Frequently Asked Questions

When it comes to your children's dental needs, often times knowing what to do and when to do it can be a confusing proposition. Below we have assembled some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive when it comes to children's dentistry needs. If you cannot find the answers you are looking for below, please visit our contact page to send us your question.

  • 1. Why A Pediatric Dentist Instead Of A Family Dentist?

    Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two years of specialized training after dental school, and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

  • 2. Do I Need A Referral To See A Pediatric Dentist?

    Definitely not! Even though a Pediatric Dentist is a specialist, anyone is welcomed, referred or not.

  • 3. At What Age Should My Child First Visit A Pediatric Dentist?

    According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday. The first visit will help to build a healthy, trusting relationship between your child, our staff, and the doctor, and to familiarize you as the caregiver with the anticipated dental development and needs of your child. Research has shown that children whom visit the dentist at a young age have fewer cavities and a more positive experience at the dentist throughout their childhood!

    Oh, and if your child is over one year of age, don’t worry! It’s never too late to get started. We love children of all ages!

  • 4. How Often Should My Child Go To The Dentist?

    A good rule of thumb is every six months. Children change so quickly from birth. Every month there is growth and development. The first tooth on average comes in at 6 months of age. By the age of three, children have an average of 20 teeth, so there’s a lot for us to keep track of!

  • 5. When Should I Start Brushing My Child’s Teeth?

    Starting your child young with good oral hygiene habits is the best way to prevent cavities. When your child is an infant, you can rub their gums with a damp, soft cloth to remove any bacteria on the gums. As your child’s teeth grow in, you can brush using a specially designed soft bristled toothbrush just for kids. You will need to supervise and assist with brushing until your child is about 8 years old. By this age, most kids have the patience to brush their teeth independently, although you should check in to make sure good habits are being followed.

  • 6. When Should I Start Using Toothpaste?

    It is safe to use toothpaste as soon as teeth erupt, but you don’t need much since they will likely swallow it. A ‘smear’ or ‘rice-size’ amount is good until about age 3, and a ‘pea-size’ amount from age 3-6.

  • 7. Is Fluoride Safe And Healthy For Teeth?

    Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps remineralize the outside layer of the tooth, as well as making the developing teeth stronger (easier to resist tooth decay) prior to them erupting. It is considered the standard of care, and is endorsed by the American Dental Association, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the CDC, and many more. The use of fluoride for prevention and control of cavities has been shown to be both safe and highly effective.

  • 8. What Is Early Childhood Caries And How Can I Prevent I

    Early childhood caries is a pattern of rapid decay that is often – but not exclusively – associated with prolonged nursing. It happens when a child goes to sleep while breast-feeding and/or bottle-feeding. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. When an infant falls asleep while feeding, remnants of the milk or formula are left in the mouth to nourish bacteria – and less saliva is available to neutralize that bacteria. For this reason, it's important to avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bedtime bottles. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as she/he approaches her or his 1st birthday. Your child should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age. Do not place juice or flavored milk in a sippy cup or bottle. Limit frequency of exposure to juice – 1 cup a day at mealtime only. Cutting juice with water only decreases the calories; it does not decrease cavity risk. Keep your child's diet as healthy as possible and limit the frequency of exposure to fermentable carbohydrates (such as sweets, crackers, and even fruits).

  • 9. What Causes Tooth Decay?

    Four things are necessary for cavities to form – a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates, and time.

    Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone's teeth. When you eat, the sugars in your food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.

  • 10. What Are Some Tips To Reduce The Risk Of Tooth Decay?

    1) If you have sugary foods and drinks, have them with meals.
    2) Limit snacks and sugary drinks between meals.
    3) If you chew gum, choose sugarless gum.
    4) Drink water. Drinking water with fluoride can help prevent tooth decay.

  • 11. Why Fix Baby Teeth If They Are Only Going To Fall Out?

    Baby teeth play a very important function as they help your child learn how to chew, assist with speaking clearly, hold space in the mouth for the permanent/adult teeth, and give your child a precious smile.

    Some primary teeth are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health, and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected.

    Additionally, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing and safeguarding the health of your child.

  • 12. My Child Is Afraid Of The Dentist, Now What?

    Do you have fear of going to the dentist? Your child’s fear may be the result of what you have told them. Regardless, dental fear is very common, especially if a child has had a negative experience at the dentist in the past. Come stop by for a visit, and you’ll see we will do everything we can to ensure a safe and calm experience.

  • 13. Does Your Office Use Nitrous Oxide?

    Yes! Nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas” or the “bozo nose” is a safe, effective sedation option that can be used to help children have a pleasant, relaxing, and comfortable dental experience.

  • 14. Can Thumb-sucking And Pacifier Habits Be Harmful To My Child’s Teeth?

    Sucking (thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other objects) is a natural reflex for children and may allow babies to feel secure and happy, as well as soothe young children and help them fall asleep. Children usually stop sucking between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. If the habit is allowed to continue, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. To help your child stop the sucking habit, we recommend that you praise them for not sucking and provide comfort to your child. Children who suck their thumb or fingers beyond the age of 5 or 6 often respond to a short discussion with their pediatric dentist. In some cases a mouth appliance may need to be constructed.

  • 15. When Are Braces Needed?

    Every child is unique, but usually if your child needs braces, this will start around age 12. Sometimes early orthodontics may be needed around ages 7-9. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than age 7. Issues of crowding can often be improved or resolved if identified when the child is still growing.

More Questions?

Do you have questions that weren't answered on our FAQs page? For more information please email us at, give us a call at 815-434-6447 or visit the contact page on this website.

You may also check out this excellent resource provided by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).

View the AAPD FAQs Page
Kids Brushing Teeth