Attention, three-year-olds! It’s time to visit your pediatric dentist!

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Attention, three-year-olds! It’s time to visit your pediatric dentist!

Give your child a good start for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.

Do you have a toddler approaching the age of three who hasn’t visited the dentist yet? If you’re thinking, “Three sounds too young to go to a pediatric dentist,” then we’d like to tell you why now is actually the perfect time.

We’ll start off with a few facts about pediatric dentistry and why it’s so essential for your child to visit a pediatric dentist as opposed to a general dentist. Then we’ll dive into the importance of seeing the dentist at an early age!

Fun Facts: What You Didn’t Know About Pediatric Dentistry

  • To specialize in pediatric dentistry, dentists must study for an extra two to three years after dental school. They receive special training and learn the best ways to approach children at each stage of their cognitive and physical development.
  • A pediatric dentist treats infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, and teens, as well as patients with special needs.
  • Since this branch of dentistry concerns the specific needs of children, a pediatric dentist is especially attuned to patients with dental phobias and a short attention span. They can be counted on to be especially patient and caring towards people with these sensitivities.
  • A pediatric dentist is able to create an inviting atmosphere for small children.

Why should I bring my child to the dentist at age three?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), studies have found that one in four children will develop a cavity by the time they are in preschool. This statistic presents families with the challenge of keeping up a consistent dental hygiene regimen at home.

Because of the prevalence of tooth caries among children, dentists encourage an early first visit as a preventative measure. In fact, it’s typically recommended that children visit the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes in, which will occur well before their third birthday! The visit will allow the dentist to examine your child for any signs of incipient tooth decay, talk to you about good oral hygiene practices, and help your child get familiar with the experience of being in a dentist’s office.

Unfortunately, many people have the misconception that going to the dentist will be painful. By paying a visit to your dentist in Philadelphia, you will see that dental care has evolved. Dental professionals now have access to the best technology and modern techniques. Continuing Education courses allow your dentist to stay up-to-date on best practices and how to keep making patient visits as comfortable as possible!

How can you learn to trust your (or your child’s) dentist?

Trust is built in an honest, communicative relationship. Be honest about your concerns and fears, and your dentist will be better able to create a comfortable experience for you. When you have questions, ask! Your dentist won’t know about your doubts until you voice them. This communication will create an opportunity for you to learn and build trust between you, your child, and the dentist.

Baby Teeth Are Just as Important as Permanent Teeth.

Does it matter if your toddler´s baby tooth gets a cavity? It’s just going to fall out anyway, right?


pediatric dentistBaby teeth (also known as primary teeth) serve the important purpose of “place-holding” for future adult teeth. If a baby tooth falls out too soon before the permanent tooth begins to come in, the adjacent teeth will begin to drift in and fill the empty space. This can cause serious problems when the permanent tooth finally grows in.

When a baby tooth presents decay, your pediatric dentist may suggest getting a filling when a pulpotomy and stainless steel crown are unnecessary. A pulpotomy and stainless steel crown are needed when signs of infection are present, such as pain and swelling. In this case, the dentist will remove the decay and the offending nerve, placing a filling and crown over the tooth. When decay in a baby tooth goes deep enough, it can reach the permanent tooth as well. This circumstance can set your child up for decayed permanent teeth at an early age.

Instilling Good Oral Hygiene Habits for A Lifetime

It is never too early to teach children how to brush their teeth, and it’s never too late to reiterate the lessons of dental hygiene. After all, even if you show them good oral hygiene when they’re babies, that doesn’t mean that they’ll faithfully keep up those habits throughout their adolescence. Oral hygiene training is a continual process that takes refining, but it is well worth it.

Here are 11 tips on how to help your children develop good oral hygiene habits:
  1. Start practicing oral hygiene as soon as you can by rubbing a damp washcloth over their gums to clear away harmful bacteria.
  2. When your baby’s teeth come in, brush them with an infant toothbrush and a tiny (rice sized) bit of fluoride toothpaste. Be sure the toothpaste has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  3. Avoid putting a baby to sleep with a bottle; it can cause more harm than good because of how this practice (however inadvertently) exposes your baby’s teeth to sugars for hours. The decay associated with milking a baby to sleep is so common that it’s popularly referred to as “bottle rot” or “bottle mouth.”
  4. When your baby has teeth that can be touched, they are big enough to begin flossing (gently!)
  5. When your toddler reaches age two, you can begin to teach them to spit while brushing so as to avoid swallowing the toothpaste.
  6. Once children reach age three, you can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  7. As long as you suspect that your children swallows the toothpaste, monitor them during brushing. This can take up until about age six.
  8. Encourage brushing 2-3 times a day, specifically, after meals.
  9. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, like candy and juice, as much as possible.
  10. Keep up your children’s regular check-ups and cleaning routines with the pediatric dentist. These visits will help to maintain a healthy gum tissue and catch decay before it starts.
  11. Be a good example to your children by showing that you’re keeping up your dental routine as well! You can also tell them how great you feel when your teeth get nice and clean after a dentist visit. Children imitate adults, even when we think they’re not looking!

Your Child’s First Dental Visit to a Pediatric Dentist

Depending upon your specific needs, your child’s first dental visit should go something like this:

  • You will be asked about your child’s medical/dental history.
  • You’ll have the chance to ask questions.
  • Your child will be examined briefly by the dentist.
  • The dentist will talk with you about your child’s overall health, including:
    • Affordable_Dental_Implants_Near_MDOral development
    • Teething
    • Your child’s bite
    • Soft tissue areas, such as the gums and cheeks
    • Oral habits such as thumb sucking or the use of pacifiers
    • Diet and how it can affect oral health
    • Hygiene practices and fluoride use
    • Accident prevention (such as horseplay and sports injuries)
  • The dentist will recommend an age appropriate, at-home oral hygiene plan for your child.
  • You’ll have the chance to schedule your child for the next routine cleaning/exam.

The Difference at Penn Dental Family Practice

It’s time to decide where you’ll take your child for pediatric dentistry. At Penn Dental Family Practice, we offer care specific children and family members at every stage of life. In addition to our pediatric dentists, we have a number of different specialties all available under one roof:

Our dentists bring a high level of expertise to the art and science of dental medicine. Many of our dentists teach the next generation of dentists at the University of Pennsylvania dental school or work at other prestigious institutions, such as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

What are you waiting for? Get your children on track for a healthy smile by taking them to a pediatric dentist at Penn Dental Family Practice. With two convenient locations to choose from, you’ll never have to travel far to get the highest quality of care!

To schedule your child’s next appointment, please call our office at 215-898-7337.