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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Prevention/Protection

What is a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric Dentistry is the specialty of the dental profession that focuses on the specific oral health needs of young people. To become a pediatric dentist, an individual must first complete a four-year dental school curriculum, followed by an additional two to three years of intensive training and hands-on experience in delivery of dental treatment services to infants, children, and adolescents.A pediatric dentist’s focus is on the prevention and early detection and treatment of dental disease. As a specialty provider, the pediatric dentist maintains an ongoing schedule of continuing education to stay abreast of current information and technology advances in the field of children’s dentistry.Building your child’s trust and confidence in their visits to the dentist is a key building block in your child’s growth and development. We strive to make each dental visit an experience that will serve as a foundation for a lifetime of good oral health habits.

At what age should I take my child to the dentist? 

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child visit the dentist for the first time shortly after the first tooth erupts and no later than the child’s first birthday. At this visit, we will instruct you in how to care for your child’s teeth, as well as provide the latest information on nutrition, thumb-sucking, and pacifier habits. We will also advise you on preventing “baby-bottle” tooth decay, which can occur with prolonged nursing or use of “sippy” cups.Your Child’s first dental visit is also important to help you understand the developmental “road map” of your child’s teeth. Knowing what to expect in the tooth eruption sequence and how to best protect and care for developing teeth is a healthy first step towards caring for your child’s smile.

How should I care for my baby’s teeth?

We recommend introducing your child to the toothbrush early. For infants and toddlers, you should use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush moistened with plain water to gently clean your child’s teeth at least once a day prior to bedtime. Unless a dentist advises you differently, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until your child is 2-3 years of age.

What causes cavities?

Cavities occur when bacteria organize on the surfaces of the tooth and progressively destroy tooth enamel and underlying structures. Preventing this “organization” of the bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth is the key to avoiding cavities. Bacteria thrive on sugars and carbohydrates, and they are especially destructive when they can hide away in deep grooves of tooth surfaces that are hard to clean.To defend against these bacteria we recommend keeping the teeth clean by practicing good home care, having regular visits to the dentist for cleanings, applying fluoride treatments and dental sealants, and developing healthy eating habits.

Should I worry about thumb-sucking?

Thumb-sucking and pacifier habits are normal for young children. Most children stop sucking on fingers, thumbs, pacifiers, or other objects around two to four years of age. Usually, there is no harm to tooth development; however, if these habits continue for longer periods of time, upper front teeth may become tipped or misaligned. We will help you monitor your child’s development and assist you in coaching your child to stop these habits if they exceed the “normal” time frame. If needed, we can fabricate a custom mouth appliance to help prevent sucking habits.

Why are baby teeth important?

Primary teeth or baby teeth perform important functions while teeth develop and erupt:

•  Strong, healthy chewing surfaces are vital to proper nutrition and young digestive processes.

•  Primary teeth “hold” space for permanent teeth to develop in natural alignment.

•  Speech development is affected by primary tooth position and alignment.Keeping primary teeth strong and healthy until they are lost naturally and replaced by permanent teeth is a recommended part of a good strategy for oral health.

What do I do in a dental emergency?

If your child has a dental problem, the first step is to call our office. If you call after business hours, we will provide information on how to reach the doctor on call. If you are unable to reach us or are out of the area, the hospital emergency room can offer first-response assistance in dental emergency situations.Common Emergencies include:-Baby tooth knocked out: call our office for instructions.-Permanent tooth knocked out: if your child’s permanent tooth is knocked out, speed in response is key. Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water, do not scrub the tooth or use soap or other chemicals. Try to hold it by the crown and not the root tip.

If the child is old enough, try to place the tooth back in the socket and have the child hold it in place with clean gauze or washcloth. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a clean container and moisten it with saliva, milk, or water. Call our office immediately; quick response can sometimes save a tooth!

If the tooth is fractured or chipped: try to save the tooth fragment, have the child rinse with cold water, and apply a cold compress to minimize swelling.

Toothache: have your child rinse with water to help ease discomfort. Apply a cold compress; do not apply heat or aspirin. Call our office immediately. Toothaches that subside and reoccur can be misleading, dental pain is an indication of an underlying problem and can lead to serious infection if it is not addressed promptly.

Blow to head or jaw fracture: go immediately to the emergency room. Head injuries can be life threatening.

Preventing dental injuries and emergencies: dental trauma injuries can be reduced or prevented through the use of mouthguards for sports, car seats for young children, and seatbelts for older children and adults. Toothaches are a sign of dental disease; prevent tooth pain by visiting your dentist on a regular basis.

