FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

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  1. What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
  2. Does an electric toothbrush work better?
  3. When should my child start using toothpaste?
  4. When should my child have his/her first dental visit?
  5. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
  6. How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?
  7. Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
  8. When do the first teeth start to erupt?
  9. How can I help my child through the teething stage?
  10. Does my child really need X-rays?
  11. What causes tooth decay?
  12. How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
  13. How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?
  14. If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?
  15. What should I do if my child gets a toothache?
  16. What are dental sealants and how do they work?
  17. What should I do if my child knocked out a tooth?
  18. What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?
  19. Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

1. What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

Once the first teeth start yo grow in, you should use a toothbrush with soft bristle and a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants.  A toothbrush is the best way to remove plaque bacteria that can cause tooth decay. You should brush you baby’s teeth twice a day, focusing on the nighttime brushing.

Prior to the eruption of the first tooth, a wash cloth or dental wipe is sufficient to clean the mouth.  Then, as your child gets more teeth, always use an age-appropriate toothbrush as recommended by your dentist.  Avoid toothbrushes that are to large, as it doesn’t allow you to focus on hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.  Other aids, such as the plastic finger-sheath with little plastic nubs, are not as effective at cleaning teeth and are not meant to substitute a toothbrush.

 Click here for more on brushing tips

 2. Does an electric toothbrush work better?

Not necessarily. In fact, electric toothbrushes can be very technique-sensitive and the vibrations might be difficult for your child to accept.  Many electric toothbrushes may not have any added effect at all, and require you to brush exactly as if it were a regular toothbrush.  With that said, the right electric toothbrush can make brushing more fun, ensure the proper amount of time is spent brushing, and enhance an individuals ability to clean their teeth if used appropriately. If you are interested to learn more, Dr. Seman and Dr. Knight would be happy to discuss what type of toothbrush is best for your child and how it should be used.

 3. When should my child start using toothpaste?

As soon as you start brushing the first tooth, you should use toothpaste. By introducing toothpaste early on, your child will accept it when they are older.  You might be surprised how many children refuse to use toothpaste when all that they had when they were younger was a wet toothbrush.

However, be aware that there are two categories of toothpaste; Training toothpaste, which is fluoride free, and regular anticavity toothpaste, which has fluoride.  As a general rule, if a child cannot spit the toothpaste into the sink without swallowing it, they should only be using fluoride-free training toothpaste.  Once you are confident that you child is not swallowing any toothpaste, they can use the more effective fluoride toothpaste.  As an added precaution, only use a smear, or a grain of rice amount of toothpaste. Then when they are school aged, they can start using a “pea-size” amount.

 4. When should my child have his/her first dental visit?

Both pediatric dentists and pediatricians recommend that children see a dentist within 6 months of getting their first tooth, or by their first birthday.  Our goal is to get to the children before tooth decay can become an issue.  We can then educate parents and identify risk factors so that cavities can be avoided.  In addition, getting to know you early on will help us win your child’s trust and enhance his, or her, dental experience in the long run.

 5. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

6. How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

7. 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.

8. When do the first teeth start to erupt?

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.

Then at about 6 years, the permanent teeth will start to grow in.  Permanent molars will grow in the back of the mouth, and the four front bottom and four front top incisors will be replaced with permanent teeth. Once this has happened, no more teeth will be lost for about two years, after which, the remainder of the baby teeth will be replaced with adult teeth.  By the time they are 12 or 13 years old, they will have a set of 28 permanent teeth.

9. How can I help my child through the teething stage?

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. Your pharmacy should also have medications that can be rubbed on the gums to reduce the discomfort.

10. Does my child really need X-rays?

X-ray images, also called dental radiographs, are among the most valuable tools a dentist has for keeping your child’s mouth and teeth healthy. For children, X-rays are used to:

  • Show areas of decay that your dentist may not be able to see with just a visual examination, such as tiny pits of decay that might occur between teeth
  • Find decay that is developing underneath an existing filling
  • See whether there is enough space in the mouth to fit all the new teeth and gauge whether primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to erupt properly
  • See whether extra teeth are developing or whether any teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums)

Often, major problems can be prevented by catching small developmental problems early and then making accommodations. 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 fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.

11. What causes tooth decay?

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.

12. How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, Dr. Seman or Dr. Knight 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.

13. 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. You can also ask your us to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth.

For more on Nutritional tips, click here

14. If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?

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 a bacterial infection and can spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of the your child.

15. What should I do if my child gets a toothache?

Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly by rinsing your child’s mouth with water and flossing & brushing away any trapped food.  Give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever approved by your pediatrician.   If there is any swelling in your child’s gums or face, call us immediately.  Give us a call to schedule and evaluation and we will get you out of discomfort asap.

 Click here for more information on dental emergency

 16. What are dental sealants and how do they work?

If you look at your back teeth, you may notice small groves and pits in the tooth.  This is normal, it’s just the way the tooth was formed.  Unfortunately, food can hide in these grooves and can be difficult to clean out with a toothbrush.  Sealants are a protective barrier that keep food out of these grooves.  Most children will benefit from sealants on their permanent molars, which tend to grow in at ages 6 and 12.  If your child is a candidate for sealants, we will be sure to offer this effective service.

Dr. Seman and Dr. Knight are very particular when they place a sealant.  They have seen far too many inadequate sealants placed in other offices or school sealant programs. To be sure a sealant performs as effectively as possible they avoid shortcuts and always follow these steps. They begin by thoroughly cleaning out the groove to make sure that there is no residual debris or decay within the groove. Then, they isolate the tooth being sealed to make sure that your child isn’t exposed to uncured, or un-set, sealant materials.  After placing the sealant, it is polished and checked for maximum esthetics and durability.

Click here for more on restorative procedures

 17. What should I do if my child knocked out a tooth?

If a baby tooth is knocked out, contact us as soon as the excitement abates.  We do not re-implant baby teeth but it is important to examine your child to be sure no fragments of tooth are embedded in the gums, lip or tongue, as well as determine the extent of trauma to other teeth in the area.  Bring along the knocked out tooth if you can locate it.

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, find the tooth! Hold the tooth by the crown (top) and rinse it gently using only cool water.  Do NOT scrub it or clean with soap – JUST WATER!  Do not touch the root surface.  If possible, replace the tooth back 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 milk or water.  Milk is the best choice…then call us immediately.  Teeth that have been knocked out will almost always require a root canal, but they can often survive for years if treated promptly.  The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

 Click here to see more on dental emergencies

 18. 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 developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

19. Are thumbsucking 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 when their permanent teeth start to erupt, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.