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General Pediatric Dentistry Questions
We recommend that your child visit our dental practice for their first exam within 6 months of their first tooth erupting or once they reach their first birthday, whichever comes first. This timing will allow our pediatric dentists to monitor your child’s oral health and development.
Because your child likely won’t have many teeth if they visit us when recommended, the first visit will be centered around general observation and gentle inspection.
Your child may also be too small for a dentist’s chair so we will perform a knee-to-knee exam where one of our pediatric dentists will sit knee-to-knee with you as your child lays in your lap facing you. You’ll have to wrap your child’s legs around your waist and lower their head onto our dentist’s lap.
If your child is older when they visit us for the first time, you’ll need to discuss with them why going to the dentist is important for their oral health. They will also need to sit in the dental chair for their initial oral examination.
Regardless of their age, we will do our best to make the appointment as fun, fast, and simple as possible.
Every child is different and there is no set age but it is generally recommended that your child have their first orthodontist appointment when they are at least 7 years old. Around this age, their mouth contains a mixture of baby and permanent teeth.
This mixture is important as anwill be able to look at how their teeth are coming in and recognize early on if any orthodontic problems are forming. They can then coordinate with us and devise a plan specifically for your child.
Generally, we recommend that your child visit us for a routine teeth cleaning and oral examination every 3-6 months. Every 6 months is standard but not every child is the same so some oral issues may require more frequent cleaning or observation.
Even though baby teeth eventually fall out to make room for permanent adult teeth, it is still important to care for them. After all, they do hold space in your child’s jaw for until those adult teeth erupt.
Encourage your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque or food particles.
Dental sealants are thin coatings that are painted or brushed onto the chewing surface of your child’s molars as a preventive measure.
Sealants essentially act as a type of protective shield for teeth in that they help to fill in any deep grooves or pits that are sometimes too narrow to be cleaned by a toothbrush. The application of sealants helps prevent cavities from forming.
To apply sealants to your child’s molars, one of our pediatric dentists will first clean and prepare the chewing surfaces of the teeth to ensure the coating holds. Next, they will begin to paint the tooth sealant on and finish by hardening it with a special light.
No, not at all. The process of applying dental sealants is quick and painless for your child. Sealants are also very smooth so once they are on your child’s molars, they won’t even be able to feel them.
First and foremost, dental sealants protect your child’s teeth from. They do this by covering the surface of your child’s molars so there is no collection of food particles and plaque. Thus, tooth decay is prevented for those back teeth when they are not in our office for a teeth cleaning.
Sealants also help your child to avoid having any dental fillings which are more invasive. Largely, dental sealants help protect your child’s smile and maintain a healthy mouth.
Sealants should be cared for with regular brushing at least twice a day and daily flossing. Just because your child has protective coatings on their molars, does not mean they can skip proper oral care. Sealants also only cover the chewing surface of a molar not the sides of the teeth.
Infant Oral Health Exams
During your baby’s first dental visit, our pediatric dentist will gently inspect their mouth using a soft toothbrush and small mirror. To help your child hold still throughout the appointment, we suggest that you place your hands over their stomach so they are soothed.
If all looks well, the dentist will wrap up the visit by answering any questions you may have regarding your.
It is perfectly normal for babies to feel overwhelmed in a new space with new people. In an effort to make it easy for everyone, our pediatric dentists strive to keep your baby’s oral health exam short.
Despite the goal being a quick appointment, some babies may still become overstimulated and cry. You can rest assured that the oral health exam does not hurt your baby and being a strong role model throughout only helps them get through the process.
We want to have your baby be as comfortable as possible during their infant oral exam. Instead of having your child sit in the dental chair like during a regular visit, one of our pediatric dentists will sit knee-to-knee with you.
This knee-to-knee setup will allow your child to lay in your lap facing you with their legs wrapped around your waist. Having you be this close to your baby will put them more at ease and with their head in the dentist’s lap, it will be easier for their mouth to be observed.
No, the exam will not be painful for your child. The pediatric dentist will be sure to be as gentle as possible while inspecting your baby’s mouth. It is more likely that your child is fussing or crying because they are in an unfamiliar place not because they are in pain.
