Your child's first tooth erupts between ages 6-12 months and the remainder of the 20 primary or "baby" teeth typically erupt by age 2. During this time, gums may feel tender and sore, causing your child to feel irritable. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a teething ring.
Your child's primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, and the permanent teeth begin erupting at age 6 and continue until the age of 18 to 21. Adults normally have 32 permanent teeth, which includes the wisdom teeth.
As new teeth erupt, examine them every two weeks for lines and discoloration caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes his teeth after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing at least twice each day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast (optionally after lunch and dinner) and before bedtime. Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush as soon as the first tooth arrives. When a baby's tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. We suggest reviewing proper tooth-brushing procedures with your child.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and your doctor will discuss with you the right time for your child to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
Tooth decay is preventable. Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth, which turn into an acid that can break down your teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason - many children and adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away. A low-sugar diet also helps keep tooth decay at bay.
Your child should visit the dentist every 6 months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they "seal" the deep grooves in your child's teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for many years and must be monitored at your child's regular checkups.
Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity free. Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult – sometimes impossible – to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay.
How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child's first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults' apprehensions, and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it's important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help him do that. Remember that your dentist is 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 an important role in his 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. 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 child'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 baby's first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?
Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount (about the size of a pea) for each cleaning, and use a toothpaste specifically made for children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing; children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child's teeth until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age 4 or 5.
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 after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call 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 reach spots between the teeth that brushing can't. Check with your dentist about a fluoride supplement, which helps tooth enamel be harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. And, finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child's teeth and provide professional cleanings.
Does my child need dental sealants?
Definitely! 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 child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.
My child plays sports; how can I protect his teeth?
Even children's sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.
What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?
The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of 4, without causing any permanent damage to the teeth. If your child continues sucking after the permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.
When should my child have dental x-rays taken?
We recommend taking x-rays around the the time that the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Permanent teeth start coming in around age 6, and x-rays help us make sure your child's teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having x-rays taken at an earlier age.
A child's first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable and positive. The more you and your child know about the first visit, the better you will feel. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a practice of using pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe your child's first dental visit and treatment. We want you to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office.
Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
Please call our office for appointment details.
Thanks, Dr. Maureen Quinn D.D.S.
Dr. David Vanderboom D.M.D.
Quinn Family Dental
1146 Memorial Dr.
Chicopee, MA 01020
Mon - Wed: 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
Thur: 8:00 am - 8 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 5:45 pm
Saturday - Sunday: Closed
For all inquires please call our office
on normal business hours.
©2016 Quinn Family Dental