1. Why choose a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty focused on the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health and emotional needs. To become a pediatric dentist, a dentist has to undergo two to three years of specialty training in addition to dental school. To become a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist, a dentist has to further pass a voluntary 2 part examination specially administered by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. The test certifies the candidate possesses the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience to deliver pediatric dental care at the highest level.
To top of page
2. When should my child first see a dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child sees a dentist within 6 months of the eruption of their 1st tooth or by one year of age, whichever comes first. The most important reason for the first visit is identification of any problems early, such as early childhood caries or dental abnormalities. The earlier these problems are found the easier they are to treat.
To top of page
3. How should I prepare my child for their dental visit?
Talking with your child about their visit with the dentist is the best way to prepare them. Try to stay away from any â€śscaryâ€ť words such as needle, pain, hurt, etc. There are many books available that are fun and informative for young children. Playing Dentist at home can also be a fun way of preparing your youngster for their dental check-up.
To top of page
4. What do you do to make my child comfortable during their visit?
We strive to make every dental visit as pleasant as possible, but sometimes there is no way of preventing some discomfort. Pediatric dentists are highly trained in Behavior Management of young children and this is always the first tool used to treat every patient, but when more intervention is needed we do employ topical anesthetics, local anesthetics, nitrous oxide, and in office oral sedation.
In some cases it is necessary for a child to be treated under general anesthesia for their own safety. You will always have the opportunity to discuss the available options for your child with Dr. Mary and the dental team! We encourage open two-way communication to determine the best approach for comfort management during your childâ€™s dental treatment.
To top of page
5. What is normal development and eruption of childrenâ€™s teeth?
The primary teeth are forming under the gums even before a child is born! Primary teeth normally start to come in between 4 – 6 months of age, with the lower, center, front teeth (central incisors) coming in first. Permanent teeth start to develop under the gums around age 3 and begin to erupt around age 6. Eventually your child will have up to 32 permanent teeth.
6. Why are baby teeth important anyway?
There a several reasons why primary, or â€śbabyâ€ť teeth are important to your child: not only do they help children speak appropriately and allow for proper nutrition, they are paramount in aiding the eruption of adult teeth and contribute to the development of the growing jaw and face.
To top of page
7. How can I prevent my child from getting cavities?
It all starts at home. Proper oral hygiene including brushing and flossing as including a well balanced diet low in sugar will go a long way in preventing cavities. Regular dental cleanings that get to the places that are hard to reach at home, topical fluoride applications, and sealant placements will provide further protecting from decay.
To top of page
8. What do I do if I have a dental emergency?
Trauma: The greatest incidence of trauma to primary teeth occurs in children between 2 and 3 years old due to their developing motor coordination. For toddlers it is important to be proactive in injury prevention through electrical cord safety, child proofing your home, wearing pads and helmets when necessary and always using car seats in the back seat of automobiles.
Injuries to permanent teeth occur most commonly secondary to falls, traffic accidents, violence or sports injuries. For athletes mouthguards are a proven protective device to reduce dental and orofacial injuries.
Bumped tooth: If tooth is slightly loose but no fracture or other trauma is evident call office immediately for consultation.
Fractured tooth care: Gently clean area with warm water. Place a cold compress in the area of the injury to decrease swelling. Come immediately to office; please call 879-7977 while you are on your way so we might prepare a room for your child.
Knocked-out tooth/Avulsion: Gently rinse dirt/debris from tooth. Do not scrub tooth or remove any tissue particles from root. If possible replace tooth into socket and hold in place. If replantation is not possible place tooth in cup of milk. Come immediately to office; please call 879-7977 while you are on your way so we might prepare a room for your child.
Toothache: Several reasons may be the underlying cause of a toothache. To help alleviate the discomfort rinse your childâ€™s mouth with warm water (it is okay to add a little salt to the water to aid in antibacterial action) every hour as needed. Clean the area around the affected tooth thoroughly. This includes brushing well in the area and using floss or even a toothpick. An ice pack placed on the affected site may also help relieve pain. Do not give your child aspirin or place aspirin on the gums. Aspirin can cause burning of the gum tissue. If needed, give your child the recommended dosage of either Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Motrin (Ibuprofen) for their pain. If swelling is present around his/her eye, apply an ice pack and take child to emergency room immediately.
Possible causes of toothache:
- Deep cavities
- Broken or lost fillings or crowns
- Food stuck in gums (like popcorn wedged in gums or in between teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Abscess (dental infection)
Loose baby tooth: In children, the natural exfoliation process of the baby tooth or trauma usually causes a loose baby tooth. If no trauma has occurred than it is likely that a visit from the tooth fairy will be forthcoming. Have your child “wiggle” the tooth themselves, pushing it everyday a little at a time. As more of the root of the tooth goes away, the primary tooth may fall out by itself. This may happen spontaneously, or during eating and chewing food. If you can see the new tooth coming in through the gums and the primary tooth is only slightly loose but not enough for your child to remove it, call our office for an appointment. It is important to remove over-retained primary teeth so that the new permanent tooth can come in straight.
