Pediatric Dentist, Dr Fazilat’s Top 10 Tips

It is important to start early to instill good oral hygiene habits in children and one crucial element to their oral health is finding a reliable pediatric dentist. Your pediatric dentist will be your guide to keeping your children’s teeth clean and healthy. Here is a guide to what questions you should ask your child’s dentist as you prepare to go to that next dental visit.


  1. What is the difference between a family dentist and a pediatric dentist?
    Pediatric dentists are trained to care for a child’s teeth, gums, and mouth throughout the various stages of childhood, up to adolescence. Unlike family dentists, pediatric dentists complete two to three years of residency training in dentistry for children after completing four years of dental school. Another reason why you should choose a pediatric dentist for your child is because pediatric dentists are equipped to make children feel at ease while at the dentist’s office. Pediatric dentists know that children may be nervous or wiggly while in the dentist’s chair. To help calm children, pediatric dentists will utilize techniques such as positive reinforcement, tell-show-do, and other soothing methods to help children
    calm during the visit.
  2. Will thumb-sucking and pacifiers damage my child’s teeth?
    Thumb-sucking and pacifiers offer a child a way of self-soothing,and in that regard are healthy habits for them. However, if the habit continues past the age of four then it can have negative effects on your permanent teeth as they come in. The habit may be able to be stopped or decreased through a mouth appliance if recommended at an older age.
  3. What are dental sealants and are they necessary for my child?
    Brushing properly is usually a challenge for most children no matter how hard they try. On top of that, they simply don’t have the manual dexterity to brush well yet until the age of 9 usually. It’s difficult for children to reach those teeth in the very back and thoroughly clean out all of the food particles in the crevices of their teeth. Dental sealants solve that problem by filling in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of their teeth and thereby reducing the chance of getting cavities.
  4. When is it safe to start using toothpaste?
    The American Dental Association released updated guidelines this year on when children should start using fluoride toothpaste. According to the new guidelines, the ADA recommends children begin using toothpaste with fluoride as soon as they get their first teeth in order to avoid cavities. When the first tooth appears, start using a smear or about the size of a grain of rice of fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day. Supervise and encourage your child to spit out as much toothpaste as possible.
  5. Are baby teeth really that important?
    Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. If baby teeth have decay or an infection, they can transfer those same bacteria directly to the adult tooth below it if not treated. If a baby tooth is lost early due to any reason, permanent teeth may come in crooked or crowded due to the space loss that was created by losing the baby tooth prematurely. Not only are healthy baby teeth a prerequisite for healthy permanent teeth, but they also aid children to chew their food properly and speak clearly.
  6. My child grinds their teeth, what can be done about it?
    Childhood grinding (also known as bruxism) is common and typically does not require treatment, according to the American Dental Association. The ADA explains that kids typically outgrow the habit by adolescence and do not experience damage from it due to quickly growing and changing teeth and jaws. Nonetheless, it is advised you discuss grinding and possible solutions with the dentist if the habit becomes chronic and pain results from it.
  7. After the first visit, how often should my child have a dental check-up?
    It is recommended that your child have a dental check-up at least once every six months unless your dentist recommends more frequent intervals. During each visit, your child’s dentist and clinical team will monitor the development and health of your child’s teeth, as well as look for signs of tooth decay.
  8. What should we do in a dental emergency?
    Ask your dentist what do in case of a dental emergency and who to contact when the office is closed. Discuss how to handle toothaches, fractures, knocked out teeth and other dental problems. Knowing what to do ahead of time can make a stressful, painful situation a little less painful and stressful.
  9. What should I do when my child reaches the teething stage?
    From six months to age three, your child may experience some discomfort as their teeth erupt. It usually presents itself in the form of crying and sleepless nights. A couple of ways to ease the comfort: use a clean finger or washcloth to gently rub their gums for two minutes at a time, let them chew on cold teething rings, or give them an over-the-counter children’s pain medication such as Tylenol or Motrin. If using Baby Orajel, take note that it should not be used for children under the age of 2 and also never give your child aspirin for teething!
  10. When will my child’s teeth come in?
    At about 6 months old, the two lower front teeth should erupt, followed closely by the two upper front teeth. All other baby teeth will make their appearances during the next 18 to 24 months, but in no particular order. Between the ages of 2 and 3, all 20 baby teeth should be present. Then, around 6 years old, the tooth fairy makes its debut so you may want to start saving up!


About Dr. Shahram Fazilat

Dr. Shahram Fazilat is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Fazilat grew up on the east coast and completed his dental degree at the University of Maryland and his pediatrics specialty training at Oregon Health & Science University. He practices currently at Growing Smiles Pediatric Dentistry in the Silicon Valley. Dr. Fazilat is proud to have made the Bay Area his home and enjoys spending time with his family and friends and is an avid photographer. For more information please visit: