Why Should My Child Be Seen By A Pediatric Dentist?

It’s simple, pediatric dentists who specialize in the dental diagnosis and treatment of children. Once a dentist completes four years of dental school, he or she must receive another 2-3 years of pediatric residency training to become a pediatric dentist. During this residency, the doctor will receive the experience and knowledge necessary to meet the varying needs of infants, toddlers, and teenagers.

Dr. Selki and Dr. Pabst are committed to providing top-level care to maintain the oral health of children and teenagers. Agoura Hills pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics’ doctors and entire staff stay up to date on the latest technology and techniques in children’s dentistry by attending continuing education courses and conferences. The entire practice is designed and operated to provide a positive dental experience for every child patient. The comfort, health, and experience of our patients are the top priority.

When Should My Child Have A First Visit?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first dental visit occurs six months following the eruption of the first tooth or by the child’s first birthday, whichever comes first. To develop strong healthy oral care habits, we recommend getting an early start on your child’s oral health care by complying with the AAPD guidelines.

During your child’s first visit, our goal is to allow them to become acquainted and familiarized with our staff and office to gain their trust and make their experience as positive as possible. We allow young children to sit in their parent’s lap during their check-ups. During the first visit, we review oral hygiene, make dietary recommendations, and evaluate your child’s Fluoride intake to ensure it is balanced.

Why Are Primary Teeth Important?

A common misconception is that primary teeth or “baby teeth” do not need to be cared for, however, these teeth are very important to your child’s overall health and proper development. Primary teeth should be cared for at the same level as permanent teeth. Primary teeth form an important part of your child’s development of proper chewing, eating, and speech. These teeth also serve to maintain space and guide the permanent teeth into their proper position within the dental arch.

Losing a baby tooth early due to infection or trauma can have serious consequences for the permanent tooth that will take its place. The permanent tooth can then erupt in the wrong position if the proper space was not maintained by the baby tooth. Tooth decay in baby teeth can lead to pain and infection while also negatively impacting the unerupted teeth underneath the gums.

To begin your child’s journey toward a life full of oral health, be sure to schedule their first visit six months after the eruption of the first baby tooth or no later than their first birthday.

Our practice is designed to provide a safe, comfortable, and fun environment for our young patients.

First Visit

Infants and toddlers first visit:
We will begin the visit with introductions and a fun tour around the office to allow your child to become acquainted with the space and our friendly staff. Then, we will invite you and your child into the examination room, we highly recommend that you stay with your child to comfort them. The most common examination position for our younger patients is in their parent’s lap; this is for the simple reason that we want our young patients to be completely comfortable during their exam.

Your child’s initial checkup includes:

  • Complete review of medical and dental history
    We will use this information to ensure that we make the correct diagnosis and employ the most suitable treatment for your child. All of our professional recommendations are evidence-based and completely tailored to your child’s unique needs.
  • A complete examination of existing teeth, gum, and all other oral tissue.
  • Professional cleaning
    In the spirit of ensuring your child’s dental journey is a positive one, we sometimes recommend delaying the dental cleaning until the second visit for infants and toddlers who are apprehensive. However, if your child is comfortable and cooperative, we recommend implementing the professional cleaning of their existing teeth during the first visit.
  • Review of dental and facial growth and development
    During this part of the visit, we will go over the sequence of the baby teeth eruption over the next few months and what you can expect, and any signs you should look for.

    We will review your child’s feeding practices and provide some feedback on age-appropriate dietary options to include healthy snacks and drinks that will help lessen the risk of cavities in the future.

  • Evaluation of Fluoride intake
    Keeping the correct balance of Fluoride intake is an important step to reduce your child’s risk of developing dental cavities. If your child does not receive enough fluoride, they are at greater risk for cavities. However, too much fluoride can inhibit the correct development of permanent teeth and the child’s overall health. We will review their Fluoride intake and make recommendations to achieve or maintain the correct balance.
  • Oral Hygiene
    In this part of your visit, we will review the best practices for taking care of your child’s teeth ranging from the correct brushing methods and choosing the correct toothpaste.
  • Oral habit evaluation
    We will share information about the thumb, digit and pacifier sucking and how it pertains to oral development.

Older children’s first visit:

  • Review of medical and dental history
  • A complete examination of teeth and oral tissue
    We will use the patient’s history and examination to determine the most accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan based on the patient’s unique situation and needs.
  • Professional dental cleaning and topical Fluoride application
    Our doctors always evaluate and discuss the need for topical Fluoride application with the parents during the initial visit.
  • Take minimum required X-rays
    We take only the essential number of X-rays to make a comprehensive and accurate diagnosis.
  • Review of dental and facial growth
    We will inspect the teeth to evaluate the sequence of the erupting teeth and map out the next few months of eruptions.
  • Health dietary recommendations
    We will go over the patient’s current diet and make recommendations based on their age. Our recommendations will help prevent dental cavities through a healthy diet and excellent oral hygiene practices.
  • Oral Hygiene instruction
    We educate children on the best techniques for keeping their teeth healthy including proper brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use.
  • Evaluation for Orthodontic intervention
    For older children, we screen for any potential orthodontic issues. If we identify any areas of concern, we work closely with parents to define the next steps and explain all treatment options.

How Often Should I Bring My Child For A Regular Visit?

We recommend that all children and teenagers receive regular dental checkups twice a year. These visits serve to screen for any developing dental issues and to perform a professional tooth cleaning. X-rays are not necessary for each visit. Your doctor will determine how often X-rays and Fluoride treatments are necessary based on your child’s unique dental needs.

