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Pediatric Dental FAQs

Curious about how best to care for your child’s teeth?

Read on for answers to the questions we’re asked most frequently.

When should I schedule my child’s first visit to the dentist?

Smilez Pediatric Dental Group Loudoun recommends that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his first tooth. It is the stance of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that a child be seen six months after the eruption of his first tooth, or no later than his first birthday.

How is a pediatric dentist different from other dentists?

All types of dentist begin their education with dental school before going on to specialize in oral surgery, orthodontia, or pediatric dentistry. During her training in the field of pediatric dentistry, Dr. Bhatti gained extensive knowledge and experience in treating infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatric dentists enjoy working with children, and bring to each patient our expertise in childhood development and behavior. Because our office is geared toward young visitors, you’ll find that our staff, as well as our office design, decorations and activities, all work together to provide an especially friendly and comfortable environment for children.

What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?

The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will check your child’s teeth for placement and health, and will look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a bit of cleaning. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips that you can refer to at home.

How can I prepare my child for his first dental appointment?

The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it’s important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help him do that. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.

How often should my child visit the dentist?

The recommendation for children visiting the pediatric dentist is the same as adults: every six months, unless the circumstances of your child’s oral health necessitates more frequent visits.

If baby teeth aren’t permanent, why do they need special care?

They may not be ‘forever’ teeth, but they’re just as important as the ones that are. Your child’s primary teeth help him speak, and chew properly. They hold space in the jaw for his permanent teeth, and the loss of baby teeth too early can cause alignment issues later.

What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, your Dulles pediatric dentist recommends cleaning his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush, but be sure to choose one with soft bristles and a small head. Check your local drugstore for an infant-specific toothbrush.

At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?

Maybe not quite as early as you think, but maybe not as late either. Start using a fluoride-free toothpaste once a few teeth have appeared. Fluoride is not recommended for children under the age of two, because too much can be dangerous for very young children. Children have a natural reflex to swallow, so it’s important that you encourage them to rinse and spit after brushing.

Does my child need dental sealants?

Your pediatric dentist may recommend the application of sealants to cover the pits and fissures in teeth that are difficult to brush and therefore susceptible to decay. We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your child avoid cavities, especially for molars, which are hardest to reach.

My child plays sports. How can I protect his teeth?

Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What should I do if my child sucks his thumb?

The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.