When will my child lose his or her first tooth?

The weeks leading up to the loss of a child’s first tooth, are an exciting time for both kids and parents. This is an important mile marker in the road from infant to adulthood, and one that deserves attention. Many parents are unsure when to expect their child to experience the loss of his or her first tooth. While it is impossible to pinpoint the exact time frame for each individual, most kids will lose their first tooth around the age of six.

Why Kids Loose Teeth

Baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, are lost when a child’s permanent teeth begin to emerge. These “adult” teeth need room to grow, and will slowly push the baby teeth out of their way. For most kids, the first tooth to come out will be a lower, or mandibular, incisor, one of the bottom front two teeth. This tooth may become loose over the course of several weeks, and this is often a long process through which a child will wiggle and nudge the tooth with their tongue or fingers.  Your child may even say the tooth hurts when he or she bites or chews with it.  This discomfort will subside when the too comes out or exfoliates.

Should I Pull the Tooth or Not?

If your child is eager to pull the tooth, simply cover the tooth with a piece of gauze or a tissue and give a quick twist and a tug. If he or she insists on letting the tooth come out naturally, sit back and enjoy the wait. Some kids will worry about a loose tooth for quite a while, until almost nothing is left holding the tooth in place! Either approach is perfectly normal and parents should allow their kids to guide the process, especially for the first loose tooth.

Talking to Kids about Brushing Their Teeth

This is an excellent time to talk with your child about the importance of proper dental hygiene. After all, baby teeth come and go, but the permanent teeth that follow are intended to be, well, permanent. Review proper brushing and flossing practices, and follow up with regular parental “inspections.” It takes time and practice to master proper dental care routines, and parents are wise to broach the issue at this time, when kids are very focused on a loose tooth.

What If Baby Teeth Fall Out Too Slowly?

Parents who are concerned that a child is not losing baby teeth at a normal rate, or who have questions about other dental issues, should make an appointment to meet with their kids’ dentist. This is also a great time to discuss whether fluoride supplements are appropriate.
Kids should come in for a dental checkup and cleaning twice a year, which can be key to addressing dental issues before they become a problem. Regular visits to a kids’ dentist will give children a positive impression of dental care, which is important establishing a healthy dental care routine.  

Using Teeth as Tools Can Have Costly Consequences

When people think of their children’s dental health, they only think of brushing and flossing. However, protecting teeth from damage is an important part of dental health. Many people do not realize that using teeth as tools can severely damage their teeth.  

Using Teeth as Tools

Kids discover early that their teeth can also be used as a tool. Tough-to-open potato chip bags, hanging pieces of string, hard-to-open caps, and even stubborn yogurt containers can quickly be addressed by kids using their teeth. Their teeth are always accessible and convenient. However, teeth should never be used as tools. Unfortunately, once kids begin using their teeth as a tool, it becomes a habit and the practice is hard to stop. 

Potential for Damage

Using teeth as tools can have painful consequences for children. In fact, using teeth in the wrong way as a child can cause issues that will plague them into adulthood.  

  • Chips and Cracks: When used incorrectly, teeth can easily become chipped, requiring repair by your kids’ dentist
  • Grooves: If teeth are frequently used as tools, grooves may develop in the enamel
  • Breaks: In severe circumstances, teeth can break when used incorrectly, resulting in pain and/or a costly repair 
  • TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint): Using teeth as tools can cause them to wear incorrectly and harm the alignment of the jaw. This poor alignment can cause issues with a person’s Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) and result in Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction (TMD), a serious jaw disorder that can result in tightness, pain, and headaches. 

If your children frequently use their teeth as tools, ask your kids’ dentist to look for signs of damage. 

Lead by Example

Children mirror their parents’ behavior. Chances are that if you use your teeth as tools, your children will too. Lead by example and take time to get the correct tool to complete your tasks instead of your teeth.  
For additional information on dental health and how to protect the health of your children’s teeth, come talk to us at Playtime Dental.

Whitening Toothpaste: Does the ADA Seal of Acceptance Matter?

While plenty of toothpaste manufacturers use the term “whitening” quite loosely, many toothpastes don’t actually do much to whiten the teeth. So don’t venture on out to the supermarket and pick up any old container of toothpaste that is touted for its whitening capabilities and think that it will make your teeth as white as snow.

Thankfully, you don’t have to conduct hours of research to figure out which toothpastes are legitimate whiteners. The American Dental Association has done the work for you. Check out the ADA Seal of Acceptance programto find out which toothpastes really have polishing and chemical agents that will make your teeth nice and white. The ADA has invested significant time, effort and resources into studying all of the toothpastes on the market to find out which really remove surface stains.

The ADA’s Seal of Acceptance program is the result of two decades worth of monitoring various tooth-whitening products. This market has absolutely exploded in recent years, so it is quite helpful to have a watchdog group oversee all of the activity to determine which toothpastes really live up to their claims. Plenty of toothpastes do not have the ability to gently polish or provide chemical chelation or other non-bleaching actions that whiten teeth. Only opt for those that are recommended by your dentist and carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

In a nutshell, the term “whitening” means a process that makes teeth look whiter. Toothpastes use either bleach or non-bleaching agents to accomplish this. Bleach alters the natural color of teeth with peroxide, which removes surface stains as well as stains that have settled deeply into the teeth. Non-bleaching agents cause a chemical or physical action that removes the surface stains along teeth.

