FAQ

Dental Anxiety

Hospital Dentistry

Hospital Dentistry:

Dental care in a hospital or surgical center is provided when it is deemed necessary by your dentist. This mode of treatment is usually recommended for children in the following situations;

  • Child 3 years of age or younger
  • Medical reasons where it would be safer to render care in a hospital environment
  • Children with special needs that are difficult or impossible to sedate
  • Rampant decay that would require multiple sedation appointments.
  • A provider who is more comfortable in a hospital environment.

This modality of providing care is very similar to going for surgery for other medical reasons. There will be trained operating facility staff in the pre-op holding area, the operating room and also post-operation care area to take care of your child.

The decision to render care for your child will be based on the information that is mentioned above. Please feel free to ask your dentist if you have any further questions about sedation or hospital dentistry.

Sedation dentistry

It has to be provided by qualified dentists that have specialty licenses. These licenses require extensive training to earn the license and continuing education to sustain the license. Dentists can be trained to administer the medications by mouth, in the form of a nasal spray, intramuscular injection and or intravenous (IV) administration. The majority of the sedation procedures in children are performed using medications that the child drinks, usually 15 – 60 minutes before the procedure.

Sedation or Conscious Sedation

Is a method of rendering dental treatment for a child or young adult because of the reasons listed above. When your dental provider feels that providing treatment for a child using traditional methods like behavior management, local anesthesia, show and tell and/or nitrous oxide is going to be a challenge; he/she may recommend using one or a combination of sedative medications. The choice of the medications are based on the amount of time that is needed to provide the care, the level of the child’s anxiety and lastly if it the child sustained a dental trauma.

Steps of a sedation

A sedative drug or combination of drugs is administered to a child only after a physical health assessment has been done by your dentist before the procedure. Once the medication is administered the child has to be monitored until the dentist feels like the child is safe to be back with the parent or other care givers. The monitoring equipment include pulse oximeter (measures the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream), blood pressure monitor and or pre-cordial stethoscope(helps listen to the breathing pattern of the patient on a continuous basis). Dentists that provide sedation dentistry have to be trained and tested in dealing with emergency situations that could potentially happen. The goal is to monitor a child on a continuous base so to avoid emergencies. We have emergency equipment and reversal medications to deal with these situations.

Once the procedure is completed, the child is discharged to a parent or other caregiver. We require that parent or other caregiver be accompanied by another adult on the way home. We feel better knowing that the child is watched by somebody else other than the driver on the way home.

Dental Care for Your Baby

Avoiding Cavities

Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular teeth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, make sure your baby never goes to bed with a bottle; sugary liquids in prolonged contact with teeth are a guarantee for early-childhood decay, also called baby-bottle caries.

Baby’s First tooth

When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few.

At this stage, toothpaste isn’t necessary; just dip the brush in water before brushing. If your little one doesn’t react well to the introduction of a toothbrush, don’t give up. Switch back to a damp washcloth for a few months and try the toothbrush again. During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.

Brushing With Toothpaste

When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. However, for the first two years, be sure to choose toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, unless advised to do so by your dentist, because too much fluoride can be dangerous for youngsters. At this stage, use only a tiny amount of toothpaste. From the beginning, have your little one practice spitting the toothpaste out after brushing to prepare for fluoride toothpaste, which should not be swallowed at any age.

Caring for Gums

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention. After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process for building good daily oral care habits.

First Visit to the Dentist

It’s recommended that you bring your baby in for a visit within six months of the first tooth’s eruption – usually around his or her first birthday. Since decay can occur in even the smallest of teeth, the earlier your baby visits us, the more likely he or she is to avoid problems. We’ll look for any signs of early problems with your baby’s oral heath, and check in with you about the best way to care for your little one’s teeth. Remember that preparing for each dental visit with a positive attitude goes a long way toward making your child comfortable with regular checkups.

Setting a Good Example

As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and he or she will intuit at an early age the importance of your good habits. As soon as your child shows interest, offer a toothbrush of his or her own and encourage your toddler to “brush” with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy to grip.) Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job. Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!

