How To Keep Kids' Teeth Healthy - Interview with Dr Rita Patel

By Macaroni Kid North East Miami and Miami Beach February 21, 2019

February is National Children's Dental Health Month. A month-long national health observance sponsored by The American Dental Association (ADA), that brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

To learn more about about dental care and help us parents make more informed decisions about our children's oral health needs, we asked Dr Rita Patel, DMD at Sunkidz Pediatric Dentistry in North Miami, a few questions. 

When should I start brushing my child's teeth?

Once a tooth has broken through the gingival tissue it is now exposed to food and bacteria that can cause cavities. For this reason, teeth should be cleaned as soon as they erupt. Parents can use a soft bristled toothbrush or washcloth.

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?

These types of behaviors are considered nonnutritive sucking habits and can cause changes in the childs bite if not stopped early enough. Per the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) a child should cease these habits by age 3. At this age the jaw bones are still soft enough to re-adjust the bite into a normal and stable position and may even reverse any damage caused by the habit. 

Are baby teeth really that important?

Baby teeth are extremely important for many reasons:

  1. They allow the child to chew and eat food properly.
  2. Each baby tooth holds the space for permanent teeth underneath it.
  3. They allow for proper speech and articulation of words.
  4. They are important for aesthetics.
  5. They can cause pain and infections that can be extremely dangerous if not treated quickly and appropriately by a pediatric dentist. 

When should my child first visit the dentist?

The first dental visit should be scheduled when the first tooth erupts or by your child's first birthday. This is important so we can educate parents on how to brush, what types of foods to avoid and catch problems early. Earlier dental visits also facilitate a better relationship between the child and their Oral Health Caregiver. After that, we encourage 6 months check ups so we can check the teeth and soft tissues and to catch problems early.

What are some ways I can help encourage dental health in my child?

Start early! If you start cleaning your child’s teeth from an early age, their daily routine will include brushing and flossing. This should facilitate better cooperation as the child grows and accommodates to their daily hygiene activities. The amount of sugar from juice or food should be kept to a minimum to encourage better oral health. Using the appropriate amount of fluoride toothpaste for your child’s age is also very important. As a reference, a rice sized amount for children that swallow and pea size amount of toothpaste for children that don’t swallow after brushing. Bring your child to the Pediatric Dentist by age 1 so we can complete a thorough examination and inform you on your child’s oral health. Lastly, since caries is a bacterial disease, it is important not to share spoons, cups, straws to limit passing transfer of this cavity causing bug.

Are there any special tricks I should use to help my child have a positive experience at the dental office?

Talk to your child about the dentist in a positive way. Explain to your child that the dentist cares for your teeth and will clean and look at them to make sure they are healthy. It’s important not to use scary terms such as shots, pulling out teeth, it will hurt as this may scare your child. Reading books or watching short child friendly cartoons about visiting the dentist can also help prepare your child for their first visit.  

For more info, please contact Dr Rita Patel at:

Sunkidz Pediatric Dentistry

1045 NE 125th Street, North Miami, FL 33161

Tel: 305-800-5439

Fax: 305-800-3825

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