Children’s Dentistry FAQ

Why should I choose a pediatric dentist for my child?

A pediatric dentist focuses on the oral health of infants, children, and teens, including those with special needs. After completing four years of dental school, two to three additional years of training are required to become a pediatric dentist.

The very young, pre-teens, and teenagers all need different approaches in dealing with their behavior, guiding their dental growth and development, and helping them avoid future dental problems. A pediatric dentist is best qualified to meet these needs.

Do pediatric dentists treat special needs children?

Treating special needs children is a very important part of our specialty. We like for special needs children to have regular check-up visits to receive preventive dental treatment and reduce the risk of oral disease. If a special needs child has a cavity, we will do our best to treat them in our office. If the treatment needed is extensive, parents have the option of having the treatment done under at a local hospital where a pediatric anesthesiologist will provide general anesthesia.

When should my child first see a dentist?

You should bring your child in for a dentist visit by the time he or she turns 1 year old, or when their first tooth has erupted. A baby’s first tooth normally comes in between the ages of 6 months old and 1 year old. Even though baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) fall out to be replaced by permanent teeth, they can still get cavities and develop dental problems. The sooner your child begins receiving dental care, the sooner we can prevent issues from occurring.

How do I prepare my child for his/her first dental visit?

Children often mimic, or learn to follow, their parent’s actions, so it’s very important that you stay positive and relaxed when talking about the dentist or when visiting the dental office with them. If you’ve had any bad experiences at the dentist, we advise you not to share those with your little one so they don’t come in for their appointment already nervous.

We are experts at working with children, so if you’re unsure about what to do to make your child feel more comfortable, leave it up to us. We use kid-friendly words to explain what we’re doing and what tools we’re using, so they can see that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Why are primary teeth important?

Primary teeth are eventually replaced by permanent teeth, so they’re not important, right? Wrong! Primary teeth are important for a number of reasons. They help children chew their food properly, affect speech development, guide permanent teeth into their proper positions, and allow for healthy development of the jaw’s bones and muscles. And of course, healthy primary teeth also mean a more attractive smile!

Why does my child need X-rays?

X-rays are a hugely important tool used in dentistry. They allow dentists to spot issues that might otherwise be missed by a routine visual examination. For example, X-rays give us the ability to spot more cavities, diagnose bone diseases, and see the effects of a dental injury. We also use X-rays to create precise treatment plans because they allow us to see erupting teeth and how best to approach an orthodontic treatment. Dental X-rays emit a negligible amount of radiation, and in fact, an undetected oral concern can actually be more risky to your child’s health. At Angel Smile, we use low-dose digital X-rays and take extra precautions, such as lead body aprons and shields, to minimize radiation exposure.

How do I care for my child’s teeth?

When you visit our dental practice, Dr. Kresevic would be happy to give you specific advice about an at-home oral healthcare routine for your child. In general, you should begin brushing your child’s teeth with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste as soon as they get their first tooth. When your child is around 4 or 5 years old, you can help them brush their teeth on their own twice a day. Some helpful tips to tell them are to place the brush at a 45 degree angle, brush teeth in a circular motion, and to not forget to brush their tongue too. When it comes to flossing, you can floss your child’s teeth using a back-and-forth motion whenever they have two teeth that touch. We recommend using about 18 inches of floss and curving it into a C-shape when sliding it between the gum and tooth.

How do I prevent cavities?

To prevent cavities, you should remove any leftover food particles, bacteria, and plaque that stick to the teeth. If you have an infant, you can use a clean washcloth or a wet piece of gauze to wipe the teeth and gums. Otherwise, children should brush their teeth at least two times a day. Paying attention to what your child eats can also help prevent cavities. Try not to let your child go to bed with a bottle of anything besides water, and limit sugary snacks. It’s also important to bring your child to the dentist every six months so Dr. Kresevic can monitor his or her oral health and provide dental sealants or fluoride treatments if necessary.

Why is fluoride important for my child’s teeth?

When plaque is left to wear away at a tooth’s enamel, it’s called demineralization. Fluoride has the opposite effect on teeth. It promotes the remineralization of enamel, which leaves teeth stronger and protected against decay. Most city’s water supplies have fluoride, but another way to make sure your child’s teeth are getting enough fluoride is to use fluoride toothpaste. Some children are more prone to tooth decay, and in those cases, we may recommend a fluoride treatment at our office.

Why are sealants recommended?

Because children are still learning good oral hygiene habits, we want to do everything we can to prevent them from developing cavities. We put dental sealants in the pits and grooves of the back teeth, where all the chewing happens, so that food and bacteria don’t get stuck there and turn into cavities. To put it simply, dental sealants act as a barrier, keeping teeth healthy for years.

What are common dental emergencies and how do I handle them?

If your child experiences a dental emergency, it’s important to know what to do so that there’s no further damage. Here are some of the most common dental emergencies and what you should do:

  • Toothache

    First, have your child rinse his/her mouth with warm water to clean the affected area. You can also use floss to remove any food or debris stuck around the tooth. Please do not put aspirin on the aching tooth or surrounding gum, as it could cause more pain. If your child’s face is swollen, gently apply a cold compress. Make an appointment with your child’s dentist so they can determine the cause of the toothache.

  • Cut Tongue, Lip, or Cheek

    Apply ice to any bruised areas. If you notice any bleeding, firmly but gently apply pressure with gauze or cloth. If bleeding has not stopped within 15 minutes or if it cannot be controlled by simple pressure, take your child to an emergency room.

  • Knocked-Out Permanent Tooth

    Locate the tooth and pick it up by the crown (top of the tooth) and not the root. Try not to handle it unnecessarily. You can rinse the tooth but do not try to clean it. You can try reinserting the tooth back into the socket as long as it does not have fractures. Get your child to hold the tooth in place by biting down on a piece of gauze. If this does not work, put the tooth in a cup full of milk and take it with you to the dentist. It’s important to see a dentist immediately so that the tooth can be saved.

What if my child grinds his/her teeth at night?

If you have noticed a grinding noise while your child sleeps or you’ve seen that his or her teeth appear shorter, he or she may have bruxism, a condition where someone involuntarily grinds or clenches their teeth at night. There are many different factors that could lead to bruxism, including stress or a change in ear pressure. We recommend that you bring your child in for an appointment so Dr. Kresevic can decide the best course of treatment. The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. Most children outgrow bruxism; the grinding decreases between ages 6 to 9, and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9 to 12.

What can I do to protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

If your child plays contact sports, such as basketball or football, Dr. Kresevic can make a custom athletic mouth guard for them to wear. These types of plastic mouth guards protect teeth, gums, lips, and cheeks from injuries. Some special mouth guards can even prevent facial, jaw, or head injuries!

What if my child sucks his/her thumb?

Thumb sucking is a common habit in young children, but if it continues by the time front permanent teeth are ready to erupt it can cause problems with growth of the jaw and tooth alignment. Pacifiers are not a substitute for thumb sucking since they can affect the teeth in similar ways as sucking fingers and thumbs.

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