Frequent Ask Questions
Children should visit a dentist by age 1. Visiting the dentist by age 1 helps you:
1. Establish a dental home.
2. Get to know the dentist.
3. Learn how to avoid cavities that can cause your child pain and serious health problems.
4. Know who to call if your child has a dental emergency.
A soft bristled, small headed toothbrush should be used at least once per day before bedtime. Parents should use a tiny ‘smear’ or ‘rice sized’ amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a ‘pea-size’ dollop. Parents should supervise children’s toothpaste use to ensure the proper amount of toothpaste is being used.
Teeth that are touching should be flossed by an adult daily.
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.
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 known 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.
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 20 baby or “primary” teeth should be present at three years of age.
Everyone should see their dentist 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.
Regular visits help a child get comfortable with the dentists 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.
We follow the AAPD’s recommendation for the use of fluoridated toothpaste. A ’smear’ or ‘rice sized’ amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used to brush baby’s teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a ‘pea-size’ dollop.
Any fluoridated toothpaste that is recognized by the American Dental Association is recommended. The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) encourages the brushing of teeth with appropriate amounts of fluoride toothpaste.
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 and in between meals offer water.
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.
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.
Each child’s intake can vary greatly. We recommend discussing this during your child’s next exam.
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. If it is a baby tooth that fell out, leave it out! Never reinsert a baby tooth!!
We generally recommend that a soft plastic mouth guard 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 mouth guard for this purpose.
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, pathology, and determining growth patterns.
Permanent teeth are normally more translucent than primary teeth, giving off a yellow hue. 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.
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.
Unless a baby tooth will fall out in the next several months, it is 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, possibly lead to facial infections, and cause 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 a radiograph to verify the permanent tooth’s expected time of eruption. This can be as late as 12 years old for some baby 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.