Thumb-sucking

Along with favorite blankets, teddy bears, and nap time, thumb sucking can be one of the most comforting aspects of childhood. According to a recent report, between 75% and 95% of infants suck their thumbs, so chances are there’s a thumb sucker (or a former thumb sucker) in your family. Is this cause for worry?

In most cases, the answer is no. However, it’s important to pay attention to your child’s habits in case his or her behavior has the potential to affect overall oral health.

What is normal thumb-sucking behavior?

Most children begin sucking their thumbs or fingers from a very young age; many even start inside the womb. Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant and it serves an important purpose. Sucking often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one. It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply grow out of a habit that is no longer useful to them. However, some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies show that the older a child gets, the lower the chances are of continuing the habit). If your child is still sucking when his or her permanent teeth start to erupt, it may be time to take action to break the habit.

 

What signs should I watch for?

First, take note of how your child sucks his or her thumb. If the sucking is passive, with the thumb gently resting inside the mouth, it is less likely to cause damage. If, on the other hand, the thumb sucking is aggressive, placing pressure on the mouth or teeth, the habit may cause problems with tooth alignment and proper mouth growth. Extended sucking affects both the teeth and the shape of the face and may lead to a need for orthodontic treatment in the future.

If at any time you suspect your child’s thumb sucking may be affecting his or her oral health, please give us a call and schedule a visit. We can help you assess the situation.

 

How can I help my child quit thumb sucking?

Should you need to help your child end the habit, follow these guidelines:

  1. Always be supportive and positive. Instead of punishing your child for thumb sucking, give praise when he or she doesn’t.
  2. Put a band-aid on your child’s thumb or a sock over the hand at night. Let your little one know that this is not a punishment, but rather a way to help remember to avoid sucking.
  3. Start a progress chart and let your child put a sticker up every day that he or she doesn’t suck. If your child makes it through a week without sucking, he or she gets to choose a prize. When the whole month is full, reward your child with something great (a toy or new video game); by then the habit should be over. Making your child an active participant in his or her treatment will increase the willingness to break the habit.
  4. If you notice your child sucking when he or she is anxious, work on alleviating the anxiety rather than focusing on the thumb sucking.
  5. Take note of the times your child tends to suck (long car rides, while watching movies) and create diversions during these occasions.
  6. Explain clearly what might happen to the teeth if he or she keeps thumb sucking.

Whatever your method, always remember that your child needs your support and understanding during the process of breaking the habit of thumb sucking.

Emergency

Avoiding Injury

You can help your child avoid dental emergencies. Child-proof your house to avoid falls. Always use car seats for young children and require seatbelts for older children. And if your child plays contact sports, have him/her wear a mouthguard. Ask us about creating a custom-fitted mouthguard for your child. Finally, prevent toothaches with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to our office.

Bitten Lip or tongue

If your child has bitten his lip or tongue severely enough to cause bleeding, clean the bite gently with water and use a cold compress (a cold, wet towel or washcloth pressed firmly against the area) to reduce or avoid swelling. Give us a call to help determine how serious the bite is.

Broken Jaw

If you know or suspect your child has sustained a broken jaw, use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Call our emergency number and/or go to the hospital immediately. In many cases a broken jaw is the result of a blow to the head. Severe blows to the head can be dangerous and even life-threatening. It is important that your child is seen by a neurologist for head fracture before the broken jaw is addressed.

Broken, Chipped, or Fractured tooth

If your child has chipped or broken a piece off of his/her tooth, have him/her rinse their mouth with warm water, then use a cold compress to reduce swelling. Try to locate and save the tooth fragment that broke off. Call us immediately.

