1. When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?
Your child should see a dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than the child’s first birthday.
2. How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions. If you make negative comments about your trips to the dentist, you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of our office and the staff on the website. Let your child know that it is important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and that Dr. Shana will help him do that.
3. How often should my child visit the dentist?
We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months. Depending on the circumstance, for example a child with braces, we may recommend more frequent visits.
4. When will my baby start getting teeth?
Teething, the process of primary (baby) teeth coming through the gums into the mouth, is variable among individual babies. Some babies get their teeth early and some get them late. The first teeth are usually the lower front teeth. They usually appear between 6-8 months. This is only an average, it could be earlier or later than this.
5. What to do when my baby is teething?
Teething is a normal physiological process. Your baby may or may not experience any discomfort with his gums. If there is discomfort, it can be eased for some babies by use of a teething biscuit, a piece of toast, or a frozen teething ring. Your pharmacist should also have medications that can be rubbed on your baby’s gums to reduce discomfort. Since teething is a normal physiological process, fever or diarrhea experienced while teething should be considered coincidental and not a part of the teething process. For your child’s health and safety, please contact your pediatrician if your child experiences fever or diarrhea to rule out any serious illnesses.
6. What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can usually find a toothbrush designed for infants at the local drugstore.
7. What is baby bottle tooth decay?
This is also known as early childhood caries. It is a serious form of decay among young children. It is caused by frequent and long exposures of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar (breast milk, formula, fruit juice). Once a child’s first tooth appears, putting the child to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle containing anything other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. The sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth while the child is sleeping giving bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Once your child’s first tooth erupts, try to avoid putting him to bed with a bottle. If a bottle is needed, try to use water. Because of the concern of babies consuming too much water, please contact your pediatrician before giving your baby water. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Your baby should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age. Make a habit of wiping with a soft cloth or brushing your baby’s teeth after each feeding.
8. What type of toothpaste is best for my child?
Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning. Be sure to use toothpaste without fluoride for children under three. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing. This will begin a lifelong habit your child will need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Use an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste for children over three. You should brush your child’s teeth for him until he is old enough and ready to take on the responsibility himself, which is usually around seven or eight.
9. Are baby teeth important?
Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, primary (baby) teeth play an important role in your child’s development. While they are in place, the primary teeth help your little one speak clearly, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early, nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in misplaced permanent teeth. Also, untreated decay can affect your child’s general health. If decay exists in your child’s mouth, allowing it to continue can damage permanent teeth, spread the infection to other areas of the body, and even cause death.
10. What causes cavities?
Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind in our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel or outside covering of our teeth, eventually eating through it and creating holes in the teeth. The holes are what we call cavities.
11. How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Most snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation. The more frequent a child snacks, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese which are healthier and better for children’s teeth. Be particularly careful to minimize the consumption of sticky sweet snacks, sugary drinks, and sodas. Drinking plenty of tap water throughout the day helps to wash away food from teeth and provides a mild yet effective source of topical fluoride. Be sure that your child brushes at least twice daily, and more if possible along with flossing at bedtime. If your child is over the age of three, use an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste. Make sure your child consumes no food or drink except for water after your child’s nighttime brushing and flossing. And finally, make regular six month checkup appointments with our office.
12. What are sealants?
Sealants are clear or shaded plastic that fill in and cover the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found. Sealants shut out food particles that can get caught in the teeth and cause cavities. Applying sealants is fast and comfortable and can be effective for many years.
13. Are mouth guards important?
Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouth guards for children active in sports. If your little one participates in baseball, soccer, basketball, football, volleyball, karate, wrestling, rollerblades, skateboards, does bike tricks, or is involved in any contact sport or activities, mouth guards are recommended.
14. Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful to a child’s teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long time or if it is very intense. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended.
15. Why does my child need x-rays?
Radiographs (x-rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain conditions can and will be missed. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, plan orthodontic treatment, and diagnose cavities between teeth. Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you. There is very little risk in dental x-rays. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in the dental office is extremely low. Lead aprons and digital x-rays are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.