How should I clean my baby's teeth?
A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best to use. Brushing ideally twice a day, most importantly at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.
At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?
"First visit by first birthday" is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist within 6 months of the first tooth appearing, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, certainly no later than his/her first birthday.
Why should my child see a pediatric dentist instead of our regular family dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.
What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can I prevent it?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a pattern of rapid decay associated with prolonged nursing. It happens when a child goes to sleep while breast-feeding and/or bottle-feeding. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. He/she should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
Can thumbsucking be harmful for my child's teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. Ideally stopping the habit early will minimize or reduce the chance of a long term problem that would require treatment. If your child is still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, we may recommend a mouth appliance. Although most children stop these habits on their own, we are happy to offer suggestions to help stop your child’s habit.
What are dental sealants and how do they work?
Sealants are clear or white plastic coatings applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, which are hard to clean, and shut out food particles that could get caught, causing cavities. (90% of cavities occur in these surfaces). Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.
When should my child start using toothpaste?
Optimal fluoride exposure is important in all infants and children. The decision of when to use toothpaste is not a simple answer for all children. After the age of 1, it is safe to begin using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush. This should be done when the parent is brushing the child’s teeth and not when the child is brushing their own teeth. A child should not be allowed to suck the toothpaste off of the toothbrush and swallow all of the toothpaste. When a child is attempting to brush their own teeth, they should only be using a fluoride-free training toothpaste or water. Because of the concern of fluoride ingestion, parents may choose to wait on fluoride toothpaste until 2 or 3 years of age. Before you begin using toothpaste, clean your child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Parents should always supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.
If my child gets a toothache, what should I do?
To comfort your child, gently clean the tooth and rinse his/her mouth with warm water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth on your child's face if it is swollen. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area, but you may give the child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Call our office to schedule an appointment.
Is my child getting enough fluoride?
Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease a person's chances of getting cavities by making teeth stronger. Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it, but to make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, we may evaluate the fluoride level of your child's primary source of water using a fluoride test kit. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially in communities where the water district does not fluoridate the water or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), we may prescribe fluoride supplements.
How safe are dental X-rays?
With contemporary safeguards, such as lead aprons and high-speed film, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. Even though there is very little risk, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.
My child plays sports. How should I protect my child's teeth?
A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child's list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. They protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. Our office has several mouth guard options available. We will be glad to discuss these with you.
When do the first teeth start to erupt?
At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all of these 20 primary teeth should be present.
What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?
Recover the tooth, making sure to hold it by the crown (top) and not the root end. Rinse, but do not clean or handle the tooth more than necessary. Reinsert the tooth in the socket and hold it in place using a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, carry it in a cup containing milk or water. If the child is able, the tooth can be transported inside the child's cheek with care not to swallow it. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth. Call our office and we will give you further instructions.
Even though a baby tooth should never be reimplanted, please call our office if this occurs.
How can I help my child through the teething stage?
Sore gums when teeth erupt are part of the normal eruption process. The discomfort is eased for some children by use of a frozen teething ring or massaging of their gums. There are some helpful over the counter products.
I noticed a space between my child's two upper front teeth. Is this cause for concern?
Usually, the space will close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt. We can determine whether there is cause for concern upon routine examination.
If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?
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. Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Also, because tooth decay is really an infection it can spread from one tooth to another. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.
What causes tooth decay?
Four things are necessary for cavities to form -- a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates and time. Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone's teeth. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque use sugar to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.