frequently asked questions

Each day we receive dozens of questions about the importance of oral health for children. From a child’s first visit to our office to toothaches, below are some of the questions we hear most often. Be sure to let us know through the Contact page if you don’t see an answer to your question!


What is Pediatric Dentistry?

Pediatric dentistry is the specialty of dentistry for the oral health care of young people. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum at Indiana University School of Dentistry, Dr. Derrow spent an additional two years of study at Riley Children’s Hospital. Through specialized training and hands-on experience, Dr. Derrow and the Auburn Pediatric Dentistry team will meet the individualized needs of infants, children, and young adults, including those with special health care needs.

What is preventative dentistry?

The purpose of preventative dentistry is to keep teeth and gums healthy. Through regular dental visits with Dr. Derrow and the APD team, parents and children will learn about brushing, dental development, flossing, fluoride, oral habits, orthodontics, parental involvement, a diet for health smiles, sealants, and sports safety.

Why is preventative dentistry important?

A healthy smile for your child is just one benefit of preventative dentistry. Children with healthy mouths chew more easily, speak more quickly and clearly, and have a better chance of general health. Finally, preventative dentistry means less extensive and less expensive treatment for your child.

When should preventative dentistry begin?

Beginning with the appearance of the first tooth or by the age of one, a visit to Auburn Pediatric Dentistry should be scheduled. Parents will learn how to protect and care for their infant’s dental health and build a cavity-free smile.

What role do parents play in prevention?

After meeting and evaluating your child’s dental health, Dr. Derrow will design and discuss a home care plan for your child. This will include information on brushing and flossing, dieting, and, if necessary, fluoride recommendations. Practicing early dental care helps create a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles.

How do Pediatric Dentists help prevent dental problems?

While tooth cleaning and polishing are important to your child’s prevention program, there is a great deal more your pediatric dentist can provide to prevent dental problems. Dr. Derrow can help protect your child from tooth decay, recommend a mouth guard for sports injuries, provide early diagnosis of orthodontic problems and much more. Dr. Derrow is specially trained to develop a combination of office and home preventative care to promote your child’s happy smile.

How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?

There are several ways to help prevent tooth decay in your toddler. Once the first primary teeth begin to erupt and other food sources have been introduced, at-will beast feeding should be avoided. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Finally, fruit juices should be offered sparingly and only in a cup with a meal or at snack time, and it should not be given in a bottle.

When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

How often should a child see the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. For children with an increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns, or poor hygiene, Dr. Derrow may recommend more frequent dental visits and will help make the best appointment schedule for your child.

Why visit the dentist twice per year when my child has never had a cavity?

Helping your child stay cavity free is just one of the benefits of regular dental visits. By visiting Auburn Pediatric Dentistry twice a year, your child will receive many services such as teeth cleanings, fluoride treatments, and hygiene instructions. Additionally, regular visits allow Dr. Derrow to evaluate changes in your child’s oral health and make adjustments and recommendations accordingly. Since Dr. Derrow is a pediatric specialist, at each visit she will evaluate your child’s overall growth and development.

What happens in a dental check-up?

At your child’s dental check-up, Dr. Derrow will review your child’s medical and dental history. Your child’s teeth, oral tissue, and jaws will be gently and thoroughly examined. Additionally, the teeth will be professionally cleaned and polished to remove debris that can build up on the teeth, irritate the gums, and cause decay. Education is another part of routine dental check-ups. Dr. Derrow will talk to your child about their dental health through easily understandable words that are fun and easy to remember and will encourage them to take responsibility for their oral health. You are welcome to accompany your child through his/her dental visits. 

Will X-rays be taken at every appointment?

In accordance with the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the frequency of dental X-rays is in part determined by a patient’s risk of getting cavities and stage of growth. X-rays may be prescribed to diagnose tooth decay, evaluate growth, check for fracture after trauma, or rule out pathology. A discussion between Dr. Derrow and the parent will always occur before an X-ray is taken.

How can I help my child enjoy good dental health?

There are many ways parents can promote good dental health with their child. The following steps will help your child and his/her overall oral health:

– Frequent snackers get more cavities.
– An adult should help with brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
– Floss regularly if the teeth are close together.
– Have sealants applied when appropriate.
– Seek regular dental check-ups.
– Assure proper fluoride through drinking water and fluoride products.

What should I do if a baby tooth is knocked out?

Contact Auburn Pediatric Dentistry as soon as possible. In most cases, the baby tooth should not be replanted, but Dr. Derrow may want to see a patient to rule out fracture of bones of the face or jaw.

What should I do if my child’s permanent tooth is knocked out?

Locate the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. Avoid scrubbing the tooth or using soap to clean it. If possible, try to place the tooth in the socket immediately and hold it there with a clean washcloth or gauze. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a clean container with water, saliva, or cold milk. Contact Auburn Pediatric Dentistry immediately.

What if the tooth is chipped or fractured?

Acting quickly can save the tooth, reduce the need of extensive dental treatment, and prevent infection. First, rinse the mouth with water and apply a cold washcloth to reduce swelling if the lip was injured. If you can locate the broken piece, place it in cold water or milk and contact Auburn Pediatric Dentistry immediately.

What if my child experiences a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?

Seek immediate medical attention. Head injuries can be life-threatening. Keep in mind that a medical team may be able to reach you faster than you can get to the hospital.

What if my child has a toothache?

Contact Auburn Pediatric Dentistry and schedule an appointment. To offer relief, rinse your child’s mouth with water or try over-the-counter medication. Be sure to follow the dosage recommendations for your child’s age and weight. You may also apply a cold or warm compress to the face.

Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. You can use water or the safe to swallow toothpaste if you like. Once your child reaches 18 months, brush the child’s teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste. Use a “smear” of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a “pea-size” or smaller amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should be encouraged to spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.


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Visit our Contact page to get authoritative answers from a member of the Auburn Pediatric Dentistry team.