Tooth Talk: Common Questions Asked By Parents

Stephanie B. Swords, DDSUncategorized

When should I start taking my child to the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first visit to a dentist and establishment of a ‘dental home’ should be no later than their first birthday. There are many preventive steps that should be taken to encourage optimal oral health, and these first dental visits allow us to provide education and guidance through the early years of your child’s dental development. At Swords Family Dentistry, your child will receive preventive care, restorative treatment, evaluation of growth and development through routine exams and x-rays, and coordination with specialty care (pediatric dentistry, orthodontics), and emergency treatment when indicated.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

You should begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth has erupted! It is common for very young children to cry or not want to brush, but it is important to develop a consistent oral hygiene routine twice a day. You want to develop good habits at an early age, and one way of doing so is by brushing your child’s teeth. Children will need supervision and help brushing and flossing until around 8 years of age. By this time, they should be able to correctly brush their teeth on their own, but may need occasional supervision as kids tend to rush through brushing their teeth. To encourage proper brushing twice daily, the American Dental Association has developed a toothbrushing app called Toothsavers for iPhone and Android that makes brushing fun! Visit to see what the Toothsavers Brushing Game is all about!

What toothpaste should I use?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends twice-daily use of fluoridated toothpaste. For children under 2 years of age, a ‘smear’ of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice should be used. And for children ages 2 to 5 years, a ‘pea-sized’ amount of toothpaste is appropriate. Once children are 5 years old, the amount of toothpaste used is less critical because they are better able to spit the toothpaste out and not swallow it.

Why are primary teeth so important?

Primary teeth, or baby teeth are important for proper chewing and eating, maintaining space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into their correct positions, and permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Baby teeth also contribute to proper speech development. When a child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, it is prudent that the tooth is treated. Cavities that are ignored or left alone in baby teeth can eventually cause pain, infection, and swelling. Sometimes when cavities are neglected for a prolonged period of time, the baby tooth has to be extracted. When baby teeth are lost at an earlier age than normal, a space maintainer is often recommended to avoid crowding of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, and a space maintainer is not used, crowding and other discrepancies can cause the need for orthodontic treatment. Baby teeth serve several purposes, so be sure to brush them 2 times a day for 2 minutes each time to help prevent cavities and promote good oral hygiene.