Q: How often do x-rays need to be taken on my child?
A: How often x-rays are taken depends on the individual needs of each patient. Because x-rays provide information that can’t be seen from a visual exam alone, they allow the dentist to track development as well as detect tooth decay. Generally speaking, we will attempt a child’s first x-rays around the age of 3-5 years. X-rays tell us when cavities are starting to form in between the teeth before we can see them on a visual exam, giving the Pediatric Dentist the opportunity to be one step ahead! X-rays are typically taken every 1-2 years, depending on your child’s previous cavity history.
Q: Is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) safe?
A: Yes. Nitrous oxide is a colorless and odorless gas which is inhaled through a rubber breathing mask that sits over the patient’s nose. It is often the perfect adjunct to other forms of pain relief and anxiety management, which is why is it commonly used in the dental office. When on nitrous oxide, the patient is still awake and responds normally to conversation. All vital signs remain stable and there is no significant risk of losing protective reflexes (like the ability to cough). The amount of nitrous oxide delivered to each patient can easily be adjusted by the dentist and can be quickly turned on and off. Once turned off, the patient is allowed to breathe 100% oxygen, and the nitrous oxide is flushed out of the patient’s lungs almost instantaneously.
Q: What is so important about baby teeth anyway if they just end up falling out?
A: Yes, baby teeth do ultimately end up falling out, but they serve many important functions until they are lost. First and foremost, baby teeth are important for eating and chewing. In addition to making any smile a happy and beautiful one, baby teeth also help in speech development. Perhaps most important of all, baby teeth reserve space for the developing permanent teeth growing below the surface and help guide them into the proper place for eruption. If baby teeth are lost before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt, the teeth that are already in the mouth can drift into a different spot and the permanent teeth that will eventually grow in can get off track and wind up in the wrong spot or stuck. This can lead to additional orthodontic work (often braces) later on for your child.
Q: What type of toothpaste should my child be using when brushing his or her teeth?
A: There are so many types, flavors, and brands of toothpaste out there, it’s important to find one that your child actually likes. We encourage all patients to use toothpaste that has fluoride in it to help strengthen the enamel. Because we are expecting most young children to swallow the toothpaste, the amount of toothpaste you are using is actually the most important part. For children less than 2 years, we recommend just a “smear” of toothpaste, equal to the size of a grain of rice. For children 2-5 years, we recommend a “pea-sized” amount. Once children are able to spit at the sink, you can bump up the amount of toothpaste applied.
Q: Should I be flossing my child’s teeth?
A: If your child’s teeth are touching (meaning no gaps in between their teeth), then yes, you should be flossing. Flossing helps remove food debris, eliminates cavity-causing plaque, and helps protect gums from gingivitis and gum disease. We recommend trying both the hand-held flossers with the little plastic handles and traditional floss to see what works best in your hands.
Q: My child grinds his teeth at night. It’s so bad, I can hear it from the other room. What do I do?
A: Don’t worry. Grinding is extremely common in children and has few negative effects on a growing child. The reasons why children grind varies from person to person. The good news is most children outgrow this grinding phase as they get more permanent teeth. If you’re extremely worried, talk to us about it at your next visit, and we will check to make sure there have been no detrimental effects that have occurred to your child’s teeth or jaw joint.
Q: My child is extremely active in sports. Should she wear a mouth guard?
A: Injuries happen. And that includes injuries to the face and mouth. Many of those injuries (and associated tooth pain) can be prevented however with a properly fitted mouth guard, as mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, as well as preventing injuries to the lips, tongue, or jaw. The primary types of mouth guards are store-bought “boil and bite” mouth guards or custom mouth guards made in the dental office.
Q: Why is fluoride important for my child’s teeth?
A: Fluoride is a naturally occurring element and has been shown to help to reduce cavities when used at the appropriate dose. When added to the drinking water, fluoride is the most beneficial and inexpensive way to reduce the occurrence of tooth decay across the entire population. Here in Portland, the city drinking water is not fluoridated, so children need to receive fluoride from other sources. These sources include fluoride supplements prescribed by your Pediatrician or Pediatric Dentist, toothpaste, twice-per-year professional fluoride applications by your Pediatric Dentist, or even infant formula. We will help you calculate how much fluoride your child receives and will help provide the appropriate supplemental resources as necessary.
Fluoride is also beneficial in helping prevent the progression of small cavities, called “incipient lesions.” Cavities begin forming on the outside later of enamel and work their way internally until they reach the underlying dentin layer or the nerve of the tooth. Small cavities that are limited to the outer enamel layer can often be “watched” by the dentist and often don’t require fillings until they have spread to the underlying dentin layer. If fluoride is used in a methodical way, in combination with improved flossing and brushing, there is a chance that those small itty bitty cavities may never have to be treated with a filling at all! Now isn’t that music to everyone’s ears?
Q: How often should my child be seen for cleanings and checkups?
A: We recommend that all children be seen every 6 months for dental cleanings and checkups by a Pediatric Dentist. With visits every 6 months, we can watch and monitor your child’s dental growth and development. These frequent visits also allow your child to become more and more comfortable and with our clinic and staff. This familiarity helps curb anxiety for both the parent and the child, as your child will see familiar faces each time they visit our office.
Q: When will my child get her first baby tooth? When will she start losing baby teeth and growing permanent teeth?
A: The average age for an infant to get his or her first tooth is generally around 6 months. These teeth are usually the lower front two teeth. Once again, these bottom front baby teeth are also generally the first teeth that are lost. We usually expect to start seeing the eruption of permanent teeth around age 6-7, but this varies wildly with each patient.
Q: Are you a Pediatric Dentist near me?
A: Our office is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Portland near Pioneer Courthouse Square, Powell’s Books and the infamous food carts.