We pride ourselves on being a comprehensive family practice. While we welcome toddlers to teens, it is important to know that there are great dentists in the area who specialize in just seeing children. These dental specialists, called pediatric dentists, receive additional schooling and have extra tools at their disposal such as laughing gas. How do you know if you should skip our office and go straight to a pediatric dentist?
- if your child is already 2-3 years old, and they exhibit high anxiety or behavioral issues when visiting other medical offices
- your child has had a past traumatic dental experience
- if your child is under 5 years old and has already been diagnosed with unfixed dental decay
If you are none of the above, we would love to see your child.
Early visits to the dentist should be enjoyable. Children are not born with a natural fear of the dentist, but fear can be introduced in the wrong environment. Our office makes a special effort to use pleasant, non-frightening, simple words to describe each treatment. We want you and your child to feel at ease from the moment you arrive at our office. We do our best to let you know when your child's needs exceed our ability to help. In those situations, we will kindly refer you to a local pediatric dentist, so as to keep the dentist office a happy place for your family.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends...
Children should visit the dentist by their first birthday. It is important that your child's newly-erupted teeth (erupting at 6 and 12 months of age) receive proper dental care and benefit from proper oral hygiene habits right from the beginning.
Getting to know your teeth is fun!
What to Expect at Your First Visit (translation: what could you possibly do on a one year old!)
There are two primary goals when seeing a toddler for the first time:
- Create a positive experience for the child, so they learn at a young age not to fear the dentist. Sure they may fuss, but as long as we are gentle and cause no discomfort, they learn to trust.
- Educate you, the parent, on how to maintain a healthy mouth for your child. You may want to bring another adult with you so can fully absorb these important topics, including:
- Cavity prevention, and the common mistakes that lead to decay
- Proper use of fluoride
- Oral habits, including finger and thumb sucking
- Teething and milestones of development
When it comes to the exam, we are looking for signs of decay, ensure jaw development is proceeding normally, and checking for frenum issues (tongue tie)
If everything looks healthy, we may not need to see your child again for one year. By two and a half, we like to start seeing children every six months.
If your child is older than one, it is never too late to start dental care. We are a shame-free office, here to help you and your family achieve the best possible oral health.
When New Teeth Arrive
Your child's first primary or baby teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of six and 12 months, and will continue to erupt until about age three. During this time, your child's gums may feel tender and sore. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a teething ring. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child's primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood. Permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth (32, including wisdom teeth).
Adopting Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits
As your child's teeth erupt, be sure to examine them every two weeks, looking for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing four times a day for optimal oral hygiene: after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner, and at bedtime.
Brushing can be fun, and your child should brush as soon as the first tooth arrives. When a baby's tooth erupts, parents should brush the tooth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. For children younger than two, do not use fluoride toothpaste unless advised to do so by your dentist or other healthcare professional. We suggest reviewing proper tooth brushing procedures with your child.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and your doctor will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
Preventing Tooth Decay with Regular Checkups
Tooth decay is caused by sugars left in your mouth that turn into an acid, which can break down your teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay for a simple reason: many children and adolescents do not practice regular, good oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines combined with regular dental visits help keep tooth decay away.
Your child should visit the dentist every six months for regular dental cleanings and checkups. We recommend fluoride treatments twice a year along with cleanings to keep teeth their strongest. Tooth sealants are also recommended because they "seal" the deep grooves in your child's teeth, preventing decay from forming in these hard-to-reach areas. Sealants last for several years, but will be monitored at your child's regular checkups.