To wrap up National Children’s Dental Health Month, we sat down with our Pediatric dentist, Dr. Lisa Mruz for a Q&A from social media. She has been practicing for more than 18 years and understands that children are not “small adults”. Pediatric patients generally require a different treatment approach. Her goal is to help her patients live happy and healthy lives by maximizing their oral and overall health, as well as to create positive dental experiences for them.
Q: When should you take your child in for their first dental appointment?
A: We should see the child by their 1st birthday, even if they don’t have teeth yet. We need to check and see that the child’s mouth, gums and teeth are developing well. Also, it is important to start developing a relationship between the child and dentist and the parent and dentist.
Q: What age is it too late for the teeth to shift back to place after pacifier usage?
A: Age six.
Q: When should you switch kids to “real” toothpaste?
A: When the child can spit toothpaste on their own. Even after that they don’t need a lot of toothpaste on the toothbrush, just a little smear will do!
Q: How do you get kids to keep their mouths open at dental appointments?
A: All kinds of things; distraction, demonstration, jokes and playing around. Really anything that will work, every child is different.
Q: Does thumb sucking as a toddler affect tooth alignment when permanent teeth come in?
A: If the child stops at a young age (before their adult teeth come in) we can see natural corrections. If they are sucking their thumb when they have adult teeth, it can move the adult teeth.
Q: How do you get through the “toddler screaming, hating their teeth being brushed” phase?
A: Just keep brushing and let them know that both children and grownups must brush their teeth.
Q: What is proper mouth hygiene before teeth come in?
A: Wipe their gums with a clean, damp washcloth or the little finger toothbrushes. Don’t put them down with a bottle at bed or nap time.
Q: When teething, does brushing cause more discomfort and irritation of gums?
A: A clean mouth is a healthy mouth! Continue to brush gently even when teething. In the long run, the gums will be less irritated when the teeth are coming in if there is less bacteria in the mouth.
Q: How do you get kids to not eat toothpaste?
A: Put a very small amount of toothpaste on the brush. Keep the toothpaste out of reach when you’re not using it just like any other medication.
Q: What is your best overall advice that you would give your patients and their parents?
A: As always, a healthy mouth is a healthy body!
Here is Dr. Mruz when she was a pediatric dental patient herself: