FAQ's Pediatric Dental Care

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Questions We Get A Lot!

At what age should I start taking my child to the Dentist?
Our philosophy is a healthy mouth promotes a healthy life; therefore, we like to see children starting at the age of 1 or within six months after the first tooth comes in (whichever comes first). While it may seem early, it is important to start your child on a lifetime of good dental health. 

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth? And should I use toothpaste? 
You should begin cleaning your baby’s mouth soon after birth with a moist washcloth or gauze. As the first tooth emerges, we recommend starting the transition to a brush by first trying a bristled teething ring and then using a baby sized toothbrush. Believe it or not, child tooth decay can start as soon as the first tooth appears. You can start using toothpaste when the teeth emerge but until your child is able to rinse, use a non-fluoride toothpaste. Use toothpaste sparingly - no more than the size of a grain of rice of toothpaste containing fluoride. If your child has two teeth that touch you need to clean between them with floss.

Is it really possible for my baby to get a cavity on a baby tooth?  
Yes! Baby tooth decay occurs mostly on the upper front teeth but can occur anywhere in the mouth.  It’s primarily caused by too much time on the baby bottle with many falling asleep with their bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices, or a pacifier dipped in sugar or honey.  Breast fed babies are also at risk if they often fall asleep while feeding.  The good news is baby bottle tooth decay is preventable if you are mindful of your baby’s habits and take charge of the bottle!

The baby teeth are just going to fall out so why should we take care of them?  
Baby teeth matter!  They are important to allow your child to eat, speak, smile and to hold space for the adult teeth.  Small cavities turn into big cavities which cause the early loss of baby teeth. When this happens, the adult teeth will drift into the wrong spot making them crooked or crowded which will pretty much ensure the need for braces. And who wants to put their child through the trauma of getting an infection or needing a filling on a baby tooth?

My baby has a fever and diarrhea…is that from his teeth coming in? 
Teething can cause drooling, irritability, fussiness and sleeplessness but NOT fever, diarrhea or rashes.  That is likely a sign of some other problem. To help your child be comfortable during teething, let them chew on a solid teether, the frozen corner of a washcloth or a cool spoon. For extreme cases of discomfort, an over the counter pain medication can be used but avoid numbing gels or teething tablets.

What are sealants?  
A sealant is a coating which flows into the grooves of the back teeth where decay frequently starts, sealing of decay.  Think of butter on a hot English muffin. At around age 6 most children require sealants. They are an easy and painless way to prevent 80% of the cavities on the biting surfaces of back teeth. In a cooperative child, placement of a sealant takes about 2 minutes and no numbing is involved. 

What is fluoride?  
Fluoride is a natural mineral that makes teeth strong and helps prevent cavities.  Your mouth contains bacteria that feed on the sugars in the foods and beverages consumed.  This produces acid that can wear away the hard outer shell of your tooth.  Fluoride provides protection to teeth by making them stronger and more resistant to acids.  This is especially beneficial for children because the fluoride becomes incorporated into the adult teeth making them more resistant to decay.  We also find that our younger patients’ hygiene habits are just developing and they need the extra help. Fluoride not only reduces the risk of cavities, it can also help reverse early signs of decay.  When used in conjunction with proper brushing and flossing, a clinical fluoride application is one of the best and safest ways to prevent cavities for children and adults alike.   In fact, it is considered one of the most cost effective and easy things you can do for your overall health.

How long should my child brush?  
The simple answer is 2 minutes; 30 seconds for each quadrant. But its important to remember it's not just “how long” but “how thorough”. Generally, young children lack the dexterity needed to brush and floss correctly until they are about 5 years old. Until they can master the use of the tools, you should brush and floss their teeth until they properly learn how to do it themselves.

After they master the use of the tools, you should continue to monitor their hygiene habits regularly.  If you ask a child if they brushed well, they’ll always answer “YES!” But we still see plaque. Unless you’re a dental clinician, it’s hard to see what you’ve left behind. To help create good habits, we may suggest using a plaque disclosing tablet which highlights remaining plaque in red that you brush off until all the red (and the plaque) is gone. Another method (and a way to have some fun with your child while brushing) is by using a product like “Plaque Glo”.  Plaque Glo uses toothpaste with a fluorescent dye and an LED black light. When your child is finished brushing, you turn out the lights and shine the black light onto the teeth. If teeth show areas that glow in the dark, that’s where the plaque is.  (Dr. Chicvak uses this product with his two young sons -- turns out the lights, turns on some good tunes and the kids disco brush the plaque away!)

Is it a problem if my child hasn’t lost all of her baby teeth…she’s almost 12 years old? 
Baby teeth start to emerge between six months and one year.  Your child will have a full set of 20 teeth by the age of three.  As a general rule, if your child's baby teeth were slow to come in, your child's baby teeth will be slow to fall out. We consistently evaluate if any dental intervention is necessary.

My child’s baby tooth came out but where’s the adult tooth? 
It can take up to 6 months (and in some cases longer) for an adult tooth to come in.  Dr. Chicvak will evaluate your child’s specific situation and recommend the appropriate action if necessary.

More questions? Contact us or request an appointment today!


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