Child's First Visit
Drs. Aaron and Kristi Johnson recommend children have their first dental visit by the time the first tooth erupts, or first birthday, whichever is first. The first dental visit is a valuable time to establish a dental home for your child. Dr. Aaron and Dr. Kristi will evaluate your child's current dental condition and give you the tools and information needed for excellent at home care. Your child's first exam will include an oral evaluation to monitor development, a decay check and risk assessment, development of an appropriate oral health regimen, and tips on how to care for your child's teeth. The most important aspect of your child's early visit is to make sure that he or she is comfortable at the dentist and that he or she has a positive experience. We want your child to ask lots of questions and to have a good time learning good dental health habits.
Dental sealants are plastic coatings or barriers that protect the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. Usually, sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (pre-molars and molars) where decay occurs most often. Applying a sealant to your teeth can prevent cavities and the need for fillings, which may need to be replaced after a few years. Children especially benefit from sealants.
Healthy Food & Drink Choices For Your Smile
A healthful, balanced diet helps keep your child's whole body healthy, and this includes that precious smile and oral health. Some of the most vital diet components to healthy teeth and gums include:
- Water - Water can rinse harmful sugars, food particles and bacteria away from your child's teeth. Fluoridated water even helps strengthen smiles. Water is also the primary element in saliva, which is the number one natural way your body cleans and protects your mouth from bacteria, acids and decay.
- Fruits and Vegetables - High-fiber fruits and veggies scour teeth as you chew and also increase saliva production. The high water content in these foods is another added benefit. Plus, fruits and veggies are a great choice in your child's overall healthy diet.
- Cheese - You may know the numerous smile benefits in calcium rich dairy like milk and yogurt, but did you know cheese is one of the best choices? Aside from being high in essential minerals like calcium and phosphorous, cheese is also anticariogenic, meaning it protects against dental decay. The latest studies show cheese consumption helps:
- Reduce damaging increases in acidity of plaque surrounding teeth.
- Replace calcium and phosphorous in the mouth lost through acidic damage.
- Strengthen tooth enamel.
- Produce more beneficial saliva.
- Provide casein to protect tooth enamel.
- Xylitol - Xylitol is a form of sugar extracted from various plants. While all sugarless gums boost saliva production, gums sweetened with xylitol actually fight the harmful bacteria that lead to tooth decay. Xylitol can also be used as a general sweetener and is found in most health food stores.
- Nuts or Legumes - Many of the vitamins and minerals your child's teeth require can be found in nuts. Some of the most helpful include:
- Almonds (calcium for teeth and gums)
- Cashews (boosts saliva to cleanse teeth)
- Peanuts (calcium and vitamin D)
- Walnuts (fiber, folic acid, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, niacin, potassium, zinc, thiamine, vitamin B6)
- Warm Tea - Certain compounds, called polyphenols, in green and black tea suppress the harmful bacteria that causes plaque and decay. Many teas also contain fluoride, which protects and strengthens enamel.
- Mineral Rich Food - Vitamins A, C and D, as well as calcium and phosphorus, are fundamental in excellent oral health. Look for these nutrients when choosing foods for your child. Many foods contain high levels of these vitamins and minerals including:
- Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, romaine, greens, Swiss chard)
- Fortified cereal
- Whole grains
Foods and Drinks to Avoid
Trying to find healthy foods your child likes to eat can be difficult. When considering your choices for your child's balanced, healthful diet, please remember to avoid the following foods when possible. Your child's bright smile for years to come will be all the reward you need!
- Soft Drinks and Sports Drinks - Whether you call it soda, pop or a popular brand name, the high sugar and acidic levels in soft drinks create a perfect storm to ravage teeth. Let's also remember how harmful soft drinks are to your child's overall health. This is the same for popular high sugar, highly acid sports drinks. Diet soda does save your mouth from sugar, but only fourteen percent of consumers drink diet and it still contains tooth-eroding acids. Give your child's smile a boost and opt for water, milk or tea when thirsty.
- High Starch - Starches made from white flour are simple carbohydrates. These foods break down into simple sugars quickly and often remain stuck between your teeth. Bacteria feed on these sugars and produce acid, which leads to tooth decay. It's best to avoid high starch foods like white bread, potato chips, bagels, flour tortillas, crackers, pasta and French fries.
- Vitamins and Vitamin Water - Vitamin on the label is a healthy choice, right? Unfortunately, no. Some vitamin waters contain as much sugar as full sized candy bars and are full of harmful acids. Avoid chewable vitamins when possible. The chewable nature grinds concentrated acids directly into your teeth. As soon as your child is old enough, offer vitamins that are swallowed whole.
Gooey, Sticky Sweets - Candy is bad for children's teeth. It is full of harmful sugar and sticks to teeth for a long time, allowing decay to begin. While this is not breaking news, it's good to remember all that "candy" encompasses:
- Hard candy (suckers, lollipops)
- Fruit snacks
- Sweet drinks
- Sticky candy (caramel, toffee, gum)
- Baked sweets (cakes, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls, pies)
- Sour candy (especially bad because of high acid content too)
- Citrus Fruits - Have you ever sucked on a lemon or lime then felt the gritty nature of your teeth? That's because the huge amount of acid, only slightly less corrosive than battery acid, is hard at work eroding your tooth enamel. While you shouldn't eliminate citrus fruit from your child's diet entirely, try to pair it with a meal or other foods to reduce the harmful effects of the acid. And although your child's cute puckered face from that sour lemon is adorable, a healthy, long-lasting smile is more important!
- Dried Fruits - When you dry a fruit, you remove its water and much of the healthy value in the fruit while concentrating the sugars. Dried fruits, such as raisins, prunes and apricots, stick to teeth, trapping the sugars on your tooth's surface. Choose the fruit in its original form, full of healthy nutrients and water.
Acidic Fruit Drinks - Just like citrus fruits, citrus juice contains large amounts of corrosive citric acid. Consume these as part of a meal or rinse with a few sips of water after the juice. Your child should drink any juice in moderation with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending no more than:
- One to six years old - four to six ounces per day
- Seven to eighteen years old - eight to twelve ounces per day
Dental injuries are possible in many sports (even low contact sports.) The teeth, jaw, and other oral structures can be injured through accidental collision with either the ball or with another player; or, your child may clench, chip, or crack their teeth on their own during play. A mouthguard prevents such injury. And, mouth guards are NOT just for children with braces or other orthodontics.
It is important to ask Drs. Aaron and Kristi Johnson to customize a mouthguard for your child, rather than buying a generic "boil and bite" mouthguard. Drs. Aaron and Kristi Johnson can ensure better protection and a proper fit for your child's developing smile.