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Many parents have questions and concerns about their child’s dental health. Dr. Deborah Blanchard and our team have put together answers to some of the most frequent questions we are asked. If you have further questions about pediatric dental care, or to make an appointment with our experienced dentist in Virginia Beach, Virginia, please call Bay Colony Dentistry today at 757-333-0922.

Does your child grind their teeth at night?

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is common in both children and adults. With children, tooth grinding may occur during daylight hours, but is far more common at night. Bruxism may be caused by any number of factors, including bad bites, stress and traumatic brain injury. Common symptoms include:

  • Frequent complaints of headaches
  • Injured teeth and gums
  • Clicking or grinding sounds
  • Tightening and clenching of jaw muscles
  • Complaints about painful jaw muscles
  • Increased tooth sensitivity

Most children will stop grinding their teeth by the age of 13. In the meantime, our dentist will monitor your child’s oral health and will recommend any treatments that are needed. If grinding continues, further treatment will be needed. Some of the treatments we may recommend include altering the biting surface with crowns, occlusal treatment, relaxation classes or exercises, professional therapy and night guards.

When will my baby get teeth? (eruption of teeth)

Your baby’s teeth actually begin developing in the second trimester of pregnancy, and typically erupt through the gum line between the ages of six and ten months. In general, teeth will emerge in pairs, beginning with the two lower central incisors. Then the upper central incisors emerge, followed by the lateral incisors, the cuspids (or canine teeth), the first molars and the second molars. Most children will have a complete set of 20 primary teeth by age two. Please bear in mind that each child is unique, and not all children will follow the same schedule of tooth eruption.

How often should children have dental checkups?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children have an appointment with a pediatric dentist after the first tooth emerges, or at around one year of age. After this initial visit, you should schedule an appointment every six months (or twice a year) in order to monitor your child’s oral health and ensure that your child is healthy and growing and developing properly.

What is pulp therapy?

Pulp therapy, also known as pulpotomy or baby root canals, is a treatment recommended when the inner tissues of your child’s teeth are infected, inflamed or injured. This treatment removes the damaged injured tissues and restores the health of the tooth so that your child can continue to use it and grow and develop properly. For more information, please contact our office.

What is the best toothpaste for my child?

While there is no specific brand of toothpaste that is “best” for your child, there are a few things you should consider when choosing a toothpaste for your child. First, check that the toothpaste is ADA-approved. Toothpastes approved by the American Dental Association will be less abrasive and less damaging to the teeth. Also consider the age of your child.

Under the age of two, children should use fluoride-free “baby” toothpaste, and teeth should be softly brushed twice each day. As flavoring is not important, your child can choose whichever toothpaste they think tastes best. In your child’s third year of age, switch to an ADA-approved brand of fluoridated toothpaste and use only a tiny pea or rice-sized amount of toothpaste.

When should my child have their first dental visit?

Children should visit the dentist for the first time about six months after their first tooth emerges, or no later than their first birthday. This initial “well-baby” appointment is designed to help infants feel more comfortable in the dental office and to help parents have the resources and knowledge they need to properly care for their child’s oral health and development.

Why are primary teeth important?

While primary teeth are temporary and will eventually fall out to make way for your child’s permanent teeth, they play an incredibly important role. Primary teeth perform many functions, including:

  • Aiding in speech production and development
  • Contributing to eating, digestion and nutrition
  • Holding the places for the permanent teeth to erupt without complications
  • Helping to improve and maintain your child’s oral health
  • Improving your child’s self-confidence
  • Giving your child a straighter and healthier smile

What is Xylitol, and how does it benefit my child?

Xylitol is a natural substance that can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including berries, mushrooms, corn and lettuce. Xylitol is also available as a concentrate, a gum and as a sugar substitute. Studies indicate that Xylitol can help reduce tooth decay and prevent children from developing cavities. Xylitol works to neutralize the acids in the mouth, which reduces enamel destruction and minimizes the risk of cavities. Xylitol also stimulates saliva production and works with fluoride treatments to remineralize and protect the teeth.

While Xylitol gum is not appropriate for very young children, infants can benefit from maternal chewing. In older children, Xylitol can be consumed as a sugar substitute, as a natural byproduct of eating fruit and vegetables and through chewing gum.