Common Questions From Parents

What age should I bring my child to see a pediatric dentist?

A: Your child’s first pediatric dental visit should be no later than age one, or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recognize that early examination offers a better opportunity of preventing dental problems.  Healthy baby teeth allow a child to chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence.  Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

Why should I bring my child to the pediatric dentist when they are so young?

A: Tooth decay can begin at an early age.  For this reason, we recommend that a parent bring their child to see the pediatric dentist to begin a comprehensive prevention program.  A common dental problem in infants and toddlers is Early Childhood Caries (ECC) or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.  These cavities are commonly seen on the top front baby teeth, but are also seen on the back teeth as well.  The baby teeth often contain yellow, black or brown holes that may cause toothaches and make it hard for a child to eat. 

Why are baby (primary) teeth important?

A: Your child’s teeth are important for chewing food, speaking properly and promoting a good self-image with a nice smile.  Also, if baby teeth are lost early due to cavities, the adult teeth can come in crowded or out of position.  That is, primary teeth help hold space for the developing permanent teeth.  Cavities are often painful for children and can lead to sleepless nights for both children and their parents.  Studies have shown that children with severe tooth decay miss more days of school and have a more difficult time concentrating in school.  Excellent early dental care aids the developing oral cavity in preparation for the emergence of the permanent teeth.

What causes Early Childhood Caries or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

A: Your child is at risk of cavities when they fall asleep with a bottle filled with juice (or sweetened drinks), milk or formula.  At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first baby tooth begins to erupt.  Drinking juice and flavored milk from a bottle should be avoided.  When juice is offered, it should be in a cup at mealtime. 

How can I prevent cavities in my child’s teeth?

A: Encourage your child to start drinking from a cup at 6 months of age and wean them from the bottle by their first birthday.  Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle.  If your child must have a bottle to sleep, fill the bottle with plain water.  Brush your child’s teeth after each meal--especially before bedtime.  Use a washcloth, gauze pad or soft-bristled toothbrush with very little toothpaste.  Bring your child to a pediatric dentist twice each year to ensure that your child’s dental health is optimal.  These simple efforts will be the key to your child’s healthy smile!

Do you have any recommendations on teething?

A:  From the eruption of your child’s first tooth until age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt.  Many children prefer a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold, damp washcloth.  Some parents report that teething tablets are effective.

When should I begin cleaning my baby’s teeth?

A:  The day your child starts feeding!  Beginning at birth, start to clean your baby’s gums with a soft, damp washcloth or an infant toothbrush using water after each feeding.  As your child gets older, they will want to test their independence and brush their own teeth.  We encourage parents to help brush their child’s teeth until a child is able to tie their own shoes.
It is important that your child begins to develop their manual dexterity skills, however, a parent must always brush afterwards to ensure that each tooth surface is being properly cleaned.

When should I stop bottle-feeding my child?

A:  Offer your child a cup beginning at age 6 months and wean him/her from the bottle by age 1.

Are my child’s thumb and finger sucking habits bad for the teeth?

A:  Thumb and finger sucking is perfectly normal for infants.  Most children stop sucking on their own typically between the ages of two or three years old.  In most cases, no harm is done to the teeth, however, children who suck on fingers of objects such as pacifiers over a long period of time tend to pull their upper front teeth outward towards their top lip.  This can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems.  The result can cause the adult teeth to erupt improperly that may later require orthodontic correction.

Is it normal for my child to grind their teeth?

A:  Yes!  Grinding or bruxism usually occurs at night and may result in mild to moderate wear of front and back primary (baby) teeth.  Teeth grinding is very common in young children with baby teeth and often decreases by age 7-8 years old.  Children rarely require treatment such as mouthguards.  As the final permanent teeth erupt by age 12 or 13, most teeth grinding tends to stop.  The dentist will monitor your child’s worn teeth and recommend any treatment if needed.


   Serving the Communities of Sanford, Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, Spring Lake, Lillington, Cameron, and Dunn