Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.
Q: When Should My Child See the Dentist?
A: Our office, as well as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, recommends that your child visit the dentist by his/her 1st birthday. You can make the first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Your child should be informed of the visit and told that the dentist and their staff will explain all procedures and answer any questions. The less to-do concerning the visit, the better.
Q: Why Should I Bring My Child to Anthem Pediatric Dentistry?
A: Dental decay affects more children in this country than any other chronic childhood disease, yet many parents assume that cavities either don’t occur in primary teeth or that it can be left untreated because permanent teeth will eventually replace them. Unfortunately, this attitude leads to progressing infections, premature tooth loss, growth and development problems and needless suffering. Another important fact to keep in mind is that a child can not have healthy adult teeth if they have diseased baby teeth. This is due to cross-over infection that results during the 6-year mixed dentition stage.
Primary teeth serve many functions and it is critical that they remain intact until they are lost naturally. They serve to help maintain proper nutrition, allow for good pronunciation and speech habits and guide the permanent teeth during eruption. Primary teeth also serve as “space holders” for the permanent teeth and this space can be lost with dental caries. Space loss results in crowding and misaligned teeth.
Regular dental visits can prevent these complications or minimize the consequences by early recognition and treatment. While general dentists can provide dental care to the pediatric population, the pediatric dentist is a specialist who undergoes an additional two years of training to learn about dental issues and psychology specific to children and adolescents. Anthem Pediatric Dentistry specializes in dentistry for children and makes them feel comfortable in a kid-friendly environment. We help children accept dental care more readily with less apprehension.
An early start in regular dental care is an important step for the overall health of your child. Good habits last longer when developed at an earlier age. Your child depends on you to find a dentist who will establish a home for their dental care and provide them with the guidance they need to make sound choices now and for a lifetime of healthy teeth.
Q: What can I do to Help Prepare my Child for their first Dental Visit?
A: Parents can influence how a child perceives a normal dental check-up. Saying too much can create a negative response during this experience. Most parents find it helpful to explain that we will simply “count” and brush his/her teeth and instruct you both in proper toothbrushing techniques and dental care.
Our office has been specially designed to create a warm and friendly atmosphere for all of our patients and their parents. We recognize that some children, especially younger (or new) patients, are more comfortable with a parent present during the first visit. The treatment areas, therefore, have been designed so that parents can accompany their preschool aged children. This usually will help children acclimate to a new or unfamiliar setting.
We will thoroughly explain each of our procedures in terms that your child can understand. Once your child is comfortable, a full examination of the teeth and supporting structures (gums, bones, etc.) can be performed. The occlusal status (or bite) will be evaluated and the teeth will be polished and flossed. Radiographs (x-rays) will only be taken if necessary for diagnostic purposes. We are very conservative about taking x-rays of children and have selected x-ray equipment that provides maximum safety for our patients.
Following the dental examination of your child, we will discuss treatment recommendations. Any questions you may have concerning the plan of treatment can be answered at this time. Please inform us of any special considerations that may help us to provide the best quality dental care for your child.
Q: What Can I Expect?
A: As your child enters our kid-friendly office, he or she will be introduced to our wonderful dental team. During the initial visit, our staff and the doctor will review your child’s medical history and discuss your child’s daily dietary and oral hygiene routines. The goal of the first dental visit is to introduce your child to a lifetime of healthy dental habits. The purpose of the “First Visit” is to provide you with information to help you care for your child’s teeth now and in the future. We recommend reading books that will help explain to your child what he or she should expect at their first dental visit. We ask that you please refrain from using words around your child that might cause unnecessary fear, such as “needle”, “shot”, “pull”, “drill” or “hurt”. Our staff is highly trained to use words that convey the same meaning, but are pleasant and non-frightening to the child. We appreciate your help in making your child’s dental visit a very positive experience.
We invite you to stay with your child during the initial examination. During future appointments, we suggest you allow your child to accompany our staff through the dental experience. However, you are always welcome to stay with your child if you so desire. We are all highly experienced in helping children overcome anxiety and dental fear. Studies and experience have shown that most children over the age of 3 react more positively when permitted to experience the dental visit on their own and in an environment designed for children.
For the safety and privacy of all patients, other children who are not being treated should remain in the reception room with a supervising adult.
Q: What Can My Child Expect At His/Her First Visit in Our Office?
A: During their appointment, your child can relax with popular movies playing on televisions in the treatment rooms.
We feel parental involvement is extremely important. Preparing your child for the first visit by reading recommended books, playing pretend dentist and being positive about the dental experience is very helpful.
At the end of each appointment, parents are invited to reward their child with words of praise for a job well done.
Nutritional counseling is provided to parents that will assist them with packing lunches and snacks for school. We also help parents figure out what may be the cause of cavities for their child and give them many ideas for preventing dental decay.
