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Frequently Asked Pediatric Dentist Questions

If you have a dentist question not answered here, please use the reply form below to ask it.

What causes tooth decay?

Your teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria, called plaque. Plaque bacteria use sugar and starch in food as a source of energy. The bacteria convert the sugar or starch into harmful acids that attack tooth enamel for as long as 20 minutes or more. Repeated attacks may cause the enamel to break down, resulting in cavities.

How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?

At-will breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt and other sources of nutrition have been introduced. During sleep, the flow of saliva is reduced and the natural self-cleansing action of the mouth is diminished. Therefore, children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything but water. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. Fruit juice should only be offered in a cup with meals or at snack-time.

When should bottle feeding be stopped?

Dr. Park recommends children should be weaned from the bottle by 24 months of age.

Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; many stop on their own by age 2. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth, misalignment or bite problems. If the habit continues beyond age 3, a professional evaluation by your pediatric dentist for a mouth appliance is recommended.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons. They help young children speak clearly and chew their food properly. They also form the foundation for your child’s permanent teeth. If baby teeth decay or fall out too soon, permanent teeth may come in crowded and crooked. Your pediatric dentist can use a “space maintainer” to help prevent this from occurring, although it is best to take care of your child’s baby teeth, to prevent this from happening.

How can I help my child through the teething stage?

From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt, which is a normal part of the eruption process. Dr. Park recommends using a clean teething ring or clean, cold wet washcloth to soothe their gums. You may also use an over-the-counter medication, such as Baby Orajel, to reduce discomfort.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth and what should I use?

Pediatric dentists recommend the sooner the better! Starting at birth, gently clean your child’s gums with an extra soft infant toothbrush or with a clean, soft cloth dampened with water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using a very thin “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2 to 5 year old, use a pea-size amount of toothpaste.

If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it be filled?

Tooth decay is an infection that can spread, causing decay of permanent teeth. As recommend by your pediatric dentist, proper care of baby teeth, including fillings of cavities when necessary, is instrumental in stopping the spread of infection, lessening the amount of pain and enhancing the health of your child.

When should I teach my child to floss?

Dr. Park recommends to begin flossing your child’s teeth between the ages of 3 and 4 years, when the teeth are touching one another, as food can collect between them. Teach them to floss their own teeth at elementary school age, but note that most children are not able to effectively floss their own teeth until 8 to 10 years old.

How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?

Fluoride dramatically decreases a child’s chances of getting cavities by making their teeth stronger. Fluoride in drinking water is the best, so have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride through their water, your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended by Dr. Park in order to prevent cavities and other dental problems, in most patients. However, Dr. Park can tell you specifically when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health after their first dentist visit.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants are a plastic material this is applied to the teeth, which works by filling in the crevices on the chewing surfaces of 1st and 2nd permanent molars. Current research has shown that 4 out of 5 cavities in children under age 15 develop on the biting surface of back molars. Sealants shut out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect your child’s teeth for many years.

How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and digital imaging are used in Dr. Park’s dentist office to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. In actuality, dental x-rays usually represent a far smaller risk to your child than an undetected or untreated dental problem.

Do special children have special dental needs?

Yes, we have found that some children with disabilities are more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. They may require medication, special diets, or possess oral habits detrimental to their dental health. If dental care is started early and followed conscientiously, every child can enjoy a healthy smile.

What are the stages of tooth eruption and development?

At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all 20 primary teeth should be present. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).

What is the best diet to ensure my child’s oral health?

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Your child’s teeth, bones and soft tissues of the mouth need a well-balanced diet for proper development. Dr. Park recommends your child eats a variety of foods from the five major food groups: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs. Limit the servings of sugars and starches, as well as in-between meal snacks, which will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. If your child needs a snack, select nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

To comfort your child, Dr. Park recommends rinsing the irritated area with warm salt water and placing a cold compress or ice wrapped in cloth on your child’s face if it is swollen. You may use dental floss to remove any impacted food or debris. Finally, call our dentist office for an appointment as soon as possible.

What should I do if my child bites his tongue, lip or cheek?

Apply ice to the affected areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with clean gauze or a soft cloth. If the bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or if it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take your child to the emergency room.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth while playing sports?

