Local Pediatric Dentist Answers Common Dental Questions

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Alexandria Children's Dentistry.

As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our children’s teeth are taken care of. My job is to support you on this journey and help fix any problems that arise. Here are some of the most Common Questions I Get as a Pediatric Dentist. My motto is: A child’s smile can light up the room, let’s keep them smiling! 

When should my child have his/her first dental visit?

If your baby has any oral or dental condition that bothers you or appears to be out of the ordinary, then he/she should be seen regardless of age.  In rare situations, we have seen babies as early as their first week of life. This includes any problems with trauma to the teeth or mouth as well as issues with nursing–problems with the frenum. Our Gold-Standard guidelines: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children establish a dental home by 12 months of age.  Why so early? Well, the reason for these recommendations is that some infants will develop cavities very soon after the teeth erupt into the mouth. These early cavities are caused primarily by feeding and oral hygiene habits.  These early cavities may be prevented if the parents are counseled on these two areas as the first teeth are erupting.

What is a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry.  After completing four years of dental school, pediatric dentists go on for an additional two to three years of specialty training.  Due to the specialty training, pediatric dental practices are dedicated to treating children from infancy through the teen years.  Some of us elect to become board certified which requires that we undergo a rigorous process by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry to become Diplomates with American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.

What should I tell my child before the first visit?

When you talk with your child about his/her first dental visit we recommend that you are both honest and a show a positive attitude.  PLEASE don’t discuss with your child about any dental anxieties that you may have.  Try to answer all the questions that your child asks without making a big deal; out of the experience. Parents are usually very good at predicting their child’s behavior for his/her first dental visit. Some children will feel more at ease if they know every detail about the upcoming experience.  While others do better if they know nothing at all.  Every child is unique. Prepare your child so that he/she has the best chance for a good experience.

Why does my child get cavities?  And what can I do to prevent dental decay?

Dental cavities is a disease process, not an isolated event.  This disease process is constantly ongoing in all people children as well as adults.  A six-month-old child with a single erupted tooth could potentially develop a cavity if enough disease-causing factors are working against the disease protecting factors.  The process of developing a cavity is best explained as a balance between the disease-causing factors, and the disease protecting factors.  Simply put, if the total effect of the disease-causing factors outweighs the total effect of the disease protecting factors, then dental cavities will develop. Some examples of cavity-causing factors:  poor oral hygiene, high frequency of eating fermentable carbohydrates, genetics, enamel defects. Some examples of cavity-preventing factors:  early preventive care, fluoride, genetics, parent education in cavity prevention, good oral hygiene, dental sealants, xylitol gum.

So, all-in-all, here are my final recommendations:

  1. Bring your child as early as age one for their first dental visit.
  2. Ensure great oral hygiene at home: brushing 2x/day at least, flossing daily, and fluoride rinses for
    children age 6 and up.
  3. Dental examination visits every 6 months.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet, reducing or eliminating simple sugars.

At Alexandria Children’s Dentistry, Dr. Angela Austin is very proud to introduce our dental laser. The majority of hard- and soft-tissue procedures in our office are done with no anesthesia, and soft-tissue procedures are done with virtually no bleeding. Blood-free and anesthesia-free procedures represent a major leap forward in dentistry, as we are able to execute multi-quadrant dentistry, fillings on the fly, and soft-tissue procedures in a single appointment.

Have you found a pediatric dentist yet? I would love to answer any questions you may have. Please leave them in the comments below! 


About the author: Dr. Angela Austin is a board-certified pediatric dentist and the founder of Alexandria Children’s Dentistry. She earned her dental degree in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. While in dental school, Dr. Angela served as Vice President of the Student National Dental Association, was co-editor of the Penn Dental Journal, and participated in various community service efforts in local Philadelphia schools. Dr. Angela was selected to be a National Health Service Corps scholar, and she later served two years providing dental care in a dentally underserved community.

Following dental school, Dr. Angela completed an additional two years of training to become a pediatric dental specialist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. While there, she gained a great deal of experience in craniofacial anomalies; comprehensive treatment of patients with special needs such as autism and cerebral palsy; interceptive orthodontics; trauma management; sedation dentistry; and dentistry under general anesthesia. As Chief Resident, Dr. Angela completed an externship in Honduras providing dental care in an orphanage. This experience motivated her to be a long-term godparent for a child in the orphanage. Dr. Angela proudly practices as a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.