Early Treatment

Early Dental Care   |   Orthodontic Treatment  

Early Dental Care

Teething
Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time your child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

Infant’s New Teeth
The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, your child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental checkups.

A Child’s First Dental Visit
A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her first birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with our doctors and staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put your child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow your child to sit in a your lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.

Why Primary Teeth Are Important
Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow your child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so they should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.

Infant Tooth Eruption
A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.

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Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment is available to patients of all ages. In accordance with the American Association of Orthodontists, we recommend that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, Dr. Wilson can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

Two-Phase Treatment
Two-phase treatment occurs when a patient is evaluated and needs intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment plans.

The first phase of treatment, Phase I, usually occurs when the patient is a child and still has his or her primary teeth. The Phase I treatment plan can include preventive, interceptive or modifying treatment. Orthodontic appliances may be placed to prevent a problem from occurring, correct a current problem or help direct jawbone growth. Multiple problems with tooth alignment, gums, jaws and facial problems can be corrected with Phase I treatment. Another common added benefit of Phase I treatment is less Phase II treatment time.

Typically, Phase II treatment is normal orthodontic treatment. This involves placing braces on the patient once his or her permanent teeth have erupted. The braces straighten the permanent teeth and finish correctly aligning the patient’s jaw.

Patients who have undergone both Phase I and Phase II treatment are more likely to have lasting results. Our goal for your two-phase orthodontic treatment is to give you correctly aligned teeth that provide ideal jaw function and a great smile!

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