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PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY

DENTISTRY FOR CHILDREN
 

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that in order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday.

Our office encourages parents to bring their children with them to their hygiene appointments. Allow the children to experience the dental chair, hold the instruments and learn how fun it is to go to the dentist.
Unfortunately, too many parents fail to understand the importance of baby teeth. Primary or “baby” teeth are important for many reasons.

Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in maintaining the space needed in the children’s jaws for the permanent teeth to erupt. This is particularly true for the baby molars, the two larger back teeth on each side, top and bottom. These primary molars are the only baby teeth larger than the adult teeth that replace them. Why is that important? Because when these teeth exfoliate or “fall out”, space is created in your child’s mouth, helping to prevent crowding of the adult teeth. If this space is lost too early, either through decay between these primary molars or by early tooth loss, your child may have to go through expensive and prolonged orthodontic care to undo the damage. Therefore, improved care of the primary teeth not only improves overall health but may be cheaper in the long run.
 

All of our offices and staff pride themselves on our ability to provide comprehensive, quality FAMILY dental care. Our dentists address the basic dental issues of children such as cleanings, sealants and basic dental restorations. When a referral is deemed necessary, we refer to a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentistry is a recognized dental specialty that often best treats the special needs of children in a comfortable and relaxed environment. These specialists have been specifically trained to address the psychological and clinical needs of children. Our office has a few pediatric dentists that have been part of our referral team for years. If we feel it is necessary to refer your child, you can trust that it is done with your child’s best interest as our first priority.
We look forward to watching your children grow as part of our practice and maybe, one day, treating their children -- it is why we all became family dentists.
Below we have some frequently asked questions particularly regarding tooth brushing and fluoride use as well as a separate section on dental sealants. Remember it is important to know the level of water fluoridation in your community; if you have questions you can call you town water supply or ask your pediatrician.

Frequently Asked Pediatric Questions


When should we begin using toothpaste and how much should we use?
Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when a child is 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. When toothpaste is used after age 2-3, parents should supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

 

How do I make my child’s diet safe for his teeth?
Make sure your child has a balanced diet, including one serving each of fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs. Limiting the servings of sugars and starches will also aid in protecting your child’s teeth from decay. You can also ask your pediatric dentist to help you select foods that protect your children’s teeth, such as cheese and peanuts.


How do I know if my child is getting enough fluoride?
Have your dentist evaluate the fluoride level of your child’s primary source of drinking water. If your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially if the fluoride level is deficient or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride), then your dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?
Soft plastic over-the-counter mouthguards can be used to protect a child’s teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. These prefabricated mouthguards are adequate for younger children and for sports where the risk of trauma is relatively low. However, they are inadequate in preventing head injuries in contact sports such as football, and some studies have actually suggested their use in such activities may actually contribute to an increase in severe injuries to the head by instilling a false sense of security to the wearer. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by your child’s dentist will protect your child from injuries to head such as concussions. Ask your dentist if you believe your child may benefit from such an appliance.

What should I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the dentist.

How safe are dental x-rays for my child?
There is very little risk in dental x-rays. Dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation to which children are exposed. Lead aprons and digital radiographs are used to ensure safety and minimize radiation.

How can parents help prevent tooth decay?
Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach to their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

What are dental sealants?
Sealants protect the grooved and pitted surfaces of the teeth, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities in children are found. Made of clear or shaded plastic, sealants are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free.

How do sealants work?
Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult – sometimes impossible – to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Food and bacteria build up in these crevices, placing you child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants “seal out” food and plaque, thus reducing the risk of decay.

How long do sealants last?
Research shows that sealants can last for many years if properly cared for. So, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity-prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects, sealants will last longer. Your dental hygienist and dentist will check the sealants during routine dental visits and can recommend reapplication or repair when necessary.

What is the sealant treatment like?
The application of a sealant is quick and comfortable. It takes only one visit. The tooth is first cleansed. It is then conditioned and dried. The sealant is then flowed onto the grooves of the tooth and allowed to harden or hardened with a special light. Your child will be able to eat right after the appointment.

How much do sealants cost?
The treatment is very affordable, especially in view of the valuable decay protection it offers your child. Most dental insurance companies cover sealants. Some companies, however, have age and specific tooth limitations. Check with your benefits provider about your child’s coverage and talk to your dentist or hygienist about the exact cost of sealants for your child.

Which teeth should be sealed?
The natural flow of saliva usually keeps the smooth surfaces of the teeth clean but does not wash are the six-year and twelve year molars. Many times the permanent premolars and primary molars will also benefit from the protection of sealants. Talk to your pediatric dentist, as each child’s situation is unique.

If my child has sealants are brushing and flossing important?
Absolutely! Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing, balanced nutrition, limited snacking and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile.

 

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