When should a child first visit the dentist? Dental Care Tips for Parents

When should a child visit a dentist for the first time? As soon as they have teeth - and many child development experts say sooner. -- Dr. Jeff Tollett

In a recent continuing education class, we learned that the number-one reason kids miss school is tooth pain. That's very preventable. As parents, we can't guarantee our kids will never have a cavity or a dental emergency. But we can do some easy, important things to help them on the road to good dental health.

Below, I've rounded up some of the things I want parents to know about their children's dental health. Got questions? Contact me here or call the office.  From the first baby teeth to what to think about a child's wisdom teeth, braces, and common dental problems, I want to help you manage your family's dental care.

Family Dentistry: Babies and Young Children

Get in the habit of brushing your child's gums as soon as they start to eat, even baby food and oatmeal.

The sooner the lifelong habit begins, the better.

Have their teeth sealed as soon as their molars come in. 

Next to brushing, sealants are the best prevention against cavities.

What if my child is nervous about going to the dentist? What if he throws a fit in the office?

First, I don't think I've ever had a kid throw a full-blown temper tantrum in my office. Second, I like to remind parents, if you act worried about something, your kids are going to think there's reason to worry. That said, there's no reason to be afraid of the dentist. And if your kid throws does throw a fit in my office, I promise I won't flip out. Hey, I'm a parent, too! One reason we offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in our practice is because it is very helpful for kids. Nitrous oxide reduces anxiety and also provides a numbing effect. If you still have questions, call our office. There's no need to be nervous about going to the dentist!

Family Dentistry: Older Children and Teens 

My child's permanent tooth is loose after a hard knock on the playground. What should I do?

Often the tooth will recover on its own, but anytime a permanent tooth becomes loose, you should see a dentist right away. We can often make same-day appointments; call our office now at 713-622-3240. (Need sports mouth guards? Contact us.) If a permanent tooth is knocked out, gently rinse any dirt off the tooth, and do NOT dry it or wrap the tooth in tissue. Place the tooth in cold milk and get to the dentist right away. Often, permanent teeth can be replanted if the tissue surrounding the root remains in-tact and viable.

Is tooth whitening safe for teens?

Actually, it is. We can do in-office bleaching, or give your teeth at-home teeth whitening options that will suit both of you. 

Are you kidding me? My teen wants perfect teeth and invisible braces

Relax, there are plenty of worse things that can happen with teenagers. And appearance really is important to older kids. Whether it's a gap between the front teeth or a chipped tooth, we can help. Look at our Cosmetic Dentistry page or call us with your questions. We love to give kids - and their parents - reason to smile.

Do my kids' wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Oh, if I was a mind reader I wouldn't be a dentist. The latest research indicates wisdom teeth probably don't need to be removed as a matter of course. A longitudinal study on wisdom teeth or third molars and their removal and impact on dental health and related quality of life that began in 2010 continues to provide more insight into this question. For now, the short answer is, each child is different. When you bring your son or daughter to my office, I'll give you my honest, educated opinion on what I would do if it were my child.

What about gum chewing?

Go ahead, let them chew gum. So long as you or your child don't have jaw joint or muscle problems, there's evidence that chewing gum is good for your teeth. Seriously!