Dental Care

When do children’s teeth start to form?
About 6 weeks into the pregnancy.
When will the first tooth come in?
The lower front teeth are usually first and begin between 6 and 10 months.  All 20 teeth are in by 3 years of age.
What occurs with teething?
Irritability, low grade fever, drooling and mild diarrhea can occur.
What can done for teething pain?
Allow your child to chew on things like cold teething rings.  Over-the-counter gum medications may irritate the gums and should be avoided.  Acetaminophen can be given if necessary (see section on Fever for dosages (Tylenol).
When should I start to brush my child’s teeth?
Start with the first tooth and use a moist, soft cloth, cotton swab, or a soft wet child size toothbrush.  Continue brushing the teeth, yourself, at least once each day until your child has fine motor skill to brush the teeth correctly.  This usually is between 5 and 7 years of age.
Should I use toothpaste?
Many children dislike it.  Be careful not to use excessive toothpaste if it contains fluoride since most children swallow the toothpaste rather than spitting it out.  After three years of age children should be able to rinse and not swallow the toothpaste.  Use non-fluoridated toothpaste prior to age three or use a small pea sized amount when you brush their teeth.
How often should the teeth be brushed?
At least once a day, but after each meal is recommended. Flossing is also recommended.
Can my child brush his own teeth?
Yes, but under the age of 5-7 years should brush the teeth at least once a day.
Does my child need fluoride?
Yes.  If you do not have fluoride in your water supply then fluoride supplements should be used until adolescence.  The dose of fluoride recommended for your child will change at 3 and 6 years of age.  Discuss this with your child’s pediatrician and dentist.
Can teeth decay come from bottle feeding?
Yes.  Do not use a bottle as a pacifier with sweet liquids.  Do not allow a child to fall asleep with a bottle.  Unswallowed milk and sweet liquids in the mouth can cause tooth decay.
Can pacifier, bottle use, or thumb sucking cause poor teeth alignment?
Yes.  Generally the longer thumb sucking, pacifier use and/or bottle use are practiced, the greater the chance for teeth problems.
Is fluoride use safe?
There is no scientific evidence that fluoride use is unsafe.  Many statements have been made concerning an increased risk for problems including cancer.  There is no evidence, however, that any increased risk exists.
How do I know if I have fluoridated water?
Ask your physician, dentist or local health department.
Can my child take too much fluoride?
Yes.  Follow the recommended dosages which can be obtained from your child’s pediatrician or dentist. You should also consider topical fluoride treatments for your child’s teeth.
When should I take my child to a dentist?
Recommendations do vary but most parents take their child to a dentist between the ages of 2 and 4 years.  Some children are very cooperative, but others need time to get use to the idea of someone examining their teeth.  Talk about the upcoming visit, prior to taking your child to the dentist. Remember that denta care begins at age 6 months when fluoride needs to be given to your child if you are breastfeeding or if fluoride is not in your water supply.