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Dangers of Thumb Sucking

December 13th, 2018

It’s common for children to suck their thumb at a young age. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team want you to understand the potential issues that can surface down the road if the habit isn’t broken early on.

It’s normal for infants to explore the function of their mouths by putting objects like their thumbs inside it. You shouldn’t be concerned if your baby regularly sucks his or her thumb. For infants who are still growing their baby teeth, thumb sucking can help with stimulating growth and development of their baby teeth.

Thumb sucking is not a problem among infants because they generally do it to sooth and comfort themselves. Problems can occur of kids continue the habit when their baby teeth begin to fall out, around six years of age.

If you have a young child whose adult teeth are starting to come in, that’s when thumb sucking can start to be a problem. Most children stop thumb sucking between the ages of two and three years. According to the American Dental Association, if thumb sucking continues as adult teeth come in, this can lead to problems involving improper alignment of teeth and growth of the jaw, gums, and roof of the mouth.

It may also affect your child’s speech after that, by causing a lisp or other speech impediments. As a parent, you may need to begin to regulate and intervene if thumb sucking starts to become a bigger problem for your child.

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

  • Provide comfort to your child if thumb sucking happens when he or she is anxious.
  • Limit thumb sucking initially to bedtime or naptime.
  • Employ positive reinforcement for good behavior.
  • Talk with your child about the potential problems that come from this habit.
  • Distract your son or daughter with activities such as fun games any time you notice it starting.
  • Involve your little one in choosing methods for stopping, like positive rewards.
  • Have Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong talk to your child to reinforce concerns about thumb sucking.

Don’t forget that thumb sucking is a common habit that many children indulge in, and it should not be a concern right away. If you’re worried about your child’s thumb-sucking habit, start to address the issue as soon as possible.

The above techniques can help to reduce the amount of time your child sucks a thumb. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team are here to help you if you have any questions or concerns about this habit.

Feel free to call our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office and we will be happy to help you and your child.

Using Sippy Cups Successfully

December 6th, 2018

Congratulations! Your child is beginning to leave her bottle behind and has started to use her first sippy cup. And the best training cup is one that makes the transition from bottle to cup an efficient, timely, and healthy one.

The Right Training Cup

While a “no spill” cup seems like the perfect choice for toddler and parent alike, those cups are designed much like baby bottles. The same valve in the no-spill top that keeps the liquid from spilling requires your child to suck rather than sip to get a drink. If your child’s cup has a top with a spout, she will learn to sip from it. Two handles and a weighted base make spills less likely.

When to Use a Training Cup

Children can be introduced to a sippy cup before they are one year old, and we suggest phasing out the bottle between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Use a sippy cup as the source for all liquids at that age, and only when your child is thirsty and at mealtime to avoid overdrinking. The transition from sippy cup to regular cup should be a swift one.

Healthy Sipping Habits

The best first option in a sippy cup between meals is water. Milk or juice should be offered at mealtimes, when saliva production increases and helps neutralize the effects of these drinks on young teeth. And don’t let your child go to sleep with anything other than water—falling asleep with a cup filled with milk, juice, or other sugary drinks means these liquids stay in the mouth overnight. Finally, while a sippy cup is convenient and portable, don’t let your young child walk and sip at the same time to avoid injuries.

When your child comes to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office for her first visit, please bring any questions you might have about training cups. We would be glad to share ways to make the move from bottle to cup both successful and safe!

Can baby teeth get cavities?

November 29th, 2018

Our team at SmileKidz knows that every parent loves to hear his or her child say, "no cavities!" when leaving our office. Let's talk about why primary (baby) teeth get cavities, what you can do to help prevent them, and what Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong can do if your child gets a cavity. It's a team effort!

Prevention is Key

A well-balanced diet high in protein, vitamins, and minerals (especially calcium and phosphorous) is an important part of cavity prevention. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) states that children should eat healthy snacks like cheese, vegetables, and yogurt, and drink milk. Limit hard candy and carbonated beverages, which have acid and can cause tooth decay. Also, do not put children to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice because sugary fluids pool around the teeth and gums, which promotes decay.

In addition to limiting sweets and scheduling regular visits at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, make sure your child flosses once a day and brushes his or her teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. A good rule of thumb is if children can tie their shoelace, then they should be able to brush their teeth without help. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following basic brushing techniques:

  • Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Move the brush back and forth gently in short strokes
  • Brush the outer surfaces, inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all teeth.
  • To clean the inside surface of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

These tips will greatly increase cavity prevention; however, if your child gets a cavity, it will not heal on its own and must be fixed. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong will remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill the hole where the decay was. You may wonder why it's important to fill baby teeth if they're going to fall out eventually. Baby teeth hold space for permanent teeth to grow in. If one is lost, teeth may shift and prevent a permanent tooth from growing in. In addition, a decayed tooth can become abscessed and cause pain. No fun!

Let’s work together to help your child develop good oral health habits that last a lifetime. Please contact our office if you have any questions about your child's diet or cavity prevention.

Thanksgiving Trivia

November 22nd, 2018

At SmileKidz we love learning trivia and interesting facts about Thanksgiving! This year, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong wanted to share some trivia that might help you feel a bit smarter at the holiday dinner table and help create some great conversation with friends and family.

The Turkey

There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.

According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.

Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.

The Side Dishes

The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.

While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.

The Parade

Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.

However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.

When should my child start using toothpaste and how much should I use?

November 15th, 2018

As a parent, it is your job to instill good dental habits in your kids, and this starts even earlier than you might realize. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry responds to the “when to start” question with a succinct “The sooner the better!”

From the time your baby is born, you should make sure that your child’s gums are regularly cleaned using water and a toothbrush made for infants. Once the first tooth erupts, you should visit the pediatric dentist for the first time. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff often recommend that if your child is a year old, but has yet to get the first tooth, you should bring your son or daughter to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office for his or her initial dental care appointment.

Once your child’s teeth start to appear, you can begin brushing two times per day, using fluoride toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush made specifically for your child’s age group, and one with has soft bristles.

Only a small smear of toothpaste is needed if your child is under two years old. Once the child celebrates his or her second birthday, you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Continue this practice until your child is five.

Of course, it is important that you monitor your child’s tooth brushing closely to help educate about proper techniques. Some young children might try to eat or swallow toothpaste, and this needs to be strongly discouraged. Be sure to teach proper rinsing and spitting behavior to round out your child’s early childhood tooth-care regimen.

For young kids, tooth brushing can be made into a fun event, and you can find a multitude of special toothbrushes that appeal to kids. There are even uniquely flavored and colored toothpastes that might encourage your child to get into the brushing game!

How do you accommodate a child with special needs?

November 8th, 2018

Providing dental care for patients with special needs can be a challenge at times, both for the dentist and the family of the individual. Fortunately, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz have the experience needed to provide optimal care for your special-needs child. Here are just a few of the ways our office works to help those who need a little extra care.

Assistance with at-home dental health care

We understand that sometimes at-home dental care can be extremely difficult for those with special needs. Individuals with physical difficulties, which may prevent them from holding the toothbrush, and those with developmental issues, who may have difficulty understanding the importance of dental hygiene, need extra attention with regard to home hygiene care. Our team at SmileKidz can provide support and education to ensure your child will achieve and maintain a healthy smile. For example, devising improvised toothbrushes to help patients get a properly grip, creating a specialized meal plan, and establishing a more frequent office visitation schedule to monitor overall dental health are all areas where our office is happy to help.

Coordinating office care

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team understand that sometimes special-needs patients feel anxiety when it comes to receiving dental care. In many cases, reliably seeing the same dental health professionals can help to promote a relationship and soothe the patient. We encourage special-needs patients to make appointments at the optimal time of day for them to help everything go smoothly as well. We also encourage preparing your child in advance of the appointment so he or she is not surprised in the office. In certain situations, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong may also recommend sedation dentistry. Occasionally, special-needs patients are too overwhelmed by the thought of dental care and exams are best performed with the support of light sedation.

Accommodating physical needs

We also understand that special needs patients sometimes need physical accommodations. Two of the more common examples we face are patients in wheelchairs who need access to the office. We are fully compliant with all accessibility regulations to make sure our patients receive the care they need. Other patients need physical props for their mouth to help keep it open if they are physically unable to do so.

Dental care for patients with special needs requires knowledge and experience of limitations and how to address them. In our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, you will find an accommodating staff ready to help, so your child can receive optimal dental care.

Pediatric Dental Emergency Know-How

November 1st, 2018

Parents are usually expert at taking care of their children’s injuries. You know how to disinfect a cut, soothe a bump on the head, and apply a bandage faster than you can blink.

But what happens if your child suffers a dental injury? Teeth can get broken, knocked out, or displaced from a forceful impact, and parents ought to know what to do in those situations, too. Luckily, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team are here to be a resource for such incidents!

Chipped front teeth are a common injury for young children. First, check to see if the teeth have been broken to the nerve. You can tell this is the case if you see layers and a pinkish center.

Then, wiggle each tooth to make sure it is not loose. If the teeth still feel firmly in place, that’s a good sign. Don’t worry if they are a little loose, because they will tighten again with time.

If your child develops a high temperature or bite sensitivity, treatment is necessary and could include a root canal.

A knocked-out tooth is an injury that requires more attention than just observation. Locate the tooth as soon as you can, and touch only the crown, not the root. Rinse any debris gently with milk or water and place the tooth back in its socket as soon as possible.

According to the American Association of Endodontists, a tooth has a high chance of survival and retention for life if it is returned to the socket within five minutes, and possibly up to 60 minutes, if soaked in milk or saline solution in the meantime.

Say your child is elbowed in the mouth and a tooth gets severely displaced but does not get knocked out. Attempt to shift it back into place by applying light pressure, but be careful not to use too much force. Give your child a cold pack for the swelling and contact our office as soon as possible.

Dental emergencies can be frightening for the child as well as the parent. The best advice we can offer is to stay calm and be assured that we are always here to help! Contact us at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office as soon as you can, if your child encounters a dental emergency.

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 25th, 2018

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, make your Halloween a safe one!

What is hyperdontia?

October 18th, 2018

When a child is born, he or she will have 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth. But sometimes kids are born with additional teeth, and our team at SmileKidz calls this oral condition "hyperdontia." Primary teeth are the first set of teeth that erupt in your child's mouth, typically by the time they are 36 months old, and are shed by the time your child reaches the age of 12. Permanent teeth then take the place of the primary teeth and are usually fully-erupted by the time your son or daughter reaches 21 years of age. Anyone who develops more than 20 primary teeth or more than 32 permanent teeth has hyperdontia, and the additional teeth are referred to as supernumerary teeth.

While the cause of hyperdontia is not entirely clear, it is believed that there may be a genetic factor. Oral professionals have found that patients with extra teeth often have syndromes like cleidocranial dysplasia, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, Gardner syndrome, or cleft lip and palate. The prevalence of hyperdontia affects between one and four percent of the population in the United States, and the majority of cases are limited to a single tooth.

So, what is the best way to deal with hyperdontia? It really depends on the case. The treatment plan your doctor suggests varies according to the potential problem posed by the supernumerary teeth, as well as their type. Orthodontic treatment may certainly may help, but extraction can also be a good option. We recommend that children receive an oral evaluation or checkup no later than the age of seven. In addition to hygiene evaluation, this helps ensure your child does not experience hyperdontia problems.

If you suspect you or your child may be suffering from hyperdontia, please give us a call to schedule an appointment at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office to be evaluated.

What are Sealants?

October 11th, 2018

Sealants offer many benefits, but the best is their ability to protect your molars. Molars are full of small caverns that can be the perfect breeding ground for tooth decay and plaque buildup.

Use of protective sealants prevents this buildup from happening. Although children often receive sealants for routine preventive care, they aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this treatment. Sealants can also help adults who have deep canyons or grooves in their teeth.

They are commonly placed on the rear molars that tend to suffer the most decay. Because your molars are used substantially as grinding surfaces, food is more likely to be trapped among them.

Sealant solution consists a composite material that contains bonding agents that seal the top of your teeth. The process is quick and painless, which makes it a great solution for both children and adults who have had trouble with cavities and tooth decay. Sealants also last for several years, and repair is a simple process that can be completed by Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong.

The process of putting sealants on teeth starts with the tooth getting cleaned. We clean it with a type of baking soda spray called sodium bicarbonate. Then acid is etched onto the teeth to rough up the surface.

We apply an alcohol-based liquid to dry the area where the sealant is supposed to go. After it completely covers the surface of the treated teeth, the sealant is cured with a light that makes it hard and long-lasting.

Getting sealants can prevent the possible restorative costs that come from cavities. Sealants help to protect your tooth’s enamel from harmful acids and prevent decay, which can be an investment in itself. The whole process is quick, so it should be easy to schedule an appointment at SmileKidz.

Feel free to call our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO location and we can answer any questions you have about this service.

What's on your fall reading list?

October 4th, 2018

How better to spend the fall months than inside by the fireplace with a warm cup of cider and a book in hand? Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz 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 Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO 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!

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my child use?

September 27th, 2018

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team know that as a parent, you want your child to be as healthy as possible. By now, you probably know that your son or daughter’s oral health plays a huge role in overall health.

When there are so many toothpaste ads and different styles of brush to choose from, it can be difficult to know which will serve your child the best. We recommend you break down the decision process to make it simpler.

First, your child’s age and stage of development are vital to consider. Until about the age or 12, your youngster may not be prepared to brush or floss adequately alone, due to dexterity issues. If that’s the case, it can be easier to use a battery-powered toothbrush to improve the quality of brushing.

Next is to select the right size of toothbrush head to fit your child’s mouth. As a general rule, the head of the toothbrush should be a little larger than the upper portion of the child’s thumb.

Flossers are great for children and easy to use. They have handles and a horseshoe shape on one end with floss in between. Your child can choose a color he or she likes as well as the handle size, shape, etc.

Not only are there many brands of toothpaste to choose from, there are also many different ingredients that offer varying benefits. Kids are at high risk for developing cavities so you want to make sure the following ingredients are in your child’s toothpaste if you wish to avoid problems later on.

Sodium fluoride is the standard ingredient for cavity prevention, while stannous fluoride is anti-bacterial and anti-cavity. Anti-sensitivity toothpastes often contain potassium nitrate, and triclosan can be found in one particular brand for anti-bacterial action.

Fluoride should not be ingested, so if your child can’t spit yet, use a toothpaste that contains xylitol. This is a natural sweetener and should be the first ingredient listed on the tube.

Now comes the fun part: choosing a flavor! Your little one may sample different flavors and select the one he or she likes the best. A youngster is more likely to adopt good brushing habits if the flavor is appealing.

Don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong if you need to make an appointment at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, or if you have any questions about toothpastes or toothbrushes.

How do I handle my child’s dental emergency?

September 20th, 2018

Kids are active, and with lots of activity comes the potential for mishaps. Before an emergency occurs, you’d be smart to stay informed about the problems your child may encounter.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind about teething pain, loose baby teeth, and other common dental issues.

Teething Pain

Discomfort while teething is common for babies from the time they are four months until they are about two and a half. Teething can cause drooling, tender gums, and irritability. To help relieve your child’s discomfort, gently rub his or her gums with wet gauze or offer a cold teething ring.

Loose Baby Tooth

It is normal for a child’s first set of teeth to become loose and fall out. If a tooth is knocked out by a forceful blow, however, you should make an appointment with our office to determine whether any damage may have occurred. You should also book an appointment if the baby tooth that’s on its way out develops a crack but doesn’t fully fall out.

Issues with Permanent Teeth

Sometimes, permanent teeth can come in before the baby teeth have fallen out. In this event, schedule an appointment with us even if your child does not report discomfort or pain. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong will need to determine if the permanent teeth are coming in correctly to avoid problems later on.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can have multiple causes: periodontal disease, rough brushing, or an injury to the gum tissue. If your child experiences heavy bleeding, it’s vital to call our office immediately. Wash the youngster’s mouth with warm salt water and put gentle pressure on the area to soothe it before your appointment.

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team are always here to address any concerns you may have regarding your child’s dental health. Contact our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office for emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Snacks for Healthy Teeth

September 13th, 2018

Concerned parents often ask Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong about which kinds of snacks are best for a child's teeth. While most know that candy isn't always the best choice, many parents are confused about which kinds of after-school snacks can actually be beneficial for teeth. Left to their own devices, children might pick the sugary snack that comes in colorful packaging. There are, however, choices that are much better for your child's teeth.

Go Natural

The foods that are best for your children's teeth are also the best for their overall health. Choosing whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, is always the best option for snacks. Try sticks of celery and let your kids dip it into all-natural peanut butter, or a juicy and crunchy apple cut into wedges.

Lean Proteins

Lean protein, such as chicken breast, fish, turkey, and lean cuts of pork also make good snacking options. For the best overall health, avoid giving your child a lot of lunch meats, because such products are often higher in sodium. However, these proteins are also low in sugar, which is always a preferable choice when it comes to teeth.

Avoid Packaged Foods

Sugars are unhealthy partly because they stick more readily to the surface of the teeth. Even foods that appear to be healthy, such as many brands of granola bars, can in fact be loaded with hidden sugars. Sugar can also be found in higher concentrations in dried fruit, honey, and syrups. The rule is that if a foodstuff has been altered in any way from its original state then there are perhaps better choices.

Beverages

Drinks are another murky area. Parents often presume that fruit juices are an acceptable beverage when in reality many of them are loaded with excessive sugar as well. The best beverages for your child's teeth are water and low-fat milk. Milk has the added benefit of containing calcium, which is highly beneficial for the bone structure that supports the teeth.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but it is also a great snack to keep teeth healthy. The next time your children are looking for an after-school snack, guide them toward healthier, low-sugar options that are beneficial to their overall health and their teeth.

What was your favorite part of summer?

September 6th, 2018

It's the end of summer, and fall is just around the corner. Soon the temperatures will cool down, the leaves will start to change, and Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz are sure that you’ll soon be thinking about Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving plans in no time. But wait! First, we want to know about your favorite parts of the summer! Did you go on a wonderful family trip? Did you pick up a new hobby? Did you try to spend as much time outside and in the sun as possible?

Share your favorite memories, stories, or photos with us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

September 5th, 2018

Toothaches in children can be tricky ordeals that cause distress for both the child and the parent. You may feel helpless and frustrated because you cannot pinpoint the location of the pain. It is so hard to see your little one experience discomfort and feel like there is nothing you can do about it. But there are ways you can help. Try these tips the next time your child has a toothache.

Zero in on the Painful Area

The first thing you need to do is find out where the pain is coming from. If your child is old enough, ask him or her to point to the painful area. In younger children, look for swelling and redness on the gums and cheek, dental caries (discolorations on the tooth), or broken teeth. Try to get as close to the location of the pain as possible so you can determine an effective course of action to relieve it.

Try to Find the Cause

Not all toothaches are actually toothaches. A child can bite his or her tongue or cheek, have sore gums, or develop ulcers in the mouth. Teeth that are coming in can also be quite painful. If a tooth is discolored, broken, loose, or has spots that are either darker or lighter than the rest of the tooth, those could be causes of pain.

Five-Step Approach to Dental Pain Relief

  1. Floss. Help your child floss to remove any food particles that may be wedged between the teeth and could be causing pain.
  2. Rinse with warm salt water. Use a warm salt-water solution and have your child rinse well by swishing or holding the salt water over the painful area.
  3. Use a cold compress. This can relieve pain and swelling. If there is no swelling, you can try it anyway to subdue the pain. Try it on for about 15 minutes, then off for 20.
  4. Give the child ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Use the appropriate dosage for your child’s age and administer it regularly as directed.
  5. See Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong. If you determine that the tooth or gum is damaged, or if the pain simply cannot be relieved, call our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office.

If your child is experiencing throbbing pain, fatigue, or fever, you should call your pediatrician as soon as possible. If your child is experiencing mouth pain accompanied by trouble breathing or swallowing, it can indicate a more serious situation and you should take your son or daughter to the emergency room.

Most mouth pain in children can be remedied with the simple steps here. The important thing is that you remain calm, no matter what. You child is taking cues from you and if you panic, he or she will panic.

Happy Labor Day!

August 30th, 2018

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our Pediatric Dentistry office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

Are baby teeth really that important?

August 23rd, 2018

Your infant’s first teeth will begin to appear around six to 12 months of age. You might wonder how important these primary teeth really are. After all, baby teeth are destined to fall out within a few years and be replaced by a full set of permanent teeth. However, baby teeth have important functions, and proper care can set the stage for excellent oral and overall health.

Promote Better Nutrition

The appearance of your baby’s primary teeth around six to 12 months of age coincides with changes in your infant’s nutritional needs. Beginning at six months, exclusive breastfeeding is no longer nutritionally sufficient; this is the age at which you should introduce solid foods.

At six to eight months, when your baby can start to chew, strained or pureed fruits and vegetables are appropriate. As your little one’s teeth grow in and chewing abilities progress through 12 months of age, you can gradually add cereal, bread, cooked meats, and other adult foods to his or her nutritious diet.

Increase the Life Expectancy of Baby Teeth

Although baby teeth are inevitably going to fall out and be replaced by permanent ones, making baby teeth last serves an important role that can have benefits into the future. Baby teeth serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. If they decay and fall out too soon, permanent teeth are more likely to grow in crooked.

How to Take Care of Baby Teeth

Your baby’s primary teeth are already in his or her mouth at birth; they are just invisible because they have not broken through the gums. Since they are already present, your baby can get cavities if you do not practice proper oral hygiene from the beginning.

  • Do not let your baby fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth.
  • Brush your child’s baby teeth twice a day as soon as they come in.
  • Floss your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch.
  • Visit SmileKidz for your baby’s first checkup when the first tooth arrives.

Easing the Teething Blues

August 16th, 2018

Every moment of your baby’s first year of life is precious, since every day your child grows a little, develops new skills, and discovers new things. Most of it is wonderful, but parents don’t like to see their babies in pain. That’s why teething can be such a hard experience. However, you can take steps to make it easier for you and your baby.

What to Expect

Most babies begin teething around the age of six months, when the lower central incisors start to appear. Shortly after this time, the upper central incisors poke through, followed by the lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and second molars. Unfortunately, you’ll probably know that your baby is teething not because you see these teeth come in, but because your baby will be in discomfort. These are some of the signs to watch for when you’re expecting your baby to begin teething.

  • Tender and sore gums
  • More drooling than before
  • Being crankier than usual
  • Chewing on hard objects

What You Can Do

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to make your child more comfortable. These are some approaches that Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team recommend:

  • Take a clean moistened wash cloth or use your own washed finger to rub your baby’s gums and provide relief due to the pressure.
  • Provide a firm rubber teething ring for your baby to use, but don't use the type that is filled with liquid.
  • Use a bottle. A bottle filled with cold water can be soothing. Don’t give your baby formula, milk, or juice constantly because the sugar can cause tooth decay.
  • Medications can help for extreme crankiness. Infant Tylenol is an example, but it’s best to check with your pediatrician before giving your baby medications.

You might also want to take special care to dry the drool. It’s not just to keep yourself and your baby dry. Keeping your baby’s skin dry can help prevent irritation.

When to Visit Us

Once your child’s first tooth comes in, it’s time to start thinking your baby’s first trip to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office. The American Dental Association suggests that you bring your child to the dentist within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, or at about one year of age. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong can do a quick check for tooth decay, and we’ll make sure you know how to take care of your child’s new teeth.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

August 9th, 2018

Depending on how long the thumb sucking or constant pacifier use continues, and how aggressively the child sucks a thumb or the pacifier, it can indeed be an oral health issue. Generally speaking, most children outgrow these behaviors or are able to be weaned off them successfully sometime between ages two and four. When children wean off the behaviors in this age range, long-term damage is unlikely.

Why Kids Suck Their Thumb or Pacifier

Both of these habits are actually a form of self soothing that your child likely uses when he or she is very upset, or feeling stressed, confused, frustrated, or unable to properly express the emotions. If your son or daughters is a regular thumb sucker, or the child wants to use the pacifier almost constantly, it is best to try to taper off these habits at a young age.

If your child continues to suck a thumb or request a pacifier consistently after leaving toddler-hood, this could be a source of concern, and it should be addressed with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff. We will be able to evaluate your child's mouth to look for any signs of damage such as palate changes or teeth shifting.

Say Goodbye to Old Habits

In the event that your child is quite reluctant to give up a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit, there are a few things you can do to discourage these behaviors.

  • When you notice that your child is not using a pacifier or sucking a thumb, offer effusive praise. This type of positive reinforcement can be much more effective than scolding the child.
  • Consider instituting a reward system for giving up the habit. If the child goes a certain amount of time without this behavior, award him or her for being such a “big kid.”
  • Employ the help of older siblings or relatives that your child admires. When a child’s role model says that he or she stopped sucking thumbs at a certain age, your child is likely to try to emulate that.

How do I clean my baby’s teeth?

August 2nd, 2018

Creating good dental hygiene habits early in your child’s life is essential to the health of his or her teeth, even when your infant doesn’t have any. By starting now, you can set the foundation for your son or daughter’s oral health later on in life.

When do I start?

The best time to begin brushing your baby’s teeth is before that first tooth ever comes in. Wipe your little one’s gums gently with a soft washcloth soaked in warm water every day. Not only will this help to get rid of bacteria in the mouth, but it will also familiarize your child with a daily brushing routine.

What do I use?

When your child’s teeth begin to emerge, it’s time to switch to a baby toothbrush. Select one with a big grip for your hand and a small head that’s easy to maneuver in your baby’s mouth.

Your little one won’t need toothpaste until he or she is about a year old; and even then, only a small amount is necessary. Apply an amount the size of a grain of rice and move to a pea-sized amount when your infant is about two years old.

By around six years, your child will probably rinse and spit without your help. At this time, you may introduce a child-friendly fluoride mouthwash.

How do I do it?

Until about age five or six, it’s likely your child will still need your help with brushing teeth. Gently scrub over all the teeth and gums, even where teeth have yet to come in. It may be helpful to explain what you are doing and how you are doing it, so your toddler can learn to brush her or his teeth alone.

Paired with regular visits with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, proper hygiene habits instilled in your child early on will set up a good foundation for a healthy mouth in the future.

The History and Mythology of the Tooth Fairy

July 26th, 2018

While the last baby teeth generally aren’t lost until age ten or 11, most children stop believing in the tooth fairy by the time they're seven or eight. Of course, children are more than happy to play along with the game when there’s money at stake! While it is impossible to know what the tooth fairy does with all those teeth (are they labeled and stored like museum pieces in a giant fairytale castle?), it is possible to trace the history and myth of the tooth fairy to several cultures and traditions. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team learned about some interesting myths about the tooth fairy!

The Middle Ages

Legend has it that Europeans in the Middle Ages believed a witch could curse someone by using their teeth, so it was important to dispose of baby teeth correctly. Teeth were swallowed, buried, or burned. Sometimes baby teeth were even left for rodents to eat. Despite being pests, rodents were valued for their strong teeth; it was generally believed a tooth fed to a rodent would lead to the development of a healthy and strong adult tooth.

Eighteenth Century France

The tooth fairy myth began to show more characteristics of a conventional fairytale in 18th century France. La Bonne Petite Souris, a bedtime story, tells the strange tale of a fairy that changes into a mouse to help a good queen defeat an evil king. The mouse secretly hides under the evil king’s pillow and defeats him by knocking out his teeth.

