Visiting the Dentist for the First Time
Childhood dental habits establish the foundation for oral health during adulthood. By training children about proper hygienic habits at an early age, parents and caregivers can set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.
A child’s first visit to the dentist should fall around his or her first birthday. This is the time when many of the baby teeth have erupted into the gums, and it is approximately six months following the breakthrough of the first baby tooth. It is important to make visits to the dentist an exciting experience for young children. Parents should speak with children openly about an upcoming dental appointment and answer any questions a child may have about the experience.
Equally important is the dentist chosen to care for a child’s teeth. Although all dentists are qualified to care for a child’s oral health, many parents prefer the expertise and experience available from a pediatric dentist or a family dentist with experience caring for young patients. Furthermore, dentists with experience working with children are accustomed to squirming and are more likely to have child-friendly waiting areas.
What to Expect
By the age of three, most children have 20 teeth often referred to as “baby teeth.” Children are born with these teeth, although they do not appear until several months of age. Although these teeth will eventually fall out – usually beginning around the child’s sixth birthday – they are still susceptible to decay until that time. During childhood, the dentist will inspect the baby teeth for cavities and signs of decay, as well as ensure the teeth are erupting normally. As the child grows, dental visits continue according to a schedule determined by the dental care provider.
Parents are also instructed on proper home dental care and advised of day-to-day habits that could cause early decay. Caution may be given about:
- Pacifier usage
- Sending children to bed with bottles or sugary beverages
- Using fluoridated toothpastes prior to age two
Caring for a Child’s Teeth between Office Visits
At-home dental care is equally important as visiting the dentist on a regular basis. Even before the teeth erupt in a child’s mouth, the gums should be gently washed each day. Twice-daily brushing should begin as soon as the teeth break through the gums, although the teeth may initially be cleansed using water, rather than toothpaste. As the child gets older, it is safe to begin using children’s toothpaste as recommended by the child’s dental provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you allow parents to come back with their children?
Yes, parents are always welcome in the treatment room.
Should my child use a sippy cup?
Sippy cup or nursery bottle mouth (early childhood cavities) is caused by frequent and lengthy exposure to liquids containing sugar (milk, breast milk, sports drinks, juice, soda, formula) and can destroy your child’s teeth if not caught in time.
Can any child receive oral sedation?
Mild oral conscious sedation is very safe and effective, but every child is different. Sometimes a child requires other forms of sedation.
How do I create a safe diet for my child?
It’s important that your child receives a naturally balanced diet with all of the nutrients necessary to grow! You should be careful with your child’s intake of starch-based foods. This includes bread, pasta, potato chips, etc. Also, be careful with sugar and make sure that your child brushes and flosses properly.
What are sealants and why does my child need them?
Sealants are like a thin, plastic layer placed over the grooves of the chewing surface of the tooth to prevent decay. It is painless and doesn’t require any kind of opening of the grooves. We just clean the surface, dry the tooth, and apply and cure the sealant with a blue light. Sealants are usually placed on back teeth.
What should I do if my child’s tooth gets knocked out?
Even if it is a baby tooth, you should contact our office as soon as possible. If it is a permanent tooth, call our office and place the knocked out tooth in cool water. Don’t scrub the tooth and, if it is possible, place the tooth back in the socket and come to the office immediately. If you can’t place the tooth in the socket, keep it in a container with cold milk.
What if my child has a fractured tooth?
Rinse the child’s mouth, apply a cold pack to reduce swelling, and come immediately to the office.
Why should my child use a mouth guard?
Mouth guards protect the teeth from possible sport injuries. They are made out of soft plastic and fit comfortably with teeth.
What if my child has a toothache?
Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. We save time in our daily schedules for emergency appointments.
What is Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide?
It is an excellent and safe way to relax fearful patients. Nitrous Oxide mixed with Oxygen is delivered to the patient through a nose piece. The doctors regulate the amount of gas released. During this process the patient is awake and responsive, but also relaxed!
Even though they aren’t visible, children’s primary teeth begin forming before they are even born. At around the four month mark the primary teeth begin pushing through the gums. By the age of three, all 20 primary teeth have erupted.
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including wisdom teeth.
