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What to Expect During Your Child's First Dentist Appointment


What to Expect During Your Child's First Dentist Appointment

 The first visit to a dentist is an experience that children and parents should enjoy. By having some expectations before the visit, it is easier to feel comfortable and maintain your composure when a dentist is working with your child. Enjoy your child's first visit to a dentist and set a strong foundation for a lifetime of healthy oral hygiene.

The Appropriate Timing

Plan a visit to the dentist within 6 months of a baby's first tooth. Alternatively, visit a dentist by the time a baby is one year old. The dentist will check a baby's gums and teeth and make suggestions based on the specific needs of the child.

The first visit can be essential for a healthy dentist-child relationship. Bring your baby to the dentist in a calm manner so that he or she will not feel anxious about the experience.

The First Exam

During the first visit, a dentist performs a very simple examination. In most cases, a parent is asked to hold the toddler in the chair or on their lap so that a dentist can examine a baby's gums, bite and any new teeth.

If there is tooth decay, then a dentist will make recommendations for prevention and/or treatment that are appropriate. In most cases, a baby's first visit will not result in any further treatment requirements, especially if the visit occurs shortly after the first tooth grows in.

Cleaning the Teeth

Since children will usually have teeth by their first dental visit, a dentist will brush and clean any existing teeth. In spite of everybody's efforts to help the child to be happy, sometimes children cry. You can expect the cleaning to be thorough, but short.

During the cleaning, a dentist may determine that fluoride treatments are necessary. The treatments are appropriate when there is tooth decay or if there is a risk of tooth decay, but it is usually not necessary for most toddlers.

Discussing Oral Hygiene

When the exam and cleaning are completed, a dentist will discuss a child's oral hygiene with the parents. Listen to the recommendations and ask any questions that may arise.

Topics that arise during the discussion include:

  • Cavity prevention

  • Fluoride treatments and toothpastes when appropriate

  • Oral habits a child has developed, such as sucking on a thumb

  • Tooth development and milestones in children

  • Teething

  • Nutrition, particularly as it relates to oral health

  • Recommendations for a check-up

Ask about any concerns that arise throughout the discussion. For example, if a child is sucking on his or her thumb, then ask about the potential consequences of his or her behavior.

Smiles and Prizes

Expect a lot of smiles, encouragement, patience, and prizes during the first visit. Although this is your first visit with your child to the dentist, the staff and dentist have a lot of experience with this and will try to make it as easy and fun as possible.

Distractions from Anxiety

The first visit to a dentist is potentially scary for a young child. Be prepared for the possibility of anxiety or fear associated with the dentist.

During the first visit, a dentist wants to establish a positive image and relationship with a toddler or child. He or she may talk to the child before starting the exam to help reduce any tension or anxiety.

If you notice that a child is getting worried, then use distractions to help reduce the potential problems. For example, use a phone app to catch a child's attention and allow him or her to play a game on the phone. Alternatively, allow a child to play with keys or a toy while a dentist is setting up.

Parents should also try to stay relaxed during the visit. If a parent is anxious or worried, then a child will not feel comfortable. A dentist can make recommendations if a child is scared or anxious based on the specific situation.

The first dental appointment is a time to introduce a child to the dentist and regular dental procedures. Start teaching oral hygiene early and follow the advice of a dentist to ensure that children will have a positive experience and will maintain healthy teeth throughout their entire life. Read more about What to Expect During Your Child's First Dentist Appointment



CONGRATULATIONS to our monthly drawing winners!  Better late than never :-)

May: Gabriella, Nicholas, and Angelo M.

June:  James S.

July:  Julia M.

August:  Adelyn H.

September:  Brody P.

