WHEN SHOULD I TAKE MY CHILD TO THE DENTIST FOR THEIR FIRST CHECK-UP?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you schedule your child’s first appointment when their first tooth erupts or at one year of age, whichever comes first.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PEDIATRIC DENTIST AND OTHER DENTISTS?
Pediatric dentists complete two to three years of specialized training following dental school. During this training, pediatric dentists gain extensive knowledge on how to provide primary and specialized care for infants, children, and adolescents. Here at Laguna Niguel Pediatric Dentistry, we work together to provide an especially welcoming environment for our younger patients to ensure a positive experience at the dentist office.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY CHILD'S FIRST VISIT TO THE DENTIST?
When your child first visits our office, we focus on getting to know them and providing you with basic dental care information. Next, the doctor will check your child’s teeth alignment and check for any potential issues with the gums or jaw. We are happy to answer any questions you may have during the checkup regarding the best way to care for your child’s teeth.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE MY CHILD FOR THEIR FIRST DENTAL APPOINTMENT?
The best way to prepare your child for their first visit to our office is by having a positive attitude. Negative comments about trips to the dentist could cause your child to fear an unpleasant experience. Familiarize them with the environment by showing them pictures of our office and staff on the website. Tell your child about the importance of dental health and keeping their teeth and gums clean and explain how the dentist will help them do that. Our pediatric dentists have specialty training in handling any fear or anxiety your child may have during their visit to ensure a comfortable experience.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY CHILD VISIT THE DENTIST?
Checkups should be scheduled every six months, although more frequent visits may be recommended depending on the state of your child’s oral health.
WHY DO BABY TEETH NEED SPECIAL CARE?
Primary or “baby” teeth play an important role in your child’s development. These first teeth help children speak and chew naturally. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth to erupt. If a child loses a primary tooth early due to damage or decay, nearby teeth may shift into the area resulting in crooked or misaligned permanent teeth. Caring for primary teeth is important because they can affect your child’s overall health.
HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY BABY’S TEETH?
We recommend cleaning your child’s gums after feedings with a soft, damp washcloth before their first tooth even appears. When your child begins to grow teeth, you can start cleaning them gently with a toothbrush. Be sure to use a small-headed toothbrush with soft bristles.
AT WHAT AGE IS IT APPROPRIATE TO USE TOOTHPASTE TO CLEAN MY CHILD'S TEETH?
Once your child has a few teeth, you can start cleaning them with a small amount of toothpaste. Choose fluoride-free toothpaste for children under two, as fluoride can be harmful for very young children. Teach your child to rinse and spit after brushing to help them develop positive lifelong habits. Naturally, children will want to swallow toothpaste but swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can stain the teeth. You should brush your child’s teeth for them until they are responsible enough to handle the routine themselves, which usually occurs around age six or seven.
HOW ARE CAVITIES FORMED?
Cavities are permanently damaged areas on the surface of your teeth that eventually turn into small openings or holes. When bacteria in our mouths comes into contact with sugary food left on the surface of the teeth, an acid is produced that attacks the exterior tooth enamel. Eventually, the acid eats through the enamel and creates openings in the teeth, or cavities.
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD AVOID CAVITIES?
If cavities are left untreated, they can grow larger and affect deeper layers of the teeth. Regular dental visits and good dental hygiene habits are your child’s best protection against cavities. Make sure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste once they are old enough. Flossing can help reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding frequent snacking and sugary foods will help keep your child’s teeth clean and health in between regular cleanings at our office.
WHAT ARE DENTAL SEALANTS AND DOES MY CHILD NEED THEM?
Sealants are a thin, protective coating that adheres to the exterior of your tooth. They are applied to teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore are more susceptible to decay. Sealants help children avoid cavities, especially when they are placed on the molars which are the hardest teeth to reach when cleaning.
MY CHILD PLAYS SPORTS. HOW CAN I PROTECT HIS TEETH?
We recommend children wear mouthguards if they are active in sports. We can work with your child to create a custom-fitted mouthguard to comfortably protect their teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums during game time.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY CHILD SUCKS HIS THUMB?
Thumb sucking habits become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. A majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants and most stop these habits on their own without causing any permanent oral damage. If your child continues to suck their thumb after permanent teeth have grown in, or if they suck aggressively, let us know. We can schedule an appointment and recommend a mouth appliance if any problems may arise from the habit.
WHEN SHOULD MY CHILD HAVE DENTAL X-RAYS TAKEN?
Your child’s first set of dental X-rays should be taken around the age of two or three. For the first X-ray set, we simply take pictures of the front and lower teeth to familiarize your child with the experience. We recommend yearly X-rays once your child’s baby teeth have grown in the back of the mouth and begin to touch. X-rays help us ensure that your child’s teeth and jaw are properly aligned and ready for growth before the permanent teeth begin to erupt around age six.