Pediatric Dentist Tyler, TX

Why should I choose a pediatric dentist?

We understand that choosing a dentist for your child is a very important decision and we want you to be confident in your choice. A pediatric dentist, or pedodontist, receives two additional years of training solely focused on dental issues specific to infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric dentist understands that every child’s needs are different and they know how to make children (and parents) feel comfortable during treatment, guide their dental growth and development, and help to avoid future dental problems.

What should I know about my child’s first visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children should see a dentist before their first birthday. No matter their age, you can expect your child’s first visit to be positive. We will go over your child’s health history, interact with your child, and count their teeth. We also answer any questions that you may have about taking care of your child’s teeth.

As a parent, you can do many things to prepare your child for their dental visits. Practice counting their teeth and use positive language when discussing the dentist. There are also books that you can read that discuss a dental visit. Don’t use words like “shot,” “pull,” “hurt,” or “pain.” These words can cause your child to become anxious. We explain to your child what we are going to do in “kid friendly” language, so they know what to expect without increasing their fears.

We are committed to making your child’s visit a pleasant one. We allow you into the treatment area, but we also want your child build a relationship with us. This may include allowing them to come back on their own or having you leave the treatment area once your child is settled. You are free to come back and check on your child at any time. We look forward to working with you and your child.

Why are primary teeth so important?

A healthy smile starts at birth. It is important to consider dental health as soon as your child’s first tooth appears. Neglected cavities in baby teeth can, and frequently do, lead to issues in your child’s developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth are important for proper chewing and eating, ensuring the proper placement for permanent teeth, and contributing to normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13. Waiting to take care of these teeth can become quite painful, and costly, to treat down the road.

When will my child’s teeth start to come in?

The teeth begin forming before your child is even born. The lower front teeth can start to come in as early as 4 months of age, but typically come in around 6 to 8 months of age. The timing can vary quite a bit even between siblings. However, all 20 primary teeth will normally have come in by the age of 3.

Permanent teeth start to erupt around age 6. The first ones to come in are usually the first molars in the back or the bottom two incisors in the front. The process of losing teeth and having teeth come in will continue up to around the age of 21, when the third molars erupt. However, as with the primary teeth, when the teeth come in will vary with each child.

It is important that as your child’s teeth are evaluated on a regular basis as they develop. This allows us to monitor whether your child’s teeth are developing properly and to give tips on caring for your child’s teeth.

How do I take care of my baby’s (or toddler’s) teeth?

Even with infants, it’s important to start off with good oral health. You will want to keep your newborn’s gums clean by gently rubbing them with a wet cloth. This will help your child to adjust to having his or her teeth brushed as they come in. Your child’s teeth will start to erupt at about 6 months of age. At this point, you will want to use a flexible, soft-bristled child toothbrush and non-fluoridated toothpaste (Orajel training toothpaste, Tom’s toothpaste, etc.) At the age of 18 months, begin using a small smear of toothpaste with fluoride. Make sure your child does not swallow the toothpaste and wipe out any excess after brushing.

It is also important to stop using a bottle and transition to a sippy cup by age 1. We recommend weaning from breastfeeding by age 1, as well. Do not put your child to sleep with any drinks other than water. Milk, juice, or other sugary drinks will cause cavities to form in their teeth. Always remember to clean your child’s teeth before placing them to bed.

Since some medications are more than 50% sugar, they can also cause cavities to form. Be sure to have your child rinse or brush after taking medications. Limit your child’s snacking and limit cereal, crackers, and sweets that can cause tooth decay. Remember, we will review these topics with you as you bring your child in for regular exams and cleanings. If at any time you have questions about your child’s oral health, please feel free to give us a call.

Is thumb sucking okay?

Thumb sucking or pacifier use is a completely normal habit for younger children and newborns. If your newborn has the habit of sucking on his or her thumb, try introducing a pacifier. A pacifier can be kept cleaner than a thumb. They are also easier to give up once the child reaches 3 -3 ½ years of age.

Most children will stop on their own between ages 2-4. However, do not stop the habit without help. If your child continues to suck their thumb or pacifier past the age of 4, the upper front teeth may start to tip forward and the back teeth may start to develop a cross bite. We don’t recommend trying to stop thumb or finger sucking until after the age of 4. Everyone tends to get frustrated and the habit can actually become worse.

The best way to stop thumb sucking is to use positive reinforcement. Start out slowly in hourly increments and work your way up to daily increments. Give them a reward when they do not suck on their thumb. The reward can be as simple as a sticker to place on a sticker chart. You can use gentle reminders, such as band aids or a sock on their hand. We will encourage your child to quit by discussing what can happen to their teeth if they continue to suck on their thumb. Usually with this discussion and the encouragement of the parents, the child will stop the thumb sucking habit.

If your child continues after permanent efforts, then an appliance may be recommended to help break the habit. The first molars are used to cement in an appliance that fits in the roof of the mouth. It is a reminder to the child not to place their finger or thumb in their mouth. It is usually worn for 3 to 6 months, then easily removed once the habit is broken.