At what age should I bring my child in to see the dentist?
Both the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend introducing a dental examination approximately between the time the child's first tooth erupts and BEFORE their first birthday.
The primary examination is an opportunity not only for the dentist to look at your child's mouth and screen for possible health and dental issues, but also to discuss your child's unique dental needs as they grow. In Victoria we are fortunate to not only have qualified dentists who see children, but also specialists for children if needed.
When should I start brushing my child's teeth?
Tooth brushing should start once a child has his/her first tooth. Children should be assisted to brush up to approximately the age of 6.
Of course, even before the first tooth erupts (visible in the mouth), an infant's mouth should be cleaned with a damp cloth to remove stagnant food and milk that can lead to over growth of yeast (oral thrush).
Brushing an unco-operative child's teeth can be challenging for parents, so visit your Victoria dentist for advice on techniques such as the knee-to-knee technique.
When does my child's tooth first appear?
This varies greatly in children and can be a cause of concern for new parents. The average age for the first tooth is approximately 6 months and it is usually but not always the two lower front teeth that appear first. Some babies are born with teeth already erupted which may make breast feeding more difficult and unfortunately these teeth have a higher chance of being improperly developed.
Will using a soother harm my baby's teeth or mouth?
Many infants appear to like using a soother or pacifier. A number of studies show that longer term use of soothers can create orthognathic (bones of the mouth) changes and affect the way the child grows. Therefore, the present recommendation is to discontinue use of a soother before the age of 3 and to also correct behaviors such as thumb sucking early in life to minimize the need for orthodontic (e.g. braces) in the future.
Should my child use my (adult) toothpaste?
Toothpaste should be matched with the age of the child. Infant toothpaste does not contain any fluoride at all. Toddler or children's toothpaste contain much less fluoride because as dentists we expect that they will ingest some of the toothpaste. Use only a very small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste and help them brush.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are plastic coating that can be placed over grooves in the biting surface of molar teeth. The purpose of the sealants are to prevent bacteria and food from contaminating the grooves of the teeth and becoming dental decay. The benefits of dental sealants are supported by literature review. However, dental sealants do NOT make the tooth impervious to dental decay and routine oral hygiene and a low sugar diet is encouraged for all people.
I know that children should not drink pop, but how often can I give my child juice?
Unfortunately, from a dental perspective, juices are not a better alternative to pop because they are high in sugar and also acidic. Our recommendation for juice is to have only half a glass a day and only in a cup or sippy-cup (no bottles). Juices should be limited to meal times only.
My child has tooth decay, but should I worry because they are only "baby" teeth?
Tooth decay is an infection of the mouth and is part of a continuum of oral infections. With any infection that is left untreated, it can spread to adjacent teeth, gums or the bone. In very rare cases the infection can become life threatening. Infections of "baby" teeth can affect the development of the following adult tooth making the underlying adult tooth weaker or discoloured.
It is a surprise to parents and children that cavities can increase the chances of requiring orthodontic (e.g. braces) treatment in the future. A decayed tooth becomes smaller front to back in the mouth, and hence less space is saved in the mouth to accommodate the larger adult teeth that are to come. When the adult teeth replace decayed "baby" teeth, the arch can be crowded required corrective orthodontics (e.g. braces).