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FAQs

General

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

A general dentist typically has four years of dental school plus one year of post graduate training. They work with people of all ages. A pediatric dentist has four years of dental school plus two to three years of post graduate specialized training. Pediatric dentists see infants, children, pre teens and teenagers. In residency, pediatric dentists learn different approaches and techniques in dealing with behaviors, growth and development of the jaw, how to manage it, and how to avoid future dental problems. Pediatric dentists are the most qualified to treat children.

Why are baby teeth important?

Although they don't last as long as permanent teeth, your child's first teeth play an important role in his/her development. While they're in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew 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 misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your child's general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.

When should a pediatric dentist start seeing my child’s teeth?

We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his/her first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.

What is the best toothpaste for my child?

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Between 0 and 3 years old, a slight smear of paste is used to clean teeth. Be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, because too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Have your child spit out toothpaste after brushing or wipe your child's mouth with a washcloth to remove paste. This will begin a lifelong habit he/she will need when he/she graduates to fluoride toothpaste. You should brush your child's teeth for him/her until he/she is ready to take on that responsibility on their own, which usually happens between six and ten years of age.

Why is my child grinding (bruxing) and what can I do about it?

Parents first notice the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Parents may also notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Grinding can be caused by stress due to a new environment, divorce, family matters, changes at school, etc. Other children grind their teeth as a response to pain from teething or an ear ache.

The majority of cases of pediatric grinding do not require any treatment. The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and most children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.

What can I do if my child sucks their thumb? Fingers?

Most children begin sucking their thumbs or fingers from a very young age; many even start inside the womb. Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant and it serves an important purpose. Sucking often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one. It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply grow out of a habit that is no longer useful to them. However, some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies show that the older a child gets, the lower the chances are of continuing the habit). If your child is still sucking when his or her permanent teeth start to erupt, it may be time to take action to break the habit.

Some ways of intervening can be positive reinforcement, orthodontic intervention or the use of a clear or colored nail polished, called Mavala Stop, which can help to discourage nail biting and thumb sucking.

What is the best time to see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a check-up with an orthodontic specialist starting around the age of 7. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. Your pediatric dentist will monitor and refer your child on a case by case basis.

What is a frenectomy?

Done mostly for orthodontic purposes, a frenectomy is either performed inside the middle of upper lip, which is called labial frenectomy, or under the tongue, called lingual frenectomy. A frenectomy is a very common dental procedure that is performed on some infants, children, and adults. A laser may be used to remove this tissue safely and painlessly.

Why are my child’s adult teeth coming in behind their baby teeth?

It is common that children’s permanent teeth come in behind the baby teeth. In most cases if the child starts wiggling the baby tooth, it will usually fall out on its own within two months. If it doesn't, then contact your pediatric dentist, where he/she can easily remove the baby tooth. The permanent tooth should then slide into the proper place, typically from the force of the tongue.

What is silver diamine fluoride?

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid substance used to help prevent tooth cavities from forming, growing, or spreading to other teeth. Most dentists use a liquid form of SDF containing at least 38 percent of the SDF solution. It is applied topically, meaning that it is applied directly to the surface of your teeth, causing the bacteria to die or "arrest".

What can I do if my child has bad breath?

Your child should brush his/her teeth and tongue twice a day, as well as floss every day. He/She could also try using an antibacterial mouthwash. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and cuts down on sugary drinks and caffeinated drinks like Coke, juice and coffee. If odor persists, call your pediatrician to evaluate patient for allergies, infected tonsils or acid reflux.

What do I do if my child gets canker sores?

If you child gets a canker sore, you can use an over-the-counter numbing medicine, such as Anbesol or Orabase. If your child is under 2 years of age, ask your doctor if you can give your child numbing medicines.

Pregnancy and Oral Health

Does my oral health affect my baby’s?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all pregnant women receive oral healthcare and counseling during pregnancy. Research has shown evidence that periodontal disease can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Also, mothers with poor oral health may be at a greater risk of passing the bacteria which causes cavities to their young children. Mothers can help decrease the risk of this happening by visiting their dentist every 6 months, brushing two times a day, flossing on a daily basis, eating healthy foods, using fluoridated toothpaste and not sharing utensils or cups with your child.

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

We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his/her first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by the dentist six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.

What is early childhood caries?

A common, and serious form of decay in young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition is caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks. To avoid this from happening, do not put your child to bed at night or down for a nap with anything in the bottle other than water. Also, after each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque.

When should my child get their first tooth?

At what age should my child stop using a bottle? Breastfeeding?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastmilk for at least 6 months. The AAPD recommends breastfeeding for at least 1 year. At about 1 year, continue to breastfeed or begin weaning as you and your baby are ready. But also start giving your baby whole milk. The fat in whole milk is needed for brain development. Make sure to brush your child's teeth or wipe out their mouth after all feedings.

Prevention

How can I help care for my child’s teeth?

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a smear of paste for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two. Too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Always have your child spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he/she will need when he/she graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing. You should brush your child's teeth for him/her until he is ready to take on that responsibility on their own, which usually happens between the ages of six and ten.

What are some healthy foods and snacks for my child?

Foods that are best for your children include, fruits and vegetables aiming for the goal of at least five servings a day. Be sure you serve fruit or vegetables at every meal. Other good snacks include low-fat yogurt, peanut butter and celery, or whole-grain crackers and cheese. Try to serve lean meats and other good sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber. Limit fat intake by avoiding fried foods and choosing healthier cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling, roasting, and steaming. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Limit fast food and low-nutrient snacks, such as chips, gummies and candy. But don't completely ban favorite snacks from your home. Instead, make them "once-in-a-while" foods, so kids don't feel deprived. Limit sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit-flavored drinks. Serve water and low-fat milk instead.

How can I prevent cavities from forming?

Cavities can be prevented from forming by ensuring your child maintains a healthy diet, along with encouraging your child brushes his/her teeth two times a day for two minutes and flosses once daily.

Adolescent Dentistry

Why does my child have bad breath?

Your child might have bad breath because he/she might not be cleansing his/her mouth enough, could have tonsil stones or they might not be hydrated enough. Ensure your child brushes his/her teeth and tongue twice a day, and flosses every day. Depending on the age, he/she could try using an antibacterial mouthwash. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and cuts down on sugary and caffeinated drinks like Coke, juice and coffee. Tonsil stones are little collections of bacteria and skin cells in the tonsils at the back of the throat, which can cause bad breath along with post nasal drip. Set up a visit with your primary care doctor or dentist today to talk more about it!

Does my child need their wisdom teeth out?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, usually make their first appearance in young adults between the ages of 17 and 21. A special xray called a panoramic xray is used to follow the progression of wisdom tooth formation and eruption as your child is growing, Because many mouths are too small for these four molars, extraction (removal) procedure is often necessary. The following signs and symptoms may indicate that the wisdom teeth have erupted and surfaced, and should be removed before they cause more serious problems: The wisdom teeth may be partially erupted, meaning the teeth have partially surfaced and have no room in the mouth to come in completely. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Signs and symptoms may include pain, infection in the mouth, facial swelling and/ or swelling of the gumline in the back of the mouth. If wisdom teeth must be removed, a referral to an oral surgeon can be provided to you. Set up an appointment with your pediatric dentist to talk about wisdom tooth removal options today.