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FAQs: Visiting a Pediatric Dentist (i.e. Pedodontist)
- What is pediatric dentistry?
- Why does my child need to see a pediatric dentist?
- When should my child first see a pediatric dentist?
- How often should my child see the dentist?
- What happens in a typical dental check-up?
- May parents stay with their children during their examination or procedure?
- Should my child visit the dentist twice a year even when my child has never had a cavity?
- What if my child involves Special Needs?
- Will X-rays be taken at every appointment?
- What are fillings?
- What is Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)?
- What is General Anesthesia / I.V. Sedation?
Answers on Visiting a pediatric dentist (i.e. Pedodontist)
What is pediatric dentistry?
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty focused on the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health and emotional needs.
To become a pediatric dentist, a dentist has to undergo two to three years of specialty training in addition to dental school.
To become a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist, a dentist has to further pass an examination specially administered by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. The test certifies the candidate possesses the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience to deliver pediatric dental care at the highest level. (Back to top)
Why does my child need to see a pediatric dentist?
Besides allowing for timely prognosis and treatments, regular dental visits will allow your dentist to provide:
- A program of preventive home care including brushing, flossing, diet and the importance of fluorides.
- A caries risk assessment.
- Information about Early Childhood Caries, which may arise from inappropriate nursing habits or inappropriate use of sippy cups.
- Information about finger, thumb and pacifier habits.
- Information about preventing injuries to the mouth and teeth.
- The latest on growth and development.
Remember, healthy teeth help your child speak more clearly, chew more easily, learn more effectively, do better at school, develop higher confidence, enable proper development of permanent teeth, and cultivate better overall health.
Give your child the gift of good health by calling your pediatric dentist today.
When should my child first see a pediatric dentist?
Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth erupts, usually between six and twelve months of age.
“First visit by first birthday” sums up the rule pretty well.
One reason for beginning early is that dental problems, such as Early Childhood Caries (also know as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries), can arise early and quickly. Catching these problems early in time can prevent much more serious problems from arising.
Another is that your dentist should be an indispensable member of a team that includes your child's pediatrician and other physicians and specialists. Together, these professionals will work to ensure your child gets and maintains a clean bill of health. (Back to top)
How often should my child see the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental check-up at least twice a year for most children. Some children may need more frequent dental visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns or poor oral hygiene. Your pediatric dentist will discuss with you the best appointment schedule for your child. (Back to top)
What happens in a typical dental check-up?
During a visit to your pediatric dentist, your pediatric dentist will review your child's medical and dental history. Your dentist will gently examine your child's teeth, oral tissues, and jaws.
In addition, your dentist will provide professional teeth cleanings to remove debris that build up on the teeth, irritate the gums and cause decay.
Education is another part of routine dental check-ups. A well-trained pediatric dentist will not only communicate with parents in a professional and articulate manner, but also describe to your child most oral health concepts through easy-to-understand words, pictures, and concepts.
Don't be surprised if your child walk away after their visits more motivated than ever to take responsibility for their oral health! (Back to top)
May parents stay with their children during their examination or procedure?
It is our policy to allow all parents to stay with their children during procedures. In fact we generally encourage parents to do so. Having parents with us in the back allow us to better explain the procedures and answer parents’ questions as they come up. However, if parents are not comfortable in the back office, we understand and would ask these parents to come to the back only when necessary. (Back to top)
Should my child visit the dentist twice a year even when my child has never had a cavity?
Yes. Even if your child has never had a cavity, regular dental visits will help your child stay cavity-free! Regular visits to a dentist office will allow your child to receive timely prognosis and treatments.
For example, regular visits will allow your child's dentist to determine whether your child needs additional fluoride, dietary supplements, or sealants for improved dental health.
Regular visits will allow your child's dentist to better be able to provide ongoing instructions to help improve your child's brushing, flossing and other habits as necessary to maintain cleaner teeth and healthier gums.
In addition, regular visits will allow your child's dentist to more timely identify orthodontic problems and suggest remedies should the need arise. (Back to top)
What if my child involves Special Needs?
Children with significant medical, physical, or mental disabilities often present unique challenges and dental needs. An integral part of the training for a pediatric dentist is addressing the medical and dental health needs of such special patients. Your pediatric dentist should be uniquely qualified to address such issues. (Back to top)
Will X-rays be taken at every appointment?
No. Most pediatric dentists, following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, will recommend X-rays only when necessary to protect your child's dental health. Such situations arise, for example, when X-rays are needed to diagnose tooth decay or abnormalities. X-rays may also be required for orthodontic treatment.
Visiting a modern Pediatric Dental office that offers digital, high-tech X-ray equipment further helps to limit unnecessary X-ray exposure to your kid. Digital X-rays in general uses 50-85% less X-rays than traditional X-ray machines. A well-trained pediatric dentist will discuss with you regarding your child's need for X-rays before any are taken. (Back to top)
What are fillings?
A filling is a dental application of any of various substances (such as metal or plastic) to a prepared cavity in a tooth.
While decay is a primary reason your child may need a filling, other reasons also exist. For example, cracked or broken teeth, or teeth that are worn from unusual use — such as from nail-biting, tooth grinding (bruxism), or using teeth to open things — may also require fillings. (Back to top)
What is Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas)?
Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen that is also known as "laughing gas." Nitrous oxide is able to help relieve mild anxiety without putting the child to sleep. Many times an anxious child can benefit from the use of nitrous oxide.
In a dental office, nitrous oxide is inhaled through the nose by a small breathing mask and is safe and non-addictive. Since nitrous oxide possesses a rapid onset and elimination from the body, the child is able to carry on the rest of the day normally after their appointment without any residual drowsiness or side effects.
Nitrous oxide is an effective treatment adjunct for many patients. Please discuss with your pediatric dentist regarding whether nitrous oxide may be appropriate for your child. (Back to top)
What is General Anesthesia / I.V. Sedation?
Outpatient general anesthesia may be recommended for very apprehensive children, children with extensive dental needs or children with special medical needs. General anesthesia renders your child completely asleep — the same as if your child was having their tonsils removed, hernia repaired or ear tubes placed. This procedure can be done in office or at the surgical center of nearby El Camino Hospital, located two miles from our office.
While the assumed risks of General Anesthesia / I.V. Sedation are greater than that of other treatment options, we will discuss with you carefully the options to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks on an individual basis. (Back to top)
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE PAGES DO NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health.