Pediatric Dentistry FAQs

“Everyone was really nice. My husband and I love the care that our daughter received. It was her first time at the dentist, we were both nervous and didn't know how she would react, but she did great. Everyone was patient and kind. Thanks for a great experience.”

We want your child to have the best treatment available, and we know you have a lot of questions concerning the best way to care for your child’s teeth. Here are some frequently asked questions: 

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

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, clean his or her gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as that first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Be sure to use one with soft bristles and a small head. You can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.

Once your child’s teeth erupt (appear), examine them every two weeks, checking for lines and discoloration that can indicate tooth decay. Sugary foods and liquids can easily attack a new tooth, so be sure to brush your child’s teeth after feeding or eating.  We suggest brushing four times a day: after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and at bedtime.

Do you have questions? We know that’s a lot of information, and we’ll be happy to discuss the best way to clean your child’s death and establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

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

The first tooth = the first dental visit.  We recommend that your child’s first visit should be six months after his or her first tooth erupts or by one year of age, whichever is first.

When the first tooth appears, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold together, or a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. 

In each case the bristles are soft and few.

If your child doesn’t react well to the toothbrush, don’t worry. You can  use a damp washcloth for a few months, then try the toothbrush again. 

During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite!

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend you should bring your child to the dentist by age 1. Infants will be provided with a comprehensive oral exam, a risk evaluation for possible developing cavities, and if needed, a fluoride treatment. Our doctors and team will provide our patients and patients with information regarding proper oral hygiene and care.

When the first tooth appears, it is time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are two options which include a long handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold together, or a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few. If your child does not react well to the toothbrush, do not worry. You can use a damp washcloth for a few months, and try the toothbrush again at a later time. During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite!

When speaking to your child about going to the dentist, parents should not over-emphasize the first visit, and they should refrain from using any words that could cause any unnecessary fear, such as "needle" or "drill." Our doctors are highly trained in working with children who have anxiety and use positive methods to help make their visit as pleasant as possible.

How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

We’re glad you asked that question. All dental specialists have several years of additional training after dental school.  Pediatric dentists have extensive experience in treating infants, children and adolescents. 

We also like working with kids, which is why many pediatric dentists choose this specialty!

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

Usually, the first visit is short and simple—but still very important!

We take time to get to know your child in an environment that is friendly and relaxed. The dentist will check your child’s teeth and make sure there are no problems with the gums or jaw. We’ll also assess your child’s oral health needs and evaluate the risk of cavities. 

We’ll also clean your child’s teeth and apply a fluoride varnish. Depending upon your child’s individual needs, we may also take X-rays—these will help us care for your child’s teeth as they develop.

In addition, we’ll provide valuable information and tips on how to care for your child’s teeth.  Most important—we promise we’ll always take time to answer any questions you have.

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

If you have a positive attitude, chances are that your child will as well. If you dread going to the dentist, your child will likely pick up that same attitude. 

We don’t want ANYONE to dread going to the dentist! That’s why we make our environment as relaxing as possible. You may want to show your child pictures of our staff or even download our Dynamite Dental Fun Kit which is full of educational materials.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

We generally recommend scheduling check-ups every six months, though depending upon your child’s needs, more frequent visits may be necessary. 

If baby teeth aren’t permanent, why care for them?

Don’t let the name fool you—baby teeth play an important role in helping your son or daughter speak, smile and chew properly. They also serve as a “placeholder” for permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, teeth nearby can shift, causing overcrowding and other problems. 

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

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using fluoride toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste with fluoride. Children have a tendency to want to swallow toothpaste, so be sure they rinse and spit it out.

For children between 0 and 2 years old, use a small “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste. For children between 3 and 6 years, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. You’ll want to limit rinsing his or her teeth with water so your child can maximize the benefits of the fluoride.

If you see any signs of decay, contact us immediately.

When can my child brush his/her own teeth?

You should brush your child’s teeth until they are ready to take responsibility, which usually occurs around age 7 or 8. We’ll be glad to help you determine when your child is ready.

What causes cavities?

Our mouths are full of bacteria. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth, acid is produced. The acid then attacks the tooth enamel—the harder, exterior cover of the teeth. Once the acid eats through the enamel, it creates cavities—or holes—in the teeth.

Did you know that children are not born with the kind of bacteria that causes cavities? These bacteria are acquired from their parents or primary caregivers!  Children get these bacteria from:

  • Sharing drinks with parents, siblings or caretakers
  • Drinking from the same cup as parents
  • Using a pacifier that was cleaned by mom or dad’s mouth 
  • Sharing eating utensils

Limit these habits and decrease your child’s risk of developing cavities!

How can my child avoid cavities?

Here are some useful tips:

  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Make sure your child brushes at least twice a day
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Ask your dentist about a fluoride supplement
  • Limit snacking—a healthy diet is important

You may ask the dentist about sealants, which protect teeth that are difficult to brush. Sealants are a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities. 

What is a fluoride treatment, and does my child need one?

A fluoride treatment is an effective way to strengthen the enamel of your child’s teeth. It only takes a few minutes to apply. These fluoridated vanishes and gels have a higher concentration of fluoride than can be found in over-the-counter products. Our dental professionals will apply the product that is most appropriate to your child.

There are two types of fluoride treatment, a fluoride varnish and a fluoride gel.

A fluoride varnish is applied with a soft  brush. After application, your child should not brush or floss for 4 to 6 hours afterward, and eat a soft diet for the remainder of the day. Drinking can resume immediately.

A fluoride gel takes 4 minutes to apply, and you child should avoid eating and drinking for 30 minutes after treatment.

When should my child have dental X-rays?

We’ll evaluate your child’s need for X-rays around 2 to 3 years of age. Often, at this stage, X-rays consist of simple pictures of the front , lower, and back teeth. How often your child will need X-rays will be determined by his/her risk of cavities.

Why are dental X-rays important?

When permanent teeth start coming in (usually around age 6), X-rays help us ensure your child’s teeth and jaws are properly aligned. The X-rays also help us to comprehensively examine your child’s teeth, checking for cavities that can begin between teeth. We may take bite-wing X-rays of the back teeth as well as a panoramic X-ray to assess tooth growth and development.

How can my child develop healthy oral hygiene habits?

Brushing can be fun! We’re glad to help your child discover the importance of healthy teeth! We educate parents and children about proper brushing techniques. Flossing is also an important part of good oral hygiene habits, and we’ll tell you when your child should start flossing.

My child plays sports; how can I protect his or her teeth?

We recommend a mouth guard for children who participate in sports. Whether your child plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouth guard made to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What should I do if my child sucks his or her thumb?

First, most children outgrow this habit by age four. If your child continues  after permanent teeth erupt, or 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?

We recommend taking X-rays around the age of two or three and then have X-rays taken at least once a year. 

What if my child has a dental emergency?

We’re dedicated to providing quality emergency treatment for all our patients.  In case of an emergency, contact us by calling  the appropriate branch. 

We’ve also compiled some useful information that you can use in the event of a dental emergency.

we accept most dental insurance plans

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