Are "baby" teeth important?
Your child's baby teeth are extremely important. Without them your child cannot chew food properly and will have difficulty learning to speak clearly. A deep cavity in a baby tooth can cause a lot of pain that a young child may not be able to complaint about to the parent properly. Severe infections may result from untreated cavities. Untreated cavities in primary teeth can also adversely affect the development of permanent teeth. Such cavities result in a roughening of adult teeth, or cause permanent teeth that erupt with cavities. Baby teeth also serve to reserve space for permanent teeth and guide new tooth eruption in a proper direction. If a baby tooth is lost too early, new teeth may grow in crooked.
At what age should my child visit the dentist?
Children should visit the dentist for the first time between the ages of 12 to 18 months. Do not wait for the child to be in pain to bring him or her to the dentist. Most procedures are pain-free and your child should know that a trip to the dentist can be a comfortable and fun experience.
Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence. It's important to start your child on a lifetime of good dental habits and that's why an early visit to the dentist is crucial.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
Most children need appointments every six months. However, children who are experiencing cavities or other dental problems may need to see the dentist more frequently.
What happens on my baby’s first dental visit?
The first visit is often an introduction to the office. The primary goal for this visit is to build child’s trust and make the child comfortable. Creating a fun and positive memories of the dental office will ensure child’s cooperation in the following appointments.
Since every child's comfort level at the dentist's office is different, each child should be individually assessed so that the dentist and staff can proceed at the appropriate rate. First, your child will be greeted in a playful complimentary manner. The parent and child will then be escorted into the treatment area, and be introduced to the dentist or hygienist. After talking to the child, the dentist will tell the child what will be done in terms he or she can understand, then show the child the fun dental toys that are used. As your child's comfort level grows, a gentle approach will then consist of examining the teeth, gums, and bite so that we can monitor the changes as your child grows. Children under 3 years of age will be more comfortable while sitting on a parent’s lap during this examination. A gentle cleaning and instruction on how to clean your child's teeth at home will also be included, as indicated. If possible, a few x-rays of your child’s teeth should be taken in order to detect any cavities or teeth eruption problems that cannot be seen by a naked eye. In our office, we also utilize intra-oral camera during examination. Intra-oral camera displays children’s teeth on a TV or computer screen allowing both kids and parents to see the same thing that a dentist sees in the mouth. To make this and every following appointment even more enjoyable for kids, our office gives out toys and prizes at the end, to make sure that kids feel rewarded for their good behavior and look forward to returning to the office.
How do I prepare my child for the first dental visit?
Be low key about the visit. Your baby has no reason to be afraid of the dental visit but can sense fear from a parent or other caregiver. However, there is nothing to fear. During a first visit, your child may enjoy a "ride" in the dental chair, play with a mirror, and generally experience the sights and sounds of the dental office. When explaining the visit to your child try to build up the experience using positive and comforting language. Tell your child that we will count his or her teeth, show him or her how to brush, and possibly take a picture. Please avoid any mention of fear provoking terms such as hurt, drill, pull, and needle. Your child has no reason to expect a painful experience at the dentist but comments like: "Don't cry when we get there, it won't hurt at all," may put the concept of pain into child's mind. For younger children, try to set up a visit in the first part of the day, before they get tired and cranky. And relax, a dentist who is experienced in dealing with kids will not expect perfect behavior. Your children can also visit our Kids Corner before going to the dentist for our child-friendly explanation of their visit to the dentist.
What is my role as a parent during the dental visit?
