Dental Care 101

Your dental “home”

“One benefit of an early visit is that it provides a dental home for your child,” says Brian S. Martin, D.M.D., chief of the division of pediatric dentistry at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “It’s nice to know you have someone you can call at 9 p.m. on a Friday.”

Experts recommend that you seek out a pediatric dentist. Adults’ dentists haven’t been trained in kids’ issues, stresses Thomas. Pediatric dentists have two to three years of specialized training after dental school, and they limit their practice to kids. Plus, their offices boast colorful walls, animated movies and cool toys—dangling carrots that ease your child into the dental experience.

Who better to have on call in a crisis— such as when your 2-year-old takes a spill and bumps his front tooth? In that case, Martin recommends that you follow up with a dentist to make sure there has been no damage to the nerve or blood vessels. If the tooth is bleeding, but not chipped or loose, it’s likely that it’s only a gum injury, however it’s always best to make sure. (To find a pediatric dentist near you, visit the Web site of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.)