Frequently Asked Questions

When should we schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children see a dentist for the first time by their first birthday. Our general recommendation is within six months after the eruption of the first tooth, which can happen between 6 and 12 months of age (or earlier). Download this PDF from the American Dental Association for more information about the eruption of baby teeth.


Do we need to brush our baby’s new teeth?

It’s never too early to start preventative dental care to maintain optimal oral health. Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend cleaning the gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, you can start using an infant toothbrush, with soft bristles and a small head.


How will I know if my child has brushed their teeth well enough?

Two surefire ways to check on brushing: Watch and time your child (2 minutes is what a thorough brush takes) and Conduct a visual inspection. You should not see signs of food, visible build up on teeth or near gums, or red or swollen gums.


Is it necessary to brush twice a day?

Yes, establishing the habit is very important. Think of tooth brushing like you might about wearing seat belts- it is nonnegotiable for the good of your child. You might try making the routine fun with a special musical morning toothbrush for little ones or use the embarrassment of dirty teeth and bad breath to motivate old children.  You can also download our brush chart for younger children to encourage them with a reward. 


Why does my child keep getting cavities?

If you have eliminated home care issues (parent brushing or parent supervised brushing with a fluoride toothpaste), look at your child’s diet. Often, it is not candy that causes an issue, despite the stereotype. Instead, the culprit may be the frequency and duration of fermentable carbohydrates in a child’s diet can be to blame. To determine if that is what is happening, keep a log of everything your child eats and drinks for a week. Pay special attention to the frequency and duration of eating or drinking. For example, it is important to note if your child consumes a cup of juice in two big gulps or sips on it all morning long. Our office can review the log and make recommendations based on your child’s eating patterns.


 Is it worth filling a cavity in a baby tooth if it is just going to fall out?

They may not be ‘forever’ teeth, but they are just as important as the ones that are. Your child’s primary teeth help him speak, and chew properly. They hold space in the jaw for his permanent teeth. Cavities can be painful and the loss, or removal, of baby teeth too early can cause alignment issues later.


Will thumb sucking impact my child’s teeth?

Many children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after their permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, we will monitor the situation during routine exams, to prevent any long-term problems from the habit. Check out this article from the American Dental Association on thumb sucking and how to break the habit. 


When will my child start losing their baby teeth?

Permanent teeth begin to erupt at age 6 and continue until 21. Baby teeth may get loose and fall out before the permanent teeth erupt or may be pushed out by the new teeth. By the time your child reaches adulthood, they will have 32 permanent teeth.


Does my child need a mouthguard for youth sports?

Children’s sports involve contact so 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. Here is an article from the American Dental Association on mouthguards.