9 Tips for Finding the Right Pediatric Dentist

You want to keep your child happy and healthy, which is why choosing the right pediatric dentist is such an important decision. Pediatric dentists take care of your little one’s smile and play a significant role in cultivating your child’s lifelong oral health habits. Finding the right fit for your family doesn’t have to be as elusive or daunting as it might seem. Below we have compiled our top tips for finding the right pediatric dentist. These tips will simplify your search and leave you and your children smiling.

1. Understand the qualifications and services of a pediatric dentist

It’s important to note how pediatric dentists differ from family dentists. A family dentist treats people of all ages. A pediatric dentist specializes in treating children. Both dentists go to four years of dental school; however, pediatric dentists require two to three years of additional training. In these extra years of practice, pediatric dentists learn tactics to better serve children. They learn tactics to make children feel more comfortable, address children’s behaviors, and specialize in children’s dental needs.

Pediatric dentists also tend to have more welcoming environments for children and are better adept at explaining procedures so that children understand. If you’re looking for the best care for your child, narrow your Google search from “dentist that will see my child” to “pediatric dentist.”

2. Consider the location

Ideally, you want your child’s pediatric dentist to be conveniently located. It’s highly recommended to search for pediatric dentists in your area. A short drive can also help minimize any dental anxiety your little one might have on the way to their visit. When considering the location, perhaps the most convenient may be near your home or work.

3. Seek recommendations

Reach out to other parents in your area to ask if they have a pediatric dentist they recommend. Consider these recommendations honest testimonials that can have you feeling more confident as you sift through potential options.

4. Look at online reviews

As you narrow your search, it can be beneficial to read online reviews from other parents. You can see a dental office’s overall rating as well as honest testimonials. Online reviews can offer key insight into whether other parents would recommend that particular pediatric dentist.

5. Make a list of your expectations

Make a list of all the qualities and services that your dream pediatric dentist would have. This often overlooked yet crucial step can help you find the best match. Write out your expectations, such as years of experience, gentleness, and the ability to make your child feel comfortable. Having bullet points in mind will help you once you start contacting potential dental offices.

6. Schedule a consultation

Most pediatric dentists welcome potential new clients for a consultation. This is a low-anxiety appointment in which you and your child can check out the office, meet the staff, and ask questions directly to the dentist.

7. Post-consultation Reflection

After meeting with your child’s potential new pediatric dentist, reflect on how the office and the dentist made you feel. Did he or she meet your list of expectations? Did your child seem content and comfortable? These are all factors in determining if that pediatric dentist is right for your family.

8. Schedule your child’s first appointment

Once you’ve made your decision, feel free to schedule your child’s first appointment! You might opt for a routine cleaning as your child’s first appointment with his or her new dentist. This gives a good foundation for your child’s new dentist to collect baseline information about your child’s oral health as well as ease your child into their new office!

9. Looking for a pediatric dentist in the Worcester area?

If you’re in the Worcester area, you’ve most likely had friends and family recommend Children’s Dental Specialties. Feel free to check out the online reviews and schedule a consultation to meet Dr. Dan today!

Tooth decay in children: Is it time to put the needle and drill away?

Named after Dr. Nora Hall, “the Hall Technique” , is a conservative form of treatment for cavities in children that very often involves no local anesthesia (Novacaine) or removal of tooth structure. This form of treatment can be successful for very anxious children where more traditional forms of dental treatment may not be possible. There are some cases, such as teeth with spontaneous pain or infection, were the Hall Technique is not the best option. Dr. Moheban and Dr. Dantas have been using this technique successfully for years and can help you decide if this is the best option for your child. Call us or talk to us the next time you visit the office.

Screen-time and Sleep, What It Means For Your Child’s Health

If you have ever spoken t o Dr. Dan about breathing and sleep you know this is a subject that he feels passionate about. Sleep is very important for us all, especially children. In this study increased television watching was associated with increased BMI as the amount of sleep went down. This was especially true for boys. As with all things in life, moderation not elimination is key. Click on the title to be taken to the original article.

Children Under Age Five Should Drink Mostly Milk And Water, New Guidelines Say

The New York Times (9/18, Rabin) reports that on Sept. 18, “a panel of scientists issued new nutritional guidelines for children…describing in detail what they should be allowed to drink in the first years of life.” The guidelines recommend that “for the first five years, children should drink mostly milk and water.”

        CNN (9/18, Christensen) reports, “Most children under the age of five should avoid plant-based milk, according to new health guidelines about what young children should drink” and issued by “a panel of experts with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association.” With the exception of soy milk that has been fortified, “plant-based milk made from rice, coconut, oats or other blends…lack key nutrition for early development, according to [the] guidelines.” In addition, “they should also avoid diet drinks, flavored milks and sugary beverages and limit how much juice they drink, the guidelines said.”

        Information about the ADA’s nutrition-related activities is available at ADA.org/nutrition.

A Reason to Smile, Dental Caries Prevalence Drops In US Children, CDC Report Shows

Dr Bicuspid (9/17, Edwards) states a new report from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) shows the “prevalence of caries and untreated decay in U.S. children ages 2 to 5” decreased from 27.9 percent in 1999 to 2004 to 23.3 percent in 2011 to 2016. The article reports that “caries prevalence and untreated decay in U.S. children ages 6 to 11 also declined,” noting “overall caries prevalence dropped 3.8% to 17.4% in 2011 to 2016, while untreated decay dropped 2.4% to 5.2%” In addition, the authors of the Oral Health Surveillance Report 2019 wrote, “These improvements include decreases in the prevalence of untreated decay in the primary teeth of children across sociodemographic groups and in the permanent teeth of near-poor and Mexican American children and adolescents and non-Hispanic black adolescents.”



While most babies don’t start getting teeth until they are six months old, infant dental care is important from the very beginning. Many dentists recommend an initial visit before the child’s first birthday to make sure teeth and gums are cared for and cleaned properly.

It is a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby’s gums soon after birth. Although there may be a little fussing at first, your infant will get used to having the mouth cleaned like other parts of the body. Many children grow to enjoy tooth brushing as part of their daily routine.

During your baby’s first year, there are a few conditions to be aware of, including:

Between 3 and 9 months, your infant’s baby teeth will begin to emerge (erupt) into the mouth. Teething may make your child irritable or fussy and may cause restlessness, drooling or loss of appetite. However, it has not been shown to cause any other childhood symptoms.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby bottle tooth decay — also called “early childhood dental caries” — is one of the most important issues in infant tooth care. This condition is caused by frequent exposure, over time, to sugary liquids, which can seriously damage a baby’s teeth and overall oral health.

Pacifier Use
Sucking is a normal part of development that is comforting to children well into their first years of life. In fact, sucking often brings comfort even after a child no longer needs to get nourishment from a breast or bottle. During a child’s first few years, sucking habits probably won’t damage his or her mouth. But frequent and long-term sucking can cause problems. This is especially true if the habit continues after baby teeth start to fall out.

Thumbsucking is a natural  reflex for little ones — babies even do it in the womb. It’s soothing, and many kids stop on their own around ages 2 to 4.

Thumbsucking is certainly nothing to worry about with infants, and might even help them fall asleep more quickly. Problems can arise when kids do a lot of active sucking, especially when their permanent teeth start coming in. Your dentist can offer advice on how to monitor the situation.


Teething is generally thought of as a part of babyhood, but teeth are still coming in for many toddlers. Some molars might not even come in until after they are 2 years old. You might find cool, refrigerated teething rings helpful — or you can check with your pediatrician about whether over-the-counter pain medications could be appropriate.

Toddlers bodies are changing, but so are their temperaments. They’re starting to have their own ideas about what they want to wear, eat, and do, which can make convincing them to brush tricky. As with all things, try to make tooth-brushing a fun activity to increase your level of success.

During the toddler years, you’ll want to keep an eye on issues such as:

Tooth Brushing
Toddlers should brush twice a day with the help of an adult. They can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste starting around 2 years old, when they can brush without swallowing. Special toothpaste and toothbrushes with their favorite characters and kid friendly flavors can help get them excited about brushing, too.

Toddler Cavities
This is a great time to start taking your toddler to the dentist regularly to check for cavities. Twice yearly is standard, and a pediatric dentist is a great option if there’s one in your area, since they are pros with small children. Toddlers might even have cavities, and baby teeth do need fillings, just like permanent teeth.

Toddlers can be picky eaters, but don’t give up. Try serving vegetables lots of different ways, and offer milk with meals to help combat acids that can erode enamel. A diet low in processed sugar can help keep toddlers cavity free, and lots of fruits, veggies and water are good for everyone’s oral health, including toddlers.


As your child grows, continue to take good care of their baby teeth. While they do eventually fall out, baby teeth play an important role in helping your child bite and chew food, and speak clearly. Baby teeth also save space for the permanent teeth, and help guide them into place.

Underneath your kid’s baby teeth, the roots and position of the adult teeth are growing into place. Research shows that children who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities as an adult, so be sure to keep in the habit of prioritizing regular dental checkups. It is important to keep your child’s baby teeth clean, but once the permanent teeth start to come in you really need to make cleaning them a priority. These teeth will last your child a lifetime.

