A Quick FAQ Session on Pediatric Dentistry

WE GET A LOT OF patients and parents of patients asking us the same questions about pediatric dentistry, so we’re rounding up a few of the most common questions we hear and providing the answers in an FAQ! If these questions have been burning in your mind, we’ve got your answers here!

When is the right time for a child’s first dental appointment?

A child can benefit from a dentist as soon as their first tooth appears! That’s why we recommend bringing them to see shortly after their 1st birthday, or within about 6 months of the first teeth sprouting, whichever comes earlier. The earlier you bring them in, the more professional advice we can offer on taking care of incoming baby teeth (because teething is no fun!) and how to be proactive in other matters regarding oral health.

Why is it important to keep baby teeth healthy or fix cavities in baby teeth?

If our kids are just going to lose their baby teeth in a few years anyway, does it really matter if they get cavities? A lot of parents think this way, but we will happily explain why that reasoning can lead to painful and expensive problems. Just because baby teeth are not forever doesn’t mean they’re not important. Baby teeth are essential for chewing food, learning to speak clearly, and mastering lifelong dental health habits like brushing and flossing.

Another crucial role they play is also guide the adult teeth into place, so if baby teeth have to be removed prematurely due to extensive disease (large and deep cavities or a dead tooth), there are undesirable consequences. Not to mention that cavities can become painful and even lead to localized infections in the mouth, which may require emergency care, and this can certainly be scary for children.

What can I do if my child gets a toothache?

A good way to temporarily soothe the ache is to have your child swish (but not swallow) some warm salt water and give Children’s Tylenol or Motrin. Call our office to make a same-day appointment to get a proper diagnosis for the toothache and review treatment options.

How bad is thumbsucking or a pacifier for my child’s teeth?

Sucking on digits or pacifiers is soothing for many babies and young toddlers, and it’s normal and natural at first. Beyond age 1, the use of a pacifier should be weaned and eventually eliminated as soon as feasible (the sooner the better).

These habits can become an oral health concern over time due to the effect that these “non-nutritive sucking” habits deform the shape of the palate (upper jaw), especially if they continue beyond age three. If you’d like suggestions on how to help your child with thumbsucking or pacifier use, we can help with that.

What’s the right amount of toothpaste for brushing my child’s teeth?

It’s important not to use too much toothpaste when brushing a young child’s teeth, because chronic excessive fluoride ingestion can lead to fluorosis (discoloration) in the incoming adult teeth. All you need is a tiny smear the size of a grain of rice when brushing a baby’s or toddler’s teeth, and a dab the size of a pea is enough for ages 3-6. Also make sure you’re encouraging and teaching them to spit it out instead of swallowing once they are in the 3 and up age range.

Why should my child see a pediatric dentist?

There are many specialties in dentistry, and pediatric dentistry is one of them. Dentists like Dr. Ball go through additional years of advanced training after dental school to learn everything they need to know to be able to address the dental and oral health concerns unique to babies, children, and teenagers, so take advantage of that expertise by bringing your kids to Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry in Rockville!

Did We Miss Your Question?

If your biggest questions about pediatric dentistry weren’t on our list, don’t hesitate to ask us anyway! We want all parents to be as informedas possible on children’s dental health concerns, so that they can give their kids the best chance at lifelong healthy smiles!

We love all of our pediatric dentistry patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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