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Your Pediatric Dentist – The Pediatricians of Dentistry

Entering through the doors at Children's Dental Centre, you immediately know that this is a pediatric dental practice with its bright colors, murals, video games, play area and an electric train traveling around the office. Dr. Dean Meier, a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist and instructor at the University of Manitoba admits that the practice was carefully designed for both the physical and psychological needs of children.


Not all parents however, are aware that pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. Pediatric dentistry is a specialty that focuses on the oral health needs of infants to young adults. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of advanced training is required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to be uniquely qualified to treat children.


Dr. Meier believes that pleasant visits to the dental office promote the establishment of trust and confidence in your child that will last a lifetime. "Our goal, along with our staff, is to help all children feel good about visiting the dentist and teach them how to care for their teeth. We focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of dental diseases, and keep current on the latest advances in dentistry for children".


A pediatric dentist's extra training, as well as an environment geared specifically toward kids, may help create a more positive experience for a child. This could prove particularly helpful for the frightened child or a child who needs extensive dental work.


By starting dental visits at an early age and helping your child establish good oral health habits, you can put your child on the path to a lifetime of strong and healthy teeth and gums.

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Mouth Guards Soften the Blow

For a parent, seeing your child lose a tooth in an accident can be extremely upsetting. Such injuries are often quite painful and can be very scary for your child as well. However, protection is the key. "A properly fitted mouth guard or mouth protector can help protect your child's teeth", says Dr. Dean Meier, a board certified Winnipeg Pediatric Dentist at Children's Dental Centre. "It is an important piece of athletic gear," Dr. Meier explains. "Mouth guards help cushion blows that might otherwise cause fractured teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. Mouth guards may also reduce the severity and incidence of concussions by distributing the force of impact."


There are currently three types of mouth guards on the market that vary in comfort and cost: ready-made, mouth-formed or "boil and bite", and custom-made mouth guards which are professionally designed by your dentist from a cast model of your child's teeth. The most effective mouth guard should be resilient, tear-resistant and comfortable. It should fit properly, be durable, and not restrict your child's speech or breathing. Generally, a mouth guard covers only the upper teeth, but in some cases your pediatric dentist will make a mouth guard for the lower teeth as well. Dr. Meier, can suggest the right mouth guard for your child.


Dr. Meier encourages parents to have their children wearing mouth guards early, so it "becomes routine when they get older."

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The Scary Truth about Halloween Candy

If your kids are like mine, they're going to come home from trick-or-treating with tons of candy. Even so, Halloween doesn't have to be a scary time for your children's teeth, as long as smart choices are made about the treats your kids eat. Dr. Dean Meier, a board-certified Winnipeg pediatric dentist at Children's Dental Centre, offers these suggestions to help improve your children's dental care during Halloween. "Frequency of exposure to sweets can be one of the main culprits. Try not to allow children to continually snack on candy. Limit their contact with sweets to once or twice a day, preferably after mealtime. The best time to eat treats are immediately following meals when there is a better flow of saliva to help wash away foods and to dilute sugar", adds Dr. Meier. Sugarless gum is also a good way to help get saliva flowing if your child is away from home and can't brush. In addition, candy should be age appropriate. "Younger children should refrain from hard candies which can chip teeth or cause choking". Dr. Meier notes the worst offenders are the sticky and chewy sweets. "Some of the main culprits causing cavities are treats such as toffee, caramels, or jelly beans as they adhere to the tooth surface for a longer period of time".


Halloween is a fun holiday and you shouldn't have to worry about things like tooth decay. By practicing good oral hygiene and using moderation, your kids can have a fun and safe Halloween and still enjoy the candy!

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Little Teeth are a Big Deal!

Parents want to know, "Why should we worry about cavities in baby teeth when they will be replaced by permanent teeth anyway?"


Dr. Dean Meier, a board-certified Winnipeg pediatric dentist at Children's Dental Centre, has the answer to that. "To begin with, your child's primary teeth are usually in their mouths until they are 12 to 13 years old." "These teeth serve to hold the space for their permanent teeth and to guide the proper eruption of their adult teeth." Dr. Meier, adds that "baby teeth are also crucial in helping maintain good nutrition by allowing children to chew properly and to contribute to proper speech habits and good pronunciation."


