baby teething, tooth injury and other pediatric dental FAQs

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Talk to your child. Explain to your child what a dentist is and why it’s important to take care of his/her teeth. Let them know what to expect (use our tips here!) and make sure they know the dentist is there to help them keep a beautiful smile.  

Avoid negative words. You may have had a painful toothache or have had extensive work done on your teeth, but try not to talk to your child about negative dental experiences. 

Encourage. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Always tell your child how proud you are of them, and what a big, brave boy/girl they are. New experiences can be scary and any time they hand it well, we want to offer praise and encouragement. 

Read about the dentist. There are many great children’s books about visiting the dentist. Seeing their favorite characters successfully visit the dentist can alleviate a child’s fear about their visit. 


An easy way to remember: First Tooth or First Birthday = time for First Impressions! 

It is beneficial for the first visit to occur within six months of the eruption of the first tooth, and no later than the baby’s first birthday. Consider this first visit as a well-child checkup for your child’s teeth. 

During this visit, your dentist will check for decay and other conditions and show you how to properly clean your child’s teeth. Additionally, the dentist may recommend oral care products for your family. Here’s a full summary of what you can expect at your first visit. 

As part of our integral service offerings, all First Impressions staff have received advanced education and training in order to provide excellent primary and comprehensive preventative oral health care to children with special health care needs (SHCN). In agreement with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, health care for these individuals typically requires specialized knowledge, increased awareness and attention, adaptation and accommodative measures beyond what is considered routine. 

We have an entire page dedicated to our Inclusive Dentistry approach for complete details.

  • Regular check-ups are an important part of preventative care.
  • Brush at least twice daily, especially before bedtime with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and limit sugary snacks between meals.
  • If recommended by your dentist, use a mouthwash containing fluoride.
  • If you have a history of, or are at risk of developing cavities, talk to your dentist about fluoride varnish and/or xylitol gum.
  • Parents should assist children in brushing until at least age eight to ensure plaque is being properly removed.
  • Limit beverages containing sugar including juice and sports drinks.
  • Encourage drinking water between meals.
  • Dental sealants are recommended on six and twelve-year molars.
  • Promote a healthy diet with planned meals and snacks such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsweetened dairy products.
  • Limit sugary foods to mealtimes and avoid sticky foods like fruit snacks and dried fruits.

Bacteria in the mouth use the sugars found in liquids and foods to produce acids that attack the teeth. Each time these liquids or foods are consumed, acids attack the teeth for 20 minutes or longer. After many attacks, tooth decay can develop. Tooth decay can begin as soon as teeth emerge in a baby’s mouth – usually by age six months or so.

Ever heard of baby bottle decay? It’s a specific type of tooth decay that occurs because of prolonged exposure to liquids that contain sugar. One of the more common ways this can occur is bottle propping or putting your baby to bed with a bottle.

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, including the ocean. Research has shown that fluoride not only prevents cavities in children and adults, it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay is visible.  During childhood, when teeth are still forming, fluoride works by making tooth enamel more resistant to the acid that causes tooth decay.

As their teeth erupt, some babies become fussy, sleepless, or irritable. Loss of appetite or drooling more than usual also can be signs of teething.

To comfort a teething child, gently massage the gums with:

  • a clean finger
  • a small, chilled spoon or teething ring
  • a clean, moist gauze pad or cloth.

Your dentist or pediatrician may recommend a pacifier or special “numbing” salve for the gums.

Baby teeth are just as important as permanent teeth – for chewing, speaking, and appearance. In addition, baby teeth hold the space in the jaw for permanent teeth. Both primary and permanent teeth help give the face its shape and form.


And why are straight teeth important? Straight teeth are important for a nice smile and correct jaw positioning and well-positioned teeth are together important for chewing, digestion, speech, and good looks; in other words, for physiological and psychological health. Straight teeth are also easier to keep clean and this enhances the health of the gums and of the oral cavity in general.

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, hold it by the top part (crown), rinse it gently with water, reinsert into the socket, making sure it is facing the correct direction, and take the child to the dentist immediately. If you can’t replace the tooth put it in a container of cold milk or in a cold wet cloth and bring it to the dentist immediately.

If a child does not stop on his or her own, the habit should be discouraged after age four. Excessive pressure can do more harm than good. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Instead of scolding your child for sucking, offer praise for not sucking.
  • Remember that children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or seeking comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety and comforting your child.
  • Reward your child when he or she avoids sucking during difficult periods, such as being separated from you.
  • Your dentist can encourage children to stop sucking and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop.
  • If these approaches do not work, remind your child of the habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock over the hand at night.
  • You could even loosely wrap an ACE bandage around the child’s elbow so that sucking their thumb is not as easy or comfortable.
  • If the sucking persists, ask your dentist, hygienist, or pediatrician.  The use of a mouth appliance or nontoxic, bitter-tasting substance to coat the thumb or thumbnail may be recommended to prevent sucking.