Although it’s largely preventable, tooth decay remains one of the most common childhood diseases, affecting 42 percent of children aged between 2 and 11.
A routine of good dental hygiene and regular pediatric dental checkups can make a huge difference in avoiding this common problem. But, as your child gets older, it’s important to keep yourself informed to ensure their optimal dental development.
That means asking your kid’s dentist for tips, advice, and recommendations to benefit as much possible from their years of special training in caring for children’s teeth.
Here are five key questions to ask your child’s pediatric dentist before middle school.
1. Do You Have Any Tips on Flossing My Child’s Teeth?
Your children should be able to brush their own teeth (with supervision) from around age seven. Flossing, however, takes some skill so you will have to do this for them until they get a little older. As such, it’s a good idea to ask your pediatric dentist for flossing tips.
The ADA recommends flossing your children’s teeth once a day. A good tactic is to lay your child across your lap so it’s easier to see into their mouth and get the job done right.
An alternative to regular flossing is to use a water flosser. This is a device which shoots a thin jet of water between teeth and along the gum line to remove plaque and food debris.
Studies into water flossers show them to be an effective alternative to regular dental floss. There’s also less chance of being heavy-handed or causing damage to oral tissue. And, if your child has braces, a water flosser makes the task of flossing around them much easier.
2. How Much Fluoride Does My Child Need?
Fluoride levels can be a big concern for parents worried about their children’s teeth. If the water in your area isn’t fluoridated, or the fluoride levels aren’t high enough, your children’s teeth may not receive adequate protection as they form.
Research indicates that optimal fluoride levels in our water are around one part per million. While too much fluoride causes fluorosis, low levels of fluoride are linked to higher incidences of tooth decay and cavities.
Access to fluoridated water varies a lot across the US. If you live in an area without fluoridated water, ask your pediatric dentist how you can compensate for this. They may give your child a prescription for fluoride supplements or advise you to buy a specific toothpaste.
3. Is My Child Losing Their Baby Teeth at a Healthy Rate?
For children, a missing tooth in their smile means a visit from the tooth fairy. But parents often worry about when their child should lose their baby teeth. To put your mind at ease, ask your pediatric dentist about this.
Children usually start losing their teeth when they’re between five and seven years old. But it’s also normal for children as young as four to lose a tooth or two. Often, children whose teeth come through early in babyhood will also lose them earlier.
The first baby teeth to go tend to be the bottom front ones and then the top front teeth. After that, your child should lose the two on either side of the middle on the bottom, then either side on the top. Most of the time it’s only these eight teeth that fall out by age seven or eight. The rest of your child’s teeth don’t fall out until they’re between 10 and 12 years old.
A missing tooth that doesn’t follow this pattern could be as a result of some kind of trauma or sporting injury. If your child plays a lot of sport, ask your dentist about fitting your child with a mouth guard to prevent them from losing more teeth before they’re ready to come out.
Not losing baby teeth can also be problematic as your child’s adult teeth won’t be able to come through. If your child hasn’t lost their first tooth by age seven, your pediatric dentist may need to take some X-rays.
4. What Should My Child Eat and Drink for Healthy Teeth?
This is a great question for your pediatric dentist and one that not enough parents ask.
While regular brushing and flossing can help your child avoid having bad teeth, the foods and drinks they eat also play a huge role in their dental health.
In terms of drinks, it’s best not to give your child soda or juice. If they do have juice, make it no more than one small cup per day. The rest of the time they should drink water and up to two glasses of milk per day.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best snacks for children’s teeth, especially crunchy produce such as apples, peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. These help to scrub the teeth and remove bacteria. Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk also make good snacks as they help strengthen tooth enamel.
5. Would You Recommend Sealants?
A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating painted on the top surface of molars. Sealants work to protect cavity-causing food and bacteria from entering the grooves of the tooth.
The best time to get sealants is as soon as your child’s molars come through, which is around age six and then again when they’re about 12 years old. It’s a painless procedure and sealants can last for years so it’s worth finding out whether your pediatric dentist would recommend them for your child.
Questions to Ask Your Kid’s Dentist
Your kid’s dentist isn’t just someone who checks your child’s teeth every six months. They’re also a valuable source of information which can help you provide optimal dental care for your child every day of the year.
And, by asking your child’s pediatric dentist these kinds of important questions, you’ll know what to look out for and whether your child’s dental development is proceeding well or not.
To come and see us at Colleyville Children’s Dentistry fill out a patient form today we can’t wait to meet you and your little one.