What is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist has spent a minimum of two years after dental school receiving specialized training dedicated to the unique needs of children. Pediatric dentists provide primary and specialty oral care for infants and children through the teenage years including those with special health needs. Think of pediatric dentists as the pediatricians of dentistry.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that your child receive their first dental exam by their first birthday or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts. By establishing a pediatric dental home for your child early in life, our pediatric dentists will be proactive about providing guidance on oral development, healthy teeth diet, fluoride use, oral habits, injury prevention and oral hygiene.


The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children and adults. However, some children and adults require more frequent visits due to their risk for tooth decay or need for more frequent dental cleanings due to braces, poor oral hygiene, and increased risk of gum disease. One of our pediatric dentists will evaluate any specific needs and recommend a personal dental prevention plan for your child.

Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish, and eggs. Children who eat many small meals during the day or who are grazers with frequent consumption of snack foods have a much higher risk for tooth decay. Therefore, limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child's teeth from decay. One of our pediatric dentists can help you select foods that protect your children's teeth.

Primary teeth, also known as, “baby teeth,” are important to your child’s health and development and should be cared for just as you would for permanent teeth. Primary teeth serve critical functions as a child learns to eat and speak and they are important for the normal growth and development of the face. In addition, they maintain space within the dental arch and guide the eruption of the permanent teeth. Only less than half of the primary teeth are typically lost and replaced between ages 6 and 9, the majority remain in function until age 12 or beyond. Without proper care, these teeth can decay and cause oral pain, gum disease, and serious health problems. For these reasons, primary teeth are important and require good daily hygiene and regular professional attention, just like permanent teeth.

Oral care begins early, well before the eruption of baby teeth. Use a moistened infant washcloth to gently wipe your baby’s gums once or twice a day. Once baby teeth erupt, you can transition to a finger brush or soft bristled age-appropriate toothbrush. When brushing teeth, the use of training (non-fluoridated) toothpaste is safest prior to age 2 but not entirely necessary. A wet toothbrush alone can also be effective. Allow one of our pediatric dentists to guide you on when best to transition to a fluoride toothpaste and the amount to use.

Fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter and for good reason. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in our environment that just happens to help prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay (cavities). Fluoride is naturally found in most water sources here in Central Florida. Food and drinks processed with fluoridated water also contribute to your fluoride exposure. Because of this fluoride tablets or supplements are usually not necessary.

Topical fluoride in the form of toothpastes and rinses are also extremely beneficial and effective in minimizing tooth decay. This is the form of fluoride supplementation our pediatric dentists will focus on to minimize your child’s risk for tooth decay.

A preventive approach to minimize the risk for dental decay, a sealant is a clear or shaded hardened plastic (no BPA) dental material applied to the vulnerable crevices on the chewing surface of the back teeth (premolars and molars). The sealant acts as a barrier to food debris, plaque and bacteria protecting these cavity prone areas of the teeth. One of our pediatric dentists will discuss with you whether sealants are right for your child and how easily they are applied.

Make sure to brush and floss the involved area well and have your child swish with warm salt water. If the pain is severe, you can give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever already approved by your child’s pediatrician. A cold compress to the area can also provide relief and prevent swelling. DO NOT place aspirin directly on teeth or gums. Contact us as soon as possible to have your child evaluated or proceed to the Emergency Room if your child’s face is swollen.

Patient families of record should contact us as soon as possible to accurately assess the child’s injury or emergency. If after hours, one of our pediatric dentists is always available. Simply follow the message prompt on our answering machine to receive a call from the on call pediatric dentist. Certain emergencies demand immediate attention, if so, we will make arrangements to see your child as quickly as possible whether during regular or after hours.

Should you be in our office when our attention must shift to a child that demands immediate attention due to injury or emergency, please know that our schedule may be negatively impacted, and we apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may bring you.

As parents ourselves, we appreciate the concern any parent can have with exposing their child to dental x-rays. The simple truth is we cannot properly and effectively care for your child without them. There is a minimum standard of care that must be met when providing oral health care and it involves appropriate dental x-rays at an appropriate frequency specific to each patient’s needs.

The good news is that dental x-rays are safe, more so today than ever before. We utilize digital x-ray technology that greatly reduces the radiation used in comparison with traditional film x-ray. So much so that lead aprons and thyroid collars are not necessary as scatter radiation is minimal. Despite this, lead aprons and thyroid collars are always used whenever possible to further reduce your child’s exposure.

It is normal for the permanent (adult) teeth to appear more yellow or grey in color when compared to baby teeth. This will become less obvious as baby teeth are lost and more adult teeth erupt. Other factors can cause the teeth to appear “yellow”. Examples of such factors are staining, poor oral hygiene or areas of enamel discrepancies/defects (known as enamel hypoplasia and/or enamel hypomineralization). These defects are developmental in nature and not only affect the appearance of the tooth but also the tooth’s susceptibility to decay. Address any concerns you have about discoloration with one of our pediatric dentists.

Thumb/finger and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time or if the sucking is very intense. Most children stop these habits on their own before kindergarten.

Intense or prolonged sucking habits can create increased risk for speech or orthodontic problems. One of our pediatric dentists can further discuss this concern with you and recommend different treatment options if needed.

The pediatric dental specialty places a strong emphasis on children’s dental development. Your child’s complete dental condition, including facial development and tooth position are evaluated at every routine care visit. Your pediatric dentist will inform you when your child is ready for an orthodontic evaluation.  Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida provides limited orthodontic care at both locations. Full comprehensive orthodontic care is offered at our Maitland location. We will help you schedule an orthodontic consultation when your child is ready.

There is no getting around the fact that some dental care can be uncomfortable. Some children are not capable of tolerating dental care while some are simply not yet ready. Our objective is to make your child as comfortable as we can while completing their dental treatment. The options that we use for creating comfort are topical anesthetics, local anesthetics, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and oral sedation. Another option is IV sedation with a highly experienced pediatric anesthesiologist from our pediatric dental anesthesia group partner, Pediatric Dental Anesthesia Associates.

Our pediatric dentists also have medical staff privileges at Advent Health, and this allows the use of general anesthesia in an outpatient setting for those patients whose needs would benefit from this option. You will always have the opportunity to discuss the available options for your child with any of our pediatric dentists.