When Should You Take Your Child to See a Pediatric Dentist?

Updated: Mar 9


A child being examined by a pediatric dentist.

When should you bring your kid to the pediatric dentist’s office? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, every child should visit a dentist at least once by the time they are a year old. From then on, you need to schedule a standard dental check-up every six months to ensure your little one’s smile remains happy and healthy.


Apart from this, there might be times when your child has a dental emergency or develops worrying symptoms of cavities or other problems where early intervention is key. Here are some signs you need to immediately book an appointment with a reputable pediatric dentist.


10 Signs Your Child Needs Pediatric Dental Care

Tooth Pain

A toothache is the first sign that things are not as they should be with your child’s teeth. If one of your children starts complaining about pain in their teeth, ask them specific questions to understand the degree of the pain. Try to find out if the pain is consistent throughout the day or gets worse when they eat something.


Intense tooth pain can be a symptom of tooth decay and a chipped tooth. Both are a cause for concern, and you need to schedule an appointment with a trusted pediatric dentist as soon as possible.


If tooth pain is accompanied by swelling or pus around the affected tooth, it could mean that the tooth is abscessed. So, if you observe these symptoms, take your child to the dentist’s office immediately—they will be able to address the issue quickly through minor dental surgery.


Sensitive Teeth

A child suffering from toothache is clutching his jaw in pain.

If your child complains about an uncomfortable feeling while eating and drinking, this might also be an alarm bell as tooth sensitivity is a symptom of cavities. Even if it is a case of mild discomfort, bring it up during the dental appointment so the pediatric dentist can identify the issue and prevent things from getting worse. Remember, if cavities are left untreated for a long time, your little ones will experience more pain and discomfort.


Chipped or Cracked Teeth

As parents, you love watching your children run around and have fun. But, this also increases their chance of falling and chipping their teeth. Though chipped or cracked teeth can often be harmless and not cause any pain, only a pediatric dentist can accurately diagnose the severity of the injury.


If there is a crack running vertically or diagonally across your child’s tooth, don’t delay visiting your dentist. With this type of injury, the injury can deepen and get closer to the roots, resulting in immense pain and structural damage to the teeth.


Recurring Jaw Pain

A dislocated or broken jaw can be extremely painful. So, if your child recently had a fall and has difficulty chewing or talking, it is best to take them to a reputable pediatric dentist as soon as possible.


If your little one is in the habit of clenching their jaw while sleeping, they might be at risk of jaw pain. Your dentist will probably recommend a special bite guide your child can wear when asleep to relax and protect their jaw.

Clicking Jaw

Underbite and overbite can cause your little one’s jaw to make a popping or clicking sound when they chew. They might need to get braces to fix the jaw misalignment. Your pediatric dentist can determine if your child requires braces.


Lip Sucking

Like tongue thrusting and thumb-sucking, lip sucking is another habit that can cause malocclusion and teeth misalignment in children. However, please note that malocclusion can also occur naturally and could be the reason behind your child’s lip sucking.


With early conditioning and counseling, your pediatric dentist can correct the malocclusion and help your child quit the habit. Swollen and chapped lips and skin irritation in the areas surrounding the lips are signs of excessive lip sucking.


Excessive Bleeding of the Gums

If your child notices a little blood in the sink while brushing or flossing, it is a sign that you might have to pay a little more attention to the plaque around their gums.

Though a bit of bleeding is not a cause for concern, excessive gum bleeding can spell trouble for your kid’s oral health. You need to gently clean the bleeding area and apply pressure using a damp cloth or paper towel. Once the bleeding stops, schedule an emergency dental visit as this might indicate tooth infection.


If left untreated, your child may lose their baby teeth before the underlying adult teeth are ready to come out.


Teeth Discoloration

Stained or discolored teeth are a sure sign that your kid needs to pay a visit to the dentist’s office sooner rather than later. From small white spots on their teeth to graying or blackening teeth, any discoloration can be a sign of a tooth problem and requires immediate medical attention. Genetics can also cause color changes in the teeth. In both cases, your child’s dentist needs to be informed of the problem immediately.


Bad Breath

Consistent bad breath can be a sign of dental issues, including tooth infection and decay. If your kid’s breath has changed or worsened suddenly, you need to consult with a pediatric dentist to discover the underlying cause and the best way to fix it.


Tooth Loss

Losing baby teeth is completely normal. But, when your child’s adult teeth start falling out, it’s a different story. Several dental conditions can result in the loss of adult teeth. Schedule an appointment with the pediatric dentist to find out why and how to fix the problem.


Tooth loss due to a sports accident is quite common in children. If an adult tooth falls out during such an instance, we recommend parents pick up the fallen tooth by the crown and rinse it with water. Avoid touching the root of the knocked-out tooth. Put the tooth in a glass of milk and fix an emergency dental appointment within 30 minutes of the injury. The dentist might be able to reinsert the tooth or set your child up with an alternative tooth.



If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with the pediatric dental team at The Children’s Dental Center. We are always dedicated to keeping your child’s precious little smile happy and healthy. Contact us today to book your little one’s dentist’s appointment in Coralville, Iowa.

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