Commonly Asked Questions
. At what age should my child first see a dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your
child should visit the dentist by his or 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 their staff will
explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do
concerning the visit, the better.
2 . Why are the
primary teeth so important?
It is very important to
maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and
frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth.
Primary teeth, or baby teeth, are important for (1) providing space for
the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (2)
permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. While the
front four teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids
and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
3 . When
will my baby start getting teeth?
Teething, the process of
primary (baby) teeth coming through the gums into the mouth, is variable
among individual babies. Some babies get their teeth early and some get
them late. In general the first baby teeth are usually the lower front
(anterior) teeth and usually begin erupting between the age of 6-8
Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3,
the pace and order of their eruption varies. Permanent teeth begin
appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central
incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.
4 . How do I prevent cavities?
Good oral hygiene
removes bacteria and the left over food particles that combine to create
cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the
plaque from teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a
bottle filled with anything other than water.
children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number
of snacks containing sugar that you give your children.
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends six month visits to
the dentist beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits
will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.
dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride
treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child’s
molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces.
What are sealants?
A sealant is a clear or white material
that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth
(premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are
found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus
protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth.
Should Kids be given Flouride?
Fluoride is an element,
which has been shown to be beneficial to teeth. However, too little or
too much fluoride can be detrimental to the teeth. Little or no fluoride
will not strengthen the teeth to help them resist cavities. Excessive
fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental
fluorosis, which is a chalky white to even brown discoloration of the
Parents can take the following steps to
decrease the risk of fluorosis in their children’s teeth:
• Use baby
tooth cleanser on the toothbrush of the very young child.
only a pea sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the brush when
• Account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride
before requesting fluoride supplements from your child’s physician or
• Avoid giving any fluoride-containing supplements
to infants until they are at least 6 months old.
• Obtain fluoride
level test results for your drinking water before giving fluoride
supplements to your child (check with local water utilities).
7 . What’s The Best Toothpaste For My Child?
brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. When
looking for a toothpaste for your child make sure to pick one that is
recommended by the American Dental Association. These toothpastes have
undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.
children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too
much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as
fluorosis can occur.
8 . Does thumb sucking damage the
Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young
children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which
to suck. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the
permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth
and tooth alignment. Children should cease thumb sucking by the time
their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop
between the ages of two and four.
9 . Does Your Child
Grind His or Her Teeth At Night?
Parents are often
concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the
first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their
teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting
shorter) to the dentition.
The majority of cases of pediatric
bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth
(attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be
The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The
grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop
grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with
your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
10 . Should my
child wear a mouthguard while playing sports?
strongly recommended that children wear a mouthguard while playing any
contact sport. It is always better to prevent an injury than to repair
one. The earlier a child begins to wear the mouthguard, the easier it is
to become comfortable and continue to wear it as they get older.
11 . What should I do if my child gets a tooth knocked out?
If the tooth is a permanent tooth, time is extremely
crucial. Immediately stick the tooth back in the socket. Don't worry
about getting it in straight or having it turned backwards, just get it
in the socket and immediately call your dentist. If you are
uncomfortable placing the tooth in the socket, put it in a glass of milk
and get your child to the dentist as quickly as possible. If the tooth
is a baby tooth, do not put it in the socket because damage to the
permanent tooth can occur. When in doubt, put the tooth in milk and see
your dentist immediately.
12 . Are silver fillings,
fluoride or x-rays, a danger to my health? What are the alternatives?
Dental amalgam, or silver filling material, is a mixture of
mercury, and an alloy of silver, tin and copper. The release of mercury
in silver fillings is so small that it is much less than what patients
are exposed to in food, air and water. There are, however, other
materials that can be used for restorations. These include gold,
porcelain, and composite resins.
Fluoride is a compound of the
element fluorine, which is found universally throughout nature in water,
soil, air and in most foods. Fluoride is absorbed easily into the tooth
enamel, especially in children's growing teeth. Once teeth are
developed, fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to
decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay
before the damage is visible.
Radiographs, or x-rays, help your
dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease,
abscesses, and many abnormal growths such as cysts and tumors. They can
help pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that
may not be possible to detect through a visual examination. All health
care providers are sensitive to patients' concerns about exposure to
radiation. Your dentist has been trained to prescribe radiographs when
they are appropriate and to tailor the radiograph schedule to your
individual needs. By using state-of-the-art technology, such as digital
radiography, and by staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your
dentist knows which techniques, procedures and X-ray films can minimize
your exposure to radiation.