Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions regarding small children
At what age should you bring your child for his or her first dental visit?
It may surprise some parents, but the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all strongly encourage parents to have their children seen by a pediatric dentist when their first tooth appears and definitely before their first birthday. It makes a lot of sense once you consider the following facts:
- Baby teeth are vulnerable to tooth decay from their very first appearance, typically between the ages of six and twelve months.
- The pain of tooth decay can prevent a child from eating correctly impacting overall development.
- Pediatric dentists provide parents with information on proper oral home care to give children an early start on good oral health.
- A recent paper in the Pediatric Dentistry journal showed that children who wait to the age of two or three for their first dental visit are more likely to require restorative work as well as emergency visits. The study also stated that children who have their first dental visit before age one actually have 40% lower costs in their first five years than children who do not.
What Should We Expect at Our Child’s First Visit?
You can help make your child’s first visit to our office enjoyable. New patient forms can be downloaded from this website and filled out ahead of time. Simply bring them with you so you and your child can relax together in our waiting room. Present the visit to your child as an exciting experience and remain relaxed. Explain to your child that the doctor will count, brush and take pictures of their teeth. Our staff is specially trained to make your child comfortable and relaxed from the first few minutes of entering our office and will explain any procedure before it is started. The typical first visit includes a dental exam and a cleaning. Each child will receive a lesson on the proper cleaning of their teeth at home and a new toothbrush, floss and surprise. Digital X-rays will be taken based on the needs of your child. It is our mission to make this a very positive experience for your child.
When Will My Child Develop a First Tooth?
Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary (or baby) teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3; the pace and order of their eruption varies. No matter how old, it is important to bring your child for his or her first dental visit shortly after the eruption of the first tooth. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.
I’ve heard babies shouldn’t fall asleep nursing or drinking a bottle. Why not?
Do not nurse a young child to sleep or put him to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened liquid. While a child sleeps, any unswallowed liquid in the mouth feeds bacteria that produce acids and attack the teeth. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting him to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water.
Why Are The Primary Teeth 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) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. 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.
Why does thumb sucking start and is this bad for the teeth and jaws?
This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born.
Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue these habits over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.
Our pediatric dentist will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth erupt and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. Because persistent habits may cause long term problems, intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age. We can work with your child to help them stop thumb sucking or using a pacifier if need be.
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, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Call our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. We do offer emergency visits.
Why should X-ray films be taken if my child has never had a cavity and are they safe?
X-ray films detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.
X-ray films are recommended only when necessary to evaluate and monitor your child’s oral health. The frequency of X-ray films is determined by your child’s individual needs. If your child’s previous dentist obtained X-ray films, request copies be sent to your new pediatric dentist to help reduce radiation exposure.
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.
At the Children’s Dental Health Center at Englewood Dental we use the latest technology in X-ray equipment, digital X-rays, which emit much less exposure than traditional X-rays.
Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. Digital X-rays, along with high-speed film, and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Diet & Cavity Prevention
How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?
A balanced diet does not guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your child’s teeth. If you do not live in a fluoridated community or have an ideal amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child may need a fluoride supplement during the years of tooth development. Your pediatric dentist can help assess how much supplemental fluoride your child needs, based upon the amount of fluoride in your drinking water and other potential sources of fluoride.
What is an appropriate diet for my child?
First, be sure they have a balanced diet. Then, check how frequently they eat foods with sugar or starch in them. Foods with starch include breads, crackers, pasta and snacks, such as pretzels and potato chips. When checking for sugar, look beyond the sugar bowl and candy dish. A variety of foods contain one or more types of sugar.
Sugar can be found in many processed foods; even some that do not taste sweet. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly, but may have sugar added to the peanut butter.
A food with sugar or starch is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Sticky foods, such as dried fruit or gummy candy, are not easily washed away from the teeth by saliva, water or milk. Therefore, they have more cavity-causing potential than foods more rapidly cleared from the teeth. If your child must have a sugary drink, encourage them to drink it through a straw and to sip water after drinking the sweet drink.
Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?
Absolutely. It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. In addition, this will positively affect healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates may increase the probability of tooth decay.
How do I create a diet that is safe for my child’s teeth?
As we stated earlier, initiate a balanced diet. Analyze the frequency in which starch- based foods are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. In addition, sugar is found in more than just candy. All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a favorite for bagged lunches. Unfortunately, it includes sugar not only in the jelly, but also in the peanut butter. For less sugar and more flavor and nutrients, try replacing jelly with fresh fruit slices (apples, pears, or bananas) or chopped dried fruit. Go easy on the peanut butter, though — it’s high in fat. Choose the “no-salt-added” kind for less sodium.
