Pediatric Dentistry in Harrisburg, NC
Dr. David P. Ney, DDS, is your child-friendly dentist in Harrisburg, NC. With over 25 years of experience, Dr. Ney provides expert pediatric dentistry in a warm and welcoming environment. Being proactive about your child’s dental care is crucial: oral health impacts your child’s overall health, self-esteem, socialization, and school performance.
While every child’s development is different, your baby will likely start teething around 6-8 months old when their baby teeth begin to come in. Baby teeth are also called deciduous or primary teeth, and the first to appear are typically the two front teeth on the bottom gumline. Baby teeth tend to erupt in pairs over a few years. On average, all 20 of a child’s primary teeth will have grown in by their third birthday.
Baby teeth begin to fall out around age 6, when the fully-grown permanent teeth move downward, pushing against them. For the next six years or so, your child will lose their baby teeth as their adult teeth erupt. The first to fall out are the front teeth, followed by the canines. The last teeth your child will lose are the premolars.
By age 12 or 13, you can expect all of your child’s adult teeth to have grown in, barring the wisdom teeth, which erupt around age 17-21.
Caring For Your Child’s Teeth
Oral healthcare begins before your baby even has their first tooth. Proper gum care includes wiping the gums twice daily. Using a soft, clean washcloth, wipe the baby’s mouth in the morning after they are first fed. Before bed, you should wipe them again. This helps to remove bacteria that can cause cavities in the primary teeth when they erupt.
When your child’s first teeth grow in, you should brush them twice daily with a soft-bristle brush and plain water. Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be scheduled by their first birthday or in the six months after their first tooth comes in.
Until your child is about 6 years old, you should watch them brush so that they can develop proper brushing habits. They should brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride, an important ingredient in toothpaste, is a mineral that helps prevent cavities and strengthens the teeth’s enamel. The water in Harrisburg is fluoridated, so encouraging your child to drink from the tap helps to maintain healthy teeth. The health of your child’s premolars is particularly important. Since they are less visible and the surface is rougher than other teeth, they are harder to clean effectively, making them vulnerable to bacteria and infection.
Your Child’s First Pediatric Dentistry Appointment
When children are young, new experiences can be scary. You can help prepare your child for their first visit to Dr. Ney by explaining what they can expect. Your mindset about going to the dentist is key. Even if you had difficult dental experiences growing up, it’s important to stay positive. Express to your child that visiting Dr. Ney is just a normal part of childhood.
At their first appointment, your child will meet Dr. Ney and sit in the chair to become familiar with the environment. The aim is to make your child feel comfortable and relaxed at our office. These first appointments help you and your child build a relationship with Dr. Ney. At this time, Dr. Ney may ask you if your baby sucks their thumb, grinds their teeth, or sucks their lips. These details give Dr. Ney valuable information about possible dental concerns that could develop.
He’ll also perform a quick and gentle exam, checking your child’s teeth for signs of decay and examining their bite. He’ll assess whether your child needs fluoride treatment, which can start as soon as their first tooth appears. If he finds any other potential oral problems, Dr. Ney will discuss these with you and guide you on what actions will best address the problems.
Pediatric Dentistry with Dr. Ney, the Dental Guy
As more primary teeth appear in your baby’s mouth, Dr. Ney will want to continue monitoring their development. Proper care of baby teeth is connected with the health of permanent teeth. With regular visits to Dr. Ney’s office, issues can be addressed as soon as they develop. If your child’s primary teeth are improperly spaced, or their gums are not healthy, their adult teeth may grow in crooked or otherwise impaired.
Dr. Ney will typically take X-rays when your child’s adult teeth begin to erupt, around age 6. X-rays help Dr. Ney see how the adult teeth are growing, if the permanent teeth are healthy, and whether your child has any bite issues.
Regular cleanings and checkups with Dr. Ney help to prevent your child from developing serious dental issues, which require more complex procedures or long-term solutions like orthodontia.
Tooth decay is five times more common than asthma, making it one of the most common diseases of childhood. While cavities are common, they are preventable. Cavity prevention is important even when your child has temporary baby teeth since children with a cavity in their primary teeth are more likely to have cavities in their adult teeth.
Cavities also lead to issues with communicating, eating, playing, and learning. School-age children with poor oral health tend to miss more class time for treatments, which can lead to them falling behind academically.
Encouraging a proper oral hygiene regimen will improve your child’s oral health. Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristle brush and flossing daily helps to dislodge food particles and debris while cleaning away plaque that forms on teeth throughout the day. Using antimicrobial mouthwash when age appropriate is also part of a comprehensive hygiene routine.
What your child eats has an impact on their oral health too. Making healthy choices, such as limiting sugary foods and drinks like soda and candy, can aid in cavity prevention. Cavities are holes in the teeth that occur when sugar reacts with bacteria in your mouth, creating an acid that erodes the enamel. Reducing sugar intake makes it less likely for cavities to develop.
The Importance of Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that provides many benefits to your oral health. When acid erodes the enamel, it destroys minerals that keep your teeth strong. This process of demineralization leads to tooth decay. Fluoride combats cavities by remineralizing the enamel, which reverses early decay and makes the enamel more acid resistant.
Fluoride isn’t just a key ingredient in toothpaste. It is also added to the water system here in Harrisburg and naturally occurs in different foods you can build into your meals. Grapes, raisins, spinach, potatoes, and seafood are among the many foods that are good sources of fluoride.
While there are certainly many ways that you can introduce fluoride into your child’s daily routines, Dr. Ney may also provide professional fluoride treatments during your child’s dental checkups. While both children and adults benefit from fluoride, the earlier a child is exposed to fluoride, the less likely they will develop cavities. Fluoride treatments are quick but very effective: evidence shows that fluoride varnish can prevent about one-third of cavities in the primary teeth.
Implementing a fluoride routine helps prevents decay and reduces your child’s need for dental fillings.
Visit Dr. Ney for Quality Pediatric Dentistry
Dental care that begins when your child is young establishes a routine that keeps your child’s beautiful smile healthy. Dr. David P. Ney, DDS, provides compassionate pediatric dentistry to make your child feel right at home in our office.
Don’t wait to begin your child’s journey toward optimal oral health. Contact us today to schedule your child’s visit to see Dr. Ney, the Dental Guy.