dr verwest pediatrics

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers to match car wash donations

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD will match all donations made during the annual New Horizons of Southwest Florida Super Teens Club car wash. Last year the car wash raised $1,200 for the seven super clubs, which helps at-risk children become successful, independent, and contributing members to society.

The car wash is free, but donations will be suggested. The event willinclude fun giveaways and prizes courtesy of Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers. The Super Teens Club car wash is November 14, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, located at Chick-Fil-A, 21900 S Tamiami Trail, Estero, FL 33928.

New Horizons of Southwest Florida has seven “Super Clubs”, which include K-12th grade after school tutoring, reading and leadership camps, social skill learning and teaching students’ moms to grow strong families.  New Horizons currently reaches nearly 400 children and teens at locations in Estero, Bonita Springs and Naples and provides over 80,000 hours of after school tutoring and mentoring annually at no cost to their families.  For more information, please visit http://newhorizonsofswfl.org/.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for over 25 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com or (239) 482-2722.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

What happened to these teeth!? Why does this little 2-year-old’s teeth look like this? These are cavities, and they are a result of what is called “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” One of the ways cavities can develop is when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars remain on the teeth for prolonged periods of time like when a child uses a bottle or a sippy cup. Bacteria use this sugar and make acid which clings to the teeth and rots the teeth away. Sleeping with a bottle can be especially bad as the sugars (even the natural sugars from milk) can cling to the teeth all night long. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important to limit the amount of time a child sips on their bottle or sippy cup. Instead of allowing them to sip on these all day and night long, let them drink from it in one sitting and then clean their teeth – either with a toothbrush or wipe the teeth off with a cloth. As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in, the teeth should be cleaned at least twice daily, especially before bed after the last thing they have to eat or drink. For ultimate cavity protection it is now recommended to use a very small amount, no larger than a grain of rice,  of fluoridated toothpaste twice daily as soon as the teeth come in.

Instead of juice or milk in the bottle or sippy cup between meals or at bed or nap times, choose water.

Brace Yourself! Does My Child Need Braces?

For some children, getting braces is something they actually look forward to. For other children, there is a lot of fear and concern.

Making the decision to get braces for your child can be especially difficult.  You may be concerned about whether your child really needs them, if they are ready for braces, and how to afford them. Hopefully this article will shed some light on your concerns.

Why Get Braces For Your Child

There are several reasons why your child may need braces. Their teeth could be crooked, overcrowded, overlapping or have a malocclusion (when the upper and lower jaws are different sizes, resulting in an overbite or underbite).  These jaw and tooth issues can be a result of an accident, early tooth loss, decay or even habits like thumb sucking.

Your dentist may recommend that you take your child to see an orthodontist at one of their regular dental visits.  The orthodontist can then decide a treatment plan. The age that this may happen can vary from 6 up to adulthood. Once permanent teeth come in, your dentist will be able to determine if there is a need for braces.

Going to the Orthodontist

The orthodontist will conduct exams that will asses the child’s bite and teeth. He or she may ask questions about popping jaws or problems with chewing and swallowing.  Impressions and x-rays may also be taken at this time. The orthodontist will then come up with a treatment plan that is right for your child.


Braces work by applying pressure on the teeth and moving them into a straighter position. You have choices when it comes to the type of braces used: metal braces, clear or white ceramic braces, and lingual braces that are attached behind the teeth. There are also clear removable braces that use plastic trays, but these are usually only used when there is no malocclusion present. Headgear may also need to be worn at night to push teeth back to make more room.

After the braces are applied, your child will need to go back often for adjustments and to monitor the progress. Only your orthodontist will be able to tell how long your child will need to wear their braces, but 2 years is the average. After the braces are removed, your child may need to wear a retainer.

How to Care For Braces

Your child will be given a special flosser to help keep the braces free of food that can easily get stuck in them. Flossing should be conducted daily if not several times a day. Regular dental visits should also be made for cleanings and to check for cavities. Foods that are hard and sticky should be avoided because they could damage the braces. If a bracket does become loose or a wire pops out of place, you should call your orthodontist immediately.

Can I Afford Braces

The average cost of braces is $5,000. It is possible that insurance will not cover this amount.  There are some ways to reduce the cost. Your dentist may be able to work with you to set up a payment plan. There are also state insurance companies that may be able to help you with the cost. Smiles Change Lives is a program that can get your child in braces for a drastically reduced amount. Your child must be between the ages of 11 and 18. Income and the condition of your child’s teeth will also determine eligibility.pediatric-dentistry-logo

How to Prevent Tooth Decay During the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of year! For both your child and the cavity-causing bacteria in their mouth.

