December 1, 2020

Your baby’s oral health and their first pediatric dental visit 

Not familiar with pediatric dentistry? These kid experts should play a regular role in your child’s development, from the time of their first baby teeth through their teen years. 

“Starting kids at the right dentist, at the right time, in the right way, can make a difference for a lifetime of oral and overall health,” says Dr. Susan Fallahi, Board Certified Pediatric Dentist at Uptown Pediatric Dentistry. “Adults sometimes harbour fears (about dentistry) that stem from difficult childhood experiences.” 

She continues, “If you start kids off at a dental office specifically designed for children - from the waiting area to the dental chairs and equipment - it creates a fun and relaxing experience that they will look forward to.”

What Sets Pediatric Dentistry Apart 

  • Pediatric dentists are kid specialists with two-to-three additional years of training specific to pediatric oral health. 
  • These dentists are trained to accommodate children with special needs or special medical considerations that might be beyond the scope of what a general - or family - dentist could provide. 

Practices and Teams Geared to Kids 

Pediatric dentistry offices are designed with children’s comfort in mind. For example, Uptown Pediatric Dentistry’s waiting room is bright and welcoming, with games, books, toys, and entertainment options like cartoons and movies. The exam chairs are tailored for children to provide the most comfortable experience possible. The hygienists and staff are accustomed to working with children and are experts at kid-friendly communication.

Anticipatory Guidance 

The initial visit is recommended around the child’s first birthday. Explains Dr. Fallahi, “The best time to meet the parent and child is after the first tooth has come in. I advise the parents that optimal oral health and hygiene, and diet and nutrition best practices are essential so that we can lay a solid foundation. It is important to be proactive to give (the kids) a great start for when the primary teeth (all) come in. It’s how you keep the mouth healthy and prevent future issues.” 

Dr. Fallahi speaks at length with parents during visits, providing information specific to that child’s age group. She instructs them to pay attention to certain things as their child grows, such as “teething stages, thumb sucking, bottle and breast feedings, and other habits.”  

And equally important to a pediatric dentist is developing a rapport where families can get answers to questions such as the ones on the next page and getting a child started on a lifetime of oral health.  

Seek out a pediatric dentist for more information and to get your child on the right path to a lifetime of oral health.  


True or False??  

Baby teeth don’t need brushing.  

False! A baby’s first tooth needs to be brushed with a soft bristle toothbrush as soon as the tooth breaks the gumline.   

Thumbsucking is not harmful.  

False! Thumbsucking can malform the jaw and tooth alignment!   
Caveat: Thumbsucking is normal and a natural self-soothing mechanism for children under the age of two years.  

Breastfeeding does not cause cavities.  

False! Not alone, it won’t, but if mothers allow breastfeeding on demand throughout the night, after the first teeth have erupted and the baby is on solid foods, that behavior can cause cavities, as the natural cleaning action of salivary flow decreases while sleeping.   

Children should not get dental X-rays.  

False! While general dentists may defer X-rays, this can lead to unforeseen problems later down the road. Pediatric dentists have properly sized equipment to handle these tests easily.  

Teeth should be brushed immediately after eating.  

False! Eating affects the mouth’s pH balance, making it more acidic (which causes demineralization). Wait 30-minutes before brushing to allow the saliva to bring the pH back up.  

Fluoride toothpaste cannot be used before age five.  

False! Yes, you can and should use a fluoride toothpaste on young children! Early and consistent use of topical fluorides can make teeth more resistant to cavities for the lifetime of the tooth.   
Caveat: Use only a small dab the size of a grain of rice until they’re able to spit the toothpaste out.  

Cavities in baby teeth don’t matter.  

False! Baby teeth last 10-12 years in some instances and are very important for many reasons. Cavities can grow and lead to infection, pain, and tooth loss. These teeth are important to a child’s overall health. They’re needed not only for chewing but also maintaining the structure of the face and hold space in the jaws for the permanent teeth.   


Photo of Nola Family editor Trevor WisdomTrevor Wisdom is managing editor of nola family magazine; she loves going to the dentist.  

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