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 PEDIATRIC DENTIST: Frequently Asked Questions

Taking your child to see a pediatric dentist from an early age is important to instill good oral hygiene habits in your child, even before their permanent teeth come in. Our pediatric dentists will provide dental care to your child after they have received most of their baby teeth, around their first birthday.

We understand that you may have questions about our pediatric dentistry services at Massanutten Dental Team and Oral Surgery. We have provided some answers to frequently asked questions about our pediatric dental care services to help set your child up for a successful first dental checkup.

Feel free to reach out to our office at 540-908-4846 if you have any further questions, would like more information about our pediatric dentistry in Harrisonburg, Virginia, or to make an appointment with our dentist, Dr. Kathy Biery.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pediatric Dental Care

When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit the dentist for the first time six months after their first tooth erupts or no later than their first birthday.

How often should my child see the dentist? 

After your child’s first dental visit, our team will help you schedule regular visits with our dentists. Your child should visit the dentist at least every six months or twice a year.

When will my baby start getting teeth?

Babies begin to develop teeth in the womb during the second trimester of pregnancy (about 16 to 20 weeks). They typically start to emerge between 6 and 10 months of age.

Even before your baby’s first tooth erupts, you can help keep their gums healthy by cleaning them daily with a soft cloth. Begin brushing and flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they have two adjacent teeth.

Why are primary teeth important?

Primary teeth, or “baby teeth,” are critical to maintaining proper oral development as your baby grows.

Primary teeth facilitate:

  • proper speech production and development
  • proper chewing, nutrition, and digestion
  • straighter smiles — primary teeth hold space for adult teeth
  • the prevention of tooth decay and other oral health issues in adolescence and adulthood

How do I care for my infant’s gums and teeth?

You should clean your infant’s gums and teeth daily. Before the teeth erupt, use a soft, damp cloth to gently wipe their gums and remove any lingering formula or milk. Begin brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as you see the first tooth appearing. Use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush and a tiny smear of child-safe toothpaste for children under 2.

How can I care for my child’s teeth at home?

Your child’s teeth are important to their overall health and development.

Here are a few tips on how to care for your child’s teeth:

  • Make sure your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day.
  • Help them floss daily.
  • Bring your child to the dentist regularly.
  • Ask our dentist about preventive care, such as dental sealants, fluoride treatment, or fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Help your child maintain a nutritious and balanced diet.
  • Make sure your child wears a mouth guard if they play sports.

My child sucks their fingers. How can I help break this habit?

Thumb and finger sucking is normal in children under age 4. Most children will stop sucking on their own between the ages of 2 and 4, but if the habit persists, it can cause dental problems and could hinder the development of permanent teeth.

Our dentists can provide strategies to help your child stop sucking their fingers or pacifier. These strategies may include oral appliances, as well as things to try at home, such as putting a glove or a sock over the fingers or creating diversions to distract your child from sucking their fingers.

How do I care for my baby’s oral health while pregnant?

Your oral health while pregnant is one of the determining factors of your baby’s dental health in the future. When pregnant, you should follow your regular dental care routine, including receiving dental cleanings and exams. We recommend that you schedule a dental health checkup when you first learn of your pregnancy, as well as a second prenatal dental health checkup six months after your first appointment.

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural substance that works to reduce and prevent cavities. It is especially effective for children, teenagers, and individuals with special needs. Xylitol is found in fruits and vegetables, including berries, mushrooms, corn, and lettuce, and is also available in the forms of a concentrate, gum, and a sugar substitute. It works to neutralize acids in the mouth, reducing the risk of cavities and providing additional protection for the teeth. Xylitol may be consumed by children and teens, as well as by pregnant and expecting mothers to boost their child’s oral health.

Are dental x-rays safe for children?

Yes! X-rays are safe for children, and our dentists and team will make every effort to ensure that your child remains safe and comfortable when visiting our office. Advances in technology and the dental field continue to make X-rays safer through digital imaging technologies and higher-speed X-rays.

My child has damaged a tooth or developed a tooth infection. Are treatments for these problems available for children?

Yes. If your child damages a tooth or develops a tooth infection, our doctor can provide procedures to restore the health of their smile. We will examine your child’s mouth to determine which treatment or combination of treatments will provide the best result and create a customized treatment plan to meet your child’s needs.

Have other questions? Contact us to schedule your child’s first dental visit in Harrisonburg today!

Getting your child into the routine of visiting the dentist early can promote a positive attitude about the experience. We want all our littlest patients to feel excited about their first visit, and that’s why we make our office a friendly and inviting place for children and parents.

If you have additional questions about our pediatric dentistry services, call our office at 540-908-4846 and speak with one of our friendly staff members. We welcome new patients and can’t wait to help your little one get started with a healthy smile!