Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.

At what age should my child visit the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first visit to the dentist should occur by 12 months of age. This visit will enable the dentist to evaluate your child and introduce you to proper oral hygiene. Diet, fluoride, finger and pacifier habits and tooth eruption will be discussed to insure optimal dental health.

What guidelines will help children remain cavity free?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt.  Once children are 3 to 6 years old and can adequately spit out the toothpaste, , then the amount can be increased to a pea-size dollop. Floss children’s teeth once a day. Visit your pediatric or general dentist regularly. Get enough fluoride through drinking water, fluoride products and fluoride supplements, if necessary. Have sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth or molars. Snack moderately-no more than twice a day. Try to snack on items with minimal or no sugar content.

Tips for helping children develop positive dental habits.
  • Set a good example
  • Make good oral health a family effort
  • Show children that daily brushing and flossing, limited snacking and regular dental checkups are necessary for good oral health
  • Support your child when they are able to brush and floss on their own- assisting and performing spot checks as needed
How important is a child’s diet in the prevention of cavities?

While good oral hygiene is of utmost importance in the prevention of cavities, lack of a proper diet can have a tremendous impact on a child’s cavity rate. It is important to limit not only the quantity of sugary food and drinks that your child consumes, but also the frequency. You should think of cavity formation as a process. Each time a sweet substance comes in contact with teeth, the cavity process begins. The more times in a day that you consume something sweet, the longer the cavity process is underway. By nature, many children like to snack or graze throughout the day and many of the foods which children enjoy are loaded with sugar. Even foods which we sometimes consider “healthy” can be very high in sugar content. Examples include: yogurt, granola bars, cereal and chocolate milk. If you are uncertain as to how much sugar a food item has, check the label.

What are dental sealants and who can benefit from them?

The chewing surface of children’s teeth are the most susceptible to cavities and least benefited from fluorides. Sealants are adhesive coatings that are applied to the tops of teeth and can be very effective in preventing tooth decay. Current research has shown that 4 out of 5 cavities in children under age 15 develop on the biting surface of back molars. Molars are the most decayed teeth because food and plaque accumulate in the tiny grooves of the chewing surfaces. Sealants prevent the cavities that fluoride cannot effectively reach.

What are amalgams (silver fillings)?

Amalgams or silver fillings are used to restore or “fill” decayed areas in teeth. They have a scientifically proven history of safety and effectiveness in restoring teeth.

What are composites (tooth colored fillings)?

Composites or tooth colored fillings are used to “fill” areas of decay, restore fractured teeth in which cosmetic appearance is important. The shade of the restoration material is matched as closely as possible to the color of the natural tooth. This is typically the restoration of choice, unless treatment conditions dictate the use of another material.

What are Stainless Steel Crowns?

Stainless steel crowns are silver colored “caps” used to restore teeth that are too badly decayed to hold fillings, need a nerve treatment, or when durability is a concern. Crowns with white facings can be used on front teeth.

What is a Pulpotomy?

This procedure is a nerve treatment in which the sick portion of the tooth nerve is removed and medicine is placed in order to avoid extracting the tooth.

What is a Pulpectomy?

A pulpectomy is necessary when the nerve of the tooth is dead. The entire infected pulp is removed and medication is placed in the root canals.

What is Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen?

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is breathed by your child with oxygen during the restorative appointment. It can be used to relax a mildly anxious child who is still cooperative and can help minimize discomfort.

What are Space Maintainers?

A space maintainer is used to hold space for a permanent tooth when a baby tooth has been prematurely lost. If space is not maintained, teeth on either side of the missing tooth can drift into the space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting.

Why are “baby teeth” important?

Primary teeth have been labeled “baby teeth.” However, the first tooth is usually lost around age 6 and some primary molars must remain in place until 12 or 13 years of age. Primary teeth are necessary for proper chewing, speech, development of the jaws and esthetics. Care of the primary teeth is important not only for proper function, but also to avoid a number of unpleasant conditions, such as pain, that result from their neglect.

Do you allow parents to come back with their children?

Parents are invited back to accompany their child during the initial examination and during any emergency visits. Additionally, parents are always allowed to accompany any child three years of age or younger. During other visits, we encourage parents to allow children to enter the treatment area alone. It is our experience that children typically behave better when their parents are not present, and thus tend to have a more positive experience. If we feel that your presence might benefit your child, we will ask you to join us in the treatment area. This arrangement allows the doctor and staff to communicate with your child directly without distractions. We are willing to make accommodations under special circumstances, but this can only be done during certain times of the day. Please let our receptionist know if you request special accommodations. During sedation and general anesthesia treatment, no parents are allowed to observe due to safety concerns. There can be no exceptions to this. Finally, if you expect your child to do well and enjoy their visit to our office, chances are they will do just that!

What do I do if my child is in an accident?

If your child has an accident, please call our office as soon as possible. We will see your child immediately. If it is an after-hours emergency, a pager number will be given on the answering machine. If you are unable to reach a member of our staff for any reason, proceed to the emergency room to ensure treatment in a timely manner.

