Q&A

When should my child see a dentist for the first time?

The AAPD and AAP recommend that children see a dentist for the first time around the time their teeth begin erupting, or no later than their very first birthday.

How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

Brushing should be done twice each day for 2 minutes at a time to remove loose plaque before it calcifies into tartar. Flossing needs to be performed at least once a day to remove bacteria between the teeth that brushing can’t reach. Be sure to wrap the floss tightly and slide it under the gumlines!

How often should we see the dentist for check-ups?

For most patients, we recommend check-ups and cleanings every 6 months. This is about the amount of time that tartar begins visibly accumulating, and can allow the dentist to check for newly formed stages of tooth decay. Waiting until there are symptoms of dental problems often means that they are more complicated and invasive to correct.

If baby teeth get cavities, is it ok to just let them go untreated since they will fall out eventually?

No, and there are two reasons why. First of all, baby teeth decay very quickly and the cavity or infection can spread to the developing tooth underneath, damaging it permanently. Secondly, the primary teeth act as guides in the eruption patterns of adult teeth. Because some baby teeth will not fall out until closer to 12 years of age, it’s important to keep the teeth as long as nature intended, and avoid serious orthodontic complications later on.

I’m worried about radiation. Is it ok to ask that x-rays are not taken every year?

Digital x-rays use much less radiation than traditional dental x-rays (which in fact, already used extremely low levels.) They also allow us to see areas between the teeth that cannot be seen during a clinical examination. Waiting too long to check these contact points can allow large cavities to develop, which could have otherwise been treated when they were very small. We recommend bitewing x-rays at least once per year, even for people with healthy smiles.

 

Why do you suggest that children go back into the treatment area by themselves?

That’s a great question! We’ve actually found that in the field of pediatric dentistry, children tend to do better when they’re treated like a young adult, and escorted back to the clinical area where they can communicate with our providers one-on-one. The entire treatment area is an open bay, so other children and team members are around the entire time. Many parents don’t realize that they say words like shot, hurt, drill, or others that can alarm a child, when our team has other ways to communicate without alerting the child to what is actually going on.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is a generic term used for rampant cavities in young children. It is often due to the child having a sippy cup or bottle with them frequently throughout the day, especially in their bed. Water does not contribute to tooth decay, but carrying a cup of milk or juice all day long will cause constant acid erosion on baby teeth, which decay at faster levels than permanent teeth.

Is juice a good drink for my child?

In moderation, juice can be appropriate for mealtimes, but you may want to water it down to reduce the natural sugars exposed to the teeth. It is extremely important to not let your child sip on juice or milk frequently throughout the day, as even natural sugars can cause acid erosion or cavities. Instead, encourage drinking water. Water naturally cleanses the teeth and municipal water supplies have added fluoride to strengthen enamel.

I just hit my front tooth accidentally. What should I do?

Depending on the severity of the trauma, you may need to call us immediately or you can wait until symptoms become evident. If the tooth is visibly mobile or has been impacted, call us as quickly as possible. Otherwise, monitor the tooth to check for any swelling of the gums, darkening of the tooth, or pain and call us if needed. Let us know at your next dental visit even if there are no symptoms, so that we can take an x-ray.

Why can’t I just wear an over the counter sports guard?

Unlike professionally fitted sports guards, over the counter guards are made “one size fits most.” That means there isn’t a secure fit to hold it in place should trauma or injury actually occur. In fact, most people find over the counter guards too bulky to wear because they can’t speak, drink, or breathe comfortably in them. Professionally made guards will always stay in place, and wearing one can also reduce the likelihood of concussions.