Frequently Asked Questions
DO DECIDUOUS TEETH NEED TREATMENT?
Baby teeth should be treated just like permanent teeth. Not treating baby teeth because “They will fall out anyway!” can cause many problems in the long run.
Deciduous teeth are important because:
• They are important for proper nutrition. Children with decayed teeth have difficulty eating properly because of pain. This is also the case if deciduous teeth have to be extracted for any reason.
• Deciduous teeth are crucial for the development of the jaws. If baby teeth are extracted due to caries or periodontal disease, the jaw may start to shrink and look old.
• Teeth are required for talking. Lacking frontal teeth during speech development may lead the child to incorrectly articulate sounds like /f/, /v/, /s/, /z/, and /t/, which may extend into adulthood.
• Every child loves to laugh. For a beautiful smile, we need healthy teeth.
• It is a natural to want to look pretty, whether you are young or old. Children with decayed or missing teeth experience psychological discomfort and perceive themselves as ugly.
• Another function of baby teeth is to maintain the space for their permanent counterparts. Imagine 10 children sitting side by side in a row. If one of them gets up, the others will slide into his space to be able to sit more comfortably. If a new kid comes and tries to squeeze in, the others will be pressed against each other.
Likewise, if a deciduous tooth is extracted prematurely, the adjacent teeth shift towards the resulting gap. Hence, there is no room for the permanent tooth that is going to erupt. This will compress the teeth and result in crowding and malposition.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR ALL BABY TEETH TO FULLY EMERGE?
The eruption of baby teeth is usually complete by months 24-30. A child with a complete set of deciduous teeth has a total of 20 teeth, 10 in each jaw
WHEN WILL PERMANENT TEETH START TO ERUPT?
Around age 6, the first permanent teeth begin to erupt behind baby teeth: the first molars. There are a total of four first molars, one on each side on each jaw. Because these are commonly mistaken for baby teeth, they are not treated but extracted if they become carious.
However, the extraction of these teeth, which are very crucial to the dental arch, causes adjacent teeth to tilt, which is very difficult to correct.
Between the ages of 7 and 11, baby teeth fall out and are replaced by their permanent counterparts.
Around age 12, second molars erupt from behind the first molars. Like the first molars, these second molars are permanent and do not replace any deciduous teeth.
MY BABY'S TEETH STARTED TO DECAY AS SOON AS THEY ERUPTED. WHAT COULD BE THE REASON?
Baby teeth sometimes develop brown spots as soon as they erupt, or they sometimes fracture and fall out. These spots are in fact caries, and that is why these teeth fracture.
These early childhood caries are also known as nursing bottle caries. Both breast milk and cow’s milk, both important components of a baby’s nutrition, naturally contain sugar.
If the baby is fed before a nap or going to sleep, the milk accumulates in the mouth and creates an environment that is suitable for microbial growth. For this reason, care should be taken to clean the teeth, especially after night feedings.
HOW TO PREVENT NURSING BOTTLE CARIES?
Since the treatment of early childhood caries is very difficult, timely preventive measures are of the essence.
To list a few:
Avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle. Try to put your baby to sleep after feeding.
Do not add sweeteners such as sugar, honey, or molasses to the bottle.
Give your baby some water after every time he/she is done being fed.
After the eruption of the first teeth, clean your baby’s teeth by wiping them with a clean after every feeding, morning and night.
MY BABY WAS BORN WITH TEETH, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Some babies are born with teeth (natal teeth), or their teeth erupt very soon after birth (neonatal teeth). These teeth are usually loose and tend to fall out, therefore they create the danger of choking from accidental swallowing and need to be extracted. Another potential problem with natal and neonatal teeth are irritating the mother’s nipples. This will require the intervention of a dentist.
WHEN SHOULD I TAKE MY CHILD FOR THEIR FIRST DENTAL VISIT?
The ideal time for your baby’s first dental visit is six months after the eruption of the first teeth. Your child can develop dental conditions from a very early age. It is possible to prevent problems associated with nutrition, dental care, and suckling habits, provided that they are diagnosed early on.
WHY ARE NURSING BOTTLE CARIES IMPORTANT?
If nursing bottle caries are left untreated, they can cause pain and become inflamed. Inflamed or aching teeth equal a restless baby and disrupted feeding. The inflammation can also potentially affect the shapes of the underlying permanent teeth. If these teeth need to be extracted, your child might develop speech problems.
WHY DOES MY BABY HAVE CARIES EVEN THOUGH HE/SHE IS NOT FED BY A BOTTLE?
Other than bottle feeding, coating pacifiers with sweeteners such as honey, molasses, or jam to calm fussy babies is another possible cause of nursing bottle caries. Also, carbohydrate- or sugar-based foods that are handed to the baby to keep them busy can cause tooth decay. Instead, you can prefer more nutritious foods that also help clean teeth, like apples and carrots.
MY BABY'S TEETH HAVE NOT COME IN. SHOULD I BE WORRIED?
Generally, the first teeth begin to erupt at 6 months of age. However, tooth eruption may be delayed due to individual differences. There is no need for concern until 12 months of age. If your baby’s teeth still have not come in at this point, you should visit a dentist.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TEETHING?
