What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist completes two to three extra years of training following a four-year dental school curriculum. Pediatric dentists are specialists dedicated to serving the unique dental needs of children from infancy through the teenage years.
More Frequently asked questions…
- When should my child have their first dental visit?
- Why are primary teeth important?
- How should I care for my child’s teeth?
- How can I prevent cavities?
- When will my baby start getting teeth?
- What kind of toothpaste should my child use?
- My child sucks his thumb. Should I be concerned?
- My teenager wants a tongue piercing, isn’t that dangerous?
- Will my child need x-rays?
When should my child have their first dental visit?
Our office, as well as the The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) all recommend establishing a “Dental Home” for your child by one year of age. Children who have a dental home are more likely to receive appropriate preventive and routine oral health care.
Why are primary teeth important?
It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-8 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 9-13.
How should I care for my child’s teeth?
Daily oral hygiene should begin when your child’s first tooth emerges. Use gauze or a clean cloth to gently wipe tooth surfaces. Gradually move to a toothbrush and a non-fluoride toothpaste. A pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used when children are old enough not to swallow it. Most children need brushing help and/or supervision until they reach age six or seven. However, all children are different, and our pediatric dentist can help you determine when your child can brush his or her teeth without supervision. And don’t forget to floss! Our team can give you tips and teach your children correct brushing and flossing techniques. Give us a call!
Proper oral home care, practiced daily, is crucial to prevent cavities and gum disease. Supervise your children’s daily brushing and flossing until they’re old enough to care for their teeth themselves. Limit sugary snacks and avoid putting children to bed with bottles filled with anything but water. Children should brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Begin bringing your child to our office for six-month check ups around age one. We may recommend dental sealants or a fluoride treatment to keep teeth healthy and strong. Call today to schedule your child’s appointment.
When will my baby start getting teeth?
Teething varies from child to child. Generally speaking, the lower front teeth are the first to emerge. This usually happens between six and eight months of age. By age three, most children have all 20 primary teeth, although the pace and order of emergence may be different for each child. If you have concerns about your child’s tooth development, call us to schedule an appointment.
What kind of toothpaste should my child use?
Tooth brushing is one of the most important tasks for good oral health. When looking for a toothpaste for your child, make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association as shown on the box and tube. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.
Remember, children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with a fluoride free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a smear of fluoride-containing toothpaste.
My child sucks his thumb. Should I be concerned?
Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which to suck. It may make them feel secure and happy, or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may induce sleep.
Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.
Children should cease thumb sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.
Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, consult your pediatric dentist.
A few suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:
- Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking.
- Children who are sucking for comfort will feel less of a need when their parents provide comfort.
- Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when being separated from their parents.
- Your pediatric dentist can encourage children to stop sucking and explain what could happen if they continue.
- If these approaches don’t work, remind the children of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your pediatric dentist may recommend the use of a mouth appliance.e.
My teenager wants a tongue piercing. Isn’t that dangerous?
Yes!!! You might not be surprised anymore to see people with pierced tongues, lips or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be.
There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.
So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your mouth a break – skip the mouth jewelry.
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.
Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years, it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of radiographs, either a panoramic and bitewings or periapicals and bitewings.
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary xrays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.