Here are some or our answers for frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the unique oral health needs of children. A pediatric dentist will complete an additional two to three years of specialized training after dental school, focusing on child psychology, behavior, growth and development, sedation and hospital dentistry.

To become Board Certified, a pediatric dentist must then pass a rigorous voluntary written and oral examination with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.
Maintaining the health of baby, or primary, teeth is very important. Primary teeth enable your child to chew and eat properly, smile confidently, help in speech development, allow for normal development of the jawbones and muscles, and they save space for the permanent teeth, guiding them into the correct position. If primary teeth are lost prematurely, the permanent teeth may come in crowded or crooked. Cavities left untreated can cause your child pain and will eventually become infected, or abscessed, which can affect your child’s overall health and may cause defects on the developing permanent teeth.
You should notice your baby start to begin teething at around age 6 months. The two lower front teeth will erupt first, followed by the two upper front teeth. The remaining teeth continue to erupt over the next 18 to 24 months, with the last baby molars erupting age 30 months. Your child should have a total of 20 baby teeth.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child should see a pediatric dentist within six months following the first tooth eruption, but no later than one year of age.
A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, especially one designed for infants, is the best choice for babies. Brushing at least once a day, at bedtime, will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. You may also use gauze or special wipes that contain xylitol to decrease the number of bacteria in your baby’s mouth.
Baby bottle tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries is a pattern of rapid tooth decay associated with prolonged nursing or bottle feeding. With frequent and long exposures to any liquid containing sugar, the enamel on your baby’s teeth can quickly deteriorate and a cavity forms. These liquids include breast milk, regular milk, formula, fruit juice, unsweetened fruit juice, soda, or even watered down sugar containing drinks.

To prevent this disease, avoid nursing your baby to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottle. Your baby should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age. If your child is drinking from a sippy cup, only give water to drink throughout the day. Milk or juice should be reserved for mealtimes only in small amounts (4-6 oz per day).
Thumbsucking and extended pacifier use can be harmful for your child’s teeth and jawbones. Habits that persist past the age of 3 have a higher chance of leading to crowded, crooked teeth, increased “overbite” or other bite problems that may require orthodontics in the future. Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure, so it is important to focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking. A mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist to aid your child in stopping the habit, however, most children will stop the habit on their own with gentle, encouraging reminders.
A dental check-up and cleaning is recommended every six months, for most children. Some children may need more frequent visits because of an increased risk for cavities, poor oral hygiene or orthodontic treatment. Your pediatric dentist will recommend the best recall schedule for your child.
Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth 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 2 years of age and younger. For the 3-6-year-old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste 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.
Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease tooth decay by making enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. The easiest way to obtain fluoride is from drinking tap water. If your child does not drink tap water, or you are unsure about the level of fluoride in your community’s drinking water, ask your pediatric dentist, to ensure your child is getting enough fluoride. It is possible to have the level of fluoride in your drinking water evaluated. If your child is not getting enough fluoride through drinking water or other sources, your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.
Establish brushing as a daily habit as soon as your child’s first teeth erupt. Once your child reaches age 3, they should be able to brush with toothpaste without swallowing it. Until that time, use only a “smear” of toothpaste. Once your child is able to spit, a “pea-size” amount of fluoridated toothpaste is all that is necessary. Parents should assist their child with brushing twice daily until age 6 or 7, or until it has been established that your child has the skills necessary to brush properly on their own. Flossing should also be introduced once teeth are touching each other, to remove plaque in the areas between teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach.

