7 of the Worst Foods for Your Child’s Teeth

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You probably know that a lot of food items that line the aisles of the grocery store probably aren’t great for your child’s teeth.

However, when they’re saying, “Mom, can I get these please?” and it has been a long, tiring day, it’s easy to cave in and buy something for them that you know probably isn’t healthy (it’s okay– no one is perfect, we won’t tell anyone).

That being said, there are a few foods you should try to limit your child’s intake of if you want them to have healthy teeth and gums as they grow older. We know it isn’t always easy, but the effort will pay off in whiter teeth, brighter smiles, and less costly dental work down the road.

For all you moms and dads out there who want to keep your child’s teeth healthy, here’s our list of the 7 worst foods for your child’s teeth.

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1. Chewy, Sugary Candy

It’s no surprise that chewy, sugary candies are at the top of the list. Sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth, but can lead to a host of other health problems down the road. While there are hundreds of different types of candy, here are a few popular ones that should be limited:

  • Skittles

  • Starburst

  • Laffy Taffy

  • Sour Patch Kids

  • Twizzlers

  • Gummy Bears

  • Butterfinger

  • Warheads

  • Jolly Ranchers

  • Ring Pops

  • Airheads

  • Marshmallows

And so many more. Like we said at the beginning of this article, we aren’t saying that your children can never have any candy; that’s probably a bit unrealistic. What we are saying is that, as the parent, you can make a concerted effort to limit your child’s intake of sugary candy that can harm their teeth, gums, and cause other health problems.

It’s important that unhealthy candy is viewed as a “special treat” as opposed to a part of their daily diet.

2. Citrus Fruits

I can hear you now, “Are you saying that oranges and grapefruits aren’t healthy? That’s crazy!”

First of all, we all know that orange juice is delicious. Second of all, you can have too much of a good thing. There’s really just one reason and one reason only that oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits aren’t great for your child’s teeth:

They’re acidic fruits.

Acid can erode tooth enamel, which isn’t good for your child’s oral health and well-being.

Once again, everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb here. We’re not saying that your child can never have a citrus fruit, but it’s not something you want to go overboard with either.

Here is a great article from Colgate that you may want to read:

https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/acidic-foods-everything-in-moderation-0316

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3. Bread, Chips and Pasta

Starchy foods such as bread, chips, pasta, and so on should be consumed in moderation. If not brushed away quickly, starchy foods can be converted into sugar while stuck in between teeth, potentially damaging teeth (which can lead to cavities for your child).

It’s usually a good idea to brush your teeth after eating a big meal, especially if you’ve consumed bread, chips, or pasta. Consider teaching and passing along this “healthy habit” to your little one!

4. Dried Fruits

Oh these packaged food companies and their sneaky marketing! Often concealed as “healthy” and even “organic,” dried fruit snacks aren’t nearly as healthy as the food industry would lead you to believe.

While fresh fruits are great, they lose water as they dry and turn into something that resembles candy that’s made in the lab.

The result? A sticky, “natural candy” that has lost a lot of nutrients and will now get stuck between your child’s teeth.

Again, we’re not saying you should never give your child raisins, that would be crazy. What we’re saying is understand that dried fruit isn’t as healthy as fresh fruit. If you want to keep your child’s teeth healthy, it’s fresh fruit all the way!

5. Ice

Obviously ice isn’t real food and since it’s just water, how can it possibly be bad for you?

It’s not really the ice that is bad for you, it’s chewing on ice. When ice is fresh out of the icemaker or freezer, it is really hard (like hard as a rock). If your child bites into ice with too much force, there is a good chance that it will be their tooth and not the ice that gets the bad end of the deal.

So when it comes to drinks with ice, make sure your kids know not to chew on ice with too much force!

6. Sports Drinks

Powerade and Gatorade are healthy drinks, right? I mean after all Lebron James, Tiger Woods, and a whole lineup of athletes drink them. They must fuel performance?

Yes and no. These types of sports drinks are loaded with carbs that can give you energy, but they also contain sugar that, just like many other drinks, can lead to tooth decay and erosion of enamel.

While your child drinking the occasional sports drink with their teammates at the ballgame isn’t going to hurt, it’s not a great idea to make a habit of keeping them in the fridge for your child to consume on demand.

Water is a much healthier (and cheaper) alternative!

7. Dark Cola

Most children don’t like coffee, but they do like dark colas. These dark, sugary drinks are one of the worst things your child can consume on a consistent basis. They can stain your child’s teeth, as well as erode tooth enamel.

Sure, having one every now and then (and brushing afterwards) won’t hurt much, but it’s good to get your child in the habit of drinking healthy drinks as opposed to dark, sugary colas.

