Early Dental Care
When and how should I start cleaning my child's teeth?
Promoting good oral health begins before your child's first teeth come in. Start by gently cleansing your baby's gums daily with a soft, clean cloth or an infant toothbrush and water. When the first tooth appears, begin brushing at least once a day before bedtime. We recommend consulting with your pediatric dentist prior to using any products containing fluoride.
Help! My baby is teething! What do I do?
Typically, your child's first tooth will break through the gums between the ages of 6 and 12 months. As this happens, the gums may become sore and tender. Massaging the gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon, or a cold, wet cloth may provide relief. Cold teething rings work well too, but avoid teething biscuits, as they may contain sugar, which is especially unhealthy for vulnerable baby teeth.
When will all of my child's teeth come in?
Primary (baby) teeth generally begin to appear between 6 and 12 months. All 20 baby teeth are usually present by age 3. Permanent teeth usually begin to erupt around age 6. Most children will have all of their permanent teeth, except wisdom teeth, around 12 years of age. The wisdom teeth typically erupt in the late teenage years.
When should my child first visit the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that your child's first dental visit should take place before one year of age.
What is a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists have two to three years of specialized training following dental school and treat children from infancy up to adulthood. Our dentists have additional training in treating children with special health needs and significant dental conditions, as well as training in sedation, oral conscious sedation, and hospital sedation.
We offer more than extensive training, though. We offer years of experience working with children. And an absolute commitment to the health and well-being of every child in our practice. We also offer attentive, personalized care, built on strong relationships with our patients and their families.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
Regular dental visits help keep your child's gums and teeth healthy and allow for early detection of dental problems. Routine dental visits should occur in six-month intervals, although this may vary based on the individual needs of your child.
Why are baby teeth so important?
Primary (baby) teeth play a crucial role in long-term dental health - from the development of the jaws to guiding permanent teeth into place. Without baby teeth, a child may not be able to chew properly or speak clearly and dental decay in primary teeth can cause pain, infection and damage to the developing permanent teeth.
Of course, the way children care for their primary teeth plays a critical role in how they will eventually treat their permanent teeth. It's never too early to establish a healthy dental routine to prevent tooth decay and gum problems!
What can I do at home to help keep my child's teeth and gums healthy?
There are several preventive measures you can take at home to promote the health of your child's teeth and gums:
Oral HygieneYour child's teeth should be brushed twice daily, once in the morning and once before bedtime, to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Let your child brush first, then brush again to be sure nothing is missed. Be sure your child doesn't have anything to eat or drink (except water) following the bedtime brushing. Your child should also get in the habit of flossing once a day. If you're having difficulties or have further questions, our pediatric dentists will be happy to discuss strategies with you.
Healthy DietA healthy, well-balanced diet is vital to the prevention of tooth decay. Unfortunately, many snacks that children prefer (including carbonated drinks and candy) contain sugars and acids that cause cavities. To protect your child's teeth from decay, limit these foods as much as possible and encourage your child to enjoy more healthy alternatives. Eating too frequently, especially foods that have sugar, also increases your child's risk of tooth decay. We encourage our patients to avoid grazing and sipping drinks frequently throughout the day. Drinking water between meal times is a great alternative.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. When used appropriately, fluoride exposure is an excellent way to help decrease the risk of tooth decay, and can even remineralize or reverse it, if caught early. However, it is important for your child to receive the proper dose. We recommend consulting with your pediatric dentist prior to using any products containing fluoride as part of your child's oral hygiene routine. If you live in a non-fluoridated area or are unsure of the fluoride content of your water, your pediatric dentist can also discuss the possible need for additional supplementation.
For more information on water fluoridation and topical fluorides from the ADA, click here.
What are sealants?
Sealants are a safe protective coating placed on the biting surface of the molars to prevent cavities. They are normally placed on permanent molars, though in some situations your pediatric dentist may recommend them for baby teeth as well.
Mouthguards and sports related injuries
In order to minimize the risk of a sports-related injury to the teeth and surrounding structures, we strongly recommend that children wear mouthguards. To obtain the best level of protection for the teeth, it is important for your child to wear the appropriate mouthguard based on age, growth and level of sports. Our pediatric dentists can help you to determine the mouthguard that is right for your child.
If you have any further questions or issues you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact our office and we'll be happy to help you.