Below are common questions and our answers about the best way to care for children's teeth.
When should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?
We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his or her first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.
Should my kids see a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist?
General dentists see and care for most kids and adults. Dr. Wicklund enjoys caring for kids and done so for nearly 20 years. With his team he is able to help most children. However, if your child has many teeth needing fillings or crowns or if sedation is advised for dental work, he may refer you to pediatric dentists in Poulsbo or East Bremerton. Many families like to have all family members be seen at one dental office. Therefore, we try to accomodate a parent and up to two children being seen at the same time.
What happens during my child's first visit to the dentist?
The first visit is usually short in duration. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and providing you 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 your child allows, we will introduce the air, water, suction and the rubber cup to polish teeth. Intra oral photographs will be taken and radiographs or x rays if needed.
How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?
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 pictures of the office and staff on the website if you desire. Let your child know that it's important to keep his or her teeth and gums healthy and dentists assist in doing so. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.
How often should my child visit the dentist?
We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child's oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.
Baby teeth aren't permanent. Why do they need special care?
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.
What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?
Even before your baby's first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his or her 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.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?
Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount, a rice grain sized amount, for each cleaning. Be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, because too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause permanent teeth that are developing to stain. You should brush your child's teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven. However, being involved as a parent beyond that age may be needed and is appreciated by all.
What causes cavities?
We all have many types of bacteria that live in our mouths. When certain bacteria come into contact with food left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually softening the enamel and creating holes in the teeth. Dental caries is the disease that occurs, though most people say the word 'cavities'.
How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Be sure that your child brushes his or her 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 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.
Does my child need dental sealants?
Sealants cover the pits and fissures in permanent teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, straight forward way to help your child avoid cavities on the biting surface of permanent teeth.
My child plays sports. How can I protect his or her teeth?
Even children's sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your child plays sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.
What should I do if my child sucks his or her thumb?
The large majority of 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 permanent teeth erupt, or if he or she sucks aggressively, please see the thumb sucking page on our website and know we can discuss preventive methods.
When should my child have dental X-rays taken?
We recommend taking X-rays when the doctor cannot see between teeth or if decay is seen. 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 six, and X-rays help us make sure your child's teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned.