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Frequently Asked Questions

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. If it is an after-hours emergency, a pager number will be given on the answering machine. One of our dentists will call you and discuss the situation.

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 call us 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.

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What if My Child Has Special Needs?

Pediatric dentists have had 2 to 3 years of advanced training beyond dental school. Their education as a specialist focuses on care for children with special needs. In addition, our dentists’ office is designed to be physically accessible for patients with wheelchairs. Pediatric dentists, because of their expertise, are often the clinicians of choice for the dental care of adults with special needs as well.

Some children need more support than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable during dental treatment. Restraint or mild sedation may benefit your special child. If a child needs extensive treatment, your child's dentist may recommend receiving care at a local hospital. Our dentists have comprehensive education in behavior management, sedation and anesthesia techniques. They will select a technique based on the specific health needs of your child, and then discuss the benefits, limits and risks of that technique with you.

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What Should I Know About Early Orthodontics?

Early orthodontics, also known as interceptive or phase one orthodontics, allows minor tooth movement during an early developmental time in your child's life. Braces are attached only to the limited number of permanent teeth erupted (usually the front 4 incisors and the back permanent molars). The use of expanders or retainers may also be needed.

A benefit of early orthodontic treatment is that it can often prevent major problems from developing later. Discomfort is reduced, and time and money are often saved. Your child will be evaluated at every exam appointment routinely and you will be notified if an orthodontic evaluation by a specialist is needed.

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Should I get a mouth protector (Mouth Guard) for my child?

Athletic mouth protectors, or mouth guards, are made of soft plastic and are adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of your upper teeth. Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

When to wear a Mouth Guard:
Our dentists recommend you wear a mouth guard whenever you are in an activity with a risk of falls or of head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, and rollerblading, to name a few. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

Choosing a Mouth Guard:
Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard! Choose one that is comfortable to wear. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room. You can buy mouth guards in sports stores that are pre-formed or "boil-to-fit". Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection and cost. Alternatively, our dentists can make customized mouth guards. They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and more effective in preventing injuries.

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What are Nerve treatments (Pulpotomy) ?

A pulpotomy is indicated when decay makes its way to the nerve of a baby tooth. Baby teeth respond well to the removal of a diseased part of the dental pulp (nerve) while leaving the healthy portion intact. The cavity is removed from the tooth in addition to the portion of the nerve that has been infected by the bacteria of the cavity. The tooth is then properly treated and a crown or a filling is placed over the tooth. This allows the tooth to stay in the mouth and hold the space until the developing permanent tooth is ready to erupt.

Alternative to a pulpotomy:
Alternatives include removal of the tooth (with the infected nerve) and placement of a space maintainer, which allows the space to be "held open" for the permanent tooth to erupt in the future.

Result of non-treatment:
Usually the patient will experience continued and increased pain and infection. There is also a risk of damage to the underlying permanent tooth below the infected primary (baby) tooth. Ignored nerve infection will usually result in an abscess (swelling filled with puss) and require removal of the tooth.

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What are tooth sealants?

Sealants protect the surfaces of teeth with grooves and pits, especially the chewing surfaces of back teeth where most cavities are found. Sealants are clear or tooth colored plastic, and are applied to the teeth to help keep them cavity-free. Our sealants are BPA free.

How sealants work:
Even if your child brushes and flosses carefully, it is difficult - sometimes impossible - to clean the tiny grooves and pits on certain teeth. Toothbrush bristles are just too thick to reach into the pits and fissures. Food and bacteria build up in these depressions, placing your child in danger of tooth decay. Sealants "seal out" food and plaque, thus reducing the risk for decay on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

Longevity of sealants last:
Research shows that sealants can last for many years. So, your child will be protected throughout the most cavity prone years. If your child has good oral hygiene and avoids biting hard objects like ice cubes, crunchy candy or sticky foods, sealants will last longer.

Placement of sealants:
A sealant can be applied quickly and comfortably! It only takes one visit! The tooth is cleansed and conditioned, then the sealant is painted on and hardened with a blue light. It”s that easy. The teeth most at risk of decay - and therefore most in need of sealants - are the six-year and twelve-year molars. But any tooth with grooves or pits may benefit from the protection of sealants.

Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your child cavity-free for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are still essential to a bright, healthy smile!

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What are space maintainers and what do they do?

A baby tooth usually stays in until a permanent tooth pushes it out and takes its place. Unfortunately, some children lose a baby tooth too soon. A tooth might be knocked out accidentally or removed because of dental disease. When a tooth is lost too early, our dentists may recommend a space maintainer to prevent future space loss and dental problems.

Space maintainers hold open the empty space left by a lost tooth. They steady the remaining teeth, preventing movement until the permanent tooth takes its natural position in the jaw. It’s more affordable - and easier on your child - to keep teeth in normal positions with a space maintainer than to move them back in place with orthodontic treatment.

Why all the fuss? Baby teeth fall out eventually on their own!
Baby teeth are important to your child's present and future dental health! They encourage normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. They save space for the permanent teeth and guide them into position. Remember: some baby teeth are not replaced with adult teeth until a child is about 12 or 13 years old.

If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth beside it may tilt or drift into the empty space. Teeth in the other jaw may move up or down to fill the gap. When adjacent teeth shift into an empty space, they create a lack of space in the jaw for the permanent teeth. So, permanent teeth are crowded and come in crooked. If left untreated, the condition may require extensive orthodontic treatment

Taking care of your space maintainer:
The four main rules for space maintainer care:
1. Avoid sticky sweets or chewing gum,
2. Don't tug or push on the space maintainer with your fingers or tongue,
3. Keep it clean with conscientious brushing, and
4. Continue regular dental visits.

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What different options do you offer for sedation?

If it is deemed necessary to help your child get through a dental appointment, three different options of sedation are available: laughing gas, oral sedation, and I.V. sedation. For a more detailed explanation of each kind, click on the SEDATION tab above.

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