Frequently Asked Questions…

What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

 

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday. If your child is older than this and has not yet seen a dentist, now is the perfect time!

 

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his or her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

 

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 forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

 

What should I do if my child has a toothache?
First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain, instead of placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, see a dentist as soon as possible.

 

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

 

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

 

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?
A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

 

Toothpaste: When should we begin using it and how much should we use?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. At six months of age, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a “grain of rice” sized amount of toothpaste. Use this rice-size amount of paste for children up to age 3. For children ages three to six, dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

 

How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?
Make sure your child has a balanced diet according to the guidelines recommended by the food pyramid. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth.

 

How do dental sealants work?
Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

 

How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?
Your pediatric dentist can easily evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

 

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?
Soft plastic mouth guards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport-related injuries. A custom-fitted mouth guard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

 

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
The most important thing to do is to remain calm. First, find the tooth. Then hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist or emergency room.

 

How safe are dental X-rays?
There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Protective aprons and digital radiography minimize the amount of radiation and keep your child safe.

 

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the appearance of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

 

What can I do as a pregnant mother to help my child’s teeth?
The teeth begin to form between the third and sixth months of pregnancy. Good health habits are important for the development of the unborn child. Unless a physician recommends otherwise, pregnant women should remember to consume dairy products, which are the best source for calcium, the main building block for bones and teeth. Pregnant mothers should be sure to continue routine visits to their dentist because periodontal disease has been shown to be a risk factor for low birth weight and premature birth of infants.

 

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