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Dental FAQ

We’re sharing the questions we hear most often as a Greenville dentist for kids.

01. At what age should kids go to the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, as well as numerous other health organizations, recommends kids have their first dental check-up by age 1. This might sound really young, but a baby can get a cavity as soon as their first tooth erupts.

These early visits are primarily meant to help kids build a relationship with the dentist and get used to the sights and sounds of the dental office. This makes future visits easier and starts to establish the foundation for lifelong oral health.

The dentist will also ensure your baby’s teeth and gums are healthy and their development is on track. Dr. Chay and Dr. Hendrix always take the time at these visits to teach parents how to care for their child’s smile and prevent cavities, which are among the most common infectious diseases of childhood.

02. When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

You can kick off your infant’s oral hygiene routine before they have any teeth by simply wiping down their gums after feedings with a clean washcloth or damp piece of sterile gauze. Once your baby’s first tooth erupts, start brushing using an infant-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush and a tiny smear of toothpaste (no larger than a grain of rice).

03. When should I start flossing my child’s teeth?

You can start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as any two teeth are touching. If there are spaces between your kiddo’s teeth, then you probably don’t need to floss just yet and brushing alone will be enough to clean them. At your first visit with a Greenville pediatric dentist, they’ll give you personalized recommendations and pointers.

04. How often should my child have a dental exam and cleaning?

Dr. Jon Chay and Dr. Martha Hendrix will assess your child’s risk for tooth decay. If your child is at a high risk for oral health concerns, we may have them come in more frequently. However, for most kids, we recommend visiting once every six months (twice a year) for a dental exam and cleaning.

05. How can I prevent my child from getting cavities?

These are the tried-and-true ways to reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay or cavities:

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste (use a tiny smear of toothpaste starting with the first tooth and increase it to a pea-sized amount for kids ages 3 to 6).
  • Floss your little one’s teeth once a day if their teeth are close together or touching.
  • Offer sugary and starchy foods and drinks in moderation.
  • Limit how often your child snacks. Continuous snacking and sipping can lead to cavities.
  • Don’t share straws or utensils with your child.
  • Avoid putting a baby or toddler to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup.
  • Keep up with regular dental exams and cleanings.

Education is a big part of what our Greenville kids’ dentists do! When you come in for visits at Oak Tree Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Chay or Dr. Hendrix will provide you with personalized advice about cavity prevention, as well as recommendations that are tailored to your child’s unique needs.

06. Do baby teeth really require treatment? Won’t they fall out anyway?

Baby teeth, or primary teeth, play a number of important roles, including aiding in dental, jaw and facial development, helping with speech, enabling kids to chew and saving room for the permanent teeth to come in properly. Losing baby teeth too early can cause complications, including orthodontic issues, down the road.

For that reason, if a baby tooth is decayed or damaged, it will often need to be restored, so that it can continue to do its job until it’s ready to fall out naturally. In some cases, if a baby tooth needs to be extracted or is knocked out, a dental space maintainer could be recommended to preserve space for the permanent tooth to come in.

07. What should I do if my child has a dental emergency?

If your child has a severe toothache, their tooth is knocked out or they experience any other kind of dental emergency, call our office right away at (864) 232-3333. We offer emergency pediatric dental services in Greenville and we’ll get your child in for a visit as soon as possible. Check out our dental emergencies page to learn more about what to do in the case of pain or a dental injury.

08. Are dental x-rays safe for kids?

Absolutely! Dental x-rays are safe for children and we only recommend them when necessary and not as a matter of routine. At Oak Tree Pediatric Dentistry, we use modern digital x-rays that emit up to 80% less radiation than traditional dental x-rays. We also have strict safeguards in place and follow or exceed all guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Tooth decay, infection and other dental concerns can impact your child’s oral health and overall health, as well as interfere with school and activities. Dental x-rays are the only way that Dr. Chay and Dr. Hendrix can see beneath the enamel, in between the teeth and under the gum tissue to properly visualize, diagnose and treat a range of issues. If you have concerns about your child getting dental x-rays, we’ll be happy to weigh the risks versus the benefits with you at their appointment.

09. Is fluoride safe for kids?

Yes, fluoride is safe and incredibly effective in preventing cavities. In fact, water fluoridation is considered one of the greatest public health achievements in modern history. While an excessive amount of fluoride can lead to fluorosis, which causes white spots or pitting on the tooth enamel, not enough fluoride can result in tooth decay.

As experts in kids’ oral health, Dr. Chay and Dr. Hendrix will assess your child’s fluoride intake and ensure they’re getting the optimal amount to keep their teeth strong and healthy. We understand some families are fluoride-free. If that’s the case, we’ll work with you to explore other ways to reduce your child’s risk of cavities.