their first dental visit by the age of two. We can count their teeth and let them try out the chair for their first positive experience. It is important for kids to have a great attitude towards coming to the dentist so we can introduce them to preventative services from an early age and make going to the dentist a fun experience. A number of mums and dads can be anxious about coming to the dentist themselves and it is important these are not passed on to the next generation.
A healthy dental future begins with oral hygiene. Removing all the plaque regularly from your child's teeth will reduce the risk of dental decay and gum disease in the future. Kids need to be taught to brush effectively. This begins at home with parent supervised brushing, teaching kids how to clean every surface. Once children are older and like to brush independently, it is important to still check their progress. This can be done with the use of disclosing tablets which stain the plaque, making it easier to see.
Sugar is very damaging to teeth. Unfortunately it is a much larger part of the modern child's diet than children of previous generations. Decay is caused when bacteria metabolise the sugar and acid is produced. This causes loss of minerals in the tooth surface. If this is repeated often enough the mineral loss causes collapse of that area of the tooth and a cavity is formed. It is not only the amount of sugar that is important but also the frequency. Small, frequent intakes of sugar are very damaging as the bacteria are constantly fed and produce acid. This constant acid attack with little relief produces decay.
In children's teeth the enamel is more immature, the dentine softer and the pulp (nerve) larger which means that once started, decay progresses more quickly and affects the pulp more often, leading to toothache and/or abscesses. Good dietary habits and oral hygiene practice started early can hopefully prevent this and start your child on the path to dental health.
Evaluation of a child's occlusion is an important part of their regular examination. We can identify developing problems to ensure that the child is referred to an orthodontist at the appropriate time for treatment. Some minor problems with the teeth can be fixed in the practice if caught at the right stage while the child is growing. This can help to prevent lengthy orthodontic treatment in the future.
We will look out for:
- Thumb sucking habits – These can cause the upper anterior teeth to tilt forwards and narrowing of the jaw which may require expansion in the future.
- Canines – Impacted canines are teeth that sometimes will not erupt. They can be detected early by feeling the gum above the teeth to check the developing tooth is present. If we cannot feel the adult canine teeth, we will take an x ray and may recommend early removal of the baby canines to encourage the adult canines to redirect.
- Tongue thrust and speech impediments – Tongue thrusts may produce an anterior open bite which stops the front teeth from meeting. This infantile swallowing pattern generally matures as the child grows, but, in some cases continues. Initial treatment may involve a speech therapist and, if unsuccessful, a referral to an orthodontist.
- Crossbites – The narrow maxilla can lead to malocclusion and restriction of facial growth. This can be adjusted using a simple appliance which is fitted at the practice.
A fissure sealant involves cleaning the grooves (fissures) of the teeth then flowing a thin tooth coloured resin based filling material into the grooves. This creates a smooth surface on the tooth which can be cleaned more easily with the toothbrush and blocks up the grooves preventing bacteria and food from lodging in them and causing decay.
It is crucial that all patients participating in contact (and some "non-contact" sports) wear a dentally fitted mouth guard. A mouth guard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to reduce injury to the teeth, bone, lips and gums. A poorly fitted "boil and bite" mouthguard does not provide the level of protection you and your child’s teeth deserve.
At Lysaght Dental we are firm believers in the value of mouth guards. We feel that prevention is always better than cure and prefer to avoid any damage to our patients’ teeth rather than fix problems that result from trauma from sports.