Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of additional specialty training following dental school specifically regarding children and their complex needs. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children be seen by a pediatric dentist by their first birthday or when their first tooth erupts, whichever comes first.
The first teeth usually begin to erupt around 6 months old. However, there is a large range that is considered normal and if you are concerned at all about how quickly your child is getting teeth, our doctors can evaluate your child to determine if they are developing normally.
We always recommend that when you tell your child about their appointment, to describe it as harmlessly as possible. Most of the time, the less it is discussed, the better the child does for the appointment. The doctors and our staff are specially trained to get children through these appointments and we will help them know what to expect during the appointment. This helps us build a trusting and fun relationship with them.
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 to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate-sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. 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.
Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and protein. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth.
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.
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 the amount of radiation.
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.