Dental Care

Dental Care

Healthy smiles are an important part of healthy kids.

At UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics, we take a holistic approach to your children’s health, providing well and sick care that keeps them feeling their best. An important part of their well-being also includes good oral health. Proper dental care is extremely important to the overall well-being of your child, and by starting healthy routines, you child will lead a healthier life.

Children should start seeing a dentist by the age one and then every six-months after. While we don’t provide full pediatric dentistry services at UPMC CCP, your pediatrician can recommend dentists in your area that are experienced with pediatric patients.

Learn more about good oral health by reviewing the frequently asked questions below.

Dental FAQs

When should my child see a dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Community Pediatrics recommend that children have their first dental visit at age one, and then every six-months throughout childhood and adolescents.

What should I expect?

Your child’s dentist will review your oral health routine, evaluate your child’s teeth and gums, discuss your child’s diet and talk about proper brushing and fluoride use.

How do I find a dentist near me?

Find a pediatric dentist in your area can be tricky. Here are three easy-to-use websites that can help you locate a pediatric dentist near you.

How do I prevent cavities?

Proper oral hygiene starts at birth. After feedings, make sure to gently wash the gums and the tongue of your newborn with a soft cloth. Begin brushing your child’s teeth once the first baby tooth erupts with a soft bristle toothbrush. Use fluoridated toothpaste once your child is able to spit . Also, avoid giving sweetened beverages to your child.

Can I spread bacteria from my mouth to my baby’s mouth?

Yes! You should not share utensils with your child or clean off the pacifier in your mouth. This can spread germs. Chewing gum with XYLITOL (as the primary caregiver) has shown to decrease the bacteria in your mouth, and in turn, your child’s mouth. Make sure you are up-to-date with your current cleanings and dental work with your dentist, as this can affect your child’s oral health.

I think my child is teething, what can I do?

Teething may be noticed by discomfort and excessive salivation. Treatment includes teething toys or use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Use of over-the-counter teething gels are discouraged due to potential toxicity of these products in infants.

I’m nervous because my child really wants to use the pacifier, what should I do?

Sucking habits are normal, especially during the first year of life. Pediatricians and Pediatric Dentists are not opposed to pacifiers, especially since recent studies have shown they may help to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

What if my child wants to suck his/her thumb?

Try to encourage the pacifier over the thumb, because a baby’s thumb or finger is always handy and these habits are more difficult to break.

How and when do I wean my child from the pacifier?

Some parents may choose to go “cold turkey” with this. For others, the patented system, known as the Lily Method, is the easiest and safest transition to wean your child from the pacifier. This method is a series of pacifiers that help your child become pacifier free in about a week. Weaning from a pacifier is recommended by the age of one.

When should I wean my child from the bottle?

It is recommended to wean your child from the bottle by the age of one. Please remember, never put your child to bed with a bottle.

What can go into a sippy cup once my child has transitioned to it?

Water only. No juice, chocolate milk or any other sweet drinks should be given. Plain white milk can be given in a sippy cup with a meal. However, in between meals, it should be water only.

So what’s the deal with fluoride toothpaste – to use or not to use?

Everything is best in moderation. Recent studies have shown that topical fluorides, such as mouthwashes and toothpastes, are better than systemic fluoride or fluoride supplements. There is caution with young children because you don’t want them to ingest excessive amounts of fluoride , but once a child can swish and spit, I recommend a mouthwash with fluoride in it. It truly does help in the prevention of cavities.

I heard about fluoride treatments in the CCP office – what is that?

During toddler and preschool years, your pediatrician may offer to apply a fluoride coating to your child’s teeth during your visits to CCP. In one study, children who received four applications of this fluoride treatment had significantly fewer cavities when they started kindergarten, when compared to children who did not receive this treatment.

Everyone in my child’s class seems to be getting braces or expanders – when should my child see an orthodontist?

The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends the initial orthodontic consultation occur around age seven. There are many conditions that are far easier to treat if caught at an early stage while your child’s jaw is still growing.

When should my child lose their first tooth, and when will all of their permanent teeth be in?

The first tooth – typically the lower front tooth – is usually lost around age six. Some kids exfoliate (or lose) their teeth earlier or later than this, so it is not a concern if it is not exactly at six years old. Most baby teeth have all fallen out around age twelve.

I’m worried my child may lose a tooth playing sports. How do I prevent this?

Wearing a soft plastic mouthguard or a custom-fitted mouthguard (obtained through a dentist) can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums from sports-related injuries. Mouth guards are recommended during sporting activities to help prevent these types of injuries.

If your child has a dental emergency, like bumping or knocking out a tooth, remain calm and call your child’s dentist immediately. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, find the tooth, hold it by the crown (not the root) and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, place the tooth in milk as soon as possible and see your dentist immediately. If a baby tooth is knocked out, the tooth can go under the pillow for the tooth fairy.

If my child is going to lose all of their baby teeth, why are they so important?

Baby teeth aid in speech development and help your child chew properly. Most importantly, baby teeth maintain the space necessary for permanent teeth. It is very important to maintain a healthy smile, because unfortunately, cavities can become a life-threatening infection if not treated.

My child’s permanent teeth look so yellow, is this normal?

This is perfectly normal. The baby teeth are milky white in color. Due to different anatomy in permanent teeth, the adult teeth have a yellow hue to them. When your child is in mixed dentition (both baby and adult teeth), the adult teeth appear more yellow when positioned right next to the white baby teeth.

What’s the secret to keeping kids cavity free?

Water! Kids should only drink water and plain white milk with a meal. For special occasions or birthday parties they can have juice, but all other times it is water. A good reminder is “anything sticky is icky.”