By the age of three, all 20 baby teeth have usually erupted. Most children start to get teeth around six months, but it is not unusual for teeth to begin appearing as early as three months or as late as one year. As with all aspects of child development, there is a lot of variation among children.


Here is when you might see your child's teeth come in:

  • Six months - first incisors (front teeth)
  • Seven months - second incisors
  • 12 months - first molars
  • 18 months - canines (eye teeth)
  • Two to three years - second molars


With gentle brushing twice a day and regular visits to your child's pediatric dentist, baby teeth will remain in great shape by the time the tooth fairy comes.

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Keep Your Smile Shining at Summer Camp!

The last few weeks of school are here and summer vacation is rapidly approaching. Your kids will be involved in many fun summertime activities, which may include sleep-away camps. Along with their bathing suit and sunscreen, make sure they pack their toothbrush, fluoridated toothpaste and floss and review with them the importance of thoroughly brushing and flossing their teeth.


Dr. Dean Meier, a board-certified pediatric dentist at Children's Dental Centre of Winnipeg, offers these suggestions to help keep dental problems at bay at home or at summer camp. "To help prevent cavities, you need to remove plaque, the transparent layer of bacteria that coats the teeth. The best way to do this is by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day".


Dr. Meier says that the minimum time you should spend brushing your teeth is 2 minutes twice a day. He offers some tips on how to brush properly. "Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line. Gently brush from where the tooth and gum meet to the chewing surface in short circular strokes. Use the same method to brush all outside and inside surfaces of your teeth. To clean the chewing surfaces of your teeth, use short sweeping strokes, tipping the bristles into the pits and crevices. To clean the inside surfaces of your top and bottom front teeth and gums hold the brush almost vertical. Using a forward-sweeping motion, gently brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth to remove the decay-causing bacteria that exist in these places". To ensure you're your child is brushing for at least two minutes send a timer to camp or have them use an electronic or battery operated toothbrush with a built in timer.


"Brushing is important but it won't remove the plaque and particles of food between your teeth, under the gum line, or under braces", adds Dr. Meier. "You'll need to floss these spaces at least once a day".


"Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a back and forth motion. Gently bring the floss to the gum line, but don't force it under the gums. Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter 'C' and slide it up and down the side of each tooth. Repeat this process between all your teeth, and remember to floss the back sides of your back teeth. Using kids floss with a short handle is also a great way to facilitate getting the job done well".


Eating the proper foods can also help maintain your child's healthy smile. Research suggests that foods such as cheese may not only help reduce the effects of acids formed by plaque bacteria, which cause cavities, but also can help restore the enamel. So encourage them to eat healthy while they are away from home.

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Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

Oral health is important for a child's growth, development, and self-esteem. Tooth decay can be a significant health concern for some children. It can lead to pain, infection, and premature loss of baby teeth, which in turn can affect the development of adult teeth. "In order to start children on a life-long habit of healthy dental care, parents need to set a good example by practicing their own good oral care habits", says Dr. C. D. Meier, a board certified Winnipeg Pediatric Dentist at Children's Dental Centre.


Dr. Meier suggests that once your child's teeth begin erupting, you begin cleaning them by using a moist washcloth or a soft child's toothbrush. For toddlers and young children, use only a bit of toothpaste, about the size of a pea, and make sure your child spits it out. For children 2 years and younger it is recommended that water or an unflouridated toothpaste be used as children this young may have difficulty spitting. When brushing, toothbrushes should be held at a 45-degree angle to the teeth with the bristles pointing to where the gums and teeth meet. Dr. Meier recommends using gentle circles and to ensure to clean every surface of every tooth.


Children's teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, after breakfast and then before bedtime. Flossing is also important at bedtime. Using kids floss with a short handle is a great way to facilitate getting the job done well. However, once your child can brush and floss their teeth on their own, you should still supervise to be sure they get to all parts of the teeth and gums.


