As a family oriented practice, we love to take care of children of our dental families. Procedures we perform routinely on children are oral hygiene instructions, cleanings, sealants (as below), pulpotomy (baby teeth root canals), baby teeth extractions, and restorations. We believe in prevention! We also work closely with local orthodontists in treatment planning any early bite, esthetic corrections.
Cleaning of the superficial stained grooves and sealing with dental sealants could potentially prevent cavities and the need for larger restorations in the future.
Q&A with Dr. O'Brien
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommend that your child should see a dentist when the first tooth appears or by the age of one. Your child’s baby teeth will begin coming in between 4 and 8 months. All baby teeth should be present by age 3. Having your child seen regularly by a dentist for exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments are very important for their dental development and preventing future dental problems.
Are baby teeth important?
YES! Baby teeth help your child speak clearly since teeth are important in creating certain sounds. They are important for nutrition since teeth are needed for chewing. Another important, often over-looked, role of baby teeth are maintaining space for the permanent teeth to erupt into.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
As soon as teeth begin to erupt you can clean the teeth and gums with a moist washcloth. When more teeth are present, you can switch to a soft child’s toothbrush with either a SMALL smear of fluoridated toothpaste or use non-fluoridated toothpaste until your child can spit out the toothpaste. Once your child is able to spit out the toothpaste, use a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Getting into a routine of brushing your child’s teeth is very important. Parents should supervise their child with toothbrushing until they are able to brush effectively by themselves.
Will thumbsucking affect my child’s teeth?
Thumb sucking, as well as pacifier use, is common during children’s development. The habit becomes problematic when continued for a long period of time. Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use can cause the front teeth to stick out and the front and bottom teeth will not come together (an open bite), as well as narrowing of the upper teeth arch, limiting the amount of space for permanent teeth.
What are the tips for preventing cavities?
For very young children: Only put your child to bed with a bottle of water, not milk or juice. After you child is asleep, the sugars from these drinks will remain on the teeth through the night.
Limit the amount of sugary, especially sticky, snacks. The chewy/sticky snacks will remain on the teeth longer, increasing the chances of getting cavities.
Limit the frequency of meals & snacks. Include treats with meals.
Keep juices & milk with meals, use water in between meals and with snacks.
Brush & floss regularly.
Have your child’s teeth evaluated to see if sealants are needed/recommended.
Are sealants important?
YES! Dental sealants fill in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth, preventing food and plaque from getting stuck in those grooves. This makes the surface of tooth easier to remove any plaque and food, helping prevent cavities.
Is fluoride important?
YES! Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay- it gets incorporated into the developing tooth structure, making the teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride is usually obtained through drinking water, so before having your child put on a fluoride supplement, the levels of fluoride in your child’s drinking water should be evaluated. If your child is drinking fluoridated water, regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste (with a parent’s supervision) and fluoride treatments every 6 months at their dentist appointment is recommended. While fluoride is a good thing, too much fluoride can cause flurosis (internal pitting and staining of enamel).
What to do during a dental emergency?
- Toothache: Contact our office to arrange for an appointment as soon as possible. You can have your child rinse their mouth with warm salt water. Use a cold compress if the area is swollen. If needed, give your child either Children’s Tylenol or Children’s Advil. Do not apply the medication directly on the gums or teeth.
- Baby tooth is knocked out: Do not re-implant a baby tooth as this may damage the underlying permanent tooth, which is still developing. Contact our office as soon as possible.
- Permanent tooth is knocked out: Contact our office immediately and come right over. You can rinse the tooth gently in cool water, being careful to hold the crown of the tooth, not the root. Do not scrub the tooth. Gently place the tooth in its socket and continue holding it in place. Do not force the tooth into the socket. If you are unable to replace the tooth, place it in a container immersed in milk or cool water.
- Chipped tooth: Contact our office to arrange for an appointment as soon as possible. Use a cold compress if there is any swelling.
Please feel free to contact us for appointments or if you have any questions at 508-478-3800