Your child should see a dentist within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by the age of one. Many parents think they should not take their child to the dentist until they are able to cooperate for a cleaning or x-rays. Generally, this is around the age of three. Sadly, this is often too late, and cavities have already formed. By taking your child to the dentist by the age of one you will be equipped with the knowledge and techniques to successfully prevent most decay before it happens.
We see children up to the age of 18 at which time we will refer to a qualified family dentist. Certain exceptions are made for children and young adults with special needs.
Cavity causing bacteria start sticking to teeth as soon as they erupt so daily brushing should begin as soon as the first tooth appears.
Flossing becomes necessary when teeth start to form contacts anywhere one tooth touches another. It can be difficult to floss your child’s teeth with traditional floss, in these instances floss picks can be useful.
Fluoridated toothpaste can be used as early as 18-24 months. However only a very small amount should be applied to your child’s toothbrush because they will swallow it. At this age we recommend applying a rice grain sized amount to the brush. The image shown below is a good visual when determining the appropriate amounts of toothpaste to be used.
Toothpastes come in many flavors, colors and fancy packages. Many claim to have special additives that will help you get a whiter and brighter smile while others say they will freshen your breath better than their competitor. When it comes to brushing teeth, most toothpastes are created equal. For children, any toothpaste that contains fluoride is adequate as long as it is approved by the American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration.
Fluoride rinses can be an effective way to harden enamel and inhibit plaque formation. If your child can swish and spit, fluoride rinses can be used without fear of over fluoridation. These rinses are especially effective when children have braces or other appliances that may be difficult to keep clean.
Both manual and electric toothbrushes can be used to effectively remove plaque and clean teeth. However, because most children lack the dexterity to move a manual toothbrush properly teeth often do not get cleaned thoroughly. Electric toothbrushes either rotate in a circle or move back and forth allowing children to simply put the brush on the tooth. Supervision may still be needed but overall teeth will get cleaner than if they used a manual toothbrush.
You should brush your child’s teeth at least once per day until they are 8 years of age. Although some children develop more rapidly most children do not have the dexterity to effectively brush their teeth until about 8 years of age. Allowing your child to brush in the morning while you brush and floss at night is a good routine that will provide great oral health results over time.
Absolutely. A proper diet is important for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. A diet high in sugary foods and other simple carbohydrates increases the probability of cavities, and gum disease.
Xylitol is a low-calorie natural sugar substitute that helps reduce the amount of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. Cavity causing bacteria are unable to digest it, thus reducing the amount of acid produced. It is found in toothpaste, chewing gum and breath mints. When used appropriately xylitol containing products can help reduce the overall risk of cavities.
Bad breath or Halitosis can be present in children or adults for many reasons. It can be cause by poor oral hygiene such as not brushing the tongue or flossing. large tonsils or tonsils that are pitted that can harbor food and bacteria, dry mouth due to salivary gland dysfunction or medications and some gastrointestinal disorders.
Gaps between baby teeth is normal and is actually preferable. Adult teeth in most instances are usually larger than baby teeth so extra space is a good thing. Children with no space between their baby teeth often have crowded adult teeth and many need braces.
Yes, baby teeth will eventually fall out but not for many years. The last baby tooth often will not fall out until the age of 12. Healthy baby teeth are necessary to hold space for adult teeth, allow your child to eat and speak correctly, and help maintain a nice smile. Cavities that are left untreated can lead to infection and pain.
If used inappropriately or over consumed, fluoride can lead to stained teeth, upset stomach or in rare instances severe illness. It is important that toothpaste containing fluoride as well as fluoride rinses be kept away from small children. Today fluoride is found in drinking water, foods and beverages, and oral hygiene products. It is important to discuss with your dentist appropriate levels of fluoride and what you as a parent can do to reduce the risk of over fluoridation.
Toothache: Rinse with warm water or use a toothbrush to remove any impacted food. If symptoms do not change or get worse contact your pediatric dentist. Cut or Bitten Lip, Tongue, or Cheek: Apply cold to injured areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a piece of damp gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call your dentist and they will advise you to take your child to the emergency room if necessary. Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: If possible, find the tooth. If the tooth is found handle it by the crown, not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth, but DO NOT clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is sound, try to insert it back into the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a piece of gauze or a washcloth. If you cannot insert the tooth, transport in a cup containing the patient’s own saliva or cold milk. The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor for survival of the tooth. If a baby tooth is prematurely knocked out, you should contact your dentist, but there is no need to re-implant it. Abscess or Facial Swelling: Contact your dentist immediately. Chipped Permanent Tooth: Contact your dentist as soon as possible and they will advise you as to what steps should be taken. Remember; A broken jaw or blow to the head is serious and will require a visit to the emergency room as soon as possible. If there are fractured teeth as a result of these injuries, they will be treated after your child has been cleared by the emergency room or their physician.
Children and adults grind their teeth for many different reasons. Those reasons can include but are not limited to stress, frustration, anxiety, tension, genetics, increased pressure within the ears, a competitive, aggressive, or hyperactive personality, or on some medications.
Most children should outgrow tooth grinding habits but for those who don’t or experience severe grinding a mouthguard may be recommended.
Wisdom teeth begin developing around the age of 8 and erupt into the mouth roughly at the age of 18. Most people will have their wisdom teeth extracted due to a lack of space, impaction, pain, or difficulty keeping them clean. Everyone is different so it is important to ask your dentist when it is best to have wisdom teeth extracted.
Thumb sucking and pacifier use are normal actions referred to as non-nutritive sucking habits. These habits have a calming and relaxing and are a natural reflex. Unfortunately, these habits create sustained pressure on oral structures that disrupts the delicate balance between lips, teeth and tongue. If these habits persist they can lead to crossbites, flared teeth, open bites and high palates. These deviations or “malocclusions” will require braces and can be quite costly to repair. If your child has one of these habits it is recommended to stop them by the age of three. Thumb sucking can be especially difficult to stop and may ultimately require a custom appliance to break the habit when your child is older.
Dental x-rays are one of the lowest radiation dose studies performed. A routine exam which includes 4 bitewings is about 0.005 mSv, which is less than one day of natural background radiation. It is also about the same amount of radiation exposure from a short airplane flight (~1-2 hrs). X-rays are a vital component in dentistry and allow the dentist to complete a full and thorough exam on your child. Without appropriately prescribed x-rays small cavities that would otherwise go undetected could continue to grow resulting in unnecessary, more complicated, and more expensive treatment.