Dental Care for Babies & Children

Questions and Answers

Given the large number of families and children who regularly visit Dr. Sablan for dental treatment, our website will also answer many of the most common questions we hear about the first and subsequent visits of younger patients.

Q. When should my child first see a dentist?

A. Dr. Sablan recommends that you bring your child in as soon as he or she has their first tooth. The purpose of the initial visit however is more to accustom the child to being at the dentist. Bring them when you come in for your own checkups and let them get familiar with the office, our staff and what goes on. This will help them when they are ready for their own dental treatment.

Q. What are the benefits of early dental visits?

Early dental visits can prevent dental problems before their start. As soon as a child starts on a diet that includes anything besides breast-milk, they are can be at risk for early childhood caries (also known as baby bottle tooth decay).

Q. How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?

At-will breast-feeding should be avoided after the first baby teeth begin to erupt and other sources of nutrition have been introduced. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. Fruit juice should only be offered in a cup with meals or at snack time.

Q. When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

Children should be eased off of bottle feeding when they are around 12-14 months old.

Q. When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth you can clean your child's gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste for a child under 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, you can use a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and either perform or assist your child's toothbrushing. Young children will likely not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively and will require assistance.

Q. Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. First off, they help your child learn to chew and speak as they grow up, and they also help form a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

Q. What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. Finally, see a dentist as soon as possible.

Q. How often does my child need to see the dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended to prevent cavities and other dental problems.

Q. How do dental sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the crevices on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years. Click here for more information on sealants.