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Pediatric Dentistry Q&A

What age should my child first see a dentist?

  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts.


What is the benefit of early dental care?

  • The age 1 dental appointment is important to acclimate children to the dental office and provide education for parents and caregivers. It is beneficial to familiarize children with the dental office at an early age so they will be comfortable should restorative or emergency treatment be needed in the future.

  • Early visits also enable preventative care (cleanings, fluoride varnish) in an effort to prevent cavities.

  • All 20 primary teeth erupt by age 3, and permanent teeth appear as early as age 5-6.


Why are baby teeth important?

  • Maintaining the health of primary teeth is important to your child’s overall health, well-being, and self-esteem.

  • Primary teeth aid in speech development as well as chewing and proper nutrition.

  • Primary teeth also guide permanent teeth into the correct position in the mouth.

  • Some baby teeth need to be maintained for over a decade (front teeth begin exfoliating around age 6-8, while primary molars do not fall out until age 11-13).

How should I take care of my child’s teeth at home?     

  • Brushing 2x/day with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste (after breakfast and before bed).

    • Under age 3= smear/grain of rice (prior to adequate spitting)

    • Over age 3= pea size

  • Flossing at night when space is not present between teeth (floss before brushing).

  • We advise parents help with brushing throughout childhood until manual dexterity improves (ex: until child can tie his or her own shoes). Even after this, we encourage parents to supervise or assist with brushing before bed. 


What are the benefits of fluoride?

  • Fluoride is a mineral found in tap water and toothpaste that helps to strengthen the enamel of teeth and makes teeth more resistant to cavities.

  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages use of fluoridated toothpaste as early as eruption of the first tooth.

  • Parents should dispense the toothpaste for young children to avoid excessive swallowing, as too much fluoride can cause fluorosis in developing permanent teeth

What causes cavities?

  • The formation of cavities is a multifactorial process, involving diet, oral hygiene, tooth anatomy, saliva composition, and oral bacteria, among other things. Bacteria in the mouth digest simple carbohydrates and produce acid, which leads to break down of the teeth (decay).


How can I optimize my child’s diet to help prevent cavities?

  • Children should not fall asleep with a bottle or cup containing anything except water (no milk or juice after brushing at night).

  • Limit at-will breast feeding after eruption of the 1st tooth.

  • Feed your child a balanced diet (fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, grains)

  • Eat treats/ sugary foods as part of meal, NOT in between meals

  • Avoid sticky foods such as gummies which adhere to the teeth for an extended time

  • Brush after taking medications sweetened by sugar


Are dental xrays safe for children?

  • With modern equipment to reduce radiation, exposure to dental xrays poses a much smaller health risk than undiagnosed or untreated dental problems.

  • Our office utilizes digital fast speed film, lead aprons and thyroid collars, and radiation filters to focus the xray only to the area of interest.

  • Xray frequency is determined based on patient age, risk of cavities, and dental findings.

  • We follow the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably achievable) to minimize exposure.


Will my child need braces?

  • We will evaluate your child’s growth and development at each visit, and refer for early orthodontic consultation if indicated (typically no earlier than age 7).


What should I do if my child injures his or her teeth in a trauma?

  • Apply cold to the injured area and apply a compress to stop bleeding.

  • Give your child ibuprofen.

  • Call our office (or send a photo by email).

  • Quick guide to dental trauma/ emergencies:

    • Knocked out baby tooth—do not replace

    • Knocked out adult tooth—rinse and put back in socket, or put in milk and bring directly to dental office

    • Chipped/broken tooth—bring fragment to dental office


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