Q: What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?

A: A toothbrush will remove plaque 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.

Q: When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

A: In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

Q: What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

A: 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 needs.

Q: Are baby teeth important to my child?

A: 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.

Q: What should I do if my child has a toothache?

A: First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain. Call our office as soon as possible and our staff with set you up with an appointment to see Dr. Heckert.

child at gumball machine

Q: Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits for a child's teeth?

A: 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 by Dr. Heckert.

Q: How often does my child need to see Dr. Heckert?

A: A check-up every six months is recommended in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, Dr. Heckert can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

Q: How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

A: 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 their teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child's first birthday.

kids playing at dentist

Q: Toothpaste: When should we begin using it and how much should we use?

A: The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child's toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

Q: How do I make my child's diet safe for his teeth?

A: Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs. Limiting servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child's teeth from decay. You can also ask for more information on nutrition from our office staff.

Q: What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

A: The most important thing to do is remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try and reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take the child into the office. If it is the weekend call and leave a message and the doctor will get back to you as soon as possible.

child with dr. heckert

Q: How do dental sealants work?

A: Sealants work by filling in the crevasses 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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