February is National Children’s Dental Health month and along with the benefits of good oral health of your child, it is important to have some questions and concerns taken care of before you take your kid to a dentist. As a first time mom, I have had to search for answers to many health care questions and have always wondered if the source of information is reliable. Below are some questions that I have frequently got from parents. While they may not be one-size-fits-all, they are good guidelines to follow!
Dr. Jay’s Answers to some of your questions
Q: If my child’s baby tooth has cavities, Should we fill them when they will be replaced with permanent ones anyway?
A: Cavities and decay in baby teeth should be treated and not be ignored. If baby teeth are prematurely lost due to cavities, the spaces they hold for the permanent teeth under it can close because of the teeth behind them drifting forward, which is the natural tendency of the teeth. This can cause crowding of teeth.
Q: When should you start braces for your child?
A: Kids can get braces when they have the majority of the permanent teeth out, typically between ages 8 and 14. Your dentist could refer you to an orthodontist earlier if they detect any jaw size discrepancies that need early intervention of bone growth.
Q: Is grinding normal for kids?
A: Teeth grinding is not uncommon in kids and it may be due to improper alignment, teething or physical pain in the teeth/jaw or ears. Latest research on this also points to association between grinding and sleep disorders to airway obstruction. This is where your dentist can help guide you to an orthodontist who can help with this. Also here is some information from the American Academy of sleep medicine for some more reading.
Q: Should a child’s teeth be treated with sealants?
A: Dental sealants are thin coatings that your dentist places in the grooves of back teeth to help with protecting them from decay. Sealants can be applied to permanent teeth between ages 6 and 12 as they come out. Your dentist can check and reapply sealants as necessary.
Q: When should you take your child to the dentist?
A: It would be best to take your child to a dentist first around the age of One to ensure that the teeth are developing properly. Regular visits every 6 months thereafter would help maintain good teeth and oral health for life.