Q. What is a pediatric dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is the specialty of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of young people. After completing a four-year dental school curriculum, two to three additional years of rigorous training are required to become a pediatric dentist. This specialized program of study and hands-on experience prepares pediatric dentists to meet the needs of infants, children and adolescents, including persons with special health care needs.
We are concerned about your child’s total health care. Good oral health is an important part of total health. Establishing us as your child’s Dental Home provides us the opportunity to implement preventive dental health habits that keep a child free from dental/oral disease. We focus on prevention, early detection and treatment of dental diseases, and keep current on the latest advances in dentistry for children.
Pleasant visits to the dental office promote the establishment of trust and confidence in your child that will last a lifetime. Our goal, along with our dental team, is to help all children feel good about visiting the dentist and teach them how to care for their teeth. From our special office designs to our communication style, our main concern is what is best for your child.
Q. What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a family dentist?
Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. A pediatric dentist has two to three years specialty training following dental school and limits his/her practice to treating children only. Pediatric dentists are primary and specialty oral care providers for infants and children through adolescence, including those with special health needs.
Q. When should my child first see a dentist?
"First visit by first birthday" sums it up. Your child should visit a pediatric dentist six months after their first tooth erupts, but no later than their first birthday. This visit will establish a dental home for your child. Early examination and preventive care will protect your child’s smile now and in the future.
Q. Why so early? What dental problems could a baby have?
The most important reason is to begin a thorough prevention program. Dental problems can begin early. A big concern is Early Childhood Caries (formerly known as baby bottle tooth decay or nursing caries). Once a child’s diet includes anything besides breast-milk, erupted teeth are at risk for decay. The earlier the dental visit, the better the chance of preventing dental problems. Children with healthy teeth chew food easily and smile with confidence. Start your child now on a lifetime of good dental habits.
Q. When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using non-fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.
Q. Are baby teeth really that important to my child?
Primary, or "baby," teeth are important for many reasons. Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt.
Q. How can I prevent tooth decay from nursing or using a bottle?
At-will breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt and other sources of nutrition have been introduced. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle containing anything other than water. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. Fruit juice should only be offered in a cup with meals or at snack time. Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.
Q. Should I worry about thumb and finger sucking?
Prolonged thumb sucking can create crooked teeth or bite problems. Your pediatric dentist will be glad to suggest ways to address a prolonged thumb sucking habit.
When your child needs urgent dental treatment, your pediatric dentist stands ready to help. Please keep the emergency number available and convenient. Our office provides 24 hour emergency call coverage in case of dental emergencies.
Q. What should I do if my child's baby tooth is knocked out?
Contact your pediatric dentist as soon as possible. The baby tooth should not be replanted because of the potential for subsequent damage to the developing permanent tooth.
Q. What should I do if my child's permanent tooth is knocked out?
Find the tooth and rinse it gently in cool water while holding the tooth by the crown. (Avoid touching the root of the tooth and do not scrub or clean it with soap -- use only water!) If possible, replace the tooth in the socket immediately and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. If you can’t put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container with cold milk or saliva. Get to the pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it’s after hours.) The faster you act, the better your chances of saving the tooth.
Q. What if a tooth is chipped or fractured?
Contact your pediatric dentist immediately. Quick action can save the tooth, prevent infection and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment. Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling if the lip also was injured. If you can find the broken tooth fragment, place it in cold milk or water and bring it with you to the dental office.
X-Ray Use and Safety (Indianapolis Pediatric Dentistry is 100% digital!)
Q. How often should a child have dental X-rays?
Since every child is unique, the need for dental X-rays varies from child to child. Images are taken only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and when they are likely to yield information that a visual examination cannot. X-ray images help detect cavities developing between the teeth
In general, children need X-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are also more susceptible than adults to tooth decay.
Q. Why should X-ray images be taken if my child has never had a cavity?
X-ray images detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays may be needed to survey developing teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. X-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.
Questions and answers adapted from American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry – www.aapd.org