When should my child have their first dental visit?

In order to prevent dental problems, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should see a dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. Primary teeth play a critical role in not only helping children chew, which is necessary for good nutrition, but also play a significant role in speech development, and save space for permanent teeth to erupt properly.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

We recommend scheduling check-ups every six months, though depending upon your child’s needs, more frequent visits may be necessary.

If baby teeth aren't permanent, why care for them?

A common misconception of pediatric dentistry is that baby teeth fall out eventually so it isn’t necessary to care for them the same way we do adult teeth. Don’t let the name fool you—baby teeth play an important role in helping your child speak, smile, and chew properly. They also serve as a “placeholder” for permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, teeth nearby can shift, causing overcrowding and other problems. Baby teeth are temporary. That’s a fact. They will fall out and get replaced by adult teeth at some point – another fact. Unfortunately, this is also the main reason why many parents feel too relaxed about their kid’s teeth. It’s the notion that baby teeth will eventually fall out, so there should not be a reason to feel overly concerned with cavities or other dental problems in baby teeth. Sounds reasonable, right? Wrong. 

Babies get their first tooth as early as 4 months old, and before you know it, all 20 are out by the time they celebrate their 4th birthday. With a full set of teeth, your baby will be busy chomping away at a full menu of foods and snacks. However, as the eating activity levels increase, so does the cavity activity level. All cavities behave the same way whether it’s on a baby or adult tooth. When a baby tooth develops a cavity, the enamel layer begins to slowly erode. If untreated, the result could lead to a complete loss of the tooth. Once cavities are present, it just doesn’t stop at a single tooth. Because it is a bacteria, cavities will spread and attack neighboring teeth. Although cavities can cause a tremendous amount of physical pain, they also bring a lot of emotional distress to children. Cavities are dark and brownish in appearance, and some kids become self-conscious about the way it looks causing them to smile less. Eating and drinking could also be more difficult due to teeth sensitivity. So treat those baby teeth like permanent teeth and get those cavities treated. Don't wait for them to just "fall out" because you think they are baby teeth and they're not important.

At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using fluoride toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste with fluoride. Children have a tendency to want to swallow toothpaste, so be sure they rinse and spit it out.

For children between 0 and 2 years old, use a small “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste. For children between 3 and 6 years, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. You’ll want to limit rinsing his or her teeth with water so your child can maximize the benefits of the fluoride.

If you see any signs of decay, call us immediately.

When can my child brush his/her own teeth?

You should brush your child’s teeth until they are ready to take responsibility, which usually occurs around age 7 or 8. 

What causes cavities?

Our mouths are full of bacteria. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth, acid is produced. The acid then attacks the tooth enamel—the harder, exterior cover of the teeth. Once the acid eats through the enamel, it creates cavities—or holes—in the teeth.

Can my child prevent cavities?

Some preventative measures include fluoride varnish that can help reduce the risk of decay in primary teeth by 33%. Dental sealants can also help prevent cavities with up to an 80% reduced risk. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay in children, and the amount of fluoride varies with age. For ages 0-36 months, a smear or the size of a grain of rice should be applied with an age-appropriate toothbrush two times a day and the excess wiped off afterwards. For ages 3-6, the size of a pea should be applied two times a day and the child should be encouraged to spit out the excess.

Here are some useful tips:

  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Make sure your child brushes at least twice a day
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Ask our dentists about a fluoride supplement
  • Limit snacking—a healthy diet is important

What is a fluoride treatment and does my child need one?

A fluoride treatment is an effective way to strengthen the enamel of your child’s teeth. It only takes a few minutes to apply. These fluoridated vanishes and gels have a higher concentration of fluoride than can be found in over-the-counter products. Our dental professionals will apply the product that is most appropriate to your child.

There are two types of fluoride treatment, a fluoride varnish and a fluoride gel.

A fluoride varnish is applied with a soft  brush. After application, your child should not brush or floss for 4 to 6 hours afterward, and eat a soft diet for the remainder of the day. Drinking can resume immediately.

A fluoride gel takes 4 minutes to apply, and you child should avoid eating and drinking for 30 minutes after treatment.

When should my child have dental x-rays taken?

We recommend taking X-rays around the age of 2 or 3 and then have X-rays taken at least once a year. Often, at this initial stage, X-rays consist of simple pictures of the front, lower, and back teeth.

Why are dental x-rays important?

When permanent teeth start coming in (usually around age 6), X-rays help us ensure your child’s teeth and jaws are properly aligned. The X-rays also help us to comprehensively examine your child’s teeth, checking for cavities that can begin between teeth. We may take bite-wing X-rays of the back teeth, as well as, a panoramic X-ray to assess tooth growth and development.

How can my child develop healthy oral hygiene habits?

Brushing can be fun! We’re glad to help your child discover the importance of healthy teeth! We educate parents and children about proper brushing techniques. Flossing is also an important part of good oral hygiene habits, and we’ll tell you when your child should start flossing.

My child plays sports, how can I protect his/her teeth?

We recommend a mouth guard for children who participate in sports. Whether your child plays baseball, soccer, lacrosse, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouth guard made to protect the teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What should I do if my child sucks his/her thumb?

First, most children outgrow this habit by age four. If your child continues  after permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.

What if my child has a dental emergency?

We’re dedicated to providing quality emergency treatment for all our patients.  A true dental emergency consists of pain, swelling, and/or bleeding. In case of an emergency, call the office. Our dentists are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. 

Is tooth decay the most common chronic disease of children in the United States? 

Tooth decay, like a dental cavity, is five times more common than asthma in U.S. children. Untreated cavities in children lead to more issues beyond their oral health. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who do not. It can lead to pain and infections which create problems with eating, speaking, playing and learning.

Does pediatric dentistry promote the overall health and well-being of a child?

Dentists play a crucial role in the development of a child’s healthy body and mind. Children should be able to smile without feeling self-conscious. Malaligned teeth and pain from dental disease can have a major impact on a child’s social and psychological development. It is not uncommon for children with dental issues to fall victim to bullying, and if children are embarrassed to smile in front of their peers, they may be reluctant to participate in social activities.

chiropractic spine


Learn how we can help with your pain