During the kid years, you might have questions about:

Brushing & Flossing

You probably began using toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth when they were around 2 years old, and started flossing once a day as soon as two teeth touched each other. But with an older kid, they probably want to do it themselves. It’s great to give them a turn. Afterwards, you should check their work and brush their teeth a second time. Most children won’t be able to brush their teeth well on their own until they are about 8 years old.

Losing Teeth

Kids lose 20 baby teeth over five to seven years — and it’s really exciting for them! The first wiggly tooth usually shows up when they are around 5 or 6 years old, but it can happen as late as around 8 years old. You can encourage kids to keep wiggling it until the tooth can fall out on it’s own, and remember that it can take a few months for the tooth to be fully ready to fall out.

Tooth Fairy

After all the excitement of a loose tooth, it’s time for the tooth fairy to visit. The tooth fairy usually comes at night to retrieve the baby tooth and leave a reward. In most cases, the tooth fairy deals in currency, but the going rate per tooth fluctuates. In 2018, the national average was $4.19 per tooth according to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll by Delta Dental, and in 2019, it’s reportedly $3.70 according to the updated poll.

5 Questions to Ask at Your Child’s Back-to-School Dental Visit

School will be back in session before you know it. Send your child off to class with a new bookbag, fresh pencils and a healthy smile.

Some schools require a back-to-school dental exam. Still, it’s always a good time of year to schedule one of your child’s regular visits. “We can help spot and take care of any issues so your child doesn’t have to miss class once school starts,” says ADA pediatric dentist Dr. Mary Hayes. “It’s also a great time to help get back on track if some of your child’s dental habits fell away during summer, when normal routines can go out the window and there are a lot more treats around.”

Here are a few questions to ask at your child’s appointment:

How Is My Child’s Overall Dental Health?

The dentist will be looking at the big picture of your child’s mouth, including teeth and gums. “We will check to make sure teeth are lining up correctly, your child’s bite is in good shape and to keep an eye out for any [orthodontic] issues that may show up later,” Dr. Hayes says. “We’re also making sure baby teeth are going to the Tooth Fairy like they should.”

Will My Child Get a Cleaning Today?

This is a must, no matter how well your child brushes. “Even if your child—or you, for that matter—brushes twice a day, it’s not possible to get rid of all the bacteria that can lead to cavities,” Dr. Hayes says. “And on the other hand, you may have a child who goes off to camp and never opens their toothbrush.”

That’s why a professional cleaning goes a long way. “It removes more of the cavity-causing bacteria and helps to keep gum tissue healthy,” she says. “It can also remove most or many stains from teeth.”

Does My Child Need an X-Ray?

X-rays help your dentist see how your child’s teeth are developing and make sure the tooth roots are healthy. They also are used to see if there is any tooth decay between your child’s teeth. “The decay process can move very, very fast, so the earlier we can catch it, the better,” Dr. Hayes says.

Your child won’t need an x-ray at every visit. “We do them only when necessary,” she says.

Can You Check My Child’s Mouthguard?

If your child plays sports year-round, make sure you bring his or her mouthguard along so your dentist can check for wear, tear and fit. “If your child is having a growth spurt, losing teeth and getting new ones, the mouthguard might need to be redone,” she says.

What Are Sealants?

Sealants can be another way to keep your child from getting cavities, but they’re no substitute for brushing and flossing. A sealant is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that your dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth (called molars). Once they’re on, sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and bits of food from settling into the nooks and crannies your child’s toothbrush can’t reach. This helps keep cavities from forming and tiny existing spots of decay from getting worse.

In fact, having sealants on your permanent molars reduces the risk of cavities by 80%. It’s best to get sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molars come through their gums (usually at age 6, then again at age 12). “It doesn’t hurt to put on or apply a sealant,” Dr. Hayes says. “When permanent molars start coming in, parents should ask if sealants are recommended.” Most last for years, and your child’s dentist will make sure they’re holding strong at every regular visit.

7 MouthHealthy Tips for Your Summer Soiree

Serve the Right Kind of Crunch

Potato chips are standard party fare, but they bring unwanted guests into your mouth. Chewed-up chips often settle in the pits of your teeth, giving cavity-causing bacteria the chance to make a meal from your teeth.

Instead, put apples and pears on your fruit platter, and stock your veggie tray with carrots, celery and raw broccoli. They’re like natural toothbrushes, scrubbing off build-up and stimulating saliva to wash away what’s left.

