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A pediatric dentist like Dr. Kristi Parker has two to three additional years of specialized training after dental school. The sole focus of their practice is the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. Very young children, pre-teens and teens all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping avoid future dental problems. A pediatric dentist is the best qualified to meet these needs.
Dr. Parker tailors every visit to the individual child and meets them where they’re at. In general, we’ll review your child’s health history and take digital x-rays, if needed. Dr. Parker will examine their mouth. If your child has enough teeth, the dental hygienist will perform a cleaning. We’ll also answer any questions you have and offer personalized guidance on oral hygiene, diet and cavity prevention.
You can start cleaning your child’s mouth before they even have any teeth. After feedings, gently wipe down their gums with moistened gauze or a wet washcloth. As soon as their first tooth comes in, you can start brushing it twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for infants. Once any two teeth are touching, begin flossing once daily.
Sucking is a natural reflex. Infants and young kids often suck their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects as a way to explore the world around them. It may also help them feel secure and happy, provide comfort during difficult periods and induce sleep.
If thumb sucking, particularly vigorous thumb sucking, continues once the permanent teeth are starting to erupt, it can cause problems with tooth alignment and jaw and facial development.
Most kids stop thumb sucking on their own between the ages of 2 and 4. If they don’t, you should try helping your child break the habit before their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. While pacifier use can affect the teeth and jaw in the same way as thumb sucking, pacifiers are easier to control and can be taken away unlike a thumb.
If you have concerns about thumb sucking or pacifier use, bring it up at your child’s next visit. Dr. Parker can offer guidance on stopping the habit before it causes problems
Yes! At The Beach House, we use low-dose, digital x-rays that expose kids to up to 80% less radiation than traditional x-rays. Our team also follows all guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and uses aprons and shields to protect your child. Our modern equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to only the area of interest. Thanks to these upgrades, the risk of x-rays is negligible.
In fact, dental x-rays pose a substantially smaller risk than an undiagnosed and untreated dental problem. X-rays are a crucial and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Some dental problems can and will be missed without them.
Dental x-rays detect a lot more than cavities. They can be used to assess erupting teeth, evaluate the effects of an injury, diagnose bone disease and plan orthodontic treatment. They let the dentist diagnose and treat conditions that they aren’t able to see during an exam. The earlier dental issues are found and treated, the more comfortable and affordable your child’s dental care will be.
Absolutely. Your child has a set of primary teeth, or baby teeth, for a reason! It’s important to keep the baby teeth healthy because they:
- Let kids chew and eat properly
- Provide space for the permanent teeth to erupt and guide them into the correct position
- Help with speech
- Permit normal development of the jaw bones and muscles
- Give kids confidence when they smile
Additionally, untreated cavities can cause problems in the developing permanent teeth. While the four front baby teeth last until 6 to 7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
It’s recommended that kids visit their dentist once every six months (twice a year) for a dental check-up and cleaning.
A baby’s teeth start forming before birth! However, it takes a little time for them to make their debut. Most babies get their first tooth between 6 and 10 months, though it can happen as early as 4 months. The bottom front teeth (central incisors) are usually the first, followed by the upper front teeth. The majority of kids will have all 20 of their primary teeth by age 3.
Most kids start losing baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 7, often in a similar order that they came in. Kids will continue losing teeth until 10 to 12 years old. When a baby tooth is lost, the underlying permanent tooth will erupt soon after. By age 13, all of the permanent teeth will be in, except for the wisdom teeth, which erupt between the ages of 17-21, if at all.
Yes. Fluoride is a natural element that strengthens the teeth. However, too little or too much fluoride can have a negative impact. Too little fluoride will leave your child at risk for cavities because their enamel will be less able to resist cavity-causing acids.
When preschool-aged children ingest too much fluoride, on the other hand, it can cause dental fluorosis, which leaves a chalky white or brown discoloration on the permanent teeth. Fluorosis can be the result of two- and three-year-olds swallowing large amounts of fluoride toothpaste when brushing their teeth.
Fluorosis can also occur due to the excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements (tablets or drops), particularly when combined with hidden sources of fluoride in your child’s diet, such as powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based formulas, infant chicken products, juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities, etc.
When you visit The Beach House for your child’s dental check-up, we’ll discuss your child’s fluoride intake and ensure they’re getting the right amount. To reduce the risk of fluorosis in kids’ teeth, parents should also:
- Use baby tooth cleaner on a very young child’s toothbrush.
- Place only a pea-sized dollop of fluoride toothpaste on kids’ toothbrushes from the ages of 2-5.
- Make a list of all sources of ingested fluoride, including in the foods your child eats, before asking for a fluoride supplement from the pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
- Don’t give fluoride supplements to infants until they are at least 6 months old.
- Either check with your local water utility or have your water tested to determine the fluoride levels in your drinking water before giving your child fluoride supplements.
Yes, it does. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has recognized the benefits of xylitol on the oral health of infants, kids and teens, as well as people with special health care needs.
Studies suggest that the use of xylitol gum by mothers (3-4 times per day) starting three months after delivery and continuing until the child was 2, reduced cavities by up to 70% by the time the child turned 5.
Other studies determined that adding a small amount of xylitol to the diet or using it as a sugar substitute significantly reduced new tooth decay and even reversed some existing caries. The protection offered by xylitol enhances all existing prevention methods.
Research has found that 4-20 grams of xylitol per day, divided into 3-7 doses, produces the best results. Having xylitol less than three times per day didn’t show any effect and having it more frequently didn’t improve results. Look for gum and sugar-free mints containing 100% xylitol. When giving it to kids, start with a small dose before increasing, as too much can cause digestive upset.
Follow the tips below to prevent tooth decay in children:
- Wipe down your baby’s gums with a wet washcloth or gauze after feedings.
- Avoid putting anything aside from water in a child’s bottle when you put them down for a nap or bedtime.
- When your infant transitions to a sippy cup, only fill it with water, except at mealtimes.
- Once your child has teeth, brush their teeth twice a day for two full minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush. For kids ages 2 to 5, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure they spit it out.
- Brush kids’ teeth for them until they’re old enough to do it themselves.
- Help kids floss once daily until they’re able to do a good job on their own.
- Starting at the age of 1, visit the pediatric dentist for a check-up every six months.
- When your child gets their permanent molars and premolars, opt for dental sealants to prevent up to 80% of cavities in these teeth!
When you visit The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry in Missouri City, Dr. Parker will work with you to create a personalized cavity prevention plan for your child.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends kids have their first orthodontic screening no later than age 7. At 7 years old, the first permanent molars are usually in, which establish the back of the bite, and give the dentist or orthodontist enough information to see if there will be any serious bite problems in the future.
Most of the time treatment is not necessary at 7, but it gives the parents and dentist time to watch the development of the patient and decide on the best timing for and mode of treatment. When you have time on your side, you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems.