Frequently asked questions
Why are baby teeth so important?
Baby teeth are needed for eating and speaking. In addition, infected baby teeth can affect the growth and development of permanent teeth.
When should I start brushing my child's teeth?
Newborns and infants under age one should have their gums and teeth cleaned with a facecloth at least two times a day. Parents should begin brushing their child's teeth two times a day after the first birthday.
When should my child begin brushing his/her own teeth?
Children can brush their teeth on their own when they are able to tie their shoes (usually by age 8). Parents need to make sure that children are brushing at lease twice a day.
When should my child start flossing?
Children should begin flossing when their second baby molars come in and when their teeth are close together or touching.
Why are thumb sucking and pacifier use harmful?
The sucking of the thumb or pacifier for a long period of time may lead to a misalignment of teeth and result in a need for braces.
What is baby bottle decay or bottle rot?
This is now referred to as early childhood cavities, a condition that is seen in children who use bottle containing milk or juice at night or during naps. Baby bottle decay or bottle rot refers to the cavities that babies get from the sugar found naturally in milk and juices when placed in bottles.
Why is it not recommended to allow children to fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water?
Milk and juice contain natural sugars which pool around teeth during sleep. During sleep, the saliva flow is reduced which does not allow for the sugars to be washed away.
How often should my child have a dental check up?
A checkup is needed at least every six months to prevent cavities and other problems.
How long should my child wait before eating after having fluoride treatment?
In general, children should wait 30 minutes to eat and drink after Fluoride applications.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Although there is little risk in dental x-rays, pediatric dentists evaluate the risk over benefits in recommending X-rays.
What are sealants?
Sealants are a protective clear layer placed on the deep pits and crevices of teeth, usually the child's molar. Usually these tooth surfaces are more susceptible to food and plaque trap, which can lead to tooth decay. Sealants need to be monitored and replaced if chipped. They are important to maintain good oral health.
When will my child get sealants?
When the first and second permanent molars come in.
How does diet affect my child's dental health?
Your child must have a balanced diet for teeth and gums to grow properly. A diet high in certain kinds of carbohydrates, such as starches and sugar, may increase your child's risk for cavities. Foods with starch include bread, crackers, pasta and snacks such a pretzels and potato chips.
Sugar is found in many processed foods, in addition to candy and cereals. It is important to choose foods wisely for your child. It is safer to limit starchy and sugary foods to meal times and not as a snack.
What should I tell my child if they need a filling?
Parents should be as honest as possible. However, please refrain from using words that provoke fear such as drill, shot, pain, etc. A common explanation is that the dentist will be cleaning their sugar bugs.
What are the side effects of local anesthesia or "Novocain"?
The treated area will be numb for at least an hour. We recommend that children not eat or drink anything hot until the "Novocain" wears off. Please watch your child carefully to ensure that they do not bite their cheek, tongue or lip.
What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide, often called laughing gas, is a combination of oxygen and nitrogen that helps calm and relax a child. Nitrous oxide is used in combination with local anesthesia to treat children in the clinic. Children must have some ability to cooperate in order to accept the nitrous oxide.
How long does it take for nitrous oxide to wear off?
The effects of nitrous oxide wear off almost immediately after it is turned off.
What is root canal treatment?
When the pulp or nerve of a tooth has been damaged (by tooth decay or trauma), root canal treatment is needed to prevent infection and pain.
When will my child be ready for braces?
Children are ready for braces once they have some or all of their permanent teeth. Children must be able to maintain good oral hygiene or receive assistance from their caregiver with brushing and flossing.
What is a dental emergency?
A dental emergency is when a child has swelling, pain or bleeding in the mouth or face. If these exist, it is important for your child to be seen as soon as possible. For other dental conditions, it is best to schedule an appointment so that your child can be properly evaluated.
What do I do if my child has a dental emergency?
If a dental emergency occurs during business hours you can call or walk in to our clinic between 9 am and 11 am, or between 1 pm and 3 pm. We will do our best to see you between our regularly scheduled appointments.
If the emergency occurs after-hours on a weeknight or during the weekend please contact the Children's Emergency Department. The Emergency Department physician will page the on-call dentist to come into the Emergency Department if necessary.
Emergency Department: 617-355-6611 or 617-355-6637
Can I be billed for my child's dental services?
Payment is expected at time of visit. We strongly recommend that parents contact their insurance company and familiarize themselves with covered benefits, co-payments, deductibles, etc.
Question still not answered?
Please email or call us at 617-355-6571. We will respond to your email within two business days.