Scandinavian Lore

So, why does the tooth fairy leave money under the pillow? The idea of exchanging a tooth for coins originated in Scandinavia. Vikings paid children for a lost tooth. Teeth were worn on necklaces as good luck charms in battle. While the idea of exchanging a tooth for coins quickly spread throughout the rest of Europe, a fierce, horn-helmeted Viking is far cry from the image of a fairy collecting teeth.

While the tooth fairy as children know her today didn’t make an appearance until the 1900s, tooth myths and rites of passage have existed in numerous cultures since the dawn of time.

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

July 19th, 2018

A study conducted in Washington State in 2004 and another conducted in Madrid, Spain in 2012 both reported findings that support a direct relationship between parents’ dental fear and their child’s fear of the dentist.

The Washington study examined dental fear among 421 children ages 0.8 to 12.8 years old. They were patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in western Washington state. The Spanish study observed 183 children between the ages of seven and 12 as well as their parents.

The Washington study used responses from both parents and the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey consisted of 15 questions, which invited answers based on the child’s level of fear. The scale was one to five: one meant the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicated he or she was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those among their kids. The most important new discovery from the Madrid study was that the greater the fear a father had of going to the dentist, the higher the level of fear among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who feared dental procedures appeared to pass those fears along to every member of the family. Parents can still have some control over fear levels in their children. It is best not to express your own concerns in front of kids; instead, explain why going to the dentist is important.

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team work hard to make your child’s visit at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office as comfortable as possible. We understand some patients may be more fearful than others, and will do our best to help ease your child’s anxiety.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

July 12th, 2018

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team know it can be easy to underestimate the significance of baby teeth. At SmileKidz, we sometimes meet parents who assume that since their child's baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, eventually fall out and are replaced, they are less important. But did you know baby teeth serve purposes other than biting, chewing, and digesting food properly?

Baby teeth are essential not only for your child’s language development, but they also serve other important functions, like contributing to the normal development of your child’s jaw bones and facial muscles. Baby teeth also reserve space for your child’s future permanent teeth.

So, when do baby teeth fall out?

A baby tooth is intended to remain in your child’s mouth until the permanent tooth underneath it is ready to take its place. Sometimes, either due to a tooth being knocked out accidentally or being removed because of tooth decay, kids lose baby teeth before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt. If a tooth is lost, the teeth on either side of the open space may possibly push into the open space. The result? There may not be enough room for the permanent tooth when it is finally ready to erupt.

If you have any questions about your toddler’s teeth, or if your child is experiencing issues that concern you, please give us a call to set up an appointment at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office.

Caring for Your Cat’s Dental Health

July 5th, 2018

While you make sure your family is getting the best care possible, with regular dental checkups and cleanings at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, there is one family member that might be hiding under the bed when it’s time for tooth care. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition affecting adult cats—and it is completely preventable!

Periodontal disease starts when the bacteria in your pet’s mouth form plaque. The plaque can harden into tartar, and, if plaque and tartar spread under the gum line, can be responsible for a number of serious problems. Tooth loss, tissue damage, bone loss, and infection can be the result of periodontal disease. Professional dental treatment is important if your cat is suffering from periodontal disease, and your vet can describe the options available to you.

But, like with humans, prevention is the best way to assure these problems never develop, and there are several methods for avoiding plaque and tartar build-up.

Brushing: Yes, there are toothbrushes and toothpastes specifically designed for your cat! If a toothbrush is not working for you or your pet, there are cat-sized finger brushes available as well. Daily brushing is most effective, but try for at least several times each week. The process of introducing brushing should be a slow and gentle one, and seafood and poultry flavored pastes make the process more palatable. (Human toothpaste is not good for your cat due to its abrasiveness, and swallowing the foam might pose a danger to your pet.)

Anti-plaque rinses and gels: If despite your gentle persistence your cat simply will not cooperate with brushing, there are other options! Rinses and gels containing Chlorhexidine are effective and do not usually pose a problem for pets—although they might not take to the flavor. Rinses can be squirted inside each cheek or gels can be applied to the teeth with a toothbrush or finger brush. Talk to your vet to find the safest and most effective products.

Diet: Whether they use a particular shape and texture to simulate brushing or an anti-tartar ingredient, several pet foods claim to reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar. Your vet is the best resource for nutritional suggestions to make sure your cat’s dental and physical diet is as healthy as it can be.

Whether you try brushing, rinses, gels or a tooth-friendly diet, patience and a gentle touch are the best way to introduce dental hygiene. Talk to your vet at your cat’s next checkup, and find out what you can do to keep your feline friend healthy and happy. An ounce of prevention might be worth a pound of purr!

Fun Facts for the Fourth

June 28th, 2018

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at SmileKidz.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

June 21st, 2018

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office.

Camping Oral Health Tips

June 14th, 2018

If your idea of camping is a quiet walk through the woods before returning to your rustic hotel, your regular brushing habits will be perfect for your trip. But if you are hiking into the mountains with your tent, backpack, and camp food, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team have some suggestions to adapt your dental routine to the great outdoors.

Water

If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t brush with it! Use bottled water if you have brought it, or make sure the local water is safe by using a testing kit. Boiling, filters and purification tablets are all ways to make sure the water tests clean and safe.

Toothpaste

You aren’t the only one in the woods who finds your toothpaste tasty. Bears, raccoons, and other animals are attracted to the scent of your toothpaste, so keep it safe with the same kind of tightly sealed, odor-proof container that you keep your food in. And if you want to discourage unwanted visitors, don’t spit your toothpaste out at your campground! It’s better to go some distance from your site and bury any paste, and best of all to spit used toothpaste into a container that can be tightly closed and removed from the campsite when you head for home. This practice protects you and the environment as well, since toothpaste can be harmful to small animals and plants.

Toothbrush

While there are disposable and camping toothbrushes available, a regular toothbrush will work as well. Normally, air-drying is the healthiest option for drying your toothbrush, but camping is an exception. Just as animals are attracted to toothpaste, they are also attracted to your toothpaste-scented toothbrush. Keep it in a sealed container that is odor-proof.

Floss

There are websites devoted to the many ingenious ways to use dental floss while camping, but we recommend the original use. Don’t forget to floss regularly, keep it in a sealed container, and do be sure to take used floss out of the area with you.

Even though you are roughing it, stick with your home routine as much as possible. If you are unable to brush as usual, rinse your mouth well with clean water and brush when you can. Have a great trip, and just one more thought—maybe go easy on the s’mores. Let us know all about your trip during your next visit to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Smile! June marks National Smile Month!

June 7th, 2018

Can you believe it’s already June? Today, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz thought we’d let you know that June is National Smile Month, so it’s a good time to remind all our young patients to practice proper oral hygiene between their visits to our office!

Below are a few simple steps your child can take to improve his or her oral health so that your family can celebrate National Smile Month for many, many years to come:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between the teeth
  • Limit the intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit us every six months for regular checkups

If you have questions about any of these tips, we encourage you to give us a call, ask Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong or our team during your next visit, or ask us on Facebook!

Five Nutrition Tips for Healthy Kids' Smiles

May 31st, 2018

If your child could have it his way, chances are he would eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, a peanut butter and fluff sandwich for lunch, and chicken fingers slathered in ketchup for dinner.

Kids will be kids, and maintaining a healthy diet is often the farthest thing from their minds. Do you remember the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, that folksy wisdom can be applied to oral health, too. Think of it like this: an apple a day keeps the dentist at bay. Here are five nutrition tips Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz wanted to pass along that will give your child a healthy, bright smile.

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. We weren't joking about the apple. An apple naturally scrubs and cleans your teeth. The nutrients and antioxidants in vegetables are good for the entire body.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calcium is a mineral needed by the body for healthy bones and teeth, and proper function of the heart, muscles, and nerves. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of calcium. Dark leafy vegetables and calcium-fortified foods like orange juice and tofu are also healthy options.
  3. Keep snacking to a minimum. Sticky and gummy snacks can increase a child’s risk of tooth decay. Unless a child brushes after every snack (and what child does?), sticky snacks can easily get lodged between the teeth.
  4. Limit soda intake. Drinking large amounts of soda has been linked to childhood obesity. Soda is loaded with sugars and acids, and these ingredients also damage the teeth. Soft drinks have long been one of the most prominent sources of tooth decay. Have your child drink water throughout the day or juice that’s low in sugar concentrate.
  5. Chew sugarless gum. After all those fruits and vegetables, sooner or later your child is going to want a treat. Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which in turn helps keep teeth clean and bacteria-free. Sugarless gum contains xylitol. The combination of excess saliva and xylitol reduces plaque, fights cavities, and prevents the growth of oral bacteria.

For more information on keeping your child’s smile looking its very best, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Memorial Day and Getting Ready for Summer

May 24th, 2018

Memorial Day didn't become an official holiday until 1971, but Americans started gathering annually in the spring to remember those who lost their lives in war during the 1860s, right after the Civil War. Celebrated on the last Monday in May, people still decorate the grave sites of war veterans and hold memorial services, but Memorial Day has also evolved into a day that signifies the beginning of summer.

During the summer months, many people take road trips to visit family members. Some head off to the airport to enjoy a long-awaited vacation far away, while others look forward to spending time with friends and family at home. However you spend Memorial Day and the subsequent summer months, there are a few things you can take care of to ensure your summertime is enjoyable.

Checklist for an Enjoyable Summer

  • Have the AC Checked. During the hottest days of summer, many families find themselves sweating it out due to a broken air conditioning system. Be proactive so you can avoid waiting for hours or days because the HVAC repair person is booked solid. Have your air conditioning system checked before or around Memorial Day each year.
  • Ensure Security While You're Away. When you leave for vacation, the last thing you should have to worry about is the security of your home. Install a home security system, if possible, and put a timer on your lights so they go on and off at normal hours. You can also alert your local police department that you'll be gone, and ask them to drive by your house once in a while to make sure everything is okay.
  • Visit Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong Before Vacation. Many people put off exams until after summer vacation. Avoid the crowds and make sure your physical and oral health are in top shape prior to vacation time so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Our team at SmileKidz wants you to look forward to Memorial Day and the days of summer by preparing to spend the time safely and comfortably. As you plan ahead, take care of your health and secure your home, you can place your focus on creating memories with family members and friends while enjoying your favorite Memorial Day traditions.

Oral Health Concerns for Teens

May 17th, 2018

You have a lot more freedom as a teenager than you did as a young child. You also have a lot more responsibilities, and one of your jobs is to take care of your teeth. Develop and maintain good dental habits now so you can have great dental health for life!

Tooth Decay

As a teenager, you risk tooth decay, or dental cavities, if you are not careful. In fact, 59% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have at least one cavity, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff recommend keeping your teeth strong and healthy by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every day.

If you suspect that you have tooth decay, do not be embarrassed. Instead, ask your parents to bring you to SmileKidz to get it looked at. When you do not treat your dental cavities, they can turn into more serious problems. A severely damaged tooth may need to be treated with a root canal or even an extraction.

You can take easy steps to prevent tooth decay when you are at school or hanging out with your friends. Carry a bottle of water around with you so you can take a sip after you eat any kind of food. Choose water or milk instead of soda or sports drinks, and if you chew gum, select a sugar-free flavor.

Other Oral Health Concerns

You can probably think of many reasons why you should not smoke or use tobacco. Your oral health is another one. Tobacco gives you bad breath and stains your teeth yellow. It also increases your risk for gum disease and cancer of the mouth. Smoking even slows the speed of healing after you have dental procedures done.

Here are a few more tips that can keep your mouth attractive and healthy during your teen years.

  • Drink plenty of milk.
  • Limit candies and sugary snacks.
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play a contact sport.
  • Visit SmileKidz twice a year.
  • Reduce infections and avoid piercing your tongue and lips.

You only get one set of permanent teeth in your life, so get in the habit of taking care of them now!

Five Tips for Taking Tots to the Dentist

May 10th, 2018

Toddlers are notoriously balky about strangers. But their first dental visit should not be cause for fear and tears. Nor should you assume that getting your toddler to SmileKidz is going to involve a full-blown tantrum or Mafia-style bribery. “Honey, don’t worry. We’ll go get ice cream after…” sort of defeats the purpose of making that first dental appointment.

These five tips will make your toddler’s trip to see Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong as fun as a stop at an amusement park.

1. Before you make a dental appointment for your child, take him or her on a ride-along to one of your dental appointments. Let your son or daughter experience the office and get the lay of the land. Toddlers don’t like surprises. But if your little one is already familiar with the big chair that goes up and down, the next time he or she will have no problem taking a seat.

2. About the big dental chair … well, it’s really an amusement park ride. See how it goes up and down? Toddlers love games, and turning the trip to the dentist into a game is among the oldest (and most successful) tricks in the parent playbook.

3. Positive reinforcement is a good thing. That's why Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff hand out cool toothbrushes or stickers to children after their appointment. A fun-colored toothbrush with a suction bottom is a good incentive to come back for another cleaning.

4. Timing is everything. Don’t take your child to the dentist an hour before the daily nap. Make the appointment with your child’s schedule in mind. This increases the chances of success.

5. A few days before the scheduled appointment, start reading your toddler bedtimes stories about what happens at the dentist. Dora the Explorer’s Show Me Your Smile, written by Christine Ricci, is a popular dental story that your child might relate to.

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 3rd, 2018

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at SmileKidz.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

Pediatric Dentistry Q&A

April 26th, 2018

Today, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz thought we would answer some of the most frequent questions about pediatric dentistry and oral health we hear from parents.

What constitutes a “healthy, balanced diet” for my child?

A healthy, balanced diet contains all the nutrients your child needs to grow, including one serving each of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs per day. Make sure your child limits snacking in between meals and limits how frequently they consume food or beverages that contain sugar, which is known to cause tooth decay. Besides pastries, cookies, and candy, sugars are usually found in processed foods such as crackers, cereals, and soda, as well as in condiments like ketchup.

Should my kid give up all foods that contain sugar?

Absolutely not, we simply recommend choosing and serving sugars sparingly. A food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. When your child chews during his or her meal, the saliva produced helps neutralize the acids that are found in sugary and starchy foods. Foods that are not easily washed away from your child’s teeth by saliva, water, or milk have more cavity-causing potential.

What causes cavities?

Many types of bacteria live in our mouths—some good, some bad. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on your child’s teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids then attack the enamel, and eventually eat through the enamel and create holes in the teeth, which Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team call cavities, or caries.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

This is a great question that we hear a lot. Make sure that your child brushes his teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing simply can’t. And finally, we encourage you to schedule regular appointments with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office so that we can check the state of your child’s teeth and gums, as well as provide a professional cleaning to protect him or her from cavities and gum disease.

What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

We recommend you clean your baby’s gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. This is even before your baby’s first tooth appears. As soon as his or her first tooth does appear, you may begin using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore or ask us for one during your next visit.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, we recommend rinsing the irritated area with warm salt water and placing a cold compress on his or her face if it is swollen. If you have any at home, give your child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the affected teeth or gums. Finally, give us a call as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong.

We hope that helps! Please give us a call if you have any questions or ask us next time you visit our office for your child’s appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong! If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Earth Day

April 19th, 2018

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. He envisioned an Earth Day that would be a kind of environmental teach-in. The first Earth Day celebration took place on April 22, 1970, and a surprising 20 million people participated on that day. Ultimately, it became the largest organized celebration in US history.

Earth Day Over the Years

Over the years, the recognition of the day, and the number of people celebrating it all over the world, turned Earth Day into an international celebration. Because it is celebrated throughout the world, it is not only the largest international environmental observation, but it is also more widely celebrated than any other environmental event in the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries where over 500 million people participate in celebrations.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement is credited with developing the idea that people should “think green”. It encouraged congress to enact laws, including one that resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also inspired the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

The Five R's and Their Importance

  • Reduce – Reduce by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Reduce your use of materials that wind up in landfills. Reduce the use of chemicals around your house. Reduce your use of disposable bags, plates, cups, eating utensils, and batteries.
  • Reuse – Instead of using plastic bags for your groceries or purchases, bring your own reusable bags. When you go to buy coffee at Starbucks, take a travel mug so you don't have to get your coffee in a disposable paper cup. Instead of storing food in disposable refrigerator containers, buy containers that can be washed and reused. Don't use regular batteries. Whenever possible, opt for rechargeable batteries that you can reuse.
  • Recycle – Most cities offer a recycling program to collect used bottles, cans, and newspapers. Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers and manufacturing raw materials into new products.
  • Re-buy – Make an effort to purchase things that are made through recycling. When purchasing furniture, look for items that are made from reclaimed wood. When buying paper for kids school work, computer printer paper, holiday cards, or anything else, make a point of purchasing recycled paper products. Instead of buying clothing at full retail price, shop for second hand clothing. You will save a lot of money by doing so!
  • Rethink – Rethink the way you do things so that you do them in an eco-conscious way at all times. Instead of driving to work alone, consider taking the bus or going in a carpool. Walk or ride your bike when you're only going a short distance. Plan your shopping trips and errand runs so that you can do everything on one day, and do it in a way where you can save time and gas.

Other ways to "think green" include growing your own food, composting yard waste and food scraps, or by participating in local recycling programs. Join a group like Freecycle so you can share your unneeded and unwanted possessions with people who can use them. Likewise, you'll be able to get things you need or want for free.

Earth Day teaches people that the planet belongs to everyone, so everyone is equally responsible for protecting it. Although Earth Day is an environmental celebration, our team at SmileKidz wants to remind you that you don't have to wait until then to make changes that will allow you and your family to live a greener life.

Happy Earth Day from the team at SmileKidz.

Healthy Diet for Adolescents

April 12th, 2018

Adolescence is a critical period for oral hygiene. By the teenage years, kids will have lost all their baby teeth and replaced them with permanent teeth. Furthermore, many oral hygiene habits solidified in adolescence carry through to adulthood. Teaching adolescents to follow a healthy diet not only benefits their physical fitness but helps them maintain strong teeth and healthy gums.

Fruits and vegetables

Parents know that eating broccoli is important, but were you aware that it can keep teeth and gums healthy, too? Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz will tell you that eating plenty of crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, celery, apples, and pears, increases your saliva production. Saliva works to brush away bad bacteria that produce dangerous acids that wear away tooth enamel.

It’s also important to avoid acidic foods, which can exacerbate cavities and other dental problems. Although oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit, lemons, and berries are healthy, they can also wear away the enamel of your teeth. To be safe, it’s important to brush after each meal or swish with mouthwash to remove excess acid from your mouth.

Sugar-free foods

Many candies and treats are chock-full of sugar, making them dangerous for your child’s dental health. If you have a sweet tooth, fear not: you don’t have to give up the sweet stuff entirely. Whenever possible, opt for sugar-free substitutes rather than regular sugar. For example, chewing sugar-free gum or drinking sugar-free beverages is better for teeth. These sugar substitute molecules don’t wear away enamel, which makes them safer for dental health.

Watch the beverages

Most adolescents have been told that soda will rot your teeth, but you may not realize that other beverages can be just as sugary. Many fruit juices, even those that boast 100% fruit, contain dozens of grams of sugar per serving. Similarly, popular energy drinks pack a sugary punch. When possible, drink water or milk. If your child is craving a hot beverage, turn to tea over hot chocolate or a sugary latte.

Dairy products

Teeth are like any other bones; they rely on calcium and other minerals to stay strong. To help build strong teeth, have your child drink milk or eat other dairy products to get his or her daily calcium. Yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese are good options as well. If your child can’t tolerate dairy, consider calcium-fortified soy milk or orange juice to provide that daily dose of vitamins and minerals.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

They're just baby teeth, right?

April 5th, 2018

“But they are only baby teeth; won’t they just fall out?” Our team at SmileKidz has had these questions asked many times from parents over the years. Primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” will indeed come out eventually, to be replaced by permanent teeth as the child grows and develops. These teeth serve a great purpose as the child continues to develop and require specific care.

Because baby teeth are temporary, some parents are unenthusiastic about fixing cavities in them. This may be due to the cost or having to force a child undergo the process—especially having to receive an injection. But if a cavity is diagnosed early enough, an injection can often be avoided. More important, failure to fill cavities in primary teeth when they are small and manageable can have lasting consequences in cost and health concerns. Serious illnesses in children have been diagnosed which began as a cavity.

Primary teeth act as a guide for permanent teeth. When decay reaches the nerve and blood supply of a tooth, this can cause an abscess. Severe pain and swelling may result. At that point, the only treatment options are either to remove the tooth or to perform a procedure similar to a baby root canal. When a primary tooth is lost prematurely—to decay or a painful abscess—the adjacent teeth will often shift and block the eruption of a permanent tooth. Braces or spacers become necessary to avoid crowding or impaction of the permanent tooth.

There is nothing more heartbreaking for Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong than to have to treat a child experiencing pain and fear. To all the parents of my little patients our team strongly recommend filling a small cavity and not waiting until it becomes a larger problem such as those described above.

Prevention is the key to a healthy mouth for our smallest patients. Parents should allow the child to brush his or her teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and then take a turn to ensure the plaque gets removed from all surfaces: cheek side, tongue side, and chewing edges of all the teeth.

Understanding Cavities

March 29th, 2018

Getting a cavity seems like delayed punishment for eating that special dessert every weekend or for the few days you forgot to floss. When you are doing everything right with minimal exception and a cavity is diagnosed, it is discouraging. Knowing how cavities form and what causes them is valuable in knowing how to prevent them. In this blog post, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong will help you understand cavities!

A cavity is not a one-time event. It is actually a symptom of a disease called caries. Tooth decay is a result of an active infection and condition in the mouth. There are ingredients to this infection, which include bacteria, acid, your tooth, and a food source. The main bacterial culprit is S. Mutans. Bacteria live in a housing structure called biofilm. This offers them protection, food, and an ideal replicating environment.

Biofilm can be healthy if there is a balance of good bacteria. When you have caries, the numbers of “bad” bacteria increase and produce an environment where they thrive and therefore cause tooth decay. A main indicator of this is a pH measurement of your saliva.

Several factors can influence the biofilm pH. Foods and beverages all have different pH levels. The lower the number, the higher the acidity. Since acid promotes tooth decay, a beverage like soda will promote a cavity. Water, being neutral, is a good choice to promote healthy oral pH. Healthy eating can still cause cavities. Here is an example of a highly acidic, yet traditionally healthy meal:

Toast with store-bought strawberry jam, and a cup of cottage cheese topped with fresh cranberries.

Instead, here is a better choice, which involves mixing acidic healthy foods with alkaline (non-acidic) foods to reduce the overall pH:

Toast with almond butter, and Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries.

The first example will result in a very low pH in the mouth and even in the rest of the body. The second meal mixes highly acidic blueberries with an alkaline Greek yogurt. Dairy products from cows are highly acidic. Toast is acidic because of the yeast and almonds are alkaline.

A natural buffer is saliva. Whenever mouth breathing or medications compromise the saliva flow, the pH is going to drop and caries can go rampant. Getting a cavity is not just about the sweets or forgotten flossing sessions. It is about the pH levels and bacterial management.

For more helpful tips about how to avoid cavities, contact our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office.

How do I handle my child’s dental emergency?

March 22nd, 2018

With children undergoing developmental dental changes and engaging in rough-and-tumble activities, dental emergencies can sometimes arise. If your child knocks out a tooth or experiences any type of oral discomfort, call SmileKidz right away so we can provide you with a quick assessment and pain-free treatment.

Before an emergency occurs, it’s a good idea to stay informed about the problems your child may encounter. Here are a few things you should keep in mind about teething pain, loose baby teeth, and other common dental issues.

Teething Pain

Typically occurring in babies that are between four months and two and a half years old, teething may cause excessive drooling, tender gums, and some irritability. Giving your baby a cold teething ring or gently rubbing her gums with wet gauze or your finger may also make her feel better.

Loose Baby Tooth

It is normal for a child’s first set of teeth to become loose and fall out. On the other hand, if your child’s baby tooth is knocked loose, schedule an appointment with our office so we can assess whether any damage has been done.

Issues with Permanent Teeth

Sometimes a child’s permanent teeth will grow in before the baby teeth have fallen out. Even if this condition isn’t causing any discomfort, you should schedule an appointment with our office so we can determine whether your child’s permanent teeth are growing in correctly.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums can result from a number of factors, including periodontal disease, rough brushing, or an injury to the gum tissue. If your child’s gums are bleeding heavily, call our office right away so we can address the situation. If you have time before your appointment, wash your child’s mouth with salted water and gently put pressure on the affected area.

Regardless of the type of dental issue your child has, you can always consult Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong for further guidance. We make sure our emergency services are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, so you have ready access to convenient and professional dental care that will have your child feeling better in no time.

St. Patrick's Day

March 15th, 2018

On March 17, everyone has a little Irish in them. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of Irish heritage. The holiday originated as a commemoration of Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. The saint arrived in Ireland in 432 and earned the reputation of a champion of Irish Christianity. March 17th, the day of St. Patrick’s death, has been commemorated by the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed as a religious feast day by several Christian denominations, but it is better known in the public imagination as a rich celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Each year, the Irish celebrate with a several-day festival that includes theater performances, music, fireworks, and festive parades. The celebration is also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In other parts of the world with heavy Irish populations, it is an unofficial celebration of Irish heritage. Parts of Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia commemorate the holiday each year. Typical celebrations in these countries include drinking green beer, wearing green, eating traditional Irish foods, parades, and shamrock decorations.

Many people, Irish and non-Irish alike, take part in the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. His use of shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish made the green clover emblematic of the holiday, leading to the traditional green attire worn by thousands on St. Patrick’s Day. Other little-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day include the following:

  • Each year, the United States and Ireland face off in a rugby competition called the “St. Patrick’s Day Test.”
  • Montreal celebrates the holiday with an annual parade, which has been held each year since 1824. The Montreal city flag even features a shamrock in its corner, as a nod to its Irish heritage.
  • The Guinness World Records named St. Patrick’s Day the “Friendliest Day of the Year.”
  • Along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

No matter your cultural heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to let loose and celebrate your inner Irish-ness! Don your greenest attire and exclaim “Erin go Bragh!” (Ireland forever!) to everyone you meet. From Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong - have a great St. Paddy’s day!

March is National Nutrition Month!

March 1st, 2018

While you don’t have to wait to start eating right, March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks everyone to pay special attention to what goes into our bodies. The Academy has designated the month of March for focusing the public’s awareness on what they eat.

What Not to Eat

The academy points out that the foods you eat have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. That is why Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz tell our patients to cut back on both candy and sweets. They consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth and enhance tooth decay.

It’s the hidden sugars that will cost you, though. Get in the habit of reading labels on food and looking for products with added sugar. This includes ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” When it comes to nutrition, these foods offer little value beyond satisfying that sweet tooth.

What You Should Eat

Turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.

You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Use some caution with acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes, because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.

Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a fun reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

We encourage you to give us a call at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office to learn more!

Treatment and Diagnosis for Your Child’s Teeth Grinding

February 22nd, 2018

The habit of grinding teeth can be both painful and harmful for your children. If you discover that they are frequently grinding their teeth—a condition called bruxism—here is some helpful information on the problem, and how you can find help to put a halt to it.