Knocked Out tooth

If your child’s tooth has been knocked out of his mouth, find the tooth and rinse it with water (no soap), taking care to only touch the crown of the tooth (the part you can see when it’s in place). If you can, place the tooth back in its socket and hold it in place with a clean towel or cloth. If you can’t return the tooth to its socket, place it in a clean container with milk. In either case, call us immediately and/or go to the hospital. If you act quickly, it’s possible to save a permanent, or adult tooth. Unfortunately, primary teeth are generally not re-implanted. If one of your child’s primary teeth has been knocked out, you will want to schedule a visit to our practice as soon as possible so that your dentist can ensure that there are no fragments of tooth remaining.

Loose tooth

If your child has a very loose tooth, it should be removed to avoid being swallowed or inhaled.

Object Caught In Teeth

If your child has something caught between his teeth, use dental floss to gently remove it. Never use a metal, plastic, or sharp tool to remove a stuck object. If you are unable to remove the item with dental floss, give us a call.

Toothache

If your child complains of a toothache, rinse his/her mouth with warm water and inspect his/her teeth to be sure there is nothing caught between them. If pain continues, use a cold compress to ease the pain. Do not apply heat or any kind of aspirin or topical pain reliever directly to the affected area, as this can cause damage to the gums. Children’s pain relievers may be taken orally. Schedule an appointment immediately.

FAQ

At What Age is it Appropriate to Use toothpaste to Clean My Child’s Teeth?

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, because too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he’ll need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child’s teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven.

Baby Teeth Aren’t Permanent. Why do They Need Special Care?

Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in his development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile, and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay) nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.

How Can I Help My Child Avoid Cavities?

Be sure that your child brushes his teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily is also important, because flossing can reach spots between the teeth that brushing can’t. Check with your pediatric dentist about a fluoride supplement which helps tooth enamel become harder and more resistant to decay. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, limit snacking, and maintain a healthy diet. And finally, make regular appointments so that we can check the health of your child’s teeth and provide professional cleanings.

How Can I Prepare My Child for His/Her First Dental Appointment?

The best preparation for your child’s first visit to our office is maintaining a positive attitude. Children pick up on adults’ apprehensions, and if you make negative comments about trips to the dentist you can be sure that your child will fear an unpleasant experience and act accordingly. Show your child the pictures of the office and staff on the website. Let your child know that it’s important to keep his teeth and gums healthy, and that the doctor will help him do that. Remember that your dentist is specially trained to handle fears and anxiety, and our staff excels at putting children at ease during treatment.

How Often Should My Child Visit the Dentist?

We generally recommend scheduling checkups every six months. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s oral health, we may recommend more frequent visits.

My Child Plays Sports. How Can I Protect His Teeth?

Even children’s sports involve contact, and we recommend mouthguards for children active in sports. If your little one plays baseball, soccer, or other sports, ask us about having a custom-fitted mouthguard made to protect his teeth, lips, cheeks, and gums.

What Causes Cavities?

Certain types of bacteria live in our mouths. When these bacteria come into contact with sugary foods left behind on our teeth after eating, acids are produced. These acids attack the enamel on the exterior of the teeth, eventually eating through the enamel and creating holes in the teeth, which we call cavities.

What Happens During My Child’s First Visit to the Dentist?

The first visit is usually short and simple. In most cases, we focus on getting to know your child and giving you some basic information about dental care. The doctor will check your child’s teeth for placement and health, and will look for any potential problems with the gums and jaw. If necessary, we may do a bit of cleaning. We will also answer any questions you have about how to care for your child’s teeth as they develop, and provide you with materials containing helpful tips that you can refer to at home.

What is a cavity?

Cavities are formed when plaque buildup on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems. Cavities can be prevented by remembering to brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss between teeth at least once.

What Should I do if My Child Sucks His Thumb?

The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the age of four, without causing any permanent damage to their teeth. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or if he sucks aggressively, let us know and we can check to see if any problems may arise from the habit.

What’s the Best Way to Clean My Baby’s Teeth?

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You most likely can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.

When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Visit to the Dentist?

We recommend that you make an appointment to see the dentist as soon as your child gets his first tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children be seen by six months after their first tooth erupts, or at one year of age, whichever comes first.

When Should My Child Have Dental X-rays Taken?

