It is always easier to prevent cavities than to treat them, so our Little Critter team gives you the best oral health practices as soon as teeth erupt. Further, decay or breakdown of a tooth that is detected in the early stages is easier and less costly to treat. Dr. Keta aims to educate you and your family about all the steps you can take to maintain healthy smiles.
Oral Hygiene and Diet
Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush to adequately remove plaque and cavity-causing-bacteria on the teeth, gums, and tongue. Caregivers should clean the teeth at least once a day (most importantly before bedtime following the last feeding), but twice a day is always best. You should brush your children's teeth until they are capable of tying their shoes, usually until 5-6 years old. As they transition to independently brushing, make sure you check their skills regularly. If your child is under one year old, just use water on the brush, and if they are older than one, use fluoride toothpaste. We recommend the size of a grain of rice for kids 1-3 years old and the size of a pea for kids 4 years and older. Your child may not be spitting well, but with such a small amount of toothpaste, there shouldn’t be much to swallow or wipe out.
Little Critter encourages flossing your child's teeth every night. Use the string floss or floss picks to gentle sweep between the areas teeth touch. This is especially important between the back molars.
Fluoride mouth rinse helps cleanse the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth. Fluoride remineralizes areas of insult where cavities are starting, so especially if Dr. Keta informed you of areas to watch, adding a fluoride rinse can halt the cavity progression.
Juice might appear healthy, but it is packed with sugar and acid. We would advise not giving your children juice, but if you insist, limit it to one 4-6 ounce cup, only at a mealtime. Also, avoid sticky, chewy, and sugary foods like caramel, taffy, and tough fruit chews like Starburst or roll-ups. Beware of gummy vitamins. These foods easily get stuck between teeth, so floss your children's teeth right after they indulge in these treats.
Sealants are hard, white, protective coatings that seal the grooves of the tooth chewing surfaces to prevent cavities. They block out sticky, sugary foods and liquids that get caught in the teeth. The application is fast and pain-free. Sealants are recommended based on your child’s diet, history of cavities, and anatomy of the teeth.
Fluoride is an essential mineral in bone and teeth formation. It is naturally found in many foods, including leafy greens, potatoes, tea, and grape juice. Water fluoridation has decreased cavities immensely across the USA. The use of topical fluoride for prevention of cavities is well-documented. It is safe and effective in decreasing cavities by making teeth stronger and remineralizing/halting decay. Little Critter Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a fluoride toothpaste after age one. Use the size of a grain of rice (age 1-3) and the size of a pea (age 4+). Professional fluoride treatments are recommended twice a year and are administered as a paint-on varnish from the dentist. Research shows that twice yearly fluoride application significantly reduces cavities.
Routine dental visits are important to keep the mouth healthy. Dr. Keta recommends a dental exam and cleaning every six months in order to aid in prevention of dental problems. High caries/cavity risk patients or patients in active orthodontics might require more frequent dental visits to maintain hygiene and gum care. Regular visits keep children familiar with us. Routine care builds patient confidence, whereas emergency treatment due to pain or dental neglect becomes more stressful for patients, parents, and our team.
Dental radiographs or x-rays are necessary for your child in receiving the highest standard of dental care. At Little Critter, we limit radiation exposure for children by using lead aprons with thyroid collars and digital radiography, which emits 80% less radiation than traditional x-ray machines. Cavities, missing or extra teeth, and pathology/diseases can go undetected without the use of dental radiographs. With digital x-rays, your child’s images appear instantaneously on our computer, giving us a convenient image to analyze and refer to throughout the dental visit. One dental radiograph has 0.005 mSv of radiation, while a flight from NY to LA has 0.04 mSv.
Dr. Keta usually recommends a first set of x-rays (4 images) when your child is four years old to check for cavities between teeth and development. After the first x-rays, low cavity risk patients take x-rays (2 images) every year and a half, while high cavity risk patients take x-rays every six months to one year (2 images). A panoramic x-ray is recommended to assess tooth and jaw development as well as check for bony pathology at 6-8 years old. This x-ray is taken again at 11-13yo for orthodontic needs and at 16-18yo to evaluate wisdom teeth. Our goal is to be as conservative with radiation as possible while upholding the highest standard of care for your children. Detecting a cavity/lesion early leads to the best chances of keeping your child’s teeth healthy.