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Benefits of Early Orthodontics Intervention in children

June 21st, 2019

Timing is everything-even when it comes to your child's orthodontic treatment. Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin your child's early intervention treatment.  At little smiles our goal is to provide both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment to benefit your child.


Your Child's First Orthodontist visit: When should your child visit an Orthodontist?

Orthodontics can play a huge role in young children’s appearance and health. In fact, the American Association of orthodontics recommends that an orthodontist examine a child’s teeth by the time they are 7 years old, even while baby teeth are still in the mouth. At Little Smiles we can help identify bite issues at an early age and will refer your child to our orthodontist at the appropriate time. While your child’s teeth may look straight, there may be underlying problems with the way adult teeth erupt, a misaligned bite, the relationship of the upper and lower jaw, tooth crowding, or problems due to thumb sucking and other habits.

At Little Smiles our orthodontist can pinpoint these and start correcting them to avoid potential problems for future adult teeth and by age 7, enough permanent teeth have emerged for your orthodontist to evaluate relationships developing between teeth, jaw and bite and make sure all will continue to develop as they should.


Phase-one of early orthodontic treatment: interceptive Orthodontics

Many children require the guidance of dental and facial development as a first phase of orthodontic treatment. Interceptive orthodontics also known as early treatment, preventative or phase one treatment, typically begins around age 7, while your child still has most of their primary or baby teeth. This interceptive orthodontic treatment helps prevent severe problems later on, and gives an orthodontist control over where the permanent teeth come in by addressing the structure of the jaw and teeth while baby teeth are still in the mouth.

By age 7, your child’s mouth has grown and has enough sound structure to know how it will develop as the permanent teeth start to emerge. Our pediatric dentist and orthodontics goal is to treat certain bites issues at an early age, while your child is still growing. If certain problems are treated at this earlier stage, our orthodontist can reduce the possibility of needing more severe treatment options in the future. This is all commonly known as phase-one or interceptive orthodontics.


Benefits to early intervention: phase-one

  • Determine a better prognosis for how the permanent teeth will develop
  • Correct habits such as thumb sucking or tongue pushing
  • Correct bite problems, open bite, cross bite or deep bite
  • Guide the growth of the jaw to accommodate emerging teeth
  • Lower the risk of damage to any protruding teeth
  • Create a more pleasing and functional arrangement of teeth, lips and face
  • Alleviate future and possibly more invasive, dental correction
  • Improve your child’s appearance and self-esteem

First phase treatment is initiated to prevent a problem from developing, intercept any developing problems and to guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth known as growth modification.  Without phase-one treatment our orthodontist has determined that your child's problem, if left alone, will create an unhealthy environment for the growth development of your child's teeth, gums, jaws, and face.

Your child's treatment will be timed to predictable stages of dental development to provide the greatest potential for improvement and correction of your child's bite. We believe that most patients will require a second phase of treatment, often with traditional braces, to complete the tooth and jaw alignment that was started during the first phase treatment.


Introducing your child's second phase in orthodontic treatment

 Remembering phase-one as we previously mentioned, a first phase of treatment is done while the child has many or most of their primary or "baby" teeth. Phase-two typically takes place when your child has most of all their permanent teeth. This phase in orthodontic treatment and a child's growth are meant to complement each other. Phase-two treatment moves permanent teeth into their final position, correct minor bite issues, and continue to increase your child's self-esteem.

Our goals of phase-two treatment is to establish a proper relationship of teeth and jaws, so that they work correctly, correct alignment of the teeth for a beautiful smile, and position the teeth and jaws for an attractive face and profile. By timing treatment to stages of dental development, our orthodontics can take advantage of your child's oral growth and development. Problems that can be treated in a growing child in time may alleviate more drastic and invasive procedures needed later.

We understand orthodontic treatment is not for everyone. Each patient has a unique problem that requires a unique treatment plan. What is right for one child may not be right for another.


