Common Questions

Q.1 When should I take my child to a pediatric dentist for the first check-up?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, no later than his or her first birthday. Your child should continue to visit a pediatric dentist every six months for a periodical examination and cleaning in order to prevent dental problems.

Q.2 What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?

Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for young people. Following dental school, pediatric dentists must complete two to three additional years of rigorous training in a specialized program of study and hands-on experience for treating children. Much like you take your child to a pediatrician versus a general practitioner, pediatric dentists are specially prepared to meet the needs of infants, children, and adolescents, including persons with special health care needs.

At Pediatric Dental Care, we focus on helping your children feel good about visiting the dentist, and teaching them how to take care of their teeth.

Q.3 Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. The sooner you start cleaning your child’s baby teeth, the better!

Q.4 What Should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

Before your baby’s teeth even begin to appear, you should get in the habit of cleaning his or her gums with a cloth and water. Once the teeth start coming in, use water and a soft infant toothbrush at least once a day at bedtime. A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay.

Q.5 What should I do if my child has a toothache?

Toothaches are no joke, especially for young children who may be more sensitive to the pain. If your child is suffering from a toothache, please contact our office and schedule a visit as soon as possible.

In the meantime, here are some things you can do to comfort your child and help ease the pain:

  • Rinse the irritated area with warm salt water.
  • Administer over-the-counter children’s pain medicine such as acetaminophen for any pain. Avoid placing aspirin on the teeth or gums.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth to the face if it is swollen, but, once again, avoid putting heat or aspirin on the sore area.

Q.6 How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

Regular dental visits are key to helping your child stay cavity-free. In order to prevent cavities and other dental problems, we recommend a check-up every six months. For children with increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns, or poor oral hygiene, your pediatric dentist may require more frequent visits.

Q.7 Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for my child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking are perfectly normal for infants, and will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most infants stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended.

Q.8 How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing your child to sleep or putting anything other than water in his or her bedtime bottle. You should also avoid at-will breastfeeding once the first primary baby teeth begin to erupt and other sources of nutrition have been introduced.

Additionally, juice should only be offered in a cup with meals or at snack time, and should never be given in a bottle.

You can also prevent tooth decay by learning the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

Q.9 How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Routine visits to the dentist should begin once your child’s first tooth appears. Then, we can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for you to supervise and teach to your children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

Q.10 Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when your child is 2-3 years of age. It’s important to remember that young children are not capable of brushing their own teeth effectively. If your child is 2-5 years old, make sure he or she uses a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste on an age-appropriate soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, your child should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

Q.11 How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?

Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of –

  • fruits and vegetables,
  • breads and cereals,
  • milk and dairy products, and
  • meat, fish, and eggs.

Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. As your pediatric dentist, we will be glad to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth

Q.12 How do dental sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

Q.13 How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?

As your pediatric dentist, we will evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then we may prescribe fluoride supplements.

Q.14 What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

Soft plastic mouth guards can be used to protect your child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouth guard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

Q.15 What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

If your child knocks out a permanent tooth, the most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then, find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.

Q.16 How safe are dental X-rays?

While there is very little risk in dental X-rays, we are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation exposure.

Pediatric Dental Care will only take X-rays when we feel it is appropriate for your child’s dental health.

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