Children are not just small adults when it comes to medical or dental needs. Pediatric dentists obtain advanced training in growth and development, child psychology, medical conditions, trauma and orthodontic treatment. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are oral health care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
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Why are baby teeth important for my child?
Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also assist in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt. It is also important to start introducing your child to good oral hygiene habits and regular dental check-ups when they are young to insure a long life with good oral health.
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
“First visit by first birthday” sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend bringing your child within 6 months of the appearance of their first tooth, or no later than his or her first birthday.
How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?
Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age. Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup. 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.
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How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments when combined with smart dietary choices can create a lifetime of healthy habits.
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Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful to a child’s teeth?
Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they continue 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, your pediatric dentist may be able to help. Advice from the dentist coupled with support from the parents will usually contribute to successful cessation of the habit. If these efforts are ineffective, however, your pediatric dentist may prescribe an in-the-mouth appliance that can restrict the habit for a certain amount of time.
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When should my child begin using toothpaste 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, the child should be supervised to make sure the child uses no more than a small, pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
How safe are dental X-rays?
There is very little risk in dental X-rays. We are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Our office uses lead aprons and digital X-ray sensors which require even less radiation than traditional film.
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What are smart, tooth-healthy diet choices?
We all know that candy is not good for the teeth, but we also encourage parents to limit the amount of sweet liquids that your child drinks including juices and sport drinks. Although milk is healthy, we want parents to be careful with how much time their children spend drinking milk. A glass with a meal is great, but going to bed or wandering around the house for long periods of time with a bottle or “sippy” cup is not healthy for your child’s teeth. Also, consider reducing the consumption of carbohydrates like crackers, cookies, chips and of course candy that can stick to your child’s teeth. We encourage eating fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and drinking water for healthy, between meal snack foods.
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What are the specifics for the law on mandatory dental exams when entering a California public school?
Beginning January 1, 2007 California requires proof of having obtained an oral health assessment by a dentist for children entering public school for in either kindergarten or first grade to present by May 31st of the first school year. Our office provides complimentary oral health assessments that fulfill the school requirements.
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