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Frequently Asked Questions

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

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt or come into the mouth.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?

Clinical guidelines recommend that children first see a dentist at age one, or within six months of the first baby tooth coming in-whichever comes first. However, starting at birth, you should clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or washcloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old child, dispense a “pea-size” amount of toothpaste and perform or assist you child’s tooth 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. These guidelines are supported by the MDS, the American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

What is preventive dentistry?

Preventive dentistry means a healthy smile. Preventive dental care for children includes: proper nutrition and dietary habits, brushing and flossing, fluoride, regular dental check-ups, assessing risk for developing cavities, evaluation of growth and development, oral health education, protection against injuries, guidance of erupting teeth, and sealants. Your pediatric dentist practices preventive dentistry. Preventive dentistry for children, in addition to regular dental visits, requires parental involvement with daily oral care at home.

How often should my child see the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unique growth and developmental patterns, or need for monitored or improved oral hygiene. Your pediatric dentist will let you know the best appointment schedule for your child.

How often should my child have dental x-ray imaging?

Since every child is unique, the need for dental x-ray imaging varies from child to child. Dental x-rays are recommended only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and performing a clinical examination, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual inspection cannot. It is CPDA’s mission to practice careful and conservative use of x-ray imaging.

How does my children’s diet affect their dental health?

Children must have a balanced diet for their teeth to develop properly. They also need a balanced diet for healthy gum tissue around the teeth. Equally important, a diet high in certain kinds of carbohydrates, such as sugar and starches, may place your children at increased risk for tooth decay.

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

Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers, or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue these habits over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or may come into the mouth in a unique position. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as, the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.

What are dental sealants and how do they work?

Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth were most cavities in children occur. Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth with a resin-based composite esthetic restorative material. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque from the tooth crevasses thereby reducing the risk of decay.

What should I do if my child’s baby tooth is knocked out?

Contact you dentist as soon as possible. The baby tooth should not be replanted because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth.

What should I do if my child’s tooth is chipped, broken, or fractured?

Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water if milk is not available and bring it with you to the dental office.

What should I do if my child’s permanent or adult tooth is knocked out?

Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub or clean it with soap – only rinse away any debris with water.) If possible, replace the tooth back into the socket immediately and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you cannot put the tooth back into its socket, place the tooth in a clean container with cold milk, saliva, or water if the previous liquids are not available. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

When should my child wear a mouth guard?

You child should wear a mouth guard whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes but is not limited to football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, even skateboarding. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

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This site does not provide medical/dental advice. This content is for informational purposes only. If you have questions regarding a medical/dental condition, always seek the advice of your physician/dentist or other qualified health professional. Developments in medical/dental research may impact this information. If you think you may have a medical/dental emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.