Pediatric Dental Care

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pediatric Dentistry?

A pediatric dentist is a specialist dedicated to the oral health of infants, children, adolescents and patients with special health care needs. Pediatric dentists complete two or three years of additional specialized training (after the required four years of dental school), which includes study in child psychology, growth, and development. They are also trained and qualified to care for patients with medical, physical, or mental disabilities. Their specialization allows them to provide treatment for a wide variety of children's dental problems such as tooth decay and cavities, malocclusion and crooked teeth, and emergency care.

At what age should my child visit the dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child's first visit to the dentist should occur by 12 months of age. This visit will enable the dentist to evaluate your child and introduce you to proper oral hygiene. Diet, fluoride, finger and pacifier habits and tooth eruption will be discussed to insure optimal dental health.

What guidelines will help children remain cavity free?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends:

  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  • Floss children's teeth once a day.
  • Visit your pediatric or general dentist regularly.
  • Get enough fluoride through drinking water and other fluoride products and fluoride supplements, if necessary.
  • Have sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of permanent back teeth or molars.
  • Snack moderately-no more than twice a day.

Tips for helping children develop positive dental habits.

  • Set a good example
  • Make good oral health a family effort
  • Show children that daily brushing and flossing, limited snacking and regular dental checkups are necessary for good oral health
  • Support your child when they are able to brush and floss on their own, assisting and performing spot checks as needed

How important is a child's diet in the prevention of cavities?

Although a well-balanced diet is important in preventing cavities and to ensure good general health, cavities are not only the result of what children eat but also the frequency of meals. Frequent snacking without brushing leaves food on the teeth longer and increases the likelihood of a cavity developing. Additionally, frequent "sipping" on sugar-drinks (including juice and soda) in a baby bottle, "sippy" cup, or re-sealable bottle can cause widespread dental cavities.

What are dental sealants and who can benefit from them?

The chewing surface of children's teeth are the most susceptible to cavities and least benefited from fluorides. Sealants are adhesive coatings that are applied to the tops of teeth and can be very effective in preventing tooth decay. Current research has shown that 4 out of 5 cavities in children under age 15 develop on the biting surface of back molars. Molars are the most decayed teeth because plaque accumulates in the tiny grooves of the chewing surfaces. Sealants prevent the cavities that fluoride cannot effectively reach.

What are amalgams (silver fillings)?

Amalgams or silver fillings are used to restore or "fill" decayed areas in teeth. They have a scientifically proven history of safety and effectiveness in restoring teeth.

What are composites (tooth colored fillings)?

Composites or tooth colored fillings are used to restore fractured teeth and/or areas of decay, especially for front teeth in which cosmetic appearance is important. The shade of the restoration material is matched as closely as possible to the color of the natural tooth.

What are Stainless Steel Crowns?

Stainless steel crowns are silver colored "caps" used to restore teeth that are too badly decayed to hold fillings, need a nerve treatment, or when durability is a concern. Crowns with white facings can be used on front teeth.

What is a Pulpotomy?

This procedure is a nerve treatment in which the sick portion of the tooth nerve is removed and medicine is placed in order to avoid extracting the tooth.

What is a Pulpectomy?

A pulpectomy is necessary when the nerve of the tooth is dead. The entire infected pulp is removed and medication is placed in the root canals.

What is Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen?

Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is breathed by your child with oxygen during the restorative appointment. It can be used to relax a mildly anxious child who is still cooperative.

What are Space Maintainers?

A space maintainer is used to hold space for a permanent tooth when a baby tooth has been prematurely lost. If space is not maintained, teeth on either side of the missing tooth can drift into the space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting.

Why are "baby teeth" important?

Primary teeth have been labeled "baby teeth." However, the first tooth is usually lost around age 6 and some primary molars must remain in place until 12 or 13 years of age. Primary teeth are necessary for proper chewing, speech, development of the jaws and esthetics. Care of the primary teeth is important not only for proper function, but also to avoid a number of unpleasant conditions, such as pain, that result from their neglect.

Do you allow parents to come back with their children?

