Pediatric Dental FAQs

When should I bring my child in for their first dental appointment?

We recommend that a child should be seen within 6 months of getting their first tooth, but no later than their first birthday. This is also the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

When can I start using fluoride toothpaste?

Fluoride toothpaste is both safe and effective when using the appropriate amount. You can start using fluoride tooth paste as soon as the first tooth erupts through the gums. According the AAPD guidelines, for children younger than age three, use no more than a smear or rice-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. For children ages 3-6, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. It is important to balance the benefits of using fluoride toothpaste against the risk of fluorosis that can be caused by swallowing too much fluoride while the permanent teeth are developing. That is why it is important to use the appropriate amount of toothpaste based on the recommendations of the AAPD.

Does my child need dental sealants?

Dental sealants are one of the most effective ways to prevent against cavities. Sealants are generally recommended for most permanent molars and also for baby molars and premolars that are at a higher risk for getting a cavity on the top, chewing surface. A sealant is a thin, protective plastic coating is bonded directly to the chewing surface of the tooth to block out cavity-causing bacteria, foods, and acids from getting into the grooves of the teeth.

When do children get their first tooth?

All babies will get their first tooth at a different age, but the average age is 6-7 months. The lower front teeth are usually the first to erupt through the gums.

When should I start brushing?

You should start brushing your children’s teeth as soon as they erupt through the gums. Make sure you choose a tooth brush that is small and has soft bristles.

When do children lose their first tooth?

Just like with babies, all children are on their own schedule. It is most common for kids to lose their first tooth around age 6 during their kindergarten year, but a year or two early or late isn’t unheard of either.

What should I do if I a tooth gets knocked out?

First, determine if it’s a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. For permanent teeth, handle it by the crown, not by the root. Do NOT clean with soap, scrub, or handle the tooth unnecessarily. If it is sound, try to reinsert it in the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, put the tooth in a bottle of milk. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth (beside the cheek). We will want to see you immediately. The tooth can be saved if treated soon enough. For baby teeth, give us a call, this is usually not an emergency, and in most cases, no treatment is necessary. If you have any concerns for permanent or primary teeth, give us a call or come in a see us so we can evaluate it.

How much toothpaste should I use?

According to the recommendation from the AAPD, for children younger than age three, use no more than a smear or rice-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste. For children ages 3-6, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Teeth should be brushed twice a day and rinsing after brushing should be kept to a minimum or eliminated entirely.

When should I stop giving my child a pacifier?

Generally, if a child stops taking a pacifier or sucking their thumb by age 3, the long-term negative effects to their bite are minimized. The degree of changes caused to the bite will be based by the intensity, frequency, and duration of the habit. So, anything you can do to limit those will help to prevent long term negative consequences.

How will I know if my child will need braces?

It is impossible to know exactly how much crowding your child will eventually have, but we can begin to make some predictions as early as 3-4 years old. While most children will begin braces after all the permanent teeth have erupted, it is important to have their growth and development monitored for those situations where a little intervention can make a large difference in the future. We will be happy to discuss whether your child would be better off waiting or if they may be a candidate for simple interventions.

Certified Pediatric Dentist
If you have any other questions about pediatric dentistry, please send us a question or comment below. You can also visit the AAPD for the latest recommendations and guidelines based on the best scientific research available.        

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