Simple ways that your child may require early orthodontics treatment

  • Open bite
  • Deep bites
  • Cross bites
  • Overjets
  • Crowding
  • Spacing
  • Teeth that don't emerge in the right sequence
  • Missing teeth
  • Thumb, finger, or pacifier, sucking that is affecting the teeth or jaw growth
  • Ankylosed teeth: a condition where the tooth stops erupting and stays in the same place, causing the permanent tooth to be displaced upon emergence.

Whether or not our orthodontist determines that your child needs braces, you will get the peace of mind that early detection and potential treatment will result in a lifelong smile for your child!



Early orthodontics intervention can benefits your child during growing and developing of the teeth and bones. Your child may not need orthodontic treatment immediately, yet a consultation from our Little Smiles team can inform you how an we can help your child, if future treatment is necessary. By been inform, about the specifics need of your child, you will have peace of mind knowing  the steps to follow to maintain a lifelong smiles for your child! Feel free to call and speak directly to us to schedule your free consultation!

First dental visit guide: Your child is ready!

June 13th, 2019

Your children’s first dental appointment is a big step in the development of an overall oral health. We want to help you navigate this process and take the unknown away from this great experience. Our goal is to make your child’s first visit all about him or her and make the entire visit as easy for the parents as possible. Little Smiles is a place where children feel-at-home and start their journey of a lifetime of good oral health. The dental and emotional needs of young children are very specific. These needs are better addressed when we only focus on your child. By being prepared for this first visit, we are able to build trust and confidence with our patients while educating parents and caregivers.

Getting your child ready for the first dental appointment

Promoting a positive attitude towards oral hygiene at home helps your child feel familiar with the importance of dental health. Explain to your child how important it is to keep their teeth and gums healthy and how our dental team is going to help them with that.

Many children are nervous about dental visits because they don’t know what to expect. We suggest exploring our Little Smiles website, Facebook, Instagram or reading a good first trip to the dentist book (peppa pig, Dr. Seuss) are all great way to start. Here is a link to more information to help prepare your child for their first visit to our kind and compassionate team.

Getting ready for your child first dental appointment

Pediatric dentistry focuses on children and special needs patients. When you make the decision to have your child be seen by a pediatric dentist, you are giving he or she a great gift. Once you make this decision, it is easy to contact us or you can request an appointment online or call us directly.

At the first call, we want to make sure we answer all your questions. Also we will ask you some information to help you make the first visit an easy process.

Information that we may ask for could be:

  • Patient name
  • Patient date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Parents name
  • Employer
  • Dental insurance carrier
  • Dental insurance subscriber
  • Email address

Once your appointment is scheduled, our staff will work on the background to get ready for your child’s first appointment. As part of the background work, we will ask you to fill welcome forms online. This will speed up your check in time, so your child is seen as soon as possible.  If you are not able to fill the forms online, we will provide you with a tablet to fill them in at the office the day of the appointment.

Before your child’s appointment day, you may have multiple phone interactions with our staff. This interaction could be with our schedule coordinator to go over details and confirming your appointment. Also, you may receive a call from our insurance coordinator. She will be helping you get the most out of your insurance coverage.


Being prepared for the first visit will help your child during the entire appointment.

Once you arrive to Little Smiles your child can enjoy movies and games in our lobby while you do the short checking process. At that time, we will ask for a photo ID and dental insurance card (if apply). Our schedule coordinator will go over some detail of the services that we will provide. The last part of the checking in will be signing the online forms and we will take a picture of your child for his dental record.

With these few steps, your child will be on his or her way for our clinical area.

The dental cleaning is done in a fun environment for your child!

The best way to start a child dental experience is with a hygiene appointment. It will help your child get comfortable with the dental team.  During this part of the appointment, your child will be joined by one of our dental assistants. She will walk your child step by step through the entire dental appointment. We encourage our parents to join their child.

Before we start the dental checkup, one of our assistants, will sit down and help your child feel more relaxed by describing to your child about how we plan on cleaning and counting their teeth by using kid-friendly language.

