1. What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist attends two-three additional years of specialized education after they complete their general dentistry requirements. These additional years help to prepare the dentist to care for children’s unique oral health needs.

2. Why should my child see a dentist at such a young age?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Tooth decay can start as early as 6 months of age and can progress very quickly. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, discomfort, infection and possible damage to the adult teeth.

3. When should my child’s first dental visit be andhow often should my child see a pediatric dentist?  
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children start seeing a dentist by their first birthday or once their first tooth emerges.  Two visits a year (every 6 months) is recommended.

4. What happens during my child’s first visit to the dentist?
The first visit is usually more informative then clinical.We want you and your child to feel comfortable in your new dental home.  In most cases, we focus on getting to know your son or daughter and giving you comprehensive information about dental home care. The doctor will check your little one’s teeth for placement and health, and look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw.  Their first cleaning and Fluoride application will usually take place at this visit. We will also answer any questions you may have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop.

5. How can I prepare my child for the first dental appointment?
The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is to maintain a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, so if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist, you can be sure your child will anticipate an unpleasant experience and act accordingly.  Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let him or her know it’s important to keep their teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help to do that. Remember that Dr. Reena is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during their visit.

6. How do I make sure my child isn’t afraid of the dentist?
Always emphasize that a dental visit is a positive experience. Explain that visiting the dentist helps maintain good oral health. By fostering a positive attitude, you’ll increase the chances that your child will see a dentist regularly throughout their life.

7. Why do baby teeth need special care?
Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an essential role in development. While they’re in place, the primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth.If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay), nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your little one’s general health is affected by the oral health of their teeth and gums.

8. When should my child have dental X-rays taken?
We recommend taking X-rays around the age of two or three, when the spaces between the teeth close and it is no longer possible to visually examine these surfaces. The first set consists of simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth, which familiarizes your child with the process. Once the baby teeth in back are touching each other, then regular (at least yearly) X-rays are recommended.Permanent teeth start coming in around age six, and X-rays help us make sure your son or daughter’s teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having X-rays taken at an earlier age or if an emergency situation arises.

9. Why does my child need x-rays?
If a child’s teeth are in contact with each other, we are unable to visually determine if there are cavities starting between the teeth. Radiographs (x-rays) are the only way to determine cavities between the teeth and the extent of the disease process. This is an important diagnostic toolused by the doctor and will ultimately determine the treatment needed.

10. What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?
Even before your infant’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean the gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can most likely find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.

11. What is the proper way to brush my toddler’s teeth?
Before the age of 2 years old use a smear amount of fluoride toothpaste and between the ages of 2-5 years old use a pea-size amount. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and angle it at the gumline. Brush gently back and forth.  Clean the inside, outside and chewing surface of your child’s teeth using a gentle circular motion.

12. Why do I need to floss my child’s teeth?
You should be flossing your child’s teeth once the spaces between the teeth are closed. The surface of the tooth that touches the adjacent tooth will collect and harbor food and bacteria. The only way to properly clean between the teeth is with dental floss. If baby teeth are not flossed, the bacteria will stay between them and cavities will begin to form.

13. At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?
Once your son or daughter has a tooth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Be careful to use the appropriate amount for their age.  Always encourage your child to rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, but swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child’s teeth until he or she is ready to take on that responsibility effectively, which usually happens by age eight.

14. What causes cavities?
Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, and eventually eat through the enamel and create holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.

15. How can I help my child avoid cavities?
Be sure that your little one brushes his or her teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, since flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t.  Diet plays a key role in cavities as well, so be sure to keep an eye on the intake of their sugary foods/beverages.
Check with Dr. Reena about a fluoride supplement that can help tooth enamel become harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. Finally, make regularappointments so we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.

16. Why have dental sealants placed?
Although fluoride use has greatly reduced the incidence of cavities in children, its success is limited in the deep pits and fissures.The physical barrier that the sealants provide is an invaluable form of protection against cavities in the pits and fissures.We recommend sealants as a safe, simple way to help your little one avoid cavities, especially for permanent molars, which are hardest to reach and keep clean.

17. Can thumb sucking and a pacifier be harmful to a child’s teeth?
Thumb sucking, or a pacifier habit can become problematic if a child continuesthe habit for too long.A large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants. Most grow out of it by the age of four without causing any permanent damage to teeth. If your little one continues to suck after permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit or if any intervention is needed.

18. What do I do if my child falls and knocks out a tooth?
Try to stay as calm as possible and follow our helpful tips:  Handle the tooth as carefully as possible;
• Try not to touch the root of the tooth (the yellow part that goes underneath the gums), try to only touch the crown (the white part) of the tooth. If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the crown and rinse it with milk. If milk is unavailable, rinse the tooth with water. Do not wipe the tooth with a washcloth or any type of fabric.
• Make sure the tooth is facing the right way and try and put the tooth back into the socket if it’s not visibly dirty. In many cases, it will slip right in. If the tooth doesn’t go into place easily,then keep it as moist as possible.  Drop it into a glass of milk. If milk is unavailable, use saliva or water. 
• Get to the dentist as soon as possible.

19. My child plays sports; how can I protect his or her teeth?
Even child’s sports involve contact, so 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 the teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.