When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommend the first dental visit occur within 6 months of the first tooth coming in (erupting), or by 12 months at the latest. As Dr. Derek and Dr. Craig like to say: "First Tooth or First Birthday. First Dental Appointment."

When will my child lose his or her teeth? 

The most typical sequence for children to lose their teeth starts at age 6 with the loss of the lower central incisors. Between the age of 6 and 8 years, children will lose the front four lower teeth and front four upper teeth as well. You may then notice a lag period during the ages of 8-10 years when your child does not lose any teeth. Between the ages of 10-12 years, your child will experience a second phase of tooth loss where they will lose their baby canines and baby molars. Our doctors will monitor your child’s dental development at all visits and update you if your child is following the normal sequence.

What are the benefits of fluoride?

Fluoride supplements are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control. Fluoride makes teeth less likely to develop cavities and also inhibits the bacteria in the mouth from growing and causing cavities.

When will my child need braces?

Dr. Craig and Dr. D will monitor the growth of your child at every visit and update you on your child’s orthodontic needs. Often, a child that will need future braces will show signs as early as 2-3 years of age. Early orthodontic treatment may be necessary from the ages of 2-6 for children with certain habits such as thumb sucking. Most often, children that need braces will be referred for orthodontic treatment once all of their adult teeth have erupted.


Should I be concerned about thumb sucking?

Thumb sucking is natural and a normal reflex utilized by infants to soothe themselves. They generally lose interest once they develop other coping skills. Ideally, children should stop thumb sucking by the age of 4.

Pacifiers are not a substitute for thumb sucking. They, too, can affect the teeth in the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, you can control and modify the pacifier more easily than the thumb or finger habit.

How hard a child actually sucks on their fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems will result. Some children rest their thumbs passively in their mouths, making them less likely to have problems than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

When should my child stop thumb sucking?

Up until the age of 3, children are too young to actively try to get them to stop. See if they will stop on their own with positive reinforcement. Focus only on daytime thumb sucking first. For example:

  • Instead of scolding children for thumb sucking, praise them when they are not.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or bored. Try to determine the cause and focus on redirecting the child.
  • Reward children when they refrain from sucking during times they have done it in the past (watching TV, riding in the car, etc).
  • Our doctors and their team can encourage your child to stop sucking and explain what could happen if they continue.

Once your child has stopped daytime sucking, then you can work on nighttime. First, your child needs to know they can stop at night, be positive. These suggestions only work if they have completely stopped daytime sucking and want to quit at night, too.

  • The use of a “batters glove” with Velcro on the sucking hand while they sleep helps to train their subconscious to stop the habit.
  • A sock on the preferred hand taped around the wrist to keep them from removing it during the night.
  • An ace bandage placed around the elbow on the arm that is favored. You place it loosely to trigger the subconscious as it will be more difficult to bend that arm to put the thumb in the mouth.

Calming the Anxious Child

How do our doctors help with dental anxiety?

Dr. D and Dr. Craig have special training to help anxious children feel secure during dental treatment. Having our kid friendly office helps, too. All of our team members have chosen to work in a pediatric dental practice because they love children.

How will the doctors help my child feel comfortable?

There are many methods to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. Dr. D, Dr. Craig and their team utilize the “Tell-Show-Do” technique which is very effective for children. Coaching, distraction, and parent participation are other possibilities to give your child confidence in dentistry. By far the most preferred technique is praise. Every child does something right during a dental visit and we will always tell them that. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is used during restorative visits, which also helps to calm some children.

What if a child doesn’t cooperate for their dental care?

Our primary goal is to deliver safe treatment for your child. Occasionally, a child may require more assertive forms of behavior management to protect him or her from injuring themselves. These management techniques include the use of voice control, distraction techniques, protective stabilization or the recommendation of completing the procedures with sedation.


How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?

First, be sure your child has a balanced diet. A balanced diet includes foods from the following major food groups: Fruits and Vegetables; Breads and Cereals; Dairy Products; Meat, Fish and Eggs. Foods containing sugars and starches cause tooth decay. Foods with starch include breads, pasta, and snacks such as pretzels, goldfish crackers, and potato chips. There is hidden sugar in all sorts of foods. It can be added to your peanut butter, mayonnaise, salad dressing or many other processed foods. Be a label reader!

Should my child give up all foods with sugar or starch?

Not at all! You need to be sure to be selective with them. The stickier the food is, the higher the chance that it will form a cavity.

When is the best time to give my child a treat?

The best time is just after a meal and not in between meals. While your child is eating a meal, extra saliva is produced which helps to wash out the sugars. Each bite or sip of a sugary or starchy food or drink produces acids on the teeth for 20 minutes. So, if your child walks around with a sippy cup filled with a sugary drink, every sip results in 20 minutes of acid production. The child is better off drinking the whole cup at one sitting at a meal.

My baby is still on the bottle, what should I do?

Don’t nurse your child to sleep or put them to bed with a bottle. If your child must have a bottle at night, put only water in it. Sugars left in the mouth at night do the most damage. Most children leave the milk in their mouth while sleeping, sucking occasionally. This habit is a cause of Early Childhood Caries.

What are some good snacks?

Cheeses, yogurt, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, popcorn and unsweetened breads are good to give to your child. Water is the best drink to give them between meals. This helps to establish a good lifelong habit of drinking water during the day.

What snacks should I avoid?

Sugary items such as soft drinks, sports drinks, sweet teas, lemonade and candies should be eaten for special occasions only. Avoid other sticky or chewy foods, including fruit roll ups, gummy bears, taffy, and chewy candies.


Parents are often concerned about nighttime grinding of their child’s teeth (bruxism). Most children do grind their teeth and there is no cause for concern. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated. This is rarely suggested as children’s teeth are in transition and the night guard will not “fit” for long. Our doctors will evaluate your child and if there is any cause for concern, he will inform you.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. Grinding typically decreases between the ages of 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding all together between ages 9-12.

Silver Diamine Fluoride - SDF

SDF is a treatment option that we offer to our patients that stops the progression of the decay without removing tooth structure. This treatment takes at least two applications about 4 weeks apart to be most effective. SDF treatment may cause the treated areas to change colors and appear like they have black staining on the tooth. This treatment is a great option for our patients that may not be able to sit in the dental chair for long periods of time, or when our sedation options may not be desirable or available, since it is a very quick and easy application process.



Sealants are preventive and help protect the teeth from cavities before they have a chance to start. Kids start getting permanent molars around the age of 6 years old, and another set around the age of 12 years old. Dentists recommend that sealants are placed in the deep grooves of the permanent molars as soon as they are fully erupted. This treatment takes our team about 15 minutes to do. An easy and painless appointment using paint and flashlights, no local anesthetic is required.


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