Synergy Dental Newsletter, May 2010: Kid’s Oral Health

Synergy Dental Newsletter, May 2010: Kids’ Oral Health

Welcome to Synergy Dental’s blog and newsletter!  We’ll be posting frequent articles relating to oral health and dentistry, and hope our patients will find them interesting, informative, and helpful.  If there’s a topic you’d like to see discussed, please let us know!  To ensure you won’t miss an article, subscribe to our email list by entering your email address in the box at the top of our website (we’ll never share your email address or personal information).

Patient Appreciation Month

This month we’re excited to be offering several specials for our loyal patients in honor of our Patient Appreciation Month.  Those specials are discussed in detail on our Patient Specials page, and include 10% off all treatment scheduled before May 31st!  Our schedule is filling up fast – call today at 801-701-2211 to take advantage of this discount.

Green Dentistry

We are excited to be included in Salt Lake City Weekly’s annual Green Guide!  Our commitment to minimizing our impact on the environment includes recycling, keeping digital rather than paper files, conserving water, using digital xrays, and perhaps most importantly, being Mercury Safe.  To learn more about Green Dentistry and our role, visit our Green Dentistry page.

Featured Article: Kid’s Oral Health


Dr. Ulm's daughter Ella Mae (photo credit Kelly Bennett,

One of the most common topics of concern for our patients is their kids’ oral health.  From when to begin brushing to dental injuries, we’ve covered the most frequently asked questions below:

Q:  When should we begin brushing our child’s teeth?

A: As soon as they have teeth to brush. The earliest baby teeth can be cleaned easily and gently by rubbing with a soft, damp rag.  Begin introducing a small, soft-bristled toothbrush around 9 months, or when they’ve got a few teeth on the top and bottom.  Because small children cannot control their swallowing reflex, do not use toothpaste until the age of 2 or 3, and even then, use a very, very small amount.  It’s not uncommon for kids to fight toothbrushing, but we’ve found success with singing songs, giving rewards like stickers, and using fun toothbrushes (some even have lights in the handles!).

Q: When should we bring our child in for his/her first dental visit?

A: Around the age of two-and-a-half or three, or sooner if you have issues of concern.  The first dental visit should be little more than a brief introduction to the office, the dentist, and the experience of sitting in a dental chair and having someone looking in their mouth.  Most children do not tolerate more than that, and we don’t expect them to.  At our office, we make sure to make the visit as fun as possible, and appreciate the opportunity to start your child on the road to great oral health in the most positive way.  A great way to introduce your child to the dental office is to bring them with you to your own cleaning.  They’ll get to see you go through the process, and we’ll give them a “ride” in the dental chair while you’re there.   You’ll get your cleaning, they’ll get a “chair ride” and a prize, and everyone’s happy!

Q:  My child won’t go to sleep at night without nursing or taking a bottle.  Will this harm his teeth?

A: In an ideal world, children would fall asleep happily after having their teeth brushed with no further liquids other than water (and sleep a sound 10-12 hours!).  In reality most children, especially infants, require the comfort of nursing to fall asleep.  Fear not!  All is not lost.  Keep a damp rag close by during that final feeding, and after your little one has drifted off, do your best to wipe off his teeth before putting him down for the night.

Q:  How will I know if my child has a cavity?

A: Each day when you and your child brush, look closely at her teeth for small holes and discolorations.  The most obvious cavities in small children happen on the chewing surfaces in the grooves of the teeth, but just because you don’t see anything suspicious doesn’t mean decay hasn’t begun between the teeth or deep in the grooves.  Certainly if she complains of tooth pain or sensitivity when drinking cold liquids or eating warm foods (or sweets), it’s a good idea to bring her in for an exam.  The very best way to find cavities before they become a problem is to bring your child in for regular exams and cleanings.

Q:  Should I really be concerned about my child’s baby teeth?  Won’t they just fall out?

A: You should absolutely be concerned about your child’s baby teeth, for a number of reasons.  First of all, good habits are best when started early.  If you neglect to brush your child’s baby teeth, it will be much more difficult to convince them as a six- or seven-year-old that it’s time to start.  A child who is familiar with the dentist at an early age will be much happier to come in for regular visits, and tend to be much more cooperative.  Secondly, “bad dentition = bad nutrition”.  In other words, with unhealthy or painful teeth, kids don’t have the necessary tools to eat a well-balanced diet, which is such an important part of overall health.  In addition, kids with visibly bad teeth acquire a social stigma that is hard to shake and can cause serious psychological and emotional damage.  Perhaps most importantly, the health of your child’s baby teeth precludes the health of his or her permanent teeth.  Neglected cavities can cause infection, which can in turn damage the permanent teeth waiting to come in.  Also, poor oral health can contribute to poor overall health.  Research shows that bacteria in the mouth is the same bacteria that causes heart disease.  And finally, no one wants their child to experience pain, and unfortunately, neglected baby teeth are almost certain to result in painful decay.   Childhood is the perfect time to set up good health habits that will continue for a lifetime.

Q:  What should I do if my child’s tooth is injured or knocked out?

A: Even if a tooth isn’t knocked out or broken, an impact can cause damage and even result in infection.  When a tooth is hit hard enough, the tooth “dies”.  This can cause the tooth to turn a dull grey color.  The tooth can die right away, or it can happen after weeks, months, or even years.  If pain occurs in a previously injured tooth, chances are the tooth has died and requires treatment to avoid serious infection.  When a tooth has been knocked out, the best course of action is to quickly rinse the tooth, grasping it by the bottom and avoiding the root, then replace the tooth in the socket and try to keep it there until you can get your child in to see us.  Look at the tooth closely for any breaks or chips, and scan the area and your child’s mouth for any fragments.  We may be able to re-bond those fragments to the tooth.  If you aren’t comfortable putting the tooth back in the socket or if your child is hesitant to let you, place it in milk and call us immediately for an appointment.  The longer the tooth is out of the socket, the less likely we’ll be able to get it back in.  It’s also important to bring your child in for a broken tooth.  Chances are Dr. Ulm can easily patch it with a filling.

Synergy Dental Kid’s Club

Speaking of kids, if you haven’t been in for checkups lately, you may not be aware of our Synergy Dental Kid’s Club!  It’s a fun program we use to get kids age 2 through 12 excited about good dental hygiene. Below are just a few of the things kids love about us:

  • Gaming console, toys, and books, and kid-friendly movies in our special kid’s area
  • In-ceiling TV’s in each exam room
  • Fun prizes at the end of each visit
  • Monthly coloring contests
  • Colorful Kid’s Club Wall where each child’s photo is proudly displayed
  • One child is selected each month as our Synergy Star and receives a $10 Walmart gift certificate!

Our littlest patients make our days so much fun!  We look forward to seeing your little ones soon!

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