Should I eliminate all sugar and starch from my child’s diet?
Of course not. Many of these foods are incredibly important to your child’s health. Starch- based foods are much safer to eat for teeth when eaten with an entire meal. Foods that stick to teeth are also more difficult to wash away by water, saliva, or other drinks. It’s important that you talk to our staff about your child’s diet and to maintain proper dental care.
What helpful information can you give me regarding tooth decay in infants?
Most importantly, don’t nurse your children to sleep. Do not put them to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula. When a child is sleeping, any liquid that remains in the mouth can support the bacteria that produce acid and harm the teeth. A simple pacifier or bottle of water is fine.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Tooth Loss
How Can We Prevent Sports-Related Orofacial Injuries?
According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the popularity of organized youth sports and the increasing level of competitiveness have resulted in a significant number of dental and facial injuries. All sporting activities carry a risk of orofacial injuries due to falls, collisions and contact with sports equipment. Although sport injuries can happen at any age, they are most prevalent in children from the ages of 7 to 11.
Although some sports injuries are unavoidable, most can be prevented. Helmets, facemasks and mouthguards have been shown to reduce both the frequency and severity of dental and orofacial trauma. The American Academy for Sports Dentistry recommends the use of a properly fitted mouthguard in all collision and contact sports. Both parents and coaches can greatly increase mouthguard usage by encouraging young athletes to wear them.
There are three types of mouthguards: custom, made by a dentist based on a mold of the mouth, boil and bite, in which a stock mouthguard is adapted after immersing the appliance in hot water, or a stock over-the-counter model. Cost, comfort and level of protection varies in the different types and from patient to patient.
If you have questions as to the best type of mouthguard for your child or when your child should use a mouthguard, please call our office. We are happy to help.
What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?
Contact our office as soon as possible.
What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap — use just water!) If possible, 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, saliva, or water. Call our office immediately, the faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth. We do offer emergency visits.
What should I do if my child’s tooth is fractured or chipped?
Contact our office as soon as possible. Time is of the essence! Our goal is to save the tooth and prevent infection. Rinse the mouth out with water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. It’s possible that if you can find the broken tooth fragment, it can be bonded back to the tooth.
What do I do if my child has a toothache?
Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. To help comfort your child, rinse out the mouth with cold water and apply a compress.
How can we prevent dental injuries?
Simple. Sport related dental injuries can be reduced or prevented by wearing mouth guards. Child proofing your home can help reduce injuries at home. In addition, regular dental check ups will contribute to preventative care
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sealants
What are sealants?
Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to children’s teeth to keep them cavity-free.
Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult—sometimes impossible—to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay.
Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. Therefore, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. Your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and recommend re-application or repair when necessary.
The application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or hardened with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.
How do sealants work?
In many cases, it is nearly impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves between their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?
The longevity of sealants varies. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Any tooth that shows characteristics of developing decay should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s back teeth, and of these teeth, the molars are the most common teeth on which dental sealants are placed. The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
What is the procedure for placing sealants?
Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants can be a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned, and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light and then buffed. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment.
How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?
It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay.
How much does it cost?
This treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions About A Gummy Smile
When some children smile, they may show an excessive amount of gum tissue. This is called a gummy smile and may be due to a few different problems:
Gum irritation and overgrowth from braces. This is more likely to happen if the teeth appear short before the braces are placed on the teeth. This problem results not from the quality of the orthodontic care, but is a result of pre-treatment gum and bone thickness.
Altered passive eruption. The gum and bone normally recede as a part of the normal eruption of the teeth. When this normal recession doesn’t occur, the gums cover too much of the teeth and make them appear “too short”. The teeth are usually not too short. They are usually of normal size but are buried under the gum and bone.
If there are habits such as digit sucking or grinding (bruxism), excessive pressure or tooth wear can alter the appearance of the teeth. The problems may be able to be corrected with orthodontics, surgical procedures, or dental restorations such as crowns or veneers.
Skeletal developmental problems affect the growth of the jaws and the teeth. If orthodontics are instituted between the years of seven and nine, the growth of the jaws can often be controlled and the cosmetics can be improved.
Before treatment, it is critical to properly evaluate the problems and get an accurate diagnosis. Some cosmetic issues can be easily corrected while others like skeletal problems can be more difficult.