If your child should try to avoid the experience, as a parent, stay calm and supportive, use positive terms, and follow the lead of the dental staff. You can help us make your child's first visit a successful experience. Please feel at ease and relaxed, as any anxiety on your part will be transferred to your child. During the visit, try not to compete with the talking of the dentist as it gives the child two people to listen to and divides their attention
It is best for parents to escort the child into the treatment area and stay in the rear or side as a silent bystander giving physical support to the child by their presence and show confidence in the provider by giving them the control over the treatment. At times a child may react more positively with the parent out of sight, while other times a child will behave better when the parent is present. The dentist is constantly evaluating the situation and will make treatment recommendations. Our staff takes pride in developing positive attitudes toward the dental experience for all of our patients. If there is anything that would be helpful to understand a child's behavior, like illness, family problems, school issues, we want to know. This will facilitate the successful visit with us.
What is Behavioral Management?
Your dentist may use a number of techniques designed to mold your child’s behavior and enlist cooperation of the child during dental treatment. These techniques are collectively called behavioral management.
Tell-Show-Do: This technique involves informing your child of the upcoming procedure in age-appropriate terms, showing the steps in a non-threatening way and only then performing the treatment.
Modeling: Good behavior in a dental office can be demonstrated to a younger child by an older child, sibling, or even a puppet show. Your dentist may recommend videos that children and parents can watch together to prepare for a dental visit.
Positive Reinforcement: Children are praised and even rewarded for good behavior.
Use of the non-threatening language is extremely important. In our office we replace many scary words with soothing words that a child can understand.
Many distraction techniques are also used. For example, some offices place TVs in treatment areas to keep children occupied during their dental visit. Your dentist may also engage in playful conversation or game with your child to help establish a bond. Reassuring a child during treatment is very important and can help the appointment go smoothly.
Dental office environment plays an important role in making children comfortable. Young children should be seen in a dental office designed with a child in mind. Playrooms with toys and video games help children relax before dental treatment. Treatment rooms painted with child-friendly images can also help children feel more comfortable and secure.
While most children do surprisingly well with the proper environment and verbal skills, others may, at times, be a bit fussy and fidgety. This is no different than a response when a baby sitter arrives or sitting for a picture taking session at the mall. This is usually short lived. If such behavior continues your child may need to be gently restrained to ensure safety. Either parent or dental assistant can gently hold child’s hands to prevent accident and reassure the child. Voice control is another behavioral technique that is occasionally used by dentists to help calm children down. This technique involves talking to a child in a very serious manner and voice establishing authority and making the child aware of the seriousness of the situation.
In rare cases, a child will need to be referred to a specialist who offers treatment for children under oral sedation and with physical restrains. Our office does not provide this type of service but we will be able to assist you in finding a specialist in your area if necessary.
What do I do after the dental visit or treatment?
After treatment is completed you can help us to continue the positive experience by praising your child and referring to the "fun" time they had.
Please avoid negative comments such as:
- Did it hurt?
- That wasn't so bad!
- You were so brave!
- Did you get a shot?
- Were you afraid?
These comments could persuade your child in thinking there was a reason to be afraid, even though they were cooperative and had a good time, as well as making their future visits more difficult.
If your child received dental treatment and local anesthesia was used, you have to take certain precautions to make sure that your child does not bite his or her lip and tongue. During your child's dental treatment, he or she is kept very busy and involved and may not notice the numbing sensation from the local anesthetic. When treatment is completed, your child will notice the numbness. This feeling will remain for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Most children are not concerned by this "tickly" sensation. Others interpret this feeling as annoying. Your child's tooth, lip, cheek, and sometimes their tongue are "asleep and tickly." We give your child a tooth pillow (piece of cotton), and explain to them that their tooth and lip are asleep and tickly, and to keep the pillow there until it wakes up. This prevents them from biting their lips, tongue, and cheeks. We urge you to reinforce this, and watch your child carefully. You may remove the pillow when the tickly feeling is gone. As soon as the tickly feeling wears off, your child may eat. If there is any post treatment discomfort, you may give them a normal dose of Advil or Tylenol. Please follow the recommended dosage and directions on the label.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call our office. We're always happy to help you. Thank you for working with us to help make all you child's dental experience positive and fun.
Does my child need to see a pedodontist (child dentist)?
