Why Should My Child Be Seen By A Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentists are to dentistry what pediatricians are to medicine. After completion of four years of dental school, pediatric dentists receive an additional 2-3 years of pediatric residency training. This residency qualifies them to best meet the diverse needs of infants, toddlers, teenagers and people with special health care needs.

Dr. Selki and Dr. Pabst have dedicated their practice to the oral health care of children and teenagers for many years. Our doctors and staff periodically attend continuing education courses to keep current on the latest advances in dentistry for children. Every aspect of our pediatric dental office is designed especially for children and teens and the goal is to provide a positive experience for each and every child. Our dedicated and experienced staff members are committed to making your child comfortable during their dental visit.

When Should My Child Have A First Visit?

To teach and establish lifelong healthy oral care habits, it is important to get an early start on your child’s health care. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child’s first check up to be scheduled six months after the eruption of the first tooth and at the latest by the first birthday.

During the first visit, it is our goal to help your child become familiar and comfortable with our office. Our doctors and staff will work to ensure that they have a positive experience. Your child can sit on your lap while one of our doctors checks for dental and facial development as well as cavities. At this visit we also review oral hygiene and dietary instructions. Our doctors will also evaluate your child’s Fluoride intake.

Why Are Primary Teeth Important?

Primary teeth or “baby teeth” are important to your child’s health and development. They should be cared for as much as a permanent tooth. Primary teeth are crucial for proper chewing and eating as well as speech development in children. They also serve an important function for the normal growth and development of the face. They maintain the space for the permanent teeth and guide them into their correct position in the dental arch.

If a baby tooth is lost early due to infection or trauma, the permanent tooth can erupt in a wrong position if the space is not maintained. Decayed primary teeth can cause pain and infection. A baby tooth infection can also have a negative impact on the unerupted permanent teeth that are growing inside the jaw.

Your child’s first dental visit should be scheduled about six months after the eruption of the first baby tooth and no later than the first birthday. We understand that being at a dental office is a new experience for your child. Our experienced doctors and staff are dedicated to make your child’s experience a cheerful and positive one.

Our friendly staff and fun environment help your child feel safe and comfortable during each and every visit!

First Visit

Infants and toddlers first visit:
We start the first visit by introducing ourselves and showing you and your child around the office in an effort to make your child comfortable in the new environment. We highly encourage the parents to accompany their children into the examination room. Often younger children will be examined while sitting on their parent’s lap. We find this examination setting more comforting to our younger patients.

Your child’s initial checkup includes:

  • Complete review of medical and dental history
    This information is important for us to make correct diagnosis as well as a suitable treatment for your child. We often modify our recommendations based on your child’s specific needs.
  • Complete examination of existing teeth as well as gum and other oral tissue.
  • Professional cleaning of their teeth depending on your baby’s level of comfort and cooperation.
    At times we might choose to delay the dental cleaning to the second visit if your baby is apprehensive. Our goal is to make sure that every child has a positive first experience.
  • Review of dental and facial growth and development
    We will go over the sequence of the baby teeth eruption for the next few months, as well as what to anticipate.
  • Review of feeding practices and providing age appropriate dietary recommendations
    We will review healthy snacks and drinks to reduce the risk of getting cavities in the future.
  • Evaluation of Fluoride intake
    Fluoride is a mineral that has been proven to dramatically reduce dental cavities in children. The right balance in the intake of Fluoride is very important. Too much Fluoride can be damaging to the development of permanent teeth as well as the child’s general health. We will assess their Fluoride intake and make recommendations based on our assessment.
  • Oral Hygiene
    We will go over all necessary steps in caring for your child’s teeth at home, including brushing methods and toothpaste recommendations. We will give you information about thumb, digit and pacifier sucking.

Older children’s first visit:

  • Review of medical and dental history
  • Complete examination of teeth and oral tissue
    This information is important for us in making correct diagnosis as well as a suitable treatment for your child. We often modify our treatment recommendations based on your child’s specific needs.
  • Professional dental cleaning and topical Fluoride application

    Our doctors always evaluate and discuss the need for topical Fluoride application with the parents during the initial visit.
  • Take minimum required X-rays
    X-rays are essential in making a comprehensive diagnosis.
  • Review of dental and facial growth
    We will review the sequence of the erupting permanent teeth as well as what to anticipate for the next few months.

    Health dietary recommendations are discussed based on their age. Our primary goal is prevention of dental cavities through encouraging a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.

  • Oral Hygiene instruction
    We teach children how to care for their teeth by showing them proper brushing, flossing, and using mouth wash.
  • Evaluation for Orthodontic intervention
    Your child’s wellbeing is our priority. If there is a need for dental treatment, we work closely with parents to discuss and explain all treatment options.

How Often Should I Bring My Child For A Regular Visit?

It is recommended for all children and teenagers to have their regular dental check ups to be every six months. During these visits we perform a complete oral and dental examination and tooth cleaning. X-rays are not taken at every visit. The frequency of required X-rays and Fluoride treatments are determined by our doctors based on your child’s dental needs.

Sequence Of Teeth Eruption

Your baby’s first tooth typically erupts between six to ten months of age. The first teeth to grow are the lower front teeth. The rest of the primary teeth grow sequentially into the jaw by the time they are 2 to 2 ½ years old. Your child will have a total of 20 baby teeth by his/her 3rd birthday.

