Frequently Asked Questions

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?Which type of toothbrush should I use?How Can I Schedule an Appointment?Is one toothpaste better than others?Toothpaste: When should we begin using it and how much should we use?How often should I floss?What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?Are baby teeth really that important to my child?What should I do if my child has a toothache?Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?How safe are dental x-rays?How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

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

Your child should first see a dentist no later than 12 months of age or within 6 months after the first tooth appears. Establishing a dental home provides an ongoing relationship between the child and the dentist inclusive of comprehensive, accessible and coordinated oral health in a family-centered way.

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

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. They attend 2-3 additional years of specialty training after dental school where they focus on treating: infants, children, adolescents and individuals with special healthcare needs.

Which type of toothbrush should I use?

The brand of the toothbrush is not nearly as important as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A toothbrush with soft bristles is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to the recession of gums. A small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. It's unnecessary to, "scrub" the teeth as long as you are brushing at least twice a day and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings.

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 twice a day - especially at bedtime.

Is one toothpaste better than others?

Generally, no. However, it is advisable to use a toothpaste containing fluoride to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.

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

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste with a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they appear. Once children are 3 to 6 years old the amount should be increased to a rice-sized dollop and parents should still perform or assist with brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

How often should I floss?

Flossing the teeth once daily helps prevent cavities forming between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing also helps keep your gums healthy.

What about “silver” fillings versus “white” fillings?

Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting, “white” or tooth-colored composite fillings. We also prefer composite fillings because they are usually less sensitive to temperature and are more aesthetically pleasing. However, composite fillings cannot be used in every situation. If a tooth is badly broken-down, an amalgam (silver) crown will usually be necessary and will provide better overall strength, longevity and satisfaction for the patient.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary or, “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. They not only help children speak clearly and chew naturally but 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 are with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child an appropriate amount of acetaminophen for their size/age for any discomfort. Do not place aspirin on the teeth or gums and see a pediatric dentist as soon as possible.

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

Generally, thumb and pacifier sucking habits will 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 continue past the age of three your pediatric dentist can offer cessation solutions including positive reinforcement and occasionally mouth appliances.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

The most important thing to do is to remain calm and find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it into the socket. If that isn’t possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk or, "Hanks Balanced Salt Solution" and take your child and the glass to a dentist IMMEDIATELY.

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 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.  Establishing this ongoing relationship facilitates a tailored dietary and oral hygiene plan for your child. This will prepare your child for a lifetime of healthy dental habits.