What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?
Pediatric Dentists are the "Pediatricians of Teeth." A pediatric dentist has two to three more years of specialty training, following four years of dental school and limits their practice to treating only children. Pediatric dentists are oral care providers for infants, toddlers, and adolescents, including children with special needs.
At what age should my child first visit the dentist?
"First visit by first birthday" sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child's smile now and in the future.
Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is to establish a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can start early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (also know as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Your child risks severe decay from using a bottle during naps or at night or when they nurse continuously from the breast. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily, learn to speak clearly, and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
How often should I schedule dentist appointments for my child?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends regular dental checkups based on your child's individual risk for cavities, to prevent cavities and other dental problems. Some children may need more frequent visits due to increased risk for tooth decay or poor oral hygiene.
Do you accept insurance?
We do accept insurance plans (PPO's) and if we have received all of your insurance information on the day of the appointment, as a courtesy, we will file your claim for you. Therefore, at the time of treatment, you are only responsible for the difference in amount that your insurance is not expected to cover.
By law your insurance company is required to respond to each claim within 30 days of receipt. We file all insurance electronically, so your insurance company will receive each claim within days of the treatment.
Please understand that we file dental insurance as a courtesy to our patients and although we do not have a contract with your insurance company, we will do our best at all times to maximize your benefits. We are not responsible for how your insurance company handles its claims or for what benefits they pay on a claim. We can only assist you in estimating your portion of the cost of treatment.
What are your Payment Options?
We accept VISA, MasterCard, and DiscoverCard, as well as ATM cards, cash, and personal checks. However, we do partner with a third-party financial support company: CareCredit
What kind of toothbrush should my child use?
Most children should use a soft bristle brush with a small head. Electric toothbrushes are also good tools because they can remove plaque with less effort on your child's part than a regular brush. However, both are very effective with your supervision.
How much toothpaste should my child use?
Parents should use a soft bristled toothbrush with water before the age of two. Fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced when your child is 2-3 years of age – once the child is able to spit. Non-fluoridated toddler toothpaste may also be used for young children who cannot spit. When toothpaste is used after the age of 2-3, parents should supervise brushing and make sure that the child is only using a pea-sized amount on the brush. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing. If not monitored, children may easily swallow over four times the recommended daily amount of fluoride in toothpaste.
How important is flossing?
Flossing is a very important way to remove plaque, prevent cavities, and avoid gum disease. Cavities between baby molars in school age children are very common. Flossing removes cavity causing plaque and food from between teeth that touch and therefore greatly decreases the risk for cavities on these surfaces. As a rule of thumb, if neighboring teeth touch, they should be flossed. To make flossing easier in small mouths, disposable flossers on a handle may be used.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride encourages remineralization (a strengthening of weak areas on the tooth). These weak areas are the beginning spots of cavity formation. Fluoride is sometimes added in water and in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, varnish, and supplements. Fluoride is documented to be safe and highly effective if used in the recommended quantities. You only need to use small amounts of fluoride to get the maximum benefit. It is important to keep toothpastes, gels, rinses, and other supplements out of reach and only allow children to use these products with your supervision.
What causes cavities?
Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that produce acid after food is present in the mouth. This acid can dissolve the tooth structure and cause an infection, called tooth decay. Every time you eat, this acid reaction occurs in the mouth as the bacteria digests the sugars. This reaction lasts about 20 minutes. During this time, the acidic environment can destroy the tooth structure and lead to cavities. Sugars and carbohydrates are foods that stick to the teeth and cause a prolonged acid attack, which increases the risk for cavities. With normal meals and healthy snacks, the body can recover; however, frequent consumption in a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates leads to a chronic attack and the body may not recover properly, leading to a higher cavity risk.
Are baby teeth really important?
Primary, or “baby” teeth ARE important for many reasons. Primary teeth help children speak clearly and chew naturally. Also, they help form a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to grow in. This path will help ensure proper positioning of the permanent teeth.
How can I prevent “nursing” decay?
Nursing decay is also known as “baby bottle decay” or “Early Childhood Caries.” To prevent this, avoid putting children to bed with anything other than water after the eruption of the first tooth. The sugars in milk/juices/sugary drinks will sit on your child's teeth overnight and feed the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Do not put your child to bed with a bottle of milk, juice, formula or sweetened liquid to decrease the risk of childhood caries.
Are thumb sucking or using a pacifier harmful for my child's teeth?
Thumb sucking and the use of a pacifier are the most common forms of sucking habits that affect the shape of your child's mouth and alignment of teeth. Thumb sucking is perfectly normal for infants; most stop by age 2. If your child does not, discourage it after age 4. Prolonged thumb sucking can create crowded, crooked teeth, or bite problems. We will work with each child to develop a plan to address finger or pacifier habits. In some cases, positive reinforcement is the key, while in others, a habit appliance may be made.
What kind of diet do I need to encourage for healthy teeth?
Make sure of child has a balanced diet that reflects the proper servings each day of fruits & vegetables, breads & cereals, milk & dairy products, mild fish and eggs. Limit the servings of sugars, such as cookies, candy, soft drinks, and fruit juices. Suggested snack foods include: low-fat yogurt, fruit, peanut butter, popcorn, cheese, carrots, celery, and other raw vegetables. You should also have your child drink water in between meals for good oral health.
Is it ok for my child to use a sippy cup?
As your child switches from the bottle or nursing, you may offer him or her a training or “sippy” cup. However, do not let your child constantly sip liquids containing sugar (milk, juices, or soda) because they encourage tooth decay. Only offer these beverages at meal time because chewing food encourages saliva production that will help neutralize acid production. If your child is thirsty between meals, offer water or sugar-free liquids, such as Crystal Light. Once your child has learned how to sip, they are ready for a regular cup. Do not let your child carry a sippy cup or other liquid containter around, or get in the habit of keeping it in the car or stroller. Again, frequent sips of sugary liquids encourage tooth decay. Also, your child is at risk for trauma if they are allowed to walk around with the cup.
What should I do if my child has a toothache?
Rinse your child's mouth (or irritated area) with warm salt water. You can place a cold compress on their face if it is swollen. You may also give your child Tylenol or Ibuprofen for pain if needed – follow the manufacturer's directions or your pediatrician's directions for proper dosing directions. Do NOT place aspirin on the gums because this will cause a chemical burn. If your child has a fever, swelling of face/lips/neck, trouble breathing or is not eating or drinking, this may be a true dental emergency. Contact us immediately and/or go the emergency room.
What can I do to soothe my child's teething pain?
From 6 months to age 3, your child may have sore gums when teeth erupt. Many children like to use a clean teething ring, cool spoon, or cold wet washcloth to soothe sore gums. You may also offer them a chilled teething ring. Do not use over the counter topical pain relief products, such as Ambesol, because there is too much of a risk for overdosing and these products do not relieve pain for very long. You can also give your child liquid Tylenol as directed on the manufacturer's label for fever and pain relief.
What can I do to protect my child's teeth during sporting events?
Soft plastic mouthguards can be used to protect a child's teeth, lips, cheeks and gums from sport related injuries. A custom-fitted mouthguard developed by a pediatric dentist will protect your child from injuries to the teeth, face, and even provide protection from severe injuries to the head.
What do I do if my child falls and knocks out a permanent tooth?
First, if your child has any broken bones or other injuries, you should seek immediate medical attention at a hospital emergency room. If the nature of the injury is only dental in nature, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm so you can find the tooth. Once you find it, do not hold the root and do not rinse it off. Hold the tooth by the crown (the big white part you normally see in the mouth) and try to re-insert it into the socket. If it doesn't go into the socket, do not try to force it. Just place the tooth in a glass of milk or in a container with your child's saliva covering the tooth and call our office. In order for the tooth to have a good prognosis, your child needs to be seen as soon as possible – ideally within 30 minutes – 1 hour.
How safe are dental x-rays?
There is only a very small amount of radiation in a dental x-ray, with very little risk involved. Pediatric dentists are especially careful to limit the amount of radiation children are exposed to. We use lead aprons to protect the children and digital x-rays to minimize the amount and time of radiation exposure. We use digital x-rays that may reduce radiation exposure to your child by up to 90% compared to traditional dental x-rays.
How will I know if my child needs braces?
Pediatric dentists can usually give you an idea if your child will need braces by an early age. When your child's first permanent teeth erupt (usually by the age of 6), you and the dentist will discuss the need for braces and whether early intervention will be necessary, or they will need to wait until more permanent teeth are in place.
Pediatric Dentist serving children and teenagers in Marin County, CA and Surrounding Areas
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