Frequently Asked Questions

Pediatric FAQs

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
Why should I choose a pediatric dentist instead of a family dentist?
What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
Why are baby teeth important?
What causes tooth decay (cavities)?
How can I prevent decay caused by nursing or bottle use?
How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
How to dental sealants work?
Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?
How can I protect my child’s teeth during sports?
What should I do if my child has a toothache?

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?
Your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

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Why should I choose a pediatric dentist instead of a family dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

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What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?
A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime. Training (toddler) toothpaste can be used for patients under two years of age as it is safe to swallow.

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Why are baby teeth important?
Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. Some primary teeth are present until a child is 12 years old or older. Proper care of baby teeth is essential for the overall health of your child.

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What causes tooth decay (cavities)?
Dental plaque is a collection of sticky bacteria that constantly live on all teeth. When we eat, sugars in our food interact with the bacteria in plaque to produce acid. With time and repeated acid production, the tooth begins to break down and a cavity forms.

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How can I prevent decay caused by nursing or bottle use?
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

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How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits and healthy teeth.

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How to dental sealants work?
Sealants work by filling in the grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

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Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended.

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How can I protect my child’s teeth during sports?
Soft plastic mouthguards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

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What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Thoroughly clean the area around the tooth using a toothbrush and toothpaste. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water and use dental floss to remove any trapped food between the teeth. DO NOT place aspirin on the gums or tooth. This will cause a burn to the gum tissues. If there is swelling, apply cold to the outside of the face. Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) for pain and call our office to make arrangements for evaluation.

Orthodontic FAQs

What is orthodontics?
When is the best time to visit the orthodontist?
What will happen at the consultation visit?
How long will braces need to be worn?
Do braces hurt?
Will braces interfere with school activities such as sports, playing a musical instrument or singing?
What food restrictions are there while braces are being worn?
What is the best way to take care of the teeth while braces or appliances are being worn?
Are regular six-month checkups still necessary during orthodontic treatment?
How do I schedule an appointment with the orthodontist?

What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a specialized form of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities. Orthodontists are able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of your smile.

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When is the best time to visit the orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At Salem Pediatric Dental & Orthodontic Associates, we screen for dental problems that may require orthodontic treatment at every child’s first visit and at every checkup visit.

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What will happen at the consultation visit?
After completing some brief paperwork, the patient and parent will be seen by the staff and doctor who will carry out a brief but thorough examination. The orthodontist will discuss the exam findings and propose a treatment plan. This treatment plan will include details of how treatment goals can be achieved and a determination of whether teeth will need to be removed. In addition, the plan will include an estimate at the length of treatment and the corresponding fee. Braces will not be placed at the first visit.

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How long will braces need to be worn?
This is the most common question asked by patients and parents. The answer depends on each individual patient. Treatment generally lasts for between one and three years, depending on factors including age, treatment method, and how significant the orthodontic concerns are. A big factor in successful treatment is the patient. The more involved and diligent they are, the more efficiently their treatment will progress.

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Do braces hurt?
In general, braces do not hurt. The patient may experience a brief period of adjustment as teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to the braces. After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. Over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol can be used to manage the discomfort. After most visits, however, patients do not feel any soreness at all.

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Will braces interfere with school activities such as sports, playing a musical instrument or singing?
Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.

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What food restrictions are there while braces are being worn?
Before treatment begins, a comprehensive list of instructions and foods to avoid will be provided. These foods include those with lots of sugar (which increase the risk of cavities) and sticky or hard foods that are more likely to get stuck in braces. Most orthodontic emergency appointments can be avoided by following our instructions carefully.

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What is the best way to take care of the teeth while braces or appliances are being worn?
Basic oral hygiene is more challenging with braces and orthodontic appliances. Always remember to brush the teeth after every meal and floss at least once per day during treatment. Regular brushing helps to remove any food particles that may be caught in between or around the braces. Daily flossing cleans the areas between the teeth that the toothbrush is unable to reach. In addition, a prescription fluoride rinse or gel may be prescribed to help maintain the health of the teeth.

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Are regular six-month checkups still necessary during orthodontic treatment?
Regular pediatric dental checkups are even more important during orthodontic treatment as basic oral hygiene becomes more challenging. Food may be caught in places that are inaccessible to the toothbrush or floss. Bacteria can accumulate and lead to cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. The pediatric dentist will work with the patient to ensure that the teeth stay clean and healthy while braces are being worn.

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How do I schedule an appointment with the orthodontist?
Call our office or ask for an appointment the next time you are visiting the pediatric dentist. We will be happy to schedule a complimentary consultation and provide you with all of the information you need to get started. You can also request an appointment by clicking here.

If you have other questions, please call Roxbury Smiles at 617.327.4321 today.