Q: When should my child first see the dentist?
A: In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, we recommend that your son or daughter first visit the dentist either before their first birthday or within six months of the eruption of their first baby tooth. Seeing a dentist early ensures that you can establish good home care with your child, allows your child to get used to going to the dentist early, and helps prevent dental decay.
Q: Why would I go to a pediatric dentist and not an “adult” dentist?
A: General and pediatric dentists are both trained and qualified in diagnosing and treating children. However, pediatric dentists usually complete two additional years of schooling where they learn more about how best to treat children. Pediatric dentists are specialists and only work with children. They are usually better equipped to handle emergencies involving children, as well as handling behavior management of the children.
Q: How can I prevent my child from getting cavities?
A: Cavities form for a variety of reasons including dental decay, poor oral hygiene, lack of preventive care, and genetic inclinations. The best way to prevent your child from developing cavities is to model good oral hygiene yourself, including brushing and flossing twice daily. You should also begin brushing your child’s teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth comes in. You can also begin flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two adjacent baby teeth are touching. Additional preventive measures include a balanced diet, good hydration and drinking lots of milk.
Q: Is fluoride good for my child’s teeth?
Fluoride is a useful tool in preventing cavities and strengthening tooth enamel even in children. However, it is important to moderate how much fluoride is consumed by your child as it can cause stains to form on the permanent teeth. Fluoride is most effective when it comes into direct contact with the enamel. Fluoride and vitamin tablets are much less effective than brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. Mouthwashes can be beneficial to children at risk for dental decay when they are around six years of age or older.
Q: My child still sucks his thumb and he’s three years old. Should I be worried?
A: It is normal for children to explore their world by placing everything in their mouths up until about age three. Around age three, though, it is time to start encouraging your child to stop sucking their thumb. Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can cause your child’s upper teeth to flare out and give the appearance of an “overbite”. If the oral habit continues past age six, the permanent teeth will likely become affected.
Q: Is there any “good” candy I can give my child?
A: Moderation is the true key to sugar, as with all things in life. As long as children consume candy in moderation and follow up by brushing their teeth, small amounts of sugar are not likely to be harmful. Some gums and candy contain xylitol, a natural sweetener that has been shown to prevent tooth decay!
Q: My child has a cavity in a baby tooth. Do I really need to get it filled?
A: Absolutely! Even baby teeth need treatment because untreated tooth decay can lead to the following:
- Pain – Cavities can cause sensitivity when eating or drinking and can eventually lead to a dull ache in the mouth. This pain will lead to missed school and even malnutrition!
- Infection – Even baby teeth can become infected. Untreated infections can cause damage to the permanent teeth and cause potentially life-threatening swelling.
- Space Loss – Baby teeth hold the space for future permanent teeth to grow into. Baby teeth that are lost prematurely to gum disease will no longer be present to hold that spot. The back teeth will then drift forward, leading to future crowding as the permanent teeth grow in.
Q: How can I relieve the discomfort of teething?
A: Frozen teething rings and Tylenol are usually the best treatment options for teething stages. Topical anesthetics like Orajel are not recommended.
Q: My child knocked out his front tooth. What do I do now?
A: Call our office immediately! Early treatment for dental traumas can greatly increase your chances of successfully treating the tooth. If the tooth is a permanent tooth, immediately place the tooth in milk to keep it sanitary. Handle the tooth only by the crown, not the root. After we have treated the tooth, it will be important to keep an eye on the area. Look out for changes in color (yellowing or darkening), sensitivity, looseness, or infection (will appear as a “bubble” on the gums). Call our office even if the tooth lost is a baby tooth. There is always a chance that in the process of knocking the tooth out that the developing teeth could have been damaged in some way.