Q. How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?
A: Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. Frequent nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first baby teeth begin to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should also be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup.
Q. When should bottle feeding be stopped?
A: Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
Q. When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
A: The sooner the better! Starting at birth, you should clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their own teeth effectively.
Q. Any advice on teething?
A: From six months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a chilled teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet washcloth. Some parents simply rub their baby’s gums with a clean finger.
Q. Did you know that 1/2 of all 3 year-olds in non-fluoridated communities such as the Snoqualmie Valley have tooth decay?
A. Ask us about a fluoride prescription for your child.
Q. When should my child first see a dentist?
A. Both the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that children have their first dental appointment when the first tooth appears or no later than the first birthday. Three-year-old children usually do quite well at a “fun” get -acquainted visit to ride on our “Magic Chair”, and we are often able to clean their teeth and do a thorough exam.
Q. Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
A: Dental problems can begin early such as “Baby Bottle” tooth decay or nursing caries. Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps and at night or when they nurse continuously.
Q. Are baby teeth important?
A. Primary teeth are important to hold the space for many years until the permanent teeth erupt. When space is not maintained permanent teeth can become blocked so they cannot come in properly, which then requires orthodontic treatment.
Q: What are sealants?
A: Sealants protect the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where most cavities in children are found. The sealant is made of plastic resin that is flowed into the grooves and hardened with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.
Q: How do sealants work?
A: Even if your child brushes carefully, it is sometimes impossible for the bristles to reach into the tiny grooves on back molars. Bacteria build up in these crevices causing tooth decay that cannot be prevented by brushing. Sealants cover these grooves, thus reducing the risk of decay.
Q: How long do sealants last?
A: Research shows that sealants can last for many years. We check the sealants during routine dental visits and do touch-ups on them when necessary.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The treatment is very affordable and is covered by most dental insurance companies. The AAPD recommends sealants as a cost effective method for cavity prevention, especially for children prone to tooth decay. They cost just a fraction of what one filling costs.
Q: What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
A: Usually this is not a problem, but we will need to check for fractured roots and other possible damage that may not be readily apparent. Contact our office as soon as possible.
Q: What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
A: Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. Do not scrub it or clean it with soap -- use just water! If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Call our office to be seen immediately, or for our after hour emergency number. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
Q: What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist.
Q: What are tooth-colored fillings? Will you use them on my child?
A: Tooth-colored fillings are metal-free and are made from durable plastics called composite resins. We use this material for most of the fillings on our child patients.
Q: What are the advantages of tooth-colored fillings?
A: Composite resins are tooth-colored, so they look more natural than other filling materials. In addition, because tooth-colored fillings are compatible with dental sealants, a tooth can be filled and sealed at the same time to prevent further decay.
Q: Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?
A: Most children stop sucking on thumbs or pacifiers on their own about 2-4 years of age and no harm is done to their teeth or jaws. However, some children repeatedly suck on a finger or pacifier over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip outwards or not come in properly.
Q: When should I worry about a sucking habit?
A: Your dentist will carefully watch the way your child's teeth erupt. For most children there is no reason to worry about a sucking habit until the permanent front teeth erupt.
Q: What can I do to stop my child's habit?
A: Most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children need the help of their parents and dentist. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, your dentist can encourage your child to stop. This advice, with additional support from the parents, helps most children quit. If this approach doesn't work, your dentist may recommend a mouth appliance that blocks sucking habits.
Q: Are pacifiers a safer habit for the teeth than thumbs or fingers?
A: Sucking habits all affect the teeth essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit is often easier to break.
Q: Why are mouth guards important?
A: Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.
Q: When should my child wear a mouth guard?
A: During any activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.
Q: How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?
A: Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room. Preformed or "boil-to-fit" mouth guards are found in sports stores, while customized mouth guards are provided through your dentist. Custom ones cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries.
Q. What is the problem with Sippy Cup use?
A. Tooth decay among young children is on the rise and many experts believe that sippy cups containing sugary beverages are responsible. Research shows nearly one-third of toddlers with tooth decay use sippy cups.
Q. What can I do to minimize this risk?
A. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offers parents the following guidelines: 1) Sippy cups should be used only to help children transition from a bottle to a cup, never for a long period of time. 2) Sippy cups should only be filled with water, except at mealtimes. Frequent drinking of any other liquid, even if diluted, should be avoided. 3) Sippy cups should not be used at naptime or bedtime unless they only have water in them.
Q: Did you know recent research shows cheese is one of the healthiest snacks for your child’s teeth?
A: In addition to providing calcium, cheese also fights cavities. Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack all stimulate the body’s salivary glands to clear the mouth of debris and protect teeth from acids that weaken them. This means cheese disrupts the development of cavities. Calcium and phosphorous also reduce decreases in plaque pH and work to re-mineralize the enamel of your child’s teeth.
Q: Should I be concerned about my child grinding his teeth?
A: Per Dr. Martin Davis, past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, "In children, this is the least of our concerns. Just relax," he says. "It seems scary. But, there is no correlation between children and adults who grind their teeth." Intense, persistent and long-lasting thumb-sucking, finger-sucking or tongue thrusting can cause dental problems. AAPD supports intervention for bruxism (grinding) when the habit lasts long enough to damage the permanent teeth or causes other complications that affect the child's well-being.