Frequently Asked Questions

It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption – usually around his or her first birthday. Since decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she is to avoid problems. We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your baby’s oral health and check in with you about the best way to care for your little one’s teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.

The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will check your child’s teeth for placement and health and will look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a bit of cleaning. 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.

We recommend taking x-rays around the age of 2 or 3. The first set consists of simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth, which familiarizes your child with the process. Once the baby teeth in back are touching one another, then regular (at least yearly) x-rays are recommended. Permanent teeth start coming in around age 6, 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. At Wild About Smiles, we only take x-rays when we believe they are required. Children that have an established history with us and have not had cavities will have x-rays taken every 18 months.

The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant 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 his teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help him do that. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.

We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months, depending on the circumstances.

Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in his development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. 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 permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums. Depending on your child’s oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can find a toothbrush designed for infants at most local drugstores or online.

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. When parents feel the need to use toothpaste, they have two options; one is to use toothpaste that does not have fluoride. It is important that parents work with children on helping them understand how to spit out toothpaste (modeling the behavior is one great way). If you would like to use fluoridated toothpaste and your child does not yet spit out the toothpaste reliably, use a rice grain portion of toothpaste on the toothbrush. It is very important that parents place this on the child’s toothbrush and not leave it up to the child. Once the child has mastered the routine of spitting out toothpaste, there is no longer a concern of exposure to too much fluoride and regular portion of toothpaste can be used. The most common sign associated with exposure to too much fluoride is brown staining of permanent teeth.

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth which leads to softening of the tooth surface. These softened surfaces allow more bacteria to adhere and cavitation(holes) occur. These holes on the tooth surface are what we call cavities.

Be sure that your child brushes his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, because flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t. Check with your pediatric dentist about a fluoride supplement, which helps tooth enamel become harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking and maintain a healthy diet. And finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.

Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks and gums.

Cavities are formed when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss between teeth at least once.