Frequently Asked Questions

What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay is a severe form of childhood cavities that affects the front teeth of infants and toddlers.

It is caused by conditions like:

  • Putting the baby to bed with a drink each night
  • Providing milk or juices frequently throughout the day
  • Prolonged use of bottles or sippy cups

Instead of having milk or juices at specific meal times, some children are allowed to sip on these liquids all day (or all night) long. Sucking through a bottle or sippy cup causes the liquids to constantly coat the front teeth, allowing acids to etch away at tooth enamel. Weakened baby teeth quickly begin to develop cavities across the front of the child’s smile, allowing teeth to become black, chipped, or decayed all the way up to the gum lines.

What You Can Do:

  • Give your child water to drink between mealtimes
  • Never put your child to bed with anything other than water
  • Brush your child’s teeth after each meal
  • Have your child seen by a pediatric dentist before their first birthday

If your child is beginning to show signs of what you think could be baby bottle tooth decay, schedule an exam immediately.

How Do I Care for My Child’s Teeth?

Taking care of your child’s teeth can help them enjoy a healthy smile their entire life. It also prevents problems like cavities and some types of dental emergencies. Pediatric Oral Hygiene Basics:


Brushing should last for at least two minutes and be done twice each day, focusing along the gum lines. Until your child is old enough to tie their shoes, they should get help brushing their teeth. Encourage them to brush on their own, making small circles on every tooth, and then follow up behind them to make sure they removed everything.


Cleaning between the teeth is one of the most important parts of your child’s oral hygiene routine, yet one of the most forgotten. Tooth brushing alone cannot clean between the teeth, so it is necessary to floss at least once a day to prevent cavities.

Preventive Cleanings and Exams

Regular visits to the dentist will help keep teeth cleaner, reduce the risk of tooth decay and give your child the information they need as they become more independent when it comes to their oral care. We recommend cleanings every 6 months to remove plaque deposits and screen for early signs of decay.

Balanced Diet

Making smart dietary choices impacts the rate of cavities your child experiences. Discourage all liquids between meals, unless it is tap water. Snacking on crisp produce will keep teeth clean and gums healthy.

During every new patient exam, we will sit down with you and discuss oral care basics and any concerns you may have about your child’s teeth. Set up your family’s first visit with us by calling us.

Do I Need a Referral for My Child to be Seen by You?

If you’ve never taken your child to the dentist before, or if you’ve already seen a general family dentist, you might wonder whether or not you need a referral for your child to be seen by the specialists at Denali Pediatric Dentistry.

No Referrals are Necessary

The answer is no. Anyone can come to Denali Pediatric Dentistry for care, as long as they are no older than 17 years of age. We welcome new patients, patients referred to us by their current dentist, and their families! If you have questions about whether or not your insurance company needs information prior to you visiting our office, please call one of our financial coordinators.

Then Why Do Some People Get Referred to a Pediatric Dentist?

Some patients are referred by their dentist to a pediatric dentist if the child needs care that the general dentist is not equipped to provide. Or, the child may have severe anxiety or behavioral needs that prevent them from being cared for in a traditional dental office. This is their previous dentist’s formal way of handing the child off to another care provider for their oral health needs. Denali Pediatric Dentistry offers specialist care that can handle any type of challenge when it comes to treating the smiles of younger patients.

Even if your child is currently seeing another dentist for their care, they are welcome to visit us at Denali Pediatric Dentistry for routine care, specific treatments, or a second opinion. No referrals needed!

When Do Children’s Teeth Erupt?

Your child will have two sets of teeth erupt in their lifetime. The first set is called primary teeth (baby teeth) and the second set is the permanent teeth (adult teeth.)

Primary teeth begin erupting as early as six months of age, but some children will be closer to a year old. There is a total of 20 primary teeth, with the last set of 4 molars erupting between 23-33 months of age.

Permanent teeth begin replacing the primary teeth around Kindergarten or 1st grade, beginning with the lower front teeth or the first set of permanent molars in the back of the mouth. Most permanent teeth finish erupting by 12-13 years of age, except for wisdom teeth. In total, there are 32 permanent teeth.