It’s hard to find a child who doesn’t love the holidays, and almost all of the holidays come with heaps of sweets and sugary candy.  You want your kids to be able to indulge a little in the holiday festivities, but you also want to keep their teeth healthy.

When we eat sugar, the bacteria in our mouth feed on the sugar and create a byproduct of acid.  In turn, the acid strips our tooth enamel and erodes our teeth.

To combat any tooth decay that might occur during the holidays, try these solutions:

  • Save treats like candy, cookies, and pies for after mealtime, when the amount of saliva in the mouth is greater and will better protect your child’s teeth.
  • Dairy actually acts as a buffer to the acid created by the bacteria in your mouth.  Consider serving milk or cheese with candies and treats.
  • Flossing can help get rid of sticky particles that get lodged between the teeth.  Make sure to have your child floss extra well during the holidays.
  • To help pace the amount of candy your child consumes around holidays like Halloween and Easter, store the excess candy in a sealed container and place it out of sight.  Establish set times when your child can have a treat.
  • Encourage your child to drink more water, and make sure that this water has fluoride in it


5 Common Dental Problems for Kids

  1. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Also called early childhood caries, nursing caries, or Nursing Bottle Syndrome, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a result of a baby’s teeth coming in frequent, prolonged contact with sugary drinks, such as fruit juices, milk, formula, and sugar water.

As with all foods, the sugar is broken down by bacteria in your mouth, producing a byproduct of acid.  The acid then attacks your teeth and strips away the minerals found in your enamel, causing tooth decay.

How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

As a general rule, you want to keep your baby’s bottle or pacifier as clean and sugar-free as possible. Here are a few tips to do so:

  • Never dip your baby’s pacifier into sugar, honey, or any sweet liquid before giving it to them.
  • Don’t clean a dropped pacifier in your own mouth.  Cavities are contagious, and you could be passing on your own cavity-causing bacteria.
  • The less sugary drinks they consume, the better. Try to limit drinks other than water to only mealtimes.  In between meals and during snack time, only put plain water in their bottle or sippy cup.
  • Don’t add unnecessary sugar to your child’s food.
  • Before your baby cuts their first tooth, make sure you’re wiping their gums with a clean, wet piece of gauze or a cloth.
  • Don’t put your baby down for bed or a nap with a bottle.  If they absolutely have to have a bottle, make sure you fill it only with water.
  1. Thumb Sucking

You’d be hard pressed to find an infant that doesn’t suck on something – whether it’s their fingers or their pacifier.  Generally, this habit isn’t anything to be alarmed about, unless it continues until a later age.  When a baby’s permanent teeth begin to come in, sucking on an object can push the teeth out of alignment, causing them to protrude or create an overbite.  Beyond the aesthetic consequences of sucking, it can also cause speech problems or teach children to eat incorrectly.

How to Stop Your Child from Sucking Their Thumb

Thumb sucking doesn’t become a huge problem until a child’s permanent teeth start to erupt.  Once the first tooth starts to emerge, parents and family members should offer positive reinforcement to encourage a child to stop sucking.  Because it’s generally a coping and security mechanism, negative reinforcement could have the opposite of the intended effect, driving the child to suck their thumb even more.

Instead, give praise and rewards for a designated span of time that the child refrains from the habit.  Then gradually increase the time that they need to avoid sucking in order to get the reward.

For older children who haven’t gotten rid of the habit, it’s important to figure out exactly why your child is still doing it.

  1. Tongue Thrusting

Tongue thrusting is the habit of sealing the mouth for swallowing by thrusting the top of the tongue forward against the lips.

Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting puts extra pressure against the front teeth, which could ultimately push them out of alignment, causing improper speech development, eating problems, and an overbite.

How to Stop Your Child from Tongue Thrusting

If you notice your child tongue thrusting, contact a speech pathologist to help correct the problem – the earlier, the better.  They’ll develop a treatment plan that helps your child to increase the strength of their chewing muscles and to develop a new swallowing pattern.

  1. Lip Sucking

Lip sucking involves repeatedly holding the lower lip beneath the upper front teeth, which results in the same overbite, speech impediment, and eating habits caused by thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.

How to Stop Your Child from Lip Sucking

Like thumb sucking, lip sucking is best stopped with the use of positive reinforcement.

  1. Early Tooth Loss

If a child loses a baby tooth before the permanent teeth is ready to move in, it’s generally because of tooth decay, injury, or lack of jaw space.  If left untreated, the remaining teeth could crowd into the space intended for the permanent tooth.

