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Children’s Dentistry

What Children can Expect at Their First Dental Visit

We recommend that a child’s first dental visit be scheduled by his/her 3rd birthday. It is very important to make the first visit as positive and enjoyable for the child as possible. We want your child to enjoy getting to know our doctors and staff and be comfortable at all times. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. Let the child know that the doctors and staff will explain everything in detail and will answer any questions he/she has. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel. Parents should not make a big deal out of the visit and refrain from using any words that could cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle” or “drill.”

We are experienced in dealing with children with anxiety and can explain treatment procedures in a positive and pleasant manner to avoid any anxious or negative feelings toward dentistry. We will record your child’s dental and medical history, complete a comprehensive examination and discuss any findings with you. We have completed over 3000 orthodontic cases and will be evaluating your child’s jaw growth and development and recommending any needed orthodontic treatment. We will also review the importance of maintaining a good dental health program with you and your child to ensure a healthy and beautiful smile for life!

Dental Development for Infants

  • An Infant’s New Teeth
An Infant’s New Teeth

The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems – hence, the need for regular care and dental check-ups.

  • Why Primary Teeth are Important
Why Primary Teeth are Important

Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.

  • Infant Tooth Eruption
Infant Tooth Eruption

A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums – the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth – 32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).


We normally appoint children for their first complete exam when they are 3-years-old. However, we enjoy having 2-year-olds come to visit and get acquainted with us before their examination appointment. There is no charge for this “get acquainted“ visit. These “get acquainted” office visits often happen while observing an older sibling or a parent having treatment. We recommend that we see children for re-care visits every six months. This allows us to check for decay and to evaluate the development of the dental arches and the eruption pattern of the teeth. (Dr. Herring is a general dentist, but he has attended many hours of continuing education courses in orthodontics as well. He has treated over 2,000 cases of orthodontic patients, both children and adults.)

We will monitor the growth and development of the child’s dental arches and keep you informed of any treatment needed. The best children patients are those who begin dental examinations prior to the need for treatment. This gives them an opportunity to become acquainted with us and to become familiar with the dental office environment. Parents should speak of dental visits as being a pleasant experience and praise their children for being patients.

Small children are frequently more receptive to dental care in the morning, when they are rested. Children 7 years and younger who need restorative treatment (fillings, crowns, pulpotomies, etc.) will be appointed only for morning appointments because this is usually the only time children feel like letting us get the desired result.

Some children accept dental treatment better with the parent present; some accept treatment better in the absence of parents. We may ask you, the parent, to leave the treatment room. If you are unwilling to entrust your child to us in our treatment room alone, you should discuss this with us prior to arranging the appointment so we can mutually decide the feasibility of our accepting your child as a patient. In order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion, please ask any questions you may have before or after your child’s treatment.

  • Helpful Information for Early Dental Care
Helpful Information for Early Dental Care


Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender and sometimes irritable until the age of 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits – they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.

Good Diet and Healthy Teeth

The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.

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301 Hospital Rd.
Starkville, MS 39759


(662) 323-3245

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