Pediatric Dental FAQ

At what age should my child begin seeing a dentist?

We usually recommend you schedule your child’s first visit to the dentist at around age one to one and a half.

How often should my child visit a pediatric dentist?

Just like adults, children should visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and to check for any decay or other problems. Doing so will also significantly reduce the likelihood that your child will develop a cavity. If an issue is found, you may need to bring your child in more frequently.

What should I use to brush my infant’s teeth?

Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush with a smaller head or find one that is specifically made for baby teeth. They can be found at most drug stores and can go a long way to preventing tartar and plaque buildup and decay.

How many times a day should I brush my baby’s teeth?

Infants should have their teeth cleaned a minimum of once per day, right before going to bed. Ideally, however, you will be brushing your child’s teeth twice each day.

When should I start using toothpaste on my child’s toothbrush?

It is never too soon to start using toothpaste with your child. From day one, you should clean your newborn’s gums with a wet washcloth or with an infant toothbrush. Once the teeth start to erupt, use an appropriate toothbrush twice a day along with a non-fluoride training toothpaste until your child can reliably spit after brushing rather than swallowing. Use only a small amount of toothpaste to minimize swallowing. From 2 until the age of 5, use the standard pea sized amount and supervise your child so that you ensure that they are brushing properly. Make sure that they spit out the excess toothpaste and rinse thoroughly after each brushing session.

How does a family dentist differ from a pediatric dentist?

Family dentists treat all members of the family regardless of age. Pediatric dentists, however, only provide dental care to children and receive between two and three years of additional training after dental school in caring for children’s specific dental needs. Pediatric dentists will provide both general and specialty dental care for children from infancy through puberty.

How can I prevent my child from developing tooth decay due to nursing?

Try to avoid nursing your baby to sleep. If the baby must be put to bed with a bottle, only provide water. You should also make sure to learn how to care for your child’s teeth properly. Flossing and brushing at least once per day can keep away plaque and decay. Lastly, take your child to a pediatric dentist to make sure that the gums and teeth are healthy and developing normally.

Will my baby experience lasting damage due to pacifiers or thumb sucking?

For the most part, infants and toddlers will not develop any lasting problems because of pacifier use or thumb sucking. However, pediatric dentists may become concerned if these practices continue past the third birthday and the child shows no sign of stopping. In this case, the dentist may recommend the use of an appliance to help break the habit.

Are my child’s baby teeth really that important?

Absolutely, they are. For one, the health and placement of the baby teeth can have a significant impact on your child’s ability to both speak as well as chew their food. They also serve as a bookmark for the permanent teeth that will erupt later on. Any significant damage to the baby teeth can affect the developing permanent teeth.

How will my child’s diet affect the health of their teeth?

Try to limit the amount of starchy and sugary foods and juice that your child consumes. These foods have been linked to an increased risk of decay. On the other hand, a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, eggs, fish, and meat can keep away tooth decay as well as keep your child happy and healthy. Remember also that the eating habits you impart early on will likely be a part of who they are for a lifetime.

How can I treat my child’s toothache myself?

If your child comes to you complaining about a toothache, try to get them to identify which tooth or area of the mouth is troubling them. Then, rinse the mouth with warm water mixed with salt and use a cold washcloth to reduce swelling. Some children’s acetaminophen can then be administered to relieve any pain your child might be feeling. Make an appointment to visit the pediatric dentist as soon as possible to rule out any serious causes.

Is my child getting the proper amount of fluoride?

It’s best to speak with your dentist about specific concerns. Fluoride has been proven to help prevent cavities, however, too much fluoride can be a problem. Fluoride is added to the drinking water of all five NYC boroughs, but it is not added in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Fluoride should not be in bottled water unless the label specifically says it is added.

What is the purpose of dental sealant?

When a person chews, food particles naturally become trapped in the tooth’s nooks and crannies. Sealants are used to fill in the tooth’s chewing surface to prevent decay and cavities caused by food. Sealants are easy and painless to apply to children’s teeth.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Fortunately, there are very few risks associated with x-rays. When children require x-rays, pediatric dentists will take particular care to reduce the radiation through the use of high-speed film and lead aprons.

How can I reduce the risk that my child will lose a tooth or experience another form of dental injury during a sporting event or other physical activity?

Most sporting good stores sell plastic mouthguards that you boil in water to soften and bite into to form a protective guard. These can help to protect the checks, gums, lips, and teeth from injury. However, if your child participates in several sports and requires a mouthguard on a regular basis, you should think about having your pediatric dentist develop a custom-made mouthpiece. These mouthguards will mold perfectly to the teeth, stay in place during the most rowdy of events, and protect your child from sustaining serious injury to the head, face, and teeth.

What actions should I take if my child has an accident that knocks out an adult tooth?

When a child falls and loses a permanent tooth, your first reaction may very well be to panic. Try to stay calm and to comfort your child. Call your pediatric dentist for an emergency appointment. Find the missing tooth and, while holding the crown, attempt to place it back into its proper location. If you are not able to do this, put the tooth in milk and bring with you to the appointment.

Why does my child have two rows of teeth; they look like “shark teeth”?

This “shark teeth” look is most commonly caused by over-retained baby teeth. If the permanent teeth have already erupted and the baby teeth have not yet fallen out, you should come in to our office for an examination and likely removal of the baby teeth.

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