At the pediatric dental office of Dr. Petula Hom, we believe in providing parents with the best information on keeping their child’s teeth healthy from the beginning. Our Parent’s Guide for Healthy Kids Teeth can show you just how important a pediatric dentist is.

Choosing a pediatric dentist is an important step towards keeping your child’s teeth healthy and preventing cavities, but there are other benefits such as emergency dental care needs, oral sedation for children who have anxiety, and important oral hygiene tips for infants and children that are important to learn as well.

What Parents Need to Know About a Pediatric Dental Practice

Why Pediatric Dentistry?

There is much more involved in the developing dental care of children, so much so, that pediatric dentists require an additional 2-3 years of education for training on pediatric medical conditions, the overall growth and development process, childhood psychology, and other minor orthodontic procedures. Before teeth emerge special care should be taken to clean the gums from sugary substances. And by the age of one year, your child should have their first dental checkup to discuss cleaning of the teeth, check development, and talk with you about your child’s oral care. We want to walk you through the needs for healthy kids teeth and mouths every step of the way.

Tooth Decay from Baby Bottles

Protecting teeth even before they come in is important to the future health of both baby (primary) teeth and adult (permanent) teeth. Using a washcloth to clean your baby’s gums after feedings (especially before bed time) is the first step towards healthy teeth. Once teeth first emerge, brushing regularly is recommended to prevent milk, formula, or juice to damage the teeth. Baby bottle tooth decay can occur when bottles are left in the mouth for long periods of time and bacteria uses the sugars from the milk, formula, or juice to produce acids which damage the teeth.

Development of Teeth from Primary Teeth to Permanent Teeth

The first set of teeth, called primary teeth (or milk teeth), are essential to growing because they aid in clear speech development and the ability to eat and chew. In addition, they hold the place in the bone structure of the jaw for permanent teeth placement. The health of these teeth are directly related to the health of permanent teeth and good health practices on primary teeth reduce the need for future orthodontic needs.
As soon as baby’s first teeth emerge they should be cleaned at least once a day with a baby’s toothbrush. Around age 2, fluoride toothpaste should be introduced as a daily prevention from tooth decay.

Thumb Sucking

If thumb sucking or digit sucking continues to the age when permanent teeth are erupting is when we see issues in children’s teeth. In children under 8 years old, the jaw is still pliable and soft and thumb or finger sucking behavior can cause a crossbite and a misalignment of the jaw. This will usually cause the upper teeth to be flared outwards and the lower teeth inwards. Breaking this habit with a rewards system is a great way to encourage children to stop thumb sucking, but if that proves difficult, a habit appliance may be used instead.

Tooth Sealants

Protecting your child’s teeth with sealants is both cost-effective and painless. Dental sealants for kids are a thin layer of acrylic-like material that is painted to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. They prevent the growth of decay-causing bacteria in the deep grooves of the molars as they need additional protection over what is offered by just fluoride toothpaste alone.

Between the ages of 5 and 7, the first permanent molars come in. Children should get tooth sealants as soon as these come in before decay begins. Lasting up to 10 years, sealants offer the best prevention of cavities and tooth decay.


The recommended time period for an orthodontic assessment is by age 7. Early orthodontic assessments can allow for jaw alignment corrections since the jaw is still pliable up to age 8, making it easier to correct. Orthodontic care is related to the positioning of the teeth, so crowded, misaligned, or crooked teeth are assessed for treatment as they can cause issues with tooth decay, gum disease, jaw joints, chipped or lost teeth and even speech.

Oral Sedation for Children

If a dental procedure requires extensive dental treatment or the child is very young or anxious, oral sedation for children may be the best option. In addition, if the patient has special needs this procedure may be recommended. During sedation, medications are used to reduce discomfort and apprehension to dental care causing the child to become relaxed and drowsy. These medications do not cause the child to become unconscious, but prevents uncontrolled movement during complicated procedures. When following the sedation guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, this method of sedation is safe and effective. These options can be discussed in detail to ensure the comfort and safety of our patients.

The combination of Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen forms N20-O2 and is used as a safe sedative in pediatric dentistry. A mask is placed over the nose and the blended gases are taken in through the lungs. After the treatment, it is flushed with a short period of just oxygen so there are no lingering effects. It is non allergenic and can be adjusted as needed. In addition your child remains fully conscious throughout the process so they may be able to respond to questions. It is commonly used in conjunction with other sedatives.