Dental Health Care For Your Young Child
Parents frequently have a lot of questions regarding the care of their children’s teeth. We hope this page give you the information you need.
Discomfort from erupting baby teeth (teething):
From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Some parents prefer a chilled teething ring; others simply rub the child’s gums with a clean finger. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) in age appropriate dosing can be helpful as well.
- Over the counter numbing agents (e.g. Orajel) are not recommended due to the fact that these agents can also numb the throat and can lead to choking hazards.
- Teething tablets are not recommended due to toxic effects from belladonna.
- Alcohol or whiskey
Keeping a child’s teeth clean and healthy:
If your child is very young, take a wet washcloth and clean the teeth. As your child gets older, get an age appropriately sized toothbrush. At a minimum, the teeth should be cleaned in the morning and just before your child goes to bed. An adult should supervise nighttime tooth brushing for young children. Additional tooth cleanings are very beneficial.
What should children drink when they are going to bed?
Do not nurse a young child to sleep or put a child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened liquid. While a child sleeps, any liquid remaining in the mouth supports bacteria that produce acids and cause cavities. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting him/her to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water.
How can dental injuries be prevented?
The prevention of dental injuries should be initiated in early infancy. Childproof your home to prevent falls and electrical injuries. Coffee tables are a common source of injury from falls. Always use a car seat for young children and require seat belts for everyone else in the car. As your child gets older and starts to participate in sports, it is recommended that children wear protective gear, including a mouth guard. Regular dental check-ups provide the opportunity for our staff to discuss additional age-appropriate preventive strategies for your child.
When should children have their first dental visit?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry(http://www.aapd.org/) recommends that a child’s first dental visit be scheduled by his/her first birthday or when teeth start to come in.
How does preventive dentistry benefit my child?
Your child will benefit from the preventive approach recommended for all children- effective brushing and flossing, moderate snacking, adequate fluoride. It is best to use no more than a pea size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Home care takes just minutes a day and prevents needless dental problems. Regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments are also very beneficial. Sealants (plastic coatings on permanent teeth) can prevent tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of molars where most of the cavities occur
What should parents do to get their child ready for the first dental visit?
It is very important to make the first visit as positive and enjoyable for your child as possible. We want your child to enjoy getting to know Dr. Ginsburg and our staff and to be comfortable in our office. A pleasant, comfortable first visit helps your child build trust and helps put your child at ease during future dental visits. Consider these first dental visits to be similar to the well-baby visits your pediatrician has for your child.
Parents should talk with their child in a very positive way prior to the appointment. The best approach is to tell your child in a positive manner that he/she will be having a fun visit to the dentist to have pictures taken of their smile, their teeth will be counted, and we will make their teeth “pretty and shiny”.
It is very important to refrain from using any words that could cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle” or “drill.” We use age appropriate language for our very young patients to explain what we are doing for them. Our staff is very experienced in dealing with children
Some parents may have their own fears or anxiety about having dental treatment. Please don’t project negative feelings about dentistry on your child. Doing so will increase the anxiety level of your child and make a positive dental experience more difficult to achieve. Let your child know that we will answer any questions he/she has.
Depending on your child’s cooperation, we will complete a comprehensive examination, clean his/her teeth and when indicated, take x-rays. We will discuss any findings with you. We will also review with you what you need to know to help your child maintain good oral health.
What if my child does not cooperate during dental treatment?
If your child is anxious, we try to work with them to encourage them to relax as much as possible. A child’s feeling of anxiety may lead him/her to not cooperate in allowing our staff to provide the necessary dental care. Occasionally a child’s behavior during treatment requires assertive management to protect him or her from possible injury. Voice control (speaking calmly but firmly) usually takes care of it. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) may benefit an anxious child.
In the event that these techniques are not successful, we may recommend a referral to a pediatric dentistry specialist.
Staying in the treatment room with your child:
Infants and some young children may feel more confident when parents stay close during treatment. With older children, doctor-child communication is often enhanced when parents remain in the reception room. Parents are encouraged to follow our staff’s recommendation.
Baby tooth is knocked out:
Contact our office as soon as possible. The baby tooth should not be placed back in the mouth because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth.
Permanent tooth is knocked out:
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub or clean it with soap — use only water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket immediately (don’t forget to keep the flat side facing the front of the mouth) and hold it there with clean gauze or a wet washcloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with cold milk (best), saliva or water. Call our office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it is after hours.) The faster you act, the better the chances of saving the tooth.
Chipped or fractured teeth:
Contact our office as soon as possible. Prompt action can prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. If the lip was injured, rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water and bring it with you to our office.
Severe trauma to the head or jaw fracture:
Get immediate medical attention at the nearest emergency room. A severe head injury can be life threatening.
Call our office right away for an appointment. Over-the-counter children’s pain medication, dosed according to your child’s weight and age, may ease the symptoms. You may apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth to the face in the area of the pain, but do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.