When should I take my child to you for the first check-up?
I normally like to see children at 6 months of age. If you are concerned about something please call us. This first visit is more to educate you about your role in preventing decay. It also gives the child an opportunity to get acquainted with our office and me. We will make the first visit to the dentist an enjoyable and positive visit.
Do you have any advice on teething?
From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet wash cloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby's gums with a clean finger.
What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?
A toothbrush will remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. Some parents prefer to use a wash cloth which works just as well.
Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?
Fluoridated toothpaste should not be introduced unless you are confident that your child will not swallow it. Prior to that, you should clean the child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. One can use non-fluoridated paste for flavor. When toothpaste is used, you should supervise brushing and make sure your child uses no more than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the oral health and unique needs of young people. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of rigorous training is required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to meet the unique needs of your infants, children and adolescents, including persons with special health care needs. We are concerned about your child's total health care. Good oral health is an important part of total health. Establishing us as your child's, "Dental Home" provides us the opportunity to implement preventive dental health habits that keep a child free from dental/oral disease. We focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of dental diseases, and keep current on the latest advances in dentistry for children. Pleasant visits to the dental office promote the establishment of trust and confidence in your child that will last a lifetime. Our goal, along with our staff, is to help all children feel good about visiting the dentist and teach them how to care for their teeth. From our special office designs, to our communication style, our main concern is what is best for your child.
Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
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.
How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child's teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by six months of age.
When should bottle-feeding be stopped?
Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
How do I make my child's diet safe for his teeth?
First, be sure he has a balanced diet. Then, check how frequently he eats foods with sugar or starch in them. Foods with starch include breads, crackers, pasta and such snacks as pretzels and potato chips. When checking for sugar, look beyond the sugar bowl and candy dish. A variety of foods contain one or more types of sugar, and all types of sugars can promote dental decay. Fruits, a few vegetables and most milk products have at least one type of sugar.
Sugar can be found in many processed foods even some that do not taste sweet. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly, but may have sugar added to the peanut butter. Sugar is also added to such condiments as catsup and salad dressings.
Should my child give up all foods with sugar or starch?
Certainly not! Many provide nutrients your child needs. You simply need to select and serve them wisely. A food with sugar or starch is safer for teeth if it's eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Sticky foods, such as dried fruit or toffee, are not easily washed away from the teeth by saliva, water or milk. So, they have more cavity-causing potential than foods more rapidly cleared from the teeth. Talk to your pediatric dentist about selecting and serving foods that protect your child's dental health.
Does a balanced diet assure that my child is getting enough fluoride?
No. A balanced diet does not guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your child's teeth. If you do not live in a fluoridated community or have an ideal amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child needs a fluoride supplement during the years of tooth development. Your pediatric dentist can help assess how much supplemental fluoride your child needs, based upon the amount of fluoride in your drinking water and your child's age and weight.
My youngest isn't on solid foods yet. Do you have suggestions for her?
Don't nurse your daughter to sleep or put her to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. While she sleeps, any unswallowed liquid in the mouth supports bacteria that produce acids and attack the teeth. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting her to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water.
Any final advice?
Yes. Here are tips for your child's diet and dental health.
Ask your pediatric dentist to help you assess your child's diet.
Shop smart! Do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks. Buy "fun foods" just for special times.
Limit the number of snack times; choose nutritious snacks.
Provide a balanced diet, and save foods with sugar or starch for mealtimes.
Don't put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice.
If your child chews gum or sips soda, choose those without sugar.
How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Four things are necessary for cavities to form: 1) a tooth; 2) bacteria; 3) sugars or other carbohydrates; and 4) time. We can share with you how to make teeth strong, keep bacteria from organizing into harmful colonies, develop healthy eating habits, and understand the role that time plays. Remember, dental decay is an infection of the tooth. Visiting us early can help avoid unnecessary cavities and dental treatment.
The pediatric dental community is continually doing research to develop new techniques for preventing dental decay and other forms of oral disease. Studies show that children with poor oral health have decreased school performance, poor social relationships and less success later in life. Children experiencing pain from decayed teeth are distracted and unable to concentrate on schoolwork.