If you’re concerned about delayed eruption or possible missing teeth, schedule an exam by calling us. A quick X-Ray and dental exam can help determine where your child’s tooth development currently stands.

How Often Should Children Have Dental Check-ups?

Regular dental check-ups help your child maintain a healthier smile. For most children, we recommend dental visits every 6 months. At these appointments we will perform:

  • Preventive cleanings
  • Oral hygiene instruction
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Any necessary X-rays
  • Exam and cavity screening
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Prevention is Worth it

These appointments help pinpoint dental problems before they have a chance to develop into something more significant. For instance, if your child is neglecting a particular area of his mouth, teach him how to access it to avoid cavities throughout his childhood. Waiting until your child experiences discomfort and needs a cavity will also impact your budget.

By avoiding dental complications through preventive visits, your child also experiences a more positive feeling toward dental care. This helps him enjoy going to the dentist and feel more comfortable when he does need to have treatment completed.

If your child is behind on the necessary routine care, we’ll help him get caught back up! Call Denali Pediatric Dentistry to schedule a new patient cleaning and exam.

How Can I Help My Child Avoid Dental Trauma?

One of the #1 reasons children visit an emergency room every year is because of dental related accidents and injuries, such as broken teeth. Denali Pediatric Dentistry recommends protective athletic mouth guards for all children involved in recreational sports. Whether it’s gymnastics or flag football, your smile deserves protection before it succumbs to an accident. Athletic mouth guards are one of the best pieces of insurance your child’s smile can have.

Wearing a sports guard helps protect your child from:

  • Lip lacerations
  • Fractured teeth
  • Concussions

If your child accidentally experiences trauma without the use of a guard, it’s important to stop by for an exam and X-Ray of the tooth to check for any damage. An appointment can be scheduled by calling us.

How Can I Prevent Cavities in My Child?

Did you know that dental treatment is the #1 cause of missed school for children? Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent childhood diseases, but thankfully it can be prevented with proper education and oral hygiene.

Keep the Teeth Clean

Until your child can tie her own shoes, you should continue to help her brush and floss her own teeth. Spend at least two minutes, twice a day brushing all tooth surfaces. Follow up with floss to clean the areas between (which often decay first!)

Maintain a Balanced Diet

Drinking plenty of water and eating fresh fruits and vegetables will limit the amount of plaque on your child’s teeth. Keep special treats like juice or dessert with a meal to reduce the time acid can spend on the tooth enamel.

See a Dentist Regularly

Regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist will help monitor tooth development and pinpoint susceptible areas before cavities have a chance to form. Professional fluoride applications and protective sealants can stop decay before it starts.

Add Fluoride Each Day

Home-based fluoride rinses can strengthen teeth and prevent weak enamel from turning into a cavity. Use fluoride at night before bed, but don’t eat or drink afterward!

Denali Pediatric Dentistry wants you to know that it’s possible to keep your child’s smile healthy, even if you’ve had your own fair share of dental problems. Set up a preventive care visit and oral hygiene consultation by calling us.

My Child is in Pain. What Should I Do?

Dental related pain can be one of the most uncomfortable situations anyone can experience. When it’s your child, it can make a parent feel just as bad to know that your child is in pain.

Look Inside the Mouth

What do you see? Is there swelling? A broken tooth? If your child has untreated tooth decay, there is a high possibility that the damaged tooth is the source of the pain. Ibuprofen can provide temporary pain relief until you get him to our office.

Call Our Office

For severe or persistent discomfort, call Denali Pediatric Dentistry immediately. We will do our best to accommodate your child as quickly as possible to pinpoint the cause of the discomfort.

Broken Teeth

If your child has chipped or broken a tooth, place the fractured portion of the tooth in a cup of saline or milk and seek dental care as quickly as possible.

Emergency Care

Our existing patients can contact us for emergency care after business hours. One of our on-call staff will respond as quickly as possible, answering any questions that you may have. It may be necessary to meet you after hours at our office for some situations.

Denali Pediatric Dentistry is currently accepting new patients. If your child is experiencing dental-related discomfort, call us to set up an exam with one of our pediatric dentists.

Tell Me About Pacifiers and Thumbsucking.

