Howard Posner, DDS | Pediatric Dentist
Marc Henderson, DDS, FAGD | General Dentist
Matthew T. Goslee, DMD, MPH | Pediatric Dentist

255 North Main Street
Bristol, CT 06010

860-589-7170

Pediatric Dental FAQs

Listed below is a list of questions that are commonly asked and the answers for finding the best way to care for children’s teeth.

When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?

As soon as your child gets his or her first tooth, we recommend that you schedule a dental appointment. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist six months after their first tooth erupts or by the time that they turn one year old.

Is there a difference between a regular dentist and a pediatric dentist?

Every dentist is required to finish dental school. Many dentists then choose to continue on to additional, specialized training. When a dentist wants to specialize in pediatric dentistry, the doctor is required to gain extensive knowledge and experience in the field of treating infants, children, and even adolescents.  A pediatric dentist provides specialized skills and knowledge in childhood development and behavior. Our office has been created to ensure that our young visitors are at ease. We have developed an environment that allows children to feel comfortable throughout the time they are in their dental appointment.

What will happen during my child’s first visit to the dentist?

A child’s first visit to the dentist is usually short and very simply. Usually, we will spend time with you discussing basic dental care for your child.  The dentist will then check your child’s mouth to look for teeth placement and determine if your child has a healthy mouth. The dentist will then look to identify any indicators of potential problems with the gums and the jaw of your child. Sometimes, it is necessary to do some cleaning. If you have any questions about your child’s teeth or mouth or how to care for your child’s teeth, we can answer your questions and give you material that you can use as a reference once you get home.

Should I do something to help my child prepare for his or her first dental appointment?

The best way to help your child be prepared for his or her first dental appointment is to help your child have a positive attitude towards going to the dentist. If you have a negative attitude towards the dentist your child may also have a negative attitude towards the dentist. When practicing dental hygiene on a daily basis, be positive with your child. Our dentists and staff have been trained to be able to handle fear and anxiety and we will do all that we can to put your child at ease throughout his or her treatment.

How regular should my child’s dental appointments be?

Children should be visiting the dentist for a checkup every six months. There are certain situations in which we recommend more frequent visits for children.

If baby teeth are not permanent, why do they need special care?

Even though your teeth are not going to last as long as permanent teeth, baby teeth are an important part in the development of your child’s mouth. When your child has baby teeth, they will ensure that your child is able to talk, smile and chew properly. The baby teeth will hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth as well. If your child should lose a tooth early, the teeth nearby may start to move in on that space. This can cause the permanent teeth that grow in to be crooked or even misplaced. A child’s general health is also affected by the health of your child’s teeth and gums.

What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?

Before your baby’s first tooth erupts through the gums, you should clean the gums of your child after feedings.  To clean the gums, you will want to use a damp, soft washcloth. When the first tooth erupts, you will want to start using a toothbrush. The toothbrush that you use should have soft bristles and a small head. You can also find a toothbrush that is designed for infants to ensure it fits in your child’s mouth.

When should I start using toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?

When your child has a few teeth, you can start putting some toothpaste on the toothbrush. Only put a tiny amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush for each cleaning. Choose toothpaste that does not have fluoride in it when your child is under the age of two. Too much fluoride can be dangerous for young children. Teach your child how to rinse out his or her mouth and spit the toothpaste out after you are done brushing. If your child swallows too much toothpaste, it can stain his or her teeth. Children are usually ready to start brushing their own teeth when they reach age six or seven.

What causes cavities?

There are certain types of bacteria that naturally live in our mouths. When bacteria come into contact with sugary foods that is left on our teeth after eating, acid is then produced. The acid that is created will eat at the enamel that protects the teeth. The acid can eat through the enamel and create holes in teeth and these holes are what we call cavities.

How can my child avoid cavities? Can I help?

The first step to avoid cavities is to make sure that your child is brushing his or her teeth at least twice every day with toothpaste that has fluoride in it. Your child should be flossing daily, the floss will reach spots between your teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach. Talk with your pediatric dentist, about a fluoride supplement that will help your child’s enamel be more resistant to decay. Try to minimize the sugary food and drinks that your child eats. Your child should also be visiting the dentist regularly to have professional cleanings.

Should my child have dental sealants?

A sealant is going to cover the pit and the fissure of a tooth. These areas of the teeth are difficult to brush and because the toothbrush cannot clean them well, they are susceptible to decay. A sealant is a safe and easy way to help your child avoid cavities. Sealants are usually most beneficial on molars, which are the hardest teeth to reach and clean.

When my child is playing a sport, how can I protect his/her teeth?

Even sports that children are playing can pose danger to a child’s mouth. Wearing a mouth guard is a great way to protect your child’s mouth when playing sports. We can create a custom-fitted mouth guard to ensure that your child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums are protected when playing contact sports.  

What should I do if my child sucks his/her thumb?

There are many children that suck their thumbs as infants. The majority of children grow out of their thumb sucking habit by the time that they turn four. Often times, if your child stops sucking his or her thumb at this age, there is no permanent damage. Talk to us about your child’s thumb sucking habit and we can check to see if there are any problems that may arise from this habit. 

At what age should my child have dental X-rays?

Your child should have dental X-rays around the age of two or three. The first x-rays that your child has will be a simple picture of the upper and lower teeth. This way, your child will be able to become more familiar with the process. Once the baby molars, in the back of your child’s mouth, are touching one another, regular X-rays should be taken. When your child is about six, permanent teeth will start coming in. X-rays will enable us to look at your child’s teeth and jaw and make sure that they are healthy and that the teeth and jaw are aligned properly. When you have a child that is at a high risk of dental problems, X-rays may need to be taken at an earlier age. 

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