Frequently asked questions

When should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?


The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen six months after the appearance of their first tooth or by one year of age, whichever comes first.




What happens during my child's first visit to the dentist?


The first visit is usually short and simple. We focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will check your child’s teeth for placement and health, and look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a cleaning. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips that you can refer to at home.




How often should my child visit the dentist?


It is recommend scheduling check-ups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.




Baby teeth aren't permanent; why do they need special care?


Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in proper growth and development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. Pediatric dental enamel, the outer protective tooth layer, is unique in that the enamel layer is much thinner than that of an adult tooth. Dental decay can develop and progress much more rapidly in children’s teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early due to damage or decay, nearby teeth may encroach on that space which can result in loss of function and crooked or misplaced permanent teeth.




What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?


Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as a first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose an infant toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. A gentle circular brushing technique is most effective in removing food and plaque.




At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste on my child's teeth?


Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using infant toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny, pea sized amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, as too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he’ll need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. You should brush your child’s teeth until they are ready and capable of taking on that responsibility, which usually happens by age six or seven but can vary.




What causes cavities?


Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth they produce acids. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes, or cavities.




How can I help my child avoid cavities?


Be sure that your child brushes his teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can clean spots between the teeth that brushing can’t reach. Your pediatric dentist may suggest a fluoride supplement which helps tooth enamel become harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. Use milk and juice only at mealtime and sparingly at that. And finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.




When should my child have dental x-rays?


We recommend taking x-rays around the age of two or three. The first set consists of simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth, which familiarizes your child with the process. Once the baby teeth in back are touching each other, we recommend then regular (at least yearly) x-rays. Permanent teeth start coming in around age six, and x-rays help us make sure your child’s teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned.




Does my child need dental sealants?


Sealants cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe preventative measure on your child’s adult molars as a simple way to help your child avoid cavities.




My child plays sports; how can I protect their teeth?


If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other sports ask us about having a custom-fitted mouth guard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks and gums.




What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?


The majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If you child continues sucking after permanent teeth appear, or sucks aggressively, let us know.




How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?


Pediatric dental specialists begin by completing dental school before undertaking several additional years of rigorous, specialized training focusing on delivering dental care to children. During their hospital internships, Dr’s Brenke, Morgan and Goodman gained extensive knowledge and experience treating infants, children, adolescents and special needs individuals with a wide variety of dental concerns.





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