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Saving Space for Permanent Teeth with a Space Maintainer

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If your little one’s teeth have begun to fall out, and their permanent replacements appear to be lagging far behind, you may wish to consider a space maintainer to minimize future orthodontic work. Believe it or not, the absence of your child’s teeth might seem cute now, but those tiny little gaps can cause deep gouges in your pocketbook as you watch them fill up with teeth that don’t belong there. Space maintainers are simple to use, kids get along fine with them, and they have become the de-facto standard for protecting the cosmetic and functional aspects of your growing child’s mouth.

Why Your Child Might Need a Space Maintainer

When a child’s tooth is lost early due to trauma, tooth decay, or nature’s insistence that it drop out before its permanent replacement is due, a space maintainer can be used to hold back the natural inclination of teeth to move forward. Without preventing this movement, teeth that should be in the rear of our mouths end up along the sides, and take up precious real estate destined for another tenant. The result is overcrowding, and in some cases impacted teeth. In the end, it’s always easier to save the space now, then create it later.

How They Work

Space maintainers are very similar in purpose and design to an adult “bridge,” but instead of placing artificial teeth over the gap, the space is kept open to accommodate its future resident.  Most maintainers are made of metal, (sometimes both metal and plastic), and are custom-molded to the shape of your child’s mouth. In most cases, the maintainer is made up of a metal band attached to a rectangular-shaped wire that butts up against the tooth across the gap. This acts to temporarily preserve the space where the baby tooth once was, so its replacement can erupt without obstruction. To some, the final product looks like an old Radio Flyer® snow sled, or a shoe horn you might use to maintain the shape of unworn shoes.

Does My Child Need One?

It’s important to note that dental space maintainers are not required for all childhood tooth loss, and that your dentist isn’t going to suggest you create a decade worth of space maintainers as each tooth falls out of your child’s mouth. Our bodies are quite effective at saving space for the loss of our front teeth as well as our incisors – it’s the teeth along the sides of our mouths that tend to cause the majority of complications.  Of course, each mouth is different, and your dentist can suggest the best course of action for you and your child.

Using a space maintainer is an affordable and effective way to ensure your child’s teeth come in where they are supposed to, and when they’re ready. It can have a positive effect on your wallet, reduce the amount of time your child needs to wear braces, and control the cosmetic appearance of your child’s teeth and mouth.

Three Kid-Friendly Summer Tips as We Tip Closer to The Sun!

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June 21st marks the day when, with a little tilt of the earth’s semi-axis, the earth leans a wee bit closer to the sun and ushers in … what those of us in the northern hemisphere have been looking forward to for a long time … Summer! Yeah! Off come the jackets, and out comes the sunscreen, the bikes, summer sports gear and whatever makes you kids happy this time of year. And that’s not all! June also brings with it Father’s Day, International Children’s Day and Fruit and Vegetable Awareness Day. Who knew you could squeeze so much fun into just 30 days? With that in mind, let’s check out a few dental-centered tips you can toss your kids’ way while they’re out there soaking up the sun. Read more…

Fermented Foods to the Rescue!

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We know what you might be thinking. The word “fermented” alone might not sound too appetizing. And, if you’ve personally sworn off sauerkraut long ago… well then your kids don’t stand a chance at adopting these oh-so-good-for-you treats! Because there’s a whole world of yummy fermented foods that are not only tasty but super nutritious. PLUS, they can help with digestive issues given their probiotic content. May we say…it’s the cool thing to do? For recipes and reasons, read on!

What’s a fermented food?

A few in this list likely sound familiar to you: sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, kefir, tofu, yogurt. Fermentation has been around for centuries to preserve food. Just like your kids, there are microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) that love eating sugar and carbs. Fermentation is essentially when these microorganisms eat away at the sugars in food, converting them into carbon dioxide, acid, and alcohol. Ever leave a gallon of apple cider in your fridge too long? Did it get bubbly and smell a little yeasty after a while? That’s fermentation! As we all know, not all fermented items are suitable for kids. So let’s stick to foods over beverages 🙂

Why should your family eat fermented foods?

The process of fermentation does wonderful things to foods. With the presence of helpful bacteria, the food is essentially partially digested for you. Sounds kind of gross, but fermentation breaks down the food for you, yielding helpful digestive enzymes, bioavailable nutrients, and probiotics! Plus, the tastes and textures of different fermented foods offer variety to your palate!

Tell me more about probiotics.

Okay! A probiotic is a living microorganism (mostly bacteria, of which there are many strains) that inhabits your body and helps things run smoothly – bowel movements, gut health, your immune system, even brain health! When your little one has had a recent bout of diarrhea, if they’re on antibiotics, or if they need help being regular, probiotics are recommended to help things get back in order.

Now, you can purchase probiotic supplements for your little one, but the science of supplements is lacking. At this time, researchers aren’t sure which strains of probiotics, in what quantities, are the best. A diet consisting of various fermented foods can, however, offer a wider array of probiotics, so you’re more likely to see a benefit. 

