Your Questions About Pediatric Dentistry Answered

It’s only natural for parents to have questions about their children’s dental care. Today’s parents understand that oral health serves as a gateway to the health of the entire body. Further, parents want to ensure their children have a lifetime of excellent oral health. For these reasons, the Metro East Dental Care team has put together a list of questions that parents tend to ask when it comes to pediatric dentistry and caring for their children and their pearly whites.

1. Should I bring my child to see a pediatric dentist instead of a regular dentist?

Pediatric dentists undergo specific training to treat your child’s oral health needs. In most cases, a pediatric dentist will receive two to three additional years of dental education, learning how to treat children specifically.

Dr. May has completed an AEGD (Advanced Education in General Dentistry) residency and participates in ongoing education to stay on top of innovative materials, techniques, and new technologies to provide the highest quality of care and results for his patients. This makes Dr. May well versed in all aspects of children’s dentistry, and he has been treating children for a number of years.

2. When will my baby get their first tooth?

There is no sure way to know when your baby will get their first tooth. In most cases, the lower front baby teeth will start to erupt between six to eight months. Though extremely rare, some babies are even born with teeth. In all reality, however, every baby is different. By age three, your toddler will likely have all or most of their baby teeth.

3. How can I prevent tooth decay from my baby drinking from a bottle or sippy cup?

As soon as your child reaches their first birthday, we suggest parents introduce their toddler to a sippy cup. If your child is breast-feeding, at-will nighttime feedings should be avoided after the first teeth erupt. We also recommend that parents not allow their children to fall asleep with a bottle that contains anything other than water. Parents should offer juice infrequently and only from a cup.

4. When should my child come for their first dental visit?

We suggest that children come in for their first dental visit sometime between the appearance of their first tooth or their first year of age. Getting your child familiar with the process of visiting the dentist and having someone’s hands in their mouth when they are young will help with overall dental care throughout their childhood. However, the first visit helps us get a look at what is happening in your baby’s mouth and serves to set the stage for the future dentist and patient relationship.

5. How can I help ready my child for their first dental visit?

This is an excellent question, as parents play a significant role in helping the first dental visit succeed. Though Dr. May and the Metro East team will do everything we can to make your child comfortable, some children are apprehensive about their first visit to the dentist. If your child is feeling nervous or anxious about the dentist, please show them photos of our office on our website. You can bring your child to our office a few days before their first dental visit for a pre-tour in extreme cases.

We also encourage parents to play mimicking games with their children. Use a washcloth to wipe your baby or toddler’s mouth and gums after they finish their meals. Ensure that your child sees you brushing and flossing your teeth too, as this can help them understand that maintaining proper oral hygiene is something we all should do.

6. What will happen during my child’s first dental visit?

The first visit should take place between the first tooth’s appearance and your child’s first birthday. This visit will let us get a look in your child’s mouth to determine a course of progress for the next few years. The first visit is relatively short. We will want your child to get a feel for the office environment and our staff during the visit. We will check your child’s teeth and look for any potential problems with their jaw or gums. We’ll also conduct a preliminary assessment of your child’s overall oral health.

Depending on your child’s age, we will clean your child’s teeth and apply a fluoride varnish. We may decide to take X-rays that will help us care for your child’s teeth as they continue to come in and develop. Finally, we’ll provide parents or guardians with helpful tips on how to care for young teeth.

7. Since baby teeth aren’t permanent, why should I worry about them?

Don’t underestimate the importance of your child’s baby teeth. These baby teeth play a critical role in helping your child learn to speak, chew correctly, and yes, smile. It is vital to preserve baby teeth until they are ready to fall out naturally. During your child’s dental visits, we will provide tips on caring for young teeth and will walk you through what to expect in the months and years to come.

8. When will my child have their first dental X-rays?

Like many things, the age of your child’s first dental X-ray will vary. We usually evaluate the need for X-rays between two and three years of age. At these young ages, X-rays will consist of the front, lower, and back teeth. The frequency of future X-rays will be wholly dependent on your child’s risk of cavities or other oral health concerns.

9. When will my child be able to brush their teeth on their own?

We encourage parents to help their child brush their teeth until the age of seven or eight. However, most children need brushing supervision until at least age 10.

10. How can I recognize tooth decay on my child’s teeth?

The symptoms of tooth decay vary by child. We encourage parents to bring their child in for regular dental visits (every six months), starting from when they cut their first tooth or the age of one, whichever comes first. Dr. May can then assess whether or not your child has a cavity. In the meantime, parents should be on the lookout for white, brown, or black spots on the teeth. Also, pay attention if your child is complaining of tooth sensitivity or pain.