Below are common questions and our answers about the best way to care for children’s teeth.
When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?
We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets their first tooth. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that children be seen within six months or their first tooth erupting or at one year of age, whichever comes first.
What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?
The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about caring for your childs teeth. Depending on the age of your child we may be able to give them a ride in the chair and check their teeth for any potential problems.
We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips that you can refer to at home.
How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly.
Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it’s important to keep his teeth and gums healthy. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.
Baby teeth aren’t permanent; why do they need special care?
Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth.
If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay) nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your child's general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.
What's the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your baby's first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his or her gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You most likely can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?
Once your child has their first tooth, start brushing using toothpaste and a soft bristle brush. Use only a smear of toothpaste and make sure it contains fluoride. For children under three years of age use a smear (size of a grain of rice) for children three years and up use an amount the size of a pea . Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing. You should brush your child's teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven.
What causes cavities?
Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities (sugar bugs).
How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Be sure that your child brushes his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, because flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t. Check with your dentist about a fluoride supplement which helps tooth enamel become harder and more resistant to decay.
Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. And finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.
Does my child need dental sealants?
Sealants cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple and affordable way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.
My child plays sports; how can I protect the teeth?
Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.
What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?
The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or if he or she sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.
When should my child have dental X-rays taken?
We recommend taking X-rays around the age of four or five. They are an important early diagnostic tool in prevention of decay (sugar bugs) that we are unable to see or touch during an oral exam. X-rays are taken every 18 - 24 mths. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having X-rays taken at an earlier age or at a more frequent interval.