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COMMON CONCERNS

What is the normal development of teeth?
At birth, people usually have 20 primary (baby) teeth. These can begin to erupt as early as six months of age. These teeth are shed throughout childhood to make room for permanent (adult teeth).

Normally, the first teeth children lose are the baby front teeth and this occurs at about six or seven years of age. From this age until your child reaches about age 13, the remaining baby teeth are lost and replaced by adult teeth. The final baby teeth are lost when the second molars are replaced by permanent second bicuspids.

My child has a double row of front teeth. How did this happen and what should I do?
This is not uncommon. Sometimes permanent (adult) teeth come in behind the primary (baby) teeth before they fall out. If the primary teeth do not fall out on their own, they may have to be removed. Once the primary teeth are gone, the permanent teeth should move into the proper position. Sometimes, an appliance may be needed to guide these teeth in properly. If you have concerns about this, please contact Dr. Vinsky to arrange an appointment.

What causes cavities and why do they need to be treated?
A cavity is a small hole that forms on the surface of a tooth. They are caused when the bacteria on our teeth eat the sugars in our diet to produce an acid. The more often we eat sugars, the more often bacteria produce acids and the more often the tooth is exposed to this acid attack. These acids break the tooth down. Given enough time, the tooth chips away and the bacteria invade the tooth. The bacteria then burrow like little rodents through the teeth toward the nerve. Once there, the nerve becomes infected and dies. This is of great concern because the infection can spread throughout the body and cause a life-threatening infection.

It is only in the earliest stages of cavity formation that the process can be reversed with fluoride. Once the outer surface of the tooth breaks down, the cavity will only get worse unless it is treated.

If my child has a lot of decay on baby teeth will that mean his adult teeth will too?
Not necessarily, but it can. If the decay was caused by poor dental hygiene and diet, you can eliminate these factors to ensure strong, healthy permanent teeth.

My eight year old has a large space between her two permanent front teeth, what can be done?
This is fairly common and not usually a cause for concern. Once the other surrounding permanent teeth erupt, they usually act to close the gap. If we determine that there is a problem, we can address it as part of your child’s regular dental visits.

My child sucks his/her thumb. Is this bad for teeth?
Babies have a natural sucking reflex and doing so helps them to relax. By age one, however, it is recommended that children stop using a soother and are discouraged from sucking on a thumb. As a general rule, the teeth will position themselves where the pressures of the tongue, lips and cheeks all balance. When this balance is disturbed, such as when a child sucks a thumb or uses a soother, the pressure that results from this habit can overpower the normal balances in the mouth and cause the bite to mold itself around the thumb or soother.

How frequently, how intensely and how long a child keeps this habit going (or how much they “love doing it”) will determine the amount of change that occurs. These factors will also determine how hard it will be to stop the habit as well as the extent of the change to the bite. Bite correction and habit managemennt may be needed depending on the amount of change that is seen at your dental visit.

In terms of dental health, it’s important to never put sugar, honey or corn syrup on a soother as this can cause cavities. The same is true for allowing your baby to sleep with a bottle in his/her mouth.

Are dental X-rays safe?
The level of radiation used for dental X-rays is very low. The use of a lead apron covering the patient’s upper body also ensures that exposure is limited.

X-rays are an important diagnostic tool and help dentists determine potential problems that might otherwise not be discovered.

How often an X-ray is taken will vary based on your child’s dental health and cavity risk.