Below are common questions and our answers about the best way to care for children's teeth.
- When should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?
- How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?
- How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
- Baby teeth aren't permanent. Why do they need special care?
- What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?
- At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?
- What causes cavities?
- How can I help my child avoid cavities?
- What are dental sealants and how do they work?
- Are pacifer and thumb sucking habits harmful to my child's teeth?
- Are dental x-rays necessary for baby teeth?
When should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his first tooth. We recommend that children be seen by six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first. Thereafter, your child should be seen about every six months, depending on your child's individual needs. This allows for the creation of a dental home for your child, along with education and preventive tips for parents. In preparing your child for her first dental visit, it is important to have a positive attitude towards dentistry and not over prepare your child - allow our experienced, professional team to introduce your child to dentistry.
How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?
A pediatric dentist is a dentist with a minimum of two years additional training beyond dental school, and certified in treating infants, children, teens and those with special health care needs. This specialized training emphasizes preventive dentistry, growth and development, and behavioural management of children of all ages in the dental setting.
How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
There are several ways in which a parent can facilitate a positive dental experience for their child. While not intuitive, it is important that you do not overprepare you child, as this often creates, not eliminates, anxiety. Making a "big deal" about an upcoming appointment, or using phrases such as "it won't hurt", "don't worry", "it's okay to be nervous" serve not to soothe, but only to create anxiety. Let our experienced pediatric dentists and staff guide your child through their appointment, trusting them in their familiarity and knowledge with constantly working with children of all ages, temperaments and "anxiety" levels. In addition, while a parent is welcome to be present at the time of treatment, we encourage only doing so as a silent observer. This allows the doctor to best communicate with your child and facilitate their needs throughout the appointment. By doing so, you will contribute greatly in achieving a positive dental attitude for your child.
Baby teeth aren't permanent. Why do they need special care?
There are several reasons why primary, or "baby" teeth are important to your child: not only do they help children speak appropriately and allow for proper nutrition, they are paramount in aiding the eruption of adult teeth and contribute to the development of the growing jaw and face.
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 most likely can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?
Fluoridated toothpaste on an appropriately sized toothbrush should be used upon the eruption of the first tooth, when living in a non-fluoridated community. Our pediatric dentists will be able to give you specific recommendations on amount required, frequency of use and brushing techniques based on your child's individual needs.
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?
The prevention of dental decay involves several factors:
- Regular dental visits - In addition to examination, home care can be evaluated, taught and reinforced. Cleanings, fluoride applications and dental sealants all contribute to the prevention of dental decay.
- Home care - Toothbrushing twice a day with a fluoridated paste should begin upon the eruption of the first tooth, and be assisted by the parent until the child is seven to eight years old. In addition, when the back teeth are in contact, flossing daily is necessary to clean in between your child's teeth.
- Dietary considerations - Very briefly, a balanced diet, low in sugar and sticky starches is best to decrease the chance of your child getting a cavity. Minimizing the frequency of juices, milks and sugary starches between meals is crucial in the prevention of dental decay. Our pediatric dental team will be able to educate you on the types of goods that are healthier for your child's teeth.
What are dental sealants and how do they work?
Sealants are a tooth-coloured coating applied to the deep grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces of teeth, which are often hard to keep clean. By filling in these surfaces, it shuts out food particles that get caught in these areas and cause cavities. The application of sealants is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for several years.
Are pacifer and thumb sucking habits harmful to my child's teeth?
While thumb and pacifier habits are quite common amongst infants and toddlers, when continued over a long period of time, they can contribute to crooked, crowded teeth and bite problems. Fortunately, most children do stop these habits on their own, or with the help of recommendations by our dental team. If there are difficulties in stopping the habit at an appropriate developmental stage, a mouth appliance may be recommended by one of our pediatric dentists.
Are dental x-rays necessary for baby teeth?
Dental x-rays are necessary to appropriately evaluate the enamel and presence of cavities in between baby teeth. In addition, they assist in evaluating the presence or absence of teeth, various dental anomalies and traumatic injuries to the teeth. Contemporary safeguards such as digital films and lead aprons minimize the amount of radiation your child is exposed to. Moreover, dental x-rays represent a much smaller risk to your child than an undetected and untreated dental problem.