Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

FAQ’s Dental Hygiene

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

As soon as the first tooth appears!  Baby teeth are vulnerable to tooth decay from their very first appearance, on average between the ages of six and 12 months.   Consider this — almost 25% of kids ages 2 to 4 in the United States have cavities! 

How should I care for my child’s teeth?

Using a soft bristle brush, brush two times a day – once in the morning and once at night.  Your child should not drink or eat anything after his/her night time brushing.  Speak to your dentist about the introduction of fluoride toothpaste and about your child’s need to floss.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.   Generally speaking, children need their front baby teeth until 6-8 years old and their back baby teeth (e.g., molars) until 10-13 years old.  Children need these “baby” teeth for quite some time so good dental hygiene and routine dental visits are necessary.

FAQ’s Diet & Cavity Prevention

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

At-will breastfeeding should be avoided after the first baby tooth appears and other sources of nutrition have been introduced.  Also avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle.  These habits put your child at increased risk for Early Childhood Caries (also known as Baby Bottle Decay).  When a child is sleeping, any liquid that remains in the mouth can support the bacteria that produce acid and harm the teeth. A simple pacifier or bottle of water is fine.  Children should not eat or drink after brushing at night.   If your child has teeth and is still falling asleep with a bottle or on the breast, please visit your pediatric dentist to evaluate if your child has any signs of decay.

How do I know if my child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride in their diet?

New York City water is optimally fluoridated.  However, if you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, your child may need some sort of supplement in their diet. We can help you determine how much of a supplement your child needs based upon their age and your community’s water fluoride level.

What is an appropriate diet for my child?

It is important that your child receives a naturally-balanced diet that includes the important nutrients your child needs in order to grow. A daily diet should includes the major food groups of meat/fish/eggs, vegetable/fruit, bread/cereal as well as milk and other dairy products.  Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay.  People who snack frequently or sip their drinks (other than water) throughout the day are at higher risk for cavities so limiting the number of times you snack or drink can help prevent decay.

Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?

Absolutely. It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. In addition, this will positively affect healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates may increase the probability of tooth decay.

How do I create a diet that is safe for my child’s teeth?

As we stated earlier, initiate a balanced diet. Analyze the frequency in which starch- based foods are eaten. These types of foods include breads, pasta, potato chips, etc. In addition, sugar is found in more than just candy. All types of sugars can promote tooth decay. For example, most milk-based products contain sugar. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a favorite for bagged lunches. Unfortunately, it includes sugar not only in the jelly, but also in the peanut butter. For less sugar and more flavor and nutrients, try replacing jelly with fresh fruit slices (apples, pears, or bananas) or chopped dried fruit. Go easy on the peanut butter, though — it’s high in fat. Choose the “no-salt-added” kind for less sodium.

Should I eliminate all sugar and starch from my child’s diet?

Of course not. Many of these foods are incredibly important to your child’s health. Starch- based foods are much safer to eat for teeth when eaten with an entire meal. Foods that stick to teeth are also more difficult to wash away by water, saliva, or other drinks so limit your child’s intake of sticky foods. It’s important that you talk to our staff about your child’s diet and to maintain proper dental care.

FAQ’s Tooth Loss

What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?

If a baby tooth is knocked out, we do not re-implant them.  However, contact our office as soon as possible to ensure that no other damage occurred.

What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?

If your child has passed out, seems disoriented, is nauseous or does not remember the injury, go to the emergency department to evaluate for concussion.  If there is time, find the tooth and store in cold milk (do not put ice in the milk) or saliva and see dentist asap after your child has been cleared for head trauma.

Time is crucial in this case!  Every minute counts so immediate re-implantation will give your child’s tooth the best long term prognosis.  Find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket.  If there is debris on the tooth, rinse under cold water for a few seconds and then re-implant.  Do NOT scrub the tooth!  After you re-implant the tooth, have your child bite on gauze and see a dentist asap. 

If you cannot re-implant the tooth at the scene of the accident, immediately put the tooth in a cup of milk or saliva (the parent or child’s saliva will suffice) because we need to prevent the tooth from getting dry.  Again, every minute matters so get that tooth in milk or saliva asap and take your child and the tooth immediately to the pediatric dentist. 

What should I do if my child’s tooth is fractured or chipped?

Contact our office as soon as possible. Assuming you can find the broken tooth fragment, store it in water or wrap it in wet gauze and bring to the dentist.  It may be possible to bond the broken tooth fragment back onto the tooth.  However, if you cannot find missing tooth piece, that is ok too.

What do I do if my child has a toothache?

Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. To help comfort your child, rinse out the mouth with cold water and apply a compress.

How can we prevent dental injuries?

Sport related dental injuries can be reduced or prevented by wearing mouth guards. Child proofing your home can help reduce injuries at home. 

FAQ’s Sealants

What are sealants?

Dental sealants are made of a clear or tooth-colored plastic material and  are applied to the grooves of teeth to prevent cavities.   

How do sealants work?

In many cases, it is nearly impossible for children to clean the tiny grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces of their teeth, particularly, their molars.  Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that would otherwise get caught in the teeth and cause cavities. Sealant application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.  However, sealants do not prevent cavities in between the teeth so brushing and flossing are still necessary.

What is the life expectancy of tooth sealants?

The longevity of sealants varies. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, however, sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your child’s sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary.  If your child grinds or has habits such as nail biting or chewing on ice, the sealants may need more frequent application.

Which teeth should be sealed?

Any tooth that shows characteristics of developing decay should be sealed. The most common teeth for a dentist to seal are a child’s permanent molars (the back teeth). The recommendation for sealants should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What is the procedure for placing sealants?

Generally the procedure takes just one visit. Placing dental sealants can be a very easy process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned, and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth where it is hardened with a special blue light. All normal activities can occur directly after the appointment.

How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?

It is just as important for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay.

How much does it cost?

This treatment is quite affordable, especially when you consider the value of protection against tooth decay. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants for children. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.

FAQ’s Mouth Guards

What is a mouth guard?

A mouth guard is comprised of soft plastic.  Your dentist can make your child a custom mouthguard that helps protect your child’s smile.  Boil-and-bite mouthguards are available at most sporting good stores and tend to be cheaper.  However, these ready-made mouthguards do not fit as well as custom mouthguards so it can be harder to speak or breath.  The less comfortable the mouthguard, the less likely it will be worn regularly. 

Why is a mouth guard important?

A mouth guard protects the teeth from possible sport injuries. It can also help eliminate or reduce the injury to lips, cheeks, tongue, and/or jaw bone. 

When should my child wear a mouth guard?

It should be worn during any sport-based activity where there is risk of head, face, or neck injury. Such sports include hockey, soccer, karate, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, skating, skateboarding, as well as many other sports. Most oral injuries occur when children play basketball, baseball, and soccer.

Children with protruding jaws and receding chins are at higher risk for mouth injury.

How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?

Choose a mouth guard that your child feels is comfortable. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech to any great degree, it is probably not appropriate for your child.

There are many options in mouth guards. Most guards are found in athletic stores. These vary in comfort, protection as well as cost. The least expensive tend to be the least effective in preventing oral injuries. Customized mouth guards can be provided through our practice. They may be a bit more expensive, but they are much more comfortable so tend to be worn more regularly.