Sequence Of Teeth Eruption

Most children will experience their first tooth eruption between the ages of six and ten months. The first teeth to erupt are the lower front teeth. The remainder of the primary teeth continues to grow into the jaw until the age of two to two and a half years of age. Children typically have a total of 20 baby teeth by their third birthday.

The permanent teeth typically begin to erupt around six years of age. The replacement of primary teeth by adult teeth begins with the lower front teeth. This is the same time when the first back molar adult teeth will begin to erupt behind the very last baby teeth in the mouth. The permanent teeth eruption will continue until the age of 12-14 years. At that point, children have all of their permanent teeth except for the wisdom teeth.

We encourage you to refer to the following eruption chart for more detail on the pattern of eruption.

How To Prevent Future Cavities?

Dental caries is an infectious disease that can be transmitted through saliva. A variety of studies show that the bacteria responsible for cavities cannot be found in children at the time of birth. This bacteria is transmitted from the parents or caregivers to the infant during the first year of life. Transmission can happen by sharing eating utensils or even by kissing.

The higher the level of the parent’s or caregiver’s oral bacteria, the higher the risk that can be transmitted to the infant for developing cavities in the future. Therefore, we encourage the parents and/or caregivers to optimize their oral health to reduce the level of bacteria transmission to the baby especially during the first year of the baby’s life.

Try to avoid saliva transfer through sharing of eating utensils and kissing.
Reduce your oral bacteria level by increasing the efficiency of your oral hygiene.
We recommend adults use an antibacterial mouthwash and Xylitol gum to reduce their oral bacterial levels.
Maintain or implement regular dental visits (twice a year or as recommended by your provider).
Tooth decay or a cavity is an irreversible infection of the tooth that is caused by several caries-producing bacteria. These oral bacteria attach themselves to the tooth surface using a sticky substance called plaque. The bacteria feed on the sugar we eat and produce acid from the breakdown of the sugar. This acid attacks the tooth and destroys its surface over time. You can prevent this by practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining healthy eating and drinking habits.

Brushing And Flossing

As part of a good oral health routine, we recommend wiping your baby’s gum with a damp cloth or gauze twice a day. Begin brushing their teeth twice a day as soon as the first teeth erupt. Use a non-fluoridated toothpaste while your child develops the ability to spit out the toothpaste. Once your child develops the ability to spit out the toothpaste, we recommend switching to a Fluoridated toothpaste that has been ADA approved. You don’t need a lot of toothpaste for effective brushing, a smear on their brush is enough. We recommend that you brush your child’s teeth until they gain the fine motor skills to take over the task on their own, this usually occurs around the age of five.

We recommend that you incorporate flossing into your child’s nighttime oral care routine at the age of four. Flossing is an important component of cavity prevention because flossing is the only way to remove the plaque and food scraps that lodge in between the teeth. Floss picks are a good option to make flossing easier for younger children.

Healthy Snack For Good Oral Health

Establishing healthy eating and drinking habits at a young age is important to keep a healthy mouth for life.

To prevent baby bottle/nursing decay, steer clear of nursing or bottle-feeding your baby to sleep.

Keep sippy cups and bottles for water only. Encourage your child to drink sugary drinks (juice and milk) only out of a cup or using a straw.

Cut back on the intake of any sugary drinks and snacks, instead substitute with healthier options including fresh fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese, and crackers.
Minimize the frequency of snacking in between meals.
Incorporating chewing Xylitol gum into the life of older children can be a great way to reduce bacteria and therefore the risk of dental decay.


A dental sealant is made from a resin or durable plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the permanent back teeth to form a barrier against plaque and food. Sealants can be effectively used to prevent cavities on the biting surfaces of the back teeth. However, sealants must be combined with regular dental visits, daily brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet.

Dental Emergencies

If you find yourself experiencing a dental emergency, please contact our office. Our practice has experienced professionals who are equipped to handle all types of dental emergencies. We have a 24-hour emergency paging system to allow our doctors to respond promptly to these calls.

  • Toothache
    If your child complains of tooth pain, start by cleaning the affected area with a warm water rinse. We also recommend gentle flossing and brushing to dislodge any food that may be impacted in the gum. Once you have tried these steps and the pain remains, contact our office. You can provide relief by applying a topical numbing cream on the gum and by applying a cold compress to the area if there is any facial swelling.
  • Cut/bitten lip, tongue, or cheek
    Stop the bleeding by applying gentle but firm pressure to the area using a clean cloth or gauze. Then, apply ice to the affected area to prevent swelling from forming. In the case of excessive bleeding, contact our office or head to the emergency room closest to you.
  • Knocked out baby tooth
    In this type of emergency, contact our office immediately. Stop the bleeding by applying pressure and prevent swelling by applying ice. Try to locate the knocked-out tooth to assure it has not been swallowed.
  • Knocked out permanent tooth
    Attempt to locate the knocked-out permanent tooth and be sure to hold it by the crown and not the root. Rinse it with only water without scrubbing it or washing it with soap. Call our office immediately and will see you within the next hour. Place the tooth in a cup of milk or water if milk is not available. In this case, your child must be seen within an hour.
  • Chipped or fractured adult or baby tooth
    Begin by rinsing your child’s mouth with warm water and proceed to apply ice to reduce swelling. Try to locate the chipped part of the tooth and bring it with you. Call our office immediately because it may be possible to save the tooth and prevent tooth infection with immediate treatment.
  • A severe blow to the head
    Head to the closest emergency room, your child will need to be evaluated and observed.