Pediatric Dentistry FAQs from Parents
These are some of the most common questions we hear from parents who want to make sure their children’s teeth are healthy and grow correctly. If you still have questions about looking after your children’s oral health or pediatric dentistry, please feel free to give us a call.
What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?
A pediatric dentist receives an additional two years of child-specific training to be qualified to care for the particular needs of infants, toddlers, children, and adolescents. We also study child psychology so we can communicate with and teach youngsters in gentle, non-threatening ways. Coming to see the dentist should be a good experience for children, even a fun one, so we can help them learn good oral health habits that will last them for their lifetimes.
What if my child has special needs?
Our pediatric dentists are trained to understand how children with special needs may feel about coming to the dentist, and to work with each individual’s situation. We offer special dental care to children who are struggling with cognitive, physical, sensory, mental, or developmental impairment. Please call our office when it comes time to make an appointment. We can talk with you, or a caregiver, and decide what the best approach will be when you come in.
Are baby teeth really that important?
Yes, baby teeth are necessary and especially important to care for! There are those who think that because baby teeth will eventually fall out, they aren’t as vital to care for as adult teeth. However, baby teeth are important for your child’s oral development. Having healthy teeth will help them with chewing new foods, and when they begin speaking, forming words correctly. Baby teeth also hold space for adult teeth to come in properly. If a child’s teeth are allowed to develop cavities, they will be painful for your child, and require dental intervention. Furthermore, having badly decayed teeth in their mouths, they can develop gum disease which may have painful and expensive consequences that will need to be remedied.
When should I first bring my baby to see a pediatric dentist?
Set up your baby’s first appointment when you spot their first tooth erupting through the gums. Usually, the bottom two teeth are the first to appear. By the time they turn one, they should have had their first check-up. Sometimes these first visits are called a “well-baby check-up” because our dentists will not only check for cavities and make sure teeth are coming in without problems, but will also show you how to keep their teeth clean, their mouth healthy, and how to handle habits like thumb-sucking. We are happy to help you with any questions you have.
How can I prepare my child for her first appointment?
Talk about coming to our office as if it’s a special adventure – because it is! Our office is colorful, fun to be in, and full of friendly team members who adore children. If they learn to look forward to their visit, they won’t develop apprehension. Explain in simple terms that they will get to sit in a special chair and have a very nice person look at their teeth. Tell them that you go to the dentist, too.
What can I expect during my child’s first appointment?
We will take the time to get your child comfortable with us before reclining them for their check-up. Sometimes, we have the parent sit knee to knee with the dentist, with you holding your little one’s legs, while the doctor performs an exam. This way, they feel you holding them and hear you encourage and soothe them, helping them feel safe in the situation. We will check for cavities, oral health anomalies, and clean their teeth. If he or she is old enough, we will teach your child about brushing and flossing. Parents will usually take this opportunity to ask specific questions. Following the exam and cleaning, we will discuss setting up subsequent visits, usually on every 6 months schedule.
Is thumb sucking and pacifier use harmful to my child’s teeth and mouth?
Over time, continual sucking on a pacifier or her thumb will affect the shape of your child’s developing mouth and the alignment of their baby and/or adult teeth. While pacifiers are an easier habit to break, thumb sucking can continue into the early school years, when adult teeth start coming in. When they come to see the dentist, be sure to ask about your child’s sucking habits. We can give you suggestions to help them stop, or in some cases, prescribe an oral appliance.
When should I start teaching my child to brush his teeth?
When they are very young, you will be in charge of cleaning their mouths. As an infant, their gums should be cleaned with a soft cloth and water. When teeth erupt, use an age appropriate toothbrush and small amounts of children’s toothpaste. As your child grows, these daily cleanings will become routine and familiar. They will naturally want to start doing it themselves, and you will become the overseer. So, their education really starts just after birth. If you make it a habit, they will too. If you need help educating them, we have lots of suggestions; we’re sure to find one that will work for your child! And, when they are with us, we will always help them to understand the importance of caring for their teeth too.
What should I do if my child has a toothache or a dental emergency?
If your child is complaining of tooth pain, children’s Tylenol can give them relief while you contact our office to set up an appointment. You might also try a cold compress if there is swelling. Swishing with warm salt water will clean the area and may also relieve pain. Try flossing; there may be food stuck between teeth that could be hurting your child. During weekends or evenings, you can send us a message with Facebook messenger.
If you are experiencing an emergency such as a knocked-out tooth, a cracked tooth, an object stuck in the mouth, or you see blood but can’t identify the source, call us right away. Even if you aren’t sure you’re having an emergency, call us so that we can give you guidance. If there has been a traumatic event or you see facial swelling, head to your nearest urgent care or emergency room.
What if I have more questions?
We welcome questions! Give us a call! If your child has special requirements, we have the training to provide necessary care. Please call to discuss special arrangements. A large part of our mission here at Hines Little Smiles is to educate parents and children about the importance of good habits and oral care, and how to make it happen. Call or request an appointment to come see us.