In some occasions, your child may be intimidated by the dental chair. And that is ok. If this happens we may ask the parent to sit in the chair in front of the doctor and do what we call a "knee to knee" where the child may sit or lay on their parents lap during the cleaning/exam.

During the exam, we will check how the teeth are coming in, check to see whether or not there any cavities or any signs of cavity development and how to prevent them.  Also, we will check your child's bite, and look for any potential problems with the gums, jaw, and oral tissues.

During the appointment, we will educate parents about oral health care basics for children and discuss dental developmental issues and answer any questions.

A job well done!

Your child’s dental appointment can not be completed without a price for their work well done. Once your child is finished with their dental exam and fluoride treatment, he/she will get a token that can be used to get a prize from our toy machine. For our youngest patients, this is the highlight of the appointment.

Your child’s appointment is almost completed. The last part of the visit is to see our Treatment Coordinator to schedule your next six months recare appointment. She will also schedule any follow up appointments recommended by the doctor.


The fear of the unknown can make us avoid some necessary experiences. We don’t want this to be the case for your child’s first dental appointment.  At Little Smiles, we will work hard to make this experience as easy as possible and provide you the necessary knowledge and help to make this process stress free. Having a stream line experience will have your child feel more comfortable and prepared for the start of a great dental experience. If you have any questions please feel free to call us or request an appointment online.


Benefits to Waterlase in Dentistry

June 5th, 2019

Waterlase Dentistry is an advanced form of dental treatment that carries a number of important benefits for our patients. Waterlase is the use of laser energy, combined with a spray of water, a process called Hydro Photonics, to perform a wide range of dental procedures more comfortably for your child. With many procedures, it’s possible to use very little or no anesthetic at all.


Why choose Waterlase Dentistry? less pain, faster recovery

As pediatric dentist, providing primary and comprehensive dental treatment for infants, children, teens and special care patients is of utmost importance. With antsy, impatient young patients in the chair Waterlase dentistry will equip with the ability to deliver comfortable, quick, minimally invasive dentistry.



Tongue-Tie Corrected with Simple Laser Procedure

In recent times, there has been increased interest about the topic of tongue tie and breastfeeding. With so much talk and conflicting information about it, it’s no wonder many mothers feel overwhelmed and confused about how tongue tie may relate to any breastfeeding issues she may be experiencing. With more information, you can work out what it may mean for your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Little Smiles is here to help you understanding the meaning of Tongue-Tie and what is to have a simple laser procedure.

Ankyloglossia (Tongue-tie) refers to a congenitally short lingual frenulum (the little piece of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of your mouth). Tongue-tie is a thickened, tightened, or shortened frenum which limits movement of the tongue. In infants, this restriction of movement is a concern, because it can impede nursing or bottle feeding. This condition decreases the mobility of the tongue and can seriously impact a baby's ability to breast feed and may cause speech issue later in life.

In severe situations, where it is impacting the child's ability to eat, treatment with a frenectomy is necessary to allow for proper nutrition through breast-feeding. With a simple laser procedure the problem can be solved quickly and comfortably for the baby (and the parents!)

Signs that a baby's tongue-tie is causing problems with breastfeeding

  • Painful breast-feeding with nipple pain and possible damage
  • Nipples that look flat after breast-feeding
  • Baby loses suction while feeding and sucks in air
  • Baby makes clicking sound when feeding
  • Failure to thrive and gain weight even with normal amount of feeding
  • Baby cannot poke his tongue out beyond his gum or lips
  • Baby's tongue cannot move sideways
  • Heart-shaped or notched tip of the tongue
  • Recurrent blocked ducts or mastitis (inflammation of the breast)


Soft Tissue Surgery Made Simple

The differences between a laser and a scalpel when used for oral surgical procedures is stark(abrupt). While scalpels have a long list of physiological and psychological effects on the patient, Waterlase laser dentistry enables you to quickly cut, sculpt or modify soft tissue when needed.