A day or two before teething, babies become cranky, lose appetite, have itchy gums, and start to drool. The gum is swollen where the tooth is coming through. All complaints should disappear with the eruption of the tooth. There is no medicine for all teething problems. However, you can get an ointment from your pharmacy to relieve some symptoms before meals.
WHY IS THE FIRST DENTAL VISIT IMPORTANT?
It is prominent to meet the dentist for a routine “chat and check-up” visit in order to prevent dentophobia from affecting children.
DOES TEETHING AFFECT OVERALL WELL-BEING?
In the past, every complaint of a child of teething age was attributed to teething. Although teething does have some effect on overall health, it is not associated with convulsions, diarrhea, or bronchitis. All other possible causes need to be excluded before these symptoms are attributed to teething. Therefore, please see a pediatrician if your child develops any such symptoms.
HOW CAN I PREPARE MY CHILD AND MYSELF FOR THE FIRST VISIT?
The best thing to do is to learn about what to expect before you come in with your child. As a general rule, coming in for an examination before cavities are too large and the pain too severe will facilitate the treatment both for the child and the physician. However, please do not promise your child that “There will be no needles”. Coming in with this expectation can result in your child losing trust in you and their physician. What is important is to provide correct information, to help the child overcome their fears, and to gain their trust.
WHAT IS THE BEST BRUSHING TECHNIQUE?
It is very difficult to offer preschool kids a brushing technique and have them comply. At this age, what is important is to get your child to adopt the habit of brushing teeth. When brushing their teeth, children often brush the visible or easily accessible parts of their teeth. However, microbes accumulate more easily on the interfaces or chewing surfaces. For this reason, parental control is a must during brushing. In school-aged children, it is recommended that the brush be placed at a 45-degree angle over the tooth-gum junction and to brush the visible surfaces of the teeth with circular movements and then the chewing surfaces with back and forth movements.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY CHILD BRUSH THEIR TEETH?
It is sufficient to brush two times a day: once in the morning before breakfast, and once before going to bed at night for three minutes. Like many good habits, the habit of brushing teeth can be acquired during childhood.
WHAT CAUSES DENTOPHOBIA IN CHILDREN? HOW CAN I PREVENT IT?
If you tell your child that dental treatment is nothing to fear, you will have no problems visiting the dentist. Often, parents like to say “Be good, or I’ll take you to the dentist, and he’ll pull out a good tooth!” and turn dentists into something to be feared.
1) Going to the dentists should not be perceived as a punishment by the child. On the contrary, it should be a place that they are excited to visit.
2) Another issue is not to create an association between going to the dentist, and the pain. However, misleading the child by saying “You won’t feel anything” will make future treatments difficult.
3) A good dialogue between the dentist and the child will greatly help to overcome dentophobia in children. For this purpose, please allow your child to respond to the dentist’s questions themselves.
*If these measures are not sufficient to overcome the child’s dentophobia and you would like to resume dental treatment, it is possible to do so under sedation or general anesthesia administered by an anesthesiology and reanimation specialist. Our center includes a dedicated sedation and general anesthesia department.
HOW IS ORAL HYGIENE PERFORMED IN CHILDREN?
As soon as the first teeth erupt, they should start to be cleaned. Teeth should be cleaned by wiping with a clean and damp cloth or gauze in the morning after breakfast and before going to bed at night. You can switch to a toothbrush after your baby’s posterior teeth erupt.
WHICH AND HOW MUCH TOOTHPASTE SHOULD CHILDREN USE?
Toothpaste is not recommended for infants aged 0 to 3 years old. You can start using toothpaste after the age of three. But unlike what we see in ads, not a 1-inch-long but a lentil-sized amount of toothpaste should be sufficient. Any of the fluoride toothpaste available on the market should be fine. Please remember that what is important is not the toothpaste but the brushing technique.
WHICH TOOTHBRUSH SHOULD I GET FOR MY CHILD?
Use a toothbrush made of soft and nylon bristles that will fit your child’s mouth. Hard toothbrushes can wear out teeth and should not be preferred. Just as you cannot sweep with a worn-out broom, you cannot brush with a worn-out toothbrush. Brushes should be replaced as soon as their bristles are worn out (6 months on average).
- Do not give your baby sweet foods for their last feeding.
- Give your baby some water after bottle-feeding. Give them a piece of cheese.
- Definitely do coat pacifiers with honey, molasses, or jam.
- Do not touch your baby’s spoon to your mouth during feeding, do not feed them out of your own mouth.
- Do not give your child sugary foods and drinks between two meals.
- Give your baby some water after every time he/she is done being fed.
- Babies should be weaned off bottles after one year of age and learn to use cups and spoons.
- Starting from birth, the inside of a baby’s mouth should be wiped with damp gauze, which should continue after the eruption of teeth.
- Starting from age 2, help your kids brush their teeth regularly twice a day under your supervision.
- Choose a toothbrush and paste suitable for your child’s age.
- Do not use more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Be careful that your child does not swallow toothpaste.
- Consult with your dentist for protective fluoride treatment.
- Seek treatment for any early childhood caries.
- The first molars that erupt around age 6 are permanent teeth. These should be protected with fissure sealants and any caries must be treated in a timely manner.
- Take your child for a dentist check-up every six months.