5 FAQs with a Pediatric Dentist (+ Giveaway!)

When it comes to children’s dental care, parents often have all kinds of questions. Dr. Derek Blank, a board certified pediatric dentist and founder of DC Pediatric Smiles in Bethesda, answers some of them in this guest post.

1. When should I schedule my child’s first dental appointment?
Ideally, ages 1-2 tend to be a good time to start seeing the pediatric dentist. Kids gradually warm up in the dental setting over the course of a few initial visits. So, the earlier a child first visits the dentist, the more comfortable their experiences will typically be as a preschooler.

During those initial visits please, keep in mind that we definitely don’t expect your toddler to sit still. That is why you take your child to a pediatric dentist! Pediatric dentists are specifically trained to work with loud, wiggly children. We also recommend making an appointment in the morning — kids tend to behave their best early in the day, and we see positive results in the morning.

Bottom line, regardless of when the first visit is, our team is committed to providing children with a fun, approachable introduction to dentistry. We understand the importance of connecting with children to help ensure that their first impression is positive.

2. Fluoride toothpaste… yea or nay?
With adult supervision and in small amounts, the use of fluoride toothpaste is a safe, effective way to prevent cavities. #teamyea

We recommend that parents brush their children’s teeth 2x daily — in the morning after breakfast and at night before bedtime. For children ages 0-2, a small smear (or grain of rice size) of toothpaste applied by an adult is the appropriate amount. For children ages 3-6, a small pea size amount (again, applied by an adult) is recommended.

Occasionally, some parents express strong views one way or another regarding the use of fluoride. As a pediatric dentist, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the risks and benefits of fluoride toothpaste with our patients and families. As a father, I choose to brush my children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste. But at the end of the day, the choice to use fluoride or not is completely up to a parent which I respect and take seriously. Honestly, as long as we all work together to help keep children’s teeth healthy in whatever way parents feel most comfortable, I’m all for it!

3. My child has special needs. How does this impact visiting the dentist?
Pediatric dentists have years of specialized training caring for the dental needs of children with autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy, anxiety, and many other underlying medical needs. While each patient is unique, these children in particular can benefit from an individualized pace of introducing care that the pediatric dental team is familiar with providing.

For instance, a casual tour of the office can be a beneficial way for an autistic child to learn about the sights and sounds of a dental office without the stresses or fears so often associated with a visit to the dentist. Some of my most meaningful experiences as a pediatric dentist come from watching a child become more comfortable in the dental setting over time. I take great pride in being able to help promote positive dental care for all children.

4. When and why are x-rays taken?
X-rays can be a valuable component to a complete dental exam. They are especially useful when children have teeth that are touching and the surfaces between those teeth cannot be seen. A patient’s age does not determine when x-rays are recommended; instead, the position and spacing of teeth actually determine this.

For school-aged patients, diagnosing decay is often a two-part process. First, a clinical exam is completed to visually look for any cavities on the “exposed” tooth surfaces. Next, x-rays are a helpful tool to ensure that no “invisible” cavities are developing between tightly-aligned teeth.

At our office, each patient is approached individually with specific, unique needs. This is particularly true for x-ray recommendations. For instance, if a patient is low risk for developing interproximal cavities (decay occurring between teeth), we likely will recommend that x-rays are taken relatively infrequently (perhaps only every 2-3 years). This can be compared to a younger patient with active decay and high risk requiring x-rays more frequently (every 6-12 months).

5. Can cavities in children be prevented?
While there are genetic factors that certainly can play a significant role in a child’s predisposition to decay, the short answer to this question is… Yes, most cavities can be prevented.

A strong prevention plan can help to reduce or even eliminate the development of decay in children. A healthy, well-balanced diet avoiding juice, gummy fruit snacks, and other sugary beverages helps to lay a foundation for a healthy mouth. Strong brushing and flossing habits at home contribute significantly to cavity prevention.

Most importantly, find a pediatric dental home where your child looks forward to visits, feels comfortable asking questions, and is motivated to improve diet and oral hygiene habits. This routine is so critical at a young age in creating the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

* * * * *

Giveaway! To celebrate spring, DC Pediatric Smiles wants to give away a $100 Whole Foods gift card to one lucky KFDC reader! To enter for a chance to win, simply leave a comment below letting me know your favorite recent activity with your kids. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too! This giveaway will run through Wednesday, April 4, 2018, then a winner will be picked at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Dr. Derek Blank is a father of three young children: Anderson (5), Brinkley (2), and Beckett (1) and a board certified pediatric dentist who is the founder of DC Pediatric Smiles in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Blank is strongly committed to helping children have fun at the dental office and develop an early appreciation for the value of healthy teeth and happy smiles!

