Common questions about pediatric dentistry

Do you have a question about your child’s orthodontic treatment? Don’t worry, you’re not the only parent. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked from parents. And if you have any more, feel free to ask the friendly team here at Styrt Orthodontics. They’ll be happy to put your mind at ease and reassure you your child is in good hands.

What causes orthodontic problems in children?

Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb sucking habits.

How will early prevention benefit my child?

Most children have lost all their baby teeth by the age of 13 and by the end of their teen years the jaw bones will harden and no longer continue to grow. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction and the possibility of oral surgery. As a child, receiving early orthodontic treatment can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.

When should I bring my child in for a consultation?

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take towards caring for your child's smile.

When do children get their adult teeth?

Your child's primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (32, teeth including wisdom teeth).

What is two-phase treatment?

Two-phase treatment, also known as early treatment, typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase II will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future. 

When should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?

We recommend you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child is seen by six months after his first tooth erupts or when he is one year old, whichever is first. 

How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

All dental specialists (pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, and others) begin by completing dental school and continue their education with several years of additional, specialized training. During training in the field of pediatric dentistry, your doctor gained extensive knowledge and experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists enjoy working with children and bring to each patient expertise in childhood development and behavior. 

At Styrt Orthodontics, our practice is geared towards young visitors. Our staff, as well as our clinic design, decorations, and activities all work together to provide a friendly and comfortable environment for children.

What happens during my child's first visit to the dentist?

The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will check your child's teeth for placement and health, and look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a bit of cleaning. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child's teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips. 

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 your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child pictures of the practice and staff on the website. Let your child know it's important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help him do that. Remember, your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excel at putting children at ease during treatment.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

We recommend scheduling check-ups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child's oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.

Why do baby teeth 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 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. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore. 

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 for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, as too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. 

Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he'll need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth 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.

What causes cavities?

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Make sure your child brushes his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can't. Check with your pediatric 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 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 teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.

My child plays sports. How can I protect his teeth?

Even children's sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other 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 thumb?

A 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 teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or he sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.

When should my child have dental x-rays taken?

We recommend taking x-rays around the age of two or three. The first set consists of simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth, which familiarizes your child with the process. Once the baby teeth in back are touching each other, 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 jaws are healthy and properly aligned. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having x-rays taken at an earlier age.

Book your child in for a free consultation with our child-friendly team at Styrt Orthodontics to create the foundations of a life-long smile.

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Treatment for kids

Melissa N. Mother of a child age 10

I have been very impressed with the entire office. You do a super job of making us feel you care. Thank you. We love to refer your office to our friends and family.