Sometimes being a parent is like the Tasmanian Devil on the old Bugs Bunny cartoons — it’s a whirlwind experience. Parents are going full speed in so many directions they can forget or even think about their kids teeth. After all, they’re just baby teeth and going to fall out anyway, right? While that is true anatomically, not paying attention to your children’s teeth is a bad idea.
At Gentle Dental, we take great pride in caring for the teeth of generations of residents from Edison and all around here. Dealing with our littlest patients takes a different approach than for our adult patients, but kids love Dr. Strober, Dr. Messer, and Dr. Butkofski. And this is ultimately important because dental care that starts right usually stays right for the rest of a person’s life.
It’s a little different when they’re little
Taking care of children’s teeth demands some additional skills beyond pure dentistry. There’s an art to pediatric dentistry, acknowledging a child’s misgivings about going to the dentist, while at the same time performing the evaluations needed. A large part of our pediatric care is also educational, showing children the value of proper dental care along with the nuts and bolts of how to do it. Of course, if early intervention is needed to correct dental problems, we take care of that, too.
When should the first visit come?
The first dental visit should coincide with the eruption of the child’s first tooth, usually before the first birthday. Like adults, the American Dental Association recommends that children see their dentist every six months to achieve optimal dental health. This may seem like overkill considering your child has but one or two teeth, but it’s important at this time to develop the patterns of care. Plus, if there is a problem, we can see it early and decide on the proper course of care.
What should I use for cleaning my child’s baby teeth?
When you’re cleaning your baby’s teeth, you won’t use a regular toothbrush. You need a specifically designed soft-bristled infant toothbrush. With this soft toothbrush, you will brush the baby’s teeth and gums once a day. This will prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque that can lead to cavities.
My child still sucks his thumb and uses a pacifier. Would this affect his teeth?
Thumb sucking and pacifier sucking are normal self-comforting behaviors in very small children. But if allowed to continue for too long, they can lead to dental problems. Normally, children grow out of these habits on their own, but if they persists until your child is three years old, we may recommend the use of a mouth appliance to counter this problem. Continued thumb sucking will lead to orthodontic issues, so it’s better to stop the practice rather than allow it to continue.