As soon as your baby’s teeth come in, you can start carefully brushing them. Simply use a soft, wet toothbrush and gently brush all sides of your baby’s teeth. If you choose to use fluoride toothpaste, only use an amount equivalent to a grain of rice.
Since your baby is not able to spit on command yet, position them in a way so any spit from brushing can just dribble out. As soon as they are able to spit on their own, encourage them to do so.
A space maintainer is a dental appliance that manages the premature loss of baby teeth. In addition, it also prevents the onset of problems regarding the development of your child’s jaw.
If your child prematurely loses one or more of their baby teeth, we will recommend that they receive ato act as a placeholder for their adult teeth.
Our pediatric dentists may also decide it is in your child’s best interest to have a baby tooth extracted if it is badly decayed. In this instance, we would also recommend the use of a space maintainer.
Just like your child’s natural teeth, you will need to make sure their space maintainer is cared for properly. Try to discourage them from chewing gum, taffy, and other sticky foods when wearing a space maintainer.
Damage to the space maintainer can also be caused by the consumption of hard foods like ice cubes or nuts. Remind your child to brush and floss their teeth daily to remove food particles and plaque that may be caught by the space maintainer.
A space maintainer should not cause any pain for your child. However, when they first begin wearing the device, they will likely need time to get used to the feeling of it being in their mouth. If the space maintainer is painful or feels too tight, please contact our office and we will make adjustments.
There are two primary types of space maintainers and those are:
- Fixed Unilateral Appliances: only maintains space on one side of your child’s mouth. Includes the band and loop maintainer as well as the distal shoe.
- Fixed Bilateral Appliances: placed after teeth are lost on both sides of the mouth. Includes the transpalatal arch (TPA), lingual arch, and Nance arch.
is a mineral that is used commonly in dentistry to strengthen your tooth’s enamel, or outer layer of the tooth. Most importantly, the use of fluoride helps to improve dental health and prevent cavities.
A preventive fluoride treatment will slow down or even stop cavities from forming. The fluoride application works to protect your child’s teeth from damage and helps rebuild the enamel that may be weakened.
The application of fluoride is beneficial to your child’s teeth as it will help:
- Rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel.
- Slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel.
- Prevent the growth of harmful bacteria found in the mouth.
- Reverse the early signs of tooth decay.
When your child is not sitting in the dentist’s chair, there are simple ways to add fluoride into their daily schedule. We recommend using a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste twice a day when you notice your child’s first tooth until they turn 3. After 3 years old, it is permissible to use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Interestingly enough, most areas in the U.S. incorporate fluoride into the water supply and it has been shown to.
You can begin to use fluoride toothpaste when your child’s first tooth erupts but be sure to only use a small amount, or smear, until they turn 3. Once they pass the age of 3, they can start to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when brushing their teeth.
Preventive Dental Care
At Hudsonville Dental Kids, we are proud to offer several preventive dental care services that are aimed at keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy.
- Dental screenings
- Oral examinations
- Teeth cleanings
- Fluoride treatments
- Dental sealants
We recommend that you first bring your child into our pediatric dental office, if you haven’t already, for an oral examination or dental screening. These will allow our pediatric dentists to observe the state of your child’s entire mouth and recommend other treatment if necessary.
Awill follow the oral examination to help remove any buildup of dental plaque and tartar that if left unattended, could cause oral complications for your child.
Teach them that regular brushing and flossing are beneficial for their oral health by making it fun. For example, encourage them to brush for two minutes each time by playing a snippet of a song that lasts long enough to get the job done.
They’ll enjoy the experience more and want to repeat it if you explain to them that these daily habits help prevent dental cavities.
To prevent the onset of dental cavities, it is recommended that your child brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Helping them to form positive oral hygiene habits at a young age will serve their teeth and gums well in the long run.
During a routine oral examination, our pediatric dentists will start by assessing your child’s oral health. This involves close observation of their teeth and gums to see if there are any developing issues that may require further treatment.
Oral exams are non-invasive and allow our dentists to catch dental problems, like cavities, before they progress. They also provide an opportunity to monitor how your child’s teeth are coming in.
Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, is a form of that is inhaled through a mask placed on the nose during treatment. In a nutshell, laughing gas helps your child to feel relaxed while in the dentist’s chair.
Yes, laughing gas is safe for children. Our pediatric dentists as well as dental staff will monitor your child’s level of sedation throughout their treatment to ensure they have a calming experience.
With the help of laughing gas, your child will come to realize in their relaxed state that there is nothing to fear and that our dentists only want the best for them in terms of their oral health.
Our pediatric dentists want your child to have the best care possible. We may recommend laughing gas for your child if they are feeling a bit uneasy about a specific procedure or even a general cleaning.
There are several advantages that come with using laughing gas. In general, laughing gas is a preferred sedation method in our dental office because it is able to:
- Reduce dental anxiety
- Relieve mild pain
- Work and wear off quickly
- Be a safe option for children of all ages, from toddlers to teens
As your child begins to inhale the laughing gas mixed with oxygen, they will begin to feel a relaxed sensation in moments.
It is more common for children to feel a little sleepy after they start to breathe in the laughing gas, but there also exists the possibility that they will experience increased excitement or giggling. The latter is less likely as most children simply feel calmed after laughing gas inhalation.
Mild oral sedation is a type of that is generally taken by mouth in pill or syrup form one hour before your child’s dental appointment.
To ensure you are well informed about the process concerning oral sedation, our pediatric dental office will contact you prior to your child’s appointment to relay instructions. We will also let you know if eating or drinking are allowed before your child’s procedure.
We will recommend a form of mild oral sedation for your child if they are known to have:
- Dental anxiety
- Heightened levels of stress
- Trouble sitting still on their own
- A complex or lengthy procedure scheduled
Your child can expect to feel a bit drowsy but relaxed as the medication takes effect. They will still remain awake throughout their procedure but thanks to the oral sedation, they will not experience stress or anxiety.
If your child reports feeling sick or off in any way after ingesting the medication, please let our dentist and staff know and we will handle the situation accordingly.
We will be sure to monitor your child as they come out of the oral sedation but generally, they should relax the rest of the day following their treatment. We will also provide you with detailed post-procedure instructions regarding care at home.
Try to keep your child home from school or daycare after their appointment so you can properly monitor them in a comfortable environment.
No, they will not be completely asleep after taking mild oral sedation. They will of course be drowsy but will still be able to actively participate in their dental visit. For example, if they are asked to tilt their head or open their mouth wider, they will be able to respond to the command.
Emergency Dental Treatment
If your child is experiencing sustained oral pain, it is not something to ignore and emergency dental treatment should be pursued. Any type of jaw or tooth pain is typically the body’s way of informing you that immediate dental care is needed.
For non-urgent dental emergencies, such as a cracked sealant, please call our office to schedule an appointment during normal office hours.
At Hudsonville Dental Kids, our dentists offer a range of emergency dental services. Please schedule as soon as possible if your child is experiencing any of the following:
- Knocked-out tooth
- Loose tooth
- Broken or cracked tooth
- Soft tissue injuries (lips, gums, tongue, inside of cheeks)
- Toothache that won’t go away
- Dental abscess
If your child has their tooth knocked out, it is important to follow these steps before seeking dental care for them either at our office or at the nearest emergency room.
- Carefully pick the tooth up by the top, or crown to avoid damage to the roots.
- Gently rinse off any dirt or debris that may be on the tooth.
- If possible, place the tooth back in the socket or submerge in a glass of milk.
- Seek urgent dental care.
Please follow these quick instructions if your child has just broken or cracked a tooth. Do not delay treatment and immediately seek out emergency dental care at our office or at the nearest emergency room.
- Save all pieces of the tooth if possible.
- Gently rinse mouth with warm water.
- Apply a cold compress to your face if needed to reduce swelling.
- Take ibuprofen (not aspirin) to manage pain.
- Seek urgent dental care.
If your child has sustained another injury in addition to their mouth, emergency room treatment is recommended. Also, if for any reason you can’t reach our office on behalf of your child, please take them to your nearest emergency room.