Parents are well accustomed to taking their child to the pediatrician on a regular schedule from the day they are born. However, it can be easy for parents to forget that their children should visit a family dentist regularly too! Here are answers to some common questions patient’s parents have about caring for their children’s teeth.
How can I help my baby with teething pain?
Children begin teething as early as 4 months old, so it can be difficult for parents to know for sure if teething is the cause of a child’s fussiness. Common symptoms babies exhibit with teething include a mild fever, excessive drooling, chewing on everything, and crankiness. If you think your child is teething, try putting a clean, damp washcloth in the freezer for 30 minutes, then offer it to your baby. If your child is excessively fussy, call your pediatrician about what pain killers they recommend for teething pain given your child’s size, age, and health.
When should my child visit the family dentist for the first time?
As soon as your child has teeth, they should begin regular check-ups with their family dentist. Consult with your family dentist about the right frequency of visits, but generally the American Dental Association suggests you visit your dentist twice a year. Your child’s dentist can help teach you how to care for your child’s new teeth, give you suggestions for the right toothbrush and toothpaste, and help catch problems early. Early detection of dental cavities or structural abnormalities give parents more options for affordable and ideal treatment.
How can I prepare my child for their first visit to the family dentist?
Talk about it! When children have new experiences, they usually handle the much better if you let them know what to expect. We’ve complied a list of 4 great books that help your child understand the importance of visiting a family dentist, and what to expect. Start talking about it at least a week in advance, and make time for them to ask questions or share their concerns. When you talk about it, be careful not to present negative ideas you have around the dentist, and keep it optimistic. For example, don’t say, “You don’t need to be scared of the dentist hurting you.” which suggests some people are scared of the dentist and sometimes there is pain at the dentist. Try instead, “Our dentist is a community helper that helps us take good care of our teeth. They’ll help you clean your teeth and take pictures to see inside your teeth.” Children do best when they can role play, so if possible act out a dental visit yourselves as a play, or with puppets or dolls.
If children will lose their baby teeth, is it really important to take care of them?
Although your child will eventually lose their baby teeth, taking good care of them is still really important. Cavities can introduce infection to their bloodstream with causes infection or inflammation elsewhere in their body. Additionally, a bad cavity may destroy the tooth enough that it needs to be pulled. Baby teeth hold space for adult teeth in your child’s mouth. If you extract the tooth early surrounding teeth will collapse on that space and cause crowding issues for adult teeth. Most importantly, baby teeth are the only set of “training teeth” your child will get. It’s important for them to learn early the importance of oral health and how to keep their teeth clean.
How can parents help their children prevent cavities?
- Take your child to see their family dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
- Speak with your child’s dentist to see if they recommend fluoride treatment to prevent cavities. The ADA recommends fluoride treatment for cavity prevention, and your family dentist can insure your child is a good candidate.
- Help all children under 8 with brushing and flossing twice a day. Before age 8 most children don’t have the motor control to brush their own teeth effectively
- Restrict sugar of all types, especially hard, tacky candies that stick to teeth, or abrasive sugary drinks like soda that wear away and weaken tooth enamel.
When is it safe to pull out baby teeth? Does the family dentist need to do it?
Sometime after age 5 children’s teeth will begin to get loose on their own. This happens because adult teeth up in the gums push down on and dissolve the baby tooth’s root. Follow your child’s lead regarding what foods are ok for chewing during this time. Generally only fairly hard food is difficult and no serious diet modifications are needed. Once your child’s tooth no longer hurts when they wiggle it, it is probably ready to come out. You can give it a firm tug with your fingers, or tie a knot with string or dental floss around the base and pull if it’s too small to grip well. It’s not necessary to have a dentist pull baby teeth that progress normally.
There is no need to pull a baby tooth if it still hurts, and even teeth that no longer hurt are not usually a problem. Some teeth will fall out naturally as your child eats. If your child’s tooth is very difficult to remove, or if you think your child may have accidentally swallowed it, call your family dentist for next steps. Swallowed teeth are likely not cause for alarm and should pass through their digestive tract without any problem.
Have any other concerns about your child’s oral health? Give us a call at 719-633-8766! Our office has two accomplished family dentists in Colorado Springs. We care for smiles of all ages and sizes and have emergency appointments available.