Many parents have questions about their child’s oral health and development. Dr. Mark Nelson and Dr. Treagan White have provided answers to some of the most common questions on this page. If you have further questions, or to schedule a consultation with our pediatric dentists in Centerville, Utah, call Children’s Dentistry today at 801-295-8322.

What is a pediatric dentist?

A pediatric dentist is a specialist who focuses on providing oral health care to children from infancy through their teenage years. Pediatric dentists complete two to three additional years of training following dental school in order to meet the needs of infants, young children, pre-teens and teenagers.

Why are primary teeth so important?

Primary teeth play a number of important roles, including aiding in proper chewing, eating and digestion; providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding these teeth into the correct positions; aiding in the development of the jawbone and muscles; helping develop proper speech patterns; providing your child with a healthier and more attractive appearance. For this reason, it is important that the primary teeth be cared for and kept free from cavities and disease.

When will my child begin getting teeth?

Your child’s teeth actually begin forming before birth. The teeth may begin erupting through the gums at as early as four months of age, beginning with the incisors. Though the pace and order of their eruption varies, most children have all 20 primary teeth by around age three.

Permanent teeth begin to erupt at about age six and may continue to erupt through the teenage years and even into early adulthood. Adults have 28 permanent teeth. If the wisdom teeth are included, then the total number of permanent teeth rises to 32.

What is the best toothpaste for my child?

When you choose a toothpaste for your child, make sure that it is a toothpaste recommended by the ADA, as shown on both the box and the tube. ADA-approved toothpastes have been tested to ensure that they are safe to use and will not be abrasive on your child’s tooth enamel.

For children younger than age three, use only a small smear of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, to brush their teeth. Use a pea-sized amount for children ages three to six. You should brush your child’s teeth for them until about age seven, when they will have the motor skills to brush on their own. Make sure your child spits out excess toothpaste after brushing rather than swallowing it.

Does your child grind their teeth at night?

Many parents worry about their children grinding their teeth at night, a condition known as bruxism. Most children will outgrow bruxism, and grinding will decrease between ages six to nine and stop entirely between ages nine and 12. Possible causes of bruxism include stress, inner ear pressure and bad bites.

Most cases of pediatric bruxism do not require treatment. However, if excessive tooth wear is present, we may recommend a mouth guard to defend the teeth.

What is pulp therapy?

Pulp therapy is a treatment in which decayed or damaged tissue is removed from the nerves of the teeth. This treatment helps prevent the tooth from needing to be extracted so that your child can continue to enjoy a healthy and functional smile.

When is the best time for orthodontic treatment?

Your child will receive their initial orthodontic screening at about age seven. At this time, our pediatric dentists will be able to tell if your child has an orthodontic problem and when treatment should begin. Depending on your child’s needs, orthodontic treatment may begin at that time or in several years.

What if my child’s permanent teeth are coming in behind their baby teeth?

Adult teeth often begin to come in behind primary teeth that do not fall out before the permanent tooth begins to erupt. If the child starts wiggling the baby tooth, it will most likely fall out on its own within two months. If it does not come out on its own, our pediatric dentists can gently extract the tooth to make a place for the permanent tooth.

When should my child start and stop using a sippy cup?

We recommend using sippy cups as a training tool between the bottle and when your child starts using cups. Ideally, your child should stop using a sippy cup by their first birthday. If your child uses a sippy cup throughout the day or has it with them at night, fill it only with water. Liquids containing sugar (including milk, fruit juice, and sports drinks) act as a food source for harmful bacteria and may lead to the development of baby bottle tooth decay.