When should I start bringing my child to the dentist?
When your child’s first tooth appears or first birthday (whichever comes first), talk to your dentist about scheduling the first dental visit. Treat the first dental visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s physician. Remember: starting early and routine visits are the key to a lifetime of good dental health.
“It’s just a baby tooth.” Why do I need to have it fixed?
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary (baby) teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary (baby) teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 8 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
What type of toothbrush and toothpaste should I use?
Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. Many adult types of toothpaste can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives, which can wear away young tooth enamel. Avoid products that include whitening agents or tartar control. When looking for toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that contains fluoride and is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.
The size and shape of the toothbrush you choose should fit the child’s mouth comfortably, allowing access to all areas easily. Do not give a young child an adult size toothbrush.
Is a powered toothbrush better?
A manual toothbrush can be just as effective as a powered one. Children may find that brushing with a powered toothbrush is fun. The important thing to remember is the quality of the brushing. All areas of the teeth need to be brushed or flossed thoroughly to remove plaque. This is why we recommend parents brush little one’s teeth and monitor older children closely for plaque or food being left behind.
Are Dental X-rays safe?
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions will be missed.
Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most dentists request radiographs approximately once a year,
Dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-Ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Digital x-rays and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are caused by a bacteria that we all have in our mouths. All that is needed to form a cavity is a host (your tooth), bacteria and a food source. The bacteria cling onto the teeth, eat the sugars in our diet and produce an acid that can form holes in our teeth. To fight cavities, we brush our teeth with fluoridated toothpaste to minimize the amount of bacteria and wash away the food source for that bacteria.
Is Fluoride safe?
From the CT Dental Health Partnership:
Millions of Smiles are Protected by Fluoride. Fluoridated drinking water is safe for your health and is effective in preventing cavities. It is trusted by dentists, physicians and other health professionals. Fluoridated community water systems are the best way to ensure that everyone – rich, poor, old and young – benefits from fluoride.
Fluoride in water is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proclaimed community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Fluoride is Natural. It is already present in all water surfaces, even the oceans. Water fluoridation is simply the adjustment of fluoride that occurs naturally to a recommended level for keeping teeth healthy and preventing tooth decay. Fluoride in water is Safe and Effective. For 70 years, scientific evidence consistently indicates that community water fluoridation is safe and effective.
To learn more visit FluorideCT.com
What’s the Right Way to Brush My Teeth?
Dentists say you should brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes twice a day. Here are some tips on how to brush properly:
- Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle against your gum line. Gently brush in short (about one tooth-wide) strokes. Brushing too hard can cause receding gums, tooth sensitivity, and, over time, loose teeth.
- Brush all outside and inside surfaces of your teeth, and the chewing surfaces. Make sure to get into the pits and crevices.
- You can also gently brush your tongue.
- Use a timer or play a favorite song while brushing your teeth to get used to brushing for a full 2 to 3 minutes. Some electronic toothbrushes have timers that let you know when 2 minutes are up.
Do I Really Need to Floss?
Yes. Brushing is important but it won’t remove the plaque and particles of food between your teeth and near the gumline. You’ll need to floss these spaces at least once a day.
With any floss, you should be careful to avoid injuring your gums. Follow these instructions:
- Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a back and forth motion. Gently bring the floss to the gumline, but don’t force it under the gums. Curve the floss around the edge of your tooth in the shape of the letter “C” and slide it up and down the side of each tooth.
- Repeat this process between all your teeth.
Does What I Eat Affect My Teeth?
Eating sugar, as you probably already know, is a major cause of tooth decay. But it’s not just how much sugar you eat — when and how you eat it can be just as important.
If you eat sugary foods or drink sodas throughout the day, you give the bacteria in your mouth food. Well-fed bacteria make cavities more likely. Hard candies, cough drops, and breath mints that contain sugar are especially harmful because they dissolve slowly in your mouth. It’s best not to eat sugary foods between meals.
Sugary or starchy foods eaten with a meal are less harmful to teeth than when they’re eaten alone. This might be because our mouths make more saliva during eating, which washes away the sugar and bacteria. Eating sugary foods before bedtime can be the most damaging (especially if you don’t brush your teeth afterward) because we don’t make as much spit when we sleep.
For most people, it’s hard to cut out sweets completely. So try to follow these more realistic guidelines:
- Eat carbohydrates (sugars and starches) with a meal.
- If you can’t brush your teeth after eating, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash, or chew sugarless gum.
- Don’t eat sugary foods between meals.
- If you snack, eat non-sugary foods, such as cheese, popcorn, raw veggies, or yogurt.