Pediatric Dentistry of Columbia

(410) 740-0144
10632 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 337
Columbia, MD 21044

Growing happy, healthy smiles for infants, children, and adolescents

Pediatric Dentistry of Columbia

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes cavities?

Cavity causing bacteria live in our mouths and are part of the normal flora. When these bacterial strains come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior surface of the teeth, eventually making a hole through the enamel and in the teeth. These holes are cavities. Some children acquire cavity causing bacterial strains at an early age and therefore are more prone to tooth decay.

Furthermore, even when children and their parents put forth their best effort, cavities form. It can be a stressful time for both children and parents.

Dr. Doshi is deeply concerned about providing your child with the best and most comfortable visit possible. For some children, that may just mean taking the time to talk to them on their level, explaining things in a friendly, non-threatening way, and treating them with the compassion they deserve.

For other children, who are either very young, more apprehensive, or who have special needs, it may mean the need for using more advanced techniques. Dr. Doshi does not believe in using oral sedatives on her patients, as it is difficult to predict a successful outcome with children. She would not like to use them on a regular basis for her children, therefore, does not routinely recommend it for her patients. We offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in our office to help relieve anxiety, and to make the appointment less traumatic for the child. We also offer the option of treatment at the hospital under anesthesia.

Whatever your child’s needs are, Dr. Doshi will be happy to discuss with you options of treatment that are appropriate for your child with you.

Why should baby teeth be treated?

Baby teeth help children speak, smile and chew their food properly. Therefore, your child's general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.

Baby teeth are natural space maintainers for permanent teeth. They hold the space in the jaw for the permanent teeth to erupt.

If a child loses a baby tooth too early – due to damage or tooth decay – nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Be sure that your child brushes their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If your child is under the age of 8, brushing should be with help from their parents.

Floss at least one time a day. This can help with the “in between” areas, which are prone to decay and usually detected with the aid of radiographs.

Avoid frequent consumption of sticky, sugary food and drinks. Dr. Doshi suggests drinking juices and milk at the table during a meal and then drinking water afterwards. She also recommends eating a piece of apple, carrot, cucumber, or other firm vegetable or fruit at the end of a meal to help get the food out of the grooves of the teeth.

Finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child's teeth and gums periodically.

What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?

Even before your baby's first tooth appears, we recommend you clean their gums after feedings with a soft, damp washcloth.

As soon as their first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush with a small smear of infant toothpaste. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.

At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using fluoride toothpaste at the age of 2, as long as you follow the guidelines below.

For children under 2 years of age, it is recommended that only a tiny amount (a smear) of infant toothpaste be used for each brushing (2 times a day). After brushing, your child’s mouth should be wiped out with a wet washcloth. Depending on family history, habits, and the risk of developing cavities, Dr. Doshi may recommend that the infant use a smear of fluoride toothpaste instead of the infant toothpaste.

For children over 2 years of age, it is recommended that a small pea size amount of toothpaste be used for each brushing (2 times a day). Your child should rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing. If your child does not rinse and spit effectively, wipe their mouth out with a wet washcloth.

We recommend that parents brush their children’s teeth until they have the manual dexterity to do the job effectively – this is usually around 8 years old.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

Typically, children see the dentist at least every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning. Depending on your child's needs, Dr. Doshi may recommend your child come more often.

How do I help my child avoid dental injury?

Dental emergencies can be limited or avoided. Below are some suggestions.

  • Childproof your house to avoid falls, electrical injuries, and choking on small objects.
  • Don't let your child chew on ice, popcorn kernels, or other hard foods. This can cause sealants and other fillings to fracture and chip.
  • Always use car seats for young children and require seat belts for older children.
  • If your child plays contact sports, have them wear a mouthguard. Be sure to ask us about options regarding the different kinds of mouthguards. Dr. Doshi will discuss and recommend whether having our office create a custom-fitted mouthguard for your child is appropriate.

Finally, prevent toothaches with regular brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dental office for preventive care.