February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

..and we might be just a little excited! In support of the American Dental Association, we’re happy to be celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month awareness throughout the month of February. What first was observed in 1949 as a day devoted to children’s dental health, the initiative now marks forty years strong while celebrating as a month-long, nationwide health observance reinforcing the importance of good pediatric oral healthcare.

Our First Impressions care teams are focusing this year’s effort on offering approachable pediatric dental healthcare conversations: stepping outside the box of canned dental advice, and instead providing realistic tips and tricks to caregivers seeking recommendations for improved at-home brushing routines. We hope that by sharing some of our tips and tricks with you all month long, healthy habits (and stress-free routines!) can be put into practice far beyond the reach of February.

Doc Talk: Struggling with brushing your child's teeth?


You’re not alone! Even as pediatric dentists with years of practice, we still have brushing battles with our little ones at home. Here are three common issues we see, and how to maneuver for a good brushing in each situation. Try out these tips tonight, and let us know if they worked for you!

  • Brush Biting: Wiggle your fingertip to the back of their mouth where you’ll find a soft gum pad. Use this area as leverage to keep the mouth open (or sometimes just a gentle reminder by touching this soft spot is all you need!) while you brush with your other hand.
  • Sealed Lips: Use the index finger of your non-brushing hand to hold their upper lip towards their nose.
  • Tangled-In-Tongue: Gently move their tongue to one side of the mouth with your spare hand, while you maneuver the brush around the open side of their mouth freely. Try this for short intervals and release the tongue to keep it fun.

Doc Talk: Your child is bound to sustain a mouth injury at some point in their exploratory growth stages.

…And that’s ok (whew!) Statistics show nearly half of all children will have some type of tooth injury during their childhood, despite our best efforts to keep them safe.

So what do we do when this happens? Here are a few at-home guidelines to follow:

  1. EVALUATE and comfort: your first priority is to rule out any signs of concussion or head trauma.
  2. IDENTIFY: is this a tooth or soft tissue injury?

-> If tooth injury: identify if fractured (check for any signs of pink nerve showing), displaced (can your child still bite down normally?) or knocked out entirely. Give us a call if you see worrisome conditions.

-> If gum or soft tissue injury: apply pressure to the area that is bleeding and use a cold compress.

MONITOR: for all injuries, you want to keep an eye out for any swelling of the gums, continued pain, fever, or change in the color of the tooth.

**Please consider, every accident and child will be different! While we consider these general steps to follow, we want you to always use your best judgment and instinct when it comes to taking the best care of your child. And remember, First Impressions staff is on-call to answer emergency questions and treat injuries, whether or not you’re an existing patient of ours!

Doc Talk: Raise your hand if you feel like you need super powers, just to get at your child’s teeth every night!

Maybe you just can’t get your child to sit still for more than a few seconds at a time. Or you’re convinced there’s no maneuver sufficient enough to help you hit that two-minute brushing benchmark. As parents ourselves, we understand your struggle! So we wanted to share some of our go-to maneuvers we use with our own kids at home.

Let us know if you try one of these tricks, and which works best for you!

  • Lap

-Sit with your child on the floor, laying them down on their back with head resting on your lap.

-Use your non-brushing hand to cradle their head still while you brush from behind.

Bonus stabilization: rest your legs over your child’s legs and arms to keep them from wiggling or reaching around.

 

  • Seated

-Sit cross-legged with your child on the floor, placing them in an upright, seated position on one leg of your lap and pointing their legs inward.

-Hug their body close to yours, wrapping their inner-arm behind your back and holding their head still with your non-brushing hand.

Bonus stabilization: rest your free leg over the top of theirs to keep them still.

 

  • Cradled

-Sit with your child on the floor, resting them in the crook of your non-brushing arm and wrapping their inner-arm around your back.

–Using your non-brushing hand, hold their free arm still.

–Bonus stabilization: as you sit cross-legged, rest your leg on top of theirs. 

Doc Talk: The wrath of a teething toddler.

Being a new parent is hard enough without the added complexity of teething toddlers. Aka: added fussiness, loss in appetite, and poor sleep (for all involved).

So what do we look out for, and what can we do to help?

  • On average, teething takes about two weeks from the first sign of swollen gums to seeing tiny slivers of tooth poking through.
  • Typically, the height of irritability comes one to two days after the first noticeable signs of swollen gums.
  • To help alleviate initial discomfort, massage gums lightly with a clean finger or with a fingertip toothbrush.
  • As the tooth nears eruption and discomfort rises, offer relief by chilling either a teething toy or a dampened washcloth for 15-20 minutes. As always, monitor your child while using a teething tool of any sort.
  • While the teeth are coming in, brushing in that area might not be an option due to increased sensitivity. Instead, use a warm, damp cloth to keep this area clean.

Once the teeth are through, start your brushing regime with a soft bristle toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste.

Friendly reminders to all parents:

  • Every child develops at his/her own pace. There is a HUGE range of variability when it comes to developing teeth; eruption charts are meant as a guide only!
  • If you’re still worried about the timeline: if your little one is 18 months old and there’s still no signs of teeth OR if teeth are coming in one year past the expected timeframes, give us a call so we can take a look!
  • It’s NEVER too late to set up a first dental visit! The typical recommendation is “first tooth or first birthday = first dentist visit.” But maybe you’ve missed that benchmark and you’re worried about being behind. Don’t be! We’re firm believers it’s never too late to start your child on a path to a healthy smile.