expand   How can I care for my infant's gums and first teeth?

For an infant, a damp washcloth or a small wipe containing xylitol can be used to clean the gum tissue.  This will also allow the child to become accustomed to the daily regimen.  Once the child has teeth, a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with either water or fluoride-free toothpaste can be used at least once a day to gently brush the teeth.

expand   When should a child have his/her first dental visit?

A child should see the dentist by his or her first birthday or no longer than six months after the eruption of the first tooth.  This visit is very educational and helps in our goal to prevent tooth decay.

expand   What is the difference between pediatric dentistry and family dentistry?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry.  Pediatric dentistry is a specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people.  Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three additional years of training to focus solely on the special needs of young people.

expand   How often does my child need to visit the pediatric dentist?

We recommend that children come for a check-up every six months.  However, this may vary depending on the child’s specific needs.

expand   When will the first teeth appear?

The two lower front teeth (central incisors) usually begin to appear between 6 months and 8 months of age.  This is usually followed by the upper central incisors.  The remainder of the 20 baby teeth usually appear by two to three years of age.  The baby teeth do not necessarily erupt in the orderly sequence of front to back. 

expand   What can I do if the gums seem sore while my child is teething?

Sore gums are, unfortunately, a normal part of teething.  To ease the discomfort, you may give the child a frozen washcloth or a frozen teething ring.  If the child seems to be in extreme discomfort, you may give an appropriate dose of children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

expand   When should I start using toothpaste and how much should I use?

A child can start using toothpaste as soon as the first teeth appear as long as it is fluoride-free.  A child can switch to toothpaste containing fluoride when he or she can reliably spit out the toothpaste rather than swallow it.  When using toothpaste with or without fluoride, you should only use a pea-sized amount.

expand   As a parent, what can I do to help my child with preventive dentistry?

Parents play a major role in preventing cavities and fillings for children by guiding them through an excellent oral hygiene regimen, providing a healthy diet with lots of water and scheduling their regular dental check-ups.  Parents can also help by providing an example of consistent and effective brushing and flossing themselves at home. 

expand   What are dental sealants and why should my child get them?

Sealants are a clear or slightly shaded resin coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to help keep them cavity free.  Sealants fill in the grooves and pits of the back teeth where it can be difficult to brush.  Along with good oral hygiene, sealants can effectively protect the child’s teeth for many years and they are fast and easy to apply.

expand   What is nitrous oxide and is it safe?

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is the gas we administer in order to calm our patients and help them keep still.  It is the safest form of sedation; the child will breathe the nitrous, along with oxygen, and it will not stay in our patients’ systems once they leave the office. 

expand   Are dental x-rays safe for children?

With contemporary safeguards, such as lead aprons and high speed film, the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray is extremely small.  While the risk is very small, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to limit the amount of radiation to which the children are exposed.  Dental x-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.

expand   What are cavities and how do they form?

Cavities form when the mouth is acidic.  Four things are necessary for a cavity to form—surface (the tooth), bacteria, carbohydrate (sugar) and time.  Plaque is a thin deposit of bacteria that forms on people’s teeth.  When people eat and then do not clean the teeth, the sugars in the food cause the bacteria in the plaque to produce acid and attack the tooth enamel.  Over time, the enamel breaks down and a cavity is produced.  The speed of this process and the resulting cavities is different for everyone.