Many children have questions about their child’s dental care. Adaptive Dental Associates has provided answers to a few of the most common questions about pediatric dentistry. Remember, Dr. Joseph Maggio and associates are here to serve as resources, and we are happy to provide you with additional information. We encourage you to contact us at 908-847-4498 or visit our dental office in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, if you have further questions.
When should my child have their first dental visit?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents schedule their child’s first dental visit within 6 months after their first tooth erupts, or no later than their child’s first birthday.
Why should I bring my child to a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists are dental specialists who have completed 2-3 additional years of training following dental school in order to learn the best ways to care for infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents. In addition to their dental training, pediatric dentists also study child psychology to enable them to communicate with children in an effective, gentle, and non-threatening way. Pediatric dentists focus on prevention, early detection, treatment, and education regarding child dental care, and they stay up-to-date on the latest advances in dentistry in order to better care for your child.
How often should children have dental checkups?
Children should visit the dentist every 6 months following their first appointment. These biannual visits allow our dentists to monitor any new developments in your child’s mouth and provide information and strategies on how you can care for your child’s teeth at home. If your child is more susceptible to tooth decay, or if they show early signs of orthodontic problems, our dentists may recommend that you visit Adaptive Dental Associates more frequently.
What is the best toothpaste for my child?
There are many brands of toothpaste that are acceptable for children to use. When choosing a toothpaste for your child, choose a brand that is ADA-approved. This means that it will have less abrasive ingredients, fluoride, and flavoring that makes it taste better.
Please also consider the age of your child when choosing a toothpaste. Home care begins before the teeth erupt by gently rubbing a cool, clean cloth along the gums after feeding. Prior to age 2, your child will begin getting their teeth and brushing should begin. At this stage, select a fluoride-free “baby” toothpaste and softly brush the teeth twice per day. Sometime during your child’s third year, select an ADA-accepted brand of fluoridated toothpaste. Use only a tiny pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and encourage your child to spit out the excess after brushing.
You should brush your child’s teeth for them until they are about 7. At this age, they will have the motor skills necessary to effectively brush their own teeth.
When should my child stop using a sippy cup?
Your child should begin using a sippy cup as soon as they are physically able to grasp it, and they should stop using the sippy cup as soon as they have enough motor control to use a regular cup (usually at about 12-14 months of age). Prolonging the use of a sippy cup beyond this age increases your child’s risk of baby bottle tooth decay, as the cup emits only a small amount of fluid at a time and causes the sugars and fluids to be continually swishing around your child’s teeth.
When using a sippy cup, we recommend that you follow these guidelines:
- Do not fill sippy cups with sugary liquids
- Do not allow your child to sip continuously from the cup – remove it when they are done
- Do not let your child take a sippy cup to bed
- Do not use sippy cups to comfort your child when he or she is distressed
- Wash sippy cups frequently
When choosing a sippy cup for your child, we recommend that you avoid sippy cups with “no-spill” valves, and choose a cup with a spout and two handles.
What is Xylitol, and how can it help prevent cavities?
Xylitol is a natural substance that can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including berries, mushrooms, corn, and lettuce. Studies have shown that eating Xylitol helps to reduce the risk of cavities. Please note that Xylitol does not provide “more” tooth protection, but rather enhances your overall cavity prevention plan. Xylitol works to neutralize harmful acids, reduce enamel destruction, and stimulate saliva production to minimize the development of cavities and help protect your tooth enamel.
In addition to being found in many fruits and vegetables, Xylitol is also available as a form of chewing gum. Although Xylitol chewing gum is not suitable for young children, infants can benefit from their mothers chewing this type of gum. Mothers of children between 3 months and 2 years old who chew Xylitol gum can help protect their children from tooth decay up to 5 years of age. Older children may chew Xylitol gum to reduce the risk of developing new cavities.
When will my child’s teeth erupt?
Your baby’s teeth begin developing during the second trimester of pregnancy, and the first teeth typically emerge between the ages of 6-10 months of age. Teeth typically emerge in pairs, beginning with the lower two front teeth. Afterwards, the upper front teeth erupt (between 8-12 months). Between the ages of 9-16 months, the lateral incisors emerge on either side of the previous teeth. Eight more teeth break through between 13-23 months, including the cuspids (canine teeth) and the first molars. A second set of molars will typically be the final teeth to erupt.
Primary teeth are typically lost in the same order they arrived – the central incisors between 6-7 years of age, the later incisors between 7-8 years of age, the first molars between 9-11 years of age, and the cuspids and second molars between the ages of 10-12.
Why are primary teeth important?
Because they are temporary, many people believe that the baby teeth are not important in the long run; however, baby teeth play many important roles in your child’s oral health and development. Some of the major functions of baby teeth include:
- Speech production and development
- Eating and nutrition
- Holding the place of the permanent teeth
- Straighter smiles
- Better oral health
What is pulp therapy?
Pulp therapy, or pulpotomy, is a type of root canal for children. The goal of pulp therapy is to treat, restore, and save a tooth that has been damaged or is suffering from decay and inflammation. Our dentists may perform a pulpotomy on either a primary or a permanent tooth.
Some common signs of inflamed or injured pulp include:
- Constant unexplained pain
- Nighttime pain
- Greater sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages
- Swelling or redness around a tooth
- Unexpected looseness or mobility of a tooth
During a pulpotomy, our dentists will gently remove the infected or damaged tooth pulp or nerves, and fill the tooth with a biocompatible material to soothe the tooth root and help prevent further infection. A crown will usually be placed to protect the tooth at the end of the treatment.
What do I do if my child grinds their teeth at night?
Bruxism (teeth grinding) is fairly common among both adults and children, and it can occur at any time, though nighttime grinding is much more common. Tooth grinding may be caused by one or more factors, such as stress, bad bites, jaw misalignment, the use of certain medications, or traumatic brain injury.
While nighttime grinding can be loud and easy to detect, daytime jaw clenching and grinding can be more difficult to notice. Some common signs of bruxism include:
- Frequent headaches
- Injured teeth and gums
- Loud clicking or grinding sounds
- Rhythmic tightening or clenching of the jaw muscles
- Complaints about painful jaw muscles, especially in the morning
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
Bruxism will usually cease on its own by about age 13. Our dentists will monitor the situation and may recommend a treatment to manage it and prevent damage during this time, or if it does not stop. Common treatments include night guards, muscle relaxants, orthodontic treatment, and altering the biting surface of the teeth with crowns or other treatments.