FAQ

When should my child first see a dentist?

"First visit by first birthday" sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child's smile now and in the future.

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Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?

The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Once a child's diet includes anything besides breast-milk, erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

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When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age. After that, parents put their child at high risk for developing caries.

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Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation is recommended. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.

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When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child's tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively.

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At what age should I expect my children to brush independently?

Children can begin to brush independently once they demonstrate the ability to do an adequate job by themselves. This varies from child to child. Most children require "hands-on" assistance until age 7 and need close supervision until age 8 or 9. By age 10, most children can do a good job but require the occasional "spot check" just to make sure. Most parents let their kids brush independently too soon.

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How worried should I be about cavities in the baby teeth?

The primary teeth (baby teeth) play an important role in the growth and development of the jaw, face and whole child. Tooth decay is much more common in the primary dentition, and untreated tooth decay can lead to serious, painful and even life-threatening infections. Untreated tooth decay in the primary teeth will increase the probability of problems in the permanent dentition. These problems include inadequate space for permanent teeth, speech problems, chewing and nutritional problems.

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Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers or other objects?

This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born.

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Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?

Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue these habits over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child's teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.

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When should I worry about a sucking habit?

Your pediatric dentist will carefully watch the way your child's teeth erupt and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. Because persistent habits may cause long term problems, intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age.

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What can I do to stop my child's habit?

Most children stop sucking habits on their own, but some children need the help of their parents and their pediatric dentist. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, your pediatric dentist can encourage your child to stop, as well as talk about what happens to the teeth and jaws if your child does not stop. This advice, coupled with support from parents, helps most children quit. If this approach does not work, your pediatric dentist may recommend ways to change the behavior, including a mouth appliance that interferes with sucking habits.

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Are pacifiers a safer habit for the teeth than thumbs or fingers?

Thumb, finger and pacifier sucking affect the teeth and jaws in essentially the same way. However, a pacifier habit often is easier to break.

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How do I prepare my child so that he is not frightened at his first dental appointment?

Bringing your child to the dentist from infancy helps him or her become accustomed to the sights, smells and sounds of the dental office from an early age. Many parents project their personal fears onto their children, and children are very good at noticing this. We recommend reading some children's books about going to the dentist so that you can introduce your child to the idea of their first dental visit as a positive experience. Explain to your child that the dentist will clean and count the teeth and that it will be easy and fun. Do not spend too much time preparing your child, however, since dwelling on the subject may cause the child to wonder why you are making such a big deal out of it. It should be as matter-of-fact as going to the grocery store.

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Should anything be done about my child's teeth grinding?

Grinding of the teeth, especially at night during sleep, is a very common habit. At least 80% of children do it at some point. Some children even do it while they are awake. The sound can be very disturbing, but in most cases, there is little cause for concern and most children grow out of it. If the grinding continues into the full permanent dentition, a night guard can be fabricated to protect the teeth from extensive wear. However because a night guard functions much like a retainer, inhibiting a development of the jaws and occlusion, they are not usually used prior to the establishment of the mature adult occlusion. This typically is at around 14 or 15 years of age.

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How do I know if my child has gingivitis (Gum Disease)?

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums due to chronic build-up of plaque. It is easy to recognize: the gums will be puffy and red and will bleed when you brush and floss your child's teeth. It is usually painless and should not cause fever. For a variety of reasons, children are more resistant to gingival problems than adults, including gingivitis. If you notice blood on your child's toothbrush after brushing, don't be alarmed. The more thoroughly you brush your child's gums and teeth, the more quickly the gingivitis will resolve. If the bleeding continues for a couple of weeks, in spite of consistent better hygiene, bring your child to see a dentist. A few problems that are more serious can mimic the symptoms of gingivitis.

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How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A checkup every six months is recommended in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

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How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

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What safeguards are used to protect my child from X-ray exposure?

Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Today's equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film, digital X-rays, and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.

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What are tooth-colored fillings?

Tooth-colored fillings are made from durable plastics called composite resins. Similar in color and texture to natural teeth, the fillings are less noticeable, and much more attractive, than other types of fillings.

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What are the advantages of tooth-colored fillings?

Because composite resins are tooth-colored, they look more natural than other filling materials. Your child can smile, talk, and eat with confidence. In addition, tooth-colored fillings are compatible with dental sealants. A tooth can be filled and sealed at the same time to prevent further decay.

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What are the disadvantages of tooth-colored fillings?

First, tooth-colored fillings are not for every tooth. They work best in small restorations and low-stress areas. For example, your pediatric dentist may not recommend a tooth-colored filling for a large cavity or for the chewing surface of a back tooth. Second, tooth-colored fillings may cost a bit more than silver fillings because they take longer to place.

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How do I decide if tooth-colored fillings are right for my child?

Talk to your pediatric dentist. Together you will decide what type of filling is best for your child.

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1152 E Church St,
Martinsville, VA 24112
276-403-5500
4903 Starkey Road
Roanoke, VA 24018
540-904-2700

OFFICE HOURS

Monday through Thursday 8am - 5:00 pm (with lunch 12-1)
Friday - Surgery

AFFORDABLE TEETH WHITENING