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What's on your fall reading list?

October 4th, 2023

How better to spend the fall months than inside by the fireplace with a warm cup of cider and a book in hand? Drs. Don and Mindy and our team at Kanawha City Pediatric Dentistry encourage you to warm up your mind this fall season with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a hectic schedule, but reading is vital to brain development. Besides, reading is always a blast!

This week, we thought we’d ask what you or your child are reading this fall. Do you have any suggestions for must-read books this year? Out of ideas for great fall reads? Ask us for suggestions, and we would be happy to provide a few. You may also ask a local librarian here in Charleston for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share with us your fall picks or your all-time favorites below or on our Facebook page!

Caring for Your Baby’s Teeth—Right from the Start!

September 27th, 2023

A new baby! What a joyful, exciting time! Joy, excitement, and lots of questions about the best ways to keep your child healthy and happy. So, we have some suggestions to help start your baby on the path to a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles.

  • Before Those First Baby Teeth Appear

After each bottle or breast feeding, it’s a good idea to wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze pad wrapped around one of your fingers.

This gentle cleaning helps wipe away food and bacteria that can irritate the gums as the teeth start to erupt and helps prepare your child for brushing once those little teeth have arrived.

  • Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

Most babies start getting their first teeth around the age of six months. And those first teeth mean it’s time for a first toothbrush!

Choose a brush specifically for babies. These brushes are designed to fit tiny mouths to prevent gagging. They have soft bristles to protect tooth enamel and gums. They have handles that are easy for you to maneuver. There are even silicone finger brushes available which fit over your finger and use a textured surface to brush away bacteria and food particles.

Ask Drs. Don and Mindy about the right time to start using toothpaste. When your baby is old enough for toothpaste, it’s important to choose the right one, which means a toothpaste formulated for infants. It’s also important to use the right amount of toothpaste. A smear of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice grain is enough for early brushing.

Brushing twice a day, morning and night, is the normal recommendation unless your pediatric dentist has other advice. We’re also a great source of information on how to make brushing time easier and more enjoyable for both you and your baby!

  • Bottles and Baby Teeth

Cavities begin forming because oral bacteria create acids which erode enamel, the protective outer coating of the tooth. Cavity-causing bacteria love to feed on sugar. Baby formula and even breast milk contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars—which is a good thing!

Carbohydrates are essential for babies’ growth and development. Lactose, the sugar found in breast milk, is a carb which is easy for your baby to digest, and which supports healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Formulas with lactose and other types of sugars also provide your baby with these necessary, easily digestible carbohydrates.

But going to sleep with a bottle or while breastfeeding means those healthy sugars aren’t all digested. Instead, liquid pools in the mouth, bathing those beautiful new teeth in sugars over night. This can lead to a condition called “baby bottle tooth decay,” which is especially damaging to the upper front teeth. (And the chance of cavities is even greater if your child’s bottle contains juice or other sugared drinks.)

That’s why dentists recommend making sure a baby’s finished with breastfeeding or bottle before going to sleep to help prevent cavities and decay.

Baby teeth are important. They help in speech development. They allow your child to eat and chew properly when it’s time for solid foods. They hold places for permanent teeth so the adult teeth erupt where they’re supposed to. All very good reasons to finish feeding baby before bedtime!

  • Making New Friends

When your baby has those first teeth, and certainly by the age of 12 months, it’s time to add some new friends to your baby’s life with a first visit to our Charleston pediatric dental office.

Pediatric dentists have specialized training in caring for children’s teeth. They can assess tooth and bite development. They are experts in treating decay and injuries in primary teeth. They can advise parents on any potential problems with pacifier or thumb sucking habits. And they know how to make sure children are comfortable in a child-friendly environment.

That first checkup will allow Drs. Don and Mindy to make sure your baby’s dental development is on schedule. There will be an exam to check those tiny teeth for enamel erosion or cavities. And you dentist will have great advice for proactive dental care, for diet, and for tips on how to brush most effectively.

These early visits are also a chance for your child to become accustomed to visiting the dentist regularly. Your pediatric dentist and staff are experts at creating a dental home, with welcoming, child-oriented dental care which provides comforting continuity from infancy through the teenage years. Look after your baby’s teeth right from the start, and you can look forward to seeing your baby grow up with a healthy and happy smile!

Three Reasons We're Fans of Fluoride

September 20th, 2023

Why all the fuss about fluoride? Your pediatric dentist recommends it, your child’s toothpaste is formulated with it, and most of our drinking water contains it. Just what is it about this mineral that makes dental professionals sing its praises? Read on for three good reasons why fluoride is a healthy choice for healthier teeth.

  1. Fluoride Works!

Fluoride is an attractive option for protecting your child’s teeth—and we mean that literally. Fluoride protects the surface of teeth by working on a molecular level to attract minerals that strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities.

