When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends “First Visit by First Birthday,” in order to prevent dental problems from developing. Since cavities can start as soon as the first tooth enters the mouth, your child should visit Dr. Erin once this tooth arrives (usually between seven and twelve months). “Early Childhood Caries” (or Baby Bottle Tooth Decay) needs to be addressed promptly so that options are available to help keep your child smiling bright. Your child’s first visit will also familiarize them with the relaxed aspects of having a dental check-up and starting to build a relationship with Dr. Erin and our wonderful staff. Dr. Erin will also provide you personalized guidance on oral hygiene and nutrition, examine your child’s dental development, and counsel you on what to do if your child experiences a dental injury. By establishing a dental home for your child as a patient of record, any emergency services for dental trauma can be easily treated in our practice. Today, children can grow up cavity-free and it is our goal to help you realize this ambition.

What happens at a dental check-up?

After reviewing your child’s medical and dental history, Dr. Erin will gently examine your child’s teeth, oral tissues and jaws and prescribe any needed x-rays. Your child’s teeth will be cleaned and polished, followed by the application of a fluoride solution. At our office, we use easily understandable words, pictures, and ideas when we are explaining dental treatment to your child.

We have found the following children’s books helpful for parents to explain to their child what happens at the dentist:

  • Just Going to the Dentist
    By Mercer Mayer
  • The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist
    By Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • Show Me Your Smile! Dora visits the dentist.
    By Christine Ricci
  • The Tooth Book
    By Dr. Seuss

Why are baby teeth important to my child?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. These teeth act as placeholders for your child’s permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, the teeth that are left may move and not leave any room for the adult teeth to come in properly. Baby teeth also help your child chew naturally and speak clearly; however, if lost too early, it may create issues with the child’s self-confidence or speech development.

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Dr. Erin can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for you to supervise and teach to your children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits!

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, Dr. Erin can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health. By providing fun dental experiences as a child, you can motivate them to maintain healthy smiles for a lifetime!

Do I accompany my child during dental treatment?

At Pediatric Dentistry of Lakeland, Dr. Erin and her dedicated team have chosen to work exclusively with children because that is what they love to do! Motivated to learn special techniques to help calm anxious patients, Dr. Erin completed training to learn how to put her patient’s at ease. Designing a kid-friendly atmosphere, Dr. Erin and her staff work to help your child foster a sense of accomplishment with each dental visit. We would love to take you and your child on a tour of our practice at the beginning of their first visit so that you can view our enthusiasm personally. After your tour, we invite parents to our comfortable relaxation area to enjoy a cup of coffee and wi-fi internet. Allowing your child to accompany our team through their dental adventure not only gives them a chance to pridefully report their success, but permits your child to develop a trusting and familiar relationship with Dr. Erin. In addition, your assistance allows Dr. Erin to focus solely on your child while she is providing their dental treatment. At the end of each appointment, she is then able to have a personalized consultation with each parent where they can ask any questions and provide feedback about their experience.

Treatment Information

At your child’s dental appointment, Dr. Erin will personally address any questions you may have and discuss all treatment options that she recommends for your child’s own unique oral condition.

How do dental sealants work?

Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years with proper maintenance.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

Soft plastic mouthguards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by Dr. Erin can help protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Next, locate the tooth and hold it by the crown (part that you use for chewing) rather than the root. Since it is best to reimplant the tooth as soon as possible, attempt to reinsert it in the socket, call our office, and have your child bite down on a clean towel on the way to our practice. If reinserting the tooth is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and bring your child and the glass immediately to our office.

Are thumbsucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by Dr. Erin.

How safe are dental x-rays?

Dr. Erin has made it a priority to minimize your child’s radiation exposure. We utilize the latest digital x-rays with specialized child settings that use significantly less radiation than traditional x-rays. By offering this technology, in combination with lead aprons, and limiting x-rays only to diagnose what is hidden from view, we are committed to your child’s maximum protection.


Dr. Erin and her team strive to complete your child’s dental needs in the most calm and relaxing way through effective behavioral techniques. To help calm an anxious child, these behavior methods can be extremely successful; however, if a child has severe anxiety or extensive treatment needs at a very young age, our practice also offers solutions to ease these concerns.

Option 1: Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)

  • This sweet-smelling air is inhaled and has a calming effect on the patient. Since not all patients may need this technique, Dr. Erin has been specially trained to determine who will benefit most from nitrous oxide. Your child can select their flavor air and will be fully awake while breathing the laughing gas. This mild sedative is not metabolized by the body so 100% of what your child breaths in, is also breathed out by the end of the appointment.

Option 2: Conscious Sedation

  • Conscious sedation involves the use of medication to help patient’s cope with dental treatment fears. During sedation, patients are not asleep, but may benefit from an amnesia-like experience induced by the medication. This technique does not benefit everyone with dental anxiety, since limited cooperation is still necessary to deliver safe, quality dental care. Through additional training, Dr. Erin has earned pediatric conscious sedation credentials and can determine if your child would be assisted by this option.

Option 3: IV Sedation

  • Our practice offers comprehensive care for your child, including the services of a Pediatric Anesthesiologist (MD) to provide intravenous sedation for children with extensive treatment needs and significant dental phobia. This technique allows your child’s entire treatment to be completed in one appointment. With our anesthesiologist administering the medications and attentively monitoring your child, it allows Dr. Erin to focus on tending to their complete dental needs in a safe and familiar environment.