Enjoy some movies and movies snacks on us!  And thank you again to all for your valuable feedback and comments!  Read more about MONTHLY DRAWING WINNERS

6 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Brush Their Teeth on Their Own

6 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Brush Their Teeth on Their Own

Dental hygiene is incredibly important as soon as your child's first pearly whites appear. But getting them to brush independently--and to do a good job while doing so--can be a big struggle. Read on for six tried and true tips on how to get your kiddo to take care of his or her teeth, beginning as soon as they are old enough to hold a toothbrush.

1. Make it Fun
Give your child a choice in the process by letting him or her choose a toothbrush with a favorite character and a fun flavor of toothpaste. (Make sure to choose one that has the American Dental Association's (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.) Have a few different options handy so that you can easily swap out for a new toothbrush if the routine starts to get boring. Incorporate favorite characters into brushing too--for example, ask your child to open wide like an alligator. Or, if they're into superheroes, pretend that the germs in their mouths are baddies that they have to vanquish.

2. Provide a Demonstration
Get down on your child's level, open wide, and show them how you brush. Demonstrate different techniques such as circular motions and holding the brush at a 45 degree angle. Once they've watched a few times, have them hold their own brush and mimic what you're doing. Letting your child watch you brush and floss also sets the example of good oral hygiene. You should also visit a dentist as soon as your child has teeth. He or she can talk with your child about the importance of brushing as soon as he or she is old enough to understand, as well as demonstrate the proper way to brush and floss.

3. Create a Reward System
If your child is reluctant to brush, consider making a star chart and giving them a sticker each time they successfully brush independently. Have simple prizes on hand when your child fills a row of the chart--things like crayons and coloring books, not candy or sweet treats. This gives your child a sense of pride in brushing.

4. Make It a Ritual
Small children love routine. Gather the family each day for group brushing, and let your child set an egg timer for the recommended amount of time. Singing a song together and making it a habit can help ingrain the importance of brushing.

5. Perfect Your Hold
Although holding your child to brush can be awkward at first, doing so is an important part of oral hygiene before he or she is old enough to brush completely independently. For babies and toddlers, try holding them on your lap with the head resting on your leg. For older kids, stand behind them and hold their hand while they brush to ensure proper technique.

6. Let Them Be the Dentist
If your child is reluctant to brush, let them first practice on a favorite doll or teddy bear. You may even want to let them try brushing your teeth before tackling their own. Give them instructions at each step of the way so that they feel confident with the process before giving their own mouth a try.

Although it's important for your child to learn to brush independently, most kids don't master this skill until the age of six or seven. However, continue to encourage them and work on the technique of brushing while also supervising to make sure that their teeth get clean. Your kid's dentist can let you know whether or not they are brushing well enough. Even children as old as ten or eleven sometimes need to be supervised to make sure their teeth get clean enough. Read more about 6 Tips for Teaching Your Child to Brush Their Teeth on Their Own

What to Expect When Kids Start Losing Their Teeth


What to Expect When Kids Start Losing Their Teeth

When your child loses their first baby tooth, that's a clear sign they're growing up. In fact, to a typical 6 year old it's more important than learning how to ride a bike or fly a kite. Kids are always tracking how many teeth their siblings or classmates have lost and eagerly telling everyone about their experiences.

As their roots eventually dissolve, baby teeth clear the way for the adult teeth to make their debut. Usually, the bottom front two teeth are the first to fall out followed by the top front two teeth close behind.

When will my child's teeth start getting loose?

Most children get their very first loose tooth around 6 years of age, but it can happen as old as 8 or as young as 4 as well. Usually, kids whose baby teeth came in early lose them before the kids who teethed late. It often takes a couple of months from the time a tooth gets loose until it completely falls out. Most teeth tend to just fall out on their own when they get stuck in food or even swallowed, which is harmless. However, some loose teeth are more stubborn than others and can literally hang on by a thread for a number of weeks. This is no fun for little Suzie! Many moms wonder if wiggling teeth free is okay and harmless. The answer is yes.

