Pediatric FAQ and Links

Frequently Asked Pediatric Dental Questions

Please feel free to peruse some of the FAQ's that we encounter here at Dentistry for Children, P.C. For more information about pediatric dentistry, click here.

Questions and Answers about Infant Oral Health Care
by Eli C. Schneider, D.M.D.

Q. When should my child first see a dentist?

A. The ideal time for your child's first dental visit is between 6 and 12 months of age, usually by the time the first tooth erupts. My personal experience – and my review of the scientific evidence – has shown clearly that early preventive care will protect your child's smile now and in the future. By starting early, we can enable your child to enjoy the lifelong benefits of a healthy mouth.

Q. What dental problems could my child have? She's just a baby!

A. Unfortunately, some dental problems begin very early in life. A primary concern is baby bottle tooth decay, a serious dental condition caused by long, frequent exposure to such liquids as milk, formula and fruit juice. Another concern is gum disease. Recent studies show that 40 percent of children 2 and 3 years old have at least mild inflammation of gum tissues. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chances of preventing tooth decay and other problems. Strong, healthy teeth help your child chew food easily, learn to speak clearly and feel good about her appearance. We would like to get her started now on a lifetime of positive dental habits.

Q. What happens at the first 'regular' dental visit?

A. The first 'regular' dental visit is usually scheduled at about age three when your child is old enough to accept it as a positive -- even fun -- experience. After you share the child's medical history with us, a hygienist will check your child's teeth and gums. She may clean your child's teeth and apply topical fluoride to help protect the teeth against decay. Once the hygienist has gained your child's confidence, she will introduce her to me. I will gently examine your child for decay and other problems, evaluate the effects of any oral habits such as thumbsucking, and make sure your child is receiving adequate fluoride for optimum dental health benefit.

X-rays may be necessary to discover hidden decay and check on the progress of your child's permanent teeth under the gums. Most important, you will review how to clean and care for your child's teeth now that she is somewhat older. You play the leading role in keeping her smile bright and healthy.

Q. I don't understand all the fuss about baby teeth. They just fall out anyway!

A. Primary teeth are important to your child's future dental health because they help with proper chewing and eating, aid in speech development and add to an attractive appearance. A child who can chew easily, speak clearly and smile confidently at parents and friends is a happier child.

Primary teeth permit normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. They save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt, causing permanent teeth to come in crooked. In addition, your child's general health can be affected if diseased baby teeth are not treated.

Finally, because some primary molars are not replaced until a child is 12 or 14, these teeth must serve your child for five or ten years, or more. Early care is essential to achieve a lifetime of good dental health for your child.

Q. Aren't early visits for kids just a way for dentists to make more money?

A. Actually, quite the opposite is true. Early visits help PREVENT dental problems and thus save money for parents. By getting an early start, we not only protect your child's health, we keep dental care affordable. Such preventive treatments as fluorides and sealants are much less expensive than fillings, crowns and other services your child may need if teeth are neglected.

Q. How often should my child see a dentist?

A. Every child is different, so every child has differing dental needs. However, a good rule of thumb is a dental visit every six months. After examining your child, we will be able to recommend the best schedule for her dental needs.

Q. What should I tell my child about the first dental visit?

A. Please tell your child that a pediatric dentist is a friendly doctor who will help her stay strong and healthy. Be positive and matter-of-fact, as you would about any new experience. For example, smile at your child and say, "The doctor will help keep your teeth looking nice (pretty, shiny, bright)." Or say, "The doctor will count your teeth and check your smile." Do not share any anxiety you may feel about visiting the dentist, and do not allow anyone to tell your child scary stories about dental treatment.

Pediatric dentists have extensive advanced training in dental treatment for children, a minimum of two years beyond dental school. We devote our dental skill to the care of infants, children, adolescents and young patients with developmental disabilities. We pride ourselves on our ability to make a dental visit pleasant, relaxing, even fun for children.

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