Dr. Scoma and Dr. Lam know that many people have questions about pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. To give you a better understanding of your child’s treatments, Seaside Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics Inc has provided this page of answers to frequently asked questions. If you have further questions about pediatric dentistry and orthodontics in La Jolla and San Diego, California, and to set up your family’s appointment with our friendly dentists, please contact Seaside Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics Inc today.

When should my child visit the dentist for the first time?

The AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend that your child visit the dentist by your child’s first birthday, or when their first tooth erupts. This first visit rarely requires more than a basic checkup, and is focused on helping your child feel comfortable at the dentist’s office, preventing tooth decay, and teaching you the best way to care for your child’s teeth.

Why does my child need to visit a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists are specialists who have received 2 additional years of training focused on dental care for children. This gives them the skills they need to build trusting relationships with their patients and a unique understanding of infant and child dental health needs.

Why are baby teeth important?

Baby teeth are important for 2 reasons. They help you child chew and speak properly, and they act as placeholders for the adult teeth.

What is the best way to care for my child’s teeth?

It is critical that your child learns how to properly care for his or her teeth. Before your child is old enough to take care of his or her own oral hygiene, you will need to take care of their teeth for them.

Before the baby teeth erupt, use a clean, damp cloth to gently wipe down your baby’s gums. This will keep them clean and remove plaque. After the teeth have erupted, use a soft-bristled toothbrush. When you child is able to spit out toothpaste, you can begin using toothpaste in pea-sized amounts. We recommend that you use a fluoridated toothpaste. You can begin flossing when two adjacent teeth have contact.

Your child will be able to brush by themselves at about age 8, or when they can tie their own shoelaces.

How do I prevent tooth decay?

The best way to prevent dental decay is by practicing good oral hygiene. Help you child brush and floss, and teach them how to brush and floss themselves when they are old enough (about age 8).

How do I break thumb-sucking and pacifier habits in my child?

Thumb-sucking and pacifier-sucking habits are common in infants. Children will usually give up these habits on their own as they age. If these habits continue after the permanent teeth erupt, they can cause damage to your child’s teeth and oral health. If this is the case for your child, please visit our orthodontist, Dr. Natalie Lam. We can recommend several ideas as well as providing a habit-breaking appliance to help your child stop his or her finger or pacifier-sucking habit.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventive treatment applied to the molars. They work to protect your teeth against cavities, bacteria, and other factors that contribute to decay and disease. Sealants do not replace brushing and flossing. They just act as an extra layer of protection for the teeth. Please contact our office for more information about dental sealants, and to schedule your child’s consultation with our dentist.

Are dental x-rays safe?

Yes. Dental x-rays produce extremely low amounts of radiation – in fact, they produce less radiation than what you are exposed to in your day-to-day life. Dental x-rays are typically taken once a year. They are used by our dentist to view your teeth and supporting structures, giving us a better understanding of your overall oral health, and helping us detect cavities or other problems and plan more efficient treatments.

I have a dental emergency! What should I do?

Seaside Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics Inc is available for emergencies! If you experience a dental emergency, please contact our office. You can also call us at 908-722-2226. If our doctors do not respond in a timely manner, please use your best judgment in seeking immediate care. Both Morristown Memorial Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital have dental facilities.

We also offer a few tips on minor dental emergencies to help you:

  • Knocked-out baby tooth – Control the bleeding by applying gentle pressure with gauze or a clean cloth. Do NOT re-insert the tooth in the socket. Call our dentist if you have questions.
  • Knocked-out permanent tooth – Locate the tooth and handle it only by the top part of the tooth (the crown). Do NOT touch the roots. Rinse it gently with water. Do NOT scrub any part of it. If possible, re-insert the tooth into the socket, and hold it in place with either gentle finger pressure or by biting down onto a clean cloth. If you are not able to re-insert the tooth, place it in a cup of milk, water, or saliva. Call our dentist immediately – time is of the essence when trying to save a tooth.
  • Toothaches – Clean the aching area by gently brushing or flossing to remove any trapped food or other debris. Then rinse with warm salt water. If necessary, you can use a mild pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If pain persists, contact our dentist.