Dental Questions


  • what is a pediatric dentist?

Pediatric dentistry is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the oral health and unique needs of young children. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of vigorous training is required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to meet the unique needs of your infants, children and adolescents, including persons with special health care needs.

  • why is it recommended for my child to be assessed one-on-one with the dentist?

Infants and some young children may feel more confident when accompanied by a parent during their dental check-ups. Older children and those needing dental treatment can leave mommy and daddy in the waiting area. This allows the staff and doctor to work one-on-one with the child to help build their confidence and comfort. This is what we do best and we must insist on this policy of allowing us the opportunity to assess each child’s ability to cope. We recommend children of the ages 4 and over to go back by themselves for dental procedures and dental cleanings..

  • what can I except at my first dental visit?

Every patient’s first visit may be different, depending of the age of the child. During the first visit, the dentist can: * Review the medical and dental histories. *Some radiographs (x-rays) may be taken. *Complete a thorough oral examination to assess growth and development. *Clean the teeth and provide suggestions about daily care.* Evaluate and optimize your child’s fluoride. *Plan for any needed treatment or the next check up. Parents should not expect any treatment to be accomplished on the first visit.

  • at what age should my child start seeing a dentist?

Your child’s first appointment should be at the age of 6 months. Although this may seem early, the dentist can show you how to properly clean your child’s teeth, check for problems such as dental decay and provide oral health information based on your child’s stage of development. You should consider this a “well-baby checkup” for your child.

  • how often does my child need to see the pediatric dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay. Regular dental visit and good oral hygiene will help your child stay cavity-free.

  • how to calm an anxious child?

Pediatric dentists have special training in helping anxious children feel secure. Pediatric dental offices are designed for children. Pediatric dentists will use a technique known as “Tell-Show-Do”. For example, a dental instrument will get demonstrated by using it to count your child’s fingers, then will apply the instrument in treatment. Coaching, distraction and parent participation are other possibilities to give your child confidence in dentistry. But by far the most preferred technique is praise.


  • when will my baby start getting teeth?

A baby’s four front teeth usually erupt first, typically at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months. Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3 years old.

  • what can I do for a teething baby?

When teeth begin erupting, some babies may have sore or tender gums. You can soothe your baby by gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger or a wet gauze. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on, but never dipped in sugar or syrup. Some fever may occur; you can give the recommended dosage of pain reliever appropriate with the baby’s age for only a couple of days. If your infant has an unusually high or persistent fever while teething, call your physician.

  • why are primary teeth so important?

It is important that primary teeth are kept in place until they are lost naturally. Primary teeth serve a number of critical functions in normal development – for chewing, speaking, and appearance. In addition, the primary teeth hold the space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. Both primary and permanent teeth help give the face its shape and form. Primary teeth may start falling out at the age of 6.

  • how can parents help prevent tooth decay?

Parents should take their child to the dentist regularly and help maintain a good oral hygiene at home by brushing, flossing, proper nutrition and dietary habits. By following these directions, you can help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

  • at what age will my child develop permanent teeth?

Permanent teeth may start developing at age 6. Since every child’s growth and development is different they may start with their development at different ages. Your pediatric dentist can fill you in, in your child’s progress.


  • why are x-rays important?

X-rays detected much more than cavities. 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 dentist to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a visual examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.

  • how safe are dental x-rays?

There is very little risk in dental x-rays. There is a limited amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and high-speed film are used to ensure safety and minimize the amount of radiation. In fact, dental x-rays represent a far smaller risk than undetected and untreated dental problems.

  • how often should a child have dental x-rays?

Since every child is unique, the need for dental x-rays varies from child to child. Children need x-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible to tooth decay than adults. For children with a high risk of tooth decay, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends x-rays every 6 months to detect cavities developing between the teeth.


  • what is fluoride?

Fluoride comes in number of different forms; gels, foams and rinses. The gel or foam will be brushed on evenly throughout your child’s teeth. The fluoride rinse is a rinse given to children of the age of 7 and above, it is rinsed for a minute then spit out. You will be instructed to make sure your child does not eat or drink for 30 minutes.

  • how does fluoride work?

When the element fluoride is used in small amounts on a routine basis it helps to prevent tooth decay. It encourages “remineralization,” a strengthening of weak areas on the teeth. These spots are the beginning of cavity formation. Fluoride occurs naturally in water and in many different foods, as well as in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, varnish and supplements. Fluoride is effective when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.

  • will my child need fluoride supplements?

