Pediatric Kids Dentistry vs General Dentistry

In general, a pediatric kids dentist has 2-3 years of additional training after dental school, with a focus on behavior and growth management.  Pediatric dentistry is dedicated to the oral health of children starting in the infant stage through the teenage years.  Your family kids dentist here at Bellevue Family Dentistry is well versed and trained to take care of your child.  Rest assured that if we determine a referral to the pediatric dentist is needed, your child will be given an appropriate to a pediatric dental office.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AADP) suggests children by the age one be seen at the dentist.


The health of the primary teeth is vital as cavities on baby teeth may affect the developing permanent dentition.  Baby, or primary teeth serve the following functions:

  1. To allow chewing, eating, and swallowing, thus promoting vital nutrition
  2. Provide sufficient space for the permanent adult teeth, and also allowing the primary teeth to guide the permanent teeth into its proper space and position
  3. To permit normal jaw bone and muscle development.
  4. Allow proper speech development.
  5. Proper esthetics and to allow self well being development of the child

Your Child’s Teeth and Eruption Pattern

From the moment your child is conceived and in its embryo and fetus stage, his/her teeth formation are already in progress.  At 6-10 months, the baby’s very first teeth (the lower front incisors) erupt (come up) through the gums, with the upper central incisors coming up next, and the lateral incisors following.

Permanent teeth usually starts its eruption around the age of 6, beginning with the first permanent molars and lower mandibular central incisors.  This continuous process of eruption of permanent teeth and loss of primary teeth continues until the age of 21.

pediatric bellevue kids dentistry

Toothbrush and Floss for your Child

Good home care via tooth brushing and flossing is a vital to a child’s oral health.  Look for a toothpaste that is recommended by the American Dental Association and that contains fluoride.  Some kids have a tendency to swallow toothpaste; as such, be sure to reinforce to your child to spit out the toothpaste during brushing to prevent excessive fluoride intake.  If your child is not able to spit yet, use a fluoride free toothpaste, and try to use a small pea size amount.

Tooth Grinding

Though grinding at night (bruxism) is widely thought of as an adult habit, children also have a tendency to grind their teeth.  Such a nocturnal habit is usually first detected through a “crunching” noise during sleep.  Causes of bruxism include environmental stress at home or school.

Most cases of bruxism in kids resolve on their own by the age of 9-12 years, and do not require treatment.  However if excessive enamel and dentin wear of teeth is detected, a nightguard or an orthodontic appliance may be required.

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a natural instinctual habit, as it may provide a sense of relief and security.  Sucking the thumb may also promote sleep since it tends to relax the child.

If such habit continues during the eruption of permanent teeth, it can cause developmental problems, along with orthodontic alignment issues of the permanent dentition.  Most children stop thumb sucking by the age of four, and this habit needs to stop by the age of six before the permanent front teeth erupt.

Below are some tips to assist your child:

  1. Offer children praise and reward when they are not sucking their thumb
  2. Try and find out their insecurity cause.  Some children suck their thumb for comfort; if so, find a way for the parent or guardian to provide comfort
  3. If above tips do not resolve thumb sucking, an orthodontic mouth appliance may be recommended.

Baby Pulp Treatment

Dental decay/caries/cavities is a predominant reason why a tooth requires pulp therapy and treatment.  Excessive traumatic injury via physical trauma (i.e. accidental hit on the mouth/face) is another reason. The two forms of pulpal treatment on primary teeth are pulpotomy and pulpectomy.

A pulpotomy is where the pulp (nerve) tissue of the teeth in the tooth’s natural crown is removed. A sedative material is then placed inside where the pulp was; it is then followed by a restoration (i.e. filling or stainless steel crown).

A pulpectomy is where the entire pulp and nerve tissue of the tooth in the crown and root are removed.  The canals are instrumented, irrigated, disinfected, and filled with a resorable biocompatible material.  Afterwards a final restoration is placed.

Orthodontics (Braces) Treatment

Although ages vary, orthodontic malocclusion can be detected and treated when the child is 3-4 years old.  Habits like thumb sucking can be addressed during this critical time as the dental jaw bones are developing.  Early intervention can be successful in eliminating need for orthodontic treatment (braces).

Your family dentist or pediatric kids dentist will work with your favorite orthodontist to determine if orthodontics and braces are recommended.

Baby Bottle Decay

This is a very serious type of tooth decay that occurs in young children your kids dentist will evaluate for.  Termed baby bottle decay, the most common sign is generalized decay (cavities) on the children’s front teeth.  Baby bottle decay is caused by a constant and frequent exposure of the baby tooth to liquids with sugar (i.e. cow’s milk, breast milk, juice, sweetened drinks, powdered infant formula).

Often times a parent may decide to place a baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.  This habit can cause a very rapid onset of severe tooth decay, as the bacteria in the child’s mouth feed off the sugars on the teeth, hence eating away the tooth’s enamel.

Ideally, the liquid given in the bottle should be water and only water.  If the child does not fall asleep with water, try to gradually dilute the juice or milk in the bottle with more and more water, until the bottle is only of water.

Prevention and Home Care is Key

When the child’s first tooth erupts, begin the habit of daily brushing.  Again, try to use a pea size amount of fluoridated tooth paste.  When the child is around the age of 5 years, he/she should have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth (but with adult supervision to make sure the brushing is thorough and complete).  When the child is 7-8 years of age, he/she should be able to brush independently.

Exposure to floss when the children is able to grasp the toothbrush is also key to home care and prevention.  Flossing physically removes bacteria and plaque between teeth, areas where it’s inaccessible by the toothbrush.  The parent should start flossing the child’s teeth when their is two neighboring teeth that touch.

A good dietary guideline at home and school also yields healthy teeth.  A solid well-balanced diet of meat, vegetables, fruits, and rice/bread is critical to development of healthy teeth and body.  Try to limit snack intake frequency (i.e. decrease exposure of teeth to sugars).  Nutritious foods as cheese, yogurt, and vegetables are some healthy choices for children to snack on.  Solid hard candy (i.e. mints) are NOT a good choice as the sugars and acids reside in the mouth for long periods of time, which lead to more frequent attacks on the tooth’s enamel.

What is the Best Way for my Child to not get Cavities?

Try to brush twice a day and floss daily.  Drink lots of water.  Limit frequent sugary intakes of drinks and snacks.  See your dentist twice a year for checkups and dental cleanings, and fluoride treatments.  Your dentist may also recommend dental sealants as an aid to help prevent cavities on permanent molars.

If you have any questions about kids dentistry, be sure to contact your family Bellevue kids dentist!

Go back to Patient Services