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FAQs

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentist (AAPD) recommends that the first visit be within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or at one year of age. The first visit will include a brief oral evaluation to insure teeth are present, free of decay, and are erupting normally. Information regarding teething, normal dental development, proper home care, proper fluoride use and administration, diet counseling, and pacifier/ bottle/ finger habits will be discussed. Your child’s oral health and development will continually be monitored every 6 months. Typically, by age three, most children are scheduled for a comprehensive visit, including oral hygiene examination, x-rays, prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) with fluoride supplement.

For years, the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommendation for a child’s first dental visit be at 3 years of age. Recently, the AAP has changed these recommendations to the age of 1. Dental problems can begin early. Children’s teeth erupt as early as 6 months. That’s 2 ½ years that your child continues their dental development unsupervised without instructions on care, prevention or diet counseling – putting them at risk for the development of caries! The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

Pediatric dentist are dental specialist who have undergone 2-3 years additional training to work specifically with very young children who are difficult to manage. Pediatric dentist also treat those that are physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to tolerate dentistry within standard methods. As specialist, we are licensed to provide additional services including sedation or general anesthesia techniques in our repertoire to relax the child and decrease their fear and anxiety. A pediatric dental office is geared for the pediatric population. Games, toys, and an open and friendly atmosphere are present to relax the child. We spend time explaining what we are planning to do and use distraction techniques and stories to make each procedure more pleasan

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Cleaning should continue with the eruption of the first primary tooth. One method of cleaning the first teeth is to drape a gauze pad or terry washcloth over your fingers and gently wipe the teeth and gums. When the child accepts this procedure, introduce an infant size soft toothbrush (toothlette) with a very small (pea-size) amount of fluoridated toothpaste. **(Note: toothpaste is not necessary to clean teeth. It is the mechanical action of the toothbrush bristles on the teeth that is effective.) Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively!

Ideally, teeth should be brushed after every meal, but this is not always possible. The AAPD recommends that children under the age of eight years of age be assisted with brushing, since at this age, they have not yet developed the motor skills adequately to brush their own teeth. It is suggested that the child be allowed to brush themselves following breakfast and have a parent brush or supervise brushing before bedtime.

Many of today’s toothpaste contain fluoride to help combat decay. In small children, fluoride can cause nausea and vomiting if consumed in moderate quantities. Excessive fluoride consumption during tooth formation may cause a condition called fluorosis which manifests itself as a discoloration or mottling of the developing enamel. Many toothpaste manufacturers add artificial flavoring to enhance the taste of toothpaste and encourage use. However, the artificial flavors can be a risk, especially to unsupervised children who may find the taste to toothpaste too pleasant. For this reason, the AAPD recommends no use of fluoridated toothpaste for children under the age of 2.

At the correct dosage, fluoride makes teeth stronger both chemically and physically. It also aids in the process of remineralization or the healing and reversal of a developing carious lesion (cavity). Children who are exposed to fluoride may expect to have 50-65% fewer cavities than those who do not.

There are two ways to receive fluoride, topically and systemically. Topical application of fluoride affects the teeth already erupted into the oral cavity. Systemic, or fluoride that is ingested, affects the developing teeth and thus increasing the occurrence of fluorosis.

A sealant is a preventive coating that seals deep fissures and grooves of posterior teeth of caries prone teeth. A sealant does not stop caries, but makes these deep fissures and grooves more cleansable therefore reducing the risk and incidence of developing caries.

Milk, as well as other fruit juices, contains natural sugars and potentially may cause decay. It is recommended that by the age of one, a child should be weaned from the bottle. A child should never be put to sleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. If a child requires a bottle in order to sleep, plain water is advised. Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday.

X-rays are a diagnostic tool used to check not only for cavities between teeth, but for any abnormalities in eruption or development not clinically visible. The timing of x-rays depends upon caries activity, dental development, eruption patterns, and on past experience of trauma.

Some baby teeth, the canines and primary molars, are not shed until eleven or twelve years of age, so their presence is vital to the integrity and development of the dental arch. Premature loss can result in future developmental and complicate orthodontic outcomes. In the meanwhile, long-standing cavity/infections in untreated baby teeth may result in damaging the esthetics of the developing permanent tooth.

Parents should never impress their own anxiety concerning dentistry to their children. Words such as “shot”, “pain”, “hurt”, or “drill” should be avoided. If unsure of what to say, encourage your children to ask the dentist. Oftentimes, communication between the doctor and patient will help to alleviate anxiety.

Finger habits are a natural development in children, and at the appropriate age do not pose any problems. If however, the child begins to exhibit signs of abnormal development, elimination of this habit may require earlier intervention. Ask our pediatric dentist for an evaluation. The following are several techniques may be employed to eliminate fingersucking.
a) Make sure the child is motivated to stop. Explore the psychology behind the behavior.
b) Positive reinforcement. Do not scold the child for fingersucking but instead reward the child for his attempts to stop.
c) Place a sock or bandage on the hand or finger of the child
d) Dental appliances are also available to aid in the elimination of this habit

Abnormal growth patterns, oral habits, and improper jaw relationships can be corrected in the mixed dentition or growing stage in which both primary and permanent teeth exist. Each case is unique and should be considered along with the maturity of the child. Ask our dentist!

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