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Frequently Asked Questions

What do you suggest to get my child to stop sucking the thumb?

Children around age 4 years usually develop the social skills that will allow them to slowly stop their sucking habit. Aggressive treatment is not recommended before this age. An occasional reminder to remove the finger is reasonable. Encourage and reward the child for not sucking, praising them for their grown-up behavior. Parents sometimes want to tackle the habit problem too early. About half of the children who suck a digit, give the habit up spontaneously at about age four. If your child persists beyond the age of 4, or if you feel the upper front teeth are protruding forward consulting with your dentist will allow a closer evaluation and the possibility for stopping the habit by other means.

Should we treat a milk tooth that has developed cavity?

Baby teeth or milk teeth are essential for proper nutrition, speech, growth and development of jaw and permanent teeth. These are vital for the child’s ability to eat properly, chew naturally and speak clearly. These are also the building blocks for your child’s permanent teeth. Baby teeth left untreated can cause pain/swelling, common cold and cough, inability to chew food resulting in indigestion, loss of appetite and weight. All leads to poor quality of life.

When should be the first dental visit for a child?

A child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his/her first birthday. The most important part of the visit is to give a complete anticipatory guidance to parents about oral health care and disease prevention. It includes about teething, tooth eruption, feeding and dietary pattern, oral hygiene instructions and first aid management. It is also important to know and get familiar about the pediatric dentist and the dental office. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, the child is allowed to sit in a parent’s lap for an oral examination.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

Whenever you feed your baby you should wipe the gum pad, cheeks and tongue with a clean damp cloth or gauze pad. This removes the sticky film called plaque where bacteria that causes dental cavity forms. Begin to introduce the toothbrush when the first teeth erupt. Until your child is able to spit water, use fluoride free toothpaste. Once your child is able to spit water, use no more than a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Should I worry about my baby swallowing the toothpaste?

If you are using no more than a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day, it is safe if the baby swallows it. The very small amount has been calculated to be safe even for a 6 month old. However, it is easy to wipe the excess toothpaste away with a clean gauze or towel while you brush your baby’s teeth.

When does the first tooth come in?

The first tooth usually comes around 6 – 10 months of age. Most often the lower front tooth comes in, followed by the upper front tooth. The tooth eruption timing of primary teeth is more variable than for permanent teeth. The front 8 teeth (4 on top and 4 on bottom) usually have come in by 10-15 months of age.

What measures should I take if I am nursing my baby?

Nursing is the natural and healthiest form of nurturing for both mother and infant. Before the first tooth comes in, use a clean damp cloth or gauze pad to wipe the gum pad, cheeks and tongue after every feed. Once the first tooth erupts try to minimize the frequently of night feeding and avoid putting the infant go to sleep with bottle containing mild. Mother’s milk and bottle milk has sugars that have the potential to start cavities when left in the mouth for extended periods of time. Babies that have teeth and are nursed at-will rather than on demand through the night can develop cavities as severe as those produced by a nursing bottle.

When will my child start getting his/her permanent teeth

The arrival of permanent teeth occurs at 6 years. The first permanent tooth that erupts is the first molars behind the last baby tooth, followed by the lower front tooth. Variation in time and eruption sequence is common and considered normal. Sometimes it takes up to several months, from the time the baby tooth has fallen, for the permanent tooth to erupt. This is related to many factors like the amount of space available for the tooth to grow, the position of the individual tooth, and even family traits. With the exception of the wisdom teeth, all permanent teeth come in by early teen.

What are the preventive measures to be taken from developing cavities in the permanent teeth?

As school going children, they start increasing their independence with daily habits and food choices in and out of the home. To insure your child continues to have healthy teeth continue to supervise brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Encourage and ensure that they rinse their mouth after every meal and snack. Discourage the habit of drinking sweet beverages routinely as they increase their chances of getting cavities. Minimize frequency of snacking and duration to consume the food. Pouching of food and increased duration to chew and swallow food and snacks can lead to development of tooth decay.

Why do children need dental sealants at this age?

Sealant is a protective coating done on the permanent molars and premolars. In a newly erupted back tooth, the grooves and fissures on the biting surface are deep and narrow making them vulnerable to retention of food particles. When these food particles retain for long they cause bacterial growth resulting in tooth decay. Dental sealants fill-in these deep grooves in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, so that food cannot collect in them, hence preventing bacterial growth and tooth decay.

What should be done if the permanent tooth is not erupting in correct position?

The most common condition that we notice around age 6 years is appearance of two rows of teeth especially in the lower front region. This happens due to discrepancy in size of the permanent tooth and space available in the jaw. Children who had non spaced milk teeth are very much prone to develop crowded adult teeth. Predisposing factors like thumb sucking, mouth breathing can also lead to space discrepancy. Early intervention is required to correct or minimize the space discrepancy to avoid permanent teeth being locked inside the jaw bone or removal of premolars during orthodontic treatment at early teenage.

When is the right time for a time to align the teeth?

The simple answer to that is depending upon the problem that the child is developing or has developed. As mentioned above predisposing factors like deleterious oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, lip trapping), space discrepancy, anomalies like tongue tie, supernumerary teeth, high frenum attachment can lead to malialignment of teeth. Identification and correction of the primary etiological factor should be done at the earliest. Myo-functional treatment that helps to correct jaw discrepancy in terms of its size, shape and position should be done during active growth of the child. These appliances are usually removable and simple to be worn. The duration of treatment varies depending upon the problem and its severity. Henceforth six months follow-up is mandatory for a child from age 6 years to assess the growth and development of the jaw and teeth. Once all permanent teeth have erupted then braces are worn to align them.

What type of tooth brush and paste would you recommend?

There are many types of toothbrushes available in the market. Some manufacturers specialize in the development of children’s toothbrushes. Rather offering a brand name, we would like you to think about what you want in a toothbrush for a child 2 -5 years old. Look for a brush with a short and bulky handle as this is easier for the young child to manage. Bristles should be soft to avoid injury. Regarding the tooth paste, as long as your child is comfortable with the flavor of the paste, use them. Avoid herbal and sensitive tooth paste as that might cause burning sensation.

Why do children develop tooth cavity at very young age?

About 1 in 10 children experience tooth decay by age 3 years. In certain population that number can be much higher. The most common cause is when a baby is placed with a bottle of milk during sleep. The contents of the bottle cling to the teeth all night. Tooth decay begins! In certain circumstances, babies who are breast fed frequently at night over a long time are also at risk. The decay experienced by these toddlers has a typical pattern. It usually is evident near the gum line of the upper front teeth. At times, medical history of the mother or the child can affect the mineralization of growing teeth. These teeth can decay early and more easily.

What is the black stain on my child’s teeth?

Black stain is a result of a combination of many things in the mouth related to saliva, bacteria and foods. No one seems to understand this association and it has been a topic of research. These chromogenic stains on the surfaces of teeth are usually formed with children who are on multivitamins or iron syrups. The advantage of developing these stains is the fact that the child is least prone to have tooth decay or cavity.