In fact, it's actually a good idea to encourage them to give it a little wiggle. If it's just hanging there, sometimes you can take a tissue and rotate it in order to get it out. (This deserves a little extra cash from the Tooth Fairy). However, never force it or tie it to a string and pull unless it is flapping in the breeze. The root could break and become infected if it's only half dissolved.

Here are some of the issues you can expect when your child starts losing their baby teeth:

Funny Grins

Once little Suzie's baby tooth finally falls out, her permanent tooth is waiting to make its appearance just below the gums. At first, Suzie's permanent teeth will actually have ridges along the biting edges since they haven't had a chance to wear down yet. As more permanent teeth replace the baby teeth, the color difference isn't noticed as much.

Sometimes a child's teeth appear too big for his small face. Don't worry, his small head is growing bigger every day, and eventually he'll grow into his own teeth. On the other hand, if the teeth are really crowded, it may be best to take a visit to your friendly dentist about perhaps seeing an orthodontist.

Teething Pains and Kids

Losing baby teeth is usually a painless process. However, if the sharp edge of a baby tooth painfully cuts into Suzie's gum, your family dentist will probably encourage her to wiggle it a bit harder. While Suzie's baby teeth are falling out, her 6-year molars are trying to pop up and get noticed. Sometimes the gums can appear tender and swollen and the child may express pain. Ask your dentist or doctor about giving them ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help their overall discomfort.

Even though little Suzie says it's hard to chew or bite down with her missing or loose teeth, assure her that it's normal and it's important for her to maintain her healthy diet. It may be better to serve her healthy soft foods like yogurt, pureed fruits, and vegetable soup. Make sure Suzie keeps brushing at least twice a day so the dentist will be very proud of her.

Losing Teeth Late

If your child is age 7 and still hasn't lost any teeth, talk to their dentist. While it's likely there's no problem, the dentist may recommend X-rays in order to ensure that all the teeth are indeed under Suzie's gums. In fact, late teeth may offer an advantage. Late blooming teeth are often harder since they remained in the jaw somewhat longer and are therefore more resistant to developing cavities.

It's likely that little Suzie won't be happy about the delay of her 'big girl' teeth. She may feel different because hers are taking longer to come in than the other kids. Just remind her that everyone is different and hers are taking longer because they want to be extra beautiful when they finally pop in.

Eventually, all children will have a tooth to put under their pillow for the Tooth Fairy. After all, isn't that what they really care about anyway? Read more about What to Expect When Kids Start Losing Their Teeth

How To Make Going to the Dentist Fun (Not Scary) for Your Kids

How To Make Going to the Dentist Fun (Not Scary) for Your Kids


Regular visits to a dentist will keep your kids' teeth pearly white, but it's common for them to resist. Kids might see the dentist office as a scary place, with bright lights shining in their eyes and tools that make loud noises. You don't want your child to be afraid of the dentist, so you'll have to do a bit of work in making sure that there are positive associations with the idea.

Check Your Own Attitude
Kids aren't the only people who are afraid of the dentist. Many adults avoid going as well, waiting until a dental problem becomes painful before trying to take care of it. If you're anxious about going to the dentist, your child will pick up on this energy. Watch your words when it comes to talking about your experiences with your kids. Saying things like "I hate the dentist" or "The last trip really hurt" are going to influence your child's attitude. If you struggle with going to the dentist, work on yourself as well. Try to create more positive experiences. At Tatum Pediatric Dentistry, we put our all into making dental visits comfortable and easy for kids AND stress-free for adults.

Choose a Pediatric Dentist
It might be easy to go to a dentist that can treat the whole family, but your kids might feel more comfortable at a pediatric dentist's office. There, you'll find calming pictures on the walls and kid-friendly distractions. A pediatric dentist is comfortable working with children and won't make your child feel bad for feeling afraid. They might also have cute names for the equipment or things like sunglasses to block the bright light. A pediatric dentist will work hard to put your child at ease.

