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Pediatric Dentistry is an age-defined specialty that provides both primary and comprehensive preventive and theraputic oral health care for infants and children through adolesence, including those with special health care needs.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. At what age should a child be brought in for their first check up?

A: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child should have their first check up when the first tooth erupts or by their first birthday.

2. What is the difference between a Pediatric Dentist and a Family Dentist?

A: Pediatric Dentists are the Pediatricians of dentists. A Pediatric Dentist has two to three years of specialty training after dental school and limits their practice to children and adolescents. 

3. Why are "baby teeth" important to maintain?

A: Primary teeth aka "baby teeth" are important to maintain to prevent dental related infections, help the child speak clearly and chew naturally. In addition, primary teeth help maintain space for incoming adult teeth and guide their eruption into the mouth. 

4. Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child's teeth?

A: Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they continue for an extended period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own. However, if a child is still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three changes in the oral cavity may be observed such as an open bite, narrowing of the upper jaw, and tooth cross bites.

5. What is baby bottle tooth decay?

A: Is a condition when the primary teeth of an infant or young child has decay due to frequent exposure to sugar rich liquids for long periods. An example would be a child falling asleep with a bottle filled with milk, formula, or fruit juice. Baby bottle tooth decay can also be known as Early Childhood Caries.

6. What type of toothbrush is best for my child?

A: For most children a soft bristled toothbrush with a small head is recommended. A battery operated or electric toothbrush can be appropriate for a child as long as it has as small head, soft bristles, and isn't too abrasive on the child's gums.

7. How much toothpaste should be used during brushing?

A: If a child can reliably spit out after brushing then a "pea size" amount of fluoridated toothpaste should be used. However, if a child cannot reliably spit out toothpaste then a smear ("like butter on toast") of toothpaste is appropriate.

8. How can parents help prevent cavities?

A: Parents can help prevent cavities by minimizing the amount of sticky sugary foods in their child's diet, helping their child with tooth brushing (especially before bed time), and bringing their child to the pediatric dentist for regular check ups (typically every 6 months).

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's oral health policies and clinical guidelines can be found here: 

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