Most parents have questions about how to care for their child’s oral health. Wasatch Gentle Dental has provided this page of answers to frequently asked questions to help you keep your child’s smile healthy. For more information, and to make your child’s appointment with Dr. Andrew Smith and Dr. Bradley Smith in Murray, Utah, call us today at 801-262-6661.
When should my child have their first dental appointment?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children should have a “well-baby” appointment with a pediatric dentist about 6 months after their first tooth erupts, or no later than their first birthday.
What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?
Pediatric dentists and teams are fully trained to communicate with infants and young children, and have fun, stimulating offices in which children can feel safe and at ease. During your child’s first dental appointment, the dentist will advise parents on implementing a good oral care routine at home, ask questions about the child’s oral habits (including current oral care, diet, and general health), and examine the emerging teeth. You will sit knee-to-knee with the dentist for this examination so that your child can see you at all times. If the teeth appear stained, we may clean them and provide a topical fluoride treatment.
Why should I bring my baby to a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists (pedodontists) receive specialized training to meet the needs of children from infanthood through adolescence, as well as the requirements of patients with special needs. In addition to their dental training, pediatric dentists also study child psychology in order to communicate with children in an effective, gentle, and non-threatening manner. Pediatric dentists focus on prevention, early detection, treatment, and education to ensure that both you and your child are aware of potential problems and how to avoid them, and the available treatments when a dental problem does develop.
When will my baby start getting teeth?
Babies actually begin developing teeth in the second trimester of pregnancy, at about 16-20 weeks. The teeth first emerge between the ages of 6 and 10 months of age. Teeth generally emerge in pairs, beginning at the front of the mouth. We recommend that you begin flossing your child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two adjacent teeth.
What dental problems can babies experience?
Babies are at risk for tooth decay as soon as the first tooth emerges. They may also develop childhood periodontitis if tooth decay is left untreated, and excessive consumption of fluoride can lead to fluorosis in later childhood. Fortunately, all of these problems are easily preventable. Please contact our dentists to make an appointment for your child and to learn how to avoid these and other problems.
What is the best toothpaste to use when brushing my child’s teeth?
Prior to the emergence of teeth, you should gently clean your child’s gums with a cool, clean cloth after a feeding to remove food particles and bacteria. Begin brushing when the teeth begin to erupt. Initially, you should select a fluoride-free baby toothpaste, and brush the teeth softly twice each day. After age 2, select an ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste, and use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Encourage your child to spit it out after brushing. If he or she does swallow the toothpaste, don’t worry. This is normal, and will eventually cease with time and encouragement.
Why are primary teeth important?
Primary teeth play a critical role in maintaining good oral health and development. Major functions of primary teeth include:
- Speech production and development – primary teeth help children speak properly.
- Eating and nutrition – healthy teeth promote proper chewing and facilitate nutritious eating and good digestion.
- Self-confidence – taking care of primary teeth promotes confident smiles and positive social interactions, and reduces the risk of bad breath.
- Straighter smiles – baby teeth hold the places for the adult teeth, and facilitate proper eruption and alignment of these teeth later on.
- Excellent oral health – decayed primary teeth lead to childhood periodontal disease, which erodes gums, ligaments, and eventually bone, and leads to many problems with the health and spacing of adult teeth.
Will my child need a dental X-ray, and are they safe?
Individual circumstances will dictate when and how often your child needs to have a dental X-ray taken. Children with greater risk of cavities may need biannual radiographs, while children with average or below average risk levels may only have an X-ray taken every 1-2 years. Dental X-rays are completely safe for children. Our dentists will also take precautions to ensure that your child is exposed to as little radiation as possible.
When should my child have his or her initial orthodontic evaluation?
Children should have an orthodontic evaluation before age 8. This will allow us to diagnose any potential problems and intervene before they become a serious complication, avoiding the need for more extensive treatment at a later stage.
Can children receive sedation dentistry?
Yes. If your child is anxious or uncomfortable, or has difficulty in remaining still to receive treatment, our dentists may provide a mild sedative to help him or her relax during their appointment. Common methods of sedation for children include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation, IV sedation, or a nasal spray. We do not recommend general anesthesia unless your child requires it to safely perform their procedure, has a lengthy treatment, needs more complex treatments (such as oral surgery), or has a condition with limits their ability to cooperate or follow instructions.