For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include using an electric toothbrush or having them brush their own teeth first. Also letting them pick out a few toothbrushes with their favorite characters and having them choose which one they want to use, will give the child some feeling of control over the situation.


Helping your child learn a routine of good dental care along with regular visits to their dentist will put them on the right track to prevent problems later.

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Preparing for the Big Day – Your Child’s first Dental Visit

When Amy turned three, she went for her first dental visit. "I had taken Amy to see her pediatrician for her annual checkup and asked the doctor if it was time for her to see a dentist," recalls Amy's mother Sarah. "I told him how afraid I was of the dentist and didn't want my children to be afraid, too". "That's when the doctor recommended that we see a pediatric dentist such as, Dr. Meier at Children's Dental Centre."


Your child's first set of teeth, the primary teeth, are extremely important. Strong, healthy primary teeth help your child chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and help guide the proper eruption of the permanent teeth. But when should you bring your child for their first dental visit? The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends scheduling a visit to the dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, around the child's first birthday.


"The median age for first visits is about two-and-one-half years old, but I really like to see kids by age one," says Winnipeg pediatric dentist, Dr. Dean Meier. "The sooner your child visits the dentist, the better chance we have to prevent problems".


"That first visit is important because we will examine the baby's mouth, teeth, and gums". "We also teach the parent about cleaning, diet, and evaluate any adverse habits, such as thumb sucking or pacifier use." "The first appointment is as much for the parents as it is for the child," says Dr. Meier. "It helps parents know what to expect and begins familiarizing the child with dental care and visiting our practice."


"It's important for parents to make dental visits for their children as enjoyable as possible", Dr. Meier adds. "Try to prevent anyone from telling your child scary stories about dental visits or let the child know you feel any anxiety about going to the dentist." "Also don't wait for an emergency for the first visit." "Tell your child that we will 'count' and 'take pictures' of their teeth." "It is also important to try to avoid using words that may create fear in your child such as hurt, shot, drill, or needle." Stress to your child how important it is to maintain healthy teeth and gums, and explain that the dentist's job is to help you and your child do this.


By starting dental visits at an early age and helping your child establish good oral health habits, you can put your child on the path to a lifetime of strong and healthy teeth and gums.

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Baby’s First Dental Visit!

Your child's first set of teeth, the primary teeth, are extremely important. Strong, healthy primary teeth help your child chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and look good. Taking your child to the dentist regularly can prevent serious dental disease. But when should you bring your child for their first dental visit? The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends scheduling a visit to the dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, around the child's first birthday.


"The sooner your child visits the dentist, the better chance we have to prevent problems," says Dr. Dean Meier, a pediatric dentist at Children's Dental Centre in Winnipeg. "That first visit is important because the dentist will examine the baby's mouth, teeth and gums. The dentist will also teach the parent how to effectively clean the child's teeth and gums and evaluate any adverse habits, such as thumb sucking or pacifier use."


"It's also important for parents to make dental visits for their children as enjoyable as possible," Dr. Meier says. "Try to prevent anyone from telling your child scary stories about dental visits or let the child know you feel any anxiety about going to the dentist." "Also don't wait for an emergency for the first visit. Tell your child that we will "count" and "take pictures" of their teeth." It is also important to try to avoid using words that may create fear in your child such as hurt, shot, drill, or needle.


Finding a child friendly dental practice may also help make their dental visits more pleasurable. Children's Dental Centre is a pediatric dental practice that specializes in treating children. Their trained staff and practice environment is specifically tailored for infants, children, and adolescents.


By starting dental visits at an early age and helping your child establish good oral health habits, you can put your child on the path to a lifetime of strong and healthy teeth and gums.

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Sleep Dentistry – Dental Care under General Anesthesia

When Karen, took her 4-year-old son David, to his pediatric dentist for a checkup, she was surprised to find that he had several large cavities in his molars and three more cavities between his teeth. Today, tooth decay is still one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses. In fact, it is five times more prevalent than asthma.


"Unfortunately, many children suffer from serious, painful dental disease". "Unlike other health conditions such as the common cold and flu, dental diseases don't go away on their own, but we are here to help", says Dr. Dean Meier, an established Board Certified Pediatric Dentist in Winnipeg.


