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Pediatric Dentistry

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As a Winter Springs family dentistry practice, the office of Dr. Robert Burks proudly provides a wide range of dental services to patients of all ages including early dental care. At our office, we make sure our youngest patients feel safe and comfortable when spending time with us. We love working with kids and we’re confident it shows! We want all our young patients to develop good dental habits early on so they can enjoy the many benefits that come with good dental health.

Your Child’s First Dental Visit

Your child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around their 3rd birthday. In our office, we call this visit a “Happy Visit”. Our friendly and caring staff has the experience and know-how needed to put young children at ease. We have created a fun atmosphere at our office so our young patients (and adults!) have a positive experience every time they visit us. We also make our young patients members of our Super Hero Kids Club, which helps inspire them to make oral care a top priority.

Infant Tooth Eruption

Normally the first primary tooth emerges through the gums between the ages of 6 and 12 months. The first teeth to come in are the lower central incisors, followed by the upper central incisors. Then, the rest of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by the age of 3, with the place and order varying from one child to the next.

Why Primary Teeth are Important

A child’s primary or “baby” teeth play a key role in dental development. These first teeth are important for chewing food, speaking clearly and ensuring the jaw develops properly. The primary teeth also hold space for the permanent teeth which start replacing primary teeth at around the age of 6.

Since primary teeth help guide the permanent teeth into place, a young child with missing primary teeth may need to wear a space maintainer which is a device designed to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space, causing the permanent teeth to come in crooked. Because children are just as susceptible to plaque, tooth decay and gum problems as adults, regular dental care is very important for ensuring your child can enjoy all the benefits that come with good oral health.

Teething

As a child’s primary teeth start emerging through the gums, the gums are sore and tender which causes irritability until around the age of 3. To help ease the teething discomfort your child feels, rub the gums gently with a cold wet cloth, a clean finger or the back of a cold spoon. You can also provide your child with a teething ring but do not give your child teething biscuits as they contain sugar which harms the teeth.

As your baby is teething, keep an eye out for signs of baby bottle decay. Regularly check the teeth (especially on the tongue-side) for dull spots or lines. If you give your child a bottle containing anything other than water and it’s left in your baby’s mouth while sleeping, your child is at risk for developing tooth decay. This is because the sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that eat away at the enamel on the teeth. If you suspect your child has baby bottle decay, contact our office right away for an appointment.

Developing Habits that Promote Healthy Teeth & Gums

Just like the rest of the body, your child’s teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth all require a healthy, well-balanced diet. It is important to provide your child with a variety of foods from the five main food groups and to limit the number of cavity-causing snacks they consume. Instead of offering your child cookies, chips and candy at snack time, give them something healthier like fresh vegetables, low-fat yogurt, nuts and cheeses which are foods that help keep teeth strong and healthy.


Overview

Kids developing jaws and teeth.Your child won't keep his or her first teeth forever, but that doesn't mean those tiny pearly whites don't need conscientious care. Maintaining your child's dental health now will provide health benefits well into adulthood, as primary (baby) teeth serve some extremely important functions.

For one thing, primary teeth serve as guides for the eruption of permanent (adult) teeth, holding the space into which these new teeth will erupt. The crowns (tops) of the permanent teeth actually push against the roots of the baby teeth, causing them to resorb, or melt away. In this way, the adult teeth can take their proper place.

What's more, your child's primary teeth will be there for most of childhood, helping your child to bite, chew and speak. For the first six or so years, he or she will be relying on primary teeth exclusively to perform these important functions. Until around age 12, your child will have a mix of primary and permanent teeth. You will want to make sure those teeth stay healthy and are lost naturally — when it's time.

Your Child's First Teeth

Kids mouth anatomy.

Your child's 20 baby teeth will begin to appear usually between six and nine months, though in some cases it may start as early as three months or as late as twelve months. The two lower front teeth tend to erupt first, followed by the two upper ones. The first molars come in next, followed by the canines (eyeteeth). Sometimes your baby can experience teething discomfort during this process. If so, let us know and we will advise you as to the best course of action.

Your infant's gums and newly erupting teeth should be gently wiped after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad or damp washcloth. Any teeth that have fully come in should be cleaned with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and no more than a thin smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Starting at age 3, you can teach your child to brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Your child may need your help with this important task until about the age of 6.

The First Dental Appointment

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you bring your child in to see us by his/her first birthday. Though this may sound early, we can teach you proper pediatric oral hygiene techniques, check for cavities, and watch for developmental problems (Watch Age One Dental Visit Video).

Various forms of tooth decay can affect babies and small children. Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay) can develop rapidly, progressing from the hard, outer enamel layer of a tooth into the softer, inner dentin in six months or less.

Most of all, we want to make sure your child has a positive experience at our office and will be a regular visitor for years to come.

Pediatric Dental Treatments

There are a variety of dental treatments we provide to prevent tooth decay in children, or to save or repair teeth when necessary. They include:

Topical Fluoride — Fluoride incorporates into the enamel of teeth, making it harder and more resistant to decay. Although there is a small amount of fluoride in toothpastes and in some drinking water supplies, we can apply a higher concentration onto your child's teeth for maximum protection (Watch Preventing Cavities in Kids Video).

Dental Sealants — We can apply a plastic coating that prevents cavities by sealing the little grooves on the chewing surfaces of back teeth known as “pits and fissures.” These little crevices become the perfect environments for decay-causing bacteria. Immature tooth enamel is more permeable and therefore less resistant to tooth decay. Dental sealants are easy to apply and provide years of protection (Watch Dental Sealant Video).

Root Canal Treatment — Perhaps you have had a root canal treatment yourself, to save an injured or severely decayed tooth. Well, sometimes children need root canals, too. As mentioned above, baby teeth are important guides to the permanent teeth that are already forming beneath your child's gums. Therefore, saving them from premature loss can help prevent a malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) that requires orthodontic treatment.

Bonding — Chips and minor fractures to front teeth — common childhood occurrences — can be repaired with tooth-colored bonding materials. These lifelike resins made of plastic and glass can be used on baby teeth as well as permanent teeth and last until the youngster has completed facial growth (Watch Bonding Video).

Orthodontic Concerns

Orthodontic Problems.

By around age 7, most malocclusions have become evident. Interceptive orthodontic treatment around this time can help direct proper tooth positioning and/or jaw growth, eliminating or simplifying the need for later treatment. There are many orthodontic problems that can be detected early and are examples of why a trained professional should evaluate your child during his/her growth and development.

Sports & Your Child's Teeth

If your child is active in sports, we highly recommend a custom-made mouthguard. It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year. We can have a mouthguard custom-made specifically for your child using a model of his or her teeth that will offer greater protection than an off-the-shelf model. It's an investment that pays off highly in the form of reduced pain, suffering — and dental expenses down the road! Please ask us about mouthguards at your child's next appointment.


Contact Your Winter Springs & Oviedo Dentist

If you have any questions about early dental care or need some tips for helping your child learn how to properly care for his or her teeth, please feel free to contact us as we’re always here to help! If it’s time to schedule your child’s first dental visit, please request an appointment by calling our office at (407) 327-2030. We look forward to seeing you and your child soon and helping your child get on the right path toward a lifelong healthy and beautiful smile.