We all know it’s important to teach our kids to brush and floss, but how soon should we start? When those first teeth pop through or when kids start eating solid foods? Do children need to go to a pediatric dentist or just a regular dentist? What’s the
difference, anyway? And how do we know if our tweens really need braces? We sat down with some of the best pediatric dentists in town to get these questions answered. Read on to find out what they had to say about establishing healthy habits for life.


HIRES Dental Care

3951 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo
419-475-6673 |

At what age should parents start taking children to the dentist?
Most new parents are surprised to learn that the American Dental Association recommends taking your child to the dentist within 6-months of getting their first tooth or by their first birthday. This also allows the child to become familiar, and more comfortable, with visiting the dentist, all of which will make future dental appointments much easier.

When it comes to a child’s oral health, what’s one important tip you have for parents?
Don’t ever take oral health for granted. Even when teeth “feel fine,” children and adults still need to see a dentist regularly because they can detect issues early on, before the pain begins. Tooth decay is preventable, yet it’s the most common childhood disease in America. Over 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental-related problems. And untreated, tooth decay can lead to infections, which can spread, resulting in flu-like symptoms. Make visiting the dentist a “family thing.” We can schedule families together, which is not only convenient for the parents, but it makes children a bit more comfortable knowing they aren’t the only ones getting a check-up.

What is a common question you encounter from parents, and what is your response? “Why is it so important to take good care of baby teeth when they’re just going to fall out anyway?!” Baby teeth act as benchwarmers for permanent teeth. If decay is present, it can actually spread to the permanent tooth growing underneath. It’s also important to properly care for baby teeth in order to establish good habits so that the child continues them into adulthood.

Don’t ignore baby teeth.
“Baby teeth act as benchwarmers for permanent teeth. If decay is present, it will actually spread to the permanent tooth growing underneath.”
— Dr. Hires


HLS Orthodontics

6407 Monroe Street
419-882-1017 |

What is the difference between an orthodontic practice and a dentist practice?
A dentist deals with keeping teeth healthy by administering six-month checkups and cleanings, while also addressing any defects in teeth, such as cavities. An orthodontist is a dentist who completes another 2-3 years of education, specializing in jaw alignment and correct structural placement of teeth.

How early do children receive braces? What’s the average age and duration?
Around age 7. An orthodontist’s main purpose is to monitor “traffic control of teeth” as baby teeth fall out and permanent teeth come in. Teeth are supposed to accomplish this transition in an orderly fashion. However, when a baby tooth refuses to move aside, an orthodontist will “write it a ticket” (send a referral to his or her dentist) to have it “towed away.” Although 12 is the average age for starting braces, sometimes early intervention is necessary to address jaw discrepancies, so keeping an eye on growth and development is extremely helpful. It usually takes two years to correct most orthodontic issues.

What sets your practice apart from other practices in town?
Our orthodontic practice is always on the cutting edge when it comes to innovations in technology. Last year we implemented scanning to create digital images of our patients’ teeth. Our patients really appreciate having a 3D printed model from a scan versus having a tray filled with alginate inserted into their mouths!

What is a common question you encounter from parents, and what is your response?
“Do braces hurt?” Braces don’t hurt because they are just very small metal or clear brackets fastened to the teeth with a special adhesive. It does take the inside of the cheeks and lips a bit to adjust to something other than a slippery tooth surface, but most people adapt quickly.


Dr. Erin Knierim, DDS

3036 W Sylvania Ave, Toledo
419-474-0733 |

What sets a pediatric dentist apart from a regular dentist?
Think of pediatric dentists as the pediatricians of dentistry. Pediatric dentists attend an additional 2-3 years of specialty training beyond dental school, and we limit our practices to treat only children. We are spending those years learning about growth and development, child psychology and special healthcare needs, to name a few.

When it comes to a child’s oral health, what’s one important tip you have for parents?
Use caution when you choose snacks. Consuming things that are high in refined carbohydrates (like crackers) and things that are sticky (like fruit snacks) are convenient, but put children at an increased risk for cavities when consumed frequently. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, or nuts for snacks whenever possible.

What is a common question you encounter from parents, and what is your response?
Many parents worry about bringing their children in at age 1, when they may not have the ability to cooperate quite yet, and ask about how the appointment will go. The age 1 dental visit is usually done in a lap-to-lap format with the parent and dentist, it’s quite fast, and may include a few tears. Most of your first appointments will be spent letting your child explore the office while discussing hygiene, diet and dental development.

Use caution whenchoosing snacks.
“Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese or nuts for snacks whenever possible.”
— Dr. Knierm

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