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FAQ’s: Your Child’s Teeth

January 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — drshare @ 8:40 pm

Q. Dr. Jack, at what age should I first bring my child to the dentist?

A. It’s a good idea to have an oral exam, usually with your physician for convenience, within six months of the eruption of the first tooth, no later than the child’s first birthday. Regular visits with the dentist should begin during the third year.

Q. Why should I be concerned about my daughter’s baby teeth when they will be replaced by permanent teeth later?

A. Even though they are “temporary”, the baby teeth serve important functions including speech development, proper nutrition and acting as space maintainers for the permanent teeth.

Q. We don’t drink much tap water, and I don’t even know if it’s fluoridated. How can I be sure if my child is getting the appropriate levels of fluoride for cavity protection?

A. Controversy consistently surrounds this subject. Studies have shown that living in a water fluoridated community provides enough exposure from trace sources such as tooth brushing and casual drinking. In a non-fluoridated community, a strict, bottled water situation or the use of a fluoride filtration system, consider administering fluoride tablets or drops prescribed by your pediatrician. You can test the fluoride level of your bottled, tap or well water BEFORE supplements are given. A list of fluoridated towns in Massachusetts is available at

Q. What happens if my child gets too much fluoride?

A. The ingestion of huge quantities of fluoride is very harmful, but is highly unlikely to happen. However, moderate excesses of fluoride can result in fluorosis, a patchy white and brown pigmentation of the tooth enamel which can be uncosmetic. That’s why you should dispense a pea-size amount of toothpaste which usually contains fluoride. It is felt that young children could ingest much of the toothpaste that they brush which results in a high serum fluoride level. Along with fluoride from the tap and prescriptions, this could cause fluorosis.

Q. Is it OK to give my child a bottle of milk or juice at naps, or at bedtime to help her fall asleep?

A. Absolutely not! This practice can cause very destructive cavities called “baby bottle tooth decay”. We recommend only water in the bedtime bottle.

Q. Is teething painful, and what can I do to help?

A. When babies are teething, usually between the ages of four months and 2 1/2 years, they often have sore and tender gums. Try soothing the pain by gently rubbing the baby’s gums with your clean finger or a teething ring. By the way, teething does not cause a fever. An elevated temperature needs to be addressed as a separate medical concern.

Q. When should thumbsucking stop?

A. By the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt, generally age 6. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four years.

Q. What happens if my child continues to suck his thumb while his permanent teeth come in?

A. Aggressive and prolonged thumbsucking can actually move the teeth and affect the bite possibly resulting in the need for future orthodontic treatment.

Q. What is the best way to introduce my child to his first dental visit?

A. In our office, we suggest bringing your child along when you get your teeth cleaned. That way he will become familiar with our faces and the office. After your cleaning, we’ll give him a ride in the “big” chair and count his teeth. Saturdays are very popular in our office for kids and families. And, we have lots of great stickers and prizes!

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