FAQs

When should I take my child to a pediatric dentist?

First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.

Fluoride?

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 permanent teeth. Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of a child’s potential sources of fluoride can help parents prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis.

Some of these sources are:

Too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age.

The inappropriate use of fluoride supplements.

Hidden sources of fluoride in the child’s diet.

Two and three year olds may not be able to expectorate (spit out) fluoride-containing toothpaste when brushing. As a result, these youngsters may ingest an excessive amount of fluoride during tooth brushing. Toothpaste ingestion during this critical period of permanent tooth development is the greatest risk factor in the development of fluorosis.

Excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements may also contribute to fluorosis. Fluoride drops and tablets, as well as fluoride fortified vitamins should not be given to infants younger than six months of age. After that time, fluoride supplements should only be given to children after all of the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.

Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Please read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, especially decaffeinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities.

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.

Place only a pea sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the brush when brushing.

Account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride before requesting fluoride supplements from your child’s physician or pediatric dentist.

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).

What is the Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment?

Developing malocclusions, or bad bites, can be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age.

Stage I – Early Treatment: This period of treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this young age, we are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, and harmful habits such as finger or thumb sucking. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and many times, though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.

Stage II – Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth and 6 year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw malrelationships and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment, when indicated, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.

Stage III – Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.

Does Your Child Grind His Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

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. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.

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 indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases 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.

Does Your Child Grind His Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

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. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing, when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.

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 indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases 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.

What’s the Best Toothpaste for my Child?

Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. Many toothpastes, and/or tooth polishes, however, can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives, which can wear away young tooth enamel. When looking for a toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.

Remember, 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. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with a fluoride free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a “pea size” amount of toothpaste.

Teething?

When teeth begin erupting, some babies have sore or tender gums and may complain. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger or a wet washcloth can be soothing. You can also give your baby a clean teething ring to chew on, but never dipped in sugar or syrup. If your child is still uncomfortable, consult your dentist or physician.

Contrary to common belief, fever is not normal for a teething baby. If your infant has an unusually high or persistent fever while teething, call your physician.

Thumbsucking?

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your dentist.

Here are some ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking (bulleted points):

Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb sucking behavior; instead, praise them when they don’t thumb suck.

Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety-thumb sucking is a comfort device that helps children cope with stress or discomfort.

Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.

Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night.

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) 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 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.

What Is A Pediatric Dentist?

The pediatric dentist has an extra two to three years of specialized training after dental school, and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.

Have you any suggestions about how to prepare my child for his/her first visit?

The most important thing is NOT to overprepare your child. Casually mention a few days ahead that “we are going to visit the dentist the day after tomorrow”. If your child has any questions, answer them briefly and enthusiastically. Be positive in your approach. Tell your child we will count and take pictures of his/her teeth and that we will show him/her (and you) how to clean his/her teeth.

What is the procedure at the first visit?

At the first visit your child is introduced to our dental office. His/her teeth and supporting structures will be thoroughly examined and the bite will be evaluated. Only those x-rays that are absolutely necessary will be taken, our office policy is to keep radiation exposure to an absolute minimum. In most circumstances we will then provide a dental cleaning and topical flouride treatment to aid your child in his “fight against tooth decay”. If you have an emergency appointment because your child is in pain, the emergency will be taken care of immediately, and the regular routines left for another time.

May I come into the treatment room with my child?

Frequently we shall request a parent to accompany the child into the treatment room for the first or “introductory” visits. The parents presence is often comforting and reassuring in a new situation. If the parent desires, they may accompany the child into the treatment room. Please be assured we will always treat your child as we would our own.

What is your philosophy of treatment?

Our emphasis is on prevention and early treatment. We will devote attention to showing you and your child how to control cavities and gum disease through home hygiene and dietary control. The primary teeth form the basis for a healthy adult dentition. We will do everything possible to correct any dental problems your child may have. Your aim, as a parent and mine as a Pediatric Dentist, are the same – to keep your child’s teeth in good condition and to make the process of doing so a pleasant one.

What is Dental Hygiene?

Dental Hygiene, also known as oral hygiene, is the process by which preventative dental care is provided to avoid dental emergencies. At the core of dental hygiene is the in-home dental care regimen you perform. Your at-home regimen is supplemented with professional preventative dental care provided by dentists and licensed dental hygienists. Over time, calculus builds up on the teeth. If calculus forms below the gum line, bacteria can invade and create a host of other dental problems.

What is Gum and Oral Health?

An estimated 60 million Americans have periodontal disease. Over the past decade, an increasing amount of scientific evidence has shown an association between periodontal disease – along with the bacteria that cause it – and systemic diseases affecting other areas of the body, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and preterm low birth weight babies. Linking what happens in the mouth to what occurs throughout the rest of the body is a similar inflammatory response.

What are Dental Sealants?

For more than 30 years now, sealants have offered a protective plastic coating that covers the surfaces of teeth to help prevent tooth decay. For more than 30 years now, sealants have offered a protective plastic coating that covers the surfaces of teeth to help prevent tooth decay.

For more information on oral health care needs, please visit the website for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.