Mountain West Pediatric Dentistry is committed to helping your child achieve and maintain optimal oral health. We take a consultative approach with our pediatric patients and their families, instilling the knowledge and habits that promote lifelong dental health. Here are some questions we are frequently asked:

When should my child first see a dentist?

We love patients of all sizes – especially the littlest. We, along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommend your child’s first dental appointment come within six months of getting his or her first tooth, or by his or her first birthday, whichever comes first.

What is a first dental visit like?

Your child’s first visit to the dentist helps set the stage for a lifetime of dental health. We’ll give you some basic information on caring for your child’s teeth, and check your child’s teeth, gums and jaw to identify any potential problems or issues. We may also clean your child’s teeth if necessary. This first visit is our opportunity to get to know your child, and your opportunity to ask questions and get a thorough understanding of how to properly care for your child’s teeth at home.

How can my child and I prep for our first visit?

Be positive! It’s important to have a positive, upbeat attitude regarding the dentist – whether you’re addressing your child’s visit or your own. If your child thinks you’re scared of the dentist, it’s likely he or she will feel apprehensive about going as well. Tell your child how grown up he or she is to be going to the dentist and show him or her the photos on this website as an “introduction” to our dentists. Lastly, don’t worry! Our pediatric dentistry specialists are trained to handle the fears and anxieties that come along with treating the littlest patients.

How often should I be making appointments?

You and your child are a lot alike – and you should both be seeing the dentist every six months. This will help ensure optimal dental health (plus, we just like to see you). If there are special health circumstances involved, we may ask to see your child more frequently.

If baby teeth fall out, why do I need to take my child to the dentist?

Those tiny teeth might be fleeting, but they are still very important. Your child’s teeth are an integral part of his or her ability to speak, chew and even smile. Additionally, these small teeth hold space for the larger permanent teeth your child will eventually have. Tooth decay or other issues could compromise the placement or health of your child’s permanent teeth, as well as your child’s overall health. Additionally, practicing optimal at-home care and getting regular dental checkups is the best way to instill healthy habits that last a lifetime.

How should I be cleaning my baby’s teeth?

Every tooth needs TLC, even if your baby hasn’t cut them yet. If your infant is still toothless, we recommend cleaning his or her gums after feeding with a soft washcloth. You can start using a soft toothbrush when your baby’s first tooth appears. Be sure to select a toothbrush design specifically for infants. Use this without toothpaste to gently clean the teeth.

When should my child start brushing with toothpaste?

If your child has several teeth, it’s probably time to start using toothpaste to clean his or her teeth. For young children, select a toothpaste that’s fluoride free, as children naturally want to swallow it. That said, teach your child to rinse and spit the toothpaste so he or she is prepared when it’s time to use fluoride toothpaste. While your child might be quite independent, we recommend helping him or her brush until age six or seven.

Should I use specific projects?

Any toothbrush, toothpaste, floss or mouthwash you choose should always be approved by the American Dental Association. You’ll see the ADA seal on the package if the product has been approved. Beyond that, we recommend letting your child pick out his or her toothbrush and toothpaste, as this can be a great way to make your child excited about brushing.

How does my child get cavities?

Like adults, children are at risk for cavities when they eat too much sugar or don’t practice proper oral hygiene. That’s because the bacteria that lives in our mouths produce acids when in contact with sugars left on our teeth after eating. These acids can actually eat through the enamel of your teeth, creating holes. Those holes are called cavities.

How can I help my child prevent cavities?

Preventing cavities requires diligent dental hygiene. Be sure your child is brushing and flossing at least twice a day. If your child is under age six or seven, you should be helping him or her to brush well. Flossing is particularly important at this age, as it can be difficult to reach certain spots and baby teeth can be crowded or close together. Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments, as these can help strengthen your child’s tooth enamel. Additionally, healthy eating habits are critical to your child’s dental health. Limit sugary foods and drinks, especially juice or soda.

What about dental sealants?

We generally recommend dental sealants for our pediatric patients because they cover the pits and fissures on the tooth that can easily miss the toothbrush. Sealants can be particularly effective on molars, which are often difficult to reach.

How can I protect my child’s teeth while playing sports?

Sports are a great way for children to get exercise and a team experience, but they can be rough on teeth. If your child plays sports, he or she needs a protective mouthguard. A custom mouthguard protects teeth, lips, cheeks and gums and can be created right in our office.

What if my child sucks his or her thumb?

Thumb sucking is pretty typical for infants and young children, and usually isn’t worrisome. However, if your child has permanent teeth and is still sucking his or her thumb, or sucking aggressively, talk to us about it so we can determine if it is having any affects on your child’s oral health.

When do children need X-rays?

X-rays of your child’s mouth can help us determine several things – from the alignment of your child’s mouth and jaw to the presence of permanent teeth waiting beneath the gums. We recommend the first set of X-rays by age two or three, then on yearly basis going forward. Having a history of X-rays allows us to follow your child’s development and note any developing issues.

Are X-rays safe?

At Mountain West, we use digital X-ray technology to significantly reduce your child’s exposure to radiation. We also use lead aprons to cover your child during the X-ray process, so there’s very little risk involved.

What if my child is scared of the dentist?

If your child has fear or anxiety about the dentist, that’s just another reason to choose a board certified pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists are trained to treat young patients, who often have greater fear and anxiety about dental treatments than adults. At Mountain West, we tailor our services to our pediatric patients, ensuring every child has a comfortable and pleasant experience in our office.

Is pediatric dentistry expensive?

As with any medical specialist, pediatric dentists may cost slightly more than a general dentist. This is simply due to the higher level of treatment we offer. That said, most insurance plans will cover any increased cost, which means you won’t pay more out of pocket for this specialized service.