Questions & Answers for Parents
In this section, we have answered some of the questions our parents frequently ask us here at Children’s Dental Ark. We are concerned for the total health of our children, and we hope these will help you in your daily care for your children’s teeth.
When should I first take my child to the Pediatric Dentist? How often?
The medical and dental communities recommend that children have a dental exam sometime around their First Birthday. We want to avoid as many dental problems as possible. Seeing the dentist when the First Tooth is coming in can be very beneficial for diet and oral care education. It is commonly recommended to see children every six months to observe dental development and to prevent as much dental disease as we can.
Pediatric Dentists, as we are here at Children’s Dental Ark, are specialists in oral care for infants and children. We have two to three years of specialty training after Dental School, which prepares us for the special care needs which children require.
Can Parents come into the Treatment Rooms at Children’s Dental Ark?(Parent Guidelines)
Children’s Dental Ark is committed to making your child’s dental visits pleasant and positive experiences. We have developed these guidelines as a means to help unsure just that. By working together, we can provide enjoyable experiences for your child.
You are welcome to accompany your child to his/her dental procedures. Dr. Cheryl, D. Kit, and our team have found, however, that most children can cooperate very well without parents present. If you are present, we suggest the following to facilitate positive outcomes: 1. Be a silent observer – support your child through touch only. This allows us to maintain communication with your child. If distracted, children will normally listen to their parent instead of us, and may not hear our instructions. 2. Allow us to explain what is going to happen with your child. 3. Be supportive of our terminology. 4. Should we ask you to leave the room, please support our suggestion. We find that we can complete treatment safely and successfully when we have the child’s complete attention. Your child’s safety and happiness is our primary concern.
Understanding our practice philosophy will enable you to actively help in the success of your child’s visits. We are confident that all will go well and hope this information will help prepare you with confidence for upcoming visits.
What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay or Nursing Caries? How do I prevent it?
Early Childhood Caries is the presence of one or more decayed tooth areas in a child less than six years old. If a child has an area of tooth decay before the age of three, this is considered Severe Early Childhood Caries. Children should not be put to bed with a bottle or sippy-cup unless it contains water only. At-will breast-feeding should be avoided after the first tooth comes in. The teeth should always be clean when going to bed or to nap.
Juice should only be offered in a cup, and as few times per day as possible. We recommend juice only at mealtime or accompanying a healthy snack. Children should not be allowed to walk around while drinking from a sippy-cup or bottle.
We understand that it can be difficult to wean a child from the bottle or breast – our staff is ready to help with advice as we can.
What can I do to help my child prevent cavities?
1.Avoid frequent snacking and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. 2. Control how often your child snacks daily and how often sweet drinks are consumed. 3. Encourage water to cleanse the teeth daily and protect against bacteria acid attacks. 4. Help your child brush teeth two times per day with fluoride (ages over 2 years) toothpaste. 5. Help your child floss teeth one time per day. 6. Maintain regular dental check-ups, and follow the advice of your dental professionals as best you can.
What is the best way to care for my child’s teeth?
As early as the First Tooth, you should begin cleaning the gums and teeth before nap-times and bedtimes. Allowing children to sleep with food/drink on their teeth can be very cavity-causing. For infants, a soft washcloth or infant toothbrush can be used with water alone or infant tooth-scrub. We recommend Fluoride toothpaste be used as children reach their Second Birthday. Only a “smear” of toothpaste is necessary to get the amount of fluoride needed for children.
For Toddlers on up to Teens, children should have their teeth / gum-line brushed and flossed daily. We recommend brushing with a soft toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste two times per day. Flossing should be one time per day. We believe all home tooth- care should be assisted by parents and even observed as children reach their teens. Our doctors and staff are here to help with oral-care techniques at each exam appointment.
When should I be concerned about a sucking habit or pacifier?
Sucking on fingers, thumbs, and pacifiers is very normal for infants. Prolonged pacifier use or other sucking habits can affect the position of the erupting teeth and/or jaw shape/formation. We recommend that children stop sucking habits by three years of age and most will stop on their own by four years. Our doctors and staff can help with intervention strategies for those children who do form those frequent and intense habits persisting past the age of three.
Is my child’s Diet healthy? Is it good for their teeth?
We need a balanced diet for proper tooth and body development. Following the USDA Food Pyramid is always recommended for daily nutrition intake. This includes proper amounts of fruits, vegetables, breads, grains, milk/dairy products, and meats/fish/eggs daily.
Avoid a diet high in certain processed carbohydrates, such as sugar and starches. Avoid “sticky” foods such as fruit snacks/roll-ups, dried fruits, candies, and chips. These snacks are not only “empty calories”, but they are not easily washed away from the teeth. Therefore, they are more cavity-causing for our children’s teeth. Avoid as many “sweet” drinks as possible, such as juices, Gatorades, sweet-tea, and sodas. Setting a healthy diet and routine can be confusing – we can help select snacks/drinks that are better for your child’s teeth.
What about Fluoride? Is it safe?
Fluoride can be found naturally in our soils, foods, and water. It is a compound that, if used in controlled amounts and routinely, can help keep our teeth stronger.
Fluoride replaces the minerals that are lost from daily acid attacks on our teeth (remineralization). As we eat/drink, bacteria in our mouths use the sugars as fuel to grow. The bacteria then create acids that damage our teeth in turn. Fluoride also blocks bacteria from functioning properly, inhibiting their acid production.
