News for Parents

At Hillcrest Dental Care we view each child as a unique individual who must be treated as such to accomplish our goals of a positive dental experience with quality care. Our dental team is committed to family friendly dental care and we encourage parents to play an active role in their child's dental health.

Teaching your children good dental habits early will set them up for a lifetime of great smiles!

Dentists In The Berkshires, Dentists Pittsfield MA, Oral Surgeons In The Berkshires, Dentists North Adams MA

Tips for Parents

When is the best time to start taking your child to the dentist for dental care so they will develop a comfort zone with their dentist?

Around the age of three or four is a good time to start taking your child to the dentist, although some recommend that children see the dentist as early as one-year old. Of course they won't actually need much dental care then, it's more to get them comfortable with the environment. You want them to start going to the dentist at a young age to get them used to the process, since they will go in for their six month check-ups twice a year as they get older. If you start taking your child to the dentist at an early age, they won't have a fear of going to the dentist in the future. Fear comes from not knowing about something or not having done something before. So start teaching them at an early age about the dentist and the care they will receive to keep your kids and their teeth healthy.

Make sure they brush their teeth!

Plaque begins forming on the teeth very quickly, in fact, it forms all the time, 24 hours a day. Plaque is a film that grabs onto teeth, emitting harmful acids onto teeth that can cause your children’s teeth to decay. Imagine all that nasty bacteria trying to cling to your child’s teeth paving the way for cavities, bad breath, irritation, bleeding gums and worse? This is why it is so important to make sure children brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. If they take the time to brush and floss, it interrupts the plaque from forming and harming their teeth and gums. Make sure they brush their teeth at least twice a day….just after breakfast and before they go to bed are the best times. Teach them to brush all their teeth in the front and back. The brush should be placed against the teeth at an angle. A careful brushing should take about 3 minutes.

Watch what they drink.

Staying properly hydrated is very important to overall health. Active youngsters can lose two or more quarts of water daily, so their fluids need to be continuously replenished. Today, many kids and adults sip bottled soda pop or sports drinks while on the go. But most soft drinks contain sugar and caffeine which may actually SPEED UP dehydration. Also, drinking acidic, sugary beverages all day can promote tooth decay. Heavy soda consumption has also been linked to diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis. So, next time your child is thirsty, reach for a bottle of fluoridated water. The water is refreshing and the fluoride protects against tooth decay, rebuilds tooth enamel and strengthens bones. If they do drink soft drinks, make sure they: ● Drink in moderation and don’t sip for extended periods of time. ● Use a straw to keep the sugar away from their teeth. ● After drinking, swish their mouth out with water to dilute the acid and sugar. ● Don’t drink soda before going to bed, because the liquid pools in your child’s mouth and coats their tongue and teeth with sugary acid. Soda pop and sports drinks are okay as an occasional treat, but water is the best way to refresh your child during and after physical activity. They’ll feel more hydrated and energized. And since water has no sugar, no acid and no calories, their body and teeth will thank you!

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?

A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, see a dentist as soon as possible.

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

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your dentist.

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child's teeth. Take your child to a dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked.

How often does my child need to see the dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. Your dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 2-3, parents should supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

How do I make my child's diet safe for his teeth?

Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat fish and eggs. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child's teeth from decay.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?

Your dentist can evaluate the fluoride level of your child's primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then your dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

What can I do to protect my child's teeth during sporting events?

Soft, plastic mouth guards can be used to protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. A custom-fitted mouth guard developed by a dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.