Pediatric Dental Clinic FAQs & Information

What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?

A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

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

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only.

Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, see a pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

All pacifiers can cause bite problems.  If your infant/young child does not suck his or her thumb, do not encourage your child to take a pacifier.  There is no such thing as an "Orthodontic Pacifier".  The only time to encourage an infant or very young child to us a pacifier is if the child sucks his or her thumb.  Weaning a child from a pacifier habit later is easier than weaning a child from a thumb sucking habit.  Specifically, pacifiers and thumb sucking habits cause open bites and cross bites which usually require orthodontic treatment to fix.

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child's teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child's first birthday.

How does a pediatric dentist help with dental anxiety?

Pediatric dentists and their staff have special training in teaching your child about proposed dental treatment in a kind, non-threatening way. Pediatric dental offices are designed for children. Staff members choose to work in a pediatric dental practice because they like kids. All children below the age of three will be examined while sitting in the parents' lap.  Most anxiety is caused by fear of the unknown. So, most children are calm, comfortable and confident in a pediatric dental office.

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

Fluoride toothpaste can be used at any age, provided too much toothpaste is not used.  For children less than three years a "smear" of toothpaste is recommended (1/8 pea-sized amount).  The key is good brushing.  Brushing removes the bacteria.

Does cake and ice cream (dessert after dinner) cause cavities?

This answer might surprise you.  The answer is "NO".  What causes cavities is the sugar your child gets at breakfast and throughout the day.  Cereals high in sugar that stick to the teeth (Captain Crunch®, Fruity Pebbles®, most cereals advertised on Saturday morning cartoon shows) and fluids high in sugar intake (sodas, Kool-Aid®, apple juice, Juicy Juice®, etc.) are the real culprits that cause tooth decay.  During the day, have your child drink milk (not chocolate or strawberry flavored milk) or water.  Diet sodas are high in acid and should be avoided.  Try to drink only one soda a week.

How do I make my child's diet safe for his teeth?

Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat fish and eggs. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child's teeth from decay. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that protect your children's teeth.  Be sure your child's teeth are thoroughly cleaned before bedtime and that they drink water only during the night.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.

How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?

Have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child's primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

What can I do to protect my child's teeth during sporting events?
Soft plastic mouthguards can be used to protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.  If the tooth is dirty, rinse the tooth.  The tooth needs to stay warm, moist and body temperature.

How safe are dental X-rays?
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 film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.