What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist has an extra two years of specialized training after dental school and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through adolescence. Every child may need a different approach in managing behavior, guiding their growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems.
With the additional years of specialty training, pediatric dentists are able to offer the most current and thorough treatment for a wide variety of pediatric dental problems.
How old should my child be to come to the dentist?
We, along with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommend a first dental visit by your child’s 1st birthday or 6 months after the eruption of their 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 a healthy mouth and smile. Early visits also help establish a positive relationship between our office and your child.
Why are baby teeth so important?
It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth (baby teeth). Untreated cavities can cause pain and infection and can also lead to problems that 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) allowing 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 of 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.
What are sealants, fillings and crowns?
A sealant is a tooth-colored material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the posterior teeth where most cavities in children can develop. Sealants act as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid so that your tooth cannot form a cavity. However, cavities in between teeth are not protected by sealants. As long as there is not a cavity in between teeth, sealants will be recommended for most children.
If your child has a cavity, a filling is placed after the cavity is removed. Most of the time, the filling is tooth-colored, but there are certain situations in which a silver filling may be needed.
In a primary (baby) tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommend or the tooth may need to be extracted. If the cavity is too large and has involved the nerve of the tooth, then the nerve will be removed (pulpotomy) along with the cavity, and a crown will be placed. A crown can either be tooth-colored or stainless steel. For front teeth, white crowns are routinely used for esthetics. For back teeth, stainless steel crowns are used for their durability and longevity. The purpose of the crown is to help provide structure for the tooth, maintain space for the permanent teeth to erupt properly, and to help protect the remaining tooth.
All of these procedures are associated with a certain failure rate depending on the severity of disease, cooperation of patient during treatment, and individual response to the treatment. All treatment is recommended based on scientific research and clinical experience in the best interest of your child. If your child needs any of the above treatments, please talk to our pediatric dentist about any questions or concerns that you may have.
What about sedation?
Small procedures in cooperative children can often be done under local anesthesia with or without nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The most common form of sedation we routinely use in our office is nitrous oxide. 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 during the procedure. We will use a pule oximeter and capnograph if needed to monitor your child throughout the appointment. Oral sedations are scheduled carefully, as they require your child to be fasting the morning of the procedure. Your child should also be free of any respiratory symptoms in the two weeks preceding the procedure. We often 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 for multiple appointments, and the treatment cannot be done. For these children, we may recommend treating your child under general anesthesia.
What should be done about a cut or bitten tongue, lip or cheek?
Apply ice to any bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If the bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take your child to the emergency room.
If the child chews their lip, tongue, or cheek area after completion of dental treatment, an antibiotic or certain pain medication may be recommended. Please call our office.
What can I do about my child’s toothache?
Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water or use dental floss to dislodge any 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 as possible, as a visit to the emergency department may be needed.
My child accidentally knocked out her permanent tooth, what should I do?
Contact our office as soon as possible. This is a true emergency.
If the tooth is knocked out, try to place it back into the socket by holding the crown or white part of the tooth. If the tooth is dirty, briefly rinse tooth under luke warm water prior to re-implanting it. If you are unable to place the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in milk. Do not place tooth in water.
Our son has fractured his tooth.
What do you suggest?
Rinse debris from injured area with luke warm water. Place cold compresses over the face in the area of injury. Placement of vaseline/aquaphor over the area of the broken tooth will aid in decreasing sensitivity. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments in milk.