What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist has an extra two or three years of specialized training after dental school and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with behavior, guiding their growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems.
With the additional education, pediatric dentists have the training which allows them to offer the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of pediatric dental problems.
At what age should I schedule my child’s first visit?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, your child’s first visit should occur about 6 months after their first tooth erupts, but no later than your child’s first birthday. Although it may seem young, finding your child’s “dental home” is a key to a lifetime of good dental health. Besides gently examining your baby's mouth and teeth, an important goal of the first visit is to make sure parents are educated with the tools to help prevent future dental problems.
How often should my child see a pediatric dentist?
The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend visiting a dentist twice a year for a checkup and a professional cleaning. Our office also recommends two visits per year.
What should I expect for my child’s first appointment?
The procedure at the first visit will depend on your child’s age, personality and individual needs. He may progress from simply getting familiar with the room and people to a complete examination, cleaning and topical fluoride treatment. Preventive measures will be discussed. In our effort to keep the number of X-rays to a bare minimum, X-rays are not taken on a routine basis. Rather, they are taken only if a specific dental situation warrants it.
Why are baby teeth so important?
It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth (baby teeth). Neglected cavities can cause pain and infection, and can also lead to problems which affect the developing permanent teeth.
Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Once children are 3 to 6 years old, then the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop and perform or assist your child’s toothbrushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.
Primary teeth, which generally fall out between the ages of 5 and 12, are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for permanent teeth and guiding them into position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
Why does my child need dental x-rays?
X-Rays Help Our Doctors Help Your Children
X-ray films detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.
Below are some frequently asked questions about why X-Rays are so important during your child’s visit.
How often should a child have dental X-ray films?
Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-ray films varies from child to child. Films are taken only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and performing a clinical examination, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual examination cannot.
In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They
are more susceptible than adults to tooth decay. For children with a high risk of tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends X-ray examinations every six months to detect cavities developing between the teeth. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require X-rays less frequently.
Will X-ray films be taken routinely?
No. X-ray films are recommended only when necessary to evaluate and monitor your child’s oral health. The frequency of X-ray films is determined by your child’s individual needs. If your child’s previous dentist obtained X-ray films, request copies be sent to your new pediatric dentist to help reduce radiation exposure.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Pediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of child patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. In fact, dental X-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.
What safeguards are used to protect my child from X-ray exposure?
Lead body aprons and shields help protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary X-rays and restricts the X-ray beam to the area of interest. High-speed film, digital X-rays, and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
What are sealants, fillings and crowns?
A sealant is a composite material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, where a majority of cavities in children can form. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. However, cavities between the teeth are not protected by sealants. As long as there is no decay in the tooth, sealants will be recommended for most permanent teeth.
If your child has a cavity, a filling is placed after the cavity is removed. The filling can be either amalgam(silver) or composite(tooth colored).
In a primary tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommend or the tooth may need to removed. If the cavity is too large and has involved the nerve of the tooth, then the nerve will be removed (pulpotomy) along with the decay, and a filling or a crown will be placed. For front teeth, white restorations are used.
What can I do about my child’s toothache?
Begin by cleaning around the sore tooth meticulously. Using warm salt water, rinse the mouth to displace any food trapped between teeth. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you use aspirin on the aching tooth or on the gum. In the event of facial swelling, apply a cold compress to the area. For temporary pain relief, acetaminophen is recommended. Contact our office as soon as possible.
Our son has fractured his tooth. What do you suggest?
Rinse debris from injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the face in the area of injury. Placement of Vaseline over the area of the broken tooth will aid in decreasing sensitivity. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments in milk.
Contact our office as soon as possible if the break appears severe.
What should I do about a knocked out permanent tooth?
My child accidentally knocked out her permanent tooth. What should I do?
The first thing to do is to try to remain calm. This can be a very upsetting situation for both you and your child.
Always make sure your child has not passed out or is unable to remember the injury. If this is the case, you will need to report to the emergency room for head trauma evaluation.
Next, determine if it is a permanent or baby tooth. If it is a baby tooth, DO NOT REIMPLANT. Contact us
immediately for instructions.
If it is a permanent tooth, find the tooth and pick it up by the crown of the tooth (the part you see in the mouth).Try not to handle the root of the tooth.If there appears to be debris on the tooth, rinse with water, milk or saliva.
Next, place the tooth back in the socket and contact our office immediately.
The best chance for survival of the tooth is if has been re-implanted within 30 minutes of the injury. This is why it is critical that you re-implant immediately. Your child will need to be seen shortly after, so the tooth can be splinted.
My child has cut or bitten their tongue, lip or cheek
Due to a child’s unfamiliarity with the feeling of a “numb mouth,” children often bite their lip or chew their cheek after a dental visit.
Ice can be applied to any bruised areas. For bleeding, apply firm (but gentle) pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. If the bleeding does not stop with pressure or continues after 15 minutes, please give our office a call.
When should my child where a mouth guard?
Your child should wear a mouthguard whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. 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. Our doctors will recommend the best mouth guard for your child.