Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dietary Tips to Protect Your Child's Teeth

By: Andrea Nepa, MS, RD

It may be surprising to learn that dental problems in primary (baby) teeth can affect the growth of permanent (adult) teeth.  Aside from being painful, tooth abscesses in young children can cause infections throughout the body, and often require general anesthesia to treat.  
Fluoride is an important mineral that should be given to all children starting at 6 months of age.  If fluoride is not in the water supply (or if the infant is breastfeeding), then a fluoride supplement may be needed and can be obtained from your dentist or pediatrician.  Most bottled spring water found in stores is not fluoridated, unless stated on the label.  Speak with your dentist or doctor about the right amount of fluoride to include in the diet. It's important not to get too much or too little.
When oral bacteria feed on sugar, they produce acids which can cause cavities.  How often sugar is eaten and how long it remains on the teeth is more important than how much.  Any carbohydrate can lead to cavities because it provides a food source for the bacteria that cause them.  Carbohydrates that are "sticky" (such as raisins, granola bars, candy, cookies, potato chips) stay on the teeth longer and allow the bacteria more time to grow.  Additionally, sugared beverages and the juices from whole fruit can seep between teeth.  Common snack foods such as pretzels or crackers can be eaten with protein/dairy foods (peanut butter, cheese, eggs, etc.) to lower the cavity-causing effect.  In addition, whole grains are better than refined carbohydrates in terms of sticking to the teeth.
Constantly eating or drinking puts teeth in contact with sugars more often.  Although most children need snacks to get enough calories to grow, three meals and two or three snacks daily are generally enough.  
Sugar content in many drinks (even juice and milk) is high, and should not be given just before sleeping.  It is best to have milk or juice with meals, and water in between.  Most children do not need more than 4-6 ounces of juice per day.  Soda is generally not recommended, as it is high in sugar (an 8 ounce can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar!) and the acidity can break down tooth enamel.  Also, it can fill up the child so that he/she is too full for meals.  Frequent brushing after food consumption can lessen the opportunity for the oral bacteria to thrive.  
Healthy snack ideas include:
  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Multigrain pretzel rods with hummus
  • Egg/tuna salad in whole wheat pita bread
  • Vegetable sticks with dip
  • Fruit salad or apple slices with cinnamon
  • Yogurt mixed with fruit
  • Cheese slices with whole grain crackers (i.e., Triscuits)
  • Cheese quesadilla with salsa
  • Bean burrito
  • Cottage cheese with fruit
  • Soup
  • Nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (over the age of 3)
  • Popcorn (over the age of 3)
Suggested eating habits to maintain good dental health:
  • If using  chewable vitamins, give with meals (not after)
  • Wait 2 hours between meals and snacks
  • Brush teeth after eating "sticky" foods and before going to bed
  • Only allow juice with meals or snacks
  • Limit high sugar foods to 3 times a day or less, preferably with meals/snacks
  • Limit soda and other high sugar beverages (such as fruit "drinks")
  • Consider chewing sugar free gum containing xylitol after eating if you have a health history of cavities
  • Have specific meal and snack times (avoid grazing)
  • Include protein or dairy products with meals and snacks
  • Don't allow infants to sleep with a bottle
  • Transition infants from a bottle to a sippy cup by about 12 months old.  Teach small children to enjoy water. If using juice, make sure that it is 100% juice and not a sugared flavored beverage juice drink.  Dilute when possible.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

15 Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration in Kids

15 Common Causes of Tooth Discoloration in Kids

Tooth staining is an unpleasant reality that comes with getting older. So why would your toddler be going yellow? There are many factors that contribute to tooth discoloration in kids, from consumption of certain fruits and vegetables to less-than-stellar brushing.
That doesn’t mean your daughter shouldn’t load up on healthy blueberries – just offer a glass of water or a naturally tooth-cleaning food, like apples, afterward. Straws come in handy to deflect the effects of staining beverages, and as always, keeping ‘em brushing twice a day helps maintain a bright smile for years to come.
Here are 15 causes of toddler tooth stains to look out for:

Photo: Growing a Green Family on Flickr
  1. Early tooth decay. Teach them to brush and floss from an early age. Inadequate dental hygiene is a common source of plaque formation and yellowing.
  2. Soda. Over time, the acids in soda are known to cause tooth erosion, making the kids’ teeth more susceptible to staining by the dark compounds in cola and root beer.
  3. Medications. Certain antibiotics and antihistamines may cause discoloration in the kids’ teeth. A child whose mother took certain antibiotics, like tetracycline, during pregnancy, may be born with tooth discoloration.
  4. Fruit juice. Dark-colored juices like cranberry and grape contain pigments and high amounts of sugar.
  5. Popsicles. You’ve seen the darkening of the kids’ teeth, lips, and tongue immediately after they’ve enjoyed one of these cold treats. Keep in mind that the dyes in popsicles work their way into the pores of their tooth enamel, too.
  6. Multivitamins. The iron contained in multivitamins causes a very small percentage of children to develop a dark stain on the teeth.
  7. Tooth Injury. When trauma to the tooth reaches the gums, the tooth may turn a permanent grayish color.
  8. Fluoride consumption. Abundant consumption of fluoride in tap water or toothpaste may cause some brown spots or white streaking.
  9. Jaundice. Newborns with jaundice may develop a greenish tint to their teeth.
  10. Illness. Sometimes, tooth discoloration is the result of more serious illnesses, like recurring infections or heart disease.
  11. Genetics. Babies born with weaker enamel have teeth that stain more easily.
  12. Food flavoring. By a certain age, tots enjoy the same foods their parents do, like salads dressed with balsamic vinegar or rice drizzled with soy sauce. These sticky, pigmented flavors may contribute to tooth discoloration, along with everything from tomato sauce to curry.
  13. Fruits and vegetables. Blueberries and beets are certainly good for you, each containing plentiful amounts of beneficial vitamins for the little ones’ smiles. They are also richly pigmented and contribute to tooth staining.
  14. Hot beverages. You’ve noticed the effect of hot water in the shower – it opens up the pores. The same goes for very hot beverages on the teeth. This opening of the tooth enamel’s pores contributes to degeneration. Wait until the cocoa’s lukewarm.
  15. Cold beverages. Very cold drinks essentially have the same effect as hot ones. The best bet is to keep things cool.

Welcome to our blog!

Our doctor and staff at Jordan Landing Pediatric Dentistry would like to take this oppotunity to welcome you to our blog! We plan on using this space to share office news and information with you. We will also be posting informative material related to pediatric dentistry and orthodontics.

Our goal is to make each dental visit a positive experience. We strive to creat long-lasting relationships with our families and to earn the trust of our pediatric patients through gentleness and reassurance.