Frequently Asked questions
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.
“First visit by 1st 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 – and certainly no later than his/her 1st birthday.
A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best choice for babies. Brushing twice a day, especially at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.
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.
When teeth erupt, sore gums 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 alleviate the discomfort.
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. If children are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when their permanent teeth erupt, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist. Most children stop these habits on their own.
Children under 3 may use a fluoride toothpaste but should only have a small smear (the size of a grain of rice) at each brushing. Around 3 years old, as children are able to spit out the toothpaste, they can increase to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Parents should assist with brushing until a child has the manual dexterity to do a thorough brushing themselves (usually when your child is able to write in cursive or tie their own shoes).
Please see us as soon as possible. If your child will not eat or will not drink, please take them to the emergency room as this can easily lead to dehydration in a young child. To comfort your child, rinse his/her mouth with warm water and give them children’s ibuprofen/Motrin or children’s Tylenol for pain.
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 dentist is your child’s best protection against sports-related injuries.
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. Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or older. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Also, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.
First of all, remain calm. If possible, find the tooth and hold it by the crown (top) rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket, and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If the tooth has debris on it, you may lightly rinse with water (water will harm the cells on the root). If you cannot put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk or saliva (milk is best), and come straight to our office. Time is essential, so the faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.