Dental health, Q&A

What makes a pediatric dentist different from a general dentist?

Pediatric dentists have completed 2-3 additional years of training after dental school to become child dental specialists. They are dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teen years. They have the experience and qualifications to care for a child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood.

Why are baby teeth important?

Keeping your baby’s teeth clean and free of cavities is important for several reasons.

  1. Baby teeth are needed to bite and chew food well so your child can develop and grow properly
  2. They are essential for the ability to learn to make sounds, words and speak clearly
  3. Baby teeth hold the space for developing grown-up teeth that replace the baby teeth starting at about ages 5 to 7.
  4. If the baby teeth need to be removed too early because of cavities or injury, the permanent teeth may grow in out of position and cause crowding. Crowded teeth may cause problems with the way a child’s teeth fit together, his or her self-esteem and are more likely to get cavities.
  5. When children have cavities, dental infection or toothaches, it has proven they do not perform as well in school.

When do children start losing their teeth?

Often parents think the first permanent teeth to grow in are the top and bottom front teeth. Often it is the first permanent molars that grow in. Parents should be aware these molars grow in behind or in back of the baby molars. These molars are very important and parents should be looking for them to appear in the mouth around age 5 to 6.

When should a child first come to the dentist?

Ideally, the first visit should be scheduled when the first baby tooth grows into the mouth or by a child’s first birthday. The goal is to establish a dental home for the parents to learn the proper ways to care their child’s teeth, things they can do to prevent cavities and ways to prevent dental injuries. These early visits will help the child become accustom to visiting the dental clinic and empower the family with dental knowledge. We do not want the first time we meet a child to be for a dental emergency. That is usually not a good experience for the child or the parents. One way to remember when the right time to bring your child to the dentist is this phrase: “Two is too late”.

How long or to what age should a parent supervise their child’s tooth brushing?

Toddlers can and should be encouraged to help brush their teeth as soon as they can hold a toothbrush. Children should continue “practicing” brushing their teeth into elementary school. However, parents should still brush their children’s teeth until they are 7 to 8 years of age (about the same time they can tie their own shoelaces or write in cursive). After age 8, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day, but will require some supervision until about age 10 to 12 to ensure they are doing a thorough job.

Remember, each child is different. Your child’s dentist can help you determine whether your child is brushing and flossing properly.

What programs does the Southern Ute Dental Clinic offer to the children of the community?

Our community outreach programs provide kid-friendly dental services at Head Start and the Academy.

These services include: Dental screenings, fluoride varnish applications, sealant placement and oral health education for our children.

There is still time to sign up to receive these services. If parents would like their child to benefit from these programs, please return the completed consent form to your child’s school. If any parent or guardian would like more information on these programs, please call the Southern Ute Dental Clinic at (970) 563-4719.

For more information about your child’s oral health, visit the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry website at





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