Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Diet & Cavity Prevention

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

The current recommendation for national water fluoridation is a maximum of 0.7 ppm.  If you do not reside in a community that has fluoridated water or have the appropriate amount of natural fluoride in your well water, make sure to bring this up at your next doctor visit. Topical fluoride (fluoride applied on the surface of teeth) is an even more important way to strengthen enamel and can be obtained with toothpaste, mouth rinses, the varnish that your dentist applies every 6 months, and in some cases, through a prescription product your doctor may recommend. 

What is an appropriate diet for my child?

It is important that your child receives a 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. Juice should be offered sparingly (less than 6 ounces per day is recommended) and juice and milk should only be offered at mealtimes with water in between.  Snacking should also be kept to a minimum and be aware that snacks that are sweet or a processed carbohydrate (crackers, granola bars, chips, etc.) are much more likely to cause cavities. Snacks should be kept to a minimum and fresh choices (fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, etc.) are always more tooth friendly options.

Can my child’s diet affect their dental health?

Absolutely. While parents often focus on brushing teeth to prevent cavities, a child’s diet plays a much larger role as to whether or not they are high risk for cavities. It is important that you initiate a balanced diet for your child so that their teeth develop appropriately. Please note that a diet high in sugar and other forms of carbohydrates strongly increase the probability of tooth decay.

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

Of course not. Some 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. Sugars and starches stick to teeth and are more difficult to wash away by water, saliva, or other drinks which is why we recommend avoiding them for snack time. Talk to your doctor if you have specific diet concerns.

What helpful information can you give me regarding tooth decay in infants?

When a child is sleeping, any juice or milk that remains in the mouth can support the bacteria that produce acid and harm the teeth. For this reason, we recommend that you do not put them to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, or formula. If your child is still nursing throughout the night once they have teeth, they are also at risk for cavities.  If there are nutritional needs that must be met, the risk of cavities can be minimized by cleaning the teeth after a feeding. 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Tooth Loss

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

Do not try to replace the tooth. Contact our office as soon as possible and we will schedule you for an exam to make sure no additional treatment is needed. 

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

The best thing you can do is replace the tooth in the socket, hold it there with clean gauze, and call our office immediately. If you can’t put the tooth back into the socket, IMMEDIATELY place the tooth in a container of milk and call the office.  If it is after hours, call the office emergency line. The tooth has a better chance of being saved if you act quickly.

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

Contact our office as soon as possible. Urgency of treatment depends on how much of the tooth was fractured and if the nerve is exposed. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, we can often bond this back onto the tooth.

What do I do if my child has a toothache?

Call our office immediately to schedule an appointment. Offer Tylenol or Ibuprofen according to manufacturer’s instructions. 

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. In addition, regular dental check ups will contribute to preventative care

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sealants

What are sealants?

A sealant is a clear or whitish liquid that a dentist “paints” onto the cracks and grooves on the chewing surface of teeth to seal off the areas where food tends to stick and cause cavities. The liquid is then cured (hardened) with a light.  We will check the sealants every 6 months at regular exams to ensure they are still intact.  

How do sealants work?

In many cases, it is difficult for children to clean the tiny grooves on the chewing surface of their teeth. When a sealant is applied, the groove is flatter/smoother and foods tend to slide off instead of getting stuck in the groove. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.

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. Chewing on ice or chewy/sticky candy can require sealants to be repaired or replaced more often.

Which teeth should be sealed?

The most common teeth to be sealed are the permanent molars and premolars. Primary (baby) molars can also be sealed if the grooves on the chewing surface are deep enough. 

What is the procedure for placing sealants?

Placing dental sealants can be a very easy process and usually only takes 5-10 minutes. The tooth is cleaned 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. If your child has a problem with gagging, happy gas may be very helpful in overcoming this reflex while the sealant is placed. 

How important is brushing and flossing after sealants are applied?

It is just as important as ever for your child to brush and floss their teeth. Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay. A sealant only protects the chewing surface of the tooth and many cavities occur between the teeth where unfortunately, sealants cannot be placed. Sorry, you still have to floss!

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. Check with your insurance company about your child’s coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Mouth Guards

What is a mouth guard?

A mouth guard is made of soft plastic and covers the top teeth. 

Why is a mouth guard important?

A mouth guard helps protect the teeth from possible sport injuries. It not only protects the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw bone as well. It can contribute to the protection of a child from head and neck injuries such as concussions.  

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 impact and injury. Such sports include hockey, soccer, karate, basketball, baseball, skating, skateboarding, as well as many other sports.  

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 and they will be less likely to wear it. A variety of guards can be purchased 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 are only a few dollars more than a store bought guard but they are much more comfortable and shock absorbent.