What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?
A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any
soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically
for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. A soft baby
washcloth can be used to cleanse teeth and gums also, especially when the teeth
are mid-eruption and gingival tissue may be sensitive.
What can I do to help my baby with the teething process?
Many babies will react differently with the eruption of each individual tooth
and no two children will respond the same way. Signs of teething can include:
- Excessive drooling.
- Frequent gnawing on fingers or toys.
- Red cheeks.
- Runny nose.
- Decreased appetite or unwillingness to eat solid foods which require chewing.
- Marked increase in irritability.
- Slightly elevated (but still within the range of normal) temperature.
Giving your baby something cold to chew on (like a chilled teething ring or
washcloth may alleviate some of the discomfort.
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see the dentist between
the ages of 2-3 for their first dental check-up and cleaning. Parents need to be
vigilant and make an earlier appointment if they have any concerns with what
they see in their child`s mouth (such as early decay or malformation of the
teeth or jaws).
Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
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.
Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they
go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their
own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of
three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by the dentist.
How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?
Avoid nursing children to sleep. Also try to avoid putting anything but water in
their bed-time bottle. Brushing and flossing your child`s teeth is also very
important. Take your child to a dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums
How often does my child need to see the dentist?
A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other
dental problems. However, your dentist can tell you when and how often your
child should visit based on their personal oral health.
When should we begin brushing our child's teeth?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, you should clean your child’s gums
with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to
appear, start brushing twice daily using non fluoridated toothpaste and a soft,
age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth
of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size"
amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember
that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.
Children who can effectively spit out excess toothpaste may advance to
How do I make my child's diet safe for his teeth?
Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of: fruits
and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat fish and
eggs. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting
your child's teeth from decay.
How do dental sealants work?
Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing
cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect
teeth for many years.
What can I do to protect my child's teeth during sporting events?
Soft plastic mouthguards can be used to protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks
and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard fabricated by a
dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even
provide protection from severe injuries to the head.
How safe are dental x-rays?
There is very little risk with dental x-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially
careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead
aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of
How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly. Then, the dentist
can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for
parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when
added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a
lifetime of healthy habits.
In the event that my child does develop a cavity and is in need of dental
treatment, how is that handled?
There are many ways to address a child’s need for restorative work (fillings,
extractions, baby root canals, etc). Depending on a child’s age, level of
maturity and ability to listen carefully and follow instructions, treatment may
be completed in the regular dental environment; it may be completed with the
help of mild sedation, or may require the need for referral to a pediatric
dentist – specialized in dealing with the specific needs of challenging
circumstances. All this can be discussed with the dentist and a decision will be
made as to what is best suited for your child’s individual needs.