1. When should my child first see a dentist?

“First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.

2. Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?

The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is early childhood caries (also know as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child runs the risk of severe decay from using a bottle during naps, at night, or when they nurse continuously from the breast. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.

3. Why should my child see a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a specialist who is dedicated to the oral health of children from birth through the teen-age years. Pediatric dentists are trained in many methods to help children feel comfortable and secure with dental treatment.

4. Why are baby teeth important if they are going to fall out anyway?

It is important that primary or “baby teeth” are kept until they are lost naturally. Strong healthy primary teeth help the child chew food easily, speak clearly and guide the eruption of the permanent teeth. They also give his or her face shape and form and help your child feel good about the way he or she looks and smiles. Many primary teeth are not lost until 12 or 13 years of age. Therefore, proper care is of the utmost importance. Neglect of the primary teeth can lead to decay or cavities which can result in severe pain and serious infection to the gums and jaws, damage to the underlying permanent teeth and poor general health of the child.

5. How often should regular dental visits be scheduled?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check up at least two times per year.

6. How do I prepare my child for a dental appointment?

Please discuss the positive aspects of dentistry with your child. Convey good feelings about dental visits as being a part of growing up. Rather than, “the dentist will not hurt you”, say “the dentist will be very gentle”. Expect your child to react well and enjoy the first dental visit and chances are he/she will do exactly that.

7. When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

Children should be weaned from the bottle by 12 months of age.

8. Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants: most stop by age 1. If your child does not, discourage it after age 4. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth or bite problems. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.

9. Any advice on teething?

From six months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Most parents have had great results with a chilled ring where others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger.

10. When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively.