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What should I do in a dental emergency?

If it is during business hours:

  • Call and come into the office. For emergencies, no appointment is needed; however please call in advance, if possible, so the office will expect your visit.

If it is after business hours:

  • If you are a Kool Smiles patient, please call your office and you will be directed to the doctor on call.

For immediate attention, or if you are not a Kool Smiles patient

  • Call 911 for immediate assistance
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room

When should tooth brushing and flossing begin?

Parents should begin brushing their baby's teeth as soon as the first tooth appears in the mouth. It is also a good idea to use a clean finger or a damp cloth to wipe the gums even before the teeth erupt. When brushing your child's teeth, use a soft-bristled brush with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste. A child should begin flossing when two teeth erupt next to each other, to prevent cavities from forming in-between. Flossing is especially important for the molars, because they are generally closer to each other than the front teeth are.

How often should I replace a toothbrush?

General dentists and hygienists recommend that you replace your child's toothbrush approximately every three to four months, or when the bristles appear worn. A worn toothbrush may not clean your child's teeth effectively and could harm the gums.

What should I do for a toothache?

To help relieve your child's toothache, thoroughly clean the area around the sore tooth. Then rinse the child's mouth vigorously with warm salt water, or use dental floss to dislodge trapped food or debris. Apply a cold compress to reduce any swelling. See your child's general dentist as soon possible.

When should my child visit the general dentist for the first time?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children begin check-ups at their first birthday, or when their first tooth erupts. This will help you to establish a preventive care routine that will create a smile for a lifetime.

What should I do for a cut or bite inside the cheek?

If your child cuts or bites their cheek, tongue, or lips, apply ice to the bruised area immediately. Apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean cloth or a piece of gauze. If the bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, you may need to consult an emergency room physician.

What should I do for a broken tooth?

A broken tooth requires immediate dental attention. Rinse away any dirt from the injured area. Locate and save any tooth fragments and seek emergency dental care as soon as possible.

If your child knocks out a permanent tooth, immediately try to find the tooth. Rinse the tooth in cold water but be careful not to touch the root. Try to re-insert the tooth into the socket, and hold it in place by having your child bite down on a clean piece of gauze or cloth. If the tooth cannot be re-inserted, take it to the dentist in a cup of cold water or milk. Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth, so be sure to see your general dentist within 30 minutes.

One of the biggest concerns about injury to the baby teeth is the possibility that they will be pushed into the gum and cause damage to developing permanent teeth. If you suspect that this type of injury has occurred, please bring your child for dental X-rays as soon as possible.

What should I do if my child bleeds after losing a baby tooth?

If your child bleeds after losing a baby tooth, fold and pack a clean piece of gauze over the bleeding area. Have the child bite on the gauze with pressure for 15 minutes. If bleeding persists, consult a general dentist.

What should I know about bottles, pacifiers, and thumb sucking?

To promote optimal oral health, parents are encouraged to wean infants from a bottle, pacifier, thumb, and nursing when the first baby molars start to erupt. For most infants, that's at approximately 14 to 18 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises that weaning a child at about this age is an effective way to prevent many forms of decay in the baby teeth.

What should I know about baby teeth?

Even before you can see them, baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) are developing under your infant's gums. Though they eventually fall out, taking care of your child's baby teeth is important because they reserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth.

Watch how early dental care will help to create a healthy smile for a lifetime. Visit Kool Smiles at age one, or when your child's first tooth comes in. Watch the video »

Patterns of primary or baby tooth eruption vary from child to child. However, there are usually eight front teeth present by the first year; by three years of age, all 20 primary teeth are usually present. There are many differences between primary and permanent teeth. Primary teeth are smaller, whiter, and have a more rounded profile than permanent teeth. Primary molars have more cusps (rounded points) than premolars and sometimes resemble tiny flower buds! Permanent molars eventually erupt behind the primary molars and are substantially larger than any of the other teeth.

A baby tooth usually stays in until a permanent tooth underneath pushes it out and takes its place. Children usually lose their primary teeth between the ages of 6 and 12. Usually, the lower front teeth are lost first, followed by the upper front teeth. Eventually, all 20 primary teeth will be lost.

Unfortunately, some children lose their baby teeth too soon. A tooth might be knocked out accidentally or removed because of dental disease. When a tooth is lost too early, your general dentist may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems. Space maintainers preserve the room created by a lost tooth. They are small and unobtrusive, and most children easily adjust to them after the first few days. It's more affordable and easier on your child to keep teeth in their normal positions with a space maintainer than to move them back in place later with orthodontic treatment.

Make sure you take care of your child's primary teeth; he or she will have them for nearly 12 years.

What if my child has a visible cavity?

It is never a good idea to ignore tooth decay—even in primary (baby) teeth. Primary teeth serve many functions, and most children have their primary teeth for nearly 12 years. Untreated decay will spread into the other teeth and greatly impair your child's ability to eat and speak properly.

