Steele Pediatric Dentistry

Frequently Asked Questions

Your child's mouth comes with a variety of growths, smells, and colors, and It is often hard to determine what is within the norm. We have taken our the most common question that parents ask us and have listed them here for your review. Of course, if you have a specific question, please contact our office for an appointment with our specially trained dental staff at (304) 243-KIDS.

When should I take my child to the dentist for their first check-up?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child see the pediatric dentist on or before the first birthday or six months after the first tooth appears whichever is first.  This early time table allows prevention to start early, and allows the child to become comfortable in the dental setting.  It also provides a “dental home” if the child ever sustains trauma to the mouth. 

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and other dentists?

The pediatric dentist has an additional two to three years of specialty training after dental school and is highly trained in treating children in infancy through the teenage years.  In addition, a pediatric dentist ONLY treats children and therefore the office often seems less intimidating. 

What should I use to clean my baby’s (under 12 months) teeth?

A soft bristled toothbrush, preferably one that has a small head and is specifically designed for infants, is recommended at least once per day at bedtime. The toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria which can lead to tooth decay.

Why are baby teeth important?

Primary or “baby” teeth are important for several reasons. First, they are important for chewing, speaking and appearance. They are also important for holding the space for the developing permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position when it is time for them to erupt. Your child’s general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.

At what age should I start using toothpaste to brush my child’s teeth?

It is appropriate to use a fluoride containing toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth when they are 2 years of age. It is recommended to use fluoride free toothpaste (infant oral toothpaste) in children younger than 2. Make sure you are only using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste in children aged 2-5. Encourage your child to spit and not to swallow the excess toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride.  Dr. Steele and her staff will review proper brushing techniques as well as advise on the appropriate time to incorporate Fluoride toothpaste.

What happens at the first appointment?

The first visit is usually very simple. We are focusing on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. If possible, we will clean your child’s teeth. The pediatric dentist will examine your child’s teeth and gums and determine if there are any problems or concerns.  If indicated, we may apply a Fluoride varnish to help strengthen and harden the enamel and prevent decay. 

Should I be worried about pacifier and thumb sucking habits?

Thumb and pacifier habits generally only cause a problem if they go on for a long period of time. Most children are able to stop the habit with any intervention from the dentist, but if you are concerned about, be sure to mention it to both your child’s pediatrician and dentist.

What causes cavities?

We all have bacteria that live in our mouths. The bacteria come in contact with the sugary foods in our diets and an acid is produced. The acid attacks the enamel layer of our teeth and causes the little holes in the teeth, called cavities.  It’s not just poor oral hygiene that can lead to decay; our diet plays a big role.  Avoiding sugary liquids and sticky candy is an important part of prevention.  Disrupting the plaque deposits twice a day by brushing and flossing is also critical. 

How can I help my child prevent cavities?

Make sure your child is brushing at least twice per day with fluoride toothpaste. Your child may need your help brushing until he/she is around 7-8 years of age. Flossing is also important because it cleans the area between the teeth that the toothbrush can’t reach. Avoid sugary drinks and foods, limit frequent snacking between meals, and maintain a healthy diet. Make sure to keep regular appointments with your pediatric dentist.

Does my child need dental sealants?

Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces (pits and fissures) of the permanent molar teeth. These deep grooves are the most susceptible to tooth decay.  Ideally, the sealant is placed as soon as the molar is fully erupted to seal over the deep grooves.  The application is fast and comfortable and can protect the teeth for many years.

My child plays sports. Do I need a mouth guard?

When a child begins to participate in organized sports, then injuries can occur. A properly fitted mouth guard is important in helping protect your child’s teeth and smile and should be used when engaging any activity where there could be a trauma to the face or mouth. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it. Ask your pediatric dentist about custom and store-bought mouth protectors.  If you already have a mouthguard, we encourage you to bring it to your dental appointment so that we can ensure it is fitting properly.

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