As a parent, you probably have several questions about your child’s oral health. Drs. Richards and Miller would be happy to provide you with the information you need. We have providing answers to the most common questions we receive at Children's Dental Specialists of Lake County:


When should my child see a dentist?
Children should see a dentist when they receive their first tooth, usually around 6-12 months, or by their first birthday. Early treatment will protect your child’s oral health and establish a dental home.

Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
We encourage children to visit at a young age for preventive care. One of the main concerns for an infant’s dental health is baby bottle tooth decay (or nursing caries). Teeth are at risk of decay once a child is introduced to food beyond breast milk. The earlier your child visits Children's Dental Specialists of Lake County, the better our dentists can prevent dental problems.

How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?
Avoid at-will nursing after the first tooth erupts and your child is introduced to other food. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle that contains anything besides water. Fruit juice should not be consumed in a bottle, only in a cup at mealtime. Limit consumption of 100% fruit juice to 4-6 ounces per day for children 1-5 years of age.

When should bottle feeding be stopped?
Children should be weaned off the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
Thumb sucking is common among young children and usually stops around age 4-5. However, prolonged thumb sucking can result in crooked teeth and bite problems. If the habit persists beyond age 5, we recommend a professional evaluation with our pediatric dentists to address thumb sucking.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
As soon as they erupt, you should gently brush your infant’s teeth with soft infant toothbrush or a clean cloth and water. Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Children younger than 2 should only receive a smear of toothpaste, while children ages 2-5 can have a pea-sized amount. You will need to brush your child’s teeth until they have developed the motor skills to brush sufficiently on their own.

Any advice on teething?
Your child will experience tender gums from teething from 6 months to 3 years of age. You can reduce your child’s discomfort with a teething ring, cold spoon, or cold and wet washcloth. Some parents prefer a chilled ring, while other rub their babies’ mouths with their fingers.


Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers, and other objects?
Sucking on objects is common for young children, as it provides a sense of security. It allows babies to connect with and learn more about the world. Babies begin sucking on fingers while they are still in the womb.

Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?
Most children cease thumb sucking between ages 4 and 5 with no side effects. Some children, however, prolong the habit, which can result in pulling the front teeth toward the lip and creating a bad bite. Frequent or intense thumb sucking can disrupt jaw growth and development.

When should I worry about a sucking habit?
Our pediatric dentists will monitor your child teeth and jaw development for signs of trouble. Dr. Richards and Dr. Miller may suggest an intervention for children beyond 5 years of age.

What can I do to stop my child’s habit?
Most children cease thumb sucking on their own, but some need help from adults. If your child is old enough to comprehend the effects of thumb sucking, our pediatric dentists can discuss strategies to help eliminate the habit. Support from parents and the dentist is enough to make many children quit. Otherwise, our dentists can recommend treatments such as oral appliances to discourage thumb sucking.

Are pacifiers a safer habit for teeth than thumbs or fingers?
The habit of sucking on a pacifier vs. a thumb or finger is essentially the same, though pacifier habits are easier to break.


What are sealants?
Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent cavities. The grooves of molars are the most common area for cavities to develop in children.

How do sealants work?
Food frequently builds up in the tiny grooves and pits of teeth because children often have difficulty cleaning these areas. Dental sealants can “seal out” food particles and bacteria to reduce the risk of decay.

How long do sealants last?
If properly cared for, sealants can last for many years, which means your child’s smile will be protected throughout their most cavity-prone years. Dental sealants last longer for children who have excellent oral hygiene and do not bite down on hard objects. During dental checkups, our pediatric dentists will evaluate the dental sealants to determine if they need to be replaced.

What is the treatment like?
Receiving dental sealants is quick and painless. In a single visit, the teeth are cleaned, conditioned and dryed. Then, the dental sealant is flowed into the grooves of the tooth and hardened with a special light. Your child can eat and play immediately after.

How much does it cost?
Dental sealants are typically covered by most insurance plans, though some have age and tooth limitations. We encourage you to check your insurance for benefits and speak with our office to determine the exact cost. Children's Dental Specialists of Lake County strives to keep our sealants affordable for all patients.

Which teeth should be sealed?
Saliva is usually enough to keep the surfaces of teeth clean between brushings but cannot reach into the grooves and pits of the molars. Our dentists recommend dental sealants for the 6-year and 12-year molars, though any tooth with grooves may be eligible. Drs. Richards and Miller will determine which of your child’s teeth would benefit from dental sealants.

If my child has sealants, are brushing and flossing still important?
Your child’s teeth should still be brushed and flossed daily. Sealants are only one step toward a cavity-free childhood; excellent oral hygiene, nutrition, and regular dental checkups are also essential.

How can my child protect his or her teeth during sports?
We offer custom-made mouth guards for children who are involved in any athletic activity. These mouth guards cushion the teeth, jaw, cheeks, and tongue to reduce the risk of a dental injury.


What You Need to Know About Your Dental Health
Fact 1: Though you are in your teen years, you are still at risk of tooth decay. In fact, the risk may be higher than ever.