Most general dentists are trained to provide thorough and comforting dental care for children. Some general dentists pursue additional training to master working on children and even have specialized areas designated for treatment of young children. Our office, for example, has a special child-friendly area where children can feel comfortable and relaxed during treatment. This bright and spacious room has murals painted on all walls and has TV screens with round-the-clock cartoons which help to distract children and keep them occupied. This room is equipped with dental units designed to keep instruments out of the child’s view and dental chairs to accommodate the smallest of our patients. We also have a play area where children can play with their favorite toys and video games. Most children do very well in such a non-threatening and familiar environment. Pedodontists are specialists who see only children and may be appropriate for your child as well. Pediatric dentists have the additional expertise and experience necessary to treat extremely uncooperative children requiring sedation or children with complex dental problems. While most children do not need to be treated by a pediatric specialist, it is best that your child is seen by a general dentist experienced working with children and has a facility geared toward treatment of children.
What dental problems can a baby have?
The most important reason for an early dental visit is to create a practical prevention program. The earlier your child sees a dentist, the better the chances of preventing dental problems. Your dentist can provide you with a valuable information about proper home oral care for your child and guide you on proper nutrition. Your dentist can also diagnose cavities, broken teeth, gum problems, or problems with tooth eruption and development. A major concern for the dentist is the presence of baby bottle tooth decay, which occurs when your baby continuously nurses from the breast or from a bottle of milk, formula, or juice during naps or at night. These liquids are full of sugars and when they pool around teeth, they subject teeth to continues acid attacks that destroy the tooth enamel. The result is rampant tooth decay at a very early age. Without intervention, this condition will not only cause pain, infection, and loss of teeth but may also damage permanent teeth developing underneath their baby counterparts.
How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
||Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting them to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water. Do not dip the pacifier in any kind of sweetened liquid. Begin cleaning your child's teeth as soon as they erupt, by wiping teeth and gums after each feeding with a clean, damp washcloth or a very soft infant toothbrush.|
How do I make my child's diet safe for his or her teeth?
The most important thing you can do is make sure your child has a balanced diet. Also, check how often your child eats foods with sugar or starch in them. Foods with starch include breads, crackers, pasta and snacks such as pretzels and potato chips. Many foods contain sugars, including processed foods such as condiments or salad dressings. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich has sugar not only in the jelly, but probably in the peanut butter too. Limit the number of starches and sugars your child eats and make sure he or she brushes afterwards. Also, watch your child's consumption of soda pop because the sugars erode the enamel on teeth. Other drinks previously believed to be safe for children like sports drinks, milk, juices or canned iced teas are also dangerous to their teeth because they contain a high level of acids and, often, sugars that can be damaging to the teeth. Even sugar-free variety is damaging due to the presence of acid. Regular consumption of any sugar or acid containing liquid will cause erosion of enamel and tooth decay. Your child can still enjoy these beverages in moderation from a regular cup as long as plain water is his or her drinks of choice. Do not put these liquids in a bottle with a nipple or sippy cup and do not allow your child to sip from these throughout the day. Limiting the number of exposures to these liquids and drinking them through a straw or from a regular cup will go a long way to protect his or her precious smile.
When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?
||At birth! Begin immediately to clean your baby's gums with a clean, damp washcloth at least once a day. When first teeth erupt a small soft toothbrush can be used to clean baby’s teeth. Use a tiny dab of fluoride toothpaste recommended by your dentist. Your dentist may recommend special training toothbrushes or dental aids designed to brush baby’s teeth easily. Starting this process early will not only prevent decay, but will also instill the habit of brushing early on, ensuring good dental habits for life.|
How much toothpaste should my child use?
Parents should place no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on the child's brush. Many children cannot adequately spit out the toothpaste after brushing, so they swallow it. Too much fluoride can cause a condition known as fluorosis, or discoloration in tooth enamel.
How can I be sure my child is brushing properly?