How often should I take my child to the Pediatric Dentist?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning at 6 months of age. At this visit we will prepare a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits. Each child's regime will be uniquely based on their condition.
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 acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, call your child's pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap - use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it's after hours). The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
Contact the office using the emergency protocol given to you at the first visit. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dental office.
What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?
Go immediately to the emergency room of your local hospital. A blow to the head can be life threatening.
Can dental injuries be prevented?
Absolutely! First, reduce oral injury in sports by wearing mouth guards. Second, always use a care seat for young children. Require seat belts for everyone else in the car. Third, child-proof your home to prevent falls, electrical injuries, and choking on small objects. Fourth, protect your child form unnecessary toothaches with regular dental visits and preventive care.
Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. In our office this will be a component of your child's oral evaluation. If a habit is present we will recommend ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended.
Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers or other objects?
This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it's a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born.
When should I worry about a sucking habit?
We will carefully watch the way your child's teeth come in and jaws develop. We will keep the sucking habit in mind at all times. For most children we recommend encouraging these habits to cease by age four.
Are pacifiers a safer habit for the teeth than thumbs or fingers?
Thumb, finger and pacifier sucking all affect the teeth essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit is often easier to break.
How do dental sealants work?
Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.
How long do sealants last?
Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. Therefore, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. Your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and recommend re-application or repair when necessary.
What is the treatment like?
The application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or hardened with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.
Which teeth should be sealed?
The natural flow of saliva usually keeps the smooth surfaces of teeth clean but does not wash out the grooves and fissures. So the teeth most at risk of decay-and therefore, most in need of sealants- are the six-year and twelve-year molars. Many times the permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from sealant coverage. Any tooth, however, with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants. Talk to your pediatric dentist, as each child's situation is unique.
If my child has sealants, are brushing and flossing still important?
Absolutely! Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile.
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 can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.
How do I know if my 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.
What is enamel fluorosis?
A child may face the condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she gets too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.
Why is enamel fluorosis a concern?
Most cases of fluorosis are mild and will appear as tiny white specks or streaks that are often unnoticeable. However, in severe cases of enamel fluorosis, the appearance of the teeth is marred by discoloration or brown markings. The enamel may be pitted, rough, and hard to clean.
How does a child get enamel fluorosis?
By swallowing too much fluoride for the child's size and weight during the years of tooth development. This can happen in several different ways. First, a child may take more of a fluoride supplement than the amount prescribed. Second, the child may take a fluoride supplement when there is already an optimal amount of fluoride in the drinking water. Third, some children simply like the taste of fluoridated toothpaste. They may use too much toothpaste, and then swallow it instead of spitting it out.
How can enamel fluorosis be prevented?
Talk to your pediatric dentist as the first step. He or she can tell you how much fluoride is in your drinking water. (Your local water treatment plant is another source of this information.) If you drink well water or bottled water, your pediatric dentist can assist you in getting an analysis of its fluoride content. After you know how much fluoride your child receives, you and your pediatric dentist can decide together whether your child needs a fluoride supplement. Watch your child's use of fluoridated toothpaste as the second step. A pea-sized amount on the brush is plenty for fluoride protection. Teach your child to spit out the toothpaste, not swallow it, after brushing.
Should I just avoid fluorides for my child altogether?
No! Fluoride prevents tooth decay. It is an important part of helping your child keep a healthy smile for a lifetime. Getting enough -- but not too much -- fluoride can be easily accomplished with the help of your pediatric dentist.
Can enamel fluorosis be treated?
Once fluoride is part of the tooth enamel, it can't be taken out. But the appearance of teeth affected by fluorosis can be greatly improved by a variety of treatments in esthetic dentistry. If your child suffers from severe enamel fluorosis, your pediatric dentist can tell you about dental techniques that enhance your child's smile and self-confidence.
How often should a child have dental X-ray films?
Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-ray films varies from child to child. Your child's medical and dental history will be reviewed along with a clinical exam to determine which films should be taken.
How safe are dental X-rays?
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. Lead aprons and digital film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.
What safeguards are used to protect my child from X-ray exposure?
Lead body aprons and shields help 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 and proper shielding to assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
A. Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. In our office this will be a component of your child's oral evaluation. If a habit is present we will recommend ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
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