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Avoiding These Foods Will Help Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy!

By avoiding some of the worst foods for your child’s teeth, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of better eating and drinking habits, as well as healthier teeth!

It’s important to note that avoiding the foods/beverages above will not only have a positive impact on your child’s oral health, but will help keep their body healthier, as well.

Oh and one more thing…if you happen to be in the market for a new pediatric dentist for your child, we thank you for visiting our website. Please find our location nearest you and contact us today to schedule your child’s first appointment!

Attention Parents: Here are 7 Warning Signs of Unhealthy Teeth and Gums

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At Children & Teen Dental of Alabama, we know that nothing is more important to you than the health and safety of your child. Any time you notice an abnormality with your child (such as being in pain or not feeling well), it’s never good.

When it comes to your child’s oral health, there are a wide variety of problems that can lead to unhealthy teeth and gums. Of course, just like with any disease or medical condition, catching it early is essential to improving treatment outcomes.

In this article, we’re going to share seven problems with teeth and gums that we see almost every day, and in many cases, they are signs of unhealthy teeth or gum disease that requires appropriate treatment.

First...What is Gum Disease (also Called Periodontal Disease)?

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there are essentially two types of periodontal disease:

  • Gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease and is reversible.

  • Periodontitis, which is a more advanced form of gum disease that can lead to significant health issues.

Obviously, if your child has gingivitis you want to remedy the situation before it ever reaches the stage of periodontitis.

In order to effectively care for your child’s teeth and gums, it’s imperative that you make brushing and flossing a daily habit (your child should be brushing his/her teeth 2-3x a day and flossing at least once daily), and visit a pediatric dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and oral exam.

The bottom line-- while gum disease is preventable, if left untreated it can turn into something quite ugly and damaging to your child’s health. In fact, recent research suggests there may be a link later in life between periodontal disease and serious health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke, which you can read more about below:

https://aaosh.org/resources/oral-systemic-faq/

When are Teeth Considered “Unhealthy?”

While gum disease and unhealthy teeth often go hand in hand, our pediatric dentists often get asked, “What are a few signs I can look for to see if my child’s teeth are unhealthy?”

Here are a few:

  • Teeth that are sore, hurt, or cause pain in any way (this may be a “sharp” pain or a “dull” pain).

  • If you observe chalky, white areas around the gum line (this often happens in younger children when their teeth are just erupting from the gum line).

  • If teeth are loose (yes, children lose teeth, but if you observe any brown or black spots around the teeth in addition to them being loose, this could be a sign of abnormal or unhealthy teeth).

We’ll expand on some of these points below...

7 Warnings Signs of Gum Disease or Unhealthy Teeth:

1 Acute Pain in the Mouth or Jaw

If your child goes from happy and playing around to grabbing their jaw and crying, they probably have an infection or something going on with their wisdom teeth. When wisdom teeth erupt they can cause a significant amount of pain, or if it’s an infection, that can also be quite painful for your little one.

Bacteria doesn’t need much room to wreak havoc on your child’s teeth; just a small crack or hairline fracture can lead to bacteria entering the tooth where it can impact the surrounding bone, tissue, and nerves.

If you notice that your child is having significant pain in his/her mouth or jaw region, it’s important to see a pediatric dentist immediately, as a dental infection can spread and become very serious. Don’t wait or ponder what you need to do; just call a pediatric dentist close to you.

2 Swollen or Bleeding Gums

Your child’s gums may be a little sensitive from time to time, but if you notice their gums bleed regularly and often look red, inflamed, or swollen that’s a major red flag.

Your child’s gums should be a very “calm” pink color, not an “angry” red color. You also want to take a look and see if their gums have a relatively consistent color throughout. If you notice a certain area is red or inflamed, then it could be a sign of gum disease or dental infection.

Here is an oral hygiene resource we have put together for our patients on how they can help their children care for his/her teeth and gums:

https://www.childrenandteendentalal.com/oral-hygiene/

3 Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Have you noticed that no matter how much your child brushes or uses mouthwash, their breath still doesn’t smell very good? This is obviously a problem from a health perspective, but it’s also a problem from a self-esteem perspective. You don’t want your child to grow up with a complex about their bad breath!

Bad breath is often caused by excessive amounts of bacteria in the mouth. This bacteria can live in gum pockets, between the teeth, and even on the tongue. In fact, many people (from small children to adults) will use a tongue scraper to remove excess bacteria from their tongue.

If you notice that your child has chronic bad breath (known as halitosis), you definitely want to schedule a dental appointment with a pediatric dentist for a thorough cleaning and an oral health exam.

