Kids Care Dental and Orthodontics FAQ

Your child's first dental visit
Your child's first dental visit

Your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.

It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Our office makes a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.

Why are the primary teeth so important?
Why are the primary teeth so important?

Primary teeth are the first set of teeth in the growth and development of your child. They are also often called baby teeth. Primary teeth are important for: (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren't replaced until age 10-13. It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth.

What is the purpose of dental x-rays?
What is the purpose of dental x-rays?

X-rays (radiographs) are a vital and necessary part of your child's dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.

X-ray's detect much more than cavities. For example, x-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.

The American Dental Association recommends x-rays and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most dentists request x-rays approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of x-rays, or panoramic/ bitewings or periapicals /bitewings.

Kids Care Dental and Orthodontics is particularly careful to minimize the exposure of our patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental exposure through X-rays represents a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields protect your child. Our equipment also filters out unnecessary rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.

How should I care for my child’s teeth?
How should I care for my child’s teeth?

Begin daily brushing as soon as the child's first tooth appears. Use a non-fluoride toothpaste during their toddler years, then a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision. We recommend you supervise your children until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child is different. Your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly.

Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place a soft bristle brush at a 45 degree angle along the gum line. Then move the brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.

Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child's teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don't forget the backs of the last four teeth.

How does a good diet support healthy teeth?
How does a good diet support healthy teeth?

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones and the soft tissues of the mouth are best supported with a well-balanced diet. Ideally, children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. For a snack, do your best to choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese which are healthier and better for children's teeth.

We know that to develop healthy eating habits in children takes time. Something to consider, particularly with snacks, is how long the food remains in the mouth and how it can impact teeth. For example, hard candy or mints stay in the mouth a longer and cause longer acid attacks on tooth enamel.

Healthy habits alone are not enough for healthy teeth. It is best combined with good brushing, flossing and other oral hygiene habits.

How do I prevent my child from getting cavities?
How do I prevent my child from getting cavities?

Although there is no way to eliminate the chances of your child ever getting a cavity, there are many ways you can reduce the likelihood. Start early with good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and the leftover food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, a great strategy is to use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque and gums. Also it is best to avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle filled with anything other than water. Read "What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?" for more information.

For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day. Also, watch the number of snacks containing sugar that you give your children. Read “How Should I Care for My Child’s Teeth?” for more information.

The American Dental Association recommends six month visits to the dentist beginning at your child's first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.

Your dentist may also recommend protective sealants or home fluoride treatments for your child. Sealants can be applied to your child's molars to prevent decay on hard to clean surfaces. For more information on sealants read “What is a Sealant and What Does it Do ?”.

What is a dental sealant?
What is a dental sealant?

A dental sealant is a protective, plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to help prevent cavities. Sealants provide a physical barrier so that cavity-causing plaque and bacteria can’t invade the tiny grooves. They protect the chewing surface of teeth but do not protect areas on the side of the teeth or in between the teeth. The groves in the surface are extremely difficult to keep clean because toothbrush bristles are often too large and food and bacteria build up in these little spaces placing your child at risk for cavities.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?
What is baby bottle tooth decay?

One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant's teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.

Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child's teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it is encouraged that it should contain only water. If your child won't fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle's contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.

After each feeding, wipe the baby's gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the child's head in your lap or lay the child on a dressing table or the floor. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child's mouth easily.

When will my baby start getting teeth?
When will my baby start getting teeth?

Teething, the process of baby (primary) teeth coming through the gums into the mouth, is variable among individual babies. Babies can get their first teeth as early as 4 months or later than 8 months. In general, the first baby teeth are usually the lower front (anterior) teeth and usually begin erupting between the ages of 6-8 months. See "When Will My Child’s Teeth Erupt?" for more details.

When will my child’s teeth erupt?
When will my child’s teeth erupt?

Children's teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary (or baby) teeth erupt. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies. Lower central incisors appear first, followed closely by upper central incisors.

Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).

What do I do if my child has a dental emergency?
What do I do if my child has a dental emergency?

If your child has a toothache, clean the area of the affected tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. If the pain still exists, contact your child's dentist. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If your child’s face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact your dentist immediately.

If your child has a cut or bitten tongue, lip or cheek, apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure take the child to a hospital emergency room.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: Find the tooth and only handle it by the crown, not the root portion. Do not rinse or clean or handle the tooth. Transport the tooth in a cup containing  milk. The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.

What is fluoride?
What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral which hardens and protects the teeth and it has been scientifically proven to reduce cavities in both children and adults. Fluoride is inexpensive, safe and effective in promoting good oral health.

Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay. The natural mineral makes the tooth structure stronger so teeth are more resistant. Fluoride can also act to repair, or remineralize, areas in which decay has already begun. The re-mineralization effect of fluoride is important because it reverses the early decay process as well as helps the tooth surface become more resistant to decay.