Children who love their pacifiers or sucking on a thumb can have a hard time breaking the habit, but it’s an important stage of childhood. Extended thumbsucking and pacifier use can change the way the teeth bite together, creating complications like open bites or overbites. Knowing how and when to discontinue these habits is important.

We recommend that all children discontinue pacifier use by their first birthday. Pacifier use can be weaned down or simply cut off cold turkey if the pacifier “disappears.” Some parents find it useful to cut the tip off of the pacifier, making it uncomfortable to suck.

Thumb and finger sucking can be more challenging. While some children can make a conscious effort to not suck on fingers, others may need to have socks placed on their hands at naptime.

Create an Incentive

Older children that require incentives for giving up thumb or finger sucking can respond well to a calendar system. For every day that they go without sucking a finger, a sticker is placed on the calendar. If they make it an entire month, they receive a reward! Help your child set the reward ahead of time. It can be as simple as eating at their favorite restaurant, a trip to the movies, or even a special toy.

Denali Pediatric Dentistry has helped hundreds of parents break their children’s thumb and pacifier habits. For tips or a special reward for your child from our office, call us.

What Do I Need to Know About Prenatal and Infant Oral Health?

Oral Health for Infants and Pregnant Mothers

The health of a mother’s teeth can affect that of her own child, even before her baby is born. Getting your pregnancy off to the right start and knowing the basics of infant oral health can protect your child’s smile well into childhood.

Managing Oral Health During Pregnancy

Did you know that women with gum disease during pregnancy are more likely to go into premature labor or give birth to low-weight infants? Active oral infections like periodontal disease place a strain on your immune system and also allow bacteria to travel through the blood supply to the baby. Keeping your mouth clean isn’t just important for you, it’s important for your child!

Studies also show that women who chew gum containing Xylitol during their pregnancies will give birth to children that have stronger teeth. Xylitol is well-known for its plaque and decay-fighting capabilities.

Caring for Your Infant’s Smile

Even before your baby has teeth, you can start keeping her mouth clean. Use a wet, warm washcloth over your finger to massage the gums and remove bacteria that could cause thrush. As teeth begin to erupt you can use a training toothbrush with water or flavored training toothpaste (fluoride-free.) This early start gets your child used to cleaning her smile and promotes better oral health.

If you have questions about your infant or pregnancy, we’re happy to answer them for you.

Are Sippy Cups Harmful?

What do sippy cups do when it comes to the health of your child’s smile? While they make for a cleaner cup-training experience, extended use of sippy cups cause more harm than good:

Increased Enamel Exposure

Drinking out of a sippy cup causes liquids to constantly coat the surfaces around the front teeth. As a result, those teeth experience longer periods of acid exposure from liquids like milk or juice. Teeth then begin to decay quickly, with several cavities all in the same area. Keeping the cup filled with milk or juice where it is accessible throughout the day will compound the problem.

Changes in Bite Patterns

Rather than drinking from a standard cup, your child must place his lips and teeth around the spout of the sippy cup. This along with sucking on the spout will cause abnormal changes in the jaws and tooth positioning. It may not seem like a big problem now, but it will be when adult teeth start erupting out of place.

Tongue Thrusting

Extended use of a bottle or sippy cup alters the way that our tongues learn to swallow. A tongue-thrusting habit often develops, as a result, where the tongue pushes against the teeth rather than the roof of the mouth when it’s time to swallow. This habit is very difficult to break and will cause teeth to jut out.

Encourage independence in your child by limiting sippy cup use and teach him to use a small cup on his own. This also limits liquid exposure on the teeth throughout the day, reducing his overall risk of tooth decay.

When Should Children Have Their First Dental Visit?

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all children see a dentist by their 1st birthday, or by the time their first tooth erupts – whichever comes first.

Denali Pediatric Dentistry offers free exams for children less than 1 year of age. We believe that getting a smile off on the right start is one of the best ways to prevent dental complications later on. Waiting until your child has dental problems can make the transition more difficult for him. An early start will help him enjoy trips to the dentist and look forward to them every 6 months!

What happens during your child’s first visit to our Denali pediatric office?

  • He enjoys a positive experience
  • You are given important information on dietary choices
  • Oral hygiene is reviewed with the parent and child
  • One of our dentists screens for oral complications
  • We discuss any concerns you may have as a parent
  • Show-tell-do techniques take the surprise out of dental care

It’s Never Too Late

Regardless of how old your child is, it’s never too late to get them off to a healthier smile. Our friendly, energetic team can help even the most anxious children feel better about their visit with us. Call us to find an appointment time that fits your schedule.

When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?

As parents, we’re always excited to see our children reach their first milestones. That first step, first word, first smile…and first tooth!

The First Baby Teeth

The age when first teeth erupt can vary by months from child to child. The very first teeth to erupt are usually the lower central incisors (the very two front teeth.) This happens anywhere from between 6-10 months of age, followed by the upper four incisors (front teeth.)

1st and 2nd Year Molars

Gradually, your child will have more and more teeth erupt until all 20 of their primary teeth are in place. The last sets of teeth to erupt are the First and Second Year Molars, which consequently erupt around the times of their 1st and 2nd birthdays. However, some children may be almost three years of age before their final set of molars erupts.

Why Checkups Are Important

Some children are born with extra or missing teeth, which can impact the development of their smiles later on. That’s why small digital X-Rays are taken periodically to check on the development and eruption cycle of teeth that can’t yet be seen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association recommend all parents have their child’s smile checked by a dentist by the time their first tooth erupts. Denali Pediatric Dentistry offers free exams for all children under the age of 1. Call us to schedule your child’s first visit.

Why Are Primary Teeth Important?

Have you ever thought to yourself: “Baby teeth are just going to fall out anyway – why are they so important?” If so, you’re not alone! Everyone knows that we’re born with two sets of teeth and that the permanent (adult) teeth are the ones that we’ll be enjoying for the rest of our life. Why are primary teeth so important?

Primary Teeth Guide Tooth Eruption

Losing a tooth too early will jeopardize the spacing patterns of the natural bite. Primary teeth act as guides for adult teeth, showing them where they are to erupt. If a tooth is pulled too early, neighboring teeth tend to lean into place, blocking the permanent tooth from erupting at all. Restoring the tooth or placing a space maintainer in the area can prevent this from happening.

Infected Primary Teeth Can Damage Developing Permanent Teeth

Traumatized or abscessed primary teeth can impact the permanent tooth developing underneath. For instance, if an abscess pops up, that infection around the root can penetrate the eruption capsule of the new tooth. Permanent teeth may erupt with white or brown discolorations, or even abnormalities in enamel structure.

Cavities Can Spread from Primary to Adult Teeth

At a certain age, your child will experience what is called a “mixed dentition” where permanent and primary teeth are present at the same time. This stage can last for several years. If a cavity develops on a primary tooth and goes untreated, those bacteria can spread to a neighboring adult tooth. In the end, leaving a primary tooth untreated only causes damage to a healthy tooth that was supposed to last for the rest of his life. Having healthy primary teeth is the best way to have healthy adult teeth. Let us help your child experience a lifetime of healthy smiles. Call us today.

Why Should My Child See a Pediatric Dentist?

Choosing to see a pediatric dentist for your child’s dental care is typically easier on everyone. Pediatric dental offices are set up to accommodate young children and families, with more welcoming atmospheres and skilled staff that are familiar with the needs of anxious children.

An Exciting Atmosphere

Your child will love going to the pediatric dentist because it doesn’t feel like a regular dental office. From the reception room to the clinical area, there are plenty of things to keep children distracted. Most of the time, children don’t even want to leave!

Age-Appropriate Care

Unlike traditional dental offices, pediatric dentists allow extra time for the patience that it takes to win over even the most resistant of children. Our staff is highly trained in positive communication techniques, explaining things in a way that help younger patients zip right through the care that is needed.

Treatments Tailored for Children

Many pediatric dental procedures are not offered in general dental offices, or the dentist may not feel comfortable offering them. Some examples include services like:

  • Pulp Therapy
  • Band and Loop / Space Maintainers
  • In-Office Sedation
  • Pediatric Crowns

Everything your child could need for her smile is right under one roof when you visit Denali Pediatric Dentistry! New patients are always welcome and no referral is necessary. Call us to schedule your child’s first visit with us.