The first few minutes after an accident are the most critical to treatment of dental trauma. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, gently rinse, but do not scrub the tooth under water. Replace the tooth in the socket if possible. If this is impossible, place the tooth in a glass of milk or a clean wet cloth and come to the office immediately. If the tooth is fractured, please bring in any pieces you can find.

Our schedule may be delayed in order to accommodate an injured child. Please accept our apologies in advance should an emergency occur during your child’s appointment.

Do special children have special dental needs?

Yes. Some children with disabilities are more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. They may require medication, special diets, or possess oral habits detrimental to dental health. If dental care is started early and followed conscientiously, every child can enjoy a healthy smile.

How can I prevent dental problems for my special child?

A first dental visit by age one will be the beginning to a lifetime of good dental health. The dentist will obtain a full medical history, perform an examination of your child’s teeth and gums, and then develop a preventive care plan specifically designed for your child’s needs.

Will preventive dentistry benefit my special child?

Yes! Your child will benefit from the preventive approach recommended for all children- effective daily brushing and flossing, moderation of snacking and proper amounts of fluoride. Home care takes just minutes a day and prevents needless dental problems. Regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments by the dentist will allow prevention of dental problems and help catch problems early if they should arise.

When will my child need orthodontics/braces?

For the average child, the ideal time for orthodontics will be just as the last of the primary/baby teeth are falling out. This will usually occur at approximately age twelve. However, there are circumstances in which children benefit from phase I or interceptive orthodontics. For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists typically recommends that children have a screening appointment with an orthodontist at age seven. At this time, the orthodontist will discuss future treatments, including the timing of such treatment.

What are athletic mouth protectors?

Athletic mouth protectors are soft plastic mouth guards made specifically for your child’s teeth. They protect the teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue. They can help protect children from such serious head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

Are thumb, finger and pacifier habits bad for the teeth and jaws?

The majority of children stop sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects on their own between two and three years of age without any harm being done to their teeth or jaws. However, children that repeatedly suck on a finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time may cause the upper front teeth to tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Dr. Mike will carefully monitor the way your child’s teeth come in and jaws develop. Often times, problems that arise related to oral habits will correct themselves if stopped in a timely manner. However, the longer the habit persists, the more likely it is the cause a permanent problem.

What can I do to stop my child’s habit?

The majority of children stop sucking habits on their own. Some children may need the help of their parents. When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, The dentist can encourage your child to stop and talk about what happens to the teeth if your child doesn’t stop. It is very important to get children to want to stop and realize that this is a part of growing up. This will greatly increase the chances of terminating the habit. A reward system can often help accomplish this. Once a child wants to stop, subtle reminders such as band-aids on their thumbs will help a child accomplish the goal. If all other options have been exhausted, the dentist may discuss the use of a fixed dental appliance to discourage the habit.

What is general anesthesia?

General anesthesia provides a way of effectively completing dental care while a child is unconscious. Due to the risks of any surgical procedure and high cost, usually only children with severe anxiety and/or severe tooth decay are recommended for general anesthesia. Typically, these children are young or have compromised health issues. Standard behavior management techniques may not be effective to accomplish treatment.

Is general anesthesia safe?

YES. While normal risks are always present with surgery, a pediatric anesthesiologist will put your child to sleep. They are responsible for delivering the general anesthesia, monitoring and the medical care of the child. Many precautions are taken to provide safety for the child during general anesthesia care. Patients are monitored closely during the general anesthesia procedure by anesthesia personnel who are trained to manage complications. Dr. Mike will discuss the benefits and risks involved with general anesthesia and why it is recommended for your child’s treatment.

What special considerations are associated with the general anesthesia appointment?

Most times, your child’s surgery will be done on an “outpatient” basis. This means they will have their surgery in the morning and be allowed to go home in the afternoon.
A physical examination – is required prior to a general anesthesia appointment to complete dental care. This physical examination provides information to ensure the safety of the general anesthesia procedure. Dr. Mike will advise you about any evaluation appointments that may be requested.
Prior to surgery – Minimal discussion to your child about the appointment may reduce anxiety. Explain they are “going to go to sleep when their teeth are being fixed”.
Eating and drinking – It is important NOT to have a meal the night before general anesthesia. You will be informed about food and fluid intake guidelines prior to the appointment.
Changes in your child’s health – If your child is sick or running a fever, contact Dr. Mike immediately! It may be necessary to arrange another appointment.
Usually, children are tired following general anesthesia. You may wish to return home with minimal activity planned for your child until the next day. After that, you can usually return to a routine schedule.

What is conscious sedation?

Conscious sedation is a way of using medication to relax a child without the loss of consciousness.

Who should be sedated?

Dr. Mike recommends that those children with severe anxiety and/or the inability to relax are candidates for sedation. Usually these children are young or have trouble managing their anxiety. The dentist will discuss the pros and cons of sedation on a case-by-case basis.

Why use conscious sedation?

Conscious sedation aids in calming a child so that he or she can accept dental treatment in a more relaxed state. This can prevent injury to the patient and provide a better environment for delivering quality dental care. Keep in mind that it is difficult to do dentistry on a moving child.