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Common Dental Questions


  • What is a Pediatric Dentist?

  • Why are the Primary Teeth so Important?

  • Eruption of Your Child’s Teeth

  • Dental Emergencies

  • When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

  • Why is taking care of baby teeth so important?

  • Dental Radiographs (X-rays)

  • What’s the Best Toothpaste for my Child?

  • Should I pull out my child’s loose tooth?

  • Thumb Sucking

  • What is the Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment?

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What Is A Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentists have two or three more years of training, after dental school, specialized in oral health of children from birth till they are 18. Each stage of childhood needs different dental care in the way they need to be directed with their development and dental growth as well as instructing them to avoid oral health problems in their future. Pediatric dentists are trained and qualified to help children with their oral health through their childhood.

Why Are The Primary Teeth Important?

Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, are significant to the development of one’s permanent teeth. It is important to know that neglected cavities may lead to problems in their future of their permanent teeth. Primary teeth are needed for proper eating, giving space and guiding the permanent teeth into the correct position as well as allowing for normal and healthy development of bones and muscles in the jaw. One’s primary teeth are also responsible for their development of speech and can help an attractive appearance. The front 4 primary teeth will start to fall after the child’s first 6-7 years. Whereas a child’s cuspids and molars will last 10-13 years.

Eruption Of Your Child’s Teeth

A child’s teeth begin forming before they are born. After 4 four months, the first set of primary teeth, the lower central incisors, will begin to erupt before the upper central incisors erupt. From here to the last eruption of the last primary tooth, the order and speed for the eruptions can vary. By the age of 3, all 20 of the primary teeth are usually visible.

Children’s permanent teeth begin to appear when they are 6. The first lower central incisors and molars start erupting. By the time the child turns 8, it is normal to see that the top & bottom 4 primary teeth to be gone and for the new permanent teeth have already taken their place. There is usually a two year break from the child’s age of 8 to 10. From age 10 to 21, the remainder of the permanent teeth begin to come in.

Adults have 28 teeth which are permanent or can have up to 32 if they have wisdom teeth.

children dental chart

What to do when you have a Dental Emergency

Toothache: Clean and check the area of the tooth that is causing the toothache. Then use dental floss to remove food or rinse the mouth with warm water. If there is still pain, call your child’s primary dentist as soon as possible. Do not do anything else to the gums or teeth unless the face is swollen. Apply cold compresses to the face and call your dentist immediately.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek: If there is a cut on the lip, or cheek, apply ice to the outside of the injured area to reduce swelling. If your tongue, lip, or check is bleeding, apply a small amount of pressure with cloth or gauze. If bleeding persists, call your doctor or visit the emergency room in a hospital as soon as possible.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: Find the knocked tooth if it is possible and handle the tooth by the crown and not the root. Only rinse the tooth with water. Do not do anything the tooth except for rinsing with water or inspect the tooth for any fractures. If the patient can reinsert the tooth back into the socket and hold the tooth by biting on gauze or cloth, do this and go to the dentist immediately. If the tooth cannot be reinserted, the tooth should be carried in a cup with the patient’s saliva or milk, but not milk, and should be carried to the dentist as soon as possible.

Knocked Out Baby Tooth: Contact your dentist about the knocked baby tooth. Since the knocked tooth is a baby tooth, nothing needs to be done in most cases as the baby tooth should not be replanted as it can possible damage the development of the permanent tooth in the knocked area.

Chipped/Fractured Permanent Tooth: Contact your dentist as soon as possible to reduce the chance for any infection or the need for dental treatment that needs to be done for the tooth in the future. Rinse the mouth with water and apply a cold compress to control or reduce any swelling. If it is possible, find the broken part of the tooth and bring this to the dentist with you.

Chipped/Fractured Baby Tooth: Call your pediatric dentist as soon as possible

Severe Blow to the Head: Call the emergency phone line, 911, immediately or take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw: Try to keep the jaw in place and take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible.

Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)

Radiographs, also known as X-Rays, are important to each child’s dental diagnostics. Without X-Rays, many dental conditions may be missed.

X-Rays detect cavities, erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, can evaluate results of injuries that could happened to the oral area as well as plan dental treatment. X-Rays can also allow dentists to see, diagnose, and treat any health conditions that couldn’t be detected during a clinical examination. Dental care is easier and cheaper if dental problems are diagnosed and treated early.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests that X-Rays of the oral area should be done every six months for children. On average, X-rays are done once every year. It is a good idea to do X-Rays approximately every 3 years and obtain a complete set of your teeth.

Pediatric dentists are careful to reduce any chance of exposure of their patients to any radiation. With the modern-day safeguards, the amount of radiation absorbed is extremely small in any X-Ray examinations. The risk of radiation is very small compared to the undetected and untreated dental problems. Dentists are using lead body aprons and shields to protect your child. X-Ray equipment used today restricts the beams of x-rays to the area of interest as well as filter out any unnecessary x-rays. Your child will be receiving minimal amount of radiation with the proper precautions taken.

What is the best toothpaste for my child?

Should I pull out my child's loose tooth?

Thumb Sucking

For infants and young children, sucking their thumb is a natural reflex as it makes them feel secure, happy, relaxed, or give a sense of security at difficult periods of time.

If the child still sucks it thumb after the permanent teeth are erupted, this can cause problems with the alignment of the mouth and teeth. Also, the children who suck on their thumb vigorously will have more difficulty than those who rest their thumbs in their mouths passively.

Children should stop sucking their thumbs when their permanent font teeth are ready to come in. Children usually stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four. When your children go to school, peer pressure will cause children to stop sucking their thumbs.

Do not substitute pacifiers for thumb sucking. Pacifiers have the same effect on the teeth that thumb sucking does. Although the use of pacifier can be modified and controlled easier than thumb sucking. If your child’s thumb or pacifier sucking habit is concerning you, consult your child’s dentist.

How to help your child reduce thumb sucking:

  • Since many children thumb suck when they feel insecure, target their cause of anxiety instead of focusing on the thumb sucking itself

  • Some children thumb suck to feel comfort. Parents can provide comfort to their children and then the children will be less tempted to suck on their thumbs

  • Give your child rewards when they can refrain from thumb sucking

What is the Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment?

The best time for orthodontic treatment is as early as possible. Delaying treatment can make it more difficult and more expensive later. Since dentists can recognize bad bites or abnormalities when your children are 2-3 years old, steps can be taken to reduce the need of dental treatment later.

Stage I: Early Treatment: From ages 2 to 6. Dentists are looking out for undeveloped dental arches, harmful habits, and the premature loss of baby teeth. Treatment for these issues are usually successful and prevents the need for dental treatment in the future.

Stage II: Mixed Dentition: From ages 6 to 12. During this period, dentists focus on the eruption of the permanent front teeth as well as molars. If there are problems with the dental or jaw realignment, this is the best time to start treatment as the child’s gum’s tissue are very responsive to forces of orthodontics’ or orthopedics’.

Stage III: Adolescent Dentition: From ages 12-18. In this stage, the dentist focuses on permanent teeth and the final bite of the child.

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