For most families, we get in the rhythm of seeing the dentist right around every six months.
This is the same for our kids, as long as we help them avoid cavities and other situations that might require extra treatment.
That said, occasionally we’ll notice something new with our children’s dental hygiene — signs that may prompt mild concern or worse. In this case, we recommend giving us a call sooner than later just to make sure it’s nothing too serious.
Here are a few such signs to keep an eye on — all which are treatable conditions:
As medical professionals, the last thing we want you to do is stay up late reading the Internet to try and diagnose your child’s oral hygiene issue. That said, we do want to provide some examples of what to look for when determining if you need to call us up to schedule an appointment.
The best news of all is that these conditions are almost always preventable through healthy dental hygiene habits — and sometimes that’s the remedy, too.
By Dr. Drew Zima
It happens a lot. A concerned parent and their child visit my office with what they believe is a dental emergency. Their child is in pain; specifically, their gums are extremely sore and red. Eating is difficult for them. And sometimes, a number of other symptoms may accompany the gum pain, including:
The technical term for molars (or any teeth) coming in is “erupting.” And while it may sound dramatic to state that your first or second permanent molars are erupting, it makes perfect sense if symptoms are severe. That’s because it can hurt, something we forget about as we get older.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do as a parent to help make the pain and various symptoms associated with erupting molars a bit more tolerable for your kiddos.
Food is a big one. Try softer foods if chewing is painful, such as soups and smoothies. Chilled or frozen foods, including fruits and vegetables, can also provide some cooling relief. You might also consider some ibuprofen, especially if there is a fever or headache present. Be sure to check the back of the bottle for the proper dosage.
At the end of the day, I can’t promise that molar eruption is the cause of your child’s pain and suffering. But if they’re in those aforementioned age ranges, and have one of more of these symptoms, there is a good chance that when those molars break the surface, your child will start feeling normal again.
In the meantime, feel free to give me a call and we can always take a look...
One of the most common questions I get is when children should start losing their teeth. On average, children lose their first tooth at about age 6. This is the average, so some may happen a little earlier and some a little later. Between the ages of about 6 to 8 years of age, children should lose their 8 baby front teeth (4 on the bottom and 4 on the top). Around the same time as losing their first tooth, they typically will also get in their permanent 6-year molars behind all of the back baby molars.
When a tooth starts to become loose, the child should begin to wiggle the tooth to help it to come out. Often, while loose, it can be uncomfortable to eat, so the faster it comes out, the better. Please make sure it is a baby tooth that they are wiggling and NOT a permanent one! (Note: If the Tooth Fairy makes visits to your house, it often helps speed the process along, if you know what I mean.)
While a child is losing their baby teeth and getting the permanent teeth, I will be evaluating them for many things, including, crowding, impacted teeth, malpositioned teeth, and when the baby teeth just don't seem to want to come out on their own.
Losing a tooth is a big milestone and should be a fun moment for both kids and parents. We hope you enjoy it!
This feels good to say: we are back. Commonwealth Pediatric Dentistry is once again open to serve your family, whether your children are current patients or prospective new patients.
Things may look a little different around our practice as we take our cues from the CDC, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and other organizations providing guidance for treatment during COVID-19. This includes seeing me and the staff wearing additional PPE and practicing social distancing in the offices. These enhanced procedures are all being conducted to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, their families, and our staff. If you have any questions about these safeguards, feel free to contact us.
If you had booked an appointment while we were closed, we will be reaching back out to you to reschedule shortly. If you are a new patient looking for treatment, feel free to give us a call at your convenience at 804-729-0792 for our Midlothian / Chesterfield location and 434-808-1657 for our Farmville location.
We’re excited to see all our returning patients and their families — and to meet our new patients.
When your children are around 6 years old, and then again around 12, you’ll probably hear your pediatric dentist bring up dental sealants.
The idea behind them is simple: we apply a thin, protective layer to their teeth to keep out bits of food and germs. Ultimately, this is a proactive measure to prevent cavities.
These sealants — known as pit-and-fissures sealants — are more than mere suggestions; they’re recommended by the American Dental Academy (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) for safeguarding and stopping in-progress cavities in primary and permanent molars. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sealants can protect against 80% of cavities for two years, continuing to protect against 50% of cavities for up to an additional four years.
Sealants are available in a number of materials, including resin-based sealants and glass ionomer sealants, but neither the ADA nor AAPD express a preference for one specific type.
So, if your pediatric dentist brings up the idea of your kids getting sealants, know that the research has been done and the evidence has been found. For more than five decades, sealants have been an effective tool for addressing cavities. And that holds true today.
I hope this answers any questions you have about dental sealants. If you’re interested in learning more or scheduling an appointment, please contact my office today.
--Dr. Drew Zima
By Mike W. (patient father & guest writer)
My 5-year-old daughter and 8-yr-old son are by all accounts great kids — but sometimes misfortune makes me look like a less-than-great dad.
For starters, my daughter once broke her leg at one of those indoor trampoline parks. That’s supposed to be the joke we all make before going — “don’t break your leg” — yet, it actually happened to her.
And just this past Halloween, my son one-upped her, biting into a fun-size pack of Skittles and cracking a tooth in the back part of his upper jaw. Dad of the year, right?
These are the incidents that instantly send us into “dad mode” or “mom mode.” We try and stay calm as to not worry our kids, but we approach the situation assuming the worst. I wondered aloud, what do I do? Where do I go? After all, it was a Saturday night.
Instead, as my son held a washcloth to the fresh gap in his teeth, I sent a text to Dr. Zima on a whim. Here’s what happened after my text...
My text: “My son bit down on a piece of candy. He split a tooth, bled a little. How big a deal is this? (And sorry to text you on a weekend at night, feel free to get back to me Monday.”
