FAQ

How should I clean my baby's teeth?

A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best choice for infants. Brushing at least once a day, at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.

At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?

"First visit by first birthday" is the general rule. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, certainly no later than his/her first birthday. We will assess your child’s dental development and risk of getting cavities. We will also discuss good oral hygiene practices, diet, injury prevention and the need for fluoride supplements. If we find cavities or other problems, these can be addressed early before they become a bigger problem

What is the difference between a pediatric and family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has an additional two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are the primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in maintaining space and form a path for permanent teeth when they are ready to erupt. A beautiful smile with well maintained primary teeth is also important to a child’s self-esteem and confidence

What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can I prevent it?

Baby bottle tooth decay is a pattern of rapid decay associated with prolonged nursing. It happens when a child goes to sleep while breast-feeding and/or bottle-feeding. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. The sugar content of the stagnant milk is changed to lactic acid which can cause decalcification (white spots and softening) of the enamel, resulting in early childhood decay called “nursing caries”

My 2-year-old has a cavity in a tooth. Should the tooth be fixed?

Yes, it should be treated as soon as possible to avoid pain and infection

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

You should start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as they come in, because harmful plaque begins to form as soon as teeth erupt

What type of toothpaste should my child use?

Any fluoridated toothpaste that carries the American Dental Association seal is effective in reducing/preventing tooth decay. For children between 2 and 3 years of age, fluoridated toothpaste can be introduced. Apply a small pea sized portion of fluoridated toothpaste on an appropriate child sized, soft bristled toothbrush. Young children should brush with parental supervision and be encouraged to spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing. For children less than 2 years of age utilize non-fluoridated toothpaste to prevent excess swallowing of fluoride and possible fluorosis (staining) of permanent teeth

Should I use an electric toothbrush on my child’s teeth?

Some children and adults seem to do a more effective job of cleaning their teeth with the aid of an electric toothbrush. It is often a matter of patient preference and the novelty of an electric toothbrush that may motivate your child to brush more frequently. The pediatric dentist may suggest an electric toothbrush for some children

If my child gets a toothache, what should I do?

To comfort your child, rinse his/her mouth with warm salt water and apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cold cloth on your child’s face if it swollen. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area, but you may give the child acetaminophen for pain. See us as soon as possible

Is my child getting enough fluoride?

Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease a person's chances of getting cavities. Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it. If you have a well and/or live in a non-fluoridated community, have a pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of the water source. If the water source is deficient in fluoride (or if your child only drinks bottled water), your pediatric dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement. (Until your child’s second permanent molars are fully erupted, at approximately age 12.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the pediatric dentist beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. A specific program will be recommended by the pediatric dentist for brushing, flossing and other treatments to assist parents to supervise and teach their children. Even before primary teeth are present, parents can wipe their children’s gums with a damp wash cloth or gauze square or use “spiffies”. Parents should also see their dentist every six months for cleanings and decay and periodontal evaluation. The bacteria, which cause decay, S. mutans are acquired by children most commonly from their parents. Xylitol gum and mints have been shown to reduce oral bacterial number.

When do the first teeth start to erupt?

At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all of these 20 primary teeth should be present.

How can I help my child through the teething stage?

Sore gums when teeth erupt are part of the normal eruption process. The discomfort is eased for some children by use of a teething biscuit, a piece of toast or a frozen teething ring. Your pharmacy should also have medications that can be rubbed on the gums to reduce the discomfort.

Why should baby teeth be filled, since they will be lost anyway?

Some of the primary teeth (also known as baby teeth) will serve the child until at least 12-years-old. Untreated baby teeth can cause pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth, which can cause significant orthodontic problems. Decay is considered an infectious disease also and will spread from one tooth to another if left untreated. Children with decay on primary teeth are at a much higher risk for developing decay on their permanent teeth.

What causes decay?

Decay is caused by plaque which harbors bacteria (S. mutans) that is continually forming on everyone’s teeth. When sugar is eaten, the bacteria produce acids that attack tooth enamel. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down; a cavity (hole) is formed.

My child has a double row of front teeth. Why is this and what should be done about it?

This is not uncommon. Occasionally, the permanent teeth erupt before the baby teeth are lost. When this occurs, we will encourage the child to “wiggle” and attempt to remove the baby teeth themselves. If the primary teeth aren’t loose and/or if there is insufficient space for the permanent teeth, we may need to remove the primary teeth. Once the baby tooth/teeth are gone, the tongue usually moves the permanent teeth forward to its proper position as long as the space is adequate. If the crowded/two rows of teeth condition occur in the upper jaw, the remaining baby teeth need to be removed immediately. It is sometimes necessary for the pediatric dentist to move the permanent tooth/teeth forward with an orthodontic appliance.

Can thumb sucking and pacifier habits be harmful for my child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create orthodontic problems. If they are still sucking their thumb or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist. Most children stop these habits on their own. We recommend encouragement and positive reinforcement to help children resolve oral habits.

Is it alright for my child to remove his/her own baby tooth when they become loose?

It is perfectly alright. It is natural as the tooth loosens, for the child to assist with the process and it may take several weeks.

I noticed a space between my child’s two upper front teeth. Is this cause for concern?

Usually, the space will close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt. We can determine whether there is cause for concern.

Why do permanent teeth look so much yellower than baby teeth?

Baby teeth are a bluish white color and permanent teeth are a yellowish white color. This is due to the outer enamel coating of the tooth and the layer just under the enamel, the dentin. This condition is most notable when there are just a few permanent teeth present with the majority of primary teeth still present.

What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?

First of all, remain calm. If possible, find the tooth and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

My child plays sports. How should I protect my child's teeth?

A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child's list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. They protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard, but a custom-fitted mouth guard fitted by our doctor is your child's best protection against sports-related injuries.

How safe are dental X-rays?

With contemporary safeguards, such as lead aprons and high-speed film, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. Even though there is very little risk, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

Sealants are clear or shaded plastic applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, which are hard to clean, and shut out food particles that could get caught, causing cavities. Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.

Why is it necessary to take my child to the pediatric dentist every six months?

The pediatric dentist will want to see your child at regular and frequent intervals for several reasons. Regular visits keep the child familiar with the pediatric dentist and his or her staff and encourage a pleasant, confident attitude in the child regarding this necessary, lifelong health practice. Also, as the child develops and grows, the pediatric dentist will want to be certain that tooth eruption and proper jaw development are progressing normally or, if not, that corrective measures are undertaken in time. Appropriate preventive measures such as regular applications of fluoride on the tooth surfaces, placement of pit and fissure sealants on newly erupted teeth, and reinforcement of good daily health practices (brushing, flossing, and dietary advice) can be continually encouraged by the pediatric dentist and his or her staff when the child is a regular and frequent visitor to the dental office. If decay or other dental defect has occurred, it will be detected in the early stages when it is easier and less costly to treat.