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 that you make an appointment to see us as soon as your child gets his or her first tooth. The Canada Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child be seen by six months after the first tooth erupts or by one year of age, whichever is 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, one of our pediatric dentists 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, work together to provide an especially friendly and comfortable environment for children.
What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?
The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your son or daughter and giving you some basic information about dental care. one of our pediatric dentists will check your youngster’s teeth for placement and health, and look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a bit of cleaning.
We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop, and provide 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 first visit to our office is ti maintain a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure 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 one of our pediatric dentists will help to do that. Remember that he 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 a checkup 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, those first teeth play an important 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 the 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 that first tooth appears, we recommend you clean the infant’s 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 son or daughter has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, because 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 or she will need after graduating to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, but swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child’s teeth until he or she is ready to take on that responsibility, which usually happens by age six or seven.
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, 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 child brushes his or her teeth at least 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 us about 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. And finally, make regular appointments so we can check the health of your youngster’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 child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.
My child plays sports; how can I protect his or her 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 a thumb?
The large 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 erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit. Get more information, plus tips on helping your child break the habit »
When should my child have dental X-rays taken?
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, then regular (at least yearly) X-rays are recommended.
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. If your little one is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having X-rays taken at an earlier age.
Why is GA recommended?
We make every effort to ensure that you and your child have a good experience in our office. We work hard so that the care provided is not only of the highest quality, but is also provided in a safe and efficient manner. Every effort is made so that your child leaves our office with a positive view of dentistry and is excited to return.
Despite best efforts to prevent decay, some very young children present to our office with cavities. At other times, older children present with a large amount of dental treatment that is required. Our goal is that every child will eventually be able to be treated in the office setting. However, a child may be unable to cooperate for the extensive treatment because of young age, or a child may not be able to cooperate if multiple appointments of treatment are required, especially if freezing is needed.
In cases such as these, it is appropriate to choose for the patient to undergo the dental treatment under general anesthesia. General anesthesia is very safe, and is provided by medical anesthesiologists and nurses from Alberta Children’s Hospital at a private surgical suite in Calgary. The advantage is that all treatment required can be accomplished at one time and the treatment provided is of the highest quality. Your child would be spared the trauma that may negatively affect their view of dentistry for the rest of their life. Once treatment is accomplished, with a fresh start, we can work together towards lifelong oral health.
What is a stainless steel crown, and why did the dentist recommend that instead of a white filling?
A stainless steel crown is the standard tooth restoration done by Pediatric Dentists. If your child presents with a large cavity, or many teeth with cavities, it is much smarter to restore the cavities with stainless steel crowns, as opposed to white fillings. Fillings only treat the area that has a cavity at the time of the appointment. If your child requires General Anaesthesia or Nitrous Oxide to complete treatment, they would have to go back if a cavity formed on another surface of the same tooth.
Stainless steel crowns are great because they cover the teeth on all surfaces, and act like a suit of armor for the tooth. It is near impossible to get a new cavity on a tooth that has been covered with a stainless-steel crown. Bacteria cannot get in and further damage the tooth. Stainless steel crowns also avoid the issue of new decay that can develop under white fillings. Stainless steel crowns with a white front are often offered for the upper front teeth.
Stainless steel crowns are billed to insurance differently that adult crowns as well. Adult crowns are considered a major service, whereas children’s stainless steel crowns are a basic restorative service. If you have any financial questions about stainless steel crowns vs. fillings, please reach out to the office directly and any of our admin team would be more than happy to help you.
What is a pulpotomy?
A pulpotomy, or pulp therapy, is required for a tooth when deep decay exists, extending into the pulp chamber of the tooth. The pulp chamber of the tooth houses the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. If a cavity is touching the nerves and blood vessels, it is safe to assume that bacteria has entered the tooth, and pain and infection can develop if the tooth is left untreated. When we do a pulpotomy, we are removing the decay that has extended into the pulp chamber. After a pulpotomy, or baby root canal, as it is sometimes called, the tooth must be sealed with a stainless steel crown.