You’ve convinced me, now convince my kids!

If your family is completely new to fermented foods, it might be fun to learn about them together. Research the history of fermentation and do some science experiments by making homemade fermented veggies. Otherwise, find some in the grocery store and do a fun taste test! Talk about the tastes and textures there are, make funny faces, and give each food a score out of 10.

Alternatively, simply offer fermented foods along with your family’s favorite foods at mealtimes. Here are some yummy ideas for you:

  • Make (or order out!) Korean bibimbap and serve with kimchi, a yummy, slightly spicy side dish made of cabbage
  • Incorporate yogurt or kefir into smoothies or popsicles
  • Add some chopped up fermented cauliflower, carrots, or onions into scrambled eggs (our in-house toddler approves of this one!)
  • Serve Reuben sandwiches with your child’s favorite lunch meat and cheese
  • Offer sauerkraut with baked beans or brats during your summer barbecue

The possibilities are endless. Have fun on your fermented adventures!

Broke a tooth? Don’t Panic

email_0aec5e7787924b14a8a4a25fa7590778When it comes to winter sports, you know that the only people who don’t fall are those not doing anything fun or creative. Not your kid, right? They have to make it interesting, they have to push their limits a bit — and that means they’ll see their share of wipe-outs this winter. But what if one of them leads to a chipped or broken tooth… what do you do? Rule number 1: don’t panic. Easier said than done, but keep this thought in the back of your mind: your dentist sees this all the time, and it’s no big deal. Of course, to your little one it’s a very big deal, and there are a couple things you can do to ease the temporary pain… Read on!

  • First, provide comfort. It’s hard to do much else when your little one is in pain. Let them know it’s going to be okay. Try getting your little one to rinse their mouth with cold water, and apply a cold compress to their face to reduce swelling.
  • Then, assess the situation. Ask to see inside their mouth and identify the tooth (or teeth) in question. Before you leave the scene of the crime, look for the tooth or tooth fragments that may have fallen. If it was a baby tooth that chipped or fell out, do not try to put it back. Instead, put it in a safe place in case your dentist wants to see it. If a permanent tooth was affected, either preserve it in a clean container in a moist solution (cold milk, water, saliva), or place the tooth back into the socket and have your child bite down gently on some gauze or a piece of cloth. This is the route you want to go if you can make it to the dentist immediately. Alternatively, you can keep “Save-a-Tooth” on hand in your first-aid kit.
  • Call your dentist. It doesn’t matter what time of day, or day of the week, your dentist will likely have an emergency number to call in their after-hours voicemail message. And, of course, you’re in luck if the tooth situation occurs during normal business hours. Let them know what happened and schedule your appointment. If you are unable to get the after-hours emergency line, you might want to take your child into the emergency room to get assessed.
  • Don’t worry or assume the worst. It’s easy to let your mind wander to the ways a missing tooth will affect your child’s development, speech, or popularity. But this is when we give thanks for the wonders of modern dentistry. Your dentist will come up with a treatment plan to fix your child’s smile in no time.
  • Invest in a custom mouthguard? At your appointment, ask the dentist what they think. If your child loves hockey or is especially accident-prone, this may be a great option.

There you have it! Relax, know it will be okay, and laugh with your little one about the cuteness of their toothless smile.

The Perfect Road Map For Your Child’s Oral Health

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On July 3rd, 1806, two years into their journey to chart the uncharted west of America, pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached a challenge of epic proportion – the Rocky Mountains. What next, they wondered? Without a map, they were forced to do what explorers do – explore, and hope for the best. So, that got us thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy map you could use to chart your own dental health? With that in mind, and in honor of our “Dog Days of Summer” explorers, we at Vienna Pediatric Dentistry wanted to share with you a few mile markers you can use to stay on top of your child’s health today, next year, and for years to come!

6 to 24 months

When you’re a new parent, life is a whirlwind, and the dental care of your newborn may not be top of mind when you look in their mouths and see no teeth! Here are some things to keep in mind:

Schedule a visit: As soon as that first tooth comes in, you’ll want to give us a call at 703-938-6600 to schedule a visit and set up a periodic exam schedule. Also, be aware the ADA recommends fluoridated toothpaste now for all children under the age of three. Don’t wait!

Ask us about:

  • Home hygiene basics:Things like, tips and tricks on brushing and other care. There’s nothing better than having our hygiene assistants give brushing tutorials – they’re experts!
  • Preventative dentistry: The possible need for fluoride supplements
  • Dietary strategies:Achieving a balanced diet early in life for good oral health later
  • Feeding practice awareness:Bottle, breastfeeding, and no-spill training cups
  • Non-nutritive oral habits:Thumb sucking, pacifiers

2 to 12 years old

Ah, the little ones are growing up. Teeth are coming in at all sorts of crazy angles, and you’re going crazy from the rise in obligations. Here’s a quick list of what to consider during this time frame:

  • Preventative dentistry:Pit and fissure sealants can do wonders for keeping your child’s dental bills down, and their teeth in their head until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Ask us about them. They’re affordable AND useful. And, super-fast, you’ll be in and out in no time.
  • Orthodontic Consultation:Visiting an orthodontist for an early consultation is best done around your child’s seventh birthday. With today’s technology, early intervention can reduce the cost and duration of braces when your child gets older.

