Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about their children's dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.
Click on a question below to see the answer.
What is a pediatric dentist?
The pediatric dentist has an extra two years of specialized training and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through adolscence. The very young, preteens, teens and young adults all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.
When should my child's 1st dental visit be and what can I expect?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
Why are the Primary (Baby) teeth so important?
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. We are often asked "why put fillings in baby teeth when they will fall out anyway?" Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. The primary teeth allow your child to chew properly, thus enabling proper nutrition. It is found that children with significant cavities are often underweight. It's not fun to eat when it hurts! Children may not be able to verbalize their dental pain, but will find themselves limiting food choices due to chewing discomfort.
Your child will learn to talk using the primary dentition. By the age of seven, when the upper front teeth begin to come out, most speech skills are already formed. In some cases, children that lose their primary front teeth too early have been shown to require speech therapy.
Once a cavity is detected in a primary tooth, it can worsen quickly. If neglected, cavities can progress to the core of the tooth where the nerve lies. When this happens, the tooth becomes painful, the nerve becomes inflaimed and dies, an adscess forms and the tooth is usually lost. The infection can cause serious damage to the permanent tooth developing underneath. In some instances, a severely affected tooth can require emergency hospitalization to treat.
Certainly the development of a positive self-image is enhanced by a nice smile unmarred by brown or missing teeth.
What is baby bottle tooth decay?
Also known as Early Childhood Caries or Nursing Caries, Baby Bottle Tooth Decay is caused by frequent exposure to sugary liquids for long periods. This can happen when a baby is put to bed with a bottle (containing milk, juice, pop, etc), babies nursing on demand through the night or toddlers grazing with a sippy cup. This condition can destroy the primary teeth requiring major dental treatment for infants and toddlers. If gone untreated, the permanent teeth could also be affected. Many times treatment takes place in the hospital OR under general anesthesia.
Bottle decay is preventable by following a few simple guidelines:
1. Never allow your baby or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle containing
milk, formula, fruit juices or any sweetened liquids (including breast milk).
2. Never give your baby a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.
3. Use water only in grazing bottles and sippy cups.
4. Wipe the baby's gums with a clean gauze pad after each feeding. Begin brushing
your child's teeth with a little water as soon as the first tooth appears.
5. Encourage children to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.
Why is it important to use dental floss?
Brushing our teeth removes food particles, plaque, and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, our toothbrush can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.
Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gumline, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.
How to floss properly:
Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Daily flossing will help you keep a healthy, beautiful smile for life!
Is thumb sucking a problem?
Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; most stop by age 2 and it should be discouraged after age 4. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. We can suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
First, check with your physician regarding allergies to pain medications. Secondly, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Next, give the child acetaminophen for any pain rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, See a dentist as soon as possible.
If I want to clean my children's baby teeth, what should I use?
Any soft bristled toothbrush with a small head, designed specifically for infants, should be used at bedtime. A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.