As a general dentistry office in Gladstone, MO we provide care to the entire family – especially children!

As a parent you may have questions regarding how to best care for your children’s teeth. Here are some of the common questions we get as well as some helpful tips. If you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office. We would be happy to help! (816)452-2000

Baby Teeth

Usually teething begins at about 3-8 months of age and all twenty (20) baby teeth (primary teeth) are in place by age three.

These baby teeth are very important! They allow the growing child to eat, speak and smile. Also, they serve to guide the permanent teeth into their positions. Keeping primary teeth healthy is a big step towards healthy straight adult teeth.

We suggest your child have their first dental visit at around one year old. At this “well baby” dental check we make sure your child’s teeth and mouth are developing properly and go over some information to help you help your child have a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

What can I do to help with teething?

While teething, gums can be sore, tender and sometimes irritable.

You can help soothe this discomfort by rubbing the sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits, they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay in infants and young children is often caused by leaving milk or juice in a bottle or sippy cup while the child is sleeping. Sugar in a bottle mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a 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. 

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.

To avoid this severe destructive problem only place water in the baby bottle at bedtime, or use a pacifier.

Does it matter if baby teeth are missing?

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 which is why we all need regular care and dental checkups.

When should I bring my baby for a first checkup?

We recommend that a baby have a “well-baby” check at age 1. After that, we recommend bringing them in twice per year once they turn three. It is vital to see children twice a year from then on to examine and polish the teeth and yearly take special dental x-rays to help spot in between the teeth cavities. We also use fluoride to help your child grow up free of dental decay. This will assist in avoiding more costly dental procedures in the future.

What snacks help baby 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. Many snacks that children eat can contribute to cavities. We recommend snacks that promote healthy strong teeth such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses.

What can I do to prevent cavities?

Cavities can be prevented. Tooth decay or cavities are caused by colonies of germs in our mouth that acts on carbohydrates (especially sugars) that we eat and the side effect is harmful acid that dissolves away tooth surfaces causing what we call a cavity.

80% of children by age 12 have had a least one cavity.

Teach your child good oral hygiene habits. Teach your child to brush twice daily for 2 minutes and help them do this. Teach them the Why, How, When of oral hygiene and be a good example for them by your own oral hygiene.

Young children require the parent to brush for them, and this usually continues until the child is old enough to tie his or her own shoes.

What are sealants?

The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.

Does Flouride work to help teeth?

Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Kansas City water is treated with fluoride while Gladstone water is not. Drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.

Give us a call today to set your appointment or ask a question. We love helping children in our office!