4 Excessive Space Between Teeth

When parents think about space between their kids teeth, they often think one thing: braces.

While orthodontic treatment may be necessary for your child, too much space between the teeth can actually lead to gum disease, as well. You see, evenly-spaced teeth can help to protect the gum line from periodontal disease.

However, when a significant amount of the gum line is open, it can expose parts of the gums to bacteria. It’s always important for a child to brush and floss, but if your child has gaps between his/her teeth, it’s possibly even more important!

5 Loose or Discolored Teeth

Children lose their baby teeth and then their permanent teeth come in shortly after. That much we all know. However, if you notice that one or more of your child’s teeth is discolored, it could be a sign of a more significant issue (nerve damage, infection, etc.).

So if you notice that any of your child’s teeth are a different color, it’s worth having him/her checked.

6 Teeth that are Sensitive to Cold or Hot Liquids

We all have days where our teeth are a little sensitive, but if this becomes an ongoing issue for your child then it could be linked to a decaying tooth, which can then impact the nerves and tissue surrounding that tooth.

So, if your child complains that his/her teeth “hurt” or are sensitive when drinking hot or cold liquids, then it’s definitely time to see a pediatric dentist.

7 Recurring Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers are miserable for adults and children alike. While doctors aren’t really sure what causes them, if your child is experiencing painful, recurring mouth ulcers then it’s important to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist. If you happen to be in Alabama near Tuscaloosa or Oxford, we would love to see you!

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If You’re in Alabama and Your Child is Experiencing Any of These Signs, We Would Love to Help

Keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy is about more than just having a pretty smile. It helps them learn how to establish healthy habits and be responsible for themselves.

In addition, oral health problems that go undiagnosed or untreated can turn into larger issues very quickly (especially if gum disease or a dental infection is present).

If you are anywhere near Oxford or Tuscaloosa, we would love for you to give us a call so that we can schedule an appointment for your child. Our offices are kid friendly and our pediatric dentists and entire staff are here to take care of your child.

So don’t wait, give us a call today to schedule a dental appointment for your child. It’s time to get a leg up on those warning signs of dental infection, unhealthy teeth, or gum disease before they become a more serious issue.

My Child Has Major Dental Anxiety: What Should I Do?

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There’s nothing that breaks your heart more as a parent than seeing your child suffering.

While they probably don’t know the word “anxiety” or what it means, you certainly do. As a parent when you see your child fearful or scared of a new or unfamiliar environment, you know that anxiety is largely to blame.

While a few children enjoy the dentist, we know, based on our years of experience that it can be a trying time for children and parents alike. I mean just imagine the experience through the eyes of a young child; no wonder it can be terrifying!

That’s why in this article we’re going to share with you a few strategies to help you prepare your child for visiting the dentist, as well as how the entire team at Children & Teen Dental of Alabama are equipped to calm your anxious child’s fears in the dental chair.

1: Have a conversation with your child

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The effectiveness of this tip obviously depends on your child’s age and their ability to have a two-way conversation with you. That being said, if your child is old enough to have a “basic” conversation about their dental visit, you should take the opportunity to talk with them and answer any questions they have.

Here are a few things to mention:

Let them know they are going to the dentist and tell them what a dentist does in a positive way (such as “the dentist makes sure your teeth are strong!”).

Let them know you are going with them and will be with them the entire time.

Show them pictures of the dentist they are seeing, as well as the office so they know what to expect. Here are a few pictures of our dentists with some of our adorable little patients!

https://www.childrenandteendentalal.com/social/

2: Choose a pediatric dentist

There are a lot of great general and family dental practices out there and you may already have a dentist you love. If so that’s great; you should keep seeing them!

That being said, even the best general dentist does not have the advanced education and experience with children that a pediatric dentist possesses. In fact, we recently wrote another article that discusses the key differences between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist which you can read below:

https://www.childrenandteendentalal.com/family-dentist-vs-pediatric-dentist-which-one-is-best-for-your-child/

If you don’t have time to read that entire article and you’re in a hurry, here are the highlights:

Pediatric dentists have an additional 2-3 years training that is specifically designed to help them give children better dental care.
Because they treat only children, they have more experience with kids. This isn’t a knock on a family dentist, it’s simply a fact.
Pediatric dental offices are designed to be “less stuffy” and more fun to ensure kids stay entertained and have a great time. It’s like a playground meets a dental office!
They use smaller and more kid-friendly dental tools that are less intimidating.
They have extensive knowledge when it comes to preventative care for children, which can set the foundation for healthy dental habits for life.
They are better equipped to provide optimal care for children with severe dental anxiety and special needs.