But did you know that if your child requires extensive dental treatment and/or has severe anxiety, they may be a candidate for dental treatment under general anesthesia? General anesthesia is the technique that is used to put people to sleep in hospital operating rooms during surgeries. "One major benefit to this technique is that extensive dental work can be performed in one session in a very controlled environment". "Since the child is unconscious and asleep, the child does not remember having the work done", adds Dr. Meier. Dr. Meier and his staff at Children's Dental Centre offer a wide range of pediatric dental care including dental treatment under general anesthesia at various hospitals.


Hospitals do not charge a facility fee, unlike most private surgery centers, which have fees averaging $350. This can be a huge savings to the patient, as some dental insurance plans do not cover facility fees. Even if an insurance plan does cover the cost of the private facility fee, it is deducted from the patient's maximum yearly allotment. For example, if your dental insurance has a maximum yearly allotment of $1000, coverage for dental care could be reduced to $650 with a $350 facility fee.

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Take Care of Those Baby Teeth

Baby or primary teeth are going to fall out in a few years, so why should we take special care of them? Dr. Dean Meier, a Winnipeg pediatric dentist at Children's Dental Centre, says there are several important reasons. "Some primary teeth are in a child's mouth until they are 12 to 13 years old, so it is important to keep those teeth healthy. Primary teeth serve to hold the space for permanent teeth and to guide the proper eruption of the adult teeth". Keeping primary teeth in place and in healthy condition promotes normal growth and development of the bite as the face grows.


Dr. Meier also adds that baby teeth are important in allowing good pronunciation and speech habits. They also help maintain good nutrition by permitting children to chew properly. A cavity in a primary tooth can become a serious problem if it is not looked after. An untreated cavity can result in pain and infection, and may also affect the underlying permanent tooth.


With gentle brushing twice a day and regular visits to the dentist, baby teeth will remain in great shape by the time the tooth fairy comes.

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Make Dental Check-ups Part of Your Child’s Back to School Routine!

As children head back to school this fall, it is important to consider making dental exams a regular part of your children's back-to-school routine, especially if visits are not regularly scheduled. Today, tooth decay is still considered the most chronic childhood disease, and is surprisingly second only to the common cold in prevalence. Unfortunately, if tooth decay is left untreated it can impair a child's ability to eat, speak, sleep, and possibly concentrate.


Tooth decay, however, is preventable, says Dr. C.D. Meier, a board certified Winnipeg Pediatric Dentist at Children's Dental Centre. "Just like hand washing can help prevent the spread of disease, brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist regularly can help prevent tooth decay caused by dental disease," explains Dr. Meier.


The Canadian Dental Association advises parents that children should have their first dental visit by age one and Dr. Meier agrees. "If a preschooler is having his or her first checkup, dental health problems at this point are more likely to be easier to treat, when damage is minimal and restorations small. Yet, if a kindergartener is visiting the dentist for the first time, pre-existing dental problems may be more difficult to care for because they haven't been addressed early enough".


For those who do not schedule regular six-month visits with their pediatric dentist, a back-to-school dental checkup is very important for parents to consider. Children deserve to start the school year with a healthy and carefree smile.

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A Visit from the Tooth Fairy

Last week the tooth fairy came to visit our home for the sixth time. My daughter Claire was very excited about the prospect of receiving yet another reward under her pillow the next morning. Of course, we all know the story. A fairy somehow flies into a locked house and exchanges the tooth from under your child's pillow for money or a gift. But why? How does she know that a child has lost a tooth? So I went to whom I considered an expert on the whole tooth fairy phenomena, Dr. Dean Meier, a board certified Pediatric Dentist at Children's Dental Centre. "I have heard many versions of the tooth fairy story", sites Dr. Meier. "We have patients from several different cultural backgrounds who like to share their stories".


Apparently, the tooth fairy tradition originated by burying a lost tooth not under a pillow but in the ground. This custom was steeped in superstition because it was believed that if a witch got hold of the tooth, a curse could be placed on the child.


