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Pediatric Dental FAQs

Here are answers to common questions about caring for children's teeth:

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

We recommend scheduling the first visit as soon as your child gets their first tooth or by their first birthday. This meets the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association.

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and other dentists?

Dental specialists, including pediatric dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons, undergo rigorous training after completing dental school. Pediatric dentists receive specialized education focusing on treating infants, children, and adolescents. Their training equips them with extensive knowledge in childhood development and behavior. At our pediatric dental office, we prioritize creating a welcoming environment for children, evident in our staff, office design, decorations, and activities, all tailored to provide a friendly and comfortable experience for young visitors.

What can I expect during my child’s first visit to the dentist?

During the first visit, we aim to make it short and straightforward. Typically, we focus on getting acquainted with your child and providing you with fundamental information about dental care. The dentist will examine your child's teeth to assess their placement and overall health, while also checking for any potential issues with the gums and jaw. If needed, a light cleaning may be performed. We are also available to address any questions you may have regarding your child's dental care and will provide you with materials containing useful tips for at-home dental hygiene.

How should I prepare my child for their first dental visit?

The key to preparing your child for their first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children are sensitive to adults' feelings, so avoid expressing any negative sentiments about dental visits as it may cause your child to anticipate a negative experience. Show them pictures of our office and staff from our website to familiarize them with the environment. Emphasize the importance of keeping their teeth and gums healthy and reassure them that the dentist will help with that. It's essential to remember that our dentist and staff are trained to address fears and anxiety in children, and we excel at making them feel comfortable during treatment.

How often should I bring my child to the dentist?

Checkups every six months are generally recommended, although more frequent visits may be advised based on the child's oral health.

But they're just baby teeth. Why are they so important?

Your child's primary teeth, although temporary, are vital for their development. They facilitate proper speech, smiling, and chewing, while also preserving space in the jaw for permanent teeth. Premature loss of primary teeth due to damage or decay can lead to misalignment of permanent teeth as neighboring teeth shift into the vacant space. Additionally, the overall health of your child is influenced by the condition of their teeth and gums.

How should I clean my baby’s teeth?

Before your baby's first tooth emerges, it's important to clean their gums after feedings. Gently wipe your baby's gums using a damp, soft washcloth.Once the first tooth appears, transition to using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. Infant toothbrushes are available at most drugstores and are specifically designed for this purpose.

When should I use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?

Once your child has several teeth, you can introduce toothpaste during brushing. It's crucial to use only a tiny smear amount of fluoridated toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, for each cleaning session. Encourage your child to rinse and spit out the toothpaste after brushing to avoid swallowing excess fluoride, which can cause tooth staining. Until they're around six or seven years old, you should continue brushing your child's teeth for them until they're ready to take on the responsibility themselves.

What causes cavities to form?

Certain bacteria present in our mouths interact with sugars from food residues left on our teeth after eating. This interaction leads to the production of acids. These acids then attack the enamel covering the teeth, gradually eroding it and forming cavities or holes in the teeth.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Ensure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flosses daily to reach areas between teeth that brushing alone can't. Consult your pediatric dentist about fluoride supplements to strengthen tooth enamel against decay. Encourage a healthy diet by avoiding sugary foods and drinks, limiting snacking, and making regular dental appointments for professional cleanings and check-ups.

What is the purpose of dental sealants?

Sealants are recommended to cover the pits and fissures in teeth, making them less susceptible to decay. This simple procedure helps children avoid cavities, particularly in hard-to-reach molars.

How can I protect my child's teeth when they begin sports?

Custom-fitted mouthguards are recommended for children participating in sports, including wrestling, baseball, football or other activites to protect their teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums from potential injuries.

How should I stop my child sucking their thumb?

The majority of children naturally suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and typically stop by age four without causing permanent damage to their teeth. However, if thumb sucking persists after permanent teeth erupt, or if it's done aggressively, it's advisable to inform us so we can assess any potential issues arising from the habit.

When should dental X-rays be taken for my child?

We advise getting X-rays around at their first visit, starting with simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth to introduce your child to the process. Once the baby teeth at the back touch each other, regular X-rays (at least yearly) are recommended. By age six, permanent teeth begin to emerge, and X-rays help ensure your child's teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned. In cases of high risk for dental issues, we may recommend X-rays at an earlier age.

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