What is a Pediatric Dentist?

In the same way pediatricians are trained to meet a child’s medical needs, pediatric dental specialists are uniquely qualified to protect your child’s oral health, using the most advanced techniques. Pediatric dentists have an additional 2-3 years of training at university pediatric facilities in addition to 4 years of dental school and 4 years of college study. Some pediatric dentists practice general dentistry before specializing in pediatric dentistry, which gives them a unique perspective. They learn how to deal with the behavioral aspects of children, how to make them feel comfortable, and to make the experience pleasant, as well as how to plan for their future dentition (permanent teeth.)

What dental problems could my child have?

Some dental problems begin very early in life. One concern is baby bottle tooth decay, a serious condition caused by a child staying on the bottle (or breast) too long. Another problem is gum disease. It is estimated about 40% of children 2-3 years of age have at least mild inflammation of gum tissues. Oral habits, such as thumb-sucking or a pacifier, mouth breathing, and tongue thrust, should also be checked. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chances of preventing problems.

What about sterilization?

Your health and peace of mind are always our primary concern; therefore, we use state-of-the-art sterilization procedures. Treatment areas are thoroughly disinfected after each patient visit. Non-disposable instruments are ultrasonically cleaned with pressure and heat sterilized in an autoclave. Our handpieces receive special sterilization and cleaning after every patient. Our doctor and staff wear gloves and masks during all procedures. If sterilization is a concern for you, feel free to ask us for information on the measures we take to ensure the safety and well-being of your child. We are happy to give you a tour of our office.

When should I schedule my child’s appointment?

Make your baby’s first appointment by their first birthday. This appointment is one of the best things you can do for your baby.

Children age 1 and older should be seen in our office every six months for a preventative exam and cleaning. We use fluoride varnish to ensure safety and an easy application. After age four, we recommend sealants to further prevent cavities on the chewing surface of molars. We will educate you on preventing childhood cavities and gum disease.

As your child reaches the teen years, their six-month preventative visits include one-on-one discussion of sensitive teen issues such as oral hygiene, loss of baby teeth and tooth eruption, dietary habits and snacking, eating disorders, teenage cavities, second and third molars, smoking, piercing, and body art.

We also recommend that your child has an evaluation by an orthodontist by the age of eight, or sooner if determined necessary by the pediatric dentist. We will provide a recommendation to one of our colleagues who will perform the screening free of charge.

Will preventive dentistry benefit my child?

Yes! Your child will benefit from the preventive approach recommended for all children- effective brushing and flossing, moderate snacking, adequate fluoride. Home care takes just minutes a day and prevents needless dental problems. Regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments are also very beneficial. Sealants can prevent tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of primary and permanent molars where four out of five cavities occur. Ask Dr. Cris if sealants are recommended for your child.

How can I prevent dental problems for my child?

A first dental visit by the first birthday will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health. The pediatric dentist will take a full medical history, gently examine your child’s teeth and gums, then plan preventive care designed for your child’s needs.

Will my child need special care during dental treatment?

Some children need more support than others. We always use a caring manner so that your child can feel comfortable during dental treatment. For apprehensive children, we recommend Nitrous Oxide, mild restraint, mild sedation, or a combination of all may benefit your special child. If a child needs extensive treatment, we may provide care with the support of Horizons Anesthesia, a team of pediatric anesthesiologists who come to the office. General anesthesia is used while Dr. Cris provides dental treatment. Your pediatric dentist has a comprehensive education in behavior management, sedation, and anesthesia techniques. He or she will select a technique based on the specific health needs of your child, and discuss the benefits, limits and risks of that technique with you.

Do children with special needs require different dental care?

Most do. Some special children are very susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. Others require medication or diet detrimental to dental health. Still, other children have physical difficulty with effective dental habits at home. The good news is, dental disease is preventable. If dental care is started early and followed conscientiously, every child can enjoy a healthy smile. Parent participation is always a plus!

Are pediatric dentists prepared to care for persons with special needs?

Absolutely. Pediatric dentists have two or more years of advanced training beyond dental school. In addition, pediatric dental offices are designed to be physically accessible for children and adults with disabilities.

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