When brushing, be sure to thoroughly brush all surfaces, including the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and using a circular motion, gently clean along the gumline and over all tooth surfaces. Don’t forget to brush your child’s tongue.
Four things are necessary for a cavity to develop -- a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates and time. Dental plaque is a soft, thin, sticky layer of bacteria that constantly forms on the tooth surface. When we eat foods containing sugar, these bacteria break down the sugar, producing acids that attack tooth enamel. With repeated acidic attacks over time, the tooth surface will break down, forming a cavity.
You can help prevent cavities by establishing good oral hygiene practices for you and your child. Ensure your child brushes their teeth twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste, especially before bedtime. Avoid sugar-containing liquids in your child’s bottle or sippy cup and monitor the number of snacks containing sugar that your child eats. Take your child to the dentist regularly, starting at the time of their first birthday, and every 6 months after that. Sealants will be suggested for your child’s permanent molars to prevent decay. Most importantly, follow the recommendations of your pediatric dentist.
Try rinsing the irritated area with warm salt water or gently flossing to remove food debris that may be lodged in between teeth. Place a cold compress on the face if swelling is present. Pain relievers may be given, but do not place any medication directly on the teeth or gums. Finally, see a dentist as soon as possible.
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a necessary part of your child's dental exam. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed, including cavities and possible bone diseases. X-rays are also used to evaluate erupting teeth, evaluate effects of trauma or plan orthodontic treatment.

If your child is found to be at high risk for cavities, your pediatric dentist will likely recommend x-rays every 6 months, however, on average, most children will only receive them once per year. Using safeguards, such as digital x-rays, lead aprons, and thyroid collars, your child will only receive an extremely small amount of radiation exposure. The risk is negligible, and the benefits obtained through a thorough radiographic examination are well worth it.
A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surface of your child’s back teeth (molars and premolars). The sealant prevents food from sticking in the hard-to-clean grooves on your child’s teeth, so they are very effective at preventing cavities and can protect your child’s teeth form many years.
Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sports-related injuries. We recommend the use of a mouth guard during any activity where there is a risk of injury to the head, face, or neck. The highest number of dental/oral injuries tend to occur with contact sports, such as basketball, baseball and soccer. Mouth guards may be purchased at most athletic stores; however, their level of comfort and protection may not be optimal. A custom-fitted mouth guard fabricated in our office will be your child's best protection against sports-related injuries.
Many parents report their children grind their teeth at night, also referred to as bruxism. This is fairly common and may be influenced by several factors. It is thought that stress due to a new environment, family struggles, difficulties in school, etc., crowded/crooked teeth or airway issues can increase the tendency to grind. Often, there is no need for treatment as most children will outgrow grinding by age 8-9 with no significant wear to their permanent teeth. If you suspect your child may be experiencing stress, talk with them about the issues, encourage relaxing activities before bed, such as story-telling, warm bath, etc. Talk to your pediatric dentist about any concerns you may have.
Certain orthodontic problems may be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age. Your pediatric dentist will inform you if your child requires early orthodontic treatment.

For most children, orthodontic problems become more evident as their permanent teeth begin to erupt. Following the recommendations of the American Association of Orthodontists, your pediatric dentist may suggest a visit to the orthodontist as early as age 7. The orthodontist will then be able to follow your child’s growth and development and initiate orthodontic treatment at the most opportune time.
Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a mixture of two gases, oxygen and nitrous oxide. It is a safe, proven effective method of calming your child’s dental fears. Your pediatric dentist may recommend nitrous oxide if your child is showing signs of anxiety in the dental setting. When inhaled, it is absorbed by the body and helps your child to relax, while remaining fully conscious. It is quickly eliminated from the body by normal breathing, and will have no residual effects on your child.
Oral piercings are becoming much more common among teenagers. However, few teens are aware of the many symptoms and complications that may result, including pain, swelling, infection, chipped or cracked teeth, increased flow of saliva, and injuries to the gums or other oral tissues.
There are several possible signs that a breastfeeding mother should consider having her baby’s tongue assessed, including: painful breastfeeding, damaged nipples, baby loses suction while feeding, clicking noise while feeding, low weight gain in baby over time, recurrent blocked ducts or mastitis.

It’s advisable to have your baby assessed by a preferred provider or lactation consultant if you suspect or have concerns that your baby may have a tongue-tie or lip-tie. They will do a complete assessment, including an examination of your baby’s mouth and a thorough questionnaire, to determine if tongue-tie or lip-tie revision (frenectomy) is indicated.

Older children may present with speech delay or problems with articulation of certain sounds. They may have gaps in between their front teeth or have problems using their tongue to remove food from their teeth. You may consider consultation with a speech therapist or oral myofunctional therapist in conjunction with an assessment by a preferred provider to determine if tongue-tie or lip-tie revision (frenectomy) is indicated.