We specialize in pediatric dentistry, which means our focus is on treating infants, children, and adolescents. Below are common questions and our answers about the best way to care for children's teeth.

When should I schedule my child's first visit?

We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets their first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child is seen by six months after their first tooth erupts or age one, whichever is first.

How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

All dental specialists (pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, and others) complete dental school, then continue their education with several years of specialized training. The specialized training for pediatric dentistry provides extensive knowledge and experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists love working with children, and are experts in child development and behavior.

What happens during my child's first visit to the dentist?

The first visit is generally short and simple. Usually we focus on getting to know you and your child and give you some basic information about dental care. The pediatric dentist will check your child's teeth for placement and health, and look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If possible, and we possibly do a bit of cleaning. We will answer any questions you have about how to care for your child's teeth as they develop.

How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?

The best way to prepare your child for a visit to our office is to maintain a possitive attitude about going to the dentist yourself. If you show signs of fear or apprehension about visiting the dentist it is likely your child will pick up on this and begin to fear the dentist themselves. Your pediatric dentist is specifically trained to handle fear and anxiety in children, and our staff is trained to put your child at ease during treatment.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

We recommend scheduling check-ups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child's oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.

Baby teeth aren't permanent; why do they need special care?

Even though baby teeth are not permanent, your child's first teeth are important to the development of their oral health. While they are in place, these primary teeth will help yourchild with speaking, smiling and chewing properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early due to damage or decay nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misalligned permanent teeth. Additionally, your child's general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.

What's the best way to clean my baby's teeth?

Even before your baby's first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore. Get more details about caring for infants' teeth.

At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child's teeth?

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under three, as too much fluoride can be dangerous for young children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he'll need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child's teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven.

What causes cavities?

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.

How can I help my child avoid cavities?

Be sure that your child brushes his teeth twice a day. Flossing daily is important. Flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing will not. Check with your pediatric dentist about a fluoride supplement which helps tooth enamel be harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacks, and maintain a healthy diet. Make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child's teeth and provide professional cleanings.

Does my child need dental sealants?

Sealants cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.

My child plays sports; how can I protect his teeth?

Even children's sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your child plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about the best way to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?

The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants. Most grow out of it by the age of four without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If you child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.

When should my child have dental x-rays taken?

We recommend taking x-rays around the age of two or three. The first set consists of simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth, which familiarizes your child with the process. Once the baby teeth in back are touching each other, then regular (at least yearly) x-rays are recommended. Permanent teeth start coming in around age six and x-rays help us make sure your child's teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having x-rays taken at an earlier age.