Pediatric Dentistry FAQs

What should I use to clean my baby teeth?

Before your baby’s teeth erupt, you should clean their gums with a wet piece of gauze or cloth.  Once a tooth comes through, switch to a soft-bristled, child-sized toothbrush with water.  Once your child can spit, you can switch to fluoridated toothpaste.  When two teeth come through that are touching, it’s time to break out the floss! But hold off on the mouthwash until around 6 years old.

When should I take my child to the dentist for their first appointment?

Your child should first visit the dentist around their 1st birthday.  For a full guide on what to expect at the first appointment, click here.

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

Pediatric dentists are specialized in treating kids, and even go through 2 more years of training for it!  With these two years of additional training, they’re better equipped to deal with the not-so-cooperative young patient, to administer the specialized treatment common in kids, and to teach kids how to take care of their own teeth.

Are baby teeth really that important?

YES! An emphatic yes!  Baby teeth are extremely important.  It’s easy to disregard baby teeth because they’re eventually going to fall out anyway. But during their short lives, they help your child learn to speak clearly and chew naturally, as well as serve as a place holder for the permanent teeth to follow.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

If your child is experiencing pain, have them rinse their mouth out with warm salt water and place a cold compress on their face over the pain area.  You can also give them child’s pain medicine, but do not place the aspirin directly on the tooth or gums. Schedule a dentist appointment as soon as possible.

Is sucking on their thumb or pacifier harmful to my child’s teeth?

Generally, sucking habits only become a problem if they continue for a prolonged period of time.  Once a child’s permanent teeth start to come in, if they have not yet quit the sucking habit, it could cause their teeth to be pushed forward.

Can nursing cause decay in my child’s mouth?

Decay occurs when teeth are exposed to sugar and acid for a prolonged period of time. Because of this, you should avoid nursing children to sleep or putting them to bed with a bottle.  If they have to take a bottle to bed, only put pure water in it.  Make sure to clean your child’s mouth twice a day, even before the first teeth erupt.

How often does my child need to see the dentist?

After the initial dentist appointment at 1 years old, your dentist will advise you on how often your child should come back to the office.  As with adults, it will most likely be twice a year, unless your child is prone to cavities and experiences decay at an early age.

When should my child start using toothpaste?

When your child reaches the age of 2, you can start to use fluoridated toothpaste in a pea-sized amount. Supervise your child and make sure that they are spitting out the toothpaste rather than swallowing it.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants fill in the grooves and crevasses on the chewing surface of the tooth that are notoriously hard to brush, and even moreso for kids.  This reduces the areas that bacteria can get into and cause cavities.

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

Fluoride prevents cavities and strengthens tooth enamel. Most cities in the US have fluoride in their drinking water. Consult your pediatric dentist to confirm whether this amount is sufficient.  If it’s not, they can prescribe a fluoride supplement.  Additionally, if your child drinks mostly bottled water, check to make sure the brand contains fluoride in it.

How can I protect my child’s teeth during a sporting event?

Most dental emergencies occur during a sporting event.  To prevent these as best as you can, ask your dentist to make a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your child’s teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth gets knocked out?

If you can, find the tooth and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Insert it back into the socket and head to the nearest dentist or emergency room.  If the tooth won’t fit back into the socket, put it in a glass of milk and take it with you to the emergency appointment.

Are dental x-rays safe for my child?

There is very little risk associated with dental x-rays.  The amount of radiation to your child is limited by the lead apron and high-speed film.

How can I best help prevent tooth decay in my child?

Until your child is old enough to have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth well, you’re responsible for their dental care. From day 1, you need to be vigilant and insistent on keeping their mouth clean and healthy with regular brushing and flossing, as well as visiting the dentist twice a year.