Caring for your kids with children’s dentistry.

With a sensible approach to tooth brushing and diet, children can develop a set of teeth free from dental disease and fillings.

Dr Pastorino pursues this with regular children’s dentistry check ups to allow your children to feel confident and relaxed in the dental chair and be involved and interested in the health of their own teeth. By introducing healthy preventive dental techniques, both in the practice and at home, we can help your children grow up with minimal cavities and fillings. Dr Pastorino encourages you to bring along your children when you are having an examination yourself, so they can see that visiting the dentist is just another part of taking care of your health.

Oral care for kids should begin when their first teeth begin to erupt, by gently brushing teeth and gums with a soft brush. Their first visit should take place when all their deciduous (baby) teeth have broken through – usually around 24-36 months.

Your Child’s first visit

Many first visits are nothing more than introductory icebreakers to acquaint your child with the dentist and the practice. If your child is frightened, uncomfortable or non-cooperative, a rescheduling may be necessary. Patience and calmness from the parent, and reassuring communication with your child are very important in these instances. Short, successive visits are meant to build the child’s trust in us and can prove invaluable if your child needs to be treated later for any dental problem.

Young children’s appointments should be scheduled earlier in the day, when your child is alert and fresh. For children under 24-36 months, the parent may sometimes need to sit in the dental chair and hold the child during the examination.

If your child responds well, the first session often lasts between 15-30 minutes and may include the following, depending on age:

  • A gentle but thorough examination of the teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues to monitor growth and development and observe any problem areas.
  • If indicated, a gentle cleaning, which includes polishing teeth and removing any plaque, tartar (calculus) build-up and stains.
  •  X-rays (if necessary)
  • A demonstration on proper home cleaning
  • Assessment of the need for fluoride

We will answer any questions you have and make you and your child feel comfortable throughout the visit. We strive to provide a relaxed, non-threatening environment for your child.

Dr Pastorino makes sure your child’s first visit is fun! A ride on our “special” chair, a balloon with funny faces, counting their teeth together, and showing them the equipment we use all demystifies the process. This is usually enough for a first visit. Six months later we encourage you to bring your children back for a thorough examination and polish of their teeth. Regular visits from then on ensure the development of lifelong good dental habits.

If your children eventually need some dental treatment, their familiarity with being in the chair means they can be helped through even quite complex treatment without discomfort.

Photos of Child attending a dental appointment

Top tips for healthy teeth

The top tips for healthy teeth for children are:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Encourage the consumption of cheese
  • Introduce flossing as early as possible
  • Brush with a soft, small headed brush

Caring for preschoolers' teeth

Tooth decay is declining everywhere except among preschoolers. Proper care of your child’s first teeth is important to ensure the health of permanent teeth in later years.

You won’t see a newborn’s teeth, but enamel and dentin are already forming in the jaw. Teething is just months away. Use a clean dry wash cloth to wipe baby’s gums after every feeding and continue as teeth begin to emerge.

Central incisors arrive first, at nine to ten months, with lateral incisors about two months later. Once teeth appear, use a soft toothbrush on them twice daily. Encourage the child to develop the habit of taking time with the task.

Choose fluoridated toothpaste – a tiny, pea-sized squeeze is enough – and push it down into the bristles so kids won’t lick it off.

Begin dental exams before the child’s first birthday, and continue every six months. This allows for problems to be detected and fixed early.

First molars usually arrive at 15-16 months, cuspids (canines) at 18-19 months, and second molars shortly after a child’s second birthday. During this phase we can only apply sealants to the teeth , which help to ward off decay.

When kids are old enough to write their name, teach them how to brush – and continue the habit of brushing after every meal. Encourage a taste for fresh veggies and fruits, and allow only surgar-free gum.

If straightening is needed, starting while some of the baby teeth are still in helps to create a sound framework for permanent teeth when they arrive.

School age children

Parents need to keep a watchful eye on children’s teeth cleaning to reinforce a regular habit. Regular dental check-ups monitor growth and minimises decay risks.

  • Nearly half (48.9%) of 6 year old children had a history of decay in the deciduous ‘baby’ teeth.
  • The 10% of 4–6 year old children with the most extensive history of deciduous tooth decay had more than nine deciduous teeth affected, which was about 4.5 times the nationalaverage.

Source: Dental health of Australia’s teenagers and pre-teen children. The Child Dental Health Survey, Australia 2003–04 (Published 2009) Australia’s Health 2006, Australia Institute of Health and Welfare

Dr Pastorino provides “caries risk assessment and bacterial screening”, where she evaluates risk factors that can contribute to you getting cavities and offers treatment beyond “drilling and filling”.

  • Limit the intake of your child’s sugar and carbohydrates within their diet, but also consider the frequency of sugary/acid beverages such as fruit juices, cordials, soft drink, sports and energy drinks, etc.
  • Consider the acidity, the pH, of the dental products you are using – Do they neutralize your mouth or drive your pH down? Not all products are the same!
  • Don’t just brush and floss……neutralize your child’s mouth!
  • Develop a hygiene program with your child including the use of alkaline pH and xylitol products.
  • Understand that fluoride can be important, but is used to primarily remineralize your enamel and make it stronger. Fluoride can help treat the symptoms, but fluoride’s effectiveness at stopping the bacterial infection has limits.
  • Xylitol is a very effective agent for limiting the acids produced by bacteria and is available in a variety of chewing gums, mints, oral rinses and toothpastes. Xylitol has been shown to make fluoride more effective.

Fissure Sealants

The management of dental caries has traditionally focused on prevention and restoration of the defects caused by the disease. However, alongside these approaches, there are strategies to seal caries at different stages of the disease.  The best time to prevent the disease is when the tooth erupts into the oral cavity.  The six year old molars are the first permanent teeth to erupt in a child’s mouth. Dental caries starts in the fine inaccessible fissures of the top part of the teeth.  Some fissures (grooves) in the chewing surfaces of teeth are very difficult to clean.

Sugary foods and plaque (germs) stick in the fissures and may cause decay.  To help protect these areas, dental sealants ( a strong plastic coating) may be placed over the grooves.

The process of sealing is quite simple.  The fissures are thoroughly cleaned and dried and the dental sealant is applied.

Teeth that are considered to be at risk and are most likely to develop cavities are recommended to have sealants.

Regular maintenance 6 monthly appointments are essential to make sure dental sealants are still fully covering the high risk areas.

What are Sealants?

Dental sealants are made of adhesive materials which require no drilling or injections.  The tooth surface has to be thoroughly cleaned and kept completely dry while the coating is put in place.  Sealants keep teeth healthy by protecting deep grooves (hard to clean surfaces) from developing decay.

Are Sealants really necessary?

Sealants are not needed if you or your child can stop decay from occurring.  This may require changes in eating and brushing habits such as:

  • Avoiding sugary foods and drinks between meals as frequent snacking of these put teeth at risk of decay.
  • Cleaning teeth thoroughly with a fluoride tooth paste in the morning and especially before bed at night.  Also flossing daily.

Ask Dr Pastorino about this preventive treatment. The molar teeth grow from about 6 years of age and are present BEHIND the last baby molar teeth.

Orthodontic Treatment

Some children benefit from treatment at an early age to correct teeth or jaw problems.

Early treatment can sometimes save the need for later treatment or make the final outcome of later treatment much more successful. Dr Pastorino will assess your child to determine if early intervention would be beneficial.