Division of Pediatric Dentistry

The Division of Pediatric Dentistry provides comprehensive preventive, restorative and oral maxillofacial surgical procedures for healthy as well as medically compromised and handicapped children. Limited orthodontic, in addition to orthognathic (surgical orthodontic), services also are provided. Once children have all of their adult teeth we phase them out to adult dentists. Many times this is as early as 12 years old.

When should my child start seeing a dentist?

By the age of 1. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend that your child sees a dentist by their first birthday. A pediatric dentist will review your child’s oral health routine, evaluate their teeth and gums, and discuss their diet and fluoride use. It’s also good to visit a dentist before your child starts walking on their own in case they have dental trauma as a toddler or child. The UPMC Children’s Division of Pediatric Dentistry starts seeing children as soon as they have teeth!

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Is it safe for my child to use a pacifier?

According to the AAP, an infant who wants to suck beyond feeding may benefit from a pacifier. Pacifiers can even help reduce the risk of sudden unexpected infant death! The AAPD recommends stopping the pacifier habit around age 1. If a child uses a pacifier longer than they need to, it can cause permanent dental and skeletal abnormalities that can only be corrected with braces or surgery as an adult.

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Are thumb habits safe?

Like a pacifier, it’s OK for your baby to suck their thumb. Unlike pacifiers, thumb habits can be harder to break for toddlers because the thumb is attached to their hand! There are many options for stopping a thumb habit, which we are happy to discuss during your visit. The most important factor in your child stopping thumb sucking is they must be ready and motivated to stop the habit.

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My child grinds their teeth. Is this normal?

Yes! It is very common for children to grind their teeth, also called “bruxism.” Grinding often happens at night, while your child is subconsciously trying to fit their teeth together to adjust for micromovements and their growing jaws. Typically, no treatment is necessary and a nightguard is not recommended, but teeth grinding is an important thing for the dentist to note. In rare pediatric cases, teeth grinding can cause discomfort, so if you have concerns it is good to follow up with your child’s dentist.

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Referral Requirements

Some insurance companies may require a referral from their PCP, primary dentists, or others to Children's Hospital specialty services. Referrals for patients enrolled in managed care insurance plans also may require authorization from the insurance provider and primary care physician. All necessary referral and authorization forms must be received before the patient’s visit. For accurate provider numbers or more information, please call the office number listed.

In the News

Many Children Are Overdoing It on the Toothpaste, C.D.C. Study Says
New York Times (2/3/2019)

Additional Resources