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Parents

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Children 2-5 years of age

 

Let Me Ask You, Doc

  1. I am worried about my child's visit to get teeth fixed, is there anything I can do to help?
  2. By two years of age, are all the baby teeth present?
  3. What type of toothbrush do you recommend?
  4. How often do you recommend cleaning teeth?
  5. What can be done if my child doesn't like toothpaste?
  6. Why do my child's upper and lower teeth not come together?
  7. What do you suggest to get my child to stop sucking the thumb?
  8. What is the black stain on my child's teeth?
  9. Should children's first teeth be flossed?
  10. Is it O.K. that my family does not drink tap water?
  11. Is it necessary to take fluoride tablets for "strong teeth"?
  12. Does my child need x-rays every 6 months?
  13. Why are baby teeth filled?
  14. Why do the gums around my child's upper teeth bleed when brushing?
  15. Does it matter that my child had a baby tooth removed?
  16. If my dentist recommends fillings, should they be white or silver?
  17. What is a space maintainer?



This parent section is part of a book written by A/Prof. Richard P. Widmer and Professor Emeritus Gerald Z. Wright for the 20th Congress of the International Association of Dentistry Congress, Sydney, Australia. It was produced with support of the Colgate Palmolive Company. The material is not IAPD-endorsed nor does it reflect IAPD policies.


 

