Pediatric Dentistry FAQs

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When Should I Take My Child to Their First Dental Check-Up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday. During this visit, your child’s dentist will give parents helpful tips for a good oral hygiene routine and a lifetime of healthy smiles.

How Often Should I Bring My Child in for Check-Ups?

We recommend check-ups every 6 months.  Regular dental visits help your child stay cavity-free. Teeth cleaning remove debris that builds up on the teeth, irritate the gums and cause decay. Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content in the enamel, strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Hygiene instructions improve your child’s brushing and flossing, leading to cleaner teeth and healthier gums. 

How Can I Prevent Decay Caused by Nursing or Putting My Baby to Sleep with a Bottle?

Early childhood caries (also known as “baby bottle tooth decay” or nursing caries [cavities]”) is a very common dental problem. Do not nurse your child to sleep or put them to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened liquid. While the baby sleeps, any unswallowed liquid in the mouth supports bacteria that produce acids and attack the teeth. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting them to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or water.

You should start cleaning your baby’s teeth at birth. You can clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Fluoride toothpaste should first be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. The child should use a pea-sized amount on the brush and should be able to spit out and not swallow any excess toothpaste after brushing.

How Can I Comfort My Child When They Are Teething?

From 6 months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth come in. Many children find comfort using a teething ring, cold wet washcloths, rubbing gums with a clean finger or if necessary, acetaminophen.

Are Pacifiers and Thumbsucking Harmful for My Child’s Teeth?

It is completely normal for babies and young children to use a pacifier or thumbsuck. It provides security and comfort. It is a way to make contact and learn about the world. Most children stop sucking thumbs and pacifiers on their own between two and four years of age. No harm is done to their teeth or jaws. However, some children continue to suck on a finger, pacifier or other objects over long periods of time. For these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. 

Thumb, finger, and pacifier sucking all affect the teeth essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit is often easier to break. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, your pediatric dentist can encourage your child to stop, as well as talk about what happens to the teeth if your child doesn’t stop. This advice, along with support from parents, helps most children quit. If this approach doesn’t work, your pediatric dentist may recommend a mouth appliance that blocks the sucking habits.

What Should I Use to Clean My Baby’s Teeth?

In order to clean your baby’s teeth, use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants. Doing this will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Brushing your baby’s teeth should be done at least once a day at bedtime.

What’s the Difference Between a Pediatric Dentist and a Family Dentist?

The biggest difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist is the age range in which they treat. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and treats children of all ages, including infants. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs. Family dentists on the other hand, treat everyone in the family but usually do not begin treatment until a child has reached elementary age.

Are Baby Teeth Really That Important to My Child?

Primary or “Baby” teeth are important for many reasons. In addition to helping children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path where permanent teeth can grow when they are ready to erupt.

How Can Parents Help Prevent Tooth Decay?

Start by building in a good oral hygiene routine early. Parents should take their children to their first dental visit by the time their first tooth erupts. After their first appointment, they should visit the dentist regularly. Your dentist can recommend a routine for brushing, flossing and other treatments for your children. Home treatments combined with regular dental visits and a balanced diet will help give your child a lifetime of healthy oral habits.

How Can I Make My Child’s Diet Safe for Their Teeth?

It is important to try to make sure your child has a balanced diet. Limiting servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. Beware that those sticky foods that many children (and adults!) love, such as fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, dried fruit (including raisins) toffee, gummi candy, etc. are not easily washed away from the teeth by water or saliva. They have more cavity-causing potential than foods more rapidly cleaned from the teeth.

What Are Dental Sealants and How Can They Protect My Child’s Teeth?

Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully it is almost impossible to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up on these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Dental sealants “seal out” food and plaque, which will reduce the risk of decay. Research shows that sealants last for many years if properly cared for. Therefore, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids “sticky foods”, sealants will last much longer. Your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend re-application or repair when necessary.

The application of a sealant is fast and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then applied onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment. The treatment is very affordable, especially when weighing in on the valuable decay protection if offers your child.

The teeth most in need of sealants are the six-year and twelve-year molars. Many times the permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from sealant coverage. Any tooth with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants. Talk to your pediatric dentist, as each child’s situation is unique.

Sealants together with brushing, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits are essential to a bright, healthy smile.

 In addition to routine dental check-ups, there are certain things that you can do to help ensure your children’s dental health, including:

  • Less frequent snacking, especially sugary/sticky foods
  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing once a day
  • Assuring proper fluoride through drinking fluoridated water or taking fluoride vitamins

Dental Emergencies

Call us at 516-921-0400. We always have a doctor on call.

What should I do if my child’s tooth is knocked out?

Generally, if it is a baby tooth, it cannot be placed back in the mouth since it may damage the permanent tooth bud that is developing. Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. If it is a permanent tooth- TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Find the tooth ASAP. Hold the tooth by the crown rather than the root tip and rinse it gently in cold water. DO NOT SCRUB IT! If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with a clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container of milk or saliva. Get to the pediatric dentist immediately. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?

Contact Woodbury Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics immediately. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If there is a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture, you should go immediately to the emergency room of your local hospital. A blow to the head can be life-threatening.

How Can I Help Prevent Dental Injuries?

You can help reduce oral injury in sports by wearing mouth guards. Soft plastic mouth guards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue from injury. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. So, choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If it feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in their sports bag!

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or learning more about the services provided by our practice, please call our office at 516.921.0400 or fill out the form on this page to speak with a patient care coordinator.