Even before your baby’s first tooth erupts you can use a warm clean washcloth to gently swab the gums clean after every meal. When the first tooth erupts you can gently brush with a soft toothbrush to get them used to having something in their mouths. Do not use toothpaste until your child is at least 2 years old. At around age two you can begin applying a pea-sized amount. Emphasizing healthy dental habits at an early age contributes to better oral health in the future.
If you live in or around the Antelope Valley and have a question about your child’s permanent tooth eruption, call our office today!
Why Primary Teeth Are Important:
Many parents ask why baby teeth are so important to their child’s health when they fall out on their own eventually. Primary teeth stay in place until a permanent tooth underneath erupts, pushing it out and taking it’s place. These teeth are important to the natural development and growth of what will become your child’s permanent smile. Emphasizing healthy oral habits at an early age also promote good nutrition and encourage a positive self-image.
In some instances, when a child loses baby teeth too soon, a space maintainer may be recommended to prevent space loss and future dental damage. Speak with one of our doctors to find out if this is an option for your child. If you live in or around the Antelope Valley , call or schedule an appointment today.
Pulp Therapy For Kids
The pulp of a tooth is the inner, central core of the tooth and contains blood vessels and nerves. Dental caries (cavities) and trauma to the tooth are the primary reasons for children to undergo pulp therapy.
Your child may need pulp therapy if he/she has
- Tooth pain for no apparent reason
- A tooth that is sensitive to temperature changes
- A broken tooth
The main purpose of pulp therapy is that the tooth is not lost. Primary teeth are needed for chewing and speaking and serve as space savers for permanent teeth. Without the primary teeth to guide them, existing neighboring teeth can crowd in, causing permanent teeth to grow in crooked or tilted.
The two forms of pulp therapy for children’s teeth are: vital pulp therapy for primary teeth (pulpotomy) and non-vital pulp therapy for primary teeth (pulpectomy).
Vital Pulp Therapy for Primary (Baby) Teeth
Vital pulp therapy is for cases in which the tooth’s pulp may be salvaged. The main purpose is to maintain and protect existing healthy pulp by removing the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth. Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue. This is followed by a final restoration (usually a stainless steel crown).
Non-Vital Pulp Therapy for Primary (Baby) Teeth
Non-vital pulp therapy is required when the entire pulp is diseased (into the root canal(s) of the tooth). During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from all parts of the tooth. The canals are cleansed and filled with a special material meant to be naturally absorbed by the body while the root prepares for the primary tooth to fall out and be replaced by a permanent tooth. A crown is placed on the tooth to prevent fractures.
If the pulp is severely damaged then your doctor may recommend removing the tooth entirely. If this is the case, ask if space maintainers are necessary for future development.
If you live in or around the Antelope Valley and you suspect your child is in need of pulp therapy, contact our office or schedule an appointment for a consultation today.
Nursing or “Baby Bottle” Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay is the result of frequent, prolonged contact with liquids that contain sugars such as fruit juices, milk, formula or any other sweetened drinks. Human breast milk is also a contributor to baby bottle tooth decay. As the sugars break down in the mouth, bacteria start feeding on the sugars, produce acids and cause tooth decay.
If left untreated, decayed teeth can cause pain and discomfort. Not only can decayed teeth affect your child’s comfort, primary teeth also help guide permanent teeth into place. If the teeth are damaged or absent, they are unable to help guide permanent teeth into their proper position, possibly affecting future crowding or crooked teeth of adult teeth. Badly decayed baby teeth could lead to an abscessed tooth, with the infection spreading to between the teeth and the gum or affecting the root of the tooth.
Listed below are some tips to help prevent baby bottle tooth decay:
- To calm your baby, don’t give a bottle filled with sugary liquids; instead, give plain water or use a pacifier.
- Don’t coat your baby’s pacifier in a sweetener of any kind such as sugar, or honey as a way to comfort them.
- Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with sugary liquids. Plain water is best.
- Use a wet cloth or gauze to wipe your child’s teeth and gums after each feeding. This helps remove any excess sugar preventing the chance for bacteria to form.
If you live in or around the Antelope Valley and you suspect your child has baby bottle tooth decay, contact our office or schedule an appointment for a consultation today.
Our Smile Winners