Ask A Dentist: A child’s first visit to the dentist

Smile Generation dentist Dr. Charles Rodgers, DDS answers questions from our Facebook followers.

Q. When should a child first see a dentist

A. Typically for a general practitioner, the age is 3.  But if a parent sees something suspicious, they should get the child in sooner.  In cases like this, the child will usually end up being treated by a pediatric dentist.  In fact some insurance plans require a referral from the general practitioner in order for the patient to be seen by the pediatric dentist.  So, the patient needs to first visit the GP, even if no treatment can be done by the GP, just to get the referral.  It is also common for patients between the ages of 3-5 (and sometimes much older) to also need to see the pediatric dentist, most notably when they are uncooperative with the GP or require significant amounts of treatment that are better suited to be done under some form of sedation.

Q. What should we be looking for in a toothpaste?  What is the best toothpaste for children

A. There are many choices here, but most manufacturers use the exact same ingredients.  Almost every company has a form of Tartar Control, Whitening-type toothpaste.  For a majority of patients, this is the best choice, but when it comes to children, the real bottom line is “do they like the flavor?”   If they don’t like the flavor, then the tooth brushing experience is miserable and much less effective at cavity prevention.  For very small children, the parent should assist with the brushing process, the same as they would help a small child brush their hair, or tie their shoes.  A limited number of manufacturers make “healthy” or “eco-friendly” type toothpastes.  They may have ingredients like baking soda, green tea oil, etc.  Many of these are not ADA approved, but that does not mean they are not effective.  Almost any material can be effective for tooth brushing if the brushing is done properly.  As far as the extra benefits promoted by some of the types of toothpaste, a lot of it is debatable and has not always been officially tested.

Thank you very much Dr. Rodgers! Post your questions on our Facebook page or email us at Subject line:  Ask a Dentist

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