Boston Dental aims to provide your children the chance to have a positive and fun dental experience. Our Boston Dentists are respected and trusted by thousands of parents throughout the Greater Boston area. We strive to create long-lasting relationships as we develop trust with our patients and their families.
We understand that parents have enough on their plates and have provided answers to your most frequent pediatric dental questions.
Frequently Asked Pediatric Dental Questions
1) How should I get my child ready for their first dentist visit?
We make every effort to make your child’s experience as seamless as possible. It is best to inform your child of their upcoming dental appointment, but not give them too much information about the visit. Our goal is to help keep them calm and not worried about what will happen at the visit. As the parent, you can come prepared with any questions or concerns you may have. Understand that children may be apprehensive at first, and may not initially adjust accordingly. Try avoiding using language that would cause your child to become anxious. Words like “hurt” and “drill” may not come across as positive to a child. We will work to build a good rapport during each visit with your child. Allow your child to be independent and work with the dental team to properly care for them. We work to make the visit positively educational, while also working with you and your child for continued dental care for years to come.
2) What is a pediatric dentist, and are they the same as a family dentist?
Pediatrics dentists are dentists who specialize in working with children only, similar to how a pediatrician is a doctor who cares for children. A pediatric dentist performs additional training after finishing dental school, usually a couple years of specific training related to working with children. Pediatric dentists provide oral care to infants and adolescents. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics a pediatric dentist has expertise in how to care for children’s gums, mouths and teeth. At different ages, children need different approaches to their oral care. A pediatric dentist is able to personalize specialized care for each child. Pediatrics dentists are the primary guidance, other than parents, in a child’s oral care. They assist in preventing dental problems that could occur in the future. A family dentist is different in that they assist the whole family, no matter the age.
3) At what age should I start to take my child to the dentist?
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that a child is seen between their first six to twelve months, to have an oral evaluation. This enables the dentist to gain a head start on any unforeseen dental risks and issues, because dental inflammation can occur on the teeth and gums, as early as age one. During this age, the first primary teeth begin to develop. It is important for your child to be evaluated by a dentist once their first tooth starts to grow. The initial visit will consist of a thorough discussion of the child’s dental history, as well as their medical history. The pediatric dentist will then provide next steps regarding future oral care for your child.
4) How often should I take my child to see their pediatric dentist?
It is recommended that children receive check ups twice a year or every six months for basic dental care, such as cleanings. The dentist will advise parents of additional appointments based on the child’s personal dental health.
5) What is the purpose of my child’s primary teeth?
Primary teeth are vital for your child’s developmental health. Primary teeth are also called baby teeth. A child’s primary teeth assists them with chewing food, maintaining their oral appearance, smiling and speaking clearly. They also make space for future permanent teeth.
6) Why do I need to care for my child’s primary teeth, since they will still eventually fall out?
Adequately caring for the primary teeth at the beginning of a child’s oral health journey, will assist with the health of the adult teeth they will gain later. They guide and hold a spot for the permanent teeth, showing them where they should grow in under the gums. Due to this, the jaws and oral muscles can develop properly, the face can take it’s correct form, and permanent teeth can grow into the correct position. Remember that cavities can also form on primary teeth, if not taken care of properly. Neglect can lead to detrimental dental problems in the future.
7) How long do primary teeth last?
Children generally have 20 primary teeth. The time the teeth will fall out, varies. Usually, the four frontal teeth will fall out during ages 6-7. The back teeth generally remain until between ages 10 and 13. Once primary teeth fall out, the 32 permanent teeth will begin to grow in.
8) What can be done to ensure my child’s permanent teeth grow in correctly?
Early intervention is key. A pediatric dentist can certainly work with you to help guide your child’s dental health process. Boston dental offers orthodontic treatment for misaligned teeth. The dentist will discuss what age is appropriate for orthodontic treatment for your child. Monitoring development will assist with teaching children about good oral habits at home also. X-rays help dentists to identify any improper dental alignment early on during the orthodontic treatment process. In the event that your child will need orthodontic care in the future, early intervention can help to lessen the time your child will need them.
9) What are Dental X-Rays?
X-Rays are radiograph machines used to diagnose a child’s overall dental health, so any oral issues will not be overlooked. X-Rays are used to determine if oral bone diseases are present, to find cavities, and to see if new teeth are growing in. X-Rays are also utilized by dentists to assist with planning proper orthodontic treatment plans. Clinical exams along with x-rays are normally performed every 6 months to one year to assist with the overall health of pediatric dental patients. Pediatric dentists take great care to minimize the risk of radiation exposure.
