Does My Child Need X-rays?

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Small children do not typically get regular screening x rays until they are school age. Your child does not need screening x-rays if they have space between their baby teeth because it will allow the dentist to visually inspect the interproximal surfaces of teeth. Children usually need to have x-rays before their first permanent tooth erupts. 

In children, x-rays are used to:

  • check for interproximal tooth decay
  • determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth
  • check for the development of tooth decay
  • check for missing teeth
  • in the case of trauma to check the health of the insulted tooth

The Importance of Baby Teeth

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While it's true that baby or primary teeth will only be in the mouth a short time, they play a vital role in a child's overall health and well being. Baby teeth reserve space for their permanent counterpart, aid in the development of clear speech, help to eat and smile, and give shape to a child's face.

It is important to start your child off with healthy dental habits. Before the first tooth erupts, you should brush the gums with a washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. You should brush your child's teeth twice per day ( morning and night) with a child size toothbrush and Fluoride free toothpaste and floss daily. We recommend you continue to use Fluoride free toothpaste until you know your child will not swallow the toothpaste. Your child's diet is important to their dental health too. Keep sugary foods and acidic drinks in check. Limit soda and juice, and chewy sticky snacks like fruit snacks, cookies, crackers, and gummy candy that get stuck in the grooves of the teeth. Regularly scheduled dental visits are also important to oral health. At the first visit, the dentist will check for cavities, examine the bite and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, or oral tissues. The hygienist will clean your child's teeth and teach the parent and child brushing and flossing techniques. Home care, diet, and regularly scheduled dental checkups will help to prevent premature loss of baby teeth. 

Children usually lose their first baby tooth when they are 5-6 years old, but it can happen as young as 4 and as old as 7. 

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If baby teeth are lost too early, they can't guide the permanent teeth into their proper position and the nearby teeth can tip or shift resulting in crowded or crooked permanent teeth. 

 

Mechanical vs. Manual Toothbrush

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Brushing your teeth every morning after breakfast and at night before bed along with daily flossing is key to optimal oral health. There are so many toothbrush options on the dental health aisle that the task of choosing the best one can be overwhelming. For most patients, we recommend a mechanical toothbrush. You can find a very basic model with a 2 minute timer, rechargeable base, and a round head. The timer is great because it helps keep you accountable for brushing the recommended length of time. A rechargeable base is recommended over a battery powered model because like anything requiring batteries, it slowly runs down overtime and will not be working to the full potential. A round head is best because while the toothbrush head spins, the patient guides the toothbrush tooth by tooth through the mouth. Some electric toothbrushes have a pressure indicator light to let the patient know when they're brushing too hard and possibly damaging their gums. 

A mechanical toothbrush is a great choice for patients with braces and people with dexterity issues. It can also make brushing fun for kids. 

Some people have tried mechanical toothbrushes and did not like them, usually because it is hard to change an old habit. If you are going to use a manual toothbrush, it should be a soft bristle brush making small circles. A medium or hard brush and the scrubbing motion can damage the gums.  A manual toothbrush is great when traveling.