Frequently Asked Questions
As a parent, it is not always easy to determine when a child needs immediate attention. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call our office. One of our doctors is on call 24 hours, 7 days per week to give advice over the phone or assist you in the office as needed. Our phone number is (401) 828-1171.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by one year of age. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.
You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. If old enough, your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.
Yes. Nitrous Oxide is a colorless and odorless gas which is inhaled through a rubber breathing mask that sits over the patient’s nose. It is often the perfect adjunct to other forms of pain relief and anxiety management, which is why is it commonly used in the dental office. When on nitrous oxide, the patient is still awake and responds normally to conversation. All vital signs remain stable and there is no significant risk of losing protective reflexes (like the ability to cough). The amount of nitrous oxide delivered to each patient can easily be adjusted by the dentist and can be quickly turned on and off. Once turned off, the patient is allowed to breathe 100% oxygen, and the nitrous oxide is flushed out of the patient’s lungs almost instantaneously.
Brushing should actually begin before children are capable of doing it themselves. A wet cloth or gauze effectively cleans gums and removes plaque after nursing and establishes a good habit early on. Gentle brushing with a soft bristle brush can begin with the eruption of the first tooth. Flossing, when most primary (baby) teeth are in.
At eight or nine, children can be expected to be able to adequately brush on their own, and by 11 or 12, they can be expected to floss on their own as well. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says a good rule of thumb is…when children are accomplished enough in caring for their own needs that they can get up, bathe, dress themselves and comb their hair without your help – they are ready to accept full responsibility for their mouth-cleaning program!
Yes, baby teeth do ultimately end up falling out, but they serve many important functions until they are lost. First and foremost, baby teeth are important for eating and chewing. In addition to making any smile a happy and beautiful one, baby teeth also help in speech development. Baby teeth reserve space for the developing permanent teeth growing below the surface and help guide them into the proper place for eruption. If baby teeth are lost before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt, the teeth that are already in the mouth can drift into a different spot and the permanent teeth that will eventually grow in can get off track and wind up in the wrong spot or stuck. This can lead to additional orthodontic work (often braces) later on for your child.
There are so many types, flavors, and brands of toothpaste out there, it’s important to find one that your child actually likes. We encourage all patients to use toothpaste that has fluoride in it to help strengthen the enamel. Because we are expecting most young children to swallow the toothpaste, the amount of toothpaste you are using is actually the most important part. For children less than 2 years, we recommend just a “smear” of toothpaste, equal to the size of a grain of rice. For children 2-5 years, we recommend a “pea-sized” amount. Once children are able to spit at the sink, you can bump up the amount of toothpaste applied.
If your child’s teeth are touching (meaning no gaps in between their teeth), then yes, you should be flossing. Flossing helps remove food debris, eliminates cavity-causing plaque, and helps protect gums from gingivitis and gum disease. We recommend trying both the hand-held flossers with the little plastic handles and traditional floss to see what works best in your hands.
Don’t worry. Grinding is extremely common in children and has few negative effects on a growing child. The reasons why children grind varies from person to person. The good news is most children outgrow this grinding phase as they get more permanent teeth. If you’re extremely worried, talk to us about it at your next visit, and we will check to make sure there have been no detrimental effects that have occurred to your child’s teeth or jaw joint.
Fluoride is also beneficial in helping prevent the progression of small cavities, called “incipient lesions.” Cavities begin forming on the outside later of enamel and work their way internally until they reach the underlying dentin layer or the nerve of the tooth. Small cavities that are limited to the outer enamel layer can often be “watched” by the dentist and often don’t require fillings until they have spread to the underlying dentin layer. If fluoride is used in a methodical way, in combination with improved flossing and brushing, there is a chance that those small itty bitty cavities may never have to be treated with a filling at all! Now isn’t that music to everyone’s ears?
We recommend that all children be seen every 6 months for dental cleanings and checkups by a Pediatric Dentist. With visits every 6 months, we can watch and monitor your child’s dental growth and development. These frequent visits also allow your child to become more and more comfortable and with our clinic and staff. This familiarity helps curb anxiety for both the parent and the child, as your child will see familiar faces each time they visit our office.
The average age for an infant to get his or her first tooth is generally around 6 months. These teeth are usually the lower front two teeth. Once again, these bottom front baby teeth are also generally the first teeth that are lost. We usually expect to start seeing the eruption of permanent teeth around age 6-7, but this varies wildly with each patient.
Sippy cups should be used as a training tool from the bottle to a cup and should be discontinued by the first birthday. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day, fill the sippy cup with water only (except at mealtimes). By filling the sippy cup with liquids that contain sugar (including milk, fruit juice, sports drinks, etc.) and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, it soaks the child’s teeth in cavity causing bacteria.
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquid pools around the child’s teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.
After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. The easiest way to do this is to sit down, place the child’s head in your lap or lay the child on a dressing table or the floor. Whatever position you use, be sure you can see into the child’s mouth easily.
Dental sealants protect the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of a clear or shaded composite resin, sealants are painted onto the tiny grooves and depressions in the molars. By “sealing out” food and plaque, sealants reduce the risk of decay. They are quickly and painlessly applied to any baby teeth and permanent teeth that, in Dr. Paquin’s opinion, are likely to develop decay in the chewing surface. Sealants must be checked periodically and replaced or repaired when necessary, though they generally last for several years.