Custom-fitted soft, plastic mouthguards from your pediatric dentist, comfortably fit the shape of your child’s upper teeth so his or her teeth, lips, cheeks and gums can be protected from sports-related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard can even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket, using clean gauze or washcloth to hold it in place. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist. The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

My teen wants to get his/her tongue pierced. What should I do?

You might be surprised to know just how dangerous tongue, lip, and cheek piercings can be. There are many risks involved with oral piercings including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums, or the formation of scar tissue. Your teen’s mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Their tongue could even swell large enough to close off their airway.

Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.

Follow the advice of the American Dental Association and don’t allow your teen to get their tongue pierced.

What should I teach my child about tobacco use?

Tobacco in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. We recommend that you teach your child about the dangers of tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff, is often used by teens who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit. Teens who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.
If your child is a tobacco user you should watch for the following, which could be early signs of oral cancer:

  • A sore that won’t heal
  • White or red leathery patches on the lips, and on or under the tongue
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue; or a change in the way the teeth fit together

Because the early signs of oral cancer usually are not painful, people often ignore them. If it’s not caught in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. Even worse, it can be fatal.

Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, they will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with their tongue, gums and cheek.

Ways to Protect Your Child’s Oral Heath at Home:
  • Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth.
  • As soon as the first tooth comes in, begin brushing them with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and a thin “smear” of fluoride toothpaste. For children who are too young to spit, ask your pediatric dentist about using non-fluoridated toothpaste. At age 2, you may use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Always supervise your child, to ensure they are not swallowing the toothpaste.
  • To avoid baby bottle tooth decay and teeth misalignment due to sucking, try to wean your child off breast-feeding or bottle-feeding by one year of age. Monitor excessive sucking on pacifiers, thumbs or fingers, which can lead to tooth misalignment. Never give your child a bottle of milk, juice or sweetened liquid as a pacifier, at naptime or at bedtime, which can quickly breakdown a young child’s tooth enamel, which is quite thin.
  • Help young children brush at night, which is the most important time to brush due to lower salivary flow and higher susceptibility to cavities and plaque. Let the child brush first to build self-confidence, then follow-up to make sure all plaque has been removed. Usually by age 5 or 6, your child can learn to brush his or her own teeth with proper parental instruction.
  • Avoid starchy and sugary snacks. They stick to teeth and increase the risk of decay.
  • Start flossing your child’s teeth between the ages of 3 and 4 years.
  • As a general rule, have your child brush their teeth two times a day, preferably in the morning and evening. Have your child floss once a day, every day.

The best way to teach your child about good oral health is to lead by example. Allowing your child to watch you brush and floss your teeth teaches the importance of dental hygiene.


Dr. Park, A Friendly Woodstock Children’s Dentist

Welcome to Park Pediatric Dentistry of Woodstock! We offer compassionate and comfortable children’s dental care in a friendly, caring environment. A fun dentist visit for your child and an informative visit for you is our goal in building a lasting relationship with your family. We want your child to have lots of healthy, happy smiles and a lifetime of good oral heath! Our well-trained, courteous and professional staff will make you and your child feel at ease at their next dentist visit. Plus, a play area, theater room and video game room will keep your child wanting to come back to the dentist, again and again! Television monitors in each treatment room and colorful murals help keep you child entertained during each dentist visit. Dr. Park has been practicing pediatric dentistry since 2001. He uses the most advanced technological procedures available to ensure the health, safety and well-being of your child. He gets to know each of his patients and makes sure both you and your child understand each procedure before beginning dental treatment. Park Pediatric Dentistry of Woodstock accepts most insurance plans! Morning and Evening dentist appointments are available to conveniently work with your busy schedule! Just ask for your preferred date and time using our online appointment request form. Our New Pediatric Dentist Office in Woodstock, Georgia. Our beautiful pediatric dental office in Woodstock is three miles west of Exit 8 on I-575 in Cherokee County. Our pediatric dentist Dr. Julius Park has been caring for children for many years since he graduated from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Park was a pediatric dentist in New York and New Jersey, and upon searching the nation for the best community, chose Woodstock in Cherokee County, Georgia as the perfect place to establish his pediatric dentist practice.