The following General FAQs address the most common questions we receive in regard to establishing healthy habits with your child. Have additional questions that aren’t covered here? Just contact us!
"Why should I choose a pediatric dentist for my child?"
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health from infancy through the teenage years. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist obtains two years of additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.
"Do baby teeth even matter?"
Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important and serve many purposes! Primary teeth help children speak clearly, chew, and smile! Most importantly, they also act as a “placeholder” for the developing permanent teeth. Some of the baby molars save the place for a permanent tooth until 12 years old or longer!
Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health, decreased nutrient intake, missed school days, and premature loss of teeth with future orthodontic issues are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected.
Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child!
"At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?"
First visit by first birthday is the general rule. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, and certainly no later than his/her first birthday.
"What are cavities, and how can I prevent them?"
Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. The bacteria uses the sugar in our diets as an energy source. As this occurs, the bacteria produces acids that break down the mineral in teeth, thus forming a cavity.
To help prevent this process, consumption of foods that contain sugars and starches, such as candies, cookies, chips and crackers, should be decreased in the diet. Foods of this nature should only be given as treats instead of on a daily basis. Limit the number of snacks and aim for healthier options such as low-fat yogurt, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.
White milk and water are the best drinks for teeth. Sugary drinks such as juice, soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, and chocolate milk should also be eliminated or decreased tremendously. Your child should never be put to sleep with anything other than water! And of course, proper oral hygiene practices will also help prevent cavities!
"What is baby bottle tooth decay (early childhood caries)?"
Baby bottle tooth decay, now known as early childhood caries, is a pattern of rapid decay associated with prolonged, on demand nursing or letting the child fall asleep with the bottle. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced, and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. Sugars from the milk left on the teeth from nursing or bottle feeding to sleep can cause this kind of decay.
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. The goal is to have your child weaned off the bottle by 12 months of age!
"How should I clean my baby’s teeth?"
A toothbrush with soft bristles, a small head, and larger handle is the best choice for younger children! Brushing at is recommended twice daily to remove plaque that can lead to decay.
"When should my child start using toothpaste?"
Fluoridated toothpaste can be safely used as soon as the first tooth erupts with the guidance for recommended dosage from Dr. Lauren.
"When should my baby’s teeth start to erupt?"
Each child is unique, and eruption times may vary. On average, the the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt first at 6 months of age, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. By age 3, all 20 primary teeth should be present.
"Is my child teething, and how can I help?"
If you find your child is more irritable, drooling, running a low-grade fever, and/or frequently putting fingers in the mouth, chances are your child may be teething. The discomfort may be eased by chilling a teething ring or wet wash cloth, rubbing their gums with a clean finger, and/or giving acetaminophen. Avoid rubbing topical numbing agents on the gums.
"Is it OK that my child is a thumbsucker?"
Thumb sucking habits that go on for a long period of time can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. The goal is to try to end the thumb sucking by the age of 4 to be sure the habit is long gone by the time the permanent teeth arrive. Most children stop these habits on their own, but Dr. Lauren will review with you ways to help your child quit!
"Are dental x-rays safe for my child?"
X-rays are a necessary part of the diagnostic process! They are used to detect cavities, evaluate bone health, monitor developing dentition, follow traumatic injuries, and plan for orthodontic treatment.
With proper shielding and and use of digital sensors, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. Even though there is very little risk involved, pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. It is important to realize that dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem!
"What exactly is fluoride, and is it safe for my child?"
Prevention is of high priority in pediatric dentistry! Fluoride is an element that has been proven safe and dramatically decreases a person’s chances of getting cavities by making teeth stronger. Too little fluoride or too much fluoride could be detrimental to your child’s teeth. Dr. Lauren will evaluate your child’s sources of fluoride to help make sure he/she is exposed to the appropriate amount.
Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently named community water fluoridation as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
For more information about fluoridated drinking water, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/.
"What are sealants, and how do they work?"
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean off bacteria and food. 80-90% of cavities form in these “hard to clean” areas of permanent teeth.
Sealants are a tooth colored plastic material applied to the teeth that protect the susceptible areas by blocking off the grooves and depressions so bacteria and food particles cannot reside in them. Therefore, a physical barrier is produced so a cavity is less likely to start! Studies show that placing sealants in children and adolescents have shown a 86% reduction in cavities after one year!
Sealants can effectively protect teeth for many years; however, routine examinations are vital in order to assure the sealants are checked on a regular basis.
"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.
"What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?"
First of all, remain as calm as possible! Find the tooth and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. See Dr. Lauren as soon as possible!
If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket or the tooth is covered in debris, place the tooth in a clean container with milk and take your child and the soaking tooth immediately to Dr Lauren. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
"My child has a toothache! What do I do?"
Rinse his/her mouth with warm water and floss to dislodge any food that may be caught. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth on your child’s face if it is swollen. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area, but you may give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. See us as soon as possible.