What is dentistry?
Dentistry is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions, disorders, and diseases of the teeth, gums, mouth, and jaw. Often considered necessary for complete oral health, dentistry can affect the health of the entire body.
Who is a dentist?
A dentist is a specialist who works to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Your child's dentist has completed at least eight years of schooling, and received either a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree, or a DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. If your doctor is a pediatric dentist, this means that he or she specializes in caring for children from infancy through their teen years. Your child's dentist has received the proper education and training needed to work with kids. Other specializations include:
- Endodontics (root canals)
- Oral and Maxillofacial (including pathology, radiology, and surgery)
- Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics
- Periodontics (gum disease)
- Prosthodontics (implants)
Why is visiting the dentist so important?
Visiting the dentist regularly will not only help keep your child's teeth and mouth healthy, but will also help keep the rest of his body healthy. Dental care is important because it:
- Helps prevent tooth decay
- Protects against periodontal (gum) disease, which can lead to tooth and bone loss
- Prevents bad breath — brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist regularly will help reduce the amount of bad breath-causing bacteria in your child's mouth
- Gives a more attractive smile and increases self-confidence
- Helps keep teeth looking bright by preventing them from becoming stained by food and drinks.
- Strengthens teeth so that your child can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile for the rest of his life!
My child's teeth feel fine. Does he still need to see a dentist?
Your child's teeth may feel fine, but it's still important to see the dentist regularly because problems can exist without you knowing. Your child's smile is important, and his dentist can help keep his smile healthy and looking beautiful. With so many advances in dentistry, your child no longer has to settle for stained, chipped, missing, or misshapen teeth.
How can my child take care of his teeth between dental checkups?
- Your child should ALWAYS remember to brush his teeth at least three times a day, and floss at least once!
- Make sure your family uses toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask the dentist about a fluoride rinse. This can help prevent cavities.
- Avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in his mouth causing more plaque and possibly cavities).
- Brush his tongue! Brushing your child's tongue will remove food particles and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria. Tongue brushing also helps keep his breath fresh.
- Be sure to schedule routine checkups. It is recommended that your child visit the dentist every six months.
At what age should I start taking my child to see the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children first see a dentist as early as six months old and no later than one-year-old. During this time, your child's baby teeth will be coming in and your dentist can examine the health of your child's first few teeth. After the first visit, be sure to schedule regular checkups every six months.
How often should my child see the dentist?
Children, teens, and adults should all see the dentist for a regular checkup at least once every six months. Patients who are at a greater risk for developing cavities may be required to see the dentist more than just twice a year. Your child's doctor will help determine how often your child should visit the dentist for regular checkups.
What is a cavity?
A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth because of tooth decay. Cavities are formed when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in food. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on teeth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush teeth at least three times a day and floss between teeth at least once.
What is a filling?
A filling is a synthetic material that your child's dentist uses to fill a cavity after all the tooth decay has been removed. Fillings do not generally hurt because the dentist will numb your child's mouth with an anesthetic. For children, fillings can be made from composite or amalgam. If your child needs a filling, be sure to talk to his doctor about what type is best.
How often should my child brush his teeth?
According to dentists and the American Dental Association, your child should be brushing at least two times a day. Brushing keeps teeth, gums, and mouth clean and healthy by removing bacteria-causing plaque. Your child should also use a soft bristle toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride when brushing. Your child should spend at least a minute on the top teeth and a minute on the bottom teeth, and remind your child to brush his tongue – it will help keep his breath smelling fresh!
When should my child change his toothbrush?
Your child's toothbrush will eventually wear out, especially if he is brushing twice a day for two to three minutes each time. Dentists recommend that adults and children change their toothbrush every three months. If your child is using an electric toothbrush, be sure to read the directions because you may not need to change toothbrush heads as frequently. If your child has been sick, be sure to change his toothbrush as soon as possible.
What is gum disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is mostly caused by plaque and bacteria buildup that is not treated in its early stage. Other causes of periodontal disease include tobacco use, teeth grinding, some medications, and genetics. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease, and, if detected, is treatable. Gingivitis left untreated may turn into gum disease. Advanced gum disease will lead to tooth and bone loss, and is a permanent condition. Brushing regularly and visiting the dentist every six months will help prevent gingivitis and more severe cases of periodontal disease. Common signs of gum disease:
- Red, irritated, bleeding, or swollen gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose teeth, or loss of teeth
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Receding gum line
- Abscessed teeth
If my child has braces, does he still need dental checkups every six months?
Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that a toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your child's dentist will work closely with his orthodontist to make sure that your child's teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
How do I schedule my child's next checkup?
Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your child's next dental checkup at your convenience. If your child is a new patient, please let us know and we will provide you with all the information you need for his first dental visit.