Bright Smiles of Winter Haven

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Baby teeth

Pediatric dentists care for children of all ages. From the first tooth to adolescence, they help your child develop a healthy smile until they are ready to move on to a general dentist. Pediatric dentists have had 2-3 years of special training to care for young children and adolescents.

Research has shown that mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing cavity-causing bacteria to their children, and periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women continue to visit the dentist for checkups during pregnancy. 


To decrease the risk of spreading the bacteria, mothers should visit their dentist regularly, brush and floss daily, and maintain a healthy diet full of natural fiber, and reduce sugary foods. Additionally, increasing water intake and using fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent cavities and improves oral health.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends taking your child to their first dental appointment and establishing a dental home by the age of one or shortly after the first tooth erupts.

Your child’s first teeth typically erupt between 5-10 months, with the bottom two front teeth coming in first followed by the two upper front teeth. Your child should have a full set of teeth by their third birthday.

Most children have 20 primary, or baby teeth. Typically, there are 10 upper teeth and 10 lower teeth. These 20 primary teeth are eventually replaced by permanent, or adult teeth.

Baby teeth are important to help with chewing and eating leading to proper nutrition. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the adjacent teeth may crowd the vacant spot. This can cause alignment issues when the permanent teeth begin to emerge and could cause crooked teeth and biting problems. 

One of the most common forms of early childhood caries is “baby bottle tooth decay”, which is caused by continuous exposure of a baby’s teeth to sugary beverages. Baby bottle tooth decay primarily affects the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected. 

Early signs of baby tooth decay are white spots on the surface of the teeth. As the condition advances, more severe symptoms such as brown or black spots on teeth, bleeding or swollen gums, and bad breath may occur. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, it’s crucial to seek immediate help from a pediatric dentist to help prevent future, more complicated dental problems from occurring.

Dental Emergencies

If your child fractures or knocks out an ADULT (PERMANENT) tooth, you may store the tooth or fragments in a “Save-A-Tooth” kit or a clean container of milk. If milk is not available, you may use the child’s saliva to store the tooth. Do not use water to store a broken or knocked-out tooth. If the tooth is knocked out, only hold the tooth by the crown and not the root. You must visit the dentist immediately for a consultation exam and possible treatment.

If your child has a small cut or laceration on their tongue, cheek, or lip, you can usually stop the bleeding by applying clean gauzes to the affected area. If you cannot stop the bleeding, it’s important to contact your pediatric dentist or visit an emergency room. If your child has an open oral wound for a long time, they can be susceptible to infection.

If your child has a persistent toothache, contact your pediatric dentist. Persistent toothaches can indicate more serious problems that need to be observed by a dental professional.


X-rays are valuable aids to help dentists diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be seen by looking in the mouth. X-rays can detect much more than cavities. X-Rays can show erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, measure the damage of an injury, or help with the planning of orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you. 

Dental X-rays are very safe and the amount of radiation from dental X-rays is very minimal. Modern equipment is designed to filter out unnecessary X-rays and focus the beam only on the area of interest. Dental X-rays are designed to minimize the body’s exposure to radiation. Pediatric dentists are incredibly careful to minimize the radiation exposure of their patients. Dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.

The need for orthodontic treatment can be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, preventative steps can be taken to help reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment later on.

From ages 2 to 6, the main concerns include habits such as finger or thumb sucking, underdeveloped dental arches, and early loss of primary teeth.

From ages 6 to 12, treatment options address jaw and dental alignment problems. This is a great time to start treatment, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.

When adult teeth come in behind the baby teeth, it is often called “Shark Teeth”. It is common and occurs as the result of lower baby teeth not falling out when the permanent teeth are arriving. In most cases, the baby teeth will fall out on their own within a couple of months. If it does not fall out, contact your pediatric dentist.

If your child shows signs of disturbed sleep including long pauses in breathing, tossing and turning in the bed, chronic mouth breathing during sleep, night sweats (owing to increased effort to breathe), this may be an indication of sleep apnea. This is far more common than parents realize and is mostly seen in children between 2 and 8 years old, although it can present itself at any age.

If your child is suffering from these symptoms, we can help determine underlying causes and may refer your child to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor for further evaluation.

We use Nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” to help children become more comfortable during certain procedures. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective sedative agent that is inhaled through a small mask that fits over their nose to help them relax. It is not intended to put them to sleep but instead is designed to help them feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide are temporary and wear off as soon as  the mask is removed.

For treatments that may last longer or cause more discomfort, we will often recommend a mild oral sedative that your child can take before treatment at the office. Every effort is made to ensure proper dosage and limit mild side effects if any.

More complex treatments may require deeper sedation to relieve both pain and anxiety. On occasion, IV sedation may be recommended. Your child’s comfort and safety are our top priority.


Bruxism is more commonly known as teeth-grinding, and a surprising number of children suffer from it. Teeth-grinding usually occurs while children are asleep, and it can become a dental problem if left unchecked. Regular teeth-grinding can wear down tooth enamel, reinforce improper bite patterns, and leave teeth more susceptible to cavities and decay.

If your child’s teeth-grinding is ongoing, then their dentist may prescribe a night guard to protect their teeth and mouth. A night guard helps ease the pain of tooth grinding and protects tooth enamel from being worn away.

Thumb sucking, finger sucking, and pacifier use are habits common in many children. Nearly one-third of all children suck on their thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers in their first year of life. The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends to discharge finger habits or pacifier habits by 2 years old.

A prolonged thumb sucking, finger sucking, and pacifier use beyond 18 months old can lead to many oral developmental issues that negatively affect the development of the mouth. These habits can cause problems with the proper alignment of teeth and can even affect the roof of the mouth.

While it can be common for children to breathe through their mouths on occasion (when they are congested, have a cold, or are involved in strenuous activities), breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you’re sleeping, can lead to oral facial problems.

If your child is suffering from these symptoms, we can help determine underlying causes and may refer your child to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor for further evaluation. Mouth breathing in children can cause bad breath, crooked teeth, jaw alignment issues, and other orthodontic problems.


We recommend maintaining a healthy diet that is good for your mouth, including plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. Drinking more water can help prevent dry mouth and naturally clean your teeth. It is important to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss daily before going to bed. Make sure to schedule routine checkups with your dentist every six months for preventative care and to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.

It’s never too early to begin a healthy oral care routine. You should begin caring for your child’s gums long before their first tooth emerges, which is usually around the six-month mark of their life. Healthy gums are an important predictor of healthy teeth, and maintaining clean gums will help ensure that your child has healthy, cavity-free baby teeth.

You can clean your infant’s gums by simply using a cold, clean washcloth. After your child has finished eating or drinking a sugary drink, use the damp washcloth to gently wipe out their mouth. This will remove any sugar or acid that’s left by their food, and help prevent early cavities.

Once your child starts getting their baby teeth, which is usually between the ages of 5 and 10 months, it’s time to switch from using a washcloth to using a toothbrush. There are many toothbrushes specifically designed for babies and toddlers that you can choose from. Typically, these toothbrushes have much softer bristles and a smaller head compared to those meant for older children.

When brushing the teeth of children under 3 years old, only use a small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice. As they grow older and have more teeth, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount. It’s important to rinse their mouth thoroughly with cool water after brushing and to make sure they don’t swallow any toothpaste.

Flossing is also important for baby teeth. Flossing helps remove the plaque and food that can become lodged between teeth. Be sure to floss your child’s teeth daily.

Children should eat a variety of foods including grains, fruits, protein, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Raw vegetables like carrots, celery, and bell pepper are excellent snacking alternatives to unhealthy chips and crackers. Starchy carbs like potato chips and crackers can stick to teeth and cause unhealthy buildup, which can lead to cavities. Fibrous vegetables like celery can clean your teeth as you eat them! That is also true of fibrous fruits like apples, strawberries, and kiwi. 

So, choose raw fruits and vegetables instead of chips, they are better for your overall health, and they won’t stick to your teeth like starchy carbs and sugars.

Dental sealants work to prevent cavities by sealing pits and fissures that naturally occur in molars. Sealants “seal off” the pit and fissure of your molars to prevent food and plaque from collecting and forming cavities.

Fluoride is considered to be nature’s cavity fighter. Fluoride is naturally found in all sources of water such as lakes, rivers, and even the ocean. Fluoride is added to most public water supplies, so the tap water in your home may have fluoride added to it. Fluoride helps build tooth enamel which helps protect your teeth from tooth decay.

For more than half a century, the ADA ( American Dental Association) has recommended using toothpaste containing fluoride to prevent cavities.

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that has the same sweet taste as traditional sugar. However, unlike sugar, it does not have negative effects on teeth. In fact, xylitol can even help prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that causes them. You can find natural xylitol in certain fruits and berries, but it is most commonly found in gums and mints.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes the benefits of xylitol for the oral health of infants, children, adolescents, and persons with special health care needs.

Did you know that sports drinks can contain more sugar than leading cola beverages, with as much as 19 grams of sugar per serving? The sugars increase the acidity in your mouth which attracts tooth-enamel-destroying bacteria and helps give bad oral bacteria the fuel it needs to create cavities.

Mouthguards, also known as mouth protectors, are designed to cushion a blow to the face and minimize the risk of broken teeth, lacerations to the tongue, cheeks, or lips. Did you know that according to the CDC, over 3 million teeth are knocked out at youth sporting events? Mouthguards can prevent tooth loss and other facial injuries. Mouthguards come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and are designed for multiple sports.


A frenectomy is the removal of connective tissue (called the frenum) from under the tongue (Lingual Frenectomy) or the upper gums (Maxillary Frenectomy). If your baby is having trouble with breastfeeding and “latching on” or your older child is experiencing certain speech, eating, or orthodontic problems, we may recommend frenectomy as an option. New technologies have made frenectomies a safe and convenient option for even very young children.

Babies who have difficulty achieving or maintaining proper latching with their mother’s breast may have a condition called Ankyloglossia, sometimes referred to as tongue-tie. Tongue-tie is usually related to a short, thick frenum, which limits the tongue’s capacity to move. Symptoms of a possible tongue-tie or lip-tie in a newborn are prolonged breastfeeding, difficulty latching onto the breast (causing sore nipples on the mother), and excessive gassiness. Many mothers are opting for a safe, fast healing frenectomy to help their babies establish a good seal while eating. Apart from breastfeeding difficulty, tongue ties can also impact speech and eating in children and adults. Patients often try to compensate for the lack of tongue mobility by changing their jaw position – resulting in other orthodontic issues.

Frenectomies can be an important part of orthodontic treatment when a long or short frenum is causing tooth or jaw displacement. In the case of a short lingual frenum, patients may push out the lower jaw to make eating or speaking easier – causing pain in the jaw or an underbite. In this case, a lingual frenectomy may be recommended to help ensure the success of orthodontic treatment. When treating a patient with a gap between their front teeth, the orthodontist may recommend a maxillary frenectomy after braces to prevent the teeth from spreading apart after treatment.

Baby teeth are temporary; however, if a baby tooth is lost too soon it can lead to other teeth crowding the vacant spot. This can cause alignment issues when the permanent tooth begins to emerge and could cause crooked teeth and biting problems. Baby teeth are important to help with chewing and eating, leading to proper nutrition.