Pediatric Dentistry FAQ's
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.
Q: What if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
Q: What if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
A: Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or clean it with soap -- use just water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk, saliva, or water. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it's after hours.) The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
Q: What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
A: Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist.
Q: What about a severe blow to the head or jaw fracture?
A: Go immediately to the emergency room of your local hospital. A blow to the head can be life threatening.
Q: What if my child has a toothache?
A: Call your pediatric dentist and visit the office promptly. To comfort your child, rinse the mouth with water. Apply a cold compress or ice wrapped in a cloth. Do not put heat or aspirin on the sore area.
Q: Can dental injuries be prevented?
A: Absolutely! First, reduce oral injury in sports by wearing mouth guards. Second, always use a car seat for young children. Require seat belts for everyone else in the car. Third, child-proof your home to prevent falls, electrical injuries, and choking on small objects. Fourth, protect your child from unnecessary toothaches with regular dental visits and preventive care.
Q: What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
A: Pediatric dentistry is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the oral health and unique needs of young people. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of rigorous training is required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to meet the unique needs of your infants, children and adolescents, including persons with special health care needs.
We are concerned about your child’s total health care. Good oral health is an important part of total health. Establishing us as your child’s, “Dental Home” provides us the opportunity to implement preventive dental health habits that keep a child free from dental/oral disease. W e focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of dental diseases, and keep current on the latest advances in dentistry for children.
Pleasant visits to the dental office promote the establishment of trust and confidence in your child that will last a lifetime. Our goal, along with our staff, is to help all children feel good about visiting the dentist and teach them how to care for their teeth. From our special office designs, to our communication style, our main concern is what is best for your child.
Q: Why should parents take their child to a Pediatric Dentist?
A: We are sure you have asked this question to yourself before. After completing 4 years of dental school, pediatric dentists have an additional 2 years specializing in the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. Children need different approaches in dealing with their behavior according to their maturity level and developmental stage. The pediatric dentist has the necessary knowledge to guide children’s dental growth and development from the early stages in life through adolescence. This knowledge gives the specialist an awareness of the individual dental and emotional needs of a growing child. The result is age-appropriate, personalized attention.
Q: Understand Your Child's Teeth
A: The following chart shows when primary teeth (also called baby teeth or deciduous teeth) erupt and shed. Please note that eruption times can vary from child to child. As seen from the chart, the first teeth begin to break through the gums at about 6 months of age. Usually, the first two teeth to erupt are the two bottom central incisors (the two bottom front teeth). Next, the top four front teeth emerge. After that, other teeth slowly begin to fill in, usually in pairs – one each side of the upper or lower jaw – until all 20 teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw) have come in by the time the child is 2 ½ to 3 years old. The complete set of primary teeth is in the mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years of age to 6 to 7 years of age.
Q: When should my child first see a dentist?
A: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry along with the American Dental Association recommends that the child’s first visit should coincide with his or her first birthday. Often, this first visit involves a simple oral examination and talking to the parents about oral hygiene techniques, teething, oral habits such as pacifier use and thumb sucking and preventing dental decay. We encourage parents to seek an initial visit at this age because it fosters good dental habits and enables early intervention if problems do exist.
Q: How are appointments scheduled?
A: Our office attempts to schedule appointments at your convenience and when time is available. We recommend preschool children to be seen in the morning because they are fresher and we can work more slowly with them for their comfort. School children with a lot of work to be done should be seen in the morning for the same reason. Dental appointments are an excused absence. Missing school can be kept to a minimum when regular dental care is continued. Since we have reserved a time exclusively for each patient we ask that you please notify our office 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment time if you are unable to keep your appointment. Another patient, who needs our care, could be scheduled if we have sufficient time to notify them. We realize that unexpected things can happen, but we ask for your assistance in this regard.
Q: Do I stay with my child during the visit?
A: We invite you to stay with your child during the initial examination. During future appointments, we suggest you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience. We can usually establish a closer rapport with your child when you are not present. Our purpose is to gain your child's confidence and overcome apprehension. Our staff is highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety. Separation anxiety is not uncommon in children, so please try not to be concerned if your child exhibits some negative behavior. This is normal and will soon diminish. However, if you choose, you may come with your child to the treatment room. For the safety and privacy of all patients, other children who are not being treated should remain in the reception room with a supervising adult.
Q: How often should a child see the dentist?
A: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns or poor oral hygiene. Your pediatric dentist will let you know the best appointment schedule for your child.
Q: Why visit the dentist twice a year when my child has never had a cavity?
