Below are common questions and our answers about the best way to care for children’s teeth.
How can I prepare my child for their first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child’s visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures and videos of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it’s important to keep their teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help do that. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?
Once your child has teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. At first use only a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) for each cleaning. As your child get’s bigger and they can rinse and spit out toothpaste you may advance to a pea size amount of toothpaste. You should brush your child’s teeth until they are able to adequately get all areas of their mouth, which usually happens around age seven. Some children may require supervision or assistance even past this age.
What causes cavities?
Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary or carbohydrate heavy foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.
How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Be sure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important because flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing alone can not. Check with your pediatric dentist about a fluoride supplement, which helps tooth enamel become harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary and carbohydrate heavy foods and drinks, limit continuous snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. Finally, make regular check-up appointments so that we can assess the health of your child’s teeth, complete professional cleanings, and provide guidance for care at home.
Does my child need dental sealants?
Sealants cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.
Our sealant materials are BPA free.
What should I do if my child sucks their thumb?
The large majority of children have sucking habits (pacifier, thumb, finger) as infants. Most children will wean these habits by the age of three, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth or jaws. If you need guidance on weaning your child’s dental habit, please discuss it with us at their check-up visits. Long term habits can lead to permanent changes in the teeth and jaws requiring orthodontic and/or surgical intervention.
My child plays sports. How can I protect their teeth?
Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in all sports even if not required by the athletic association. Boil and bite type mouth guards can be bought over the counter. If your little one wants a mouthguard with a more custom fit, please inquire with us about the having a fitted mouthguard made to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.
When should my child have dental X-rays taken?
We recommend taking regular check-up X-rays starting around the age of three. This is around the time the baby teeth in back are touching one another and decay may not be able to be assessed visually. Single x-rays for focused exams at younger ages may be needed. Regular x-rays should then continue on a schedule based on caries risk and monitoring of growth and development.
Permanent Tooth Coming in Behind Baby Tooth
As your child grows and develops so do their permanent teeth. As the permanent teeth erupt the roots of “baby” teeth dissolve causing them to become loose and eventually fall out. This makes room for the permanent teeth to grow into place. Sometimes this does not happen due to various circumstances and we see the permanent tooth come in behind the baby tooth. This is a common occurrence and is not always a cause for alarm. In lower teeth this normally resolves itself, however, you should contact us if this situation has been present for more than 3 months or if your child is experiencing discomfort. In upper teeth, this is more likely to require help from your dental professional, so please contact us when this situation presents itself.