We all have questions about our little ones and how we can best take care of them. Dr. Sara answers some of the most common questions parents have.

Baby teeth help with chewing and eating for healthy growth. They help to guide and hold the space for the permanent teeth and help to promote proper speech. Untreated problems with the baby teeth can affect the growth and development of permanent teeth and increase their risk for cavities on the grown up teeth.
Well baby teeth do eventually fall out, they have a strong purpose and some of them will be in the mouth until around the age of 12. Also children start to get their permanent teeth around 5-6 years old. That means some of these baby teeth will be in the mouth with permanent teeth for 6 years. Cavities are contagious and the bacteria live in our saliva. If we just ignored cavities then we put the permanent teeth at risk and those teeth won’t be replaced with another set.
Generally the first tooth erupts around 6-8 months of age. Don’t be concerned though if your child is a few months early or delayed. There is a very wide range of normal when it comes to timing for tooth eruption. Most children experience some discomfort during this process and we recommend palliative treatments such as a cool teething toy or wet cold washcloth. Tylenol can also be given if it is ok with your Pediatrician. Please avoid any OTC teething gels as these can be dangerous for young children. By age 3 generally all 20 of the baby teeth will have erupted. Make sure that you start brushing the teeth as soon as they erupt!
We know this is a comforting habit for young infants, but if prolonged it can cause significant changes to the dental structures. The constant pressure from prolonged sucking can move the teeth and redirect the jaw growth. You can see kids develop an open bite or their palate may be narrow causing a cross-bite. All these changes do not only cause an esthetic concern, but can also affect chewing, breathing and swallowing as well.

Dr. Sara recommends using a pacifier until 18 months and then eliminating the habit by 24 months to help try and minimize these changes. We understand that this can be difficult, but we can discuss ways to help with this at home. Thumb sucking is a more difficult habit to break. We would be happy to discuss different methods with you to help stop this habit as soon as possible.

We recommend that all children be seen by their first birthday, which follows the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. This is so that we can focus on prevention and building good habits from the start. Establishing this at a young age will not only allow us to focus on prevention and education, but it also helps us to build trust with your child to make them comfortable. If an emergency or restorative need should arise down the line, we will have a relationship that will help make this process easy. Also, having a history with your child will allow us to time treatment and refer for other care at the appropriate time.
Before the teeth erupt it is a good idea to clean their mouths with a clean washcloth to get them used to you being in their mouth and to wipe out the food or milk that may be sitting on the tongue or gums. Once the teeth erupt you should start brushing them with a soft toothbrush with a light smear of kid’s fluorinated toothpaste. Make sure it is just a very small amount, this will have a great topical effect on the erupted teeth and the amount they will swallow is very minimal.

Ideally we start flossing when two teeth are touching. The toothbrush bristles just can’t get in between those teeth to clean it. Using the small tooth flossers can make this a much easier experience for both you and your child.

The AAPD now recommends using a small smear of kid’s fluorinated toothpaste as soon as the teeth erupt. Using this small amount will give the topical effect of fluoride and a very minimal systemic effect. When children are closer to 3 years old Dr. Sara suggests to increase this amount of fluorinated toothpaste to a small pea sized amount. At this age you should work on spitting out excess toothpaste with your kids.
Dr. Sara always likes to encourage kids to take a turn brushing. We recommend this happen without the fluoride toothpaste and just a wet toothbrush. After they take their turn an adult should “check” them and go over the brushing using the fluoride toothpaste this time. At every visit we will evaluate the oral hygiene and discuss when solo brushing can begin. Often times we correlate it with when kids can tie their own shoelaces, so closer to 7-8 years old.
Tooth grinding is very common in kids. Roughly half of all children grind their teeth. Some do it occasionally and others will grind all night. Most children will grow out of this habit by the time their adult teeth start to erupt. Sometimes we will see some wear on the baby teeth, but it rarely needs treatment. If it continues as more permanent teeth erupt then we will consider a night guard to help protect those new permanent teeth. Let us know if this is something you see and we will monitor this at each dental appointment.
This is a very common question we get. They are a few genetic teeth defects, but these are very rare. More often we see a similar patterns between parents caries risk and their children. The cavity causing bacteria in the parents mouth can and will spread to their children’s mouths. So if parents have a history of untreated cavities or a high cavity risk there is a good possibility that high levels of these bacteria may be passed on to your child.

One of the best things you can do as a parent is make sure you are a good role model for total health. Eat and drink healthy things, brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist every six months. Your kids look up to you and will watch for good behaviors.

Fluoride in small amounts when used properly can very effective in preventing and controlling cavities. Fluoride can be found in our water sources and is naturally occurring in some foods as well. In general we tend to not recommend extra fluoride supplementation, however we do recommend using fluorinated toothpastes. This type of fluoride use is topical and is the most beneficial to your child’s erupted teeth. Make sure to use it in small amounts. For children under 3 years old a small smear or rice sized amount is more than enough. When your child is over 3 years old a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is perfect. Work on spitting out excess toothpaste around this age. We can discuss this further at each dental visit to see what might be best for you and your family.
Dental x-rays are an essential part of understanding your child’s dental health. They let us see the big picture when it comes to your child’s growth and development. We also need to take them so that we are able to help treat things early before they become a problem or cause discomfort for your child. Every child is different so we will evaluate your child’s needs for radiographs at their 6-month visits. We utilize the most advance technique and protective measures to help minimize your child’s exposure to the minimal radiation needed.
We have an open door policy when it comes to parents at the dental office. We are proud of what we do and are happy to share it with you so you are welcome to accompany your child. We do want to create a relationship with your child and sometimes that may mean that we will need you to be a silent observer so your child can focus on Dr. Sara and her team. When your children get older we encourage them to come back by themselves so that we can have that one on one time with them and help them build their own skills. If you have any concerns or questions please let us know. We want kids and parents to be happy!


Call Us: (425) 481-7827

The American Association of Pediatric Dentists has published some emergency guidelines. You can read them here, or download the PDF.

Knocked Out Baby Tooth: Once a baby tooth has been knocked out there is no chance to save it. Do not attempt to re-implant a baby tooth as it could cause damage to the permanent tooth that is developing. Let us know if this happens and we can evaluate to make sure there are no other injuries.

Damaged Permanent Tooth (Chip or Fracture): Depending on the extent of the injury this can be a small problem or a very sensitive tooth. Call us to discuss the extent of the injury so we can decide on an appropriate course of action.

Knocked Out Permanent Tooth: Find it and hold it by the crown of the tooth, not the root. Rinse it with water only. Never use soap or scrub the tooth. If you cannot re-insert the tooth then transport it in milk or saliva. No matter what, time is critical. Get to a dentist quickly and safely.

Chipped or Fractured Baby Tooth: Depending on the extent of this injury this can be a small problem or more complicated. Call us so we discuss the extent of the injury so we can decide on an appropriate course of action. With a baby tooth the treatment options may be limited compared to an adult tooth and we it may require additional visits to re-evaluate for signs of infection.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw: Keep your child from moving his or her jaw. Then take your child to the nearest hospital or emergency room.