When should I take my child to his or her first dental checkup?

Your child should see a pediatric dentist when they turn one, or within 6 months of getting their first tooth. Dr. Lauren is even trained to see newborns so please call if you have any concerns about your child’s mouth at any age.

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family/general dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry, who receive an extra two to three years of specialty training after dental school.

Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth help with eating and speech, as well as guiding the path for the permanent (adult) teeth as they grow in.

What do I do if my child has a toothache?

First, brush and floss the teeth well to look for any food debris that may be impacted. Look for loose teeth and any sores or bumps in the mouth. Over-the-counter children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) can be given. Avoid Orajel, aspirin, or any medicine placed directly on the gums. Call Dr. Lauren as soon as possible for further advice.

What do I do about thumbsucking and pacifier use?

Sucking habits are entirely normal for young children and only become a problem for the bite if they continue past age 4. For pacifiers, try to give only at bed/naptime after the age of 2, with the goal of stopping the pacifier entirely no later than age 3. Most children stop sucking their thumb as they become school-age. For those that continue past that age, other tips/tricks or appliances may be considered to help them stop. Talk to Dr. Lauren if you have any questions about your child’s habits or how to stop them.

How can I prevent decay?

Do not put your child to bed with any drink in their room other than pure water after they have teeth. Once the first tooth is coming in, brush before bed with a soft toothbrush and floss any teeth that may be touching each other. You can use plastic flossers to make flossing easier.

Is breastfeeding ok for my child’s teeth?

Breastfeeding is highly encouraged. However, there is evidence that nursing frequently throughout the night after the child gets teeth and is eating solid foods may result in cavities. If your pediatrician says that your child is meeting his or her growth milestones, do your best to space out or eliminate nighttime feedings as your child ages. Sleep and weaning can be difficult topics for parents so feel free to have conversations with Dr. Lauren and your pediatrician if you have questions about these recommendations.

How often does my child need to see a dentist?

Your child should see a dentist every 6 months to monitor growth and dental health. However, Dr. Lauren may recommend a different frequency depending on your child’s unique needs.

When do we start using toothpaste?

Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (no bigger than a grain of rice) to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they come in using a soft, infant-sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop. Children should be taught to spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing as soon as they are able. Rinsing with water after brushing is not recommended as it may reduce the benefits of the toothpaste.

Once your child can write well with a pencil, tie their own shoes and cut up food with a knife, they are usually able to brush and floss on their own without help. Dr. Lauren or your hygienist will let you know if your child needs increased supervision.

Should my child use mouthwash?

Children should not use fluoride-containing mouthwash until they are at least age 6 and can reliably rinse and spit without swallowing.

How do sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the grooves of the chewing surfaces of teeth. This makes it less likely for food and cavity-causing bacteria to sit in those grooves and cause decay. The process of sealing a tooth is quick, easy, and painless and can protect the tooth for many years. Ask Dr. Lauren if sealants are recommended for your child.

How do I protect my child’s teeth during sports?

A soft mouth-guard can protect your child’s teeth during sports by reducing the impact of injuries. Dr. Lauren will determine if a store-bought guard or a custom-fitted mouthguard is best for your child.

Are dental x-rays safe?

There is very little risk in digital dental x-rays. Pediatric dentists are trained to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and digital imaging are used for safety and to greatly reduce radiation exposure.

Why does my child need a filling or crown on a baby tooth that will fall out one day?

Decay (cavities) in baby teeth can worsen quickly and can lead to pain and infection in just a matter of months. Some baby teeth may be in the mouth until the teenage years! Early loss of teeth from cavities or infection can cause orthodontic problems. Also, dental decay is an infection that can spread to other teeth. Unfortunately, most children with untreated decay on baby teeth develop decay on permanent teeth.

What can I do to comfort my teething baby?

Some children appear to be comforted during the normal teething process by chewing on a teething biscuit, a cold teething ring, or other toys made especially for babies. Teething medications or tablets are not considered safe by the FDA. Tylenol may help with teething pain but should not be used regularly.

Why does my child’s adult teeth look so yellow?

Adult (permanent) teeth are normally darker or more yellow in color than baby teeth. When a child has a mixture of baby and adult teeth, this difference is more obvious. As they transition to all adult teeth, you will rarely notice any yellow discoloration. Make sure your child is brushing and flossing well to make sure any discoloration is not due to plaque buildup. Whitening products are not recommended for any child that still has baby teeth. Talk to Dr. Lauren before using any whitening product on your teen.

My child has a double row of teeth in the front. What do I do?

For BOTTOM front teeth, it is very common for the adult teeth to come in behind before the baby tooth falls out. Encourage the child to wiggle their baby tooth and Dr. Lauren will determine at the next checkup if the baby tooth needs to be removed. The adult tooth will eventually drift forward into place.

For two rows of teeth on the TOP, it is important to call Dr. Lauren right away. This can cause the adult tooth to come in out of place in a crossbite that may require orthodontic treatment.

What causes decay (cavities)?

Decay is caused by dental plaque, a thin, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth. When any carbohydrates (sugars) are eaten, the bacteria in plaque produce acid that makes holes in the tooth enamel. At first, this erosion may look like a white spot or brownish spot. Over time, this creates a hole (cavity) in the tooth.

Why is fluoride so important?

Fluoride is a nature’s naturally occurring mineral that makes enamel stronger. It has been shown to dramatically decrease a person’s chances of getting cavities. Fluoride in drinking water can strengthen teeth as they develop. After teeth are in the mouth, topical fluoride in toothpastes, mouth rinses and in dental office fluoride treatments help prevent decay.

What is a filling or a crown?

If your child has a cavity, a filling is placed after the decay is removed. In our office, the filling is a tooth-colored (white) material.

If a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommended. If the nerve is involved, the nerve will be removed (pulpotomy) along with the cavity and a crown will be placed. The crown may be tooth colored or stainless steel (silver). For front teeth, white crowns are routinely used for esthetics. For back teeth, stainless steel crowns are used for their durability and longevity. The purpose of the filling or crown is to remove decay bacteria, to provide structure for the remaining tooth, to help maintain space for adult teeth, and help prevent pain and infection.

Will sedation be needed?

Dr. Lauren and her staff are specially trained to work with children and can accomplish most tasks with humor, tell-show-do, distraction techniques, and rewards. For children who need treatment, we often recommend nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This is given through a small mask over the child’s nose. The AAPD recognizes nitrous oxide as a very safe, effective technique to help relax your child during treatment.

More involved procedures may require the use of an oral medication along with nitrous oxide to help relax your child and facilitate cooperation with the procedure. These procedures require special advanced scheduling and monitors for safety. Dr. Lauren will review all these with you at the exam visit.

Some children require an extensive amount of dental work or have a health condition that does not allow for them to be safely treated in another manner. For these cases, we may recommend your child be sedated by an anesthesiologist in our office or at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.