Children’s Dentistry – Waco, TX
Inspiring Young Smiles to Grow Healthy and Strong
At Heart of Texas Smiles, our dental team knows how hard it can be to get your child excited about good oral hygiene. Their focus is on toys, video games, or playing outside, which can make the few minutes spent brushing, flossing, and rinsing feel like an eternity to a small child. Fortunately, we have the tools to help your little one maintain a healthy smile as they grow and develop into childhood and adolescence. We are even happy to provide helpful tips that will make practicing good oral health at home easier than ever before. Let us help you put your child’s smile on the right path by calling us to schedule an appointment today!
When Should Your Child First Visit the Dentist?
It is recommended that by the time your child’s first visit occurs when they are 6 months old or when their first tooth erupts. However, this initial visit isn’t as much about our team seeing your child for any possible problems. It is more about you, as the parent, understanding what to expect when you bring them in for a normal dental checkup and cleaning.
If you have been practicing good oral healthcare at home, it is possible to bring your child in at the age of 3 or 4. This is typically the age when they can sit still and have a better understanding of what is occurring.
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Prevention
One of the most common dental problems seen in infants and toddlers is known as baby bottle tooth decay. This occurs when your child is exposed too long to drinks that contain sugar. If your baby is fussy or is having trouble going to sleep at night, you may be tempted to give them a bottle to help pacify them until they calm down or go to sleep. Unfortunately, the contents within the bottle can sit on their teeth too long and lead to tooth decay. To prevent this from happening, it is best if you:
- Wipe your child’s gums after each feeding with a damp cloth to remove any residue
- Once their teeth begin to erupt, use a small toothbrush and a smear (size of a grain of rice) of toothpaste to clean their teeth
- When giving your baby a bottle, make sure it is only milk, breastmilk, or formula
- Avoid filling bottles with sugary drinks or juices
- Make sure your baby finishes their bottle before going to bed
Cavity Prevention for Older Children
It’s not just babies, toddlers, or even young children who are prone to tooth decay and cavities. Older children can easily develop them over time if poor oral hygiene occurs at home. Their baby teeth will not stay in forever but to make sure their permanent teeth come in correctly, these primary teeth must remain in good oral health. To achieve this, you can help your child by:
- Ensuring they brush their teeth twice daily for two minutes (once in the morning and once in the evening)
- Making sure they brush correctly between their teeth to remove bacteria and trapped food particles
- Not giving them too many sugary or starchy snacks throughout the day
- Maintaining their regular dental checkups and cleanings twice a year
Once your child’s permanent teeth are in place, Dr. Lassetter and Dr. Rivacoba can provide another method of protection to prevent cavities from developing. It takes time for your child to develop the manual dexterity to effectively reach and brush their molars. Oftentimes, they are hard to reach, which is why dental sealants are an excellent way to protect these teeth from bacteria, plaque, and acids.
We will paint a clear, plastic-based liquid over the chewing surfaces of these teeth, allowing it to harden in place. As a result, this will prevent cavity-causing bacteria from penetrating the sealants and accessing the grooves and pits of your child’s molars.
Fluoride is a beneficial mineral found in toothpaste, food, and even your water. It is known to strengthen tooth enamel and lower the risk of developing tooth decay, which is why dentists throughout the world provide an in-office fluoride treatment. While you might think your child is getting enough fluoride from these other sources, allowing our team to provide this type of treatment will only help to better protect their smile from tooth decay and cavities.
During a regular dental checkup, we can provide a topical fluoride treatment that will only take one minute to complete and is completely painless. It is also a great way to keep your child’s teeth protected, happy, and healthy in-between their appointments.
If your child is experiencing extreme tooth pain that is unexplained, swelling or redness around a particular tooth, or has unexpectedly loose teeth, it could be that there is an infection in the pulp of their tooth. As the innermost layer, it cannot be seen by the naked eye; however, once it is infected, it can cause immense pain, which is why we offer pulp therapy to remove the infection and eliminate pain and discomfort.
This type of procedure will require Dr. Lassetter or Dr. Rivacoba to remove the infected pulp and nearby decay before filling it with a tooth-colored material to seal off the tooth from reinfection. If necessary, a dental crown can be placed over the tooth to allow the natural tooth to regain its strength over time and minimize potential damage.
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