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FAQs

At what age should I bring my child to the pediatric dentist?

Children should have their first dental visit within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth and no later than their first birthday. This is so an assessment and record can be made of your child’s dental development and risk of getting cavities. This also gives us the opportunity to discuss good oral hygiene practices at home, diet, injury prevention and possible need for fluoride supplements. If cavities or other issues are found upon examination these things can often be taken care of early before they become a bigger problem.

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

What should I use to remove plaque?

A toothbrush will remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, should be used at least once a day preferably at bedtime.

Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when your child has teeth. A smear of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for children less than 2 years of age. A pea size amount of toothpaste is appropriate for children aged 2 thru 5 years.

Parents should dispense the toothpaste onto a soft, age appropriate sized toothbrush and perform or assist with tooth brushing of young children.

To Maximize the benefit of fluoride in the toothpaste, rinsing after brushing should be kept to a minimum or eliminated altogether.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

You should start brushing your baby’s teeth with a soft, small, brittle toothbrush as soon as the teeth come in, because harmful plaque begins to form as soon as teeth erupt.

Should I use an electric toothbrush on my child’s teeth?

Some children, and some adults, seem to do a more effective job of cleaning the teeth with the aid of an electric toothbrush. It is often a matter of patient preference, and the novelty of the electric toothbrush may even motivate your child to brush more frequently. The pediatric dentist may suggest an electric toothbrush for some children.

What toothpaste is best for my child?

A fluoridated toothpaste that is recognized by the American Dental Association as being effective in reducing tooth decay should be used. Equally as important as the toothpaste is the thoroughness with which the plaque is removed by brushing and flossing.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or “baby” teeth, are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Just like permanent teeth, baby teeth are prone to decay and can become infected. The premature loss of baby teeth can lead to serious orthodontic problems. Also, baby molars and canines do not fall out until 10 – 12 years of age.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any pain. Call the office as soon as possible.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for an extended period of time. It is recommended that these habits are stopped by the time the child begins to get permanent teeth coming in, which is usually around 6 years of age. Most children stop these habits on their own, but it is good to work on lessening and eventually stopping these habits when possible to avoid changes in tooth position and skeletal relationship.

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

Typically preventative care visits are recommended every six months in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, sometimes it is dependent upon the child’s risk factors and individual needs.

How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?

Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat fish and eggs. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select good food choices.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?

Have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

Properly fitted mouthguards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouth guard, fabricated by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and possibly provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

How safe are dental X-Rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Digital radiographs and lead aprons are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home practices, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

My 2-year-old child has a cavity in a tooth. Should the tooth be filled?

It should be evaluated as soon as possible. Children do not typically lose their first tooth until around age 6 and depending on which tooth it is, they may have it until ages 11-12.

Will I go into the treatment room with my child?

Yes, one parent is welcome in the treatment room. Too many people in the treatment room is often distracting and counter productive to the child, staff and doctor. Please consider who the child will respond to better during the appointment.

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 appear, although not in orderly sequence from front to back. All of these 20 primary teeth should be present at two to three years of age.

Is there anything I can do to comfort my baby while he is teething?

Some things to try:

Cold food: Serving something cold such as frozen fruit, yogurt, and applesauce.

Wet cloth: Freezing a clean wet washcloth for the baby to chew on. The pressure helps to soothe sore gums.

Teething toy/ring: These can help in the same way a wet cloth does. Be sure to read the instructions as some brands suggest keeping the toy in the refrigerator and not the freezer.

Over-the-counter remedy: You can consider giving infants’ or children’s over-the-counter pain medication such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or others) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol, or others).

Why do the permanent teeth look more yellow than the baby teeth?

Permanent teeth are normally yellower than primary teeth, but they appear even more so because you are comparing them with the lighter baby teeth still in the mouth.

My child has a double row of front teeth. Why is this, and what should be done about it?

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Sometimes the permanent teeth begin to come in before the baby teeth are lost. Often, as the permanent tooth continues to come in, the problem will take care of itself. If the permanent tooth is in and the primary tooth is not loose, sometimes that tooth needs to be extracted. Once the baby tooth is out, the tongue usually moves the permanent tooth forward into its proper position, if space permits.

Is it all right for my child to remove her own baby teeth when they become loose?

Perfectly all right. As the tooth loosens, it is natural for a child to assist the process.

What about the big space between my 8-year-old’s two upper front teeth?

Usually there is no need for concern. The space can be expected to close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt.

My child’s baby teeth had a lot of decay. Does this mean that the permanent will be just as bad?

This is often the case unless the cause can be determined and proper preventive and corrective steps are taken.

What causes baby bottle and nursing caries tooth decay?

This is a more complicated question than it seems. It is true that improper feeding habitats at or around bed time have been shown to lead to Early Childhood Caries. Our staff feels it is important to instruct and inform you of heathly bed time habits.

Why should the baby teeth be filled, since they will be lost anyway?

Even though these primary teeth are called “baby teeth”, some of them must serve until the child is at least twelve years old, sometimes longer. Neglect of the baby teeth can result in pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health, and premature loss of teeth, which is a major cause of orthodontic problems. Also, cavities tend to form in teeth that are next to other teeth with unfilled cavities, because decay is really an infection and will spread if left untreated. It is unwise to leave active decay in the mouth. Decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Unfortunately, most children with untreated decay on baby teeth will develop decay on permanent teeth.