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Time for a Pediatric Dentist FAQ!

MANY OF OUR PATIENTS and our patients’ parents come to us with the same questions about childhood dental health without realizing it. These are some of the questions we hear most often, and we’re sure that more people haven’t spoken up but don’t know the answers either.

1. When should I bring my child in for their first appointment?

As soon as your child has teeth, they need a dentist! It’s a great idea to bring your child in when the first tooth erupts, but definitely no later than their first birthday. At this first appointment, we can give you tips on how to take care of their teeth as they appear and how to help them through difficult teething periods.

2. What’s the difference between a general dentist and a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists specialize in working with children. Just like it’s better to take your child to a pediatrician than a general physician, it’s better to bring them to see a pediatric dentist. This is because we undergo an additional two to three years of specialized training beyond dental school to learn better how to treat children’s dental health problems from infancy through adolescence.

3. Is it really that important to keep baby teeth healthy?

Even though baby teeth are temporary, it is critical to keep them as healthy as possible through good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits. Baby teeth not only help children speak clearly and chew their food, they also serve as guideposts for the adult teeth to come in where they’re supposed to.

4. What should I do if my child gets a toothache?

Rinsing the area with warm salt water (which they should spit out, not swallow) and using a cold compress on the face (if swollen) are good first steps. Children’s Tylenol can also help (do not apply pain relieving medication directly to the painful tooth or gums, though) until you can bring your child in to see us, which you should do as soon as possible.

5. Are thumbsucking and pacifiers bad for my child’s teeth?

Not necessarily. These habits only become an oral health concern if they continue beyond the toddler years. Most children will grow out of them on their own, but if they don’t stop after age three, it’s time to think about ways to discourage the habit, and an oral appliance may be necessary.

6. What is the right amount of toothpaste to use on my child’s teeth?

Fluoride is important for preventing cavities, but too much can cause white spots (fluorosis) on the incoming adult teeth. A tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste is enough for brushing a baby or toddler’s teeth. By ages 3-6, you can increase the amount to a pea-sized dollop. Past age 6, they usually have enough coordination to brush their own teeth, but always encourage them to spit after they brush instead of swallowing the excess toothpaste.

Bring Us Your Questions!

We hope these answers have been eye-opening for you! The more educated you are about your children’s teeth and how to care for them, the better their chances are of maintaining adorable, healthy smiles as they grow. If you have any questions we didn’t cover here, give us a call or stop by our office!

We love our patients!

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