Cheese, Please

A slice of cheddar can make a grilled burger so much better. Plus, who doesn’t love a cheese platter? Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are low in sugar and rich in calcium and phosphorous, which strengthen and protect enamel. Research also suggests that eating more dairy may lower your chances for developing gum disease. So go ahead and say cheese!

The Trouble with Toothpicks

Serving corn on the cob or pulled pork? Your guests may need something to get food unstuck from their teeth. A toothpick is sharp and can pierce gums, giving bacteria a chance to get in. And no one wants a mouth splinter if it breaks. Instead, leave dental picks in a covered dish in the bathroom, or replace toothpicks on the table with soft, flexible, wooden plaque removers like Stim-U-Dent.

Go Seedless

You can also cut down on food getting stuck in your guests’ teeth by serving seedless foods. Opt for hot dog and hamburger buns without sesame and poppy seeds. Use crunchy fruits in your fruit salad instead of raspberries, kiwi and blackberries, and serve seedless watermelon.

Crush, Don’t Cube

Ice may be your best friend on a hot day, but it’s no friend to your teeth. That’s because chewing on hard foods, such as ice, can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency such as a broken tooth and can even damage enamel. If you can, put cans and bottles in a huge tub of ice so your guests won’t be tempted to crunch a few cubes when they’re done with their drinks. If you need ice to put in a glass, use crushed.

Serve Infused Water

Soda and sports drinks are some of the worst drinks for your teeth. They eat away at your teeth, cause dry mouth and are full of sugar. Water, however, is one of the best things you can sip, so serve up a healthy drink with a twist of whatever fruit you’d like. Infused waters are low in sugar and super hydrating. (Just go easy on citrus fruits. The acid in lemons and limes can be harsh on your teeth.) Bonus: Pitchers of infused water will also look beautiful on your table.

Keep Gum Handy

Your guests may be looking for something to freshen their breath after dinner. Swap out a bowl of mints for a dish of sugar-free gum. Studies using gum with the ADA Seal show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals may help prevent tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum gets saliva flowing to wash away food and fights acids produced by cavity-causing bacteria from eating away your teeth.

3 Tips for Healthy Summer Smiles

Summer sun brings summer fun. While warm months are perfect for spending time together, summer vacation can also throw off your usual dental routine. Here are three ways to prevent summertime tooth decay:  

Stay on a routine 

Whether your kids are staying up to catch fireflies or a fireworks show, resist the temptation to skip brushing before a late bedtime—or let it slide when they sleep in the next morning. “Don’t forget about your smile over the summer,” says ADA pediatric dentist Dr. Mary Hayes. “It’s important for families to consistently brush and floss, which keeps kids on track for healthy back-to-school dental visits.” 

No matter how eventful the upcoming months become, supervise that they are brushing twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Simple things like brushing calendars can help everyone stay on track over the summer. Plus, it’s a chance to spend more time together. Brushing alongside your children for 2 minutes, twice a day for the three months of summer gives you 6 extra hours together, so make the most of them

And don’t forget to clean between those teeth once a day. “Your children should be flossing between any two teeth that touch,” Dr. Hayes says. “However, many kids don’t have motor skills to floss until they are over 10 years old.” If your child needs help, try different types of interdental cleaners or put your hands over theirs to guide them and get the job done at the same time.  

Say no to sugary drinks and snacks 

As the temperature rises, it’s common for families to sip and snack during sports tournaments, festivals or nearly any community event. “Watch your family’s intake of lemonade, juice and soda,” says Dr. Hayes. “Consider sugary drinks treats to enjoy once in a while, and not often.” Instead, offer water (even better if it has fluoride) to beat the heat, or milk to drink with meals. And, don’t let summertime grazing damage your child’s smile. “Taking a break from snacking is healthy for your teeth,” says Dr. Hayes. “It allows time for saliva to bathe the teeth, wash away leftover food and get stronger.”  

If you find yourself spending more time at home, snack smarter, and let your children tell you when they’re hungry instead of offering snacks throughout the day. “They’re not afraid to let you know when they want something to eat!” she says.  

Make your back-to-school dental visit early 

Some schools require back-to-school dental visits for certain grades, and these checkups can be a good way to be sure your child’s teeth stayed healthy. It is a good idea to make your child’s back-to-school appointment early in the summer to avoid the August rush and help insure you get the appointment time that works best for you. “We can help spot and take care of any issues, so your child doesn’t have to miss class once school starts,” Dr. Hayes says. “Visiting the dentist regularly can help your child’s smile stay healthy all year long.”

Latest News from Children's Dental Specialties