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Make Brushing Teeth Fun!

January 19th, 2023

It’s understandable that kids would rather be playing outside or watching their favorite movie instead of doing a “boring” task like brushing their teeth. But there are ways to make brushing fun for your son or daughter, and encourage healthy oral hygiene habits early on! Dr. Eduardo Perez and our team have a few tricks that may help.

Game time

What child doesn’t love a good game? Try to turn brushing time into a game, whether by playing hide-and-seek or singing your child’s favorite song while he or she brushes for two minutes.

Kids also love rewards, so awarding them stickers after a good brushing can encourage them to do a good job every time. You might even tell your child that five stickers will earn a special treat or fun activity at the end of the week.

Fun accessories

Lots of toothbrush options can add something exciting to your child’s daily brushing routine. Toothbrushes that light up tend to be a popular choice with young kids. The same goes for toothbrushes shaped like your child’s favorite animal or cartoon character.

Teaching your kids about how long they should brush each time can also be fun. Let them have the special responsibility of setting a timer for two minutes before they start to brush.

The Great Toothpaste Experiment

Lots of kids can be picky eaters and that can the case with toothpaste flavors. Set aside a time to sample several different flavors, the way they’ve probably tried various flavors at the ice cream shop! Just make sure to be very clear that they shouldn’t swallow the toothpaste.

With your help, your child can easily develop healthy brushing habits over time. If you can find ways to make it fun, it can be an enjoyable experience for both of you!

Call Dr. Eduardo Perez at our San Antonio, Texas office for more fun tips or to make an appointment today!

Why Is My Child Getting Cavities?

January 19th, 2023

We want our children to have every advantage, including oral health. That’s why you encourage your child to brush twice a day. You keep the sugary treats to a minimum. You schedule dental exams and cleanings at our San Antonio, Texas office.

So, how did your child get a cavity? What to do to prevent more tooth decay?

First, don’t feel guilty. Some people are more prone to cavities, even with diligent brushing and flossing. But to make sure children have all the advantages when it comes to preventing cavities, we have some tips which might improve their dental habits.

  • Better Brushing

Even for adults, brushing technique can be haphazard! Brushing’s not as effective without covering all the tooth surfaces (inside, outside, and molar tops), holding the brush at a 45° angle, gently brushing the teeth with small strokes, brushing for at least two minutes, and flossing between the teeth at least once a day.

Until children develop the motor skills to brush by themselves (around age six or seven), you can help by monitoring their brushing and flossing. If you like, you can use these four minutes a day for fun as well as dental care by playing music, awarding stickers, using an app with entertaining timers, or having your child mirror your brushing habits as you brush together.

And do make your child’s life easier with the right tools. Brush heads should be small enough to fit in little mouths comfortably, and bristles should always be soft. Floss, too, should be soft and flexible. Don’t forget to retire your child’s brush after three or four months—bristles start to fray and won’t clean effectively.

  • Sealing the Deal

Ask about dental sealants. This treatment provides a protective coating for your child’s molars. Cavities are so common in molars because the tops of these teeth are quite uneven. Food particles and plaque are trapped in grooves where brushes have a hard time reaching.

The sealant process is a simple and safe one. Healthy teeth are cleaned and dried, an etching solution prepares the tooth surface, a thin coat of sealant is applied, and the coating is hardened under a curing light.

Dr. Eduardo Perez might recommend sealants when your child’s first adult molars erupt. Enamel takes a while to develop its full strength, so new molars are especially vulnerable to cavities. Sealants typically last from three to five years, and studies have shown a dramatic reduction in cavities when teeth are treated with sealants.

  • Fluoride Helps Prevent Cavities—in Two Ways!

Fluoride helps strengthen enamel in developing teeth. Because many communities have fluoride available in their water systems, your child gets the benefit of this natural mineral.

If you’re providing your child with fluoride toothpaste, you’re helping prevent cavities in the teeth, which have already erupted. The acids from oral bacteria weaken the mineral structure of enamel, which is the first step in forming a cavity. Fluoride helps repair weakened enamel in a process known as “remineralization.”

Dr. Eduardo Perez can let you know the amount of fluoride that is right for your child, including how much or how little fluoride toothpaste to use, a prescription supplement if your water doesn’t contain fluoride, or the application of a fluoride treatment directly to your child’s teeth.

  • Avoid Tricky Treats

Some treats are much better than others. We’re not talking taste, though. When it comes to dental health, texture and time are more important.

When your child enjoys a plain chocolate bar, saliva helps wash away sugary food particles. Sticky candies and starches, like caramels and potato chips, are a “stickier” problem. They cling to enamel, providing lots of sugar as fuel for cavity-creating bacteria. Similarly, drinking a soda with lunch (not every day, of course!) provides a short exposure to sugars. Sipping sodas throughout the day is like bathing teeth in sugar for hours at a time.

To eliminate some of the treats bacteria love, choose snacks with an eye to how they affect teeth throughout the day, and teach your child to brush or rinse with water after eating.

  • Schedule Regular Dental Exams and Cleanings

Most children should be visiting Growing Smiles Pediatric Dentistry twice a year, even during the baby teeth years. Dr. Eduardo Perez will monitor your child’s primary teeth and developing teeth and bite. And a professional cleaning removes built up plaque that even the most dedicated brusher might miss.

If you have any concerns about cavities and their prevention, Dr. Eduardo Perez will have suggestions tailored to your child’s individual needs. Us working together to make sure your child has a healthy, confident smile? That’s a partnership that will provide lifelong advantages!

