Pediatric Dental FAQ's


When should a child have their first dental visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends bringing your child to the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts. The reason for this is to ensure you understand how to properly care for your child's new teeth. Baby teeth need to be cleaned adequately, even if there are only a few. That said, it is very hard to examine a child under 3. We're happy to answer any questions you have over the phone on taking care of your child's new teeth. We would like to see your child for their first actual cleaning at the age of 3.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

Children should have cleanings and check ups every 6 months, just like adults. This allows us to make sure no decay has developed and review proper hygiene habits that may have been forgotten.

Should I use a fluoride toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?

Yes! But in a very small amount. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using a very small smear, equivalent to a grain of rice, on a soft tooth brush from the time a first tooth appears. Flouride is very beneficial for tooth strength in small amounts. It can be a poison if a small person ingests it in large amounts. NEVER use more than a small smear or grain of rice sized amount. Between the ages of 3 years and 6 years, a child can begin using a pea sized amount of tooth paste on a soft tooth brush.

How do I care for my young child's first teeth?

As soon as the first tooth erupts through the gums, use a wet wash cloth to gently wipe the tooth clean. As the child gets more teeth in and begins to eat more solid foods, progress to brushing with a child sized tooth brush with soft bristles. From an early age, it is important to emphasize daily brushing and flossing, even when the teeth are not touching, so children develop good lifetime daily oral hygiene habits.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits bad for my child's teeth?

Thumb sucking and pacifier habits only become an issue if they occur for an extended period of time, typically beyond 3 years of age. Most children out grow these habits well before 3 years and the habits do not have significant impacts on their permanent dentition. We suggest trying to wean your child from the pacifier between 1 and 1.5 years of age.

Do you take x-rays on children?

Yes, only when the child has all of their molars. Baby teeth are very white. It is nearly impossible to see decay in between baby teeth until the decay has become very large. Dental x-rays help us to catch decay at an early stage so it can be treated before it causes the child severe pain. Flossing is the best way to prevent decay between teeth. Start flossing as soon as your child's first teeth erupt, even if the teeth are not touching. Practicing flossing now leads to better flossing habits later!

Is one type of candy better than another for teeth?

Yes, chocolate treats tend to cause less tooth decay than sticky sugary treats. Chocolate does not stick in tooth grooves like sugar candies do and is easier to clean off of teeth.

When should my child visit the orthodontist?

During your child's cleaning, we will evaluate and review with you their tooth spacing and bite to determine when they should visit the orthodontist. Depending on the amount of arch discrepancies, we often send children for evaluations as early as 6 to 8 years of age. Often times, kids can be put in appliances, such as a palatal expander, to create room for their adult teeth while their bones are still growing. The orthodontic appliances at an early age usually significantly decrease the time a child has to wear actual braces and minimizes the need for tooth extraction to create room for their adult teeth.