Many of our patients are also parents, and they often have many questions about their children’s oral health. We are pleased to provide answers to some of those questions below:
1. What does a pediatric dentist do?
Pediatric dentists focus on the oral health and development of young patients, with emphasis on protecting the baby teeth and maintaining space for permanent teeth. Our dentist can evaluate your child’s smile for any signs of developing issues, and then treat these issues with gentle sensitivity. We also offer dental sealants and tips to help you child develop proper dental hygiene habits.
2. How can I help at home?
Instilling oral care habits at a young age will help your child enjoy a strong smile later in life. Your child should brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and pea-sized amount of toothpaste. You may need to assist your child until age seven. Flossing will also help your child; our dentist will gladly demonstrate how to gently floss your child’s teeth. Oral care goes beyond brushing and flossing to include important factors such as a healthy diet, limited sugary snacks, and avoiding unhealthy habits like thumb sucking. Please refrain from sharing eating utensils with your child or sucking on pacifiers and bottles to clean them. If your child needs a bottle at bedtime, fill it with water to prevent baby bottle tooth decay. You are welcome to ask our dentist about smile-strengthening treatments such as fluoride and dental sealants.
3. When will my child’s teeth erupt?
Your child’s teeth develop before birth, but do not begin to erupt until your child is six months to a year old. Before the teeth erupt, you should care for the gums by wiping them with a damp, clean gauze pad or washcloth. Schedule your child’s first appointment when the first tooth erupts or by the end of their first year. Baby girls tend to receive their first tooth before baby boys. Most children have received all of their teeth by age three. If you have questions about your child’s teeth, please give us a call.
4. How can I prepare for my child’s first dental visit?
Your child should see our dentist around the time of their first birthday, whether or not their teeth have erupted. A first visit can be stressful for both you and your child, and we encourage you to speak to your child positively about visiting the dentist. Some other tips you may want to try are:
- Bringing another adult along in case your child becomes fussy
- Leaving any other children at home
- Bringing your child to your appointments beforehand
- Explain to your child what will happen
- Ready dental storybooks to your child
During your child’s first appointment, Dr. Richard J. Koeltl will get acquainted with you both and review your child’s health history before performing a thorough (and gentle) oral exam. The exam will reveal your child’s current health and any potential dental developments. We will also discuss any tactics that could help you better care for your child’s teeth.
5. How does my child’s diet affect his or her teeth?
Because the mouth and body are connected, what your child eats can determine the health of their teeth and gums. Many parents do not realize how many different types of sugar are in their children’s snacks. Sugar-rich food, when left on the teeth, can result in tooth decay and can even affect the gums and underlying bone. Opting for healthier snacks like carrot sticks, reduced fat yogurt, and cottage cheese will reduce your child’s risk of cavities. You can also provide your child with Xylitol supplements to decrease their risk of decay. Xylitol is also found naturally in foods such as berries, corn, and lettuce. Reducing your child’s snacking during meals and giving them water instead of milk or juice at snack time can also help. For more information, ask our dentist!
6. How often should my child receive a dental checkup?
According to the American Dental Association, you should begin scheduling biannual dental appointments for your child approximately six months after the first tooth erupts. Regular visits allow our dentist to monitor your child’s oral health and prevent or correct developing issues. If your child experiences any dental problems (such as cavities, crooked teeth, or an oral disease), Dr. Richard J. Koeltl may recommend more frequent visits. Even if your child has healthy teeth, they should see a dentist regularly to become accustomed to the dental office and learn healthy oral habits. You are welcome to contact our office to schedule your child’s next checkup.
7. How does tobacco use affect my child?
We encourage patients of all ages to abstain from tobacco use. However, many teenage choose to experiment with cigarettes, cigars, and tobacco chews. Tobacco is full of carcinogens and can lead to leukoplakias (pre-cancer lesions) and oral cancer. You can discourage your child from using tobacco by talking to them about the dangers of tobacco products, monitoring your child’s daily activities, and leading by example. Our dentist would be happy to talk to your child about tobacco use as well.
8. Why are tongue piercings harmful?
While tongue piercings are an expression of growing individuality, they can have a serious impact on oral health. Tongue piercings can result in infections, blood clots, blood poisoning, chronic pain, damaged nerves, fractured teeth, periodontal disease, scarring, and more. We encourage teens to forego intraoral body piercings to protect their oral health.
We hope you have found this information helpful. For more information about your child’s oral health or about our dental care in Danville, California, please contact our office at 925-736-4201 and schedule a visit to RK Dentistry.