Young child brushes her teeth.

A Guide to Pediatric Dentistry

Good dental care is important at every stage of life, of course, but especially for children. During a child’s early years, their teeth are still developing – and what happens with a child’s teeth, gums, and jawbones during their first few years of life can affect their dental health as adults.

Even baby teeth are important. Also known as primary teeth, baby teeth help a child eat and speak normally. They also serve as placeholders for their adult teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist for the first time at 12 months of age or within six months of getting their first tooth.

Pediatric Dentistry Services

Pediatric dentists offer a wide variety of services that promote dental health in children. These services help put kids in the best position possible for great teeth throughout their lifetime.


Tooth decay is a serious problem – in fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children and adults. An astounding 23 percent of kids ages 2 to 5 years have had cavities in their primary teeth (baby teeth), and almost 57 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 have had cavities in their permanent teeth.

Treatment for cavities, also known as dental caries, is important for a child’s overall health and development. Untreated dental caries can lead to pain and infections that may cause problems eating, speaking, learning, and playing. Left untreated, dental cavities can also lead to severe gum infections, known as abscesses, which can spread to other parts of the child’s body.

Fluoride treatments

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in food and some water sources. Often called “nature’s cavity fighter,” fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making tooth enamel stronger. Most municipalities add fluoride to their water supplies and many toothpastes contain fluoride, but these sources may not provide enough fluoride some children need to prevent cavities.


Professional dental cleanings remove the plaque and bacteria that cause cavities. Even with the best brushing and flossing techniques, children and adults have trouble removing cavity-causing bacteria and plaque.

Regular cleanings also give your pediatric dentist an opportunity to keep a watchful eye over your child’s dental health.

Preventive care

The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to pediatric dentistry. Preventive dentistry provides a number of benefits, such as:

  • Minimizing the risk of tooth decay
  • Protecting tooth enamel from bacteria, plaque, cavities
  • Fighting gum disease
  • Stopping bad breath


Straight teeth are important for a great smile, and even more important for overall health. Misaligned teeth can make it hard to eat whole meats, fruits, and vegetables that growing children need. Crooked teeth, also known as malocclusion, are also difficult to brush and floss properly – and this can lead to gum disease, cavities, and more.

Your pediatric dentist in Mentor offers two approaches to straightening teeth: traditional braces and Invisalign®. Traditional braces feature metal brackets and wires that gently pull the teeth towards their desired locations.

Healthy Start®

Nine out of ten children experience symptoms of sleep disorders, such as staying asleep or snoring. Poor sleep quality can affect a child’s growth and development. Treating the sleep disorders early can prevent or reduce a variety of issues, such as ADD/ADHD, chronic allergies, aggressive behavior, restless sleep, mouth breathing, and more.

The Healthy Start® system has been helping children sleep better for more than 54 years. The non-invasive system consists of a series of oral appliances that shift the child’s jaw forward, a position that allows for better sleep. As an added bonus, Healthy Start® can potentially straighten a child’s teeth without the need for braces.


Dental sealants protect the hard-to-clean areas of your child’s teeth. Your dentist applies thin layers of resin-based material, which bonds to the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Dental sealants can reduce the risk of cavities by as much as 80 percent.

Cosmetic dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry improves the aesthetic appeal of someone’s smile. While most cosmetic dentistry patients are adults, a number of them are children – after all, appearances are important to kids too (and especially to teenagers!). Cosmetic dentistry for children is less invasive, but it can have some big benefits.

Cosmetic dentistry procedures include:

  • Flipper – acts as a spacer to fill in the gap left by a missing tooth; flippers are great for children who are too young for a dental implant
  • Dental bonding – your dentist applies a tooth-colored composite resin to the surface of a tooth to conceal minor flaws, such as chips or small gaps between teeth
  • Teeth whitening – having discolored teeth can be challenging for adults and children; teeth whitening can give children the confidence they need to participate in school discussions or to interact with friends
  • Veneers – your dentist can apply these wafer-thin covers to the visible surfaces of your child’s permanent teeth to cover stubborn stains or other imperfections

For more information on pediatric dentistry, consult with Great Lakes Dental. Our dentist in Mentor, Ohio provides a wide variety of pediatric dental services to fit you and your family’s goals.