Originating in England, the idea of fairies exchanging money for teeth has been around for many years and is commonly practiced in the US, Western Europe, Australia and of course Canada. Some fairies even have special names, in Denmark, the tooth fairy is named "Tandfeen".


Interestingly, the most common tradition in the world is not burying the tooth under a pillow or in the ground, but throwing the baby tooth on a roof. Children who live in India, parts of East Asia and Africa dispose of their baby teeth in this manner. A wish is often made as the child throws the tooth. Fairies, however, are not the only collectors of primary teeth. Animals, including mice (France, Mexico, South America, and South Africa), squirrels (Sri Lanka), rabbits (El Salvador) and birds (India) are involved in the tooth exchange.


As with everything, inflation seems to have affected the tooth fairy's resources, as the price of a tooth seems to be going up. In the 1970s and 1980s, a dollar was typically rewarded. In the 1990s and 2000s, the price varied from one to five dollars, depending on which tooth was lost. "I think the first lost tooth seems to bring the biggest reward", smiles Dr. Meier.


For young children, the tooth fairy is a very big deal. The excitement of finding a reward under their pillow the next day and showing off the new space in their mouth to their classmates is much anticipated. "My patients can't wait to show me their first loose or missing tooth", agrees Dr. Meier. While it's true that a piece of childhood may be lost with every lost tooth, it's fun to watch those new, permanent teeth grow in to take their proper place.

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April is Oral Health Month

As April is Oral Health Month, it is a great time to ensure that your children are having their regular six month check-ups with their Pediatric Dentist and brushing and flossing their teeth every day. However, if you've been a little forgetful, Oral Health Month is a good time to get back on track to a happy, healthy smile.


"It's all about establishing good, healthy habits early," says Dr. Meier, a board certified Pediatric Dentist and instructor at the University of Manitoba Dental School. "Proper oral hygiene routines should be introduced as early as infancy and continued throughout life."


Dr. Meier suggests that once your child's teeth begin erupting, you should begin cleaning them. "Start by using a small, soft toothbrush or cloth, and simply run it around the teeth, using a gentle circular motion." "Make sure to reach all the surfaces especially along the gum line."


Children's teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, after breakfast and then before bedtime along with flossing. "The pre-bedtime tooth-brushing session is the most important." "While we are asleep, the mouth produces less saliva, which helps keep our teeth clean," says Dr. Meier. "Once your child can brush and floss their teeth on their own," he adds, "you should still supervise them to be sure they get all the parts of their teeth and gums." "My rule of thumb is, if a child can handwrite their name, they have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively on their own."

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Baby Those Baby Teeth!

Did you know that primary teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in baby's mouth? Unfortunately, by the time tooth decay is noticed, it may be too late to save your child's teeth. Today, baby bottle tooth decay (nursing bottle caries) is a leading dental problem for children under 3 years of age.


"Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when a child's teeth are exposed to sugary liquids, such as milk, formula, fruit juice, and other sweetened liquids for a continuous, extended period of time," says Dr. C. D. Meier, a board certified Winnipeg Pediatric Dentist at Children's Dental Centre. "The practice of putting baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup, which your child may suck on for hours, is the major cause of this dental condition," he adds. "The sugars in these liquids can pool around your infant's teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that cause plaque."


If your child's teeth are infected or lost too early due to baby bottle tooth decay, your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, and potentially damage their adult teeth. "You can however, prevent this from happening to your child's teeth by knowing how to protect them," explains Dr. Meier.

  • Wipe your child's teeth and gums with a damp cloth after each feeding.
  • Start brushing their teeth as soon as the first tooth appears.
  • Start to floss their teeth as soon as the teeth begin to touch.
  • Don't allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices, or other sweet liquids.
  • Comfort a child who wants a bottle between regular feedings or during naps with a bottle filled with cool water.
  • Introduce children to a cup as they approach 1 year of age. Ideally, children should stop drinking from a bottle soon after their first birthday.
  • Schedule your child's first dental visit with their pediatric dentist within six months of the eruption of their first tooth, around their first birthday.


By starting dental visits at an early age and helping your child establish good oral health habits, you can put your child on the path to a lifetime of strong and healthy teeth and gums.

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