Answers to Questions About Your Child’s Dental Health

The American Dental Association, along with the ADA Foundation has declared February to be National Children’s Dental Health Month. This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.


Introducing Dr. Crystal Rucker

At The Academy, want to be a resource for our parents to help answer questions about your child’s dental health. We have partnered with Snodgrass King to provide you with accurate and age-relevant information. Dr. Crystal Rucker, a specialist in pediatric dentistry at Snodgrass King, has provided the following pediatric dentistry FAQ.

Dental FAQs for Preschool Parents

What is the earliest you encourage parents to bring their baby in for a dental checkup?

Your child’s first pediatric dentist appointment should occur shortly after the first tooth erupts and no later than the child’s first birthday. Beginning tooth and mouth examinations early may lead to detection of early stages of tooth decay that can be easily treated.

What would you go over or do during such a visit?

There are multiple topics that need to be discussed at the first dental appointment which include:

  • Proper bottle-feeding and nursing techniques
  • Proper brushing techniques, which include what toothbrush to use and how; how much toothpaste to use, and what kind of toothpaste to use
  • Proper flossing techniques and the best types of floss for children
  • How and when to encourage your child to stop using a pacifier or their thumb or finger for comfort

What are some things parents can do at home to begin a healthy oral hygiene routine?

  • Read your child books about going to the dentist, for example, Sesame Street’s “Ready, Set, Brush”. You can also prepare your child for what’s to come by starting proper home oral care at an early age. Then they will be used to getting their mouth cleaned and taken care of, and won’t be surprised at the dentist.
  • Show your child that oral care isn’t scary! Brush and floss your teeth in front of them, and act enthusiastic about it. Then, when you have to go to the dentist, talk about it excitedly. Avoid talking about pain or discomfort and emphasize how healthy their teeth and smile will be afterward. This will help ensure your child that it isn’t a scary place.

What are some good teething tips to offer to parents?

Drooling and pain from baby teething may begin as early as 3-4 months, but teeth won’t come in until 6-8 months or later. Be on the lookout for drooling, irritability, difficulty sleeping, grabbing ears, biting/chewing/sucking, and turning away food (typical baby behavior, right…not quite). Be careful not to blame teething for other symptoms such as diarrhea, runny nose, or a high temperature. If you are noticing these symptoms, and they last longer than 24 hours you should contact your pediatrician.

What You Can Do to Ease The Pain of Teething

  • Gum Massage: Use wet washcloths, gauze, or clean fingers to massage the gums. It helps the teeth break through the skin and will relieve some of the discomfort your baby is experiencing.
  • Ice, Ice, Baby: Look for teething rings that you can chill or freeze. You can also wet a baby-sized washcloth and freeze it for your child to gnaw on. Frozen foods such as bananas, carrots, celery, and popsicles work as well. Celery actually has natural pain relieving properties, so frozen it serves double duty!
  • Catching ZZZ’s Regularly: Try to stay on a regular sleep/ nap schedule. It’s hard for babies to sleep when teeth are breaking through. To keep their sleep schedule regular use pain relievers. Children 6 months and under can only take Infant Tylenol. However, children over the age of 6 months can take Children’s Motrin. Please be sure to follow all package dosing instructions.

What’s to be said of thumb sucking, pacifiers, etc.?

Most children stop thumb and pacifier sucking habits on their own. However, continuing these habits past the age of three can cause dental problems. Young children’s growing bones are sensitive to outside forces and change shape over time as the habit continues. These habits can cause effects such as a crossbite, high palate, open bite, and flared front teeth.

Why is taking care of baby teeth so important?

Even though we lose them, baby teeth are extremely important because they do the following:

  • Help children chew food easily and properly
  • Hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums
  • Help children speak clearly
  • Set the tone for a lifetime full of healthy smiles

What are some ways to clean baby teeth at home?

Initially, parents can use a wet toothbrush or a small cloth to wipe off teeth. This is especially important during nursing and bottle feeding. Parents should brush their child’s teeth with the appropriate amounts of fluoride toothpaste at least 2 times a day. A ‘smear’ or ‘rice-size’ amount is adequate for children less than three years of age. A ‘pea-size’ amount is efficient for children aged three to six. Parents should brush gently all around their child’s baby teeth until he or she is old enough to hold the brush. Parents should continue to supervise and assist with their child’s oral hygiene as he or she grows.

What is the best kind of first toothbrush?

After baby teeth are seen in the mouth, parents can start using a toothbrush to clean them. The best first toothbrush includes the following: a soft brush, a small head, and a large handle.

About Snodgrass King Dental Associates

Since 1987, Snodgrass King has been in the business of changing lives, one smile at a time. With nearly 100 years of combined dental experience, the staff and dentists at SnodgrassKing serve Middle Tennessee with one goal in mind – excellence.


They have highly skilled specialists in Pediatric Dentistry, Orthodontics, Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry, and Oral Surgery. Their website ( provides many resources for families from their first visit to the dentist office to safety tips and general oral health.  SnodgrassKing has five offices located in Cool Springs, Hermitage, Murfreesboro, Spring Hill, and Mt. Juliet.

For more information on Snodgrass King visit their website at