Children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years may require fluoride supplements. The pediatric dentist considers many different factors before recommending a fluoride supplement. Your child’s age, risk of developing dental decay and the different liquids your child drinks are important considerations. Bottled, filtered and well waters vary in their fluoride amount, so a water analysis may be necessary to ensure your child is receiving the proper amount.

  • how safe is fluoride?

Fluoride is documented to be safe and highly effective. Research indicates water fluoridation, the most cost effective method, has decreased the decay rate by 50%. Only small amounts of fluoride are necessary for the maximum benefits. Proper toothpaste amount must be supervised, and other forms of fluoride supplementations must be carefully monitored in order to prevent a potential overdose and unsightly spots on the developing permanent teeth. Do not leave toothpaste tubes where young children can reach them. The flavors that help encourage them to brush may also encourage them to eat the toothpaste.

  • how often does my child need fluoride?

It is recommended that your child receive a form of fluoride every 6 months. This is only done at a dental office and is not available for purchase to the public.

  • what is fluoride varnish?

Fluoride varnish is one of the newer forms of fluoride applied at the dentist office. It has been documented to be safe and effective to fight dental decay through a long history of use in Europe. The advantages of varnish are: *Easily and quickly applied to the teeth. *Decreases the potential amount of fluoride digested. *Continues to “soak” fluoride into the enamel for approximately 24 hours after the original application.  Simple instructions to follow after applying varnish; Do not remove the varnish by brushing for at least 4-6 hours after application. Do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes.


  • when should I start brushing?

Begin cleaning the baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth. After every feeding, wipe the baby’s gums either with a clean, wet gauze pad or with a washcloth or towel. This removes plaque and residual food and helps children become accustomed to having their mouth checked and cleaned. When your infant’s teeth begin to erupt, it is important to clean them regularly. You may continue to use a gauze pad, cloth or brush all teeth gently with a child’s size soft toothbrush.

  • how should I brush my child’s teeth?

Place the toothbrush against the gums. The best and simple method is to move the brush in a small circular motion making sure to brush the gums as well as the teeth. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.

  • what type of toothpaste should my child use?

Your child should use toothpaste with fluoride and the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. Young children, especially pre-school aged children, should not swallow any toothpaste. Careful supervision and use a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste. If not monitored, children may easily swallow over four times the recommended daily amount of fluoride in toothpaste.

  • when should I replace my toothbrush?

You can replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months. Check your child’s toothbrush often and replace it when it is worn. Bent or frayed bristles will not remove plaque effectively. It is also important to replace the toothbrush after your child has become ill.

  • when should I start flossing?

It is never too early to start flossing your child’s teeth. The flossing should begin when tight contacts are noticed. It is recommended to be done daily.

  • how should I floss my child’s teeth?

Use about 12 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle; back and forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last 4 teeth in each corner of the mouth. What can also be used is a wild flosser or something similar. A wild flosser has a handle on one end and a piece of floss on the other, which is designed to make flossing easier.

  • what are disclosing tablets and how can I use them?

Disclosing tablets are used as a visual aid in helping young children brush properly. They can be used once a month or even once a week. Your child will chew the tablet until dissolved, then will rinse with water afterwards. If you notice pink and/or purple color around your child’s teeth and/or gums, these are signs of lack of brushing. To remove, just simply brush it off with a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste.


  • what are sealants?

Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where more cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Brushing, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking, and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile.

  • why are sealants important?

Sealants are important because they fill the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect for many years.

  • at what age can sealants be applied?

Sealants are applied to teeth that have chewing surfaces. They can get applied as early as the age of 3. At the time of your child’s examination your dentist will let you know if your child needs sealants.

  • how long do sealants last?

Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. Your dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and recommend re-application or repair when necessary.


  • what is conscious sedation?

Conscious sedation is a management technique that uses medications to assist the child to cope with fear and anxiety and cooperate with dental treatment. Many different medications can be used for conscious sedation and is unlikely to cause loss of consciousness in the patient. Sedation is safe when administered by a trained pediatric dentist who follows the sedation guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Please keep in mind that every child is different so every child well get a different affect. Your child will not get dismissed until he/she is fully alert and responsive.

  • what is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide is a commonly used dental sedative that is inhaled through a nasal mask that produces a giddiness or euphoria, which is why people frequently call it “laughing gas”. Nitrous oxide, a sweet-smelling gas, is a compound of nitrogen and oxygen. It is used for patients of all ages. After treatment your pediatric dentist will make sure to allow the nitrous oxide out of your child’s system by having them inhale 100% oxygen for at least 5 minutes.

  • what is general anesthesia?