How to Know if Your Child is Grinding

Sometimes, identifying a child that grinds teeth is as simple as checking in while he or she is asleep. At other times, you may not be able to readily identify the grinding problem. A few of the most common symptoms associated with bruxism include:

  • Frequent teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw (in some cases it may be more subtle; in others it may be loud enough that you can hear it)
  • Teeth that are worn down
  • Complaints of sensitive teeth
  • Pain or tightness in the jaw muscles, or an earache or other jaw pain
  • Frequent unexplained headaches

In most cases, if your children are grinding their teeth, they will do it at night. If the teeth grinding is a result of excessive amounts of stress, it may also happen during the daytime. Some of the most common reasons children grind their teeth involve:

  • Improper alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • As a response to pain, especially for tooth, jaw, or gum pain
  • Excessive stress, tension, or anger

Treatment Options for Bruxism

In many cases, children will grow out of the teeth grinding as their permanent teeth develop, replacing poorly aligned or painful baby teeth. If your child grinds his or her teeth more frequently, or you begin to notice significant damage, it may be more serious and need to be addressed by Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong before it causes more permanent pain or problems.

In some cases, our team at SmileKidz may recommend that your child wears a protective mouthguard to prevent grinding, or work with a therapist or other specialist to develop awareness of the grinding. If the grinding is caused by stress or anxiety, it may be helpful for you to sit down and talk to your child each day about how she is feeling, and why, to help her work through the stress.

Teeth grinding can be a painful, problematic condition for some children. However, a combination of parental vigilance and frequent visits for regular checkups at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office can help. If you are concerned that your child may be grinding his or her teeth, and it could cause permanent damage before the child grows out of it, come talk to us about strategies for dealing with bruxism, and ways for you to help your child.

Sealants Protect Your Child’s Teeth from Decay

February 15th, 2018

Sealants provide a thin coating over molars that can be a powerful tool to protect your child’s teeth from decay. This simple and painless solution can be applied in a matter of minutes by our team at SmileKidz, forming a protective shield and avoiding costly and painful cavities or other forms of tooth decay later.

The Causes of Tooth Decay

Our mouths are routinely filled with germs and bacteria. Some of these bacteria can be helpful in converting the foods we eat (especially sugars in the food) into acids that our bodies use to break down food. However, when we eat too much sugar, the excess acids can cause cavities and other decay in teeth.

Molars (our chewing teeth) are prime sites for tooth decay because they have rough surfaces with lots of little grooves where small food particles and germs find places to stay for extended periods of time. If you can prevent tooth decay in your child’s teeth now, you may be able to avoid treatments for decaying teeth later in life—costly and painful procedures like crowns and fillings.

Protecting Against Decay

A comprehensive plan for mouth care can protect against tooth decay. This plan should include:

  • Drinking water with fluoride in it or using other fluoride supplements
  • Eating a healthy diet (avoiding excessive sugar)
  • Brushing teeth regularly
  • Applying sealants

On their own, each of these activities is good but does not provide enough protection against decay. Fluoride is best for protecting the smooth surfaces of our front teeth, but may not provide enough of a shield for our rough, uneven back teeth. In addition, toothbrush bristles may not get to all the tiny food particles and germs in our mouths. For these reasons, sealants are the recommended preventive measure for molars in the fight against germs.

Who needs sealants, and when?

The best time to get a sealant is when your child’s adult teeth are just growing in. Between the ages of about five and seven, children grow their first permanent molar teeth, and they grow a second set of permanent molars between the ages of 11 and 14. Sealants placed on these teeth as soon as they grow in will be most effective in preventing tooth decay before it occurs.

If your child still has his or her baby teeth, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong may recommend sealants for teeth that are especially rough or uneven and may be prone to tooth decay. When your child loses his or her baby teeth, we will apply new sealants to the permanent teeth when they grow in. In addition, our team may recommend sealants for adults in special cases; for example, if a previously placed sealant falls out, if you never had sealants put in as a child, or if your teeth are prone to decay and the preventive treatment may help.

Talk to us during your next visit at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office to learn more about how dental sealants can help protect your child’s teeth.

Valentine's Day History

February 8th, 2018

Valentine’s Day is best known as a celebration of love in all its forms. Pink hearts, red roses, and cute greeting cards adorn every surface you see. What many people don’t realize is that the modern Valentine’s Day celebration arose from a religious holiday.

St. Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as a religious feast day in honor of early Christian martyrs. Three martyrs named Valentine were honored: a priest in Rome, the persecuted bishop of Interamna (a town in central Italy), and a saint martyred in Africa. This saint’s day was celebrated throughout Christendom, although it was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969.

The origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday for lovers began with Geoffrey Chaucer in his 1382 poem “Parlement of Foules.” Chaucer wrote, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” and the modern romantic holiday was born. William Shakespeare and other writers mentioned Valentine’s Day as a day of love.

Valentine’s Day as we know it came about in the early 19th century. In Victorian England, printers began manufacturing small numbers of cards with romantic verses, lace, ribbons, and other frills. Anonymous Valentine’s Day card were a popular way for young lovers to exchange romantic sentiments in an otherwise prudish time. As the 19th century progressed, printers began mass manufacturing Valentine’s Day cards. People in the United States give an estimated 190 million valentines every year, and up to one billion if you count children exchanging cards at school! With the rise of the Internet, Valentine’s Day e-cards have become a popular mode of communication, with millions of e-cards sent each year.

The other items associated with Valentine’s Day include chocolate and flowers. The tradition of giving chocolates has been around for decades, and Richard Cadbury created the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates nearly 150 years ago. Today, purchases of chocolate total over $1 billion in the United States alone, with 35 million heart-shaped boxes sold each year. Loved ones also exchange flowers, with red roses being associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. On Valentine’s Day itself, florists sell nearly 200 million stems of roses.

Although many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a commercialized “Hallmark holiday,” it is beloved to couples and romantics across the United States and other countries. The team at SmileKidz wants to remind all patients that no matter what your celebratory plans, February 14th can be a wonderful day to celebrate the loved ones in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Importance of Oral Health Care for your Child

February 1st, 2018

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so it’s a great time for our team at SmileKidz to talk about the importance of getting proper oral health care for your children. Oral health has been closely tied to the overall health of our entire body, so making sure that our children have the best oral health care can not only ensure that they have great smiles, but they are protected from the negative effects of poor oral health as well.

Special Care for Children’s Teeth

Oral health care should begin with the very first tooth that grows in your baby’s mouth. Even though these teeth will fall out within a few years, baby teeth hold a space for your child’s permanent ones, and it’s important that your child has a healthy mouth when those permanent teeth arrive. Without proper care, even baby teeth can decay and cause a host of problems, including:

  • Painful teeth and gums
  • Difficulty chewing, eating, and sleeping
  • Gum disease and inflammation
  • Embarrassment when talking and smiling

Develop Good Oral Health Habits Early

As a parent, you can teach your child the right way to care for teeth and make sure he or she visits Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong regularly for cleanings and checkups. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 50 percent of children under 12 have some form of tooth decay, and it is one of the most common childhood diseases. Alarmingly, a report by the National Institutes of Health, Oral Health in America, found that almost six out of ten children have cavities or other tooth decay (also called “caries”).

There are many things you can do to help your child maintain a healthy mouth with strong teeth and gums.

  • Brush your children’s teeth twice a day when they are babies, then teach them to do it on their own when they get older.
  • Be sure your child gets enough fluoride—you can find out whether it is already in your drinking water, and provide supplements if it is not. If you are unsure how to get more fluoride, give our office a call to discuss. In addition, make sure your child is brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Feed your child a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugars. We especially recommend you avoid sugary drinks.
  • Bring your child to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Coming in every six months is recommended.

Helping children develop healthy habits to care for teeth while they are young is important. These habits can set the stage for good oral health care throughout their entire life. They can avoid many of the problems that result from poor oral health, including gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. Start encouraging those habits now during National Children’s Dental Health Month, and help your children reap the benefits through the rest of their lives.

When do children usually lose their baby teeth?

January 25th, 2018

Many parents worry that their children’s teeth are not falling out on time. A lot of concerned parents want to know: When will my child lose his or her first baby tooth? At what age should the last tooth fall out? Is there a specific order in which the teeth are lost?

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team explain that a child's 20 baby teeth (primary teeth) typically come in by age three and begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth, which usually appear by the time your child is six. It is important to know that timing may vary, and girls typically lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The last baby teeth will likely fall out by the time your child is 13.

So, which teeth do children lose first? Baby teeth tend to fall out in the order in which they came, which means the lower center incisors are usually the first to go when your child is between six and seven years old. The next teeth your child will lose are his or her top center pair, also called the upper central incisors.

It’s important to note that if a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of decay or an unforeseen accident, his or her permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space. If your child suffers an injury or has tooth decay, we encourage you to give us a call to set up an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong.

While we know some children couldn’t be more excited to lose their baby teeth, we know others are anxious about this childhood milestone. When your child starts to lose teeth, our team at SmileKidz encourages you to stress the importance of proper dental care on a daily basis.

Remember to:

  • Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
  • Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
  • Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime, especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for your child every six months.
  • Ask about the use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.

To learn more about baby teeth, or to schedule your child's next visit with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, please give us a call today!

My child is getting blood blisters; is this normal?

January 18th, 2018

Thanks for the question. The “blisters” you are referring to are actually a normal part of losing baby teeth. Sometimes when teeth start to come through, children experience some bleeding under the skin, which typically causes small blisters or bruises on your child’s gums. The blisters, bluish in color, will disappear once the tooth comes through, and the tooth itself will still come through as it should.

Even though they can look a little frightening at first, there is no treatment required to treat blisters, nor are these blisters preventable. In fact, our bodies do a great job of cleaning up the loose ends of baby tooth loss and permanent tooth emergence, and not too long after, it’s as if no blisters ever happened. It’s important to note, however, that these blisters should not be pricked or cut as doing so may cause an infection in your child’s mouth.

If you are worried about blisters or bruises in your child’s mouth, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong. We especially encourage you to give us a call if your child has had one of these blisters for more than a month and the tooth has yet to come through.

Who’s afraid of the dentist?

January 11th, 2018

Is the sound of a drill enough to make your child flinch or cringe? Does he or she worry about the twice-yearly dental checkup at SmileKidz? Trust us when we say your child is not alone!

To help eliminate that distress, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team put together five steps to help your child overcome his or her dental anxiety when visiting SmileKidz.

1. Ask your child what they’re most afraid of. Is it the sound of the drill? Do you have needle phobia? Has your child been traumatized by previous dental visits? Have children write down their fears, one by one, and talk about them.

2. Don’t wait. The more frequently your child visits our office, the less work will need to be done at any given visit. Simply having Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong professionally clean your child’s teeth twice a year prevents many, if not most, problems down the road.

3. Bring a distraction such as music to your child’s appointment. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the music. Listening to tunes can also be a pain killer.

4. Remind your child to unwind. Inhaling slowly and counting to five helps. Encourage children to hold their breath for ten seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of eight, and repeat as needed. It’s easier if they’re not focused on the work going on inside their mouth.

5. Ask us. Before any procedure your child undergoes, we encourage you to ask Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong or one of our assistants why we’re using the tools we’re using. Ask us what we’re doing during your child’s procedure, what the tool is used for, and how it benefits your child. Also, please ask about anti-anxiety medications we may prescribe to help your child relax during his or her appointment.

Remember, our team at SmileKidz are health care professionals who strive to improve your child’s oral health, and will do all we can to ensure a trauma- and pain-free experience during his or her visit!

We hope these tips help! For more on pediatric dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office! Or, ask us below or on Facebook!

How much calcium does my child need?

January 4th, 2018

When you were a kid, your parents may have told you to drink milk to build strong bones and grow tall and strong. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

So, which foods are the best in terms of acquiring the right amount of calcium? Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small but important barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

According to a recent study, the majority of Americans, including children, do not receive enough calcium. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, only one in five children meets even the minimum standards for calcium consumption. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups, the same as adult men and women. In addition to milk, eating yogurt is a great way your child can increase his or her dairy consumption. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay.

If your child does not get enough dairy consumption, they run the risk of improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz encourage you to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

Questions? Give us a call at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

New Year's Eve

December 28th, 2017

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- SmileKidz included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

Sealants: What are they and how do they help?

December 21st, 2017

Molars are made up of canyons, caves, pits, and seemingly endless caverns that are a breeding ground for decay. The protective solution is a sealant. When done correctly, a sealant from Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong of SmileKidz can be most effective in preventing cavities.

A sealant is made up of composite (a plastic-like) material that contains bonding agents to seal to the edge of the tooth. Sealants placed on the chewing surfaces of back teeth block food from being trapped. The process in which a sealant is placed is quite precise and painless.

First the tooth is cleaned with a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) spray. Then an acid etch is applied to “roughen up” the surface. No saliva is to touch the tooth. This will re-mineralize the area, then a repeat etching is needed. An alcohol-based liquid then dries out the area and it must remain completely dry. The sealant is placed and guided through all the caverns, pits, fissures, and grooves. It is then cured with a special light, which makes it a hard, plastic-like material.

Sealants can last for several years. It is wise to have them examined on a semi-annual basis. If there is a break in the sealant, a high risk for decay is common. If a sealant is damaged, repair is simple, painless, and quick to complete.

Who can benefit from sealants? Anyone! Children often receive sealants as routine preventive care. Adults with deep canyons with stained grooves on their teeth can also benefit from a sealant. The process is quick, painless, and does not require any anesthesia. It is an effective way to lower dental restorative costs.

An investment in dental sealants can reap great benefits as properly cared for teeth will remain cavity free. Our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO location is available to answer your questions so give us a call today!

Why should I have my child’s wisdom teeth removed?

December 14th, 2017

The wisdom teeth are the last of the permanent molars to emerge from the gums. This can occur as early as age 17 or as late as 21. Though some teens and young adults experience a completely normal tooth eruption with ideally aligned molars that pose no health threat, this is not the case for everyone.

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), wisdom teeth must meet specific criteria to avoid a required extraction. These guidelines include:

  • Completely erupted and non-impacted
  • Completely functional
  • Painless
  • Free of decay
  • Disease-free
  • Capable of being properly cleaned

If one or more of your child’s wisdom teeth do not meet these conditions, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong; an extraction may be necessary.

Impacted wisdom teeth

One of the most common reasons for extracting a wisdom tooth is due to impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that has not erupted and will not fully erupt from the gums. Usually this occurs because there is not enough room for the tooth to emerge. Impaction can be painful and can also lead to infection if left untreated. According to the AAOMS, roughly 90 percent of the teen and adult population has at least one impacted tooth. Extracting an impacted wisdom tooth early can help prevent future complications, such as periodontal disease, infections, and damage to neighboring teeth.

Extracting fully erupted wisdom teeth

Even if your child’s wisdom teeth are fully erupted, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz may recommend removing them as a preventive measure. Fully-erupted third molars often interfere with a healthy bite. This can lead to problems with tooth and jaw alignment and may also contribute to the development of headaches. Your child’s wisdom teeth may also be more prone to tooth decay and gum disease, because their location in the back of the mouth makes them more difficult to reach for brushing and flossing.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Gum Disease and Your Child

December 7th, 2017

At SmileKidz, we know that unfortunately, gum disease can exist in your child’s mouth without you even knowing. In fact, your child may be suffering from the beginning stages of periodontal (gum) disease without noticing any pain or discomfort. Since gum disease can be undetectable, it’s critical to watch for the warning signs in order to prevent the disease from growing worse!

If your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong as soon as possible:

  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Gums that feel tender
  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are receding
  • Persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose teeth
  • Any change in the way teeth come together in the biting position

If your child is experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away by calling our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team can diagnose the problem and begin treatment to save your child’s teeth!

Our team at SmileKidz looks forward to seeing you!

Steer clear of that candy!

November 30th, 2017

At SmileKidz, we know how tempting candy can sometimes be on our sweet tooth, but it’s important to remember that every candy and sugary treat you consume elevates your risk of developing tooth decay, which can break down your teeth.

While not all bad in moderation, when eaten in excess, candy can lead to big problems, especially if good oral hygiene habits are not followed. We have a few helpful tips if you just can’t stay away from all those treats:

1. Consume candy and other sweets during meals when your saliva can help neutralize the acids that are found in some candies, especially the sour variety.

2. Avoid sticky or hard candies, which can stay in your mouth longer than you think, resulting in acids being constantly exposed to your teeth. That leads to cavities and tooth decay.

3. Make sure the water you drink is fluoridated. Water that is fluoridated has been shown to help prevent cavities.

4. Make sure to maintain your daily oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing twice a day, and flossing at least once.

5. Visit our office twice a year for regular dental checkups and cleanings with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong. During your visit, we can help catch problems such as cavities early to reduce the effects they have on your teeth, as well as give you tips for improving your oral health.

We hope these tips have helped! To learn more about cavity prevention, or to schedule your next visit at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, please give us a call!

Thanksgiving in North America

November 23rd, 2017

Thanksgiving marks the start to the holidays; a season filled with feasting, indulging, and spending time with family and friends are always special. Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for giving thanks, and while this may seem like such a natural celebration, the United States is only one of a handful of countries to officially celebrate with a holiday.

Unlike many holidays, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, and it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday of October, which is, oddly enough, much closer to a time when harvests were likely gathered. In addition to the different dates, the origins of the celebration also share different roots.

Thanksgiving in the United States

Giving thanks for a bountiful harvest are not new, but the modern day holiday in the US can be traced to a celebration at Plymouth in Massachusetts in 1621. This feast of thanksgiving was inspired by a good harvest, and the tradition was simply continued on. At first, the colony at Plymouth didn't have enough food to feed everyone present, but the Native Americans helped by providing seeds and teaching them how to fish, and they soon began to be able to hold a feast worthy of the name. The tradition spread, and by the 1660s, most of New England was hosting a Thanksgiving feast in honor of the harvest.

Canadian Thanksgiving

An explorer of early Canada named Martin Frobisher is accredited for the first Canadian Thanksgiving. He survived the arduous journey from England through harsh weather conditions and rough terrain, and after his last voyage from Europe to present-day Nunavut, he held a formal ceremony to give thanks for his survival and good fortune. As time passed and more settlers arrived, a feast was added to what quickly became a yearly tradition. Another explorer, Samuel de Champlain, is linked to the first actual Thanksgiving celebration in honor of a successful harvest; settlers who arrived with him in New France celebrated the harvest with a bountiful feast.

A Modern Thanksgiving

Today, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the best of Americana. From feasts and football games to getting ready for the start of the Christmas shopping season, Thanksgiving means roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and green bean casserole. No matter how you celebrate this momentous day, pause for a moment to give thanks for your friends, family, and all the bounties you’ve received. Happy Thanksgiving from SmileKidz!

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

November 16th, 2017

A dental sealant is a liquid that is applied to the teeth. The sealant hardens and provides a protective coating that is designed to reduce cavities and create a smoother tooth surface. Dental sealants are clear or white; they do not take away from the appearance of teeth. You can think about this treatment as being similar to varnish that protects a wood floor.

Sealants are not the same as fluoride treatments. The application is similar, but sealants are a semi-permanent protective coating. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff recommend that sealant applications for children begin soon after molars erupt, first molars around the age of six, and second molars around the age of 12.

Simple Application

Having sealants applied is not uncomfortable at all. First, your child's teeth will be cleaned and dried. A gel is applied, which helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, and then is rinsed away. Your child's teeth are dried again and the sealant is applied. A few seconds of exposure to a light source may be used to cure the sealant and make it semi-permanent. Sealants should last for a long time, normally between five and ten years.

Sealant Benefits

The coating on the surface of your child's teeth reduces the amount of acid contact. Normal acids in foods that are consumed can eat away at the surface of teeth. Bacteria also react to plaque formation and create more acid in the mouth. These small pits or weakened areas are prone to caries or cavity formation. Preventing cavities is a much better choice than drilling and filling damaged teeth.

A sealant also helps to smooth the chewing surfaces of your childn't teeth. The smoother surface is not as likely to retain small particles of food and bacteria. Your child's mouth stays cleaner and food is not left behind to form acids. The protective application can also be used on other teeth that have a rough surface, to protect the grooves or pits from decay.

After the sealant is applied, your child still needs to take proper care of his or her teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is required. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong may recommend fluoride treatments to strengthen and protect your child's teeth further.

If you have any concerns about sealants, please discuss them with during your child's next appointment at SmileKidz. We want your little one's teeth to stay healthy for life.

Why Baby Teeth Matter

November 9th, 2017

The primary teeth are the initial teeth that erupt from a child’s gums in the first few years of childhood. There are a total of 20 primary teeth, most of which will have appeared no later than age three. Because they are only temporary, some parents believe they are less important than the permanent teeth that will emerge around age five or six. However, primary teeth hold a special significance and are important for a child’s long-term oral health.

Function and importance of baby teeth

Baby teeth have several basic functions. Decay can interfere with these functions, and potentially lead to life-long complications. For example, severe tooth decay that causes tooth loss during childhood, perhaps due to sleeping with a bottle at night, can obstruct a child’s speech development. It can also hinder his or her ability to sufficiently chew food.

The primary teeth also serve as place-holders for the permanent teeth. When a primary tooth falls out or must be removed before its time, surrounding teeth may shift into the space the tooth once held. This can cause orthodontic complications once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, which can lead to serious tooth alignment problems and call for extensive orthodontic treatment.

Caring for baby teeth

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz will tell you it is never too early to begin caring for your child’s teeth. Baby teeth require the same care and attention that permanent teeth do. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist as soon as the teeth begin to erupt from the gums. Early childhood dental visits usually include examinations, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and hygiene education for parents. It is also important to adopt an oral care routine at home that includes daily brushing, flossing, and dietary modifications that support a lifetime of good oral health.

To learn more about baby teeh, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong for your little one, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Periodontal Disease in Adolescents

November 2nd, 2017

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz know that periodontal disease isn't something exclusive to adults. It can affect adolescents as well. Gingivitis, which is a milder form of periodontitis, is a form of periodontal disease, and a warning that more serious problems may arise. Untreated gingivitis can develop into full-blown periodontitis.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that research proves that younger people may develop more severe forms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is linked to periodontal disease. Children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes or immune deficiencies are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease.

There are three types of periodontal diseases Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team see in children and adolescents.

Chronic gingivitis

Parents may suspect that their adolescent has chronic gingivitis if he or she shows or complains of symptoms such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. Early treatment may prevent gingivitis from developing into a more severe form of periodontal disease.

Aggressive and/or chronic periodontitis

Once called adult periodontitis, the term chronic replaces “adult” because periodontitis can occur in people in their early teenage years, and progress throughout their teens. Chronic and aggressive periodontitis primarily affects incisors and first molars. One of its distinguishing characteristics is bone loss. Curiously, patients who suffer from this form of the disease have minimal dental plaque on examination.

Generalized aggressive and chronic periodontal disease

This form of periodontal disease has many of the same characteristics of the chronic and aggressive form, but this more severe type of the disease affects the entire mouth. Symptoms include major plaque and calculus accumulation, and inflamed gums.

In both forms of more severe periodontal disease, the overall gum structure may change. The severity of these changes may alter gum strength enough to loosen teeth, or even worse, cause them to fall out.

The success of any treatment is largely contingent on early diagnosis. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong should conduct a thorough periodontal exam as part of an adolescent’s twice-yearly complete dental examinations.

The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is necessary for food digestion. Diseases are more likely to develop if bacteria travel to open places in the mouth, such as exposed gum pockets or cavities. Proper dental hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth offers greater protection against painful dental diseases.

Be sure every member of your family has a complete dental exam and cleaning twice a year, and contact Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong when you or your young kids or adolescents complain of pain, sensitivity, or other oral problems. Early detection at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office leads to treatment of oral problems and prevents them from turning into serious periodontal disease and potentially irreversible problems.

Halloween: Candy, costumes, and more!

October 26th, 2017

All Hallows' Eve, more commonly known as Halloween, is a yearly event celebrated on October 31, and one that is anticipated by the young and young at heart all over the world. Some scholars claim that Halloween originated from Celtic festivals that honored the dead or that celebrated the harvest, while others doubt that there's any connection at all to Samhain (a Gaelic harvest festival.) Regardless of its origin, our team at the Pediatric Dentistry office of Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong hopes that Halloween is fun and enjoyed by all of our awesome patients!

Trick or treat?

In North America, Halloween is predominantly celebrated by children who dress up in costumes, which range from scary to cute, who then go around the neighborhood knocking on doors asking "trick or treat", and they are given candy in return. Trick-or-treating is a time honored tradition, and though many parents groan at the pounds and pounds of candy collected by youngsters and fear for the health of their teeth, there are a few things you can do to help their teeth stay in great shape until the candy is gone:

  • Limit the amount of candy they can consume each day
  • Have them brush their teeth after eating candy
  • Avoid hard, chewy candies as they can stick in hard to brush places
  • Keep candy out of sight to reduce temptation
  • Don't buy candy too far in advance to limit pre-Halloween consumption
  • Help or encourage your children to floss

Halloween Fun

Halloween isn't just about gorging on candy; there are other events associated with this festive day including carving jack-o'-lanterns, painting pumpkins, decorating sugar cookies, bobbing for apples, going to haunted houses, or just curling up on the couch with a bowl full of popcorn and watching some classic, scary movies.

Halloween Around the World

Some countries, like Australia, frown upon Halloween, claiming it is an American event and not based in Australian culture, while others like Italy have embraced the fun and celebrate much as Canadians and Americans do. Mexicans have been celebrating this fun day since around 1960, and it marks the beginning of the Day of the Dead festival. Some countries in Europe have come late to the party, but since the 1990s, countries like Sweden, Norway, and Germany have started celebrating Halloween as well, and finding children in costumes or having ghosts hanging in windows has become commonplace.

Halloween is about fun; stepping outside our normal lives and donning a costume or gathering with friends to knock on doors and ask for candy is as much a part of our culture as hot dogs and barbecue on Labor Day. Have a safe and happy Halloween from the team at SmileKidz!

How to Make Brushing Fun

October 19th, 2017

Let’s call it the cranky phase. Let’s call it the “Mom, I don’t want to” stage. When kids are little, getting them to brush can be a challenge. They bite the toothbrush and eat the toothpaste. They make faces in the bathroom mirror, brush for two seconds, and run away. When it’s time to brush, some kids even resort to kicking and screaming, which makes the bedtime chore a lot like, well, pulling teeth.

As a parent, you know the importance of good oral hygiene, so when the dreaded “brushing hour” arrives, if you want to prevent your child from turning into an angry pumpkin, you better have a few tricks up your sleeve to make brushing fun.