The first dental visit is the foundation of a growing relationship between our dental office and your child. We feel it is important that your child be allowed to become familiar with our office environment and our team as soon as their teeth start to appear.
At the new patient appointment the dentist and the team will spend quality time getting to know you and your child. We teach your child to be comfortable with dentistry by explaining the procedures and demonstrating the equipment in a fun and imaginative way.
A complete review of your child’s medical health and any special needs or concerns will be addressed. More complicated procedures, such as fillings, should be done at a later visit after your child has become familiar with the office.
Many parents want to know when their child’s first appointment should be scheduled. Anthem Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child’s first dental visit should be scheduled six months after the first tooth comes in and no later than their first birthday.
We specialize in infant oral health exams and parent education. Baby teeth are needed for proper chewing, learning to talk, developing jaw muscles, and a good self image. Healthy baby teeth mean a better chance for healthy adult teeth.
Our office places great emphasis on preventive measures. Cavities in baby or adult teeth may result in pain, swelling, and infection. Children with pain cannot concentrate in the classroom, may develop behavioral problems and are unable to eat properly. Without the ability to eat normally, development of the body and brain may suffer. Regular preventive visits every six months will minimize cavities and other dental problems.
Q: What Should I Do About Lip Biting?
A: Often children will bite themselves in the area they were anesthetized without realizing it. The area can become quite swollen and painful. Your child will need to remain on a soft diet until the area heals to avoid re-injuring themselves. Give Children’s Motrin or Children’s Tylenol as needed for the pain.
Children deserve to experience a gentle, caring approach to their dental care. A positive dental experience will help them build confidence and knowledge, setting a great precedent for their future dental health. Your child will always be grateful for the gift of a beautiful, healthy smile.
Q: What does Nitrous Oxide do for the pediatric patient?
A: Nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) is considered one of the safest “drugs” used in dentistry. Once turned off, it quickly leaves the body leaving the patient in the pre-administration state.
- It allows your child to breathe more oxygen than one can normally breath from the air while enjoying a remarkable depth of relaxation.
- It virtually eliminates the apprehension, nervousness, and tension associated with dental procedures and it allows your child to relax and cope with the stress of a dental visit.
- It usually induces a feeling of warmth and security, as well as a pleasant “floating” sensation.
- It permits needed injections of local anesthetic (Xylocaine) without discomfort, with more profound results in most instances.
- You should remember that nitrous oxide in no way resembles general anesthesia because your child is always awake.
Q: Why would a child need sedation or anesthesia just to have his/her teeth fixed?
A: Unfortunately, many children suffer from serious, potentially painful dental diseases. Unlike such health conditions as colds or flu, dental disease won’t go away on its own. When treatment is required for a serious dental condition, sedation or general anesthesia may be recommended to make delivery of that required treatment possible in a safe and comfortable way.
Q: Isn’t there a safer, less risky way to treat a child’s teeth?
A: When a child (or person of any age with a disability) needs extensive dental treatment, general anesthesia is an acceptable standard of care. This standard is supported by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and the US Department of Health and Human Services. General anesthesia is also an accepted standard of care with situations involving children who have limited comprehension or children who are extremely uncooperative and require dental care that is technically difficult.
Q: How are pediatric dentist making sure sedation and anesthesia are safe?
A: Pediatric dentist are carefully trained in the safe administration of sedation as part of their specialty education which lasts two or three years beyond dental school.
The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry establishes guidelines for the elective use of conscious sedation, deep sedation and general anesthesia in Pediatric Dental Patients. The guidelines include proper patient evaluation, informed consent, monitoring emergency medications and back-up emergency services, all of which we abide by in our office. In addition a Pediatric Dentist must obtain a sedation license from the NSBD through oral and clinical observation. The board also ensures that safety equipment and medications are present.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, along with a number of dental Universities, offer continuing education courses on sedation every year to keep the dental profession will informed of developments in safe sedation techniques.
Q: Have any children been injured from complications of sedation or anesthesia while under a pediatric dentist’s care?
A: Pediatric dentists have an extensive safety record in sedation procedures. At this time, we are not aware of a single case of morbidity or mortality in a pediatric dental office when the AAPD guidelines have been followed conscientiously.
Q: Is it likely that a child under sedation or anesthesia will suffer serious complications or die while under a pediatric dentist’s care?
A: Dental treatment requiring general anesthesia in a hospital environment poses similar risks to those inherit in any surgical procedure for children. The mortality rate for children undergoing general surgery procedures is one in 450,000.
Q: If sedation or anesthesia is recommended to treat my child’s teeth, how can I be sure this is the best option?
A: Ask your pediatric dentist to explain all treatment options and the benefits/risks of each option. Parents should have the right to be carefully informed about the benefits and risks of any dental treatment for their children.