There you have it…several great reasons to select a pediatric dentist for your child!

3: Lie to your kids (yes…we said it)

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We’re half joking here, but admit it…you’ve lied to your kids before. You yourself may have dental anxiety or a phobia of going to the dentist or sitting in a dental chair, and it’s important that you don’t pass that along to your child.

While it’s certainly possible that some fears and phobias run in the family, it’s also likely that many phobias are learned behaviors (here’s an interesting article on the topic).

So if your child is old enough and asks, “Mommy, is the dentist scary?” Your answer should be, “No, sweetheart. You’ve got nothing to worry about. The dentist is friendly and is going to make sure your teeth stay strong!”

4: Notify your pediatric dentist when making an appointment

If you know that your child tends to get anxious at the dentist (or in other similar situations) it’s good to give the dental office a heads up when you schedule your appointment.

While most pediatric dentists are always friendly and kind with children, reminding them that your child is an anxious patient will ensure that your pediatric dentist goes the extra mile to keep your child calm and happy throughout the appointment.

5: Ask if sedation is an option

Using sedation such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is possible in certain situations. For instance, if your child is having a more complex procedure, laughing gas may be used. If you would like to learn more about nitrous oxide, including when it may be appropriate for use when caring for your child, read the article below:

https://www.childrenandteendentalal.com/nitrous-oxide/

6: Use positive reinforcement (the dentist and staff should be doing this)

Pediatric dentists (including the ones at our Tuscaloosa and Oxford locations) often use positive reinforcement. Whenever a child responds in a positive manner, the dentist reinforces that behavior with some form of a reward (this could be a verbal praise, a high five, etc.).

Positive reinforcement demonstrates to your child that they are doing things right and they are in a comfortable place they enjoy. Reinforcing your child’s positive behavior is extremely important and it’s something our pediatric dentists at Children & Teen Dental of Alabama do very, very well.

If you’re interested in seeing more techniques pediatric dentists use to ease your child’s dental anxiety, here’s a research paper from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:

http://www.aapd.org/media/policies_guidelines/g_behavguide.pdf

7: Offer your child an “after appointment reward” for good behavior

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Yeah that’s right, we’re telling you to bribe your kid. Sure, this may not be the greatest parenting technique to use on a day-to-day basis, but if your child struggles with anxiety and they are able to make it through a dental visit successfully, we think that’s cause for celebration!

Obviously this doesn’t have to be anything big. We’re sure your child would love to get ice cream or get that toy they’ve been eyeing at the store for some time that you never let them get.

It doesn’t really matter what the reward is as long as your child gets something (a gift, experience, etc.) that they can look forward to. Just make sure you deliver on your promise after the appointment.

If you’re in Alabama near Oxford or Tuscaloosa, we’d love to help you and your child have a great pediatric dental visit!

Regardless of where you are, it’s important to select a pediatric dental office that has experience caring for children with dental anxiety. Of course if you’re in the Oxford or Tuscaloosa areas of Alabama, we would love for you to contact us to schedule a dental appointment for your child.

Our dentists have years of experience treating children with dental anxiety and we’ve also treated countless children with a variety of special needs.

We want you and your child to know that a dental visit doesn’t have to be scary and it doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety. If you use these tips and pick the right pediatric dentist, you can turn a traumatic experience into a fun-filled day for you and your precious child.

To learn more about our pediatric dentists in Alabama, you can “meet” our dentists by clicking on the link below:

https://www.childrenandteendentalal.com/meet-our-dentists/

To book your appointment, find our location nearest you and give us a call today!

5 Signs Your Baby is Teething (And Needs to See a Dentist Soon)!

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There’s nothing like the roller coaster of emotions that a mom experiences during the infant and toddler years! On one hand, most mothers wouldn’t trade those years for anything, while on the other hand it can be a very stressful (and busy time).

If you’re looking for signs that your baby is teething, then you’re obviously experiencing this roller coaster of emotions right now!

But do you know one thing that shouldn’t keep you up at night?

Your baby’s oral health.

Sure, it can seem like it’s just one more thing to worry about, but if you know the facts about teething, then what may seem abnormal to you may actually be quite normal.

That being said, if you think that your baby is experiencing any symptoms outside of the normal teething symptoms, you’re encouraged to schedule an appointment with your dentist or pediatric dentist right away.

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So when should my baby first see a pediatric dentist?

Before we talk about the signs of teething, let’s first talk about when your precious baby should see a dentist for the first time.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (whose position we agree with) states that children should have their first dental exam when their first tooth appears, and certainly no later than their first birthday.

