According to guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should be seen by his/her pediatric dentist no later than six months after the eruption of the first tooth.
This visit mainly will involve counseling on oral hygiene, habits, and on the effects that diet can have on his/her teeth. It is NOT recommended to wait until age 3 to visit your dentist and as a general rule, the earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems.
Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
The AAPD also recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year; however some children that may be at a higher-than-average caries risk may need to be seen more often.
It is normal and even "ideal" for baby teeth to have spacing between each other.
Keep in mind that when permanent teeth erupt, their size will be considerably larger than that of baby teeth. As the baby teeth are lost, the erupting permanent tooth will quickly take advantage of this excess space.
Children who do not have spacing in their primary dentition can have a higher incidence of crowding (crooked teeth) in the permanent dentition.
There is not such a thing as the best toothpaste. We recommend ONLY products that have been ADA (American Dental Association) accepted or approved.
The selection is usually made on a case-by-case basis, however the main consideration when selecting toothpaste is your child's age.
This is due to the risk of fluorosis in younger children that swallow toothpaste during regular brushing. A child may face the condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she gets too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.
By swallowing too much fluoride for the child's size and weight during the years of tooth development. This can happen in several different ways.
First, a child may take more of a fluoride supplement than the amount prescribed.
Second, the child may take a fluoride supplement when there is already an optimal amount of fluoride in the drinking water.
Third, some children simply like the taste of fluoridated toothpaste. They may use too much toothpaste, and then swallow it instead of spitting it out.
Recent controversy regarding the use of Stainless Steel Crowns (SSCs) in some states have led some parents to question dental care providers more thoroughly on their use and on other alternatives. SSCs have been used in dentistry for over 50 years for primary and permanent dentition.
For primary teeth, SSCs are usually placed on teeth that have extensive caries (where two or more surfaces are extensively involved), or teeth that have pulp treatment (such as pulpotomy or pulpectomy). We also use them in teeth that will remain in the mouth for a considerably long period of time; where other materials will not last long enough.
SSCs become loose and come out of the mouth just like normal primary teeth. They work just like normal teeth do, and require the same care. Alternatives to Stainless Steel Crowns do exist, particularly for front teeth. Usually these can be one of the following:
- A prefabricated SSC that has a white facing bonded to it on the front (Commonly we use the Nu-Smile brand: www.nusmilecrowns.com)
- A white cap fabricated with a white filling material (Usually we call these strip crowns).
- A normal SSC that we modify by building a window in the front of it, which we later fill with a white filling material.
How is that going to affect him or her?
Children require extraction of one or more primary teeth in certain situations. These situations may include extensive decay on their front teeth, and/or localized infection (for example an abscess or a gum boil).
Extractions are also necessary in cases of trauma, where the baby teeth have been pushed back, pushed forward, broken, or simply knocked out.
Parents are obviously concerned of the esthetic and functional effects (on speech, feeding, and breathing) of removing one or more front baby teeth.
There is good evidence that has shown NO long-term speech impediments on these cases. We also know from our professional experience that once the gums heal, children will be able to eat almost anything, since they can still bite-and-cut with the remaining teeth.
As far as esthetics is concerned, your pediatric dentist can offer you information on fixed appliances that can replace the missing tooth/teeth, assuming your child meets the right criteria.
A conscious oral sedation is a procedure in which a child is given an oral medication that causes a depressed level of consciousness. Our academy (AAPD) has clearly defined the indications for this procedure, and these are as follows:
A) Preschool children who cannot understand or cooperate for definitive treatment.
B) Patients requiring dental care who cannot cooperate due to a lack of psychological or emotional maturity.
C) Patients requiring dental treatment, and who cannot cooperate due to a cognitive, physical or medical disability.
D) Patients who require dental care but are fearful and anxious, and cannot cooperate for treatment.
As with any procedure in which a child's conscious state is altered, there are some risks involved.
The main risks (serious complications) associated with conscious sedation include, but are not limited to: aspiration, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, and death. Because your child will be partially awake, local dental anesthesia (a lidocaine shot) is still needed, and this may limit the extent of work that we can provide.
Sedations are also an option in cases of accidents or trauma, but in these situations, the decision to administer the medication must take into consideration the risk of aspiration (breathing vomit into the lungs) and any head trauma that may have occurred.
If your child is a candidate for a conscious sedation, please make sure you follow the instructions provided by your pediatric dentist.
In cases with extensive decay, we are limited by the maximum dosage of local anesthetic that we can use. As a rule we also consider your child's comfort after he/she leaves the clinic, in order to determine how much local anesthetic we can use.
Very young children are at high risk of biting their lips or chewing on the inside part of their cheeks after they receive local anesthetic (a lidocaine shot). This usually happens because of their natural curiosity they try to feel the area or areas that are numb.
For these and other reasons it is unlikely that we could work on all of your child's teeth at once. An exception to this rule would be a child that is taken to the operating room.
Pediatric dentists often treat patients who present special challenges related to their age, behavior, medical conditions, or any other special needs. To address these challenges effectively in order to provide "predictable" treatment, your pediatric dentist may recommend treating your child under General Anesthesia.
Pediatric dentists are, by virtue of training and experience, qualified to recognize the indications for such an approach and to render such care.
Your pediatric dentist and his staff will discuss all the necessary steps that must be taken in order to promptly and safely complete your child's dental treatment after this treatment option has been chosen.
This is the one of the most commonly asked questions that we get from our patient's parents. We try to minimize the discomfort of the injection by placing a gel that works as a local anesthetic and numbs the tissue were the injection will be administered.
Profound local anesthesia is usually obtained five to ten minutes after the injection, depending on the area of the mouth where the anesthetic was placed. We always check to confirm that the area is numb before we begin to work. In cases of localized infection or trauma (like broken teeth) it is very difficult to obtain profound anesthesia, however we do have other means of supplementing the anesthetic (like conjoined use of nitrous-oxide gas, medications, or conscious sedation).
Younger children, particularly pre-schoolers may interpret the feeling of numbness as pain, and therefore cry. Please follow the postoperative instructions that we give you, in order to minimize complications such as lip biting.
When a baby-tooth changes color, it can mean many things. Baby teeth can and do normally change in color, particularly close to the time that they become loose, however, this change is minimal and should not be confused with a carious lesion (cavity).
The best way to determine if your child has a stain or a true cavity is to take him or her to a pediatric dentist.
Caries is an infectious disease; it progresses if left untreated, and usually is associated with pain (especially when the "cavities" are large). Teeth with cavities typically assume a darker (brown) discoloration, and depending on the extent, may exhibit loss of tooth structure.
Teeth that have been previously "bumped" may also change in color. Traumatized baby teeth can assume a yellow or a dark discoloration, which may or may-not be associated with pain.
Other less common causes of changes in color may be: Fluorosis, food staining (particularly tea or colas), systemic disease (hepatitis), etc.