Below are common questions and our answers about the best way to care for children’s teeth.
When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?
We recommend you make an appointment to see us as soon as your child gets that first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.
How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?
All dental specialists (pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, and others) begin by completing dental school, then continue their education with several years of additional specialized training. During training in the field of pediatric dentistry, Dr. Steele gained extensive knowledge and experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents.
Pediatric dentists enjoy working with children, and bring to each patient our expertise in childhood development and behavior. Because our office is geared toward young visitors, you’ll find that our staff, as well as our office design, decorations, and activities, all work together to provide an especially friendly and comfortable environment for children.
Will I be able to stay with my child during their first visit?
Absolutely! You are more than welcome to be with your child during his or her first (and any future) visit! For very young children, we often complete the entire first visit on a parent’s lap. This typically makes the patient feel much safer in a new environment.
The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your youngster and giving you some basic information about dental care.
Dr. Steele will check your son or daughter’s teeth for placement and health, and will look for any potential problems with the teeth, gums, and/or bite. The patient will usually get teeth cleaned at this first visit and possibly take X-rays. (Generally, children are able to start taking X-rays around age 4.)
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 that contain helpful tips you can refer to at home.
How can I prepare my child for the first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is to maintain a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, so if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure that your child will anticipate an unpleasant experience and act accordingly.
Show your little one the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let him or her know it’s important to keep our teeth and gums healthy, and that Dr. Steele will help to do that. Remember that she is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
We generally recommend scheduling checkups 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 a vital role in development. While they’re in place, primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew properly.
They also hold space in the jaw for permanent 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 crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your youngster’s general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.
What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your infant’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean the gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush.
Choose a brush with soft bristles and a small head. You most likely can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.
What causes cavities?
Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When they come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, and eventually eat through the enamel and create holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.
How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Make sure your son or daughter brushes teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, because flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t.
Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. Finally, make regular appointments so we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.
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, simple way to help your youngster avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.