BY MARK BREINER, D.D.S.
Parents Most Frequently Asked Questions about Their Children”s Teeth Answered
From the moment your baby’s first teeth erupt, they need to be cared for. At every stage
of a child’s growth, good oral hygiene can and should be encouraged. However,
given that children’s physical systems are more vital and reactive than those
of adults, parents need to be especially prudent about the dental decisions
they make for their children. These dental choices can have an impact for years
both children and their parents in my dental practice for more than 30 years,
I’d like to share with you some of the questions I am frequently asked, and the
answers I give.
Q: My child’s first teeth are coming in
When a baby
falls asleep at the mother’s breast or with a bottle still in his or her mouth,
the emerging baby teeth are being continuously bathed in the milk sugar and are
thus susceptible to decay. It has also been my observation that decay occurs
more frequently in babies whose mother is a vegetarian and is breastfeeding.
Last but not least, some children are just more susceptible to tooth decay.
Homeopathic treatments–which address the child’s whole system–can be of
Q: Since my
child’s baby teeth are going to fall out, do I even have to be concerned about
decay can progress to the point of producing a toothache and an abscess,
conditions that may necessitate the extraction of a tooth. Under ideal
circumstances, your child’s front teeth will be in place until six or seven
years of age. These teeth are very important for proper speech
development. The baby molars are
normally retained until ten to thirteen years of age. If these are lost
prematurely, the permanent molars will come in and move forward, blocking the
space needed for the permanent teeth. This situation will necessitate
Q: Why are
my child’s permanent teeth coming in with white spots?
on permanent teeth are almost always the result of ingesting too much fluoride.
Studies have shown that 30-40% of children today have this problem. These spots
form because fluoride interferes with collagen production. This interference is
not just confined to the teeth, and thus fluoride can have additional negative
Q: At what age should I start bringing my child
to the dentist?
A good time
to bring your child to a dentist’s office is at three years of age. Your child
can see the hygienist for tooth polishing: he or she may also ride in the chair
and squirt the water, to make it a fun experience. Of course, if you suspect
any problems prior to that time, you should immediately bring your child to the
Q: How do I
care for my toddler’s teeth?
teeth first come in (usually at 6 to 9 months of age) wiping the teeth with a
washcloth or gauze pad is sufficient. As the child gets older and permits it,
use a small toothbrush with soft bristles and dental floss.
Q: A dentist
said my child will need braces. Should I wait until all the permanent teeth are
there is not enough room for permanent teeth or there is a structural problem
in the way the lower jaw meets the upper jaw. It is best to begin to address
these situations at an early age, when the first permanent molars have erupted.
Consult with an orthodontist and let the orthodontist determine the ideal time
to start treatment; that time is almost always before all the permanent teeth
Q: My child
is highly allergic. Do I have to be concerned about the materials used in
the orthodontic metals are nickel-based. Ten percent of the population is
reactive to nickel. Today there are alternatives to using nickel. If your child
has experienced more colds or a decline in health while wearing braces, he or
she may be reactive to the dental materials used.
Q: My child has a cavity, should I be concerned
about materials being used to restore the teeth?
let a dentist place a “silver” filling in your child’s teeth. These fillings
are half mercury, and we all know now that mercury is dangerous. Ask your
dentist to use a tooth-colored composite filling.
Q: My dentist wants to take X-rays of my child’s
teeth, is this a good idea?
No one likes
to have X-rays taken. As with everything in dentistry, one must evaluate the
benefits and risks. The main reason for X-rays in young children is to check
for decay between the teeth. Often transillumination with a bright light will
reveal decay between the baby teeth and X-rays can be avoided. If you or your
dentist suspects decay, it is better to take an X-ray than to end up with a
toothache. When all the permanent teeth are in, transillumination does not work
well on the back teeth; for those, X-rays are a good idea. In trying to limit
radiation exposure in adults and youngsters, I base the frequency of taking
X-rays on the child’s previous history of decay. Digital X-rays keep radiation
to a minimum.
Q: My dentist wants to apply some sealants to my
child’s teeth, is this necessary?
grooves in the molar teeth very often become decayed, filling these grooves
will prevent this from happening. A dental sealant is a liquid composite that
flows into the grooves and is then hardened with a high intensity light. Prior
to applying a sealant, it is important to check for decay in the grooves. There
are electronic dental instruments that detect decay and should be used prior to
using the sealant. I think it is unnecessary to seal teeth that do not have
deep grooves. I prefer placing tiny composite fillings in deep grooves, as
sealants are often lost and begin to leak with time. These problems rarely
occur when tiny composite restorations are used.
Q: Why seek a holistic approach for your child’s
that Whole-Body Dentistry promotes both a healthy mouth and a healthy
body. When alternative holistic dental
approaches are combined with solid traditional dentistry, the outcome is one
that optimizes each patient’s health and well-being. It is a win-win formula!
Dr. Mark A. Breiner, a licensed dentist and author of, Whole-Body Dentistry: A
Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health, he
stresses the importance of using the safest possible treatment approaches for
both children and adults.