Pediatric Dental FAQs
When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?
We recommend you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his first tooth. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that a child is seen by six months after his/her first tooth erupts or by age one, whichever is first.
What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?
The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. Dr. Cao will check your child’s teeth for cavities and placement. If your child is cooperative, we will do a cleaning. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips that you can refer to at home.
How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know it’s important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and the doctor will help him do that. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.
Baby teeth aren’t permanent. Why do they need special care?
Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in his development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay), nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.
What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore. Remember to change your child’s toothbrush every 3 months. Brushing should take approximately 3 – 4 minutes. Make tooth brushing an enjoyable activity for the child and they will want to repeat the behaviour.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?
Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, as too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he’ll need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child’s teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven.
What causes cavities?
Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.
How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Be sure your child brushes his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t. Avoid any sugary drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. And finally, make regular appointments so we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.
Does my child need dental sealants?
Sealants cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.
What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?
The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit and he/she may need thumb sucking appliance.
When should my child have dental X-rays taken?
We recommend taking X-rays around the age of four or five to check for cavities in between the baby molars. At this age, most kids are able to comprehend when asked not to move during X-rays. As the first permanent tooth erupts (usually around age six) we recommend kids have yearly X-rays.