A child’s first visit to the dentist should be enjoyable. Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but they can fear the unknown. Our office makes a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment your family arrives at our office.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY RECOMMENDS…
Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child’s newly erupted teeth (erupting at six to 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
WHEN NEW TEETH ARRIVE
Your child’s first primary, or “baby,” teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of six to 12 months, and will continue to erupt until about age three. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a teething ring.
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (32, teeth including wisdom teeth).
Overcoming Dental Anxiety: Sedation Dentistry
Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas)
Treatment for some children can be daunting. They are in a new environment, surrounded by different tools, tastes, and sounds. All of this can cause your child some anxiety. In the event that you child may need more support during their treatment experience, our office provides nitrous oxide as a safe and effective treatment option.
Nitrous oxide is very safe. Nitrous oxide/oxygen is perhaps the safest sedative in dentistry. It is non-addictive, easy to administer (through a mask), and enters and exists the body very quickly. Your child remains fully conscious (talking and interactive) when breathing nitrous oxide/oxygen and will be able to resume normal activity after his/her appointment. Nitrous oxide helps children by taking away the “butterflies” they may feel.
Our staff will give you any specific instructions concerning eating or any other specifics concerning the visit. Please inform our staff about any respiratory condition that makes breathing through the nose difficult for your child. It may limit the effectiveness of nitrous oxide/oxygen. Also inform us if your child is taking any medication on the day of the appointment.
Nitrous oxide/oxygen is not effective for some children, especially those who have severe anxiety; nasal congestion, extensive treatment needs, or discomfort wearing a nasal mask. If nitrous oxide is not a good treatment option for your patient, we’ll be happy to discuss further sedation options.
Silver Diamine Fluoride
Silver Diamine Fluoride is an antimicrobial liquid that is able to treat cavities in a non-invasive, fast, affordable, and painless manner.
Some patients who have active tooth decay may be eligible for an alternative treatment that uses Silver Diamine Fluoride. FDA cleared SDF for use in August of 2014. Compared to a traditional filling that requires shots of local anesthetic and drilling of tooth structure, this treatment is non-invasive and can be a great alternative treatment option for our patients. It is a liquid that is simply brushed on to the cavity that can stop current decay and also prevent new decay in the future. This may be a great treatment option for small cavities that do not require surgical intervention yet or younger children who are not ready for traditional dental treatment.
- Pros: SDF has very low toxicity, it is quick, painless, non-invasive, affordable, and can stop tooth decay and help prevent recurrent decay.
- Cons: SDF permanently stains cavities black. SDF does not restore tooth form or function, so large holes that trap food may still eventually require a traditional restoration. SDF requires repeat application for maximum efficacy.
SDF cannot be used in the presence of infection or decay into the nerve.
ADOPTING HEALTHY ORAL HYGIENE HABITS
As your child’s teeth erupt, be sure to examine them every two weeks, looking for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes his or her teeth after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing two times a day for optimal oral hygiene.
Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush as soon as the first tooth arrives. When a baby’s tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For children younger than two, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so by your dentist or other healthcare professional. We suggest reviewing proper tooth brushing procedures with your child.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and your dentist will discuss with you the right time to start flossing your child’s teeth. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
PREVENTING TOOTH DECAY WITH REGULAR CHECKUPS
Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into an acid, which can break down your teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they “seal” the deep grooves in your child’s teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your child’s regular checkups.