General anesthesia is a management technique that uses medications to cause the child to become unconscious and asleep while receiving dental care. Although there is some risk associated with general anesthesia, it is safe when administered by an appropriately trained individual in an appropriately equipped facility. Many precautions are taken and patients are monitored closely during the general anesthesia.


  • when is the best time for orthodontic treatment?

It is never too early to see an orthodontist for any treatment. Since every child’s growth and development is different. Your pediatric dentist will let you know when it is the right time for your child to see an orthodontist.

  • what is a malocclusion?

Malocclusion, or bad bite, is a condition in which teeth are crowded, crooked or out of alignment, or the jaws don’t meet properly. This condition may become particularly noticeable between the ages of 6-12, when the permanent teeth are erupting. This bad bite may be inherited or result from events in the child’s development.

  • what are white spots?

When plaque builds up around braces and is not removed, tooth enamel can decalcify which results in discolorations called white spots, often becoming permanent scars. White spots on teeth are actually white scars, and once they appear, they may become permanent.

  • what is a space maintainer?

A space maintainer holds open the spot left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to emerge. It generally is a device that is firmly fixed in the mouth. The spacer may consist of a band or a temporary crown attached to the tooth on one side and a wire loop on the other side.

  • what is a thumb crib appliance?

The thumb crib appliance is placed to help assist and eliminate the thumb sucking habit. At your next appointment, your pediatric dentist can show you exactly what the appliance looks like.


  • are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful to the teeth?

Thumb and pacifier sucking habits will generally only become a problem if they go on for a very long period of time. Most children stop these habits on their own, but if they are still sucking their thumbs or fingers past the age of three make sure to let your dentist know.  An appliance may be recommended.

  • what can I do to stop the habit?

*Praise them when they are not sucking their thumb.* Children who are sucking for comfort or are insecure will feel less of a need when their parents provide comfort and focus on correcting the cause of anxiety. *Reward children when they refrain from sucking their thumb by using a Positive and Negative reinforcement.  If these approaches do not work your pediatric dentist may recommend a type of appliance.


  • what do I do if my child got a permanent tooth knocked out?

Keep tooth moist at all times. Hold the tooth by the crown, and if the tooth is dirty, rinse the root in water. Do not scrub the tooth or remove any attached tissue fragments. The tooth must not be left outside the mouth to dry. If possible, gently insert and hold the tooth in its socket. If it cannot be replaced in the socket, put it in one of the following: *Emergency tooth preservation kit * milk *mouth (next to cheek) * if none of these is practical, use water (with a pinch of salt, if possible).

  • what can I do for a toothache?

Rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give your child some pain reliever medication for any pain. Do not place aspirin on the tooth or gums. Make sure to see a dentist as soon as possible.

  • what can I do for a bitten tongue, cheek or lip?

Clean the area gently with a cloth, and put cold compresses on the area to keep the swelling down. If bleeding is excessive or does not stop in a short period of time, take your child to your dentist or a hospital emergency room.


  • will a pediatric dentist be able to see my child with special needs?

An integral part of our education is concerned with the medical and dental health of the special patient. People with significant medical, physical, or mental disabilities often present unique challenges to dentists. Our training allows us to address their special needs and provide the best care possible.


  • what are wisdom teeth and why do they get extracted?

The average mouth is made to hold only 28 teeth. It can be painful when 32 teeth try to fit in the mouth. These 4 other teeth are your Third Molars, also known as “wisdom teeth”. The extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary. Impacted teeth can take many positions in the bone as they attempt to find a pathway to erupt. When partially erupted, the opening around the tooth allows bacteria to form and will cause an infection. The result may cause swelling, stiffness, pain, illness and shifting of other teeth. It may disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth.

  • what should I know about tongue piercing?

There are many risks involved with oral piercing including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots or blood poisoning. 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.

  • what should I know about tobacco?

Tobacco and smokeless tobacco (also called spit) in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. In as little as 3-4 months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias. You should watch for early signs of oral cancer. *A sore that won’t heal * White or red leathery patches on lips and on or under tongue *Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips. *Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving of the jaw or tongue. Because early signs usually are not painful, they often get ignored. If not caught in the early stage, oral cancer can require extensive surgery. Even worse it can kill.

  • is teeth whitening safe?

Absolutely, modern teeth whitening uses safe and effective bleaching gel to melt away stains and discoloration. For your convenience our office offers take home teeth whitening kits.

  • what is microabrasion?

In microabrasion, dentists carefully use a compound on the teeth to remove superficial stains and discolorations. It is difficult to predict if microabrasion will remove the discoloration completely from a tooth.

  • what is a mouth guard?

A mouth guard is a soft plastic that can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. Mouth guards can be purchased at your nearest store that sells any dental product.


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