Parents have a lot of questions when it comes to taking their children to one of our four pediatric dental locations. For that reason, we have put together answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about our kids dental offices.

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

Getting children familiar with visiting the dentist starts earlier than you might think. Your child’s first dental visit should occur either when their first tooth appears, or when they turn one year old: whichever occurs first.

What’s the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists have completed an additional two to three years of training specializing in the care, and equipment required for children’s dental needs. A pediatric dentist limits their practice to children from infant to adolescence only. A pediatric dentist is not only specially trained to work with children, but also children and teens with special needs.

How do I clean my baby’s teeth?

Even before your baby’s first tooth erupts, you can begin to get them accustomed to the idea of dental hygiene by gently rubbing a clean wet washcloth over their gums. Once their first tooth erupts, use a small soft bristled toothbrush. You can find specially designed infant toothbrushes in stores.

When should my child stop thumb-sucking or use a pacifier?

Sucking on a thumb, or using a pacifier isn’t a dental issue right away. Often toddlers will leave behind these habits on their own. If your child is three years old, however, and still engaging in one of those soothing habits, we recommend that you work to break the habit. Visit with your pediatric dentist for tips.

Are dental X-rays safe?

In general, dental X-rays have very little risk. Moreover, pediatric dentists are cautious about the amount of radiation a child is exposed to. We use high-speed film, and protective lead aprons to minimize risk and exposure for your child.

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

First, you should locate the tooth that has been knocked out. When you reach to pick it up, avoid touching the root of the tooth. If it is dirty, you can rinse it with milk. Next, you have two options. You can submerge the tooth in milk until you get to your pediatric dentist. Alternatively, you can reinsert the tooth, root first, by holding onto the crown of the tooth and placing firm pressure. If you opt for reinserting the tooth, have your child bite down on a clean washcloth to hold it into place until you can get to the pediatric dentist’s office.

This situation definitely constitutes a dental emergency, your pediatric dentist should see you right away.

How can I find a pediatric dentist near me?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has a registry of all pediatric dentists. You can search by zip code, and adjust the distance from 5 miles up to 100 miles, if necessary. You can find this registry here:

Find A Pediatric Dentist

If there are several near you and you don’t know how to choose, take a look at our in-depth guide on how to select a pediatric dentist, “How to Find the Best Kids Dentist Near Me“. In it we’ll walk you through different things you can do to inform your decision, and what to look for.

When should we begin using toothpaste?

As soon as the first tooth erupts, you can begin using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean your baby’s teeth. Brush even those baby teeth in the beginning, twice a day. From ages three to six, increase the amount of toothpaste to the size of a pea.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventative measure that we firmly advocate for. Children aren’t terrific brushers, and their back teeth are often difficult for them to reach. Those molars have grooves in which food particles and plaque love to hide out. We apply the dental sealant in those grooves. It is a painless procedure, and won’t interfere with your child’s next meal. The sealant acts as a protector to the tooth to keep bacteria, food, and sugars out. Dental sealants are known to reduce tooth decay in molars by 80%!

For more information about our dental sealants, go here.

How can I prevent bottle rot?

Bottle rot is baby teeth decay that can be tied back to inappropriate bottle use (or even sippy cups). Just because your baby uses a bottle doesn’t automatically mean they will get bottle rot. It’s important that your baby use a bottle only for drinking formula, milk, or water, but not juice. If the bottle has milk or formula in it, they should not be allowed to sip on it over an extended period of time. The bottle rot happens when the teeth have extended exposure to sugar. Furthermore, they should not be put to bed with a bottle of milk or formula. If you want to put them to bed with a bottle, then fill it only with water.

For more information, we’ve written an entire article dedicated to this topic, “Baby Teeth Decay: Is It a Big Deal?

Should my child have a mouth guard for sports?

Yes! Mouthguards will protect your child’s teeth and jaw from dental injuries. For more information about mouthguards, go here.

Should a cavity in a baby tooth be filled?

Absolutely, yes. A cavity in a baby tooth can be quite painful. That aside, the baby tooth needs to stay in its place until the body is ready for it to fall out to make room for the permanent tooth. Baby teeth are place holders that assist in proper eating and even speaking.

How often should my child see the dentist?

As a general rule, we encourage parents to have their child scheduled for bi-annual checkups. However, each child is unique and if we feel a more frequent schedule is appropriate, we will discuss with you why we feel it necessary so you have a clear understanding of our recommendation.

Has it been longer than six months since your child’s last dental visit? Give us a call and get an appointment on your calendar so you don’t forget. Happy smiles come from healthy teeth.