Avoid Scary Words
Try not to make a big deal about going to the dentist. If your child does ask, talk mainly about "cleaning your teeth" and don't use words like "hurt", "scary" or "shot". A routine cleaning shouldn't hurt and there's no reason that your child needs to associate going to the dentist with pain.

Plan a Pretend Trip
If your child has never been to the dentist or is too young to remember her last trip, her fears might come from a sense of the unknown. Help her get over this fear by making a pretend trip to the dentist to let her know what will happen. First, you'll be the dentist and do things like counting her teeth and cleaning them. Don't make any drill sounds or other things that might scare her. After she has a good understanding of what the dentist will be like, switch roles and let her treat you as the patient.

Focus on the Positives
When you think about the dentist, you probably think about cavities, root canals and wisdom tooth extractions. Hopefully, your child hasn't yet had to deal with any of these. Even if he has, you really want to focus on the benefits that going to the dentist brings. Your child's dentist will clean his teeth more thoroughly than you can do at home, and he'll also provide treatments that will keep his teeth healthy and strong. These are the types of ideas that you want your child to associate with the dentist, so these are the things you should talk about when it comes to an upcoming trip to the dentist.

A trip to the dentist should be a positive experience for your child. Part of developing that experience is to create positive expectations even before you get to the office. Help your child understand that the dentist is a person who is there to help keep her teeth healthy and someone you should visit on a regular basis. Read more about How To Make Going to the Dentist Fun (Not Scary) for Your Kids

Baby Teeth: When Do They Come and Go


Baby Teeth: When Do They Come and Go

Developing healthy teeth begins during pregnancy. Your baby teeth begin developing while you are still in mommy’s tummy!  It is important for mom to get proper nutrition and avoid certain medications even before you are born to make sure you have a beautiful and healthy smile. 

The basic tooth substance begins to form at an amazing age of only 6 weeks, meaning the teeth are forming before many women have even realized that they are carrying a baby. By the time baby is ready to meet mommy, their teeth are also ready to emerge. 

It is rare and usually pretty surprising for mommy, but in some cases (about 1 in 2,500) baby is born with a tooth already showing! 

Most of the time babies will begin teething around 6 months old, but not every child is the same.  Some can start as early as 4 months and some wait until 12 months or later. Baby teeth usually almost always come in twos.  Typically the gums will look bumpy, red, and swollen right before those shiny teeth show themselves. The bottom two middle teeth are then the first to show. Next, sometime between 8 and 13 months, the upper middle teeth and the teeth directly to the right and left of this pair will appear as well.

Once you are one year old, you could have anywhere from one to ten teeth! It is around this time that most dentists recommend you have your first dentist visit. Your dentist wants to be sure that your teeth are coming in healthy and strong. He can also explain to you and mom the best way to take care of your teeth. For example, we recommend switching to a cup around a year old because bottles can cause liquid to pool around your teeth. You can also start using a small smear of fluoride toothpaste as early as one year old.

There are twenty total baby teeth that will come in and they will continue to come through until about 2 1/2 or 3 years old. The last teeth to come will be the lower and upper second molars, which are the very back teeth. Your new teeth will help you chew your food, talk correctly, and show your happiness through a beautiful smile.

Eventually, your permanent teeth will begin to push your baby teeth out. This process takes a lot longer than getting your baby teeth in. It takes about six years for all of your baby teeth to fall out and the permanent ones to grow in their places. In some cases it takes even longer! Normally around 6 years old, the first permanent teeth, molars, will begin to come through the gums. These teeth are very important because they help the rest of your adult teeth align correctly and become your main teeth for chewing.

Around this same time, about five years old or in some cases even earlier, you may begin to notice some of your teeth are loose! This is an exciting time which is usually celebrated throughout the world as a great milestone in our children's lives. A good thing to keep in mind is that the earlier the teeth came in, the earlier they will likely fall out. As early as 4 years old, or as late as 7 years old, your first tooth will fall out. The baby teeth fall out in roughly the same order that they came in. This means the lower middle teeth will fall out first, followed by the top two middle teeth.

