Children's Dentistry in Lexington, SC
At Northwood Dental Associates in Lexington, SC, we enjoy seeing patients of all ages. Our special children’s dental room is fun and colorful and caters specifically to our young patients – complete with a TV, toys, and kid-sized dental chairs!
We recommend children begin their dental visits by at least 2 years old. The first appointment will simply be a “happy visit” where we will let the child get familiar with the various cleaning instruments and we will clean their teeth as much as they will allow. We welcome parents back into the treatment rooms, but please keep in mind that some children may behave better when their parents are not present. We promise to take excellent care of your little ones and to give you reports throughout the treatment appointment, should you choose to stay in the waiting room.
Research Supports Early Dental Care
Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first-graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image and overall achievement.
The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Because there is such a significant loss in their academic performance, the Surgeon General has made children’s oral health a priority.
Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life – as early as infancy. The American Dental Hygiene Association suggests to encourage your child to discuss any fears they may have about oral health visits, but to not mention words like “pain” or “hurt,” since this may instill the possibility of pain in the child’s thought process and make him or her unnecessarily fear going to the dentist.
Infant’s New Teeth
The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.
Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental check-ups.
Infant Tooth Eruption
A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. Around 6 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.
Permanent teeth begin eruption around 6 years old, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months of age. All children are different; so do not be alarmed if your child does not have teeth right at 6 months old. During the teething process, gums are sore and the child may be irritable as a result. Rubbing sore gums gently with a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.
While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and more resistant to decay. If fluoride is consumed in excess as a young child, however, it can cause discolorations on the developing permanent teeth. This is why it is important for children who are too young to know not to swallow toothpaste to use fluoride-free “training toothpaste.” When your child is 2 years old you may start using a pea-size amount of toothpaste and teach him or her to spit out the excess. Fluoride is commonly found in city drinking water. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride as well as brushing and flossing ensures significantly lower cavities. If your primary water source is from a well and not from city water, your dentist may recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops). Proper fluoride intake as a baby and young child is very important for the healthy development of permanent teeth. Ask your dentist about how to ensure your child is not getting too much or too little fluoride. To learn more about fluoride and your baby, please click here.
The deep grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children occur down in these deep grooves. This is totally preventable with the early placement of sealants!
Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing, and thus eliminating, the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a white resin typically applied to areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years, but needs to be checked during regular appointments as it can wear out over time due to normal chewing.
Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.
Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:
- Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t thumb suck.
- Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety—thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.
- Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.
- Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.
MONDAY to THURSDAY
from 8AM until 5PM
closed for lunch from 1pm to 2pm
I would definitely recommend Northwood Dental. They are all very accommodating and genuinely kind people to work with. They each have a high standard of work ethic and it truly shows.
I have been going to Northwood Dental since I retired from the Army in 2007. Their staff have been caring and professional with all of my dental needs. I would highly recommend their services to anyone in the Midlands!
Fabulous dental group! Each and every person at Northwood makes the visit a happy time. They feel like family. I am so glad I found them all!
I highly recommend Northwood Dental Associates. Their commitment to serving its patients is excellent. Thanks for being my dental provider.