Setting Your Child on Course for a Lifetime of Optimal Dental Health
// PEDIATRIC DENTIST
What is the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dental care. All dentists must attend four years of dental school before receiving their doctoral degree. However, a pediatric dentist is a trained specialist dedicated to the oral health of children, from infancy through the teenage years. Pediatric dentists get a minimum of two additional years of training after dental school. During this time, they focus their studies and their practice solely on children. All children need different approaches in behavior management, in guiding their dental growth and in helping them avoid future dental problems. Pediatric dentists provide this very specialized care.
When will my child get their first teeth?
Most baby teeth begin erupting through the gums around the age of six months. Baby teeth do not all appear at once, but come in gradually during the first few years of life. Children have a total of 20 baby teeth, and the last usually erupts between two and three years old.
When should I take my child to the dentist for their first checkup?
To prevent future dental problems and to establish a dental home, it is recommended to schedule your child’s first visit shortly after their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday.
What happens during the first visit?
The first visit at Kids Healthy Teeth gives us a chance to get to know each other. We’ll give you information on dental care for children, known as anticipatory guidance, and answer any questions you might have. We will also examine inside your child’s mouth to check their teeth and surrounding tissues to make sure there are no early problems. After that, we suggest appointments every six months.
How important are baby teeth?
They are extremely important. They help your child eat and develop proper speech patterns. They’re also important for holding space in the jaw for the eruption and alignment of their permanent teeth. We get asked, “Who cares if they get cavities? Won’t they just fall out?” on a daily basis. Yes, they will all eventually fall out, but the last baby tooth is lost around the age of 12, so keeping the baby teeth intact and healthy until then is very important.
How should I care for my child’s teeth?
Oral care begins before they have their first tooth. You can clean their gums with a damp cloth after feeding. Once the first tooth erupts, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a ‘grain-of-rice’ sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste be used.
When is it appropriate to let my child start brushing on their own?
Each child is different, and there is no set age when your child will have the skill to brush by themselves. In general, we say if they can write their name in cursive then they have the manual dexterity to brush on their own. It’s okay to allow them to brush their teeth as soon as they’re willing, but you’ll need to brush after they do to make sure the teeth are clean.
About the Expert
Elizabeth Chen DDS, MSD
Kids Healthy Teeth
Dr. Chen earned her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Texas School of Dentistry where she graduated salutatorian in 2013. She immediately went on to a two-year residency at the University of Texas, earning a Postdoctoral Certificate in Pediatric Dentistry and a Master of Science in Dentistry. She practices pediatric dentistry in Katy, Texas.
Get in Touch
KidsHealthyTeeth.com // (281) 579-8700