Pediatric Dental FAQs

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

We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.

How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

All dental specialists (pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, and others) begin by completing dental school and continue their education with several years of additional, specialized training. During training in the field of pediatric dentistry, your doctor gained extensive knowledge and experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists enjoy working with children and bring to each patient expertise in childhood development and behavior. Because our office is geared toward young visitors, you'll find that our staff, as well as our office design, decorations, and activities all work together to provide an especially friendly and comfortable environment for children.

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

The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will check your child's teeth for placement and health, and look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a bit of cleaning. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child's teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips.

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

The best preparation for your child's first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults' apprehensions and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, your child may expect an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it's important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help him do that. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child's oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.

Why do baby teeth need special care?

Although they don't last as long as permanent teeth, your child's first teeth play an important role in his development. While they're in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay) nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your child's general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.

What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?

Even before your baby's first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.

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

In 2014 the ADA updated its guidelines for infants and toddlers, recommending parents brush baby teeth twice a day with a tiny smear (no larger than a grain of rice) of fluoride-containing toothpaste as soon as they erupt. There is no need to wait until a child is older as long as the correct amount of toothpaste is used.  After three years of age, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste can be used.  You should help your child brush his teeth until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age seven or eight.

What causes cavities?

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Be sure that your child brushes his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, as flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can't. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. And finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child's teeth and provide professional cleanings.

Does my child need dental sealants?

Sealants cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.

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

Even children's sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?

A large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or he sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.

When should my child have dental X-rays taken?

Dental X-rays are a critical tool in diagnosing oral problems that cannot be seen with a visual exam. The need for dental X-rays varies with your child's oral health and development. If your child has had many cavities and fillings or is at higher risk of tooth decay, we may recommend x-rays as often as every 6-12 months, according to the guidelines of the American Dental Association.  If your child is at low risk, cavity-detecting X-rays may not be needed as frequently. 

"Says a lot when your kids are excited to go to the dentist."
-Jennifer P.

"The entire experience was absolutely amazing. My son is 3 years old and talked about going to the dentist all day."
-Marlon S.

"How many moms can say their kids LOVE going to the dentist? I am so thankful to this team for creating a fun environment."
-Ali Y.

"Great 1st dental experience for my daughter--She even asked to go back tomorrow!"
-Kristin K.

"The kids (ages 6 and 3) actually cheer when I say we have dentist appointments coming up. Kids go in AND come out smiling."
-Jennifer Z.

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