Early Childhood Dental Care in Decatur

A trip to the dentist should be fun, and the team at our Decatur pediatric dental office wants your child to have a happy and healthy smile from their first visit all the way through adulthood. We believe that with the right information and support, your child can learn about their teeth and take part in properly caring for them.

“Firsts” can be daunting for anyone, so at our dental office, we believe in making appointments as relaxed and fun as possible. Children are not born with a fear of the dentist, and we know that first impressions can make a huge difference.

To learn how to get your child started with early childhood dental care, call us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bret today!

At what age should I bring my child to the dentist?

At Jerger Pediatric Dentistry, we know that early childhood dental care promotes healthy mouths later on in life.

We agree with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and recommend that your child visit us when they turn one year old or when they get their first tooth. You can expect that first tooth sometime between the ages of six and 12 months. We look forward to meeting your child!

How can I prepare my child for their first dental visit?

Our Decatur, IL pediatric dental team is committed to helping your child have a positive experience at their first dental visit. Dr. Bret specializes in treating children of all ages and also has children of his own, so he understands the challenges parents face with dental visits and home care.

When preparing your child for their first dental visit, we have a few tips to keep it positive and stress-free:

  • Take advantage of young curiosity - Check out books about the dentist from the library or act out a dental visit with toys to familiarize your child with the dentist.
  • Let your child see you brush and floss - Children love to imitate their parents, so expose them to the dental hygiene habit early on.
  • Avoid negative words or talk - Young children are less anxious when they don’t associate needles or shots with the dentist. Keep your language about the dentist positive and simple, without too much detail.

Encouraging a positive attitude about dental care and dental visits can have a lasting impact on your child’s health. When your child gets their first tooth or turns one year old, call our Decatur dental office at (217) 875-3080 to schedule your child’s first appointment with Dr. Bret.

What happens at my child’s first dental appointment?

Your child’s first visit to our pediatric dental office is about showing them that our office is a safe environment. We know that building a relationship with your child makes them feel more comfortable with their surroundings and puts everyone at ease.

The visit will begin with a tour of the office so that your child can meet our staff, see our office, and learn about our procedures. We have plenty of toys and games, and we encourage kids to play and hang out while we get better acquainted.

After the tour, once your child is comfortable with us, we will take digital x-rays and explain what will happen during the rest of their visit, using simple, non-threatening terms to help them understand the process. Next, we will do a cleaning if your child is cooperative. Dr. Bret will examine your child’s mouth and answer any questions you may have, such as thumb sucking or bottle feeding. At the end of every dental visit, each child receives a special coin to “buy” a prize for a job well done.

Why are baby teeth so important? Don’t they just fall out anyway?

That’s a great question! Many people believe that caring for baby teeth isn’t as important because they’re not permanent. But baby teeth do matter - a lot! Healthy baby teeth help your child:

  • Chew food thoroughly
  • Speak more clearly
  • Have healthier, appropriately spaced permanent teeth
  • Avoid tooth decay that causes pain, infections, and damage to non-erupted permanent teeth
  • Develop their natural face shape

How should I clean my baby’s teeth and gums?

You might be surprised to hear that babies’ mouths need cleaning even before their teeth come in! This prevents bacteria from multiplying on your baby’s gums.

Once a day, sit down with your child’s head in your lap use a clean, damp soft cloth or gauze pad to gently wipe your child’s teeth and gums. Once your child’s first tooth erupts, start using a soft, child-sized toothbrush to clean both the teeth and gums. You can use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste at this time and increase the amount to pea-sized at around age two or three.

When you come into our Decatur, IL dental office for your child’s first appointment, we’ll show you how to clean their mouth and answer all your questions.

What is baby bottle tooth decay?

Education is one of the most important services we provide, and Dr. Bret will always take the time to provide you with information and advice so you can give your child the best start possible. One issue that often affects young children’s dental health is baby bottle tooth decay.

Milk (including breast milk), formula, and juice all contain sugar and can cause baby bottle tooth decay. We recommend that you do not give your child a bottle with any liquids that contain sugar when they are being laid down for a nap or bedtime because this habit often leads to dental cavities or gingivitis. If you are concerned that your child has any oral health issues, please contact our dental office so we can perform an examination.

Can you help my child with dental anxiety?

Early childhood can be a time when your child experiences separation anxiety and fears around trying new things.

At Jerger Pediatric Dentistry, we understand young children’s needs and get tremendous satisfaction in giving kids a positive dental experience. Dr. Bret knows just how to put kids at ease and respects each child’s feelings and comfort level.

For children with special needs, multiple procedures, or severe dental anxiety, we offer hospital sedation on a case-by-case basis. Contact us to learn more!

How can I help my child prevent tooth decay?

Dental plaque is a colorless film that forms on a child’s teeth after eating. Unless plaque is removed with brushing and flossing, bacteria produce acids that can erode the tooth enamel. Follow these tips to help your child stay on track with good oral health:

  • Clean your baby’s teeth with a soft, damp cloth at least once a day. You can use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste for toddlers’ teeth and gums.
  • Help your young child brush their teeth until they’re at least eight or older.
  • Limit sugary foods and sweet drinks.

Visit our Decatur pediatric dental office for an exam and cleaning once every six months.

Do you recommend dental sealants or supplemental fluoride?

Baby teeth need diligent care to protect the spaces for permanent teeth and to help your child chew and speak comfortably. We may recommend these preventative treatments for young children:

Fluoride - We apply fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, to your child’s tooth enamel to help protect them from dental cavities.

Dental Sealants - To seal off grooves in the teeth that are hard to keep clean, we may apply a thin coating of a sealant to the area.

Can you help children with special needs?

At Jerger Pediatric Dentistry, we are proud to offer our expertise and compassion to children who need special care due to medical, physical, or cognitive conditions.

Our dental team has extensive experience working with children with disabilities or special needs, including sensory processing disorder, Autism/Asperger’s syndrome, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, cleft lip and palate, and more.

If your child has a developmental or physical disability, contact us to learn how we can be an integral part of your child’s support system.

Call Us for a Dental Appointment Today

We can’t wait to get your child started on the path to great dental care. Call our Decatur pediatric dental office today to make your child’s first dental appointment.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.