Frequently Asked Questions
A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best choice for infants. Brushing at least once a day, at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Initial brushing can be done without toothpaste. We will guide you as to whether your child would benefit from a toothpaste or fluoridated toothpaste. This will depend on his/her risk for decay.
"First visit by first birthday," is the general rule. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, and certainly no later than his/her first birthday.
Many general dentists are quite comfortable in seeing very young children, and this is certainly a good option. Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.
Early childhood decay is a pattern of rapid decay which develops at a very young age, often before the child’s first birthday. It can be associated with a number of causative factors. These can include one or more of: being placed in bed with a bottle or nursing before bed without a toothbrushing occurring after, inadequate or improper toothbrushing at an early age, excess starchy or sugary foods without adequate brushing. There are many risk factors that contribute to the decay process. The primary prevention is to ensure that the last thing going in your infant’s mouth before bed is a toothbrush such that all of the teeth are well cleaned before sleep. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. He/she should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for an excessive period of time can alter the shape of the mouth and the position of the teeth. Many children using their thumb or a soother will spontaneously stop the habit. Those who continue the habit can be aided to stop through a variety of techniques. These can be discussed with you at the office.
Sealants are clear or shaded plastic applied to the back teeth on their chewing surface. The sealant helps to keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, which are hard to clean, and shut out food particles that could get caught, causing cavities. Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.
The current guidelines from Health Canada and the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend the use of toothpaste early after the eruption of the first teeth. The recommendation will vary from child to child and will be discussed by the pediatric dentist when you are at the office. Brushing of the teeth should commence with the eruption of the first tooth.
To comfort your child, rinse his/her mouth with warm salt water and apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth on your child's face if it is swollen. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area, but you may give the child acetaminophen or ibuprophen for pain. See us as soon as possible.
Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease a person's chances of getting cavities by making teeth stronger. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention calls water fluoridation one of the top 10 public health measures of the 20th century. Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it, but to make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child's primary source of water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially in communities where the community does not fluoridate the water or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.
With contemporary safeguards, such as lead aprons and high-speed film, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. Even though there is very little risk, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. In our practice, we practice a philosophy of prescription radiography, only taking radiographs when we absolutely need them to adequately diagnose a situation. In all cases, we inform you prior to the taking of radiographs and are happy to discuss further with you the current science on this.
A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child's list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. They protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard, but a custom-fitted mouth guard fitted by our team is your child's best protection against sports-related injuries.
At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all of these 20 primary teeth should be present.
First of all, remain calm. If possible, find the tooth and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Rinse the tooth gently with water. Replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with cold milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth. The literature indicates that success of reimplantation is highest if it can be done within the first 30 minutes following the accident.
Sore gums when teeth erupt are part of the normal eruption process. The discomfort is eased for some children by use of a teething biscuit, a piece of toast or a frozen teething ring.
At certain stages of growth and development, a space between the front teeth is normal and not a cause for concern. Usually, the space will close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt. We can determine whether there is cause for concern.
Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Also, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on other teeth including permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.
Four things are necessary for cavities to form – a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates and time. Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone's teeth. When you eat, the sugars in your food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.