Pediatric Dentistry
Laurel, MT | Billings, MT

making dentistry fun when it matters most

Dr. Stokke believes that a trip to the dentist should be fun, lighthearted, and nothing to fear. The way your child is exposed to dentistry lays the groundwork for how they view dental care and dental visits for the rest of their lives.

Our team especially loves caring for young patients, and works hard to make sure each child is spoken to gently, treated with respect, and cared for as if they were our own child. We use simple words to explain procedures to our patients and make sure each parent or guardian is aware of the process as well.

Pediatric dentistry is an essential component of your child’s overall health and wellbeing. Take steps to protect your favorite little grin and schedule an appointment at Stokke Family Dentistry. You can book online or call (406) 628-8211. We serve families from around Laurel and Billings, Montana areas and the surrounding communities.

child smiling at the dentist | best pediatric dentist in Laurel, Montana
Dr. Erica Stokke reading to kids | pediatric dentistry
child happy at the dentist | best pediatric dentist in Laurel, Montana

Dr. Erica Stokke smiling with child | Pediatric Dentistry | best pediatric dentist in Laurel, Montana

importance of baby teeth

The health of your child’s baby (primary) teeth is very important for a number of different reasons.  While your child’s front four teeth only last until they are 6-8 years old, their back teeth aren’t lost until between the ages of 10-13.

The first function of baby teeth is to allow your child to properly eat, chew, and speak.  Baby teeth are also essential to help maintain adequate space for the growing permanent teeth and guide them into the right position.  Furthermore, neglecting your child’s primary teeth can lead to problems that in turn may affect their developing permanent teeth.

first visit

Your child’s first dental visit should be by the eruption of their first tooth or age 1 – whichever is first.

We want your child’s first dental visit to be a positive experience.  If your child is old enough to understand, they should be told about their appointment.  It is best to not make a big deal out of their visit though…try to treat it as if it is just another normal day.  Our team strives to gain your child’s trust so they can have little (if any) apprehension at the dentist.

caring for your child’s teeth

You should begin cleaning your child’s gums with a soft cloth and water from the time they are born.  As soon as their teeth begin to erupt, proper tooth brushing is one of the most important things you can do to help protect your child’s teeth from cavity-causing bacteria.  You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste:

  • From ages 0-3 use a “grain of rice” size smear of toothpaste
  • For ages 3+ use a “pea size” amount of toothpaste (see image)

image showing how much toothpaste children should use from ages 0-3+

Be sure that your child spits out the excess toothpaste after they are finished.

Wherever your child’s teeth touch together you need to floss as well.  Those tight spaces often trap food and bacteria, which can in turn lead to the formation of cavities.  The grocery store and drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS usually sell children’s floss picks in the dental care aisle.  These picks are usually much easier to use than traditional dental floss.

In addition to all the above, it is important that you help your child brush his or her teeth.  It is good to let them “help,” but young children lack the coordination to effectively brush their teeth on their own.

Parent Education

Eruption of your child's teeth

Your child’s teeth begin forming before they are even born.  Most children cut their first teeth (the lower 2 front teeth) between the ages of 6-10 months. Most children have all 20 of their primary teeth by the time they are 3 years old, but the eruption order and timing can vary.

Children’s permanent teeth begin to erupt when they are approximately 6 years old.  The first permanent teeth to appear are the first molars and lower front 2 teeth (the central incisors).  Adults have 28-32 permanent teeth (depending on how many wisdom teeth develop).

Thumb sucking

Infants and young children may suck their thumb, fingers, a pacifier, or a variety of other objects.  Sucking is a natural reflex that often helps them feel a sense of security and happiness.  While it is not a problem when they are younger, sucking habits that continue after a child’s permanent teeth have begun to erupt can lead to problems with proper jaw growth and alignment of teeth (such as crowding and anterior open bite, see photo below).  We recommend children stop thumb sucking by the time they are 2-4 years of age.

Sippy cups

Sippy cups are utilized as an intermediate training tool between baby bottles and an adult cup.  At mealtimes you may fill your child’s sippy cup with liquids other than water (milk, juice, etc.), but throughout the day it should contain water only.  Allowing your child to sip on sugary drinks throughout the day can break down their enamel and cause rampant tooth decay.

Best time for braces

While some malocclusions (“bad bites”) can be diagnosed and corrected as early as ages 4-6, most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 8-12.  We recommend children go for their first orthodontic consult around the time they turn 7 years old.  While they may still have some of their baby teeth at this point, their hard and soft tissues are very responsive to treatment at this time.


Sealants are a protective coating applied to help “fill in” the deep grooves on children’s back teeth (their permanent molar and premolar teeth).  Children often have difficulty keeping these teeth clean due to their limited dexterity and how far back these teeth are in the mouth.  In fact, 80% of cavities in children are diagnosed on their molars and premolars.  Sealants function to “seal out” food, acid, and decay-causing bacteria in order to help prevent cavities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Pediatric Dentistry Laurel, MT

What is pediatric dentistry?

Pediatric dentistry is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of infants, children, and adolescents. Dr. Stokke is trained to deal with the dental needs and concerns of children, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Dr. Stokke can provide a wide range of services for your child, including regular dental check-ups, cleanings, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, cavity fillings, and other restorative treatments. She also helps educate parents and children on proper dental hygiene practices, including tooth brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet.

Overall, pediatric dentistry is important for ensuring the oral health and well-being of children and helping to establish good dental habits that will last a lifetime.

Look no further – Stokke Family Dentistry is a family dental office and we enjoy working with patients of all ages! It’s common for us to see the whole family and we’ll even schedule your appointments back-to-back so you can get your whole family in, out, and on with your day!

Well, we might be a little biased, but we firmly believe that Dr. Stokke is the best dentist in the Laurel, Montana area for your child! At Stokke Family Dentistry, we are very experienced in pediatric dentistry and would love the opportunity to care for your child’s teeth. Dr. Stokke will not only take excellent care of your child, but will also emphasize the importance of oral health and help educate your child on the best practices for maintaining a healthy smile into adulthood. Give us a call or book your child’s dental appointment online today!

Yes we do! At Stokke Family Dentistry, we offer Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) sedation for children. Pediatric sedation dentistry is becoming increasingly common, especially for children who may have anxiety or special needs that make it difficult for them to sit still or cooperate during dental treatment. Sedation can help children relax and feel more comfortable during dental procedures, and it can also help to reduce their anxiety and discomfort.

While sedation dentistry is safe and effective, it’s important to note that it does carry some risks, and should only be administered by a trained and experienced dentist, like Dr. Stokke. Before considering sedation dentistry for your child, it’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with Dr. Stokke, and make an informed decision based on your child’s individual needs and circumstances.

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