Your permanent teeth will continue to come in and by the time you are around 13 years old, you should have around 28 permanent teeth. The last four teeth, your wisdom teeth, usually come in anywhere from 17 to 25 years old.  By the time all of your teeth have finished coming and going, you will have 32 teeth and will already be in adulthood. These are the last teeth you will have. It is important to take good care of your teeth from the time the baby teeth start appearing so your permanent teeth are healthy and strong for as long as possible. Read more about Baby Teeth: When Do They Come and Go

7 Dental Myths Debunked

7 Dental Myths Debunked

There is a lot of great dental information that is readily available. However, there is a lot of false dental information out there today. Below is a list of seven of the most common dental myths:

Myth: Only Young People Get Tooth Decay

Fact: Adults can also get tooth decay. In addition to poor dental hygiene, there are several other things that can increase the risk of tooth decay. Certain medications, such as antidepressants and diuretics, can decrease saliva production. Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay.

Older people are also more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. Diabetes can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Myth: If Your Teeth Are White, Then They Are Healthier

Fact: Everybody wants to have white teeth, but white teeth are not always healthy. It is possible to have white teeth and still have cavities or an infection. It is also important to note that teeth have a tendency to discolor as a person gets older. Discoloration is not always an indication of unhealthy teeth.

Myth: Baby Teeth Are Not Important Because Children Lose Them Anyway

Fact: It is a common misconception that baby teeth are not important. However, tooth decay in baby teeth can damage the developing permanent teeth. A cavity is a cavity, and cavities hurt in adult teeth AND baby teeth. Additionally, if the baby teeth are not cared for properly, then they may fall out or have to be pulled prematurely, making it harder to chew. The permanent teeth may not grow in properly. Children may need braces later on down the road as the result of this.

Myth: Flossing Is Not Important

Fact: Flossing is something that many of us forget to do. However, neglecting this simple step can lead to serious consequences. Tooth decay and gum disease are much more likely to occur if a person does not floss.

Not only are many people neglecting flossing, but some of us are not flossing properly. Bacteria can thrive in the places that you miss when you are flossing. Flossing is a very cheap way to maintain your dental health.

Myth: Poor Oral Health Does Not Affect My Overall Health

Fact: The mouth is the gateway to the body. Poor oral health can lead to many other health problems. For example, it is very important for mothers to get adequate amounts of vitamin D, calcium and vitamin A. If a mother is deficient in essential nutrients, then her baby is at a greater risk for developing tooth decay later in life.

Poor oral health has also been linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Dentists have not determined the exact link between oral health and overall health. However, they know that poor dental hygiene can lead to gum inflammation. This same inflammation can affect many other parts of the body.

Myth: Eating More Sugar Causes More Tooth Decay

Fact: It is no secret that sugar is not good for your teeth. However, the amount of time the sugar remains in contact with your teeth influences your dental health more than the amount of sugar you consume. Bacteria need sugar to survive, but you can still develop tooth decay even if you do not eat foods high in added sugar. The combination of acid, bacteria and sugar is the real culprit behind tooth decay. This is why dentists recommend rinsing your mouth after eating sweets


Myth: I Have Soft Teeth

Fact: Generally speaking, there is no such thing as soft teeth. We can't control our genetic makeup, but we can control our diet and oral hygiene. The bacteria that causes tooth decay needs food frequently. If you can limit the bacteria's access to the buffet in your mouth, then you can keep your teeth “hard”, instead of “soft”.


Truth (just for the heck of it): Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating really will decrease your risk of getting cavities. If you can't brush, then chew. Read more about 7 Dental Myths Debunked

10 Of The Worst Foods For Your Kid's Teeth

10 Of The Worst Foods For Your Kid's Teeth

We all want to protect our teeth in the best ways we can. After all, we only get one set for our lifetime! Most of us already know that brushing two times a day and flossing at least once a day are great ways to protect our teeth from cavities and other damage. But did you know that we can also protect our teeth by eliminating certain foods?