Game time

Kids love games, so it’s time to get creative and turn tooth brushing into game time. Whether you’re playing a hide and seek, peek-a-boo game with your child as he or she brushes, or singing the ABC’s as your child brushes for two minutes, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz recommend turning the process into play. Games are based on a reward system, right? If your child does a good job, put a sticker on the calendar. Tell your son or daughter that five stickers will earn a treat at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

A toothbrush that lights up and blinks when you turn it on is more fun than a traditional toothbrush from the dentist’s office. The same is true of a toothbrush that’s shaped like your child’s favorite animal or features a cartoon character. A fun accessory like a Smurfs or Angry Birds toothbrush might make all the difference. A timer is another fun accessory. Give your child the special responsibility of setting it for two minutes before brushing.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Kids can be notoriously picky eaters, so it stands to reason that they would be picky about their toothpaste flavors too. Little Johnny might like strawberry, whereas Suzie prefers mango. Spend a night experimenting with different flavors (yes, it’s another game). Say something like, “It’s just like sampling different flavors of ice cream, right kids?”

Eventually, your child will develop the healthy habit of brushing on a regular basis, and think nothing of the time it takes to clean his or her teeth. Just remember to make it fun, and it can be a great experience for you both!

To learn more about making brushing fun for your little one, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

October 12th, 2017

Two studies – one conducted in Washington State, and whose findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry in 2004, and another conducted in Madrid, Spain, and whose findings were reported in 2012 in Science Daily, reinforce earlier findings that show a direct relationship between parental dental fear and that of their children.

The Washington study looked at dental fear among 421 children whose ages ranged from 0.8 to 12.8 years. The children were all patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in Western Washington State. The Spanish study looked at 183 children between the ages of seven and 12, and their parents in Madrid.

The Washington study used the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey responses came from either parents, or other parties charged with taking care of the children. The people responsible for each child filled out the survey, which consisted of 15 questions to which answers were given based on the child’s level of fear. The scale used was one to five, with one meaning the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicating the child was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found that like past studies, there is a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those of their kids. The most important new discovery from the study conducted in Madrid, was that the more anxiety and fear a father has of going to the dentist, the higher the fear levels among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who suffer from fear of going to the dentist and fear of dental procedures in general pass those fears on to every member of the family. While parents may not feel like they have control over those fears, the best way to help your child understand the importance of going to the dentist is by not expressing your fears in front of them – or around the rest of the family.

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team understand that some patients are more fearful than others when it comes to visitingour Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office. We work hard to make our practice as comfortable for our patients, both children and adults.

Year-End Insurance Reminder

October 5th, 2017

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, as well as our team at SmileKidz, would like to give those patients with flex spend, health savings, or insurance benefits a friendly end of the year reminder that it’s high time to schedule your dental visits so you optimize your benefit.

Now is the time to reserve your appointment with us. Space is limited and we tend to get busy around the holidays, so don’t wait to give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

Pediatric Dentistry: The benefits of dairy

September 28th, 2017

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth

To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentine, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How does dairy help my child’s teeth?

Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp. Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How much dairy does a child need?

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

Is your child a mouth breather?

September 14th, 2017

Have you ever watched to see if your child is breathing through his or her mouth? Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose may lead to trouble for youngsters. Kids who typically breathe through their mouth—most often children who suffer from allergies—experience problems getting enough oxygen into their blood, a condition that affects their weight, size, sleep, and even their performance in the classroom and daily life.

Mouth breathing as a child can also lead to sleep apnea, behavior and learning problems, delayed speech, dental and facial abnormalities, and even breathing problems as your child grows. There are a multitude of reasons for an individual to mouth breathe, such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, and deviated nasal septum, but the cause is usually allergies.

As bad as the condition sounds, we want you to know mouth breathing is a treatable condition. Doing so, though, requires early diagnosis and treatment. Since our team at SmileKidz sees our patients every six months, we may be in a position to identify the symptoms of mouth breathing.

If you suspect your child is a chronic mouth breather, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong.

September is National Childhood Injury Prevention Month!

September 7th, 2017

September is National Childhood Injury Prevention Month, and Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz are excited to share some tips to keep your child safe. Childhood is a time when dental injuries are common. Even a simple fall on the playground at recess can lead to a lost or broken tooth. What can you do as a parent to protect your child’s teeth in addition to his or her head and bones? These tips will help you prevent mouth and dental injuries to your kids.

First, use common sense when your children play sports. An estimated 13 to 39 percent of oral-facial injuries occur when children are playing sports. Make sure your child wears a face guard, mouthguard, and helmet as appropriate. Contact sports, such as football, require this gear, so insist that it gets worn.

Next, teach your children not to walk or run with things in their mouths. This is particularly difficult for toddlers and preschoolers, who love to explore the world orally. Insist that items are removed from the mouth whenever the child is in motion, and try to redirect the child to softer items for oral stimulation.

For small children, be careful when you put a spoon or fork in the mouth. While this won’t damage teeth, it can damage the delicate skin between the lips and gums or under the tongue. Allow your child to direct his or her own feeding; never shove a spoon in your child’s mouth if he or she is not interested, to avoid this type of injury.

Finally, make sure your children are seen regularly by Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong. Regular dental checkups will keep the teeth clean, strong, and healthy, and limit the risk of injuries.

If your child is injured in spite of your best efforts, contact our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office right away. Quick action may be able to save a missing tooth, and a quick response on your part will limit the long-term effects of the injury.

Labor Day: Our favorite holiday to rest!

August 31st, 2017

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday each September here in the United States, is a holiday devoted to the American working community. The purpose of the holiday is honoring the country's workers and their contributions to the strength of our country as a whole.

How Labor Day Started

There is actually some debate as to the origins of Labor Day. It is uncertain whether Peter McGuire, a cofounder for the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was the secretary of Central Labor Union of New York, had the great idea. However, the Central Labor Union's plans were what launched the first Labor Day in America.

The First Labor Day

The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882. The Central Labor Union then held annual celebrations on September 5th for what they called a working man's holiday. By the year 1885, the Labor Day celebration had spread to many different industrial areas, and after that it began spreading to all industries in the United States.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day today is a huge United States holiday during which we honor the country's workers with a day of rest and relaxation or a day of picnics and parades. This holiday is truly one to honor the many people who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of our great country!

Our team at SmileKidz hopes all of our patients celebrate Labor Day, and every holiday, safely and happily. Whether you stay in the Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO area, or travel out of town, have fun, and don't forget to brush!

What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

August 24th, 2017

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is a type of contagious viral illness that causes a rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet of infants and young children, and, while rare, adults. Characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus, a bacterium that lives in the human digestive tract. HFMD can spread from person to person, typically via unwashed hands.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

Symptoms of HFMD usually begin with a fever, sore throat, poor appetite, or general malaise. A couple of days after the fever starts, kids may develop painful sores in the mouth. A skin rash characterized by red spots may also develop, usually on the palms of your child’s hands and soles of their feet. It’s important to note some children may only experience a rash while others may only have mouth sores.

Is HFMD serious? Should we be concerned?

Usually not. Nearly all children infected recover anywhere between seven to ten days without medical treatment. Rarely, however, a child can develop viral meningitis and may need to be hospitalized. Other rare complications of HFMD can include encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can be fatal.

How can my child prevent HFMD?

There is no known vaccine to defend your child against HFMD. However, the risk of your child contracting the disease can be reduced by:

  • Making sure your child washes his or her hands often
  • Thoroughly cleaning objects and surfaces (these include doorknobs and toys)
  • Making sure your child avoids close contact with those who are infected

To learn more about hand-foot-and-mouth disease or to schedule an appointment for your child, please give us a call at our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office!

What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

August 17th, 2017

Dental sealants are an excellent way to protect children’s teeth from tooth decay by coating them with a thin plastic material. Their teeth look and feel like normal, but they are protected from plaque build-up and decay early on. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our staff recommend sealants as a preventive measure for children before any decay appears on their teeth.

Who should get dental sealants?

Dental sealants are intended for young children as soon as their first teeth come in. Decay is most common in the molars, so taking your child to SmileKidz for sealants right when you see the molars grow in gives your child the best chance to fight tooth decay.

A child’s first set of permanent molars grow in between ages five and seven, while the second permanent molars come in between 11 and 14 years of age. Some teens and adults who don’t have tooth decay may get sealants as well, but it is less common.

How long do dental sealants last?

Once the sealant has been placed on the teeth, it lasts up to ten years. Expect to have Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong check the sealant at every visit to our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, which should be twice a year. We will look at the sealant and determine if it needs to be replaced.

What is the process of getting sealants?

Applying sealants is a simple, pain-free procedure that is done quickly at SmileKidz. There is absolutely no effect on the tooth structure from sealants.

For starters, the teeth are cleaned carefully, then dried with an absorbent material. A mild acid solution is applied to them to roughen them slightly. This is done so the sealant can bond properly to the teeth. Then the teeth are rinsed and dried, and the sealant material is painted on and dried with a special light.

Molars are susceptible to decay early on, which is why sealants are an important treatment to get for your children’s first set of teeth.

Thumb Sucking, Pacifiers, and Your Baby's Teeth

August 10th, 2017

Sucking is a common instinct for babies and the use of a pacifier or their thumb offers a sense of safety and security, as well a way to relax.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the majority of children will stop using a pacifier and stop sucking their thumb on their own between the ages of two and four years of age. Prolonged thumb sucking or use of a pacifier can have dental consequences and needs be taken care of sooner, rather than later.

Many dentists favor pacifier use over thumb sucking because it makes it easier for parents to control and even limit the use of a pacifier. If thumb sucking lingers, the same strategies used to break the baby from using the pacifier can be used for thumb sucking.

Precautions

  • Try to find "orthodontically correct" pacifiers, as they may reduce the risk of dental problems.
  • Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey to calm the baby.
  • Give your baby a bottle of water at bedtime, never juice.

Dental Complications

Long term pacifier use can lead to an assortment of dental complications including:

  • The bottom teeth leaning inward
  • The top teeth slanting outward
  • Misalignment of the baby’s jaw

The risk of any or all of these things happening is greatly increased if thumb sucking and pacifier use is sustained after the baby’s teeth start to come in.

Breaking the Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Habit

Most toddlers and children will stop sucking their thumb or using a pacifier between the ages of two and four on their own. However, if intervention is necessary here are a few tips to help your child break the habit:

  • Slowly decreasing the use of a pacifier can be effective for many children. This method does not work very well with thumb sucking.
  • Thumb sucking can be more difficult to break. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong may recommend using an over the counter cream that you put on the child’s thumb; it doesn’t taste good and usually does the trick.
  • Rewards can also help with the process.
  • If these simple commonly used strategies do not work, there are oral devices that will prevent a child from sucking their thumb or a pacifier.

Talk to Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team, as we have many tricks up our sleeves that will be effective in breaking your child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use.

Beat the Brushing Battle

August 3rd, 2017

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team know it can be a challenge to get our children to brush, brush well, and brush often. Here are some tips that can help you keep those beautiful little teeth healthy.

Make it Fun, Make it a Habit!

We should all brush twice a day. The most important time to brush is at night before bed. When we sleep, our saliva production decreases, and this creates an environment for oral bacteria to cause greater destruction to our teeth and gums. Brushing should last at least two minutes, followed by flossing and mouthwash if you choose.

Here are some ideas to make this nightly ritual more entertaining.

  • Set a good example. Brush your teeth with your children and make it fun! Pick a song to play while brushing.
  • Make it a race to the bathroom to see who can get their toothbrush and floss ready. But don’t make it a race to finish; make sure brushing lasts at least two minutes.
  • Try using a sticker sheet. For every night your children brush well, give them a sticker. (Be sure to check their work.) After a certain number of stickers, they earn a reward. Let them pick the reward! As the child improves at brushing every night without reminders, you can wean her or him from the reward.
  • SPECIAL TIP: Let your child check your brush work!

As parents, we should help our children make health and wellness something to take pride in. Be gentle with your children when they make mistakes, whether forgetting to brush or maybe developing a cavity. Tell them even our team at SmileKidz gets cavities. Thankfully, there is always room for improvement. Happy brushing!

Five Tips to Help Kids Overcome Their Fears of the Dentist

July 27th, 2017

Is your child nervous about visiting Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz? Today, we put together some tips to help ensure your little one relaxes before his or her next dental checkup!

  1. Start early. The earlier your child visits our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office, the better. This will provide your child with a familiarity and ensure that he or she is comfortable with our team, office, and surroundings, whether it’s for a preventive visit or an emergency. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child first visit the dentist at age one or when the first tooth is visible.
  2. Choose your words wisely. When preparing for a visit, go easy on the details. Over-explaining and adding more information about treatment such as a filling will lead to more questions as well as add unnecessary alarm. Remember to keep a positive attitude!
  3. Bring a distraction to your child’s appointment. Bringing along music is a great idea. Just plug in those earphones, have your child close his or her eyes, and get lost in the tunes. Listening to music can also be a pain killer.
  4. Consider a “pretend visit.” Before your child’s appointment, try role playing with him or her—you be the doctor and your child is the patient. All you'll need is a toothbrush. The key is getting your child familiar with the routine so that he or she is more relaxed once it’s time for the real visit with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong.
  5. Stress the importance of good oral health. Instill in your child that visiting the dentist is a necessity, not a choice, and that visiting the dentist will lead to a lifetime of smiles.

We hope this helps! For more on dental anxieties, ask us during your next visit to SmileKidz! Or, ask us on Facebook!

Use Pediatric Dentists to Treat Children

July 20th, 2017

There are many different types of dental specialties out there, so how do you know when you should see a general dentist (your regular dentist), and when you should seek the help of a dentist with specialized training? This article covers the basic differences between a pediatric dentist and a family or general dentist, and why it may be beneficial to find a specialized doctor to work with your children’s teeth.

What is a pediatric dentist?

All dentists, regardless of which specialty they practice, attend a four-year dental school for either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Once they have completed the initial degree program, some dentists choose to proceed to additional training in an area of dental specialty. Pediatric dentistry is one of those specialties.

A pediatric dentist will study the development of teeth from infancy through the teen years. Babies, toddlers, school-age children, and teenagers experience different growth phases and have different needs for their oral health care from adults. A dentist with post-graduate training in this specialty can often provide a more comprehensive approach to treatment to meet those needs.

Specialized Needs Pediatric Dentists Can Address

Starting with the first teeth that grow in your child’s mouth (usually around six months of age), you need to begin caring for your child’s teeth. However, it’s not as simple as just doing the same things you do for your adult teeth, because children have specific needs and may have concerns and issues that you do not face for your oral health care as an adult.

There are several concerns unique to younger dental patients. Beginning with babies, parents need to be aware of the specific oral care required for children. For example, babies who drink from bottles can develop baby bottle tooth decay if parents do not properly clean their teeth. Young children may develop a habit of sucking their thumb, which can contribute to poor oral hygiene. Children who have trouble with teeth grinding may need specialized care. And children have specific dietary needs that serve their need to develop strong teeth and gums.

All these concerns can be addressed by a pediatric dentist with specialized knowledge of childhood oral health and teeth development. General dentists often know some of this information, but without the specialized training they may not be able to provide the care that is geared toward the needs of your children. In addition, pediatric dentists will often have a practice that is built entirely with children in mind, with décor, staff, and other elements that can help put children at ease when it’s time to visit the dentist.

If you have young children, consider our pediatric dentistry office. At SmileKidz, our specialized care for young patients features a caregiver with the knowledge and training to provide your children with the best possible care.

Tell us about your summer!

July 6th, 2017

The dog days of summer are upon us, and what better time for Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team to ask our patients about their summer!

Whether you visited our nation’s capital, went on a camping trip, or just stayed in Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO and relaxed, we want to know how you’re all spending your summer! Please feel free to share your summer plans and experiences with us below or on our Facebook page as summer rolls on!

Happy Fourth of July

June 29th, 2017

Every year, Americans all over the world celebrate the birth of the country and its independence on the Fourth of July. There are countless ways that people celebrate and they range from community parades and large scale gatherings to concerts, fireworks displays, and smaller scale celebrations among family and friends. For some people, July 4th is synonymous with baseball, while for others it is all about the beach of barbecues. However you celebrate, you can be sure that red, white, and blue is visible everywhere throughout the area.

The Beginnings of Fourth of July Celebrations

Although it wasn't officially designated as a federal holiday until 1941, the actual tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1783). At the time of the American Revolution, representatives from the 13 colonies penned the resolution that ultimately declared their independence from Great Britain. The continental congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 2nd of 1776. Two days later, Thomas Jefferson's famous document that is now known as the Declaration of Independence, was adopted by delegates representing the 13 colonies.

First States to Recognize the Fourth of July

In 1781, Massachusetts became the first state (or commonwealth) whose legislature resolved to designate July 4th as the date on which to celebrate the country's independence. Two years later, Boston became the first city to make an official designation to honor the country's birth with a holiday on July 4th. In that same year, North Carolina's governor, Alexander Martin, became the first governor to issue an official state order stipulating that July 4th was the day on which North Carolinians would celebrate the country's independence.

Fun Facts About the Fourth of July

  • The reason the stars on the original flag were arranged in a circle is because it was believed that would indicate that all of the colonies were equal.
  • Americans eat over 150 million hot dogs on July 4th.
  • Imports of fireworks each year totals over $211 million.
  • The first “official” Fourth of July party took place at the White House in 1801.
  • Benjamin Franklin didn't want the national bird to be the bald eagle. He believed that the turkey was better suited to the coveted distinction. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed with him, and he was outvoted, so the bald eagle became the official bird of the United States.

For many, the tradition is something entirely different. Along the coastal areas of the United States, people may haul out huge pots to have lobster or other types of seafood boils. Others may spend the day in the bleachers at a baseball game, or at a park, cooking a great traditional meal over an open fire. No matter how or where you celebrate, one thing is certain: all Americans celebrate July 4th as the birth and independence of our country.

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz wish you a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Dental Emergencies in Children

June 22nd, 2017

Dental emergencies are bound to come up when you have young children. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team want to you to be prepared in case you run into a difficult situation. Problems can vary, from minor gum irritation to knocked-out teeth. Take a look at the different possibilities and how you can handle them.

Teething

Depending on the age of your child, there are common things to watch for when it comes to his or her teeth. Starting from a young age, your son or daughter may experience teething pain. This starts at about four months and can last up to three years.

Teething may cause your little one to become irritable and more prone to drooling due to tender gums. This is very common in young children who are teething, and can be alleviated by giving them a cold teething ring or by rubbing their gums with your finger.

Teething pain is as normal as your child’s first set of teeth falling out. On the other hand, if a baby tooth is knocked out in a forceful accident, make sure you bring him or her into our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office to check that other damage hasn’t occurred in the mouth. On occasion, permanent teeth may grow in before baby teeth have fallen out. This may not cause any discomfort, but Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong should make sure the teeth are growing in properly. Catching teeth that are coming in incorrectly can prevent issues from arising in adulthood.

Gum Issues

If you’ve noticed your child’s gums bleeding often, this could result from a number of things. Bleeding gums may be an early sign of periodontal disease, which is caused by poor oral hygiene when it appears in children. Excessive gum bleeding can also occur when children brush their teeth too hard, or suffer an injury to their gum tissue.

If bleeding is continuous, rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water and apply light pressure to the area. If you become concerned about the amount of blood, contact our Creve Coeur, MO and St. Charles, MO office and we will schedule an appointment for your youngster as soon as possible.

Depending on what type of dental issue your child is experiencing, you should make sure to treat it quickly and properly. If you have questions or concerns about what you can do to help your son or daughter develop better oral hygiene habits, ask Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong for tips during your next appointment.

Don’t forget: As a parent, you can provide the best education to your children on the importance of proper oral hygiene by setting a good example. 

Halitosis in Children: Causes and treatment

June 15th, 2017

Halitosis is the scientific name for bad breath. It is one of the most common oral concerns, and it affects a large percentage of the population, including children. Having bad breath can be embarrassing and a nuisance. When considering what to do about halitosis, the team at SmileKidz highlights that you need to focus on the cause, rather than just masking the problem.

Children commonly have bad breath because of an upper respiratory infection. This includes a common cold, postnasal drip, or allergies. When this is the case, treatment may be complicated if one or more of these issues is chronic.

Another cause of halitosis in children is a condition with their teeth or gums. Just as in adults, gum disease has a distinctive malodor. The quality of brushing and flossing in children directly influences the presence of gum disease. If there is a large untreated cavity, there will be a strong smell causing bad breath. Both of these issues need professional attention, including a visit to the dentist.

Tonsillitis can also cause halitosis in children. It happens because of a constricted airway, resulting in mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is a concern because of how much it dries the tissue in the mouth. This makes any bacterial infection in the mouth worse and causes an increased potency within the bacteria in the mouth.

Treatment of halitosis is as varied as the causes listed above. Beware of ingredients in products that mask bad breath. Sucking on a mint on a regular basis will cause more harm than good because of potential decay. Chew sugarless gum and mints.

If you have any other questions, feel free to call us at SmileKidz or ask Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong during your next appointment!

Oral Health Concerns for Infants

June 8th, 2017

Because babies’ teeth don’t appear until around six to eight months of age, it’s a natural misconception that they don’t need dental care. But the steps you take as the parent of an infant can help your baby maintain good oral health and develop healthy dental habits in the future.

It’s easy to take care of a baby’s teeth and gums, especially when oral hygiene for your infant becomes part of the normal daily routine. Learn more about how you can promote good dental health for your baby with these tips and considerations.

Taking Care of Baby’s Oral Hygiene

  • Dental Hygiene for Birth to Six Months. Cleaning your infant’s gums is as important as cleaning teeth will be later. Hold your baby in your arms, and with a clean, moistened washcloth wrapped around your index finger, gently massage his or her gums.
  • Dental Hygiene for Six to 12 Months. After teeth begin to appear, it’s time to switch to a soft, children’s toothbrush for teeth cleaning. New research has shown that fluoride toothpaste is safe and recommended for use once your baby’s first tooth arrives. Gently brush your baby’s teeth after each feeding, in the morning, and before bedtime, just as you did before teeth appeared.
  • Good Bedtime Habits. One of the most important things you can do to protect your infant from tooth decay is to avoid the habit of putting baby to bed with a bottle. Use other soothing bedtime activities, such as rocking and lullabies, to help your baby drift off to sleep.
  • A Note about Dental Decay. Many people are unaware that dental decay is transmissible. Avoid placing your baby’s bottle, sippy cup, or pacifier in your own mouth to test the temperature. Likewise, don’t share utensils with your baby.

Partner With Your Dentist

Your baby should receive his or her first dental health checkup by the age of six months. Even though your infant may not have teeth yet, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong can assess the risk your baby might face for oral diseases that affect hard or soft tissues. Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong can also provide you with instructions for infant oral hygiene, and explain what steps to add as your baby grows and develops.

SmileKidz is your partner for good oral health, and we’re here to make caring for your baby’s dental hygiene and health easier and more enjoyable for you.

Tips to Help You Beat the Heat This Summer

June 1st, 2017

The dog days of summer are upon us, and with the temperatures soaring, our team at SmileKidz wants you to be extra careful about sun safety when you’re out and about. Check out this incredibly helpful article on the Ten Summer Safety Tips for Kids, courtesy of Discovery.

Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team also encourage you to always have a bottle of water handy when heading out into the sun.

We hope you’re having a great summer! Let us know what you're up to below or on our Facebook page!

Memorial Day

May 25th, 2017

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at SmileKidz remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Creve Coeur, MO area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

Common Emergency Care Visits: Toothaches or abscesses

May 18th, 2017

Dental problems do not always wait for normal office hours. Broken fillings or damaged teeth are common reasons for emergency treatment. Toothaches and abscesses can also require prompt attention. Dr. Varble can provide you with the information and treatment you need to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Emergency dental care is only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Abscess

An abscess is a bacterial infection, and will normally cause pain and swelling around the affected tooth and gum area. Antibiotics are not always necessary, but you should seek treatment quickly. Left untreated, an infection can spread and cause serious complications.

Toothache

There are many reasons that you may develop a sudden toothache. The cause of the pain may be a particle of food lodged between your tooth and gum line. One of the first steps you can take is to rinse your mouth with warm water. You may also try gently flossing the area to dislodge the particle. Do not continue flossing if bleeding occurs.

Toothaches can occur from a carie — a cavity in the tooth — or from a fracture. Sensitivity to heat or cold may also cause tooth pain. You should make an appointment to ensure that a minor problem does not become serious. We may recommend acetaminophen or another pain reliever to reduce the pain before your visit.

Additional tips and treatments:

  • If you have fractured a tooth, rinse the area with warm water to keep the surfaces clean. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your facial area to reduce swelling.
  • A tooth that has been knocked out should be kept moist, in a clean container, until you can receive treatment.
  • Do not apply aspirin directly on a damaged tooth or gum area as it can cause tissue irritation.
  • If you suspect that your jaw has been broken, go to an emergency room immediately.
  • If you have bitten or damaged your lips or tongue, rinse your mouth well with warm water. If bleeding continues, call us or seek other medical attention immediately.

Our team at SmileKidz is ready to assist you when you have an emergency dental need. When you call, please provide us with as much information as possible so we can offer recommendations that will assist you until your appointment. Do not delay; emergency treatment is available and immediate treatment is the best course of action.

Wishing all our moms a happy Mother’s Day!

May 11th, 2017

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." - Robert Browning

We would like to take this moment to thank all the great moms out there for being so great during their child’s visits to SmileKidz. Whether it’s driving their kids to regularly scheduled appointments or for “being there” while their child is treatment, the moms who come to our office are all stellar individuals, so Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our entire staff would like you to know that we appreciate you all!

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy your special day!

May Marks National Physical Fitness and Sports Month!

May 4th, 2017

The merry month of May also happens to be National Fitness and Sports Month, so take advantage of the warmer days to get outside and exercise! Bringing a friend, family member, or coworker with you when you go for a brisk walk during a lunch break can provide an opportunity to socialize as well as health benefits. If you need a little more motivation, here are some good reasons to stay active and fit.

Exercise provides:

  • Improved stamina and energy as well as toned muscles and bone strength and density
  • Improved circulation and breathing for a healthier heart and lungs
  • Reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer
  • For older adults, regular exercise may help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls as well as improved cognitive abilities

Children and Teens

Children and teenagers spend long hours at their desks in school, on the computer, watching television, and involved in other sedentary activities that result in obesity and poor health later in life. Getting them engaged in school or community sports teams can help them form good life-long exercise habits. One important note: If they are participating in contact sports, r. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz recommend your kids wear an approved mouthguard to protect those valuable teeth from injury! Ask us for a proper fitting of your safety appliance during your next visit!

A gym membership is nice but not necessary to stay fit; try these easy ways to work some exercise into your daily routine.

At Home

  • Take a friend along for company on a walk through your neighborhood.
  • Pursue gardening or other yard work, including mowing or raking.
  • Take your kids on a bike ride or have them push a baby stroller around the block.

Couch potatoes take note: simply moving from the sofa to the floor for some sit-ups, leg-lifts, or push-ups while you’re watching television can help you get in better shape in no time.

At Work

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take exercise breaks for walks around the building or parking lot.
  • Walk or ride a bike to work.

So what are you waiting for? Get moving!

For more information on exercise techniques, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO office!

Fluorosis: What is it?

April 27th, 2017

Many people think dental fluorosis is a disease, but it’s not; it’s a condition that affects the appearance of your tooth’s enamel, not the function or health of the teeth. These changes may vary from tiny, white, barely noticeable spots to very noticeable staining, discoloration, and brown markings. The spots and stains left by fluorosis are permanent and may darken over time.

