Frequently Asked Questions

Children should have the first dental visit within six months of the eruption of the first baby tooth and no later than their first birthday. This is so that an assessment and record can be made of your child’s dental development and risk of getting cavities. This also gives us the opportunity to discuss good oral hygiene practices at home, diet, injury prevention and possible need for fluoride supplements. If we find cavities or other problems, these things can be taken care of early before they become a bigger problem.

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

This depends on the pediatric dentist, the parent, the child and the situation. The decision on where the parent remains during the child’s treatment should be made by the pediatric dentist and the parent, and is based on what is best for the child.

Usually the two lower front teeth (central incisors) erupt at about six months of age, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. During the next 18 to 24 months, the rest of the baby teeth appear, although not in orderly sequence from front to back. All of these 20 primary teeth should be present at two to three years of age.

Some children appear to be comforted during the normal eruption process by chewing on a teething biscuit, a piece of toast, or a frozen teething ring. Teething medications that can be rubbed on the gums to reduce the discomfort are available at your pharmacy.

Permanent teeth are normally yellower than primary teeth, but they appear even more so because you are comparing them with the lighter baby teeth still in the mouth.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Sometimes the permanent teeth begin to come in before the baby teeth are lost. When this happens, unless the child can work the baby teeth out by himself within a few weeks, the pediatric dentist may have to remove them. Once the baby tooth is out, the tongue usually moves the permanent tooth forward into its proper position, if space permits. If this crowded condition should occur in the upper jaw, the baby teeth should be removed immediately. Sometimes it is necessary for the pediatric dentist to move the permanent tooth forward with an orthodontic appliance.

Perfectly all right. As the tooth loosens, it is natural for a child to assist the process, which may take several weeks.

Usually there is no need for concern. The space can be expected to close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt. If there is a problem, your pediatric dentist will recognize it.

Very probably, unless the cause can be determined and proper preventive and corrective steps are taken.

Though dairy products are considered one of the four basic food groups and an important part of the diet, in one specific situation milk can be responsible for causing a type of rampant decay. This decay process happens when a child goes to sleep while breast-feeding and bottle-feeding. The milk is collected on the roof of the mouth and tongue, and the upper front teeth are bathed in it. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. The sugar content of the stagnant collected milk is changed to acids which cause decalcification (softening) of the enamel, resulting in extensive decay called “nursing caries”.

Even though these primary teeth are called “baby teeth”, some of them must serve until the child is at least twelve years old, sometimes longer. Neglect of the baby teeth can result in pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health, and premature loss of teeth, which is a major cause of orthodontic problems. Also, cavities tend to form in teeth that are next to other teeth with unfilled cavities, because decay is really an infection and will spread if left untreated. It is unwise to leave active decay in the mouth. Decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Unfortunately, most children with untreated decay on baby teeth will develop decay on permanent teeth.

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

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

A fluoridated toothpaste that is recognized by the American Dental Association, as being effective in reducing tooth decay should be used. Equally as important as the toothpaste is the thoroughness with which the plaque is removed by brushing and flossing. Children aged three years and younger should not use a fluoridated toothpaste; please select a non-fluoridated infant toothpaste.

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, life long 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 measured 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.

Decay is caused by dental plaque, a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth. When sugar is eaten, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down, and a cavity (hole) is formed.

Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease a person’s chances of getting cavities by making teeth stronger. Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it. Most major cities have fluoride in the drinking water system. In communities where the water district does not fluoridate the water, fluoride supplements should be given to your child until their twelve year molars are fully erupted (approximately age 12 years). Your pediatric dentist or pediatrician can help determine if your child needs fluoride supplements or not.

Thumbsucking is perfectly normal for infants; most children stop by age two. If your child does not stop thumbsucking, discourage it by age four. Prolonged thumbsucking can create crowded, crooked teeth and bite problems. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumbsucking habit.

A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where decay occurs most often. This sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay prone areas of the back teeth from plaque and acid.

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