Find answers to the most frequently asked questions here. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to send it to us and we’ll get you an answer.

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What ages do you see at Tolosa Children’s Dental Center?

We accept new patients under age 13. Once established as a patient, a child may continue returning to TCDC until their 18th birthday, as long as their dental needs can be met.

How old does my child need to be to see a dentist?

It is recommended that your child see a dentist by age one or soon after the first tooth erupts. You can also make
an appointment sooner if you have concerns regarding the dental health of your child. You can prevent your child
from having decay and we can provide the information and tools you need to be successful.

How long will my child have to wait for an appointment?

In the Paso Robles office, emergency care appointments are available daily and we do our best to limit the wait for
a new patient appointment to 6 weeks.

In the San Luis Obispo office, appointments are much more limited and may not always be available. Please call to

If my child saw another dentist for a cleaning and x-rays, can I make an appointment to just have the restorative care provided at your office?

We are happy to see your child and review the x-rays and treatment plan provided by another office. However,
our providers will not provide care based on another providers treatment plan. Your child’s first visit with us will
include a complete oral exam, additional x-rays if needed, the opportunity for you to share any concerns and have
questions answered, and the presentation of a treatment plan by one of our dentists.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay, or cavities, is caused by bacteria in the mouth. Oral hygiene, diet, and genetics all play a role.

Do you do orthodontics?

No… If orthodontics is recommended for your child, you will be given a list of orthodontist offices which can
provide those services. Orthodontic care is rarely covered by Denti-Cal.

Why should my child see a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentists have additional experience and training for working with children. After becoming a dentist,
they complete an additional two years of training focused on providing care to children, in conjunction with
studying growth and development, special health needs and behavior management techniques.

How many pediatric dental specialists do you have?

With only a few exceptions throughout the year, we have at least two pediatric specialists in the office five days a
week. In total, we have one full-time and four part-time pediatric specialists, and one full-time general dentist who
has been exclusively providing care to children for more than ten years.

Do you have any registered dental hygienists?

Yes, we have a dental hygienist available 1-2 days per month in the Paso Robles office.

Do you provide sedation for treatment appointments?

We have nitrous oxide available in the office to help patients relax during their restorative appointments. There is
imited availability for treatment being provided under general anesthesia. This service is only available for
patients of record.

What is a dental home?

The dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient, inclusive of all aspects of oral
health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.

What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

A toothbrush will remove plaque bacteria that can lead to decay. Any soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, should be used at least once a day at bedtime.

When should I take my child to the dentist for the first check-up?

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.

What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.

What should I do if my child has a toothache?

First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. See the dentist as soon as possible.

Are thumb-sucking and pacifier habits harmful for a child’s teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three, a mouth appliance may be recommended by your pediatric dentist.

How can I prevent decay caused by nursing?

Avoid nursing children to sleep or putting anything other than water in their bed-time bottle. Also, learn the proper way to brush and floss your child’s teeth. Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. The first dental visit should be scheduled by your child’s first birthday.

How often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

A check-up every six months is recommended in order prevent cavities and other dental problems. However, your pediatric dentist can tell you when and how often your child should visit based on their personal oral health.

Toothpaste: when should we begin using it and how much should we use?

The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?

Have your pediatric dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then your pediatric dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

Soft plastic mouth guards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.

How safe are dental X-rays?

There is very little risk in dental X-rays. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.