Our tooth enamel is mostly made from calcium and phosphate ions. These elements combine to form hydroxyapatite, strong crystals which make up about 95% of our enamel. Hydroxyapatite is so strong, in fact, that tooth enamel is the hardest part of our bodies. What can go wrong?

Acids. Acids created by the bacteria in plaque and the acids in our diet strip away the calcium and phosphate ions in enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth. This process is called demineralization. Over time, weak spots become bigger as acids eat through enamel to the inner tooth, causing decay and cavities.

So, what can fluoride do?

First, fluoride helps remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride is attracted to the tooth’s surface and bonds with its minerals. It also attracts the calcium and phosphate ions which are found in our saliva to restore any minerals which have been lost. This process helps repair any weak spots which might have begun to form.

But fluoride does more than restore and repair tooth strength—it improves it! Fluoride ions join with calcium and phosphate to form fluorapatite crystals, which are larger and stronger than hydroxyapatite crystals. Even better? These new crystals are more resistant to acids.

  1. Fluoride Is Doubly Effective

Fluoride works both externally and internally. We just looked at how fluoride helps keep teeth strong when applied to the outside of the teeth. This is called a topical application. Systemic benefits come the fluoride we consume in our diets.

Fluoride isn’t found in many foods, but it is found naturally in lakes, rivers, and other water sources. When the local water’s fluoride level is low, many communities add fluoride for its proven ability to prevent cavities. Water fluoridation is safe, has been studied for decades, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities by 25% or more for both children and adults.

Systemic fluoride is important for baby teeth, as fluoride joins with minerals in adult teeth while they grow and develop. This creates stronger, more cavity-resistant teeth even before they erupt.

When your child’s permanent teeth come in, fluoride is still at work! When your child drinks fluoridated water, they increasing the amount of fluoride in their saliva. Just like fluoride toothpaste, saliva bathes the teeth with fluoride ions, remineralizing and strengthening the tooth surface and helping repair weak spots in enamel.

  1. It’s Easy to Get Fluoride Protection

Because so much of our drinking water is fluoridated, most of us really don’t have to think about how to get the recommended amount of fluoride in our diet each day. If your community’s water is low in fluoride, Drs. Don and Mindy can help you. Prescription fluoride rinses, gels, supplements, and other treatments are available at our Charleston pediatric dental office to make sure that your child’s teeth are well protected, wherever you may live. We will let you know which products are best for your child and how often to use them.

Fluoride isn’t, of course, the only way to look out for your dental health. Proper brushing and flossing are still essential for removing plaque. And sealants provide long-lasting protection for chewing surfaces. But when it comes to a proven cavity-fighter that’s simple to use, effective, and easily available—is it any wonder we’re big fans of fluoride?

Clean Toothbrush/Healthy Toothbrush

September 13th, 2023

We’ve all learned a lot about staying healthy lately. As a parent, you give good advice about avoiding germs in public places, cleaning things that get touched a lot like phones and keyboards, and learning the best way to wash hands. These small daily habits can have a big effect on your child’s health.

And since you’re already taking care of your little one by making sure they brush at least twice a day, we have some good advice for small habits which can make their toothbrush even cleaner and brushing even healthier.

Brushing Habits

Don’t let germs hitch a ride on your child’s toothbrush before they even begin brushing! Make sure their hands are clean before they start, and rinse off the toothbrush before they put it in their mouth.

After brushing, be sure your child rinses their brush carefully to get rid of leftover toothpaste and bits of food. Also, clean the toothbrush holder regularly to get rid of germs and bacteria.

And while we’re talking about germs, how about . . .

  • Flushing Habits

Most toothbrushes live in the bathroom, where we also find—the toilet. Every time we flush, invisible bacteria and particles fly through the air. And while that might not make you sick, it’s still pretty gross. Closing the lid before you flush helps keep your family’s toothbrushes—and bathroom—cleaner.

  • Airing? Yes!

Keeping a toothbrush in a dark, wet environment is the perfect way to help bacteria grow. Instead of putting a wet toothbrush in a case, let it air dry standing heads up after use. Give it a shake first for a head start on drying out.

  • Sharing? No

We’re not talking about sharing a brush, which you would never do. We’re talking about sharing space. If your child’s brush touches other brushes in a toothbrush holder, it’s probably sharing germs. Toothbrushes shouldn’t be too close to other toothbrushes, no matter how close you are to the other brush’s owner!

Finally, no matter how well your child takes care of their toothbrush, there comes a time when you should let it go. After three or four months, bristles become frayed and worn out. This means the brush won’t remove plaque as well as it used to. And to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to replace a brush if your child has been sick.

Keeping your child’s teeth and mouth healthy is one very important way to keep their whole body heathy and happy. Talk to Drs. Don and Mindy at our Charleston office to learn more about simple habits for healthy teeth!

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