Frequently Asked Pediatric Dentistry Questions
What is a Pediatric Dentist?
A Pediatric Dentist specializes in caring for the oral health of children from infancy through the teen years. Two to three years of training beyond dental school prepares the Pediatric Dentist to care for behavior issues, fears and dental needs specific to childhood. They are trained to diagnose any abnormalities or growth issues related to the mouth and jaw that could possibly be corrected early on to avoid later problems. Besides the special training of the dentist, you will notice that the atmosphere in the Pediatric Dental office is well suited to making children feel comfortable and the vocabulary used to explain procedures, etc. is geared to kids (i.e. sleepy juice, sugar bugs, and Mr. Thirsty). Pediatric Dentists are also highly trained in caring for children with special needs.
Why are baby (primary) teeth so important?
It is a misconception that since baby teeth will fall out anyway, it is not important to take good care of them. This could not be further from the truth! Baby or primary teeth are important for proper chewing and eating as well as talking. Even though the front baby teeth only last for the first 6–7 years of age, the back teeth will not fall out until ages 10–13. Failure to care for your child’s primary teeth can lead to problems with their permanent teeth later on. Two very important purposes of the primary teeth are to hold space for and guide the permanent teeth into position and to permit the normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, you should begin daily brushing with water and a soft toothbrush made especially for little ones. A pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after your child is old enough to not swallow it. Even before and during early tooth eruption, it is a good idea to wipe your baby’s gums off after each feeding with a wet washcloth.
When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?
After your child’s first tooth erupts is a good time to think about your child’s first dental visit, but for sure by your child’s first birthday. A Pediatric Dentist will be able to evaluate your child’s mouth and teeth for proper development and give you information about oral hygiene for little ones. It is good for little children to experience the dental office in a positive, non-threatening way when they are young—before they might have any cavities or problems that might cause anxiety.
What are other important ways to care for my child’s teeth?
A great way to care for your child’s teeth, as well as overall health, is to make good food choices. That means a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, white milk, and other dairy foods. Limiting sugary foods will greatly help reduce the chance of cavities and other tooth related issues. If your child does drink juice and/or eat sugary snacks, be sure to brush their teeth or rinse their mouth with water afterward.
What if my child has a toothache?
Rinsing with warm, salty water and/or a dose of children’s pain reliever may give your child relief in the event of a toothache. If there is facial swelling along with tooth pain, ice packs or cold compresses may help reduce the inflammation. See your Pediatric Dentist as soon as possible if there is facial swelling, as this may be a sign of an infection. In either case, you will want your child to be seen by a dentist to make sure he/she does not have a cavity.
What if my child chips a tooth?
While a chipped or bumped tooth is not an emergency, you will want to take your child to see a dentist soon afterward because chipped teeth can have rough edges and it may be necessary for some sort of restoration to be done for comfort as well as appearance. The dentist can then also check to be sure that the tooth has not loosened from the impact.
What if my child knocks a tooth out?
Accidents happen. The important thing is to remain calm. If a tooth gets knocked out, the way you react can make a big difference. If the tooth is permanent, the roots may come out as well. If possible, find the tooth right away. Try to place the tooth back in the hole by holding the top part of the tooth (do not do this with a baby tooth as you could damage the permanent tooth below). Do not touch the roots. Place clean gauze or cloth over the injured tooth and have your child bite down. If this is not possible, place the tooth in milk or water and call Dr. Gonzo immediately. The shorter the period of time between the tooth being knocked out and reinsertion, the greater the chance of saving the tooth. Even if the tooth is a baby tooth, you will want your child to see Dr. Gonzo in the near future so that the space can be maintained for the future permanent tooth that will one day fill that spot. Call us at (920) 939-7150 with any dental emergencies, questions, or concerns.
For more detailed answers or for answers to other questions please go to the website for the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry at www.aapd.org and look for Frequently Asked Questions and/or parent education brochures.
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