Melissa Mullane Padgett, DDS

General Dentist Accepting Children




When should I first take my child to the dentist?
Current recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are to take your child to the dentist no later than 1 year of age. The exam may be quick, but the dentist will discuss other dental concerns, especially trauma, and will make sure your child’s teeth are developing normally. Some dentists prefer not to see children until a later age, however, Dr. Melissa has treated children as young as 8 months old with cavities. DON’T WAIT!

When should my baby’s first tooth come in?
Some children are born with one or two teeth, while others do not get them until after 1 year of age. These are both normal situations. The average age to get the first tooth is around 6 months, and the first ones to normally come in are the bottom front two. To help alleviate discomfort, the baby can be given Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Orajel can be applied to the gingiva (gums), or the child can bite on a teething ring or very cold washcloth.

Can babies get cavities?
Yes! At any age, cavities can occur. In babies and toddlers, most decay is caused from liquids taken out of a bottle or sippy cup. This is true even if the liquid is 100% juice, formula, milk or breast milk! These nutrient-rich drinks have natural sugars in them that can cause tooth-decay. Give your baby these liquids for nutrition, not as a way to pacify them.

Can my baby have a pacifier?
If the baby is being breastfed, some pediatricians want you to wait until a nursing routine has been established before introducing a pacifier. The American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged the use of a pacifier during the first year of life to help reduce the chance of SIDS. I recommend stopping the use of the pacifier right after the first birthday. Waiting longer increases the chance of dental deformities as well as it being much harder to take it away from your child!

My child still uses a pacifier/sucks thumb. How big of an issue is this?
Goals for stopping the pacifier/thumb habits are around age 3. Stopping the pacifier around 12 months of age is easier to do, as the child is less attached to it. Thumb habits can be harder to break. If stopped by age 3, the chance of facial/jaw malformations is minimal. If it continues, orthodontics is almost always needed to correct the ‘bite’ and sometimes jaw surgery is needed.

Why should I care about baby teeth…they just fall out, right?
True, baby teeth are lost, but they have a very important job. Not only do they help with speech and eating, they help facilitate the healthy development of the adult teeth underneath. Premature loss of these primary or baby teeth can lead to developmental anomalies with the adult teeth or can lead to spacing issues, especially severe crowding. The premature loss of just one baby tooth can cause orthodontic and oral surgery concerns in the teenage years. In addition, if not treated, cavities in baby teeth can quickly develop into toothaches or even more serious infections. These toothaches can be very painful to your child and can cause multiple other health concerns.

What is the best toothpaste, toothbrush or floss?
Any kind of fluoridated toothpaste your child tolerates is fine. Kid flavors, adult flavors…it doesn’t matter. However, until your child is able to spit (around age 5), make sure the amount of toothpaste is no more than a smear, or the size of a baby pea. The toothbrush should be soft (not medium or hard). Don’t forget to brush all sides of all teeth: front, back, sides, inside, by the tongue and near the roof of the mouth. As for floss, any kind works. Floss sticks are great!

When should I floss my child’s teeth?
You should begin flossing as soon as two teeth touch. Baby teeth can get cavities as early as 6 months of age! If a child gets a cavity in between two teeth, these cavities progress quickly and are more serious to treat. Flossing these touching teeth as early as possible can help prevent cavities.

How long should I help my child with his/her brushing/flossing?
This age will vary based on the child. A good rule of thumb is: once a child can effectively wash and style his/her own hair, they should have the coordination and dexterity to brush and floss teeth well. For some children, this is around age 6 or 7. For others, this may not be until after age 10!

Fluoride….we have well water. Do we need a fluoride supplement?
In this area, many wells do have fluoride in their water content. However, if you have a well, you should talk to your dentist and possibly have your well water tested for fluoride content. If you are concerned about a lack of fluoride, ACT Fluoride or Listerine with Fluoride are great over the counter rinses that can benefit everyone…adults included!

What are sealants?
Sealants are protective coatings placed on the biting surfaces of adult molars. These coatings help prevent cavities, are white or clear, and do not require anesthesia (numbing) for application. We start placing these around age 6 or 7.

When should my child first see an orthodontist? (Braces?)
The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends a child see an orthodontist around age 7, or when all four 6-year molars have erupted. He or she may not put braces on at this age, but plans can be made for how and when orthodontic treatment may begin. Some situations where orthodontic therapy may be initiated at this age are severe malocclusions (severe bite issues) severe crowding, or loss of space due to early loss of primary (baby) teeth.

One final note: Please do not put your child to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup full of milk, juice, breast milk, formula, etc. This is the number one way children under 3 get cavities. If you still give your child liquids in a sippy cup, PLEASE only give it to them at meal times at the table. Walking around all day long, taking numerous sips from the sippy cup can cause Early Childhood Cavities. Each sip coats the teeth in the sugars (even natural sugars can cause cavities) that are in the beverages. Most children that have decay at age 2, 3 and 4 are still using a sippy cup.

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