1. At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child's first dental visit be scheduled by at least his/her 1st birthday. However, to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age.
2. 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.
3. How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?
A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist may have specific recommendations based on specifically on your child’s oral health.
4. 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.
5. How should I clean my baby's teeth?
A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants. Many toothbrush brands will have age recommendations placed on the toothbrush packing. Brushing at least 2x a day will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.
6. When should we begin using toothpaste and how much should we use?
After the first tooth erupts, clean your child’s gums with a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste and brush twice daily. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount of toothpaste should be increased to a pea-size amount. Parents should still perform or assist in their child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
7. 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 we eat, the sugars in food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.
8. 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 foods that protect your children's teeth.
9. 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 baby teeth 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. Tooth decay is a contagious bacterial infection of teeth and will spread. Decay on baby teeth can spread or cause decay on other baby teeth or permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.
10. 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 Tylenol (acetaminophen) for any pain according to the medication instructions. Finally, see a dentist as soon as possible.
11. 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 teething biscuit or a frozen teething ring. We do not recommend the use of homeopathic teething gels or drops. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns consumers that homeopathic teething tablets and gels may pose a risk to infants and children. The FDA recommends that consumers stop using these products and dispose of any in their possession. Homeopathic teething tablets and gels are distributed by CVS, Hyland’s, and possibly others, and are sold in retail stores and online. Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using homeopathic teething tablets or gels.
12. Can thumb sucking 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. If a child is still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance to prevent sucking and damage to their teeth may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.
13. What are dental sealants, and how do they work?
Sealants are clear or shaded plastic 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. Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.
14. My child plays sports. How should I protect my child's teeth?
A mouthguard should be a top priority on your child's list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth protectors, or mouthguards, 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. Any mouthguard works better than no mouthguard, but a custom-fitted mouthguard is your child's best protection against sports-related injuries.
15. What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.
16. What is the best toothbrush for kids 9-13? Do you recommend the Sonic?
By the time your child reaches 9-10 years old, many adult teeth are now present and an adult toothbrush/toothpaste can be used. Any soft-bristled toothbrush should be used two times a day for two minutes
17. How do I know if my child is 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. To make sure your 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.
18. 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 is extremely small. Even though 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. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than their benefits of detecting visibly undetectable and untreated dental problems.