Dental fluorosis occurs in children who are excessively exposed to fluoride between 20 and 30 months of age. Only children ages eight years and younger can develop dental fluorosis. Why? That is the period when permanent teeth are still developing under the gums. For kids, fluorosis can cause significant embarrassment and anxiety about the appearance of their teeth. No matter how much they might brush and floss, the fluorosis stains do not go away.

Many well-known sources of fluoride may contribute to overexposure, including:

  • Fluoridated mouth rinse, which young children may swallow
  • Bottled water which is not tested for fluoride content
  • Inappropriate use of fluoride supplements
  • Exposure to water that is naturally or unnaturally fluoridated to levels well above the recommended levels

One way to reduce the risk for enamel fluorosis is to teach your children not to swallow topical fluoride products, such as toothpaste that contains fluoride. In fact, kids should use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing, and children under the age of two shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste at all.

Dental fluorosis can be treated with tooth bleaching, microabrasion, and conservative composite restorations or porcelain veneers. Please give us a call at our office to learn more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong.

Every Day is Earth Day

April 20th, 2017

During the early days of the environmental awareness movement, those who demonstrated against pollution, toxic chemicals, and the general public health were known as hippies. The early 1970s were a time of change, and assertions that we needed to pay more attention to the Earth's atmosphere were generally dismissed. But within a couple decades, it had become clear that the previous generation was right; the citizens of the world needed to become more environmentally conscious.

Many people feel that they can't make a difference if they don't do something big. But caring for the environment doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing concept. In fact, the little things you do can add up to make a great impact, especially in our community. Here are a few ways you can help the environment on Earth Day, April 22nd and all year around.

Four Small Ways to be Environmentally Friendly

  • Recycle Your Textiles. Nearly 21 million tons of textiles are added to American landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Donating your unwanted clothing to a secondhand store or an organization that repurposes fabric helps cut down on solid waste and conserves natural resources.
  • Reduce Usage of Disposables. Plastic bottles and bags, disposable diapers and other things we can use and toss out are convenient, but they're not necessary. Simply choosing to replace one of type of disposable with a reusable product can help you cut down on waste that has a large negative impact on our environment.
  • Conserve Water. If everyone in the United States turned off the water while brushing their teeth, more than 1.5 million gallons of water could be conserved. Turn the water on long enough to wet your toothbrush for brushing and rinsing, and then immediately turn the water off again.
  • Turn Off the Lights. Flip the light switch to "Off" if you're going to leave a particular room for 15 minutes or more. This will conserve energy on incandescent light bulbs and cut down on cooling costs.

It's not necessary to be an activist or install solar panels all over your home to help the environment. Although you can do these things, the little everyday measures make a big difference in helping to conserve energy and the environment, while reducing your carbon footprint. Our team at SmileKidz wants to remind you to celebrate Earth Day and help the environment, knowing that it will benefit your and your children's generation.

Kids and Teeth Grinding

April 13th, 2017

Grind, grind, grind… if your little one happens to be a teeth grinder, you may be familiar with this unpleasant sound. Teeth grinding, or what Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wongand our team at SmileKidz also call bruxism, is common in children. In fact, three out of ten kids grind or clench their teeth, usually in response to stress, jaw growth, malocclusion, losing teeth, or other discomforts, such as allergies. Kids typically outgrow teeth grinding by the time they reach their teenage years.

Many kids who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they’re doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain. In most cases, if it hadn’t been for a parent or sibling telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are children, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications, from cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw. r. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong will tell you that teeth grinding is not something to take lightly. Teeth grinding can have serious consequences that, if left untreated, can lead to tooth fractures and damage to the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ.

The first step in helping your child recover from teeth grinding is noticing and diagnosing the problem. Symptoms of teeth grinding typically include:

  • Grinding noises when your child is sleeping
  • Complaints of tightness or pain in the jaw
  • Complaints of headaches, earaches, or facial pain
  • Complaints of pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped, worn down, or loose teeth

If you suspect your child is a teeth grinder, r. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team will be able to help. Please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO office! We look forward to treating your child!

April is National Facial Protection Month

April 6th, 2017

The Importance of Facial Protection

Americans from all walks of life should mark April as National Facial Protection Month on their calendars. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, Academy for Sports Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons have combined forces to sponsor this annual campaign, which aims to educate and remind us of the importance of protecting our face and teeth against impacts and injuries.

Wearing a helmet can save your life and prevent devastating physical damage in a variety of situations, from playing football to riding a bicycle. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, helmets reduce the risk of various head injuries by as much as 85 percent. Whether helmet laws apply in your area or not, Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong and our team at SmileKidz want you to make sure you and your loved ones wear helmets with the appropriate safety ratings for specific activities. (A sticker on or inside the helmet will usually indicate this rating.) Helmets can also help save your teeth if they come with an attached faceguard, an essential addition for football players and others involved in contact sports.

Preventing Dental Injuries

A mouthguard can protect you against a variety of dental injuries, such as cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth. The American Dental Association states that mouthguards play an essential role in preventing up to 200,000 dental injuries each year, and many states mandate their use for sports activities such as football and hockey. The Academy for Sports Dentistry warns, however, that these mouthguards must be custom-fitted as precisely as possible to prove effective. Have a professional-quality mouthguard molded and fitted by our team at SmileKidz for better protection than a generic store-bought or “boil-and-bite” variety can offer. These cheaper versions tend to wear out quickly, interfere with proper breathing, and provide uneven degrees of cushion against impacts. Always have a fresh mouthguard fitted for each new sports season.

Choose the right combination of helmet, faceguard, and mouthguard to protect your teeth and face this April, and tell your friends to do the same! To learn more about mouthguards, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong, please give us a call at our convenient Creve Coeur, MO office!

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

March 30th, 2017

Great question! Baby bottle tooth decay is the development of cavities caused by the frequent and long-term exposure of a child's teeth to liquids containing sugars. These liquids include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas and other sweetened drinks. The bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and produce acids that attack the infant's teeth and gums. After numerous attacks, tooth decay can begin.

The first rule is to make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or other sweetened liquids. Giving an infant a sugary drink before bedtime is harmful because the flow of saliva decreases during sleep, allowing the sugary liquids to linger on the child's teeth for an extended period of time. If left untreated, pain and infection can result.

So, how can you prevent baby bottle tooth decay? Be sure to clean and massage the baby's gums once a day to help establish healthy teeth and to aid in teething. When brushing your child's teeth, use a soft toothbrush, as well non-fluoride toothpaste. Once your little one is able to spit, around the age of two, you should begin using fluoride toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing. That way, he or she will already have the good habit of spitting when you switch to fluoride toothpaste, which should never be swallowed.

Also, be aware that children should visit SmileKidz when they are between six and 12 months old. Please give us a call if your child hasn't visited our Creve Coeur, MO office in the last six months!

Amalgam Fillings vs. White Fillings

March 23rd, 2017

Many varieties of fillings are available at our Creve Coeur, MO office. Most people are familiar with traditional amalgam fillings: those big silver spots on top of teeth.

Made from a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury, amalgam fillings have been used to fill cavities for more than 100 years. They offer several advantages, including:

  • High durability for large cavities or cavities on molars
  • Quick hardening time for areas that are difficult to keep dry during placement
  • Reduced placement time for children and special-needs patients who may have a difficult time keeping still during treatment

Although dental amalgam is a safe and commonly used dental material, you might wonder about its mercury content. You should know that when it’s combined with the other metals, mercury forms a safe, stable material.

The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, and World Health Organization all agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material.

White Fillings

Newer, mercury-free, resin-based composite fillings (white fillings) are also available at our Creve Coeur, MO office. Composite resin fillings are made from plastic mixed with powdered glass to make them stronger.

Resin-based fillings offer several benefits for patients, including:

  • They match the color of teeth
  • Less tooth structure needs to be removed than with amalgam fillings
  • BPA-free materials can be used

Resin-based composite fillings also have some disadvantages, including:

  • Higher cost than amalgam fillings
  • Inlays may take more than one visit
  • Requires more time to place than amalgam fillings

There’s a lot to think about when you have to get a cavity filled. We recommend you do your homework and speak with Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong before deciding what’s best for you or your family.

Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 16th, 2017

Millions of people, around Creve Coeur, MO and beyond, wear green on St. Patrick’s Day so they can show their spirit for the holiday and avoid getting pinched. While it may be easy for you to throw on a green shirt, sport a St. Patrick’s Day button, or wear a pair of emerald-hued shoes, if you’re an avid St. Patty’s Day enthusiast you may want to try something different this year. Dr. Varble thought of a few ideas that will help you take your holiday spirit to the next level:

Visit Chicago’s Green River

If you happen to be near the Windy City during St. Patrick’s Day or you’re thinking of planning a trip, don’t miss out on going downtown to watch the large-scale celebration that kicks off when the city dyes the river bright green. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago has been celebrating the holiday with this tradition for more than 50 years, with tens of thousands of people gathering annually to witness the mysterious dying process and the stunning result.

Don Green Face Paint

Just like an avid sports fan on game day, you can use green face paints to showcase your enthusiasm for this holiday. Avoid breakouts or allergic reactions by only using paints that are specifically meant to be applied to the skin. A little bit of face paint can cover a large area, so feel free to get creative and decorate the whole family on St. Patrick’s Day.

Eat Green All Day

Not a fan of green eggs and ham? With the increasing popularity of green smoothies, there’s no better time to get in on this health craze. To create a green smoothie without the aid of food coloring, you can simply blend a generous amount of a leafy green vegetable, such as spinach or kale, with the ingredients that you would typically use to make a smoothie, like fruit, ice, milk, or juice. Keep the trend going throughout the day by using those same vegetables to create a green soup, egg salad, or a batch of bright green pastries. As an added bonus, you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins without changing the taste of most of these foods.

If your old holiday routine has gotten stale, leave your green T-shirt in the drawer and try one or all of these tips. Don’t be surprised if you have so much fun that you decide to start a new, annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition! Have a happy St. Paddy’s day from SmileKidz!

Is dairy crucial to my child's oral health?

March 10th, 2017

Healthy eating, combined with regular physical activity, plays a vital role in your child’s health and well-being. Dairy foods are naturally nutritious, packed with ten essential nutrients that help your child feel good for life. But did you know that dairy is also great for your child’s dental health? Our team at SmileKidz will tell you that, in addition to providing large amounts of much-needed calcium, dairy products also help fight cavities! Dairy products have a specific role to play in dental health as they contain a unique combination of special anti-decay nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and the protein, casein. Cheese is especially useful, as eating a small piece of cheese after consuming sugary foods or drinks can help protect teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

If you’d like to know more about the importance of dairy products in your child’s diet, or about any aspect of your child’s dental health, feel free to ask Dr. Varble, Dr. Applebaum, Dr. Dill and Dr. Wong at your next appointment!

Welcome to our Blog!

February 21st, 2017

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about us, the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctors and team - we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!

Are X-rays safe?

February 16th, 2017

Why do we even have to use X-rays?

X-rays allow dentists to see what is going on both inside the teeth and behind the gums, helping us to assess potential problem areas. It enables us to see cavities and potential tooth decay before it becomes a bigger problem, and it also gives us a sneak peek into how their teeth are developing beneath the gum line.

Then how do you know it is safe?

There have always been conflicting reports of the overall safety of “radiographic exams,” as the debate over what determines a “safe” level of radiation continues on. While it is true that exposure to radiation can be harmful, the type of exposure your child will receive from a dental x-ray is extremely minimal.

Many advancements in technology have increased the safety of X-rays, such as the implementation of high speed film, which further minimizes the amount of radiation used in the exam.

The level of radiation used in your child’s X-ray is very low, and modern equipment is built to focus just on the particular areas of the mouth being inspected; effectively removing the risk of unnecessary exposure.

We also take more traditional safety measures, such as the use of lead vests or aprons to cover your child’s body while the X-ray is being taken.

Additionally, there are many laws and regulations each practice must adhere to and are routinely inspected on to ensure the X-ray equipment is up to code. That, together with all of the procedures previously mentioned, are how we can ensure your child’s health and safety during an examination.

Have questions? Don’t hesitate to give us a call!

As we’ve previously mentioned, our dentists performed two additional years of schooling to focus on the dental health and overall well being of adolescents. We are happy to answer any and all questions you might have!

Why choose a pediatric dentist?

February 16th, 2017

Choosing a dentist for your child can be a difficult process. A lot of parents have a hard time making that choice for a number of reasons. They know the idea of the dentist can be intimidating, and they want their child to receive the best care in a comfortable setting.

For this reason, many parents elect to take their child to their own dentist. It is someone they trust and have an established relationship with, so they feel comfortable bringing their little one too.

This is perfectly fine if you choose to do so, as your dentist is fully capable of providing your child with the care and attention they need. So why choose a pediatric dentist, then?

They are specialized in children’s care.

Each of our dentists completed two additional years of study after earning their dental degrees to focus on treating children. The extra training allows them to focus on the specific issues children commonly face, as well as monitoring and maintaining your child’s teeth as they develop.

Another, sometimes overlooked, benefit of pediatric training is that our dentists are experienced in dealing with your child’s temperament. Kids can be intimidated and scared about going to the dentist, and our dentists are trained to do what it takes to make your child feel comfortable and even enjoy going to the dentist!

They have a child-friendly environment.

You might not think about it, but you probably wouldn’t say that your dentist’s office is “inviting.” We are use to going to the dentist, as we know what to expect. But if your child has never been to the dentist before, you can imagine what a difference it might make to him or her.

Both of our offices are completely focused on your children. Our bright and colorful atmosphere is a welcoming sight that is sure to put your child at ease. You are also welcome to stay with your child for the duration of his or her visit. We understand that some children would prefer their parent by their side, and we welcome and encourage you to join them if you so please.

Schedule your appointment today!

Give us a call to schedule your child’s visit! If this will be your child’s first visit, you can read more about what to expect here. We look forward to meeting you and your little one!

Creve Coeur Office – 314-567-1122           St. Charles Office – 636-946-5225

Toothbrushes: Manual vs. Electric

February 16th, 2017

When you think of the word “toothbrush” you probably envision the standard manual toothbrush you’ve been using for years. While the original manual style of toothbrush has been around since the 1930’s, new advancements in technology have given birth to a totally new style of toothbrush, the automatic toothbrush.

We’ve all seen them in the toothbrush aisle at the grocery store, but may have skipped over them since we’re not familiar with them and don’t know how well they work. So, the real question is, is the price worth it? Is the electric toothbrush really that much better than the manual toothbrush? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each to find out.

Electric Toothbrush – Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easier to use – While we all know that brushing your teeth isn’t necessarily difficult, it’s easy to slack on your dental hygiene when using a manual toothbrush. The electric toothbrush moves much faster than the standard manual toothbrush, removing more plaque and making it easier to maintain great dental hygiene.
  • Children love them – It’s hard enough to get kids to brush their teeth, and if Superman spearmint toothpaste isn’t cutting it, a lot of parents are turning to electric toothbrushes to get the job done. It’s less work for your kids to get much cleaner teeth and maintain their dental hygiene, it “tickles” their teeth and gums, and most electric toothbrushes have a 2-minute timer which can let kids know when they are done brushing.
  • Customizable options – When you buy a manual toothbrush and the bristles are too tough or too soft, you have to buy a new toothbrush or possibly several if you can’t seem to hone in on the right one for you. With an electric toothbrush, most have interchangeable heads with different kinds of cleaning movements, bristle texture, and cleaning intensity. This makes you able to have a great experience with a toothbrush that is comfortable for you.

Cons:

  • Cost – This is usually the main deterrent from purchasing an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes ranging anywhere from around $40 to upwards of a $100.
  • Batteries and Charging – With an electric toothbrush, you do have to worry about keeping it charged or keeping batteries on hand just in case. This can pose a problem if you are traveling.
  • Fragile and easy to break – While it’s fairly hard to break a manual toothbrush, electric toothbrushes have a lot of small and delicate pieces that can break easily. If you or your child were to drop your electric toothbrush, you could be forced to buy a new one if one of the internal mechanisms breaks.

Manual Toothbrush – Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Cheaper than the electric – At the end of the day, they are both still toothbrushes. You may find that a motor and timer aren’t important enough to you for you to spend the extra money. It’s all about what is important to you when making your selection.
  • Easy to travel with – There are no cords, batteries, or charging associated with a manual toothbrush. Just toss it in your bag whenever you are ready to leave and it can get the job done wherever you are. Most manual toothbrushes are slim and easy to pack while some electric toothbrushes are heavy and bulky.

Cons:

  • Requires more work – The manual toothbrush requires more effort to use than the electric toothbrush since there isn’t a motor to do the brushing for you.
  • Timing issues – With a manual toothbrush, there is no alarm for two minutes of brushing. People often forget how often long they have been brushing their teeth, and if you don’t brush long enough your teeth won’t fully get clean. If you brush them too long, you risk damaging the enamel on your teeth.
  • Not as effective as the electric - Dentists say that using an electric toothbrush combined with good dental hygiene habits is more effective at removing plaque and preventing gingivitis because of the 6,000 motions per minute as compared to the 300-600 you average with a manual toothbrush.

Conclusion

Whichever toothbrush you choose, your teeth will remain healthy as long as you are taking your dental hygiene seriously and taking consistent care of your teeth. If you are on the fence about what kind of toothbrush you should be using, talk with us about it at your next teeth cleaning!

Best Office contest winning essay

February 16th, 2017

Congratulations to our dental assistant Samantha Stoehr, who won 3rd place for her essay in the Best Office Contest through the American Dental Assistants Association.  Her article appeared in the September/October edition of the Dental Assistant Journal – but you can read it here:

Kids hate going to the dentist.  This fact isn’t disputed; it’s a widely accepted truth that’s to the point of being cliché. Parents tend to dread the anxiety and drama of a dental cleaning and checkup, especially if they have more than one young child.

However, there is a place in the St. Louis area where children can receive gentle, thorough dental care and actually be excited about it. They ask their parents when their next cleaning is, looking forward to it like a trip to grandma’s, or Easter. Parents can hardly believe it.

They also can’t believe how easy it is on them, as well as their children. A family of five can get cleanings, x-rays, and examined by the doctor in under a half hour? Plus, if their appointment is at 10:00am, all of their children will be in the chair by 10:02am.

This is just a sliver of what sets us apart at the pediatric dental offices of Drs. Appelbaum, Dill, Varble, and Wong. Along with our stellar customer service and attention to detail, we consistently bring patients back on time, get them in and out within their appointment time, and most importantly, we get the patients excited about their oral health.

The way we interact with patients and parents is our main focus; we always make sure we put them and their concerns first. The doctors and staff are always willing to listen to any issue someone may have, and we do our best to work with them. If a child complains about the bright lights when we lay their chair back, a pair of animal print sunglasses is on its way.

If a parent has a concern about x-rays or fluoride treatments, or the pros and cons of resin versus amalgam fillings, the doctors are right there to answer their questions and help them make an informed decision. They are upfront and honest, and the parents feel confident in trusting them. And the doctors make their opinions available at all times.

One of our doctors is always on call, even on weekends, for dental emergencies. Calling the emergency line will not direct you to an answering machine or exchange service; it rings directly to their cell phones.

If there is an issue at the front office with scheduling or an unpaid balance, the kind and professional ladies that man the front desk are eager to help. Even unpleasant situations and discussions are handled with finesse. We understand that no matter what the issue, everyone wants to be listened to, and we always exert extra effort to make the parents feel heard.

Everything from the setup of our offices is designed with patients and parents’ best interests in mind. Both of our locations are set up as “open bay” offices. The chairs for operatory are offset from the hygiene chairs, but there are no private rooms. Parents can always see their child and how they are doing; they are not only allowed, but also encouraged to accompany their child to the back office. They are able to sit next to their child or watch from the bench, whichever it takes to make the child (and parent) more comfortable.

The open bay also works for us with nervous children; kids do not want to go through the unknown alone. They can watch an older sibling or another patient get their teeth cleaned and see how easy it is. Patients as young as two years old frequently get in the chair for a full cleaning after watching an older sibling do the same.

Our larger office setup and staff is ideal for accommodating larger families, too. We have enough staff on hand daily to get a family of five or six cleaned at the same time so that we are able to get even a large family in and out within thirty minutes—an often unheard-of feat!

The language that we use also plays a huge part in our success as pediatric dentists. There is never a shortage of laughter in the office while we tell our patients to “open big like dinosaurs” while we “tickle your teeth”. The doctors elicit giggles with funny voices, actual tickles, songs, and jokes while children are in their care.

Dr. Wong and Dr. Varble can often be heard singing songs from Frozen or “Wheels on the Bus”. Dr. Appelbaum and Dr. Dill employ funny voices, and the children find it hilarious when they count their teeth, “1, 2, 3, 7, 9, and 10!” One parent said that our doctors are “professional with the parents and appropriately silly with patients”.

Even getting fillings done, teeth numbed, and extracted is a breeze in our office with our calming and relaxed demeanor and kid-friendly language. We don’t “give shots” in our office, we “spray sleepy juice”. We don’t “drill”, we “sparkle”, and “clean out the sugar bugs”. We don’t “pull” or “extract” teeth, we “hug” and “give wiggles”. We feel a great deal of pride and accomplishment when we are able to coax a nervous child into doing something they are anxious about, and have them smiling when it’s over.

Along with children and adolescents, we specialize in dental treatment for special needs patients. There are many patients in our office that, prior to seeing us, had felt as though they’d exhausted every resource, seeing family dentists and even other pediatric dentists in the area to no avail. They are thrilled upon finding our office and our methods of dealing with patients that need extra help.

One parent sang our praises after being referred to sedation dentistry by several other dentists in the area, saying, “Dr. Dill and his very talented staff ACTUALLY know how to deal with and care for kids with difficult special needs”. Many families have been pleased that they can bring their children to our office, rather than deal with inconvenience and gravity of putting a child under sedation for a dental cleaning.

Our excellent standards of customer service are continued from the back office to the ladies at the front desk. A smile greets parents when they walk in, where we are happy to assist with updating insurance information and can do so within minutes. At check out, we explain to parents exactly what they are being charged for, and go over treatment plans line by line.  Accommodating your children’s busy schedules becomes a breeze when making appointments; our ladies are experts at it.

Friendly voices answer the phone-- not an automated system-- and are ready to help with anything from billing questions to scheduling conflicts. If you need to make a call during your lunch hour, after work, or on a Saturday, someone will always answer the phone. Questions about the enigma that is your insurance company? Our front desk is happy to help, and have years of experience in dealing with insurance to help clear the fog.

The way we communicate with our patients is only half of our secret to success. The other half is our team and the way we communicate with each other. In our practice, there is no such thing as “your patient” and “my patient”. Every child that walks through our doors is everyone’s responsibility.

This creates an atmosphere of “we”, rather than “me” or “mine”. We collaborate on everything, from getting x-rays and doing cleanings, to assisting the assistant on the operatory side if necessary. It is truly a team effort, from the front office to the back. Every morning, the whole team participates in a morning huddle, where we go over our day and make sure that everyone is on board with how the day will run. We end on a note of encouragement and inspiration, ready to take on the day together.

Also, we have a monthly staff meeting, where we talk about our accomplishments as a team and honor those that shined especially bright that month. The team atmosphere is bolstered by the fact that we are friends with our coworkers as well. There is a great sense of camaraderie between the staff, and it shines through to our customer service. We have great chemistry and are glad to come to work, which the patients can sense in our demeanor. It’s easy to greet everyone with a smile when you’ve just been laughing with your teammates.

It’s not often that small children are excited to come to the dentist, but that is always a goal we hope to achieve. We purposely cultivate an environment to get them to enjoy their visits as much as possible; rather than just tolerate them.

It begins in our waiting areas, which are designed to calm and distract. Our Creve Coeur office has an aviary, where anxiety melts away at the sight of the little birds. Our back office is clean and colorful, with inflatable prizes and the resident stuffed animals brightening up the corners. Seasonal decorations hang from the ceiling and walls regularly. Heading up to checkout is our prize box, an incentive that no child forgets.

There is always a monthly contest going on as well, where children can enter to win prizes while their parents check out and schedule their next appointments. Don’t forget to pick up a coloring page on your way out of the door!

Another added perk of our office is our affiliation with Varble Orthodontics. Having a talented orthodontist in the same office as their children’s dentist is a convenience that many parents in our practice greatly appreciate and take advantage of. We are able to coordinate with their office easily about scheduling appointments, sharing x-rays, and treatment recommendations. Also, their team environment meshes well with ours, and we have great chemistry with their staff as well.

Opportunities for advancement in this practice are limited, but there are always chances to take on additional responsibilities and train new employees. The practice also offers webinars and seminars to keep our customer service skills honed.

Our manager attends conferences to network with other offices and is always looking for ways to improve our team. Guest speakers are often invited to our monthly staff meetings to introduce the staff and doctors to new and innovative products. The doctors keep their dentistry skills sharp by taking continuing education courses and reading articles about the latest materials and techniques to better care for their patients.

They encourage the team mentality off the floor as well, and anytime an assistant has an idea to better the practice, it is welcomed and carefully considered by the doctors and management.

It’s not polite to discuss finances, but it would be a disservice to not cover the financial philosophy of this practice. The doctors always put the patients first. Any product that we sell in our office, from electric toothbrushes and whitening strips to prescription toothpaste and orthodontic flossers, is sold at our cost.

We want to offer our patients the best products for maintaining their dental health at home and don’t feel we should profit from that. Nitrous oxide is provided to our patients at no cost to them. We have negotiated with many insurance companies to become in-network with them, for the convenience of our patients.

One of the doctors always tells the story about when he was interviewing at practices in the area; every one of them talked dollar amounts and bottom lines. This practice was the only one that talked about caring for the patients and putting them first. The doctors continue this philosophy into our day-to-day, and will do their best to work with patients without insurance, or a high-unpaid balance. The care always comes first.

Our communication skills, special training, excellent doctors, and team atmosphere are the keys we use to care for our patients through their childhood and adolescence. We build relationships with them, by getting to know them while we take care of them.

Parents frequently ask jokingly if they can come to us for their dental care as well, and dread the day when their child ages out of the practice. It is entertaining to find in the chart of a teenage patient that they were upset for their first visit, or a picture they drew for the doctor when they were five years old.

It is evident that these doctors truly care for their patients, and vice versa. Dr. Appelbaum has been caring for children and practicing dentistry for over thirty-two years. Now, some of his first patients are bringing in their own children, having enjoyed the care they received so much as children. It is a sincere compliment and great honor to be trusted with a second generation of patients.

Why a frenulum injury doesn't mean a trip to the ER

February 16th, 2017

As parents, we are all probably a little overprotective of our little ones. And how could we not be? It is unbearable to have to see a child in pain, and even worse if the injury also involves blood. This is why a lot of parents end up taking their child to the ER when they sustain a frenulum injury.

What is a frenulum?

If you are not familiar with the lingo, the frenulum is the little piece of tissue that joins the upper lip to the gum. A frenulum tear is actually a very common occurrence, even in children. These injuries occur for any number of reasons, from accidents to aggressive brushing, and anything in between.

When a child has such an injury, a lot of parents’ inclination is to head to the ER. Most parents fear the tear will require some type of suture. While it is good to be cautious, heading to the ER for a frenulum injury will only result in time and money spent unnecessarily.

