Frequently Asked Questions
At what age should my child visit the dentist?
Your child should have their first dental visit within 6 months eruption of their first tooth and no later then their first birthday. The guidelines were developed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Most dental offices choose to see children mush later. This is risky sine the majority of our children experience cavities prior to these late visits. At the kid's place, we are trained to see children very early, to identify risk factors, and to educate parents in preventive techniques. All combined we provide anticipatory guidance to ensure the brightest smile for your child's future!
Why are baby teeth important? Don't they just fall out?
Baby teeth are important as they serve as the foundation for and guide the eruption of the permanent teeth. Yes, baby teeth will eventually fall out. In fact , every baby tooth is designed to fall out and be replace with a permanent tooth. However, losing a baby tooth years before is to be replaced will lead to costly long term corrections. Baby teeth erupt in a specific sequence, and they are replaced in a specific sequence. Early loss of a baby tooth will lead to undesired problems such as crowning, midline discrepancies, impactions, and ectopic eruptions. Untreated, or undiagnosed problems will usually present themselves about the time that all the permanent teeth should be erupted. Unfortunately, at a later stage, many problems cannot be fully corrected, and permanent teeth may have to be sacrificed to achieve a favorable result. The good news... all of these problems can be minimized or avoided with routine visits in our office.
How should I clean my baby's teeth? When should I start brushing?
You should start oral cleaning at birth by wiping the gums pads with a soft cloth of finger brush. This should occur after each feeding. By the time the first tooth erupts, and enamel appears, a soft bristle brush can be added. At this stage, a non-fluoride toothpaste is recommended. Fluoride toothpaste is added as the child matures. The key is to start a consistent routine to keep the teeth and gums free of cavity causing plaque bacteria. In general, parents should be cleaning their child's mouth a minimum of twice daily. Some children, especially. those at high risk for cavities will require more frequent brushing. Good home care can be undone by a bad diet. Remember, our eating frequency is greater, and it will ultimately override any good efforts at brushing, due to high plaque and acid levels.
Be sure to ask one of our staff how to clean your infant's mouth, even before teeth. At the Kid's Place we can show you how to position your body to be effective and efficient at oral care.
Why should my child see a pediatic dentist instead of a general dentist?
The specialty of Pediatric Dentisry requires an additional 2-3 years training beyond general dentistry in the unique aspects of oral health care of infants, children and adolescents. Pediatric dentists are the Pediatricians of dentistry! Just because a dental practice sees children does not make it a pediatic dental practice. The specialty of Pediatric Dentistry is regulated by the AAPD, and certified pediatric dentists can be located through their website at aapd.org
How can I help my child through the teeth stage?
Drooling and a desire to chew on any and everything are common during the teething period. Discomfort and sore gums are also common. Provide a clean, cold teething ring for your child to chew on. Gently rub and message the gums with a soft cloth during cleaning. Additionally, your pharmacy will have numbing medications to rub on gums, but he sure to follow directions carefully.
Some children may develop stomach problems or run temperatures during the teething process. The break in the gum tissue allows bacteria and viruses to enter the body and cause secondary infections. Because your child's immune system is not mature, these types of infectious exposures can actually help strengthen your child's developing immune system and offer protection with future exposures. Be sure to visit your pediatrician if these symptoms are severe or persist longer than 24-36 hours.
Can thumb sucking be harmful to my child's teeth?
Persistent and long term habits typically do cause problems. Non nutritive sucking is normal during infancy. However sucking on a pacifier or thumb into toddlerhood and beyond can be problematic. Be sure to address any concerns when you bring your child in for a visit.
When should my child start using fluoride toothpaste?
In order to prevent unnecessary ingestion of fluoride, fluroide toothpastes should be avoided until the child is able to hold and spit the water from the mouth without swallowing. This occurs anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years of age. I frequently instruct parents on the use of fluoride prior to this age and also apply fluoride varnish on high risk children, but this is done on an individual basis. Please schedule your child's dental appointment now to determine if they would benefit from topical fluoride application
Should my child receive fluoride drops or tablets as a supplement?
I do not recommend fluoride supplements for children born and raised in West Texas. the naturally occurring fluoride concentration in our municipal water supply typically exceeds recommended levels. In fact, the fluoride concentrations in the Caprock are excessively high, and Lamesa (just 1hours drive ) typically has naturally occurring concentrations over 2 ppm (parts per million). A federal mandate requires notices on water bills for residents in areas that are exposed to water fluoride concentrations in excess of 2ppm. During the hot summer months these message are frequent on our water bills. In addition, many packaged and processed foods and drinks contain fluoride, which is not listed on the labels.
Overexposure to systemic (ingested) fluoride results in fluorosis of the hard tissues including bone and enamel. Enamel has a high affinity for fluoride and too much will cause permanent discoloration during tooth formation and maturation. Remember, ingested fluoride is similar to air pressure in your car's tires. Too little is not good and too much is disastrous. Topical effects, however are still beneficial so topical applications in toothpastes, mouth rinses, gels and varnished help strengthen already erupted teeth.
