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Why use a pediatric dentist?

Like pediatrics in medicine, pediatric dentistry is devoted exclusively to children. It requires an additional 2–3 years of training beyond dental school in areas such as growth and development, child psychology, pediatric medical conditions, and minor orthodontic treatment.

Tooth Development

Primary teeth, your child’s first set of teeth, are important because they assist in your child’s chewing ability and speech development. They also serve as natural space savers in the jaw for the positioning of permanent teeth. Keeping these teeth healthy will reduce the need for future orthodontia.

Primary Teeth Eruption Chart
Permanent Teeth Eruption Chart

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

(Early Childhood Caries)

This occurs in infants and young children when sugary liquids (e.g., milk, formula, or juice) are exposed to the teeth for long periods of time. When asleep, saliva flow decreases and allows these sugars to pool around the teeth. The bacteria in the mouth use these sugars to produce acids which damage the teeth.

Baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented by not allowing your child to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup. Regular brushing is recommended as well as routine dental exams. A washcloth can be used to clean your child’s gums even before the first tooth appears.

Thumb Sucking or Digit Sucking

Most thumb or digit sucking is not harmful and most children outgrow it by age 5. This oral habit becomes a problem if it continues during the eruption of the permanent teeth.

The jaw is soft and pliable in children under age 8 and thumb or digit sucking can reshape the jaw and cause a dental crossbite where the jaws do not align properly. The upper teeth will usually be forced to flare out and the lower teeth will be forced inwards.

If your child is having difficulty stopping this habit, you may want to set up a rewards program for each time or day they do not suck their thumb or finger. A habit appliance can be used on those children that still have difficulty after a rewards program has been tried.


A sealant is an acrylic-like material that bonds with the tooth to help prevent bacteria from sticking to the grooves and causing decay. They are a safe, painless and low cost way to protect your child’s teeth. Sealants are usually applied to molars since the pits and grooves of molars are the most susceptible for decay. It is recommended that sealants to be placed on first and second permanent molars. In some cases where there is a high risk for decay, sealants are placed on primary molars as well.


Generally, it is recommended that children have an orthodontic assessment by age 7. Since the jaw is still soft and pliable up until age 8, early assessments allow for corrections in alignment which may be much more difficult to correct later. An orthodontist will diagnose and treat problems related to the positioning of the teeth. Crowded, crooked, or misaligned teeth can cause problems with speech, tooth decay, jaw joints, gum disease and/or may cause teeth to be chipped or lost.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide/oxygen (N2O-O2) is a blend of two gases -- oxygen and nitrous oxide. A mask is placed over the nose and, as the patient breathes normally, uptake occurs through the lungs. At the end of treatment, it is eliminated after a short period of breathing oxygen and has no lingering effects. It is considered the safest sedative in dentistry. It has a rapid onset, is reversible, can be adjusted in various concentrations and is non-allergenic. Your child remains fully conscious and is capable of responding to a question or request. Nitrous oxide/oxygen may also be used in combination with other sedative agents.

Oral conscious sedation

Oral conscious sedation may be recommended for children who are extremely apprehensive, very young, or those requiring extensive dental treatment. Sedation can also be helpful for some patients who have special needs. Sedation can be used safely and effectively when administered by a pediatric dentist who follows the sedation guidelines of the American Academy of pediatric Dentistry. We will discuss sedation options and patient monitoring for the safety and comfort of your child.

Dental Emergencies

Use dental floss to remove any food debris that may have be between teeth. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to your cheek. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. Call the office as soon as possible.

Permanent Tooth Knocked Out
Locate the tooth; hold it by the crown (the top part of the tooth). If the root is dirty, rinse it with water. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it's facing the right way. Do not force it into the socket. If it is not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt, if milk is not available) or a product containing cell growth medium, such as Save-a-Tooth. In all cases, call the office as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.

Displaced Permanent Tooth (Partially Dislodged)
See your dentist right away. Until you reach your dentist's office, to relieve pain, apply a cold compress to the cheek in the affected area. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (such as Tylenol or Advil) if needed.

Chipped or Broken teeth
Save any pieces of the tooth. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there's bleeding, apply pressure to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. Call the office as soon as possible.

Baby Tooth Knocked Out
This is usually not considered an emergency. Please call the office during business hours so that we can assist you with any questions or concerns. Usually, no treatment is necessary.

Learn more about dental trauma treatment guidelines for
primary and permanent teeth: www.dentaltraumaguide.org