Pediatric Dentistry FAQ

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?

Pediatric dentists are dental professionals specializing in the treatment of children’s teeth. A pediatric dentist has an additional two to three years of specialized training after dental school and limits their practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence.

At what age should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday.

How often does my child need to see their pediatric dentist?

Their dentist will tell you how often they want to see your child. Most recommend every six months in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems but every case is different so your child may need to be seen more often depending on their oral health.

How do I find a pediatric dentist?

Referrals from friends and family are one of the best ways to find a good dentist! You might also consider using your dental insurance’s website which should have a “find a provider” tool so you can find a dentist in your network.

How important are baby teeth?

Our primary teeth are actually very important. They help children learn to speak clearly and chew naturally, they also help to form a path for permanent teeth to follow when they are ready to erupt.

What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?

A soft, infant toothbrush will remove bacteria that can lead to decay and should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

When should I begin using toothpaste?

Until your child’s teeth begin to erupt, use a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as their teeth erupt through the gum tissue, use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth twice daily. Once children reach 3 years of age, the amount of toothpaste should be increased to a pea-size dollop. It is important for parents to either perform or assist your child’s brushing as young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

What is the best type of toothbrush for children 9-13?

By the age of 9 or 10 years old, most adult teeth are present and children should begin using an adult toothbrush and toothpaste. Any soft-bristled toothbrush should be used two times a day for at least two minutes.

How can I help prevent decay in my child’s teeth?

Beginning with the eruption of the first tooth, parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, at least twice a year. Their dentist will suggest a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children to help them develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

For infants who are nursing, parents should avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle.

What is a healthy diet for children's 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 protein. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will aid in protecting your child's teeth from decay. Ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that help protect your child's teeth.

Do thumbsucking and pacifier habits affect baby teeth?

Most children will stop thumb and pacifier habits on their own but if they persist past the age of three, these habits can have a negative effect on their teeth. Their pediatric dentist may recommend a mouth appliance to help protect their teeth and deter finger/pacifier sucking.

How do I know if my child is getting the proper amount of fluoride?

Your child’s pediatric dentist can evaluate the fluoride level of their 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 your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements and oral care products.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants are a thin plastic coating that work by filling in the grooves and fissures on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of back teeth to protect them from food particles that could get caught in the teeth and cause cavities. Application is quick and can effectively protect your child’s teeth for many years as they learn proper oral hygiene techniques and habits.

How can I protect my child's teeth during sporting events?

Their pediatric dentist can make a soft mouthguard that can be used to protect their teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries.

What do I do if my child has a toothache?

Rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and use a cold compress on their face if you see any swelling. You can give them acetaminophen for any pain and get them in to see a dentist as soon as possible.

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

Have your child rinse their mouth with clean water and then gently bite on a clean, damp cloth to apply pressure to the open socket. Taking care not to touch the root of the tooth, try to put the tooth back in the socket. If you cannot, simply put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the tooth to the dentist immediately.

Pediatric Dentistry & Oral Surgery