How to Prevent Early Tooth Loss

To prevent tooth decay, start your child out on a proper oral hygiene routine from the day they’re born.  Since nutrition is a large factor in our dental health, make sure to provide healthy, sugar-free foods.  If your child’s tooth falls out early, your dentist will most likely recommend a space maintainer, a plastic or metal device that holds open the space left by the missing tooth.  Once the permanent tooth erupts, the device will be removed.

Tips for Choosing the Right Toothbrush for Your Child

It’s coming up on the 3-month mark for your kid’s toothbrush, so you decide to make a quick trip to the corner drugstore for a new one.  But when you turn the corner onto the toothbrush aisle, you stop in your tracks. Quick trip? You could spend hours browsing through the different kinds. For such a seemingly simple product (I mean, honestly, some people still brush with a frayed stick, right? How complex can it be?!), it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the choices.

Tips for Choosing Your Child’s Toothbrush

Size.  A child’s mouth is smaller than an adult’s, so it only makes sense to choose a smaller toothbrush.  For this reason, many companies include age guidelines on their packaging. The general size is 1” long and ½” wide.

Bristles. Unless otherwise instructed by your dentist, always choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.  Medium- and hard-bristled toothbrushes could actually cause damage to your enamel and gums.

Manual vs. Electric. Whether battery-operated or not, either type of toothbrush can get the job done. (And on the flip side, either type of toothbrush, if not used properly, can do a bad job also.) However, powered toothbrushes are better for people who need assistance with brushing thoroughly.  Kids generally lack the manual dexterity to clean all of their teeth well until about 6 or 7 years old, so an electric toothbrush could help.

Large grip. Again, since kids lack the manual dexterity to brush their teeth thoroughly until a later age, it’s better to opt for a larger grip to help them out.

Take advice from the experts. Your pediatric dentist should have recommendations for a toothbrush that has undergone rigorous quality control tests for effectiveness and safety.  The American Dental Association also stamps toothbrushes that pass their tests with their Seal of Approval.

5 Types of Sugar that Harm Your Teeth

We all know that sugar is the #1 enemy of healthy teeth, but some of us don’t know just how stealth sugar can be.  Sure, it’s easy to buy “sugar free” foods, but many times sugar is still lurking under another alias.

There are 5 main sugars that make a delightful meal for the bacteria in our mouths.  When these bacteria feed on the sugar, they create a byproduct of acid that attacks our teeth and causes decay.

So before you think you’re outwitting the enemy, make sure you know the 5 sugars and their names that harm your teeth:

5 Main Sugars that Harm Your Teeth:

1. Sucrose – Sucrose hides in plain sight, right under our noses in the sugar shakers on our dining room tables.  It’s the most well-known, and sweetest, sugar because it’s the main sugar found in candy, and comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, and maple trees.  Interestingly, the bacteria in our mouths easily convert sucrose into a sticky glue-like substance that holds plaque onto our teeth and makes it more difficult to remove when brushing and flossing.

2. Fructose – A less sweet form of sugar, fructose is the main sugar found in fruit, berries, melons, corn, and root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. However, when fructose is concentrated into a substance known as high fructose corn syrup, it tastes sweeter than fructose and causes much more harm to our teeth.  Because it is cheaper, sweeter, and easier to blend into products, high fructose corn syrup has become the go-to, universal sweetener.

3. Glucose – The body breaks down all other forms of sugar into glucose, which is the main energy supply.  While it’s usually linked with other sugars to form sucrose, in its natural state it is the main sugar found in the body.

4. Lactose – More commonly known as milk sugar, lactose is found in many dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.

5. Maltose – Maltose is the sugar found in grains such as bread, rice, pasta, and cereal.

***Limit your sugar intake, but don’t eliminate it altogether. Sugar poses a slew of health risks, but we shouldn’t avoid it altogether.  The most important rule of thumb is to eat sugar in moderation and choose which sugars to consume wisely.  If you find yourself eating a lot of sugar, chew sugarless gum after meals and make sure to brush and floss daily.

3 Main Ways Fluoride Helps Your Teeth

Most experts agree that a daily dose of fluoride is one of the most effective methods for preventing cavities and tooth decay.  In fact, research shows that cities with fluoride in their drinking water experience 40% to 70% less tooth decay than those without.

  1. Fluoride restores your teeth through remineralization.

Remineralization is the process in which a tooth restores itself in the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride found in your saliva adheres to the surface of the tooth and attracts other minerals to the problem area, including calcium.

