Frequently Asked Questions
The below questions and responses follow the guidelines prescribed by the
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)
- What is the difference
between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following
dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only.
Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for
infants and children through adolescence, including those with special
- When should I take my child
to the dentist for the first check-up?
In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric
dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first
- What should I use to clean
my baby's teeth?
A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any
soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed
specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.
- Are baby teeth really that
important to my child?
Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do
they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in
forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to
- Are thumbsucking and
pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem
if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these
habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or
fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, a mouth appliance may be
recommended by your pediatric dentist.
- How can I prevent decay
caused by nursing?
Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in
their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss
your child's teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to
have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be
scheduled by your child's first birthday.
- How often does my child need
to see the pediatric dentist?
A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and
other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when
and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral
- Toothpaste: when should we
begin using it and how much should we use?
Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of
age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child's teeth with water
and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 2-3,
parents should supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more
than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not
swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
- How do I know if my child is
getting enough fluoride?
Have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child's
primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough
fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is
deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then
your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.
- How safe are dental X-rays?
There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are
especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children
are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety
and minimize the amount of radiation.