During many procedures, managing the soft tissue can be problematic if it begins to bleed or respond unpredictably. With Waterlase dentistry lasers, achieving hemostasis and controlling the surgical zone are as easy as tapping a pre-set on the laser’s touch screen. Most importantly, laser soft tissue surgery minimizes pain, discomfort, and anxiety.

For children, a visit to the dentist can be an overwhelming experience. At Little Smiles, we want your child to feel relaxed and comfortable from beginning to end, and laser soft tissue surgery is another procedure we offer to ensure that your child goes through a speedy recovery with minimal pain.


Check out below, our laser assisted soft tissue surgery

Is Waterlase Safe?

Waterlase is cleared for numerous dental applications that can be performed on both pediatric and adult patients. One of the Waterlase’s greatest strengths is how precise it is!


If you’re interested in WaterLase laser dentistry for you child, Dr. Cruz or Dr. Bolivar will examine your child and come up with an accurate diagnosis. If WaterLase is the best treatment option, we will walk you through everything you need to know to help you make a confident decision about your child’s smile. For more questions you can call and speak directly to us!


Minimize dental treatment on your child with preventive care

May 30th, 2019

On average, students miss more than 51 million school hours each year because of dental problems or related conditions. Most of this lost time can be prevented by good oral hygiene and prevention. When brushing, flossing regularly and visiting their Pediatric Dentist every six months for a check-up, you are giving your child an upper hand in maintaining good oral health. This routine should be started early in life. Sometimes this is not enough and some dental treatments are needed. Even on baby teeth.

Baby teeth: the building block of a healthy beautiful smile

Sometimes, dental care is postponed after permanent teeth start coming in. This decision of waiting could be made by parents for many reasons. Financial should not be one. It has been known for children who had their first dental appointment after the age of four to have a higher cost for dental treatments, while children who had their first appointment before age four have a lower cost of dental treatments during eight years of follow-up.

Evidence increasingly suggests that to be successful in preventing caries, we must begin within the first years of life. If appropriate preventive measures are applied early—in infancy—it may be possible to raise a cavity-free child.

Preventive dental care facts to maintain a healthy smile

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day

  • Floss your teeth at least once a day

  • Maintain a low Sugary or Starchy food or Drinks intake

  • Visit the dentist every 6 months for your children's cleanings and exams

  • Have dental X-rays taken

  • Use FLUORIDATED toothpaste

  • Get sealant treatments (as needed)


Baby teeth play such an important role in child development.

Sealants: how it can help prevent tooth decay on your child

Dental Sealant is a protective barrier placed on children's teeth intended to prevent tooth decay by "sealant out" plaque and food. While brushing and flossing are critical components of any dental health regimen, sealants provide additional protection for the grooved areas of the teeth. These areas are the most common place for a cavity to start. This is known as pit and fissure decay.

Dental or tooth sealants are a thin coat of resin that is applied on the surface of the teeth to prevent tooth decay.  These sealants are generally applied on the surface of the molars or the back teeth.  The coating is a uniform coating that covers small grooves and pits. This prevents the food particles from getting trapped in these pits and prevents tooth decay.

Sealants are more common on permanent teeth but they can be done on baby teeth.  Baby teeth also have a number of grooves and pits that sometimes are necessary to be sealed to prevent tooth decay. Baby teeth play such an important role in child development. Also they help in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it's important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early and result in problems with the growth of permanent teeth.

The simple process of dental sealants give your child a mighty smile

Application of sealant is a simple and painless process. It requires the teeth to be cleaned and dried. This is done by isolating the area from moisture, once the teeth are dried, a solution is applied to prepare the teeth to accept the resin. This solution rather makes the surface of the teeth a bit rough. This process is called tooth preparation. Rough surfaces provide an easy adhesive surface to the teeth for application of the resin. When the surface is ready, the sealant is place over the surface of the teeth. The resin hardens in a few seconds with a curing light. Now the sealant is in place on the top part of the tooth.

With sealant, the tooth is protected on the masticatory surface. Other areas of the teeth could still get decay. Brushing is still important after sealant placement! When cavities start in other areas, the only way to find them is with dental x-rays.