A: Regular dental visits help your child stay cavity-free. Teeth cleanings remove debris that build up on the teeth, irritate the gums and cause decay. Fluoride treatments renew the fluoride content in the enamel, strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Hygiene instructions improve your child's brushing and flossing, leading to cleaner teeth and healthier gums.
Tooth decay isn't the only reason for a dental visit. Your pediatric dentist provides an ongoing assessment of changes in your child's oral health. For example, your child may need additional fluoride, dietary changes, or sealants for ideal dental health. The pediatric dentist may identify orthodontic problems and suggest treatment to guide the teeth as they emerge in the mouth.
Q: What happens in a dental check-up?
A: The pediatric dentist will review your child's medical and dental history. He or she will gently examine your child's teeth, oral tissues, and jaws. The teeth will be cleaned and polished, followed by the application of a fluoride solution.
Your pediatric dentist won't talk just to you about dental health, he or she will talk to your child with easily understandable words, pictures, and ideas. Your child will be motivated to take responsibility for healthy smile.
Q: Will X-rays be taken at every appointment?
A: No. Pediatric dentists, acting in accord with guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommend X-rays only when necessary to protect your child's dental health.For example, X-rays maybe needed to diagnose tooth decay or abnormalities. Or, they may be required for orthodontic treatment. Your pediatric dentist will discuss the need for X-rays with you before any are taken.
Q: How can I help my child enjoy good dental health?
A: The following steps will help your child be part of the cavity-free generation:
- Beware of frequent snacking
- Brush effectively twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss once a day
- Have sealants applied when appropriate
- Seek regular dental check-ups
- Assure proper fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products or fluoride supplements
Q: How does a pediatric dentist help with dental anxiety?
A: Pediatric dentists have special training in helping anxious children feel secure during dental treatment. And, pediatric dental offices are designed for children. Staff members choose to work in a pediatric dental practice because they like kids. So, most children are calm, comfortable and confident in a pediatric dental office.
Q: How will a pediatric dentist help my child feel comfortable?
A: Pediatric dentists are trained in many methods to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. For example, in the "Tell-Show-Do" technique, a pediatric dentist might name a dental instrument, demonstrate the instrument by using it to count your child's fingers, then apply the instrument in treatment.
The modeling technique pairs a timid child in dental treatment with a cooperative child of similar age. Coaching, distraction, and parent participation are other possibilities to give your child confidence in dentistry. But by far the most preferred technique is praise. Every child does something right during a dental visit, and pediatric dentists let children know that.
Q: Should I accompany my child into treatment?
A: Infants and some young children may feel more comfortable when parents stay close during treatment. With older children, doctor-child communication is often enhanced if parents remain in the reception room.
Q: What if a child misbehaves during treatment?
A: Occasionally a child's behavior during treatment requires assertive management to protect him or her from possible injury. Voice control (speaking calmly but firmly) usually takes care of it. Some children need gentle restraint of the arms or legs as well. Mild sedation, such as nitrous oxide/oxygen or a sedative, may benefit an anxious child. If a child is especially fearful or requires extensive treatment, other sedative techniques or general anesthesia may be recommended.
Q: How does fluoride work?
A: When the element fluoride is used in small amounts on a routine basis it helps to prevent tooth decay. It encourages "remineralization," a strengthening of weak areas on the teeth. These spots are the beginning of cavity formation. Fluoride occurs naturally in water and in many different foods, as well as in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, varnish and supplements. Fluoride is effective when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.
Q: Will my child need fluoride supplements?
A: Children between the ages of six months and 16 years may require fluoride supplements. The pediatric dentist considers many different factors before recommending a fluoride supplement. Your child's age, risk of developing dental decay and the different liquids your child drinks are important considerations. Bottled, filtered and well waters vary in their fluoride amount, so a water analysis may be necessary to ensure your child is receiving the proper amount.
Q: What type of toothpaste should my child use?
A: Your child should use toothpaste with fluoride and the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. Young children, especially pre-school aged children, should not swallow any toothpaste. Careful supervision and only a small pea-sized amount on the brush are recommended. If not monitored, children may easily swallow over four times the recommended daily amount of fluoride in toothpaste.
Q: How safe is fluoride?
A: Fluoride is documented to be safe and highly effective. Research indicates water fluoridation, the most cost effective method, has decreased the decay rate by over 50 percent. Only small amounts of fluoride are necessary for the maximum benefit. Proper toothpaste amount must be supervised, and other forms of fluoride supplementations must be carefully monitored in order to prevent a potential overdose and unsightly spots on the developing permanent teeth. Do not leave toothpaste tubes where young children can reach them. The flavors that help encourage them to brush may also encourage them to eat toothpaste.
Q: What is topical fluoride?