The outer layer of enamel on primary teeth is much thinner than it is on permanent teeth. Once the second layer of the tooth, known as dentin, is exposed, it is much easier for decay to spread to other primary teeth.

It is important to take good care of primary teeth, because they maintain the proper spacing for your child's permanent teeth. To save a primary tooth with extreme tooth decay, your general dentist might suggest a baby root canal (also called a pulpotomy) as an alternative to extraction. Baby root canals are much easier and quicker than root canals performed on permanent teeth.

How can I maintain proper oral hygiene for myself and my child?

Following a program of good oral care can greatly contribute to a person's overall nutrition and general well-being. People with healthy teeth are able to chew more easily, digest food better, and enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods. By practicing daily oral hygiene at home, eating nutritious meals, and making regular dental visits, you will help make sure your mouth stays healthy. A bright, healthy smile will make you and your child look and feel better.

Routine cleanings every six months and proper brushing and flossing every day are the smart and simple ways to enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

What are healthy, affordable sources of protein?

For your daily protein needs, the most affordable yet healthy options include: eggs, nuts and nut butters, beans and lentils (canned or dry), greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and chunk light tuna. Note: Kids usually don’t need to worry about cholesterol, but if you’re an adult, eat only one egg per day.

What are the worst foods for my teeth?

- Foods with sugars produce acids which eat away at the enamel of your teeth. Be sure and brush and floss after eating any of these foods:

- Candy, especially chewy or hard candy. Eat candy rarely!

- Potato chips and flour-based snacks (crackers, pretzels, bread) can turn into a paste after chewing, and get trapped in the spaces between teeth.

- Acidic foods like citrus fruits and pickles.

- Soda might actually be worse for your teeth than candy! Carbonated soft drinks—even diet versions—can wear away at tooth enamel and take minerals from your teeth.

What foods and drinks can stain my teeth?

- Drinks such as coffee, tea, and red wine are the biggest culprits in staining teeth.

- Blue, purple, and red berries are a lesser known cause of food stains.

- Foods and candies that contain a high amount of dye and stain your tongue may likely stain your teeth as well over the long term.

- Soy sauce, curry sauce, tomato sauce, and other sauces with deep colors can stain teeth if eaten regularly.

What foods are good for my teeth?

- Chicken and other lean meats contain calcium and phosphorus which can help rebuild tooth enamel.

- Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples or celery are filled with water so they help clean teeth. The chewing massages the gums and stimulates saliva flow which washes away acid from your teeth.

- Dairy products contain calcium, which is good for your teeth. They also help neutralize acids in the mouth. Hard cheeses like cheddar can actually help clean teeth. Dairy products do contain natural sugars so be sure and brush after eating!

What drinks are good for my teeth?

- Water is the ideal drink of choice, but a daily cup of green or black tea can help fight bacteria and gum inflammation.

- Avoid sodas, juices, and sports drinks, as they bathe the teeth in sugar and create a perfect environment for cavity-causing bacteria.

- Avoid soda especially, as carbonated drinks (even plain soda water) contain phosphoric acid which can remove minerals from your teeth and eat away tooth enamel.

What should I tell my dentist during a dental visit?

Let your dentist know if you or your child have…

- any pain in your mouth, teeth, or jaw

- a strange taste in your mouth or smell to your breath

- a dry mouth

- tender or bleeding gums

- a sore jaw, or hear grinding or popping sounds when you speak or eat

What questions should I ask the dentist about my child’s teeth?

Ask your dentist if:

- your child’s teeth and jaws are forming properly

- your child is flossing enough

- they would recommend sealants for cavity prevention

- they have any tricks for getting kids to brush their teeth

What questions should I ask my dentist about my own teeth?

Ask your dentist if:

- you are flossing enough

- you should start using a fluoride rinse

- your mouth, teeth, and gums look healthy

- there are any foods they recommend for your dental health

there is anything you need to tell your family doctor

What questions should I ask before undergoing any dental procedure?

- Is this treatment absolutely necessary?

- What will happen if I don’t undergo this treatment?

- Are there other less expensive options?

- How much will it cost me, and how much will my insurance cover?

What is the least expensive type of dental filling?

Metal fillings that are silver in color and made from a mix of mercury, silver, tin, and copper are the least inexpensive. They are also long-lasting. One drawback is that a larger portion of the healthy tooth must be removed to make room for the filling. The filling can also expand and shrink over time, causing cracks in the tooth

What fillings last the longest?

Mercury fillings and gold fillings usually last the longest, around 10-15 years.

Can I get a filling that will match my tooth color?

Yes. Composite fillings are made of a mix of glass and plastic, and can be blended to perfectly match your tooth color. They don’t last as long as metal fillings (around 5 years), and are typically more expensive.

Why do white fillings cost more than metal fillings?

White (composite) fillings are made of more expensive materials and require more time to place properly. Metal fillings are made from a mix of mercury and other inexpensive metals.

What is the strongest type of filling?

Gold is much stronger than other filling materials, and can last for decades in a filling. But it comes at a very high cost and does not match tooth color. 

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