Are your little ones due for a dental checkup? If so, Stanley St Dental may be the kids’ dentist you’ve been looking for. Our team of expert dentists specialise in many areas, including children’s or paediatric dentistry. Understanding this field means understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments of common dental problems in children, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and dental injuries. If you’re also wondering what common dental problems affect children and what we can do about them, let’s get you up to speed.
Preventing & Managing Cavities
Kids are perhaps the biggest sweet tooths of all. That’s why children’s or paediatric dentistry prioritises promoting oral health habits from the get-go. Just like adults, children should also go for a dental checkup once every six months, as this is the best and most regulated way to check for cavities. It’s also an opportunity to check that their oral health is in check overall.
When your child attends Stanley St. Dental, our dentists will enjoy educating them about and promoting oral health habits. Here are some child-friendly tips.
Maintain a Consistent Dental Routine
The way children treat their baby (deciduous) teeth can lay the groundwork for how their permanent teeth turn out. That’s why it’s important they establish a routine of brushing their teeth at least twice per day and flossing their teeth at least once per day. When your child brushes, make sure they’re brushing in circular motions rather than side-to-side. If they’re new to brushing, you should make sure they use a soft-bristled brush.
If your child doesn’t like the minty flavour of classic toothpaste, consider buying them toothpaste in more palatable flavours. Oftentimes, these toothpastes are marketed to children, featuring bright colours and their favourite characters. Purchasing these kinds of toothpaste can carry the added perk of forging positive associations with brushing.
Loading your child’s lunchbox with fresh fruit, veggie sticks or nuts won’t necessarily win you favour with your child, but they’ll thank you in the long run when they retain a cavity-free set of teeth. We’re not saying the occasional sugary indulgence is off-limits, but consuming processed sugars — such as lollies or, the massive culprit, fruit rollups — on the daily runs a high risk of cavities.
When it comes to beverages, encourage your child to drink from a water bottle or drinking fountain rather than purchasing juices or soft drinks. Even sugar-free soft drinks can wreak havoc on the teeth thanks to their acidic content.
If, despite your best efforts, your child has developed a cavity, it’s not the end of the world — especially if the affected tooth is deciduous. Our dentists may recommend a filling or tooth extraction, depending on case severity or whether we’re dealing with a permanent tooth.
Addressing Orthodontic Issues
Childhood is by far the most malleable phase of our lives — that’s why, when you see issues arise early, it’s best to nip them in the bud. Sending your kids to the dentist not only helps us keep tabs on their oral health, but also helps us observe orthodontic issues, such as misshapen teeth or dental misalignment. Such issues can present in different ways. Here’s what to look out for:
When the mouth doesn’t have space to accommodate all erupting teeth, they overlap or take a crooked stance in the mouth. If your child exhibits crowding, it’s important you address it sooner rather than later. Aesthetic issues aside, crowding makes teeth difficult to clean, which increases the chances of gum disease and tooth decay.
If your child’s upper front teeth overlap with their lower front teeth when they bite down, they have an overbite. This may cause issues such as an uncomfortable jaw, uneven dental wear and compromised speech capabilities. The greater the overbite, the greater their chances of developing issues with the temporomandibular joint (aka TMJ, or the joint connecting the jaw to the skull).
Conversely, if they have an underbite, their lower front teeth protrude further forward than their upper front teeth do. Arguably, underbites cause more problems than overbites do, as they can compromise the ability to chew, increase the risk of tooth damage and interfere with jaw joint alignment.
When the upper teeth sit inside their lower-down counterparts when your child bites down, you’re in crossbite territory. Crossbites can spell jaw asymmetry, as well as the standard tooth wear and jaw joint issues.
When your child bites their back teeth together, do the upper and lower front teeth touch? If not, they have an open bite. Like all other orthodontic issues listed above, an open bite can lead to abnormal jaw development, speech issues and compromised chewing. It’s characterised by the frontal gap that appears when biting from the back.
Whether they’re obscuring your child’s facial aesthetics or putting themselves forward for greater injury during a fall or accident, protruding teeth are never where they should be. They’re also more difficult to clean and may weaken a child’s self-esteem or confidence.
Orthodontic issues can stem from a number of factors, some genetic and some environmental. Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, dummy sucking, and even early deciduous teeth loss can throw dental development off course. At Stanley St. Dental, we’re aware that orthodontic issues can impair facial, respiratory or speech development if left untreated. That’s why we work to address them as best we can.
