Dental FAQ for Kids
At Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry, it is our main goal to provide your child with the best possible oral healthcare in a comfortable environment. We also understand that you, as a parent, may have many questions or concerns. Here are a few of the most common ones.
A general dentist could treat your child. But a pediatric dentist receives 2 to 3 additional years of education and training, focusing on the unique needs of children and their developing mouths. We also receive training on working with children who have special needs. We are equipped to take care of your child’s developing mouth and can work with them to develop healthy oral habits to ensure a healthy mouth that will last a lifetime.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should have their first visit after their first tooth erupts, or by their first birthday, whichever one occurs first. Their first visit tends to be quick, as do the subsequent visits through the age of 2. During these visits, we work with your child, helping them to learn to trust us so that we can provide them with the best possible care.
When Will My Child Get His/Her Teeth?
In general, your child’s first baby teeth will show up sometime around the age of 6 months. Some babies get their teeth earlier (some as early as 3 to 4 months), while others get their teeth later (sometimes as late as a year or more). The teeth do not erupt all at once. Generally your child will have a total of 20 baby teeth by the age of 3. Their permanent teeth will begin to erupt, replacing their baby teeth, around the ages of 6 or 7.
Sucking is a natural reflex. For many babies, thumb sucking is a soothing habit, and can help them to feel safe, secure and comfortable. It can even relax them and help them to fall asleep. Thumb sucking usually becomes an issue when your child’s permanent teeth start to erupt. The habit can lead to developmental issues in the jaw, and alignment issues in the teeth. The intensity at which your child sucks their thumb can also play a role. It is important that your child stop sucking their thumb between the ages of 2 and 4, before the permanent teeth begin to emerge. If your child is having difficulty, we can provide you with ways to gently help them break the habit.
How Do Cavities Form?
Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. Tooth decay happens because of oral bacteria, which live naturally in your child’s mouth. Oral bacteria thrive on sugars. As they eat, they produce acids that eat away at the enamel of your child’s teeth. Regular brushing and flossing help prevent the cavity process. Infants and toddlers are at a unique risk for decay called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Nursing Caries. The common cause of decay is frequent, prolonged exposure to drinks that contain sugar, even breaskt milk. Tooth decay can occur when a baby is put to bed with a bottle or sippy cup.
Cavities can be prevented in several ways. Don’t let your children sleep with bottles of milk or juice. Help your child to develop proper brushing habits and techniques. Schedule regular dental cleanings and exams. We can also help by providing sealants, and/or fluoride treatments which are applied at the end of cleanings.
In short, yes, baby teeth are very important. They do more than just help your child bite and chew their food. They help your child to develop proper speech patterns. They hold the space for the proper eruption of permanent teeth. And, they enhance your child’s adorable smile. Premature loss of baby teeth can have serious consequences, including alignment issues, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, schedule an appointment. We may recommend a space maintainer, which will prevent adjacent teeth from shifting into the empty space, allowing the permanent tooth below to erupt as it should.
We want to work with you to help you optimize your child’s oral health. If you have any questions or concerns, you don’t have to wait until your child’s next visit. Contact Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry today.