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Pediatric FAQ's

Why Should My Child See a Pediatric Dentist Instead of Our Regular Family Dentist?

Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of infants, children, adolescents and patients with special health care needs A pediatric dentist receives an additional two or three years of specialized training beyond the four years of dental school. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. The pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.

At What Age Should My Child Have First Visit the Dentist?

"First visit by first birthday" is the general rule. To prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears, usually between 6 and 12 months of age, certainly no later than his/her first birthday. This visit will enable your child’s dentist to evaluate your child and introduce you to proper oral hygiene. Diet, fluoride, finger and pacifier habits will be discussed to insure optimal dental health. Early visits also help establish a positive relationship between the dentist and your child.

Can I Go Back With My Child?

Certainly! We do not have any policy that restricts parents from being with their child during their visit. We do feel that children vary as individuals. It has been our experience that most children do better with the parents waiting in the reception area. However, there are exceptions, and there are certain children who will have a better experience if the parents are with them throughout the visit.

If My Child Gets a Cavity in a Baby Tooth, Should It Still Be Filled?

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. Some of them are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Also, because tooth decay is really an infection and will spread, decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of the your child.

When Do the First Teeth Start To Erupt?

At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all of these 20 primary teeth should be present.

How Can I Help My Child Through the Teething Stage?

Sore gums when teeth erupt are part of the normal eruption process. The discomfort is eased for some children by use of a teething biscuit, a piece of toast or a frozen teething ring. Your pharmacy should also have medications that can be rubbed on the gums to reduce the discomfort.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Four things are necessary for cavities to form -- a tooth, bacteria, sugars or other carbohydrates and time. Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone's teeth. When you eat, the sugars in your food cause the bacteria in plaque to produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. With time and repeated acid attacks, the enamel breaks down and a cavity forms.

How Does a Good Diet Lead To Healthy Teeth?

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Children should eat a variety of foods from all of the five major food groups. Eating a diet high in certain carbohydrates may increase the risk of developing cavities. The longer food stays in the mouth (ex. hard candy) the longer acid attacks the tooth enamel. Sugary drinks including juice and soda in a baby bottle or “sippy” cup can cause extensive dental cavities. It is important to limit the amount and frequency of snacks as well as maintaining good oral hygiene after snacking.

Why Does My Child Need X-rays?

The AAPD recommends x-ray examination every six months for children with a high risk of cavities. Often x-rays can show weaknesses in the tooth structure that may not be visible with the naked eye. Children need x-rays more often than adults to stay current with the developments in their teeth, since children grow and develop at a much more rapid rate.

My Child Plays Sports. How Should I Protect My Child's Teeth?

A mouth guard should be a top priority on your child's list of sports equipment. Athletic mouth guards are made of soft plastic and fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth. Not only do they protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue, they also protect against head and neck injuries, concussions and jaw fractures. Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard, but a custom-fitted mouth guard fitted by our doctor is your child's best protection against sports-related injuries.

What Should I Do If My Child Knocks Out a Permanent Tooth?

First of all, remain calm. If possible, find the tooth and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a washcloth. If you can't put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with milk and take your child and the glass immediately to our office. The first 30 minutes after an accident are the most critical, so the faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.

What Is Nitrous Oxide? Is It Safe for Children?

Nitrous oxide or “Laughing Gas” is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide. When inhaled, it has a calming effect on the patient and allows the patient to enjoy a more relaxed state which allows him/her to respond more favorably to dental treatment. It can be used on a mildly anxious child who is cooperative.

What Is General Anesthesia?

General anesthesia provides a way of effectively completing dental care while the child is unconscious and unaware of any treatment being performed. This is the same technique used to put tubes in children’s ears or to have their tonsils removed. It is generally reserved for children with severe anxiety, extensive tooth decay, young age, special needs or compromised health. Your child’s dentist will discuss the benefits and risks involved with general anesthesia and why it may be recommended for your child.

What Is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation is a way of using medicine to relax a child without the loss of consciousness. Sedation is recommended for children with severe anxiety or inability to relax in the dental setting. Your child’s dentist will discuss the benefits and risks involved with sedation and why it may be recommended for your child.

Are There Different Dental Needs for Special Needs Children?

Many times special children are more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease, and facial growth abnormalities. Because of this, it is important that these children are seen early and started on a preventive oral health program that will address their special dental needs. Your child’s dentist has received extensive training in the treatment of special needs children and understands that all children deserve a healthy, beautiful smile.

What Is Pulp Therapy and What Are the Advantages?

The pulp of a tooth is the inner, central core of the tooth. The purpose of pulp therapy is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth. Baby teeth respond well to the removal of a diseased part of the dental pulp while leaving the healthy portion intact. A disinfectant is placed on the remaining pulp, the tooth is sealed and a crown (silver cap) is placed over the tooth. This allows the tooth to stay vital within the mouth. The obvious benefit is that the tooth is maintained in service and holds the space for the developing permanent tooth below it.

Is My Child Getting Enough Fluoride?

Fluoride has been shown to dramatically decrease a person's chances of getting cavities by making teeth stronger. Fluoride in the drinking water is the best and easiest way to get it, but to make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, our office can assist you in evaluating the fluoride level of your child's primary source of water.

What Is Fluoride Varnish?

Our office offers an improved method of decay prevention to our patients. We are using a varnish to apply fluoride to children's teeth. The fluoride varnish has a longer working time than the traditional fluoride gels or foam applications. To keep the varnish on the teeth for as long as possible:

  • Avoid drinking or eating for ten minutes after placement of the varnish.
  • Your child should eat a soft, nonabrasive diet for the rest of the day.
  • Teeth should not be flossed and brushed until tomorrow morning, at which time a regular schedule of careful oral hygiene should be resumed.

Does Your Child Grind His Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

  • Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth. Another theory relates to pressure in the inner ear at night. If there are pressure changes (like in an airplane during take-off and landing when people are chewing gum, etc. to equalize pressure) the child will grind by moving his jaw to relieve this pressure.
  • The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.
  • The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist.
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