Fact 2: You are also at risk for gum disease, which can cause swollen gums, bleeding, and bad breath.

Fact 3. By your teen years, you will have all your permanent teeth with the exception of the wisdom teeth. Your face and jaw will undergo many developments, and we encourage you to take good care of your teeth during this time to maintain your oral health and attractive smile.

How You Can Keep a Healthy Smile
If you would like to maintain a bright, beautiful, and healthy smile, follow these steps:

  • Eat well and snack smartly. Opt for fruits and vegetables over junk food and limit sugary snacks, as these can negatively affect your teeth and gums.
  • Exercise good oral hygiene. Thoroughly but gently brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Floss to remove plaque and food from between the teeth to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Visit the dentist regularly for checkups. Your smile will benefit from tooth cleanings and fluoride treatment.
  • Refrain from smoking or using tobacco. In addition to lung and heart problems, tobacco use has been linked to 90% of all cancers in the mouth and throat. If you use tobacco and notice changes in your mouth, contact our office immediately.
  • Wear a mouth guard during sports activities, even non-contact sports. Mouth guards protect the teeth, cheeks, jaw, and tongue from injury and expensive dental work.
  • Wear your seatbelt. A seatbelt protects your teeth in an accident so that you do not strike the window, windshield, steering wheel, or dashboard.

Quiz on Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are most common during the teenage years. In addition to jeopardizing your health and safety, eating disorders can also weaken your smile. You (or a friend) may have an eating disorder if you (or they) reply “Yes” to these questions:

  1. Do you weigh yourself or want to weigh yourself more than once a day?
  2. Are you obsessed with losing weight and being thin even though doctors and other medical professionals have said you are a healthy or low weight?
  3. Are you worried that you are not able to stop eating?
  4. Do you vomit or have the urge to vomit after eating?
  5. (For girls only) Have you missed three consecutive periods?

All eating disorders are linked to health risks and can become fatal. Disorders linked to vomiting can destroy the teeth because of stomach acid. If you believe that you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please tell a trusted adult immediately. You (or your friend) should also visit the dentist and doctor as soon as possible.

Tips for Smart Snacking

  1. Limit snacking between meals.
  2. Brush your teeth or rinse with water afterward to clean your teeth.
  3. Do not replace nutritional meals with snacks.

How Your Pediatric Dentist Can Help
You may think a pediatric dentist is for young children, but pediatric care is the focus of oral health for all patients from birth to their teen years. In fact, treating adolescents and teens is a fundamental part of our training. A pediatric dentist can help your teen maintain healthy teeth for a lifetime through routine dental cleanings, fluoride treatment, and dental sealants. We can also provide tips on how to eat well and maintain excellent oral hygiene.

If your teen is concerned about the appearance of their teeth, our dentists will assess their smile and recommend the right cosmetic treatments for them. These may include teeth whitening, repairing broken teeth, and addressing defects or unwanted gaps.

During the teen years, your son or daughter should receive their wisdom teeth. Many teens do not have sufficient space for these teeth and need to have them removed. Our dentists will determine if and when their wisdom teeth need to be extracted.

We hope you have found this information to be helpful. Please contact our office with any questions, and feel free to share your knowledge with family and friends.

Special Needs

Do special children have special dental needs?
Most children with special needs require a different approach to dental care. Some are particularly susceptible to tooth decay, oral trauma, and gum disease, while others are on medications or diets that can be detrimental to oral health. Many children struggle with oral hygiene at home. Having your child start visiting the dentist at a young age will help them become accustomed to dental care and feel comfortable at our office.

How can I prevent dental problems for my child?
Bringing your child to the dentist by their first birthday will start your child on a path to lifelong dental health. Our dentists will combine medical history and a thorough oral exam to create a preventive treatment plan for your child.

Will preventive dentistry benefit my child?
Preventive care is essential for all children. We suggest thorough brushing and flossing, moderate snacking, and fluoride treatments. Your child should also see the dentist regularly for dental cleanings, fluoride treatment, and dental sealants.

Are pediatric dentists prepared to care for special children?
All pediatric dentists experience at least two or more years of additional schooling, part of which focuses on caring for children with special needs. Pediatric dental offices are designed to accommodate special needs children and help them feel comfortable. Many pediatric dentists are trained to care for special needs adults as well. Drs. Richards and Miller can also provide hospital dentistry for children who have difficulty cooperating in the dental chair. Hospital dentistry offers general anesthesia to help your child remain calm and comfortable during their appointment.

Will my child need special care during dental treatment?
Some children need additional support during treatments and exams. Sedation dentistry helps many children relax and remain still while we care for their smile. Drs. Richards and Miller have training in behavioral management, sedation, and anesthesia, and we will select a technique that works best for your child. Prior to treating your child’s smile, we will discuss all of the requirements, risks, and benefits with you.

We hope you have found this information helpful. If you have further questions, you are welcome to call (440)266-1740 and speak with our team or come see our pediatric dentists in Mentor, Ohio. We would be delighted to hear from you!