We write regularly about parent tips for encouraging dental hygiene, healthy eating habits, and our pediatric dental services, and yet the sheer breadth of information on the topic of children’s teeth can seem rather overwhelming. Our staff answers individual questions from parents (and kids!) regularly, and you might be surprised to know that many of the questions bouncing around in your head, are frequently asked by others as well. With this in mind, we’ve put together a master list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Pediatric Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

When should I bring my child in for their first dental checkup?

We typically suggest you bring in your little one when their first tooth has erupted. This is generally between six to 12 months of age. If your baby is turning one year old and has yet to have their first tooth poke through, it’s time for a dental checkup, yes even without a tooth. For more in-depth information about this topic, check out our article.

How should I clean my baby’s teeth?

You can purchase a special infant toothbrush at most drugstores. The bristles should be soft and the head of the brush especially small to better fit their mouth. Brush twice a day, using a tiny amount of toothpaste (such as a grain of rice).

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

Pediatric dentists complete two to three additional years of specialized training after dental school. This additional training focuses on the techniques and tools specifically designed for children’s comfort as well as training to encounter, understand, and address the developmental and emotional needs for infants to adolescents, including children with special needs. For more information, read this article.

Are pacifiers bad for my baby’s teeth?

Pacifiers and thumb sucking are natural soothing habits for babies and toddlers. They can become harmful if they persist beyond three years of age. Chat with your pediatric dentist if you have concerns.

How often should my kid visit the dentist?

Everyone, adults included, should have two dental checkups per year. Most insurances have transitioned to including coverage for two per year, as companies analyze the cost benefits of preventative care. Be sure you’re maximizing your dental insurance benefits before the year is out, for more information about this, read our in-depth article.

How do I prevent tooth decay from nursing or bottle rot?

Research shows that breast milk while containing sugar, does not cause tooth decay, however once your baby begins eating foods the potential for tooth decay will arise. Bottle rot is a common term that refers to tooth decay that is caused due to improper bottle feeding habits. Keep your baby’s access to their bottle limited, and never put juice in it. Even before your baby erupts their first tooth, you should gently wash their gums with a clean washcloth and water to scrub away any lingering bacteria. For more detailed information about how to avoid bottle rot, read our article, here.

Should my child get dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventative measure dentists use that we strongly recommend. The crevices and ridges in teeth, particularly the back molars are favorite spots for bacteria and food stuffs to linger. Additionally, those back teeth are more difficult for children to reach when they brush. The dental sealants literally seal a protective coat to the crevices of the teeth protecting them from tooth decay and making them less deep, and therefore easier to brush clean. For more information about dental sealants, read here.

Does my child need fluoride treatments?

Is your primary source of water treated with fluoride? Or do you typically drink store-bought bottled water? Most city and town water sources have been treated with fluoride, it’s in fact considered one of the greatest public health accomplishments in the last century. Check to be sure your toothpaste has fluoride. When your child comes in for a dental visit we can discuss whether your child is a good candidate for a fluoride treatment, or supplement. We know that some families find the topic of fluoride controversial, so if you have concerns please bring them to us so that we can discuss. You can also read more about fluoride treatments, here.

What do I do if my child chips a tooth or one is knocked out?

Retrieve the tooth (or piece of it), but avoid touching the root. Place the tooth in a sealed container with milk, and call your pediatric dentist for an emergency dental appointment right away. For more detailed guidance if you find yourself in this circumstance, we’ve written up several scenarios and step by step instructions for how to respond. You can find them, here.

Many of these instances occur due to injuries from sports activities. We strongly urge parents to invest in mouth guards for their children. Mouth guards are required for contact sports such as football, but research shows they are necessary for all sports activities. For more information about mouth guards, check out this article.

What do I do when my child has a toothache?

If your child complains of a toothache, it is likely to be a symptom of tooth decay. Have them rinse their mouth out with some room temperature salt water. You can give them an appropriate dosage of child’s acetaminophen to help with the pain, and an icepack for their cheek if the area is also swollen. You’ll also need to schedule a visit with your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

Why does a cavity in a baby tooth need to be filled?

A cavity in a baby tooth needs to be treated not only to ease your child’s pain, but also because the decay in one tooth can spread into others when left untreated. We prefer not to pull a tooth in such a circumstance because our body’s natural inclination is for the baby tooth to fall out when it’s ready. Until then, the baby teeth serve to preserve the space for the permanent tooth, and help with chewing and proper speech.

Are dental X-rays safe?

As previously mentioned, pediatric dentists are specially trained to work with kids. We take special care to limit exposure, lead protective aprons are used as is high-speed film. X-rays are important for pediatric dentists to properly assess dental issues so that nothing is overlooked that could become a bigger problem later on.

Schedule Your Child’s Dental Appointment Today

Before you get caught up in the swing of the holidays, be sure to get your child’s second annual dental checkup and cleaning scheduled! Our offices in South Davis, Herriman, and Redwood are at your service. Give us a call today.