Frequently Asked Questions
What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist has an extra two years of specialized training after dental school and is dedicated to the oral health of children from infancy through the teenage years. The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with behavior, guiding their growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems.
With the additional education, pediatric dentists have the training which allows them to offer the most up-to-date and thorough treatment for a wide variety of pediatric dental problems.
How old should my child be to come to the dentist?
We recommend children be seen by our office by age 1. Of course, if there are any issues such as tooth decay or pain, please make an appointment with our office. Beginning dental care at an early age allows guidance for caring for your child's teeth and opportunities to address preventive issues that are important for healthy teeth and a pleasing smile. Early visits also help establish a positive relationship between the dentist and your child.
With each subsequent visit, your child will mature and confidence and trust will most likely increase. Usually after age 3, we will begin preventive care visits which include examination, cleaning, fluoride treatments, and appropriate radiographs.
Why are baby teeth so important?
It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth (baby teeth). Neglected cavities can cause pain and infection, and it can also lead to problems which affect the developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for permanent teeth and guiding them into position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.
Why does my child need dental x-rays?
Radiographs (x-rays) are a necessary part of your child's dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain cavities will be missed. They also help survey developing teeth, evaluate results of an injury, or plan for orthodontic treatment. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child, and more affordable for you.
On average, our office will request bitewing radiographs approximately once a year and panoramic radiographs every 3-5 years. In children with a high risk of tooth decay, we will recommend radiographs and examinations every six months.
With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental x-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today's equipment restricts the beam to the area of interest.
What are sealants, fillings and crowns?
A sealant is a clear or shaded plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) for the back teeth (premolars and molars), where most cavities in children can form. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque, and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth. However, cavities between the teeth are not protected by sealants. As long as there is no cavity in the tooth, sealants will be recommended for all children.
If your child has a cavity, a filling is placed after the cavity is removed. Most of the time, the filling is a tooth colored (white) filling, but there are certain situations in which a silver filling is necessary.
In a primary tooth, if a cavity is too large to restore with a filling, a crown may be recommend or the tooth may need to come out. If the cavity is too large and has involved the nerve of the tooth, then the nerve will be removed (pulpotomy) along with the cavity, and a crown will be placed. A crown can either be tooth colored or stainless steel. For front teeth, white crowns are routinely used for esthetics. For back teeth, stainless steel crowns are used for their durability and longevity. The purpose of the crown is to help provide structure for the tooth, to help maintain space for permanent teeth to erupt properly, and to help protect the remaining tooth.
All of these procedures are associated with a certain failure rate depending on the severity of disease, cooperation of patient during treatment, and individual response to the treatment. All treatment is recommended based on scientific criteria and clinical experience in the best interest of your child. If your child needs any of the above treatments, please talk to Dr. Lopez about any questions or concerns that you may have.
What about sedation?
Small procedures in cooperative children can often be done under local anesthesia with or without nitrous oxide. The most common form of sedation we routinely use in our office is nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This is given through a small breathing mask which is placed over the child's nose. We monitor the children during sedation with a pulse oximeter. The AAPD recognizes this technique as a very safe, effective technique to help relax your child during treatment. Slightly more involved procedures in certain children will require the use of an oral medication along with nitrous oxide to help relax your child and facilitate cooperation with the procedure. These procedures are scheduled carefully, require your child to be fasting the morning of the procedure, and also be free of any respiratory symptoms in the two weeks preceeding the procedure. Often we ask that two adults be present so that one is able to sit in the back seat with your child on the drive home. Some children require an extensive amount of dental work. In these situations, it is difficult for a small child to cooperate fully and often the treatment cannot be done properly. For these children, we may recommend treating your child in the operating room under general anesthesia.
What should be done about a cut or bitten tongue,
lip or cheek?
Apply ice to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop after 15 minutes or it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take the child to the emergency room.
If the child chews their lip, tongue or cheek area after completion of dental treatment, an antibiotic may be necessary. Please call our office.
What can I do about my child’s toothache?
Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water or use dental floss to dislodge impacted food or debris. DO NOT place aspirin on the gum or on the aching tooth. If the face is swollen or the pain still persists, contact our office as soon as possible.
My child accidently knocked out her permanent tooth, what should I do?
If the tooth is knocked out, try to replace back into socket or if the child can hold it under the tongue until you come into our office.
Contact our office as soon as possible.
Our soon has fractured his tooth. What do you suggest?
Rinse debris from injured area with warm water.
Place cold compresses over the face in the area of injury. Placement of Vaseline over the area of the broken tooth will aid in decreasing sensitivity. Locate and save any broken tooth fragments in milk.
Contact our office as soon as possible.
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