What is pediatric dentistry?
Pediatric Dentistry is the dental specialty recognized by the American Dental Association, which encompasses comprehensive dental care for all children, from infancy through adolescence. A children’s dental specialist is a practitioner who, after becoming a general dentist, has completed an additional two years of post-doctoral training in the recognition and treatment of children’s dental and orthodontic problems. Specialty education includes child psychology, behavior guidance, preventive techniques, restorative dentistry, interceptive orthodontic care, and the treatment of children with special needs.
What is dental caries?
Dental caries is an infectious disease process that causes tooth decay or “cavities.” If untreated, caries can lead to severe pain, local infection, tooth loss, and even serious systemic infections. Babies typically are inoculated or “catch” dental caries from their parents. For this reason, it is important that parents attend to their own dental needs, striving to have excellent dental hygiene and, therefore, helping to prevent problems with their children’s teeth.
Here is what is happening in your child’s mouth: Teeth, which are primarily made of minerals, are in a constant state of back-and-forth de-mineralization and re-mineralization. When your child eats and drinks, certain types of bacteria create acid from the foods and fluids left on the teeth. The acid de-mineralizes or weakens the tooth enamel. In healthy mouths, the time between meals allows, minerals from the saliva to become incorporated into the teeth, re-mineralizing the enamel and reversing the damage from the acid. In essence, the tooth heals itself. However, in unhealthy mouths, where there is an abundance of bacteria and a high incidence of juice, energy drink or snack consumption, the enamel never re-mineralizes and the tooth, instead of healing, develops decay. Therefore, the more parents can clean their children’s teeth, use appropriate amounts of fluoride and give the teeth time between food and drink consumption to recover, the better chance their teeth will have to win the battle for re-mineralization, be healthy, strong and caries free.
How does fluoride help teeth?
Fluoride is an element, which works in the re-mineralization process, helping your teeth to create stronger tooth enamel. It is important to get the proper dose of fluoride, as too little or too much can be bad for the teeth.
In general, there is not as much need to supplement a child for fluoride today as there was a decade ago, because we now have many sources of fluoride. Besides toothpaste, other sources are fluoridated drinking water, like we have here in Charlotte, and processed foods produced with fluoridated water, such as juices and canned foods. Talk with your dentist about your child’s fluoride sources to make sure they are getting the correct amount.
What should I know about brushing and flossing?
Parents should brush the teeth of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and help school age children with brushing their teeth until the age of seven or eight. As a rule, until a child can tie his own shoe, he will need assistance in brushing his teeth! The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bedtime. The best toothbrushes for children have soft round-ended bristles that clean while being gentle on the gums. Along with brushing, parents should floss children’s teeth where any two teeth touch. Flossing removes the plaque between teeth, where toothbrushes can not reach.
When choosing a toothpaste brand for your child, the most important thing to look for is the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance to ensure the product’s safety and effectiveness. We always recommend using a small amount of toothpaste and suggest placing the paste across the width of the brush’s bristles instead of the length. By applying the paste in this manner, a consistent, pea-sized amount will be delivered to your child and the risk of ingestion, reduced. Regardless of the brand your child uses, always have them spit out the excess toothpaste if possible rather than swallowing it.
Do you accept insurance?
Our office will make every effort to provide you with the finest care and the most convenient financial options. To accomplish this, we work with you to maximize your insurance reimbursement for covered procedures.
We participate in multiple insurance plans. If we do not take your insurance plan, we are happy to file your insurance claims electronically. Benefits vary with each insurance plan. You should be prepared to pay any amount that is determined not payable by your insurance plan, such as deductibles and co-pays.
If you have any problems or question, please ask our staff. They are well informed and up-to-date and can be reached by phone at 509-525-7336.
Please bring your insurance information with you to the consultation so that we can expedite reimbursement.
What is the best toothpaste for my child?
When choosing toothpaste for your child the most important thing to look for is the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance to ensure the product’s safety and effectiveness. Use a small amount of toothpaste—about the size of a pencil eraser or a green pea. No matter what the brand your child uses, always have them spit out the toothpaste rather than swallowing it.
At what age should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children see a dentist six months after the first tooth comes in, and definitely by their first birthday. It is important to have this first dental visit for several reasons:
- Dental carries is the number one bacterial infection in children. For this reason, it is important to clean the teeth as soon as they erupt to disrupt the bacterial plaque development, and reduce the amount of bacteria in your child’s mouth
- An early professional assessment of your child’s oral health condition helps you to better plan for his future care.
