frequently asked questions about dentistry
Going to the dentist or bringing other members of your family to the dentist can raise many questions or concerns. At Family Dentistry of New Jersey, we've heard many of them before. To help you prepare for your next visit or to help you maintain your oral hygiene in the meantime, we're answering some of the most common dental questions we receive. Check out this family dentistry, dental hygiene and teeth FAQ list to get some of your most important questions answered.

At What Age Should I Start Taking My Child to See the Dentist?

One of our most frequently asked dental questions is about when to start bringing a child to the dentist. Based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child can start seeing a dentist somewhere between six months, and at the absolute latest, at the age of one year.
It is essential to take your child to the dentist by the age of one is because this is the period where baby teeth usually start coming in. A dentist needs to examine how healthy your child's first teeth are. After that, you should schedule a checkup for your child every six months.

How Can I Prepare My Child for Visiting the Dentist?

If your child is anxious about visiting the dentist, we recommend bringing them to our office for a pre-tour before their actual appointment. If this is not possible, consider showing them pictures of our staff and office on our website. This allows them to become comfortable with the space beforehand. You can also play games with your child or use a cloth to wipe their teeth after feeding to prepare them for their first visit.

Explain to your child how important it is to have healthy teeth and that the dentist wants to help them do that. It's also important to lead by example for your child. Ensure that they see you practicing good oral hygiene habits such as flossing and brushing your own teeth. In addition to that, be positive about the dentist as children can often sense dental fear or anxiety from their parents.

How Often Should I Bring My Child in for Routine Dental Checkups?

Children should go for regular dental checkups every six months. At six-month checkup appointments, we can clean their teeth to remove plaque or tartar buildup and prevent more serious issues in the future. Because children grow and develop very quickly, the six-month dental checkups also allow us to examine any possible abnormalities in your child's bite, facial structure, tooth mobility and the spacing of their teeth.

If we notice any new issues since the last checkup, we can provide the correct, effective treatment. Bringing your child for routine dental checkups from an early age also reinforces the importance of good oral hygiene and dental care for them.

When Should I Change My Toothbrush?

Because toothbrushes deteriorate and get worn out over time if you're brushing your teeth at least twice a day, we suggest you replace your toothbrush and your child's toothbrush at least once every three months. With electric toothbrushes, you might not have to replace the toothbrush heads as often. Read and follow the directions for your specific toothbrush.

We recommend that people who suffer from gum disease replace their toothbrushes more frequently, at least once every four to six weeks, to prevent spreading bacteria. People who have recently been ill are also encouraged to replace their toothbrushes as soon as possible afterward. A helpful tip is to rinse your toothbrush under hot water after brushing your teeth, as this cleans the bristles. To disinfect the brush, you could use mouthwash or try a UV sanitizer.

How Many Times a Day Should I Brush My Teeth?

We recommend brushing your teeth at least twice every day for at least two minutes each time. This removes food and prevents plaque buildup.

What Causes Cavities?

People's mouths are covered in bacteria, and when this bacteria comes into contact with any sugars left behind on the teeth, the bacteria produce acid. This acid then starts attacking the teeth's enamel. A cavity or hole in the tooth forms after the acid has gotten through a tooth's enamel.

Children do not have this type of cavity-causing bacteria in their mouths from birth. They get this type of bacteria from their parents, caregivers or other family members through using the same eating utensils or cups, sharing drinks or using pacifiers that a caregiver cleaned with their mouth. Caregivers need to limit these kinds of habits to decrease a child's risk of getting cavities later on.

What Is a Fluoride Treatment and Does My Child Need One?

Fluoride treatments are effective for strengthening the enamel of teeth for adults and especially children. Two different types of fluoride treatments are available. The first type is a fluoride varnish, which gets applied with a soft brush. Once the varnish is applied, you cannot floss or brush your teeth for four to six hours afterward. It is also recommended that you wait two hours before drinking and four hours before eating and only eat soft foods for the rest of the day.

The second type of fluoride treatment is a fluoride gel, which takes about four minutes to apply. After this treatment, you should not eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes. These fluoridated gels and varnishes contain a higher concentration of fluoride than store-bought treatments. Kids should begin receiving fluoride treatments after they get their first tooth and then every three to six months after that. As dental professionals, we can determine which treatment is the most appropriate for your child.

Why Are Dental X-Rays Important?

From the age of six years, children's permanent teeth start to come in. Dental X-rays help dental professionals determine whether your child's jaws and teeth are aligned. There are two types of dental X-rays that we often use for children.

Bite-wing X-rays allow us to examine the teeth at the back of the mouth, whereas panoramic X-rays allow us to examine the growth and the development of your child's teeth. Dental X-rays can also assist us in assessing your child's teeth more comprehensively and check for any cavities.

Does Whitening Toothpaste Work?

Whitening toothpaste can vary in its ability to whiten teeth. They often appear to whiten teeth to a certain extent by removing surface-level stains on the teeth, such as coffee or smoking stains, for example. However, these kinds of toothpaste will not alter the actual color of your teeth, nor will they be able to lighten a stain that is deeper than the surface level.

In addition, some whitening toothpastes include harsh abrasives and chemicals that could start to harm and damage the natural enamel of your teeth with repeated use. Over time, this could also cause increased tooth sensitivity. If you're interested in an effective teeth whitening solution, schedule a teeth whitening appointment with FDNJ.

I Just Found Out I Am Pregnant. How Can This Affect My Mouth?

About 60%-75% of pregnant women experience pregnancy gingivitis. This is a condition that can cause discomfort, redness, bleeding, swelling and increased sensitivity of the gums.

Another more advanced oral condition, periodontal disease, could also affect your baby's health. In more severe cases of periodontal disease, high levels of the oral bacteria prostaglandin can be found. This bacteria can produce a labor-inducing chemical, contributing to women having low birth weight or preterm babies. It is imperative to let your dentist know if you are pregnant so that they can take extra precautions in ensuring your dental care is safe for your baby and for yourself.

Schedule an Appointment With FDNJ

If you have any other dental health or dental hygiene questions for our dentists, please feel free to contact us. Our team of dental professionals is always happy to answer any other teeth-related questions and provide you with the necessary dental care information. Or, if you're ready to schedule a visit, we can answer your questions during your next dental appointment at FDNJ.