1) What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is a specialty of dentistry that provides oral health care for infants, children and teenagers, including those with special health needs. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. They complete two to three years of extensive training after they have completed four years of dental school education. Their specialized training focuses on behavior guidance, care of the medically and developmentally compromised patient, supervision of oral growth and development, decay prevention and restoration, sedation, and hospital dentistry. Pediatric dentists adapt traditional dental procedures to the unique requirements of infants, children, and teenagers.
2) How should I prepare my child for their dental appointment?
Our office uses lots of positive reinforcement when interacting with your child. Prior to your child’s upcoming dental appointment, we encourage parents to use the same positive attitude when discussing their dental visit. For very young children, reading children’s books about going to the dentist may be a helpful exercise. For older children, allowing the dental staff to explain procedures using child-friendly dental vocabulary is recommended. Encourage your children to ask lots of questions from the dentist and the staff during their appointment. It’s OK not to know the answers to all your child’s questions. Let us answer these questions for you.
3) How does the office prepare for my child’s dental appointment?
Our office sets aside time specifically for your child. During their appointment, we obtain health and dental information from a parent or legal guardian regarding your child. This allows our doctors to have a comprehensive view of your child’s health and dental needs at the start of the appointment. Our office prepares a welcoming, clean, safe and when appropriate sterile environment for your child. Because time has been set aside and our staff has prepared specifically for your child, it is important to bring your child to their designated appointment time.
4) What can be done if my child is very anxious? What if the caregiver is very anxious?
We recognize that dental anxiety is very real. If your child has anxiety about their dental appointment, we recommend discussing that with our staff and doctors. As pediatric dentists, we are specially trained on how to guide children through their dental treatment. Most children become much more relaxed while interacting with our warm, caring staff in our fun, child-friendly environment. In addition to the standard behavior management techniques, other treatment options to treat children with anxiety exist. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and sedation options are offered for children with severe anxiety issues.
In many cases, parents, due to their own personal experiences, can have more anxiety about a child’s dental appointment than does the child. It is extremely important for the parent not to allow their own dental anxiety and fear to be seen or heard by the child. Children are very intelligent and perceptive and parental fears can be easily transferred to your children. For parents dealing with extreme dental anxiety, it may be a good idea to have another adult bring your child to his/her scheduled appointment.
5) How often should your child go to the dentist and why?
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 appointments due to increased risk of tooth decay, abnormal growth patterns, or poor oral hygiene. Regular dental visits, in addition to proper oral home care, help your child stay cavity-free.
During a regular dental visit, the teeth are cleaned to remove debris that irritates the gums and can cause cavities. Fluoride treatments are given to renew the fluoride content in the enamel thereby strengthening the teeth and preventing cavities. Instructions on proper brushing and flossing are given to help your child maintain cleaner teeth and healthier gums. Radiographs are taken when appropriate. An ongoing assessment of your child’s oral health also includes recognizing the need for additional fluoride, recommendation of dental sealants, and monitoring of a patient’s growth and development for orthodontic problems. A lot is accomplished during a regular dental check-up.
6) Why should baby teeth be treated?
Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. First, they help children speak clearly and chew naturally contributing to overall well-being. Second, they guide the permanent tooth into the correct position in the mouth. Some primary teeth will stay in your child’s mouth until he/she is about twelve years old and the premolar teeth are ready to replace them. Third, healthy primary teeth do not cause pain or infection. Cavities progress more rapidly in primary teeth than permanent teeth. These cavities can cause abscessed teeth, facial swelling, the inability to chew, pain and tooth loss. Early detection and treatment of decay is important for maintaining appropriate oral health in the primary dentition and building the foundation for healthy permanent teeth.
7) How do you treat my child?
We strive to treat each and every child in our office as if they were our own. Each child is treated with respect, our undivided attention and compassion. We use lots of positive reinforcement and encouragement in our office. Prizes and stickers also help make dental visits fun!
8) Do you have any recommendations for children who are teething?
From six months to age 3, your child may have tender gums when teeth erupt. Many children like a clean teething ring, cool spoon or cold wet washcloth. Some parents swear by a chilled ring; others simply rub the baby’s gums with a clean finger. Contrary to common belief, fever is not normal for a teething baby. If your infant has an unusually high or persistent fever while teething, call your physician.
9) What should I do if my child has a dental emergency?
The most important thing to remember is to stay calm. If your child has a life-threatening emergency, please call 911. If your child knocks out a permanent tooth, find the tooth. Hold the tooth by the crown rather than the root. Pick off any large dirt particles that may be attached. Do not run the tooth under water. Do not scrub the tooth.
Avoid touching the root as much as possible. Reinsert the tooth into the socket if you are able. If reinserting the tooth is not possible, place the tooth in a cup of cold milk. If you are our patient, please contact our office immediately so we can assist further.
If your child has a toothache, first, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and place a cold compress on the face if it is swollen. Give the child acetaminophen or ibuprofen using manufacturer recommended dosing for any pain, rather than placing aspirin on the teeth or gums. If you are our patient, please contact our office so we can assist further.
10) What methods of payment are accepted?
We accept most types of insurance, cash, credit cards, and personal checks. We also offer Care Credit. Please call our office with specific questions.
Questions and answers adapted from American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry – AAPD