Pediatric dentistry includes treating children ages 1-18. Dr. Hoffman completed a pediatric clerkship in dental school and is very comfortable treating children. The primary goal in treating children at Silver Maple Dental is preventing decay and helping children develope healthy habits through education.
When Should I Bring My Children to the Dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist should be when teeth first erupt or by age 1, whichever occurs first. By age 3, most children will have all of their baby or primary teeth.Dr. Hoffman will closely examine your child’s mouth, teeth, and gums. During your child’s first visit, she will review home care instructions, diet, and answer questions parents may have regarding the child’s oral health. If she is concerned about decay, she may ask for x-rays to be taken. Dr. Hoffman recommends bitewing x-rays be taken if the teeth are touching and not all surfaces can be properly visualized and examined. She also recommends x-rays be taken when the dentition is transitioning from baby teeth to permanent teeth (the transitional/mixed dentition phase). Dr. Hoffman will look for adverse habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting, and grinding of the teeth. She will evaluate the child’s bite and any risk for sleep apnea, which is highly correlated with grinding, narrow arches, crossbites. She may ask about bed wetting since this may correlate with early signs of sleep apnea. Our office strongly encourages regular dental visits for cleanings, fluoride treatments, and sealants.
How Do I Prepare My Children for Their First Visit?
- Take your children to the office prior to their appointment to familiarize them with the office environment.
- Read books about going to the dentist.
- Review with your children what the dentist will be doing at the visit.
- Speak positively regarding your own dental experiences.
- If your child has an older sibling who is comfortable at the dental office, it is very helpful to have the younger child observe the older child getting his or her teeth cleaned by the hygienist and examined by the dentist.
Oral Hygiene at Home:
It is extremely important for children to get used to a routine with tooth brushing at an early age. Dental research strongly supports children having their teeth brushed twice a day for two minutes each time. Parents should continue to brush their child’s teeth until the child demonstrates the dexterity to tie their own shoes. We recommend flossing any teeth that are touching, as cavities can develop. Children should floss all teeth once the adult teeth begin to erupt, which can occur as early as age 4, but usually happens around age 6.
There is a strong causal relationship between diet and cavities (see the healthy snack sheet in the information section). Cavities are frequently due to a diet high in sugary foods and a lack of effective brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Every time someone eats, an acidic reaction occurs as the bacteria in the mouth eat the sugars. This reaction is what leads to cavities and lasts 20-30 minutes with each bite of food. To prevent cavities it is more important to limit the number of times you eat in a day (fewer snacks) and less important to focus on the amount. For example, while eating a bag of M&M’s is not recommended, it is better to eat the whole bag with a meal than eating 1 M&M every 30 minutes, which leads to the highest risk for decay.
Tips for Cavity Prevention:
- Limit the frequency of meals and snacks.
- Encourage brushing, flossing, and rinsing (Sesame’s Street’s “Ready, Set, Brush” book is a wonderful education tool).
- Watch what your child drinks—no more than 4 oz of juice a day, if at all.
- Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
- Make any treats part of the meal.
- Choose nutritious snacks.
Timing of Tooth Eruption:
The first baby teeth that will erupt in the mouth are the two lower front ones. They can erupt anywhere from 4-8 months, with an average eruption age of 6 months. The next teeth to appear will be the four upper front teeth. After this, the teeth will erupt periodically in pairs and usually in a symmetrical way (the two sides of the mouth mirror each other). All 20 baby teeth will typically be in the mouth by age 2.5. Around age 5-6 years old the adult first four molars and the bottom front teeth will be replaced by permanent adult teeth.
It is important to remember that baby teeth are extremely important for maintaining space for the adult teeth as well as for speech, biting, and appearance. Please take time to care for them and reach out to us with any questions you have along the way.
For more information regarding home care for children, please use the link below:
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: www.aapd.org
For information regarding recommended radiographs by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), please read the following article: https://www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/policies_guidelines/bp_radiographs.pdf