Parents are invited back to observe during the initial exam and checkups. We have a designated parent bench from which you can observe treatment. During restorative treatment of cavities, parents are invited to observe through the clear glass door of the treatment room. This arrangement allows the doctor and staff to communicate with your child directly without distractions or safety concerns. Over time, we hope to bring your child back by themselves to better establish your child's trust and independence. During sedation and general anesthesia treatment, no parents are allowed to observe due to safety concerns. Finally, if you expect your child to do well and enjoy their visit to our office, chances are they will do just that!

What do I do if my child is in an accident?

If your child has an accident, please call our office as soon as possible. We will see your child immediately. If it is an after-hours emergency, a pager number will be given on the answering machine. The first 30 minutes after an accident are the most critical to treatment of dental trauma. If a permanent tooth is knocked out, gently rinse, but do not scrub the tooth under water. Replace the tooth in the socket if possible. If this is impossible, place the tooth in a glass of milk or a clean wet cloth and come to the office immediately. If the tooth is fractured, please bring in any pieces you can find. Our schedule may be delayed in order to accommodate an injured child. Please accept our apologies in advance should an emergency occur during your child's appointment.

What is enamel fluorosis?

If a child is exposed to too much fluoride during the years of tooth development they may face the condition called enamel fluorosis. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel resulting in white, yellow or brown splotches, streaks or lines, usually on the front teeth.

How can enamel fluorosis be prevented or treated?

First, your dentist can determine the appropriate fluoride supplementation, if any, that should be given. Your dentist may choose to test the level of fluoride in your child's source of drinking water. After he knows how much fluoride your child receives from their water supply and other sources, they will decide if your child needs a fluoride supplement. Second, monitor your child's use of fluoridated toothpaste. A smear of paste for young children or pea-sized amount in older children is plenty for fluoride protection. Teach your child to SPIT out the toothpaste. Do not swallow it after brushing. Once fluoride is part of the tooth enamel, it can't be taken out. The appearance of teeth affected by fluorosis can be greatly improved by a variety of treatments. If your child suffers from severe enamel fluorosis, your dentist can tell you about dental techniques that can enhance your child's smile.

Should I avoid fluorides all together for my child?

Definitely NO! Fluoride prevents tooth decay. It is an important part of helping your child keep a healthy smile for a lifetime. Getting the correct amount can be easily accomplished with the help of your dentist.

Do special children have special dental needs?

Yes. We have found that some children with disabilities are more susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. They may require medication, special diets, or possess oral habits detrimental to dental health. If dental care is started early and followed conscientiously, every child can enjoy a healthy smile.

How can I prevent dental problems for my special child?

A first dental visit by age one will be the beginning to a lifetime of good dental health. We will obtain a full medical history, perform an examination of your child's teeth and gums, and then develop a preventive care plan specifically designed for your child's needs.

Will preventive dentistry benefit my special child?

Yes! Your child will benefit from the preventive approach recommended for all children- effective daily brushing and flossing, moderation of snacking and proper amounts of fluoride. Home care takes just minutes a day and prevents needless dental problems. Regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments will allow prevention of dental problems and help catch problems early if they should arise.

Will my child need special care during dental treatment?

Every child is unique. As such, each child requires a plan of treatment specifically designed for their needs. Some special children require restraint or mild sedation. If a child needs extensive evaluation and treatment, your dentist may suggest providing care at a local hospital. Drs. Lubisich have comprehensive education in behavior management, sedation and anesthesia techniques. We will chose a plan of care specifically designed for your child, then discuss the benefits, limits and risks of that plan with you.

What is interceptive orthodontics?

As a child grows and matures, there may be indications that your child's teeth may not develop into normal position and biting relationships. Your dentist may inform you that your child may need orthodontic treatment once their permanent teeth have fully erupted. Interceptive orthodontic treatment (commonly referred to as Phase I) allows minor tooth movement during an early developmental time in your child's life. This type of treatment may include fixed or removable appliances, spacers, and/or braces. Early treatment may have the benefit of eliminating or minimizing the need for additional treatment later in life.