Preventative Dentistry

1: When should my child first visit the dentist?

2: What about brushing my children’s teeth? 

3: What toothpaste is best for my child?

4: What about flossing my child’s teeth?

5: Is it okay for my child to use mouthrinses?

6: How often will my child have to come back for regular check ups?

Q: When should my child first visit the dentist?

A: At Riverbend Pediatric Dentistry we follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Academy of Pediatrics and advise parents to bring their children in for their first dental visit not later than their 1st birthday (12 months of age).  Our goal is to create a dental home for the child throughout their young years, providing a place where parents can bring their children for regular well child dental check-ups, restorative dentistry (filling) appointments if needed, and also serve as a resource if there are any concerns with the child’s dental development or a traumatic dental event is experienced.

Home Care for Your Child 

Q: What about brushing my children’s teeth? 

Brushing your child’s teeth on a regular basis is the best way to help prevent cavities from developing.  Many young children may be resistant to letting their parents brush their teeth, but it is better to have the child be a little fussy while brushing than to have a mouth full of cavities. 

Parents are encouraged to brush their children’s teeth until the child is 7-8 years old.  Before then, the patient does not have the manual dexterity (coordination) to properly manipulate the toothbrush and thoroughly clean their teeth.  It is alright to let the patient brush first, but parents must follow up on a regular basis to ensure that proper oral hygiene is maintained.

Once the child reaches an age where they are able to brush their teeth on their own, parents must continue to supervise their children to ensure that proper oral hygiene is maintained and the patient is not just “getting the toothbrush wet”.  It is not uncommon for parents of older children to still have to brush their children’s teeth because the child is not doing an adequate job.

Q: What toothpaste is best for my child?

A: Studies have shown that fluoride use is effective in reducing the chances of patients getting cavities in all age groups, especially those that have certain factors that place them in the high risk category.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry now recommends that children of all ages can use a fluoride toothpaste to help protect your child from getting cavities.

This photograph taken from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s Clinical Guideline on Fluoride Therapy shows the proper amount of toothpaste that should be used when brushing your children’s teeth. 

Left: A “smear” of toothpaste is all that is needed for children younger than 2 years of age.  This small amount will ensure that your child receives the topical benefits from using a fluoride toothpaste without worrying that they may get sick from swallowing too much toothpaste.

Right: A “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste is recommended for children between the ages of 2-5 year old.  Remember that your child still does not have the hand coordination at this time to adequately clean their own teeth.  Parental supervision and help with brushing is key to getting the areas that your child may miss on their own.

Q: What about flossing my child’s teeth?

A: Flossing your child’s teeth become important when two teeth that are next to one another are in contact.  When this is the case, it becomes impossible for a toothbrush to reach these areas during daily brushing.  Flossing on a regular basis ensure that the teeth are adequately cleaned and helps to prevent against cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.

The type of floss used is not as important as the act of flossing itself.  Many parents find that using “floss picks” are convenient for them because it is easier to manipulate this instrument in the child’s small mouth.

Q: Is it okay for my child to use mouthrinses?

A: Mouthrinses can be a good adjunct to maintaining good oral health.  Many provide ingredients that aid in keeping both the teeth and gums healthy.  However, using mouthrinse should not take place of daily brushing and flossing.  Children can start using mouthrinses when they can properly spit, and not swallow, the mouthrinse that they are using.  Ingestion of too much fluoride can make your children sick and could possibly affect the development of the permanent teeth. 

Q: How often will my child have to come back for regular check ups?

A: For most patients, a maintaining a regular 6 month interval between dental check ups is adequate.  At each appointment we will evaluate each individual and provide necessary care based on their risk for cavities.  For example, a child at low risk for developing cavities may only require radiographs (dental x-rays) to be taken once every 12-18 months, while a child at a higher risk may require radiographs to be taken once every 6 months until it is determined that they no longer fall into the “high risk” category.

Children that are determined to be at high risk for caries may be required to return at an increased frequency (i.e. recall visits every 3-4 months) to adequately treat and prevent the cavity process.