Children’s Dentistry

Despite being a CBD Dental Practice – we welcome all members of the family, especially children. As well as our two dentists, we have two Dental Therapists on our team. They are here to work with you and your child to educate and encourage good oral hygiene habits from a young age.

Healthy baby teeth and gums are essential for the development of speech and future adult teeth.

At what age should I start bringing my child to the dentist?

Opinions vary, but ideally we like to see children introduced to the practice as early as two or three years of age. This way they will come to see dental visits as a normal, pleasant experience thus forming healthy dental habits. Often at this early age it really involves being introduced to our team and the practice environment and maybe going for a ride in the dental chair. Often this can be incorporated as part of your own Continuing Care Appointment.

What happens at my child’s first visit?

During your child’s first visit we will be checking to ensure that their gums are healthy and their teeth are coming through straight. We will also be monitoring the growth and development of their jaws and face and assessing if there are any abnormal functional habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrust or tongue tie etc.) that may affect their proper development.

What is “Early Intervention Dentistry”?

If a potential problem is diagnosed early, then certain “early interventions” may prevent the development of future problems and guide the teeth and jaws into their optimal position. Often, by utilising a child’s natural growth changes can be more readily made and thus eliminate or at least minimise the need for future treatments (such as orthodontics or surgery). These can be as simple as behaviour modification, the elimination of undesirable habits, the retraining of the muscles associated with these habits, through to growth modification utilising appliances such as Myobrace or other orthopaedic appliances.

My child snores, should I be concerned?

Snoring and low tongue posture in children is an area of concern. Snoring is a noise made when there is either a blockage of airflow, or a disturbance to a normal breathing pattern. Snoring is normal when it is intermittent, like when your child is sick or is very tired from a busy day. Persistent snoring (4 nights of the week or more) is not normal. We call this habitual snoring and this is considered to be in the sleep disordered breathing spectrum. At the worse end of the spectrum is sleep apnoea.

If breathing is not normal the brain panics and triggers a series of problems. The brain needs lots of oxygen to function. If oxygen levels are decreased during sleep, which may occur during snoring, it affects the structure of sleep in an adverse way.

Some common problems we see in children who snore:

  • Reduced attention
  • Higher levels of social problems
  • Higher level of anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Hyperactivity
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Memory problems
  • Issues with thinking through problems logically
  • Problems with processing speech (ability to follow instructions is compromised)

Altered brain activity during the night interrupts a smooth sleep pattern and this translates into behavioural and mood problems during the day.

Mouth breathing during the day, can be a big sign of altered breathing during sleep. There is a big difference to the body if a breath is taken through the nose or mouth. When mouth breathing, oxygen levels drop in the brain, and there is a similar effect to snoring, even if no nose is being made.

This is where the position of the tongue is important. When mouth breathing the tongue sits low in the mouth. The normal resting posture of the tongue is higher, against the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth. Low tongue posture can have a profound effect on the growth and development of a child’s oral cavity and upper airways. If the tongue is sitting high in the mouth it balances bone, teeth and the muscles of the face and throat. This opens the upper airways. When mouth breathing, the base of the tongue (which attaches to the lower jaw) sits further back in the throat than it should. The mouth therefore will be open as the jaw is depressed.

How should I care for my child’s teeth at home?

A large part of your child’s oral health will involve you actively encouraging positive dental habits at home. This means making sure your child brushes their teeth every morning and night. We also recommend teaching and encouraging your child to floss. Also, a nutritious diet with a low frequency of exposure to sugar is also essential. Our therapists will cover all these issues with you and your child.