When should my child start independent brushing? Brushing unassisted by parents?
Parents of young children need to and should be brushing for their child at least twice a day. Young children do not have the dexterity of knowledge to brush correctly. It is okay for them to practice , but parents need to physically do the brushing each time! Brushing is more then wiggling the brush around in the mouth. Specifically, plaque must be removed for brushing to be effective. Poor plague removers are at high risk cavities. As an example, young children can scribble with a pen or pencil, and it take many years of practice for them to learn to write in cursive. The same is true for tooth brushing.
Some children may require more frequent brushing intervals. As a general rule, children unable to write in cursive really well, or who cannot tie their own shoes are not good brushers. That remains true despite the frequency of brushing. We work with parent and children to demonstrate basic oral hygiene and we record tooth brushing grades for our patients so we can monitor progress. Most of our older children who ten to be consistent poor brushers started brushing independently too early, and have never improved in the technique. They remain a high cavity risk, and are now at an age where diet and home care are less under parental control.
When should i start flossing for my child?
The short answer is as soon as two adjacent teeth touch. Brushing will not clean between 2 teeth that touch, and over time the hidden area becomes susceptible to cavities. In our office, this is the most common area where we find cavities in baby teeth. X-rays are necessary to see in between the teeth to detect cavities in these hidden areas.
When does the first permanent tooth erupt?
The first permanent tooth to erupt is typically the lower central incisor. However, the lower first permanent molar may erupt first in some children. This tooth erupts behind the last baby tooth in the ache. The age for this exchange is six, with girls typically following an earlier eruption schedule than boys.
When does that last baby tooth fall out?
The last baby tooth that falls out is the last baby tooth that erupts into the primary dentition... the primary second molar. This tooth typically erupts before age 3 and is shed between 12 to 14 years of age. This means this tooth will need to last a lifetime as the permanent tooth that replaces it is sometimes congenitally missing (never forms or erupts). The importance of this tooth cannot be overlooked as it guides and holds the permanent first molar (6 year molar) in position. Severe space loss can occur when this tooth is lost early, as well as lead to extractions of permanent teeth later when braces are required. Ask us how we can help save these teeth for you child until they are due to be replaced.
Will my child need braces?
Most children (up to 80%) develop crowding in the permanent dentition. This question usually coincides with the loss of the first lower anterior tooth. Many parents become concerned about the possibility of crowding and need for braces at this time around ages 5-7. Permanent anterior teeth are larger than the baby teeth, and the size difference results in early anterior crowding in most children. However, early or interceptive treatment can prevent major crowding in most children. The great news is that we can help. We routinely monitor tooth eruption, and potential for crowding, and make recommendations to allow permanent teeth to erupt with minimal crowding. Allowing permanent teeth to erupt in the proper sequence and in a near normal position will minimize the time in braces.
How safe are dental x-rays?
Routine dental intraoral x-rays produce exposure levels on the average equivalent to living in Denver, Colorado on a yearly basis. This is very little radiation! At the kid's place, we follow guidelines for x-ray exposure developed by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. These guidelines recommend exposure intervals based on cavity risk. These intervals are adjusted as the risk changes. Another reason for preventive visits. Lover risk means lower exposure!
New technology dramatically decreases the amount of radiation that a child is exposed to during routine dental radiograpghs. In addition, the dental x-rays unit has a tube head that prevents much of the scatter by aligning the rays in a column, thus providing a very small (localized) target area. And lastly, a lead apron is draped over the child to prevent scatter. While the risk is minimal, the benefits are great, as radiographs are invaluable for diagnosis in hidden areas between teeth, and under the gums.
If my child get cavity on a baby tooth, should it still be fixed?
Yes!!! Pain and infection is very real even in baby teeth. No parent wants their child to have a toothache. The best prevention is to establish a dental home early (preferably by your child's first birthday), so cavity risk is minimized. Be reassured , any tooth recommend for a restoration in our office will not be lost soon. Let me repeat.
WE DO TREAT BABY TEETH THAT WILL OUT SOON! If treatment is recommended , it is necessary!
On the other hand, we often do not recommend restoring baby teeth with cavities that are due to be lost soon. Come on by for an appointment and we can reassure you if you are concerned whether your child's baby tooth needs filling or not.
What should I do if my child knocks out a tooth?
If it is a baby tooth, transport it with child to the office; 10 if there is a root fracture; 20 you're not sure if it is a baby or permanent tooth. Baby teeth are not re-implanted due to risk of damage to the permanent tooth bud. However, sometimes a portion of the body tooth root remain that needs to be removed.
If it is a permanent tooth, find the tooth. Pick it up by the crown (enamel) and try not to touch the root portion. If it is dirty, gently wash it in cool water. If possible replace the tooth in the socket. You can also transport the tooth in a cup of the child's saliva, in the child's mouth (cheek), or in a cup of milk. Time is of the essence. Re-implantation yields the best results when done within the first 30 minutes. most of these teeth will require a root canal.