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Periodic Dental Checkups for Your Child

Why is it important for my children to be seen by a Houston pediatric every six months?

Children are growing and changing so fast that each of their six-month checkups is essentially a new-patient examination. Teeth are being lost, new ones are growing in, bones are lengthening and elongating, and the bite is being established. Seeing your child every six months lets your Houston pediatric track the progress of these events and catch any problems early, when they are easier to correct.

When should I bring in my child for his first dental examination?

Some Houston pediatrics recommend that children be brought in for an examination as soon as their first tooth appears (usually between five and eight months, but definitely by one year) so that the parents can learn how to prevent infant tooth decay. During these early visits, most dentists will discuss the need to begin cleaning teeth as soon as they appear in your child's mouth, the importance of not putting your child to bed with a bottle, and the use of fluoride supplements.

I don't want any X-rays taken of my of children. They're not really necessary, are they?

A dental exam isn't complete without X-rays, since they show structures and disease processes that can't be seen with the naked eye. If you're concerned about radiation, consider this fact: the two X-ray examinations you receive at your six-month checkups equal approximately thirty minutes of exposure to the sun on a California beach.

My son never eats any sugar. How can he have so many cavities?

There are many hidden sugars in bread, potatoes or even milk that can cause the same sort of decay produced by white sugar. For example, fruit rollups and raisins contain sugars that can stick to tooth surfaces far longer than those in a soft drink. Drinks in a baby bottle, even milk, can cause tooth decay if a baby is allowed to keep the bottle in her mouth for extended periods.
If your child is an infant and still nursing, his upper front teeth are being bathed in milk sugars for extended periods. These sugars are nutrients for the oral bacteria that cause early infant decay. You can avoid this decay by carefully cleaning his teeth with a soft infant toothbrush or by wiping his teeth clean at the end of each feeding. Use a washcloth, cotton swab, or cotton ball to do this.

My other children never had any cavities. How can Nicole have six?

Nicole may be getting more cavities because her teeth are closer together, so food gets trapped between them and causes decay. Or she may be eating more sugary treats than her brothers or sisters. Do some detective work. A likely culprit is Nicole's dental hygiene. See how often she is really brushing and flossing.

My daughter is terrified of all doctors. How will she do if she needs a filling?

When given appropriate and truthful information, most children do well with their dentist. Since kids can easily sense fear or concern in their parents, let your Houston pediatric work alone with your child. Once the dentist has developed a bond with your child, her behavior during treatment may far exceed your expectations.

I want my son to have a positive dental experience. I don't want any sedation, restraint, or firm voices used with him. Is this possible?

Yes, but much depends on the age of your child. If he is two or three years old and needs a great deal of treatment, it isn't likely that he can sit through several long visits that involve complicated procedures without some form of sedation. However, if your child is older, or needs minimum treatment, his experience at the Houston pediatric dentist will probably be quite positive. Before treatment, it's best to let your dentist meet your child, then determine how best to provide the kind of care you want.

Go here for tips on your child's first dental visit.


There are many benefits in the use of fluoride, for people of all ages. When children are young and their teeth are forming, fluoride joins with the enamel surface and makes it harder and more decay-resistant.

Most Houston pediatrics recommend fluoride toothpaste for all dental patients. Your dentist may also recommend additional sources of fluoride for increased protection. This includes:

  • drops
  • tablets
  • gels or rinses
  • prescription toothpaste

Another highly effective time for fluoride application is immediately following your cleaning in the dental office. A topical gel is applied with the use of a tray or with a cotton applicator.

Fluoride is an important part of every tooth decay prevention program. When combined with the good hygiene habits of brushing and flossing, the number of cavities in children and adults can be dramatically reduced.

Are sealants really helpful for teeth?

Sealants are very effective on permanent back teeth. Their effectiveness depends on how well they fill the very narrow, deep grooves of the sides and chewing surfaces of permanent teeth. They do not coat the entire tooth surface, so using them doesn't guarantee that teeth will not decay. Yet they certainly decrease the chances of problems in the most commonly decayed areas of the back teeth.


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