  1. I am worried about my child's visit to get teeth fixed, is there anything I can do to help?
    We would all like the dental visit to be a good experience. There is little point in saving the tooth and losing the child! Research tells us that anxious parents can pass their anxieties to their children. So, try and be relaxed and positive. Treat the visit as a routine part of life and health care. There are children's books and web sites that can be used to explain procedures. These can be helpful. You may also ask friends and other family members about dental practices that are oriented toward children or about dentists who limit their practice to children. Other children in the dental office and a dental team who look forward to treating children can be a big help to the child.
  2. By two years of age, are all the baby teeth present?
    That is a hard question without a dental examination. The answer likely is no! Baby teeth begin to arrive around 6 months of age. By age two, 16 teeth usually are present and the last of the molars begin to appear, but they do not finish erupting until around 30 months. The upper molars are usually the last to come in.
  3. What type of toothbrush do you recommend?
    Many types of toothbrushes are on the market. Some manufacturers specialize in the development of children's toothbrushes.
    Rather offering a brand name, we would like you to think about what you want in a toothbrush for a child 2 -5 years old. Look for a brush with a short and bulky handle as this is easier for the young child to manage. Bristles should be soft to avoid injury
  4. How often do you recommend cleaning teeth?
    One of the most important things about a tooth cleaning schedule is developing good habits. Brushing should be done at least twice daily - morning and at bedtime. Of course, if it is done more often that is good. Brushing teeth after meals or sweet snacks is very beneficial. Cleaning is best done by children and parents.
  5. What can be done if my child doesn't like toothpaste?
    In young children the most important thing is to remove the food debris from around the teeth and gums. To do this, toothpaste is not needed. Rather than argue with your child, brush with water. At a later time toothpaste may be more acceptable to your child.
    There are benefits to toothpaste. Many contain fluoride which make the tooth more resistant to decay. These toothpastes help to keep the fluoride level high in the outer tooth layer (enamel). Without toothpaste this benefit is lost. Toothpastes also neutralize acids in the mouth. And, of course, toothpastes help to have a pleasant breath.
  6. Why do my child's upper and lower teeth not come together?
    This is typical of what dentists call an "open bite". This situation can be seen in younger children (2-5 years) and in some older ones too. There are several reasons that this may occur. One of the most common causes of an open bite is a habit. Sucking fingers or thumbs, placing the tongue between the teeth and holding objects between the teeth all are habits that can cause this problem. It also can be due to a growth problem but this is rare.
    There are choices for dealing with open bites due to habits. The condition can be left without treatment. There are several ways that a habit can be eliminated. When this is done, very often the teeth move back into a better position without further treatment. Your dental caregiver should be consulted if your child has any of these habits.
  7. What do you suggest to get my child to stop sucking the thumb?
    At 2 to 5 years age we are not too aggressive. We suggest that an occasional reminder to remove the finger is reasonable. Not too often, however. Be positive. Encourage and reward the child for not sucking. Praise the child for their grown up behaviour.
    Parents sometimes want to tackle the habit problem too early. About half of the children who suck a digit, give the habit up spontaneously at about age three. Many of those who persist will drop the habit about age 6. Loose front teeth at that age and peer pressure will cause many children at this age to give up the habit.
  8. What is the black stain on my child's teeth?
    Black stain is a result of a combination of many things in the mouth related to saliva, bacteria and foods. Black stain on the surfaces of teeth is associated with very low decay rates. No one seems to understand this association and it has been a topic of research.
    Other kinds of stains also appear on the outside of teeth. Green, orange and gray stains are the most common. These stains may indicate poor hygiene and under them early signs of tooth decay may be found.
  9. Should children's first teeth be flossed?
    Dental flossing cleans between the teeth in areas that the toothbrush cannot reach. For some children, it is important addition to the cleaning routine.
    Baby or first teeth tend to be spaced or non spaced. If spaced, they do not require flossing as the toothbrush can reach the areas between teeth. If they are not spaced, children's first teeth can be flossed especially between the molars. At this age children cannot be expected to floss themselves. Parents need to help them. We suggest that you speak to your dental health care giver -dentist, therapist or hygienist- for advice as to the need to floss.
  10. Is it O.K. that my family does not drink tap water?
    The question simply cannot be answered with a straight "yes or no". For various reasons, people prefer not to drink tap water today. That is unfortunate. The fluoride that is placed in tap water has been shown to reduce children's dental decay by up to 50%. By not drinking tap water your family is not receiving this inexpensive and terrific preventive tool.
    If you choose not to drink tap water, a fluoride supplement can be taken. This is discussed in some detail in part 3 of this booklet under the heading of bottled water.
  11. Is it necessary to take fluoride tablets for "strong teeth"?
    Fluoride tablets should only be taken on recommendation or prescription from a health care provider.
    Teeth containing fluoride are more resistant to tooth decay. That is why many people say that they make teeth stronger. If there is little or no fluoride in drinking water, dentists usually recommend fluoride tablets to help "strengthen" the teeth. You may want to consult the section on fluoride tablets in the third part of the booklet for more details.
  12. Does my child need x-rays every 6 months?
    A child's history of tooth decay is a main factor in any decision. If a child requires filling of teeth repeatedly, the dentist may recommend x-rays every 6 months.
    There are other factors that may influence the decision to take x-rays. If a child has a lot of fillings, the dentist may need to x-ray to be certain there is no decay under fillings. If the teeth are close together or in a twisted arrangement, the dentist may feel that the teeth cannot be examined thoroughly without an x-ray. Family history may be an influence, especially if other children in the family have many cavities. Most dentists today take x-rays "on prescription". That means they examine a mouth and the child's history, then make the x-ray decision for the individual patient.
  13. Why are baby teeth filled?
    When they have cavities (decay), baby teeth are filled. Fillings are placed in the teeth to repair them until they fall out normally. If teeth are removed early, space may be lost in the dental arch. The end result is that the second teeth may become crowded in a mouth that might have had a good, straight set of teeth.
    Another reason that baby teeth are filled is to prevent dental abscess and facial infection. Teeth left to decay can lead to unnecessary health problems.
    A third reason that baby teeth are filled is to reduce the bacteria (germs) in the mouth that cause tooth decay. These bacteria multiply in areas of decay. Eventually, the decay spreads to other teeth and even to the permanent teeth when they come into the mouth.
  14. Why do the gums around my child's upper teeth bleed when brushing?
    There are many possible reasons for gums bleeding when brushing. Since the question deals with only the upper teeth, a common cause may be dehydration or drying of the mouth. This is usually caused by mouth breathing.
    There are a number of reasons for mouth breathing including. These include anything that causes difficulty in breathing through the nose such as allergies, large adenoids or tonsils. Some children have a short upper lip and this prevents the lips closing at night. Orthodontic correction may be needed to straighten the teeth so that the lips can close comfortably.
    The mouth has to be moist. To keep the gums and lips lubricated at night, we recommend a light coating of Vaseline over them.
    Bleeding gums are not healthy. They must be cleaned regularly. Some parents and children avoid brushing the gums because they bleed. This is a mistake. It may take 7-10 days of regular, thorough brushing to see an improvement with less bleeding. Other causes have been suggested in cases of bleeding gums. Some of these are related to medical conditions. Therefore, if there is no improvement in the gums after regular brushing, consult your dentist.
  15. Does it matter that my child had a baby tooth removed?
    Yes, it may be a problem later on especially if back teeth are lost early. It usually is not a problem for the front teeth. Baby or primary teeth are a specific size and occupy a certain amount of space in the jaw. If baby tooth is removed, the nearby teeth may drift into the space that has been created by the lost tooth. This means there will be insufficient space in the future for the secondary or permanent tooth that will replace the lost tooth. The end result is that the way the teeth bite together may be affected.
    There are other factors that may influence the decision to take x-rays. If a child has a lot of fillings, the dentist may need to x-ray to be certain there is no decay under fillings. If the teeth are close together or in a twisted arrangement, the dentist may feel that the teeth cannot be examined thoroughly without an x-ray. Family history may be an influence, especially if other children in the family have many cavities. Most dentists today take x-rays "on prescription". That means they examine a mouth and the child's history, then make the x-ray decision for the individual patient.
  16. If my dentist recommends fillings, should they be white or silver?
    Repairing teeth is a difficult job. The type of filling depends upon many things such as the size and location of the cavity, the age of the child and above all, the ability of the child to cooperate for the procedures. Some dentists prefer one type of filling material over another and some of these factors will influence their decisions. Some dentists also use pre-made silver crowns. These are used when there is a lot of tooth damage. Talk to your clinician about the choices.
  17. What is a space maintainer?
    A space maintainer is an appliance that protects space in the jaw that is created when a tooth is lost prematurely. There are two general types of space maintainers. Fixed space maintainers are held to the teeth by a dental cement. Removable space maintainers can be taken out and cleaned. The design of a space maintainer depends upon the teeth missing, the teeth present and the child's tooth development.










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