Whitening products can be distributed by dentists for use at home, applied by dentists in a dental office or bought over the counter. It is prudent to wait for a one-on-one consultation with your kids’ dentist before you choose your children’s whitening toothpaste. The same is true for adult patients. A dentist’s input is especially valuable to patients who have egregiously dark stains, crowns and fillings. The dentist will advise whether bleaching is appropriate and will also help determine a properly sequenced treatment plan.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

What Is Nitrous Oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a type of sedative gas often used at the dentist’s office. It is more commonly known as “laughing gas” because of the giggles that sometimes result from its use. It is a colorless and odorless gas that is administered through a small mask worn over the nose. Nitrous oxide is mixed with oxygen in order to keep the effects of the gas mild and so it can be used for longer durations of time in a safe manner. 
Nitrous oxide is used to help patients relax in the dental chair. After about 30 seconds of breathing the nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture, the sedative and pain-relieving effects will set in.  Peak affects are reached in less than five minutes. One of the major benefits of using nitrous oxide is how quickly it takes effect and wears off. Slight lightheadedness and the giggles are common when a patient is under nitrous oxide sedation. It reduces pain and induces an all-encompassing pleasurable feeling in the body. 

Why Use Nitrous Oxide in Children?

Many adults have fears of going to the dentist and so do most children. Nitrous oxide is a great tool that many kids’ dentists will likely recommend. Because of its relaxing and calming effect on patients, nitrous oxide is perfect for children who are afraid of dental procedures. It is also ideal for children with sensitive teeth, and it does increase the pain threshold of a person, little or big. Many children have sensitive gag reflexes that make completing dental procedures difficult, but the use of nitrous oxide usually minimizes the gag reflex. Mixing nitrous oxide with oxygen, which is always done in any medical/dental setting, makes it safe for long periods of time. This can make longer procedures much more bearable for young children. The amount of nitrous oxide the child is receiving can be altered very easily by the dentist if an adjustment is needed. 

What to Expect and How to Prepare

Before a dental visit that requires the use of nitrous oxide sedation, it is best to eat just a light meal, no less than 2 hours before the procedure. During the procedure, the child will remain fully conscious. The effects of nitrous oxide wear off very quickly once 100% oxygen is administered at the end of the procedure. Within a few minutes, the child will have no lasting effects from the gas.  Some kids get so relaxed that they behave like they normally would after they wake from a good night’s sleep.
For further questions about using nitrous oxide for your child’s dentist appointment, call Playtime Dental and we will be more than happy to answer any more questions or concerns you might have!

Composite vs. Amalgam Fillings

So your kids’ dentist found a cavity in one of your child’s teeth. Thank goodness it’s a small cavity, but it does need filled immediately. Should it be filled with silver amalgam or composite filling material? Is there a big difference between the two materials?

Amalgam Fillings

Composed of silver, copper, tin, and liquid mercury, amalgam is a popular cavity filling material due to its strength, ease of use, and ability to withstand repetitive biting forces exerted on molars. Affordable and offering good sealing properties, amalgam can be applied quickly on moist teeth, a feature that makes it an excellent choice when filling cavities in children. Concerns about mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings has also been thoroughly researched, with the FDA concluding that mercury level in amalgam fillings is so low that it poses no threat to a child or an adult’s health. 

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are tooth-colored fillings made from powdered quartz particles and acrylic resin, which are used to fill cavities in all teeth but is an especially popular type of “aesthetic” filling for cavities in front teeth or teeth that are visible when a person smiles. Composite resin is available in a variety of off-white shades that can be matched to your child’s enamel color, so the filling is close to invisible. However, composite resin is not as strong as amalgam fillings and is best suited for front teeth, where chewing forces are less robust.

Composite vs Amalgam

While very small to medium-sized cavities on the sides of molars or pre-molars do well with amalgams, large cavities should be filled with composite resin. Although strong, silver fillings tend to break or fall out of large cavities. Moreover, when an amalgam falls out, the tooth has usually experienced some cracking and damage that requires the dentist re-prepare the area before refilling the cavity.

What the American Dental Association Says about Amalgam and Composite Fillings

The ADA reports that amalgam is the best option to fill cavities affecting molars while composite fillings may be used to fill cavities in front and teeth that are visible when smiling or talking. Your kids’ dentist will also help you make a decision by recommending which type of filling is more appropriate for your child’s cavity after considering the size, depth, and location of the cavity.

Exploring the Difference: The 3 E’s of Dentistry for Kids

Are you worried about inadvertently passing your own dental anxieties on to your children? The best way to prevent dental anxiety is by making the process enjoyable from the beginning. To do so, choose a dentist who is skilled in relating to kids of all ages. You can trust a dentist who enjoys working on children to provide your kids with the environment, entertainment and empathy they need to relax in the dental chair. Read on to learn more.


The first step in making kids comfortable at the dentist’s office is to create a playful environment. Everything from the decor to the toys helps to ensure that kids look forward to going to the dentist. A dentist that enjoys children will line his or her office walls with fun characters, exciting drawings and artwork made by children. Innovative toys designed to encourage deep thought and pretend play engage children’s imaginations while they wait.


The entertainment does not stop when children are called back to the dentist’s chair. In fact, it is just getting started. Dental hygienists help kids understand the procedures by modeling them on stuffed animals and dolls equipped with full sets of teeth. During the procedures, kids can watch movies or television designed for their age range. If kids are not comfortable with the bright lights, sunglasses are typically readily available.


A child’s dentist encourages kids to cooperate by praising his or her ability to follow directions during exams and procedures. Kid-friendly dentists always have fun anecdotes and jokes to share with their patients. If kids feel nervous or afraid, the dentist will take the time to address those worries and ease their fears. Furthermore, dentists explain all of the tools and procedures in a fun, engaging way to keep kids from developing a fear of the unknown.

Making the Choice

In the end, your child’s reaction to his or her time in the dentist’s chair will tell you about his or her satisfaction with the dentist. A proud smile from being a good helper while in the dentist’s chair and excitement about returning for the next cleaning visit will confirm that choosing a dentist who enjoys children was the right decision.

Is Fluoride Safe?

Even kids with the best oral care habits need help protecting their teeth against tooth decay. Dentists promote the use of fluoride for an extra boost of protection that doesn’t require much effort. Fluoride naturally assists the enamel in staying strong against bacterial attacks and recovering from cavity causing efforts through the re-mineralization process. Here are three ways to help your child receive the benefits of fluoride.

Direct Application

After your child has his or her teeth cleaned, your kid’s dentist will recommend a quick fluoride application to finish up the appointment. Dentists apply the fluoride by painting a varnish onto the tooth surface or using a foam tray that forms around the teeth which contains a foam fluoride. The fluoride penetrates the enamel, or outer layer of the tooth, to act as a shield against bacteria. The fluoride is perfectly safe to directly apply to the teeth.

Toothpaste Touchups

To retain protection from fluoride, your child will need to brush with fluoridated toothpaste daily. Just like with the varnish or foam, fluoride from the toothpaste enters the enamel and creates a protective barrier. The fluoride concentrations in the teeth start to decrease as the pH level in the saliva drops from acidic attacks from bacteria. Acidic foods and drinks can lower the pH of saliva drastically, which helps the bacteria that create acid, to demineralize enamel and cause cavities. This is why it’s a good idea to brush with toothpaste after meals, especially when acidic beverages (soda or citrus juices) or acidic foods (tomatoes, oranges, lemons) have been consumed!

Water Reinforcements

Fluoride in water acts as an additional barrier against cavity production. After drinking fluoridated water, your child’s saliva contains a small amount of fluoride that can protect the teeth if internal fluoride storage of the teeth runs out. This is especially important if your child forgets to use toothpaste to brush his or her teeth two to three times a day.

Sticking With the Plan

If you cannot drink your tap water or if it does not contain fluoride, you might think about picking up bottled water that contains a dose of fluoride to continue protecting your child’s teeth from the decay process. Fluoride use is an important part of the dental care routine if you want your child to avoid tooth decay in the future.

Whitening Toothpastes: Do They Really Work?

Everyone wants not only to have straight and healthy teeth, but also the white, beautiful smile so many people are drawn to. That’s one of the reasons there are more and more whitening toothpastes than ever before, with each kind promising the successful whitening of your teeth when you brush on a regular basis. But answering the question of whether they really work or not is tough, as teeth can appear very white just after a good brushing with most toothpastes and then return to a darker color after eating or drinking certain foods. So can any of these whitening toothpastes actually whiten teeth and keep them white for an extended period of time?


Whitening toothpastes contain chemicals or abrasives that act as polishing agents, with the ability to remove stains from the surface of teeth. They will definitely give teens whiter and brighter smiles that will make them all the more attractive when they flash those pearly whites. However, because there are various brands of whitening toothpastes, some work more effectively than others.


For the best results, most whitening toothpaste manufacturers recommend you leave the toothpaste on the teeth for at least a minute so that the chemicals and abrasive agents can do their job removing stains. This makes sense when you think about it. It’s also important to keep in mind that each person’s diet and teeth are different. Some people consume more drinks and food that darken the surface color of their teeth, while others have teeth that are more susceptible to stain. In other words, some whitening toothpastes work better for some people and not for others, making it even more difficult to know which ones will work for you.


If whitening toothpastes don’t work and there is still a desire to make teeth whiter, bleaching can be done as well, though this should be done by a dental professional rather than using bleaching products you buy yourself (as this can lead to misuse and chemical burns). If darkening of teeth continues to occur, there may be other dental or medical conditions going on as well and these should be investigated.
You can learn more about whitening toothpastes, bleaching teeth and what the color of teeth may indicate at the AAPD website or by talking to us at Playtime Dental.