Answered By Your Albuquerque Pediatric Dentist


Dr. Gary Meckler and his experienced team provide advanced dental care to infants and children in the surrounding areas of Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Bernalillo, NM. We offer a friendly and welcoming environment for our young patients, making them excited to visit our office. Creating a positive dental experience at a young age leads patients to a lifetime of oral health, so we work with you to ensure the right steps are taken at home and in our office. Please read more below as Dr. Meckler answers your questions. Call us to schedule your child’s visit at our office today!

How should I clean my baby's teeth?

You should clean your baby’s teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush that has a small head and is designed for infants. Dr. Meckler recommends that you brush your baby’s teeth at least twice a day to remove plaque and bacteria that may lead to tooth decay.

At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?

Generally, we advise parents to bring their child in for his/her first dental visit no later than 1 year old or 6 months after the first tooth appears.

Why should my child see a pediatric dentist instead of our regular family dentist?

Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty focused on the oral health of infants, children and teens. Following dental school, Dr. Meckler studied and trained two additional years to be able to help infants, children and teens, including those with special health needs.

What is baby bottle tooth decay, and how can I prevent it?

Often associated with prolonged nursing, baby bottle tooth decay happens quickly. When a child falls asleep as he/she breast-feeds and/or bottle-feeds, saliva flow reduces, diminishing the mouth’s natural self-cleansing action. To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, avoid nursing your child to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. As your child approaches his/her 1st birthday, encourage him/her to drink from a cup, rather than a bottle.

Can thumb sucking be harmful for my child's teeth?

If your child has been sucking on his/her thumb and/or pacifier for a long time, she/he may develop crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. Though most children stop these habits on their own, if you find that your child is still sucking thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, Dr. Meckler will recommend a mouth appliance for your child.

What are dental sealants, and how do they work?

Made of a clear or shaded plastic, sealants are also fast and comfortable to apply and can effectively protect teeth for many years! Because chewing surfaces are hard to clean of food particles that may get stuck, cavities easily form, so we apply them to the permanent molars to keep the grooved and pitted surfaces of the chewing surfaces free of cavities.

When should my child start using toothpaste?

Once your child turns 1 year old, a dab of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a grain of rice on a soft-bristled toothbrush may be used. Make sure you child is using no more than a dab of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, and do not let them swallow excess toothpaste.

If my child gets a toothache, what should I do?

In the case of a toothache, contact our office right away.

Is my child getting enough fluoride?

Fluoride has been shown to make teeth stronger by dramatically decreasing the chances of getting cavities. The best and easiest way to get fluoride is in your drinking water. To make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, have the fluoride level of your primary drinking source tested. Ask us for information on test kits and testing sources. The abcwua.org website also shows the amount or fluoride by zone on a map under “Drinking Water.” If we find that your child is not getting enough fluoride through water, Dr. Meckler may prescribe fluoride supplements.

How safe are dental X-rays?

Did you know that dental X-rays present a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem? Today’s lead aprons and digital X-rays are contemporary safeguards that make the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination extremely small. Though there is very little risk involved, we always minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation.

My child plays sports. How should I protect my child's teeth?

The best way to protect your child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries are with a mouthguard. Mouthguards are made of soft plastic, creating a comfortable fit to the shape of your child’s upper teeth.

When do the first teeth start to erupt?

Usually when a child is 6 months old, the two lower front teeth will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper front teeth. During the next 18 to 24 months, the remaining baby teeth will appear. All your child’s 20 primary teeth should be present after two to three years. Don’t be alarmed if your child is early or late getting teeth as eruption patterns vary for everyone.

What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?

First, stay calm, and try to find the tooth. If you find the tooth, then hold it by the crown rather than the root, and place the tooth in a clean container with milk. Immediately, take your child and the glass to our office. The chances of saving the tooth increase, the faster you act.

How can I help my child through the teething stage?

To help alleviate the discomfort your child feels from teething, rub the gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold wet cloth as doing so will soothe the gums. Teething rings also work well at alleviating teething discomfort; however, avoid giving your child teething biscuits as they contain sugar, which is not good for baby teeth. Additionally, you should not give your child any medication to alleviate teething discomfort unless directed to do so by your dentist or doctor.

I noticed a space between my child's two upper front teeth. Is this cause for concern?

As the front teeth erupt, the space typically closes within a few years. Dr. Meckler can see your child to make sure there is no cause for concern.

If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?

Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child. Baby teeth are important for many reasons:

  • They help children speak clearly and chew naturally.
  • They form a path that permanent teeth follow when they are ready to erupt.
  • Some continue to be necessary until a child is 12 years old or older.

It’s important to never neglect baby teeth as pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are problems that may occur.

What causes tooth decay?

Cavities form when you have the following combination:

  • A tooth
  • Bacteria
  • Sugars or other carbohydrates
  • Time

Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that forms on everyone's teeth. When you eat, the sugars in your food cause bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.

Contact Meckler Pediatric Dentistry with More Questions

We are dedicated to you and your family and are truly passionate about pediatric dental care. If you have questions that are not addressed above, or would like more information, contact us at our Albuquerque office at 505-878-0700, and we will be more than happy to help. We look forward to meeting with you soon!