What Is The Difference Between a Dentist and a Pediatric Specialist?

The pediatric dentist has an extra two to three years of specialized training after dental school and is dedicated to the oral health of children, young adults, and those with special needs. Children need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, dental growth, development, and avoidance of future dental problems. A pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.  As you child’s dentist, we will do our best to ensure a successful visit.

Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

Baby teeth are important because neglected cavities can lead to problems that affect developing permanent teeth. Baby teeth are also important because they:

  • Provide space for the permanent teeth
  • Guide permanent teeth into the correct position
  • Permit normal development of the jaw bones and muscles
  • Affect speech development
  • Allow for proper nutrition

What is the Natural Progression of Teeth?

Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. Around 6 months, the baby teeth begin to come out, starting with the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. All baby teeth usually come in by age three.

Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.

Adults can have up to 32 permanent teeth, if you include all the wisdom teeth.

What Do I Do in a Dental Emergency?


  1. Clean the area of the affected tooth.
  2. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm water or use dental floss to dislodge any food that might be irritating the area.
  3. If the pain still exists, contact your child’s dentist.
  4. Do not place aspirin or heat on the affected area. If the face is swollen, apply cold compresses and contact your dentist immediately.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip, or Cheek:

  1. Apply ice to injured areas to help control swelling.
  2. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a gauze or cloth.
  3. If bleeding cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call a doctor or visit the hospital emergency room.

If a Permanent Tooth Has Been Knocked Out:

  1. If possible, find the tooth. Handle it by the crown, not by the root.
  2. Rinse the tooth with water only. Do not clean with soap, scrub or handle the tooth unnecessarily.
  3. Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it is sound, try to reinsert it in the socket.
  4. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on gauze.
  5. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing the patient’s saliva or milk.
  6. If the patient is old enough, the tooth may also be carried in the patient’s mouth (beside the cheek).
  7. The patient must see a dentist immediately! Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
  8. Make sure there are no head injuries apart from the teeth.  Have the child’s physician perform a head/neck exam.

If a Baby Tooth Has Been Knocked Out:

  1. Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment.
  2. If possible, locate and save any broken tooth fragments and bring them with you to the dentist.
  3. Make sure there are no head injuries apart from the teeth.  Have the child’s physician perform a head/neck exam.

Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth:

  1. Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment.
  2. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  3. If possible, locate and save any broken tooth fragments and bring them with you to the dentist.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw:
Keep the jaw from moving and take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Is Thumb Sucking Bad for My Child’s Teeth?

Sucking is a natural reflex, and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects to suck on. It might provide a sense of security for them at difficult periods.

Thumb or pacifier sucking that persists after permanent teeth come in can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems might result. Because of that, children should cease thumb and pacifier sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to come in. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four.

What Can I Expect on My Child’s First Dental Visit?

It is recommended that your child begins to see a dentist by the time they are one year old. Choosing a dentist and sticking with him/her will help the child feel comfortable about going to the dentist as they grow older.

Do your best to help us make your child’s first experience at a dentist’s office a positive one. It is best if you refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as needle, pull, drill, or hurt. Pediatric dental offices make a practice of using words that convey the same message that are pleasant and non-frightening to the child.

How Can I Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (Early Childhood Caries)?

One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay, also called early childhood caries (ECC). ECC can be caused by frequent and long exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar. Among these liquids are milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks.

Putting a baby to bed for a nap or at night with a bottle other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay. Sweet liquids pool around the child’s teeth, giving bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel.

If you must give the baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, it should contain only water. If your child won’t fall asleep without the bottle and its usual beverage, gradually dilute the bottle’s contents with water over a period of two to three weeks.

Which Foods are Healthy for My Child’s Teeth?

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Like the rest of the body, the teeth, bones, and the soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet. Children should eat a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Because most snacks for kids contain a lot of sugar, you should limit their snack intake. If your child must eat snacks, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese, which are healthier for children’s teeth.

How Do I Prevent Cavities?

Good oral hygiene removes bacteria and leftover food particles that combine to create cavities. For infants, use a wet gauze or clean washcloth to wipe the plaque from teeth and gums. For older children, brush their teeth at least twice a day.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visits every six months to a pediatric dentist, beginning at your child’s first birthday. Routine visits will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health.

What is a Sealant?

A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the part of the teeth used to chew on the back teeth (premolars and molars), which is a common place for cavities. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, thus protecting your child’s teeth.


If you didn’t see the answer to your dental health care question here on our website, please call one of our two Wyoming locations today, and our knowledgeable, friendly staff members will help you out!