Pediatric Dental FAQs

Smiling blond woman piggybacking small girlAll new parents have plenty of questions about their child's teeth and proper oral hygiene. It can seem daunting at first, but here we've gathered everything you'll need all in one place. Make use of these pediatric dental FAQs to get a head start.

What's the difference between a pediatric dentist and a regular dentist?

Any dental specialist completed dental school and then continued their training with potentially several years of additional education and specialization. Pediatric dentists gain experience and knowledge in treating children, including infants and adolescents.

Of course, working with kids at the dentist is about more than "by the book" knowledge, and also about the dental experience, and working with children in any setting. This means having the proper, friendly demeanor, making things simple and easy for them, and providing everything from office decor to in-office activities to have a welcoming and fun environment for children.

When should the first visit be?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child has his or her first dental visit by the age of one, or within six months after the first tooth erupts. Generally, we take that a step further and say as soon as your child gets his or her first tooth, make the first appointment.

What's the first visit like?

A child's first trip to the dentist will be quick and easy for everyone. We'll provide you, the parent, with important information about dental care and hygiene, and we will check teeth for placement, health, and any signs of problems or potential for issues with the gums or jaw. A small amount of cleaning is performed if necessary, and we'll answer any other questions which you have.

How do I get my child ready for that first dental appointment?

If you're positive about the appointment, the child will pick up on that, instead of picking up on anxiousness or fear. Tell them about how easy it will be, and even show them pictures of the office or the staff to get them comfortable, if you'd like. Mainly, keep a positive attitude and don't make it too big of a deal, and your children should respond in kind.

How often should visits be made after the first visit?

Every six months is the general guideline, same as with adults. Also like adults, additional recommendations could be made depending on circumstances.

When should my child have X-rays taken?

We recommend that a child's first X-rays are taken between two and three years old. The first set will be a quick set of pictures showing the front upper and lower teeth, and will familiarize your child with the process. Once more of the baby teeth are in, and the teeth in the back of the mouth are touching, we recommend yearly X-rays, and may recommend more dependent on specific circumstances.

Why do baby teeth need special care and attention when they aren't permanent?

Baby teeth aren't permanent, but they do stick around for a while, and are utilized to help your child learn how to speak, to chew food properly, and of course, display that beautiful smile. They also hold proper spacing for permanent teeth. Additionally, oral health and hygiene problems can become serious all-around health problems, and it's always important to establish proper hygiene habits instead of trying to correct for poor ones later.

What's the best way to clean baby teeth?

Before the first teeth erupt, begin by cleaning a child's gums after feedings with a soft, damp washcloth. Begin with a toothbrush at the sign of that first tooth, and choose a soft brush with a small head. Toothpaste can be introduced after a few teeth have appeared, but use a very small amount to begin with. Do not use a toothpaste with fluoride until after the child is two years old, and be sure to have the child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing.

How can I prevent my child from getting cavities?

Cavities are caused by bacteria, and the acids they produce when in contact with the sugar foods we eat. Acids attack exterior tooth enamel, leading to decay and eating holes through the teeth, which are cavities. To prevent this, ensure that your child is practicing proper oral hygiene habits, with brushing and flossing. A balanced and nutritious diet, and avoiding excess sugary food and drink will also help, along with, of course, your regular trips to the dentist for cleaning and check-ups.

What about sealants?

We typically recommend sealants for most children, as a quick, safe and easy way to prevent cavities, particularly on molars, which are harder to reach and clean.

What about my child who plays sports?

Children who play a lot of sports, especially those which could potentially include contact (that's most sports!) can wear a mouthguard for added protection. Ask us about making a custom mouthguard for your children.

What about my child who sucks his thumb?

The majority of children suck on their thumbs as infants, and it's not a cause for concern. Most will stop by the age of four. After permanent teeth have erupted, if he or she is still thumb-sucking, we can provide a check and see if any problems are arising or could arise.

Have a question we haven't answered yet? Don't hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call, and we'll do our best to provide you with assistance.

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