The Teen Years

The years “everything” happens! As children start to come into their own, new habits and desires begin to unfold as well. You’ll have to address every imaginable concern during these years, from piercings, to calls for whitening, braces, and the need to refer yourself away from your pediatric dentist and to a general dentist for continuing oral care. So, speak with us about:

  • Cosmetic Dentistry:What solutions are advisable now, and what things should be avoided.
  • Teen social pressures: Smoking, alcohol, intraoral/perioral piercings and the like. Believe it or not, we can help a lot with this. Does your teen have a favorite Vienna Pediatric Dentistry hygiene assistant? We might be able to arrange for that person to help when your teen comes in so they can address these concerns with an intermediary they trust. Give us a call at 703-938-6600 to see how we can help!
  • Orthodontics:Options for minimizing appearance and health problems later in life.
  • Home hygiene tips:Brushing, flossing, choosing the right mouthwash.
  • Craniofacial injury prevention:With your children’s possible participation in sports, you’ll want to get them a mouthguard. Hands down it’ll be one of your best investments in a healthy mouth. And we make great ones at

Staying on top of your child’s oral health isn’t as hard as you think, and if you keep this schedule handy, you’ll be ahead of most of your neighbor’s kids when it comes to a healthy mouth and body. Come to think of it … why not share it with them as well? They’ll thank you for the help.

Brushing & Flossing Chart

Wouldn’t it be nice if all children came with a manual? Any parent will tell you that you simply learn as you go and you try your best to love your kids as fiercely as possible and make some good decisions along the way. Being a parent is the greatest gift but it has its challenges. There are so many decisions to be made, diapers to be changed, clothes to fold, lunches to be packed, and the list goes on. It is simply impossible to do it all and keep track of every single little thing. As a mom of two kids under the age of 2, I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s quite easy to forget that I need to brush my toddlers teeth twice a day and floss once a day. After getting some inspiration on Pinterest, a little work in Microsoft Word, and a 5X7 frame I was able to create the perfect checklist for myself that my toddler actually loves and looks forward to every morning and night! Click here for the brushing and flossing chart.

Materials:

  1. Printer and paper
  2. 5X7 frame
  3. Dry erase marker
  4. Flossers
  5. Toothpaste (see toothpaste tips below)
  6. Age appropriate toothbrush

Instructions:

  1. Print out the brushing and flossing chart PDF (see above)
  2. Cut the printout to match the size of your frame (5X7 is recommended)
  3. Use a dry erase marker to check off when you brush every morning and evening, and when you floss daily. Have your little one help you check the boxes, my little guy gets a kick out of it!
  4. Leave the frame in the bathroom or some place where you will see it every morning and night as to help remind you of this important task. It is also a great way to remind your child(ren) of this daily routine and to start forming the habit of brushing and flossing daily.
  5. Clean the frame off weekly so come Sunday morning you have a fresh start and you can use the chart over and over.

Here are some tips that I have found very helpful and I hope that they are just as helpful for you. Of course every child is different so while this may work for my household it may not work for yours and that’s okay! What I always suggest is that you just keep trying new ways to make it easier for you and your child(ren) and eventually you’ll find something that is perfect for you and your family.

Tips:

  1. First, I give my son his toothbrush and sit him in front of the mirror so he can “brush” his teeth by himself. Kids love their independence! I remind him that it’s his turn right now and then it will be mom’s turn to brush so I can make sure we get all of the sugar bugs. Once it’s my turn to brush we assume our brushing position (see tip #2)
  2. I lay my toddler on the floor with his back against the ground. I sit down on the floor with his head between my legs. I then place his arms under my legs. This may look like some type of WWE wrestling hold but I promise you it is safe for him and it also gives me the best angle to assure that I can brush his teeth really efficiently.
  3. While brushing his teeth I sing the following song to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat: “Brush brush brush your teeth brush them every day, brush them and take care of them they’ll stay white that way!”
  4. Don’t forget to brush their tongue!
  5. Once we’re done brushing, I floss. Make sure to pay extra attention to the teeth that have tight contacts!
  6. My little guy is a little too young to know how to spit but it’s never too early to start practicing, especially if you’re using fluoridated toothpaste. I simply keep little cups next to our brushing and flossing chart and we practice spitting out the toothpaste every night.
  7. Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under one ,and a rice grain size of fluoridated tooth paste for children who can not spit on command thereafter. Check out our Pediatric Dental FAQs!

We hope this article helps make your mornings and evenings a little less chaotic and stressful. Being a parent isn’t easy, especially in this day and age with the critical social media and shaming that surrounds every picture we post and every decision we make. But we’re here to tell you that you’re doing a great job Mom and Dad. Keep up the good work!