Updated on February 27, 2024
4 min read

Pediatric Dentistry: Common Treatment Options for Babies & Children

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Pediatric dentists handle all aspects of oral health care for children. The most common pediatric dental services include dental exams and cavity fillings.

 Pediatric dentists also specialize in tooth extractions and preventive and restorative treatments.

Common Pediatric Dental Procedures

Pediatric dental procedures differ slightly from adult dental procedures, though they are all relatively similar. 

Here are some of the most common dental procedures for children: 

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride helps prevent cavities and keeps primary tooth enamel strong. The mineral reduces the risk of plaque formation and buildup, which causes tooth decay if not removed. 

Dental hygienists apply topical fluoride to your child’s teeth after a professional teeth cleaning.

Cavity Fillings for Baby Teeth

Children affected by tooth decay and cavities must have their teeth filled as soon as possible.

Early childhood caries (ECC) are light brown and appear on the biting surfaces of primary molars. They can also form on anterior teeth, such as incisors or canines.

image 5

The bacteria from untreated tooth decay can also spread to other teeth, which results in more serious oral health conditions.

Many pediatric dentists provide silver amalgam fillings for children because they are affordable, and the teeth will eventually fall out. Others recommend tooth-colored composite fillings for children because they are aesthetically pleasing and healthier than silver amalgam.

Baby Tooth Extractions

Baby teeth may require extraction if they are severely decayed or damaged.

Another common reason for extractions is when primary teeth become over-retained. Over-retained teeth are baby teeth that stay in position for more than a year after they’re supposed to shed, preventing the eruption of permanent teeth. 

Space Maintainers

When a child loses a primary tooth prematurely from severe decay, disease, or damage, space maintainers might be used to keep space open in the gums.

Space maintainers prevent overcrowding and misalignment as permanent teeth grow in. This reduces or eliminates the need for orthodontic treatment later on. 


Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of back molars and form “physical barriers” on the pits and fissures of teeth. 

Prepareted dental sealant mold or Molar Fissure for fillings placement

Sealants are an effective, safe, and painless way to protect newly erupted permanent teeth from developing cavities for up to 10 years. This is because the pits and fissures of new permanent teeth are very prominent, which increases the risk of decay. 

However, sealants are rarely used on an adult’s permanent teeth because the pits and fissures are much less prominent than those of a child. 

Stainless Steel Crowns (SSCs)

Stainless steel crowns (SSCs) are metal caps that restore decayed, damaged, or fractured baby molars.

stainless steel crown

If cavity fillings are likely to fail, SSCs are typically the next best solution for restoring a child’s tooth due to their strength and durability. 

Adults cannot get SSCs placed on their permanent teeth because they are weaker than other types of crowns.


Mouthguards are protective devices that minimize the risk of injuries to the teeth, face, lips, jaw, gums, and surrounding soft tissues.

Mouthguards are commonly made for children, especially those involved in athletics.

What Can I Expect From a Pediatric Dental Exam?

During a pediatric dental exam, a child’s mouth is examined for:

A pediatric dentist will recommend dental fillings, stainless steel crowns, or extractions if cavities are detected. The type of treatment depends on the severity of the cavity or cavities. 

Depending on the child’s age and medical history, X-rays and disease screenings might be needed.

When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist?

Parents should schedule dentist visits within six months of a baby’s first tooth eruption, typically between 6 months and one year of age.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that everyone visit a dentist at least every 6 months for optimal dental health. 

How Do I Prepare For My Child’s First Dental Visit?

Prepare Your Child

Schedule the dentist appointment in the morning so your child is awake and alert. 

Give your child a general idea of what to expect. Explain why it is essential for them to visit the dentist. Build excitement and understanding. 

Prepare Yourself

Discuss questions and concerns about your child’s dental health with the dentist.

If you have personal fears about the dentist, try not to relay them to your child. Provide moral support as they navigate this new and unfamiliar experience. 

Prepare Your Dentist

During the first visit, provide the dentist with your child’s oral and general health history. Let the dental hygienist know if your child tends to be stubborn, defiant, or anxious. 


Pediatric dentists handle all aspects of dental health for developing children. Depending on each child’s needs and medical history, they provide various procedures, from dental cleanings to tooth extractions. 

Your child’s first dental visit can be nerve-wracking or exciting. Give your child an idea of what to expect and build excitement to help promote a positive experience at the dentist. 

Last updated on February 27, 2024
4 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 27, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Ahlin, J. “Maxillofacial Orthopedics: a Clinical Approach for the Growing Child.” Quintessence Publishing, 2003.
  2. Fluoridation Facts.” American Dental Association, 2021.
  3. Koch G., et al.Pediatric Dentistry: a Clinical Approach.” John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2017.
  4. Nowak, A. “Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence.” Elsevier, 2019.
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