How do you treat a frenulum injury?

While it might seem like a serious injury, there really isn’t any treatment for a torn frenulum. The injury will simply heal itself over time. It is important to note that during the healing process, if you try to pull the lip back to inspect it, it will probably begin to bleed again. The best treatment is just to leave it alone.

Disclaimer: You should always use your best judgment when assessing an injury. If your child does sustain an injury to his or her mouth, inspect the entire area before taking action. If your child has a deep cut, puncture, or continuous bleeding, then a doctor or ER visit might be required.

As always, if you have any other questions or concerns about your child’s dental health, we welcome you to give us a call!

Creve Coeur Office – 314-567-1122           St. Charles Office – 636-946-5225

Treating Children With Special Needs

February 16th, 2017

We love our patients! We really do. Each of our doctors studied two additional years so they could specialize in pediatric dentistry. They know the key to long-lasting dental health starts at an early age, which is why they are so passionate about helping their patients take care of their beautiful smiles.

The doctors’ main goal is to make sure their patients are comfortable, a task they don’t take lightly knowing that a trip to the dentist (especially that first one) can be intimidating. This can be especially true for children with special needs, and our staff is particularly attentive to these situations.

Proper dental care is crucial for all children (and adults).

One challenge many parents of special needs children face is having the time to get to the dentist. We are aware of the extra care needed when treating a child with special needs and often times, getting to the dentist isn’t a priority.

In all actuality, maintaining proper dental care is even more important for special needs children, as they are even more likely to encounter dental problems during their developmental years. Certain disabilities can leave your child prone to crowding, misalignment, or malformation, all of which need to be monitored and regularly cared for to prevent larger issues down the road.

Our doctors have many years of experience in treating children with physical and behavioral disabilities, so you can rest assured your child will be getting the best dental care.

We’re here to help!

We aim to provide excellent dental care in an environment your child will enjoy. Believe it or not, most of our patients actually look forward to going to the dentist! You can read some of our testimonials on our website, or stop by our Facebook page for even more feedback from our fantastic patients!

Our priority is to ensure you and your child feel as comfortable as possible and they get the care they need. We know that you, as a parent, probably have questions regarding your child’s dental health. We are here to answer them! Give us a call anytime and we’d be happy to help!

Creve Coeur Office – 314-567-1122           St. Charles Office – 636-946-5225

The problems with dry mouth

February 16th, 2017

Dry mouth is a problem that has undoubtedly affected everyone at some point in their lifetime, and most likely, your child has experienced it earlier than they can remember.

It can be caused by any number of reasons and most often occurs temporarily from dehydration, or from a long night’s sleep. These instances are generally situational and can be quickly resolved with a cool glass of water.

What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

The most obvious symptom of dry mouth is if your child is constantly complaining of thirst. They might also describe a sticky feeling in their mouth, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or dry and cracked lips.

Most of the symptoms can occur from time to time, for varying reasons, and are no cause for alarm. However, if the symptoms persist, they could be the sign of something more serious.

What if my constantly has dry mouth?

If your child is experiencing a persistently dry mouth, it could be from an ailment known as Xerostomia. Xerostomia occurs when the glands that produce saliva in your child’s mouth stop functioning properly. If the glands are not doing their job, their mouths will not produce the saliva they need.

If your child has a persistent problem producing saliva, it can lead to other, significant health issues. Most notably, it promotes tooth decay. Saliva is your child’s first line of defense against oral bacteria, as it helps to naturally wash it off of his or her teeth.

So what causes Xerostomia?

There are a number of different causes of Xerostomia. It could be the symptom of an underlying issue such as Diabetes, Sjörgen’s Syndrome, or high blood pressure. If your child is on medication, it could also be one of the side effects, as dry mouth is a potential side effect of many medications.

What to do if you suspect your child has persistent dry mouth.

If your child is experiencing symptoms of dry mouth frequently, schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist. We are happy to assist with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your child’s dental health.

What to do in a dental emergency:

February 16th, 2017

Having to face an emergency is something that no parent wants to have to deal with, yet it is also a rite of passage. Life is unpredictable, and accidents happen. While there is no way to prevent these things from happening, you can be better prepared.

Don’t Panic!

Kids are curious and clumsy, and sometimes that combination will lead to an accident. The most important thing to remember is not to panic. Your first order of business is to comfort your child, and your reaction will influence his or hers.

Assess the Problem.

The most common problems we encounter are:

  • Toothache: In the event of a nagging toothache, rinse your child’s mouth with water and apply a cold compress. You will want to schedule an appointment to have the affected area x-rayed for further treatment.
  • Chipped or broken tooth: If your child chips or breaks a tooth, try and locate the broken fragment, then contact your dentist immediately.
  • Lost primary tooth: rinse your child’s mouth and apply a cold compress to reduce any swelling. Contact your dentist immediately.
  • Lost permanent tooth: try to locate the tooth. Rinse it gently with cool water. Try to replace the tooth in its socket if possible, then hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you cannot replace the tooth, place it in a container with cold milk. Immediately take your child to his or her dentist.

Make Sure the Problem Isn’t More Serious.

If you child lost or chipped a tooth after hitting their head and lost consciousness, contact your physician or go to the emergency room immediately. Head injuries can be very serious, so assess and treat any head injuries before dental damage.

We Are Available 24/7.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the event of a dental emergency. If you have any questions, or you have a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

The Truth About Sports Drinks

February 16th, 2017

It is commonly perceived that sports drinks are a great way to replenish fluids and electrolytes after a workout or during sporting events.  Most people consider sports drinks and flavored water to be a slightly healthier option than just plain old tap water.

The reality, however, could not be further from the truth.

While sports drinks do contain electrolytes, they also contain an elevated level of acidity and sugar, which is very damaging to tooth enamel.

The problem with perception:

When most people think about sports drinks, they think they are getting a healthier alternative to soft drinks or tap water.  What they don’t realize is that most sports drinks have nearly as much sugar, sometimes even more, as soft drinks.

In addition to excess sugar, sports drinks also contain a high level of acidity not too different from soft drinks.  Acidity is equally as detrimental to overall tooth health as sugar, and drinks high in both sugar and acidity are going to leave your child’s teeth much more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay.

They aren’t just bad for your teeth.

Sports drinks aren’t just bad for your teeth.  With the added sugar also come more calories.  While sports drinks might be beneficial during prolonged and vigorous exercise, they don’t fare so well in normal activities or limited exercise.

In a lot of cases, your child will actually be taking in more calories than they are actually burning.  The average serving size of a sports drink is 8 ounces, however, off the shelf options are usually 20 or 32 ounces, meaning your child is drinking 2-4 servings if the entire bottle is consumed.

Unless your child is extremely active, the extra sugar and sodium contained in sports drinks isn’t necessary to supplement their activities.

What should I give my child?

As you might have guessed, good old-fashioned water is the best way to keep your child healthy and hydrated.   Water does wonders not only replacing and liquids lost during activity, but also to continually rinse and clean their teeth of plaque buildup and bacteria.

If you do give your child sports drinks, just be sure to monitor the serving size and to supplement it with water to better promote your little one’s tooth health!

Does your child need a space maintainer?

February 16th, 2017

Space maintainers are exactly what their name implies.  They are placeholders to keep space for incoming teeth when a primary tooth is lost early, or your child needs an extraction.

If a tooth is lost or extracted before its permanent successor is ready to erupt, other teeth may work their way in or around that open space instead of where they should be.

Space maintainers act as a placeholder for the permanent tooth that has not yet made its way into its new home.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs A Space Maintainer?

Every case will be unique, so it is best to consult your dentist or orthodontist for his or her recommendation.  Some instances will not require any action at all, but it’s best to ask a professional if you are concerned.

If your child does lose a tooth prematurely and proper space is not allowed for the permanent tooth, it can cause crowding or shifting that could require further orthodontic treatment.

The work needed to repair permanent teeth that shift improperly can be both a costly and lengthy repair.

How does a space maintainer work?

A space maintainer is a custom fit appliance made of either plastic or metal that holds the space of the tooth prematurely lost.  By occupying the space while the permanent tooth will grow, it prevents the other teeth from moving in to the newly opened space.

Orthodontic work for teeth that grow out of line can be costly and time consuming.  Implementing a space maintainer is a much cheaper and easier procedure if your child does have a spacing issue.

Space maintainers can be removable or fixed to surrounding teeth.  The most common type of space maintainer is called the band and loop.  A band is fitted around the tooth behind the vacant space.  From there, the maintainer is looped around the gum resting on the tooth in front of the space.

This procedure will keep that space, allowing for the new permanent tooth to grow into its proper place.

Caring for your child’s space maintainer:

It might take a few days for your child to get comfortable with the appliance. You will want to be mindful of the types of foods you give your child, being sure to avoid chewy or sugary foods, gum and candy.

It is equally as important to make sure the area is getting properly cleaned to avoid plaque buildup.  Your dentist will instruct you on best practices when brushing and flossing the area.

Once the permanent tooth has erupted, then the maintainer can be removed.  You will want to make a follow-up appointment for x-rays to check on the progress of your child’s treatment.

Have questions?  Give us a call!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding space maintainers, or for any of your child’s dental health, call us to schedule an appointment today!

Creve Coeur Office – 314-567-1122              St. Charles Office – 636-946-5225

Why Does My Child Have Bad Breath?

February 16th, 2017

We have all, at some point, encountered someone who spoke a little too closely and left you with a lingering scent of the bad taste in their mouth.

Bad breath is a common problem for over 80 million people for any number of reasons, whether it is from what they ate for lunch or an actual medical condition. It is an unpleasant and potentially embarrassing experience for anyone.

But what about your children?

What Are the Causes?

Poor dental hygiene is the leading cause of bad breath.

It most commonly occurs when food particles left in the mouth begin to rot and collect bacteria. Plaque, which is that sticky, transparent film that builds up on your teeth from irregular brushing habits, is also a great hiding place for bacteria.

Any of these items can lead to a foul odor in your child’s mouth.

Bad breath can also be the byproduct of a medical condition.

Chronic halitosis (or bad breath) can occur in diabetics whose blood sugar goes uncontrolled. Kidney, liver and sinus problems have also been known to be the culprits.

Sinus infections that create a postnasal drip are the leading cause of halitosis in children. Runny noses are the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and any residual rundown can end up clinging to back of the tongue.

Saliva is your natural first line of defense in combatting bad breath. Saliva works to wash away food particles and odor-causing bacteria. Children with dry mouth, or who are dehydrated, are also more likely to experience bad breath.

Keeping your child hydrated is an easy way of combatting that, as well as promoting tooth health, as dehydration can also lead to tooth decay.

What Are the Solutions?

As you might suspect, having a good brushing routine is the best way to combat bad breath.

Have your child brush and floss at least twice a day, remembering to also brush his or her tongue, cheeks, and the roof of their mouth.  This will help remove any bacteria or food that might be hiding around their pearly whites.

It is also important to keep up with your child’s regular dental visits to ensure he or she hasn’t developed plaque build-up or cavities.

If your child is experiencing chronic bad breath, be sure to tell your child’s doctor on your next dental visit. They will be able to help you identify the problem and let you know the best method of action to keep your child’s breath as sweet as their smile!

Funky Toothbrushes to Get Kids Excited About Brushing

February 16th, 2017

Sometimes little ones, and even no-so-little ones, flat out refuse to brush their teeth on their own or allow a parent to do it for them.

Unfortunately, tooth brushing is a nonnegotiable task for healthy children. And twice daily meltdowns over the subject aren’t fun for anyone, so we did a little research.

We found 6 funky toothbrushes to get kids excited about brushing!

GUM® Star Wars Light Saber Toothbrush

This product is perfect for the mini Jedi in your life! The brush is in the shape of a light saber and comes in three unique designs: Anakin Skywalker (blue stem), Darth Vader (red stem) and Yoda (green stem). The light saber flashes for 1 minute at a time to encourage kids to brush for longer.

You Get:

12 toothbrushes per bag

$29.29 per bag ($2.44 per toothbrush)

Batteries are included

GUM® Crayola Timer Light Toothbrush

Similar to the Star Wars Light Saber Toothbrush, the Crayola Timer Light Toothbrush is the perfect choice for any child. Who doesn’t love to color? The brush’s LED lights flash for 1 minute at a time to encourage longer brushing. Additionally, the brushes come with countertop suction cup holders that will keep their bristles cleaner. Four colors are included: Green, blue, yellow and red.

You Get:

12 toothbrushes per bag

$27.79 per bag ($2.32 per toothbrush)

Infant Finger Toothbrush

Designed for adults to gently clean their infant’s gums, this latex-free product is fascinating. Simply slip this thimble-esque finger topper on and remove plaque from your child’s gums and/or erupting baby teeth. While your child may not be excited about brushing just yet, it’s important to form a mouth-cleaning routine as early as possible.

You Get:

12 toothbrushes per pack

$11.99 per pack ($1.00 per toothbrush)

6 pink and 6 blue toothbrushes per pack

RinserBrush

It’s a toothbrush and a water fountain all in one! Eliminate paper cups and wasted water, and quit putting your head in the sink by investing in one of these! Kids will love the fountain aspect, and you’ll love the reduced counter clutter! Also, the bristle section is replaceable, so you won’t have to throw out the entire brush every three months!

You Get:

1 toothbrush and 1 replacement head

$8.99 per order

ARM & HAMMER TOOTH TUNES

Pick your child’s brush based on their music taste! Then, songs will play for 2 minutes directly into their head while they brush (assuming they’re using the correct method)! Electric toothbrushes can get kids excited about brushing on their own, and when you combine one such brush with One Direction or Kidz Bop, then your child is bound to love it!

Upon reading reviews for this product, several buyers complained that there’s no way to replace its battery and that the battery lifespan was short. While this certainly sounds like a great product, you may want to further research it before purchasing.

You Get:

1 toothbrush

$10.07

Batteries are included

Philips Sonicare HX6311

The Sonicare for Kids electric toothbrush is a top-rated option, according to internet reviews. The toothbrush chimes musically at 30-second intervals to let kids know when to brush another quadrant of their mouths. The high-tech product is also designed to connect to your smart devices and play animations to entertain your child during their 2-minute brush time via a free, interactive app.

You Get:

1 rechargeable toothbrush

$39.95

Batteries are included

We hope that one of these products will make your life a little easier and that your child learns to love keeping his or her mouth healthy!

5 St. Louis Events that Parents Will Want to Take Their Kids To

February 16th, 2017

Being a parent oftentimes means that you give up having fun, adult plans of your own in order to go to kid-centric events. But what if there were activities in your area that both you and your child would enjoy?

There are! With you in mind, we’ve rounded up 5 events happening in and around St. Louis that parents will want to take their kids to.

Winter Movie Night: Minions

When: 6 p.m. on January 13

Where: Ballpark Village in St. Louis (an indoor event)

Price: Free

OK, OK, so this one is technically categorized as a kids’ event. But honestly, who doesn’t like minions?

Ballpark Village is in the middle of its family-friendly movie night series and offers an entirely free experience. At 5 p.m., attendees can participate in movie-related activities. Free bags of popcorn are also provided in exchange for filled out data cards.

Loop Ice Carnival 2016

When: January 15-16

Where: January 15 – Moonrise Hotel; January 16 – The Delmar Loop Neighborhood in St. Louis

Price: Free (Saturday activities)

From 7-11 p.m. on January 15, the Snow Ball takes place at the Moonrise Hotel. The iciest-dressed couple will be named Ice King and Queen. Ice carving demos, stilt walkers, fire performers and more will be in attendance the next day. Note that the majority of Saturday’s activities are held outdoors, so dress warmly!

Arctic Cat Nitro Arenacross Tour

When: February 5-6

Where: Family Arena in St. Charles

Price: See ticket info here

The tour is the largest indoor motocross tour in the U.S. and is packed with action and adrenaline! Flips, jumps, lasers and lights and a country music artist performance are all part of the experience. A child gets free admission with one paid upper-level, general admission adult ticket on Friday night.

L’École Culinaire Kids Cooking Class

When: February 6

Where: L’École Culinaire – St. Louis Campus

Price: $50

The cooking school offers monthly classes for children (prices vary by month, too). The February class is “Chocolate Basics” – just in time for your child to help you make some sweet treats for Valentine’s Day! But after eating the sweets, remember to drink some water!

Ice Skating in Creve Coeur

When: Public Sessions every day

Where: Creve Coeur Ice Arena in Dielmann Recreation Complex

Price: $3 for residents, $5 for nonresidents (Skate rental is $2 for everyone)

The Ice Arena is open year-round and is a fun, winter activity for all ages. In addition to Public Sessions, multiple classes are offered for kids and adults alike.

We hope that your entire family enjoys these activities and this winter season!

6 Steps to Sooth Your Child’s Burned Tongue or Mouth

February 16th, 2017

One sip of coffee fresh from the pot or a taste of soup straight from the slow cooker can burn your mouth instantly. And unfortunately, kids aren’t known for taking dainty bites or sips.

If your child gets their hands on a hot food or beverage and indulges immediately, they could be hurt.

Luckily, most of these injuries aren’t serious. But, for a child who hasn’t experienced a minor burned mouth before or doesn’t understand what’s going on, it can feel very serious.

Prevent a more serious burn and additional discomfort for your child by acting quickly. Follow these 6 steps to sooth your child’s burned tongue or mouth!

The most common burn injury in kids that are 6 months to years old is a scald from hot foods or drinks. Since it’s such a regular incident, there are plenty of home remedies and treatments available to sooth your child’s burned tongue or mouth.

See our recommended steps below.

1. First, get the hot food or liquid out of their mouth and wiped off their face immediately to prevent serious injuries.

2. Give your child something cold to suck on to alleviate the pain, like ice or a Popsicle.

3. Evaluate the severity of the burn and determine if your child needs medical attention. If medical treatment is required, take them to the emergency room as quickly as possible. If not, continue with these steps.

4. Have him or her drink something that will coat their mouth and grant another layer of relief, like milk.

5. Clearly explain to them what happened, why it happened and how they can prevent it from happening in the future.

6. Finally, let the healing happen. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medication and pain relievers can be given to them with discretion.

Then, monitor your child’s food and drink intake for a week or so after the burn occurs. Steer them away from hard, crunchy food or hot foods and drinks, as they can irritate or scrape the already sensitive skin and cause more pain.

If a mouth burn happens before one of your child’s biannual checkups, inform their dentist. The dentist can then take special care around that area of your child’s mouth.

The Symptoms, Causes and Solutions for Your Child’s Teeth Grinding

February 16th, 2017

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is the act of unconsciously grinding or clenching your upper and lower teeth together. And, about a third of all kids grind their teeth at some point during their childhood.

Infants, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly are all perceptible to it, so why does it happen? How can you stop the habit before it does any damage?

What to Look For

Since teeth grinding is done unconsciously and mostly at night, knowing if your child or teenager is doing it is half the battle.

The most common giveaways are if they complain of a sore jaw, tooth sensitivity or if they often find evidence of having bitten the inside of their cheek. Another symptom is a constant, dull headache.

In severe, uncorrected cases, it can wear away your child’s primary and permanent teeth or cause their teeth to misalign. If misalignment is left unchecked, then it can lead to gum disease.

Common Causes of Teeth Grinding

An infant grinding their teeth is natural once enough teeth erupt to touch together. The phenomenon of having teeth is a new to your baby, so seeing what they can do is normal.

Children getting their permanent teeth will often do the same thing, since one cause of bruxism is gum discomfort.

Bruxism can also be brought on by stress, sleep disorders, earaches or as a side effect of certain medications.

What You Can Do

If your child is grinding their teeth while they’re in the process of getting their primary or permanent teeth, then don’t worry. Children generally stop on their own with no damage to their teeth.

In the meantime, to treat any discomfort as a result of bruxism, put a warm washcloth on your child’s cheek in front of their earlobe before bedtime to relax their muscles. You can try the same thing with a warm washcloth over their entire face.

At their next dentist checkup, tell your child’s doctor about the grinding or clenching so that they can pay special attention in the future to any signs of excessive wear or fractures. If your child is showing serious signs of teeth grinding, then immediately call your dentist. Then, the dentist may fit them with a mouthguard or a dental splint.

Both fit over your child’s upper or lower teeth and are worn at night to protect their teeth from being damaged.

3 Easy Steps to Keeping Your Child's Mouth Healthy

February 16th, 2017

When goals are broken down into small steps, they just seem easier to achieve! And since our focus is on keeping your child’s mouth healthy, this blog outlines 3 easy steps to do just that.

And, these tips aren’t just for kids. Both you and your child can reap the benefits of this dental advice!

1. Help your child make brushing their teeth a habit!

As it becomes a habit, ensure their brushing technique is getting those pearly whites as clean as possible.

The “brush twice a day” rule is standard. But what many people don’t know is rinsing your mouth with water afterward is not recommended. Rinsing washes away leftover fluoride from your toothpaste, which is good for your teeth.

If your child needs more incentive to brush, check out Brush DJ! It’s a free toothbrush timer application that takes music from the user’s device and plays it for 2 minutes.

2. Reduce the number of sugary and acidic beverages your child drinks. And whenever they do drink a soda or juice, require them to use a straw.

Straws limit the contact these unhealthy treats have with teeth. While your molars will still experience some exposure, the rest of your teeth will be better protected. After you or your child finishes a sugary drink, always remember to wash it down with water!

3. Don’t forget to schedule checkups with your favorite dentist at Dentistry for Children and Adolescents once every six months.

Regular checkups and cleanings will keep your child’s mouth healthy and ready for a lifetime of confident smiles. Our staff is dedicated to making both your child’s and your dentistry experience a pleasant one.

Should Your Child Use Mouthwash?

February 16th, 2017

Using mouthwash is an effective practice for killing bacteria, removing plaque and loosening bits of food that have gotten stuck in your child’s teeth. But, there are also negative factors to consider about the use of mouthwash.

Many adults use some version of oral rinse, and it’s natural for children to want to emulate their parents or older siblings. The contents that make mouthwash so effective are also the components that can damage your child’s dental health.

It’s vital to remember that tooth development is a sensitive process. To keep that development going safely, know all the facts and really consider if your child is ready to use mouthwash.

Mouthwash Can Be Hazardous

Children from ages 6-12 should only use mouthwash with clear directions on its use and while under adult supervision.

  • If a child tries to use mouthwash and doesn’t know how to or isn’t able to spit it back out, the situation could be serious. Mouthwash can contain denatured or methyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or menthol.

Effects from ingesting those chemicals can range from an upset stomach to vomiting, or worse.

  • A cosmetic consequence of children using mouthwash too early or too often is fluorosis. Fluorosis is the streaking, spotting or pitting of a child’s permanent teeth during development under the gums. It only affects children younger than 8 years old.

Recommended Best Practices

  • The best way to evaluate if your child is ready to use mouthwash is to perform a water swish test. Give them a small cup of water and ask them to swish it around their mouth and spit it back out.

If they can successfully complete this test, they might be ready to add mouthwash to their dental care routine.

  • Some older children may want to start using mouthwash as another way to keep their teeth clean around their braces. If they can perform the water swish test, then it’s OK to let them use mouthwash.
  • Tell your child not to use mouthwash right after they brush their teeth. Doing so rinses any fluoride from toothpaste off their teeth. Instruct your child to let the fluoride from toothpaste do its job, even if they use a fluoride mouthwash.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay with Halloween Candy Alternatives

February 16th, 2017

Halloween is a fun day to dress up and interact with your community, but it also encourages unhealthy eating habits. The hordes of sweets children get while trick-or-treating are mainly teeth-damaging, sugary candies.

In those candies is sucrose, a type of sugar generally found in sweet or sticky foods. Sucrose is generally blamed for sugar-related tooth decay. However, children look forward to this opportunity to dress up in costumes and go out for weeks or even months.

We've compiled lists of tooth-friendly snacks before, but this is our first Halloween edition! So, here is our list of healthier options to hand out this year.

Help fight tooth decay and try replacing your home’s candy stash with these Halloween candy alternatives.

  • Sugar-free gum takes the number one spot. Not only is sugar-free gum regularly encouraged by dental health professionals, it’s also a hit with everyone, from kids to adults.
  • Trail mix is something that you can buy in small packages and is perfect for handing out. It’s also a food that has something for everyone – raisins, nuts, granola and chocolate are all found in bags.
  • Raisins come in snack-sized boxes, and have been found to actually help fight cavities. Plus, they’re delicious!
  • YumEarth Organics Fruit Snacks are vegan and aren’t sticky like traditional fruit gummies but are still full of flavor. They don’t contain gluten, dairy, nuts, soy or artificial colors or dyes.
  • Finally, if you want to stand out this All Hallows’ Eve, give out festive trinkets instead of food items. Check out spooky temporary tattoos, Silly Bandz, stickers, fake fangs or glow sticks.

How to Curb Your Child's Sweet Tooth

February 16th, 2017

Most people have a sweet tooth, developed through a lifetime of licking the cookie dough mixer or having a bowl of ice cream with their favorite TV show. And unfortunately, control is the name of the sweet tooth game.

And as apples don’t fall far from the tree, most children also develop a sweet tooth. But, they don’t have a lifetime of experience teaching them that too much chocolate will make their stomachs hurt.

That’s where you come in. Explain to your child or teenager that sweets are packed with refined sugars, which are addictive and harmful to their teeth.

But the question remains – how do you curb your child’s existing sweet tooth?

Dentists’ Most Wanted

Sugary beverages like soda, sports drinks and energy drinks all contribute to your child’s sugar intake. The more sugar they ingest, the more their bodies crave it. The same goes for most junk foods so try to stay away!

A good way to instill healthier eating habits when your kids aren’t at home is to pack their lunches instead of buying them at school. Helping them build a healthy, balanced lunch can create a lifelong habit of healthy eating.

Good Sugar Exists

The goal isn’t to cut out all sugars. Instead, encourage your child to consume sugars that are found naturally within certain foods, like fruit. The sugar in fruit is balanced by the other nutrients in the food, like fiber.

Fun choices, like chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate and granola covered bananas, are great ways to introduce balance into your children’s diet. A small amount of chocolate is there, but the core of the snack is fruit.

Start Eating Better Today

Curbing a sweet tooth can be simple when you arm yourself with nutritious alternatives. If your child’s stomach is full of healthy food, they won’t crave sweets.

The biggest obstacle is buying the right items at the grocery store. Consider purchasing foods filled with healthy fats like nuts, avocados, dairy products, eggs or turkey.

Get in the Back to School Brushing Routine!

February 16th, 2017

Here in the St. Charles and Creve Coeur areas, school is back in full swing for most kids. After a long summer break, it can be difficult to get your kids back in the routine of getting up early, being ready on time each day and in bed at the right time every night.

Setting the tone for your child’s routine can be quite a chore, especially when it comes to ensuring they are brushing their teeth daily. So, this blog provides some helpful tips to keep your child’s smile bright throughout the school year.