Fluoride should be used in proper amounts to be effective. Because there are so many sources of fluoride, our doctors can help determine if your child is receiving too little, and oftentimes, too much fluoride. Too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, evident as mild enamel spotting to more severe brown pitting.
We do recommend that fluoride be applied topically to aid in the remineralization of teeth. This can be done through the routine application of toothpastes, mouth rinses, gels, and varnishes. Again, too much fluoride does not mean better, and we recommend that fluoride products be kept out of reach of children and always used with parent assistance. Professionally- applied fluoride varnish is utilized in our office to aid cavity prevention.
Overall, the risk for cavities is reduced even more when fluoride is used in conjunction with healthy diets and good oral home-care.
What about Sealants?
Sealants are applied to the pits and grooves present in the molar teeth. These areas are the most common areas of decay in children. They “seal out” food and bacteria to help reduce the chance of decay. Permanent molars are the most commonly sealed teeth, but baby molars can benefit as well in children more at risk for decay.
Sealants are considered a preventive measure and are commonly covered by dental insurance. You can check with your dental benefits to see if they are covered for your family.
Our doctors can help you decide if sealants are needed for your child. Once applied, our doctors and staff will check the sealants at routine exam appointments and will recommend re-application or repair as needed. We would like to see the sealants last through a child’s most cavity-prone years.
What about Dental X-Rays?
Dental X-rays are used to detect cavities, evaluate erupting teeth, diagnose dental or bone anomalies, evaluate results of trauma, and observe dental development.
X-rays are taken based on a child’s medical and dental histories, and their clinical examination. Most new patients will require x-rays of some sort if a visual examination cannot yield all information alone.
We follow the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and recommend x-rays only when necessary. It is recommended that a child at risk for cavities have x-rays every six to twelve months. If a child is less prone to cavities, it is recommended they have x-rays every twelve to twenty-four months. When observing the effects of trauma, more frequent x-rays may be recommended.
Lead aprons and digital techniques are utilized here to reduce the amount of radiation exposure to our families.
When do we find out about braces?Your child’s dental development can be monitored and discussed as your child grows. Early identification of crooked/ crowded teeth or bite problems (malocclusion) is important as we can help guide the teeth as they erupt, sometimes preventing more extensive orthodontic care later. At each check-up appointment at Children’s Dental Ark, our doctors will explain your child’s dental development and help you understand the need and timing of orthodontic care.
What is Nitrous Oxide, Sedation and General Anesthesia ?
Most children do well for most dental procedures. Our doctors and staff are specially trained to help your children feel comfortable in the dental setting. However, many children can feel anxious for a dental procedure, and may need more than a kind voice to make them feel comfortable.
Sedation techniques utilized here at Children’s Dental Ark are administered by properly trained Pediatric Dentists following the Guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Nitrous Oxide is a safe, effective agent used to ease the sensations of dental treatment. The gas is administered through a mask, it has a rapid onset, it is reversible, and is rapidly blown away with room air. The gas is non-allergenic, and your child has all of their natural reflexes when it is applied.
Nitrous Oxide can be used alone or combined with other sedative agents.
Oral Conscious Sedation can be indicated for those children whose anxiety prevents good coping skills, those who are too young to understand how to cooperate, or those requiring extensive dental treatment. Your child’s reflexes will remain intact and can respond to questions and requests while undergoing sedative appointments. Monitoring devices are utilized throughout all sedative appointments.
General Anesthesia may be necessary for those children with extensive treatment needs who are also extremely uncooperative or who are so young that coping in the dental environment is impossible. Others who may benefit from general anesthesia are children requiring surgical procedures or children with special health care needs. General Anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness that eliminates awareness, movement, and discomfort during dental procedure. A physician or dentist with specialized training can administer a number of medications to provide general anesthesia during dental procedure.
Our doctors will make recommendations for the use of sedative medications or anesthesia based on your child’s dental needs, level of anxiety, and overall health. The risks and benefits of each technique will be discussed on an individual basis as recommendations for treatment are made.
How do I manage a Dental Emergency?
Children’s Dental Ark (830) 625-1234
Keep our office phone number available. One of our doctors is always available to answer a call after -hours.
If a baby tooth is knocked out – do not replace it. This could damage the permanent tooth bud underneath. We will need to see your child within the next day or so to examine the area and prepare you for upcoming outcomes.
If a permanent tooth is knocked out – Call the office immediately! Then rinse off without scrubbing – then, replace it immediately! If you cannot replace it right away, place it in milk, saliva, or water. The doctor will need to see the child sooner if you cannot replace the tooth at home. The faster the tooth is back in place, the better chance it has to survive.
If a tooth is fractured, moved, and /or knocked loose – apply pressure to the bleeding areas and try to avoid any further trauma to the area. Keep the area clean with a damp washcloth and avoid use of the tooth. Stay on a soft diet and keep thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, toys, and sippy-cups away from the effected tooth. Apply cold compresses to the overlying lip if necessary to avoid swelling. Call the office especially if the tooth is permanent – the dentist can help you determine if a nerve is exposed and what treatment may be needed.
If your child has a toothache – call us for a dental appointment. In the meantime, keep the area clean and avoid sweets and extreme temperatures. Manage pain with OTC children’s medications according to age/weight, and/or apply cold compresses. An antibiotic may or may not be needed, the doctor will help make that prescription.
If your child is swollen due to a toothache – call the office immediately! An antibiotic will be needed as soon as possible. Manage pain as with a toothache.
For more information go to http://www.aapd.org