Pediatric Dentistry FAQ

What’s a pediatric dentist?
hawaii-tree3Pediatric dentists receive two to three years of specialty training after dental school, making them particularly adept at providing dental care to infants, children, and adolescents.

When will my baby start teething?
Every child is different. For some babies, their teeth erupt early. For others, their teeth come in later. Usually, the lower anterior teeth are the first teeth to appear, and this happens at 6 – 8 months.

When should I take my child to the dentist for their first check-up?
Your child’s first dental visit should be around the time when their first tooth appears – no later than their first birthday. During this visit, the pediatric dentist will evaluate their oral health, give nutritional recommendations, and teach you how to properly clean your child’s teeth.

How often does my child need to see a pediatric dentist?
To prevent cavities and other dental problems, it’s recommended that your child sees the dentist for a check-up at least once every six months. Again, though, every child is different. The pediatric dentist will assess your child’s oral health care needs and then recommend the ideal visit frequency.

How important are baby teeth?
Very Important! It’s crucial to keep them healthy. Baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) help children speak, chew, and smile. They also provide permanent teeth with room to grow, and they help guide permanent teeth into position while they’re erupting. Large cavities in primary teeth or early loss of primary teeth can negatively affect permanent teeth.

What should I use to clean my baby’s mouth?
Starting at birth, your baby’s gums should be cleaned with a gauze or a clean damp cloth. Once the teeth erupt, it’s important to brush your baby’s teeth at least once a day, preferably at bedtime. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head to remove the plaque (bacteria that causes decay). There are many brushes like this available specifically for infants.

How much toothpaste should I use?
hawaiiA small smear of fluoride toothpaste should be used to brush a baby’s teeth. Start as soon as they erupt. For children aged 3 – 6, a pea-size amount can be used with the assistance of parents.

Children should spit out, not swallow, all excess toothpaste.

Are thumb and pacifier sucking habits harmful?
Thumb-sucking is a problem when it goes on for too long. If children are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a pediatric dentist will advise you on the best way to get your child to quit the habit.

What is Baby Bottle Tooth decay?

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (early childhood caries) is a serious dental condition caused by frequent and prolonged exposure to liquids containing sugar, such as formula, juice, and even breast milk.

When the baby is put to bed with a sweet beverage instead of just water, the sugar collects around the teeth, feeding the bacteria already present in plaque and producing acids that attack dental enamel.

To prevent early childhood caries, you should begin practicing proper oral hygiene within the first few days after birth. After feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a damp gauze or washcloth. Infants should finish their bottle before going to bed.

What are dental sealants? How do they work?
Sealants are like nail varnish for the teeth. They fill in the fissures on the teeth’s chewing surfaces and block out food particles that can cause cavities. Both primary and permanent teeth can benefit from sealants.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth when they’re playing sports?
A custom-fitted mouth guard made by a pediatric dentist can protect your child from injuries to the teeth, gums, and face. It should be worn whenever your child is participating in sports and other recreational activities.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
Remain calm, and try to find the tooth. If you do find it, hold it by the crown and wash it for a few seconds under clean running water. Then, try to reinsert it back into the socket. If that doesn’t work, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the tooth immediately to your pediatric dentist.

Are dental X-rays safe?
Yes, X-ray machines use radiation. But no, that doesn’t mean they’re dangerous. X-ray exams involve very low levels of radiation exposure, making the risk of harmful effects incredibly small.

Also, pediatric dentists are very careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and digital sensors are used to minimize the amount of radiation.

The following brochure was developed by Image Gently to inform patients about dental X-rays for children:


What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Rinse and clean the area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on your child’s face if it’s swollen. Do not place aspirin on the teeth or gums. Your child should see a dentist as soon as possible.

If you have any further questions, you can email us directly or schedule an appointment with Dr. Sanchez. We look forward to caring for your smile!

You can find out more information about pediatric dentistry at the following websites:

References: AAPD, 2015
ADA, 2016

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