Welcome to our Advice Centre

Welcome to the Blackrock Dental advice centre where you can find a range of resources covering general dentistry and common queries. Please read the sections of interest and contact us if you have any further questions. We are open and honest in dealing with patients’ concerns, so please do not hesitate to make an appointment with our team.


First Visit

At Blackrock Dental, we understand that the first visit to the dentist can be a daunting prospect for your child. We are experienced in putting children at ease and try to make their experience at our clinic a positive and friendly one. We recommend that you bring your child for their visit when they have most of their baby teeth, at around 2-3 years. By introducing your child at a young age to our team and the clinic, we hope to avoid establishing dental fears which can come from needing treatment later in childhood.

During your child’s first dental visit, we will start by taking a detailed medical history. We will then bring you and your child into the surgery where they will meet the dentist, Dr Tom Feeney or Dr Aisling Whitaker. We will show your child the dental chair and how it works. We will show the dental mirror and the dental light. If possible, we will try to sit your child in the chair and do a dental check-up. For nervous children they may benefit from seeing an older sibling or parent doing this first. We will count their teeth and examine their mouth for any early signs of decay or orthodontic problems.

Following the dental checkup we will give you and your child advice on brushing and eating healthily. We will give you a new patient pack that includes information on children’s dental health and how to maintain optimum oral care.

Caring for young mouths

Starting good habits early is important for long-term oral health. By the time your child is 2.5 years, they will likely have all 20 primary teeth. What you may not know, is that some of the adult teeth are also present at birth, deep within the bone. Baby teeth are important for healthy development of the child in terms of nutrition, speech and the alignment of the adult teeth. If a baby tooth gets a knock or decay, this can cause long-term damage to the adult tooth that is growing beneath.

  • Under 6 months, keep your baby’s mouth clean by wiping twice per day with a damp facecloth. This will keep the bacteria level low in the mouth.
  • Under 24 months, teeth can be kept clean with a soft toothbrush and water. You do not need to use fluoride toothpaste at this stage.
  • From 2-7 years, brush with a soft bristled toothbrush and a child-friendly fluoride toothpaste (minimum 1000 ppm). Use a pea-sized blob of paste and encourage your child to spit out any excess, not swallow. We recommend that an adult brushes the child’s teeth until the age that the child is about 7 or 8 years. Avoid letting your child eat the toothpaste or chew on the toothbrush.
  • From 7 years, brush with an age-appropriate toothbrush with adult toothpaste.

In general, it is advised to brush twice per day, after breakfast and last thing at night. See our section on brushing for advice on technique.

Eat well

  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods
  • Enjoy healthy snacks
  • Avoid snacking on sugary and sticky foods and sweets between meals
  • Milk Foods help protect your teeth

Drink well

  • Tap water is the best drink between meals and at bedtime
  • Avoid drinking acidic and sugary drinks between meals
  • Choose sugar-free medicine

Clean well

  • Brush twice a day, especially before bed
  • Brush your teeth and gums with a toothbrush that has soft bristles and a small head
  • Brush your child’s teeth as follows:
    • 0 to 2 years – don't use toothpaste
    • 2 to 7 years - use a fluoride toothpaste of not less than 1000ppm fluoride. Use a pea sized amount pushed into the bristles and don't swallow the paste

Play well

  • Wear a professionally fitted mouthguard when you are playing and training for any sport where there is a risk of mouth injury
  • You will need to wear a full-faced helmet or face guard for some sports and recreational activities
  • Provide a safe environment for your child, in the home and in the playground
  • Adult supervision helps to prevent childhood injuries
  • If an injury occurs seek professional advice immediately

Stay well

  • Children ought to have their first dental visit by the age of 3 years
  • Check with a dental professional to see if your child needs fissure sealants
  • Have regular check-ups – tooth decay may not be painful until it’s too late


Primary teeth will begin to appear around 6 months, usually starting with the lower central teeth. This is a difficult time for you and your baby. Early signs will include rosy cheeks, drooling, chewing on their hand or toys and general crankiness. To soothe your baby’s gums, try gently rubbing with your finger or a cold wet facecloth. Cold refrigerated teething toys can also help. Avoid using Bonjela as it contains choline salicylate (like aspirin) which can hurt the gums. If your child experiences fever or diarrhea, contact your GP for advice.

Thumb sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex for your child when trying to self-soothe. While thumbsucking is beneficial in the short teeth for calming your child or helping them sleep, it can cause long-term problems with their teeth. If your child sucks their thumb after the age of 4 years, or for more than 6 hours per day, consider helping them quit. Depending on the intensity and frequency of thumbsucking, your child could influence the shape of their palate and the arrangement of the teeth.

Fissure sealants

At around 6 years your child’s first permanent molars will start to erupt. These teeth appear at the back of the mouth, and no baby teeth are lost as they grow in. Given that they are in the mouth the longest over our lifetime, the first permanent molars are most at risk of decay. For this reason, we recommend fissure sealing these teeth in patients who are at risk of decay:

  • history of tooth decay
  • teeth with deep grooves
  • dry mouth
  • high sugar diet
  • special needs
  • poor manual dexterity

A fissure sealant is a protective varnish placed on the surface of a tooth. The sealant acts to protect the tooth from decay by shielding the grooves from plaque and bacteria.They are safe and painless, and take only a few minutes to place. The varnish is clear or white and usually can not be seen during speech. Fissure sealants can last many years. They do not replace brushing or cleaning between the teeth but rather add to the overall prevention of tooth decay.

Pregnancy and Oral Health

Dental care during pregnancy is safe and recommended. Many physical changes occur during pregnancy that affect not only your hormone and appetite levels, but can also affect your oral health. It is critical that while you are pregnant, you maintain optimal health of your teeth and gums.

When was your last check-up?

At Blackrock Dental, we recommend that you come for a dental check-up during your first trimester. Along with routine dental care, during pregnancy you will be screened for oral disease that may result from the hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, and erosion that may result from increased acid in the mouth following morning sickness.

If you suffer from morning sickness, it is recommended that you rinse out with a baking soda mouth wash (1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a cup of water). You should only brush your teeth after the mouth has been rinsed and the acid has been neutralised. This will prevent further damage to the enamel.

Due to the rise in hormone levels during pregnancy, your gums may swell, bleed and trap food resulting in irritation. It is critical that you attend your dentist and hygienist to prevent gum disease. This is particularly serious during pregnancy as recent research suggests that gum disease has been linked to increased risk of stillborn and miscarriage. Although this has been observed in cases of specific aggressive bacteria, we recommend that you continue to attend during your pregnancy. Visit our hygienists Carol or Liz for a thorough cleaning and detailed advice on caring for your gums and teeth during pregnancy.

If you require more complex dental treatment, it is recommended that this be carried out during the second trimester of your pregnancy. While it is typically preferred that treatment is postponed until after the birth, any emergency dental work such as primary root canal treatment or extraction may be advised during the second trimester. Other elective treatments such as bleaching, cosmetic dentistry or non-emergency treatment should be delayed until after the birth.

The use of medications and x-rays during pregnancy is not normally recommended. As there are conflicting studies on the possibility of certain medications crossing the placenta barrier, we do not administer any medication unless absolutely necessary and in consultation with your GP. X-rays that are typically taken during a regular check-up to aid diagnosis will be postponed until after the birth to avoid any potential risk. Please ensure that your dentist is aware of your pregnancy and due date prior to or at your visit.