Permanent teeth start to erupt at about 6 years of age. Lower front teeth are the first primary teeth to be replaced by adult teeth. At about the same time, the first back molar adult tooth erupts behind the last baby tooth in the mouth. The rest of the permanent teeth, except for the wisdom teeth, grow into the jaw or replace baby teeth by the age of 12 to 14 years.

Please refer to the following eruption chart for more Eruption Pattern detail.

Tooth eruption chart

How To Prevent Future Cavities?

Dental caries is an infectious disease that is transmittable through saliva. Studies have shown that the oral bacteria which causes cavities is not present at birth. During the first year after birth, this bacteria gets transmitted from the parents (mostly the mother) or caregivers to the infant. This transmission can happen through sharing spoons or even kissing.

A higher level of mother’s oral bacteria can place the baby at higher risk for developing future cavities. Optimizing the oral health of the parents and especially the mother can reduce the level of bacteria transmission to the baby. Therefore, by optimizing the mother’s oral health during the first year of the baby’s life, the rate of future cavities can be reduced.

  • Try to avoid saliva transfer through spoon sharing or kissing.
  • Reduce your oral bacteria level through good oral hygiene.
  • Using antibacterial mouthwash and Xylitol gum has been shown effective in reducing level of bacteria in adults.
  • Maintain your own regular dental visits.

Tooth decay or a cavity is an irreversible infection of the tooth caused by several caries-producing bacteria. These oral bacteria attach themselves to the tooth surface by a sticky substance called plaque. As bacteria feeds on the sugar we eat, it produces an acid from the breakdown of the sugar. It is this acid exposure that attacks the tooth and destroys its surface over time. Good oral hygiene and healthy eating and drinking habits are the primary line of defense against tooth decay.

Brushing And Flossing

Wipe your baby’s gum with damp cloth or gauze twice daily. As soon as the first teeth erupt, start brushing their teeth twice a day. You may use non Fluoridated toothpaste till your child learns to spit out the toothpaste. Once your child has reached the age where he/she can spit out the toothpaste, you can switch to an ADA approved Fluoridated toothpaste. Place only a smear of toothpaste on their brush. You may continue brushing your child’s teeth yourself until they gain the fine motor skills to do it on their own which is about 5 years of age.

Start flossing their teeth at about 4 years of age at nights. Flossing is very important for the prevention of dental cavities. Flossing is the only effective way to clean the plaque and food out from in between teeth. There are many different floss picks available that can make flossing a lot easier for younger children.

Healthy Snack For Good Oral Health

It is important to establish health eating and drinking habits from the start.

  • Avoid nursing or bottle feeding your baby to sleep. This can induce baby bottle /nursing decay.
  • Let them drink their sugary drinks (juice and milk) out of a cup or with a straw. Only allow them to drink water from the Sippy cup and/or bottle.
  • Reduce their intake of sugary drinks and snacks. Substitute with healthy snacks such as fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cheese and crackers.
  • Reduce the frequency of snacking in between meals.
  • Chewing on Xylitol gum for older children has been shown to be effective in reduction of dental decay.


Sealant is a resin or durable plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth. The resin adheres to the pits and grooves of the tooth and forms a barrier against plaque and food. When properly applied and maintained, sealants can effectively prevent dental caries on the biting surfaces of back teeth, but not all surfaces. A complete preventive regimen includes regular dental visits, daily brushing and flossing and healthy diet with limited snacking.

Dental Emergencies

In case of an emergency, do not hesitate to contact our office. Our dedicated staff members are quite experienced with dental emergencies and they will schedule a visit for your child if needed. We have a 24 hour emergency paging system and our doctors respond quickly to these calls.

  • Toothache
    If your child is experiencing pain, first try cleaning the troubled area by rinsing it with warm water. Gentle flossing and brushing can assist in dislodging any food that might be impacted in the gum. If the pain still persists, contact our office. You may apply topical numbing creams on the gum. In case of facial swelling place a cold compress on the affected area.
  • Cut/bitten lip, tongue, or cheek
    Apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze to stop the bleeding. To prevent swelling, apply ice to the injured area. If there is excessive bleeding, contact our office or go to your nearest emergency room.
  • Knocked out baby tooth
    Contact our office immediately. Meanwhile apply pressure to stop the bleeding and place ice if possible. Try to look for the knocked out tooth to make sure it has not been aspirated or swallowed.
  • Knocked out permanent tooth
    Try to find the knocked out permanent tooth. Hold it by the crown and not by the root. If possible gently rinse it with only water. Avoid scrubbing and washing with soap. Call our office immediately to be seen within the next hour. Transport the tooth in a cup of milk or if not available in water. It is crucial that your child be seen by our doctors ASAP ideally within an hour.
  • Chipped or fractured adult or baby tooth
    Rinse your child’s mouth with warm water and apply ice to reduce swelling. If possible, find the chipped part of the adult tooth and bring it with you to the office. Call our office immediately. A timely treatment can save the tooth and prevent possible tooth infection.
  • A severe blow to the head
    Immediately take your child to the nearest emergency room for assessment and observation.