Dental x-rays: see the cavity before is too late

Parents will often ask why x-rays are recommend for their child even when he/she have a healthy and beautiful smile. There are many parts of a tooth and its supporting structures that are hidden by either close contacts or tissues. It is important, especially at a child’s initial dental visit, to utilize all available tools in order to gain an accurate picture of a child’s oral health.

Most x-rays are prescribed to identify or rule out the tricky cavities that can develop between the teeth and are not visible in the mouth. Other X-rays are recommended to ensure normal growth and development of forming teeth and supporting bone structures.

It is important to remember that once a baseline is established, parents should work with their pediatric dentist to determine which type and how often subsequent x-rays will need to be taken.  At Little Smiles we use factors such as spacing, age, caries risk assessment, diet, oral hygiene and development concerns in order to make that decision.

Our ultimate goal is to be able to identify cavities when they are small or recognize developmental issues early before they cause extensive damage, create extra work, or have a damaging effect on a child’s oral health.

When areas of concern are found in the x-rays, we can focus on preventing these areas from developing tooth decay. If it is too late to prevent it from becoming a decay, some type of restorative or treatment is needed.

How restorative dentistry can help your child

Restorative dentistry is the treatment of dental decay of the teeth in order to restore or bring back to their best health. Restorative dentistry also includes the repair or replacement of damaged or defective teeth.  Some of these treatments include:

  • White fillings in a tooth or teeth
  • Silver stainless steel or White (Zirconia) crown
  • Pulpotomy, or treatment of the nerve
  • Extractions (removing teeth)
  • Space Maintainers

When are fillings required

A filling is used to fill in an area where a tooth decay (cavity) has been removed.  Cavities that require a filling are usually not cavities with deep decay.  The decayed tooth has to be removed or cleaned out with special dental instruments.  Once the decay is removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned, white filling called "composite" can be used to fill the area and restore the normal anatomy of the tooth.

When are Silver stainless steel or White (Zirconia) crowns needed?

When primary molars (baby teeth) that are not formed properly, have a lot of decay or fractures (cracks), or have undergone a nerve treatment, it may require a  crown in order to cover the remaining tooth. Crowns are also used when a very wide or deep cavity has done so much damage to the tooth that it needs to be protected in order to save it.

Pulpotomy and what happens if not treated promptly

A pulpotomy, or nerve treatment is done when there is a large amount of decay (such as deep cavity), when there is pain in a tooth, or when the decay is very close to touching the pulp, or nerve, of the tooth. This prevents the tooth from developing an infection. If a tooth with a deep decay is not treated properly and promptly, your child could develop a serious infection or lose the tooth.

Extractions and when they are needed

A child might need an extraction (pulling a tooth) for several reasons.  An extraction might be needed if your child has a severe infection or a very large cavity. Extractions may also be done if your child has spacing problems, such as crowding, or if space needs to be made for orthodontic care. If a tooth is lost early, the space will have to be preserved to allow the permanent tooth eruption.

Helping your child's permanent teeth eruption with space maintainers

When a baby tooth is lost early, of if a tooth never appears, a space maintainer is used to "save" a place for the permanent tooth (adult tooth).  If the space is not maintained, the teeth on either side of the missing tooth can move and prevent the permanent tooth form from ever erupting (coming in).  Also, without a space maintainer, teeth crowding can occur and be very difficult to treat.  A space maintainer is made of stainless steel and is a passive appliance. Most of them do not require adjustments. Spacers are temporary and will be removed once a new tooth or teeth erupt, or the teeth around it become loose.


Visiting the dentist regularly can help prevent cavities and reinforce good dental hygiene practices. At Little Smiles, we can guide your children to maintain an overall well-being with your preventive care. Some children have higher risk of decay and 100% cavity free is not possible. At Little Smiles, we are here to help you, and give your child the best oral health possible. If you need more information you can call to speak directly to us. We can help you give your child the beautiful smile they deserve.