Q. When should your child first see a dentist?
A: Your child’s first visit should occur by their first birthday. Early examination and preventive care will get your child started on the road to good oral health which will last them a life time.
Q: How often should your child see us?
A: Twice a year (every 6 months) for most children as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. There are some children who may need more frequent visits as recommended by their dentist based on increased risks for decay, unusual growth patterns, or poor oral hygiene.
Q: What are some of the ways that will help make your child’s visit to the dentist a positive one?
A: 1) don’t bribe 2) schedule a morning appointment when your child is rested and may be more cooperative 3) do not use the visit as a punishment or threat 4) do not relay any anxieties that you may have 5) do not relay scary stories about dental visits 5) do not use words that may be threatening e.g. drill, cavity, or needle 6) and describe the visit as something that will be fun and enjoyable in the briefest terms possible.
Q: When will my baby start getting teeth?
A: Teething, the process of baby (primary) teeth coming through the gums into the mouth, is variable among individual babies. Some babies get their teeth early and some get them late. In general, the first baby teeth to appear are usually the lower front (anterior) teeth and they usually begin erupting between the age of 6-8 months. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Q: How often should your child have dental X-rays?
A: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-ray examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. Children with a low risk of tooth decay may require X-rays less frequently. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. We use digital (film-free) x-rays at our office to ensure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
Q. Why are baby teeth important anyway?
A: Primary teeth, or baby teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
Q. When should your child be weaned from the bottle?
A: Your child should be weaned at 12-18 months of age.
Q. What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
A. Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is a serious form of decay among infants caused by frequent and long exposures of their teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks. Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle containing anything other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth as they sleep, giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
Q: How do I prevent cavities?
A: Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the left-over food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. For older children, brush their teeth and help them floss at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks and juices containing sugar that you give your children. Your child’s dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s permanent molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces.
Q: What are the causes of crowded teeth and orthodontic problems?
A: Often times it is inherited, but it can also be caused by the early loss of primary teeth and oral habits such as thumb sucking and pacifier use.
Q: Are pacifiers better for the teeth than thumbs or fingers?
A: Thumb, finger, and pacifier sucking generally affect the teeth the same. A pacifier habit is sometimes easier to break because parents can have more control.
Q: My child grinds his/her teeth at night. Should I be concerned?
A: Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. Stress due to a new environment, family problems, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
Q: Up until what age should you participate in your child’s tooth brushing?
A: Parents should brush the teeth of preschoolers and supervise the brushing and flossing of school-age children until they are 7 to 8 years of age.
Q: What’s the best toothpaste for my child?
A: When looking for a toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use. Remember, children should spit out toothpaste (only use a pea-sized amount) after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, be sure to use a fluoride-free toothpaste or no toothpaste at all.
Q: Is nitrous oxide safe?
A: Yes. It is tolerated well by most children, is non-addictive, has rapid onset within minutes, is reversible, can be adjusted to various concentrations, and is non-allergic. The child is fully conscious, maintaining all reflexes, and will be capable of responding to the dentist. One of the greatest things about nitrous oxide in dentistry is that oftentimes, routine fillings can be completed without the need for a dental injection, thereby avoiding the unnecessary feeling of numbness for hours following a dental appointment.
Q: What is a Sealant and how long has it been used for?
A: Sealants are plastic materials applied to the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth for the purpose of providing a protective barrier from plaque and acids, and preventing cavities. Sealants have been used for over 20 years.
Q: Are dental amalgam (silver) fillings safe?
A: Various health organizations have deemed dental amalgam safe. However, there are alternatives to amalgam restorations if amalgam is not a material that you are comfortable with.
Q: Do children have root canals done on their baby teeth?
A: Yes. There are times when a baby tooth has a pulp (nerve) that is inflamed, infected, or has suffered trauma resulting in its deterioration. In order to avoid extraction and save the baby tooth, the nerve is removed in part or whole.
Q: What are the simplest things one can do to reduce the effects of bad breath?
A: Improve oral hygiene, especially daily flossing in addition to brushing, and tongue cleaning.