Paediatric Dental

When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?


We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets their first tooth. The American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends that a child is seen by six months after her first tooth erupts or by one-year-old, whichever is first.


What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?


The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child, getting them comfortable with the dental environment, and giving you some basic information about dental care. Dr Mass will check your child’s teeth for placement and health and will look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop and provide you with materials containing helpful tips that you can refer to at home.


How can I prepare my child for their first dental appointment?


The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children can pick up when adults are apprehensive, any if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist you can be sure that your child will fear the experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it’s important to keep their teeth and gums healthy, and that Dr Mass will help them do that. Remember that our dentist is specially trained to handle fear and anxiety, and our staff excel at putting children (and adults!) at ease during treatment.


How often should my child visit the dentist?


We generally recommend scheduling check-ups every six to twelve months. It is uncommon that your child will need to see us more often than this.


Baby teeth aren’t permanent. Why do they need special care?


Although baby teeth don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in their development. While they’re in place, these teeth help your little one speak, smile and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth to come through later. If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay) nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced adult teeth. Also, like you or I, your child’s general health can be affected by the health of their teeth and gums!


What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

As soon as your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean the tooth and gums with a damp, soft washcloth, or a toothbrush. Try and find a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, brushes designed for babies are perfect! You can almost always find a baby toothbrush at your local chemist. Even if your baby isn’t particularly comfortable having their teeth cleaned, it is important that you do it as best you can. Consider giving your child a toothbrush as something to chew on, as chewing the bristles may help clean the teeth.


At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?

Generally speaking, from 18 months of age you can start using children’s toothpaste. Don’t use any more than a pea-sized amount and always have your child rinse and spit out the toothpaste after brushing. You should brush your child’s teeth for until they are ready to take on that responsibility themselves, which usually happens by age six or seven. Once the adult teeth start to come through, you may consider using an adult toothpaste – however it is important to check with your dentist beforehand!


What causes cavities?

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. These bacteria can eat the sugar in our diets and produce acids, which attack the enamel of our teeth and eat away at the tooth. If this process continues long enough, it will create holes in the teeth, which we call caries or cavities.


How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Be sure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing is also important, because flossing cleans spots between the teeth that toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Any attempts to avoid sugary foods or drinks, limiting snacking, and maintaining a health diet will all help! Finally, making regular dental check-ups will go a long way to preventing little problems become big!


What are fissure sealants?

A fissure sealant is the name given to a special sort of dental resin, like a glue, which seals the fissures and grooves in teeth that are either difficult to brush, or cannot be brushed, and are therefore more likely to become decayed. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.


My child plays sports. How can I protect their teeth?

Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your child plays rugby, basketball, or other sports like soccer, ask us about choosing a mouthguard to protect their teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.


What should I do if my child sucks their thumb?

The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after their adult teeth start to erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.


When should my child have dental X-rays taken?

Once the baby teeth at the back of the mouth are touching one another, X-rays should be considered. Permanent teeth start coming in around age six, and X-rays help us make sure your child’s teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having X-rays taken at an earlier age.

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