- Early information about your child’s dental care can better prepare you to:
- Clean your child’s teeth properly.
- Decide which foods help or hurt your child’s teeth.
- Take precautions to prevent dental trauma within your home.
- Take positive action if your child has a dental emergency.
- Understand the effects of oral habits such as thumb sucking and pacifier use.
We believe this appointment is important, because being an informed parent is the best thing you can do for your child’s dental health and providing you with this information is the best thing we can do for you!
Why is it important to have continuing care appointments every six months?
Visits to the dentist for continuing care will help keep your child’s gums and teeth healthy, and the exams allow for early discovery of problems. Early detection usually means an easier solution!
Studies have shown that 6 months is the average time for plaque and tartar to form on the teeth and for tooth decay to be evident by a radiograph. At each continuing care visit with your child, the pediatric dentist will:
- Check his gums for inflammation, tooth mobility and pocketings;
- Examine his mouth for indications of possible cancer, diabetes and vitamin deficiencies;
- Examine his jaw joints for any irregularities in their form and function
- Note any irregularities in his facial structure, bite, arch form, and teeth spacing.
- Clean his teeth of plaque, tartar and stains
- Apply appropriate fluoride to the teeth
- Recommend dietary modifications if necessary
- Show you and your child how to best clean their teeth at home
- Encourage your child, if it is age appropriate, to practice good dental hygiene habits at home
We know that on average, we will only see your child twice a year, so it is very important to us that you have the best information to care for your child’s teeth at home. If ever there are questions that you have related to home dental care, please NEVER hesitate to ask for our guidance. We care about your comfort with these tasks!
What food is good for healthy teeth (and what’s not)?
In general, food that is good for your child’s body is good for his teeth. Foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium are especially important for strong teeth and bones.
Foods that are not good for your child’s teeth are those that create an acid environment in the mouth, stick in the crevices of the molars, or adhere to the teeth. These include the following:
- Carbonated beverages, because the acid in the carbonation can cause damage to the teeth
- Snack items like potato chips, candies and pretzels that stick in the biting surface of the back teeth (molars)
- Sugary drinks like juices and energy drinks that pool in the gum pockets, causing tooth damage and decay at the gum lines and between the teeth
Not only is it important to be careful about what your child eats and drinks, but also when and how often they eat. Frequent or “at will” feeding of any carbohydrate, juice, milk, or snacks, can be damaging to the teeth because this allows less time for the mouth to create a non-acid environment where the teeth can re-mineralize and recover from any damage.
What about x-rays/dental radiographs?
Radiography is the use of X-rays to view unseen hard-to-see objects or areas is a necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Radiographs are needed to detect dental decay, survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury and plan orthodontic treatment. With contemporary safeguards, such as high-speed film, digital enhancement, equipment filtering, and proper shielding, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely low. Besides representing a standard for proper pediatric dental care, pediatric dentists use radiographs because they are much safer for your child than an undetected dental problem!
Is it a problem if my child grinds his teeth at night?
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, in children is not uncommon and is usually not related to stress, as it commonly is for adults. For children, bruxism is typically related to the anatomy of the immature jaw joint, and it typically ceases once the permanent teeth come in, or erupt, and the jaw joint matures.
What does it mean if my child’s teeth are sensitive to hot and cold?
It is not uncommon for children to express tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. The enamel of primary teeth is not as thick as that of permanent teeth. Some teeth, however, such as the six year molars, can develop with “softer” enamel and, as a result, are more sensitive to temperature changes than other teeth. If this is an issue with your child, please discuss it with the dentist on your next visit.
Is there anything that can be done to make sure that my child’s teeth come in straight?
A complete evaluation of your child’s dental alignment, including space maintenance, arch development and eruption guidance, is part of each continuing care visit. Early treatments may be recommended and can be effective in allowing for the normal eruption of the permanent teeth.
What can you do to make my child more comfortable during dental treatments?
There is no getting around the fact that some dental treatments can cause discomfort. Our objective is to make your child as comfortable as we can while completing his dental rehabilitation. The options that we use for managing comfort are topical anesthetics, local anesthetics and nitrous oxide. In some cases, we use general anesthesia. You can also read more about it here.
You will always have the opportunity to discuss the available options for your child with your dentist and dental team! Talk with the dentist to determine the best approach for comfort management during your child’s dental treatment.