Frequently Asked Questions
What is a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentists have an extra two years of specialized training after dental school and are dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with behavior, guiding their growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. With the additional education, pediatric dentists have the training which allows them to offer the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of pediatric dental problems.
How old should my child be to come to the dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), your child should visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday or at least 6 months after the eruption of the first tooth. Beginning dental care at an early age allows guidance for caring for your child's teeth and opportunities to address preventive issues that are important for healthy teeth and a pleasing smile. Early visits also help establish a positive relationship between the dentist and your child.
With each subsequent visit, your child will mature and confidence and trust will most likely increase. Usually after age 3, we will begin preventive care visits which include examination, cleaning, fluoride treatments, and appropriate radiographs.
Why are baby teeth so important?
It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth (baby teeth). Neglected cavities can cause pain and infection, and it can also lead to problems which affect the developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for permanent teeth and guiding them into position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
Why does my child need dental x-rays?
Radiographs (x-rays) are a necessary part of your child's dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain cavities will be missed. They also help survey developing teeth, evaluate results an injury, or plan for orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child, and more affordable for you.
On average, our office will request bitewing radiographs approximately once a year and panoramic radiographs every 3-5 years. In children with a high risk of tooth decay, we will recommend radiographs and examinations every six months.
With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today's equipment restricts the beam to the area of interest. Our office also employs digital radiography which allows us to decrease the amount of radiation exposure.
What about sedation?
Small procedures in cooperative children can often be done under local anesthesia with or without nitrous oxide. The most common form of sedation we routinely use in our office is nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child's nose. The AAPD recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to help relax your child during treatment.
Slightly more involved procedures in certain children will require the use of an oral medication along with nitrous oxide to help relax your child and facilitate cooperation with the procedure. These procedures are scheduled carefully, we require your child to be fasting the morning of the procedure, and also be free of any respiratory symptoms in the two weeks preceeding the procedure. Often we ask that two adults be present so that one is able to sit in the back seat with your child on the drive home.
Some children require an extensive amount of dental work. In these situations, it is difficult for a small child to cooperate fully and often the treatment cannot be done properly. For these children, we may recommend treating your child under general anesthesia.
Can I go back with my child?
We want you to know that parents are always welcome to be with their child during visits. It has been our experience though that most children do better with their parents waiting in the reception area. There are exceptions, and there are certain children who will have a better experience if the parents are with them throughout the visit.
Our preference is to have one parent with the child for their initial visit. If the child requires treatment during another visit, the need for parental presence should be discussed between the dentist and the parent and decided on a case by case basis.
What can be done about a cut or bitten tongue, lip, or cheek?
Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to the emergency room.
What can i do about my child's toothache?
Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. RInse the mouth with warm salt water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen or the pain still persists, contact our office as soon
My child knocked out her permanent tooth, what should I do?
Find the tooth. Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root portion. You may rinse the tooth, but DO NOT wipe or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Inspect the tooth for fractures, if there are no fractures, try to reinsert it into the socket. Have the patient hold the tooth in place by biting on a gauze. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing milk. If there is no milk, place the tooth in a cup containing the patient's own saliva. DO NOT place the tooth in water. Call our office immediately or go to your nearest emergency room. Time is a critical factor in saving the tooth.
Our son has fractured his tooth. What do you suggest?
Rinse debris from injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the face in the area of injury. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments in milk. If your child experiences severe pain, contact our office as soon as possible.