Did you know that kids aged between six and ten can begin Invisalign® treatment? The new and improved alternative to braces, Invisalign® — the most popular brand of clear aligners — is the faster and more discreet way to correct orthodontic issues. With Invisalign®, kids run zero risk of inheriting the nickname ‘brace face’. They can also enjoy a more comfortable experience, which not only involves zero abrasive brackets and wires but also does away with stray food particles, thanks to Invisalign’s® removable nature. If your child has any signs of orthodontic issues, you are more than welcome to bring it up at their next dental checkup with one of our fantastic kids’ dentists.
Dealing With Teething & Gum Issues
On the other end of the spectrum, children’s or paediatric dentistry also deals with teeth when they’re first coming through. Whether your child’s teething begins within the age range of four to six months or some time outside of that, one thing’s for sure: teething is often a painful experience for children. If your child’s teething issues are disrupting the harmony at home — and this can present as irritability, frequent chewing, gum swelling or excessive drooling — all you can do is comfort your child as best you can. Here are our top tips.
Give a Gum Massage
Apply gentle pressure to your child’s gums, and this can provide immediate relief — for both of you!
Offer a Cold Cloth or Compressor
While supervising, hand your child a cold washcloth and allow them to chew it. The cold pressure can have a pain-relieving effect. You can also apply a cold compressor to your child’s face.
Serve Cold Foods
So long as your child is teething, it’s best to abandon hot foods. Cold foods can have a numbing effect, which will deaden the pain. Serve some yoghurt or frozen fruits or vegetables and see how they respond. Avoid hard, gum-irritating foods during this time.
Buy Teething Gel
Over-the-counter teething gels contain a mild local anaesthetic, which helps provide relief for children over four months old. Apply a small amount of gel to your child’s gums and watch them relax.
Buy Child-Friendly Paracetamol or Ibuprofen
If you want to give your child some pain relievers, make sure it’s safe for them to take.
Children’s ibuprofen is particularly good at reducing teething-related inflammation, and children’s paracetamol is good at reducing the slight fever teething is known to cause. Both options provide pain relief for grissling, teething little ones.
Of course, you should also bring your child in for regular checkups throughout the teething phase. This allows us to monitor dental development as it happens, address any emerging issues and make recommendations where appropriate.
Managing Toothaches & Dental Emergencies
As well as being a kids’ dentist, Stanley St. Dental is also your local emergency dentist. Whether you’re dealing with a toothache or dislodged teeth, you should call us immediately (so long as it’s between 8am and 5pm from Monday through to Saturday) and book an emergency appointment with us. Outside of Stanley St. Dental’s operating hours, you may wish to investigate 24-hour dentists in your area.
What constitutes a dental emergency? In short, it’s anything involving blood or severe pain. Here are some common dental emergencies:
- Severe toothache
- Knocked-out teeth
- Chipped, cracked or broken teeth.
While you’re waiting for your appointment, there are some home remedies you can try. Let’s review how you can keep your kid more comfortable.
When it comes to toothaches, warm water works a treat in many cases. Mix some salt with warm — i.e. neither completely hot nor cold — water and tell your child to rinse the solution in their mouth. You can also provide a cold press to hold against their cheek, as well as offer some over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. Important: never place aspirin on the teeth or gums. If the pain persists after 24–36 hours, you should involve your local emergency dentist.
Follow the same advice above concerning toothaches. While we advise adults to try to hold a knocked-out tooth in its socket, we don’t advise children to do this with a deciduous tooth — the reason being that it could compromise the permanent tooth that’s forming beneath the gums. If possible, store the tooth in a container or glass of milk until you arrive at the dentist. If you wish to reintegrate the tooth into the mouth, ensure to see the dentist within two hours.
In addition to following the advice about toothaches, gather the pieces of the broken tooth (if possible) and bring them to the appointment. If you intend to restore the tooth to the mouth, attend the dentist within two hours.
A Kids’ Dentist You Can Trust
Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into the key components of children’s or paediatric dentistry, it’s time to take the next step. From preventing and managing cavities to addressing orthodontic issues — and everything in between — Stanley St. Dental is a kids’ dentist you can trust. Call us on (03) 9042 6001 to book your appointment with us, or fill out the online booking form to get started. We can’t wait to meet your little ones, wherever they’re at in their dental journey.