Q: What happens during my child’s first visit?
A: First, we explain everything we are going to do. We demonstrate the basics of a dental check-up and count the teeth. If your child is over age 3 we polish their teeth. We carefully examine the development of their mouth. This is important because dental problems often start early including crowding, appearance of plaque or tartar or an abnormality in the number of teeth. We want to protect them against such conditions as early childhood caries, gum disease, and prolonged thumb-sucking. We demonstrate the right way to care for your child’s teeth by showing home care techniques. We discuss your child’s nutrition and assess their risk of developing dental disease.
Q: Do I stay with my child during the visit?
A: You are an integral part of your child’s 1st visit and we need you to stay with your child during the initial exam. During the future appointments, we suggest you allow your child to accompany our staff through the treatment. We can usually establish a closer rapport with your child when you are not present. Our purpose is to gain your child’s confidence and overcome apprehension. However, if you choose, you may come with your child to the treatment room. For the safety and privacy of all patients, other children who are not being treated should remain in the reception room with a supervising adult.
Q: How are appointments scheduled?
A: The office attempts to schedule appointments at your convenience and when time is available. Preschool children should be seen in the morning because they are fresher and have a better attention span. School children with a lot of treatment to be done should be seen in the morning for the same reason. Dental appointments are an excused absence. Missing school can be kept to a minimum when regular dental care is continued.
Q: What about fluoride supplements?
A: Tucson is different than most larger cities in that there is not standardized fluoridation of our central water supply. Naturally occurring fluoride in our ground water is about one half of the optimum levels. Most types of home water filters still permit the passage of fluoride. We’ll base the decision on whether to supplement with fluoride based on your child’s current fluoride intake.
Q: How concerned should I be about my child’s thumb/finger sucking or dependence on the pacifier?
A: Thumb/finger sucking or pacifier usage is usually a comfort to the child. We balance the benefit of this comfort with the risks of an open bite (the front teeth not coming together). As long as the bone is forming normally, the time to stop finger sucking is when the child diminishes the habit on his or her own. Praising them for being so grown up encourages the stoppage. The breaking of the finger habit becomes very important by the time the front baby teeth begin to loosen at age 5. We can discuss strategies for the breaking of this habit.
Q: How do I guard against early childhood caries?
A: Whether breast-feeding or bottle feeding, minimize the chance sugars from feeding will be in the mouth during sleep. This is a good habit to develop early, and becomes critical once teeth are present. Sugars present after sleep tend to pool around the upper front teeth and can cause dental disease early in this area. The best way to accomplish this is to plan on 5-10 minutes of awake time after feeding for the baby. Wiping out the mouth with a wet washcloth will remove much of the sugars present. Saliva also has a strong washing action to protect our teeth. Once we are asleep, saliva flow drops dramatically. As an alternative, if the baby is drifting off to sleep, a few sucks on a bottle of water will dilute the sugar in the mouth to safer levels. When front teeth erupt, clean with a damp washcloth, damp gauze or a wet starter toothbrush.
Q: How do I teach my toddler to brush his/her teeth?
A: Once back teeth erupt, use a children’s toothbrush with a half-pea to a pea-sized amount of a children’s fluoride toothpaste. Though it is best to guard against swallowing the fluoride, this amount will do no harm. As soon as your child can grasp a small-headed children’s toothbrush, let them brush either before or after you do it for them. Any nylon, soft brush with rounded bristles will do. Save money here. The fancy rubberized handles with the curves and ergonomic grips look nice, but looking nice is all they do. You brushing for your child can occur over 20 seconds if you’re brushing effectively for them. When they brush, however, encourage 2 minutes.