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Keeping Your Child's Teeth Healthy (Part 3)

If You’re Child Has a Problem

If you are prone to tooth decay or gum disease, your child may be at higher risk as well. Therefore, sometimes even the most diligent brushing and flossing will not prevent a cavity. Be sure to call your dentist if your child complains of tooth pain. The pain could be a sign of a cavity that needs to be treated.

New materials have given the pediatric dentist more filling and repair options than ever before. Silver remains the substance of choice for the majority of fillings in permanent teeth. Other materials, such as composite resins, also are gaining popularity. Composite resins bond to the teeth so the filling won't pop out, and they can be used to rebuild teeth damaged through injury or conditions such as cleft palate.

Tooth-colored resins are also more attractive. But in cases of fracture, extensive decay, or malformation of baby teeth, dentists often opt for stainless steel crowns. Crowns maintain the tooth while preventing the decay from spreading.

As kids grow older, their bite and the straightness of their teeth can become an issue. Orthodontic treatment begins earlier now than it once did, but what once was a symbol of preteen anguish — a mouth filled with metal wires and braces — is a relic of the past. Kids as young as age 7 now sport corrective appliances. Efficient, plastic-based materials have replaced old-fashioned metal contraptions.

Dentists now understand that manipulation of teeth at a younger age can be easier and more effective in the long run. Younger children's teeth can be positioned with relatively minor orthodontia, thus preventing major orthodontia later on.

In some rare instances, usually when a more complicated dental procedure is to be performed, a dentist will recommend general anesthesia be used.

Parents should make sure that the professional who administers the medicine is a trained anesthesiologist or oral surgeon before agreeing to the procedure. Don't be afraid to question the dentist. Giving your child an early start on checkups and good dental hygiene is an effective way to help prevent this kind of extensive dental work. Encouraging your child to use a mouth guard during sports can also prevent serious dental injuries.

As your child grows, plan on routine dental checkups anywhere from once every 3 months to once a year, depending on the dentist's recommendations.

Limiting intake of sugary foods and regular brushing and flossing all contribute to your child's dental health. Your partnership with the dentist will help ensure teeth healthy and a beautiful smile.

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