If you have questions, most likely others have had them too! Browse our list of frequently asked questions, and feel free to contact us directly if you don’t find the answers you need. We’re here to help!
How is a pediatric dentist different from a general dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and has gained extensive knowledge in treating infants, children, and adolescents, in childhood development and behavior, and children with special needs. Our dentists and our staff have chosen to work with children and enjoy making it an extra friendly environment and experience. On top of that, our office is specifically designed for kids with lots of fun games and décor!
When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen within six months of getting their first tooth or by the age of one, whichever comes first.
What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?
Our team will review your child’s dental and medical history, a hygienist will help clean their teeth, and then one of the doctors will examine your child’s mouth, discuss healthy oral hygiene, discuss a treatment plan if necessary, and answer any questions you may have. Our main goal is to introduce the dentist office to your child and family and to educate your family on healthy oral hygiene habits. We want to make your child feel comfortable here so they are excited to come back to our office on their next visit!
How can I prepare my child for his or her first dental appointment?
Contrary to popular belief, the dentist office can actually be fun—at least at PDOT! The best thing you can do for your child is to have a positive attitude about the new experience and let them know what to expect. Show your child pictures of our office and staff on our website so that both will be familiar to him or her when you arrive. Let your child know how important it is to keep their teeth and gums healthy and how the dentist helps him or her do that. The dentist has specialty training and is prepared to handle fears and anxiety and the staff excels at having fun and putting your child at ease. As a parent, you can rest assured that your child will be in the best hands!
How often should my child visit the dentist?
The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist every six months for regular checkups and routine teeth cleanings to prevent cavities and other dental problems. Depending on your child’s oral health and unique circumstances, we may recommend more frequent visits.
Baby teeth aren’t permanent. Why do they need special care?
Your child’s first teeth play an important role in his or her development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew properly. Healthy primary teeth also allow normal development of the jaw bones and muscles and save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into place. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, permanent teeth may come in crooked. If primary teeth are not taken care of, they can become decayed and can cause pain, abscesses, and infections, which can affect permanent teeth. Some primary molars are not replaced until ages 10-14, so it’s very important to keep those primary teeth healthy.
What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, it’s important to practice good hygiene. We recommend cleaning his or her gums with a damp soft washcloth after each feeding. After their first tooth appears, you can start using a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one that is designed specifically for infants, once a day at bedtime. Do not use toothpaste without first checking with the dentist.
At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?
Once your child has multiple teeth, you can start brushing their teeth with toothpaste. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning- approximately the size of a grain of rice for kids under two. If your child is able, have them spit out after brushing. Children naturally want to swallow after brushing, so it’s important to guide them through it. Most children are ready to brush independently by the age of 7, but every child is different. Continue to brush for your child or supervise them until good habits have been established.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are typically a result of poor oral hygiene and/or diet, especially sugary drinks and foods. When sugars aren’t cleaned off teeth, bacteria feeds on them and produces acids. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles, and saliva to form plaque. Once plaque forms, the acids wear away the enamel, which leads to the beginning stages of a cavity. Being diligent and consistent in oral care can go a long way toward helping to avoid cavities. This includes brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. It is also important to go to the dentist for regular check-ups and routine cleanings. Aside from oral care, several dietary practices can guard against cavities. Make sure your child has a balanced diet and drinks primarily water. You should limit sugary drinks and treats, frequent snacking, and an excess amount of starchy foods.
When should my child have a dental X-ray taken?
We generally recommend taking X-rays when children are around the age of three, depending on the child’s development and needs. Permanent teeth erupt around the age of six, and X-rays help us make sure your child’s teeth and jaws are healthy and properly aligned. If your child has a high risk of developing dental problems, we may suggest X-rays at an earlier age.
Are dental X-rays safe?
There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed films are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.
Does my child need dental sealants?
A dental sealant is a thin, tooth-colored coating painted on the chewing surface of the tooth (usually premolars and molars) to help prevent tooth decay. This effectively “seals” the deep grooves, acting as a barrier and protecting enamel from bacteria, plaque, and acids that cause tooth decay. They are recommended by the American Dental Association for children and teens and are most commonly placed on the back teeth. The latest research shows that having dental sealants placed on permanent molars can reduce cavities on these surfaces by 80 percent! (Journal of the American Dental Association, August 2016, Vol. 147:8, pp. 631-645) The doctor will let you know if and when your child is ready for sealants.
What should I do if my child sucks their thumb?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, usually by the age of three, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt or sucks aggressively, please let us know.
What should I do if my child’s tooth is knocked out?
Hold the tooth by the crown (rather than the root) and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, place the tooth in a glass of milk and call our office immediately. The tooth has a better chance of being saved if you act immediately.