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Kids Dental FAQs
Parents should be brushing a child’s teeth before the child is capable of doing it themselves. A wet cloth can effectively clean gums and remove plaque after nursing. Gentle brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush can begin after the child’s first tooth eruption. Flossing can begin after the formation of most of the child’s primary (or baby) teeth. At eight or nine, children can begin to brush their own teeth, and by age 11 or 12, they can be expected to floss on their own as well. A parent should supervise these processes, in the beginning, to make sure the child is doing it properly. Your dentist can teach your child how to brush properly the first time.
Dental sealants protect the surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found (and most chewing occurs). Made of clear or shaded composite resin, sealants are painted onto the tiny grooves and depressions in the molars. They seal these cracks and openings and prevent food from becoming lodged and plaque from forming. The application of sealants is quick and painless for kids. Your dentist can determine which of your child’s teeth can most benefit from sealants.
You can help make your child’s first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday.
X-rays are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental treatment. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed. X-rays 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. It is recommended that your child get X-rays and examinations at least once a year, but you should consult your child’s dentist for frequency.
Toothaches: Clean the area of the affected tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. If the pain still exists, contact your child’s dentist.
Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek: Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to a hospital emergency room.
Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the top, not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth but DO NOT clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. You can transport the tooth in a cup of milk.The patient must see a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
It is very important to maintain the health of baby teeth, even though they will ultimately come out. Not taking care of the baby's teeth can negatively affect the development of permanent teeth. Baby teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Baby teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
Begin daily brushing as soon as the child’s first tooth appears. A small amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age six, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision until about age seven to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child is different. Your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly. Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place toothbrush at a 45 degree angle; start along gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen your breath and remove bacteria. Flossing removes plaque between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch each other. You should floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last four teeth.
The pediatric dentist has an extra two to three years of specialized training after dental school, and is dedicated to working with children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems.