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Child in dentist chair smiling at employee

Pediatric Dentistry

Family Dental Care is truly a family dental office providing care for all ages.  Preventative pediatric dentistry begins prior to the eruption of primary (baby) teeth with the educational process of oral hygiene instructions given to the child’s parent or caregiver and continues with each dental visit as your child grows.

At what age should I bring my child in for their first check up?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child have their first visit by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts.

What will happen at my child’s first visit?

Many first visits are nothing more than an introductory icebreaker to acquaint your child with one of our doctors and our office. Patience and reassuring communication with your child are very important for these first visits. We will ask your child to sit in the dental exam chair, or on your lap if they would be more comfortable, for a gentle yet thorough examination of their teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues. Then, the Doctor or his assistant will demonstrate and instruct on proper home care for your child’s teeth. Finally, Doctor will assess the need for and apply a fluoride treatment if he feels it would be beneficial to your child’s dental health.  These first visits usually only take 10-15 minutes. We feel short, successful visits build your child’s trust in our dentists and our dental staff, and are invaluable if your child needs to be treated later for any dental problem.

How should I prepare my child for their first visit?

Before the visit plan a course of action for either reaction your child may exhibit – cooperative or non-cooperative.  Talk to your child about what to expect, and more importantly build excitement and understanding about the upcoming visit.  We also ask that you please bring any records of your child’s complete medical history with you to this appointment. You’re also encouraged to print and fill out the required paperwork ahead of time.

When should my child’s next visit be?

Children, like adults, should see one of our dentists every six months. Tooth decay among young children is on the rise and happens so quickly. Therefore, it is very important for your child to come in frequently so that we can monitor their dental health closely.

When do primary(baby) teeth come in?

Primary teeth generally erupt when your child is 6 to 7 months old but can appear as early as birth. There are 20 primary teeth, that will eventually be replaced by 32 permanent teeth.  Children usually have all of their primary teeth by age 3 and will keep them until around age 5 or 6, when they begin to loosen and fall out, and are replaced by their permanent teeth.  This process usually lasts until children reach the age of 12 to 13.

How can I help relieve the discomfort of teething for my child?

Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, your child may experience sore gums and general oral discomfort as primary teeth erupt. Symptoms your child may exhibit are irritability, lack of appetite, drooling, restless behavior, pink or red cheeks, coughing, upset stomach and/or chewing or sucking on fingers and toys.  A clean cold wet cloth for your baby to suck on and teething accessories or toys your child can chew on can sooth gums and relieve discomfort.

How can I care for my child’s oral health at home?

A proper regimen of preventative home care is important from the day your child is born.  Clean your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after each feeding.  As soon as their first teeth come in, begin brushing them with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and water.  If you are considering using a toothpaste make sure it is fluoride free until your child can rinse and spit out all of the toothpaste.  We recommend an adult aid in brushing children’s teeth through age 8.

Are primary/baby teeth really that important?

Primary teeth are essential in the development and placement of your child’s permanent teeth.  They maintain the spaces where the permanent teeth will erupt, aid in proper speech development and help your child chew naturally. Losing primary teeth before they are ready to fall out can affect the proper positioning of his/her permanent teeth.  If a primary tooth is lost too early the other teeth may tip toward or fill in the vacant space, forcing permanent teeth to come in crooked or misaligned, resulting in more complicated and costly treatment down the road. Primary teeth are also primers for teaching your child good oral care habits. Even though primary teeth last only a few years, decay, cavities and infection can take a toll on them and may require expensive treatment to repair if not properly cared for.

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for the development of my child’s teeth?

Thumbsucking and pacifier use will generally only become a problem if it goes on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own. However, if they continue past the age of 3, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your dentist, because this habit needs to be completely broken upon the arrival of the first permanent teeth to avoid interference with the normal development of your child’s oral cavity.

Are sippy cups harmful to my child’s oral health?

Sippy cups were created to help children transition from a bottle to drinking from a regular cup. However, they’re too often used out of convenience and to prevent spills for longer periods of time than intended, over several months or even years.  Children sipping from these cups for extended periods of time on sugared beverages are at a higher risk of decay.  Sippy cups should only contain water unless used at mealtime.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

Place a cold compress or washcloth on their face over the affected area.  Give your child acetaminophen for any pain, if your child can take this medication. Call us at Family Dental Care as soon as possible to schedule an appointment for them.  We will give them first priority when scheduling.

What if my child needs an extensive amount of dental work and will not cooperate to have it done in office?


Dr. Thomas Kaiser at Family Dental Care is an affiliated staff member with Avera St. Luke’s in Aberdeen, and sees children at the hospital under general anesthesia for extensive dental restorations and/or uncooperative cases. At their initial exam in our office one of our doctors will visit with you about this process if he feels your child is a candidate. We want your child’s visits to our office to remain positive and exciting. Therefore, if your child is fearful to have dental work done, can’t sit still for the duration of the appointments needed, or is in need of an extensive amount of dental work this truly is an exceptional service we provide for our patients and the surrounding community. We believe the relationship we build with your child when they are young will ensure that they are comfortable and confident in their future dental needs for a lifetime.

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