The truth is, some foods are better than others for our teeth. Let's look at 10 different foods that we should avoid if we want to keep our pearly whites in good health!

1. Sweets That Stick
Many people love candies like taffy, caramels and others sticky sweets. But these foods can be very damaging to our teeth. First of all, they always contain lots of sugar, which can hurt our tooth enamel and cause cavities. Next, these sticky candies often get really stuck to our teeth, and they can be very difficult to remove even when you brush and floss.

2. Carbonated Soft Drinks
Soda pop is a favorite beverage of many children and adults, but it gives our bodies almost no benefits. Our teeth suffer the most. Carbonated soft drinks like cola contain lots of acid. This acid weakens our tooth enamel. Most sodas also include tons of sugar, which causes cavities. This stuff is so bad that all of the 4th grade classes at my daughter's school did their final science project about it.

3. Some Fruit Juices, Sports Drinks, and Energy Drinks
You may think that if you don't drink carbonated soft drinks, you should switch to fruit juices and sports drinks. Unfortunately, these drinks can be just as bad as soda pop. Many of them contain just as much sugar and acid. And those energy drinks... Is there anything good to say about them? Bad for body, terrible for teeth.

4. Super Starchy Foods
Starchy foods include many carbohydrates. For example, super starchy foods that you or your kids might eat regularly are rice, bread, pasta, crackers, and goldfish. These foods are not terrible, but because of their squishiness, they often get wedged between teeth. In addition, they can contain more simple sugar than you think and erode your precious tooth enamel.

5. Hard Candies
Candies include food items like peppermints, suckers, and lemon drops and even cough drops. Most of these candies contain tons of sugar. If you suck on these candies, the sugar provides perfect nutrition for the bacteria in your mouth. If you decide to chew hard candies, they can actually crack or even break your teeth.

6. Dried Fruits
Your mom might have told you that dried fruits are good for you. The truth, is you’re better off sticking to regular fruits that have not been dried. This is because to dry the fruits, manufacturers put tons of sugar in them, and fruit already has a lot of sugar! That’s what makes them so sweet. Finally, you have probably noticed that dried fruits like raisins and cranberries are very chewy. Unfortunately, this makes them perfect for lodging between teeth and making problems.

7. Dark Foods
This category includes foods like red pasta sauce and soy sauce. The enamel that covers our teeth can be damaged by these foods. Your teeth might turn yellow or brown (eek!), and the acidity in foods like tomato sauce and tomatoes can temporarily make your teeth more porous. This invites problems. If you love these foods, don’t fret. Just try to swish water in your mouth afterwards, or better yet, brush.

8. Pickles
Pickles might taste yummy with a grilled cheese sandwich, but they’re not doing your teeth any favors. That’s because pickles are made with vinegar, and that acidic vinegar can erode tooth enamel and make way for those darn cavities to enter. But if you rinse and/or brush afterwards you can pickle away to your hearts delight!

9. Canned Fruits
Canned fruits and regular, fresh fruits are not created equal. Canned fruits like peaches or apricots are often bathed in sugary syrup. As we know, sugar is not our teeth’s friend. All that syrup coats every one of your teeth and sits there causing trouble until you brush. If you do eat canned fruits, choose those that are in water instead of syrup.

10. Popcorn and Corn on the Cob
Popcorn and corn on the cob are natural foods that can actually be healthy for you. Unfortunately, you have probably already noticed that when you bite into a corncob, the bits of corn get stuck all over your teeth. Kernels from popcorn can frequently get stuck in your teeth as well. These stuck bits of corn can be hard to get out. They can create gum infections, and if you have braces, they can cause damage to brackets and orthodontic wires. You know what's coming next. Brush it and floss it so you can enjoy it :-) Read more about 10 Of The Worst Foods For Your Kid's Teeth


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