Really, if your baby has at least one visible tooth, it’s not a bad idea to at least call and see if you need to bring them in.

At Children & Teen Dental, we want to alleviate any stress of fears that moms have regarding their child’s teeth, and will encourage you to come in “just to be safe” if we feel the occasion warrants a visit.

Ok, here are the 5 signs your child is teething

1: You often catch your baby rubbing his or her face and ears

When a baby is teething, they may get frustrated and try to “solve the problem” by pulling, prodding, and rubbing anywhere they may find relief. If your child is teething, you may see them rubbing their ears and face.

2: Excessive drooling

Obviously, babies drool quite often (just take a look at your favorite dress or shirt!). That being said, if your child is in the appropriate age range to begin teething, and you notice even more drooling than normal, it could be a sign of teething.

3: Gums that appear as if they are bulging or swollen

When teeth are preparing to erupt, some babies will show signs of swollen or bulging gums. If this is accompanied by pain or discomfort, then there is a good chance your child is teething.

4: Rejecting the foods they love

While not eating could potentially be a sign of something more serious, in many cases it’s a sign of teething. If your child has a tooth that is on the verge of eruption, then chewing food may be painful. If this is the case, they may avoid foods they love, which is code for, “Hey mom, I need to see a pediatric dentist now!”

5: Trying to suck and chew on everything

A shoe, a chair, a dog toy…if your child is trying to chew, bite or suck on just about anything, that’s a clear sign they are teething. If you notice this behavior, it means that their first tooth may not be far away!

These things may make you anxious as a mom, but they are normal

If your child is driving you a little crazy by displaying some of the behaviors mentioned above, then congratulations; they are developing into a happy, healthy toddler!

At Children & Teen Dental we know that teething can be a difficult time and it requires a lot of patience. That being said, if your child already has their first tooth or will have it soon, then it isn’t too early to schedule your child’s first dental appointment at Children & Teen Dental.

So don’t wait, give our location nearest you a call today to schedule your child’s first pediatric dental evaluation.

Family Dentist vs. Pediatric Dentist: Which One is Best for Your Child?

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If you’re looking for a good dentist for your child, there are probably several things you’re considering. You want to ensure your child’s teeth are cared for, you want your child to be comfortable around the dentist and to have a good experience, and you want to ensure that you have a positive relationship with the dentist.

One common question people ask is, “Should I take my child to a family dentist or a pediatric dentist?” In this article, we’ll explore the differences between family and pediatric dentists so you can decide which one is best for your child.

What is a Family Dentist?

A family dentist is similar to a general dentist. Rather than specialize in a specific field of dentistry like endodontics or orthodontics, they provide a range of services. Although general dentists might sometimes restrict the age of people they will treat, family dentists provide dental care to people of all ages.

Although a family dentist might have some special skills, they typically focus on the more general issues like reducing plaque buildup around teeth, eliminating tooth decay, filling cavities, and ensuring that gums remain healthy. For more severe problems, a family dentist will often refer you to a specialist.

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

Like all dentists, pediatric dentists attend four years of dental school in addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree. Unlike other dentists, pediatric dentists undergo an additional two to three years of training. The specialty training teaches them how to deal with children’s behavior, make kids feel comfortable, and treat the unique dental needs and issues of children. Pediatric dentists also receive training and qualifications for treating children with special needs.

Pediatric dentist offices also tend to revolve around children. They have a play area, they use smaller tools that look more kid-friendly, and they are great at explaining dental procedures and terms to their patients. Because pediatric dentists only treat children, their experience enables them to quickly identify issues unique to children, and help solve those issues, as well.

Advantages of Both Family and Pediatric Dentists

When choosing between things, it’s often helpful to weigh the advantages of each. To start, let’s look at the advantages of choosing a family dentist over a pediatric dentist for your child:

  • You and your child can visit the same dentist.

  • They are typically comfortable treating children, even if they have less experience with kids than pediatric dentists.

  • They sometimes can provide multiple specialties under one roof.

Now, we’ll compare that to the advantages of choosing a pediatric dentist for your child:

  • They have an additional 2-3 years training, enabling them to specialize in treating children.

  • Because they treat only children, they have more experience with kids.

  • Their offices tend to be more fun environments designed to ensure kids have a great time.

  • They use smaller and more kid-friendly dental tools.

  • They have extensive knowledge when it comes to preventative care for kids.

  • They are better equipped to provide optimal care for children with special needs.

