Your Child’s
First Visit

The Canadian Dental Association recommends the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth. In most cases, a dental exam every six months will let your child’s dentist catch small problems early.

Kids Dentistry

Here are 3 reasons to take your child for dental exams:

  • You can find out if the cleaning you do at home is working.
  • Your dentist can find problems right away and fix them.
  • Your child can learn that going to the dentist helps prevent problems.

Your dentist may want to take X-rays. X-rays show decay between the teeth. They will also show if teeth are coming in the way they should. Your child’s dentist may also talk to you about fluoride.

Once your child has permanent molars, your dentist may suggest sealing them to protect them from cavities. A sealant is a kind of plastic that is put on the chewing surface of the molars. The plastic seals the tooth and makes it less likely to trap food and germs.

When your child goes for a dental exam, your dentist can tell you if crooked or crowded teeth may cause problems. In many cases, crooked teeth straighten out as the child’s jaw grows and the rest of the teeth come in.

If they do not straighten out, your child may have a bite problem (also known as malocclusion). This can cause problems with eating and with teeth cleaning. It can also affect your child’s looks and make him or her feel out of place.

Your dentist can suggest ways to treat this or refer your child to a dentist. A dentist is a dental specialist with 2 to 3 years of extra university training in this area.

The dentist says my child needs a filling in a baby tooth. Since the tooth is Going to fall out, why bother?

Some primary (or baby) teeth will be in your child’s mouth until age 12. The tooth that needs to be fixed may be one of those.

Broken teeth or teeth that are infected can hurt your child’s health and the way your child feels about him or herself.

To do a filling, the dentist removes the decay and “fills” the hole with metal, plastic, or other material. A filling can be a cheap and easy way to fix a problem that could be painful and cost more later because it stops decay from spreading deeper into the tooth.

If a filling is not done and decay spreads, the tooth may need to be pulled out. If this happens, your child may need a space maintainer to hold space for the permanent tooth.

When a baby (or primary) tooth is missing, the teeth on each side may move into the space. They can block the permanent tooth from coming in. To hold the space, your dentist may put a plastic or metal space maintainer on the teeth on each side of the space, to keep the teeth from moving in.

Primary Teeth

All twenty baby teeth come in by the time your child is two to three years old.

This picture tells you when baby teeth come in most children.
If your child is getting his or her teeth and seems to be in pain, you can:

  • rub the gums with a clean finger, or
  • rub the gums with the back of a small, cool spoon.
  • If your child is still unhappy, your dentist, pharmacist or doctor can suggest an over-the-counter medicine to ease the pain.

Here’s what you should not do:

  • Do not use the kind of painkiller that can be rubbed on your child’s gums. Your child may swallow it.
  • Do not give your child teething biscuits. They may have sugar added or contain hidden sugars.
  • Do not ignore a fever. Getting new teeth does not make babies sick or give them a fever. If your child has a fever, check with your doctor.
Kids Dentistry

How is a tooth restored after root canal treatment?

After a root canal treatment, your tooth has to be restored (fixed) to look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. If an endodontist performed your root canal treatment, he or she will fill the opening of the tooth with a temporary filling and send you back to your dentist or prosthodontist for tooth restoration

Your dentist may use a permanent filling or a crown to restore your tooth. The choice of restoration will depend on the strength of the part of the tooth that’s left. A back tooth will likely need a crown because chewing puts a great deal of force on back teeth. If there is not enough of the tooth left, posts may be used to help support the crown.

The tooth is prepared for a crown. Posts are used to help support the crown.

Permanent Teeth

At age six or seven, the first adult (or permanent) teeth come in. They are known as the “first molars,” or the “six-year molars.”

They come in at the back of the mouth, behind the last baby (or primary) teeth. They do not replace any primary teeth.

Also, at around age six, children start to lose their primary teeth. The roots slowly get weak, and the tooth falls out. Children lose primary teeth until they are about 12 years old.

It’s okay for children to wiggle their primary teeth if they are loose. But it’s not okay to use force to pull out a tooth that’s not ready to come out. When a tooth comes out at the right time, there will be very little bleeding.

Why do the new permanent teeth look yellow?

Permanent teeth often look more yellow than primary teeth. This is normal. But it could also be caused by medicine your child took, by an accident that hurt a primary tooth, or by too much fluoride. Ask your dentist about this when you go for a dental exam.

Healthy Gums

Cavities are the main problem children have with their teeth. But children can get gum disease too, just like adults. It happens when the gums that hold our teeth in place get infected.

Daily brushing and flossing can stop gum disease. If your child’s gums bleed, don’t stop brushing. If the gums are always swollen, sore or bleeding, there may be a serious problem. You should take your child to the dentist.

Dental Safety

Here are some ways to protect your child’s teeth:

  • Always use infant car seats and seat belts when you drive.
  • Babies will chew on almost anything. Keep them away from hard things that could crack their teeth.
  • Children fall a lot when they are learning to walk. Teeth can break, crack, get knocked out or become loose. See your dentist if this happens.

If you have questions about your child’s teeth, talk to your dentist.

Dental Safety

Here are some ways to protect your child’s teeth:

  • Always use infant car seats and seat belts when you drive.
  • Babies will chew on almost anything. Keep them away from hard things that could crack their teeth.
  • Children fall a lot when they are learning to walk. Teeth can break, crack, get knocked out or become loose. See your dentist if this happens.

If you have questions about your child’s teeth, talk to your dentist.

Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Once your child has teeth, he is susceptible to tooth decay. Mother’s milk, formula, cow’s milk and fruit juice all contain sugars.

Babies may get early childhood tooth decay from going to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice. Unrestricted at-will breast-feeding at night may increase the risk of tooth decay, although most breast-fed children do not experience this early childhood disease.

It can happen to children up to age four. Once your child has teeth, lift his or her lips once a month and check the teeth. Look for dull white spots or lines on the teeth. These may be on the necks of the teeth next to the gums. Dark teeth are also a sign of tooth decay.

If you see any signs, go to the dentist right away. Early childhood tooth decay must be treated quickly. If not, your child may have pain and infection.

If you give your child a bottle of milk, formula or juice at bedtime, stopping all at once will not be easy. Here are some tips:

  • Put plain water in the bottle.
  • If this is turned down, give your child a clean soother, a stuffed toy or a blanket.
  • If your child cries, do not give up.
  • Comfort him / her and try again.
  • If this does not work, try watering down your child’s bottle over a week or two, until there is only plain water left.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral found in soil, water (both fresh and salt) and various foods. It has a positive effect on oral health by making teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride can also prevent or even reverse tooth decay that has started.

Fluorides are used by communities as a public health measure to adjust the concentration of fluoride in drinking water to an optimum level (community water fluoridation); by individuals in the form of toothpastes, rinses, lozenges, chewable tablets, drops; and by the dental profession in the professional application of gels, foams and varnishes.

The availability of fluorides from a variety of sources must be taken into account before embarking on a specific course of fluoride delivery. This is particularly important for children under the age of 6, where exposure to more fluoride than is required to simply prevent dental caries can cause dental fluorosis. Provided that the total daily intake of fluoride is carefully monitored, fluoride is considered to be a most important health measure in maintaining oral health.

Your dentist can assess your child’s risk of developing tooth decay and advise you of an appropriate level of fluoride protection.

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