What causes tooth decay?

Four things are necessary for cavities to form — a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates and time. Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth. When you eat, the sugars in your food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.

When do the first teeth usually start to erupt?

The first tooth usually erupts at 4 to 6 months of age. However, every child is different and some do not see a first tooth until 1 years of age. By 2 ½ years old, most children will have 20 primary (baby) teeth. Children usually lose their first tooth around the age of 5. They are often shed at various times throughout childhood. Around age 6, you will see the permanent 6 year molars erupt in the back of the mouth. Approximately around age 12, most permanent teeth have erupted. By age 21, all 32 of the permanent teeth, including wisdom teeth, have usually erupted. However, some children are born without wisdom teeth.

What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?

Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the top (crown), not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth; however, avoid cleaning and handling the tooth as much as possible. You may try to reinsert it in its socket. Have the child hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup containing milk / saliva. See a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.

When should my child start using toothpaste?

Do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 5. Earlier than that, clean your child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 5, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

How safe are dental x-rays?

With contemporary safeguards, such as lead aprons and high-speed film, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. Even though there is very little risk, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem.

* Some information provided by AAPD.org

My child plays sports. How should I protect my child's teeth?

A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child’s list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. They protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard, but a custom-fitted mouth guard fitted by our doctor is your child’s best protection against sports-related injuries.

I noticed a space between my child's two front teeth. Is this a cause for concern?

Usually the space will close in the next few years as the other front teeth erupt.  Mention this at your child’s dental visit and we can determine whether there is cause for concern.


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At What age should my child have his/her first dental visit?

A child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Primary teeth typically begin growing in around 6 months of age.

How can I help my child through the teething stage?

Sore gums when teeth erupt are part of the normal eruption process. The discomfort is eased for some children by use of a teething biscuit, a piece of toast or a frozen teething ring. Your pharmacy should also have medications that can be rubbed on the gums to reduce the discomfort.

What are Dental Sealants and how can they be helpful?

Sealants are clear or shaded plastic applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Sealants fill in the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, which are hard to clean, and shut out food particles that could get caught, causing cavities. Fast and comfortable to apply, sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years.

How do I clean my baby's teeth?

A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best choice for infants. Brushing at least once a day, at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.

Why should my child see a Pediatric Dentist instead of our family dentist?

Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.

If my child gets a toothache, what should I do?

Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm salt water or use dental floss to dislodge trapped food or debris. Place a moist tea bag on area for temporary relief. If face is swollen, apply a cold compress.Take acetaminophen for pain and see a dentist as soon as possible.

If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it be filled?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Also, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.

What is baby bottle tooth decay and how can I prevent it?

Baby bottletooth decay happens when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice) cling to an infant's teeth for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and make acids that attack the teeth. You may prevent this by wiping the baby's gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding, begin brushing your child's teeth, without toothpaste, when his or her first tooth comes in; If you choose to use toothpaste, use a fluoride-free one. Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth, floss once all the baby teeth have come in and schedule regular dental visits by your child's first birthday.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can thumb sucking be harmful to my child's teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. If they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist. Most children stop these habits on their own.