John E. Nathan, DDS, MDS and Associates

WHEN SHOULD THE CHILD'S FIRST DENTAL VISIT OCCUR? 

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends all infants first visit occur by 12 months of age.  At this age, any cavities, developmental abnormalities, or potential dental problems can be identified and intercepted.  Methods for proper brushing can be shown, the need for fluoride supplementation determined, and nutritional suggestions made as to how to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of dental decay. 

WHEN SHOULD TOOTHBRUSHING AND FLOSSING BEGIN? 

As soon as the first baby tooth emerges.  (Average 4-10 months, although it is not uncommon to be sooner, even at or around birth.)  Use a soft bristled toothbrush, moistened with water or a very small amount of fluoridated toothpaste applied to the tip of the brush.  Parents should brush their child's teeth twice daily until they are 6-7 years old.  Children may try hard and think they are getting their teeth clean, but in fact they do not have the dexterity or attention span to remove much of the plaque, which causes cavities and gum disease.  (The use of a washcloth on infants is ineffective in removing plaque.) Flossing should be performed wherever teeth are in tight contact with one another.  Try to establish the habit of thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums early in childhood and establish set times for this.  After breakfast and before bedtime are considered ideal.   

IS ANY ONE TOOTHPASTE BEST? 

No!  Despite what manufacturers would like you to believe, all are essentially the same.  Toothpaste does not remove plaque, good brushing does! Select the fluoridated toothpaste your child likes best! 

SHOULD MY CHILD RECEIVE FLUORIDE? 

It is estimated that proper use of topical and ingested fluorides can prevent 2 out of every 3 cavities in children.  Those who should receive fluoride supplementation include: Families whose water supply contains less than 0.5 ppm fluoride. Infants being breast-fed or using non-diluted commercial formulas exclusively. Families using bottled drinking water. Children who experience frequent cavities. 

IS THUMB SUCKING AND PACIFIER USE A PROBLEM? 

Thumb or Fingersucking at an early age is common; while it may lead to deformation of the upper part of the mouth, this is usually temporary provided the habit stops before the permanent teeth erupt about 6-7 years of age.  Efforts to forcefully stop the habit before ages 5-6 are usually unnecessary and counter-productive.  Most (80-90%) outgrow the habit in time to allow natural self-correction.  Some who persist beyond the age 5-6 often respond to a short discussion with their pediatric dentist.  A few will require placement of habit terminating appliances.  

Regarding pacifier use, it is recommended that the baby be weaned from the bottle or breast by about 1 year of age unless directed otherwise by your pediatrician.  If the child has a continuing need to suck, a pacifier may be used.  The "NUK" type is recommended to minimize deforming the teeth and supporting bone.  

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE BABY TEETH? 

It is very important to maintain the health of the primary, or baby, teeth.  Neglected cavities can and frequently lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth.  Baby teeth are important for proper chewing and eating, to provide space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position, and to permit normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.  Baby teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance.  While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars aren’t replaced until age 12 or 13). 

ARE DENTAL X-RAYS SAFE FOR MY CHILD? 

Many parents are pediatric dentists are concerned about the use and overuse of dental x-rays.  When used appropriately they provide information essential for early detection, diagnosis and treatment of conditions that can threaten your child’s dental and general health.  When and how often x-rays are needed depend on your child’s individual health needs. There is little reason for concern when modern methods and safeguards are used (use of lead aprons with thyroid collars, and high-speed film which drastically reduces exposure time). In addition, our office makes use of the most up-to-date ultra-high speed film technique which reduces radiation exposure by 2/3 that of the standard high-speed dental x-ray used currently by most dentists.Type your paragraph here.