This post is sponsored by DC Pediatric Smiles, however, I only promote places, services, and programs that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Filed under All ages, Guest Post, Maryland, Professional Service, Sponsored Post

34 Responses to 5 FAQs with a Pediatric Dentist (+ Giveaway!)

  1. Elizabeth

    Gotta say, I’m not usually a fan of sponsored posts, but this one is really changing my mind… I need to find a dentist and this is some great information! I’m sold.

  2. Harmony Jones

    Easter Egg Hunts!

  3. Amelia

    We love going to story times!

  4. Ashley Khan

    Scramble is quickly becoming a new favorite

  5. Andrea

    We recently bought Apples to Apples and Junior Pictionary and they were a hit!

  6. Patti

    Thanks so much for the information! We have been enjoying spring baseball with my son!

  7. Avelyn

    A recent activity we did with the kids was go on a self-guided walk through an arboretum in Massanutten. There was a creek that ran through it and the kids had a blast throwing small rocks, turning over large ones to see what little critters were underneath and they got excited when we saw a Sycamore tree because we often sing a song that mentions a Sycamore tree!

  8. Dorice Wang

    Just went to ClimbZone with the kids today which we all loved!

  9. Angela Kirkman

    Thanks! Walks in Rock Creek Park are a favorite as the weather warms up.

  10. Marie Cha

    Our 2.5 year old just started a Mommy and Me swim lessons, which has been fun!

  11. Shelly McKenzie

    We just hit the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh–it’s awesome.

  12. Emily

    We enjoyed the spring cherry blossom exhibit at Artechouse.

  13. Heather M

    My favorite is to get to the museums right before they open – less crowds and in and out fast !

  14. Amy

    We recently took a weekend trip to NYC. So much for my little one to explore for the first time!

  15. Flynn O Neill

    Saw “Alexander” at the Glen Echo AMC theatre. Then got croissants at the Prine Bakery stand and hit the park after. Also close is Irish Inn & we hit them up on St Pattys Day where kids are welcome free Irish music!

  16. Julie La Orban

    We took the kids to Badlands recently. My kids didn’t want to leave when it was time to. They had a great time.

  17. Kallie Jacobson

    We took our son to some St. Patrick’s day festivities at the Rockville Town Center. He had a bast dancing and listening to the music. Thanks for all your great info!

  18. Alice

    We went a bit early to see the cherry blossoms but had a pleasant stroll around tidal basin and playing a game of “i see a cherry blossom”.

  19. Cindy A.

    We love exploring the trails near our house.

  20. Heidi Mendez

    I’m not going to lie, my fave activity with the kids recently was a trip to Ikea! They got to enjoy Smaland while mommy shopped, sipped on free coffee and afterwards we enjoyed a yummy cheap meal!

  21. Jeniva Miller

    Spring break three-day camping w/kiddos plus dog at Westmoreland State Park in eastern VA, like two hours southeast of Arlington. Cabins are nice—heated, have kitchen and bathroom—w/views of massive Potomac. Found shark teeth at Fossil Beach and went hiking. Fun had by all!

  22. Eric

    We went to one of the National Theatre shows that are free on Saturday mornings, which we never would have known about without the blog. Kids loved it.

  23. Leah Sorensen

    Going to visit Great Falls! It’s wonderful this time of year because it’s not too busy!

  24. Tara

    Seeing the baby orangutan at the zoo!

  25. Lori

    visiting the local animal shelter with the cousins

  26. Vera K

    Last weekend we hiked up a local “mountain”. We all love the view from the top!

  27. manda shank

    We love going to public parks!

  28. Jessica Gipson

    We recently took the kids to the lake and went fishing.

  29. I didn’t know that years one and two are good times to take your child to meet their pediatric dentist. My daughter has two little kids who fit in that age range and definitely need to keep their teeth clean. I’ll have to mention to her that she should look for a good dentist for those sweet little kids.

  30. It’s great that you elaborated on the need of our children to visit a pediatric dentist at the ages of 1-2 years old. I never knew that they should start seeing them as early as this! Thanks for this very useful information, my granddaughter is now almost two and haven’t seen a dentist yet!

  31. I really like what you said about pediatric dentists having years of specialized training caring for the dental needs of children with special needs. This is something that I have been concerned with, but it’s good to know that with pediatric dentists that you are in good hands. Our son has suffered from autism and it would be great if we could find a family dentist that could help us make going to the dentist a more pleasant experience.

  32. I had no idea that children should start going to the dentist as early as ages 1-2. My aunt has a young son, so I think she’d be surprised to learn this. What are some more qualities she should look for when choosing a pediatric dentist?

  33. I appreciate your tips for when to take a child to the dentist, and it’s good to know that x-rays can be done at any age. My daughter is teething, and so I’ll be sure to take her to the dentist as you suggest. Thank you for where you detail the situations in which fluoride can be given to her, as well.

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