I am very excited to have gotten the chance to speak to Dr. Russ about childhood dental health. Dr. Alexandria Russ graduated from the University of Illinois in Chicago and has been practicing dentistry for 7 years now. She is very passionate about continuing her education in the field of dentistry. To keep your dental license active in this state, you must obtain about 15 hours per year of additional education... Dr. Russ averages about 100 hours annually! She currently works at Fox Creek Family Dental.
Q- What age should we have our children get their first dental exam?
A- The ADA (American Dental Association) recommends that you bring your child in within 6 months after the baby's first tooth appears and no later than the child's first birthday. Not much is done on the first visit outside of an exam and health counseling, but it is very important to get your child comfortable with being at the dentist. Some parents wait too long and their child has a very difficult first dental visit because of this.
Q- What are common reasons for children's teeth to decay?
A- Diet and hygiene play the biggest role in causing tooth decay. We all know sugary foods and beverages cause decay, but what many people overlook is the amount of time children take to finish a snack/drink. One glass of juice isn't so bad, but when they are drinking it over a long period of time, the increased exposure time is detrimental to teeth. It's best to limit sugary snacks within a short eating/drinking time frame. Regular brushing, flossing and application of fluoride will also help to keep teeth cavity free!
Q- What can be done to prevent early tooth decay?
A- Nothing beats a healthy diet and regular hygiene schedule. Prevent baby bottle tooth decay by making sure to not give children a bottle of milk or juice at bedtime or for a nap. Limit the time your child has a bottle- it should be emptied in 5-6 minutes or less. Limit foods and treats that increase tooth decay. This includes hard or sticky candy, fruit leather and sweetened beverages or snacks. Offer fruit rather than juice. The fiber in the fruit tends to scrape the teeth clean while juice just exposes the teeth to sugar.
Q- At what age; on average, do children get all their teeth? And when do they start losing teeth?
A- Everyone develops at different rates but on average, most children have all their baby teeth by age 3. Most children will begin losing their baby teeth by age 5 or 6. Children often lose the front teeth first and they continue to lose baby teeth until the age of 12 or 13 at which point all of the adult teeth are typically grown in. The wisdom teeth typically start to erupt around age 17-21.
Q- What are common problems you see in children's dental health?
A- Tooth decay, teething, thumb sucking and airway issues are the biggest problems we see in children. Chilled teething rings can be helpful for your baby as his or her teeth are growing in. Thumb sucking generally isn't an issue as long as the child stops by age 5. If your child snores or grinds their teeth, he or she may have an airway problem and it may be beneficial for you to see an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) specialist. Oftentimes we are able to cure this problem in children, but if left untreated may cause breathing and development problems into their adult life.
Q- Can dental health be related to other health problems?
A- Absolutely. We often forget that the body is an integrated system and the mouth in the entry point to everything. Pathology of the mouth is linked to many systemic disorders including heart disease.
Q- How often should teeth be brushed and flossed?
A- We should be brushing twice per day and flossing once daily. And no... unfortunately the waterpik does not take the place of floss, it is meant to be used in addition to floss.
Q- At what age should your child start to brush their own teeth without adult help?
A- Help your child brush his or her own teeth until the age of 7 or 8. After that, have the child watch you brush and follow the same brushing pattern to reduce missed spots until they are ready to move forward independently.
Q- What can parents do to help promote proper dental health?
A- The best thing that parents can do to promote dental health is to serve as a good role model themselves.
Q- What options do parents have if they do not have dental insurance; and or, can’t afford dental services?
A- Many offices, including Fox Creek Family Dental offer an annual free dental day for anyone who needs dental services and is financially challenged. There is also a wonderful organization called Colorado Mission of Mercy that offers full scope dental treatment for any family in need. comom.org
Q- Why are baby teeth so important?
A- If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space for the permanent tooth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop incorrectly, resulting in stains, pits and weaker teeth. Baby teeth are important in speech development and they aid in chewing food correctly, promoting healthy nutrition.
Q- What are the top three things you want parents to know about dental health in children?
1. Most people have poor oral hygiene, and so it's very important to instill good habits in children while they are young.
2. Fluoride and sealants are our best defense mechanism to tooth decay outside of diet and hygiene
3. Early orthodontic treatment can be hugely beneficial for children. I typically send patients to see the orthodontist as early as 7 years old if we see any spacing issues.
Fox Creek Family Dental
Colorado Mission of Mercy
Providing quality dental services at no cost for those who cannot afford or do not have access to dental care.
Colorado Dental Association
The CDA supports Colorado dental charities and nonprofit dental clinics throughout the state. These organizations offer dental care on a sliding fee scale to individuals who are unable to afford treatment.