Early Dental Care

We normally appoint children for their first complete exam when they are 3-years-old. However, we enjoy having 2-year-olds come to visit and get acquainted with us before their examination appointment. There is no charge for this "get acquainted" visit. These “get acquainted” office visits often happen while observing an older sibling or a parent having treatment. We recommend that we see children for re-care visits every six months. This allows us to check for decay and to evaluate the development of the dental arches and the eruption pattern of the teeth. (Dr. Herring is a general dentist, but he has attended many hours of continuing education courses in orthodontics as well. He has treated over 2,000 cases of orthodontic patients, both children and adults.)

We will monitor the growth and development of the child’s dental arches and keep you informed of any treatment needed. The best children patients are those who begin dental examinations prior to the need for treatment. This gives them an opportunity to become acquainted with us and to become familiar with the dental office environment. Parents should speak of dental visits as being a pleasant experience and praise their children for being patients.

Small children are frequently more receptive to dental care in the morning, when they are rested. Children 7 years and younger who need restorative treatment (fillings, crowns, pulpotomies, etc.) will be appointed only for morning appointments because this is usually the only time children feel like letting us get the desired result.

Some children accept dental treatment better with the parent present; some accept treatment better in the absence of parents. We may ask you, the parent, to leave the treatment room. If you are unwilling to entrust your child to us in our treatment room alone, you should discuss this with us prior to arranging the appointment so we can mutually decide the feasibility of our accepting your child as a patient. In order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion, please ask any questions you may have before or after your child’s treatment.

Below are some guidelines on how to care for your child’s teeth:

Teething

Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits – they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.