9. Why do you take x rays of my childâ€™s teeth?
Dental radiographs detect more than just cavities. They are necessary to evaluate the erupting teeth, diagnose bone disease, assess the outcome of an injury, or to aid in orthodontic treatment planning. With the use of radiographs proper and timely diagnosis and treatment of health conditions can be made that clinical examination only cannot detect. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years, it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of radiographs, either a panoramic and bitewings or periapical films and bitewings.
As a pediatric specialist office we are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of radiation to our patients. Through the use of digital x-ray film, proper shielding by lead aprons and body shields and with advanced technology in equipment to filter the exposure; the amount of radiation received for dental radiographs is very small. The risk is negligible.
To top of page
10. What if my child grinds his/her teeth?
Bruxism is defined as the habitual nonfunctional and forceful contact between the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Many times parents notice this habit due to the noise created by the child grinding their teeth or parents may note the wearing down of the teeth (teeth getting shorter).
The underlying cause of bruxism can be from emotional stress (due to change in environment, divorce, changes at school, etc), neurological disabilities, or mal-aligned teeth. Most often this habit is self-limiting and does require any additional treatment. If excessive wear presents, bruxism management can be achieved through patient/parent education, occulsal splints (mouthguards), and psychological technique or medications.
To top of page
11. What if my child has a prolonged thumb or pacifier habit?
Nonnutritive sucking behaviors are normal and common in infants and young children. It may help children to feel secure and happy and provide a sense of security. For optimal dental and skeletal development, it is recommended that the habit cease by the age of three. All treatment of prolonged habits must consider the childâ€™s development, comprehension and ability to cooperate.
Treatment modalities include patient/parent counseling, behavior modification, and appliance therapy. It is important to note that the use of an appliance to manage the habit is only indicated when the child wants to stop the habit and would benefit from a reminder.
To top of page
12. Are there any special oral health care instructions for pregnant patients?
The following are a few suggestions to help with prolonged habits:
- Instead of scolding children or badgering them, praise them when they are not sucking.
- Many times children have a sucking habit due to a feeling of insecurity. Focus on alleviating any underlying cause of anxiety of insecurity.
- Children who suck for comfort feel less of a need when parents provide comfort.
- Organize a reward schedule for your child when they refrain from their sucking habit, consistent positive reinforcement.
- If the habit only persists in the evening, help your child with reminders like a sock over the hand, or a band-aid on the digit.
13. Oral health care for teens/adolescent?
Adolescence is a complex time of growth and development. Due to an increase in availability of sweetened food and beverages, independence to seek care or avoid it, a low priority for oral hygiene and additional social factors, adolescence is also marked as a time of distinctive oral health care needs.
High Cavity Rate: To combat cavities, prevention through optimal brushing, flossing, fluoride use, dietary management and professional evaluations and professional removal of plaque and calculus should be utilized.
Trauma: Trauma to the permanent teeth occurs most frequently secondary to falls, following traffic accidents, violence or sports injuries. A significant reduction in dental and facial injuries can be obtained through protective equipment such as mouthguards and face guards. Mouth guards help prevent broken teeth, and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw. A properly fitted mouth guard will stay in place while your child is wearing it, making it easy for them to talk and breathe.
Orthodontic Considerations: When appliances, brackets, and bands are fitted to the teeth it is necessary to implement proper cleansing of your mouth every time you eat. Teeth with braces are harder to clean, and food can be trapped very easily. If food is left lodged on the bracket and wires, it can cause etching of the enamel surface of your tooth. Additionally, symptoms of gum disease will show in your mouth. The gums will swell and bleed and the pressure from the disease will slow down the tooth movement, and thus prolong your orthodontic care.
Tobacco Use: Tobacco use in any form can jeopardize your childâ€™s health and cause incurable damage. If your child is a tobacco user you should watch for the following early signs of oral cancer:
- A sore that wonâ€™t heal
- White or red leathery patches on the lips, and on or under the tongue
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue; or a change in the way the teeth fit together.
- Because the early signs of oral cancer usually are not painful, people often ignore them. If itâ€™s not caught in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. Even worse, it can kill.
Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, they will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with their tongue, gums and cheek.
Oral Piercings: Piercings of the tongue, lips or cheeks are a bad idea.
There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.
To top of page
14. Can you whiten the color of my teeth?
Many teenagers are concerned with personal appearance and having healthy white teeth can boost their self-esteem. While excellent oral hygiene and regular checkups are the best way to a beautiful smile, some teenagers may want to try whitening their teeth for that extra white gleam. Tooth bleaching can safely lighten the color of your teenager or young adultâ€™s teeth and can last for up to five years.
Over-the-counter teeth whitening products can be safe and effective, but consult with Dr. Mary prior to using them to be sure. Bleaching does not effectively whiten everyoneâ€™s teeth and may not work for teeth with intrinsic staining. Extrinsic stains such as coffee, tea, food coloring or darkened soda drinks can easily be bleached and whitened. For a faster, safer and more effective result, we can provide cosmetic teeth whitening with custom trays.
With this process, a chemical reaction occurs within the tooth to produce fast and stable results. Talk with the Dr. Mary if your teenager is interested in this process.