Common Questions

Answers to commonly asked questions. . .

What is a pediatric dentist?
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A pediatric dentist completes two to three extra years of training following a four-year dental school curriculum. Pediatric dentists are specialists dedicated to serving the unique dental needs of children from infancy through the teenage years.

When do you like children to have a first dental visit?
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The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the first visit take place soon after the first tooth erupts, usually by age one.

Why are primary teeth important?
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Primary teeth, commonly called baby teeth, help children chew and eat, maintain space for permanent teeth, and aid in the normal development of the jawbone, muscles, and speech. Primary teeth also add to an attractive appearance.

How should I care for my child’s teeth?
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Daily oral hygiene should begin when your child’s first tooth emerges. Use gauze or a clean cloth to gently wipe tooth surfaces. Gradually move to a toothbrush and a non-fluoride toothpaste. A pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used when children are old enough not to swallow it. Most children need brushing help and/or supervision until they reach age six or seven. However, all children are different, and our pediatric dentists can help you determine when your child can brush his or her teeth without supervision. And don’t forget to floss! Our team can give you tips and teach your children correct brushing and flossing techniques. Give us a call!

How can I prevent cavities?
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Proper oral home care, practiced daily, is crucial to prevent cavities and gum disease. Supervise your children’s daily brushing and flossing until they’re old enough to care for their teeth themselves. Limit sugary snacks and avoid putting children to bed with bottles filled with anything but water. Older children should brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Begin bringing your child to our office for six-month checkups around age one. Dr. Donna may recommend dental sealants or a fluoride treatment to keep teeth healthy and strong. Call today to schedule your child’s appointment.

When will my baby start getting teeth?
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Teething varies from child to child. Generally speaking, the lower front teeth are the first to emerge. This usually happens between six and eight months of age. By age three, most children have all 20 primary teeth, although the pace and order of emergence may be different for each child. If you have concerns about your child’s tooth development, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Donna or one of our experienced associates.

How should I handle a dental emergency?
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If your child experiences a dental emergency, remain calm and collected, tend to your child, and then call our Duncanville office or go to your nearest hospital emergency room, depending on the severity of the incident. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Toothache: Clean the affected tooth thoroughly. Have your child rinse with warm water and/or use dental floss to dislodge the food or object causing discomfort. If pain persists, contact our office. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum tissue or aching tooth. If your child’s face swells, apply cold compresses and call our office immediately.

  • Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip, or Cheek: Put ice on the affected area and apply firm but gentle pressure with a soft cloth or gauze to stop bleeding. If pressure doesn’t control blood flow or if bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes, contact our office or take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.

  • Dislodged (Knocked Out) Permanent Tooth: First, locate the tooth. Pick it up by the crown and not the root. DO NOT clean or handle the tooth, although you may rinse it, if necessary. If the tooth isn’t fractured, try to reinsert it. Have your child bite down on gauze to hold the tooth in place. If you can’t reinsert the tooth, place it in a cup with milk or your child’s saliva. Contact our office IMMEDIATELY! Time is crucial to save a tooth.

What kind of toothpaste should my child use?
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Choose a toothpaste specifically for children’s teeth and one recommended by the American Dental Association. Until kids are old enough not to swallow toothpaste, use only a pea-size amount to avoid ingestion of excessive fluoride, or use a non-fluoride toothpaste. Call our office if you have questions. We’ll be happy to recommend a toothpaste that’s safe and effective.

My child sucks his thumb. Should I be concerned?
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Infants and young children may naturally suck their thumbs or a pacifier for security and/or relaxation. Many kids suck their thumb or a pacifier to help them go to sleep. If your child has permanent teeth and still sucks his thumb, tooth and mouth problems may develop. Here are a few suggestions to help your child stop sucking his thumb:

  • Don’t scold your child for sucking his thumb. Instead, praise him when he doesn’t.

  • Many children suck their thumbs when they feel insecure. Focus on alleviating your child’s anxiety, and the thumb-sucking may lessen or stop. Comfort your child and help him learn other soothing habits as an alternative to thumb sucking.

  • Reward your child when he refrains from sucking his thumb during difficult situations.

Dr. Donna and her associate doctors can give you more tips to encourage your child to stop thumb sucking. Call or visit us, and we’ll share soothing behavior management techniques to eliminate this habit.

My teenage daughter wants to pierce her tongue. Isn’t that dangerous?
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Yes! The dangers of tongue piercing include chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, and blood poisoning. Infection is a common complication, and your child’s tongue could swell and close off her airway. In addition, uncontrolled bleeding and nerve damage can occur if the piercing needle punctures a blood vessel or nerve bundle. Dr. Donna and her associates do not recommend this practice.

Will my child need X-rays?
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X-rays are an important component of your child’s examination. We use digital X-rays  for safe, efficient diagnoses of a variety of dental conditions, including cavities and bone disease. X-ray images show us erupting teeth, aid in injury evaluation, and help us plan orthodontic treatment. Call for more information or if you have questions or concerns.

400 E US Hwy 67, Duncanville, TX 75137 USA
Dr. Donna Barefield Duncanville TX dentist (214) 339-5150 (214) 339-5151 irene@drdonna4kidsteeth.com