How can I help my child take care of his or her teeth?

Part of our role as a pediatric specialty practice is developing a personalized dental prevention program for you and your child. At your very first visit, we will examine your child’s teeth thoroughly and make recommendations on effective brushing and flossing techniques that you can perform at home. We will coach both you and your child to ensure that we all work together to take care of your child’s smile.Other preventive services that we offer include:

•  Application of sealants and fluoride treatments

•  Protective appliances such as mouth guards

•  Diet and Nutrition Counseling

•  Early diagnosis and prevention of orthodontic problems

•  Restoration of damaged tooth structures to create smooth, clean stable surfaces

We value the opportunity to work closely with you to keep your child’s smile healthy. Every question is important. Please do not hesitate to contact us about your child’s care.

Prevention/Protection

Mouthguards for Sports

Mouthguards are mouth protectors that your child can wear while engaging in sports activities such as soccer, football, skateboarding, hockey, as well as basketball and baseball.Custom-fit mouthguards are recommended, however, any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard; over-the-counter options are available. It is best to choose a mouthguard that your child is able to wear and still speak clearly; otherwise, they are likely to not wear it.We offer fitted mouthguards to our young athletes, be sure to add this to important protective appliance to your child’s list of sports “gear” and ask about it at your next dental visit.

Dental Sealants

Natural teeth, especially molars, often have deep grooves and pits in the chewing surface that cannot be cleaned by brushing and flossing. These pits and grooves are a perfect home for decay-causing bacteria, which can collect in these areas and progressively damage tooth structure.A dental sealant is a plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surface of the tooth to fill in these pits and grooves and make the tooth surface easier to clean by brushing and flossing. (Bacteria don’t like clean, smooth surfaces!)The application of a sealant is a simple procedure with “no shots required”. We simply clean and rinse the surface of the tooth and condition it with a special primer. We then dry the tooth, apply the plastic sealant material, and cure it with a special light.Sealants hold up well to normal chewing, brushing and flossing. We do recommend that your child avoid foods that are very sticky or very hard to avoid displacing sealants. We will check your child’s sealants at your child’s regular dental visits, and the material can be re-applied if needed.

Sealants are a proven method of preventing dental decay in permanent teeth. Be sure to ask about the benefits of sealants at your next dental visit!

Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that can be found in natural water supplies. Many years of extensive research has proven that fluoride can prevent tooth decay by bonding with the enamel of the tooth to make it stronger. Fluoride has been added to drinking water supplies in many regions of the U.S. Fluoride treatments are a standard part of a dental cleaning and prevention program.There is such a thing as too much fluoride. Overuse of fluoride can cause permanent tooth discoloration and other serious health conditions. Parents should not use fluoride toothpaste or give fluoride supplements to children under three years of age unless directed to do so by a pediatric dentist or physician.Part of our role in caring for your child’s smile is developing an effective fluoride treatment regimen. Please call our office if you have any questions about fluoride use.

Healthy Diet

A balanced, healthy diet is important to the development of young teeth and gums. Your child’s daily diet should include foods from each of the basic food groups: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, meat, fish, and eggs.Too many sugars or starchy foods in your child’s diet can increase the risk of dental cavities. Not only do snacks like candy and gum contain sugars but also many processed foods, such as potato chips and sticky fruit snacks contain carbohydrates and sugars that can increase the risk of tooth decay.The key is moderation and duration. Sweets and starches consumed with a meal are safer than sipping on sugary soda or chewing mints throughout the day. This helps the systems in the mouth do a better job breaking down sugars and fighting tooth decay.We can help! Ask our team about foods to avoid and healthy snacks to help reduce your child’s risk of cavities.

Dental X-rays

X-rays are an important part of a complete dental examination. They reveal areas of the teeth that are not visible to the naked eye. Dental X-rays help us detect cavities and check the teeth and surrounding bone for any signs of infection. We are also able to evaluate your child’s bone and facial structure and assess any potential developmental and orthodontic needs by taking “panoramic” X-rays.Our practice uses digital X-ray technology to help reduce the amount of exposure required to take an X-ray. The risks associated with dental X-rays are minimal and the benefits of detection make them an invaluable tool in managing your child’s dental health.If you have any concerns or questions about the use of dental X-rays, please do not hesitate to ask a member of our team.

  • New Patient Forms.

  • After Hour Emergencies.

    If your child experiences a dental emergency after business hours, call our office at 678-714-7575 to reach the doctor on call. If you are unable to reach us or are out of the area, the hospital emergency room can offer first-response assistance in dental emergency situations.