Parents should be brushing the teeth of their children under the age of six years, because small kids do not yet have the dexterity, or the desire, to brush their own teeth. Even when they are older, parents should continue to supervise and monitor their children's toothbrushing skills. Ask your dentist to demonstrate appropriate toothbrushing techniques.
What kind of toothbrush should my child use?
Most dentists recommend a soft brush with round bristles made of nylon and a flat brushing surface. The toothbrush head should be small enough to reach all of the sides of each tooth. Nylon brushes are most effective in removing the plaque from the teeth without causing gum irritation. We recommend that you also choose a toothbrush that will be fun for your child to use. Many manufacturers now make toothbrushes to attract a younger consumer such as glow-in-the-dark toothbrushes or toothbrushes featuring their favorite characters. Research shows that children tend to brush longer if they have a fun toothbrush. Most children will benefit from electric or rotary toothbrush. Because buying an electric toothbrush can be a considerable investment, be sure to have your dentist recommend the one that would work best for your child. Your child's brush should be replaced every three months.
What type of toothpaste should my child use?
Your child’s toothpaste should contain fluoride and has a pleasant taste to encourage brushing. Look for a toothpaste that carried an ADA seal of approval or ask your dentist to recommend one.
When should my child begin flossing?
Children should begin flossing as soon as any two teeth touch. This generally occurs when the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Parents generally need to assist with flossing until the early teenage years. Again, check with your dentist to determine the appropriate method of flossing.
How can I help my child prevent cavities?
Children are the most cavity-prone of all age groups. It is critical that children brush twice each day and floss once each day to remove plaque, the colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth and leads to decay and gum disease. A well-balanced diet and limited snacking also promote good oral health. Fluoride toothpastes and mouthrinses provide important protection. And, of course, regular dental checkups are important.
Why is fluoride so important for my child's teeth?
Fluoride forms mineral crystals in the tooth enamel, which protects teeth from the acid produced by bacteria. Very simply, fluoride keeps the bacteria from being able to attach to teeth. Fluoride is present in the water supply of many communities. It is also found in foods such as tea, fish and vegetables. Many studies show that children who drink fluoridated water have fewer cavities than children who don't. If your child is especially prone to decay, your dentist may recommend fluoride rinses or gels to supplement the regular oral care routine. For a nursing infant, a vitamin supplement with fluoride in it is often the best way to provide the infant with the fluoride needed. Even if the mother is drinking fluoridated water, the baby will not get any fluoride. Ask your dentist what is best for your infant.
Should I worry about thumbsucking?
That depends on the duration and the severity of thumbsucking. In other words, how long and how severely does the child suck his or her thumb? In severe cases, prolonged thumbsucking can create crowded, crooked teeth and bite problems. Thumsucking is perfectly normal for infants and should stop by the age of two years old. If your child doesn't stop by the age of four years, consult your dentist.
Why are sealants necessary?
||When back teeth are developing, grooves are formed on the chewing surfaces. They are impossible to keep clean because the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach into them. Therefore, pits and grooves are snug places for plaque and bits of food to hide. Sealants are clear plastic materials that can be painted onto these decay-prone surfaces of the teeth. By forming a thin covering over the pits and fissures, the sealants keep plaque and food out of the crevices in the teeth, reducing the risk of decay. However, children must continue to brush and visit the dentist.|
Lost Teeth and Space Maintainers
|Baby teeth play an important role of reserving a space for a permanent tooth to come into place. If a baby tooth is lost too early, remaining teeth will tilt toward the empty space, causing the permanent teeth to come in crooked. In severe cases, the space may close up completely causing a permanent tooth to become impacted under the gum. To prevent this from happening, children who lose their primary teeth too soon require a space maintainer until their permanent teeth erupt.
Does my child need an athletic mouthguard?