What is Nitrous Oxide?

January 12th, 2023

Many of our young patients experience anxiety during dental appointments. Dr. Eduardo Perez and our team want to help your child overcome any fear he or she may feel when coming in for regular visits.

If you know your child suffers from anxiety during dental checkups, nitrous oxide sedation, popularly known as “laughing gas,” may be helpful. Nitrous oxide can be used during many types of dental procedures.

It has a sweet odor and taste, and gets mixed with oxygen when supplied through a mask. The effects typically kick in within a few minutes and leave your child feeling calm and relaxed.

Nitrous is helpful because your child will stay conscious and able to move and answer questions the doctor may ask. The drug is also convenient because the effects go away within a few minutes after the mask is removed.

Nitrous oxide is not dangerous when it’s combined with oxygen. It is non-addictive and non-allergenic. When used properly, nitrous oxide reduces anxiety, while allowing continued communication between the patient and dentist during a procedure. It can also help alleviate pain or discomfort during exams.

You should know that nitrous oxide may cause nausea in up to ten percent of patients. This drug is not recommended for people who suffer from certain medical conditions. We recommend discussing this method with Dr. Eduardo Perez if your child's dental anxiety begins to interfere with his or her appointments.

We want all our patients to feel comfortable during their care. Talk with Dr. Eduardo Perez at your child's next appointment to find out if nitrous oxide is an option. If you have questions regarding nitrous oxide, call our San Antonio, Texas location and we’ll be happy to answer them.

 

Just What Is a Cavity, Anyway?

January 12th, 2023

The grownups in your life encourage you to brush and floss, eat healthy foods, and visit us in the dental office for exams and cleanings. Why? Because we all want to help you prevent cavities.

So you might be wondering, just what are cavities? How do we get them? What do they do to our teeth? How can we prevent them? Let’s talk!

Our teeth need to be strong to bite and chew. That’s why they are protected by a coating called enamel, which is made up of very hard minerals. Enamel is the strongest part of our bodies—stronger even than our bones. But this doesn’t mean nothing can hurt it! And cavities, also called tooth decay, are one of the most common dangers facing our enamel.

So, what are cavities?

A cavity is a hole in your tooth enamel. If your tooth is not cleaned and repaired when a cavity is small, this hole can grow bigger until tooth decay reaches the inside of your tooth. Enamel doesn’t heal when it’s damaged, so you need to see a dentist to make your tooth healthy again.

How do we get cavities?

Bacteria are tiny little germs. Many kinds of bacteria live in our bodies, and some of them are quite helpful. The bacteria that cause cavities are not. These unhelpful bacteria join with our saliva and very small pieces of the food we’ve chewed to make a sticky film called plaque.

Like other living things, the bacteria in plaque need food. They get that food from the foods we eat, especially sugars and starches. As they eat, they change these sugars and starches into acids, and these acids attack the minerals that keep enamel hard and strong.

Because plaque sticks to our teeth, bacterial acids are able to make weak spots in enamel if the plaque isn’t brushed away. If you see a white spot on your tooth, which could mean that your enamel is losing minerals, and getting weaker.

What do cavities do to our teeth?

Over time, weak spots can grow bigger until there’s a hole in the enamel surface. If the cavity in your enamel is small, you might not notice it at first. But cavities can become wider and deeper, and even break through enamel to reach the inside of your tooth.

The inside of each tooth holds pulp, the part of your tooth that keeps it healthy. If tooth decay spreads to the pulp, it can cause more damage and infection, so it’s important to treat a cavity right away.

Dark spots on your enamel, a toothache, pain when you drink something hot or cold or when you bite down—these can be clues that you have a cavity, and you should visit us for an exam.

How can you prevent cavities?

Even better than treating a cavity is preventing one. Let’s make a list of some helpful do’s and don’ts for cavity prevention:

  • Do: Feed yourself foods that are good for you.

Foods like milk and cheese and many dark green vegetables have lots of calcium and vitamin D to help keep your enamel strong.

  • Don’t: Feed bacteria foods that are good for them.

Sugar and simple starches like potato chips are the kinds of foods bacteria like best, because they are easy to break down. This means more acids to attack your enamel.

This doesn’t mean you should never enjoy a treat! But eating lots of starchy snacks and drinking sugary sodas means more plaque, and more plaque can mean more cavities. If you’re eating something starchy or sweet, it’s a good idea to brush or rinse afterward.

  • Do: Brush at least twice a day, for at least two minutes, with fluoride toothpaste.

This is the best way to get rid of plaque, which builds up every day. And fluoride toothpaste even helps make your enamel stronger.

  • Don’t: Forget to floss.

Flossing takes a while to learn to do well, but it’s very important. Flossing helps prevent cavities between the teeth and near the gums.

  • Do: Visit our San Antonio, Texas office for exams and cleanings.

Not only will we look for cavities, we’ll let you know the best way to brush and floss so you can get your teeth their cleanest. We even have special coatings called sealants that can protect your teeth from plaque.

  • Don’t: Feel bad if you get a cavity!

Some people are more likely to get cavities than others, even when they brush just right and eat healthy foods. If you have a cavity, we can remove decay and repair your tooth with a filling.

And one last thing to do: talk to Dr. Eduardo Perez if you have any questions about the best ways to protect your teeth from cavities. We have lots of suggestions to help you take care of your healthy, beautiful smile!