AT WHAT AGE SHOULD MY CHILD FIRST SEE THE DENTIST?
Generally, we like to see children soon after their first teeth appear (usually, around their first birthday). We encourage all parents to bring their children in before their third birthday.
HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY BABIES TEETH?
A soft bristled, small headed toothbrush should be used at least once per day before bedtime. It is recommended that you use a fluoride free toothpaste in children under 3 years old. Teeth that are touching should be flossed by an adult daily.
IS THUMB SUCKING OR THE USE OF A PACIFIER HARMFUL TO MY CHILD’S HEALTH?
Generally, children will outgrow these habits before they become harmful. Some children that continue these habits may benefit from a corrective retainer that allows for a more normal growth pattern. If your child use a pacifier, or sucks their finger or thumb, please mention these habits during your child’s regular exams so we can properly monitor your child’s growth.
WHAT IS “BABY BOTTLE” MOUTH?
It is often tempting to nurse an infant to sleep or let the child take a bottle to bed. These habits can lead to massive tooth decay as the sugars in the milk, formula, or juice are left on the teeth during the night. We recommend brushing your child’s teeth before bedtime and providing only water at night. This condition is also know as Early Childhood Carries (ECC). For further information on ECC, please visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
WHEN WILL MY BABY START GETTING TEETH?
Usually the two lower front teeth (central incisors) erupt at about six months of age, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. During the next 18 to 24 months, the rest of the baby teeth should appear, although not in orderly sequence from front to back. All 20 baby or “primary” teeth should be present at three years of age.
HOW OFTEN DOES MY CHILD NEED TO SEE THE DENTIST?
In general, children and teenagers benefit from a visit to our office every six months in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. Specific recommendations may be made for your child depending on decay pattern, age, and adjunct treatment (orthodontics). Often we can arrest or stop a cavity early, thereby preventing the need to place a filling.
HOW MUCH TOOTHPASTE SHOULD MY CHILD USE?
Until your child is 4 or 5 years old he will swallow a small amount of toothpaste. In general, we recommend using a small smear of toothpaste and advise that parents closely monitor their child when brushing to be sure that minimal toothpaste is swallowed. Your pediatric dentist will give specific recommendations on this based on your child’s decay pattern and oral hygiene.
WHAT IS A “TOOTH HEALTHY” DIET?
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, meat, fish, and eggs will go a long way toward developing overall health. Many of the more conveniently prepared and packaged snacks and drinks today have high fructose corn syrup listed as one of the first few ingredients on the label. Limiting these types of snacks between meals is helpful in reducing the incidence of cavities. The most common risk factor for children’s decay is the amount of liquid sugar they drink. The most common drinks that we see at our office include juice (both 100% fruit juice and others), sports drinks (Gatorade), chocolate milk, ‘kids drinks’ (Sunny Delight), and soda. Limit juices and milk to mealtimes only. Offer water in between meals.
WHY SHOULD MY CHILD HAVE FLUORIDE?
Overwhelming evidence by the American Dental Association, US Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization has demonstrated that fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease the chance of getting cavities. Many of our adult patients who grew up with regular dental care and fluoride supplementation have few or no dental problems.
IS FLUORIDE HARMFUL?
Unfortunately, there is also a large amount of conjecture and opinion on the Internet that has claimed that fluoride is dangerous. At therapeutic levels there has never been a published study that has been able to show reliable repeatable results that demonstrate even a possibility of any harm. Many people find all of the negative opinions very confusing. We look forward to answering any questions you may have so that you can feel comfortable about making an informed decision about your child’s health.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD IS GETTING ENOUGH FLUORIDE?
Each child’s intake can vary greatly. We recommend discussing this during your child’s next exam. If your child’s fluoride intake is insufficient, we will often prescribe fluoride supplementation.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY CHILD KNOCKS OUT A PERMANENT TOOTH?
The most important thing to do is to remain calm. If you have the tooth, you should attempt to insert it back into its socket and then contact us immediately. If you have difficulty re-inserting the tooth, place it in a glass of milk and contact us immediately.
SHOULD I PROTECT MY CHILD'S TEETH DURING SPORTS RELATED ACTIVITIES?
We generally recommend that a soft plastic mouthguard be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, and cheeks from injuries. If your child plays contact sports, we can create a custom fitted mouthguard for this purpose.
ARE DENTAL X-RAYS SAFE FOR MY CHILD?
There is a very little risk from receiving dental X-Rays. Our state-of-the-art technology utilizes a fraction of the radiation used in the past. X-Rays are highly valuable in finding hidden decay, tumors, and determining growth patterns.
WHY DO MY CHILD’S PERMANENT TEETH LOOK MORE YELLOW THAN THE BABY TEETH?
Permanent teeth are normally more yellow than primary teeth. This becomes very apparent when the child is between the ages of seven and ten, where the adult teeth are next to the very white baby teeth. Once the child has lost several more baby teeth, most children appear to have very white smiles.
IF MY CHILD HAD A LOT OF DECAY IN THEIR BABY TEETH, WILL THE SAME PROBLEM EXIST WITH PERMANENT TEETH?
Generally, the health of your child’s permanent teeth will be affected by the same conditions that affected the baby teeth. This is another reason why it is important for your child to visit our office on a regular basis. If your child has had multiple cavities in the past, we may want to consider a more frequent check-up schedule.
WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO BRING MY CHILD TO THE DENTIST EVERY SIX MONTHS?
Regular visits help a child get comfortable with the dentist and our staff. These visits also allow us to consistently evaluate your child’s growth and take early corrective measures if needed. Also, regular exams and cleanings help prevent decay and avoid costly problems. Regular dental visits are part of leading a healthy and normal life for your child.
SHOULD WE BOTHER TO RESTORE OR PLACE FILLINGS ON BABY TEETH? WON’T THEY EVENTUALLY FALL OUT ANYWAY?
Unless a baby tooth will fall out in the next several months, it is generally unwise to leave decay on baby teeth. Decay can easily move to other baby teeth or even to permanent teeth. It can also cause pain, and possibly lead to facial infections, and expensive orthodontic problems that could have been avoided. We recommend carefully restoring all decayed teeth to optimal health. We can determine if the tooth will fall out soon by taking an X-Ray to verify the permanent tooth’s expected time of eruption. This can be as late as 12 years old for some baby teeth.
WHAT TOOTHPASTE IS BEST FOR MY CHILD?
Any fluoridated toothpaste that is recognized by the American Dental Association is recommended (however, children under three years of age should not generally use a fluoridated toothpaste – they should use a non-fluoridated toothpaste or simply water).
WHAT CAUSES CAVITIES AND DECAY?
Decay is caused by plaque – a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth. When sugar is eaten, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity or hole is formed in the tooth. The process happens especially quickly with sugar in liquid form. The most common culprits in our office are 100% fruit juice, sports drinks, and chocolate milk. Regular milk, water, or Crystal Light are all great alternatives that kids love and will not cause cavities.