While a family dentist can certainly care for your child’s teeth and help prevent cavities, they cannot provide the same specialized care your child would receive at a pediatric dentist. In the same way that you would take a child to visit a pediatrician, we always recommend taking your child to a pediatric dentist.

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Making the Final Decision

If you’re still not sure which is best for your child, the best thing you can do is schedule a consultation. Speak with a quality pediatric dentist and a family dentist, visit their offices, and see which feels right to you.

Most are happy to schedule a consultation, which will give you and your child a good feel for each option. Taking this step can give you confidence that your child will have a great experience at the dentist.

If you are in the Tuscaloosa, AL area then Children and Teen Dental is a great place to investigate the benefits of pediatric dentistry. Many of our pediatric dentists have also spent time as family dentists before receiving their specialization training. This gives them a unique perspective and gives you the best of both worlds.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation - we’d love to meet you and your child!

Choosing a Pediatric Dentist for an Autistic Child

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Taking your child to the dentist can be a daunting task, especially if they’re on the autism spectrum. Many adults find the dentist a scary place, and now you’re supposed to take your child there?

But don’t worry, a trip to the dentist doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Pediatric dentists have special training and kid-friendly offices that can make the dental experience fun for children. If you have an autistic child, there are several things you should consider when choosing a pediatric dentist.

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Why a Pediatric Dentist?

It’s important to take your child to the dentist on a regular basis. Good oral hygiene is essential to a healthy lifestyle because you don’t want tooth decay and pain to hold them back.

Many parents ask why they should take their child to a pediatric dentist over a regular dentist, and there are several benefits:

  • Pediatric dentists receive two to three additional years of training after dental school. This additional training helps them understand the unique needs and best methods to treat young children, including children with autism.

  • The dental room is designed to be kid friendly, and they typically use smaller and “less scary” dental tools to help children feel more comfortable.

  • Their offices are typically brightly decorated and stocked with the best toys and games, giving children something to look forward to.

  • They communicate throughout the appointment to keep children informed and engaged.

As you can see, there are many great reasons to look for a pediatric dentist for your child. But how do you find the right one for your autistic child?

Step 1: Ask for references

If you know other parents with autistic children, ask them about their dental experiences. Have they had good or bad ones, and if good, where did they go? What made it a great experience? If you find some great recommendations, then that is a great place to start!

If you’re struggling to find any good references, you can always search online. Many modern dentists will have a review page on their website, and checking these reviews and testimonials can also give you a good indication about the dentist’s ability to treat the special needs of children.

Step 2: Talk to your potential pediatric dentist

When looking for a pediatric dentist, call the office and discuss your son or daughter’s needs. Speaking with the dentist and learning as much as you can will make you more comfortable about your decision. Some useful questions to ask include:

  • Do they have experience with children who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

  • Do they have special procedures in order to optimize each visit for your child?

  • Can you accompany your child in the room during the dental exam?

  • Can you schedule your appointment at a time of day when your son or daughter is at his or her best?

  • Can you see the same staff at every visit for consistency?

You know your child and what they will be comfortable with, so if you’re not happy with the answers to your questions, consider another dentist. Be aware that some dentists may not be willing to treat your child because they’re unsure how to make them comfortable. If this is the case, they might be able to refer you to a dentist who is great with autistic children.

Step 3: Discuss sensory issues

Children with autism often struggle with certain sensory issues. It’s important to discuss these with your pediatric dentist and look for strategies to deal with them. For instance, if your child doesn’t like the sensation of being moved backwards, you should recommend the dental chair starts in the leaned back position before they arrive. If they’re sensitive to light, let them wear sunglasses as the dental chair can be quite bright.

Whatever your child’s unique needs are, you should discuss them with your dentist. If you’ve found a good pediatric dentist, they will have coping strategies for reducing sensory issues and can help you think through potential issues and solutions.

Step 4: Schedule some easy visits

You don’t want your child to receive extensive dental work on their first visit. Instead, schedule some easy and quick visits to the dentist first. This will help you and your child get to know your pediatric dentist and build trust. It will help your child get used to the dentist and the things that will happen in the office.

If those early visits don’t go well, you might need to consider choosing another pediatric dentist.

Step 5: Look for communication skills

Pediatric dentists are great at communicating with children. We tend to follow the “tell, show, do” method.

  • First, we tell your child what we are going to do.

  • Next, we show the tool or action we are going to use and might even let them touch the tool.

  • Last, we actually do the action we’ve discussed.

Communicating in this way helps eliminate uncertainty for your child and puts them more at ease. If your child struggles with communication, we might ask the parent to help communicate, or allow them to watch their brother or sister receive the same treatment so they get an idea of what is about to happen.

