Pediatric Dental FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions and our answers about the best way to care for children’s teeth.

When Should I schedule my child's first visit to the dentist?

As soon as your child gets his first tooth we recommend you make an appointment. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that six months after your child’s first tooth erupted your child goes to the dentist, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.

How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

All dental specialists begin their training by completing dental school; they then continue their education with several years of specialized training. During training to become a pediatric dentist your doctor learned extensive knowledge and experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents. Your pediatric dentist enjoys treating your child, and brings with them their expertise in childhood development and behavior. Because our office is geared toward young visitors, you’ll find that our office design, decorations, and activities all work to provide an especially friendly and comfortable environment for your child.

What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?

In most cases the first visit to our office is mostly to begin to know your child. Your dentist will do a quick check of your child’s teeth for placement and health, and will look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary we might do a bit of cleaning. Any questions you may have about how to care for your child’s teeth will be answered, you will also be provided with some material containing helpful tips you can refer to at home.

How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?

The best way to prepare your child is for you to keep a positive attitude. Children easily pick up on adults’ apprehension. If negative comments are made about going to the dentist you can be sure your child will become fearful and act accordingly. Sit down with your child and show him pictures of the staff and office on the website. Make sure you talk with your child so they know keeping their teeth and gums healthy is important and the doctor will help him do that. Our dentists and staff are trained to handle fears and anxiety, during the treatment they we will do everything they can to make your child feel at ease.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

Checkups are recommended every six months. Your child’s oral health will determine if they need extra visits in between.

Baby teeth aren’t permanent. Why do they need special care?

Although baby teeth do not last as long as adult teeth they still play a crucial role in his development. The primary teeth help your child speak, chew, and smile. They also hold space in the jaw for adult teeth. If a child loses a primary tooth due to decay or any other reason it could cause other teeth to move and adjust. If the other primary teeth have room to move it could cause the adult teeth to come in crooked or misplaced. Also, your child’s oral health affects the general health of your little one.

What is the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

Before any teeth have erupted we recommend you clean your baby’s gums with a soft, damp washcloth. When his first baby tooth does come in you can begin using a toothbrush. A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head works best. Your local drugstore should sell toothbrushes designed for infants.

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

When your child has a few teeth, you may start using toothpaste to clean the teeth. For children under two years old be sure to use toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, too much fluoride can be dangerous to young children. When using toothpaste always make sure your child rinses and spits out the toothpaste after brushing in order to create the lifelong habit. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing; if they do their teeth can begin to stain. Until your child is ready to take on the responsibility of brushing their own teeth (usually around age six or seven) you should brush their teeth for them.

What causes cavities?

When certain bacteria that lives in our mouth come in contact with sugary foods left behind in our teeth, acids are produced. The acids are created attack the enamel on the outside of our teeth; eventually it will eat through and create holes in the tooth. Those holes are called cavities.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Making sure your child brushes at least two times a day with fluoride toothpaste and flosses daily will help significantly. Flossing is a very important step because it can reach places the brush can’t. If you would like to ensure tooth strength, ask your dentist about fluoride supplements which helps your enamel become harder and more resistant to decay. Many cavities can be prevented by watching diet. Limit the sugary foods and drinks, monitor snacking and maintain a healthy diet. Finally, make sure to schedule regular appointments so we can check your child’s teeth as well as administer professional cleanings.

Does my child need dental sealants?

Our dentists recommend sealants as a safe and simple way to protect you child’s teeth. Sealants protect the sensitive fissures and pits in your child’s teeth that are difficult to brush therefore are more vulnerable to decay.

My child plays sports. How can I protect his teeth?

Mouth guards are a great way to protect you active child’s mouth. Even children’s sports involve contact. A mouth guard can protect their teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums. Our office can make a custom fitted mouth guard for your star.

What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?

During the infant stage, the majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers. This phase usually lasts until about age four and does no harm to their teeth. If your child continues to suck their thumbs after adult teeth have come in or you fear they suck too aggressively, contact us so we can check for any problems that might have arisen from the problem.

When should my child have dental X-rays taken?

Around the age of two or three we recommend you child have X-rays taken. The first set of X-rays will be simple pictures of the upper and lower teeth; this will familiarize your child with the process. Once the primary teeth in the back are touching we will recommend that your child have X-rays taken at least once a year. Adult teeth start erupting at around age six; X-rays help us to make sure that your child’s teeth are properly aligned and healthy. If your child has a high risk for dental problems, we may suggest having X-rays done at an earlier age.