A: Topical fluoride comes in a number of different forms. Gels and foams are placed in fluoride trays and applied at the dental office after your child's teeth have been thoroughly cleaned. Fluoride varnish is one of the newer forms of topical fluoride applied at the dentist office. It has been documented to be safe and effective to fight dental decay through a long history of use in Europe.
The advantages of varnish are:
- Easily and quickly applied to the teeth.
- Decreases the potential amount of fluoride digested.
- Continues to "soak" fluoride into the enamel for approximately 24 hours after the original application.
This method is especially useful in young patients and those with special needs that may not toleratefluoride trays comfortably.
Children who benefit the most from fluoride are those at highest risk for dental decay. Riskfactors include a history of decay, high sucrose carbohydrate diet, orthodontic appliances andcertain medical conditions such as dry mouth.
Q: What are sealants?
A: Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free.
Q: How do sealants work?
A: Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult—sometimes impossible—to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay.
Q: How long do sealants last?
A: Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. Therefore, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. Your pediatric dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and recommend re-application or repair when necessary.
Q: What is the treatment like?
A: The application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleaned. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or hardened with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The treatment is very affordable, especially in view of the valuable decay protection it offers your child. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Some companies, however, have age and specific tooth limitations. Check with your benefits provider about your child’s coverage and talk to your pediatric dentist about the exact cost of sealants for your child.
Q: Which teeth should be sealed?
A: The natural flow of saliva usually keeps the smooth surfaces of teeth clean but does not wash out the grooves and fissures. So the teeth most at risk of decay—and therefore, most in need of sealants— are the six-year and twelve-year molars. Many times the permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from sealant coverage. Any tooth, however, with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants. Talk to your pediatric dentist, as each child’s situation is unique.
Q: If my child has sealants, are brushing and flossing still important?
A: Absolutely! Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile.
Q: What is preventive dentistry?
A: Preventive dentistry for children includes:
- dental development
- oral habits
- parent involvement
- proper diet
- sports safety
Your pediatric dentist practices preventive dentistry.
Q: Why is preventive dentistry important?
A: Preventive dentistry means a healthy smile for your child. Children with healthy mouths chew more easily and gain more nutrients from the foods they eat. They learn to speak more quickly and clearly. They have a better chance of general health, because disease in the mouth can endanger the rest of the body. A healthy mouth is more attractive, giving children confidence in their appearance. Finally, preventive dentistry means less extensive, and less expensive, treatment for your child.
Q: When should preventive dentistry start?
A: Preventive dentistry begins with the first tooth. Visit your pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in. You will learn how to protect your infant's dental health. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental disease and helping your child belong to the cavity-free generation.
Q: What role do parents play in prevention?
A: After evaluating your child's dental health, your pediatric dentist will design a personalized program of home care for your child. This program will include brushing and flossing instructions, diet counseling, and if necessary, fluoride recommendations. By following these directions, you can help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.
Q: How do pediatric dentists help prevent dental problems?
A: Tooth cleaning and polishing and fluoride treatments are all part of your child's prevention program. But there's much more. For example, your pediatric dentist can apply sealants to protect your child from tooth decay, help you select a mouth guard to prevent sports injuries to the face and teeth, and provide early diagnosis and care of orthodontic problems. Your pediatric dentist is uniquely trained to develop a combination of office and home preventive care to insure your child a happy smile.
Q: Back to School
A: Students miss more than 51 million school hours per year because of dental problems or related conditions. Dental pain can distract students, cause their schoolwork to suffer or even lead to school absences. Children and adolescents with healthy teeth have better attendance, are more attentive in class and tend to participate more fully in school-related activities.
To start the school year off on the right tooth, and prevent oral-health-related absences, teach your child to floss once a day and brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Beware of frequent snacking, as repeated exposure to sugary or starchy snacks can increase the risk for cavities. And most important, visit your pediatric dentist twice a year. Your pediatric dentist provides an ongoing oral health assessment and can help your child prevent cavities and school absences.
Q: What are athletic mouth protectors?
A: Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic. They are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth.
Q: Why are mouth guards important?
A: Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection
Q: When should my child wear a mouth guard?
A: Whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.
Q: How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?
A: Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. So, choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room.
You can select from several options in mouth guards. First, preformed or "boil-to-fit" mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection, and cost. Second, customized mouth guards are provided through your pediatric dentist. They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries. Your pediatric dentist can advise you on what type of mouth guard is best for your child.
Q: What is your payment policy?
A: Payment for professional services is due at the time dental treatment is provided. Every effort will be made to provide a treatment plan which fits your timetable and budget, and gives your child the best possible care. We accept cash, personal checks, debit cards and most major credit cards.