Other considerations

Hopefully those steps will help you choose a pediatric dentist for your autistic child. It’s also important to explore other topics that may be relevant to your child:

  • Does your child struggle with seizures? If so, your dentist should be aware for treatment, and can also discuss tactics for protecting your child’s teeth during seizures.

  • Should some form of sedation be considered? It can help relax your child without causing them to go to sleep.

  • Can your pediatric dentist help with good oral hygiene habits? Sometimes getting your autistic child to brush their teeth can be a real challenge. A good pediatric dentist can provide strategies for improvement.

Looking for a pediatric dentist in Tuscaloosa, AL?

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If you are in the Tuscaloosa, AL area then Children and Teen Dental is a great option for pediatric dentistry. Like you, we want the best for your child and have significant experience working with the unique needs of all children.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to chat about how we can help provide dental care to your child with autism. We’d love to meet you!

Metal-Free Fillings: The Advantages for Your Child

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Uh-oh. While visiting the dentist for a check-up you’ve learned that, despite your exhaustive efforts to keep your child’s mouth clean, some stubborn residue remained and is now causing a cavity in your child’s beautiful smile. It’s important to remove the tooth decay and receive a filling in order to prevent further decay, but what type of filling should your child receive?

What are “Silver” Fillings?

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Dental amalgam is what most people commonly know as “silver” fillings and is a mixture of metals comprising liquid elemental mercury, silver, tin and copper. Dental amalgam fillings have been called “silver” fillings because their appearance resembles that of silver, even though it consists of elements besides silver.

Approximately 50% of dental amalgam is (elemental) mercury by weight. Using elemental mercury is necessary in creating amalgam because its chemical properties enable it to bind the silver, copper and tin particles together. It also makes the filling material pliable so that the compound is soft enough to press into a tooth, yet hard enough (when dried) to withstand the forces of biting, talking and chewing.

Why Use Amalgam at all?

For over 150 years, dentists have used dental amalgam to fill cavities. Amalgam is strong and durable. It is less likely to crack or break than other types of fillings. It generally lasts a patient 10-15 years without issue.

Amalgam also may be less expensive than other types of fillings, which is why many parents, especially those who have multiple children or have a child who needs multiple fillings, choose amalgam.

Growing Concern for Amalgam

In recent decades, people have questioned the safety of using dental amalgam to fill cavities because of its mercury content.

Scientists do know that amalgam releases low levels of mercury in the form of vapor, and these vapor particles can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. It is also known that high levels of exposure to mercury vapor are associated with adverse effects in the kidneys and the brain.

Some people believe that a toxic substance, like mercury, could be responsible for cases of autism, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Evidence for this, however, is inconclusive.

Is Amalgam Safe?

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After reviewing this evidence in 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have deemed amalgam fillings safe for adults and children over the age of 6. The credible scientific evidence reviewed by the FDA did not show a correlative relationship between the mercury released in dental amalgam and adverse health effects in the general population.

Furthermore, it is important to note that mercury is a naturally occurring metal found in the environment. Mercury can enter your body through the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the water you drink. Studies have shown that the amount of mercury released into your body through amalgam is no more than that which enters your body through the environment.

Despite FDA conclusions, concern still exists and some groups have asked the FDA to reconsider. This review is underway, and many parents are not willing to take the risk with metal fillings.

Furthermore, because clinical data is very limited or non-existent for mercury’s effect on pregnant women and fetuses, breastfed infants, or children under the age of six, patients who fall within these circumstances should talk to their dentist about the safest options available to them.

Alternative Types of Fillings

Whether due to possible health concerns or other reasons, if you feel that amalgam fillings are not right for your child, talk to your dentist about alternative filling types. There are other options available to your child.

  • Composite Resin: made from plastic and small glass particles.

  • Ceramic: most commonly made from porcelain

  • Glass Ionomer: made from acrylic and a component of glass called fluoroaluminosilicate

Advantages of Non Metal Fillings

Besides averting a possible health risk, you may choose a non-metal filling for your child due to one of the many other benefits these offer, including:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Non-metal fillings, especially composite resin fillings, match the color of your teeth and therefore looks far more natural. This is especially important when fixing front teeth.

  • Strength of Tooth: Non-metal fillings bond directly to the tooth, making the tooth itself stronger than those with amalgam fillings and preventing future fractures.

  • Less Drilling: Most children and adults hate the sound of a dentist’s drill. The less drilling, often the more pleasant the visit.

  • Less sensitive to heat and cold: Metal fillings are more prone to toothaches because they are more sensitive to heat and cold. Metal-Free fillings will be less sensitive.

