Preventive

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.

Summary

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.

 

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.

Summary:

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.

Fluoride: The guide you need to give your child the best cavity fighter.

May 15th, 2019

The use of the right fluoride regiment can keep your child cavity free. Fluoride has a bad reputation on the internet, but Fluoride could be the difference maker on your quest to give your child a healthy smile. In order to have the benefits without the disadvantage, make sure you have the guide of a health care provider. The amount that a child should use is based primary on age and few other factors.  But it is clear how it can be the best cavity Fighter!

How can fluoride help keep your child teeth cavity free?

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral. It helps prevent cavities, repair early damage to teeth, and reverse early tooth decay, by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay.  Fluoride can strengthens your child’s teeth and reverse early signs of tooth decay.

Our mouths contain bacteria that, in combination with sugars in the foods and beverages we consume every day, produces acid. The acid they produce harms the tooth enamel and damages the teeth.  This is where the fluoride comes in handy.  Fluoride protects the teeth by making them RESISTANT to acid.

After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (mineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverse early signs of tooth decay.

When your child brush his/her teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. When the fluoride is available on the teeth, it’s get incorporated as part of the enamel. This new form of enamel, with fluoride on it, is more resistant to acid attack by the bacteria.

Fluoride is available in many different ways and concentrations. This help provide the best fluoride treatment for every individual child.

Fluoride supplementation has great benefits for your child when the use match his/her needs. 

Fluoride treatment has been a study for a long time and the benefits are well documented. Nowadays, fluoride is  available in a great variety of ways. With so many products in the market for fluoride supplementation, it is hard to make a decision on which product to use or even if it is necessary. For parents, the decision could be complicated because of the child’s age. Every child is different, so the need of fluoride supplementation is based on each child caries risk. A professional dental health provider can help and guide parents on this choice. With a comprehensive oral evaluation, a dentist can perform a Caries Risk Assessment  for a child and determine if fluoride supplementation is necessary.

Caries Risk Assessment Factor

  • Fluoride exposure
  • Sugary or Starchy food or Drinks
  • Family history of caries
  • Early dental visits
  • Special Health needs
  • Patient history of caries
  • Teeth missing due to caries
  • Visible plaque Orthodontic Appliances
  • Salivary flow.

Getting a professional opinion on need and use of fluoride, will prevent some of the disadvantages. When Fluoride is used in excess, it can cause white line on the developing teeth. These spots are call fluorosis. This is more common in children that have swallow tooth paste with fluoride. Because this occurs during teeth development , we have to be vigilant until the child is 4 years old. By 4 years old the children learn to spit the tooth paste better and reduce the amount of swallowing. Also, the teeth on the front have had complete development and the risk of fluorosis decrease.

Guide on fluoride used for your growing child.

The most commonly available fluoride supplement is tooth paste with fluoride. It is effective and can help reduce the risk of caries for up to 30% in children. Some toothpaste for children have less concentration of fluoride and are market for 2 years and older. At Little Smiles, we recommend toothpaste with fluoride later than 3 years old because of the risk of fluorosis on the permanent dentition.  This is recommended for low risk patients and it is customized by the specific child needs.

Other common fluoride supplementation is  mouth rinsing . Rinses that contain fluoride are recommended for children 6 years or older. It is a  great source of fluoride for a child with moderate to high risk of caries. A Rinse can help prevent caries for up to 31%.

Older children with high caries risk can benefit from prescription strength toothpaste. This is recommended for children 12 and older.

A common fluoride supplement that is effective in reducing the risk of decay, is the fluoride treatment at the dental office. The treatment  that most people recognize is the gel on a tray. This is a good source of fluoride every 6 months. Today, the most effective fluoride treatment at a dental office is the Fluoride Varnish. It stays on the teeth longer then the gel with less risk of swallowing.

 

Fluoride Varnish

 

Fluoride fact that can benefit the entire family

Regular fluoride applications can help eliminate sensitivity.
Sometimes Brushing and flossing is not enough, so fluoride could be the missing ingredient.
Because of harder to clean areas during orthodontic treatment, fluoride can help strengthen your teeth and prevent decay.
Fluoride occurs naturally in water, though usually not at a high enough level to protect teeth.
Fluoride has been recognized as an important nutrient for healthy teeth.
Fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay and build healthy communities.

Summary

Fluoride has become part of our daily oral hygiene routine and easily available. We have to make an informed decision about the fluoride supplementation on children. We can get amazing caries risk reduction with appropriate use. This is best achieved with a dental professional evaluation for your child. At Little Smiles, we can help you navigate the fluoride needs of your child.

 

 

Why you should never wait too long to start with your child dental visits.

May 8th, 2019

When a child gets used to seeing the dentist regularly, visiting becomes easy and fun. The experience develops into a routine that lasts over a life time. You can give your child the gift of a good dental habit for their first birthday.

First Dentist visit by the first Birthday, a life time of benefits.

Sometimes a new born baby needs to see a dentist for a specific reason, like neonatal teeth, lactation problem related to tongue tie or tissue lessons. But if everything is ok and there are no concerns, your children should see a dentist by their first birthday. First, we can make sure that their dental/facial growth is going well. You can learn good oral hygiene techniques and nutritional advice that can help maintain an optimal oral health. At the same time your child will learn benefits that will last a lifetime from an early age.

In the beginning it can be a bit scary, but after the first couple of visits, just for a checkup, your child will learn to trust the dentist, the staff, and most importantly, trust the whole experience. With an early check up, small problems can be addressed before they become a bigger issue. That is what most people are afraid of.

We want this check up to take place before any major dental work is needed. We want your child to get used to the dental environment, so it is not a big deal to visit again and have dental treatment done. If a dental emergency ever happens, the dentist is well known by now, so seeing the dentist does not stress your child . The actual dental appointment becomes fun, even if it is more than just a check up.

How dental treatments could be fun for your children.

Technology and advancements in dental health has helped pediatric dental care to be a more pleasant experience for children. In a Pediatric Dental practice, the dentists main focus is to give your children a great experience. Having all the necessary tools for the visit to go smoothly is a big part of it.

Things that help at a Pediatric Dental setting:

  • Dentist that specializes in pediatric care
  • Staff trained in pediatric care
  • TV on ceiling while they get treatment
  • Video games for entertainment
  • Inviting environment
  • Quick appointments
  • Easy fluoride treatment
  • Almost painless local anesthesia
  • Laser surgeries
  • Better and quicker materials to work with

When all of this is combined in one setting, the experience becomes fun. This type of exposure to an easier dental care provides an opportunity that the whole family can benefit from.

Your children's early dental appointment can make a difference in the whole family.

Nowadays pediatric dental offices are welcoming and most enjoy having the family around while the child is being seen. This help smaller siblings learn and get more comfortable with a dental environment . This healthy new experience helps the whole family develop dental habits that will follow them for the rest of their life.

Benefits to the family:

  • Habit of brushing and flossing
  • More comfortable on dental setup
  • Built a routine of 6 months follow up.
  • Help parents erase bad memories from childhood

Because of previous experiences and bad childhood memories, some adults have apprehensive behaviors when it comes to the dentist. Some of these anxieties are transferred to the child without it being noticed. But we can change this for your family for generations to come, with an early visit to the dentist.

Summary:

Most children should have a dental exam by their first birthday. This will give your child and family a more trustable approach to the dental experience. Make this happen for your family. Make your child’s first appointment today.