  1. Brush before or after breakfast. Whichever you choose, make sure to stick to it. Some people find it easier to have kids brush right after they wake up; while others find it’s better to wait until their children are more alert. But, keep in mind that you should wait to brush until 30 minutes after they eat breakfast if it includes anything acidic like orange juice. These acids soften tooth enamel so brushing right afterward may cause erosion.
  1. Brush before homework. Does your child often complain that once their homework is done they are too tired to brush their teeth? An easy fix is to have them brush before they start. If you can fit it into a routine that allots brushing time 30 minutes after dinner, that’s even better.
  1. Get to bed. Making sure your children are well-rested is key to getting them out of bed in the mornings. According to the National Sleep Foundation, preschoolers typically sleep 11 to 13 hours. From ages 6-13, children should sleep 9 to 11 hours and beyond age 13 they should be getting the standard 8 hours of rest.
  1. Floss at night. Don’t stack a lot of items in the mornings when you and your child may feel rushed. Instead, have your child floss when they brush at night and can focus on doing it right. Supervising your children and showing them the proper ways to brush and floss will help them develop good habits.

That’s really all there is to it! Keeping a good routine is all about practice; the more you do it, the better you will be at it!

Should my Child be Whitening their Teeth

February 16th, 2017

At both our offices in St. Charles and Creve Coeur, we get a lot of questions about what is appropriate for a child’s dental hygiene. When it comes to a child’s primary teeth, additional considerations should be taken before undergoing any procedure because of how integral they are to oral development.

One common question we hear is whether or not it’s okay to whiten a child’s primary teeth. While it is important for their smile to be bright during their formative years, several factors must be considered. Today’s blog provides some practical advice when considering whitening your child’s teeth.

First, it’s important to know that the Academy of General Dentistry advises holding off on whitening until your child reaches 14-years-old. This gives the tooth pulp plenty of time to mature which will reduce the level of sensitivity in their teeth.

However, if you’re considering allowing them to use over-the-counter whitening strips, it’s best to hold off until they are at least 16-years-old. The chemicals in these strips can be very abrasive.

When your child’s permanent teeth begin to come in, you may notice that they appear more yellow than their primary counterparts. Don’t be concerned, this is perfectly normal. Primary teeth are always whiter than permanent teeth. This does not indicate that the teeth are unhealthy.

Many children with braces want to whiten their teeth because of the whiter areas that remain where the braces were. It’s a common issue, because braces provide long-term protection from food stains in those specific areas.

Teeth-Whitening Alternatives

Confronting this head-on before it becomes an issue is key. So, to prevent or treat these types of stains, we recommend:

Make regular dental appointments—after all, we love seeing you and your children in our offices! You don’t have to wait for the six-month mark to get a cleaning and check up. And unlike an over-the-counter solution, a dentist will screen and monitor the procedure to ensure that it is personalized, safe and effective.

Avoid tooth-staining food and drink—you know what they say about an ounce of prevention. Avoiding soda, sugar-loaded sweets, and other types of food and drink that lack nutritional value is the first line of defense against cavities and stains.

Use whitening toothpaste—they are much gentler than the bleaches found in whitening strips. There are several brands that have mild abrasives or polishing agents that help whiten teeth. Of course, brushing twice a day regularly scrubs away food particles and helps keep teeth white.

Top 4 Habits That Cause Sensitive Teeth

February 16th, 2017

Sensitive teeth can be a problem at any age. Whether you’re a parent or a teenager, struggling with overly-sensitive teeth can make eating quite the chore.

Patients often ask us if there is anything they can do to help curb the sensitive nature of their teeth. So, today we focus our blog entry on the top four habits that cause sensitive teeth and what you and your children should be doing to avoid this pesky problem.

Stop brushing so hard.

Brushing too hard can eat away at the gum line causing them to pull away at the tooth root, not to mention eating away at the protective enamel surrounding the sensitive dentin. Avoid this problem by brushing more gently, yet thoroughly and by using a soft-bristle toothbrush.

Cut back on mouthwash.

If you or your teen is a fan of the minty-fresh breath that mouthwash gives you, this can be a cause for concern when it comes to the development of sensitive teeth. These products typically employ acids that can make sensitive teeth worse. Look for neutral fluoride rinses, or inquire with your dentist about what ingredients should be avoided.

Stop grinding and/or clenching your teeth.

Enamel is the toughest material in the human body. But, did you know the human jaw is capable of applying more than 200 pounds of force when biting? It’s true, and even the strongest enamel would have a tough time standing up to that amount of pressure over the years.

Wearing protective gear during sporting events will help assuage this damage immensely. Making the appropriate lifestyle changes (if necessary) will help as well. Be mindful of your teeth, and remind your children that they only have one permanent set and to make it count!

Whitening products can cause sensitivity.

Peroxide-based bleaching solutions can cause sensitive teeth very easily. The desire for a whiter smile can be strong, but relying on these quick solutions can lead to much bigger problems after repeated use. Consult with your dentist on this issue closely.

See your dentist regularly.

Call us biased if you want, but the knowledge we can impart to you as a professional is critical to understanding what your best options are. We can identify issues before they are causes for concern and have the tools necessary to investigate and solve problems that will keep your smile full and bright.

Proper Brushing Techniques to Teach Your Child

February 16th, 2017

As adults, brushing our teeth is so second nature that most of us do it without being fully awake yet!  We all have a routine we develop, and instilling that routine into our children is critical to their success—literally!

But, is your routine, and the one you’re teaching your children, the correct one? Brush up on your skills (no pun intended) with us in this blog entry to help pass along proper brushing techniques to your little ones!

Proper Brushing Techniques to Teach Your Child - Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

Time is on Your Side

Two to three times a day is the general recommendation for brushing your teeth. Ensure that you and your child are brushing for at least two minutes each time, hitting all the proper areas listed below.

Brushing too often is a real thing, though. Any more than three times and the enamel of you and your child’s teeth will slowly deteriorate over time. In this instance, there is definitely too much of a good thing. Electric toothbrushes can really help in this area, but you can read more about that debate here.

Wax On, Wax Off

The proper way to brush your teeth is by holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and make an up-and-down motion using exclusively short strokes. Wide, side-to-side strokes can scrape along your gum line.

Brush outer and inner tooth surfaces, back molars, and your tongue. Be as thorough as possible—any place left untouched is a safe harbor for plaque buildup and cavities.

Switch Things Up

Do you or your child always start brushing your teeth in the same place? Switch up where you begin brushing to avoid getting lazy and missing other parts of your mouth. And keep track of what you’re doing, where you’ve been, and what areas you need to hit before finishing.

Passing along these traits to your child will help keep them attentive to their teeth, rather than mechanically performing the ritual in front of the mirror every morning and night.

Avoid Sour and Acidic Drinks and Foods

Is your child prone to drinking energy drinks, sodas, or eating sour candies? We all know these items are bad for you overall, but letting them do so before or after a brushing is highly inadvisable. These items are acidic and can soften the enamel to a dangerous degree.

Even healthy items like apple juice and orange juice are highly acidic. Allow for at least a half-hour lag time before letting your little one partake in these items.

Out with the Old, in with the New

How old is your toothbrush? If it’s older than three or four months, the ADA suggests you are due a new one.

Paying close attention to the bristles of you and your child’s toothbrushes is a good indicator of when it’s an appropriate time to dispose of it. Once normal flexibility of the bristles is lost, or they become frayed and/or broken, replace it.

The Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Debate

February 16th, 2017

Every now and then, in the halls of both of our St. Charles and Creve Coeur offices, we hear the echoes of an argument that we are so used to hearing it’s created its own beaten path in our hallways and in our minds.

In our offices, the twist on the debate comes in the form of what a child should be using to clean their teeth. So, in the debate of an electric toothbrush vs. manual, which one is better for your child? Let’s dive in.

The Electric Toothbrush vs. Manual Debate - Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

Fun fact: did you know the modern toothbrush came about at the turn of the 16th century when a Chinese emperor put hog bristles through a bone handle to help clean his teeth? It’s true!

The Fun Factor

Electric toothbrushes benefits from very nearly falling into the category of a fun toy for a child to play with as opposed to a device with more in common with a hair brush. Some even say it “tickles” their teeth, further

If your child is more enthusiastic about brushing their teeth when they have an electric model, then by all means let them go wild. They also benefit from being easier for kids to use as the toothbrush does a majority of the scrubbing so long as it is held at a proper angle (around 45 degrees).

Some advanced models even include a built-in timer so you know exactly how long they’ve been brushing. Remember, two minutes of vigorous brushing is optimal!

With all that said, electric toothbrushes tend to cost much more than their manual counterparts. They are also much more fragile, by comparison to manuals. Plus, if they aren’t charged they lose all the benefits mentioned above. And electric models tend to come equipped with heads that do not lend themselves easily to the linear motion of manual brushing.

Manual for All Modes

Manual toothbrushes are your simple, no-hassle argument against the complexity of electric models.

With proper technique, a manual toothbrush can be just as effective at cleaning teeth as an electric. With manuals, you also have more options to choose from in the form of softer bristles, head size, etc. They are easier to travel with comparatively, do not require charging or batteries, and are inexpensive.

Proper technique for children can be tricky, and without the timer of an electric they can leave a lot to be desired in their ability to clean their teeth effectively.

The Verdict?

Honestly, the verdict from us depends largely on your child. If they are more excited about keeping their teeth clean with an electric toothbrush, then let them use one. The cost of an electric model versus the cost of filled cavities and other various dental issues is miniscule.

Alternatively, if your child does well with a manual brush then you shouldn’t force them to use an electric model for no reason. Just ensure they are using proper technique and are brushing long enough to do a thorough job.

How to Remove a Loose Tooth for Your Child

February 16th, 2017

Everyone remembers losing their first tooth. The anticipation, the feeling of the tooth barely hanging on by a thread, perhaps you even remember tying it to a door and shutting it with your older sibling at the helm!

Your parents may have not approved of that method then, and as parents today you probably don’t approve of it now! So, what’s the best way to remove a loose tooth for your child? Let’s find out!

ThinkstockPhotos-471165848

When to expect a loose tooth

By the age of three, most children have all 20 of their primary teeth. At that point, the countdown begins to around the age of six-years-old when they will begin to loosen and fall out to make room for their permanent counterparts.

Teeth will fall out in the order they came in and your child should have lost all their primary teeth by the time they reach the age of 13. There is no rhyme or reason when they will fall out, but that broad timeframe is a reasonable expectation.

Most children are very excited to lose their baby teeth, thanks in no small part to the tooth fairy. The process of losing them is also much less painful than teething, which is good news for you as parents!

Removing a loose tooth

If your child has a loose tooth and keeps wiggling it around and messing with it, that’s okay! While waiting it out is the best choice, having your child play with the tooth will help make it even looser and expedite its detachment.

Some dentist’s warn against these methods though due to bleeding and the potential for infection, but the potential is minimal and the bleeding is nothing a little gauze can’t handle.

It’s also important to note that he or she should do the pulling. Only they can tell how truly loose it is. If you want to help, try having them bite into an apple! You may just find the tooth embedded in it afterward.

After the tooth has been removed, check to make sure the tooth didn’t fragment in the socket it left behind. If you see that it has, visit your pediatric dentist as soon as possible to have the situation assessed.

Other than that, it should be smooth sailing! As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

5 Reasons Kids Should Smile More!

February 16th, 2017

Salesmen will always teach you to sell the benefits, rather than the features, to a client. As a parent, you often face the same struggle with your children—“eat this because it’s good for you,” or perhaps, “do well in school so you can get into a good university.”

For parents who find it challenging to get their children into our offices, we know it might be a tough sell to get them excited about a dental check-up. In an effort to help out our dutiful parents, we’re going to give you our 5 reasons kids should smile more that will make it a little easier the next time you need to come in.

little girl holding a smile

5 Reasons Kids Should Smile More!

Your immune system gets a boost! When you smile, your body naturally relaxes and your immune system is able to function optimally in fighting off infections and common ailments.

It relieves stress. Stress can affect everyone—yes, even your kids! With the pressure of academics, extracurricular sports, and social pressures, it’s easy to see how full a young teen’s plate can get emotionally. Every smile releases endorphins and serotonin which are the main chemicals in our brains that boost our moods. Smiling increases the production of these, lowers the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and helps lower heart rates as well!

People who smile more achieve more. Poor dental health has been linked to lower academic performances. This extends past our formative years, as smiles contribute to success in job interviews and promotions once hired on. Smiling exudes confidence and an ability to cope well with stress. Tell your child that going to the dentist is going to help them succeed!

Smiling is contagious! Studies have shown that seeing a person smile activates the area of the brain responsible for facial expression. The next time your child raises a fuss about going to the dentist, tell them it’s so they can make everyone in the room happy with their bright smile!

Smiling leads to making more friends! If you’re little one is having trouble getting motivated about a dentist appointment, tell them how smiling helps them make more friends! Tell them about how body language speaks volumes beyond the words we use. Ask, “who would you rather talk to: a person cheerfully smiling or a grim-faced person?”

Hopefully with these benefits ready to go at a moment’s notice, you’ll be more prepared for when your child needs to hear them the most!

Is my Child's Lisp a Dental Issue?

February 16th, 2017

Many children lisp, and whether you find it to be a cute trait or one that is cause for concern, you need to know what is the root of the issue. If your child is almost ready to enter pre-school, this issue can prove more problematic. So here you are, and you need to know—is my child's lisp a dental issue?

is my child's lisp a dental issue

4 Common Lisp Types

Lisping can be caused by a variety of reasons, but there are four common types of lisping that must first be identified.

When the tongue habitually protrudes between the upper and lower front teeth, replacing the ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds with the ‘th’ sound, is known as an interdental or frontal lisp.

When the tongue pushes against the front teeth when producing the ‘s’ or ‘z’ sound, it is known as a dentalized lisp.

Both these types of lisps are considered normal for speech development in toddlers up to four years-old. Some experts go as far to say seven years-old is normal for a child to have a lisp.

lateral lisp is where air flows around the tongue when a child produces the ‘s’ or ‘z’ sounds, and a palatal lisp occurs when a child touches the roof of the mouth when producing those sounds. These two aren’t nearly as common as the former two, but deserve to be noted because of their differences.

Dental Professional Opinion Time!

What are the causes of these lisps? Tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, overly excessive pacifier use and bottle feeding can intensify the severity of your child’s lisp. A pediatrician can help determine if malocclusion from any of the prior listed habits are the source of the problem.

Additionally, they can check for things like allergies, nasal obstructions and enlarged tonsils which may contribute to the issue.

Sometimes, a speech-language pathologist can help if no specific cause can be found.

The Most Important Part

In any instance, being an encouraging factor in your child’s life will help immensely while you both continue to work through the issue. Reminding your child that it is not a defining characteristic of themselves and merely a problem to work through will be critical to their overall development as a person. And having a pediatrician and pediatric dentist on your side that will do the same through the process will help all that much more!

Common Questions About Dental Crowns

February 16th, 2017

At Dentistry for Children & Adolescents, we understand that sometimes what seems like the most perfect routine can lead to the need for a dental crown. It’s okay, not everyone is perfect and it’s certainly not the end of the world.

When the need arises we receive a lot of questions regarding what type of filling is best for their child. So today we embark on a blog post meant to answer some age-old questions about dental crowns and their applications.

common dental crowns questions

“What is a dental crown?”

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over a tooth in order to help restore its shape, size, strength, and improve its appearance. When put in place, a dental crown will fully encase the visible portion of the tooth above the gum line.

“Why does my child need a dental crown?”

For children, a crown is used primarily for two reasons:

  • To save a tooth that has decayed to the point that it cannot support a filling.
  • Protect the teeth of a child at high risk for tooth decay.

“What types of crowns are available?”

Permanent crowns different metals, most commonly stainless steel, gold, or some other alloy. Then, there are the porcelain-fused-to-metal types, and ceramics.

Stainless-steel crowns are prefabricated used on permanent teeth as a temporary measure. For children, their application is used to fit over a primary tooth that’s prepared to fit it, protecting it from further decay. And when the primary tooth erupts, the crown comes with it.

These are used as a more cost-effective measure than others for children as they require fewer visits to put in place than other types.

Other metals used in crowns are gold alloys, palladium, nickel or chromium. Comparatively, less tooth structure needs to be removed with metal crowns, and the metal can withstand biting and chewing forces over the course of their lifetime. But, due to the color of the metals, dentists often reserve these types of crowns for out-of-sight places like molars.

Porcelain-fused-to-Metal crowns solve the problem of color-matching, but more wear and tear can occur to the opposing teeth can occur compared to the metal counterparts. Porcelain is also more prone to chipping over time.

For children with metal allergies, we may recommend all-ceramic or all-porcelain type crowns. Both are good choices for front teeth.

If you have more questions about dental crowns, or general questions about your child’s dental health, reach out to us:

Facts and Best Practices When Using Mouth Guards

February 16th, 2017

As we continue to steam-roll through this year, spring has suddenly sprung and with it comes a bevy of activities for your children to partake in. After school sports are a great way to keep your little ones active and healthy. Though the risk for various injuries may increase, almost all parents would agree that the risk is worth taking.

Parents often ask us about mouth guards and best practices involving them, to help protect their children’s smile. So today, we are going to dive deep into the facts and best practices when using mouth guards for children!

Dental bracket and a toothbrush

A mouth guard is a piece of soft plastic that is shaped to fit inside the mouth, protecting the lips, cheeks, tongue, teeth and jaw when they are hit.

Types of mouth guards:

Stock: The least expensive, stock guards are extremely cheap and generally come in sizes such as “small” “medium” and “large”. If you’re on a budget, it’s better than nothing, but it is an advisable expense to go the extra mile for better fitting solutions. Failing to do so could lead to more costly procedures if an injury occurs.

Boil & Bite: A semi-custom fit can be made using a “boil and bite” model. The hot water softens the plastic and then is bitten to mold around your child’s teeth. Typically sold from $5 to $15 depending on the brand, they offer very good protection.

Custom fit: A dentist or orthodontist makes the best fitting mouth guards in a dental office. While clearly the more expensive option, potentially ranging from $40 to $70, custom fits provide the best protection and will be the best option at preventing more costly injuries.

Custom-fitted guards should generally continue to fit for as long as needed after your child has reached the age of 14 or 15 years old.

Best practices

Mouth guards prevent dental injuries, but can increase the number and severity of abrasions if used improperly. These abrasions can easily lead to infections, given how much bacteria resides in our mouths! To help fight off these risks we always recommend sanitizing them daily (or after every use). If a guard develops sharp of jagged edges, do not use it and replace it.

It’s important to note that guards help shield the different facets of your mouth from injuries due to impact, but they will not help prevent concussions.

Replace a mouth guard whenever your child develops any type of oral lesion or has respiratory distress, and stick to regular oral exams before and after use.

Does my kid need braces?

February 16th, 2017

Braces. The word either inspires hope in a child that their teenage years are upon them, or fear because they believe it’s the end of their budding social career.

For parents, the decision is always a tough one. Braces can be an expensive solution so making the call to get them is one wrought with hand-wringing. For today’s blog entry we are going to discuss the warning signs and timeline for answering the question, does my kid need braces?

kids with braces smiling

When?

During your childs dental visit, a pediatric dentist will evaluate your child for orthodontic treatment and let you know when a good idea to visit an orthodontist would be. There are times when early intervention is necessary and the child should be sent by the age of 7 years. Some orthodontist’s will recommend a course of treatment while the primary teeth are still in place in order to shorten the length dental braces are needed to align the adult teeth.

However, many times the child can wait until most of their permanent teeth have erupted, and the majority of their adult teeth have grown in. This can be anywhere between the ages of 8 and 14.

The answer varies, so consulting closely with your pediatric dentist is paramount in this situation.

Why?

There can be a number of reasons why a child may need braces. Malocclusion, where there is a difference in size between the top and bottom jaw, is a common reason. This is the reason you see overbite (when the upper jaw is bigger) and underbite (when the lower jaw is bigger).

Other problems can arise due to tooth decay, losing primary teeth too early, or thumbsucking. More often though these types of issues are inherited, so if you or someone in your family needed braces, it’s very likely they will too.

Braces come in all types, and aren’t limited to the metal type you’re used to seeing. In the last ten to fifteen years, we’ve seen clear and ceramic braces become more prominent due to their more discrete appearance. There are even braces that go behind teeth, called lingual braces.

The average length of time needed for braces to have their desired effect is around two years. Afterward, a retainer is commonly needed to help keep teeth in their new position.

While wearing them, it is incredibly important to be diligent with brushing and flossing. After every meal, both should become standard procedure to avoid permanent staining and cavity formation.

When Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

February 16th, 2017

Just mentioning the term “wisdom teeth” in any setting can often illicit a tragic story of pain and suffering from a group of people. And yet, with all that experience it is hard to come up with a defined answer to an old question: “When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?”

The facts of the answer are not all cut and dry, but today we intend to shed some light on it for you.

Let’s start off with a fun fact. The term “wisdom teeth” was derived from the fact that they grow in around the ages of 17 to 21, right when a person is old enough to have grown up a bit.

It is important to note that not all wisdom teeth need to be removed, only those that cause problems. What constitutes a problem? Things like:

  • Crowding of other teeth
  • Teeth growing in at an awkward angle
  • Impacted teeth
  • Any pain or irritation in the teeth or the gum tissue surrounding the teeth

However, it is not uncommon to have a dentist say you should have them removed anyway, even though you are currently not experiencing pain. Why is that?

As teeth grow in, so do their roots. These roots grow down into the jaw to help hold teeth in place. If the root grows too close to the nerves in your jaw, it can wreak havoc and cause severe pain as the root deepens. Often, dentists are acting proactively in these situations.

Dentists are far more prone to have younger patients take on this surgery because they are more capable of recovering from it than an older person.

So, “When should I have my wisdom teeth removed,” has only one real answer: “When your dentist says to.”

Trusting your dentist is crucial to understanding proper dental hygiene, and the truth is that finding the right dentist can be a chore. We here at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents pride ourselves on being approachable and communicative with our patients and their parents. We work to build relationships with them and ensure that they are educated on the facts of every procedure we engage in.

In the meantime, feel free to download our FREE guide to dental emergencies for parents! It covers a wide arrangement of injuries and how you should treat them.

Well Water and Fluoride Supplements Facts

February 16th, 2017

Here at Dentistry for Children & Adolescents, it’s not uncommon for us to have families visit us that do not use a municipal water source in their home. Well water use is very common, and generally proven safe if the source is tested properly.

However, well water does not contain fluoride. Thus, when parents come in for a check up with their children, the question is often asked: “Should we be using fluoride supplements?”

That answer is a yes, but precautions should be taken.

Fluoride is introduced into community water for a reason— it works! It is proven to reduce tooth decay among communities by 20 to 40%. So it’s definitely helpful, and if you’re not using a municipal water source then you and your children’s dental health is at risk. Using fluoridated toothpaste is a common and effective topical solution to this problem.

Precautions should be taken if your child is prone to swallowing toothpaste or using too much (no more than a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste is required for a single use). Using too much fluoride can cause permanent white staining on teeth. Very rarely, fluoride toxicity can occur when large amounts of fluoride are ingested during a short period of time. Kids under the age of six account for more than 80% of reports of suspected overuse. Although outcomes are generally not serious, fluoride toxicity sends several hundred children to emergency rooms each year.

Symptoms of fluoride toxicity may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased salivation, or increased thirst. Symptoms begin 30 minutes after ingestion and can last up to 24 hours. If you suspect your child may have eaten a substantial amount of a fluoridated product or supplement, call the poison control center or 911.

Families that drink a lot of bottled water may want to investigate the use of supplemental fluoride as well. The amount of fluoride in most bottled water is less than 0.3 parts per million, but some contain fluoride in the optimum range of 0.7 – 1.2 ppm. Current FDA regulations require that fluoride be listed on the label only if the bottler adds fluoride during processing.

So, for families with well water, how much fluoride do your children need per day?

For any child under the age of six months, none.

For a child between the ages of six months and three-years old, 0.25 milligrams per day is effective.

If your child is between three and six years old, 0.50 milligrams per day is advisable, and if they are between the ages of six and 16 years, aim for 1 milligram per day.

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to become a part of your family’s plan for keeping your smiles bright and future’s brighter! For now, feel free to download our FREE eBook on beverages to watch out for and dental care. It will help educate you and your family on the perils of what may be hiding in your own home.

Chewing Gum Facts to Chew On

February 16th, 2017

Quick, look in the pockets of your coat, your purse, in your car or desk. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll find at least one pack, or piece, of chewing gum in those spots! It’s everywhere, and it’s all too easy to keep around for personal use or use in your family. But, is that such a good idea? The answer just might surprise you!

Today, we want to provide you with chewing gum facts, so that the next time you reach for a piece, you know what you’re in for and what to expect.

chewing gum facts girl

Chewing Gum Facts

The mouth is populated by many types of bacteria, including streptococcus mutans, the bacteria responsible for cavities (and strep throat). When it encounters and metabolizes sugar, it produces acid. Saliva is typically capable of handling this in small amounts, but when the bacteria encounters a large quantity of sugar over an extended period of time, that leads to cavities through a process called demineralization.

Saliva is important to the overall health of gum and teeth, but large amounts of sugar and bacteria easily counteract those benefits.

Some types of gum substitute the use of sugar with a natural sweetener, such as Xylitol. This type of sweetener is actually a big boon for your teeth! For your children, it can be most beneficial right before their adult teeth grow in—around the age of five or six.

Also, an additive called calcium lactate can be found in several gums that aids in the remineralization process.

It’s important to remember that, to a child, gum is often lumped in with candy and therefore seen as a reward. Use that to your advantage! Gum is by no means a replacement for brushing and flossing, but with the right brand it can prove to be a useful aid as long as they include helpful additives like Xylitol and calcium lactate and do not use sugar.

Helping your children pick out a gum as a method of improving dental health can have significant benefits. With the right amount of moderation, you can ensure they’ll have more than one reason to be smiling for years to come.

Tooth Friendly Snacks for You and Your Family!

February 16th, 2017

As 2015 settles in, we find ourselves also settling into our routines. Whether you’re at work, at home, or anywhere in between, we are creatures of habit. As such, it is important that we strive for building positive habits for not only ourselves, but our children as well.

At Dentistry for Children & Adolescents, we do our best to instill proper dental care and knowledge into all who walk through our doors. Today, we continue that mission by offering a few tooth-friendly foods for your children, along with a few you should avoid.

tooth friendly snacks for kids

Tooth Friendly Snacks #1: Apples

They can act as something of a natural toothbrush while also stimulating blood flow in the gums and increase saliva flow, which is important to protecting teeth and gum tissue. Not to mention how packed with vitamins and minerals they are, apples are one of the simplest snacks you can keep around your home.

Tooth Friendly Snacks #2: Cheese & Dairy

Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss and other aged cheeses help trigger saliva flow which is also very important for washing away food particles on teeth.

Dairy products of all sorts, provided sugar is not added, help teeth in a number of ways. Milk, yogurt, and similar products provide calcium and phosphates. A study that was published in the Journal of Oral Dentistry found that kids who eat at least four servings of dairy per week were less likely to get cavities than those who didn’t.

Tooth Friendly Snacks #3: Whole-grain options

By design, these type of foods are lower in sugar and calories because they’re sold to health-conscious buyers, which is a double bonus for you and your family. Crackers are a great whole-grain option, and cereals are generally a big hit with children. It’s easy to incorporate whole-grain into full-blown meals as well. When grocery shopping, look for the variety of pasta, rice, and bread to supplement your family meals.