Q: How can parents be sure their child is in a pediatric dental office?
A: Parents should ask the dentist about his/her training, medications to be used and monitoring and emergency procedures. If questions are not answered to a parent’s satisfaction, parents should seek a second opinion.
To avoid risks of dental surgery for your child, make sure your child won’t need it. The earlier your child sees a pediatric dentist, the better your chances are of preventing dental problems. Pediatric dentists recommend that your child’s first dental visit be no later than six (6) months after their first tooth erupts in order to start your child on a preventative schedule that can eliminate the need for restorative dentistry in the future.
Q: Why does my child need a stainless steel crown?
A: When decay has destroyed a tooth to the extent that there is little support for a filling, or if nerve treatment had to be performed, it is best to surround the tooth with a crown. Otherwise, the remaining portion of the severely weakened tooth may fracture, necessitating extraction. Stainless steel is used to fix the back teeth. Steel crowns with a white facing are used for the front teeth.
The crowned tooth will usually fall out normally when the permanent successor is ready to come in.
Q: What is a pulpotomy?
A: When a cavity penetrates to a depth that approximates the pulp (nerve), bacteria can enter the tooth and cause an abscess. When this occurs, it is necessary to surgically remove the nerve in the pulp chamber of the tooth and place a disinfecting medication. The opening is filled with a filling and covered with a stainless steel crown to restore the tooth’s strength.
The success of a pulpotomy depends on the severity of the infection and the body’s reaction to the infection and subsequent treatment. If the pulpotomy is not performed, or fails and the tooth abscesses, it must be extracted (removed) and a space maintainer placed to hold the space for its permanent successor.
A tooth may abscess with or without pain. Therefore, it is recommended that regular six-month checkups be made in order to keep the teeth under constant observation.
Q: What is a healthy diet for my child?
A: A healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow. And what’s a balanced diet? One that includes the following food groups every day: Fruits and Vegetables; Breads and Cereals; Milk and Dairy products; Meat, Fish and Eggs.
Q: What are some healthy snacks I can give my child?
A: Obviously it is difficult to deny children snacks in between meals. Therefore, we offer these suggestions for snacks that are based on the fact that they contain a very low amount of carbohydrates and little or no sugar. Keep in mind though that how often your child eats is just as important as what they eat. Children that “graze” all day are at a much higher risk for developing cavities than a child that eats healthy meals and only snacks once or twice a day. A child should also be reminded to brush their teeth after eating sticky sweet foods.
- Oranges (fresh)
- Celery sticks – plain or with peanut butter/cheese
- Dairy products
- Peanut butter
- Pears (fresh)
- Frozen unsweetened fruit juices
- Sugarless candy and gum
- Mixed nuts
Q: What can I do to ensure my child has healthy teeth?
A: The following tips can help ensure your child has healthy teeth.
- Never give your baby juice in a bottle. Juice should only be given when a child is able to drink it from a cup. Even then, sweet drinks should be limited to meal times only.
- Ad lib nursing during the night is very destructive to the teeth. Infants fall asleep with milk pooled in their mouths. Bacteria quickly convert the natural sugars to acid, which decays the teeth throughout the night. If your baby must feed at night, ensure there is no milk left in their mouth by burping them or wiping their mouth out with a clean towel.
- Drinking lots of water is very healthy for your teeth. This constant washing of the teeth ensures that acids produced by bacteria will not stick around long. It the water is fluoridated, you also get the added benefit of tooth strengthening.
- For older kids, chewing sugarless gum can strengthen your teeth. The chewing process stimulates salivary flow which in turn helps replace the calcium that is lost during acid attacks.
- Allow at least two hours between snacks to let your saliva re-calcify your teeth. Frequent snackers have higher acid levels in their mouth and therefore more cavities.
- Brush your teeth morning and night using a scrubbing motion. Make sure to move the tooth brush along the gum line on both sides of the tooth, reaching all the way to the very last tooth. You only need a small smear of tooth paste, definitely not more than a “pea” sized amount.
- Floss nightly between any teeth that are contacting, usually the molars. Tight spots retain acids produced by bacteria for a longer amount of time. The more contacting teeth your child has, the more likely they are to get cavities.
- Visit Anthem Pediatric Dentistry every 6 months to have your teeth polished and receive a fluoride treatment. This ensures that the teeth are completely clean and it significantly helps to strengthen the enamel on your teeth. Children that receive regular fluoride treatment experience fewer cavities.
- Have sealants placed on your permanent molars as soon as they are fully erupted. These teeth usually erupt around 6 years old and 12 years old. The permanent molars are the most likely teeth to acquire decay. This is because they are large teeth with lots of grooves and pits. Once a cavity occurs, the tooth will require life long follow-up and treatment (fillings don’t last forever!).