  1. Fluoride helps to make a tooth more resistant to decay.

When fluoride is present during remineralization, it creates the mineral fluorapatite to restore the tooth, instead of the usual minerals, hydroxyapatite and carbonated hydroxyapatite.  Fluorapatite is more resistant to tooth decay caused by acids than the other minerals, so the newly restored tooth can fight off a repeat occurrence of decay.

  1. Fluoride interferes with cavity-causing bacteria.

When you take a bite of food, bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar found in the food and produce a byproduct of acid, the main culprit in tooth decay. Fluoride slows down the rate at which bacteria can metabolize sugars, resulting in less acid production.

Top Ten Budget Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

During these tough economic times, many regular activities are being put on hold — and that includes visits to the dentist, as reported by Medill Reports.

So how can people take care of their teeth now to avoid expensive dental procedures in the future? Here are a few tips for you and your kids that will help you keep your teeth healthy.

1) Drink plenty of water. It’s a “natural” mouthwash that can help reduce stains left by coffee, soda and red wine.

2) Eat a piece of cheese. After dinner, munch on some cheddar. It can help neutralize acids in your mouth.

3) Chew sugar free gum. Chewing gum increases saliva production, which helps to wash away plaque and acid and bathe teeth in needed minerals to strengthen tooth enamel.

4) Wait to brush after acidic drinks. After drinking orange juice and soda pop, don’t reach for the toothbrush right away. Wait at least 20 minutes to reduce the chance of enamel wear.

5) Rinse with hydrogen peroxide. (Adults only!) A small amount of H2O2 mixed with water makes a great anti-bacterial and whitening rinse after brushing. Just don’t swallow!

6) Brush with baking soda. It’s a gentle abrasive that can clean like toothpaste.

7) Use a straw. Might feel awkward to drink coffee or red wine through a straw, but doing so can help minimize direct contact between your pearly whites and these staining liquids.

8) Soften your toothbrush. Sensitive teeth can find relief from rough bristles by running the toothbrush under hot water before brushing.

9) Avoid sugar and starches. Both sugar and carbs can feed bacteria that causes tooth decay. It’s just not the sweet stuff.  A handful of crackers can have the same effect as a candy bar at feeding bacteria.

10) Brush and floss. Every day!

8 Great Tips for Taking Care of Your Children’s Teeth

1. Remember, a child’s dental care begins before birth.

A child’s teeth form between the third and sixth month of pregnancy. An expectant mother must practice good health habits to ensure proper development of her unborn child’s teeth. This means consuming plenty of calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens, fortified cereals and dairy or soy products.

2. Just because you can’t see your baby’s teeth doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are almost completely formed in the jaw. The first four teeth will usually erupt when the baby is between 6 months and 1 year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything in the meantime. Simply wiping a baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after feeding will remove harmful plaque and bacteria.

3. Take your child to the dentist by his/her first birthday.

A dentist will check your 1-year-old for tooth decay, as well as identify fluoride needs and address any potentially dangerous habits such as thumb sucking.

4. Don’t use toothpaste for children under 2.

As soon as the first teeth appear, brush teeth with a little bit of water. After children have reached the age of 2, toothpaste can be introduced in pea-sized amounts.

5. Teach your children the proper brushing techniques.

Most children will be able to brush their own teeth by age 6 or 7. Select for them a brush that has soft, rounded bristles and teach them to use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Show them how to use circular brush strokes to reach all surfaces of teeth, and make sure they spit out the toothpaste and rinse with water after brushing to avoid swallowing any toothpaste.

6. Don’t forget the floss!

As soon as any two teeth touch, make sure that you use floss to clean between your child’s teeth. This is the only way to avoid decay in places where a toothbrush can’t reach.

7. Make trips to the dentist fun for your child.

It is important for your child to have a good attitude toward dental visits. Be positive and remind your child that the dentist is a friendly doctor who is helping to take care of his or her teeth. Set a good example yourself by brushing and flossing twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly.

8. Take an active role in your child’s oral health.

You should always inform the dentist as to the status of your child’s health. Tell the dentist if your child is ill, what medications your child may be taking and if your child has any known drug allergies. If you don’t understand a dentist’s recommendations for the treatment of your child, ask for a more detailed explanation. Ask if there are other treatments available for this problem and, if so, how these other options compare cost wise. Then ask which of these methods would be most effective in treating the problem.

Source: http://www.dentistry.com/daily-dental-care/pediatric-dentistry/keeping-your-childrens-teeth-healthy