Mouth guards should be a part of every athlete's uniform. They are as important as knee pads, helmets, and other athletic protective equipment. They protect the teeth, lips, gums, and tongue. They also can prevent children from concussions and jaw fractures. Many organized sports require mouth guards to prevent injury to children. The majority of trauma to the mouth occur when athletes do not wear mouth guards, especially in unorganized sports activities.
Choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard is not comfortable or makes it difficult for him or her to talk during sports, your child will not wear it. There are three different types of mouth guards. Preformed or "boil-and-bite" mouth guards are found in sports and department stores. There is a range in their comfort, protection, and price. Second are professionally fitted mouth guards. They are formed in the patient's mouth by a dentist, and are reasonably priced. The last are customized mouth guards which are laboratory fabricated and provided through a dentist. Although such mouthguards cost more, they are the most comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries and concussions. We can provide you with additional information on choosing the best mouth guard for your child.
Will my child need braces?
It's never too early to keep an eye on your child's oral development. Some problems can be detected as early as two to three years of age. Your dentist or orthodontist can identify these malocclusions, crowded and crooked teeth, developing bite problems, and skeletal growth discrepancies. They can actively intervene with treatment and, in many of these cases, guide the teeth into the proper positions as they emerge in the mouth. Your child should see an orthodontist when the child’s first permanent teeth start to arrive, usually around age of 7.
While some malocclusions are often inherited, other tooth alignment problems can also be caused by dental injuries, early loss of primary teeth, and thumb sucking. Early orthodontic therapy can improve your child's smile, but the benefits far surpass appearance and improved self-image. Preventive or interceptive orthodontics can not only straighten those crooked teeth and correct bite problems, but can even prevent the need for permanent tooth extractions.
Straight teeth are easier to keep clean and less susceptible to tooth decay and gum problems.
Different types of orthodontic appliances work in many ways to benefit your child's dental health. Some are fixed on the teeth, while others are removable. Each type of appliance is specifically diagnosed and custom fabricated for your child. Your orthodontist will be able to explain which appliance is best for your child, what the treatment can do, the costs involved, and how long it will take.
Early treatment takes into account the growth potentials and will usually make the final result more stable and easier treatment later on.
What is a nerve treatment for baby teeth?
|Since the enamel of primary teeth is very thin, decay can progress into the dental nerve much more easily than in permanent teeth. When decay reaches the nerve there are bacteria that enter the nerve chamber. If these bacteria continue to penetrate into the whole nerve the tooth will abscess.
|A Pulpotomy is a procedure where the infected part of the nerve is removed and a medicated filling material is placed into the nerve chamber. This keeps the remaining nerve tissue intact and vital. After the nerve treatment, the tooth needs to be restored with full coverage, either a composite or stainless steel crown. If the tooth is not protected it may fracture and need to be removed.
What is a baby crown?
||When a primary tooth has extensive decay there may not be enough tooth structure to support a conventional filling. Your dentist may place a crown to return the tooth to its natural contour and function. Stainless steels crowns are usually recommended due to their durability and ease of cleaning. Stainless steel crown is a prefabricated form that is fit and trimmed by the dentist to cover and protect the tooth. For esthetic area, acrylic crowns may be custom made by your dentist. This type of restoration will protect the primary tooth from fracture and will keep it intact until it is time for it to exfoliate.|
When do teeth appear?
Teeth begin to erupt at about 6 months of age. The tooth appears first and the root begins to develop underneath. When a child's mouth is fully developed there should be 20 teeth -- 10 on the bottom and 10 on the top. However, the top and bottom teeth erupt at different times.
When do children lose their teeth?
The permanent teeth do not erupt until the child is seven years of age. They continue to erupt until the child is about 13 years of age. Girls' teeth tend to erupt a little earlier than boys'. The only teeth to appear after that are third molars, or wisdom teeth. They usually form between the ages of 12 to 16 and do not erupt until 17 to 21 years of age.
Eruption Dates for Baby Teeth