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Preparing to take your children to the dentist can be an entirely different experience than going to the dentist yourself. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by parents regarding pediatric dental care, whether it’s for the first time or the one-hundred-and-first time.

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier habits will only generally be a problem if they become a long-term issue. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they continue for an alarming amount of time, that is, beyond the age of 3, a mouth appliance may be needed to prevent further damage. Consult your pediatric dentist for more information.

When should I take my child to the dentist for his or her first check-up?

Many dentists recommend taking a child to the dentist as soon as his or her first tooth appears, or no later than his or her first birthday.

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

A pediatric dentist specifically treats only infants and children through age 18, while a family dentist treats children and families of all ages and are trained to treat people of any age and condition.

When should we start using toothpaste?

The sooner you can start using toothpaste on your child, the better! Start by using a soft infant toothbrush or a cloth and water with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush the infant’s teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt. Once the child turns three, the toothpaste should increase in size to a pea-size drop until they are six years old. Make sure children learn to spit out their toothpaste and know not to swallow it.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay in children?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly as soon as their teeth start to erupt. Once their dentist visits begin, the dentist can suggest a specific program of brushing, flossing, and treatments that can be tailored to your child’s situation that will best help prevent tooth decay.

Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatric dentist any questions when you make your first visit. He or she is there to answer and happy to help.