Excessive fluoride ingestion by preschool-aged children can lead to dental fluorosis, which is a chalky white to even brown discoloration of the permanent teeth. Many children often get more fluoride than their parents realize. Being aware of a child's potential sources of fluoride can help parents prevent the possibility of dental fluorosis.

Some of these sources are:

  • Too much fluoridated toothpaste at an early age.
  • The inappropriate use of fluoride supplements.
  • Hidden sources of fluoride in the child's diet.

Two and three year olds may not be able to expectorate (spit out) fluoride-containing toothpaste when brushing. As a result, these youngsters may ingest an excessive amount of fluoride during tooth brushing. Toothpaste ingestion during this critical period of permanent tooth development is the greatest risk factor in the development of fluorosis.

Excessive and inappropriate intake of fluoride supplements may also contribute to fluorosis. Fluoride drops and tablets, as well as fluoride fortified vitamins should not be given to infants younger than six months of age. After that time, fluoride supplements should only be given to children after all of the sources of ingested fluoride have been accounted for and upon the recommendation of your pediatrician or dentist.

Certain foods contain high levels of fluoride, especially powdered concentrate infant formula, soy-based infant formula, infant dry cereals, creamed spinach, and infant chicken products. Please read the label or contact the manufacturer. Some beverages also contain high levels of fluoride, especially decaffeinated teas, white grape juices, and juice drinks manufactured in fluoridated cities. Another source of fluoride can be found in soft drinks at fast food restaurants, when blending the syrup and carbonation with the city water supply.

Parents can take the following steps to decrease the risk of fluorosis in their children's teeth:

Use baby tooth cleanser on the toothbrush of the very young child.
Place only a pea sized drop of children's toothpaste on the brush when brushing.
Account for all of the sources of ingested fluoride before requesting fluoride supplements from your child's physician or dentist.
Avoid giving any fluoride-containing supplements to infants until they are at least 6 months old.
Obtain fluoride level test results for your drinking water before giving fluoride supplements to your child (check with local water utilities).

What's the best toothpaste for my child?
What's the best toothpaste for my child?

The best toothpaste is one that is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA). These toothpastes have undergone extensive testing to insure they are safe to use. Look for the ADA seal on boxes or tubes as you shop for one for your child. However, be aware that many toothpastes and/or tooth polishes can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives which can wear away young tooth enamel.

There are many flavors, tastes and feels of toothpaste. Consider experimenting until you find one your child likes as it could easily translate into better oral hygiene because your child will want to brush.

As a reminder, toothpastes contain fluoride and children should spit out the toothpaste after brushing. Read “What is Fluoride?” for more information.

What should I do if my child grinds his teeth at night? (Bruxism)
What should I do if my child grinds his teeth at night? (Bruxism)

Parents are often concerned about teeth grinding at night- called bruxism, but the majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be needed. Mouth guards can assist in preventing the teeth getting shorter, but they can also can interfere with the growth of the jaws and, in some cases, cause choking if it becomes dislodged during sleep.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding diminishes between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect teeth grinding, either from noise during sleep or that your child’s teeth are getting shorter, discuss this with your pediatrician or dentist.

What causes teeth grinding in children?
What causes teeth grinding in children?

There are two main theories as to what causes teeth grinding (also referred to as “bruxism”). One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress (a new environment, divorce, changes at school, etc.) can influence children to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes, similar to what you might experience in an airplane, the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.

How does thumb sucking affect my child?
How does thumb sucking affect my child?

Thumb sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects to make them feel secure, comforted or happy Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may also induce sleep.

However thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

Ideally children should cease thumb sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of two and four as peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.

Pacifiers can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. Typically, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, consult your dentist.

Your dentist can assist you, as needed, to encourage your child to stop sucking and explain what could happen to their teeth if they continue.

When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment?
When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment?

Stage 1 – Early Treatment: This period of treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this young age, dentists are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, and harmful habits such as finger or thumb sucking. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and many times, though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.

Stage 2 – Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth and 6 year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw malrelation and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment, when indicated, as your child's hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.

Stage 3 – Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.

In what situations should my child use a mouth guard?
In what situations should my child use a mouth guard?

When a child begins to participate in recreational activities and organized sports, injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your child's smile, and is recommended to  be used during any activity that could result in a blow to the face or mouth. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe. Ask your dentist about custom and store-bought mouth protectors.

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Pediatric Dentistry

Pediatric Dentistry

Providing a full range of dental services geared towards children. Start early, start right.

YES!
Preventive Care

Preventive Care

Critical in the overall oral and physical health of your child. Includes brushing and good oral hygiene techniques.

YES!
Orthodontics

Orthodontics

Several options to a healthier mouth and happier smile starts with early screenings.

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First Visit

First Visit

Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. Our goal is provide a relaxing, stress-free environment.

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