875 Prospect St. #301, La Jolla, CA 92037
Cosmetic Dentist in La Jolla

Smiling Bright: A Guide to Children’s Dental Health

April 30, 2024

Ensure Your Kids Have Strong, Healthy Teeth with These Tips from Tracy Taddey, DDS, John Taddey, DDS

As parents, you want the best for your children. When it comes to their oral health, starting good habits early can make all the difference. At our office, we believe in the power of prevention and are committed to helping families establish healthy routines that support a lifetime of smiles.

A Proactive Approach to Children's Dental Care

We emphasize the importance of dental prevention as the key to good oral health. We provide you and your child with the resources as well as the tools to establish an effective brushing and flossing routine and offer nutritional guidance and advice on potentially harmful oral habits. Our entire team strives to make each visit with your child a positive, informative, and beneficial experience.

The Importance of Regular Checkups and Routine Care

Studies show that children and teens lose an estimated 51 million school hours each year to dental problems. To help your child maintain optimal oral health and a smile that’s healthy and bright, we recommend dental checkups and cleanings twice a year.

As skilled and compassionate providers of care, we understand all aspects of dental development and are sensitive to the unique needs of children. At each periodic exam, we’ll review your child’s medical and dental history and then perform a thorough clinical assessment of the teeth, gums, jaws, and surrounding oral tissues. We’ll also check your child’s bite, jaw alignment, and function.

Because it’s vital to see what’s going on below the surface, we’ll take digital radiographs as needed to check for the presence of any cavities or infection and to evaluate the position of your child’s developing teeth and the health of the jawbone. We’ll also perform a professional dental cleaning to eliminate any plaque or debris accumulated between the teeth or in hard-to-reach places.

Tooth Decay: A Common Challenge for Kids

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease. Over 50 percent of 5 to 9-year-old children have at least one cavity or filling, with that proportion increasing to 78 percent among 17-year-olds. Although cavities can develop at any age, children are especially susceptible to tooth decay because of dietary indiscretions and ineffective oral hygiene routines.

For these reasons, added levels of protection, such as periodic fluoride treatments and the application of dental sealants, are often prescribed. While fluoride supports the re-mineralization of tooth enamel, dental sealants provide a durable, thin coating to the biting surfaces of the back teeth to shield their deep crevices from decay.

At every stage of your child’s development, we’ll advise you on the most effective methods of keeping their teeth clean and discuss the foods, beverages, and harmful oral habits that can lead to problems. While it can be difficult sometimes to get children into a regular oral hygiene routine, we’ll give you tips and advice on making brushing and flossing a fun part of their daily activities. As your trusted partner you can rely on our office to keep a close watch on your child’s oral health and development.

Establishing Good Oral Health Habits from the Start

  • Starting dental visits early: According to the American Dental Association, children should see a dentist by their first birthday or within six months of their first tooth emerging. These early visits help establish a positive relationship with the dentist and provide an opportunity for parents to learn about proper oral care.
  • Cleaning your baby’s teeth: As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, you can start brushing it gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. By the time they reach age 2 or 3, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized dollop.
  • Avoiding bedtime bottles: Allowing your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice can lead to a condition called “baby bottle decay”. Encourage your child to finish their bottle before bedtime and clean their teeth afterward.
  • Promoting healthy eating habits: Limit sugary snacks and drinks, encourage water consumption, and offer nutritious food options that support strong teeth and overall health.
  • Making oral care fun: Use age-appropriate tools like timers or toothbrushing apps to make brushing and flossing a fun activity for your child. Encourage them to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque from between the teeth.

Supporting Your Child’s Oral Health Throughout Growth and Development

Childhood is a time of incredible physical and emotional changes. As kids go through several stages of development, so do their teeth. Many things, including both genetic and environmental factors, contribute to the health and appearance of your child’s smile. While some issues cannot be prevented, there’s still a lot you can do to help ensure your child experiences optimal oral health and develops an attractive, functional smile.

Our office will make sure your children are instructed in the best methods for caring for their teeth and will provide them with useful, age-appropriate information on following a healthy diet as well as make them aware of which oral habits and activities may be harmful to their teeth and overall well-being.

Monitoring Facial Growth and Dental Development

In addition to checking for the presence of dental disease, we also monitor your child’s facial growth, jaw development, and alignment of their smile. If orthodontic treatment is indicated, we’ll advise you of our recommendations for care. Since many children and teens wear braces, paying extra attention to what they eat and how they maintain their oral hygiene is of the utmost importance.

The Role of Good Nutrition in Children's Oral Health

Beyond good oral hygiene and routine dental care, a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for a healthy smile in a growing child. Sticky, sugary foods and drinks are not only harmful to children’s oral health but also detrimental to their overall well-being. A diet rich in nutrients is critical for optimal growth and development and keeping the teeth and gums strong.

Responding Quickly to Dental Emergencies

Recognizing the fact that children have active lifestyles means there is always a chance an accident involving a hit or blow to the mouth or teeth can occur. These traumatic injuries can happen at home, in the playground, or on the playing field. Common injuries to the teeth and oral cavity seen in a pediatric dental office include everything from soft tissue lacerations of the lips, cheeks, or tongue to chipped, fractured, dislodged, or “knocked out” teeth. Equally frequent reasons for children to require urgent dental care are painful toothaches, dental infections, and mouth ulcerations.

Whatever the reason, your child needs emergency dental care; you can rely on our office to provide the skilled, compassionate, and reliable treatment required. Our goal is to get your child back on the road to oral health while alleviating any associated discomfort and preventing more severe consequences to their dental health and overall well-being.

Call Us Today to Schedule Your Child's Next Dental Appointment

At our office, we believe in the power of prevention and are committed to helping families establish healthy routines that support a lifetime of smiles. Contact us today to schedule your child’s next dental checkup or to learn more about how we can help you ensure their oral health is on the right track.

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Dentist in La Jolla

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875 Prospect St. #301
La Jolla, CA 92037

Office Hours

8:00 am - 3:00 pm
8:00 am - 3:00 pm
8:00 am - 3:00 pm
8:00 am - 3:00 pm