10) Will my child be given Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous Oxide is also known as laughing gas. It is a safe gas that is provided to your child during certain dental appointments, such as teeth extractions, and helps the child to better relax during the procedure. The child is not put to sleep. They just feel a warm sense of relaxation. There are mild risks associated with it’s use, such as experiencing nausea shortly after. The nitrous oxide is delivered to the child along with oxygen. Once the procedure is finished, the child receives oxygen for a few minutes afterwards. This helps the nitrous oxide to leave the body.
11) What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are the painless protectants of teeth. They help to block out plaque and food particles. They cover the teeth’s surface and are generally located in the area where cavities could accumulate on the teeth. The clear or tinted sealants are made from a type of composite resin, and painted into the grooves of molars. The surfaces that are painted are the areas most likely to come in contact with food, or the chewing surfaces. Sealants help to protect teeth from decaying. Sealants are applied to teeth that are considered as potentially able to develop decay, by dentists. Sealants can last for a long time, but need to be checked for repair or replacement from time to time.
12) Can my child benefit from dental sealants?
Yes, your child can greatly benefit from dental sealants. Children 15 and under tend to develop most of their cavities on their back molars. These molars decay because of plaque that has settled and developed in the grooves of the teeth. The applied sealants will help to keep decay from rotting these teeth.
13) What is the right toothpaste for my child to use?
One of the most vital, preventative ways to protect oral health, is brushing teeth. Each toothpaste is not for each person, especially children. Many toothpastes are too strong for young children. Harsh abrasives in some of the toothpastes are not beneficial for the tooth enamel of children, and can do more harm than good. When selecting a children’s toothpaste, check for the the American Dental Association seal of approval. A child should not ingest too much fluoride so it is important to remind children to brush their teeth and then spit out the residue from the toothpaste. There are also toothpastes that are fluoride free. Check with your dentist to determine if this is the best route for your child to take.
14) When should my child begin using toothpaste?
Children should begin using toothpaste as soon as possible. An infant’s gums, and erupting teeth can be cleaned with a tiny amount of toothpaste twice a day by a parent or guardian. A pediatric dentist can recommend some suggested toothpaste types. Children should be able to become more independent, but still be assisted, when they turn age 3. Teach your child how to apply a pea size amount of toothpaste to their toothbrush. Remind them to never swallow excess toothpaste.
15)How can my child develop good oral care habits?
The most important way to help your child to develop good habits is to be a good role model to them. This will help motivate them to follow those good habits. Let your child see that you are brushing your teeth, flossing, going to the dentist and eating properly. All of these factors will show them the importance of keeping their oral care a priority for a lifetime.
16) What can I use for cleaning my baby’s teeth, and is there a such thing as baby bottle tooth decay?
A soft bristled toothbrush is ideal for cleaning a baby’s teeth. Infants drink from bottles most of the time and oral care neglect can lead to baby bottle tooth decay. Try to minimize sugary liquids. Milk, formula and juices all contain some amounts of sugar. Wiping a baby’s mouth or brushing their gums often can help to prevent decay from long exposures to these liquids. The liquids tend to pool in a child’s mouth which enable bacteria to form. Water is ideal for when age appropriate children will be drinking out of a bottle for a longer period of time. After a baby’s feedings, wipe gums and any incoming teeth with a damp cloth or a soft gauze like pad. Have the child in a comfortable position and softly wipe their mouth.
17) What can help my child to be free of cavities?
It is strongly recommended that children adapt the following behaviors to help with the prevention of cavities:
- ⦁ Brush twice a day with the proper toothpaste, based on age.
- ⦁ Maintain a habit of flossing teeth to remove food particles from in between the teeth.
- ⦁ Drink lots of water daily.
- ⦁ Have healthy snacks daily.
- ⦁ Keep up with routine checkups, diagnostic exams and cleanings.
- ⦁ Follow the dentist’s advice.
18) What types of foods are good or bad for teeth?
It is important to note that no matter what types of foods are eaten, good oral hygiene must be practiced and followed. All types of foods can contribute cavities from breads to potato chips, and from fruit to milk and fruit snacks. Bacteria in the foods can cause detriment to the teeth, resulting in cavities and other oral health issues. Tooth decay forms when food is left on the teeth for long periods. Brushing removes this food from the teeth. It is best to feed children a healthy diet but remember the importance of keeping up with their overall oral care.