  • Protection and Prevention: A non-metal filling of glass ionomer actually releases fluoride, which can help protect the tooth from further decay.

Ready to choose metal-free fillings?

It’s no surprise that you want what is best for you child, and here at Children and Teen Dental, we do too. If you are in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area, then contact us today to schedule an appointment at either of our two locations to discuss the metal-free fillings we can offer your child. Because of our commitment to the latest in dental technology and the best for your child, we choose to offer metal-free fillings. Let us begin to take care of their beautiful smiles so that hopefully, in the future, choosing a filling type will not even be a necessary decision!

Sources:
Dental Amalgam a Health Risk
Types of Fillings
Dental Health Fillings
Dental Amalgam

Trick or Treat? Halloween Candy Your Kids Should Avoid

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Halloween will be here in just a few weeks and your kids are already excited. According to a survey by the ADA, two-thirds (65%) of children think Halloween is the best holiday of the year, and naturally, trick or treating and collecting free candy is one of their favorite parts.

And while some neighbors might pass out small toys or other candy alternatives, odds are your children will bring home candy by the pound. All that sugar can cause a lot of tooth decay, but that doesn’t mean your children’s teeth need to become the scariest part of Halloween.

We’ve brought together a list of candy that kids (and their parents) should avoid this Halloween. We’ve also included a few other tips and tricks to ensure your family members maintain healthy smiles this holiday season.

Treats to avoid

Sticky Candy


Sticky candy should be avoided as much as possible. This includes gummy worms, Tootsie Rolls, and taffy. The more time sugar gets to spend on your children’s teeth, the more time it has to cause tooth decay. This means that the stickier the candy, the worse the effect. Not only that, but we have had some patients visit because an old filling was actually ripped out by extremely sticky candy. This can be a painful and expensive treat.

Dried Fruit


You may think dried fruit is a great alternative to candy, but it is full of sugar and can be just as sticky as taffy! Fresh fruit is much better for your teeth than dried fruit, so stick with that.

Hard Candy or Lollipops


As we said before, when it comes to tooth decay, it’s all about the amount of time the teeth are exposed to sugar. Because hard candies, like jawbreakers or lollipops, spend so much time in your children’s mouth, the sugar gets plenty of time to stick around. Increased exposure to sugar increases the likelihood of tooth decay, so avoid the hard candies.


Furthermore, as the old Tootsie Roll pop commercials famously summarizes that it’s extremely difficult not to bite into hard candies. Biting into hard candies puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on teeth and can lead to chipped teeth or broken fillings. It’s better to avoid the temptation and extended sugar exposure by avoiding hard candy.

Soda


Although soda typically isn’t given out during Halloween, it contains a large amount of acid and sugar that can wear down teeth. During the Halloween season, it’s extra important to drink water instead of soda. Your children will be consuming plenty of sugar with their Halloween candy, and soda will only make things worse.

Other tips for healthy teeth around the Halloween season

Eat more dark chocolate

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You didn’t expect that we would recommend you eat more of a certain type of candy, did you? Several studies indicate that dark chocolate is actually effective at fighting tooth decay.

The reason: compounds in cocoa beans can harden the enamel on teeth and have an antibacterial effect that helps fight plaque.

Although the studies aren’t yet conclusive, dark chocolate is still a much better option than gummies or hard candy.

Eat candy around mealtime

Eating candy is unavoidable around Halloween, but thinking strategically about the timing can help. Most children will attempt to eat candy throughout the entire day, but eating candy around mealtime will help keep the mouth clean. Saliva production increases during mealtime, which in turn helps clean their teeth by removing the sugar and neutralizing the acid levels of their mouths.

Chew sugar-free gum

Like mealtime, chewing gum also stimulates saliva production. Ensure you and your children are chewing gum that has the ADA seal of approval; otherwise the sugar in the gum will offset any benefits that the saliva produces.

Brush your teeth

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It’s always important that kids brush their teeth at least twice per day. During Halloween, take extra care to ensure they brush their teeth before bed and don’t eat candy afterwards.

While late night candy binges might be tempting, allowing that sugar to sit on their teeth all night will cause tooth decay.

Don’t be afraid of visiting the dentist

Halloween is all about being scary, but a trip to the dentist shouldn’t frighten anyone. At Children and Teen Dental, we pride ourselves in creating an environment where kids of all ages can feel safe and welcome. We treat everyone like family and love seeing our patients.

Contact us to schedule your child’s appointment at any of our convenient dental offices located nearest to you.

For more useful tips on keeping you and your children’s mouth healthy, read these 10 tips for a healthy mouth from the ADA.