From a child’s first visit to when it is time to get orthodontic treatment, here is what you need to know about kids and the dentist.
What is the best age for kids to start seeing a dentist?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: There’s been a paradigm shift over the last five to ten years. For a long time, we would say three years old as the first time but we’ve noticed that sometimes when we see people and kids at three years old, they have a significant amount of dental problems. We now recommend seeing children as soon as the first tooth comes in. I know that sounds foreign to some people. They think what are we going to do? We’re going to monitor the structures. Many of the pediatricians are really good at this now talking to young parents about making sure we don’t put kids to bed with a bottle and that we do clean the gums off even with a wash cloth or a finger cloth. Talking about diet and what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and our hope is we do a nice easy exam and we don’t find anything interesting to talk about and we do more prevention talk. Occasionally we can see significant issues.
What is the benefit of fluoride?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: Fluoride has been shown to drastically decrease tooth decay. As soon as young adults or young children are able to spit, we recommend a fluoride rinse. Rinse your teeth with fluoride. Some of the studies are saying now that even toothpaste with some fluoride, just a small amount of fluoride spread on there can be used even before the kids are spitting. The fluoride makes the teeth very strong. We also can do a fluoride varnish now which we can even do on pediatric children. We apply it to the teeth and it forms a film and strengthens the teeth. It seems to have great results.
What are dental sealants and why do kids need them?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: Dental sealants are coatings. What we found was a couple of generations where even people that were doing a great job brushing their teeth and flossing, were still prone to getting tooth decay in the biting surfaces of the teeth. That’s the grooves on the top of the teeth. We generally don’t seal the front teeth cause if you look at those, those are smooth but the back molars, the first molars and the second molars, the permanent molars, those are much more prone to decay. We do a professional eval to determine if sealants are right for your children. We really just need to see if we can work through, there’s no drilling, no shots, nothing painful. As long as we can keep the area dry and we get good cooperation. It’s definitely shown that it has decrease tooth decay 70-80% on the occlusal surface.
Do kids have to wait for all their adult teeth to grow in before they start orthodontic treatment?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: That’s a very common question. As most things in life, very case specific. There are certain children that have a significant overbite or underbite or crossbite. In those cases, a lot of the orthodontic or orthopedic appliances are actually helping to promote jaw growth in a particular direction. If you have an overbite, we’re going to do things that are going to promote your lower jaw to grow and try to hold your upper jaw back so that we can correct that problem. For those children, we would recommend starting much younger. If the bite is pretty good and the jaw structure is good, frequently we will wait until all the permanent teeth are in if we’re just going to put braces on and straighten them. You may have a cousin or neighbor at five that has some orthodontic appliance on and then maybe your child is 12 or 13 and we’re talking about waiting. It’s very case specific. The most important thing, in my opinion, would be find a dental professional that you respect and trust and talk about the different options for your specific child.
Can kids get cavities from not flossing even if they brush their teeth twice a day?
Dr. Anthony Bielkie: Yeah, commonly we talk about that as flossing cavities. Some of the studies, believe it or not, say if you’re going to brush or floss they’d rather have you floss because the front of your tooth is clean from biting into and apple and your tongue rubbing across that. I wouldn’t go as far as that. I want you to do both. Frequently between the teeth, the toothbrush obviously won’t get between where the two teeth touch, so by getting floss in there you break up that environment where those bacteria are. That will really help quite a bit. We’re seeing more and more young people that are flossing. Fortunately, a lot of young children have big spaces between their teeth and that makes it very easy to floss well. They’ll say “I don’t floss those back ones because they are so tight.” But all the more important reason to spend the time back there and get that cleaned up.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Anthony Bielkie, visit www.stoneridgedental.com or call (586) 739-6400 to schedule an appointment.