FAQ

The below information was provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Babies
Diet
Emergencies
Mouth Protectors
Sealants
Thumb/Pacifier Sucking
X-Rays

Babies

What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?
A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?
Breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt and other sources of nutrition have been introduced. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. Fruit juice should only be offered in a cup with meals or at snack time. Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. Dr. Stecker will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.

When should we begin using toothpaste?
Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
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Diet

Does a good diet assure that my child gets enough fluoride?
No. A balanced diet does not guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your child’s teeth. If you do not live in a fluoridated community or have an ideal amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child may need a fluoride supplement during the years of tooth development. Your pediatric dentist can help assess how much supplemental fluoride your child needs, based upon the amount of fluoride in your drinking water and other potential sources of fluoride.

My child isn't on solid foods yet. Do you have suggestions for him?
Do not nurse a young child to sleep or put him to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened liquid. While a child sleeps, any unswallowed liquid in the mouth feeds bacteria that produce acids and attack the teeth. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting him to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water.
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Emergencies

What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
Contact Fond du Lac Pediatric Dentistry as soon as possible. The baby tooth should not be replanted because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth.

What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub or clean it with soap -- use only water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket immediately and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with cold milk or water. Contact Fond du Lac Pediatric Dentistry as soon as possible. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
Contact Fond du Lac Pediatric Dentistry immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling if the lip also was injured. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dental office.

What if my child has a toothache?
Contact Fond du Lac Pediatric Dentistry. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Over-the-counter children’s pain medication, dosed according to your child’s weight and age, might ease the symptoms. You may apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth to the face in the area of the pain, but do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
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Mouth Protectors

What are athletic mouth protectors?
Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic. They are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. So, choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room.
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Sealants

What are sealants?
Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants “seal out” food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay. Sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. We will check the sealants during a routine dental visit and recommend re-application or repair when necessary. Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile.

What is the treatment like?
The application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or hardened with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.

Which teeth should be sealed?
Teeth most at risk of decay are the six-year and twelve-year molars. Many times the permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from sealant coverage.
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Thumb and Pacifier Sucking

Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue these habits over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.

When should I worry about a sucking habit?
Dr. Stecker will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth erupt and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. Because persistent habits may cause long term problems, intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age.

What can I do to stop my child's habit?
Most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children need the help of their parents and their dentist. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, Dr. Stecker can talk to your child about what happens to the teeth and jaws if they continue to suck. Dr. Stecker may recommend ways to change the behavior, including a mouth appliance that interferes with sucking habits.
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X-Rays

How safe are dental X-rays?
There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

How often should a child have dental X-ray films?
Films are taken only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and performing a clinical examination, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual examination cannot. In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible than adults to tooth decay.

Why should X-ray films be taken if my child has never had a cavity?
X-ray films detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination.
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Fond du Lac Pediatric Dentistry   |   Dr. Stecker   |   (920) 923-1239