We recommend taking X-rays around the age of two or three. The first set consists of simple pictures of the front upper and lower teeth, which familiarizes your child with the process. Once the baby teeth in back are touching one another, then regular (at least yearly) X-rays are recommended. Permanent teeth start coming in around age six, and X-rays help us make sure your child’s teeth and jaw are healthy and properly aligned. If your child is at a high risk of dental problems, we may suggest having X-rays taken at an earlier age.

Services

Extractions

There are times when it is necessary to remove a tooth. Sometimes a baby tooth has misshapen or long roots that prevent it from falling out as it should, and the tooth must be removed to make way for the permanent tooth to erupt. At other times, a tooth may have so much decay that it puts the surrounding teeth and jaw at risk of decay, so your doctor may recommend removal.

When it is determined that a tooth needs to be removed, your dentist may extract the tooth during a regular checkup or may schedule another visit for this procedure. The root of each tooth is encased within your jawbone in a “tooth socket,” and your tooth is held in that socket by a ligament. In order to extract a tooth, your dentist must expand the socket and separate the tooth from the ligament holding it in place. While this procedure is typically very quick, it is important to share with your doctor any concerns or preferences for sedation.

Once a baby tooth has been removed, the shift may be severe enough to that it can prevent the permanent tooth from erupting into its predetermined space. It is therefore very important to place a space maintainer until the permanent tooth has erupted.

extractions

How to Choose the Right Fluoride Treatment

When choosing your own at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined by the ADA, and approved based on safety and effectiveness. Take care of your teeth and smile bright with dental fluoride treatments!

Preventing Problems Before They Start

The health of your teeth and mouth is very important to the well-being of your entire body, and while routine brushing and flossing at home is necessary to keep your smile looking its best, visiting your dentist for a comprehensive exam and cleaning is essential. The ADA and AAPD recommends that you visit your dentist every six months to ensure your teeth stay healthy and your smile stays beautiful.

By routinely seeing your dentist for exams and cleanings, you can:

  • Prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath
  • Save money by avoiding costly and extensive dental procedures
  • Keep your teeth white by reducing staining from food and drinks
  • Shorten the time spent in your dentist’s office
  • Have a smile that will last a lifetime

Regular dental checkups are an important part of maintaining your oral health. During your regular checkup, your dentist or hygienist will:

  • Check for any problems that you may not see or feel
  • Look for cavities or any other signs of tooth decay
  • Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
  • Provide a thorough teeth cleaning, rinse, and polish
Professional Cleanings

Your dental professional will carefully clean your teeth with a variety of tools to remove any hard mineral buildup (tartar) from your teeth. Then he/she will floss your teeth, use a polishing compound and apply fluoride. Cleanings usually aren’t painful, but if you have any anxiety about your dental exam, be sure to let your hygienist know. They may offer several sedation options to ensure your comfort. If your dentist or hygienist finds tooth decay or gum disease, they will talk to you about changing your brushing or flossing habits. In severe cases, they may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments. If your teeth and gums appear to be healthy, your dentist will probably recommend that you continue your brushing and flossing routine as usual.

Receiving a Fluoride Treatment From Your Dentist

A fluoride treatment in your dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as a mouthwash, gel, or antibacterial rinse.

Sealants
It is therefore very important to have your dentist check the teeth that have been sealed  for signs of leakage or chipped areas. Your dentist checks on the integrity of the sealants when they are doing an oral examination. Your dentist will recommend patching up or replacing sealants if they see the need to do so. Children that have regular exams usually are able to keep their sealants in their mouth longer.
sealants
The Exam

During your exam, your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay, gum disease and other health problems. Your dentist may also want to take X-rays to see what is happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. These X-rays will help your dentist discover dental issues not visible to the naked eye. A head and neck assessment is done which can detect inflammatory diseases, signs of GERD, hypophosphatemia and even cancer

Using Fluoride to Protect Your Teeth

You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?

Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating your teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.

Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:

  • Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities.
  • Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications.