Dental Care for Children FAQ

Dental Care for Children FAQ

To help you make sure your kids are getting the care they need when they need it, read the information below or give us a call at our practice.

Your child’s first visit to the dentist should happen before his or her first birthday. The general rule is six months after eruption of the first tooth. Taking your child to the dentist at a young age is the best way to prevent problems such as tooth decay, and can help parents learn how to clean their child’s teeth and identify his or her fluoride needs. After all, decay can occur as soon as teeth appear. Bringing your child to the dentist early often leads to a lifetime of good oral care habits and acclimates your child to the dental office, thereby reducing anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future.

It is very important to maintain baby teeth because these teeth hold space for the future eruption of permanent teeth. If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent tooth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth also can cause permanent teeth to develop improperly, resulting in permanent enamel defects and weaker teeth.

Children will begin losing their teeth at approximately age 4. They will usually lose their front teeth first. Children will continue to lose baby teeth until age 12 or 13 when all of the permanent teeth finally erupt.

Bad breath is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene but can also be caused by retained food particles or gum disease.

It is important to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. Proper brushing, including brushing the tongue, cheeks and the roof of the mouth, will remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque and food that may be trapped between teeth. To alleviate odors, clean your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that builds on the tongue. Chewing sugar-free gum also may help control odor. If you have dentures or a removable appliance, such as a retainer or mouthguard, clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your mouth. Before you use mouthrinses, deodorizing sprays or tablets, talk with your dentist, because these products only mask the odor temporarily and some products work better than others.

Bacterial plaque – a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth – is recognized as the primary cause of gum disease. If plaque isn’t removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar). Toxins produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets that fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper, and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.

Signs include red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, gums that pull away from teeth, loose or separating teeth, pus between the gum and tooth, persistent bad breath, a change in the way teeth fit together when the patient bites and a change in the fit of dentures. While patients are advised to check for the warning signs, there might not be any discomfort until the disease has spread to a point where the tooth is unsalvageable. That’s why patients are advised to get frequent dental exams.

Removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning is the best way to minimize your risk. Your dentist can design a personalized program of home oral care to meet your needs.

Printed with permission from the Academy of General Dentistry’s site, www.knowyourteeth.com. Information contained is for information and educational purposes only, and should be used in consultation with a dentist, especially in emergency situations.

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