Children & Oral Health: Frequently Asked Questions


Raise your hand if you currently have a child who is teething in your house. Yep, that’s what I thought – nearly all of us! My kids start early (symptoms at 3 months, actual pearly whites at 4 months to the day) and continue on and off through those lovely two year molars. So fun, right? Or not.

But all collective groans and Orajel aside, baby teeth are important. As the daughter of a dentist and also having spent my professional career working closely with dentists, I’m excited to bring you this post, full of wisdom from local pediatric dentists Drs. Lidieth Libby and Lisa Bienstock, two of the providers at Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry.

We asked Drs. Libby and Bienstock some frequently asked questions about little ones and oral health. Here are their answers (followed by an AMAZING discount for SMB readers – don’t miss out!):

When should we start brushing baby’s teeth?

Oral hygiene measures should be implemented no later than the time of eruption of the first primary (baby) tooth. Cleansing your infant’s teeth as soon as they erupt with a soft toothbrush will help reduce bacterial colonization. Tooth-brushing should be performed for children by a parent at least twice daily, using a soft toothbrush of age-appropriate size. Flossing should be initiated when adjacent tooth surfaces cannot be cleansed with a toothbrush.

When should my baby’s first dental visit be?

The early dental visit to establish a dental home provides a foundation upon which a lifetime of preventive education and oral health care can be built. Anticipatory guidance and oral health counseling are essential components of the first dental visit. The first examination is recommended at the time of the eruption of the first tooth and no later than 12 months of age. This is especially important if this is your first child. Your pediatric dentist can answer questions and give you recommendations on how to better care for your child’s teeth.

Some of my friends have recommended a pediatric specialist, but we love our regular family dentist. Should we bring our child to the specialist or to our general dentist?

Pediatric dentistry is one of the nine recognized dental specialties of the American Dental Association. Pediatric dentists complete two to three years of additional specialized training (after the required four years of dental school) to prepare them for treating a wide variety of children’s dental problems. As pediatric dentists, we are experienced in treating children who may have anxiety, so we are able to provide the emotional support to help them through each procedure with ease. We are also trained and qualified to care for a wide variety of children, including those with medical, physical or mental disabilities. Pediatric dentists are to the dental field, what Pediatricians are to the medical field.

Should I be worried about thumb sucking and pacifier use? At what age does this start to cause future teeth problems?

Nonnutritive sucking behaviors like thumb sucking and pacifier usage are considered normal in infants and young children.  Prolonged nonnutritive sucking habits lead to bite problems that may require early orthodontic intervention. The length of time your child uses the pacifier or sucks his/her thumb is what causes the teeth and jaw to move, not the actual force of the sucking. As preliminary evidence indicates, some changes resulting from sucking habits persist even after the habit discontinues. Early dental visits provide parents with anticipatory guidance to help their children stop sucking habits by age 36 months or younger.

My baby’s teeth seem to be coming in with lots of spaces in between … does that mean braces down the road?

We LOVE spaces in between baby teeth because it allows room for the permanent teeth to grow in, minimizing the likelihood that the teeth will be crowded, and even possibly avoiding braces in the future!

And now, a GIFT for you…

In honor of February being National Children’s Dental Health Month, Drs. Libby and Bienstock of Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry have generously offered ONE YEAR of complimentary fluoride services to Scottsdale Moms Blog readers’ little ones!

All you have to do is mention Scottsdale Moms Blog when you make an appointment between now and April 30 (appointments must actually occur before April 30, so don’t wait to call). New patients only; non-transferable. This is at least an $80 value, and the best part? You get peace of mind knowing those little mouths are well looked after.

This post is sponsored by Desert Ridge Pediatric Dentistry. For more information or to make an appointment, visit their website at or call 480-585-5868. You can also check out their Facebook community here.


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