As we’ve gone over in the past, there are also plenty of options to avoid. Ranging from sticky, dried fruits, citrus-only or highly acidic snacks, cereal bars, are all prone to developing cavities on a child’s tooth. However, now that you know what to look for and the common culprits, you should have no problem providing a healthy and tasty treat for whenever you’re family wants it!

Remember, developing good eating habits start with you, making it a group effort will not only make it fun and easy for them but also help you keep your own smile looking bright and beautiful!

Fruit Juice Facts and Alternatives

February 16th, 2017

It seems that every day, a new article is released proclaiming the risks to your children’s teeth and overall health if you let them drink soda or sugary drinks. We heartily agree with these reports, of course, but a mistake often made by parents is to substitute soda with fruit juice drinks thinking they are doing their children a healthy favor, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Today’s entry focuses on fruit juice facts, and some healthy alternatives for your children to keep their smiles bright, and their future health even brighter!

fruit juice facts, fruit juice dangers

Fruit Juice Facts

The real danger in fruit juices lies in two factors—fructose content and acidity. Almost everything you consume has some amount of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in it as a substitute for actual sugar. Aside from the obvious dangers associated with the compound, (just type in ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ and see what pops up, it will shock you) it can wreak havoc on a young child’s teeth.

Our bodies processes HFCS differently from white sugar. HFCS causes intense blood sugar fluctuations which can cause minerals to be pulled away from bones and teeth. This absence leaves teeth weakened and more vulnerable to decay.

Next, the acidic content of these fruit drinks creates a double whammy on a young person’s teeth. The pH scale runs from 7 to 0, where 7 indicates something incredibly basic (meaning non-acidic) and 0 indicates something very alkaline (very acidic). For example, battery acid is rated as a 1, and tap water is rated as a 7 on the pH scale.

Did you know that a Capri Sun rates at 2.9? Or that a Hi-C Lemonaide drink rates at a 2.7 on the pH scale? Cranberry juice is rated as a 2.6, and contains 46 grams of sugar per 12 ounce serving. In case you wondering, that’s a lot.

Common go-to drink substitutes such as Sunny Delight don’t rate well either. It rates as fairly acidic at 2.4 on the pH scale, with 30 grams of sugar per 12 ounce serving.

So what are the alternatives?

Alternative Options

Well of course, water. For adults, this tends not to be an issue, but getting a young child to drink enough water in a day can be laborious. Using an orange slice for flavor can prove fruitful (pun intended) in this process, or perhaps a lemon. Coconut water is low in sugar and high in potassium, which makes it a perfect, flavorful addition to any fridge.

Milk is commonly considered okay by many pediatricians. Often, they recommend using whole milk until the age of two, then cutting back to 2% or skim. It has a low sugar content (2% has 16 grams per 12 ounce serving) and contains plenty of calcium and vitamin D—both of which are vital. If your child is allergic to dairy-- soy, hemp or rice milks that are calcium fortified make great substitutes.

Thumb Sucking: How To Help Break The Habit

February 16th, 2017

It’s a common issue, and it’s a very natural reflex for children to take to thumb sucking. It’s called non-nutritive sucking. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or anything else they can get their hands on helps with feeling happy and secure in a young child’s mind.

We’ve discussed the topic of choosing between a pacifier and a thumb, but what do you do when your child should stop sucking their thumb? Today, we’re going to discuss exactly that and give you our guide to wean your little one off the thumb!

young child thumb sucking

As a baby, thumb sucking is quite natural and can help soothe and calm them, often to sleep (which helps you get some sleep as well). But as a child gets older, it can pose a problem.

Sucking can disrupt proper placement of primary teeth, causing bigger headaches down the road when their permanent counterparts begin growing in. Ultimately, it is up to you when to start this process, but once the permanent teeth come in, thumb sucking causes problems with proper growth and alignment of teeth. These factors can result in the need for braces or the development of a lisp, which can take years of speech therapy to fix.

Usually, as your child grows and interacts with other children, social behavioral cues will guide them to quit. It doesn’t happen that way all the time though, so you may need to help you child overcome thumb sucking.

It’s important to outline the phrase “help them” because alienating your child through shaming or force is not the correct manner to subdue their urge, and could backfire. So, what can you do instead?

  • Make it a team effort. Instead of ordering them to quit, ask them questions that lead them to the conclusion that it’s time to stop. For example, telling them that you’ve noticed they are getting old enough to quit and asking if they have any ideas on what to do about it.
  • If they don’t have any ideas, offering up a solution is better than a command. Something as simple as suggesting putting a Band-Aid over their thumb, and letting them pick out a fun design, could be exactly what the doctor ordered!
  • Praise them for when they aren’t thumb sucking, rather than scolding them for when they do. Coming up with an unconventional signal (like an ear tug or hand sign) that you can use in public and be discreet with can help avoid a sense of shame that could drive them to the habit even more.
  • If you decide to go the route of putting an unsavory tasting substance on their finger or nail, do not use something spicy. Use something simple like vinegar, or lemon juice, but only if the child agrees to it. We feel it’s best to avoid negative reinforcement if possible. Getting your child to want to quit is key.

Noticing the triggers in your child is also integral to their success. Do they do it before bedtime, or while watching TV? Maybe they do it when they are anxious or are sad. Noticing these and making an effort through one of the methods above will help them feel like it’s a team effort.

Above all, being patient with your little one is key, and don’t be afraid to offer praise and maybe even a reward along the way!

Your Children's Dental Hygiene: Food to Avoid

February 16th, 2017

With the holidays upon us, the battle against your child’s wants and encouraging dental hygiene has reached critical mass. And while as quickly as the holidays arrive, they are gone, it’s important to stock your kitchen with the proper kinds of food and drink.

Today, we’re going to focus on a few common threats found in every kitchen and give you a couple ideas on how to keep you, your children, and your dentist happy!

Happy kids smiling!

1) Dried fruits

It comes as a shock to many people, but dried fruits can be a big enemy in the fight against cavities. Raisins, apricots, prunes and others, that are sweet when fresh, have more highly concentrated sugars when dehydrated. This allows them to cling to the enamel of your children’s teeth like a gooey candy snack.

To make matters worse, the insoluble fiber typically found in fruits helps trap sugar on and around teeth, which makes them public enemy number one to good dental hygiene.

2) Citrus-only snacks

Fruits from the citrus family are highly acidic. The citric acid found in limes, lemons, oranges even berries can wreak havoc on a child’s tooth enamel. They are so powerful that they are often used as a cleaning agent! Ever wonder why all those cleaners under the sink are citrus-scented?

Ditching these fruits entirely would be a bad idea, so find a happy medium by combining the citrus with other foods. This allows the acidic particles to attach to something other than your child’s teeth and minimizes any potential damage.

3) Vinegar

Vinegar is a great low-fat alternative to add flavor to a dish often found in salad dressings, hot sauce, chips, and pickles. However, for less mature tooth enamel that is more vulnerable to erosion, it’s best to avoid it.

Ensure dental health with a good, thorough rinsing after meals either by brushing or drinking plenty of water. But, make sure to wait 30 minutes before brushing, which allows softened enamel a chance to recover.

4) Mouth-drying consumables

If your child is sick and put on a medication that includes the side effect of dry mouth, this can put their teeth and gums in danger. The best solution is to keep them hydrated with plenty of fluids, like water or fluoridated rinses.

Giving your child’s natural defenses the right tools to fight off decay and gum disease should always be your first rule in good dental hygiene!

5) Chewable vitamins

Whether they are multivitamins or vitamin-specific supplements, chewable vitamins pack a big punch to a child’s teeth because they contain a concentrated acid and high amounts of sugar which can find a home in teeth. Even with vigorous brushing, this can be hard to remove unless your child is flossing. Given enough time, this will eventually wear down the young enamel.

Of course, none of these facts can help without a good, consistent routine of dental hygiene that consists of brushing, flossing, rinsing and check-ups! At Dentistry for Children and Adolescents, we are dedicated to equipping parents with what you need to know!

How To Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

February 16th, 2017

It’s completely natural to feed your infant with a bottle in the early stages of development. While bottles are easy to use and comforting for babies, they are also one of the leading causes of tooth decay in children.

The good news is, you don’t have to stop using baby bottles altogether to avoid the risk of tooth decay. Instead, take these preventative measures to ensure that your child will have healthy oral development in the earliest stages of childhood.

smiling baby

The cause of baby bottle tooth decay, or “nursing bottle mouth” is due to frequent exposure to sugary liquids for long periods of time, which forms harmful plaque in the mouth. It makes sense; babies and toddlers are often seen running around with bottles of milk, formula and juice and hate to part ways with their beloved bottle at the end of the day.

Remember: baby bottles are not pacifiers. Some parents allow their infants to carry a bottle around just to satisfy their need for an object to chew on. However, this opens the door for longer periods of exposure to sugar. Try to switch out the bottle for a pacifier after mealtime.

Avoid sending your child to bed with his bottle. It’s easy to get into the habit of putting your baby to sleep with a warm bottle of milk, but it will result in serious consequences. Not only does it increase the amount of exposure to sugary liquids, but it will also allow bacteria to form plaque in the mouth overnight. Your child’s oral environment should have plenty of time to recover from a day’s worth of exposure to sugar. When you send your child to bed with a bottle, you’re essentially undoing all nighttime teeth cleaning rituals that you just completed.

Water is good for your baby and his oral development. If your child is attached to his bottle, it would helpful to occasionally replace a bottle full of milk with water instead. It rinses bacteria from the mouth and doesn’t contain sugar that will cause plaque formation. This will also work if you must send your baby to bed with a bottle.

Try to teach your child to drink from a cup around 6 months of age. This will help break the habit of keeping the bottle in his mouth for prolonged periods of time. Encourage your child to stop using a bottle completely by 12-14 months. It may seem like a difficult task at first, but it is worth it to keep you baby’s oral development on a healthy track!

How To Protect Your Child’s Tooth Enamel on Thanksgiving

February 16th, 2017

It’s time for pumpkin pie, juicy turkey, and delicious cranberry sauce! As you can probably guess, not all Thanksgiving foods are going to be tooth-friendly. That doesn’t mean your children have to suffer through a bland, tasteless Thanksgiving meal though. Consider these tips as you plan a festive meal that will treat your child’s oral health kindly.

Smiling Boy and Girl Looking at Pies

Include more options for crunchy fruits and vegetables.

Thanksgiving is the one time of year when it’s appropriate to have an endless variety of sides to go with your turkey. So, why not take advantage of the opportunity to give your child healthy options that will also benefit their teeth? Sweet potatoes, a Thanksgiving favorite, are full of healthy fibers that increase saliva production and remove bacteria on the teeth as you chew. The key is to avoid adding large amounts of brown sugar and marshmallows before handing your child his plate. Other good vegetables to include are broccoli, carrots and celery, all of which are high in fiber.

Rethink pumpkins.

While pumpkin pie is absolutely delicious, it’s also packed with sugars that will stick to your child’s teeth. Pumpkin, however, can be just as tooth-friendly as the crunchy vegetables mentioned above. Explore your recipe options and find creative ways to use pumpkin without making a sugary pie.

Skip the cranberry sauce but don’t forget the cranberries.

Traditional cranberry sauce from the can is sure to cause bacteria formation on your child’s teeth, but real cranberries can actually be good for them. Microbiologist Hyun “Michel” Koo discovered that cranberries disrupt bacteria from forming plaque and acid that cause tooth decay. But, that doesn’t mean you should allow your child to hoard the cranberries. The fruit still contains acidic content and should be consumed in conservative amounts.

Try not to linger around the dinner table.

Everyone loves to revisit the dinner table or fridge throughout the day to pick at the Thanksgiving leftovers. What they don’t realize is that the constant snacking disrupts your tooth enamel’s ability to re-harden. Each time your child “grazes” on leftovers, the more often his tooth enamel has to reset the clock. Try to limit your child from snacking after your Thanksgiving meal, and his teeth will thank you!

6 Factors That Cause Sensitive Teeth in Children

February 16th, 2017

You may have heard complaints from your child regarding tooth pains after eating hot and cold foods, or even while brushing their teeth. Tooth sensitivity can be described as an unpleasant stinging or tingling sensation in the teeth, and there are many factors that could be the culprits of your child’s sensitive teeth.

girl with toothache

1. Poor brushing habits

It’s important to establish proper brushing techniques from an early age, not only to prevent cavities but also to protect the gums and enamel. If your child brushes his/her teeth too hard, it could result in enamel and gum erosion, which makes their teeth more sensitive to hot and cold. To avoid this problem, teach your children how much pressure to apply as they brush their teeth with a soft toothbrush.

2. Cavities

If your child does not brush and floss his/her teeth often enough, then tooth decay begins to take effect, which will cause sensitivity and discomfort in your child’s teeth. To prevent this cause of tooth sensitivity, make sure your children brush their teeth at least twice a day for approximately two minutes.

3. Sinuses

Unfortunately, sinus infections can affect more than just the nose. If your child is prone to sinus problems, he/she may experience tooth sensitivity near the top of the mouth. This is due to the close proximity of the sinuses to the roof of the mouth. As sinus pressure builds, it can cause your child to feel pain as though the mouth is infected too. Your dentist should check to make sure this symptom isn’t an actual cavity or abscess.

4. Teeth Grinding

This is a severely bad habit that negatively affects your child’s dental health and is likely to cause tooth sensitivity. Excessive tooth grinding can cause hairline cracks in the teeth that cause mouth pain when your child bites down on something or chews food. Misaligned teeth can also contribute to these hairline cracks.

5. Fillings

More specifically, it is metal amalgam fillings that can cause unpleasant tooth sensitivity. This type of filling acts a shortcut that conducts heat faster than your child’s regular tooth enamel.  Since this type of filling is extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, it also causes teeth to expand and contract quickly, putting more pressure on the tooth nerve. This occurrence can also contribute to more hairline cracks in your child’s teeth.

6. Losing Baby Teeth

When your child begins losing more baby teeth and growing permanent ones, it won’t take much to make them feel sensitive and painful. The emergence of new teeth can be miserable on its own, but other factors such as hot and cold temperatures, food, and air can make painful contact as well.

If your child is experiencing tooth sensitivity, it is important to treat the affected teeth before the discomfort becomes too unbearable. This could lead to malnourishment if the child stops eating foods that cause them pain. Therefore, it’s important to discuss treatment options with your dentist to ensure that your child’s oral health is in pain-free condition!

Be sure to download our FREE downloadable checklist for your child's first dental visit and beyond! It's full of helpful information for you and your family.

Avoid These 4 Halloween Candies That Cause Tooth Decay

February 16th, 2017

Trick-or-treating can be a nightmare for both parents and dentists. What could be scarier than ghosts and goblins on Halloween? Sugary treats that plague adolescent teeth! While we always encourage our spirited patients to stay away from too much candy, we realize Halloween is a time of year when kids indulge in all kinds of sweets. Here are the top worst Halloween candies that should be avoided this season along with some healthier alternatives.

gummy_bears

Taffy – You instantly recognize when your children are eating taffy based on their comical chewing behavior and length of time to finish swallowing before moving on to the next candy. That’s because sticky treats such as taffy and caramel attach themselves to the teeth and are very difficult to remove. Even increased amounts of saliva aren’t enough to wash away the sugary substances that stick to the grooves and crevices between the teeth, which increase the amount of acid formed by bacteria in the mouth. Try to avoid chewy candies like gummy bears, taffy, Tootsie Rolls, and caramel fillings.

Sour candies – These popular Halloween treats have a serious vendetta against your child’s tooth enamel! The amount of acid in sour candies will contribute to an imbalanced PH level in your child’s mouth, which allows the acid in the candy to break down tooth enamel faster.

Cookies/Cake – Not only do these baked treats come in bigger servings than your average candy, but they also contain extremely high amounts of sugar that will settle on your children’s teeth, putting them at risk of tooth decay. It’s probably not a safe idea to accept homemade goods from strangers anyway, but even the packaged goodies should be avoided.

Lollipops – Hard candies such as lollipops are somewhere in the middle when it comes to the amount of damage they cause to adolescent teeth. On one hand, they don’t stick to the teeth as badly as taffy candy. Additionally, lollipops can increase the amount of saliva in the mouth, which helps rinse away the bacteria that produces enamel-eroding acid. However, lollipops take longer to dissolve and therefore stay in your mouth longer, increasing the acidity on your child’s teeth as time goes on.

Tooth-Friendly Alternatives

Sugar-free gum – We highly recommend this as a Halloween treat this year. It contains a natural sweetener, xylitol, that protects against plaque-inducing bacteria. Sugar-free gum is also a good choice after your child eats other sugary candies, because it increases the amount of saliva in the mouth to rinse away bacteria.

Dark Chocolate – chocolate tends not to stick to the teeth as stubbornly as other sticky candies. Plus, the antioxidants in dark chocolate can provide additional health benefits that extend beyond oral health.

Be sure to monitor the amount of sugar your child consumes this Halloween, as moderation is key. Schedule your next appointment at Dentistry for Children and Adolescents to ensure that your children have happy, healthy teeth after all of that trick-or-treating!

For now, feel free to download our FREE eBook on beverages to watch out for and dental care. It will help educate you and your family on the perils of what may be hiding in your own home.

5 Foods That Promote Good Dental Health For Your Child

February 16th, 2017

While brushing, flossing and getting teeth cleaned regularly are vital to your child’s dental health, they aren’t the only factors that affect dental hygiene. For instance, there are many foods that can help protect against enamel-damaging plaque and gum disease. If you want to keep your children’s teeth even stronger and healthier, you may want to consider incorporating these foods into their daily dental routine.

school lunch and lunchbox

1. Milk – While our favorite cookie-dunking beverage contains high amounts of sugar, its health benefits more than make up for it. First, milk has enough calcium to help children develop strong baby and adult teeth, which can prevent tooth loss. Secondly, milk helps protect teeth from the acids in your mouth caused by plaque bacteria. So, downing a glass of milk after eating a handful of Oreos is more than just delicious –it also neutralizes the acids that cause tooth decay.

2. Chewing Gum – To be more specific, sugarless gum. It may seem like gum could not offer any health benefits, but it actually does for your dental hygiene. This is because chewing gum increases the amount of saliva in your mouth, which can rid your child’s teeth of bacteria from other foods. Sugar-free gum also contains Xylitol, a natural sweetener that helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth and prevents “acid attacks” caused by bacteria sticking to the teeth.

3. Yogurt – Speaking of bacteria, it’s good to have some good bacteria in the mouth to promote oral health. Yogurt is known to contain protective bacteria that help fight the bad germs between teeth. These good bacteria can prevent bad breath, plaque and gum disease. We recommend buying plain, sugar-free yogurt full of probiotics and proteins for your child.

4. Crunchy Foods – Even the texture of certain foods can affect adolescents’ dental environments. Typically bacteria will settle on the teeth after we eat foods, which is why brushing and flossing are essential to removing these bacteria. However, crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as celery, apples, carrots, and pears can help cleanse the teeth by breaking away plaque build-up.

5. High-Protein Foods – Foods with high levels of protein, such as chicken, eggs, turkey, and cheese contain calcium and phosphorus, which work together to promote re-mineralization of the teeth. When acids produced by plaque bacteria erode tooth enamel, eating these foods can help replace the minerals in your child’s teeth to keep them strong and healthy.

A consistent routine at home will make your child’s next dental appointment even more pleasant. At Dentistry for Children and Adolescents, we are dedicated to equipping parents with the proper tools for keeping kids’ teeth healthy and strong.

For now, feel free to download our FREE eBook on beverages to watch out for and dental care. It will help educate you and your family on the perils of what may be hiding in your own home.

How to Make Brushing Fun for Kids

February 16th, 2017

Getting your kids to brush their teeth on a daily basis can be struggle for any parent. Kids of all ages have to be reminded to brush their teeth morning and night.

But parents can make it fun for kids where they want to brush their teeth! This will install a good dental hygiene routine at an early age and save you the chore of reminding your kids on a daily basis. It’s also important for kids to see a model of good, positive behavior from their parents.

It’s important to have the right tools in place for success and remember to stay diligent to keep your child on the right track! A solid brushing routine will help combat tooth decay and emphasize good dental practices into their adult years.

Here are some out-of-the-box ideas to make teeth brushing more fun for your kids!

How to Make Brushing Fun for Kids Dentistry for Children and Adolescents

number1
Let your child pick out their toothbrush or pick one with bright colors or their favorite cartoon characters. Or if they are old enough, buy them an electric toothbrush, which can be more fun for kids. There are toothpastes tailored to children with flavors like strawberry, tooty fruity, bubble mint and many more.

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Make brushing their teeth a fun game! Tell kids that they are fighting plaque and cavities every time they brush their teeth or create a story with your kid as a superhero.

number3

Instead of timing your kids to make sure they brush for the correct length of time, sing a song with them. Popular choices include “This is the way we brush our teeth” or the alphabet song. Kids and adults should be brushing their teeth for a full 2 minutes.

number4

Use a reward system with stickers for every day that they remember to brush their teeth without being asked. Once they get to a certain number, give them a little toy or prize.

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Encourage kids to make bubbles while they are brushing, which means they are doing a good job. Have a bubble-making contest to add even more fun!

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Use a favorite stuffed animal or doll as a model for the correct way to brush. Then, let your kids brush their toy’s teeth.

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The easiest and most important way to make it fun for kids is to be patient, supportive and praise them when they are successful. Being encouraging will help those lessons stick with kids and make you both happy!

If you need additional help with your children’s brushing habits or have questions about any dental issues for your child or adolescent, call the professional staff at Dentistry for Children and Adolescents.

And be sure to download our FREE downloadable checklist for your child's first dental visit and beyond! It's full of helpful information for you and your family.

5 Tips to Help Prevent Cavities for Kids

February 16th, 2017

Having cavities filled is no fun for kids. But routine oral hygiene is essential to keeping your child’s teeth healthy and preventing potential future cavities. If you install good practices early on in life, those habits will continue as they grow up.

Protecting your child’s teeth is essential and can be accomplished by following these 5 easy tips!

5 Tips to Help Prevent Cavities for Kids Dentistry for Children and Adolescents
1)  Install a daily routine.

The easiest and most obvious good practice is to maintain a strict daily routine. Kids should brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day.

2)  Avoid snacking

Consistent snacking especially on sweet foods, creates opportunities for cavities. Limit snacking to only healthy foods and try to brush or rinse with water or mouthwash afterward.

3)  Make healthy choices

Choosing fruits that are full of water keeps the mouth hydrated and helps prevent cavities. Also, try to get kids to drink lots of water and avoid soda and sugary juices. Choose juices that are 100 percent fruit because too much acid and sugar are bad for teeth.

Nuts and cheeses are great options because they have ingredients that work to remineralize teeth. Avoid sticky foods like cookies, candy and fruit leather, which can be extremely harmful to teeth.

4)  Don’t share food or drinks

Bacteria that cause cavities can be passed between people. So avoid sharing food and encourage your kids not to share their food with friends.

5)  Visit the pediatric dentist

Bringing your kids to the dentist on a regular basis for teeth cleaning is essential to catching smaller issues before they become cavities. It’s important to find a dental home before their first birthday. Then, try to visit your dentist twice a year.

Also, ask your dentist about dental sealants that can be placed on a child's teeth to prevent decay. The process is simple and can help prohibit future cavities.

Think about choosing Dentistry for Children and Adolescents for your child’s dental home. We will work with your family’s unique needs to ensure every child has the best dental health.

Things to Know when Deciding Pacifier or Thumb

February 16th, 2017

One of the most discussed issues for parents of young children is whether to let their child use a pacifier or their thumb.

Things to Know when Deciding: Pacifier or Thumb Dentistry for Children and AdolocentsBabies have a natural reflex called non-nutritive sucking, which means they will suck on a thumb or pacifier for pleasure, security and comfort and not just when they are hungry.

So which one is the better choice? Here are some helpful facts and tips to assist parents in making this decision!

Pacifier

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends the use of pacifiers over thumbs when comforting new babies because the pacifier habit is easier to break at an earlier age. The longer the sucking habit continues the greater the chance for future orthodontic issues.

Things to Know when Deciding: Pacifier or Thumb Dentistry for Children and Adolocents

Tips for Safe Use

  • The pacifier’s shield should be wider than the child’s mouth. Stop using the pacifier if the entire thing can fit into a child’s mouth.
  • Don’t dip the pacifier into anything sweet before giving it to a baby.
  • Inspect pacifiers routinely for signs of deterioration and discard if the bulb becomes sticky, swollen or cracked.
  • Don’t attach a pacifier to a crib or their body with a string, ribbon or cord.
  • Don’t leave a baby unattended with a pacifier in his or her mouth, including sleeping.

Thumb

In general, thumb or pacifier sucking can affect teeth essentially in the same way. An argument for thumb or finger sucking over pacifier use is it can teach children to sooth themselves.

It might depend on which option an individual child prefers. Both sucking on a thumb or pacifier are typically stopped by the child but should be discouraged after age 3 to avoid future problems.
Possible Effects

If a child repeatedly sucks on a finger or other object for a long period of time, the upper front teeth may jut out or not come in properly. Prolonged sucking can create crooked teeth, bite problems and other changes in their tooth position and jaw alignment.

Your pediatric dentist can assist you with methods and ideas to help your child stop sucking on a thumb or pacifier. The professionals will encourage a child to stop the sucking habit, discuss what can happen to teeth and recommend behavior modification techniques.

At Dentistry for Children and Adolescents, we will work with your family’s unique dental needs to ensure every child is happy and healthy.

5 Tips to Overcome your Child’s Fear of the Dentist

February 16th, 2017

Taking your kids to the pediatric dentist is a vital part of keeping their teeth healthy and installing good dental hygiene practices from a young age. But oftentimes for younger children, the dentist can be a new and scary place.

Here are some essential practices to help ease your child and overcome their fear of the dentist and help prepare them for future appointments.

1)  Start Young

It’s important to introduce your child to the dentist and find a dental home as soon as possible. Their first visit should fall before or at their one year birthday or when the first tooth is visible.

2)  Keep it Simple

When talking about the dentist with your child, keep your language simple and don’t go into too many details about what could happen. Keep an upbeat and positive attitude.

Try to avoid language such as shot, pain, cavity, etc. that could make your child fearful before the appointment. Instead use words like clean, healthy and sparkling.

3) Prepare Well

Before the appointment there are several things you can do to ease your child’s concerns.

Take a trip to the office so both of you are familiar with the location and staff members. You could also have a run through with a doll or stuffed animal. There are also children’s books that can help give your child an idea of what to expect.

4)  Plan for Tantrums

Especially if your child is in the baby or toddler stage, you should prepare for some crying, whining and fussing. Pediatric dentists and their employees are prepared for this reaction, so listen to their advice about how to comfort your child.

After the visit, praise your child especially if it was a tantrum-free appointment.

5)  Emphasize the Importance

It’s essential for your child to understand the importance of good oral hygiene as early as possible. Explain that visits to the dentist are a necessity and will keep their smile sparkling, white and healthy. Use colorful toothbrushes and good tasting toothpaste, so brushing their teeth is also fun at home.

At Dentistry for Children and Adolescents, we work hard to ensure children feel safe and the overall experience is a pleasant one with toys, games and friendly faces.