Pediatric dentistry FAQs
What is a pediatric dentist?
A pediatric dentist like Dr. Levi and Dr. Kirby have 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.
At what age should I schedule my child’s first visit?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association, your child’s first visit should occur about 6 months after their first tooth erupts, but no later than your child’s first birthday. Although it may seem young, finding your child’s “dental home” is a key to a lifetime of good dental health.
Remember - 2 is too late for your child’s first pediatric dental appointment.
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, which generally fall out between the ages of 5 and 12, 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 may recommend radiographs at more frequent intervals.
With contemporary safeguards and digital radiography, 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?
What are sealants, fillings, and crowns?
A sealant is a composite material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, 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 most children.
If your child has a cavity, a filling is placed after the cavity is removed. The filling is tooth colored (white).
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. For front teeth, white restorations are used. 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.
When are procedures carried out in a hospital?
General anesthesia may be indicated for children with extensive dental needs who are extremely uncooperative, fearful or anxious or for the very young who do not understand how to cope in a cooperative fashion. General anesthesia also can be helpful for children requiring significant surgical procedures or patients having special health care needs.
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.
Our son has fractured (broken) 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.
What do I do if my child’s entire tooth is knocked out?
The first thing to do is to remain calm. This can be a very upsetting situation for both you and your child. Always make sure your child has not passed out or is unable to remember the injury.
If this is the case, you will need to report to the emergency room for head trauma evaluation.
Next, determine if it is a permanent or baby tooth. If it is a baby tooth, DO NOT REIMPLANT. Contact us immediately for instructions.
If it is a permanent tooth, find the tooth and pick it up by the crown of the tooth (the part you see in the mouth).
Try not to handle the root of the tooth. If there appears to be debris on the tooth, rinse with water, milk or saliva.
Next, place the tooth back in the socket and contact our office immediately.
The best chance for survival of the tooth is if has been re-implanted within 30 minutes of the injury. This is why it is critical that you re-implant immediately.Your child will need to be seen shortly after, so the tooth can be splinted.
When should my child where a mouth guard?
Your child should wear a mouthguard whenever he or she is in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.
Dr. Levi will recommend the best mouth guard for your child.
Levi S. Palmer, DDS
Certified Pediatric Dental Specialist