[A few minutes later…]
Dr. Zima’s text: “Most likely it was a loose tooth and there was so little left that it broke. Feel free to snap a picture and text it to me.”
[I didn’t send a pic immediately, and Dr. Zima followed up.”
Dr. Zima’s text: “When you get a chance, send me over a picture of Nolan’s tooth. I want to make sure it’s not something I need to see him for.”
[I took and sent a few pics over…]
Dr. Zima’s text: “It looks like it’s his primary first molar about to come in. It is such a thin shell that it just broke when he bit down on something. Have him keep wiggling whatever is left of the tooth so it will come out sooner than later. He will probably be a little tender with eating until it comes out. You can always dabble little Orajel there before he eats if it’s causing issues.”
At first, I was just happy Nolan seemed like he’d be A-OK. But then it hit me: this type of patient care is such a rarity these days. It’s the reason I take my kids to see Dr. Zima and it’s the reason I encourage my friends to bring their children as well. He truly cares.
On behalf of my entire family, thank you, Dr. Zima! Now it’s time to toss out that leftover Halloween candy…
You made sure they brushed, flossed and avoided those icky, sticky candies and snacks.
OK, maybe you just did some of these things. Or none of these things. No matter, your kid’s dentist just broke the news that your child has a cavity.
You might be surprised. Your kid might be scared. But don’t worry.
This is a pretty common scenario, and we do our best to lay out a plan of action that will put both your minds at easy.
1. What to expect for the appointment.
In general, you’ll find an appointment to address a cavity is a much more positive experience than you might expect. And odds are, both you and your child will leave feeling proud at what they accomplished. Leading up to the appointment, it is best to tell your child simply that they are getting a tooth fixed, but not to go into more details than necessary. Depending on your child's level of anxiety and amount of dental work that needs to be done, we may recommend using nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas). This works great to help decrease anxiety in most instances, with the patient remaining awake yet relaxed. It works quickly leaves the body just as fast.
2. After the tooth is fixed.
Immediately after the appointment, the biggest thing to watch is to make sure your child does not bite or chew on their lip. Their lip will typically feel numb for one to three hours, and it is best to not eat until the numbing has worn off. Also be sure to keep an eye on your little patient when you are driving home, as this is the most common time they chew their lip. You may or may not be prescribed pain killers, but it won’t hurt to give them Advil or Tylenol either way before the numbing wears off. That way there will be little to no soreness. And once the numbing wears off, they are free to eat and drink normally.
3. How to help prevent another cavity.
Now that they have a filling or two, you want to make sure they don't get any more or get any cavities around these fillings. The best methods of preventive maintenance include brushing, flossing, fluoride, as well as minimizing sugar liquids and sticky foods (juice, soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, gummies, fruit snacks, etc). Regular flossing and brushing will clean the teeth and apply fluoride to them. Note that your kids should be brushing two times per day. At night, make sure that flossing and brushing is the last thing before bed, and that they don't have anything to eat or drink after brushing — not even rinsing the toothpaste foam. Just tell them to spit out whatever is in their mouth and head to bed. A fluoride rinse can help get in between the teeth, too. This allows the fluoride to do its work while you are sleeping.
Lastly, be sure to keep visiting the dentist for your regular check-ups to make sure all of the teeth and fillings are staying happy and healthy. As easy as treating a cavity can be on parents and kids, no one wants to repeat it anytime soon.
Sometimes it’s a small victory just to get your kids to bed at night. We get it.
Maybe they’re sleeping in their Halloween costume (again). Maybe they didn’t brush their teeth. But that can wait until tomorrow, right?
Establishing a regular dental hygiene routine isn’t just important for your children’s oral health today, but it also builds lifelong healthy habits. Sure, we’re all going to miss or forget sometimes, but we owe it to our kids to try our best.
Here are some of the tips I typically share with parents about helping their kids establish a regular rhythm of proper dental hygiene:
We know that folks get nervous before their first dental appointment – kids and parents.
We totally get it. You’re meeting someone new in a strange office and you’re unsure what to expect. We recently wrote about everything you can expect during your first visit, just to help put our new patients at ease a bit. But we wanted to take it a bit further and explain everything we do to make kids feel comfortable and gain their trust – and even get children excited about visiting the dentist!
Don’t be surprised if your kids leave their first dental appointment here asking, “When can I go back!?”
I have kids. And I wouldn’t have become a pediatric dentist if I didn’t enjoy working with kids as much as I do. As much as the goal here is to ensure optimal oral health, my team and I understand the importance of making your children feel safe and comfortable – and even have fun! By building rapport with you and your kids, we lay a great foundation for providing the best possible care and treatment.
Here is a look at what you and your children can expect from my team and I during the first visit:
What we’ll do:
• We’ll review your child’s medical history and take X-rays if needed.
• We’ll perform your kid’s first dental cleaning, including a careful examination of the teeth and gums as well as a fluoride application. (You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy this is these days.)
• If your child experiences any anxiety — which is totally normal — we may ask you, the parent, to lay down on the dental chair with your child. Alternatively, we can also try the “knee-to-knee” technique during which the parent and doctor sit facing each other, and your child lies back on the doctor’s lap. Both of these methods allow the patient to have the comfort of their parent during their dental exam.
• We’ll answer all your questions about your child’s dental health, oral hygiene habits and dietary recommendations.
How you can help the first visit go smoothly:
• Print out, complete and bring the required paperwork to your first visit.
• Bring your dental insurance information.
• Please us know ahead of time if there are any special health concerns.
Expect your child to have fun! We have TVs at each dental chair and prizes to share with your kid. Plus, our new Midlothian location has a lobby arcade! So what are you waiting for?